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OFFICES of DEVOTION,
UPON MOST OCCASIONS.
By BENJAMIN JENKS,
Late Rector of Harley, in Shropshire, and Chap'ain to the
•• Men ought always to pray, and not to faint." Lukf viii. i.
jCoi.. iv. 2.
Right Rev. Father In God, JOHN, Lord
Bishop Of Chichester. My Lord, — *«>*—
I WAITED with some impatience to see that design accomplished by your accurate pen, (which is here attempted now by my weak hand. Ever since vou were pleased to acquaint me with your intention to publish something of this nature, it raised my expectation of your obliging the world with your printed Prayers, as you have done with manv of your learned and seasonable Sermons; but after you had let me know the reason of holding your hand, the same might have stopt mine too; and I should have desisted, had the good Doctor who prevented you, or any of those worthy Authors that thus bestowed their pains, descended to such particulars as I thought fit for the use of those whom I desire to serve.
But now that I am engaged, my Lord, your favour shewed to the well - meant performance here, has given me the boldness of this dedication: and the advancement of such persons to high dignity in our church, as are so well known to deserve it, encourages me also to hope, that the gracious God hath yet a greater blessing for us than our demerits give us reason to expect.
I beg vour fatherly benediction upon me,
In all humble Observance,
Te my Neighbours atid Acquaintance, particularly those in the Parishes committed to my Care.
My dear Friends, T is especially for your sakes, and primarily for your service, that J publish this Manual of Prayers, fitted to the capacities of your minds, to the necessities of your souls, and (he several conditions and occasions of your lives. Notwithstanding all the books of devotion already extant, many of which are very useful and excellent in their kinds, and such as J should recommend to you, without offering any other, did those with which I am best fatisfied reach as far as I design here to go, and did not I think the strain of some too high for many of you, and the words and expressions of others that I have seen in your hands, too low and flat, or too obsolete and improper, and which will rather offend than edify such as have their senses better exercised in these matters; I have come-to the resolution of adding my contribution to the common stock: yet, not taking upon me so to correci or censure them that have gone before me, as todiscourage any from making use of those helps which they find agreable to their case, and efficacious to quicken their devotion: but leaving every one to consult their own sense, and profit, and comfort, in choosing and taking what best likes their particular gust, and what molt furthers their pious designs; and to make what alterations also they please, even in the ensuing offices, for their own service, if they shall think fit to use them at all.
Nor have I such a conceit of any thing that is my own, as to suppofe it free from the weakness and defeefs which I can espy elsewhere; I doubt not but others may find as many fauits here: nay, I cannot think any thing of this nature to be so comp:ete, but that the Author himself, in tract of time, may sec reason to add or subtract, to afer or amend many particulars: indeed, I shall a* soon expe£t to see a shoe made to fit every foot, as a particular form of Prayer exacfly to suit all the circumftances of every soul.
I cannot undertake that the following Prayers should anfwer all the occasions which any one may ever find for prayer: but those that have the spirit of supplication, can tell how to fill up what is wanting: and such as I help in most cases, may.help themselves in the rest. I am rather apt to think, that so many as arc here set clown, will be censured for more than needful; but (it being easy to pare off) thecenfors mav let alone what they count superfluous; leaving it to those that will not disdain its assistance; ami I had rather be under an imputation from some of my neighbours, for busying myself more than I have need, inn .work that might have' been spared, than bear the recoilings of my own mind for negle&ing to impart any thing that I thought might be of use to the rest.
If any judge that I might belter have left this behind me, not to be seen till I should myself have been no more seen: I was once of the same mind, and had so continued; but that I could not be su re that many, for whom I designed it, might not be taken off" before me: whereby this piece of friendship which I had for them would have been lost to them: and now that I do undertake tire thing which is.liable to many reflections, (whoever be the manager ) every one thinking he has a title to judge ef that wherein every one is equa:ly concerned, and that judgmc-.it parsing according to the different principles and sentiments, and the partic ular genius and humour of each, it is not possib'e here to please every one: but, however I 'hall not fail of my design, if I can be so happy as to profit some. And if so be I take an) way peculiar to myself, I shall only allege, that it is but the same liberty as most writers of this subject have taken. Though I pretend not to set myself on a level with the noted guides of others' devo'ion, that with good success, and general approbation, have laboured therein': yet .when our- Lord has enjoined the tiling to be done, without settling the manner of performance; even an o:dinarv man, that -is but conversant in these matters, has room humbly to propose his own experience, as long as he assumes not magisterially to impose it upon.his readers; which, in this present undertaking, the Judge of all thoughts knows to be far from mine.
I name no morning and evening prayers for particular persons, because here are so many occasional prayers, whereof every one may take their choice from time to time, for private', use, according to particular exigences; and besides, those for families may as' fitly serve tor the closet, changing but the pural number into the singular. I have not direcled, to conclude the evening devotions with ♦lisLord's Prayer; not because I count it improper at that ti:;:^ to be used,