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This statement, however, is of no further use than to direct attention to a universal fact, and to the argument to be derived from it as proving by it the high antiquity of a custom, established through tradition, or common consent, (which has oftentimes the sanction of a law,) from the times of primitive religious faith, when the worship of the one true God was universally acknowledged.
What may have been, in this respect, the particular practice of the antediluvian, or of even the patriarchal eras, we have no method of determining ; but the sacred volume leaves us in no doubt as to the institutions of the Mosaic ritual, and the service of the temple. From these we have the fullest testimony which we can desire ; and the glimpses which we obtain, by the aid of Revelation, of what passes in the blessed abodes of heaven, as well as the recorded customs of our Saviour and his apostles whilst on earth, satisfactorily justify the adoption of a service which, if it had no higher antiquity than the age of David, or the indirect evidence of the Evangelists, has sanctions of more than sufficient obligation, from the example of those spiritual worshippers.
The Book of Exodus records the song with which Moses and the Israelites celebrated the defeat of Pharaoh and his host; and it is also stated that “ Miriam the prophetess, the sister of Aaron, took a timbrel into her hand ; and all the women went out after her with timbrels and dances. And Miriam answered them," (by which expression we may assume that the song was in alternate strains, after the manner of our chants, 7 “ Sing ye to the Lord, for he hath triumphed gloriously." (Exod. xv. 1—21.) It is also stated, that when the Israelites danced round the molten calf which they had made, worshipping and sacrificing thereto, (Exod. xxxii. 8,) that they sung also ; for “ when Joshua heard the noise of the people as they shouted, he said unto Moses, There is a noise of war in the camp; and he said, It is not the voice of them that shout for the mastery, neither is it the voice of them that cry for being overcome: but the noise of them that sing do I hear, (ver. 17, 18.) Now the singing here, though idolatrous, was borrowed from the worship of that "feast day," on which the profanation took place, (ver. 5, 6.)
In the great feasts of tabernacles, and of trumpets, the solemn strains of music, and the singing of hosannas, were the chief portions of the service, (Lev. xxiii. 40, Numb. xxix. 1;) and the year of Jubilee was also introduced by the blowing of trumpets. (Lev. xxv. 3.) So that, in the commencement of the Jewish rites, it was customary, and according to the institution of God, that he should be worshipped by music and singing.
To pass over unnoticed the song of Deborah, recorded in the Book of Judges, (ver. 1,) we come now to a later period, when the evidence is more direct upon the subject. The peculiar titles of David, as the "sweet Psalmist of Israel," (2 Sain. xxiii. 1;) the “man after God's own heart,” (1 Sam. xviii. 14, Acts, xiii. 22,) need only to be mentioned to recall to mind the dedication of his time and talents to the exercise of those arts of music and poetry, which characterised him in his day, and which have afforded to modern times not only the purest models, but the most genuine strains of piety and devotion.*
• Vide Ecclus. xlvii. 8, 9.
There are those who deny that David was the author of the splendid hymns which the Church has always acknowledged in all ages, and incorporated into her worship. It may be sufficient to observe, that the Evangelists and Apostles, and our Lord himself, quoted largely from the Psalms, ascribing them at once to David as their author : so that the question of their authenticity rests upon an argument which cannot be shaken. That these Psalms, with the accompaniment of the harp, on which the king of Israel was a mighty master, were employed by him as devotional exercises of prayer and praise, and afterwards by the Jewish Church, in the same manner, (as well as prophetical predictions of the glory of Messiah's kingdom,) no one has ever denied ; and it is remarkable that David, who was the type and emblem of Him who was both “ David's Lord, and David's son," (Luke xx. 44,) should have instituted a style of worship so adapted to the feelings of man, and so conformable with the will of God. To multiply quotations from the Psalms must be superfluous, since our text so well expresses the spirit of these observations, and it is scarcely possible to look over any of David's compositions, and yet overlook the many evidences of the use which he made of psalmody. At the close of his life we find him arranging the ministers, and setting the house of God in order; and amongst the rest, he appointed “ four thousand Levites to praise the Lord with the instruments which he had made to praise therewith,” (1 Chron. xxiii. 5:) “who should prophesy with harps, with psalteries, and with cymbals,” (1 Chron. xxv. 8,) preparing for the erection of a temple, which was postponed till the days of Solomon, by God's command, (2 Sam. vii. 13,) partly because of the wars that troubled the kingdom, (1 Kings v. 3,) and partly because David himself was concerned therein, (1 Chron. xxviii. 3.)
The history of Solomon commences with the erection and dedication of this building, the first substantial temple that was built in Israel, (2 Sam. vii. 6;) and it is left on record, that " it came to pass, when the priests were come out of the holy place, (for all the priests that were present were sanctified, and did not then wait by course : also the Levites which were the singers, being arrayed in white linen, having cymbals, and psalteries, and harps, stood at the east end of the altar, and with them an hundred and twenty priests sounding with trumpets :) It came to pass, as the trumpets and singers were as one, to make one sound to be heard in praising and thanking the Lord : and when they lifted up their voice with the trumpets and cymbals and instruments of music, and praised the Lord, saying, For he is good ; for his mercy endureth for ever; that the house was filled with a cloud, even the house of the Lord. So that the priests could not stand to minister by reason of the cloud : for the glory of the Lord had filled the house of God.” (2 Chron v.11--14.) Now on a reference to another portion of the Scripture, it appears, that the psalm from which the chorus is here quoted, was made nearly forty years before, on the day when David brought the ark into "the tent he had pitched for it," and that upon that occasion a choir was appointed, with a band of musicians and a regular leader. (1 Chron. xv. xvi.) And as a proof of the attention which Solomon paid to this branch of worship, we may observe, that of the algum or almug trees, (1 Kings x. 12, and 2 Chron. ix. 11,) which
the queen of Sheba gave him, and which were extraordinarily fine, he took one part to ornament the temple, and with the other he made harps and psalteries for the singers.
It is said, that when Asa, king of Judah, entered into covenant with the Lord, the people present “swore unto the Lord with a loud voice, and with shouting, and with trumpets, and with cornets,” (2 Chron. xv. 14,) so that every solemn act of devotion was accompanied with music.
Jehoshaphat, when he went out to fight against Moab and Ammon, after “ he had consulted with the people, appointed singers unto the Lord, and that should praise the beauty of holiness, as they wentout before the army, and to say, Praise the Lord; for his mercy endureth for ever.” (2 Chron. xx. 21.)
Jehoiada, also, we are told, appointed priests to "offer the burnt offerings of the Lord, as it is written in the law of Moses, with rejoicing and with singing, as it was ordained by David," (2 Chron. xxii. 18:) so that psalmody became, at that early period, a regular part of divine worship. During the solemn festival in the days of Hezekiah, “ the children of Israel that were present at Jerusalem kept the feast of unleavened bread seven days with great gladness ; and the Levites and the priests praised the Lord, day by day, singing with loud instruments unto the Lord.” (2 Chron. xxv. 21.) When Josiah repaired the temple, there is mention made of “all that could skill of instruments of music." (2 Chron. xxxiv. 12.) And during the solemn passover which he kept, “the singers the sons of Asaph were in their place, according to the commandment of David.” (2 Chron. xxxv. 15.)
Such was the practice whilst the first temple was standing; and we shall see that when the worship of God was restored, and the second temple was built, there was equal provision made for the singers and musicians as in the former period of the Jewish Church.
Even during the Captivity, the rites of the Church appear to have been in some sort kept up; for when the people returned from Babylon, there were amongst them a hundred and twenty-eight singers, the children of Asaph, (Ezra ii. 41,) and “two hundred singing men and singing women,” (ver. 65;) and it is expressly said, that the singers had dwellings appointed for them, (ver. 70;) and when the foundation of the temple was laid, “ they sang together by course in praising and giving thanks unto the Lord ; because he is good, for his mercy endureth for ever." (iii. 11.)
It is likewise stated, that when the temple was finished, “the Levites (or singers) were set in their courses for the service of God," (vi. 18,) and that it was decreed by Artaxerxes, that “it shall not be lawful to impose toll, tribute, or custom upon them.” (vii. 24.)
Nehemiah records as a fact worthy of remembrance, that in the separation of Jerusalem," the singers were appointed,” (Neh. vii. 1.) who “ were over the business of the house of God." (xi. 22.) “And at the dedication of the wall of Jerusalem they sought the Levites out of all their places to bring them to Jerusalem, to keep the dedication with gladness, both with thanksgivings and with singing," with cymbals,
psalteries, and with harps : and the sons of the singers gathered themselves together, both out of the plain country round about Jerusalem and from the villages :" (xii. 27, 28.) and the singers sang aloud with their voices, (ver. 42.) And these singers, we are told, were provided for; “ for it was the king's commandment concerning them, that a certain portion should be for the singers, due for every day," (xi. 23,) which portion, in consideration of right and custom, was duly paid, (xiv. 47,) over and above the before-named immunity from taxes.
From this we may collect, that in the service of the Jewish sanctuary singing was a principal and prominent feature, and of so much importance, that it was necessary to appoint particular individuals to the office, who were selected from a certain class, and were in all respects considered to partake of a sacred character.
I have, in the next place, to shew, that singing made a component part of the worship of the primitive Christians, and that it is as much our duty as it was the duty of the Jews. This, however, must be reserved, with several other interesting particulars, till a further opportunity. My present observations have, however, shewn, and I hope satisfactorily, that the practice of singing in our churches is founded upon the analogies of nature, consistent with the order of creation, and in conformity with the will of God; that is, moreover, sanctioned by the customs of all ages and countries, civilized or barbarian; and that it is established by the institutions of the Jewish ritual.
I need not, therefore, waste many words to persuade you, that even on this partial view of the subject, in contributing liberally towards the establishment of a choir amongst ourselves, you will not only discharge a duty to yourselves, but towards Him, whose mercies to us demand a return of praise, andwhose prophet has invited us to come before his presence with thanksgiving, and to make a joyful noise unto him with psalms.
(To be concluded in our next Number.)
ROMISH COMMENT ON THE BIBLE. PROTESTANTS, AND DISSENTERS FROM THE CHURCH OF ROME. The following are extracted from the Popish Bible, published at Dublin in 1816, under the sanction of Dr. Troy, the Romish archbishop; and the authority of these annotations, as ecclesiastical tradition, stated and expounded by the pastors of the Church, is maintained to be equally binding on the conscience of a Papist with the Holy Scripture :
“ Protestants are heretics and schismatics—the bane and disease of this time.”—Note on John xiv. 28.
“All the definitions and marks of a heretic fall upon them."-On Titus iii. 10.
“ The Church of God, calling the Protestants' doctrine heresy, in the worst sort that ever was, doth right, and most justly."-On Acts xxviij. 22.
“ The new pretended Church Service of England, is in schism and heresy, and, therefore, not only unprofitable, but damnable."--On Acts X. 9.
“That as the Jewish temple was made a den of thieves, the church, or house, appointed for the holy sacrifice and sacrament of the body of Christ, is now much more made a den of thieves, being made a den for the ministers of Calvin's breed."-On Mark xi. 17.
“ The prayer of a Schismatic (i.e. Protestant,) cannot be heard in heaven.”-On John xv. 2, 4.
“ The speeches, preaching, and writings of heretics (Protestants,) are pestiferous, contagious, and creeping, like a canker: therefore christian men must never hear their sermons, nor read their books."-On 2 Tim. ii. 17.
“As the devil, acknowledging the Son of God, was bid to hold his peace, therefore neither Heretics' (Protestants) sermons must be heard, no, not though they preach the truth. So is it of their prayers and services, which, being never so good in itself, is not acceptable to God out of their mouths: yea, it is no better than the howling of wolves," On Mark iii. 12.
“A christian man is especially bound to burn and deface all here tical books; and therefore, Protestant Bibles, Prayer Books, &c."On Acts xix. 19.
“The translators of the English Protestant Bible ought to be abhorred to the depth of hell"-On Heb. v. 7. ho. “Roman Catholics must avoid them (Protestants) because their familiarity is contagious, and noisome to good men ; but in matters of religion, in praying, in reading their books, hearing their sermons, presence at their service, and all other communication with them in spiritual things, it is a great damnable sin to deal with them."-On 2 John X.
" The good (i. e. the Papists) must tolerate the evil (i.e. the Protestants), when it is so strong that it cannot be redressed without danger or disturbance of the whole church ; otherwise, where ill men, be they heretics or other malefactors, may be punished or suppressed, without disturbance and hazard of the good, they may, and ought, by public authority, either spiritual or temporal, to be chastised or executed."On Matthew xiii. 29.
“ All heretics, though in the beginning they may appear to have some show of truth, yet, in due time, their deceits and falsehoods shall be known by all wise men; though for troubling the state of such commonwealths, where, unluckily, they have been received, they cannot be so suddenly extirpated."- On 2 Tim. iii. 9.
The Protestant Clergy of all denominations are further described in this authorized Popish Bible, as “thieves and murderers.”— On John x. 1. They and their flocks, as supporters of the Protestant heresy, are declared to “be in a rebellion and damnable revolt against the priests of God's Church; that rebellion, which they declare) is the bane of our days."-On Heb. xiii. 17. The Papists are commanded by this Bible, their authorized divine oracle, to be “ zealous and stout against heretics, of what sort soever, remembering the example of holy Elias, who, in zeal, killed 450 false prophets.”-On Rev. ii. 6, 20.