And further, my son, be admonished by these. Of making many books there is no end, and much study is wearisome to the flesh. Ecclesiastes 12:12
And this I take to be the meaning of Solomon's advice in Eccl. 12:12. "by these, my son, be admonished: of making many books", namely, for the promoting of religion and godliness. I know this text is generally interpreted to another purpose, but if we consult the context and the words themselves, we shall be induced to believe that this is the sense of the Wise Man here. For the text hath plain reference to what is said in the foregoing verses, "the preacher was wise, he still taught the people knowledge; yea, he gave good heed, and sought out, [and] set in order many proverbs. The preacher sought to find out acceptable words: and [that which was] written [was] upright, [even] words of truth". Which is as much as if he had said, I have endeavored to make use of that talent of knowledge and wisdom which was bestowed upon me by the Divine Bounty; I have taken care to instruct and enlighten mens minds; I have committed to writing many useful and necessary truths, because this is a fit and proper way of making these truths lasting and permanent, and of imprinting them deeply on the minds of the readers; wherefore I compare them to "nails' fastened"; for this reason I admonish and advise others to whom God hath given abilities for that purpose; (tho they be not inspired, as I am) to follow my example, that is, to instruct others, not only with their lips, but with their pens, to compose "many books", and as it were "without end". I would not have them give over the work to soon, but persevere in so good an undertaking, though it be very laborious, though "much study be a weariness of the flesh". Not with standing this, I counsel them to persist in so good and laudable an employment.
This I take to be the genuine sense of Solomon's words, I believe those who diligently compare them with the preceding ones, and mind the structure and contexture of the words themselves in the original, will be of my persuasion. And I cannot think but that they will grant there is need at this day of following the Wise Man's advice; for as there are many books extant that foster atheism, infidelity, skepticism, profaneness and lewdness, so the number of books of a contrary nature should be proportionable. These are requisite to silence the errors and false notions, the bold and daring assertions of ill–disposed men; these are necessary for establishing the fundamental doctrines of natural religion, but more especially of those that belong to the Christian and evangelical institution.
"Veritas Redux. Evangelical Truths Restored". John Edwards. London. Printed for Jonathan Robinson, John Lawrence, and John Wyat. 1707. General Introduction, pages 1-2.