« AnteriorContinuar »
it was referred to a special committee, appointed to read it over carefully, and transmit their corrections to the standing commission of the church, who were empowered to publish it forth with for general use. The following is the act passed on this occasion :-"The General Assembly having taken some view of the new paraphrase of the psalms in metre, with the corrections and animadversions thereupon sent from several persons and Presbyteries, and finding that they cannot overtake the review and examination of the whole in this Assembly; therefore now after so much time, and so great pains about the correcting and examining thereof, from time to time, some years by.gone, that the work may come now to some conclusion, they do ordain the brethren appointed for perusing the same during the meeting of this Assembly, viz.:—Masters James Hamilton, (formerly Minister of Ballywalter, in the County of Down) John Smith, Hugh Mackail, (uncle to the youthful martyr of the same name) Robert Trail, George Hutchinson, and Robert Laurie, (all Ministers at Edinburgh) after the dissolving of this Assembly, to go on in that work carefully, and to report their travels to the Commission of the General Assembly for public affairs, at their meeting at Edinburgh, in November: and the said commission, after perusal and re-examination thereof, is hereby authorized with full power to conclude and establish the paraphrase, and to publish and emit the same for public use."
The book being now in the fair way of being introduced into the public worship of the church, Principal Baillie, who had watched its progress with great anxiety, thus expresses, in September, 1649, his fears, lest the change which, in the meantime, as already stated, had taken place in the politics of his friend, Mr. Rouse, shoula impede the reception of his book in Scotland :-"I think at last we shall get a new Psalter. I have furthered that work ever with my best wishes; but this scruple now arises of it in my mind. The first author of the translation, Mr. Rouse, my good friend, has complied with the sectaries, and is a member of their republic. How a Psalter of his framing, albeit with much variation, shall be received by our church, I do not well know; yet it is needful we should have one, and a better in haste we cannot have. The Assembly has referred it to the commission to cause print it after the Jast revision, and to put it in practice.” His apprehen.
sions, however, appear to have been groundless. The commission of the church, which met at the time appointed, finally approved' of the version; and in the fol lowing act authorized it, and it alone, to be used in the public service of the church:—"The Commission of the General Assembly having with great diligence considered the paraphrase of the Psalms in metre sent from the As. sembly of Divines in England, ---and having exactly examined the same, do approve the said paraphrase, as it is now compiled; and therefore, by the power given them by the said Assembly, do appoint it to be printed and published for public use : Hereby authorizing the same to be the only paraphrase of the Psalms of David, to be sung in the Kirk of Scotland ;' and discharging the old paraphrase and any other than this new paraphrase to be made use of in any congregation or family, after the first day of May, in the year 1650.". On the 8th of January, 1650, it was approved by the Scottish Parliament; and having thus received the approbation and sanction of both the civil and ecclesiastical powers, it soon supplanted Sternhold's version, and was universally adopted throughout the kingdom.
Thus, Mr. Editor; have I traced the history of the Psal. mody of our church from the earliest period to the introduction of the present version ; which, since its original adoption, has undergone no alteration. Notwithstanding its many excellencies, it is susceptible of considerable improvement, which, I have no doubt, in the course of time, it will receive. And as this is a subject full of interest to Presbyterians, I shall, with your permission, lay before your readers, in a subsequent number, the pertinent and judicious observations of Dr. Beattie, relative to a revision of our Psalmody. These observations occur in the Letter to Dr. Hugh Blair, to which I have already once or twice referred, and which is not generally known.
Praying that your readers may be both edified and entertained by these letters, and grateful for the opportunity you have afforded me of laying before them my researches on a favourite topic, I remain your obliged seryant,
TO THE EDITOR OF THE ORTHODOX PRESBYTERIAN.
The Holy Scriptures being the Christian's guide, we are furnished therein with some general principles which ought ever to be kept in view, and which are sufficient to direct our conduct in all circumstances. Thus, (1 Cor. x. 31,) “Whether ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God; (Eph. v. 15, 16,)“ See then that ye
walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, redeeming the time;" and verse 11, “Have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them; (Rom. xii. 2,)“Be not conformed to ibis world,” for, (1 John. ii. 15,) “ If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.” If we apply these principles to the acts of professing Christians, we shall often see that their actions cannot abide such a holy test. Take, for example, the case of gentlemen riding noble and useful creatures to death, under the eye, and urged on by the shouts, of thousands of spectators. This we had lately in the amusement (if it can be called such) of A STEEPLE Chase. I seriously ask, can the practice be defended on the ground of any of the Scriptural rules I have stated ? Did it tend to the glory of God? Did it redeem time? Was it, or was it not an unfruitful work? Was it, or was it not a sinful conformity to this present evil world, both in the ACTORS and SPECTATORS ?
It was the resolution of a holy man never to go into any society where his Saviour was not as welcome as himself. Was he welcome-was he expected in this scene of vanity and death ? I shudder to suggest the thought; yet, what if one or more of those employed in this vain chase had shared the same fate as the poor dumb (and as we say, irrational) animal, who died on the spot? What if any one of the rational conductors had been called out of that field into the presence of God for his judgment ?Might I farther ask, could one of the thousands collected there thank God on his knees at night for the mercies of the past day, and review the bours so spent as a fit preparation for death, judgment, and eternity ?
I submit these plain thoughts to your readers, many of whom may have been present from thoughtlessness, or from a false deference to the castoms of a wicked world. Let them beware. I have no hesitation in saying, that
the lives of these dumb animals were WANTONLY SACRIFICED, “ The merciful man regardeth the life of his beast.”. Where was mercy here? “Rejoice, O young man, in thy youth, and let thy heart cheer thee in the days of thy youth. And walk in the ways of thine own heart, and in the light of thine own eyes: but know thou, that for all these things God will assuredly bring man into judgment.”
I am, Sir, &c. 24th November, 1830.
C. S. A.
[We beg to apologize to the worthy author of the foregoing remarks, for the delay of publication. But a word of good advice cannot come too late. The lives of two horses may be trifles to the rich—but the principle that destroys them for amusement is horror to the Christian. We shall return to the subject should we see cause.-EDIT.]
WAKES AND FUNERALS.
TO THE EDITOR OF THE ORTHODOX PRESBYTERIAN. Sir,
I TRUST you will permit me to turn the attention of your readers to a subject important to the order of society, and to the interest of “religion pure and undefiled," namely, the manner in which Wakes and Funerals are conducted in many parts of the country. On these solemn occasions there is often exbibited an absolute thoughtlessness concerning death, judgment, and eternity, that demonstrates an equal ignorance concerning the evil of sin, and the value of souls. In many places it is customary at the death of a neighbour, for such a number of people, of all ages, to attend “the wake," as to become an absolute in. convenience to the relatives of the deceased: and in this promiscuous assembly, through a mistaken notion of kindness and liberality, refreshments, or in plainer terms, ardent spirits, are repeatedly served out during the night. In such meetings there are generally found some, alike devoid of character and religion, who frequent the house of mourning, that they may convert it, if possible, into a house of mirth, intemperance, and revelry. There, as in contempt of death and judgment, you may hear the loud laugh, and the blasphemous exclamation, the idle conver. sation, and the foolish jesting. Death, the great solemnizer, has no solemnity for the ungodly. They live, and speak, and act, as if they neither had souls to be saved or lost:
After “the wake;" the hour appointed for the funeral arrives. Here again is presented another scene of serving out and drinking ardent spirits. In this distribution the friends of the deceased are actively engaged; and all is bustle and confusion. Were a stranger, unacquainted with the manners and customs of our country, to arrive at such a time, and inquire the cause of all this mighty stir, and were one of the crowd to answer him: “This, sir, is the house of mourning!-
our respected friend is no more; but two days ago, he was in perfect health and strength,apd we are here to lament his loss to console his widow and family--and to convey his remains to the grave, the house appointed for all living." I ask any reasonable man, would the stranger think his informant was really in earnest? Would he not rather be led to suppose, from the actions and conversation of the greater part of the people assembled, that the meeting was a jovial assembly in honour of some fabled god of the heathen, whose service was drunkenness and riot, and his motto, “Eat, drink, and be merry, we shall never die p»
The rounds of “serving" being finished, the funeral proceeds; and to the distant spectator a becoming thoughtfulness and solemnity seem to reign. But approach nearer; enter the crowd, and you will hear men conversing most fluently on all subjects except their own mortality.These are concerns they do not wish to bring home to themselves. Although death is at their doors, and before their very eyes, they put the evil day far from them. Instead of employing their time, on such an occasion, in reflection and godly conversation, their farms, their houses, the crops, the markets, and their neighbours' affairs, occupy their whole minds,--their treasure is upon earth and of the earth, and their hearts are there also.
Let us follow the procession, and behold the solemnities of interment. The hollow sound, which issues, from the grave, when the first earth is cast upon the coffin, appeals to the heart and feeling so powerfully, that we would almost think it could never be forgotten. We believe there are few who have not then felt themselves weak and perishable beings. But with many the feeling is transient. No sooner do they turn from performing the last office due to humanity, than again they enter into their worldly conversation; and having commenced the day by drinking ardent spirits, they evidence their wish to end it. so, by entering the first dram-shop they find on their way.
From the imperfect picture now drawn, the original of which must be familiar to thousands, it is evident, that