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LATE FELLOW AND TUTOR OF SIDNEY SUSSEX COLLEGE, CAMBRIDGE.
“ You that hare families, I do further exhort, that besides your Prirate Prayers, you would offer up to God a morning and evening sacrifice in your families : . . . . and the Prayers I advise you to use are taken out of the Common Prayer, as being most familiar, and of greatest authority withal.”--BISHOP KEN.
In the year 1833, I printed “A Manual of Devotion, arranged chiefly from the Book of Common Prayer," as a parting gift to the inhabitants of my first parish.
I now publish a selection from those prayers in a more convenient form for general use. My aim is to furnish a set of Services so comprehensive as to take in all the great subjects of family prayer; and yet each so short, that the busiest household may have time for its devout utterance: - without which, all attempt at prayer is in vain.
I have, moreover, endeavoured to admit no expression, but what may be heartily used by every sincere Christian, however humble his spiritual attainments'. Perhaps the introduction of family worship may thus be facilitated into houses where it is still unknown.
I believe many heads of families, who live in the constant omission of this duty, are far from being irreligious men. They think lightly of the matter, only because they have never clearly seen their true position and its awful responsibilities. Should this Manual fall into the hands of such an one, he is intreated to consider how the case really stands between him and his Maker. I would say to him :
1 This is of the highest importance. To put emphatic declarations of contrition, or faith, or love, into the mouths of all indiscriminately, would, in many cases, be converting prayer into falsehood, to the mockery of that God, who will be “worshipped in spirit and in truth."
Wherever God gives largely the opportunity to glorify Him and to benefit the souls of others, there negligence is a fearful sin. It robs the King of Heaven of his honour, and cruelly withholds from souls, whose salvation is at stake, the help which God in mercy had intended them.
Now, in your authority as the head of a family, God has given you incalculable means of benefiting the souls of those under you, and, in so doing, of promoting his glory. Here in fact is your chief duty as a Parent and a Master; compared with which, all else is of small importance. No affection for your children, no care for their earthly interests, no culture of their minds, will make up for your neglect of their souls and their eternity. In like manner no kindness towards your servants will
inattention to their great claim upon you, as so many immortal beings placed by Providence under your roof and influence for their everlasting welfare.
Accordingly, as you hope to meet their Creator in peace, you are bound to set a godly example to your household, to reprove sin, to encourage piety, to provide for their instruction in religious knowledge; above all, to be regular and fervent in family worship. Without this
will otherwise effect little. It must be the support and the crown of all your endeavours. . And surely you need but glance at its singular blessedness to be won to its constant practice. See then what family prayer truly is.
On earth is the assembled household: in their hearts that blessed Spirit, who “helpeth our infirmities, who know not what we should pray for as we ought?.” In heaven above, on the throne of grace, is God the Father, ready to hear: at his right hand the Lord Jesus, the loving Intercessor.
The family meekly kneel around the Parent and the Master. With the deepest reverence he offers up their common supplications to the Almighty Father, in the name of Him, whose mediation alone can bring the voice of sinful man acceptably to the ear of the holy God; all present taking to themselves and seconding each prayer with their humble and earnest Amen. Thus they proceed, prayer after prayer, until every tongue joins in that divine prayer, which is the sum and completion of their devotions. Then, with the Lord's blessing invoked upon all, they arise to the works of the day or the repose of the night.
What a beautiful scene is this! what an union of heaven and earth! what a near communion of man with the Godhead ! Yet this is the sight which angels witness at the daily prayers of every godly family.What good thing can such a family seek in vain from the Father of love and God of all grace?
And then what a holy charm streams from this family worship into the feelings and relations of life. It is not here the bare accident of birth that links child to parent and parent to child: nor is it the mere bargain of labour and wages that connects master
2 Rom. viii. 26.