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How can any one sing aright unto the Lord with grace in his heart, unless he understands, whether the psalm relates to praise or thanksgiving, to asking mercies of God, or praising him for them, what grace was to be exercised in finging, faith or hope, or love, and what blefling was to be expected from it? These things fhould be well known, that singing may be a reasonable service, and the means of grace. And to render it fuch I have collected portions suitable to most cases of a christian's experience, and have also prefixed the subject of each. I have also directed the believer with what frame of mind to sing, and what benefit to look for from the word of promife in singing. I wish the attempt may help to make the ordinance better observed, and then I am fure it will be more blessed.
There is another thing relating to the psalms, I cannot call it an abuse: For it is a total neglect of them. They are quite rejected in many congregations, as if there were no fuch hymns given by infpiration of God, and as if they were not left for the use of the church and to be fung in the congregation. Human compositions are preferred to divine. Man's poetry is exalted above the poetry of the holy Ghost. Is this right? The hymns,
which he revealed for the use of the church, that we might have words suitable to the praises of Immanuel, are quite fet aside: By which means the word of man has got a preference in the church above the word of God, yea so far as to exclude it entirely from public worship. It is not difficult to account for this strange practice. Our people had lost sight of the meaning of the psalms. They did not fee their relation to Jefus Chrift. This happened when vital religion began to decay among us, more than a century ago. It was a gradual decay, and went on, till at last there was a general complaint against Sternhold and Hopkins. Their translation was treated, as, poor flat stuff. The wits ridiculed it. The prophane blafphemed it. Good men did not defend it. Then it fell into such contempt, that people were ready to receive any thing in its room, which looked rational and was poctical. In this situation the hymnmakers find the church, and they are suffered to thrust out the psalms to make way for their own compositions : of which they have supplied us with a vast variety, collection upon collection, and in use too, new hymns starting up daily-appendix added to appendix-sung in many congregations, yea admired by very high pro
feffors to such a degree, that the psalms are become quite obsolete, and the finging of them is now almost as despicable among the modern religious, as it was fome time ago among the prophane.
I know this is a fore place, and I would touch it gently, as gently as I can with any hope of doing good. The value of poems above psalms is become fo great, and the singing of mens words, so as quite to cast out the word of God, is become so universal(except in the church of England) that one scarce dare speak upon the subject: Neither would I, having already met with contempt enough for preferring God's hymns to man's hymns; if a high regard for God's most blessed word did not require me to bear my testimony, and if I did not verily believe, that many real christians have taken up this practice without thinking of the evil of it, and when they come to consider the matter carefully, they will rather thank me, than censure me for freedom of speech.
Let me observe then, that I blame nobody for singing human compositions. I do not think it sinful or unlawful, fo'the matter be scriptural. My complaint is against preferring mens poems to the good word of God, and preferring them to it in the church. I have no quarrel with Dr.
Watts, or any living or dead versifier. I would not wish all their poems burnt. My concern is to see christian congregations shut out divinely inspired psalms, and take in Dr. Watts's flights of fancy; as if the words of a poet were better than the words of a prophet, or as if the wit of a man was to be preferred to the wifdom of God. When the church is met together in one place the Lord God has made a provision for their songs of praise
a large collection, and great variety and why should not these be used in the church according to God's express appointment? I speak not of private people, or of private singing; but of the church in its public service. Why should the provision which God has made be so far despised, as to become quite out of use? Why should Dr. Watts, or any hymnmaker not only take the precedence of the holy Ghost, but also thrust him entirely out of the church ? Insomuch that the rhymes of a man are now magnified above the word of God, even to the annihilating of it in many congregations. If this be right, men and brethren, judge ye. Examine with candor the evidence, which has determined my judgment, so far as it is conclusive may it determine yours.
First, the psalms are the word of God, with which no work of man's genius can be compared. His attributes are manifest in every page, and prove the author to be divine. His infinite wisdom shines throughout-his goodness appears to be matchless-his truth in every tittle in-fallible--his power almighty to bless the hearing, reading, and singing of his word. None that trusted in it was ever ashamed : For his faithfulness to it can never fail... The word of the Lord has been tried, and in very great difficulties, yea in seeming: impossibilities, but it was always made good. In every trial he “magnified his word above all his name," he made it the means of bringing glory to his name and nature, and every perfection in deity has been exalted by the faithfulness of God to his word. In this view of the psalms, what is there to be put in competition with them? What man is like their author? What poetry is to be compared with the psalms of God? Who can make the singing of any human verses an ordinance, or give a blessing to them, such as is promised and is given to the singing of psalms ? For what reafon then are they fet aside in the church? Why are the words of man's genius preferred to the words of inspiration? Singing of psalms