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and superficial knowledge that is required or expected! of any man, in things which are utterly foreign to his. own business; but it is neceffary you should have a: more particular and accurate acquaintance with those things that refer to your peculiar province and duty in this life, or your happiness in another. ..
There are fome persons who never arrive at any deep, folid, or valuable knowledge in any science, or any businefs of life ;. because they are perpetually fluttering over the surface of things in a curious and wandering fearch of infinite variety: ever hearing, reading, or asking after something new, but impatient of any labour to lay up and preserve the ideas they have gained : their souls may be compared to a looking-glass, that wheresoever you turn it, it receives the images of: all objects, but retains none..
In order to preserve your treasure of ideas and the knowledge you have gained, pursue these advices, espe.' cially in your younger years..
1. Recollect every day the things you have seen, or heard, or read, which may have made any addition to your. understanding. :. read the writings of God and men' with diligence and perpetual reviews : be not fond of hastening to a new book, or a new chapter, till you. have well fixed and established in your minds what: was useful in the last: make use of your memory in this manner, and you will sensibly experience a gra-dual improvement of it, while you take care not to load it to excess..
2. Talk over the things which you have seen, beard or learned with some proper acquaintance ; this will rnake a fresh impression npon your memory; and if you have no fellow-student at hand, none of equal rank with yourselves, tell it over to any of your acquaintance,, where you can do it with propriety and decency; and whether they learn anything by it or no, your own repetition of it will be an improvement to yourself: and this practice also will furnish you with a variety of words and.copious language, to express your thoughts upon all occasions. 3. Commit to writing some of the most considerable
improvements which you daily make, at least such hints as may recal them again to your mind, when perhaps they are vanished and loft. And, here I think Mr Locke's method of adversaria or common places, which he describes in the end of the first volume of his posthumous works, is the best; using no learned method at all, fetting down things as they occur, leaving a distinct page for each subject, and making an index to the pages. .
At the end of every week, or month, or year, you, may review your remarks for these reasons; first, to judge of your own improvement, when you shall find that many of your younger collections are either weak and trifling ; or if they are just and proper, yet they are grown now fo. familiar to you, that you will thereby 1ee your own advancement in knowledge. And in the next place, what remarks you find there worthy of your riper observations, you may note them with a marginal ítar, *. instead of transcribing them, as being worthy of our second year's review, when the others are Nea glected.
To shorten komething of this labour, if the books which you read are your own, mark with a pen, or pencil, the most confiderable things in them which you desire to remember. Thus you may read that book the second time over with half the trouble, by your eye running over the paragraphs which your pencil has noted. It is but a very weak objection against this practice, to say, I shall spoil my book'; for I persuade. myself, that you did not buy it as a bookseller, to sell it again for gain, but as a scholar to improve your mind by it, and it the mind be improved, your advantage is. abundant, though your book yields lets money to your executors
Direct. III. As you proceed both in learning and in
* Note, this advice of writing, marking, and reviewing your marks, refer chiefly to those occasional notions you meet with either in read. ing or in conversation ; but when you are directly and profeffedly pursuing any subject of knowledge in a good fyftem in your younger years, the system itself is your common place book, and must be entirea ly reviewed. The same may be said concerning any treatise which closely, fuccinctly, and accurately handles any particular theme..
life, make a wise observation what are the ideas, what the discourses and the parts of knowledge that have been more or less useful to yourself or others. In our younger years, while we are furnishing our minds with a treasure of ideas, our experience is but fmall, and our judgment weak; it is therefore impoflible at that age to determinate aright concerning the real advantage and usefulness of many things we learn. But when age and experience have matured your judgment, then you will gradually drop the more useless part of your younger furniture, and be more folicitous to retain that which is : more neceffary for your welfare in this life, or a better. Hereby you will come to make the same complaint that: almost every learned man has done after long experia -ence in study, and in the study of human life and relia. gion ; alas! how many hours, and days, and months, have I lost in pursuing some parts of learning, and in : reading some authors, which have turned to no other account, but to inform me, that they were not worth my labour and purfuit ! happy the man who has a wise : tutor to conduct him through all the sciences in the first years of his study : and who has a prudent friend always at hand to point out to him, from experience, how much of every science is worth his pursuit ! and. happy the student that is so wife as to follow such a advice...
Direct. IV. Learn to acquire a government over your ideas and your thoughts, that they may come when they are called, and depart when they are bidden. There : are some thoughts that rise and intrude upon us, while we fhun them; there are others that fly from us; when we would hold and fix theni.)
If the ideas which you would willingly makë the: matter of your present meditation are ready to fly from 1 you, you must be obstinate in the pursuit of them by an s habit of fixed meditation ; you must keep your soul. to the work, when it is ready to start at every moment, , unless you will abandon yourself to be a llave to every wild imagination. It is a common, but it is an unhappy : and a shameful thing, that every trifle that comes across ; the senses or fancy should divert us, that a buzzing fly: laould teaze our spirits, and scatter our best ideas; but'. we must learn to he deaf and regardless of other things besides that which we make the present subject of our meditation : and in order to help a wandering and fickle humour, it is useful to have a book of paper in our hands, which has some proper hints of the subject that we design to pursue. We must be refolute and laborious, and sometimes, conflict with ourselves if we would be wise and learned.
Yet I would not be too severe in this rule; it must be confefled there are seasons when the mind, or rather the brain is overtired or jaded with study or thinking, or upon some other accounts animal nature may be languid or cloudy, and unfit to assist the spirit in mediie tation ; at such seasons (provided that they return not 190 often) it is better sometimes to yield to the present indisposition; for if nature entirely relft, nothing can be done to the purpose, at leaft in that subject or science.. Then you may think it proper to give yourself up to fome hours of leisure and recreation, or useful idlene ness; or if not, then turn your thoughts to some other alluring subject, and pore no longer upon the first, till: some brighter or more favourable moments arise. A ftudent shall do more in one hour, when all things, concur to invite him to any special study, then in four hours, at a dull and improper season,
I would also give the fame advice, if some vain or worthless, or foolish: idea will crowd itself into your. thoughts, and if you find that all your labour and wrestling cannot defend yourself from it, then divert the importunity, of that which offends you by turning your thoughts to some entertaining subject; that may amuse a little and draw you off from the troublesome and im posing guest; and many a time also in such a case, when the impertinent and intruding ideas would divert from: present duty, devotion and prayer have been very fuca. cessful to overcome such obstinate troublers of the peace: and profit of the soul.
If the natural genius and temper be too volatile, fickle and wandering, fuch persons, ought in a more
especial manner to apply themselves to mathematical · learning, and to begin their studies with arithmetic
and geometry, wherein new truths, continually arising
to the mind out of the plainest and easiest principles, will allure, the thoughts with incredible pleasure in the pursuit; this will give the student such a delightful taste of reasoning, as will fix his attention to the fingle subject, which he pursues, and by degrees will cure the habitual levity of his spirit; but let him not indulge. and pursue these so far, as to neglect the prime ftudies ef his designed profession..
SPECIAL RULES TO DIRECT OUR CONCEPTIONS OR
A GREAT part of what has been already written:
A is designed to lay a foundation for those rules, which may guide and regulate our conceptions of things, this is our main business and design in the first part of logic. Now, if we can but direct our thoughts to a. juit and happy manner in forming our ideas of things, the other operations of the mind will not so easily be. perverted; because most of our errors in judgments. and the weakness, fallacy, and mistake of our argumen... tation, proceed from the darkness, confusion, defects, or some other irregularity, in our conceptions..
The rules to affist and direct our conceptions are these,
1. Conceive of things clearly and distinctly in their own natures,
2. Conceive of things, completely in all their parts..
3. Conceive of things comprehensively in all their properties and relations.
4 Conceive of things extensively in all their kinds.
5. Conceive of things orderly, or in a proper mes thod.