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2. The scripture doth not always confine itself to the origioal meaning of all these words; for famos, a psalm, and the word aw, are used; 1 Cor. xiv. and in other places of the New Testament, where we can never suppose the primitive church in those days had instruments of music. And the word andw, a song, is used several times in the book of Revelation, where harps are joined with voices in the emblematical prophecy.
3. The sense therefore of these words in the New Testament seems to be thus distinguished.
A psalm is a general name for any thing that is sung in divine worship, whatsoever be the particular theme or matter ; and the verb anaw is designed to express the melody itself rather than to distinguish the matter of the song, or manner whereby the melody or music is performed; and therefore in Eph. v. 10. our translators have well rendered αδοντες και ψαλλοντες, « singing and making melody; and it should be thus rendered ; James v. 13. “Is any merry, let him make melody.” I confess in the New Testament the noun farmos refers generally to the book of psalms, and without doubt there are many of the psalms of David and Asaph, and other songs among the books of the Old Testament which may be prudently chosen and sung by christians, and may be well accommodated to the lips and hearts of the church under the gospel. Yet this word is once used in another sense, as I shall show afterwards.
An bymn, wbether implied in the verb vuvew, or expressed in the noun upy, doth always retain its original signification, and intend a song whose matter or design is praise : Nor is there any thing in the nature or use of the word either in scripture or other authors, that determines it to sigoify an immediate inspiration, or human composure.
A song, 'ndn, denotes any theme or subject composed into a form fit for singing, and seems to intend somewhat suited to the gospel-state, rather than any Jewish psalms or songs in all the five verses in the New Testament where it is used.
Eph. v. 19. and Col. iii. 16. It is joined with the word spiritual: and that seems to be used by the apostle in all his epistles, as a very distinguishing word between the law and the gospel, the Jewish and the christian worship. The Jews had carnal ordinances, and carnal commandments, and their state and dispensation is often called fleshi, but the church under the gospel is, " a spiritual house, blessed with spiritual blessings, endowed with spiritual gifts, to worship God in spirit and in truth, to offer spiritual sacrifices, and to sing spiritual songs.
Col: v. 16. confirms this sense" for the word of Christ must dwell richly in us in psalms and hymns, and spiritual songs.” Now though the books of the Old Testament may in goine sepse be called “ the words of Christ,” because the same
Spirit which was afterwards given to Christ the Mediator did inspire them; yet this seems to have a peculiar' reference to the
a doctrine and discoveries of Christ 'under the gospel, which might be composed into spiritual songs for the greater ease of meinory in learning, teaching and admonishing one another.
Rev. y. 9. and xiv. 3.'. There is mention of a new song, and that is pure evangelical language, suited to the New Tesiament, the new covenant, the new and living way of access to God, and to the new commandment of him who sits upon the throne, “and behold, he makes all things new.” The words of this song are, “ Worthy is the Lamb, for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood, &c. and none could learn it but those wlio follow the Lamb, who were redeemed from among men, &c.": And it must be noted here, that this book of the Revelation describes the worship of the gospel-church on carth, as is agreed by all interpreters, though it borrows some of its emblems from the things of heaven, and some from the Jewish state. I might here remark also, that when a new song is mentioned in the Old Testament, it refers to the times of the Messiah, and is prophetical of the kingdom of Christ, or at least it is a song indited upon a new occasion, public or personal, and the words of it are accommodated to some new tokens of divine mercy.
Rev. xv. 3. “ They sing the song of Moses' the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb;" that is, a song for temporal
' and for spiritual deliverances; or, a song for all ancient or all later salvations of the church. As Moses was a' redeemer from the honse of bondage, and a teacher of divine worship with harps and ceremonies ; so the Lamb is a Redeemner from Babylon and spiritual slavery, and he is the great Prophet to teach bis church the spiritual worship of the gospel. The church now under the saltations and instructions of the Lamb, sings with the voice to the glory of the vengeance and the grace of God, as Israel under the conduct of Moses sung with harps ; for we must observe, that these visions of lac' apostle John, often represent divine things in a gospel-shurch, in imitation of the ranks and orders of the Jewish camp and tribes, and by the rites and figures used in the time of Moses; and it would be as unreason able to prove from this text, that we must sing the very words of the xvth of Exodus, in a christian church, as to prove froin this book of the Revelation that we must use barps and altars, censers, fire and inceuse. But, it is plain that the x vthof Exodus cannot be bere intended, because the ixords of the song are mentioned just after, namely, “ Great apd marvellous are thy works, Lord God Almighty, just and true are thy ways, thou
Yet after all, if it could be proyed, that the very soug which Mases,sung is bere designed, still it must be
King of saints
confest that the song of the Lamb is also to be sung; and if the following words in this text are not to be esteemed the song of Moses, then neither are they to be esteemed the song of the Lamb; because there is not any express mention of the Lamb, or his death, or resurrection, or redemption : por is there any other song in scripture that bears that title; and consequently it must signify a song composed to the praise of God for our deliverance by the Lamb, in imitation of the joy composed for deliverance by the band of Moses :. And thus at least we are to suit part of our psalmody to the gospel-state, as well as borrow part from the Old Testament, which is the chief point. I designed to prove.
The next enquiry then proceeds thus: How must the psalms of David, and other songs borrowed from scripture, be translated in order to be sung in christian worship? Surely it will be granted, that to prepare them for psalmody under the gospel, requires another sort of management in the translation, than to prepare them merely for reading as the word of God in our language, and that upon these two accounts:
First, If it be the duty of the churches to sing psalms, they most necessarily be turned into such a sort of verse and metre as will best fit them for the whole church to join in the worship: Now this will be very different from a translation of the original language word for word; for the lines must be confined to a certain number of syllables, and the stanza or verse, to a certain nuinber of lines, that so the tune being short the people may be acquainted with it, and be ready to sing without inuch difficulty, whereas if the words were inerely translated out of the Hebrew as they are for reading, every psalm must be set through to music, and every syllable in it inust have a particular musical note belonging to itself, as in anthems that are sung in cathe, drals: But this would be so exceeding difficult to practise, that it would utterly exclude the greatest part of every congregation from a capacity of obeying God's command to sing. Now in reducing a hebrew or a greek song to a form tolerably fit to be sung by an Eoglish congregation, here and there a word of the original must be omitted, now and then a word or two, superadded, and frequently a sentence or an expression a little altered and changed into another that is something a-kin to it: And yet greater alterations must the psalın suffer, it we will have any thing to do with rhymne ; those that have laboured with utmost toil to keep very close to the hebrew, have found it impossible ; and when they have attained it most, have made but very poor music for a christian church. For it will often bappen, that one of the most affectionate, and most spiritual words in the prose, will not submit to its due place in the metre, or does not end with a proper sound, and then it must be secluded, and another
of less proper' sense be put in the room of it: Hereby some of the chief beauties and excellencies of David's poetry will be omitted and lost, which if not revived again, or recompensed by some lively or pathetic expression in the English, will necessarily debase the divine song into duluess and contempt : And hereby also it becomes so far different from the inspired words in the original languages, that it is very hard for any man to say, tirat the version of Hopkins and Sternhold, the New England or the Scotch psalms, are in a strict sense the word of God. Those persons therefore that will allow nothing to be sung but the words of inspiration or scripture ought to learn the Hebrew music, and sing in the Jewish language; or at least I can find no congregation with which they can heartily join according to their own principles, but the congregation of Choristers in cathedral churches, who are the only Levites “ that sing praise unto the Lord with the words of David and Asaph the seer ; 2 Chron. xxix. 30.
Secondly, Another reason why the psalms ought not to be translated for singing just in the same manner as they are for reading, is this, that the design of these two duties is very different: By reading we learn what God speaks to us in bis word; but when we sing, especially unto God, our chief design is, or should be, to speak our own hearts and our words to God. By reading we are instructed what have been the dealings of God with men in all ages, and how their hearts have been exercised in their wanderings from God, and temptations, or in their returns and breathings towards God again; but songs are generally expressions of our own experiences, or of his glories; we acquaint him what sense we have of his greatness and goodness, and that chiefly in those instances which have some relation to us: We breathe out our souls toward him, and make our addresses of praise and acknowledgment to him. Though I will not assert it unlawful to sing to God the words of other men which we have no concern in, und which are very contrary to our circuinstances and the frame of our spirits ; yet it must be confest abundantly more proper, when we address God in a song, to use such words as we can for the most part assume as our own: I own that it is not always necessary our songs should be direct addresses to God; some of them may be mere meditations of the history of divine providences, or the experiences of former saints ; but even they if those providences or experiences cannot be assumed by us as parallel to our own, nor spoken in our own nanies, yet still there ought to be some turps of expression that may make it look at least like our own present meditation, and that may represent it as a history which we ourselves are at that time recollecting. I know not one instance in scripture, of any later saint singing any part of a compostire of former ages, that is not
proper for his own time, without some expressions that tend to accommodate or apply it. But there are a multitude of examples amongst all the scriptural songs, that introduce the affairs of preceding ages in the method I have described. Ps. xliv. 1, '&c. When David is recounting the wonders of God in planting the children of Israel in the land of Canaan, he begins his song thus, " We have heard with our ears, O God, our fathers bavc told us what works thou didst in their days, in times of old, how thou didst drive out the heathen with thy hand, and plantest them, how thou didst afflict the people, and cast then out." Ps. Isxviii. 2, &c... I will open my mouth in a parable, I will utter dark sayings of old which we have heard and knowo, and our fathers have told us ; we will not hide them from their children, shewing to the generation to come the praises of the Lord." So he relates the converse and covenant of God with Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, as a narration of former providences and experiences; Ps.cv. 8, 9, 10, &c. So in the Virgin Dlarg's song, and the song of Zecharialı. And I know not any thing can be objected here, but that a prophet perhaps in some instances may assume the words of Christ or the saints in following ages; but it should be observed that this is almost always in such respects wherein persons or circumstances present were typical of what is future, and so their cases become parallel.
By these considerations we are easily led into the true method of translating ancient songs into christian worship. Psalms that are purely doctrinal, or merely historical, are subjects for our meditation, and may be translated for our present use with no variation, if it were possible ; and jo general, all those songs of scripture which the saints of following ages may assume for their own : Such are the ist, the viiith, the xixth, and many others. Some psalms may be applied to our use by the alteration of a pronoun, putting they in the place of we, and changing some expressions which are not suited to our case into a narration or rehearsal of God's dealings with others : There are other divine songs which cannot properly be accommodated to our use, and inuch less be assumed as our own without very great alterations, nainely, Such as are filled with some very particular troubles or enemies of a person, some places of journeying or residence, some uncommon circunstances of a society, to which there is scarce any thing parallel in our day or case: Such are many of the songs of David, whose persecutions and deliverances were very extraordinary :: Again, such as express the worship paid unto God by carnal ordinances and utensils of the tabernacle and temple. Now if these be converted into christiau songs in jou nation, I think the names of Ammon and Moab may be as properly changed into the dames of the chief enemies of the gospel