Imágenes de páginas










Late Fellow of Lincoln College, Oxford.

14, CITY-ROAN, AND: 65,RATEnnesiër-Row,





such a Hymn Book as inight be generally used in all our Congregations throughout Great Britain and Ireland. I have hitherto withstood the importunity, ay I believed such a Publication was needless, cou. sidering the various Hymn Books which my Brother and I have published within these forty years last past: so that it may be doubted whether any religious Community in the world has a greater variety of them.

But it bas been answered, “ Such a Publication is bigbly needful upon this very account; for the greater part of the people, being poor, are not able to purchase so many books. And those that have purchased them are, as it were, bewildered in the immense variety. A proper Collection of Hymns for general use, carefully inade out of all these books, is, there. fore, still wanting; and one comprised in so moderate & compass as to be neither cumbersome nor expensive."

It has been replied, “ You bave such a Collection already, (entitled Hymns and Spiritual Songs,) which I extracted several years ago, from a variety of Hyınn Books,” But it is objected, " This is in the other ex. treme: It is far too small; it does not, it cannot, in 80 narrow a compass, contain variety enougl: not so much as we want, among whom singing makes so considerable a part of the public service. What we want is, a Collection not too large, that it may be cheap and portable ; nor too small, that it inay contain a sufficient variety for all ordinary occasions."


Such a Hyın Book you have now before you.. It is not so large as to be either cumhersome, or expensive: and it is large enough to contain such a variety of Hymns as will not soon be worn threadhare. It is. large enough to contain all the important truths of our most holy Religion, whether speculative or practical : yea, to illustrate them all, and to prove them, both b; Scripture and Reason. And this is done in a regular order. The Hymns are not carelessly jumbled toge ther, but carefully arranged under proper heads, according to the experience of real Christians. So that this book is, in effect, a little body of experimental and practical divinity.

As but a small part of these Hymns is of my owr. composing, * I do not think it inconsistent with modesty to declare, that I am persuaded no such Hyınn Book as this has yet been published in the English language. In what other publicatim of the kind have you so dis. tinct and full an account of Scriptural Christianity i Such a declaration of the heights and depths of Reli. gion, speculative and practical? So strong cautions against the inost plausible errors : particularly those that are now most prevaleat? And so clear directions for inaking your calling and election sure; fur perfecting boliness 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 wim are judges thereof, with all freedom and unreserve. To these. I may say, without offence, 1. In these Hymnns there is no doggerel; no hotches: nothing put in to patch up the rliyine : no feeble expletives. 2. Here is monthing turgid or bombast, on the one hand, or low and creeping on the other. 8. Here are no cant expreso sions; no words without ineaning. Those who imputę this to nis, know not what they say. We talk coininon sense, both in prose aud verse, and use no words but in a fixt and determinate sense. 4. Here are, (allow me to say,) both the purity, the sirength, and the ele. gance of the English language: an, int the same time, The utmost simplicity and plainess, suited to every capacity. Lastly, I desire inen of taste to judge, (these are the only competent julges,) whether there be not in some of the following Hyinns, the true Spirit

The greater part was composed by the Rer. Charles Wesley.


of Poetry; such as cannot be acquired by art and labour; but must he the gift of Nature. By labour a man may becomie a tolerable imitator of Spenser, Shakespeare, or Milton, and may heap together pretry compound epithets, as pale-eye'd, meek-eye'd, and the like; but unless he be born a Poet, he will never attain the genuine Spirit of Poetry.

But to return. That wbich is of infinitely more moment than the Spirit of Poetry, is the Spirit of Piety. Anl, I trust, all persons of real judgment will find this breathing through the whole Collection. It is in this view chiefly, that I would recommenıl it to every truly pious reader, as a inean of raising or quickening the spirit of devotion; of confirming liis faith; of enliven. ing bis hope; and of kindling and increasing kis love to God and man. When Poetry thus keeps its place, as the handmaid of Piety, it shall attain, not a poor perishable wreath, but a Crown that fadeth not away. London,

JOIIN WESLEY. October 20, 1719.

« AnteriorContinuar »