A LETTER of Dr. REINOLDS to his friend, concerning his aduice for the studie of Diuinitie.

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LONDON Printed by Iohn Beale, for Ionas Man. 1613.

¶ A Letter of Doctor Reinolds to his friend concer­ning his aduice for the study of Diuinity. &c.

I Must request you to impute to my businesses, which haue diuerse waies troubled me, not to lacke of good will, my slack­nesse is not hitherto answe­ring your letters. Which as­sure your selfe, if I had been able, I would haue sooner answered, so much the more willingly, the better I liked of them, as being sure wit­nesses of your good will to [Page] me ward, and desire of god­linesse: whereof for the one I haue heartily to thank you; for the other greatly to re­ioice with you. Then to shew my iudgement concerning the order which you may best follow in the study of diuinity, I can tell you no­thing but that you haue al­ready better read in others and doe know your selfe. Howbeit to satisfie your lo­uing request, I will briefly mention the chiefest points in my iudgement, which are to be regarded: which if you well consider, and earnestly doe follow, as I trust you will, and God grant you may, your labour shall be ta­ken [Page] to the aduancement of Gods glory, the profit of his Church, & your own cōfort

The chiefest point of all, to begin withis, sith that diuini­ty, the knowledge of God, is the water of life; the vessell must be cleane that shall re­ceiue so precious a liquor: the house must be clensed that shal haue Gods holy spi­rit, not only a guest, but also a continual dweller in it. God forbid you should thinke di­uinity consists of words, as wood doth of trees, diuinity without godlinesse doth but condemne consciences a­gainst the day of vengeance, and prouoke the wrath of the mighty Lord, and make [Page] more inexcusable before the seat of iudgement. I will not ad, that true diuinity cannot be learned, vnlesse we frame our hearts and minds wholly to it. But I will desire you to consider that, only, that as the Poet saith, Symcrum est nisi vas, quodcun (que) infundis a­cesssit: so it is written in the book of Wisedome, Wisedom cannot enter into the heart of a wicked man, nor dwell in a bo­dy that is subiect vnto sinne. I hope there is no great cause of standing vpon this point, when I write vnto you, who are, as I trust, the chosen of God, and therefore appoin­ted also to be sanctified. Yet sith your selfe haue mentio­ned [Page] vnto me your owne re­misse kind of liuing (as you doe terme it;) as you loue me, take heed that this re­missenesse be not the same in a mans mind, which a [...] is in the body. And in this, to conclude, consider with your selfe, that if the hea­thens at their sacrifices were wont to cry out, Procul ô pro­cul este profani: what study of holinesse ought there to be in vs, whom God hath adopted, Christ hath redee­med, the holy Ghost hath sā ­ctified to be a peculiar peo­ple vnto God, zealous of good works: which if it be required at the hands of all christians, what shal be asked [Page] at theirs, who studying diui­nity to instruct others, shold shine themselues as lights in the middest of a lewd ge­neration? Shall he euer per­swade others to embrace godlinesse, that hath not per­swaded himselfe that it is a pearle to be redeemed with all treasures?

For the study it selfe, which is next to be considered, the knowledge of God must be learned of God, if euer it be learned. Of whom that we may learne it, we haue to vse two meanes, prayers and reading of holy scripture. Praiers, our selues to talke with God; reading, to heare God talke with vs. For, be­cause [Page] without the grace of the holy spirit, all study, espe­cially in diuinity, is vaine: therefore we must earnestly desire of God that he will enlighten our minds, and sof­ten our hearts, both to know and follow his will reuealed to vs. Now because the holy spirit doth teach the same doctrine which our Saui­our did, which is set forth vnto vs in the Law, and the Prophets, and the Euange­lists: therefore we must dili­gently giue our selues to rea­ding and meditating of the holy scriptures in tongues in which they were written by the holy Spirit. Which how much more forcible it [Page] is then to be doubtfull among translations, if S. Au­stin did not show, who in­structeth a christian preacher that the knowledge of the Hebrew and Greek tongues is very necessary to vnder­stand the old and new testa­stament: yet Themistocles might shew, who hauing to speake to the king of Persia, was afraid that his minde would not be perceiued by interpreters, and therefore requested the king to grant him first a yeeres space to learne the Persian tongue. Wherefore I wish that you also ioyne Hebrew to your Greeke, though peraduen­ture you haue once began it, [Page] and giuen it ouer. For in that you may follow me, sith you propose my example, so much the better, who my selfe, when I was first Master of Arts, began the study of it, and being weary, left it: the next yeer perceiuing the necessary vse of it, I set a­gaine vpon it, and I thanke God, since continued a stu­dent in it. Wherefore the word of God, and that, if it may be, out of the very wel­spring, not out of the brooks of translations (if I may so tearme them) must be dili­gently read, and by often reading made familiar vnto vs, though it be not in all places throughly vnderstood [Page] as the same Austin hath very well noted. As for the parts of scripture (besides this continuall reading of the whole) to be read first ouer with more diligence then the rest, I will giue you the same counsell which I heard of Doctor Villerius giuen to yong students, that first you take your greatest trauaile with the helpe of some lear­ned interpreter, in vnder­standing S. Iohns Gospell and the Epistle to the Ro­mans, the summe of the new Testament: Esay the Pro­phet, and the Psalmes of Dauid, the summe of the old▪ Howbeit in the rest, you shall doe well also if in harder pla­ces [Page] you vse the iudgement of some godly writer, as Cal­uin and Peter Martyr, who haue written best on the most part of the old Testa­ment. And because it is expe­dient to ioyne the reading of some compend of scrip­tures and summe of all diui­nity, together with the scrip­tures, I would wish you to trauaile painfully in Caluins Institution of Christian Re­ligion, whereby you shall be greatly profited not only to the vnderstanding of the scriptures, whereof it is a brief and learned commentary: but also to the perceiuing of points of doctrine, whither all things doe pertaine, and [Page] may of vs be applied. Of far­ther reading of Doctors and histories & other treatises of religiō, I wil not adde at this present: we may hereafter (if God will) at greater leisure, when these things are done which must bee laid for the foundatiō, more conueniētly talk. Howbeit, if sometimes to recreate your selfe, you in­termingle with grauer studies the reading ouer of the histo­ry Ecclesiasticall, especially as it is written more for our country by good M. Fox, you shal receiue of it, togither with great profit, great delectatiō.

I had almost forgotten your two last points, Quae ratio an­notandi, Quae exercitatio adhi­benda, [Page] I haue so little to say of them. For touching noting, you know I do not like the cōmon custom of common places. The best in my iudge­mēt, is to note in the margēt or in some paper booke for that purpose, the summe and method of that which you read. As for examples sake, M. Bunnie hath done very wel in Caluins Institutions, shew­ing all his method and sum of euery sectiō, in his Compē ­dio &c. which book you may wel ioyn with the reading of Caluin, to vnderstand his or­der & method the better. For the other, which is exerci­sing, it wil be good somtimes to occupie your pen either [Page] at large or briefly, as you list, of such godly meditations as the reading of the scriptures shall offer vnto you; praiers vnto God, reprouing of sin, commending of godlinesse, exhorting to righteousnesse, dehorting frō iniquity, con­solation in miseries, confir­ming of the truth, refuting of heresies, & taking an occasi­on of doing these things som tims to other of your friends (a liuely and godly exercise,) whereby you may perfit them, or your self at the least. If you cannot find such oc­casions to others, I pray write to mee sometime of doubtes that you may find, or whatsoeuer you list, and [Page] I will acknowledge my selfe in that respect as in others, beholding to you.

Now if God giue you grace, as earnestly to follow these things, as you haue been de­sirous that I should prescribe them: you see the learning of the Hebrew tongue, the rea­ding of the scripturs, of lear­ned interpreters, of the sum of religion, of noting what you read, and your exercise therin, these things require much time, & a mind attent; to speak nothing of prayers, and the study of godlinesse, which will also require some meditation. Laborandum, mi Iohannes, non luxuriandum. You know what Tullie saith [Page] for Caelius, that to the bare attaining of eloquence omit­tendae sunt omnes voluptates, relinquēda studia delectationis iocus, ludus, conuiuium, sermo pene familiarium deserendus. You know what Plato saith of his Philosopher, what a great [...] and [...] he would haue him, if euer he shall be admitted a man wor­thy to gouerne his city. If eloquence, if philosophie re­quire such trauaile for ciuill and base things (in this com­parison:) what shall we think that the knowledge of God, the study of diuinity, desireth for the greatnesse, & for the worthines deserueth. Whe­ther you will take such pains [Page] or no, or whether you will fly al entisemēts from it, I do not know; I pray God you may. Surely hitherto, which I write with griefe, (your writing, & your friendship doth embol­den me to write freely that which I trust you will take in good part) you haue bin too much caried away by means of cōpany, from earnest tra­uaile to your study, to sweet inticemēts of the flesh, seeing of vain spectacles, ouer much eating & drinking, banquet­ing, frequēting of the town, deliting in vanity, resorting to tauernes, forgetting the word of God. Be not filled with wine wherin is exces but be filled with the spirit. Wil you pardon my loue for desiring to heale [Page] you, or shall I become your enemy for speaking of the truth?) they haue made you to neglect your profit in stu­dy, they haue hurt your wit, weakned your memory, cor­rupted your good desire, stai­ned your manners, enfeebled your body, toucht your good name, grieued your friends, and indeed almost quenched, but yet I thāk God they haue not put out the liuely sparks of Gods spirit in you. A great wel willer of yours, though not greatly acquainted with you, did ask me a day or two before the act, since I receiu'd your letters, what I thought of you, as one that did harti­ly desire your profit in lear­ning [Page] & godlines. When I had answered him, for that good opinion which I had alwaies cōceiued of you, both alwais for your towardlinesse, and especially for your letters, so friendly that I will not now report: he said that he was ve­ry glad to heare it, & that he asked the question in some doubt, because in few daies that here he had staid, he had seen you somwhat often in the town But it might be that by reason of strāgers you had som occasion, the Iudges be­ing here, to be the oftner a­broad. Howbeit about & since the same time, to absent your self from prayers, an exercise so necessary for christiās, that [Page] indeed desire ye grace of God, and know it coms from him only, to absent your self from sundry exercises of diuinity, wherein peraduenture some good might haue bin done to the furthering of your study: me think these things did not so wel as I wished, agree with the profession & as it were protestatiō, whichin your let­ters, so shortly before you writ to me. I may seem ouer­bold, & perhaps am to sharp in this my dealing with you, agreeing as some may think, rather to one that were a su­perior, then fit for a friend, whose degree & state is equal. But I know not how, the good will which I did bear, first be­ing [Page] reader to you being scho­lar, and euer since continued with my free aduise in all things wherin euer you haue asked my counsel (as, I thank you, you haue done in many) doth constraine me to poure foorth my inward affection to you, so much the more willingly, because I know you haue learned of Salomon, that the wounds of a friend are beter then the kissings of an ene­my. Euen these things that hinder your study, & therfore at your request I was cōstrai­ned to touch, I haue touched the more boldly, because I do not doubt but your selfe do mislike them: & I see in your letters the strife betwixt the flesh and the spirit, which S. [Page] Paul setteth down as a marke of Gods children, that you do not the good which you wold but the euill which you wold not, that you do. God giue you grace to stir vp your hart & striue as a faithful seruāt to fly from the lusts of youth, as S. Paul exhorteth Timothy, that you may set your mind to praiers & the reading of holy scripture. It wil be cōueniēt that you haue your appoin­ted times for the one and for the other. Which to prescribe as your self knowing your own busines, may most conueniēt­ly; so cōstātly to follow your order prescribed, I hope the grace of God, which earnest­ly you shall pray for, will not be failing to you. Iuly 4. 1577

FINIS.

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