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P R E F A CE.
N the service of the church of Enga
land there is great use made of the psalms. They are read in every day's service, both at morning and evening prayer, and are constantly sung in public worship. It is much to be wished they were better understood, that the daily reading and singing of them might be the means of grace. Very few, it is to be feared, receive the profit from them, which as an ordinance of God they were intended to administer. I have long seen the design of them greatly mistaken, and have long lamented the contempt put upon them. At last I have been perfuaded to try to make the subject of these divine hymns plain and clear, and to restore the singing of them in the congregation to their primitive usefulness. This is my present attempt. Success in it depends on help from God. He revealed the book of psalms, and he alone can Az
make the singing of them profitable. I hope he will. May he accompany my well-meant performance with his presence, and prosper it with his grace.
If it bring any honor to his holy name and word, thanks be to him. If any body reads it, and is stirred up to sing more and better, if our public singing of psalms be reformed, and become in the least like the great concert of saints and angels, this will be altogether his doing; may he have all his praise. I deserve none, being only in his church and service what he is pleased to make me. Through his grace I wish to live to his glory, and to be useful in my day to his cause and intereft. Help me, reader, to . exalt him in life and death. May it be thy happiness to do the same: for which thou hast the hearty prayer of thy servant in him.
MEN AND BRETHREN, WE
E are the creatures of God, depen
dent on him for being and for well being. He gives us all our faculties both of mind and body, and he requires us to use them in his service and to his glory. This is our bounden duty. It is the peculiar dignity of man, who never acts more nobly, than when he employs the powers bestowed upon him to the praise of the giver. None of them should be useless, but each should be exerted, whenever an opportunity offers of glorifying God.
In the common actions of life this may, and should be done: The rule is, " Whether ye eat or drink, or WHATSOEVER
ye do, do all to the glory of God,” but it is far more needful in spiritual matters, which have an immediate relation to God and his worship. These he has appointed to be the means of shewing forth his praise. Among them singing of psalms is not the least. It is frequently commanded, and with a promise faithful is he who hath promised — he will render the means effectual to answer the end. When believers employ the faculties of soul and body in singing of his goodness and greatness, he does accept the service, and testifies his acceptance. He does indeed communicate to them by his Spirit joy and peace, and he renders singing to the Lord with melo. dy in the heart the means of increasing the melody and joy.
But where is such singing? in what church ? among what people? There are fome. May their number increase. It is worth while to try to increase them, efpecially as this ordinance is so much neg.
lected. The holy affections, which should be stirred up by fo heavenly an exercise, are generally damped by it. When it is performed with coldness and indifference, how can it produce sensations suitable to
fuch exalted means of grace? Or when contempt is put upon it, how can it convey any of the promised blessings?
Many things have contributed to the present neglect and abuse of this ordinance, and I have been led to the following reflections in order to try to bring it again into repute. Happy indeed shall I think myself, if the Lord should be pleased to make use of them, as any way conducive to the singing of his praises with the understanding. I shall pray and labor for it: May he give his abundant blessing.
One of the first and greatest causes of neglecting the singing of pfalms seems to have arisen from not attending to
CH A P. I.
The fubjet of the book of Psalms. THE testimony of Jesus is the fpirit
of prophecy : For to him give all the prophets witness. With one voice they speak of his wonderful person, of his dio vine undertakings, and of his complete and eternal salvation. It is the spirit of their writings to reveal and to teach the good knowlege of the Lord. Whoever understands them perfectly will find the