Imatges de pÓgina
PDF
EPUB

made use of very early, even from the times of the apostles ; and I deny not but that they may now be useful; though a great deal of care should be taken that they be agreeable to the sacred writings, and the analogy of faith, and that they be exprefled, as much as can be, in scripture-language; yet after all, I must confess, that I cannot but judge them in a good measure unnecessary, since we are so well provided with a book of psalms, and scriptural songs, indited by the Spirit of God, and suitable on all occasions : However, I cannot think that such composures are designed by the apostle; nor can I believe that he would place such between psalms and spiritual songs, made by men inspired by the Holy Ghost, and put them upon a level with them, to be fung equally with them, to the edification of the churches ; therefore, I take hymns to be but another name for the book of psalms; for the running title of that book may as well be, the book of hymns, as of psalms; and so it is rendered by Ainsworth, who also particularly calls the cxlvth psalm, an hymn of David: So the psalm which our Lord sung with his disciples, after the supper, is called an hymn, as the psalms of David in general, are called, by Pbilo the Jew!, burong hymns, as they are also songs and hymns by Josepbus k.

3. By spiritual songs, may be meant the same psalms of David, Afaph, &c. the titles of some of which are ', songs, as sometimes a pfalm and fong, a song and psalm, a song of degrees, and the like; together with all other scriptural songs, written by men inspired by God; and are called spiritual, because the author of them is the Spirit of God, the writers of them men moved and acted by the same Spirit; the subject-matter of them spiritual, designed for fpiritual edification, and opposed to all' profane, loose, and wanton songs.

These three words, psalms, hymns, and songs, answer to Bora, Diban, and Sto, che citles of David's Psalms; and are, by the Septuagint, rendered by the Greek words the apostle uses. I shall not trouble you with observing to you how these three are distinguished by learned men ", one from another, buc only observe, what has been remarked by others before me; that whereas the apostle, in his exhortations to singing, directs to the titles of David's psalms, it is highly reasonable to conclude, that it was his intention that we should sing them : but, inasmuch as there are some queries, scruples, and objections, about the singing of them, it will be proper to attempt a satisfactory answer to them.

(1.) It L de Mutat, nom. & 1. de Somniis & alibi. k Antiq. 1. 7. C. 12. ' So Pfal. xxx, xlv, xlvi, xlviii, lxv, Ixvi, 1xvii, lxviii, lxxv, lxxvi, lxxxüi, lxxxvii, 1xxxvii, xcii, cviii, cxxvi-cxxxiv. m Vide Zanchium, Grotium, & Hammond, in Eph. v. 19. Bezam in Col. iii. 16. & Leigh's Critica Sacra in voce, upvc

(1.) It is inquired, Whether the book of Psalms was originally written in verse or metre? The reason of this enquiry is, That if it should appear that it was not originally written in Hebrew inetre, then there is no reason why it should be translated into metre in another language, and so consequently not to be sung in the manner we do. To which I answer, That the book of Psalms, with some other writings of the Old Testament, were originally written in metre, is universally allowed by the Jews, and does also appear from the different accentuation of them, from that of other books. Josephus", a learned Jew, says, “ That David being free from war, and enjoying a pro“ found peace, composed songs and hymns to God, of various metre; some “ trimetre, that is, consisting of three feet, and others, pentametre, that is, “ of five feet.David's Psalms seem to be of the Lyric kind; hence Jerom, who of all the fathers best understood the Hebrew language, calls “ David, " our Simonides, Pindar, Alcaeus, Flaccus, Catullus, and Serenus," who were all of them Lyric poets. And, in another place, he says, “ If it should seem " incredulous to any that the Hebrews have metre, or that the Psalms or the « Lamentations of Jeremiab, or almost all the scriptural songs are composed o after the manner of our Flaccus, and the Greek Pindar, and Acaeus, and

Sappho ; let him read Pbilo, Josephus, Eusebius Caesariensis, and he will find, « by their testimonies, that what I say is true o.” The learned Gomarus, in his Lyra”, has given out of the Psalms, and other poetical books of the scriptures, several hundred of instances of verse of the Jambic, Trochaic, Dactylic, Anapaeftic, Choriambic, Ionic, Antispastic, and Paeonic kind, which he has compared with a like number out of Pindar and Sophocles. The Jews indeed have now lost the knowledge of the sacred poetry, and have been, for many hundred of years, unacquainted with it; though R. Benjamin Tudelenfis 9 says, that there lived in his time, at Bagdad, one R. Eleazar, and his brethren, who knew how to sing the songs as the fingers did, when the temple was standing.

Buc 2 Απηλλαγμεν@- ' ηδη πολεμων ο Δαβιδης, και βαθειδας απολαυων το λοιπον ειρηνης, αδας εις τον Θεον,. και υμνες, συνελαξαλο με ρε ποικιλο.. Tος γαρ τριμελρες, τες δε σενλαμείρος εποιησεν.. Jofeph.. Antiq. 1. 7. c. 12. $. 3.

• David, Simonides nofter, Pindarus & Alcacus, Flaccus quoque Catullus & Serenus. Christum lyra personat. Hieron. Ep. ad Paulin. inter opera ejus. Tom 3. p. 3. Edit. Parif. Quod fi cui videtur incredulum metra fcilicet esse apud Hebraeos, & in morem nostri Flacci, Graecique Pindari & Alcaei, & Sapphus, vel Pfalterium, vel Lamentationes Hieremiae, vel omnia ferme scripturarum cantica comprehendi, legat Philonem, Jofephum, Origenem, Caesariensem Eusebium, & eorum testimonio me verum dicere comprobabit. Ibid. p. 8..

P Inter ejus opera, tom. 2. p. 317, &c. ,
9 R. Benjamin. Massaot vel Itinerarium. p. 70, 71. edit. L'Empereur.

But be this as it will, there is reason enough to conclude, that the book of Psalms was originally written in verse ; and therefore it is lawful to be translated into verse, in order to be sung in the churches of Christ.

2. It is queried, Whether the book of Psalms is suitable to the present gospel-dispensation, and proper to be sung in gospel-churches. I answer, Nothing is more suitable to the gospel-state, or more proper to be sung in the churches of Christ ; since it is so full of prophecies concerning the person, offices, grace, and kingdom of the Messiah ; concerning his sufferings, and death, his resurrection, ascension, and session at the right hand of God; which are now more clearly understood, and are capable of being sung by believers, in a more evangelic manner than when they were first composed : Besides, this book is full of exceeding great and precious promises, as the ground of the faith and hope of God's people; it is a large fund of experience, a rich mine of gospel-grace and truth, and is abundantly suited to every case, state, and condition, the church of Christ, or a particular believer, is in at any time. A little care and prudence used in the choice of proper psalms, on particular occasions, would fully discover the truth of this.

(3.) It is objected, that persons often meet with things which are not, and which they cannot make their own cafe ; yea, sometimes with what is shocking and startling to a Christian mind; such as imprecations and curses, on enemies or wicked men. And it is asked, Should persons sing cases not their own, and such things as these now mentioned; would they not be guilty of lying to God, and of want of that charity to men which is so much recommended under the gospel-dispensation ? To which I reply, That as to singing cases not our own, this is no more lying to God than reading them is, singing being but a flower way of pronunciation in a musical manner; therefore, if this ought to deter persons from singing, it should also from reading : besides, in public worship, we fing not as single persons, but in conjunction with, and as parts of the community, and body of the people ; so that what may not be suitable to one, may be so to another, and in both, the end of praise be answered. Moreover, when we fing the cases of others, and which we cannot make our own, we fing them as such, and not as our own sense and experience ; which yet may be very useful to us, either by way of example, or advice, or comfort, or instruction, or admonition, and the like: and if this should not be the case, yet there are two other principal ends of singing, namely, the praise and glory of God, and the edification of others, which may be attained this way; and, after all, the same objection will lie against public prayer, as much as public singing; Gnce no prayer put up by the minifter, in public, at least, not all the petitions in it, any more than every psalm or hymn, sung in public, are suitable to the cases of all persons present ; yet this has not been thought a sufficient argument against public prayer, or to deter persons from joining it. As for imprecations and curses on wicked men, though the scriptural instances of them are no examples to us to do the like; because these were made by men under the inspiration of the Spirit of God; yet they were prophetic hints of ruin and destruction to wicked men, and as such should be considered, and may be sung by us, and that to the glory of God and some instruction to ourselves; for herein we may observe the justice and holiness of God, the vile nature of fin, the indignation of God against it, and the just abhorrence and detestation that fin and sinners are had in with God, and should be had in with all good men.

lealt,

(4.) It is said, that if we must sing the psalms of David, and others, then we must sing by,a form; and if we may sing by a form, why not pray by one ? I answer, The case is different; the ordinance of prayer may be performed without a form, but not the ordinance of singing : the Spirit of God is promised as a Spirit of grace and supplication, but not as a spirit of poetry. And suppose a person had a gift of delivering out an extempore psalm or hymn, that psalm or hymn would be a form to the rest that joined with him ; unless we suppose a whole congregation to have such a gift, and every one fing his own psalm or hymn; but then that, namely, joining voices together, which is the beauty, glory, and harmony of this ordinance, would be mere jargon, confusion, and discord. Besides, we have a book of psalms, but we have not a prayer-book : had we a book of prayers, composed by men inspired by the Spirit of God, as we have a book of psalms made by such, we should think ourselves under equal obligation to pray by a form, as we now do to sing by

Add to this, that the psalms of David were composed on purpose to be fung by a form, in the very express words of them, as they accordingly were. David, when he had wrote them, fent them to Afaph, and his brethren, or to the chief musician, the master of the song, who had the management of it, or some such person, to be made use of in public; for thus it is 'written, Then on that day David delivered first this psalm, to thank the Lord, into the hands of Afaph and his brethren. And we may observe, that some hundreds of years after, the psalms of David and Afaph were sung in the express words of them, by the order of king Hezekiah ; for so it is said', Moreover, Hezekiah the king, and the princes, commanded the Levites to sing praise unto the Lord, with the words VOL. III.

of ! i Chron, xvi. 7.

2 Chron, xxix. 30.

one.

4 G

[ocr errors]

of David, and of Afaph the seer; and they sang praises with gladness, and tbey bowed their heads and worshipped. Hence also, when the people of God were exhorted to sing his praise, they were bid not to make, but take a psalm, ready made to their hands'; Sing aloud unto God our strength; make a joyful noise unto the God of Jacob; take & psalm, and bring bither the timbrel, the pleasant barp, with the psaltery. Which leads me,

(5.) To consider another objection made against singing the psalms of David. The singing of these was formerly attended with the use of musical instruments ; such as the harp, timbrel, cymbals, and the like: if then they are to be sung now, why not with these instruments, as heretofore? And if these are difused, why should not singing itself? I reply, That the use of musical instruments was not essential to singing ; therefore, though these are laid aside, that continues. The Old Testament-dispensation was a Nowy, gaudy, and pompous one, suited to the then infant state of the church; there were many ceremonious rites which attended the worship of God, even that part of it which was of a moral nature; which ceremonious rites, though now abolished, the worship being of a moral nature, remains in full force : as for inftance; it was usual to burn incense at the time of prayer; now the use of incense, which was typical of the acceptance of the prayers of the saints, through the mediation of Christ, is laid aside; but the duty of prayer, being of a moral nature, continues : so the use of musical instruments, which attended the work of Ginging the praises of God, and were typical of inward fpiritual melody, is at an end; when singing, being equally of a moral nature with prayer, is still obligatory. It is now sufficient, if, when we sing vocally, at the same time we make melody in our hearts to the Lord. I close this with an observation of an ancient writer "; “ Barely to sing, says he, is not fit for babes, but to sing “ with inanimate instruments, with cymbals, and with dancing; wherefore, “ in the churches (that is, under the gospel-dispensation) the use of such instru“ ments, and others, fit for babes, is taken away, and bare, or plain singing “ remains.” I proceed,

IV. To point out to you the persons who are to fing, and who ought to be found in the performance of this duty: I shall take no notice of a private

person's * Psal. lxxxi. 1, 2. 11 Ου το ασαι απλως εσι τοις νηπιoις αρμοδιον, αλλα το μεία των αψυχων οργανων ασαν, και μετα οχη σεως και κροαλων ; διο εν ταις εκκλησιαις προαιρεται (lege, σαφηρηίαι) εκ των ασματων

εκ των ασματων και χρησις των τουλων οργανων, και των αλλων των νηπιοις ουλων αρμοδιων, και υπολελειπτα το ασαι απλως. Αutor. Quæst. & Respons. ad orthodox. inter Justin, opera, p. 462. edit. Paris.

« AnteriorContinua »