Page images
PDF
EPUB

sanction, we can do nothing as it ought to be done—even in the pious work of restoration, and in reverting to usages which though enjoined by Church authority, have unhappily become obsolete: neither can we hope to secure God's blessing on our exertions however zealous -except in obedience to our chief Pastors: But under the guidance and direction of our Bishops, it is evident that our Church-system may, with God's blessing, be yet rendered equal to the emergencies of the times.

One great error of a former age was, that the neglect of ordinances was spoken of as though it were sin of the people only; but surely we of the clergy ought not to have closed our Churches because there were no congregation.-“If our people," said Bishop Fell long ago, “ be negligent, we are the more obliged to industry; if they are indevout, we ought to be more zealous ; if they are licentious, we ought to be more exemplary, nor let any man say, the people will not be prevailed upon. How know we what will be hereafter ? They who resisted one attempt, may yield unto another; or if they yield not to a single instance, they may to many, and more pressing."

Certainly all recent experience goes to prove that wherever sound Church-principles are set before the people, and opportunities are offered, they are not slow to avail themselves of them.

Now such sound principles with respect to Prayer, public and private,-are exhibited plainly, forcibly and convincingly, in Bishop Patrick's Treatise, and for this cause it is now reprinted.

May the Reader have grace given him to profit by it, and to feel that it is his bounden duty to inculcate the same principles in all who are within the sphere of his influence.

[merged small][ocr errors]

THE

INTRODUCTION.

The Design of this Bcok.

PRAYER

RAYER is so considerable a part of a

Godly life, and so great a means both to work, and to preserve, and increase all manner of godliness and virtue in us, that the ancient Christians doubted not to call “ the very top of all good things, the foundation, and the root of a useful life; the fountain and the parent of innumerable benefits.”

Whence it is, that they have left us so many treatises

upon this subject; and that we find it

St. Chrysostom.

Chrysos. Hom.

so oft repeated in their sermons; which they tell us they did on purpose, that the souls of their people might receive not merely a light tincture of this doctrine, but as St. Chrysostom's phrase is, be deeply dyed with it. Unto whose pious labours which good men have imitated in all succeeding ages, if mine be now added in a small book

upon

the same argument, I hope it will not be found altogether unprofitable, but contribute something to the growth of Christian piety; by stirring up this present generation to the serious practice of this part of it.

Which is commonly distinguished into secret Prayer, alone by ourselves; private with our families; and public with the whole congregation of Christian people, among whom we live. The last of which was first in my design, when I began to think of writing about this matter; because Common Prayer, which we make all together in one body, unto God, is the most necessary, and the most prevalent, and yet, alas! the most neglected of all other. But considering that men would be the better disposed to attend upon the public service, if they could be persuaded to accustom their minds, unto devout thoughts of God, and affections towards Him, alone by themselves ; I resolved to premise a short discourse, concerning Prayer in general; with a special respect unto such secret intercourse with the Divine Majesty.

As for that which is called private Prayer in our several families, there needs no particular discourse about it; but it may be sufficiently understood by what I have to say of the other two; especially of public Prayer, whose place it is to supply, when we cannot have the benefit of it.

Now this duty of secret converse with God, by humble Prayer to Him, is evidently enjoin

« PreviousContinue »