Published posthumously in 1790 this really is an excellent work that shows Toplady at his devotional and pastoral best. Consider for instance the short meditation on predestination:
PREDESTINATION is the only ground on which the divine foreknowledge and providence can stand. Abstracted from the will and purpose of God, neither persons, nor things, nor events, could have any certain futurition : consequently, they could not be certainly foreknown. And providence must regulate every punctilio of its dispensations, by the same pre-constructed plan; or it would follow, that God is liable to unforeseen emergencies, and acts either ignorantly, or contrary to his own will.
The message from the editor to the reader in the 1830 sets the tone of this work excellently:
THE EDITOR TO THE READER.
IT is presumed the first part of this little Manual of Devotion, taken from the Manuscript papers of Mr. TOPLADY, will not be unacceptable to the Public, because it is set forth as a form of prayer. Amongst the many unnecessary disputes in the Christian Department, a question has been often propounded — Whether a person can present himself at the footstool of the Divine Majesty, using the words of another, and be a sincere worshipper ? Certainly, in our private or recluse devotions, ft is proper to come before God, and pour out, In simplicity and sincerity, the immediate solicitations that we are in need of, expecting our imperfect aspirations to be accepted only in and through the mediation of the Lord Jesus. But some indiscreet captious individuals have prematurely censured those who have adopted a premeditated course of prayer in their families, or in public assemblies, as the quintessence of hypocrisy and the apathy of formality. By this criterion, may not the same suggestions be urged against the universality of singing psalms or hymns ? If such poetic compositions, which consist of prayer and thanksgiving, are used as a form, wherein can be the impropriety or inconsistency of a devout supplicant offering the same in prose ? How assuming must it be in any person to take upon himself the inquisitorial part of prejudging the uprightness of another, and bearing down the honest efforts of a humble mind, before that period arrives, when the secrets of all hearts shall be made known. Let us in the interval anticipate that eventful crisis, when we shall enter upon that state, where there will be nothing to pray for, but every thing to be thankful for ; where mental imperfections will be absorbed in the lustre of uncreated perfection, and every thing give place to unmingled and unalloyed adorations to God and the Lamb for ever.
The editor cannot close this page without giving his suffrage to the memory of the writer. His great genius and extensive erudition held him out as an extraordinary character : but what shone most conspicuous, were the graces of the Holy Spirit, freely given him of God, so that he was enabled to defend the doctrines of faith, or the gospel system of truths, with an untrembling hand, and with an unfaultering tongue.
His regenerate heaven-born soul dwelt in a sickly infirm body, from which he retired, after thirty eight years' residence, and may be said to have died with the standard gospel in his hand.