My Dear Young Friends,
Whom I am constrained to love and honour by many Obligations. It was the generous and condescending Friendship of your Parents under my weak Circumstances of Health, that brought me to their Country-Seat for the Benefit of the Air; but it was an Instance of most uncommon Kindness, to supply me there so chearfully for two Years of Sickness with the richest Conveniences of Life. Such a Favour requires my most affectionate Returns of Service to themselves, and to all that is dear to them; and meer Gratitude demands some solemn and publick Acknowledgment.
But great Minds have the true Relish and Pleasure of doing Good, and are content to be unknown.
It is such a silent Satisfaction Sir Thomas Abney enjoys in the unspeakable Blessings of this Year, that brought our present King to the Throne: and he permits the World to forget that happy Turn that was given to the Affairs of the Kingdom by his wise Management in the Highest Office of the City, whereby the Settlement of the Crown was so much strengthen'd in the Illustrious Family which now possesses it. O may the Crown flourish many Years on the Head of our Soveraign, and may his House possess it to the End of Time, to secure all Religious and Civil Liberties to the Posterity of those who have been so zealous to establish this Succession!
The fair and lovely Character your Honoured Father hath acquired by passing thro' all the chief Offices of the City, and leaving a Lustre upon them, seems imperfect in his own Esteem, without the Addition of this Title, A Succourer and a Friend of the Ministers of Christ. And in this part of his Honour the Lady your Mother is resolved to have an unborrow'd Share, and becomes his daily Rival.
It is to her unwearied Tenderness, and many kind Offices by Night and Day, in the more violent Seasons of my Indisposition, that (under God) I own my Life, and Power to write or think. And while I remember those Hours, I can't forget the cheerful and ready Attendance of her worthy Sister, her dear Companion and Assistant in every good Work.
Under the Influence of two such Examples I have also enjoy'd the Pleasure and Conveniency of your younger Services, according to the Capacity of your Years; and that with such a Degree of sincere and hearty Zeal for my Welfare, that you are ready to vie with each other in the kind Imployment, and assist all you can toward my Recovery and Usefulness. So that whoever shall reap benefit by any of my Labours, it is but a reasonable Request, that you share with me in their Thanks and their Prayers.
But this is a small Part of your Praise.
If it would not be suspected of Flattery, I could tell the World what an Acquaintance with Scripture, what a Knowledge of Religion, what a Memory of Divine things both in Verse and Prose is found among you; and what a just and regular account is given of Sermons at your Age; to awaken all the Children that shall read these Songs, to furnish their memories and beautify their Souls like yours. The Honour you have done me in learning by heart so large a number of the Hymns I have publish'd, perhaps has been of some use towards these greater Improvements, and gives me rich Encouragement to offer you this little Present....