Page images

And let it be observed that the Pfalmifts did not think it fufficient, barely to recite all the Mercies they had received from God, but they do most frequently, and amply acknowledge his Wisdom and Power, Veracity, or Faithfulness, and especially his Goodness, which are the Cause, and Spring-head of all our Bleffings. And this is not only a very considerable part of that Honour which we owe him; but is likewise.very necessary to quicken, and inflame us in all other parts of our Devotion : for he must needs perform the Duty of Prayer with great coldness, and indifference, who does not both heartily believe and duly consider, that the God, to whom he offers his Prayers, is All-knowing, Almighty, the Author of all the Good, that we can have, or hope for, [ who is alone able to save, or to destroy.]

But here it may be objected, that several sorts of Pfalms may, and do occur in the very fame Service, and that it can scarce be supposed that Men are so much Masters of their own Affections, as to turn, and alter them every minute as they please. How can a Man be dejected with Sorrow while he is reciting a Penitential Psalm, and be elevated with Joy, and Praise, when he has turned the Leaf, and is beginning another, and immediately be fired with a zeal, and due concern for God's Church in rehearsing a third ? for it may, at first fight, seem a matter very difficult, if not imposfible, so often, and all of a sudden to change our frame of Mind.

In Answer to which I need only give an Instance, to prove that this is so far from being hard to be practised, that 'tis really natural to us. In reading a History, when in one page we observe a good Cause, or a vertuous Person oppress’d or injur'd, we are insensibly wrought into pity, and commisera. tion, we condole the undeserved sufferings of the

a 3


Innocent, and have a just indignation against those who are the causes of them. In the next page, when we see Vertue breaking through a Cloud, and by a sudden turn grown successful, and triumphant, and its adversary deprest, and mortified, we do in our minds exult, and congratulate the Deliverance, and we find as great an alteration in our Minds and Affections, as there is in the affairs which the History treats of. Much more may our Affections be rais'd, or lay'd in a moment of time, when we bend our Minds to the doing of it, and make use of our Reason to that purpose, for which God gave it us, namely, to regulate, command, and turn our

Thoughts and Passions, as the present occasion shall require. Indeed, the greatest difficulty is to keep our thoughts close to one Subject for a considerable time together, and not to turn them to a new one; for this rather refreshes, and relieves them. And therefore that great variety of Matter, and diver: fity of Affection, which is so obfervable in the. Psalms, does really render them more agreeable for the Devotions of Creatures, whose thoughts are so quick, and changeable as ours are. If there were any thing in this Objection, it would lie as much against all manner of true Devotion, aş against the Pfalter. For whoever prays as he ought, must confess his Sins, and in doing so should be heartily grieved, and ashamed: And in the fame Prayers he must proceed to Praise and Thanksgiving, and then ought to have a heart filld, with joy and love, towards him who is the Author of all our Mercies; he must intercede for all that are in want, and then should be touch'd with a feeling pity of those he Prays for: So that in truth this seeming Obje&tion against the using the Psalter by way of Devotion, and which has likewise been urged against the Common-Prayer, does as much affect the De

votion of those who made it, if they have any, as it does either the Psalms, or Liturgy.

The Reader may further consider, that where it can be, the Psalms should be sung with Inftrumental Musick. There can be no doubt, but that the Composers did intend they should be so used, if we may believe not only the Hebrew Titles, as they are commonly understood, but the very words of fome of the Psalms. The CL ( to mention no more at present ) invites People to praise God with no less than Eight forts of Musical Instruments. Some indeed would have it, that this was a part of the Ceremonial Law, and therefore abolished by Chrift; but I never saw any thing that fook'd like an Argument for this Opinion: On the other side we are sure that Instrumental Musick was used in the Worship of God by Miriam, just after the Children of Israel were conie out of the Red-Sea, Exod. xv. 20. before one word of the Ceremonial Law had yet been mentioned; and the Holy Apostle James advises, (James V. 13.) those that are Merry (to Sing] as we Translate it, but, as the word properly fig nifies, [ to Sing to the Harp, or by touching some Instrument of Musick.] That this is the meaning of the word elsewhere, no one can reasonably doubt, and why it must otherwise be understood in this place I see not. Further, in the xiv of the Revela tions we have a great multitude of them who were redeem'd from among Men, who followed the Lamb, and were the First-fruits unto God,"v. 4. represented as (playing upon the Harp, ver. 2. on Mount Sion] ver. I. By these, no question, is meant great numbers of Christian Primitive Saints, Wor{hipping God either in the Church here on Eartly, or else in Heaven above: And 'tis all one whether we take it for the Church Triumphant, pr Militant, for we may be sure, that neither the one nor the other would be described by the Holy Ghost, as

Wor, 24

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

Worshipping God in an unlawful manner. Would
any of our Dissenters describe either Heaven, og
the Apoftolical Church, by saying, that the Pastors
wore Mitres and Rochets, and the People Worship’d
towards the East, and bow'd their Bodies at the
Name of Jesus? no surely; and the reason is plain,
namely, because they think that Habit, and these
Ceremonies unlawful. And for the same cause we
may be sure the Scripture would never have decy-
phéred to us the Church of God, either in Heaven,
or Earth, as Worshipping God with Musical Instru-
ments, if there had been any Sin, or Fault in the
use of them: So far from that, that I suppose all
Devout, and rightly-inform’d Christians should
choose to Sing the Psalms with Instrumental Mu-
* But if a sincerely good Man have mot Skill, or
opportunity to use the Psalter in this manner, when
he meets with the mention of Musical Instruments,
in Singing, or Reading the Psalms, let him say in
his own mind, [Let those that can, use these In-
ftruments to enliven their own, and other Mens
Devotions, I am so far from being averse from any
thing, that may be a means of railing Mens Affecti-
ons in the Service of God, that I would advise them
to use their best skill to this purpose: Nor can Mu-
fick be so well imploy'd to any other use, as to the
exciting Mens Zeal and Pleasure in Worshipping
their: Creator. Bụt as for me, and others, who
want these means, let us offer up our Devotions
with a sincere Heart, and a pure Mind; and this,
1. doubt not, shall be more acceptable to God than
sounding Brass, or the loudest and best-tuned
Cynibals. ]

However, it is certain that the Pfalms were ori-
ginally design'd to be sung publickly in the Church,
where all that could, were allowed to join with Voice
as well as Mind. In the primitive Church the People


made their Responses by repeating thọ Acrostichia? or latter part of every Verse, or larger Period. And there can be no reason why the People should lose their share, or be debarr'd of this Privilege in our Parish-Churches, where the Psalter is only Read;. for why should the People be filent, when the Psalıns are read, since they may, and ought, if they are able, to perform their parts, when they are Sung? and ?tis the more reasonable, that they should joyn with their Tongues, as well as Hearts, when 'tis consider'd that a great part of the Psalter is the Speech, or Voice of the Church Universal addressing herself to God. 'Tis true, the alternate Reading the Psalms one Verse by the Minister, the other by the Congregation, founds harsh in some nice Ears, and has on this account been complained of by some of our Dissenters; and for the same reason they might have condemned that primitive, or heavenly way of Worship which St. John heard, Rev, xiv, z. for that was [like the noise of many Waters,) and therefore not very harmonious, and agreeable; but yet does so nearly resemble the found which a numerous Congregation makes with their Responses, especially in the Psalms, that one would be tempted to think, that 'tis the very thing which St. John means.

But some I have met with, who could by no means judge a Prose-Translation, as this is, fit to be Sung; for no other reason, that I could find, but only this, that they had been used to sing no Psalms, but such as were Translated in Verse, or Rhyme: But they who are of this Opinion ought to consider, that the Primitive Church used no Translation of the Psalms, but only such as this, I mean, not in Metre, or Verse, but in Prose, and that the Hebrew itself, though it be in a Poetick Style, yet cannot be ineasured by Feet, or Syllables; and consequently, tho' these Rhyming Translations are very useful, yet


« PreviousContinue »