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out of rebellion and command not only reverence but devotion to an offended God. May I not indulge the hope that my words are finding a responsive echo in the bosoms of many around me, when I affirm that wherever a man has been really touched with a sense of the reality and the magnitude of eternal things; wherever the question of a man's state before God has been made a matter of earnest, homefelt inquiry, then of that man we are sure it is true, that peace is upheld in his bosom solely by faith in the blood, and by dependance on the Spirit, of his Saviour; that he prizes and values every intimation which recalls him crucified to his mind—his dying love, his purifying doctrines, his soul-sustaining influences. O, yes ! there is an inward witness, there is a beam of gladness that enters with the name of Jesus: there is the thrilling pulse of immortality high beating in the believer's bosom ; for he knows of One who hath saved him, saved him from the dominion and misery of sin, given peace to a guilty conscience, enabled him to love holiness, smoothed down the thorny paths of life, taken the sting out of death, victory from the grave, and opened the kingdom of heaven to all believers; while a sense of these blessings he has himself received, will lead him to set, no limits to his deeds of charity and labours of love.
O let your love, my Christian brethren, this day imitate, so far as mortal frailty can, the love of Jesus. Imitate his love for souls. View him in eternity covenanting to die for his guilty church: view him in the fulness of time, putting off the crown of glory and the empire of Deity, that he might stoop to the manger, the cross, the grave, for you: view this, believe in this, and be niggard this day if you can. Behold Immanuel, God with us: behold him from his rude cradle in Bethlehem to his last bitter baptism of tears and blood : view him bearing his burden of guilt to the summit of Calvary, and casting it from his ransomed people with all the energies of Deity; then rising from that grave which could not detain its noble prisoner to his throne of primeval glory, that he might send forth his Spirit, and exalt his people to the fellowship of his own immortal dignity: behold this masterpiece of love, and O! if this Saviour is yours, I know that the review of his work and the sight of his cross is my surest motive to keep your hearts generous and warm.
Permit me, as one who would desire to know nothing among you but Christ Jesus and him crucified, to make this my only argument, for urging you to much liberality this day, in the cause of Him who hath done so much for you, and who, we trust, is working in many of you to the salvation of your immortal souls. Assist your ministers in leading the little ones of their flock to Jesus. Assist us in imparting to our poorer brethren those glorious truths which God of his goodness hath provided for the poor, which alone can bind them to duty, morality, and subjection here; which teach how even the poorest and the meanest of them, when their course is run, may move off from this passing scene, and grasp destinies of unbounded splendour-infinity their life-time, eternity their home, God their patron. Be not weary in well-doing. Ye are now called in this your day to the exercise of faith, and hope, and love. But faith has her appointed age; hope lasteth only for a season.
Both shall be swallowed up, faith in sight and hope in joy: but love never faileth; sove will abide for ever; for God is love, and ye in him if ye are baptizec into his Spurit
ON VOCAL AND INSTRUMENTAL MUSIC IN THE CHURCH.
REV. J. RUDGE, D.D.
" Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonisning one
another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.”-Colos. iii. 15.
THERE is scarcely any aspect in which the religion of Jesus Christ can be viewed, but has a tendency to inspire joy and gratitude in the soul. name by which it is designated intimates the kind of feeling which it should
It is a perfect system of joyful intelligence. How sweet, for instance, and how enrapturing the meditation which is employed on the most astonishing of all the astonishing mercies of God—that of the redemption of the human soul from ruin and perdition, by the atonement and satisfaction of the Son of God; and how calculated is it, notwithstanding the oppressive burden of sin which rendered such a marvellous economy of grace indispensable, to awaken obedience to that precept of our Lord, by which we are enjoined to be of “ good cheer!" I cannot, therefore, but think that it is raising a prejudice against religion, to represent any portion of its spirit as morose, or any part of its character as cheerless, and that it has here in this world of discord and confusion no enjoyments to administer, but such as are distant in prospect, and of which the fruition will alone be realized in another and future state of existence.
It is lamentable to add, however, that there is scarcely any prejudice which has been more generally prevalent, nor one to the influence of which many are discouraged from entertaining the Christian doctrines, and entering on a religious life. When a sinner is awakened to a consideration of his ways, and thinks, perhaps, seriously of changing the current of his thoughts, and the conduct of his life, he is often disheartened by these apprehensions, and trembles like a poor traveller who is passing into the frightful deserts of Arabia, or traversing the scorching sands of Numidia. All his delights he believes must then terminate ; a final adieu must be bidden to every joyous hour ; and nought but scenes of sadness and sorrow, of continual disquietude and difficulty, must be encountered. Any system of human opinions, or any scheme of worldly doctrine, which gives encouragement to such a prejudice, and which, by scattering thorns and briers in the path-way of the frail and penitent, impedes their approach to that God who is ever ready with open arms to receive them, must be founded in error, and be productive of mischief: in error, because true religion is founded in good intelligence to man; and of mischief because its object is to win all, not to discourage any—to embrace the gladsome tidings of grace and salvation communicated in the gospel of Jesus Christ
Religion, then, is not to be regarded as a sad and melancholy business, which discountenances all joyous thoughts, and considers every effusion of mirth and every transport of delight, as inconsistent with the gravity of its character. and the sacredness of its profession. Joy is as true a part of religion as sorrow, nay it is its more excellent part, and that which, as it is most heavenly, is also more suitable to such souls as are best refined and purified from their gross and baser lusts. Sorrow is a necessary initiatory duty, and often the fittest commencement of a holy life. But“ perfect love," as the Apostle says, “ casteth out fear;" and as we grow in grace, we go on towards a higher state of joy and praise, and become more transported with the excellences and beauties of holiness. The very spirit, to which we are indebted for all our advancement in holiness, is a spirit of comfort, and will never be wanted to aid our progress, and to perfect our growth, in the divine life.
· When the Apostle speaks of singing to the Lord, he is not to be understood as strictly confining his direction to vocal music only, which is indeed a chief portion of this department of public worship, but extending it also to instrumental music, in conjunction with vocal, the one in subserviency and assistance to the other. Now this appears from the several words which the Apostle employed in recommending this precept, viz. “ psalms and hymns and spiritual songs." Psalms, as it is well known, are those divine compositions which were set and sung to instruments of various kinds in the Jewish church, and of which a great part of their public worship consisted. The adoption of their psalms is, in the first place, recommended by Saint Paul. He then mentions hymns and spiritual songs, that is, compositions, either immediately inspired or dictated by the Spirit; a thing frequent in all the parts of the publi, worship in those early times*, as one of the Fathers has recorded; or they were such as consisted of some divine matter taken from the Scriptures, or of a religious character composed by holy men.
If we consult the earliest records which have reference to the worship paid to the Supreme Being, we shall find that music constituted a prominent feature in all religious services. In all the accounts still extant, of heathen devotions +, music was introduced, and songs were sung in honour of their deities, and these were esteemed as the sublimest and most excellent part of their sacred rites. And though this, as well as every other portion of their religious services, were idolatrous, and were abused to a wrong end, yet there can be no more reason against the use of this method of glorifying the true God than their profane orations can be brought forward as arguments against preaching the Gospel, or their praying to many gods, against our praying to the one true God. In this matter the sense of nature is plainly discerned, and an evident demonstration is afforded, that, in the judgment of mankind the exercise is an honourable one I, and to the glory of God, to have our tongues set to his praise, and tuned in grateful accents with songs of joy and thanksgiving.
Nor has the Almighty shown any dislike towards this exercise in any of the revelations of his will with which he has favoured us—nothing inconsistent with the most spiritual homage, and the most elevated devotional feelings by which we can be transported and inspired. In the earliest records of the ante
• See Tertul. Apol. c. 39.
See Homer's Wiad, 1. v. 472, cited by Plutarch on Music.
diluvian world, we read of instrumental music as being among the first of arts in which mankind were instructed *; and the mention of the harp and organ plainly intimates that those were instruments, with the use and “ handling" of which there were those amongst its inhabitants who, after their father Jubal, were well acquainted. Such instruments, therefore, existed in the earliest ages of the world; and a doubt cannot exist as to the purpose to which they would be appropriated; that the strings of the one would be swept, and the notes of the other would be touched as sweet and inspiring accomplishments of social worship, or of public devotion; that they would be used, not so much as a human science to charm the ear and gratify the taste, but would be cultivated as a more than human art of raising up to heaven's God the minds, aspirations, and musings, and tutoring the ear, as it were, to that music, instrumental and vocal, in which celestial agents are employed; the song of Moses and the Lamb, in all probability, forming chiefly that divine hymn, to which all their harps were tuned, and which all their voices united as one, in singing, to the honour, and praise, and the glory of Him who sitteth on the throne, and to the Lamb for ever and ever! With respect to the introduction of vocal and instrumental music into the service of the temple below, it was doubtless its excellency, the influence it produced, and the admirable purposes it answered, by which it was first suggested, and which, probably, may be the reason why this, of the very few things mentioned relative to the antediluvian world, has been recorded. Our knowledge of the characters that appeared, as well as of the arts and sciences that obtained, are very defective. All other grades are absorbed in that great one which swept every thing away, as it were, in the mighty flood. We collect from the early invention of this art, however, an argument favour of its practical utility; and that as men were first inspired by the Almighty himself with the knowledge of it, it is both agreeable to reason, and consistent with the soundest views of religion, that He would be well pleased, whenever it should be appropriated as a portion of his service, and in celebration of his praise and mercies. And that Moses meant by recording the early origin and invention of music to intimate that this was the purpose to which it should be consecrated, namely, the honour of God, is, I think, clear, from this single consideration, that he himself was thoroughly accomplished as a master of this divine science, and made an eminent use of it in extolling the divine perfections. As he was instructed in all the learning of the Egyptians, he excelled particularly in this sublime art. Witness, for instance, his compositions in the book of Psalms, of some of which he was the author", as well as the first composer of sacred hymns; and I would more especially direct your attention to his song, in the thirty-second chapter of Deuteronomy, which is one of the sublimest as well as the most ancient, if not the most ancient, pieces of poetry and hymns of praise ever composed in the world.
But not to insist on these remote intimations of the general practice and utility of this divine science, when the Almighty had established his church, and settled his people in the promised land, we find that music was introduced into his worship with extraordinary pomp and variety; and a singular occasion is recorded, in the sixteenth chapter of the first book of Chronicles, on which David, who received the appellation, and who deserved the character of being
* See the heathen notion of the origin of Music in Plut.
† See Lightfoot, Hammond, and Patrick, in corroboration of this point. See also Bp. Gray's Key, p. 266.
a man after God's own heart, is described as having ordained a choir to sing a psalm of thanksgiving to the God of Israel, and enjoining Jeiel with his instruments of psalteries * and harps, Asaph with his cymbals, and Benaiah and Jahaziel with their trumpets to join in this psalm of praise and thanksgiving. Whatever had previously been the worship of the Jews in the ambulatory and unsettled state in which they subsisted, when their church became fixed and fully established, God inspired the sweet singer of Israel to introduce music into its service, for the double purpose of rendering it more sublime and impressive, and causing his praises to be more perfect and glorious among the people.
The vocal and instrumental music thus introduced, constituted, I may add, no part of those carnal ordinances, none of those beggarly elements by which the Almighty was forced to discipline the Jewish people at first. These were well suited to the time in which they were ordained, but were to be laid aside, or abrogated, when the church should have attained a more perfect state and form. They were expressly designed to spiritualize that gross and carnalized people, and to prepare their minds for the introduction of a better and more heavenly dispensation; for as God then began to open a clearer prospect of the reign of the Messiah, and raised up David, not only as a type to prefigure, but as a prophet to reveal him, so we find that the allusions and matter contained in his psalms possess a more spiritual character, and breathe a purer and more heavenly strain, than are to be discovered in any compositions or revelations existing at that period. And there cannot be a doubt, that the introduction of these psalms into the ordinary service of the temple, of which a portion was sung every day in the week + throughout the year, was expressly designed by the Almighty to raise and elevate the views of the worshippers, and to call off the minds of a dull and superstitious people from those carnal rites to which they were so entirely wedded, and in which it was the general and prevailing opinion that the whole business of religion consisted. Of a religion of the heart and the affections they had no idea-a rigid and austere inexorable devotion to rites and ceremonies they deemed of more weight than all the other requirements of the law; and this monstrous perversion of its primary character and spiritual nature is discoverable even among those of the Jews who were cotemporaries of our Lord. The psalms which were selected for the daily service of the temple, were admirably suited to kindle devotional feelings and affections, and when accompanied with instrumental music, with the harp, and the psaltery, and the timbrel, and the cornet, and the cymbal, in the execution of which David himself was a perfect master, it being recorded of him that he played on all manner of instruments made of fir-wood I, must have possessed an exquisite advantage, and have brought to the enraptured views of the devout that concord of sweet sounds which may well be supposed to distinguish the music of angels, and the company of the singers in the temple above.
The practice of the Jewish church, therefore, in this particular department of its service is of more importance than is commonly perceived. This is no part
As in the margin. Psalteries were instruments strung and made of wood, resembling harps, and like the Greek Delta A. The Hebrew name for this instrument is Nabal, and the Greek ψαλτηριον. ,
+ The xxiv. was appointed for the first day in the week, the xlviii. for the second, the lxxxii. for the third, the xciv. for the fourth, the lxxxi. for the fifth, the xciii. for the sixth day, and for the Sabbath the xcii. was ordained to be sung.
See 2 Sam, vi 5. See St. Christ, in Psal. cl.