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“ with the Spirit, and I will sing with “ the understanding also.”
In order to remedy this great evil, I have prefixed the subject of every psalm in this collection, that the congregation might have a key to the true sense, and each might know, what particular grace was to be exercised in singing it. This will help somewhat to keep up harmony in the understanding. But it will not be without some discord, until the subject treated of in the book of psalms be made very plain, and their application to Jesus Christ be well settled. For this end I have finished some years ago a translation of the psalms, with a treatise upon their use and design: It was computed to make two large volumes in oce tavo, entitled, An essay towards a new translation of the bible--In which I have been engaged, as opportunity has offered, above thirty years; but I should have published nothing more of it in my life time, than this essay, in which the transation of the book of psalms would have been given as a specimen of the work. It has laid by me so long, that I am not very sanguine about the publication. Yet if this little tract should be favorably received, and God Thould be pleased to
make it useful : If some providence should afford me leisure to revise my papers, of which I have no prospect at present, and if they should then appear to me likely to promote the honor of God, and the good of his church, I should think it my duty to let my light shine before men. Yet in this, and in every thing else, I do earnestly pray-Not my will, Lord, but thine be done.
Another very great abuse arises from not treating psalm singing as becometh a divine ordinance. There should be great respect paid to what God has appointed, and in the use of which he has promised to meet and to bless his people. We commonly call those the means of grace, to which grace is promised, and by which grace is received, and through which it is increased in the heart. Singing of psalms is undoubtedly one of those means, but it is amongst us very much neglected, and when used, it is done in so irreverent a manner, that the end of its institution is not attained. God, as has been already proved, has enjoined, and enforced it by repeated commands. He has also assigned the reason of them, namely, that whenever we find ourselves happy in him, he would have our joy to flow out this way. And what more proper and significant ?
manner, en it is done ich neglecteab
Singing is only expressing outwardly the melody of the heart : And God has required it of us, as a juft service of praise. He has furnished us both with matter and words. He has given us a divine collection of most perfect hymns. And when we use them in humble faith, God will render them the means of exciting, of preserving, and of increasing our holy joy: For the promise is—" The meek also « shall increase their joy in the Lord, and " the poor among men shall rejoice in the " holy one of Israel.”
This promise has been made good in all ages. The blessing has come in the use of means. The church of Christ in praising him has found fresh reason to praise himn. While its. happy members have been singing together, he has youchfafed to them his gracious presence, and has given them sweet communications of his heavenly love. They have sung till their hearts burnt within them, inflamed with a sense of his goodness. Then they had delightful experience of the psalmist's words" Praise ye the Lord; for it is a “ good thing to give thanks unto the “ Lord, and to sing praises unto thy name, " O most high: For it is pleasant and “ praise is comely."
Reader, dost thou find it so? Is it a pleasure to thee to sing psalms? Dost thou sing them, as an ordinance? Doft thou in faith expect a blessing upon thy singing ? And is it indeed to thee the means of grace? If it be, use them more, and thou wilt find an increasing blessing: If it be not, consider well what has been said-repent of chine abuse of this precious ordinanceand pray for grace to observe it to the honor of God, to the edification of others, and to the profit of thine own foul : The Lord give thee, a right understanding in this matter.
The neglect of it as an ordinance has led many people entirely to neglect it. I have scarce ever seen a congregation, in which every one joined in singing. This is a very great abuse: Because it is defeating the end of God's institution. He commanded psalms to be sung for mutual edification. It was to be the service of the whole church. All were to join ; whereas among us it is performed by some few, and they are sometimes set by themselves in a singing gallery, or in a corner of the church, where they sing to be admired for their fine voices, and others hear them for their entertainment. This is a vile prostitution of church music, and
the end of de: Because
contrary to the letter and spirit both of the old testament and also of che new. .
- The first sacred hymn upon record was sung by Moses, and the children of Israel, in which Miriam, and all the women joined, and sang the chorus. The second hymn mentioned is said to be sung by the people of Israel without any distinction. When the ark was brought up to the city of David, he and all Israel played before God with all their might, and with singing: Most likely they sang the lxviiith psalm accompanied with harps, and psalteries, and with timbrels, and with cymbals, and with trumpets. David frequently speaks of singing plalms, as an ordinance in which every one should bear his part, that God might be glorified, and all inight be edified_66 Make a joyful noise unto “ God, all ye lands; sing forth the honor s of his name, make his praise glorious. " All the earth shall worship thee, and " shall sing unto thee, they shall sing unto “ thy name. O let the nations be glad, "s and sing for joy, sing unto God, ye 56 kingdoms of the earth: O sing praises “ unto the Lord.” The sweet singer of Ifrael chooses this for his subject All " thy works shall praise thee, O Lord, " and thy saints shall bless thee” and he pursues it through the cxlviiith pfalma