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then be asked-" Why all this waste," since there are so many Hymn Books already? To which I reply that I have never yet found any volume of Hymns in which there has not been, either a great deal of evil included, or a great deal of good excluded-or both. The evil has consisted of weakness in some instances, and of wickedness in others: but the former, in matters of eternal import, as well as the latter, is sin. Where lively devotion in singing is desired—every Hymn-every verse-every line-every word, should not only be true, but weighty also! I have endeavoured to effect these objects in this volume; and, boasting apart, I am not working so much in the dark as not to perceive that I have attained them.
The reader may suspect that the Author is too self-complacent by thus boldly deciding upon his own work: It is God's work-not mine! and I know that the alterations I have made will bear the strictest investigation of an enlightened evangelical critic; and that an attentive and spiritual use of these Hymns, whether in private or public, will justify this assertion, in the power that will result therefrom.
A few pieces are added rather for information than for singing; amongst which are some parts of Hymns 499 to 454 on Faith-Hymn 439 on Pride, and Hymn 269 on Hesitation, with respect to an interest in Christ. The latter is a very excellent composition upon the subject, and a great favourite with many; but it must be clear to an attentive mind, that it is not decorous for a whole Christian Congregation, many of whom, it is to be hoped, are enabled to say-"I know whom I have believed," to be singing
"Tis a point I long to know,
This good poetical tract, however, is inserted, accompanied with a few verses by way of reply; see 269 and 270. But this reply, it may be said, will be out of the reach of many: very likely: but still as themes for public singing ought to be either direct praise to God-in stating what he is; or indirect, in stating what he does; certainly, for a whole assembly to be singing neither the one nor the other, but, on the contrary, to be dolefully lamenting about what he has not done, is very far from the test laid down. All the services of the Christian sanctuary ought to have a tendency upward.
The Minister, and all those in the congregation, whose faith, like eagles' wings, bears them above the dreary elements of doubts and fears, ought to take the lead, whether in preaching, praying, or singing; and
"As a bird each fond endearment tries,
To tempt its new-fledg'd offspring to the skies,
There are many Hymns in this publication which have never before been in print. Some of these are my own: and for the gratification of friendly curiosity in those who know me, or for the information of any who may wish to see my religious sentiments in plain black and white, they may be found under the following numbers:-12, 13, 55, 66, 70, 73, 94, 95, 96, 152, 170, 172, 200, 247, 270, 302, 310, 312, 339, 348, 449, 450, 451, 452, 453, 454, 465, 509.
Though, indeed, the whole volume is a complete exposition of my heart: the doctrines of which I invariably preach; and in defence of which I am ready, as I believe, to suffer the loss of all things, if called so to do by Him who once suffered the loss of all things for me.
I hesitate not to say that this volume abounds with-The highest Doctrines of Eternal Grace— The lowliest, and yet the most exalted Experience The most ardent Devotion-and then, of course, A lively spiritual Practice in the goings forth of the mind into the abundance of Him, who is at once the Fulness of the Godhead, and the Fountain of all spiritual blessings to the Church. But is there no place in this volume of Hymns for the fears and doubts of the weak?-Yes, plenty of places to bury them in-but not one, I trust, to breed them in! What! no place for the encouragement of the weak?-Yes, for the weak-but not for their weakness! The truly weak will find set forth in this volume the arms of everlasting power, to support-the bosom of everlasting love, to solace-and the fountain of all spiritual blessings, to supply
"A sov'reign balm for ev'ry wound,
A cordial for their fears!
With respect to the poetry of this Compilation, whether my own or that of others, it will be found, no doubt, quite sufficient for the purposes intended. In the Hymns adopted, and also in the alterations or additions which have been made, I have studied excellence rather than elegance; religion rather than rhyme; and the advantage of plain unencumbered verity, rather than the amusement of embellished verse. And
yet the Hymns which are altered will not be found to be deteriorated in any of these respects. to In order to preserve the sense, by the pronunciation, in some instances, of the dear name, JESUS, I have been under the necessity of violating the rule of letters occasionally:-in some cases using the genitive as a nominative, as-" Jesu's my Hope;" and in others giving to the genitive double possession, as-"While Jesu's blood," &c. However, the theological importance of this Name is such as fully to warrant its enlargement, when needful, from the limits of grammatical inflexion. And if in the latter case the possessive is rendered more emphatical-all the better.
I have denominated these Hymns "Divine Aspirations," being quite certain that no one can, by any possibility, adopt the sentiment, experience, and soul practice, contained therein, as their own, but such as are born of God! All such, of course, have God for their Father; and are therefore" Partakers of the Divine Nature!" Now, whether the reader understands this most sacred and spiritual doctrine, or not-that Nature is the moral, spiritual, living element, from which, to use the words of the Prayer Book-" All holy desires-all good counsels-and all just works do proceed." This is true- but we have yet a more sure word of testimony.—See Eph. i. 3. Or, rather, to do the subject justice by ample reference, see, from the first chapter of Genesis to the last of Revelation.
With regard to the Author's personal experience in the subjects of this Book-he must witness, to the glory of divine grace, that he neither preaches, prays, nor sings any thing but what he
has spiritually heard, seen, and felt for himself:" and that he has been in the enjoyment of the highest portions generally of these "Divine Aspirations" for many years. He has been enabled, amidst the strife of earth, hell, and sin, unhesitatingly to breathe " Abba Father"" My Lord and my God." This confidence he has ever found, and must for ever find, has the very reverse effect to that which some would charge upon itlicentiousness and presumption!
Shame upon such a slander against that "Holy One of God," "who is able to save to the uttermost!" and who can cause the feeblest of his flock" to comprehend, with all saints, what is the length, and breadth, and depth, and height; and to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that they might be filled with all the fulness of God!"
Reader-art thou à critic?-If thou have but one qualification more, I can safely commit this volume to thy review, namely—a broken heart. If not, this work, which teems with the effusions of, and antidote to, that sacred state, will offend thee: the pearls will be trampled under thy feet, and thou wilt turn again and rend the Author. Christ, whether suffering or triumphant, will continue to be " a sign spoken against" by such a state as thine. But certain it is, that he will never say any thing against Christ, who has nothing to say for himself! And he will be quite ready to receive Christ as "All in All" who has rejected himself, as being nothing in any thing!
But, Reader-whether thou follow with us or not, if thou canst live and breathe in the atmosphere of my " Divine Aspirations," I hail thee