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But my great care is for the souls of whom I have the charge ; and for the rest of my friends and neighbours within my reach, whom I have, you know, so much and often importuned and called upon to give theinselves to prayer, both in your families, and in your retirements every day. Not barely to read or say over so many words of prayer (as if it would presently make all whole and well, only to use such or such a form, that you think pertinent to your case, as a plaister fit for the sore) but to do it with a praying heart, with a mind intent upon the work, and your spirits engaged in his service. The reasons for which, and the necessity of
it, with the lawfulness and expediency of using Liberty of forms (especially where other abilities are wanting) Pruyer assert. ed, &c. I shall not insist upon here; because I have done it
already elsewhere. Indeed, what some talk so much against all Forms of Prayer, I think, is as little to be regarded as what others do so bitterly in
Bishop Wit. veigh against all prayer that is out of form, but in tenhall [Enter
this matter I cannot but much approve the temper into thy Clo
of an eminent churchman, (afterwards made one of set,] 3d edit. our Right Rev. Bishops) who in his method and or
der for private devotion, thus freely and moderately gives his sense:
P. 62. Whether every particular expression, or the just words • before-thought, it happily matters not very much ; but that some
fit, significant, proper, and quickening expressions for the seve• ral parts and substantials of my prayer be prepared, it is expe• dient.-P. 81. 'I profess myself no whit guilty of undervaluing • the free effusions of the soul before God, in private, especially,
in such expressions as the affected moved mind suggests; or as ‘the spirit gives utterance.'-P. 284. If I am able to pray otherwise, I shall not haply always see it fit, or convenient, to use set or composed forms; for that there may be many particular affecting circumstances in my sins, which no form will express so plainly as I have need to express them for the moving of my sorrow.-P. 285. If I find my heart ready, and so coinposed, " that I dare venture upon what we call a convinced prayer, it being of my own invention, by the assistance of the Spirit, may more perfectly suit my condition in all, than one framed by ano*ther to my hand.'-P. 81, 82.' Though constantly to use that way, may make our devotion more slight and disorderly, through the coldness, dulness, or heedlessness of our heart, or through distractions, incumbrances, or like mischiess: and it may often occasion the omission of many necessary things, through incognitancy, and unavoidable forgetfulness:'-P.8. • But whether * the words in which we utter ourselves be forethought or sudden, * provided they fitly and reverently express the inward sense of
our hearts, it matters not, nor is it at all essential to prayer:'• P. 81. 'Be the words whose they will, my praying them, i. e.
offering them up to God, with a heart suitable to them, hath * made them as much mine, as if I had invented, contrived, dic* tated, or penned them at first.'
The mainer then of expressing yourselves in my words, or in your own, or others, I leave, as here this author does, at liberty : and any helps that I have offered, in the following specimens, you
may take or refuse, as you see good: only I must with all earnestness beseech you to take care, and to make conscience that the thing be daily done, and that heartily, as to the Lord: as ever you hope to reap any real good from the labours of your ministers, or ever to see their faces, or the face of God with comfort in that great day, when we must all give up our last accounts, and be finally determined for our everlasting state. When such as could not be prevailed with to give themselves to prayer, and to call upon the name of God, now in the day of grace, this time of mercy, shall with fruitless desires, wish themselves out of being; and no less vainly, than desperately, call upon rocks and mountains to fall upon them, and to hide them from his face, and to save them from his wrath in the day of judgment, that time of recompense and fury. And, therefore, according to that most cogent admonition of the author of the Whole Duty of Man, part 5, sect. 12. * Let no man that professes himself a Christian, keep so heathen'ish a family, as not to see that God be daily worshipped in it.' To which let that be added of the other author afore quoted, P. 15. Prayer with the family, no one who would have God to bless his * family can think that he may neglect.' And I shall give no further exhortation here to family prayer ;* because I have done so much to that purpose since the first edition hereof, in another book written upon that particular argument.
Beloved, I am more sensible of my own frailty, than to reckon upon a much longer continuance in the world, which we all shall find to be so short a thoroughfare to the place of our eternal abode : and while I live, I desire nothing more from you, than the consolation of observing your devotion, and striving together with me in your prayers for your own salvation. And when I am dead and gone, I would leave behind me, not only some token of my love to you ; but also some assistance in that way of your duty, wherein you are to follow those who are already entered into the heavenly glory:
I am apt to think, that some who are convinced of this duty, to use daily prayers, and who also feel an inclination to it, and some disposedness for it in their hearts, may yet be under a discouragement for want of suitable helps in a readiness to discharge the work.-For such, alas! is the dulness and indifferency of sinful men to that which is best for them, and which most highly concerns them, that they are not apt to be solicitous, so as they used to shew themselves in their worldly concerns, to seek out after the provisions and conveniencies for the spiritual life, unless these fall directly in their way, and are set just before them. And, therefore, this prayer.book I have had in my thoughts to provide, and put into the hands of some of the poorer sort; and, without imposing upon any, I would also move such able friends as may favour the design, to lend a charitable hand in assisting to furnish more of these poor creatures, who, by the help of such a gift, might be put in a way to get the best and greatest riches; but I shall not offer to disturb any that are in the possession of better means already; no, let them go on with the use of them, and God's blessing be upon them : and if but any thing here should be found
* The bell rung to prayers,
agreeable and useful to others, they are at liberty to collect and take what they will, and pass over the rest. For, as the celebrated Dr. Hammond tells us, Prat. Cat. Lib. 3. Sect. 2. Ans. 5.• The church being obeyed in the observation of the prescribed * liturgy in public, it is not supposed by our church, but that every cne in private may ask his own wants in what form of words he shall think fit: yet, that he may do it fitly and reverently, it will * not be amiss for him to acquaint himself with the several addresses to God which the Book of Psalms, and other parts of Holy. *Writ, and other helps of devotion, will afford him, either to use, as he finds them fit for the present purpose, or by those patterns to direct and prepare himself to do the like.'
Now, may this poor attempt of mine be an invitation to some of my pious and learned brethren in the ministry, to set out some better entertainment for their people; and I shall be abundantly satisfied and pleased to see the thing promoted, and still further improved ; though my whole performance should be vacated and excluded, to make room for others deserving the precedence. In the mean time, may a blessing from above follow these small endeavours of mine, and make them prosperous, in any measure, to help your devotion : and that you may in the use of any prayers here set before you, find some advantage to your souls, and the daily promotion of your sanctification, peace and salvation, is the earnest desire and prayer of
Your devoted Servant,
POSTSCRIPT TO THE READERS.
BESIDES the addition of some prayers here, more than were in the first impression, which you will find marked with an asterisk in the contents; these latter editions do give me the opportunity of making some corrections to my own, and I hope also to others' better satisfaction ; yet have I held my
hand from altering much, lest the book should now appear another thing than before, to the offence of any that have been purchasers of the other ; but the perusers who are observant, may perceive here so many corrections and amendments, as will give some advantage to such as shall think fit to make themselves owners of this.
I should have enlarged the forms for families in several parts, especially in those pertaining to the confessions of sin; which (as an excellent bishop of this church, upon the survey of this book, according to his wise and humble piety, was pleased to give me his sense) need no more to be insisted upon than commonly we find; but that I feared such enlargements of the prayers, might hinder many families from using them at all : and though now I was solicited again, to hasten another review, in order to the impression, more additions you might have seen throughout the book, but that I should thus have made it too chargeable for some pockets, and tco bulky for any.
The many emendations, therefore, which intelligent perusers may observe in this new edition will not add either to the size or price; but only make some things more smooth and easy to those of inferior capacity; and the intermixture of many more words here than formerly, may better engage the attention, and quicken the sense of common readers.
May it please God to give the perusers of these helps serious minds and praying hearts, the good intention, and fervent devotion, to make the fuel here prepared flame on the altar; and when thy soul, reader, is so raised heavenward, send up one kind petition for his saving mercy on the poor unworthy author.