« PoprzedniaDalej »
that thus bestowed their pains, defcended to such particulars, as I thought fit for the use of those whom I desire to serve. .
But now that I am engaged, my Lord, your favor shewed to the well-meant performance here, has given me the boldness of this Dedication. And the advancement of such persons to high dignity in our church, as are so well known to deserve it, encourages me also to hope, that gracious God hath yet a greater blessing for us than our own demerits give us reason to expect.
I beg your fatherly benediction upon me, and my poor endeavors,
My Lorr, Your obliged Kinsman, in all humble observance,
To my Neighbours and Acquaintance, parti
cularly those in the Parishes committed to
My dear Friends,
T is especially for your fakes, and primarily
for your service, that I publith this Manual of Prayers, fitted to the capacities of your minds, to the necessities of your souls, and to the several conditions and occasions of your lives. Notwithstanding all the books of devotion already extant (many of which are very useful and excellent in their kinds, and such as I should recommend to you, without offering any other, did those with which I am best satisfied, reach 'as far as I have designed here to go, and did not I think the strain of some too high for many of you, and the words and expressions of others that I have seen in your hands, too low and flat, or too obsolete and improper, and which will rather offend than edify such as have their senses better exercised in these matters :) I have come to the resolution of adding my contribution to the common stock : yet, not taking upon me so to correct or cenfure them that have gone before me, as to discourage any from making use of those helps which they find agreeable to their cafe, and efficacious to quicken their devotion :
But leaving everyone to consult their own sense, and profit and comfort in choosing and taking what best likes their particular gust, and what most furthers their pious designs; and to make what alterations also they please, even in the ensuing offices, for their own service, if they shall think fit to use them at all.
Nor have I such a conceit of any thing that is
my own, as to suppose it free from the weakness and defects which I can efpy elsewhere; I doubt not but others may find as many faults here : Nay, I cannot think any thing of this nature to be so complete, but that the Author himself in tract of time) may see reason to add or subtract, to alter or amend many particulars : Indeed, I shall as soon expect to see a shoe made to fit every foot, as a particular Form of Prayer exactly to suit all the circumftances of every soul.
I cannot undertake that the following Prayers should answer all the occasions which any one may ever find for prayer : But they that have the spirit of supplication, can tell how to fill up what is wanting : And such as I help in most cases, may help themselves in the rest. I am rather apt to think, that so many as are here set down, will be censured for more than needful; but it being easy to pare off) the censors may let alone what they count superfluous; leaving it to those that will not disdain its assistance; and I had rather be under an imputation from some of my neighbors, for bufying myself more than I have need, in a work that inight have been spared, than bear the recoilings of my own mind for neglecting to impart any thing that I thought might be of use and service to the rest.
If any judge that I might better have left this behind me, not to be seen till I should myself have been no more seen : I was once of the same mind, and had so continued ; but that I could not be sure, that many for whom designed it, might not be taken off before me ; whereby this piece of friendship which I had for them, would have been lost to them : And now that I do undertake the thing which is liable to many reflections, (whoever be the manager) every one thinking he has a title to judge of that wherein every one is equally concerned ; and that judgment passing according to the different principles and sentiments, and the particular genius and humour of each, 'tis not possible here to please every one : But however, I shall not fail of my design, if I can be fo happy as to profit fome. And if so be I take any way peculiar to myself, I shall only alledge, that it is but the same liberty as moit writers of this subject have taken. Though I pretend not to fet myself on a level with the noted guides of others devotion, that with good success, and general approbation, have laboured herein, yet when our Lord has only enjoined the thing to be done, without fees tling the manner of performance; even an ordinary man, that is but conversant in these matters, has room humbly to propose his own
experience, as long as he assumes not magifterially to impose it upon his readers; which in this present undertaking, the Judge of all thoughts knows to be far from mine.
I name no morning and evening prayers for particular persons, because here are so many occasional prayers, whereof every one may take their choice from time to time, for private use, according to particular exigencies ; and besides, those for families may as fitly serve for the closet, changing but the plural number into the fingular. I have not directed to conclude the evening devotions with the Lord's Prayer ; not because I count it improper at that time to be used, 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 fome variety, that you may take sometimes one form, and sometimes ano. ther ; or some part of this form and some of that, as you see occasion, and shall judge moft pertinent.
But I make a great difference of the qualities of persons, and states of the soul, and scenes