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No. V... 243
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No, VIII, 426
Systematic Verse-Book..... 15 The End of the Wicked... 388
315 The Presbyterian Review,
Simplicity of the Gospel.... 248 (noticed)..
Spirit of Prayer.
404 Theological Examination Com-
Study of the Bible.. 204 mittee'..
Scottish Missionary Society 105 Unitarians in India...
178 Westminster Confession of
235 Faith, with proofs, reviewed 228
Scriptural Education 272 Warwick, Rev. Arthur,
Synod of Ulster and Collegi. ments, (reviewed)....... 296
Meeting of, June, 1833.. 337
ON SINGING THE PRAISES OF GOD IN
TO THE EDITOR OF THE ORTHODOX PRESBYTERIAN.
You will much oblige me by giving insertion to the following remarks in your Periodical, if you deem them calculated to be useful. I propose, with your approbation, to send yoy a few articles, in succession, on several important matters connected with the worship and discipline of our Presbyterian Church. My object is, in using, occasionally, the language of reprehension, 'not to shame, but to warn my beloved brethren.' It is my earnest desire to fix their attention on points, not of controversial theology, but of practical religion; to point out to them, with all simplicity and tenderness, the difference between the form and the power of godliness; and to exhort and stir them up, under the divine blessing, to the worship of God 'in the beauty of holiness.' As I feel that much brevity is required, in order to avoid encroachments on the space allotted to your other correspondents, it is hoped that the matter rather than the manner of the following observations will be regarded. They are sent forward with the anxious hope that they may prove conducive to the glory of God, and to the sanctification of His great name in the church; and, at the same time, with the conviction, that if they are in any degree instrumental towards the accomplishment of these high objects, they will furnish another testimony to the truth spoken by the apostle, that God chooseth the weak things of the world to confound the things that are mighty.'
I commence with some remarks on the several parts of public worship, as it is usually conducted in our churches.These I shall take up in order, and shall confine myself, in the present paper, to the first part of our Sabbath-day
service, viz., the singing of the praises of God. This, by many professing Christians, seems hardly to be recognised as a religious.
duty at all; and to be viewed rather as a graceful appendage, than as an essential element of the worship of the sanctuary. It is therefore the more necessary to direct our attention to the subject, and to vindicate the dignity and importance of a service which, by many professing Christians, is disregarded or despised.
1. The duty of singing praise to God is pointed out by the light of nature. The ancient poets and philosophers of Greece and Rome, in their writings and public instructions, enforced the propriety of singing hymns in honour of their God,--and in every species of idol-worship until the present hour, singing has formed an important and indispensable feature. The true God has never, in any age or in any country, "left himself without a witness' in the beauties of His creation, and in the bounties of His providence. Hence the psalmist invites all the inhabitants of the earth to join him in his song of adoration and thanksgiving. Psal. cxvii. 1-O praise the Lord all ye nations; praise him all ye people.' And because they neglected to do that which was so evidently required of them, they were exposed to the severe rebuke of the apostle, who declared them to be without excuse, who when they knew God, glorified him not as God, neither were thankful.'-Rom i. 20.
2. This duty is revealed to us, not by the gleamings of unassisted reason only, but by the clear and unclouded light of divine revelation. In reference to the Old Testament dispensation, it is quite unnecessary to allude to the numberless passages in the psalms and elsewhere, in which singing is enjoined by so many powerful and affecting considerations. See *Psal. xcv. c. cxxxvi., &c. And that this mode of worship was not intended to be confined to the Jewish economy, but to continue in the church till the end of time, is evident, both from the prophecy of Isaiah, Isai. lii. 8, 9, 10, in which he speaks of the worship of the latter days, and from the precept of the Holy Ghost by the Apostle Paul.-See Eph. v. 19; Col. ii. 16.
3. Not only the precept, but the example contained in the word of God for our instruction and admonition, powerfully urges us to the reverential and habitual performance of this cluty. How frequently David calls upon the people to “mag. nify the Lord with him,' is famliar to all. Hezekiah, who lived several ages after David, and those who celebrated the passover with him, are said to have praised the Lord with the words of David and ot Asaph the seer ; (from this passage we learn that the Psalms of David were already in use in the worship of the church) and they sang praises with gladness, and bowed their heads and worshipped.'—2 Chron. xxix. 30. On the return of the Israelites from the Babylonish captivity, we read, (Neh. ix. 3—5) that after the people had read the book of the law one-fourth part of the day, and had confessed their sins,--and worshipped the Lord another fourth party they were called upon by the Levites to stand up and bless the Lord their God for ever and ever; and to bless His glorious name, which is exalted above all blessing and praise. In the New Testament history, it is recorded of the disciples, that after the descent of the Holy Spirit, they continued daily in the temple, praising God.' And, to ascend to the highest example that can be set before our imitation, we find that our Lord Jesus Christ, in concluding his feast of love with his disciples, sung an hymn with them before they went out to the Mount of Olives, (Matt. xxvi. 30) thereby teaching us, that since this beautiful and affecting ordinance of the Lord's Supper is to be observed by his people till he come again, the singing of praises to God, which is inseparably connected with it, is of perpetual obligation in the church. It appears, therefore, that all that is most authoritative in precept, and all that is most noble in example, not only sanctions, but enjoins and requires the ardent and faithful performance of this duty.
4. Again let the efficacy of this duty be considered, in establishing us in the knowledge and comfort of the Scriptures. It brings the most important points of Christian faith and practice before our attention in the most interesting form. All that relates to God, his character and noble works; all that concerns the mission, incarnation, life, death, resurrection, ascension, and intercession of our blessed Redeemer; all the riches of grace and glory treasured up in him; all that bears upon our hopes and our fears, our sorrows and our joys, our experience of the past and our anticipation of the future, is, in the psalms and hymns which are employed in public worship, delineated so as to make a ready impression on the mind, and to leave a lasting remembrance. Hence the apostle speaks of teaching and admonishing one another in psalms, and hymns, and spiritual songs.'--Col ii. 16.
But further, not only knowledge, but comfort, in an eminent degree, is derived from this noble privilege. 'Is any afflicted, asks the apostle, let him pray.-- Is any merry, (or cheerful, as the word is more properly translated) let him sing psalms.'—James v. 13. But singing is not to be confined to seasons of cheerfulness ariy more than prayer to seasons of affliction. Even under the cloud of sorrow, the Christian is required to sing praises unto God, and justly; for afflictions are but the graver visitations of His love. Sing unto the Lord, ye saints of his; for his anger is but for a moment; in his favour is life; weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.' ---Psal. xxx. 4, 5.
With many, indeed, the affliction may be so overpowering to their bodily frames; the shock may be so violent and unexpected; or the measure of faith and of submission to the divine will
be so inconsiderable, that they find it utterly impossible to join in the exercise by themselves, or to derive pleasure from its performance by others;--yet certain it is, that in innumerable cases, it has proved a balm to the wounded spirit; it has turned the sorrow of the world that worketh death into the godly sorrow that worketh repentance unto life. The voice of praise from the sanctuary, where each aids the devotion of another; where there is the melody of the heart as well as the melody of the voice, must necessarily exert a soothing and sanctifying influence upon the soul. If there be any devotional exercise, indeed, which is calculated to exalt and purify, and consequently to comfort the heart, it is the singing of praise to God, for it is the highest and noblest of all exercises. It does in fact, when it is suitably performed, comprehend them all. It is the reading of God's word--it is the reaching forth of the soul in prayer it is the breath of praise--it is a powerful assistant to meditation and self-examination; and it not only unites all these duties and privileges in one exercise, and thus pours their accumulated influence into the soul; but, what is effected by no other ordinance, it brings us into visible and audible communion with our brethren around us; and thus, while it tends most directly to 'glorify God, it is a bond of the holiest, most consolatory, and endearing attachment amongst men.
5. It is specially worthy of observation, that, as appears from the whole history of God's church, the sincere and heartfelt observance of this duty is closely connected with the en joyment of the divine favour, and the promotion of true religion. In 2 Chron. v. 13, we read that it was while the singers were engaged in praising the Lord, saying : Praise the Lord, for he is good; for his mercy endureth for ever'--that He descended, and filled the temple with the glory of His presence. It was when the singers of Jehosophat went before his army, praising the Beauty of Holiness; that the Lord scattered