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propensities which brutalize our species, and to accelerate and confirm the progress of civilization, than all the philosophy and legislative wisdom, and refined literature, which have been poured upon society, in ancient or modern times ;—a book, whose preservation and existence, in its present unexceptionable form, is itself a miracle ;-a book, in fine, whose doctrines are so sublime, whose morality is 90 pure, whose historical narrative is so simple and faithful, whose various portions are in such admirable keeping, whose prophetic character is so incontrovertibly established, whose instructions look forward so impressively, to the consummation of all things, and to the eternal destination of man, and whose literary execution anticipates, in so unequivocal a manner, the boldest imaginations of genius ;-if, we say, such a book exists, surely it may be said, not merely to invite, but to demand the early attention of all those for whom its instructions, its warnings, its denunciations, and its promises, were designed.
Those instructers are not, therefore, mad with overmuch learning, nor misguided by a wild enthusiasm, who assert, in an affectionate, consistent, and parental manner, the claims of this “book of books ;" especially if their Christian deportment stamps the character of sincerity upon their own profession.
Let us not be understood to advocate the cause of any particular sect. We would wish the instructer to set before the pupil the evidences of the religion of Christ, and its paramount claims. If any parent should object, because the claims of the Episcopalian, or the Methodist, or the Baptist, or the Presbyterian, are not urged, we would reply, it is enough for the instructer to introduce the pupil into the unappropriated field of Christian knowledge and principles, and leave it to the parent to exert whatever influence his judgment may suggest, in marshalling him under any particular banner.
We must now take leave of the subject of education, for the present, with many thanks to the Messrs. Hill, for the benefit already conferred by them on the community, and with some regret, that our own notions have, in the course of this review, put themselves forward so unceremoniously, that we have hardly given their system as much space as its magnitude would seem to demand, or courtesy require.
CONSIDERED IN REFERENCE TO ITS ORIGINAL DESIGN
ITS PRESENT STATE.
Those who believe in the inspiration of the Scriptures, will admit, that Church Music was instituted for the purpose of aiding the devotions of the pious worshipper. It is equally evident, also, that the patriarchs, the prophets, and the apostles, were in earnest while they sang. 'Their songs had constant reference to circumstances with which they were conversant, as well as to facts which were then sealed in the language of prophecy. The Psalmist of Israel, though highly favoured of God, was subject to the most remarkable vicissitudes of affliction and prosperity. Yet he ever sung out of the overflowings of a full heart. See him convicted of his deplorable iniquity under the reproof of the prophet Nathan. He cries out, in the bitterness of his soul, “Have mercy upon me, O God, according unto the multitude of thy tender mercies, blot out my trans
gressions." See him at another time banished among outcasts, from the commonwealth of Israel." As the hart panteth after the water-brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God. My soul thirsteth for God, for the living God : when shall I come and appear before God ?" Again, while engaged in removing the ark, he exclaims, “ Arise 0, Lord, unto thy rest, thou and the ark of thy strength. Let thy priests be clothed with righteousness ; and let thy saints shout for joy.” On another occasion, he is seen pouring forth his full heart in gratitude, “ Bless the Lord, O, my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name.” Again, we see him cast down in despondency—“ Are his mercies clean gone forever?" At other times, he breaks forth at once into the highest raptures, “Let every thing that hath breath praise the Lord.”—“Let the floods clap their hands, and let the hills be joyful together before the Lord.” Such were the themes of ancient minstrelsy. The same themes were also sung by the apostles, and by the churches which they instituted ; and the same are to form the authorised basis of sacred songs down to the remotest ages of time.
It must be allowed that the subject of singing is spoken of less frequently in the New Testament, than in the Old. Some have hence derived an argument in favor of diminishing the importance of the institution. But if their reasoning is sound, it will follow, that in proportion as the established themes of song are better appreciated, amid the light of a gospel dispensation, they may be sung the less heartily, and with the less effect--the very reverse of which is true. If the early Christians paid less attention to the cultivation of psalmody than the Jewish nation had done before them, we must remember also, that they were placed in peculiar circumstances. They had not synagogues and houses of worship, which they could call their own. They were persecuted, afflicted, tormented, driven from city to city; without were fightings, and within were fears. Yet, in the
midst of perils, they did all that was necessary, by example as well as by precept, to give the highest sanction to the art. The first annunciation of a Saviour's birth was immediately celebrated by a song of angels. The disciples sang at the sacramental supper. Paul and Silas sang at midnight in the depths of a dungeon: and the Revelation of St. John, contains such high-wrought specimens of minstrelsey as show clearly, that the art was expected to lose nothing of its real power, under the fulness of a gospel dispensation.
But again. If we examine more minutely these specimens of consecrated poetry, we shall find that in general, they presuppose an elevated state of the affections, as necessary to the very commencement of the exercise of singing. There is often required a more entire commitment of soul to God, in these songs of praise, than usually takes place in the exercise of social prayer.
This is a remarkable circumstance, and one which is full of instruction. In prayer, for instance, we plead for the grace of humility : but in song, the Psalmist says,
Lord, my heart is not haughty,”—“ My soul was as a weaned child before thee." In prayer we plead for the grace of submission : the Psalmist says, “ I was dumb, I opened not my mouth because thou didst it." In prayer we ask for fixedness of strength, for the spirit of love and obedience: the Psalmist exclaims—“My heart is fixed, O God my heart is fixed.”—“O, how love I thy law; it is my meditation all the day."
In perfect accordance with this statement is the fact, that singing appears anciently to have been, for the most part, introduced as a sort of climax in the exercises. Witness the services at the dedication of the temple. Skilful leaders were chosen on the occasion. The wise, the pious, and the honourable were among them; and the singers stood close by the altar. Yet, we hear nothing of the singing till the countless sacrifices had been offered, accompanied by the
prayers of the people: nor even then, till the priests had taken the ark, that holy symbol of the covenant, and placed it within the oracle. But when all this had been accomplished, and the people were thus prepared for the exercise, "it came to pass, as the trumpeters and singers were as one, to make one sound, to be heard in praising and thanking the Lord,-saying, For the Lord he is good, for his mércy endureth forever, that then the house was filled with a cloud, even the house of the Lord.” Then, and not till then, was manifested the special symbol of the Divine presence; and it then appeared in such majesty, that even "the priests could not stand to minister by reason of the cloud; for the glory of the Lord had filled the house of God.”' Here was an order of the exercises instituted by God himself; and left on record for the instruction of future generations. The same order appears substantially in the early history of the Christian dispensation. The song of angels was preceded not followed, by the story of a Saviour's birth. The singing at the sacramental supper was preceded by a participation of the sacred emblems. The same ana. logy is preserved throughout the book of Revelation. The songs of the heavenly hosts are all preceded by some marked and special displays of the Divine glory. There the singing is neither a preparative to devotion, nor a “drop-scene" in the exercises. It is called for by the attendant circumstances, and bursts forth spontaneously from the enraptured bosoms of the worshippers.
It appears also from the history of the art, no less than from the preceding observations, that singing in the churches was an exercise peculiarly spiritual. The apostle seems to convey this idea, when he says " Is any among you afflicted? let him pray. Is any merry? [joyful or possessing elevated affections,] let him sing psalms.” The fathers understood the subject in the same analogy ; so did the reformers. Both have left their testimony in favor of the benign influence of this part of the services.