« PreviousContinue »
hearts benefited. To the subject of the Scriptures more particularly will these observations be found to apply ;-how often are the precepts contained in them quoted and commended without due reflexion upon their tendency, or reference to the conduct of human affairs ! We all acknowledge their excellence, and admire their sublimity; but will this passive admiration reach the heart? will this transient approbation tend to regulate our conduct, or animate us to active exertion? We read, but it is with the eye, not the understanding; we attend, but it is with the car, not the heart ; such reading, and such attention, must for ever be ineffectual.
Impressed with this conviction, it has been my endeavor in these litile volumes to select and arrange under different heads those parts of the sacred writings more peculiarly calculated for devotion, meditation, and instruction, in the hope that their being classed so as to be immediately applicable, and easily referred to, may tend to establish a habit of attention and reflexion, and awaken the mind to a due consideration of the importance of practising the exercises enjoined us by our holy religion. Every part of the sacred volume deserves our deepest attention and research, but all are not equally adapted to devotion and meditation. I have confined myself to those passages, therefore, which can either be used as prayers, or instructive lessons on our various duties, and to those sublime descriptions of the Almighty which lead us to adore his wonders and goodness; which at once excite devotion and support it; which elevate the mind, set before us the attributes of our God, and tell us in the words of truth that he is our Father, Governor, and Protector, that he sees and knows our thoughts and hearts, that he supports, com. forts, and blesses all who trust in him.
Those who are in the constant habit of consulting the Bible will not object to a se. lection of some of its most sublime and impressive passages, arranged and classed, ready at once to meet their eye; whilst those who have not accustomed themselves to pause
and reflect on the precepts with which it abounds, may, perhaps, from these
extracts be induced to refer to the source whence they are drawn.
The Psalms (the Bible version of which I have preferred) are given entire. There is no course of prayer or exercise of devotion comparable to them. Equally adapted to individual as to publie worship, these sublime effusions impart to man comfort, assistance, advice,-For every stage and situation in life may be found an appropriate appeal to the Almighty ; every sentiment of piety may be encouraged by the warm and inspiring language of the Psalmist. It has been iny endeavor to render them more useful for daily prayer by classing them, as well as their varied matter would admit, under different heads, upon the plan of Bishop Horne, to whose excellent works, and to those of Dr. Hammond, I am much indebted in my notes and arguments. A few occasional Prayers and Hymns are added, and some pious addresses to the Almighty extracted from larger poems.
In that part of the compilation which relates to instruction, I have not presumed to take any passages from the New Testament;
the precept and practice are there so united that they mutually enforce each other, and I could not separate the moral from the doctrinal part, without diminishing its force and injuring its effect ; besides, the instructions conveyed throughout are easily referred to, and can be no where read to such advantage as in that volume where we receive them immediately from the mouth of our Divine Master and his disciples. The efficacy of prayer, and of regular habits of devotion and meditation, are there by him asserted, are enforced by his example, and have been practised by his most zealous and faithful followers through all ages.
I have not allowed myself the expression of a diffidence which I strongly feel, but which I could not suffer to prevail over my carnest wish of offering some little assistance towards the cultivation of habits essential to the support of true religion. Should my humble endeavor succeed but in a few instances, or afford the means of recalling the scattered thoughts of one heart astray, I shall *feel more real joy than could be derived from the praise and commendation which crown a work of original genius. To know God, and to know ourselves, is the true end of all knowledge; the highest learning is to be wise, and the greatest wisdom is to be good.