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soul, but yours received this morning has indeed done it. Seeing your hand, and a black seal, my mind forboded what had happened : I made an attempt to read it to my wife and daughters, but it would not do- I got no further than the first sentence, burst into a flood of tears, and was obliged to retreat into the solitude of my study, unfit for any thing, but to think on what had happened; then to fall upon my knees, and pray, that God would evermore pour down his choicest blessings on the children of my departed friend, and as their “ father and their mother had forsaken them," that he would “take them up," and support them in time and eternity. Even so! Amen.
“You ask comfort of me, but your truly excellent letter has suggested comfort to me, from all the proper topics; and I can only reflect it back to you again. All things considered, the circumstance which first marked the disorder may be termed a gracious dispensation. It at once rendered the event, one may say, desirable, which otherwise carried so much ierror and sorrow in the face of it. Nothing else in the world could so soon, and so effectually, have blunted the edge of the approaching calamity, and reconciled to it minds full of the tenderest love and affection. To complete the consolation, that only remained, which we all know to be the fact, Mr. — stood always so prepared, so firm in his faith, so constant in his christian practice of every duty, that he could not be taken by surprise, or off his guard: the stroke must be to himself a blessing, whenever, or however, it came. His death was his birth-day: and, like the primitive Christians, we should keep it as such, as a day of joy and triumph. Bury his body, but embalm his example, and let it diffuse his fragrance among you from generation to generation. Call him blessed, and endeavour to be like him: like him in piety, in charity, in friendship, in courteousness, in temper, in conduct, in word, and in deed. His virtues compose a little volume which your brother should carry in his bosom; and he will need no other, if that be well studied, to make him the gentleman and the Christian. You, my dear Madam, will, I am sure, go on with diligence to finish the fair transcript you have begun, that the world around you may see and admire.
“Do not apologise for writing; but let me hear what you do, and what plan of life your brother thinks of pursuing. With kindest compliments from the sympathising folks here, believe me, ever, my dear Madam, your faithful friend and servant, 1792, April
LXXVI. From Dean Stanhope, containing advice to a Young
request, to whom I can deny nothing, and (as he tells me) at your desire also, I trouble you with this letter of advice relating to your studies in divinity. A good deal of pains might perhaps be saved to both of us, by my receiving first an account of the entrance and progress you have already made since your thoughts were turned to this profession. You will, therefore, pardon me, if I suggest several things which your own proficiency, or the advice of other friends, had made unnecessary.
The first care of a divine should be to make himself well skilled in the Bible; which is not to be done without the help of good commentators. But in regard to what Solomon says of books in general, is as true of this as of any other sort, that of many of them there is no end, and that much study of them is a weariness to the flesh; I will point you out a few, in which you will find the substance of a great many.
These are, Bishop Patrick's Commentaries, which will lead you a great way, even from Genesis to Ísaiah ; Day upon that Prophet; Pocock, on those of the minor Prophets, which he has undertaken; Hammond and Whitby on the New Testament: and the incomparable St. Chrysostom, both for his explications and moral improvements of Scripture. With these, and the help of Pool's Synopsis, or the great critics, for those parts of Scripture not before named, it might be well to go through a whole course of the Bible with great attention and care, wherein it may be fit to take along with you Archbishop Usher's Annals, Prideaux's Connection of the Old and New Testament, the Works of Lightfoot, and Mr. Mede. But in regard the Bible is to be a constant study, and it would be too troublesome, upon every reading of it, to turn to so many expositors, I advise by all means, that you would get the old and New Testaments in quarto, doubly interleaved with blank paper, a page for each column, and divided into nine or ten volumes.' Thus, as you go along, you may enter such remarks as you think useful, and such references to authors as may occasionally be consulted; which, when done, will save you the trouble of reading more than your own notes as often as you shall go over the Bible afterwards. This I have found of great use to myself, and herein can speak of my own experience,
As to other books which may fit you for the discharge of your duty, Mr. Hooker, Bp. Sanderson, Bp. Pearson, Bp. Stillingfleet, Dr. Jackson, and Archbishop Tillotson, cannot be read too often. Happy is the man that can form his style upon
the last of these; and, in plain practical preaching, upon the rational, instructive, and familiar way of the Whole Duty of Man, and Bishop Blackall. I had rather you should be told by any other person, that the time may not be quite lost which is employed in casting an eye now and then upon my Boyle's Lectures, my volume of Sermons, printed in 1700, and Comments upon the Epistles and Gospels, for the course of the whole year. I am sure, at least, that will be well spent which you bestow on Scot's Christian Life, and Lucas's Inquiry after Happiness, and Sherlock's Treatises of Death, Judgment, and Providence.
There is a French Testament, in 4 volumes 8vo. the very book of Quesnell, which hath made such a bustle of late, by giving rise to the famous Bull Unigenitus, which if you are not master of the French, may be had translated into English. This abounds with many excellent reflections, both moral and devotional; and though some there might better have been saved (which a person of your parts and attainments will find no difficulty to distinguish from the rest); yet upon the whole, the book may do great service to a discerning reader, both for framing in himself a religious temper of mind, and for instructing others in their duty.
Your country I know, swarms with Papists and Dissenters. For maintaining your ground against the former, I know not a shorter or more effectual way than to make yourself master of the tracts written against them in the reign of King James II. and for the latter, besides Hooker and Sanderson, the London Cases against the Dissenters, and Bishop Stillingfieet’s Unreasonableness of Separation, as to the Discipline part; and as to the Doctrinal, besides Dr. Jackson, Bishop Bull of Justification, Clagett upon the Operations of the Spirit, and the Collection of Tracts concerning Predestination and Providence, printed at Cambridge 1719, are excellently good. I mention only these several authors above, as fit to be studied, without enlarging upon Ecclesiastical History, Fathers, or Casuistical Divinity, which will naturally hereafter fall into your way, because at present I design to recommend what may soon lay a sure foundation for a true Church of England divine. And supposing you think, as I do, that it is high time to have done, I will only add one word more about preaching, which is, that you would not disdain to do it in as low and familiar,
provided always it be in a clear and proper, language as you can possibly contrive. The more you converse with the common people, the more you will find the necessity of this advice, and depend upon it, the more intelligible to the meanest, the more acceptable you will be to the best and most judicious of your hearers.
I take for granted you will expound the Catechism frequently; and if you suffer yourself, after having digested the heads of what you would say, to enlarge extempore, this perhaps may be better both for you and those you instruct, than a set and elaborate discourse.
The same way of talking off-hand will be likewise necessary in your visits to the sick, for which you may reap some benefit from a little book written in Latin by Dr. Stearne of Ireland. Many things more might probably occur, had I opportunity of conversing with you.
In the mean time I only add, that you will do well so to demean yourself in all the offices of your function, that your people may think you are in very good earnest, and so to order your whole conversation, that they may be sure you are so. To which purpose, as you will have my hearty prayers, so I beg yours for your most affectionate cousin, 1792, May.
LXXVII. Bp. Horne to a Young Clergyman.
Dear I AM much pleased to hear you have been for some time stationary at Oxford; a place where a man may best prepare himself to go forth as a burning and shining light into a world where charity is waxed cold, and where truth is well-nigh obscured. Whenever it pleases God to appoint you to the government of a parish, you will find work enough to employ you; and therefore, before that time comes, you should be careful to provide yourself with all necessary knowledge, lest, by-and-by, when you should be building, you should have your materials to look for, and bring together; besides, that the habit of studying and thinking, if it be not got in the first part of life, rarely comes afterwards. A man is miserably drawn into the eddy of worldly dissipation, and knows not how to get out of it again, till, in the end, for want of spiritual exercises, the faculties of the soul are benumbed, and he sinks into indolence,
till the night cometh, when no man can work. Happy, therefore, is the man who betimes acquires a relish for holy solitude, and accustoms himself to bear the yoke of Christ's discipline in his youth ; who can sit alone, and keep silence, and seek wisdom diligently where she may be found, in the Scriptures of faith, and in the writings of the Saints. Froin these flowers of Paradise be extracts the honey of knowledge and divine love, and there with fills every cell of his understanding and affections. The winter of affliction, disease, and old age, will not surprise such an one in an unprepared state. He will not be confounded in the perilous time; and in the days of dearth he will have enough to strengthen, comfort, and support him and his brethren. Precious beyond rubies are the hours of youth and health! Let none of them pass unprofitably away, for surely they make to themselves wings, and are as a bird cutting swiftly the air, and the trace of her can no more be found. If well-spent, they fly to Heaven with news that rejoices angels, and meet us again as witnesses for us at the tribunal of our Lord. When the graces of the time run into the glories of eternity, how triling will the labour then seem that has procured us (through grace) everlasting rest, for which the Apostles toiled night and day, and the Martyrs loved not their lives unto death!
These, my dear, are my sentiments; would to God my practice were more conformable to them than it is, that I might be less unworthy to advise and exhort others ! But I trust the persuasion I have of the truth of what is said above (which every day's experience more and more confirms) will influence my conduct in this particular, and make me more watchful in time to come. In the mean season, I cannot forbear pressing the same upon you, as I should do with my dying breath; since upon the due proportioning and employing our time all our progress in grace and knowledge depends.
If there be any thing with regard to the choice or matter of your studies in which I can assist you, let me know, as you can have no doubt of my being, in all things, most affectionately yours, 1792, July.