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Entered accordiug to act of Congress, in the year 1836, by
SWORDS, STANFORD, & Co., In the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the Southern District of New York
No. 13 Chambers street
PREFACE TO THE AMERICAN EDITION.
The present Volume contains two works, which have been separately published in England ; the Family Commentary upon the Sermon on the Mount having appeared there, about a year after the first edition of the Family Prayers. The arrangement now adopted will, it is thought, be found convenient for domestic worship; as combining within the same volume a Manual of prayer, and portions of scriptural exposition for reading
It may seem presumptuous in the Editor to say any thing by way of introduction, to productions bearing on their title-page the name of THORNTON ;
a name, familiar not to England only, but to the world ; and indissolubly associated with our thoughts of whatever is enlarged in Christian beneficence, sound in religious views, and beautiful in consistency of daily practice. He will take the liberty, however, of simply saying, in regard to the Family Prayers, that, without at all detracting from the merit of other works of the same description, they appear to him to preserve, in a remarkable degree, the difficult and happy medium between verboseness on the one hand, and a cold concise
ness on the other. It is believed that none can use them, without feeling that they impart a spirit of gratitude and self-humiliation. They are what prayers should be,-fervent, and yet perfectly simple.
He would beg the indulgence of saying also, that he has seldom read any work of a purely practical char acter, with more delight and instruction, than the Commientary upon the Sermon on the Mount. It is remarkable throughout for the profound insight into human nature which it manifests : for its clear exhibition of the fundamental truths of the gospel : and for the faithfulness, honesty, and, at the same time, the true refinement and dignity, of the language in which its instruc-. tions are conveyed.
The Editor cannot but indulge the confident belief, that the publication of these two works, in this united form, will be a rich spiritual benefit to the community. May God graciously add his blessing !
MANTON EASTBURN. New York, December, 1836.
The following Prayers were prepared by the late Mr. Henry Thornton, for the use of his own family. Many of those, who, in his lifetime, were admitted to hear them in that circle, and many of those, who have heard them since, within the same walls, have expressed a wish, that the benefit, there enjoyed, might be more widely extended. Copies were, therefore, sometimes given : and from one of these, carried to a distant dependency of the empire, an imperfect edition was printed. From that time, perhaps, all delicacy with respect to the publication of an authorized edition was removed.
Those, who are familiar with other manuals of devotion, may here occasionally find passages which are not new to them; and may, indeed, recognise two* entire prayers, which, as specimens of family devotion, have already been published in another work, to which they were contributed, anonymously, by Mr. Henry Thornton. His object was not human praise : giving thus to the work of another,--or borrowing, here and there, a phrase or a sentence from elder divines to enrich his own collection of prayers,—his single aim was to promote the glory of God in the edification of His people ; providing, by these prayers, in the first place, for the household which Providence had united around him; and endeavouring, in the second place, by the specimens of family prayers which have been already mentioned, to excite in others a taste for domestic worship, and to furnish some aid to them in its exercise.
* The first draughts of two or three others were contributed in the same manner to another work.
The world will be wiser and better, and therefore happier, in proportion as it shall imbibe the spirit of the life and of the prayers of Mr. Henry Thornton. Admirable as have been the examples of excellence which the present generation has been permitted to witness, there has not been perhaps one individual, in the whole number, who manifested in a more striking manner that combination of qualities, which constitutes Christian consistency. His piety was fervent, and yet sober; his liberality was magnificent, and yet discriminating ; his charity was large, and yet not latitudinarian ; his self-denial was rigorous, yet unobtrusive.
; At one time, there was some hope, that these principlesas embodied, by the grace of God, in his habitual conduct -might have been exhibited to the world by the hand of his dearest and most intimate friend : a life of HENRY THORNTON, by WILLIAM WILBERFORCE, would, indeed, have been a legacy of wisdom and piety, which would have enriched many generations. This hope, long cherished, is now finally lost: and the character of Mr. Henry Thornton must, perhaps, be left to be collected from his works ;-his original and intellectual powers, from his Essay on Paper Credit, (the publication of which, as Dr. Miller observed in his Philosophy of History, forms an epoch in the history of the science to which it belongs ;)-his views of religion, from the prayers now published, and from some practical Commentaries on the Old and New Testament, portions of which (complete, though not intended for publication) are now in the press. These, indeed, like the present volume, he drew up for the use of his own family: but it is hoped, that both the Prayers and the Commentaries, while they contribute to illustrate the character of their author, (an object which he certainly never contemplated,) will, also, by the Divine blessing, promote, after his death, the great designs of his life,—the good of his fellow-creatures, and the glory of GOD.
R. H. I. BATTERSEA RISE, June 6, 1834.