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person's singing by himself alone, or of the family.discharge of this duty, or of its being done in concert, between two or more persons; no doubt but it is lawful for a single person to sing the praises of God alone, at home, in his own house, in his closet, when he thinks proper ; and it may very laudably be performed in Christian families, where they are able to carry it on with decency and good order; yea, any two or more persons, may join together in this part of divine service, as Paul and Silas did in prison ", who, at midnight, prayed and sang praises unto God; which is an instance of singing vocally, and in concert; and was attended with some miraculous operations, with which all gospel-ordinances were at first confirmed ; and which brought on, and issued in the conversion of the jailor. But what I shall chiefly attend to, will be to prove that gospel-churches, or the churches of Christ, under the gospel-dispensation, ought to sing the praises of God vocally; and this I' shall do from the following considerations.
1. From the prophecies of the Old Testament, which declare, that the churches, in gospel-times, should fing; and in which they are called upon, exhorted, and encouraged to do it. In many of the psalms, which respect the times of the Messiah, and the gathering of the Gentiles to him under the gospel-dispensation, such as the xlvii, lxviiith, and xcyth, the people of God are frequently invited to sing praise unto him, and make a joyful noise unto him with psalms. Likewise, in the prophecies of Isaiab, it is declared, that not only the watchmen, gospel-ministers, such whose feet are beautiful on the mountains, who bring good tidings, and publish peace and salvation, fall lift up the voice, and that with the voice together shall they fing; but also the churches under their care, and such souls they are made useful to, are called upon to break forth into joy, and sing together ; yea, it is promised, that the Gentile church, under the name of the wilderness, and solitary place, hall be glad and rejoice, even with joy and singing ; that even the tongue of the dumb Mall fing, and the ranfomed of the Lord return, and come to Zion with songs, and everLasting joy upon their heads. Moreover, that, in that day, meaning the gospelday, Mall this song be sung in the land of Judah, in the gospel-church: We have a strong city; salvation will God appoint for walls and bulwarks. To add no more,
How expressly is the Gentile church exhorted and encouraged to this work in another part of these prophecies? where it is said, Sing, O barren, thou that didst not bear ; break forth into finging, and cry aloud, ibou that didst not travail 4 G 2
with w A&s xvi. 25. * Ifa. liii 7-9. and chap. XXV. 1, 2, 6, 10, and chap. xxvi. I, and chap. liv. 1.
with child; for more are the children of the desolate than the children of the married wife, saith the Lord. Blessed be God, these predictions are, in a great meafure, fulfilled; gospel-churches among the Gentiles, as well as in the land of Judea, have lift up their voices, and sung the praises of God according to these prophecies; which is, at once, a confirmation of the authority of the scriptures, and of the truth of this ordinance. But,
2. I prove it to be a duty incumbent on gospel-churches, under the New Testament-dispensation, from express precepts and directions given to them concerning it. It is not only prophesied of in the Old Testament, but it is also commanded in the New, that they should sing. The church at Epbefus was a gospel-church, as was also that at Colone; and they are both expressly enjoined as such, by the apostle Paul, who in this, as in other things, had the mind of Christ, to sing Psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs , Besides, if singing was not a duty belonging to New Testament-churches, why should any directions about it be given to them ? Such as to sing with grace in their hearts, with the Spirit, and with the understanding; and to do it in such a manner, so as to speak to themselves, and to teach and admonish one another ?
3. That New Testament-churches should fing, will more fully appear from New Testament-instances and examples. There are not only prophecies and precepts, but also precedents in favour of this practice; and the first instance of this kind I shall mention, is, that of Christ and his apostles, who sung an hymn, as a church, at the close of the Lord's-supper; of this the evangelist assures us; When they had sung an hymn, says he, they went out unto the mount of Olives : our ears are continually dinned, by those who are of a different mind from us, with an old transation, in which, they say, the words are rendered, When they had given thanks. But, first, This work was done already, be, that is Christ, took the cup, and gave thanks. Secondly, A different word from that is here used, and which, in its first and primary sense, signifies, to sing an hymn, or fong, to the honour of God. And, thirdly, This old transation must be a false one, since it fixes such a character of rudeness and arrogance upon the apostles, as is unbecoming the disciples of the meek and lowly Jesus; what, they give thanks ! what business had they to give thanks ? Had they done so, they had took upon them an office, and thrust themselves into a province that did not belong to them. Who should give thanks but Christ, the master of the feast, who was then in person present at his own
table? y Eph. v. 19. Col. iii, 16.
z 1 Cor. xiv. 15. Eph. v. 19. Col. iii. 16.
a .Matt. xxvi. 39.
table ? No, they sung an hymn in concert, with their Lord at the head of them; which hymn was either one of Christ's composing on that special occafion, or rather was a part of the Hallel, the Jews sung at the passover, which began with the cxiiih, and ended with the cxviiih Psalm ; the first part of which they sung before they sat down to eat, and the other after they had eaten, and after they had drank the fourth and last cup; which last part seems to have been postponed to the eating of the Lord's-fupper, as containing in it several verses suitable to that ordinance, especially the closing part, which is this; I will praise thee, for thou hast beard me, and art become my salvation. The stone which the builders refused, is become the head stone of the corner. This is the Lord's doing ; it is marvellous in our eyes. This is the day which the Lord hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it. Save now, I beseech thee, O Lord. O Lord, I beseech thee, send now prosperity. Blessed be be that cometh in the name of the Lord. We have blessed you out of the house of the Lord. God is the Lord which bath Mewed us light. Bind the sacrifice with cords, even unto the borns of the altar. Thou art my God, and I will praise thee; thou art my God, I will exalt thee. O give thanks unto the Lord, for he is good : for his mercy endureth for ever For my own part, it would be agreeable to me, if this was always fung at the celebration of this ordinance. But to return to my argument. This hymn, or psalm, was sung by Christ and his apostles, as a church; which, though one of the least of the churches, yet the purest that ever was on earth; where Christ lung, according to his promise made long before, when he said, I will declare i by name unto my brethren: In the midst of the congregation will I praise thee“; which the author of the epistle to the Hebrews cites in this manner: I will declare thy name unto my brethren, and in the midst of the church will I sing praise unto thee, wprnow or ; will I fing an hymn unto thee €; which he accordingly did sing in the midst of the congregation, the church, among his brethren, the apostles, at the institution of the supper ; and is an example we ought to follow at the administration of that ordinance.
The church at Corinth, in the times of the apostles, sung psalms : There were, indeed, some disorders among them, in the performance of this, as well as other parts of public worship, which the apostle Paul endeavours to rectify in his epistle to them ; How is it then, brethren ? says he, when ye come together, every one of you bath a psalm, hath a doctrine, hath a tongue, hath a revelation, bath an interprelation ; let all things be done to edifying'; where he does not blame them for those things, provided care was taken to avoid confusion, and that the edification of each other was regarded : And what he says in my text, with respect to himself, and his own conduct in the discharge of both the duties of prayer and singing, is designed as an example and an instruction to this church.
the ► Vide Buxtorff. Lex. Talmud in voce, 5577 col. 613, &c, Lightfoot, vol. 2. p. 354, 444, 1160. · Pral. cxviii. 21, to the end d Psal. xxii. 22.
e Heb. ii. 12. f 1 Cor. xiv, 26.
The book of Revelation is a representation of the state and condition, fervice and sufferings of the churches of Christ on earth, in the several periods of time, until his second coming; in which we have frequently an account of their being concerned in this work of singing 5, either the Lamb's new song, or the song of Moses, or both; and which is represented as their employment, more or less, until the end of time. Now, since we have prophecy, precept, and precedent, for the practice of singing in New Testament churches, none should scruple the performance of it. But, before I dismiss this part of
my subject, it will be necessary to give an answer to the two following queries.
(1.) Whether women should fing in public, or in the churches ? The reason of this query is, because the apostle says ", Let your women keep silence in the churches ; for it is not permitted unto them to Speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience, as also saith the law. And if they will learn any thing, let them ask their husbands at home ; for it is a shame for women to speak in the church. From whence it is inferred, that if women are to be filent, and not to speak in the church, then they are not to sing or speak to themselves and others, in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs. To which I answer, that it is evident the apostle is to be understood of such kind of speaking in public, as carries in it authority over the man, which singing does not; so he explains himself in another place, Let the women learn in silence, in all subjektion. But I suffer not a woman to teach nor to ufurp authority over the man, but to be in silence'. It is certain, that all kind of speaking in the church, is not forbidden to women: otherwise it would not be lawful for them to give an account of the work of God upon their souls, by word of mouth; nor could they be witnesses for or against any member of the church, chargeable with any iniquity. In these and such like cases, they have, no doubt, a right, and should have the liberty of speaking in the church: As for singing of psalms, though, as an ancient writer observes “, “ The apostle commands women to be filent in the church ;
yet they are capable of performing this service well, which is agreeable to
every age, and fit for both sexes.” And indeed, if this is a part of moral worship, as, I think, I have sufficiently proved it is, it must be a duty belong. ing to them, and binding on them: Besides, it has been practised by them in
6 Rev. v. 9, 10, and chap. xiv. 1, 3. and chap. xv. 3. and chap. xix. 1—7. bo 1 Cor. xiv. 34, 35.
i i Tim. ii. 11, 12.
* Mulieres apoftolus in ecclesia tacere jubet, psalmum etiam bene clamant; hic omni dulcis aetati, hic utrique aptus eft fexui. Ambros. in Psal. i.
all ages of the church. Miriam, and the Ifraelitish women, sung, as well as Aloses and the children of Israel, at the Red-fea; as did also Deborah with Barak; and not to take notice of the singing women in the temple-service, there is a prophecy of gospel-times, in which it is said', that a great company of the blind and lame, with the woman with child, and her that travaileth with child, mould come and fing in the height of Zion; and indeed what else is the · woman's prophesying", which the apostle does not object to, though he does to her doing it with her head uncovered, any other than her singing of psalms ? as is well judged by a learned writer"; since prophecy is explained by the same apostle, by singing as well as by praying and preaching in another place'.
(2.) It is a case of conscience with some, whether they should sing in a mixed multitude, or in the presence of unbelievers, they joining with them. The solution of which I would attempt in the following manner ; let it be observed, that singing, as a part of moral worship, is binding on all men, without exception, believers and unbelievers; the former, indeed, are the only persons who are capable of performing it in a spiritual and evangelic manner; but the latter may have a sense of God's goodness upon their minds, and be able to praise him for their temporal mercies, though they cannot do it in faith, nor without sin; nor indeed, can they perform a natural or civil action, any more than a moral one, without fin; for the plowing of the wicked is fin ? : But it does not from hence follow, that a man must not plow, or perform any civil action, because he sins in it. And so likewise it ought not to be concluded, that a man should not pray, or fing psalms, or perform any other moral action, because he cannot do it in a spiritual way; for it is better for him to do it in the best way he can than not at all. But, supposing that it is not the duty of unbelievers to sing psalms, it will be very difficult to know who are such in public assemblies; and if such should join with you, why should this affect you that are believers ? Will this fin of theirs be ever laid to your charge, or you be accountable for it? Should you neglect your duty because they are not in theirs ? Must your mouths be stopped, because theirs are open ? Should you not rather blush and take shame to yourselves ? When they seem so forward to what you judge is not their duty, and you yourselves fo backward to it. Besides, it has been the practice of the saints in all ages, to sing in mixed assemblies. There was a mixed, multitude which came up with the Israelites out of Egypt, in whose presence Moses and the children of Israel sung at the Red-sea, and who, very probably, joined with
them Jer. xxxi. 8-12 m 1.Cor. xi. 5. n Lightfoot, vol. 2. p. 785, 1157. • 1 Cor. xiv, 15, 24, 26.
P Prov. xxi, 4.