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pos'd by one and the fame Perfon! However, I am perfuaded, that if you will give your felf the Trouble of reading them in that Order which I fhall prefcribe, you will reap very near as confiderable Advantages thereby, as if you had spent your time in fuch a Syftem, as (tho we dearly want it, yet) perhaps we must defpair of ever feeing.
Secondly, That diverfe of the Books Secondly, Some or Parts of Books, which I fhall reRepetitions are commend to yours Perufal, being unavoidable in This Method. written on the fame Subject, there muft of Neceffity be diverfe Repetitions of the fame Matters. This could not be prevented, unless the Subftance of 'em all were blended into one intire Difcourfe; the Task of doing - which I have neither Time nor Inclination to undertake. I hope therefore, you'll bear with this unavoidable Inconvenience; especially fince, tho' the fatigue of Reading is thereby a little increas'd; yet perhaps each diftinct Treatife will afford you fomething confiderable, which is not in the reft.
Thirdly, The Author Sometimes differs in -his Judgment from the Per fons whofe Books
Thirdly, That in fome Particulars, diverfe of thofe Books or Parts of Books, which I fhall recommend to you, are not written exactly according to my own Mind. I cou'd wish that fome Points were handled, fome Texts explained, fome Arguments urg'd, &c. after a Manner a little different from that which thofe Authors there ufe. 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 Cafe. Wherefore I hope you will not conclude, that what I recommend to you does, in all refpects, fully and truly exprefs my own Sentiments. In the 6234
main I heartily approve what I recommend to you: and I am perfuaded, your reading according to my Directions, will not lead you to any fuch: Miftakes, as you will have Reafon to repent of, or be in any Danger of retaining, when farther, Light is offer'd to you.
Fourthly, All the Texts that are alleg d ned in the Ori must be exami ginal.
Fourthly, That whenfoever you meet with a Text of Scripture alleg'd to prove or difprove any Propofition, I would by all means advise you to turno to it in the Original, and perufe it carefully with the Context, not for getting to confult fuch Commentators. upon the Place, as you have then by you. For 'tis impoffible for you, till you are well vers'd. in these Studies, to imagin, how easily you may otherwise be led into great Errors by the mere Sound of Words, by plaufible Gloffes, &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 Ufe. Thefe Indexes will be of confiderable Service to you in the Prosecution of your Studies afterwards.
not read too
Fifthly, That you must be extremely cautious, left you read too faft. I hope you'll excufe my Freedom, and think it no Reproach to you. For I have not the leaft Reason to fufpect your being guilty of the Fault I warn you againft. But I affure you, reading too faft has done a great deal of Mischief, and spoiled a great Number of Scholars. Be perfuaded therefore to ruminate upon what you read; to lay afide your Book sometimes, and think over the Contents of it; to digeft it throughly, and make it perfectly your own; to fearch and examin, and advise with a Friend, if any thing
feem obfcure to you; not to flide over any Difficulty, but to be impatient after a Solution of it; and (if poffible) not to give your self Rest till you have met with it.
Sixthly, The Student muft recollect and digeft what he
reads upon a
ny Branch of
Sixthly, That when you have gone through any confiderable Branch of Divinity (for Inftance, the Controverfy with the Atheifts about the Being and Attributes of God; that about Natural Religion; that of the Authority Divinity. of the Scriptures, and the Truth of Christianity, with refpect to the Hypothefis of the Deifts; or the like) you would beftow 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 ftate the Queftions truly, to range the Arguments pro and con, with the refpective Anfwers, and, in a word, make your felf fo 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 Perfon in a convenient Order. This, I confefs, may appear a laborious Task; but I'll promife you, 'twill abundantly reward your Labor. For the Advantages of this Practice are unfpeakably great; and when once you are a little accuftom'd to it, 'twill be for the future extremely easy, and (what is more) throughly delightful to you. Befides, 'twill really fpare you a vaft deal of Pains; confidering that you'll make infinitely greater Improvements by this Means in one Year's Study, then you will otherwife probably do in three, four, or five.
Seventhly, That the best way Seventhly, He must join to ftudy fuccesfully, is to pray frequently and fervently for the
Devotion with Study."
Guidance and Affiftance of God's Holy Spirit, to
remove your Prejudices,and prepare you for the Reception of Truth, to quicken your Faculties, and bless you in the Exercise of them, &c. Fly to your heavenly Inftructor, when any thing perplexes you. Implore and depend upon his Aid in the Solution of Difficulties. Confider alfo, that when you search after Truth, you are always in the Prefence of that God who is Truth it felf, and who hates those who inquire with a proud or a double Heart; who either rely upon their own Strength, or are willing to impofe upon themselves, or to be impos'd upon by others. Study therefore with the greatest Humility and Impartiality. Be not forward to imbrace the Notions of thofe Men whom you have receiv'd a good Opinion of; or to reject the Notions of those whom you do not love and admire. But call every thing to the Bar of right Reafon and divine Revelation; judge by that Rule; and let nothing but Evidence, drawn from Reafon or Revelation, influence or determin you. But upon these Heads I need not inlarge. For I am writing, I hope, to a very good Chriftian.
These things being premis'd,I fhall now proceed, according to my Promife, to felect a fmall Number of Books, written by English Men, which, with fome Helps borrow'd of the Foreiners before mention'd, will furnish you with a Body of Divinity; and to prescribe fuch a Method of reading them, as, I hope, may be useful to you.
You begin then with the Foundation of all Religion, both natural and revel'd, I mean the Being and Attributes of God. For this I
refer you to Dr. Clarke's Demonftra
of the Being and
and of Natural Attributes of God,
tion. Which when you have read, 'twill be fit for you to inquire into the Law of Nature or Natural Religion.
Religion. For this I refer you to the fame Author's Difcourfe concerning the unchangeable Obligations of Natural Religion, and the Truth and Certainty of the ChriFian Revelation, from the Beginning of the Book (omitting the Preface) to the end of the Fourth Propofition.
In the next place you are to exaof the Truth of min the Authority of the Holy ScriChristianity. ptures, and the Truth of Chriftianity; and that with refpect to the different Hypothefes of Deifts, fews, Mahometans and Pagans.
Firft, With respect to the Hypothefis of
First, With refpect to the Hypothefis of the Deifts; who grant that there is a God, and profefs to believe and pra&tife the Law of Nature, or Natural Religion; but deny what we call Revelation, or God's having declar'd his Will to Mankind by Infpir'd Perfons. Now the Scheme of the Deifts is effectually destroy'd by proving, First, That 'tis extremely agreeable to Reafon, that God fhould revele himself to Mankind. See the Fifth, Sixth and Seventh Propofitions of Dr. Clarke's aforefaid Difcourfe. Secondly, That God did actually revele his Will to Mankind by Jefus Chrift and his Apoftles. For,
That the Books of the New Testament were written by thofe Perfons whofe Names they bear.
First, The Books of the New Teftament were written by those Perfons whofe Names they bear. See the Seventeenth Chapter of
the Second Part of the First Volame of Dr. Jenkin's Reasonableness and Certainty of the Christian Religion, Dr. Whitby's Prefatory Difcourfe concerning the Four Gofpels, and his Prefaces to the Gofpels of St. Mark, St. Luke, and St. John (omitting his Poftfcript to that on St. John) all which are in his Firft Volume of Annotations. See alfo the Seventh Section of his