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braced in this work. The catechetical mode of instructing was much adopted by the Reformers in the sixteenth century as a happy, concise and easy way of communicating religious knowledge. Truths, classified, or connected in a methodical manner, assist the mind to think and reason systematically. Compendiums of theology are valuable, as they contain much in little, and may be obtained and used by those, who are not disposed, or who have not ability, to purchase, or have not time to read, large systems of divinity. Christians frequently are unarmed, and consequently, unable to vindicate, as they ought, the doctrines of Christianity. One design of this work is to furnish them with arguments, especially Scriptural arguments, by which to oppose error and defend the truth.
In this state of sin, temptation, and affliction, whatever will guard us from vice, urge us to duty and holiness, and excite us to watchfulness and prayer,
desirable. As an important auxiliary in this respect, Christians have frequently adopted certain resolutions as a sort of directory in their conduct, and observed the practice of frequent self-examination. This consideration led to the introduction of a Series of Resolutions, and of Questions for Self-examination.
Prayer seems to be the principal part in the offices of devotion in families. But some pious persons are diffident, and seem not to possess the gift of prayer. To assist such in thought and language, Prayers for Morning and Evening, together with a number of Occasional ones, are inserted.
As the Bible contains the happiest language to be used in invocation, adoration, thanksgiving, confession, petition, intercession, pleading, self-dedication, and ascription; much pains have accordingly been taken to interweave, in the composition of these prayers, the best passages, which could be selected from it. Scripture, pertinently introduced in prayer, has a strikingly happy effect on the mind. It carries with it dignity, weight and authority. Besides, it may be supposed that the language, taught by the Holy Spirit, God will be likely to bless in its use. It is not intended, that written prayers should take the place in all respects of extemporaneous prayers; (these should by all means be encouraged;) but that they should be merely, as Bishop Wilkins calls them, "crutches," or helps, in matter, method, and ex
pression, to those who want the ability, or the confidence to pray extemporaneously. To assist in obtaining a holy skill in this service is the principal design of these written forms of prayer.*
The primitive practice of singing in domestic worship, has been greatly neglected of late years, but it ought not to be; for the singing of sacred song is a delightful part of worship, and may be the means of promoting the life and power of godliness in the soul. To aid in this duty, a number of Hymns, well adapted to family worship, have been selected and introduced.
It was believed, that were Select Harmony of a judicious kind, added at the close of the book, it would be of great convenience, in refreshing the memory with respect to the tune to be sung, and hereby more persons would be able to join in worship. Some tunes have been chosen, not because they are peculiarly adapted to family devotion; but because they are of general use, and most singers are acquainted with them. Others are specially suited to private worship. All of them possess real excellence, and have an approved standard character. They are generally, taken from the Boston Handel and Hayden Collection of Church Music, and are harmonized upon the principles of modern musical science.-Such a work would be useful also, to ministers of the gospel, as a book
* Dr. Watts writes on this subject nearly in the following language. Are not such forms of pious address to God, as are drawn from a serious sense of divine things, and written by a skilful and judicious hand, of real advantage to a sincere worshipper, both in solitary and social worship? Has not many a holy soul found its inward powers awakened and excited to lively religion by such assistance? May not many a penitential wish be excited under the sense of sin? May not many an ardent and suitable ejaculation be offered for some peculiar grace? May not many a pious aspiration of heart, many a joyful sound of praise, have owed its rise to the words and language of some well composed form? When we find the temper, the wants, and wishes of our hearts happily expressed in the words of a form so suitable and so expressive, that we know not how to form other words so suitable and so expressive of our own present state and case, why should we not make our address to God in this borrowed language? Further. It is sometimes remarked by those who are not in favor of written forms of prayer, that those who use them do not pray in their own language, but in that of another. True, but this may be said of all social prayers. One only, leads in the devotional services, the others pray in the language he utters. They all pray in a form of prayer;—in the one case in a written form, and in the other case in a spoken form.
of occasional reference, and especially to candidates for the ministry while in their course of preparation, as a Manual of Theology and Devotions. The latter might derive much assistance from it, in obtaining systematic divinity as founded on the Bible, and in preparing themselves to lead the devotions of the people of God in public and private.
A book of the above description it was thought by the Author, and by many others, whose opinion is to be highly respected, is a desideratum in the present day.--How the work is executed, the public must decide. The Author would commend it to the candor of families with the devout hope, that it may conduce to their spiritual benefit; and, he would especially commend it to the blessing of the Great Head of the Church, with earnest prayer, that He would smile on this humble effort to advance the praise and glory of His adorable Name.
Boston, May, 1836.
A Series of Resolutions, and of Questions for Self-examination,