For years I have made it a very careful and studied rule never to look at a commentary on a text, until I have spent time on the text alone. Get down and sweat over the text yourself. That is my method. . . . I once heard Dr W.J. Dawson say: “Half the bad theology in the world is due to suppressed perspiration.” . . . The text is the sermon, and to that the preacher gives himself in serious thought. It may be that is one of the things most difficult to do, but the habit once acquired, becomes one of the joys of life – real, personal, unbiased thinking. It is so easy, especially when one has built up a library, to look at the text, and then turn around and put the hand on a book. It is a real peril.
There must be firsthand thinking, actual work, critical work, on the text. As I said, I have made it a rule never to turn to any commentary or any exegetical work on a text, until I have put in personal, firsthand work on that text alone. Then I take any aid I can, and I find that these aids often help me to correct mistakes I have made. But we have gained enormously if we have first sat down and toiled at the text. . . . If a man settles down to his work, and makes notes and attends to the words and their idiomatic meanings in the languages in which this text is found, he will be mastering for himself the real meaning and the real intention of the text.