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but because I think we have still a liberty of adding or omitting it; and therefore I have pointed to it for one part of the day, and left it out in the other; but they that are for it, as an appendage to all the prayers used in their houses, may make it so if they please, notwithstanding that I shut up some of the family prayers without it. I make no distinction neither of ordinary days; for I understand not why the prayer that serves for Monday or Tuesday, should not be as good and proper for any other day of the week; yet I have offered some variety, that you may take sometimes one form, and sometimes another; or some part of this form and some of that, as you see occasion, and shall judge most pertinent.
But I make a great difference of the qualities of persons, and states of the soul, and scenes of the life; according to which, I have distributed and suited the offices here propofed.
And though it be not needful to adapt a prayer to every man's particular employment in the world; yet no man, (whatever be his place or calling) but may find many prayers here fitted to the condition of his soul, and to the great emergencies of his life. Only I would caution any who need to be so advertised, that I do not intend the particular prayers entitled for such and such persons of particular ranks and stations, as their excuse to supersede all praying else, as such persons needed to use no other prayers; but those, they may sometimes add to the rest and so prudently choosing agreeable offices, and taking this my whole performance, with a little of Christian candour, and the allowance for common weakness, I am willing to hope it may not be unacceptable to those in my neighbourhood (for whom I am chiefly concerned) as coming from one of your acquaintance, my brethren, and one so utterly unacquainted with the practice and the benefit of exercises of devotion: but that I am able to say somewhat from my own experience (and that of many years) in this way. However small (I must confess) in my proficiency, to what it might have been; yet the several stages my soul has gone through; the trials and temptations that I have had; the terrors and perplexities wherewith I have grappled; the conflicts and troubles of mind that I have lain 'under; the many sins that I have fallen into, (grievous to myself, and heinous in the sight of God, though not so scandalous as some others, to the view of the world;) and the escapes that I have made; the preservations and deliverances, the mercies and blessings, the revivings and comforts, that I have found, are so many en
gagements upon me, to do somewhat according to the ability which God hath given me, for the direction, the support and help of others, that may be in the like condition. And may the thing here done be but well taken by any that fear God, (the generation of them that seek his face, and are in love with prayer!) I shall then little concern myself what is the resentment or censure of any one else; whether it be the worldly drudge, the sordid earth-worm, that throws prayers out of doors, as his interruption and hindrance; or the dissolute epicure, that takes pleasure in nothing but his mire, and shrinks from drawing to the Holy God, as his hated task and torment; or the profane droll, that even laughs his Judge. Eternal in the face, and mightily applauds himself for daring to make a scorn of all that is serious and sacred; or the trifling impertinent, that is for all manner of exercises, but only those of religion; or lastly, the formal hyprocrite, that only now and then passes a slight compliment on the Majesty of heaven, but still mortally hates the life and power of godliness. The sense and the satisfaction of one pious experienced Christian, that has known the Grace of God in truth, is more to me than the exceptions and the clamours of a thousand such as these.
If this piece fly further abroad than my first intention; and if others, that know nothing of what concerns me, may pick out any thing here to further them in the way heavenward, I shall have the more cause then to bless God, for making me such an instrument of his grace. Yea, where I can but do the leaft good to any poor soul, I shall not think my labour in vain in the Lord. 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 themselves 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 and such a form, that you think pertinent in your case, as a plaister fit for the fore) but do it with a praying heart, with a mind intent upon the work, and spirits engaged in the service. The reason for which, and the necessity of it, with the lawfulness and expedienof using forms (especially where other abilities are wanting) I shall not insist upon it here; because I have done it already elsewhere. Indeed what some talk so much against all Forms of Prayer,
Liberty of Prayer asserted, &c.
I think, is as little to be regarded as what others do so bitterly
Bishop Wittenhall (Enter into thy Closet.) 3d. Edit.
P. 62. Whether every particular expreffion, or the just 'words before thought, it haply matter not very much: but that some fit, significant, proper, and quickening expreffions for the several parts and substantials of my prayer be prepared, it is expedient.-P. 81. Profess myself no whit guilty of undervaluing the free effusions of the soul before God (in pri'vate 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 '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 for the moving of my sorrow.-P. 285. If I find my heart so composed, 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 another to my hand.-P. 81. 82. Though conftantly to use that way, may have our devotion 'more slight and disorderly, through the coldness, dulness, or heedlessness of our hearts, or through distractions, incum'brances, or like mischiefs: and it may often occasion the ⚫ omission of many necessary things, through incogitancy, and ' unavoidable forgetfulness.-P. 8. But whether the words ' in which we utter ourselves, before-thought 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, dictated, or penned them at first.'
The manner 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 con
science, 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 never 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 recompence 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 heathenish a family, as not to see that God be daily worshipped in it.’ To which let that be added of the 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 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 dullness 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 use 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 *The bell rung to prayers.
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 those poor creatures, who, by the help of such a gift, might be put in a way to get the best and greatest of 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 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 obfervation of the prescribed 'Liturgy in public, it is not supposed by our church, but that every one 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 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 vacate 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 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,
In the Work of our Lord,