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Price THREE SHILLINGS and SIX-PENCE

147 g. 667

BOD

FOR many years I have been importuned to

a HYMN-BOOK, as might be generally used in all our Congregations throughout Great-Britain and Ireland. I have hitherto withftood the importunity, as I believed such a Publication was needlefs, confidering the various Hymn-Books, which my Brother and I have published within these forty years last past; fo that it may be doubted whether any religious Community in the world has a greater variety of them.

But it has been anfwered, "Such a Publication is highly needful upon this very account; for the greater part of the people being poor, are not able to purchase fo many books. And those that have purchased them are, as it were, bewildered in the immenfe variety. There is, therefore, ftill wanting a proper Collection of Hymns for general ufe, carefully made out of all these books; and one comprised in fo moderate a compafs, as neither to be cumbersome nor expensive."

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It has been replied, "You have fuch a Collection already, (entitled, HYMNS AND SPIRITUAL SONGS), which I extracted feveral years ago, from a variety of Hymn-Books." But it is objected, "This is in the other extreme: it is far too fmall. It does not, it cannot, in fo narrow a compafs, contain variety enough: Not fo much as we want, among whom finging makes fo confiderable a part of the public fervice. What we want is, a Collection, not too large, that it may be cheap and portable, nor too fmall, that it may contain a fufficient variety for all ordinary occafions."

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Such a Hymn-Book you have now before you. It is not fo large as to be either cumberfome," or expenfive. And it is large enough to contain fuch a variety of Hymns, as will not foon be worn threadbare. It is large enough to contain all the important truths of our moft holy Religion, whether fpeculative or practical: Yea, to illuftrate them all, and to prove them both by Scripture and reason. And this is done in a regular order. The Hymns are not careleffly jumbled together, but carefully ranged under proper heads, according to the experience of real Chriftians. So that this book is, in effect, a little body of experimental and practical divinity.

As but a fmall part of thefe Hymns are of my compofing, I do not think it inconfiftent with modefty to declare, that I am perfuaded, no fuch Hymn-Book as this has yet been publifhed in the English language. In what other publication of the kind, have you fo diftin&t and full an account of Scriptural Christianity? Such a declaration of the heights and depths of Religion, fpeculative and practical? So ftrong cautions against the most plaufible errors; particularly those that are now moft prevalent? And fo. clear directions for making your calling and election fure; for perfecting holiness in the fear of God?

May I be permitted to add a few words with regard to the Poetry? Then I will speak to those who are judges thereof, with all freedom and unreferve. To thefe I may fay, without offence, 1. In thefe hymns there is no doggerel: no botches; nothing put in to patch up the rhyme; no feeble expletives. 2. Here is no

ng turgid or bombaft, on the one hand, or

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low and creeping, on the other. 3. Here are no cant expreffions; no words without meaning. Those who impute this to us, know not what they fay. We talk common fenfe, (whether they understand it or not,) both in profe and verfe, and use no word but in a fixt and determinate fenfe. 4. Here are, (allow me to fay,) both the purity, the ftrength, and the elegance of the English language: and, at the fame time, the utmoft fimplicity and plainnefs, fuited to every capacity. Laftly, I defire men of tafte to judge, (thefe are the only competent judges,) whether there is not in fome of the following verfes, the true Spirit of Poetry; fuch as cannot be acquired by art and labour; but muft be the gift of Nature. By labour a man may become a tolerable imitator of Spenfer, Shakefpeare, or Milton; But unless he be torn a Poet, he will never attain the genuine Spirit of Poetry.

But to return. What is of infinitely more moment than the Spirit of Poetry, is the Spirit of Piety. And, I truft, all perfons of real judgment, will find this breathing thro' the whole Collection. It is in this view chiefly, that I would recommend it to every truly pious reader, as a mean of raifing or quickening the fpirit of devotion, of confirming his faith; of enlivening his hope; and of kindling and increafing his love to God and Man. When Poetry thus keeps its place, as the handmaid of Piety, it fhall attain, not a poor perishable wreath, but a Crown that fadeth not away.

JOHN WESLEY.

LONDON, October 20, 1779.

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