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ciples began to rejoice, and, with loud voices to praise God, and cry Hosanna, when Christ was entering into Jerusalem. There are many things in scripture that seem to intimate, that praising God, both in speeches and songs, will be what the church of God will very much abound in, in the approaching glorious day. So on the seventh day of compassing the walls of Jericho, when the priests blew with the trumpets, in an extraordinary manner, the people shouted with a great shout, and the wall of the city fell down flat. So the ark was brought back from its banishment, with extraordinary shouting and singing of the whole congregation of Israel. And the places in the prophecies of scripture, that signify that the church of God, in that glorious jubilee that is foretold, shall greatly abound in singing and shouting forth the praises of God, are too many to be mentioned. And there will be cause enough sor it : I believe it will be a time wherein both heavcn, and earth will be much more full of joy and praise, than ever they were before. But what is more especially found fault with in the singing that is now practised, is making use of hymns of human composure. And I am far from thinking that the book of psalms should be thrown by in our public worship, but that it should always be used in the Christian church, to the cnd of the world : But I know of no obligation we are under to confine ourselves to it, I can find no command or rule of God’s word, that does any more confine us to the words of the scripture in our singing, than it does in our praying ; we speak to God in both : And I can see no reason why we should limit ourselves to such particular forms of words, that we find in the Bible, in speaking to him by way of praise, in metre, and with music, than when we speak to him in prose, by way of prayer and supplication. And it is really needful that we should have some other songs besides the psalms of David : It is unreasonable to suppose that the Christian church, should forever, and even in times of her greates: light in her praises of God and the Lamb, be confincd only to the words of the old Testament, wherein all the greatest and most glorious things of the gospel, that are infinitely the greatest subjects of her praise, are spoken of under a vail, and not so much as the name of our glorious Redeemer, ever mentioned, but in some dark figure, or as hid under the name of some type. And as to our making use of the words of others, and not those that are conceived by ourselves, it is no more than we do in all our public prayers ; the whole worshipping assembly, excepting one only, makes use of the words that are conceived by him that speaks for the
rest. Another thing that many have disliked, is the religious meetings of children, to read and pray together, and perform religious exercises by themselves. What is objected is children's want of that knowledge and discretion, that is requisite, in order to a decent and profitable management of religious exercises. But it appears to me the objection is not sufficient : Children, as they have the nature of men, are inclined to society; and those of them that are capable of society one with another, are capable of the influences of the Spirit of God, in its active fruits; and if they are inclined by a religious disposition, that they have from the Spirit of God, to improve their society one with another, in a religious manner, and to religious purposes, who should forbid them : If they have not discretion to observe method in their religious performances, or to speak sense in all that they say in prayer, they may notwithstanding have a good meaning, and God understands them and it does not spoil or interrupt their devotion one for another. We that are grown persons, have defects in our prayers, that are a thousand times worse in the sight of God, and are a greater confusion, and more absurd nonsense in his eyes, than their childish indiscretions. There is not so much difference before God, between children and grown persons, as we are ready to imagine ; we are all poor, ignorant, foolish babes, in his sight: Our adult age does not bring us so much nearer to God, as we are apt to think. God in this work has shewn a remarkable regard to little children ; never was there such a glorious work amongst persons in their childhood, as has been of late, in Newengland : He has been pleased in a wonderful manner to perfect praise out of the mouths of babes and sucklings ; and many of them have o
more of that knowledge and wisdom, that pleases him, and renders their religious worship acceptable, than many of the great and learned men of the world : It is they, in the sight of God, are the ignorant and foolish children : These are grown men, and an hundred years old, in comparison with them ; and it is to be hoped that the days are coming, prophesied of Isa. lxv. 20, when “the child shall die an hundred years old.”
I have seen many happy effects of children's religious meetings ; and God has seemed often remarkably to own them in their meetings, and really descended from heaven to be amongst them : I have known several probable instances of children's being converted at such meetings. I should therefore think, that if children appear to be really moved to it, by a religious disposition, and not merely from a childish affectation of imitating grown persons, they ought by no means to be discouraged or discountenanced : But yet it is fit that care should be taken of them, by their parents, and pastors, to instruct and direct them, and to correct imprudent conduct and irregularities, if they are perceived ; or any thing by which the devil may pervert and destroy the design of their meetings. All should take heed that they do not find fault with, and despise the religion of children, from an evil principle, lest they should be like the chief priests and scribes, who were sore displeased at the religious worship and praises of little children, and the honor they gave Christ in the temple. We have an account of it, and what Christ said upon it, in Matth. xxi. 15, 16. “And when the chief priests and scribes saw the wonderful things that he did, and the children crying in the temple, and saying Hosanna to the son of David, they were sore displeased, and said unto him, Hearest thou what these say : And Jesus saith unto them, yea; have ye never read, Out of the mouths of babes and sucklings, thou bast perfected praise f"
Shewing t things are to be corrected or avoided in promoting this WoRK, or in our behavior under it.
HAVING thus observed, in some instances, wherein the conduct of those that have appeared to be the subjects of this work, or have been zealous to promote it, has been objected against, or complained of, without or beyond just cause, I proceed now in the
II. Place, to shew what things ought to be corrected or avoided.
Many that are zealous for this glorious work of God, are heartily sick of the great noose there is in the country, about imfirudences and disorders : They have heard it so often from the mouths of opposers that they are prejudiced against the sound ; and they look upon it that that which is called a being frudent and regular, which is so much insisted on, is no other than being asleep, or cold and dead in religion, and that the great imprudence that is so much cried out of, is only a being alive, and engaged in the things of God : And they are therefore rather confirmed in any practice, than brought off from it, by the clamor they hear against it, as imprudent and irregular. And to tell the truth, the cry of irregularity and imprudence has been much more in the mouths of those that have been enemies to the main of the work than others; for they have watched for the halting of the zealous, and eagerly catched at any thing that has been wrong, and have greatly insisted on it, made the most of it and magnified it; especially have they watched for errors in zealous preachers, that are much in reproving and condemning the wickedness of the times: They would therefore do well to consider that scripture, Isa. xxix. 20, 21. “The scorner is consumed, and all that watch for iniquity, are cut off, that make a man an of. fender for a word, and lay a snare for him that reproveth in
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the gate, and turn aside the just for a thing of nought.” They have not only too much insisted on, and magnified real errors, but have very injuriously charged them as guilty, in things wherein they have been innocent, and have done their duty. This has so prejudiced the minds of some, that they have been ready to think that all that has been said about errors and imprudences, was injurious and from an ill spirit; and has confirmed them in it, that there is no such thing as any prevailing imprudences; and it has made them less cautious and suspicious of themselves, lest they should err. Herein the devil has had an advantage put into his hands, and has taken the advantage ; and, doubtless, has been too subtle for some of the true friends of religion. That would be a strange thing indeed, if in so great a commotion and revolution, and such a new state of things, wherein so many have been engaged, none have been guilty of any imprudence; it would be such a revival of religion, as hever was yet, if among so many men, not guided by infallible inspiration, there had not been prevailing a pretty many notable errors in judgment and conduct ; our young preachers, and young converts, must in general vastly exceed Luther, the head of the reformation, who was guilty of a great many excesses, in that great affair, in which God made him the chief instrument. If we look back into the history of the church of God in past ages, we may observe that it has been a common device of the devil, to overset a revival of religion, when he finds he can keep men quiet and secure no longer, then to drive them to excesses and extravagances. He holds them back as long as he can, but when he can do it no longer, then he will push them on, and if possible, run them upon their heads. And it has been by these means chiefly, that he has been successful, in several instances, to overthrow most hopeful and promising beginnings : Yea, the principal means by which the devil was successful, by degrees, to overset that grand religious revival of the world, that was in the primitive ages of christianity, and in a manner, to overthrow the Christian church through the earth, and to make way for, and bring on the great antichristian apostacy, that masterpiece of