The second Letter.
IN my last I gave you som incident thoughts, concerning the improvement of an Honorarie Librarie-keeper's-place, to shew the true end and use thereof, and how the keepers thereof should bee regulated in the Trade, which hee is to drive for the Advancement of Learning, and encouraged by a cōmpetent maintenance, and support∣ed in extraordinarie expences for the same. Now I wish that som men of publick Spirits and lovers of Learning, might bee made acquainted with the Action, upon such grounds as were then briefly suggest∣ed; who know's but that in time somthing might bee offered to the Trustees of the Na∣tion, with better conceptions then these I have suggested.
For, if it bee considered that amongst manie Eminencies of this Nation, the Li∣brarie of Oxford is one of the most consi∣derable for the advancement of Learning, if rightly improved and Traded withal for the good of Scholars at home and abroad; If this (I saie) bee rightly considered and Page 26 represented to the publick Reformers of this age, that by this means this Nation as in other things, so especially for Pietie and Learning, and by the advancement of both, may now bee made more glorious then anie other in the world; No doubt such as in the Parlament know the worth of Learning will not bee avers from further overtures, which may bee made towards this purpose. What a great stir hath been heretofore, about the Eminencie of the Li∣brarie of Heidelberg, but what use was made of it? It was ingrossed into the hands of a few, till it became a Prey unto the E∣nemies of the Truth. If the Librarie-kee∣per had been a man, that would have traded with it for the increas of true Learning, it might have been preserved unto this daie in all the rarities thereof, not so much by the shuttings up of the multitude of Books, and the rareness thereof for antiquitie, as by the understandings of men and their proficiencie to improv and dilate know∣ledg upon the grounds which hee might have suggested unto others of parts, and so the Librarie-rarities would not onely have been preserved in the spirits of men, but have fructified abundantly therein un∣to this daie, whereas they are now lost, be∣caus they were but a Talent digged in the Page 27 ground; And as they that had the keeping of that Librarie made it an Idol, to bee re∣spected and worshipped for a raritie by an implicite faith, without anie benefit to those who did esteem of it a far off: so it was just with God that it should fall into the hands of those that in all things follow an Idolatrous waie, to blinde men with shewes without all realitie of substantial virtue, which is onely eminent in this, that it becometh profitable unto all, by dilating the light of knowledg, and the love of grace and goodness in the hearts of all men, that are fit to receiv the one and the other; And where this Aim is not in those that are intrusted with publick places; there they in the end will bee found unprofitable servants; for the trust which God hath put into their hands to profit withal, they dis∣charge not for the account which everie one is to give unto him of his Stewardship, is not how careful hee hath kept things of use unto himself, to pride himself in the possession of that which others have not, (as the custom of men is, that know not what true glorie is) but how faithfully and diligently hee hath distributed the same to such as were worthie thereof for their good, that they might bee stirred up both to glorifie God for his goodness; and to Page 28 imitate him in the Communication of all good things unto others for his sake freely. This was Christ's Work on Earth to re∣ceiv us, unto the Glorie of God; this was that vvhich hee taught by this practice, that it is more blessed to give, then to receiv. This is that which this envious World can∣not rellish, and vvhat stop's the current of true love in the hearts of men? Nothing so much as the self-seeking of men in the vvaies of Learning, by vvhich they cove∣tously obstruct the fountains of life and comfort, vvhich might overflow and vvater abundantly the barren and thirstie Souls of those that perish for vvant of address nnto vvisdom; vvhich in all the vvaies of hu∣mane and divine Learning might bee main∣ly advanced, by the industrie of one man in such a place, vvhose Trade should bee such as I formerly described, to deal vvith the spirits of all men of parts, to set them a vvorking one by and towards another, upon the subjects vvhich hee should bee intrust∣ed vvithal to keep in the stock of Learning. It is the Glorie and Riches of Nations and of great Cities, to make themselvs the Cen∣ter of Trade for all their Neighbors; and if they can finde vvaies of politie, to oblige their Neighbors to receiv from their Maga∣zines the Commodities whereof they stand Page 29 in need, it is everie vvaie a great benefit unto the State, so it may bee in matters of Learning, and by the Trade of Sciences this Church may oblige all the Neighbor Churches, and that Universitie all For∣reiners that Trade in knowledge to receiv pretious Commodities, whereof they stand in need, from our Magazines and Store∣houses; if a painful Steward and dispenser thereof, bee imploied and mainteined to use industrie for so blessed a work, from whence much Glorie to God in the Gospel, and honor will redound to the Nation. For although the waies of humane Learning are almost infinite and wonderfully various, and have their peculiar uses in the outward life of man, for which most men affect them, yet in one that is to minde the universal good of all, the whole varietie and diversi∣tie of matters useful unto this present life, as they com within the sphere of Learning must bee reduced, and may bee subordi∣nate unto the advancement of the Gospel of Christ, wherein the Glorie of the Nati∣on, at this and all times should bee thought to stand: And truly that is the thing which take's most with mee, for which I would have that Librarie thus improved by a faith∣ful keeper, that when his Trade is set on foot, with all those that are of eminent Page 30 parts in their several faculties, wee know∣ing who they are and wherein their emi∣nencies do lie, may have opportunities to provoke them to the right use thereof, by giving them Objects from our store; and furnishing them with tasks and matters to bee elaborated, which cannot bee diverted from the scope of God's glorie to bee made known unto all men in Jesus Christ, for there is nothing of knowledg in the minde of man, which may not bee conveniently referred to the virtues of God in Christ, whereby the humane nature is to bee exalt∣ed to that dignitie whereunto hee hath re∣ceived it, that it should by him rule over the whole Creätion. And the want of this Aim to look upon things in order to him, and to set them a working without relation to him, is that which blast's all our ende∣vors, and make's them determin in confusi∣on and disorder; For whatsoëver is not di∣rected in it's own place with som reference unto him must bee overthrown; nor is there anie waie left for anie to prosper in that which hee undertaketh, but to learn to know him and respect him in it, for the ad∣vancement of the Kingdom over the Souls of men, which by the Sanctified use of all knowledg is chiefly effected. If then the Trade of Learning is to bee set a foot in a Page 31 publick waie, and regulated to deserv the countenance of a Religious State, this Aim, and the waie of prosecuting of it must bee intended and beaten out; For except Sci∣ences bee reformed in order to this Scope, the increas of knowledg will increas no∣thing but strife, pride and confusion, from whence our sorrows will bee multiplied and propagated unto posteritie; but if hee, who is to bee intrusted with the managing of this Trade, bee addressed in the waie which leadeth unto this Aim without par∣tialitie, his negotiation will bee a blessing unto this age and to posteritie.
I have no time to inlarge upon this Sub∣ject, or to conceiv a formal and regular dis∣cours, but the thoughts which thus fall in∣to my minde I impart unto you, that you may give them as hints unto others, who of themselvs will bee able to inlarge them ei∣ther to the Hous, or to such as can in due time swaie the Counsels of leading men in this Common-wealth.