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THE DUTY OF JOINING IN THE PSALMODY.
THE general conduct of a Christian gentleman in respect to the church service is inexpressibly important in the way of edification. His early attendance; his composed demeanour ; his respectful observance of order and propriety; his devotional postures; his reverential fear; his religious abstraction; his solemn and distinct responses; his athletic prayers of faith; his pious breathings of confession; and the various indescribable indications which attest the sincerity of his worship, and give to his whole exterior the attraction of godliness-how gracefully do these lead and animate the feelings and deportment of all around him!
It may be, the Christian gentleman has not the faculty of singing; if so, it is his wisdom to forbear. If he cannot be an auxiliary, he had better, withhold his interference; but if he is competent to join in this awakening and beautiful part of the church service, he dares not refuse his contribution; the whole sanctuary rings with invitations to sacred song; it is the exercise of
adoring angels, and the delight of saints; it has the warrant of divine authority; it has been consecrated by the example of the Redeemer; it is one of the greatest glories of evangelical worship. How much better is it than with the cloud of incense, or the smoke of sacrifice, to visit Heaven with the voice of melody, and send forth hallelujahs to the throne of Omnipotence! It has been the proper employment of the societies of the blessed through all time-of the general assembly and church of the first-born. Songs of triumph celebrated the creation completed: songs of deliverance recorded the rescue of the chosen seed; hymns accompanied the work of salvation, and conveyed to Heaven the holy joy of the first Christians; throughout the records of inspiration, throughout the annals of the church, throughout the scene of the material world, innumerable calls of mercy, grace, and pardon, lay the voice and organs of man under contribution to his dying, redeeming, reconciling, life-giving God, the builder of the universe, the conqueror of death, the king of saints.
The Bible is full of poetry and the materials of music. Infidels have stolen largely from that treasury of song. And shall the service of the Christian church be tame and tuneless under so much holy provocation? or shall it leave the
singing to persons no otherwise qualified than by their alacrity to sing, or to vulgar combinations of rustic professors? The minstrelsy of the temple was David's supreme delight, who has bequeathed to that church, which the Holy Ghost presented to him in prospect, an exhaustless store of melodious worship. The psalms are full of encouragement to sing the praises of Jehovah, and they supply the sublimest subjects on which the faculty of singing can be employed. They were adapted by David to the music of the temple; and in a variety of versions they offer themselves to the pious Christian as the best medium through which his love can be declared of his dear Redeemer, so beautifully therein announced and prefigured in his sufferings and his glory., What is there of hope, peace, or consolation, which is not conveyed by these songs of Sion to the necessitous soul of man? Below the shining surface of their poetical beauties they hide the treasures of spiritual wisdom: beyond the scope of their tangible boundary they transport us to the border of the invisible world; by the instructive events of Jewish history they alarm the wicked, revive the penitent, console the afflicted, and confirm the faithful. They magnify the Lord in his doings, and lay open the spiritual history of the
world, presenting a path of discovery continually opening before us, refulgent with the footsteps of the Messiah, and resounding with the promises of the Gospel. It is there that, in allusions to the natural Israel, we see adumbrated the fortunes of the spiritual Israel—the Christian Church; it is there the kingdom of grace, the glory of the saints, the passage of Jehovah through the wonders of his creation, travelling in the greatness of his strength, the victories of faith, the accomplishment of the promises, the doom of sinners, and the consummation of all things, are set forth with the utmost majesty of diction, vivacity of truth, and beauty and variety of allusion and comparison. It is there that, in the private life of holy David, we see personified the holier Son of David, the Lord of all things, both in heaven and earth: it is there that, in the form of allegory, we trace a continued series of prophecy in Egypt, in the wilderness, in the fortunes of the chosen people, in the fruitful Canaan, we see in figure the bondage of sin, the Christian warfare, the happiness of the redeemed. In the ritual sacrifices, the services of the law, and the offices of the priesthood, are shadowed forth the great sacrifice for all men, the spiritual temple, and "the High Priest for ever, after the order of Melchisedec." In the pictures of
David's sufferings, we see the Man of Sorrows; in Solomon's magnificence, the more than mortal majesty of the King of Glory. It is there that we see depicted the Great Captain of our salvation, girding his sword upon his thigh, and surrounded with the trophies of his victorious grace; or anointed with the oil of gladness above his fellows, the bridegroom of his church, that comes forth to meet him, in her odoriferous vesture of gold and embroidery.
Who, when these Psalms are chanted, sung, or said, can sit or stand unconcerned, with vagrant thoughts or vacant gaze? Not the Christian gentleman; if he ever sings, he sings upon this occasion. What singer can refuse the tribute of his voice to subjects so enchanting? Only he or she whose voice has been dedicated to mischievous or unmeaning sing-song, or made the vehicle of senseless sound and vapid senti