It is all very well to take a passage of Scripture, isolate it from the context, and use it as the motto of a sermon; but it is evidently not the natural and fair way of treating the word of God. You may do so for the most part with tolerable safety, for God’s truth, even when it is broken up into little pieces, still retains its purity and perfection like certain crystals, which, however much they may be subdivided, always bear the same crystalline form. So true in every particle and detail is the revelation of God, that though you should take it up and dash it to pieces, yet every little fragment will bear the original impress. But this is no excuse for treating the Scriptures in an unjustifiable manner instead of expounding them according to the rules of common sense. Texts ought always to be handled with a reverential deference to the mind of the divine Spirit who indited them. When we attempt to rivet your attention on a verse or the fraction of a verse of the Bible we desire you also to be scrupulously attentive to the affinities in which it stands. If any of my published sermons should in any instance appear to violate this rule, you will bear me witness that it has been my constant habit throughout all my ministry among you to read and open up, as best I could, the whole chapter from which I have selected a few words as the motto of my discourse. I have honestly endeavoured to give you the special mind of the Spirit either in the exposition or in the sermon.
From his sermon “Wake Up! Wake Up!” (1878).