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The Tools of Wisdom


Thinking about wisdom leads inevitably to language and communication. Wisdom and words go together. Dr Hendriksen explains, "A word serves two distinct purposes: (a) it gives expression to the inner thought, the soul of the man, doing this even though no one else is present to hear what is said or to read what is thought; and (b) it reveals this thought (hence, the soul of the speaker) to others. Christ is the Word of God in both respects: he expresses or reflects the mind of God; also, he reveals God to man." (Commentary on the Gospel of John, page 70). To develop and increase our own wisdom, to conserve it and to communicate it to others we need words. We may in certain circumstances use pictures or symbols but these never become a substitute for words. It is therefore important for us to know how to use words and to be familiar with the rules of grammar for our own language and any other that we intend to learn.

The alphabet contains all of the letters of a particular language arranged in some accepted order. Familiarity with the appropriate alphabet is the first step in mastering a foreign language which has a different alphabet to our own and which we wish to read and write.

It is important in any language to extend one's vocabulary increasing the number of words that one can correctly pronounce and spell and of which the meanings are known. Various rules to enable correct spelling facilitate accuracy but much hard work remains.

Syntax is the branch of grammar that has to do with the appropriate arrangement of the words in a sentence according to the established usage.

Effective use of words is improved by familiarity with the various classes under which words are arranged. These are termed Parts of Speech. Pointing out these parts of speech in a sentence and describing them is called Parsing. It is an excellent activity for consolidating our grasp of this part of the grammar.

Our written English can be improved by Punctuation. This refers to the dividing up of sentences by marks of punctuation such as commas and full stops.

Comprehension exercises, summaries and essays together with more specific tasks such as letter or report writing may test competence in the use of the English language.


Logic is the branch of philosophy that concerns itself with the laws of thought. It seeks to examine the way in which we reason in order to distinguish sound argumentation from mistaken reasoning, where, for example, the conclusion does not follow from the original statements. It is a valuable study to help us to think carefully.


Mathematics is concerned with the measurement and numbering in which we become involved as we deal with various matters. Its order arises out of the regularity that God maintains in the government of the world. Developing mathematical ability is an important part of improving our reasoning and of tackling quantitative tasks in daily life.

British education has been concerned with the three Rs, namely reading, writing and arithmetic. The value of these as a sound basis for self-improvement in the path of wisdom will now be readily appreciated. We spend time mastering the rules involved because growing competence in these things puts into our hands valuable tools for the acquisition of knowledge, the development of own intellectual powers and in consequence, through humble dependence upon God as described in previous sections, progress in the ways of sound wisdom.

Memory verse

"The words of the wise are as goads..."(Ecclesiastes 12.11)


inevitably, conserve, symbols

substitute, alphabet, vocabulary

accidence, syntax, parsing

punctuation, competence

Further reading

Consult a Dictionary Introduction for etymology, inflexion, abbreviations and origin of the English language.

Things to do

To improve your command of the English language define with examples each of the following terms.


Words: vocabulary, etymology, accidence

Groups of words: sentence, clause, phrase, subject and predicate

Parts of speech:

Noun: proper noun, common noun, collective noun, and abstract noun

Pronoun: interrogative, indefinite, reflexive, emphasizing, reciprocal and relative

Adjectives: of quality, of quantity, demonstrative, possessive, interrogative, identical, positive, comparative, superlative, attributive use, and predicative use.

Verb: transitive, intransitive, impersonal, auxiliary,

first, second and third persons,

tenses - past, present and future

voice - active and passive

mood - indicative, imperative and subjunctive

participle - active participle, passive participle

Adverb of time, of place, of manner, of degree,

Clauses time, place, purpose, causal, adversative,

Consequence, conditional and comparative




Cases: Nominative, Vocative, Accusative, Genitive, and Dative.

Punctuation: full stop, comma, semi-colon, question mark, exclamation mark, dash, quotation marks, speech marks

Parsing: When parsing you must state the part of speech for each word in the sentence. For nouns give number, gender and case. For pronouns in addition give the person. For verbs give person, number, mood, tense and voice. Try some of the sentences at the beginning of this chapter.


Using a good dictionary you will be able to define the following terms as they are used in the discipline of logic. An introduction to Logic will give fuller information.

reasoning, conclusions, inferences

propositions, deduction, induction

syllogism, premises, copula

assertions, universal, particular

affirmative, negative, middle term

validity, invalidity. complement

fallacies, petitio pricipii


Prepare notes on how to write different kinds of essays.


Prepare notes on how to summarize and then reduce this lesson to one third of its length.