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1, ON SELECT TEXTS OF SCRIPTURE.
2. OCCASIONAL SUBJECTS.
And they sung as it were a new song before the throne :-
and no man could learn that song but the redeemed from
WM. OLIPHANT; DAVID BROWN; WAUGH & INNES;
Copies of a few of these Hymns have already appeared in periodical publications, and in some recent collections. I have observed one or two of them attributed to persons who certainly had no concern in them but as transcribers. All that have been at different times parted with in manuscript are included in the present volume; and (if the information were of any great importance) the public may be assured, that the whole number were composed by two persons only. The original design would not admit of any other association. A desire of promoting the faith and comfort of sincere Christians, though the principal, was not the only motive to this undertaking. It was likewise intended as a monument to perpetuate the remembrance of an intimate and endeared friendship. With this pleasing view, I entered upon my part, which would have been smaller than it is, and the book would have appeared much sooner, and in a very different form, if the wise, though mysterious providence of God, had not seen fit to cross my wishes. We had not proceeded far upon our proposed plan, before my dear friend was prevented, by a long and affecting indisposition, from affording me any further assistance. My grief and disappointment were great; I hung my harp upon the willows, and for some time thought myself determined to proceed no further without him.
Yet my mind was afterwards led to resume the service. My progress in it, amidst a variety of other engagements, has been slow; yet, in a course of years, the Hymns amounted to a considerable number; and my deference to the judgment and desires of others, has at length overcome the res luctance I long felt to see them in print, while I had so few of my friend's* Hymns to insert in the collection. Though it is possible a good judge of composition might be able to distinguish those which are his, I have thought it proper to preclude misapplication, by prefixing the letter C to each of them. For the rest I must be responsible.
* There is a style and manner suited to the composition of hymns, which may be more successfully, or at least more easily attained by a versifier than by a poet. They should be Hymns, not Odes, if designed for public worship, and for the use of plain people. Perspicuity, simplicity, and ease, should be chiefly attended to; and the imagery and colouring of poetry, if admitted at all, should be indulged very sparingly, and with great judgment. The late Dr Watts, many of whose hymns are admirable patterns in this species of writing, might, as a poet, have a right to say, that it cost him some labour to restrain his fire, and to accommodate himself to the capacities of common read.
But it would not become me to make such a declaration. It behoved me to do my best. But though I would not offend readers of taste by a wilful coarseness and negligence, I do not write professedly for them. If the Lord whom I serve has been pleased to favour me with that mediocrity Lof talent, which may qualify me for usefulness to the weak and the poor of his flock, without quite
* Cowper, Author of the Task, &c.
disgusting persons of superior discernment, I have Teason to be satisfied. .
As the workings of the heart of man, and of the Spirit of God, are in general the same in all who are the subjects of grace, I hope most of these hymns, being the fruit and expression of my own experience, will coincide with the views of real Christians of all denominations. But I cannot expect that every sentiment I have advanced will be universally approved. However, I am not conscious of þaving written a single line with an intention either to flatter or to oftend any party or person upon earth. I have simply declared my own views and feelings, as I might have done if I bad composed hymns in some of the newly discovered islands in the South Sea, where no person bad any knowledge of the name of Jesus but myself I am a friend of peace; and being deeply convinced that no one can profitably understand the great truths and doctrines of the gospel, any further than he is taught of God, I have not a wish to obtrude my own tenets upon others in a way of controversy; yet I do not think myself bound to conceal them. Many gracious persons (for many such I am persuaded there are) who differ from me, more or less, in those points which are called Calvinistic, appeared desirous that the Calvinists should, for their sake, studiously avoid every ex. pression which they cannot approve.
Yet few of sthem, I believe, impose a like restraint upon athemselves, but think the importance of what they deem to be truth, justifies them in speaking their sentiments, plainly and strongly. May I not plead ofor an equal diberty? The views I have received pdf the doctrines of grace are essential to my peace ; I could not live comfortably a day or an hour without them. I likewise believe, yea, so far as