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Bishop Burnet Thoughts on Education

For theology books, I would advise none to be put in a youth’s hand, but such as give accounts of the plain and literal meaning of Scriptures, and therefore the govenour should every day read with the youth considerable portions of Scripture, acquainting him with the several difficulties as they occurre, and with the solutions of them; and if the youth have any knowledge of criticisms it should make up one part of their discourses, especially on the Lord’s Day, to unriddle to him knotty pieces of Scripture: and this is all for the science of theology fitt to be taught, and indeed he who well understands Scripture, cannot choose but be a good theologue.


But at this age, piety is chiefly to be looked at; the youth must often hear from his govenour serious discourses of God, and the life to come, and be taught to love him and his son Jesus Christ; he should therefore presse him to be serious in praier, and should often in secret pray with him; and alsohe should urge him to meditate often, and to review his life: he must also now study to persuade him of the vanity of the world, and to undervalue all thinks without him; to possesse his mind with calm and tranquill thoughts; and thus should be  diligent to forme  him in his morals, to beat down all desire or love of pleasure, and to kindle in him a celsitude of mind, and a generous desire of doing good to others. Solomon’s Ecclesiastes must often be read to him; and the Stoicall philosophy should be explained to him, and Epictetus should be carefully read to him. These things should be frequently repeated, and illustrated, and made good, by historical instances, which doe always affect youths more than bare reasoning.


The vices to be repressed are, love of money, ambition, much talk, a valuing one’s selfe for their rank, title, friends or parts; but chiefly rash and undiscreet censuring; and all these must be beaten downe by strong reason often repeated. Nothing must now be carried by authority or violence; the youth must be treated, before others, with respect and kindness, and not openly twitted or reproved for his faults; yea, it will make private admonitions to be the better received, if he discerne in his govenour a care to cover and excite his faults to others. He should be caressed with great affection especially when he reproved for his faults, that he may not only bear them well, but may be thereby engaged to love his govenour, and to observe his precepts.