Gospel truths are “medicina animae”–physic for a sin-sick soul. Now, of what use is it to get a store of medicines and cordials, and never to take them? No more is it to collect, at any price or rate, sermons, doctrines, instructions, if we apply them not, that they may have their efficacy in us and proper work towards us. There is in some a dropsy of hearing; the more they hear, the more they desire. But they are only pleased with it at present, and swelled for the future, are neither really refreshed nor strengthened. But every truth hath, as the Hebrews express it, “meat in its mouth,” something for our own nourishment. We should look unto sermons as Elijah did to the ravens, that “brought him bread and flesh in the morning, and bread and flesh in the evening,” 1 Kings 17:6. They bring food with them for our souls, if we feed on it; if not, they are lost. When the Israelites gathered manna to eat, it was a precious food, “bread from heaven, angels meat,” food heavenly and angelical, that is, excellent and precious; but when they laid it up by them, “it bred worms and stank,” Exod. 16:20. When God scatters truths amongst men, if they gather them to eat, they are the bread of heaven, angels food; but if they do it only to lay them by them, in their books, or in the notions of their mind, they will breed the worms of pride and hypocrisy, and make them an offensive savour unto God. When, therefore, any truth is proposed unto you, learn what is your concernment in it, and let it have its proper and perfect work upon your souls.
– John Owen –