We are constantly amazed at the Lord's goodness to us at Chapel Library, and we are delighted that He has greatly increased the circulation and use of the Free Grace Broadcaster. Encouraging and critical letters that we have received have inspired us to outline some suggestions for reading the FGB.
First, we encourage you to read the FGB prayerfully. Most of the articles in the FGB were originally sermons, preached by faithful men of God such as Spurgeon, Ryle, and the Puritans. As we should prepare our hearts on the Lord's Day to receive the Word of God preached, we think it wise to prepare our hearts to receive the Word "preached-in-print."
Secondly, we suggest that you read the FGB sequentially. Many of our readers may not have time either to read an entire issue at one sitting or to read it in its entirety over a few days or weeks. Therefore, some skip around, looking for favorite authors and preachers to read first. Likewise, some may find the title of one article more provocative than others and may read only those titles that reveal easily identifiable contents. For this reason, the editor always tries to make each article useful and edifying as a "stand alone." However, if our readers will read consecutively from the first article throughout, they will discover that the theme actually unfolds more clearly and powerfully. The first article always defines or introduces its subject, and therefore it prepares the reader for the following articles. For instance, reading the FGB on Secret Sins, Obadiah Sedgwick's "An Examination of Secret Sins" defines the three ways that Scripture presents secret sin. Each following article further describes, supports, examines, or applies that subject--the dangers of secret sins, the hindrance of prayer because of them, God's view of them, and God's judgment of them. Finally, Octavius Winslow blessedly takes our reproved and stirred hearts to the cross of Calvary to find our cleansing in Christ. The accumulative effect of reading these articles consecutively is quite powerful and helpful in grasping a broad view of the theme. While each article speaks of Christ and Scripture, the last articles usually have the strongest declarations of the Gospel and urgent appeals to believe on Christ. Sequential reading will usually give each reader a good summary and a better grasp of the theme.
Thirdly, we suggest that you read the footnotes carefully. Of all that we have done to make the FGB more useful to a wide range of readers, adding footnotes has brought the best response and the most encouraging letters. We purposely choose articles from faithful preachers and authors from the past so that we may hear God's truth echoing with one voice down through the ages. However, English usage has changed since the days of the Puritans and of Spurgeon; modern readers often find older authors and preachers difficult to read. Our solution has not been to "dumb down" our authors' writings. Rather, we have chosen to update punctuation to modern usage and to define archaic words (using older dictionaries, such as Webster's 1828 Dictionary of the English Language, and modern dictionaries, such as the authoritative Oxford English Dictionary); to define theological terms (using the best systematic theologies, theological dictionaries, and confessions), and to identify historical references. For example, by reading the footnotes, readers have discovered that when a Puritan preacher referred to "Austin," he was speaking of the early church theologian Augustine (A.D. 354-430). Likewise, our readers have learned the meaning of justification, sanctification, adoption, sins of omission and commission, covenant of redemption, and numerous other theological terms. This is important because many of our readers are Third World pastors, inmates in U.S. or foreign prisons, younger readers, or parents using the FGB for family worship. These readers seldom have access to dictionaries with archaic English definitions, theological dictionaries, or church history.
Fourthly and finally, we recommend that you read each article discerningly. Apart from the inspired, infallible Word of God, the sermons and writings of the best preachers and authors are limited and stained with human error. Therefore, Chapel Library does not agree with every theological view of the authors we print. We often publish articles by men with whom we strongly disagree in some points of theology. In order to make this clear, each FGB has a disclaimer directly inside the front cover. We make use of our authors to speak God's truth on the doctrines with which we agree. We therefore trust that our readers are wise and discerning enough to understand that we are not recommending or endorsing everything else that a preacher or author believes because we use his work. "Prove all things; hold fast that which is good" (1Th 5:21). Furthermore, the editor works hard to let each man speak with his own voice. However, editing large articles into smaller, coherent ones is a challenge. There is always the temptation to make an author "say" what we want him to say. In light of this, we regularly use several grammatical devices--according to the Chicago Manual of Style 15th Edition---to let our readers know where we have made our edits. Frequent use of ellipses "..." lets our readers know where we have deleted small or large amounts of text. The use of brackets "[ ]" lets our readers know where we have added or changed words for clarity. These changes may be for grammatical or theological reasons; sometimes the editor makes large deletions of text just because he needs the space. Our consciences, therefore, are clear as we send each issue of the FGB to you.
Our heart's desire is to glorify our Triune God---Father, Son, and Holy Spirit; to edify God's eternally loved and blood bought people; and to call the lost to faith in the resurrected Lord of Glory, Jesus Christ. We delight in collecting these great sermons and articles and in editing them together to bring God's truth from ages past to readers in the present day. We pray that you will consider these suggestions and recommendations so that you will receive the greatest profit in reading the Free Grace Broadcaster.