[Note that the Primer existed alongside the Book of Common Prayer, the English Bible and the official Homilies, which were read in church at public worship. In this brief selection of prayers, one can see the Reformed Catholic Faith in the very strong doctrine of sin, the very high doctrine of the Saviour, the fear/reverence of the Lord, justification by faith, and the clear teaching that faith works by love.]
For the grace and favour of God.
WHOSOEVER liveth without thy grace and favour, most gracious and favourable Lord, although for a time he walloweth in all kind of fleshly pleasures, and abound with so much worldly riches, yet is he nothing else but the wretched bond-slave of Satan, and the vile dunghill of sin. All his pleasure is extreme poison, all his wealth is nothing but plain beggary. For what felicity can there be, where thy grace and favour wanteth ? But where thy grace and favour is present (though the devil roar, the world rage, the flesh swell) there is true blessedness, unfeigned pleasure and continual wealth. Pour down therefore thy heavenly grace and fatherly favour upon us, that we, being assured of thy favourable goodness towards us, may rejoice and glory in thee, and have merry hearts whensoever we be most assailed with any kind of adversity, be it poverty or sickness, loss of friends or persecution for thy name s sake, to whom be glory for ever. Amen.
For the gift of the Holy Ghost.
So frail is our nature, so vile is our flesh, so lewd is our heart, so corrupt are our affects, so wicked are all our thoughts even from our childhood upwards, that of ourselves we can neither think, breathe, speak, or do anything that is praiseworthy in thy sight, heavenly Father: yea, except thou dost assist us with thy merciful goodness, all things are so far out of frame in us, that we see nothing present in ourselves but thy heavy displeasure and eternal damnation. Vouchsafe therefore, O sweet Father, to send thy Holy Spirit unto us, which may make us new creatures, put away from us all fleshly lusts, fill our hearts with new affections and spiritual motions, and so altogether renew us, both in body and soul, through his godly inspiration, that we may die unto old Adam, and live unto thee in newness of life, serving thee our Lord God in holiness and righteousness all the days of our life. Amen.
For the true knowledge of ourselves.
IT is written in thy holy gospel, most loving Saviour, that thou camest into this world not to call the righteous, that is, such as justify themselves, but sinners unto repentance. Suffer me not therefore, Lord, to be in the number of those justiciaries, which boasting their own righteousness, their own works, and merits, despise that righteousness that cometh by faith, which alone is allowable before thee. Give me grace to knowledge mine own self as I am, even the son of wrath by nature, a wretched sinner, and an unprofitable servant, and wholly to depend on thy merciful goodness with a strong and unshaken faith, that in this world thou mayest continually call me unto true repentance, seeing I continually sin, and in the world to come bring me unto everlasting glory. Amen.
For a pure and clean Heart.
THE heart of man naturally is lewd and unsearchable through the multitude of sins, which as in a stinking dunghill lie buried in it, insomuch that no man is able to say, My heart is clean, and I am clear from sin. Remove from me therefore, heavenly Father, my lewd, stony, stubborn, stinking, and unfaithful heart. Create in me a clean heart, free from all noisome and ungodly thoughts. Breathe into my heart by thy Holy Spirit godly and spiritual motions, that out of the good treasure of the heart I may bring forth good things unto the praise and glory of thy name. Amen.
For a quiet Conscience.
THE wicked is like a raging sea which is never in quiet, neither is there any peace to the ungodly ; but such as love thy law, Lord, they have plenty of peace, they have quiet minds and contented consciences, which is the greatest treasure under the sun, given of thee to so many as seek it at thy hand with true faith and continual prayer. Give me, Lord, that joyful jewel, even a quiet mind and a contented conscience, that I being free from the damnable accusations of Satan, from the crafty persuasions of the world, from the subtle enticements of the flesh, from the heavy curse of the law, and fully persuaded of thy merciful goodness toward me through faith in thy Son Christ Jesu, may quietly serve thee both bodily and ghostly, in holiness and righteousness all the days of my life. Amen.
FORASMUCH as nothing pleaseth thee, that is done without Faith, appear it before the blind world never so beautiful and commendable, but is counted in thy sight sinful and damnable, yea, the self sin and damnation ; this is most humbly to desire thee, O Father, for Christ's sake, to breathe into my heart by thy Holy Spirit this most precious and singular gift of Faith, which worketh by Charity ; whereby also we are justified, and received into thy favour : that I truly believing in thee, and fully persuaded of the truth of thy holy word, may be made thy son and inheritor of everlasting glory, through Jesu Christ our Lord. Amen.
THY cognizance and badge, whereby thy disciples are known, Lord and Saviour Jesu Christ, is Charity or love, which cometh out of a pure heart, and a good conscience, and of faith unfeigned. I pray thee, therefore, give me this Christian love and perfect charity, that I may love thee my Lord God with all my heart, with all my mind, with all my soul, and with all my strengths, doing alway of very love that only, which is pleasant in thy sight; again, that I may love my neighbour and Christian brother as myself, wishing as well to him as to myself, and ready at all times to do for him whatsoever lieth in my power, that when we all shall stand before thy dreadful judging-place, I being known by thy badge, may be numbered among thy disciples, and so through thy mercy receive the reward of eternal glory. Amen.
WHEN thou livedst in this world, LORD Christ, thou shewedst thyself a mere mirror of perfect patience, suffering quietly not only the spiteful words, but also cruel deeds of thy most cruel enemies, forgiving them and praying for them, which most tyrantlike handled thee. Give me grace, most meek and loving Lamb of God, to follow this thy patience, quietly to bear the slanderous words of mine adversaries, patiently to suffer the cruel deeds of mine enemies, to forgive them, to pray for them, yea, to do good for them, and by no means even once to avenge myself, but rather give place unto wrath, seeing that vengeance is thine, and thou wilt reward; seeing also that thou helpest them to their right that suffer wrong; that I thus patiently suffering all evils may afterward reign with thee in glory. Amen.
WHAT have we, heavenly Father, that we have not received? Every good gift, and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from thee, which art the Father of lights. Seeing then all that we have is thine, whether it pertain to the body or to the soul, how can we be proud, and to boast ourselves of that which is none of our own ; seeing also that as to give, so also to take away again thou art able and wilt, whensoever thy gifts be abused, and thou not acknowledged to be the giver of them ? Take therefore away from me all pride and haughtiness of mind, graft in me true humility, that I may knowledge thee the giver of all good things, be thankful unto thee for them, and use them unto thy glory and the profit of my neighbour. Grant also that all my glory and rejoicing may be in no earthly creatures, but in thee alone, which dost mercy, equity, and righteousness upon earth. To thee alone be all glory. Amen.
THY dearly beloved Son in his holy gospel exhorteth us to be merciful, even as thou our heavenly Father art merciful, and promisest that if we be merciful to other, we shall obtain mercy of thee, which art the Father of mercies, and God of all consolation. Grant therefore that, forasmuch as thou art our Father, and we thy children, we may resemble thee in all our life and conversation ; and that as thou art beneficial and liberal, not only to the good, but also to the evil, so we likewise may shew ourselves merciful, gentle, and liberal to so many as have need of our help, that at the dreadful day of doom we may be found in the number of those merciful, whom thou shalt appoint by thy only begotten Son to go into everlasting life, to whom with thee, and the Holy Ghost, be all honour and praise. Amen.
For true Godliness .
IN thy law, thou Maker of heaven and earth, thou hast appointed us a way to walk in, and hast commanded that we should turn neither on the right hand, nor on the left, but do according to thy good will and pleasure, without adding of our own good intents and fleshly imaginations. As thou hast commanded, so give me grace, good Lord, to do. Let me neither follow mine own will, nor the fancies of other men ; neither let me be beguiled with the vizor of old customs,
long usages, fathers' decrees, ancient laws, nor any other thing that fighteth with thy holy ordinances and blessed commandments ; but faithfully believe and steadfastly confess that to be the true godliness, which is learned in thy holy Bible, and according unto that to order my life, unto the praise of thy holy name. Amen.
For the true understanding of God's word .
LORD, as thou alone art the Author of the holy Scriptures, so likewise can no man, although he be never so wise, politic and learned, understand them, except he be taught by thy Holy Spirit, which alone is the Schoolmaster to lead the faithful into all truth. Vouchsafe therefore, I most humbly beseech thee, to breathe into my heart thy blessed Spirit, which may renew the senses of my mind, open my wits, reveal unto me the true understanding of thy holy mysteries, and plant in me such a certain and infallible knowledge of thy truth, that no subtle persuasion of man s wisdom may pluck me from thy truth, but that, as I have learned the true understanding of thy blessed will, so I may remain in the same continually, come life, come death, unto the glory of thy blessed name. Amen.
For a life agreeable to our knowledge.
As I have prayed unto thee, heavenly Father, to be taught the true understanding of thy blessed word by thy Holy Spirit, so I most entirely beseech thee to give me grace to lead a life agreeable to my knowledge. Suffer me not to be of the number of them, which profess that they know God with their mouth, but deny him with their deeds. Let me not be like unto that son which said unto his father, that he would labour in his vineyard, and yet laboured nothing at all, but went abroad loitering idly. Make me rather like unto that good and fruitful land, which yieldeth again her seed with great increase, that men seeing my good works, may glorify thee, my heavenly Father. Amen.
[There are many other private prayers for all types of persons in society and for all members of families. These reflect both the deep commitment to the fear of the Lord and to obeying his will, and, also, to the ordered, hierarchical society which the King and his Council wished to be a godly commonwealth.]
-- The Revd Dr Peter Toon