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would sufficiently warrant our lifting up our hearts with our voices, and praising our God as long as our existence continues.
But befides that, in erder fully to satisfy us as to the duty of singing the high praises of God, he has intimated it to be his fovereign pleasure; and likewise left upon record, for our instruction and imitation, many persons, who, at his .com, mand, and confidering it as their great privilege, actually engaged in this delightful employment.
When he gave his statutes te Jacob and his judgments to Ifrael, it was one part of his enjoined worship to “ praise " the name of God with a song.“ Accordingly we find this duty urged, by the writers of the old Teflament, from the consideration of its being a command of God, and therefore acceptable as worship to him. The fame is inculcated in the new Testament, which corresponds with the old in fhewing that « praife is comely; that it is
proper come unto “ Sion with fangs" fill; and that, both in public and private, we ought to admonish and edify each other by psalms, and hymns, and spiritual fongs; “ singing and making melody'' with grace in our hearts to the Lord. Eph. v. 19. Col. Mi. 16.
High and low, rich and poor, not only should praise Gods but have, where their hearts have been right with him, praised his name together in a fong. When Ifrael faw their enemies funk as lead into the depths of the fea, “then fang " Moses and the children of Israel this song unto the Lord”' together, “the Lord has triunphed gloriously,” &c. De.
borah, that mother in Israel, joined her voice with that of Barak the son of Abinoam to praise the Lord. The fon of Jesse, that royal and sweet Pfalmift of Israel, did not disdain to lay aside his sceptre for his lyre, and, mingling with the thousands of his subjects and fellow-worshippers, accompany it and them with his voice disdain, did I lay? lo far from that, it was his glory: and the subjects of his fongs, are the themes that angels glory to fing. He yet fings, both in his writings and in heaven, how the right hand of the Lord was exalted in the overthrow of Egypt, and the deliverance of Ifrael; but he fings likewise of "the sufferings of Christ, " and the glory that should fallow.” His tongue is as
66 the pen of a ready writer” to speak the praises of King Meffiah the “ Lord of Glory,” His oppositions, his conquefts, his triumphs, his liberality, his falvation, and his glory were the grandest subjects that ever swelled the most folemn, fublime, and affecting of the inimitable Jessæan lays. May the fame subjects be often in our mouths, and always in our hearts,
Nor less were these fubjects dwelt upon, and this practice attended unto, under the new Testament dispensation, and from the earliest ages of it. Jesus, the King of kings, and great legislator of his church, when he tabernacled upon earth, fung with his chosen followers previous to his meritorious fufferings. His disciples followed the blessed practice of their great and adored Master, after he was ascended to heaven from whence he came, Paul and Silas did the same, even in a prison, at midnight; and Paul petuate this noble part of divine worfhip, by enjoining it upon the churches to whom he writes, and through them to all others.
careful to per
We learn by the testimony of a heathen of considerable credibility, I mean Pliny, that the same practice was continued by the followers of Christ in his days, that is, about the year of our Lord 100; nor was there ever a time, that I know of, from that to this, in which it was generally abandoned. Part of the subjeĉts, indeed, dwelt upon then in singing, have been thrown out with sovereign contempt by some pretendedly very wise since those days. The Christians in the time of Pliny, he says expressly, “ fung hymns to Christ as though “ he were, or, under the idea of his being God.”* Eusehjus, a Christian bishop, who lived in the time of the emperor Constantine, and about the year of our Lord 300,
tells us of " certain psalms and odes, wrote by the faithful brethren “ in the first age, which celebrate the divinity of the Christ " the Word of God.” † Some persons think they see better than that now, and therefore abhor such hymns as contain that eternal truth, or any other truths founded thereupon. They are objects of pity. May the eternal Spirit open their eyes to fee the glories of Jesus, and grant even unto them also salvation by his blood. Whatever they may say or do, we will sing hymns to Christ as our God; nor need we fear being wrong in so doing, while the ranfomed above fing the fame eternally.
I do not mean to suggest that the following hymns are the only ones in which this truth and its concomitants are to be found. There are 'doubtless thousands more in the world that breathe a kindred spirit with them, and it is my sincere wilh that there may be millions more of the same kind.
* Plinii Epift. lib. 10. epift. 97.
Plenty of good witnesses will not diminish the goodness or justice of a cause.
Many, in composing such hymns, have done worthily in Ifrael; and their memories are blessed. The praise, particularly of Dr. Watts is deservedly great in the churches. He shines as a sun among the stars; and as long as a juft taste for either poetry or evangelic truth remains in the world, he is likely to retain the preference; and it is matter of astonishment to me that such wretched performances as Sternhold and Hopkins, the Scotch version, and others, of the psalms, should ever be sung where Watts’ is known, as there-admits of no comparison betwixt his and theirs.
With respect both to his psalms and hymns I profess myself to be among the number of his admirers, and cannot think the works, of this kind, of any individual whatever equal to his; the consequence of which is, my constant use of both the psalms and hymns: but, at the same time, I cannot help thinking some persons too strongly prejudiced to them, who, to shew their attachment to Watts and his compositions, will suffer none besides to be fung where they have any influence. They must either suppose him to have psalms and hymns upon every subject in the word of God, and the experience of Christians in all states, and these
reprefented in every proper point of view; or, that the rest of the hymns, composed by others, are not worthy to be introduced into the worship of God. But neither of these ideas can be supported, because they are both equally unjuft. Have not many minifters, and others, who choose the hymns, often complained that they could meet with no hymn or
psalm, in Watts' works, which suited their fubject and views of it? and in the judgment of many judicious and worthy persons, there are, at least, fome hymns, composed by other hands, that may vie with any of his individnal pfalms or hymns ; ftill admitting that he ought to have the preference upon
the whole : and I verily believe, if he was alive, he would blame the above mentioned conduct, as tending to rob the church of Christ of the edification which might be derived from that diversity of gifts which the Lord himselfhath given, in his own infinite wisdom, for a valuable end.
Hence there appears to me a propriety, and a probability of usefulness, in a well-chosen collection of hymns from other authors, especially when used as a supplement to Watts', and coinciding with him in his views of the Gospel of Christ. A greater variety of metres likewife may be introduced, which, if properly used, may have a tendency to remedy that infup portable dulnefs in finging the prailes of our covenant God, which too frequently, in many congregarions, renders that delightfust part of divine worfhip tedious and burdensome; and alfo to bring about that desirable end of engaging whole congregations to join in finging, by enlivening it, instead of the prepofterous method of leaving a set of fingers to do that for them all, which God requires from every one himself who is capable of it.
This is only a part of the profeffed defign of this publication ; what fuccess besides may attend it remains with him alone who is able to make all means falutary ; this however We know, that the topicks dwele upon in these hymns are fuch as he has always blefied; that, in the hand of the fpirit they