« PreviousContinue »
For Studying a
In a LETTER to a FRIEND.
of this Let. 1 but my late Rambles, my Busi
ness, and diverse Accidents (not to mention that Indisposition of Body which I have labor'd under) have hindred me. And therefore I must in the beginning of it beg Pardon for the Delay, as perhaps I shall have reason before the Conclusion of it, for the Length of my Letter to yoy,
I shall not wast either Time or Paper in Apologies. No Man knows better than my self, that there are numberless Persons, whose Age and Experience have rendred them abundantly more able io direct you, than I can pretend to be ; and perhåps, after the perusal of what follows, you'll be forc'd to seek a more skilful Guide, and receive better Advice from another Hand. But, since you? were pleas'd to create me an Opportunity of dif. coursing with you upon thar Head; and since the hurry I was then in, drew upon me this Imployment: I hope, you'll accept and excuse what I now offer to you, as a Proof (tho' of my own Insuffici. ency, yet) of a most unfeigned and hearty Affe. &ion for you.
What you expect, Sir, is, that I should lay before yousuch a Method of beginning the Study of Divinity, as I would recommend to a person who designs for Holy Orders. This therefore I shall endevor to do,
And First, I must intreat you to read Books relating, fome of those Treatises, which will into the Duty of the Clergy. --
struct you in the Duty of the Clergy;
such as St. Chryfoftom of the Priesthood, St. Gregory Nazianzen's Apologetical Oration, St. Jerom to Nepotianus, the Pastoral of Gregory the Great, Bifhop Burnet's Pastoral Care, Mr. Herbert's Country Parson, Mr. Dodwell's' first Letter of Advice, and the like, I presume, 'twill be no difficult Matter for * you to procure the Use of all these Books; and tis
hardly poflible for you to peruse too many of them, I However, let me persuade you not to omic the - reading of St. Chryfofton's and Bishop Burnet's Pieces, and our Church's Offices of Ordination, especially
the Exhortation to those who are to be ordain'd * Priests. But above all, :let me prevail upon you seriously to consider that Collection of Scriptures,
which is annex'd to this Lecter. For those Texts (to which you may probably add diverse others, as you read the Bible) ought ever to be in the Minds of such, as either design to serve God in the Work of the Ministry, or have actually engag'd them, selves in it. I fior i ;;
.'. Let me beseech you therefore to consider them very carefully; and to labor The Students earnestly, by serious and repeated Me Examination
* previous Selfditation, to form a just and true Sense, and throughly to convince your self of, First, The Weight of that Sacred Imployment, which you have some thoughts of devoting your self to; Secondly, The Reward that attends the faithful Discharge of it ; Thirdly, The unspeakable 'ever. lafting Torments which will infallibly be the Cono sequence of Negligence in it.' And then ask your own Conscience these plain Questions, viz. Am I capable of the Work of the Ministry ? and Do I resolve fincerely to a&t therein according to those Rules which Christ has set me? If it answer, Yes; bless God for it; and beg him to establish your good Intentions, and enable you to be succesful in the execution of them : But if it answer otherwise, be persuaded, for the Church's Sake, for God's Sake, for your own Soul's Sake ; if there be any Fear of losing Heaven, any Dread of the endless Pains of Hell ; if unguenchable Flames can aç this Distance make any Impression, and strike any Terror into you be persuaded, I say, whatever Temptations of Preferment, wc, may intice you, not to force down the severeft Judgments of God. upon your self; by undertaking that sublime and difficult Work which you are either not capable of, or not sted fastly resolv?d by his Grace to perform, with a Zeal and Integrity futable to the Greatness of it;
- When you have thus examin'd your Heart, if you determin 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 Possibility of arriving at such a Perfection in Theological Learning, as will render your Labor for the future useless.
. !! O C : i. ;; ! !! Now I take it for granted, that Some things pre- . you are already fufficiently acquainfupposed in the Studens.
Pe ted with the Latin, Greek, and Hebrew
. ; Tongues; that you have gone thro' the usual Academical Courses of Logies; Ethics, and Metapbysics; that you have also taken a General View of Geography and History. This Foundation, I hope, is well laid ; there being, I assure you, greae 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 hereafrer, 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 attain 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'd with. .. . . . 1
??? .. You know, that different PerDifferent Merbods fons have prescrib'd different Me: of Audying Diviori in f oricha fridvino of Divini nity have been premi fcrib'd"
What Use you may make of their 2, !"). O feveral Schemes hereafter, it is not my prefent Business to examin. Nor shall I give you the Reafons, why I am not perfectly satisfied
. with any of those Advices which I have hithierto 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 pleasd to inquire affer; and an 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 r beginning of any Study, a Man A Compendium
or System generally cought to make ule of lome Compen- esteemid vereffer
dium or general System. Now Com. -pendiums or Systems of Divinity are numberless. But - they have been almost all of them writ by Forei.
nėrs; whereas for many Reasons, and English Scudent - ought to begin with English Writers. But the Sy- stems publish'd by our own Country Men are fuch, as I care not to recommend. What then shall be doné? 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 advercise you of the following Par: ticulars; viz.
First, That those Books or Parts of Books, which I shall recommend Seven Things premie
Sed relating to the Kto your Perusal, having been writ-
al, having been writ. Method prescribed by ten by different Authors, at diffe- the Author. torent Times, and upon different First, An In. Occasions; it cannot be expected,
the tacking together that I should be able to range the the Writings lif. several Contents of them in fo ferent Persons... good an Order, as that they should resemble a just and regular System wholly com
Ne dut hor.