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versed an unexplored path, and removed the thorns, thistles, and stumbling-blocks, which the adversary had placed in my way, for the sake of becoming a false witness for God, his holy word, and the offices of the Church! No
Mendacity, I well know, has no claim to acceptance with the God of truth. , I am not the only advocate for the senti. ments contained in this book; numbers of the most erudite of my clerical brethren are of the same mind.
In the course of correspondence on this subject, Bishop Griswold writes thus: “ That metrical psalmody is but a modern invention, I am very sensible, and most cordially agree with you in the opinion, that it has added nothing to true devotion and the worship of God. The conceit of versifying the psalms, though it seems in some degree to unite the peculiar advantages of the anthem and the chant, in no less degree excludes the excellencies and effect of both; and owes its success, not so much to its propriety and fitness for the holy sanctuary, as to its gratifying the natural propensity of mankind to be pleased with rhymes and metre. Mankind are ever pleased to see religion yield to sense, and conform to the world, and especially to see the songs of Ziony assimilated to the carnal muse. The neral indulgence of this propensity has long
The so ge
been to me a subject of serious and deep con
A variety of similar extracts might be adduced,
Whatever degree of deference is due to public opinion, it is to be presumed, that the candid part of the community will not be offended at beholding that opinion examined, and weighed in the balances of the sanctuary and of primitive practice;—and should it be found wanting, they will no doubt estimate it as it deserves. But should any of my readers be displeased at beholding the label Tekelt appended to the system of metre psalmody, the so long and so much applauded new way of praising God, let me request them not to be offended, but to think seriously of the adage;
Convince a man against his will,
He's of the same opinion still.” We complain of a prevailing want of the spirit of praise in our churches; but it is to no purpose to make this complaint, unless the grounds and reasons of it be explored, and efforts be made to remove or counteract them. To every person, who will take the trouble of perusing the following sheets, without partiality and without prejudice, the reasons for the prevailing want of the spirit of praise will not
* Bristol, July 8th, 1813.-Extrpub. Auc.' volente.
only appear evident, but also the way in which it may be removed. And who would not de. sire to be endued with "the garment of praise" in preference to “ the spirit of heaviness ?”
Every Episcopalian either does, or ought to consider his Prayer Book, as next in importance to his Bible; and that the psalms and hymns embraced by its several offices are to be classed under one denomination, and the metre psalms and hymns under another. The former are constituent parts of the Book of Common Prayer; the latter are merely arbitrary adjuncts to it. In vain, therefore, do we expect the spirit of praise to be revived by the use of the secundaries, so long as we neglect the proper use of the primaries. Metre psalms and hymns are sung,-whilst the prosaic psalms and hymns are read;—but reading a form of praise can no more be called an act of devotion, than looking over a form of prayer can be called an act of supplication.
In the presentation of every act of praise to the divine Majesty, we offer either an acceptable or an unacceptable oblation. If the offering be agreeable to the mind of God, he accepteth it; but if it be not agreeable to his will, it is rejected. Now we know that holy scripture is agreeable to his will, because it emanated from himself; but where shall we find satisfactory evidence, that metrified scrip
tures are agreeable to his will? From whence did they emanate ? —Whether, or how far, the condescension of the Father of Mercies may wink at the unwarranted liberties which have been taken with his holy word, I presume not to determine; for such is his unbounded clemency towards the erring children of men, that he winked even at the times of the ignorance of idolatry itself.* But if there be any doubts, and certainly there are many cogent reasons for doubting both the propriety and the lawfulness of using metrified scriptures in the sanctuary; why should we continue to offer up to the divine Majesty an oblation, which lies under even the suspicion of having a blea mish, when the Holy Spirit hath provided so many lambs without blemish (scripture forms) for the express purpose of being presented to him with “ the calves of our lips," on his altar of praise? In the oblation of any act of will-worship, piety of intention may yield an extenuation of the guilt, but can never avail to effect a justification of the error,
I feel no hesitancy in asserting that the obloquy which hath been heaped upon the primitive way of “ setting forth God's most wor. thy praise,” and the rejection of it by many of the reformed churches, in order to make
* Acts xvï. 36.
toom for the newly-invented metre psalmody derived from Luther and Calvin, began to damp the spirit of praise in the bosoms of some of our ancestors; that the continuance of singing metrified scriptures, and of only reading prosaic acts of praise, increases the disorder in us their posterity ;--that metrified scriptures are incompetent to excite devotion;
that there is no divine promise to bless the use of the holy scriptures in any other form, than in that of the originals, and of vernacular translations;*--and that, however, with their measured feet and rhyming cadences, metri. fied scriptures may tickle and amuse the ear, they are incapable of ameliorating the heart with its affections.
Should any of my readers be disposed to call in question the truth of these allegations, let them search the scriptures, and find but one text, either in the Old or New Testament, that authorizes the versifying of any part or parts of their divine contents; or the assimi. lating of the Songs of Zion to those of the world; or even the fitting of the Psalms of David to “ the tunes used in churches.”+
* See the Collect for the second Sunday in Advent.
+ See an account of the origin of“ the tunes used in churches," in the Appendix, Sect. II.
To these tunes were the metre psalms of Sternhold and Hopkins, and also those of Tate and Brady professedly fitted, as appears by their respective title-pages.