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gularly forward ; which last method I have practised, as the most simple and connected. But in this last method I should propose, after having finished one Gospel, to proceed to such portions of the rest as contained something different from what was found in the first, which portions are pointed out in every harmony.
. The congregation would find themselves greatly assisted if they could be prevailed upon to bring their Bibles along with them to church, that they might have their eye upon the text whilst the minister was delivering his exposition. I hardly need observe, that in country parishes this scheme is only practicable during the summer season, when the length of the day and the state of the roads easily admit of the parishioners' coming twice a day to church.
I have made this recommendation the subject of my present address, because I know not any by which I could detain you so well worthy your consideration and regard. The best and highest purpose of these meetings would be answered, if, by a communication of sentiment and observation, we could be made to profit by one another's experience and by one another's judgement; that, by cheerfully imparting to our brethren whatever any of us may have found conducive to the object of our common profession and our common endeavour, we may provoke one another to love and to good works, and carry on the great business of public instruction with united zeal, information, and ability.
ON THE STUDIES SUITABLE TO THE CLERGY.
ADDRESSING an audience of clergymen and scholars, I cannot be improperly employed in pointing out to their attention, especially to that of the younger and less experienced, a few plain rules for the conduct and assistance of their professional studies. And these rules I may in some sort call mechanical, because as to the more important qualities, which are the foundation of success in literary pursuits, taste, judgement, and erudition; they are very imperfectly, if at all the subjects of rules, and certainly cannot be taught by any which it is in my power to deliver.
It may seem the tritest of all trite topics to recommend study to clergymen; but I am persuaded that very few who have not fallen into studious habits are sufficiently sensible how conducive they are to satisfaction. And to no person can they, in this view, be of so much importance as to us; I mean to such of us as have no other employment than our profession. The chief fault of a clergyman's life is the want of constant engagement. There is no way of supplying this vacancy so good as study, because there is hardly any other method of spending time which does not oblige or tempt us to spend also money. They, and they alone, who have experienced the difference, can tell how rapidly, hot oothly, and how cheerfully the
passes which is passed in study; and how tedious and wearisome leisure oftentimes becomes without it. I must be understood, however, to speak of something which deserves the name of study, for mere reading, without thought, method, or distinction, does not come up to this character. In truth, it may be rendered so much an amusement as to be entitled to no other name, rank, or merit; and what is worse, when followed merely as an amusement, it ceases to be even that. Light entertaining reading ought to be the relaxation, not the employment of a vigorous mind; not the substance of our intellectual food, but the seasoning or the desert.
Supposing, therefore, a clergyman to be conscious of a great deal of unoccupied time, and desirous of apply. ing it to the improvement of his knowledge and his usefulness, and that more particularly in discharging the duties of his office, I would strongly recommend to him the revival of two old fashioned but excellent helps to learning-an interleaved Bible and a common-place book.
In the last age, when study was more in fashion than it is, and when the studies of clergymen were more appropriated to their calling than they are, no man of character in the profession was without a Bible, or at least a Greek Testament interleaved with blank pages. It was usual to divide the page into two columns, in one of which he inserted from time to time such comments and remarks upon each text as struck him in the course of his various readings, and as struck him by their value and probability; for it was not intended by the person who provided himself with this apparatus to transcribe into his manuscript an"
tinued comment, merely for the purpose of re. handwriting what he might read in ti
enable him to find at once, and in its proper place, what lies dispersed in different authors. The other column was set apart for observations, or perhaps conjectures, which had at any time occurred to himself whilst reading the Scriptures or hearing them read.
When a number of years had replenished this collection, it became a treasure ; for it became both a grateful and edifying employment to peruse a chapter, the lesson for instance of the day, with the remarks and information before him which former thoughts or researches had suggested.
That excellent prelate, with the close of whose studious life it was my lot to be intimately acquainted, for many years took great delight in these recollections. Old age never appeared more venerable than when so employed.
Another useful contrivance was a common-place book. This may be serviceable in every branch of science, and in every species of study; but it is for me only at present to render it as applicable to the studies of a clergyman, and especially to what every clergyman must wish to be provided with, a due choice and variety of subjects for his public discourses, and an assortment of topics suitable to each. Mr. Locke long ago observed, that the most valuable of our thoughts are those which drop as it were into the mind by accident; and no one exercised in these matters will be backward to allow, that they are almost always preferable to what is forced up from the mind by pumping, or as Milton has more strongly expressed it, “wrung like drops of blood from the nose,” that is, in plainer terms, to such as we are compelled to furnish at the time. This being so, it becomes of nsequence to possess some means of preserving those s which our more fortunate mo
ments may cast up, and to preserve them in such order and arrangement that we can turn to them when we want them. I recommend, therefore, for this purpose, a common-place book for sermons, so contrived as to answer two ends ; first, to collect proper subjects, and secondly, under each subject to collect proper sentiments. Whenever, which will happen more frequently than we expect, reading, meditation, conversation, especially with persons of the same class and rank of life as our congregations are composed of, what we hear them say, or what we perceive them to think, shall suggest any useful subject of discourse, of explanation, advice, caution, or instruction, let it be marked down at the time. We may not want it at the time, but let it be marked down. A distinct subject should stand at the head of a distinct page, and have a whole page
a left to it, in order that when afterwards any thing relating to the same subject is presented to our minds, it may be inserted under its proper head.
By which means, when we sit down to the composition of a sermon, we have only to go to our book for a subject, and not only for a subject, but for many of the sentiments which belong to it, and the division of argument into which our doctrine will run. And these are more likely to be natural, solid, and useful, from the very circumstance of having occurred spontaneously and occasionally, instead of being sought by labour and straining.
In the office of composition, to which the remainder of my address will relate, there are three directions which appear to me to comprehend all that can be laid down as to artificial assistance.
These are repeated transcribing, repeated revisions, ar isions with intervals of considerable length. T