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TWO Things are generally expect
ed from the author of every
book. First, That he should tell the world why he wrote it ; and secondly, how he has wrote it.
I am very forry that I am able to give so good a reason for the writing of it as I am; and I heartily wish there bad been no occasion for it. But the general neglect of devotion that is too visible, calls loudly for it, and makes all apologies for wriç ting on this subject needless.
When I considered with my self how little devotion is expressed in publick, where it is mens interest sometimes to put on a form of Godliness; I could not help making this unhappy inference, that there could be scarce any left in the clofet, where only God and our own souls see what we do. For how can we imagine that men, who will not vouchsafe to shew common civility to religion in publick, where it may be for their interest to do it, hould receive her into their retirements, and make her their familiar and bofom friend? This was a fad and melancholy reflection to me; I was unwilling to believe it, and yet it was too plain to be disbelieved. What then should I do? Should I sit still and bewail in private this decay of piety? Or should I not rather think on fome way to revive the ancient spirit of devotion, and to bring closet-religion into fashion? This certainly did best become me, and this could be done no other way, than by endeavouring, in a publick writing, to convince the world of the danger they were in, by the negle&t of the clofet-duties, and consequently of the necessity that lay upon them, if they would get out of their danger, to be more exact and frequent in the performance of them for the future, than they have hitherto been.
And indeed I know nothing more neces; fary, than the keeping up a fenfe of closetreligion in the world; for if this once fails, sincerity will soon take her leave of us. Publick religion may be, and I fear often įs, only afted for worldly interes, and confifts in outward new and formality. But be that is religious in his closet, must be so upon true principles; for nothing can engage him to be religious there, but a true sense of his obligations to serve and fear God, not for any worldly end, but upon a much better account ; purely to please God, and to save his own Joul.
Thus much for the occasion of writing this book. As to the manner of writing it I have only this to say, that it is writ, ten with all the plainness and fimplicity imaginable, and with as much brevity, as a discourse of this nature would bear.
One thing more I de fire the reader to take notice of, and that is, that I designed not this book for the ordinary people, but for those who are in fome meafure masters of their own time, and there
fore I have prescribed much longer devotions, than are suitable to the condition of Labouring people.
I heartily and earnestly be feech God, such as it is, to prosper it, and to grant that it may have that effect which it aims at, the making men truly pious and re. ligious.
СНА Р. І.
Of self-examination. What it is. Cautions con-