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A BRIEF VIEW
SOCIETY OF FRIENDS
PRINTED BY H. B. TYMBS AND H. DEIGHTON,
A BRIEF VIEW, &c.
.A.LTHOUGH more than a century and a half has elapsed since the Society of Friends became a distinct religious body, yet, from several causes, their Principles, at this day, are frequently either not understood, or are misrepresented. This has been painfully the case in regard to the Sacred Duty of Prayer.
On this interesting subject some very erroneous opinions have, in some places, been circulated, as to the sentiments of the Society, and doubts have even been entertained, whether, as a religious community, Friends acknowledge Prayer to be a Christian obligation.
They, therefore, conceive it to be due to the public, as well as to themselves, and to the principles to which they are conscientiously attached, to present a short statement of their sentiments on the subject, and to furnish a few extracts from the official documents of the Society, and from the writings of some of its most approved authors, exemplifying what are, and what always have been, its opinions respecting this most important duty.
It is true the Society of Friends have ever made a distinction between Prayer, according to its Scripture Definition, and the prescribed and periodical repetition of a set form of words; in these, however good in themselves, the heart may have no share; in other words, they conceive that praying, and merely saying prayers, are essentially different; whilst they regard the one as a duty of paramount importance, and feel it not only to be obligatory on themselves, but that they are bound to instruct their children in the performance of it; they regard the other as a repetition of unfelt words, and therefore unacceptable to the Almighty j and, as the use of a set form at a prescribed time, must frequently involve the necessity of addressing the Supreme Being when the mind is in a very unprepared state, they are fearful of incurring the guilt of drawing near to Him with the lips, while the heart is far from Him.
Par be it from us, however, from applying these observations to such, who, in sincerity of heart "take with them words" by which to address the Almighty: that there are many of this class