Isaac Watts – Questions Proper for Students in Divinity


As a seminary professor, I find Isaac Watts questions for Divinity students printed below, which he wrote in 1813, to be just as relevant today. These questions for students to put to their own conscience are profoundly heart-searching and are of immense value.

Isaac Watts, The Works of the Rev. Isaac Watts, eds., William Baynes; Thomas Williams and Son; Thomas Hamilton; Josiah Conder; Edward Baines (London; Leeds, 1813): vol. 5: 586–587.

Questions of serious Importance, for Students in Divinity, frequently put to their own Consciences

WHAT was my great design, in devoting myself to study for the ministry, and what is my daily view and purpose in pursuing it?

Have I entirely given up myself to our Lord Jesus Christ, as a Christian, that I may be fitter to become a faithful minister.

Do I every day seek direction and blessing from God, in all my studies for this end?

In laboring after knowledge in human sciences, do I always make the service of Christ, in the ministry, my supreme design, either that I may be better fitted for it or better accepted in it?

Do I pursue my studies daily, as one that must give an account of my time, and of all my advantages?

Note, These two questions put close to the heart, will guard students against idleness, or against wasting too much of their time, in any favorite human study.

How many hours have I spent this day in study, or for the pursuit of knowledge, allowing that great maxim, “Bene orasse est bene studiesse.” To pray well is to study well.

Do I pursue practical divinity, as well as the knowledge of doctrines and controversies?

Am I solicitous that my soul may grow in grace, by every increasing degree of Christian knowledge, that so I may preach to others, what my own soul has known by experience?

Do I choose my company by their seriousness, as well as by their ingenuity and learning?

Do I take constant care to avoid all company, which may be dangerous to my morals, or to my studies?

Have I been in any company this week, or this day, whereby I have gotten any good myself, or done any good to others?

Have I indulged myself in any thing this week, or this day, whereby my soul has been put out of frame for evening-worship?

Have I suffered nothing to carry away my heart from God, so as to make me neglect devotion, or perform it in a slight or careless manner?

Do I watch against all evil appetites and passions, and endeavor to subdue them early, that I may be fitter to teach others to do it?

Do I ever take any proper occasion, in my discourse, to make some essay towards the conversion or edification of souls, as preparatories for my future ministry?

By |December 24th, 2015|Categories: Blog|

About the Author:

David E. Prince is pastor of preaching and vision at Ashland Avenue Baptist Church in Lexington, Kentucky and assistant professor of Christian preaching at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He is the author of In the Arena and Church with Jesus as the Hero. He blogs at Prince on Preaching and frequently writes for The Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, For the Church, the BGEA and Preaching Today