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EXTRACT , Blessing
obtained on reading religious booksexemplified in the first volupent, Mr. Flavels works, related by Mr. Boulter, a Bookseller in Lon. don.
A HIGH flashy gentleman came to Mr. B's shop, to enquire for some play-books ; Mr. B. told him he had none of the kind, but handed bim Mr. Flavel's little treatise of Keeping the heart, requested he would read it, and assured him it would perhaps do him more good than play-books. The gentleman read the title, and glancing upon several pages, broke out in these, and other expressions. What a damnable old fanatic was he who wrote this book ? Mr. B. advised him to buy and read it, and not censure it so bitterly; at length he bought it; but observed he would not read it. What will you do with it, replied Mr. B. ? do with it, I will commit it to the flames, and send it to the Devil. Mr. B. then told him he should not have it. He however, (with an air of indifference,) promised to read it. Mr. B. again observed, if he disliked it upon reading, the money should be returned to him. About a month after, the gentleman came to Mr. B's shop in a very modest habit and deportment, with a serious countenance ; addressed Mr. B. Sir, I most heartily thank you for putting this book into my hands : I bless God who moved you to do it, it has been the means of saving my precious soul; blessed be God that ever I came into your shop, and other expressions in praising and admiring the goodness of God.--He then purchase one hundred more of those books, for the benefit of the poor, who could not buy them. To the Heads of Families in our respective
Towns and Parishes, on Piscataqua River. Dear FRIENDS,
With sensible concern we observe the declining state of practical religion, the prevalence of error, vice and infidelity, and the consequent neglect of the duties of piety, jus. tice, mercy and truth. And it is not the least cause of our concern, that there are many in our respective towns and parishes, who live in the habitual neglect of family prayer, and instruction, notwithstanding their solemn engagements to God in the holy ordinance of baptism to their children, that they would instruct them in the knowledge of true religion, and inculcate upon them, by their precepts and example, their duty to fear, serve, and glorify their creator.
The common plea that many serious persons make, respecting their neglect of family prayer, is, their want of resolution, and a suffi cient acquaintance with language to address the infinite majesty of heaven before their families in expressions suitable to the solemn occasion, and adapted to the use of edification.
To remove this objection, 'and to leave all who shall hereafter continue in the neglect of so reasonable a service inexcusable, we re. commend to you for daily use in your families, forms of prayer, which we have endeav. oured should be as short and comprehensive as is consistent with perspicuity, that none may be tired with their length, and because our words should be few, as creatures in our circumstances, whose foundation is in the dust, and who dwell in houses of clay, address our prayers to a Being of incomprehensible majesty and glory, whose throne is in the heavens, exalted far above all princi. palities and powers.
In forms of prayer, avoid vain repetitions, sensible that our Father in heaven knows all our wants and desires before we ask him, and is ever ready of his abundant goodness, to grant all our requests which are agreeable to his will, for the sake of Jesus Christ.
We also recommend the use of scripture expressions and allusions, as best adapted to inform the understanding, and warm the heart.
We cannot therefore presume you will be prejudiced against using forms of worship, considering, 1st, That not only the primitive apostolic churches used forms in their wor. ship after miraculous gifts had ceased in the church, but that Jesus Christ bath left on record a comprehensive form of prayer for the direction of his disciples in all their ad. dresses to the throne of grace.
In thus recommending to you the use of forms in prayer, we would not have it understood as our meaning, that you should confine yourselves to forms prepared for your use, however excellent; the use thereof will soon overcome your natural timidity that will enable you to feel a freedom in offering up petitions and praises in your own words, dictat. ed by a sense of pressing trials, and sigual mercies.
And now beloved friends, we entreat you by the mercies of God, and the love of a Sa. viour, and the duty you owe to the immortal souls committed to your care, to take the subject of this address into serious consideration, and begin the practice, and we cannot but hope you will be convinced of the reasonableness of family prayer, and be induced to practice it. 2dly, If you consider that the daily practice of this duty in your families is founded in the relation you bear to God as his reasonable creatures ; your necessary de. pendence on him for being, life, and all things you need ; the obligations of gratitude you are under to him as your preserver and benefactor, and the regard you owe to the souls committed to your care. 3dly, Consider that the time is near at band, when we must all appear before God in the eternal world, to render unto him an account of the improvement of our time, opportunities and talents ; how we have performed the duties incumbent upon us in our several stations and relations, and managed the important trusts committed to us in this world
; ought seriously to consider that he will require at our hands those whom he hath committed to our charge. Let these considerations awaken you to a diligent and faithful discharge of all the duties you owe to those who are under your immediate care, and in particular the duty of exemplifying your in. structions by praying with them, that if, (notwithstanding all your instructions, pray, ers, counsels and admonitions,) they should