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the Care of your Souls; and as I am obliged, in a peculiar Manner, to desire and endeavour the Salvation of them, so I know nothing that will forward it more, than the Exercise of daily Devotion in your Families.
The many Benefits that will accrue to you and your Families from this Godly Practice, are plainly set down in the following Exhortation ; which I beseech you to read and consider seriously. And when you have read it, and seen the excellent Ends and Uses of Family-Devotion ; consider farther, how ill it becomes any Christian to suffer himself and his Family to live in the daily Neglect of a Duty, the daily Practice of which would so greatly conduce to the saving of their Souls.
I consider, that many of the Families under my Care, are such as live by the Labour of their Hands, and have not much
Time to spare; and therefore I took Care to comprehend the proper Matter of both the Prayers in as short a Compass as might be ; so short, that the longer of them may be decently read to a Family, in little more than half a quarter of an Hour. And they must be very indifferent Christians, who can grudge God and their Souls so small a Portion of their Time; not considering, how plentifully it would be made up by the Comfort and Benefit of that Blessing which our Prayers secure to us. Where Men are not inclin'd to Exercises of this Nature, it is easy to find Pretences and Excuses to avoid them; but if there be first a willing Mind, Time and Opportunity will seldom be wanting ; and to bring Men to a Willing Mind, it should be remember'd, that such Excuses will only serve them in this world. This Exercise of Morning and Evening
Prayer, where Families have lived in the Negleet of it, may appear somewhat strange at the Beginning, as all Things do that are new and unusual. But if Parents and Masters would settle their Hours of Prayer, and oblige as many of the Family to be present as conveniently may; it would in a little Time appear as strange to omit them; and the Service of GOD would be reckoned, as in all Christian Families it ought, a necessary Part of every Day's Business.
I am aware, that extraordinary Occasions will sometimes happen, which may make it necessary to omit Morning or Evening Prayer in the Family, when perhaps some one Member of that Family may be at Leisure for it. I am also afraid, that there will be some Masters and Fathers so void of all Religion, as to take no Care of settling this Godly Prac
tice in their Families ; nay, some may be so very wicked, as even to hinder and forbid it ; when yet a Wife, or a Child, or a Servant, may be religiously inclin'd, and desirous to perform their Duty in private. Upon which considerations, I have fitted these two Family Prayers for the Use of one single Person, and to that End have printed them apart ; foreseeing, that if the many Changes which are necessary to fit publick Prayers for private Use, were to be made by particular Persons in the Aet of Praying, it would be a great Disturbance to their Attention and Devotion.
I am also aware, that Children and Servants will sometimes be unavoidably hindered from attending the Family Hours of Prayer; and therefore that they may not remain Strangers to Devotion, and that the Praktice of Family Prayer may be provided for in every Part, I have thought it
proper to add two shorter Forms, which are suited to the respective Conditions of Children and Servants; who, if they cannot ordinarily be present at the Prayers of the Family, nor be always at Leisure to use the larger Forms in Private, should be often admonished by Parents and Masters, that they fail not at least to use the shorter Forms constantly before they lie down to Rest, and as soon as they rise again. As it may be necessary, on some extra
, ordinary Occasions, to omit Prayers in the Family ; so at other Times, and especially on the Lord's Day, there will be more Leisure than the bare Performance of this Office requires. Which Leisure ought to be employed in reading to the Family some plain and easy Portions of Holy Scripture, or other Books of Piety and Religion, and in Catechising such of the Children and Servants who need it.