תמונות בעמוד
PDF
ePub
[ocr errors]

{", 1*.? some divine sense and materials agreeable to the word of God, and suited to the present case and experience of christians, and compose them into a spiritual song? especially when we cannot find one ready penned in the bible, whose subject' is 'near a-kin to our present condition, or whose forın is adapted to our present purpose.

The second argument shall be drawn from the several ends and designs of singing, which can never be sufficiently attained by confining ourselves to David's psalms, or the words of any songs in scripture. The first and chick intent of this part of worship, is to express onto God wliat sense and apprehensions.we have of his essential glories ;;, and what notice we take of his works of wisdom and power, vengeance and mercy; it is to vent the inward devotion of our spirits in words of melody, to speak onr own experience of divine things, especially our religious joy;; it would be tiresome to recount the endless instances out of die book of psalms and other divipe songs, bere this is made the chief business of thein. In the texts of the New Testament where singiog is required, the same designs are proposed ; when the Ephesians are filled with the Spirit, the enlightener and comforter, they are charged to indulge uliose divine sensations, and let them break out into a spiritual song; Eph. v. 19. When any is merry or chearful, the apostle James, bids him express it by singing. Giving tbanks upto God, is the command of St. Paul to the saints while he enjoins psalmody on them; and speaking the wonders of his power, justice and grace, is the practice of the church constantly in the visions of St. John. To teach and admonish one another, is mentioned by St. Paul a8 another design of singing; the improvement of our meditations, and the kindling divine affections within ourselves, is one of the purposes also of religious melody, if Eph. v. 19, be rightly translated. Now, how is it possible all these ends should be attained by a christian, if he contines his meditations, his joys, and his praises, to the IIebrew book of Psalms? Have we nothing more of the nature of God revealed to us than David had? Is not the mystery of the ever-blessed Trinity brought out of darkness into open light ? Where can you find a Psalm that speaks Ibe miracles of wisdom and power as they are discovered in a crucified Christ'? And how do we rob God the Son of the glory of bis dying love, if we speak of it only in the gloomy language of“smoke and sacrifices, bullocks and goats, aod the fat of lambs?, Is not the ascent of Christ into heaven, and his triumph over principalities and powers of darkness, a nobler entertainment for our tuneful meditations, than the removing of the ark up to the city of David, to the hill of God, which is high as the hill of Bashan? Is not our licart often'warined with boly delight in the contemplation of the Son of God our dear Redeemei', whose love

[ocr errors]

:

was stronger than death ? Are not our souls possessed with a vaeiety of divine affections, when we behold him who is our chief beloved banging on the cursed tree, with the load of all our sins upon bim, and giving up his soul to the sword of divine justice in the stead of rebels and enemies? And must these affections be confined only to our own bosoms, or never break forth but in Jewish language, and words which were not made to express the devotion of the gospel ? The heaven and the hell that we are acquainted with by the discovery of God our Saviour, give us a more distinct knowledge of the future and eternal state, than all the foriner revelations of God to men : Life and immortality is brought to light by the gospel; we are taught to look far into the invisible world, and take a prospect of the last awful scene of things : We see the graves opening, and the dead arising at the voice of the archangel, and the sounding of the trump of God : We behold the Judge on his tribunal, and we hear the dreadful and the delightful sentences of decision that shall pass on all the sons and daughters of Adam ; we are assured, that the saints shall arise to meet the Lord in the air, and so shall we be for ever with the Lord :" The apostle bids us, “ Exhort or comfort one another with these words ;" 1 Thess. iv. 17, 18. Now when the same apostle requires that “the word of Christ must dwell richly in us in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalns and spiritual songs ;" can we think he restrains us only to the Psalıns of David, which speak very little of all these glories or terrors, and that in very obscure terms and dark bints of prophecy? Or shall it be supposed, that we must adWonisli one another of the old Jewish affairs and ceremonies in verse, and make melody with those weak and beggarly elements, and the yoke of bondage, and yet never dare to speak of the wonders of new discovery except in the plain and simple language of prose?

Perhaps it will be replied here, that there are some scriptural hymns in the book of Revelation that describe the 'affairs of the New Testament, the death and kingdom of our Lord Jesus, and these are lawful to be sung in a christian church; I am glad that our friends of a different opinion will submit to sing any thing that belongs to the gospel; I rejoice that the bible hath any such pieces of christian psalmody in it, lest every thing that is evangesical should be utterly 'excluded from this worship, by those who will sing nothing but what is inspired; but bow seldom are these gospel songs used among our churches? How little respect is paid to thein in comparison of the Jewish psalms? How little mestion would ever be made of them, if it were not to defend the patrons of Jewish psalmody from the gross absurdity of an entire return to judaisip in this part of worship? Bụt give me leave also to add, that these christian hymns are but very short,

a

a

and very few; nor do they contain a hundredth part of those glorious revelations that are made to us by Christ Jesus and his apostles ; nor can we suppose God excludes all other parts of the gospel from verse and singing.

Most express words of scripture furnish me with a third argument; Eph. v. 19, 20. and Col. iii. 16, 17 which are the two chief commands of the New Testament for singing; both bid us “ make inelody, and give thanks to God the Father, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ." This is one of the glories of gos

. pel-worship, that all must be offered to the Father in his name. So very particular is our Lord Jesus in this command, that his last sermon to his disciples mentions it four times ; John xiv. 13, 14. and xvi. 23, 24. Now why should we make conscience of praying in the name of Christ always, and offer up our praises in his pame when we speak in prose? And yet when we give thawks in verse, we alınost bind ourselves to take au inore notice of the pame of Christ than David or Moses did. Why should every part of divine worship under the gospel be expressed in language suited to that gospel, namely, praying, preaching, baptism and the Lord's supper; and yet whe. we perform that part of worship which brings us Dearest to the heavenly state, we must run back again to the law to borrow materials for this sero vice: And when we are employed in the work of angels, we talk the language of the infant-church, and speak in types and shadows ? while we bind ourselves to the words of David, “ when he inclines his ear to a parable, and opens his dark saya ing upon tbe harp;" Psal. xlix. 4. We have given too great countenance to those who still continue the use of the warp while they open the dark saying.

The fourth argument may be thus drawn up. There is almost an infinite number of different occasions for praise and thanksgivings, as well as for prayer, in the life of a christian and there is not a set of Psalins already prepared that can answer all the varieties of the providence and the grace of God. Now if God will be praised for all his mercies, and singing be one method of praise, we have some reason to believe that God doth not utterly confine us even to the forms of his own compos-, ing. This is thought a very sufficient reason to resist the imposition of any book of prayers; and I grant that no number of: prayers of human composure can express every new difficulty or future want of a christian ; scarce can we suppose a divine volume should do it, except it be equal to many folios. However I can see nothing in the inspired book of praises that should persuade me that the Spirit of God designed it as an universal Psalın-book ; nor that he intended these to include or provide for all the occasions of thanksgiving that ever should befall Jews or Christiaos in a single or social capacity. We find in the history of scripture, that new favours received from God were con, VOL. 18.

• B

[ocr errors]

tinually the subject of new songs, and the very minute circumstances of the present providence are described in the verse. The destruction of Pharaoh in the Red-sea; the victory of Barak over Sisera ; the various deliverances, escapes and successes of the son of Jesse are described in the songs of Moses, Deborah and David. The Jews in a land of captivity sat by the rivers of Babylon, and remembered Sion; they could find none of the ancient songs of Sion fit to express their present sorrow and devotion, though some of them are mournful enough; then was that admirable and artful ode written, the cxxxviith Psalm, which even in the judgment of the greatest human critics, is not inferior to the finest heathen poems. It is a more dull and obscure, and unaffecting method of worship to preach or pray, or praise always in generals : It doth not reach the heart, nor touch the passions; God did not think any of his own inspired hymns clear and full and special enough to express the praise that was his due for new blessings of grace and providence; and there.

; fore he put a new song into the mouths of Mary,, Zecharias and Simeon ; and it is but according to his own requirement, that the British islands should make their present mercies under the gospel the subject of fresh praises ; 18. xlii. 9, 10.“ Behold the former things are come to pass, and new things do I declare; before they spring forth I tell you of them ; sing unto the Lord a new song, and his praise from the end of the earth; ye that go down to the sea, and all that is therein ; the isles and the inhabitants thereof." As for the new songs in the Revelation, the occasions of some of them are very particular, and relate to the fall of Anti-Christ ; it can never be imagined that these are a

; complete collection of psalms to suit all the cases of a christian church; they are rather given to us as small originals, by imitaLion whereof the churches should be furnished with matter for psalmody, by those who are capable of composing spiritual songs according to the various or special occasion of saints or churches. Now shall we suppose the duty of singing to be so constantly provided for when there was any fresh occasion under the Old Testament, and just in the very begivning of the New, and yet that there is no manner of provision made ever since by ordinary or extraordinary gifts for the expression of our particular joys and thanksgivings? This would be to sink the gospel, which is a dispensation of the Spirit, of liberty, of joy, and of glory, beneath the level of Judaism when the saints were kept iu hard bondage, and had not half so much occasion for praise.

The fifth argument may be borrowed from the extraordinary gift of the Spirit to compose or sing spiritual songs in the primitive church, expressed in 1 Cor. xiv. 15, 26. The several parts of divine worship, praying, preaching and singing, were performed by immediate inspirations of the Holy Spirit in that day, for these two reasons. 1. That there might be a discovery of

[ocr errors]

divine power in them, and the seal of a miracle set to the several parts of christian worship, to convince the world, and to confirm ile church. 2. Because there was not time to acquire a capacity of preachiug, praying, and composing spiritual songs by diligence and study, together with the ordinary assistance of grace and blessing of providence, which would have taken up many years before the gospel couid have been universally preached. But even in those times of inspiration, as Timothy himself “ was not to neglect the gift that was in him, given by imposition of hands, so he was charged to give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine, to meditate upon these things, to give himself wholly to them, that bis profiting might appear unto all;" 1 Tim. iv. 11, 15. And it is granted by all, that the ministers of the gospel in our day are to acquire and improve the gifts of koowledge, prayer and preaching, by reading, meditation, and frequent exercise, together with earnest requests to God for the ordinary assistance of his Spirit, and a blessing on their studies. Why then should it be esteemed sinful, to acquire a capacity of composing a spiritual song? Or why is it unlawful to put this gift in exercise, for the use of singing in the christian church, since it is one of those three standing parts of worship which were at first practised and confirmed by inspiration and miracle?

Some may object here, that the words falaw and farmos, which the apostle useth in this chapter, intend the psalms of David, and not any new song : But if we consult the whole frame and desigo of that chapter, it appears that their worship was all performed by extraordinary gifts : Now it was no very extraordinary thing to bring forth one of David's psalms ; nor would it have been proper to have hindered the inspired worship with such an interposition of the ordinary service of an ancient Jewish song; it is very credible therefore that the word Psalm in this place signifies a new spiritual song, and it is so used frequently in the writings of the primitive fathers, as appears in the citatious, page 289.

To close this rank of arguments, I might mention the di. vine delight that many pious souls have found in the use of spiritual songs, suited to their own circumstances, and to the revelations of the New Testament. If the spiritual joy aod consolation that particular persons have tasted in the general duty of singing, be esteemed a tolerable argument to encourage the duty and confirm the institution, I am well assured that the argument would grow strong apace, and seal this ordinance beyond contradiction, if we would but stand fast in the liberty of the gospel, and not tie our consciences up to mere forms of the Old Testament. The faith, the bope, the love, and the beaveoly pleasure that many christians have professed while they have been singing evangelical bymns, would probably be mul. tiplied and diffused amongst the churches, if they would but

« הקודםהמשך »