How to estimate books.

Saint Martin

Let all who read this book - you even who may indulge the taste for writing yourselves - learn to reduce your own books and those of your fellow-creatures to their real value. All these productions should be pictures; and pictures, to be worth anything, presuppose real originals, whose features they represent to us, and positive facts, of which they convey a faithful report.

Yes! the annals of Truth ought to be nothing but compilations of its own dazzling lights and wonders; and he who has the happiness to be called to be its true minister ought never to write till he has acted virtually under its orders, and only to tell us of the marvels he may have wrought in its name.

Such, in all times, has been the way of ministers in spirit and in truth of the things of God. They never wrote till they had wrought. Such also should still be man's course, since he is specially destined for the stewardship of the things of God. What are those enormous heaps of books, the issue of human fancy and imagination, which not only have not waited for works to describe or marvels to relate, but present themselves to us with the puerile and culpable pretension of altogether taking their places?

What are all those writers, whose object is only to make us contribute to their own vain and noisy celebrity, instead of sacrificing themselves for our good? False friends, who are ready enough to talk to us of virtue and truth, but take great care to leave us in peace, in inaction, and falsity; fearful lest if they attempted to pluck us out with sharp words we should desert their school and stand in the way of their glory, and so reduce them to silence and oblivion.

Oh ! throw aside those profitless books, and take the way of work at once, if you are happy enough to know what this really means. Give yourself to work at the cost of your sweat and blood, and take not a pen till you have some discovery to relate in the regions of true knowledge, some instructive experience in the works of the spirit, or some glorious conquest gained over the kingdom of darkness and lies.