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When you have thus examin'd your Heart, if you decermin for Holy Orders, your next Endevor must be to furnish your self with a competent Knowledge of Divinity. I say a competent Knowtedge; for you must ever be making a Progress, and carrying on your Studies to the end of your Days; there being (as I conceive) no Poffibility of arriving at such a Perfection in Theological Learning, as will render your Labor for the future useless.
Now I take it for granted, that Some things preSupposed in the you are already fufficiently acquainStudent.
ted with the Latin, Greek, and Hebrew
Tongues ; that you have gone thro? the usual Academical Courses of Logies; Ethics, and Metaphysics ; that you have also taken a General View of Geography and History. This Foundation, I hope, is well laid ; there being, I assure you, great Neceflity and frequent Occasions of having recourse to thefe Particulars in the several Parts of Divinity. And therefore I must desire you, for your own Ease hereafter, not to be defective in these preparatory Studies. But I am willing to believe, that you need not this Caution. And therefore I proceed to fhew you, how you may accain such a competent Knowledge of Divinity, as is sufficient for a Candidate for Holy Orders; and such as I heartily wish, every Person to be ordain'd were furnish'à with.
You know, that different per Different Methods fons have prescrib'a different Me. of studying, Divia nity have been pres
thods for the studying of Divinity. fcrib'd
What Use you may make of their
!").0 feveral Schemes hereafter, it is not my present Business to examin. Nor shall I give you the Reafons, why I am not perfectly satisfied
with with any of those Advices which I have hitherto met with. Should I enlarge upon these Particulars, I should confound rather than direct you. I shall therefore briefly deliver my own Sentiments, which you were pleas?d to inquire after ; and am not only willing, but desirous, that you should depart from the Rules I offer, whensoever your own Prudence Thall judge it advisable so to do. 'Tis generally agreed, that in the
A Compendium beginning of any Study, a Man Cought to make use of some Compen- esteem'd neceffary.
or System generally dium or general System. Now Com-pendiums or Systems of Divinity are numberless. But
they have been almost all of them writ by Forei"ners; whereas, for many Reasons, and English Student ought to begin with English Writers. But the Systems publish'd by our own Country Men are such, as I care not to recommend. What then shall be done? Why, I will select a small Number of Books - written by English Men, which, with some Helps borrowed of Turretin and Limborch, will furnish you with a Body of Divinity; and I will prescribe such a Method of reading them, as I hope may be useful to you. Only I think it necessary for me, before I proceed, to advertise you of the following Particulars; viz.
First, That those Books or Parts of Books, which I shall recommend
Seven Things premie
Sed relating to the to your Perusal, having been writ- Method prescribed by ten by different Authors, at diffe- the Author. i rent Times, and upon different First, An InOccasions; it cannot be expected, the tacking together
convenience attends that I should be able to range the the Writings of difseveral Contents of them in so ferent Perfons. .
good an Order, as that they should resemble a juít and regular System wholly com
pos'a by one and the same perion. However, I am persuaded, that if you will give your filf the Trouble of reading them in that Order which I fhall prescribe, you will reap very near as considerable Advantages thereby, as if you had spent your time in fuch a System, as (tho? we dearly want it, yet) perhaps we must despair of ever feeing.
Secondly, That diverse of the Books Secondly,some or Parts of Books, which I shall reRepetitions are
commend to your Perusal, being unavoidable 'in This Method. written on the same Subject, thepe
must of Neceflity bel diverse Repetitions of the famë Matters. This could not be prevented, unless the Substance of 'em all were blendced into one intire Discourse; the Task of doing
which I have neither Time for Inclination to un« dertake. I hope therefore, you'll bear with this unavoidable Inconvenience; especially since, tho’the
fatigue of Reading is thereby a little increasid; yet - perhaps each distinct Treatise will afford you fomething considerable, which is not in the rest. 1
Thirdly, That in some Particulars, 1. Thirdly, The Author Some
diverse of those Books or Parts of times differs in Books, which I shall recommend to his Judgment you, are not written exa&ly accorfrom the Pero ding to my own Mind. I cou'd with fons whole Books
that some points were handled, some berecommends.
Texts explained, fome Arguments urg'd, &c. after a Manner a little different from that which those Authors there use. This all Perfons who have spent any Time in the Study of Divinity, cannot but frequently experience in - their Reading; and 'tis accordingly my own Case.
Wherefore I hope you will not conclude, that
what I recommend to you does, in all respects, fully and truly express my own Sentiments. In the
main I heartily approve what I recommend to you: and I am persuaded, your reading according to my. Directions, will not lead you to any such: Mistakes, as you will have Reason to repent of, or be in any Danger of retaining, when farthes, Light is offer'd to you.
Fourtbly, That whensoeveryou meet with a Text of Scripture allegd to Fourthly, All prove or disprove any Proposition, h :the Texts that would by all means advise you to turn are allegd,
must be examini to it in the Original, and perufe it ned in the Orie carefully with the Context, not for: ginal. getting to confult such Commentators! upon the Place, as you have then by you. For 'tis impossible for you, till you are well vers'd. in chefe Studies, to imagin, how easily you may otherwise be led into great Errors by the mere Sound of Words, by plausible Glofses, c. And let me perfuade you also, when the Books:you read, do want Indexes of the Texts explain'd in them, to make them for your own Use. These Indexes will be of considerable Service to you in the Prosecution of your Studies afterwards. : Fiftbly, That you must be extremely cautious, left you read too fast. I hope Fifthly, The
Student must you'll excuse my Freedom, and think it no Reproach to you. For I have not faft. the least Reason to suspect your being guilty of the Fault I warn you against. But I assure you, reading too fast has done a great deal of Mischief, and spoiled a great Number of Scholars. Be persuaded therefore to ruminate upon what you read; to lay afide your Book sometimes, and think over the Contents of it; to digest it throughly, and make it perfectly your own; to search and examin, and advise with a Friend, if any thing feem obscure to you ; not to slide over any Difficulty, but to be impacient after a Solution of it; and (if possible) nór to give your self Rest till you have met with it.
not read too
Sixthly, That when you have gone Sixthly, The
through any considerable Branch of Student must recollect and Divinity (for Instance, the Controverdigeft what he fy with the Atheists about the Being reads upon' and Attributes of God ; that about Nany Branch of tural Religion ; that of the Authority Divinity.
of the Scriptures, and the Truth of Christianity, with respect to the Hypothesis of the Deists; or the like) you would bestow so much Time and Pains in Reflection upon it, as to digeft what you have read, into a regular Scheme in your own Head, to state the Questions truly, to range the Arguments pro and con, with the respe&ive Ano swers, and, in a word, make your self so far a Mafter of the Whole, as to be able with a little Recollection to talk of it extempore in a good Method, and to lay it before another Person in a convenient Order. This, I confess, may appear a laborious Task ; but I'll promise you, 'twill abundantly reward your Labor. For the Advantages of this Practice are unspeakably great ; and when once you are a little accustom'd to it, 'twill be for the future extremely easy, and (what is more) throughly delightful to you. Besides, 'twill really spare you a vast deal of Pains; considering that you'll make infinitely greater Improvements by this Means in one Year's Study, then you will otherwise probably do in three, four, or five.
Seventhly, That the best way Seventhly, He must join
to study succesfully, is to pray Devotion with Study.
frequently and fervently for the Guidance and Aflistance of God's Holy Spirit, to