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religious worship ; inasmuch as the singers, by answering each other, mutually excite each other's devotion, and signify the consent and union of their prayers and praises in the whole.
That David was not backward in communicating the art which he himself cultivated so successfully his own compositions testify; and that his songs might not want accompaniment, he invented many musical instruments, and appointed two hundred and fourscore and eight, that were instructed and cunning in the songs of the Lord, with cymbals, psalteries, and harps for the service of the house of God ;* and thus a choir was established in the temple, which for ages redounded to the praise and glory of God, and to the good report of his people ; and doubtless inspired the assembled tribes with devotion, telling them of the mighty hand and outstretched arm that had delivered them from bondage and misery, teaching them a strain of thanksgiving, and lifting up their hearts to God in holy psalmorly. My brethren, we are accustomed to look upon the Jewish ceremonial worship as the necessary result of a legal obligation; and doubtless it was compulsory, and irksome, as compared with the free service of the gospel : but when we carry ourselves back to that holy temple in imagination—are absorbed with that tide of song which flowed through its arches, and was beaten back from its walls—we cannot suppose that all their worship was a mere compliance with the Mosaic ritual, and that it never rose into the spontaneous effusion of affectionate hearts ; and although their whole law was but a shadow of good things to come, although they sang of triumphs in an earthly Canaan, and the heavenly one was not fully revealed, yet we cannot doubt but that, when they awoke those melodies which the sweet singer of Israel had taught them, that they looked forward to another Joshua, who should give them a rest, † of which the former Joshua had but merely spoken ; and that, when thronging the sanctuary they praised God in his holy mountain, and sacrificed the spotless lamb, they trusted one day to " come unto Mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem .... and to Jesus, the mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling that speaketh better things than that of Abel.” And if any part of that holy ritual which God himself had taught them was to be for more than ephemeral duration, (and doubtless some there was,) it was that part which had been the result of patriarchal piety, before it had been directly enjoined, which from the fall of Adam bad existed, as a proof that man's total corruption had not barred his heart against the entrance of the Spirit's influence, and which always had added fuel to the flames of devotion, and the warmth of divine love to the heart of the listless worshipper. Yes, when greater glory was revealed, it was to be celebrated with nobler harmony; when Christ had abolished empty pageants, songs of deliverance were not to be forgotten, but their sublimity was to be raised in proportion to the magnificence of their theme; the christian church was to improve upon that which the Jewish, with its silver trumpets, its harps, its psalteries, and cymbals, had begun, and for them was to substitute the peals of the majestic organ, which displays them all; and for mere melody, or a succession of sounds, to
substitute the beautiful combination of harmony, and to take up the never-dying strains of David, and to join it to a minstrelsy with the beauties of which the lyre of the royal poet could not compete.
Music has made part of holy worship in the church, under the old and new dispensation; and if the dedication of human skill to God can be acceptable to him, this must be in a great degree, inasmuch as it is an act far superior to any other which has been discovered. I shall proceed then to point out, that not only the Bible, but also reason, shews us this superiority; and for this purpose we will consider the causes in which it originates. Of these we will notice three. 1. Its extraordinary power over the human mind. 2. Its universality. 3. Its eternal duration.
1. Its extraordinary power consists in its influence over the passions, between which and all sounds there certainly exists a natural sympathy; and we are sure that as light and wanton airs are apt to kindle wanton fires, so true devotional tunes excite or heighten devotional passions. It exercises a mastery over the understanding; it lights up smothered fires, and calls forth latent energies. Whether for good or ill, it exercises almost unlimited sway; it spurs the wicked to revenge, or it tames the fierceness of his nature; it lulls to luxurious repose, or it excites to manly action ; it brings balm to the wounded heart, or it adds fuel to its fire ; it augments hate and cruelty, or it melts the soul to pity and to love; it goes hand in hand with profligacy, or is in a sisterhood with piety and devotion. Who has not beheld its use and its abuse? Who has not rejoiced to join with it in the house of God? Who has not wept to hear it in the house of debauchery? At one time, we see it kindling the fires of divine love, and teaching men to express the best emotions of their heart; at another, we see " the harp and the viol, the tabret and pipe, and wine in their feasts ; but they regard not the work of the Lord, neither consider the operation of his hands.” Of the magnitude of its power holy Scripture supplies us with examples. It stirred up the ardour of the conquerors of Canaan,* and brought over to their side the invincible power of Jehovah. It expelled the evil spirit from the heart of Saul, and restored the royal maniac to his lost tranquillity of mind. And lastly, as in the example of our text, at its magic sound, the veil fell from futurity; it rapt the prophet in other times, and fitted his mind for the instruction of God's prescient Spirit; for “ it came to pass, when the minstrel played, that the hand of the Lord came upon him.” And,
2. If we can draw an argument for the superiority of this divine art over others, from the magnitude of its power, much more can we from the universality with which that power is acknowledged. Animate and inanimate nature alike appear formed for harmony. It was a magnificent conception of that learned heathen, t who supposed that the seven spheres, according to the rapidity and sluggishness of their revolutions, caused high and low intonation, and together formed a perfect symphony, too melodious for mortal ears to endure; but far more magnificent was that conception of the royal Psalmist, I when he represented day and night as interchangeably dividing the world between them, and trans
mitting in succession, each to other, the task enjoined them, as the responding parts of a choir, cbaunting forth alternately the praises of God. “Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night sheweth knowledge." And although there is no speech nor language," yet “ their sound is gone out into all the world :" although there are no articulate sounds, they all rejoice in reason's ear, and are incessantly uttering a song of praise and thanksgiving. The whole world is an exhibition of choral harmony, and we can all of us enter into that poetical imagery of scripture, where inanimate things are said to be vocal with praise and with applause. “ The mountains and the hills shall break forth before you into singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands."
3. But if music is superior from its vast power and universality, much more is it from its undying existence. Look to the eternity of the past and of the future. When first this universal frame was called forth into being, tuneful voices weleomed its formation—" the morning stars sang together, and the sons of God shouted for joy;" the father of the hollow lyre* caught the strain and handed it down, and
“ Through succeeding ages, all along,
Saints praised the Godhead in devoted song.''+ And as it accompanied the first creation, so also " music shall untune the sky." The trumpet of the archangel shall sound, and as a wizard's incantation, arouse the sheeted dead : then heaven and earth shall pass from us, and every thing shall dissolve, fleeting away like a vision, and not leaving a ruin to mark the place of its devastation. And then shall begin the religion of the blest-eternal and melodious praise. The saints, who loved to hymn God's praises here, shall there put off mortality and corruption, and enjoy the very perfection of nature; their happiness will be consummated, and there will be no more place for desire; they will have nothing more to ask, and nothing more to expect, but the secure possession and enjoyment of pleasures which never satiate; and then must faith be turned into sight, hope into enjoyment, prayer into praise; holy love shall be the source, and holy music the expression, of their delights.
" What know we of the saints above,
But that they sing, and that they love ?”+ Painting and sculpture are arts that concentrate realities, and bring the beauties of distant parts of our creation to our immediate view. But they are perishable things of time. And the day of the Lord of hosts shall come upon all pleasant pictures; for then there shall be no need of such skill to heighten imagination. When, however, other things have an end, music shall begin to display her charms. “I heard,” says St. John, speaking of the end of all things, “I heard the voice of harpers, harping with their harps : and they sung as it were a new song before the throne, and before the four beasts and the elders ; and no man could learn that song but the hundred and forty and four thousand, which were redeemed from the earth.” This, my brethren, is the song we shall one day sing, if we join in divine harmony, and strive to enter into the spirit of those christian hymns which feebly represent the hymns of the redeemed. Church music
shall prepare you for celestial melody. Support then this art, in which all christian churches of the world have gloried; an art which all ages followed ; an art wbich the best and wisest of the governors of God's people ever commended ; an art which strengthens meditation, promotes attention, and raises the hearts of men ; an art which fills the mind with comfort and heavenly desires, allays all base and earthly cogitations, banishes the evil and secret suggestions of our invisible enemy, waters the heart that it may bear good fruit, makes the virtuous under affliction full of magnanimity and courage, remedies the wounds and brightens the sorrows of this present life-all-potent, universal, and eternal : the deprivation of which is mentioned as the severest curse that can befal a people" When the voice of harpers and musicians and of pipers and trumpeters shall be heard no more ;” and the cultivation of which is the blessed task of dazzled cherubim and seraphim before the throne of God, and the blessed reward of the saints who worship God and fall down before him, saying, “ Alleluia, for the Lord God Omnipotent reigneth.”
What more then can I say, but to exhort you by your love for God, by your hope of heaven, and by your fears for eternity, to do all in your power to improve this branch of religious worship ? I will address you as divided into two parties : but I trust in God that what I shall utter will influence the conduct of all. Some of you, doubtless, are gifted with a musical talent, and a few are devoid of it. For those who have this precious gift, I pray to God that they may use it as not abusing it. Do not desecrate those tongues which were given you for nobler purposes, by devoting them to those ditties which must withdraw your thoughts from heaven. Am I admonishing those who frequent the alehouse ? Cease from your bacchanalian strains, nor indulge in that which lends attraction to the poisonous draught! What do you sing of, but the praises of that which, if indulged in, will destroy the soul! What do you do but ornament the cup which is foul and venomous within !
Am I admonishing those who share the more refined pleasures of the drawing room? To you I recommend a noble theme. Cease your trifles, and consecrate your talents-not to the mere telling of vows of human love of the fond uneasiness of farewell—of the delights of romantic solitude-of the pleasures of the feast-of the gaiety, perils, andl spendour of war, and the vain mixture of caresses, tears and faintings, wooings and weepings, which distinguish our modern lyrics—but to telling of the glories of your God, and of his endless love ; of the rewards of the warfare which martyrs and confessors waged; and of that place where there shall be no more sorrow, but tears shall be wiped from all eyes. Each and all remember, that music is a powerful instrument for good or ill; that it either stirs up heavenly desires, or flagrant affections; that if it work well, it works with God, and promotes spirituality ; but if it work ill, it works against God, and provokes luxury and sensuality.'
And let not this solemn warning fall unheeded upon those whose ears cannot distinguish between the sweet variations of harmony. They must know that sacred minstrelsy ascends as incense of a sweet smelling savour to heaven, and therefore by encouraging it, they are fulfilling a necessary duty to God. I charge each one who hears me to be liberal in supporting that of which the loss would be a curse. Your services are now performed in a manner worthy of such holy compositions; and as the early Christians boasted that their music attracted spectators who were subsequently baptized, so we trust that when the listless observer enters our temple, melody may soften his heart to yield to the moral battery of God's Spirit, that the seeds of devotion may be sown, and that, as upon Elisha, when the minstrel played, the hand of the Lord may come upon him. But, however alluring and legitimate this attraction, I must remind you, that you owe it to the liberality of but a few individuals, and that the greater part have not shared in the honour of establishing it. Now then the opportunity of contributing to the decency of public worship offers. Without your assistance we must lose this aid to devotion. If I were appealing for your cooperation in educating the young, or to your sympathy in relieving the poor and the distressed, I should have large claims upon your liberality ; but what must be my demand, when I ask you to dedicate of your wealth-not to man, who, however much his moving tale may strike the tender chords of pity, is but a pensioner of an hour, and therefore soon to leave this scene of woe, but-to the Holy One who inhabits eternity, who can give you to reap in proportion as you sow; and for the corruptible riches of this world can bestow upon you the incorruptible treasures of heaven. Let us, my brethren, strive to support a choir that may remind us of the hundred and forty and four thousand celestial harpers, whose “ service high and anthems clear,” may
" Dissolve us into ecstasies,
And bring all heaven before our eyes ;" and may teach us constantly to look forward to that sanctuary where all human minstrelsy shall be hushed, and the immense tide of song roll from thousand times ten thousand voices of glorified saints; where, with the crown on the head and the harp in the hand, we may look to execute the will and hymn the praises of our God, wearing the diadem, and making the melody of glory.
CUSTODY OF THE CHURCH AND CHURCH YARD.
TO THE EDITOR OF THE CHRISTIAN REMEMBRANCER. Mr. Editor,— I have hunted through as many of your numbers as I can find, (though some I confess are mislaid and not forthcoming,) for the report of a case in a matter of Church Law, which at this time would be very valuable to me. I have read the case within a very few months either in your columns, those of the St. James's Chronicle, or of the Ecclesi. astical Gazette, for, except the Quarterly, I take no other periodical.
* We wish it to be clearly understood, that we do not identify ourselves with the opinions of our correspondents.