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of Polhill on Precious Faith, Polhill on the Decrees, Shepherd's Sound Believer, Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress, Bunyan's Good News for the Vilest
of Sinners, his Heavenly Footman, his Grace abounding to the Chief of Sinners, his Life and Death of Mr Badman, his Holy War in the town of Mansoul, Hervey's Meditations, Hervey's Dialogues, Roger's Seven Helps to Heaven, Hall's Jacob's Ladder, Divine Breathings of a Devout Soul, Adams on the Second Epistle of Peter, Adams's Sermons on the Black Devil, the White Devil, &c. &c. Colling's Divine Cordial_for the Soul, Pearse's Soul's Espousal to Christ, Erskine's Gospel Sonnets, the Death of Abel, the Faith of God's Elect, Manton on the Epistle of St James, Pamble's Works, Baxter's Shove for a Heavy-a**** Christian, his Call to the Unconverted, Mary Magdalen's Funeral Tears, Mrs Moore's Evidences for Heaven, Mead's Almost a Christian, the Sure Guide to Heaven, Brooks on Assurance, God's Revenge against Murder, Brooks's Heaven upon Earth, the Pathway to Heaven, Wilcox's Guide to Eternal Glory, Derham's Unsearchable Riches of Christ, his Exposition of Revelations, Alleine's Sure Guide to Heaven, the Sincere Convert, Watson's Heaven taken by Storm, Heaven's Vengeance, Wall's None but Christ, Aristotle's Masterpiece, Coles on God's Sovereignty, Charnock on Providence, Young's Short and Sure Guide to Salvation, Wesley's Sermons, Journals, Tracts, &c.; and others of the same description.
We had indeed a few of a better sort, as Gay's Fables, Pomfret's Poems, Milton's Paradise Lost, besides Hobbes's Homer, and Walker's Epictetus, mentioned in my last letter.
But what we wanted in judgment in choosing our library we made up in application; so anxious were we to read a great deal, that we allowed ourselves but about three hours sleep in twenty-four, and for some months together we never were all in bed at the same time. (Sunday nights excepted.) But lest we should oversleep the time allowed, one of us sat up to work until the time appointed for the others to rise, and when all were up, my friend John and your humble servant took it by turns to read aloud to the rest, while they were at their work.
« Such there are, denied by stars unkind,
Cooke. But this mad scheme of ours had nearly been attended with very serious consequences. One night, it being my turn to watch, I removed to the fire-side, to read some particular passage, and the candlestick which we worked by not being convenient to move about, and there being no other at that time in the room, I set up the candle against the handle of a pewter pot, and was so extremely heavy (owing to much watchfulness) that I fell fast asleep, and had like never to have awaked again, for the candle burned down to the handle of the pot, melted it off, and then fell on the chair on which it stood; so that Mr Jones found me in the morning fast asleep, and part of the chair consumed, which alarmed us all very much, and made us more cautious.
But still we continued our plan of living, so that we made a rapid progress in what we called spiritual and divine knowledge, and were soon masters of the various arguments made use of by most polemical divines, &c.
And the better to guard my pupils from what I called false doctrines, I used often to engage them in various controversies, in which I sometimes took one side of the question, sometimes the other, in order to make them well versed in controversy, and acquainted with the strength of their adversaries. So that I was, by turns, a Calvinist, an Arminian, an Arian, a Socinian, a Deist, and even an Atheist. And after they had said all they could to confute me, I would point out where they had failed, and added such arguments as I was master of, and in general we were all satisfied. But when we happened to have any doubts we had recourse to the bible and commentators of our own side of the question; and I assure you, my dear friend, this was a very fine hobby-horse, which, like Aaron's serpent, swallowed up all the other hobby-horses.
Light minds are pleased with trifles.”-Ovid.
I am, dear friend, yours.
Laugh where you must; be candid' where you can.”
As if on the safety of the nation.” DEAR FRIEND, In the course of my reading, I learned that there had been various sects of philosophers amongst the Greeks, Romans, &c., and I well remembered the names of the most eminent of them. At an old book shop I purchased Plato on the Immortality of the Soul, Plutarch's Morals, Seneca's Morals, Epicurus's Morals, the Morals of Confucius the Chinese Philosopher, and a few others. I now can scarcely help thinking that I received more real benefit from reading and studying them and Epictetus, than from all other books that I had read before, or have ever read since that time.
“ I read the labours of the pen,
And thought them more than common men. I was but about twenty-two years of age when I first began to read those fine moral productions; and I assure you, my friend, that they made a very deep and lasting impression on my mind. By reading them, I was taught to bear the unavoidable evils attending humanity, and to supply all my wants by contracting or restraining my desires.
“ To mend my virtues, and exalt my thought,
COOKE. It is now twenty-three years since I first perused them, during which time I do not recollect that I have ever felt one anxious painful wish to get money, estates, or any way to better my condition:
"Indeed, my friend, were I to find
That wealth could e'er my real wishes gain ;
Or cost one serious moment's pain ;
vain." And yet I have never since that time let slip any fair opportunity of doing it. Be contented, says Isocrates, with what you have, and seek at the same time to make the best improvement of it you can.
So that all I mean is, that I have not been over solicitous to obtain anything that I did not possess; but could at all times say, with St Paul, that I have learned to be contented in all situations, although at times they have been very gloomy indeed. Dryden says,
“We to ourselves may all our wishes grant,
Dryden's Indian Emperor.', And in another place he says,
“They cannot want who wish not to have more :
DRYDEN's Secret Love. The pleasure of eating and drinking I entirely despised, and for some time carried this disposition to an extreme, and even to the present time I feel a very great indifference about these matters; when in company, I frequently dine off one dish, when there are twenty on the table. The account of Epicurus living in his garden, at the expense of about a halfpenny per day, and that when he added a little cheese to his bread on particular occasions, he considered it as a luxury, filled me with raptures. “ He talk'd of virtue, and of human bliss,
What else so fit for man to settle well ? And still his long researches met in this,
This truth of truths which nothing can repelFrom' virtue's fount the purest joys outwell
Sweet rills of thought that cheer the conscious soul,
Which, howe'er disguis'd, at last will dole ;
THOMSON. From that moment I began to live on bread and tea, and for a considerable time did not partake of any other viands, but in those I indulged myself three or four times a day. My reasons for living in this abstemious manner were in order to save money to purchase books, to wean myself from the gross pleasures of eating and drinking, &c. and to purge my mind, and to make it more susceptible of intellectual pleasures; and here I cannot help remarking, that the term Epicure, when applied to one who makes the pleasures of the table his chief good, casts an unjust reflection on Epicurus, and conveys a wrong idea of that contemplative and very abstemious philosopher ; for although he asserted that pleasure was the chief or