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as a royal and divine relative, whom I shall shortly meet in my Father's kingdom above! where thou shalt enjoy, what I cannot promise thee in the use of my Little Book, spiritual as I know it to be-Songs without sighs!—
"Where pleasure rolls its living flood,
Fresh springing from the Throne of God,
Th' Almighty Ruler of the sphere-
Brings his own " All-sufficience there,
London, Aug. 4, 1824.
THE SAINTS OF GOD,
ZION CHAPEL, WATERLOO ROAD, LONDON."
It is now more than two years since I promised to furnish you with a volume of the best Hymns that could be collected. During which period I have occasionally, and for the last twelve months entirely, devoted my private hours to the undertaking.
The object is at length accomplished: and although my labours will, no doubt, bear some of the usual characteristics of all finite capacity, yet I feel a sacred pleasure in presenting to you so large a body of clear, uncorrupted, and powerful truth. And if I should depart this life, without leaving behind me any other publication as an echo and defence of that ministry, which, though foolishness to some, you have found to be the
power of God unto salvation," I should feel great consolation in having been permitted, at least, to leave this Volume of Hymns with you. The alterations, additions, and exclusions which I have made, in almost all the Hymns selected, will be found, I believe, upon a careful comparison with their originals, to be improved. It may happen, however, that in reading some, that have undergone a considerable change in passing into this Collection, you may feel, at the first glance, a little disappointment, especially
if they should have been particular favourites with you. Low, mourning, and even murmuring strains, sometimes become interesting by reason of the fellowship which we may have realized with them, when in similar frames of mind.
But you are, no doubt, aware, that my object in compiling this work has been to furnish you with materials for praise, and not for complaint: for, however pleasing the sympathy of melancholic themes may be to us when in a dejected state, they are seldom, if ever, truly profitable in extricating from it. Rise up, my Love!" should be the language, either direct or indirect, of every Hymn; and especially so when intended for public use. How often has my mind been plunged into a mental flood of cold water when that, in some respects, interesting piece of ISAAC WATTS, beginning-"Come, Holy Spirit, heav'nly Dove," has been sung. It is a most excellent composition upon the whole; but there is too much of the disease in it, and too little of the remedy, to render it suitable for general singing in a congregation of God's saints; on whom he calls for higher songs:- Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his Name." Ps. c. 4. I have not however destroyed this weeping willow; as will be seen by reference to it, Hymn 165. I have only cropped it a little; planting, also, along with it, a few evergreens upon the same ground, that it may not expand its drooping branches all over the Lord's garden. I certainly do not expect songs without sighs while yet in the wilderness; neither would I encourage a disposition to expect sighs without songs while there;
for the Lord has said to Zion, that "he will make her wilderness like Eden, and her desert like the garden of the Lord; joy and gladness shall be found therein, thanksgiving and the voice of melody." Is. li. 3. And again in chap. xxxv. 1,2. of the same prophet-" The wilderness and the solitary place shall be glad for them, and the desert shall rejoice and blossom as the rose: it shall blossom abundantly, and rejoice, even with joy and singing." I will notice another favourite piece of the same author in which I have made considerable change-see 527.
"Why should the children of a King
Go mourning all their days?"
I have placed this Hymn in the head "After Sermon," as being short, and, in its present altered state, suitable as a close to almost any really gospel discourse. I have often felt elevated when the two first lines have been given out; but have afterwards drooped through the complaining strain which has succeeded. When the cheering tidings of free and full salvation have been set forth, together with token upon token of the mourner's interest therein, it is certainly inappropriate to hear a whole congregation exclaiming―
"Great Comforter, descend and bring
When wilt thou banish our complaints,
and all the while the hearts of many who have these words thus forced into their mouths, are glowing with the richest manifestation of divine love. But the whole Hymn has too
much complaint of what God has not done, and too little acknowledgment of what he has done. And moreover, the complaint is somewhat illiberally directed against the Holy Spirit, whose gracious tokens are, notwithstanding, evident, even in that very distress from which the complaint originates. I do not intend, however, unqualifiedly, to condemn this Hymn by these observations, but rather to justify the alterations I have made therein; and especially considering the head under which I have classed it.
Another favourite Hymn of the same author I have altered, because it was not in fact quite true:
"When I can read my title clear
To mansions in the skies,
I'll bid farewell to ev'ry fear,
Let cares like a wild deluge come,
And storms of sorrow fall," &c.
Now many of God's people can witness, that there is a state in which faith can clearly realize her interest in Christ, and yet at the same time the feelings be so exceedingly oppressed, not only with things temporal, but things spiritual also, as to produce both many fears, and many tears.
I have altered this Hymn entirely for truth's sake, and that it may be sung with the heart and understanding by the children of God in any state of mind. See 490.
I have given these instances as a sort of key to my reasons generally for the changes that will be found in many of the Hymns in this Collection.