Page images
PDF
EPUB

the whole book in Hebrew. Church history relates many particulars upon this subject. But the divine record is decisive. It contains direcrions how to sing in the congregation : They were to speak, not inwardly, but to themselves, one to another, that they might be heard, and the psalms which they sung might tend to each others benefit. In another place the apostle commands believers to teach and admonish one another in psalms and hymns, recommending such singing as would edify the congregation.

Consider those authorities, ye that have Nighted this ordinance. Has it been the uniform practice of the church of God in all ages to join in singing his praises? Was it by his express command ? Has he given us a collection of hymns, the very words which we are to fing? Has he promised to accept our thanks and praises, and while believers have been offering them with grateful hearts, has he constantly made them the means of increasing their joy in the Lord? Was it for the benefit of others, that the church might receive edifying, and that each might bear his part by stirring up and exciting thankfulness in one another? O do not then neglect such a blessed ordinance : Bụt rather pray the Lord to enable you to re

joice with them that rejoice, to sing with them that sing. Have you not mercies to ask? Why then will you not join the church in asking? Have you not mercies out of number to thank God for? Why then will you not take your part in praising him for his goodness? Why will you rob yourself of the pleasure of doing it? Why will you not profit your neighbor ? And why will you not give God the glory due unto his holy name? Be assured it becometh you well to be thankful at all times and in all places, especially in the great congregation. May you have your Thare in the service, and your share in the blessing promised to it.

If you are convinced it is part of the public worship of God, in which you are required to join, as much as in the prayers or in hearing the word, then take heed you join properly. You may fing, and yet greatly abuse this holy ordinance. There are many fingers in the church, who take no pains either to keep the time, or to follow the tune, and who thereby shew they think it of no consequence, how the praises of the most high God are sung. Solomon differed much from them. He thought it a great perfection in praising God, that among the many thousands of voices and instruments,

E 2

which

which were founding forth his praise at one time, there was not a single discord to be heard. The scripture has taken notice of it-" They all gave one found.” Why should not we do the same? Nay, is it not the practice of the people of the world? Will they suffer discords in any of their concerts? A public performer would only rise in repute with them, as he plays or fings well. Christian, confider this. Shall they for their mere amusement study to have their music free from every thing offensive to the ear? And shall not we be equally careful? More especially as we sing to the honor of God and to the edifying of the brethren. We have a most noble subject--divine matter

-divine words: We sing of one Lord with one faith-O for harmony in some measure suitable! It is much to be wished. I hope it will be attained. earnestly recommend it to every one to sing, and to all who do sing, to learn to fing well; and till you do, endeavor to avoid another matter of offence.

There are many in our congregations, who seem to think they sing best, when they sing loudest. You may see them often strain themselves with shouting, till their faces are as red as scarlet. The worst singers commonly offend this way.

A bad

Let me

[ocr errors]

A bad coarse voice quite out of tune is to be heard above all, and will take the lead in the congregation: And whenever a number of such meet together in their fhouting humor, they put all into confusion. They disorder those, who would fing with feeling and affection. They drown the musical voices of good singers. They offend the outward people. And they do no good to themselves : So they entirely defeat the end of singing. If these lines should fall into the hands of any, who are sensible they have offended in this way, I would beg of them to reform this abuse. Examine your

Examine your motive -Why would you be upperinost in the congregation? Is your voice the best? Do you think so? Ask one, who is a judge ? Perhaps he may persuade you, I wish I could prevail with you, to sing lower. Indeed if you once come to feel what you fing, you will reform yourself. A great part of your singing will then be between God and your own soul ; you will try to keep up melody in your heart, and that will mend both your voice and judgment. However it will certainly put you upon trying to please both God and man in singing

There is another very great and common abuse, which consists in the choice

of improper portions. The person, to whose judgment this is left, is not always one of the wifest in the congregation. He may not understand the psalms. He may misapply and prophane them. It is not a rare thing for him to make them personal, and to apply the glorious things spoken of Christ to trifling parish business. I have heard the quarrels among neighbors sung over on sundays. The clerk has chosen some passage, applicable entirely to the enemies of the Lord and his Christ, and has most grony perverted it. The congregation had nothing to do with the dispute, and yet it was brought before thein, and they were called upon in an ordinance to interest themselves in it. No doubt, this and such like abuses are a very great insult upon God's word and ordinance, and ought to be reformed, The people should understand the pfalm, which they are going to fing, and should be well acquainted with its relation to Jesus Christ. They are all required to. join; and therefore suitable portions should be chofen, in which all or the greatest part of them are interested. They should sing with one mind, and one heart, as well as in one tune : For which end the knowlege of the pfalm, and of whom and of what it treats are absolutely necessary.

How

« PreviousContinue »