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and rather be well content with so much, than to lose too much time in a vain fatiguing of your brains for more. I have made some attempt to draw out so much, especially 'de mundo et de homine, ' in my " Methodus Theologize," though I expect it should no more satisfy others, than any of their's have satisfied me.
Direct, xi. When you have well stated your ontology or real science, then review your logic and organical part of metaphysics; and see that' verba rebus aptentur;' fetch then your words and organical notions from the nature of the things. Abundance are confounded by taking up logical notions first which are unsuitable to true physical beings.
Direct, xii. Somewhat of ethics may be well learned of philosophers, but it is nothing to the Scripture's Christian ethics.
Direct, xm. Somewhat of artificial rhetoric and oratory should be known: but the oratory which is most natural, from the evidence of things, well managed by a good understanding and elocution, which hath least of appearing art or affectation, is ever the most effectual, and of best esteem.
Direct, xiv. The doctrine of politics, especially of the nature of government and laws in general, is of great use to all that will ever understand the nature of God's government and laws, that is, of religion. Though there be no necessity of knowing the government and laws of the land or of other countries, any further than is necessary to our obedience or our outward concernments, yet so much of government and laws as nature and Scripture make common to all particular forms and countries, must be known by him that will understand morality or divinity, or will ever study the laws of the land. And it is a preposterous course, and the way of ignorance and error, for a divine to study God's laws, and a lawyer man's laws, before either of them know in general what a law, or what government is, as nature notifieth it to us.
Direct, xv. When you come to divinity, I am not for their way that would have you begin with the fathers, and thence form a body of divinity to yourselves: if every young student must be put on such a task, we may have many religions quickly, but shall certainly have much ignorance and error. We must not be so blind or unthankful to God as to deny that later times have brought forth abundance of theological writings, incomparably more methodical, judicious, full, clear, and excellently fitted also by application, to the good of souls, than any that are known to us since the writing of the sacred Scriptures. Reverence of antiquity hath its proper place and use, but is not to make men fools, non-proficients, or contemners of God's greater mercies. My advice therefore is, that you begin with a conjunction of English catechisms, and the confessions of all the churches, and the practical holy writings of our English divines: and that you never separate these asunders. These practical books do commonly themselves contain the principles, and do press them in so warm a working manner as is likest to bring them to the heart; and till they are there, they are not received according to their use, but kept as in the porch. Get then six or seven of the most judicious catechisms and compare them well together, and compare all the confessions of the churches, (where you may be sure that they put those which they account the weightiest and surest truths). And with them read daily the most spiritual heart-moving treatises, of regeneration, and our covenant with God in Christ, of repentance, faith, love, obedience, hope, and of a heavenly mind and life; as also of prayer and other particular duties, and of temptations and particular sins. And when you have gone through the catechisms, read over three or four of the soundest systems of divinity. And after that proceed to some larger theses, and then to the study of the clearest and exactest methodists; and think not that you well understand divinity, till, 1. You know it as methodized and jointed in a due scheme, and the several parts of it in their several schemes, seeing you know not the beauty or the true sense of things, if you know them not in
• I mention not your reading the Scripture, as supposing it must be your constant work. their proper places, where they stand in their several respects to other points: and, 2. Till it be wrought into your very hearts, and digested into a holy nature; for when all is done, it is only a holy and heavenly life, that will prove you wiser and make you happy, and give you solid peace and comfort.
Direct, xvi. When you have gone so far, set yourselves to read the ancients: 1. And take them in order as they lived. 2. Observe most the historical part, what doctrines, and practices ' de facto' did then obtain. 3. Some must be read wholly, and some but in part. 4. Councils and churchhistory here have a chief place.
Direct, xvii. With them read the best commentators on the Scriptures, old and new.
Direct, xvm. And then set yourselves to the study of church-controversies (though those that the times make necessary must be sooner looked into). Look first and most into those which your own consciences and practice require your acquaintance with: and above all here, read well those writings that confute atheists and infidels, and most solidly prove the truth of the Christian religion : and then those that defend the greatest points. And think not much to bestow some time and labour in reading some of the old school divines.
Direct, xix. When you come to form up your belief of certainties in religion, take in nothing as sure and necessary, which the ancient churches did not receive. Many other things may be taken for truths; and in perspicuity and method the late times much excel them; but Christian religion is still the same thing, and therefore we must have no other religion in the great and necessary parts than they had. Direct, xx. Still remember, that men's various capacities do occasion a great variety of duties: some men have clear and strong understandings by nature; these should study things as much as books; for possibly they may excel and correct their authors. Some are naturally of duller or less judicious heads, that with no study of things can reach half so high, as they may do by studying the writings of those who are wiser than ever they are like to be. These must take more on trust from their authors, and confess their weakness.
Direct, xxi. After or with all controversies, be well versed in the writings of those reconcilers, who pretend to narrow or end the differences. For usually they are such as know more than the contenders.
T proceed now to give you some names of books.
Quest, Clxxiv. What books, especially of theology, should one choose, who for want of money or time, can read butfew?
Answ. General. The truth is, 1. It is not the reading of many books which is necessary to make a man wise or good; but the well reading of a few, could he be sure to have the best. 2. And it is not possible to read over very many on the same subjects, without a great deal of loss of precious time; 3. And yet the reading of as many as is possible tendeth much to the increase of knowledge, and were the best way, if greater matters were not that way unavoidably to be omitted: life therefore being short, and work great, and knowledge being for love and practice, and no man having leisure to learn all things, a wise man must be sure to lay hold on that which is most useful and necessary. 4. But some considerable acquaintance with many books is now become by accident necessary to a divine. 1. Because unhappily a young student knoweth not which are the best, till he hath tried them; and when he should take another man's word, he knoweth not whose word it is that he should take: for among grave men, accounted great scholars, it is few that are truly judicious and wise, and he that is not wise himself cannot know who else are so indeed: and every man will commend the authors that are of his own opinion. And if I commend to you some authors above others, what do I but commend my own judgment to you, even as if I commended my own books, and persuaded you to read them; when another man of a different judgment will commend to you books of a different sort. And how knoweth a raw student which of us is in the right? 2. Because no man is so full and perfect as to say all that is said by all others; but though one man excel in one or many respects, another may excel him in some particulars, and say that which he omitteth, or mistaketh in. 3. But especially because many errors and adversaries have made many books necessary to some, for to know what they say, and to know how to confute them, especially the Papists, whose way is upon pretence of antiquity and universality, to carry every controversy into a wood of church-history, and ancient writers, that there you may first be lost, and then they may have the finding of you: and if you cannot answer every corrupted or abused citation of their's out of councils and fathers, they triumph as if they had justified their churchtyranny. 4. And the very subjects that are to be understood are numerous, and few men write of all. 5. And on the same subject men have several modes of writing; as one excelleth in accurate method, and another in clear, convincing argumentation, and another in an affectionate, taking style: and the same book that doth one, cannot well do the other, because the same style will not do it. Object. 'But the ancient fathers used not so many books as we do, no, not one for our hundreds: and yet we honour them above the Neotorics: they lived before these libraries had a being. Yea, they exhort divines to be learned in the Holy Scriptures, and the fourth council of Carthage forbad the reading of the heathens' books: and many heretics are accused by the fathers and historians, as being studied in logic, and curious in common sciences; and Paul saith, that the Scriptures are able to make us wise unto salvation.' Answ. 1. And yet the New Testament was written (or most of it) after the Scriptures which Paul is commonly supposed to mean, and some of it, after he said so, which sheweth that he meant not to exclude more writing. 2. The Scriptures are sufficient for their proper use, which is to be a law of faith and life, if they be understood. But 1. They are not sufficient for that which they were never intended for: 2. And we may by other books be greatly helped in understanding them. 3. If other books were not needful, teachers were not needful; for writing is but the most advantageous way of teaching by fixed characters, which fly not from our memory as transient words do. And who is it that understandeth the Scriptures that never had a teacher 1 And why said the