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This New Week's Preparation is published by the sane tion of his Majesty's Royal Licence, regularly transferred to William Bent, of London, bookseller; and from him a part has been assigned to the London booksellers mentioned below.
There are two editions of the work; one on common paper, with a letter-press title and frontispiece, the other on fine paper, with a copper-plate title and frontispiece, and every genuine copy of them has, on the back of the title, the signature of the above proprietor.
Printed also for F. C. and J. Rivington; J. Walker; Scatcherd and Letterman; C. Law; Longman, Hurst, Rees, Orme, and Brown; H. T. Hodgson; J. Richardson; J. M. Richardson. Sherwood, Neely, and Jones; and Gale, Curtis, and Fenner.
D. Cock and Co. Printers, Dean-street, Soho, London.
The love of God, as taught by
A form of Examination, vis.
us by Christ himself, and by A profession of godly sorrow for
Reasons for publishing this book.
THOUGH I may possibly incur the displeasure of those whose secular views may be frustrated or disappointed by the publication of this New Week's Preparation; yet I have the consolation of being fully assured, that this present undertaking will want no apology to those who have religion truly at heart. Nor am I under any apprehension of being condemned for adding one more to the number of devotional books already extant upon the subject of the holy sacrament of the Lord's Supper; because the tempers and talents of men are so different, that what does not affect one may possibly touch another. I am also persuaded that the proprietors of Keble's Old Week's Preparation, cannot desire the continuance of a book which has already been found so injurious to christianity; for it abounds with rapturous and wanton expressions, and warmth of constitution, not reason, much less religion, has the chief and sovereign influence. Undoubtedly writers of this cast, have shamefully suffered the softer passions to mix too strongly with their zeal for religion*.
The following is the apology of no less an author than Dr. Isaac Watts himself. Let it be observed, that it was much the fashion, even among some divines of eminence in former years, to express the fervors of devout love to our Saviour in the style of the Song of Solomon and I must confess, that several of my composures in verse, written in younger life, were led by those examples unwarily into this track. But, if I may be permitted to speak the sense of maturer age, I can hardly think this the happiest language in which christians should discover their warm sentiments of religion, since the clearer and more spiritual revelations of the New Testament." To this apology we may add, that in these our meditations and prayers are no visionary scenes of wild extravagance; no affectations of that style, which spreads a glaring confusion over the understanding. Here are none of those incomprehensible phrases which may amuse the ear with sounding vanity, and hold reason in sovereign contempt. In short, here are no secret pantings after a mortal love, in the langnage of devotion and piety.
By what means true devotion is destroyed.
Here the true spirit of devotion, which is in its own nature a liberal and reasonable service, is made wholly to evaporate in unnatural heats, and ecstatic fervours, such as are a disgrace and reproach to the dignity of a rational nature. And instead of speaking the language of a serious, rational, unaffected piety, they abound wholly with rapturous flights of unhallowed love, and strains of mystical dissoluteness; or, as an ingenious author terms it, spiritualized concupiscence, invented by the carnal and wanton appetites and wishes of the unmarried nuns and friars; and thence either by design, or by the delusion of the devil, or both, foisted into the devotions of the reformed church, under a pretence of purer flames of divine love and spiritual rapture; whereas they pollute the soul with luscious images, warm it into irregular ferments, and fire it with a false passion; dissipating all due composure and recollection of mind, and laying open the heart to all the wild extravagancies of frantic enthusiasm: a manner of address much fitter for a dissolute lover, than for an acceptable worshipper of the allpure and all-knowing God.
It was against this kind of devotion, that great light of the church of England, the learned and pious bishop Stillingfleet thus exclaimed. "Is it possible that any man can imagine, it is no dishonour to the christian religion to make the perfection of the devotion of it to consist in such strange unaccountable unions and raptures, which take away the use of all (modesty) reason, and common sense!"
Some causes of the decay of christian piety.
It is to such effusions as these we may ascribe, in a great measure, the decay of christian piety: because, they tend to mislead men's minds from the true subject both of their duty and happiness, and bring them to acquiesce in their false and mistaken substitutes: they give great and signal discouragement to the general practice of piety in the world, by exposing it to ridicule, and the charge of affected singularity. On the one hand, they throw many honest and wellmeaning, but weak minds, into a despair of ever succeeding