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perfon's finging by himself alone, or of the family-discharge of this duty, or of its being done in concert, between two or more perfons; no doubt but it is lawful for a fingle perfon to fing the praifes of God alone, at home, in his own house, in his clofet, when he thinks proper; and it may very laudably be performed in Chriftian families, where they are able to carry it on with decency and good order; yea, any two or more perfons, may join together in this part of divine service, as Paul and Silas did in prison ", who, at midnight, prayed and fang praises unto God; which is an instance of finging vocally, and in concert; and was attended with fome miraculous operations, with which all gofpel-ordinances were at first confirmed; and which brought on, and iffued in the converfion of the jailor. But what I fhall chiefly attend to, will be to prove that gofpel-churches, or the churches of Chrift, under the gospel-difpenfation, ought to fing the praises of God vocally; and this I fhall do from the following confiderations.
1. From the prophecies of the Old Teftament, which declare, that the churches, in gofpel-times, fhould fing; and in which they are called upon, exhorted, and encouraged to do it. In many of the pfalms, which respect the times of the Meffiah, and the gathering of the Gentiles to him under the gofpel-difpenfation, fuch as the xlviit, lxviiith, and xcvth, the people of God are frequently invited to fing praise unto him, and make a joyful noife unto him with pfalms. Likewife, in the prophecies of Ifaiah, it is declared, that not only the watchmen, gofpel-minifters, fuch whofe feet are beautiful on the mountains, who bring good tidings, and publish peace and salvation, shall lift up the voice, and that with the voice together shall they fing; but also the churches under their care, and fuch fouls they are made useful to, are called upon to break forth into joy, and fing together; yea, it is promised, that the Gentile church, under the name of the wilderness, and folitary place, shall be glad and rejoice, even with joy and finging; that even the tongue of the dumb shall fing, and the ranfomed of the Lord return, and come to Zion with fongs, and everlasting joy upon their heads. Moreover, that, in that day, meaning the gospelday, fhall this fong be fung in the land of Judah, in the gospel-church: We have a strong city; falvation will God appoint for walls and bulwarks. To add no more, How exprefsly is the Gentile church exhorted and encouraged to this work in another part of these prophecies? where it is faid, Sing, O barren, thou that didft not bear; break forth into finging, and cry aloud, thou that didft not travail with
w A&ts xvi. 25.
4 G 2
* Ifa. lii. 7-9. and chap. xxv. 1, 2, 6, 10, and chap. xxvi. 1. and chap. liv. 1.
with child; for more are the children of the defolate than the children of the married wife, faith the Lord. Bleffed be God, these predictions are, in a great mea fure, fulfilled; gofpel churches among the Gentiles, as well as in the land of Judea, have lift up their voices, and fung the praises of God according to thefe prophecies; which is, at once, a confirmation of the authority of the fcriptures, and of the truth of this ordinance. But,
2. I prove it to be a duty incumbent on gofpel-churches, under the New Teftament-difpenfation, from exprefs precepts and directions given to them concerning it. It is not only prophefied of in the Old Teftament, but it is also commanded in the New, that they fhould fing. The church at Ephefus was a gofpel-church, as was alfo that at Coloffe; 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 fing Pfalms, hymns, and spiritual fongs". Befides, if sfinging was not a duty belonging to New Testament-churches, why fhould any directions about it be given to them? Such as to fing with grace in their hearts, with the Spirit, and with the understanding; and to do it in fuch a manner, fo as to speak to themselves, and to teach and admonifh one another 2.
3. That New Teftament-churches fhould fing, will more fully appear from New Teftament-inftances 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 Chrift and his apostles, who fung an hymn, as a church, at the clofe of the Lord's-fupper; of this the evangelift affures us; When they had fung an hymn, fays 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 translation, in which, they fay, the words are rendered, When they had given thanks. But, firft, This work was done already, he, that is Christ, took the cup, and gave thanks. Secondly, A different word from that is here ufed, and which, in its firft and primary fenfe, fignifies, to fing an hymn, or fong, to the honour of God. translation must be a false one, fince it fixes fuch a
And, thirdly, This old character of rudeness and
arrogance upon the apostles, as is unbecoming the difciples of the meek and lowly Jefus; what, they give thanks! what bufinefs had they to give thanks? 'Had they done fo, they had took upon them an office, and thrust themfelves into a province that did not belong to them. Who fhould give thanks but Christ, the master of the feast, who was then in perfon prefent at his own table?
table? No, they fung an hymn in concert, with their Lord at the head of them which hymn was either one of Chrift's compofing on that special occafion, or rather was a part of the Hallel, the Jews fung at the paffover, which began with the cxiiith, and ended with the cxviiith Pfalm; the firft part of which they fung before they fat down to eat, and the other after they had eaten, and after they had drank the fourth and laft cup; which laft part seems to have been postponed to the eating of the Lord's-fupper, as containing in it feveral verfes fuitable to that ordinance, efpecially the clofing part, which is this; I will praise thee, for thou haft beard me, and art become my falvation. The Stone which the builders refufed, is become the head ftone 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, fend now profperity. 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 fhewed us light. Bind the facrifice with cords, even unto the horns 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 pfalm, was fung by Chrift and his apoftles, as a church; which, though one of the leaft of the churches, yet the pureft that ever was on earth; where Chrift fung, according to his promise made long before, when he faid, I will declare thy name unto my brethren: In the midst of the congregation will I praise thee; which the author of the epiftle to the Hebrews cites in this manner: I will declare thy name unto my brethren, and in the midst of the church will I fing praise unto thee, vurnow or will I fing an hymn unto thee; which he accordingly did fing in the midft of the congregation, the church, among his brethren, the apoftles, at the inftitution of the fupper; and is an example we ought to follow at the adminiftration of that ordinance.
The church at Corinth, in the times of the apoftles, fung pfalms: There were, indeed, fome diforders 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? fays he, when ye come together, every one of you bath a pfalm, bath a doctrine, hath a tongue, bath a revelation, bath an interpretation; let all things be done to edifying; where he does not blame them for those things, provided care was taken to avoid confufion, and that
Þ Vide Buxtorff. Lex. Talmud in voce,
col. 613, &c, d Pfal. xxii. 22.
the Lightfoot, vol. 2. p. 354, 444, 1160. e Heb. ii. 12, f 1 Cor. xiv, 26.
the edification of each other was regarded: And what he fays in my text, with refpect to himself and his own conduct in the discharge of both the duties of prayer and finging, is defigned as an example and an inftruction to this church.
The book of Revelation is a representation of the state and condition, fervice and fufferings of the churches of Chrift on earth, in the several periods of time, until his fecond coming; in which we have frequently an account of their being concerned in this work of finging, either the Lamb's new fong, or the song of Mofes, or both; and which is represented as their employment, more or lefs, until the end of time. Now, fince we have prophecy, precept, and precedent, for the practice of finging in New Teftament churches, none fhould fcruple the performance of it. But, before I difmifs this part of my fubject, it will be necessary to give an answer to the two following queries. (1.) Whether women fhould fing in public, or in the churches? The reafon of this query is, because the apoftle fays", Let your women keep filence in the churches; for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience, as also faith the law. And if they will learn any thing, let them ask their busbands 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 fing or speak to themselves and others, in pfalms, hymns, and fpiritual fongs. To which I anfwer, 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 finging does not; fo he explains himself in another place, Let the women learn in filence, in all fubjection. But I suffer not a woman to teach nor to ufurp authority over the man, but to be in filence'. It is certain, that all kind of fpeaking 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 fouls, by word of mouth; nor could they be witnesses for or against any member of the church, chargeable with any iniquity. In these and fuch like cafes, they have, no doubt, a right, and fhould have the liberty of speaking in the church: As for finging of pfalms, though, as an ancient writer obferves*, «The apostle commands women to be filent in the church ; "yet they are capable of performing this fervice 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 fufficiently proved it is, it must be a duty belonging to them, and binding on them: Befides, it has been practifed by them in
Rev. v. 9, 10. and chap. xiv. 1, 3. and chap. xv. 3. and chap. xix. 1—7.
1 Cor. xiv. 34. 35. i 1 Tim. ii. 11, 12. * Mulieres apoftolus in ecclefia tacere jubet,
pfalmum etiam bene clamant; hic omni dulcis aetati, hic utrique aptus eft fexui. Ambros. in Pfal. i.
all ages of the church. Miriam, and the Ifraelitish women, fung, as well as Mofes and the children of Ifrael, at the Red-fea; as did alfo Deborah with Barak; and not to take notice of the finging women in the temple-service, there is a prophecy of gofpel-times, in which it is faid', that a great company of the blind and lame, with the woman with child, and her that travaileth with child, fhould come and fing in the height of Zion; and indeed what else is the woman's prophefying ", which the apoftle does not object to, though he does to her doing it with her head uncovered, any other than her finging of psalms? as is well judged by a learned writer"; fince prophecy is explained by the fame apoftle, by finging as well as by praying and preaching in another place.
(2.) It is a cafe of confcience with fome, whether they fhould fing in a mixed multitude, or in the prefence of unbelievers, they joining with them. The folution of which I would attempt in the following manner; let it be obferved, that finging, as a part of moral worship, is binding on all men, without exception, believers and unbelievers; the former, indeed, are the only perfons who are capable of performing it in a fpiritual and evangelic manner; but the latter may have a fenfe of God's goodness upon their minds, and be able to praife him for their temporal mercies, though they cannot do it in faith, nor without fin; nor indeed, can they perform a natural or civil action, any more than a moral one, without fin; for the plowing of the wickeḍ is fin: But it does not from hence follow, that a man must not plow, or perform any civil action, because he fins in it. And so likewise it ought not to be concluded, that a man fhould not pray, or fing pfalms, 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, fuppofing that it is not the duty of unbelievers to fing pfalms, it will be very difficult to know who are fuch in public affemblies; and if fuch fhould join with you, why should this affect you that are believers ? 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? Muft your mouths be stopped, because theirs are open? Should you not rather blush and take fhame to yourselves? When they feem fo forward to what you judge is not their duty, and you yourselves fo backward to it. Befides, it has been the practice of the faints in all ages, to fing in mixed affemblies. There was a mixed multitude which came up with the Ifraelites out of Egypt, in whose presence Mofes and the children of Ifrael fung at the Red-fea, and who, very probably, joined with
Jer. xxxi. 8-12, • 1 Cor. xiv. 15, 24, 26.
1.Cor. xi. 5.
Lightfoot, vol. 2. p. 785, 1157.