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them from others; be acquainted with Men as well as Books; learn all Things as much as you can at first Hand; and let as many of your Ideas as possible be the Representations of Things, and not merely the Representations of other Mens Ideas: Thus your Soul, like some noble Building, shall be richly furnished with original Paintings, and not with mere Copies.
Direct. II. Use the most proper Methods to retain that Treasure os Ideas which you have acquired; for the Mind is ready to let many of them flip, unless some Pains and Labour be taken to fix them upon the Memory.
And more especially let those Ideas be laid up and preserved with the greatest Care, which are most directly suited, either to your eternal Welfare as a Christian, or to your particular Station and Profession in this Life; for though the former Rule recommends an universal Acquaintance with Things, yet it is but a more general and superficial Knowledge that is required or expected of any Man, in Things which are utterly foreign to his own Business; but it is necessary 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 some Persons who never arrive at any deep, solid, or valuable Knowledge in any Science or any Business of Life, because they are perpetually fluttering over the Surface of Things in a curious and wandering Search 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 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 gain'd, pursue these Advices, especially in your younger Years.
i. 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 hastning to a new Book, or a new Chapter, till you have well fix'd 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 gradual Improvement of it, while you take Care not to load it to excess.
. 2. Talk over the things which you have seen, heard or learnt with some proper Acquaintance; this will make a fresh Impression upon 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 any thing 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 os 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 recall them again to your Mind, when perhaps they are vanish'd and lost. 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, setting down things as they occur, leaving a dis
tinct Page for each Subject, and making an Index to the Pages.
At the End of every Week, or Month, cr 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 so familiar to you, that you will thereby see your own Advancement in Knowledge. And in the next Place, what Remarks you find there worthy of your riper Observation, you may note them with a marginal Star, instead of transcribing them, as being worthy of your second Year's Review, when the others are neglected.
To shorten something of this Labour, if the Books which you read are your own, mark with a Pen, or Pencil, the most considerable 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 fay, I shall spoil my Book; for I persuade myself that you did not buy it as a Bookseller to fell it again for Gain, but as a Scholar, to improve your Mind by it; and if the Mind be improved, your Advantage is abundant, though your Book yields less Money to your Executors.
Nott, This Advice of Writing, Marking, and Reviewing your Marks,refers chiefly to those occasional Notions you meet with either in Reading or in Conversation: But when you are directly and professedly pursuing any Subject of Knowledge in a good System in your younger Years. The System it self is your common Place-Book, and must be entirely reviewed. The same may be said concerning any Treatise which closely, succinctly and accurate 1 handles any pvticulu Theme.
Direct. III. As you proceed both in Learning and in Life, make a wife 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 small, and our Judgment weak; it is therefore impossible at that Age to determine 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 solicitous to retain that which is most necessary for your Welfare in this Life, or a better. Hereby you will come to make the fame Complaint that almost every learned Man has done after long Experience in Study, and in the Affairs of human Life and Religion: 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 Pursuit! Happy the Man who has a wife 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 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 rife and intrude upon us while we shun them; there are
others others that fly from us, when we would hold and fix them.
If the Ideas which you would willingly make the Matter of your present Meditation are ready to fly from you, you must be obstinate in the Pursuit of them by an Habit of fixed Meditation; you must keep your Soul to the Work, when it is ready to start aside every Moment, unless you will abandon yourself to be a Slave 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 should teaze our Spirits, and scatter our best Ideas: But we must learn to be 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 or Paper in our Hands, which has some proper Hints of the Subject that we design to pursue. We must be resolute and laborious, and sometimes conflict with ourselves if we would be wife and learned.
Yet I would not be too severe in this Rule: It must be confessed 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 Meditation; at such Seasons (provided that they return not too often) it is better sometimes to yield to the present Indisposition; for if Nature entirely resist, nothing can be done to the Purpose, at least in that Subject or Science. Then you may think it proper to give yourself up to some Hours of Leisure and Recreation, or useful Idleness; or if not, then turn your Thoughts to some other alluring Subjects, and pore F 2 no