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a particularity, an appropriateness, an immediate adoption, and use of circumstances and events, which cannot be found in the best composed forms.
Yet there are those, who have only a slender degree of religious knowledge ; or discover a natural slowness and hesitancy of utterance ; or feel a bashfulness of temper, so that they cannot gain confidence enough even to make a proper trial. And this diffidence is often found, even with persons of education and understanding-Indeed such, are more likely to feel diffi. culty, than the vulgar and illiterate, whose ignorance is friendly to fluency, and whose confidence is not perplexed by modes of expression, or embarrassed by the influence of reputation.
Now in cases of inability, or extreme difficulty, surely the greatest zealot for free prayer, would recommend forms in preference to neglect.
Besides, there are others—many in the establishment, and no few out of it; who, deem a form more eligible : and it is needless to remark, that they have a right to their opinion : and as their practice will of course be regulated by it; it is desirable to aid them in their own way..
And surely in this case, as well as in many others, where we see so much talent, and reli.
gion, and even devotional taste, in the opposing advocates; candor requires, and compels the concession, that all the arguments, all the advantages, cannot be on one side of the ques. tion.
Bigotry delights in exclusion ; but the meekness of wisdom is satisfied with prefer. ence; and freely says : Let every one be fully persuaded in his own mind. The amiable Dr. Watts observes— Many a holy soul has found his inward powers awakened, and excited to lively religion, in the use of a form, where the wants and wishes of the heart have been happily expressed : and considering the various infirmities that surround human nature, even the wisest and best of men, may be glad of such assistances, at some seasons."
Several books of prayers have issued from the press : and it is not necessary to undervalue, or conceal them, in order to excuse, or even justify, another effort in the same cause. The great excellency of some of these composures is well known.
Yet it must be confessed, that such works, compared with other religious publications, are still very few : and that the far greater part of what we possess, is more for personal and private use, than domestic. Even in the desery. edly popular volume of Jenks, there are only
family prayers for one week : the rest are all for individual service.
But whatever might have been the Author's own opinion of the expediency, or necessity of such a work as this in order to furnish a greater abundance-or to accommodate a difference of tastes—or to excite attention by newness—or to edify more by brevity and simplicity; he can truly aver, that he was principally induced to undertake it at the request of many, urged, for years, with importunity.
In complying with their desires, he still fears he shall not satisfy their wishes. He unquestionably has not satisfied his own. In the want of that leisure, which allows a man to throw his whole soul into the composition of his work ; and then to employ all his skill in correcting and completing it, he has done, at the intervals of much public duty, and interruption, for a few months, what he could : and such as it is, should it obtain acceptance, he shall consider it the greatest honour that could have been conferred upon him, that while living and when dead, the service of God should ever be performed in words which he has furnished, so imperfectly.
He can reckon on some esteemed connexions, whose partiality, as it has often admitted him into their circles as a friend, and employed him at their domestic altar as an expositor
and intercessor, will retain him as an assistant, in this volume: and thus while absent in body, he will be present in spirit. He is also blessed with children, who will not neglect a practice, to which, in the order of a happy family, they were so early accustomed, and which was never rendered irksome by tediousness; and they will—he knows they will—train up their children in the same holy and lovely usage: and should relationship and endearment, serve to render the book the more valued and useful, as a sacred bequest to his descendants ; this alone would keep him from thinking he had laboured in vain. PERCY-PLACE, April, 1820.
THE Author begs leave to offer a few words, on the execution of the work itself, here submitted to public attention.
Family prayers ought to be short, especially, where reading the scripture makes a part of the service—and it ought always to make a part. Hence the prayers for the week-days, may be read in five or six'minutes: those for the sabbath are commonly a little longer, as families have then more leisure, and are more united : those for particular occasions, as they rarely return, and the events are remarkable, are the longest of all.
A prayer is distinguishable from the repetition of a creed; or the annunciation of a system of theology; how much more from the sparring and reflections of controversy T! A tincture of the Author's own particular sentiments, was hardly avoidable: but he has sought after nothing, that would be offensive to christians, who differ from him. And as religious persons accord much more when kneeling, than sitting; he ventures to think, no one will be unable to join in these forms, who believes in the fall of man, the redemption of the cross, justification by faith, the necessity of divine influence, and of that holiness, without which we cannot see the Lord. The Author braves the suspicion of those, who are illibsal enough to guage a man's orthodoxy, by the use of an invariable doxology; in the words too, which man's wisdom teacheth, Not that he thinks it wrong to close