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climbing up to smaller points (which some call higher) before you have well received these, and the receiving of those higher points, independently, without their due respect, to these which they depend upon. 2. The feeding upon dry and barren controversies, and delighting in the chaff of jingling words, and impertinent, unedifying things, or discourses about formalities and circumstances.
Direct. VIII. Meditate on what you hear when you come home, till you better understand it ".
Direct. Ix. Inquire where you doubt, of those that can resolve and teach you.' It sheweth a careless mind, and a contempt of the Word of God, in most people and servants, that never come to ask the resolution of one doubt, from one week's or year's end to another, though they have pastors or masters that have ability, and leisure, and willingness to help them. "When Christ was alone, they that were about him with the twelve, asked him the meaning of his parable"."
Direct. x. Read much those holy books which treat best of the doctrine which you would understand."
Direct. XI. Pray earnestly for wisdom, and the illumination of the Spirit *.*
Direct. XII. Conscionable practising what you know, is an excellent help to understanding'.'
Tit. 2. Directions for Remembering what you Hear.
That want of memory, which cometh from age and decay of nature, is not to be cured: nor should any servant of Christ be overmuch troubled at it; seeing Christ will no more cast off his servants for that, than he will for age or any sickness: but for that want of memory which is curable, and is a fault, I shall give you these Directions fol lowing.
Direct. 1. It greatly helpeth memory to have a full understanding of the matter spoken, which you would remember.' And ignorance is one of the greatest hindrances to memory. Common experience telleth you this, how easily you can remember any discourse which you thoroughly unk * Eph. i. 18. Acts xxvi. 18. James i. 5.
h Psal. i. 2.
i Mark iv. 10.
derstand (for your very knowledge by invention will revive your memory); and how hard it is to remember any words which are insignificant, or which we understand not. Therefore labour most for a clear understanding according to the last Directions.
Direct. 11. A deep, awakened affection is a very powerful help to memory.' We easily remember any thing which our estates or lives lie on, when trifles are neglected and soon forgotten. Therefore labour to get all to your hearts, according to the next following Directions.
Direct. 111. Method is a very great help to memory.' Therefore be acquainted with the preacher's method; and then you are put into a path or tract, which you cannot easily go out of. And therefore it is, that ministers must not only be methodical, and avoid prolix, confused, and involved discourses, and that malicious pride of hiding their method, but must be as oft in the use of the same method, as the subject will bear, and choose that method which is most easy to the hearers to understand and remember, and labour to make them perceive your tract.
Direct. 1v. 'Numbers are a great help to memory.' As if the reasons, the uses, the motives, the signs, the directions, be six, or seven, or eight; when you know just the number, it helpeth you much to remember, which was the first, second, third, &c.
Direct. v. Names also and signal words are a great help to memory.' He may remember one word, that cannot remember all the sentence; and that one word may help him to remember much of the rest. Therefore preachers should contrive the force of every reason, use, direction, &c. as much as may be into some one emphatical word. (And some do very profitably contrive each of those words to begin with the same letter, which is good for memory, so it be not too much strained, and put them not upon greater inconveniences); as if I were to direct you to the chiefest helps to your salvation, and should name, 1. Powerful preaching. 2. Prayer. 3. Prudence. 4. Piety. 5. Painfulness. 6. Patience. 7. Perseverance. Though I opened every one of these at large, the very names would help the hearers' memory. It is this that maketh ministers that care more for their people's souls, than the pleasing of curious ears, to
go in the common road of doctrine, reason, uses, motives, helps, &c. and to give their uses the same titles of information, reproof, exhortation, &c. And yet when the subject shall direct us to some other method, the hearers must not be offended with us for one method will not serve exactly for every subject, and we must be loath to wrong the text or
Direct. vI. 'It is a great help to memory, often in the time of hearing to call over and repeat to yourselves the names or heads that have been spoken.' The mind of man can do two things at once: You may both hear what is said, and recal and repeat to yourselves what is past: not to stand long upon it, but oft and quickly to name over, e. g. The reasons, uses, motives, &c. To me, this hath been (next to understanding and affection) the greatest help of ́any that I have used; for otherwise to hear a head but once, and think of it no more till the sermon is done, would never serve my turn to keep it.
Direct. VII. 'Grasp not at more than you are able to hold, lest thereby you lose all.' If there be more particulars than you can possibly remember, lay hold on some which most concern you, and let go the rest; perhaps another may rather take up those, which you leave behind. Yet say not that it is the preacher's fault to name more than you can carry away: for, 1. Then he must leave out his enlargement much more, and the most of his sermon; for it is like you leave the most behind. 2. Another may remember more than you. 3. All is not lost when the words are forgotten: for it may breed a habit of understanding, and promote resolution, affection, and practice.
Direct. VIII. Writing is an easy help for memory, to those that can use it.' Some question whether they should use it, because it hindereth their affection. But that must be differently determined according to the difference of subjects, and of hearers. Some sermons are all to work upon the affections at present, and the present advantage is to be preferred before the after perusal: but some must more profit us in after digestion and review. And some hearers can write much with ease, and little hinder their affection; and some write so little and are hindered so much, that it recompenseth not their loss. Some know so
fully all that is said, that they need no notes; and some that are ignorant need them for perusal.
Direct. ix. 'Peruse what you remember, or write down, when you come home; and fix it speedily before it is lost; and hear others that can repeat it better.' Pray it over, and confer of it with others.
Direct. x. If you forget the very words, yet remember the main drift of all; and get those resolutions and affections which they drive at.' And then you have not lost the sermon, though you have lost the words; as he hath not lost his food, that hath digested it, and turned it into flesh and blood.
Tit. 3. Directions for holy Resolutions and Affections in
The understanding and memory are but the passage to the heart, and the practice is but the expression of the heart: therefore how to work upon the heart is the principal busi
Direct. 1. Live under the most convincing, lively, serious preacher that possibly you can.' It is a matter of great concernment to all, but especially to dull and sense. less hearts. Hearken not to that earthly generation, that tell you, because God can bless the weakest, and because it is your own fault if you profit not by the weakest; that therefore you should make no difference, but sit down under an ignorant, dumb, or senseless man. Try first whether they had as willingly have a bad servant, or a bad physician as a good one, because God can bless the labours of the weakest? Try whether they would not have their children duly reproved or corrected, because it is their own faults that they need it? And whether they would not take physic after a surfeit? though it be their own fault that made them sick. It is true, that all our sin is our own fault; but the question is, What is the most effectual cure? What man that is alive and awake, doth not feel a very great difference between a dead and a lively preacher?
Direct. 11. Remember that ministers are the messengers of Christ, and come to you on his business and in his name. Hear them therefore as his officers, and as men that have
more to do with God himself, than with the speakerTM.' It is the phrase of the Holy Ghost, "All things are naked and opened to the eyes of him with whom we have to do"." It is God with whom you have to do, and therefore accordingly behave yourselves o.
Direct. 111. Remember that this God is instructing you, and warning you, and treating with you, about no less than the saving of your souls. Come therefore to hear as for your salvation.' Can that heart be dull that well considereth, that it is heaven and hell that is the matter that God is treating with him about?
Direct. IV. Remember that you have but a little time to hear in; and you know not, whether ever you shall hear again. Hear therefore as if it were your last.' Think when you hear the calls of God, and the offers of Grace, I know not but this may be my last: how would I hear if I were sure to die to-morrow? I am sure it will be ere long, and may be to-day for aught I know.
Direct. v. Remember that all these days and sermons must be reviewed, and you must answer for all that you have heard, whether you heard it with love, or with unwillingness and weariness; with diligent attention or with carelessness; and the Word which you hear shall judge you at the last day. Hear therefore as those that are going to judgment, to give account of their hearing and obeying P.
Direct. vi. Make it your work with diligence to apply the Word as you are hearing it, and to work your own hearts to those suitable resolutions and affections which it bespeaketh.' Cast not all upon the minister, as those that will go no further than they are carried as by force: this is fitter for the dead than for the living. You have work to do as well as the preacher, and should all the while be as busy as he; as helpless as the infant is, he must suck when the mother offereth him the breast: if you must be fed, yet you must open your mouths, and digest it, for another cannot digest it for you; nor can the holiest, wisest, powerful minister, convert or save you without yourselves, nor deliver a people from sin and hell, that will not stir for their own deliverance. Therefore be all the while at work, and abhor an idle heart in hearing, as well as an idle minister.
ni 2 Cor. vi. 1.
• See Luke x. 16. 1 Thes, iv. 8. 1 Cor. iv. 1.
n Heb. iv. 13.
P John xii. 48.