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INTRODUCTION.

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The design of this Introduction is not to deliver a eulogium on the sacred book, a new version of which is now respectfully presented to such readers of it as are desirous of improving their acquaintance with its contents. The beauty and excellence of the inspired hymns, which are brought together in it, are too well understood, and too justly appreciated, to require, or indeed to admit of, any remarks for such a purpose.

Not less needless is it to descant, at large, on the authority by which its truth and genuineness are supported.

From its earliest promulgation to the present day, it has been esteemed by the Church of God, as one of its richest possessions : and has attracted, from the wise and good of all successive ages, the most devout regard and the most assiduous perusal. It has shed its celestial light over the path of multitudes of travellers to that heaven of perfect love and transporting praise whence it descended; has poured ineffable peace and consolation into the bosoms of myriads of sad and disconsolate mourners; and has prompted the praises and thanksgivings of its own exquisite and sublime melodies, to endless numbers whose hearts have beat in unison with its heavenly strains.

The Jewish nation, whence these divine compositions were communicated, transmitted them to succeeding ages, with a fidelity so remote from all suspicion of unhallowed interpolation, and from

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every stain of designed corruption, that no breath of accusation, on this topic, ever escaped the lips of the omniscient Saviour, who censured, with unsparing severity and openness, the superstition, hypocrisy, and flagrant iniquities, by which that infatuated and devoted people were overwhelmed. The blessed Redeemer evermore refers to this book, as the herald of his appearance among men: and his Apostles continually cite its declarations, as authoritative testimonies, in support of the doctrine which they delivered. Saints, martyrs, fathers, and the entire Christian Church, have borne it down to our own times as a

κτημά τε ες αεί, * an ever-during monument,” and one of the most precious deposits that could be entrusted to their successors. In every period it has formed the subject of innumerable translations, illustrations, commentaries, and citations, which ascertain its existence, and its freedom from every taint of corruption, from the time of Christ's ministry to the present age.

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If this book were not attested by such“ a cloud of witnesses,” its own intrinsic character, and the times and circumstances of its composition, would afford an irrefragable argument of its heavenly descent: for it presents conceptions of the supreme majesty and unrivalled glory of the Deity, of his universal dominion, of the sanctity of his laws and government, such as no

no human philosophy have ever disclosed. It represents the benignity and placableness of the Most High towards the sons of men, in the most engaging and attractive lights: while it portrays, in prophetic and mystic characters, the advent and triumph of that illustrious King, who unites incomprehensible condescension and love with the surpassing glories

heathen sages,

* Thucydides.

of a reign, which is circumscribed by no limits but those of immensity and eternity. This collection of sublime poesy, to which the genius of western and oriental lore has produced no parallel, originated among a people, obscure, superstitious, and despised ; refined by no polite learning, and ornamented by no endowments of science; the inhabitants of an inconsiderable tract on the borders of the Mediterranean, and separated from all the nations of the earth by a religion which rendered them the objects of scorn, odium, and persecution. Yet, from a source so unpromising, issued these songs of Zion, which have won for themselves the admiration of the most cultivated nations, the eulogies of the learned, the delight of the wise and the good, and the affectionate regard of the pious, who have found in them a never-failing solace in this land of their pilgrimage.

An attentive consideration of the facts which have now been recited will show, that a detailed account of the evidence, truthi, and excellence of the Book of Psalms, would be altogether superfluous: and I shall, therefore, proceed to offer a brief account of the purpose for which this publication has been undertaken.

No earnest and inquisitive reader of the common version of the Psalms can be unaware, that a considerable degree of obscurity is found in them. On some passages, indeed, of this version, it is very difficult to fix any distinct or definite meaning; and a much larger number, where the sentiment is capable of being placed in a clearer light, and with greater effect, may readily be found. It is matter of regret, that such remarks are applicable, more or less, to most of the books which compose the volume of the Bible.

Many persons, eminent both for learning and piety, have made known, at different times, their dissatisfaction with this state of things, and have expressed a strong desire that it should be remedied. It is not meant by this to insinuate, that the learned and venerable persons, to whose labours we are indebted for the translation of the Bible which is now in general use, were either unskilful or unfaithful in discharging the office which was assigned to them. Neither is it intended to suggest doubts to those who are unable to judge for themselves, respecting the general fidelity or usefulness of that version, as if it were deficient in any of the fundamental truths which make up the revelation of God to

This can scarcely, if at all, be said of the most defective versions of the Bible ; and the unlearned may rest assured that, in the English Scriptures, they have placed before them every important truth and precept of revelation. It is, notwithstanding, greatly to be regretted, that blemishes, which impair the beauty and obscure the sense of many parts of this divine volume, should be permitted to remain, age after age, without any effective steps being taken to remove them.

man.

It may, I trust, without presumption be intimated, that the erudition and the vast means of every kind which are in possession of the Universities of England for effecting so important a benefit, cannot be applied to a nobler or more appropriate purpose. Other pursuits of science, taste, and literary curiosity, are, I own, great ornaments of human life, and, at the same time, confer inestimable advantages on society at large. But what, may we not inquire what is the worth of the most accomplished attainments of literature, or the profoundest acquirements of science, when compared with an accurate and extensive acquaintance with those living oracles which are destined to enlighten the mind and to refine the heart, by dissipating their prejudices, and withdrawing them from the gross and terrene affections, so as to elevate the thoughts now, and at no distant period the soul itself, to the possession

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and enjoyment of the all-perfect and all-satisfying good which is in reserve for the true disciples of the blessed Redeemer? What is the genuine value of the acutest emendations of Greek or Roman authors, or of the most skilful and splendid editions of their exquisite remains, if these, which may be prodigies of erudition and of ingenuity, are contrasted with an improvement of that volume, whose pages are

able to make men wise unto salvation ?” The most important discoveries of science, and the most accurate delineations of the orbits and times of comets, and other celestial or terrestrial phenomena, partially valuable as they confessedly are, sink into entire worthlessness, when set against the advancement of whatever is associated with the future and imperishable welfare of human souls. These manifest truisms are not recorded by one who was never smitten by the charms of literature and science, and who is incapable of feeling delight, even from small acquisitions of ancient or modern lore, which he would gladly make: they are the natural results of a belief that there is something more momentous than Greek or Latin, more interesting than the diagrams of geometry, and more truly worthy of the powers and faculties of man, than algebraic or Auxional calculations.

The want of which I am disposed to complain, can be satisfactorily supplied only by an association of men of parts, learning, and cultivated taste, and especially of christian feeling; so wise as to discard all fanciful theories, and so faithful as to sanction nothing but pure and simple truth. Happy had it been if scholars of the last and present age, endowed with such qualities, had prepared a version of the Holy Scriptures, as perfect as the ample means and appliances to which they have access might have conducted them, before the immense multiplication of copies of the authorized translation had been spread over the land, and

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