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C H A P. VI.
These abufes I would particularly mention,
and humbly propose a remedy for each of them.
OME of these may feem not worthy.
of notice, they are such small matters ;; but I think there is nothing little in divine worship. The majesty of God ennobles, and exalts every part of it. He 'has commanded us to sing psalms, and, whatever he has been pleased to com-, mand, has his authority to enforce it :. And whatever he has engaged..to bless, has his promise to make it the means of blessing. In keeping of it there is at present great reward.
reward. His presence. will. be in it, when it is rightly performed, and he will render it effectual. He will. hear, he will accept, he will witness his acceptance of the praises of his people : Therefore every thing relating to them. should be done decently and in order. We should always sing with a reverence, becoming the greatness and goodness of our God, in such a manner as may best express our happiness in his love, and as may tend most to mutual edification.
If these things be considered, it will not be thought an indifferent matter, whether the psalms be sung at all, or how they be sung - whecher with, or without any heart devotion, with or without any melody of the voice—whether every believer in the congregation should sing, or no-whether singing should be a trial of skill, who can bawl loudest-whether the posture should not be expressive as well as the voice-whether suitable portions of the psalms should be chosen, or the person who gives them out should be left to choose them, often without any judgment—whether grace should be exercised in singing, or not-whether we should sing in order to increase grace, or not-whether we should sing for amusement, or for the glory of God. It is not a trifling matter how you determine those points : They enter deep into an important part of religious worship, yea into a very high act of it, one in which we pay the noblest service we can upon earth, and indeed the nearest we can come to the service of saints and angels. How then can it be an indifferent thing, whether a believer fings psalms, or not,, or whether or no he fings them with metody in his heart unto the Lord ? Certaina ly if he would please God in singing, he
should attend to the scripture rules before laid down for directing his conduct, which compared with the analogy of faith will regulate every thing relating to the divine ordinance of psalm singing.
One great abuse is the general ignorance of the subject of the book of pfalms. No portion of God's word is less known: Many in our congregation very seldom understand what they are singing. They have not Christ in their eye, nor his glory in their view : Although the design of all those hymns is to describe the love of God to finners in Christ Jesus. They all treat of him in some view or other: For there are many extensive, and all very glorious views, in which his person, offices, works and ways may be considered. Some treat of his high praises as God-man, describing his perfon, as the infinite treasury of grace and glory. Some celebrate the matchless deeds of his life, as the Lord our righteousness, and the complete atonement made for sin by the sacrifice of himself. Others in language and sentiments truly fublime sing the endless victories of his resurrection, and the prevailing efficacy of his interceflion. Several of them treat of his most blessed government, when he fets up
his throne in the hearts of his willing people, and saves them from sin, and
death, and every enemy: While others foretell the great day of the Lord, when he will come to judge all felh, will take his redeemed home, and the whole heaven shall be filled with his glory. Besides, the psalms treat of this wonderful person, not only from the beginning of time, but also from the ages of eternity: They discover the undertakings of his love before all worlds in the covenant of the Trinity- his fulfilling the covenant engagements in time--and his bestowing covenant-blessings from henceforth and for ever. What an extensive view do they give us of the loving, kindness of Immanuel, reaching from everlasting to everlasting ! And in all these respects the psalms are of inestimable value with believers : For their use the holy Spirit has recorded them; and herein they learn, what sentiments they are to form of God the Saviour, with what gratitude - they fhould speak of him, and with what holy joy tliey should sing the triumphis of redeeming love. The psalms were fitted for this purpose by infinite wisdom : For holy men of God spake them as they were moved by the 'holy Ghost : And they are blessed for this purpose, when with the apostle any one can say, “ I will fing
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 pfalın 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 ufe and design: It was computed to make two large volumes in octavo, entitled, An efay 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 translation 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 fanguine about the publication. Yet if this little tract should be favorably received, and God should be pleased to.