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TABLE OF CONTENTS...
Haweis's Lectures to Young
James VI. and Knox's
Notices of Books, 28, 63, 99,
Payson's Family Sermons,
The End of the Wicked.... 388
Theological Examination Com-
Simplicity of the Gospel..
Scriptural Education 272
OCTOBER, 1832. VOL. IV.
ON SINGING THE PRAISES OF GOD IN PUBLIC WORSHIP.
TO THE EDITOR OF THE ORTHODOX PRESBYTERIAN.
SIR, You will much oblige me by giving insertion to the following remarks in your Periodical, if you deem them calculated to be useful. I propose, with your approbation, to send you a few articles, in succession, on several important matters connected with the worship and discipline of our Presbyterian Church. My object is, in using, occasionally, the language of reprehension, not to shame, but to warn my beloved brethren.' It is my earnest desire to fix their attention on points, not of controversial theology, but of practical religion; to point out to them, with all simplicity and tenderness, the difference between the form and the power of godliness; and to exhort and stir them up, under the divine blessing, to the worship of God 'in the beauty of holiness.' As I feel that much brevity is required, in order to avoid encroachments on the space allotted to your other correspondents, it is hoped that the matter rather than the manner of the following ob servations will be regarded. They are sent forward with the anxious hope that they may prove conducive to the glory of God, and to the sanctification of His great name in the church; and, at the same time, with the conviction, that if they are in any degree instrumental towards the accomplishment of these high objects, they will furnish another testimony to the truth spoken by the apostle, that God chooseth the weak things of the world to confound the things that are mighty.'
I commence with some remarks on the several parts of public worship, as it is usually conducted in our churches.These I shall take up in order, and shall confine myself, in the present paper, to the first part of our Sabbath-day service, viz., the singing of the praises of God. This, by many professing Christians, seems hardly to be recognised as a religious.
duty at all; and to be viewed rather as a graceful appendage, than as an essential element of the worship of the sanctuary. It is therefore the more necessary to direct our attention to the subject, and to vindicate the dignity and importance of a service which, by many professing Christians, is disregarded or despised.
1. The duty of singing praise to God is pointed out by the light of nature. The ancient poets and philosophers of Greece and Rome, in their writings and public instructions, enforced the propriety of singing hymns in honour of their God, and in every species of idol-worship until the present hour, singing has formed an important and indispensable feature. The true God has never, in any age or in any country, 'left himself without a witness' in the beauties of His creation, and in the bounties of His providence. Hence the psalmist invites all the inhabitants of the earth to join him in his song of adoration and thanksgiving. Psal. cxvii. 1-O praise the Lord all ye nations; praise him all ye people.' And because they neglected to do that which was so evidently required of them, they were exposed to the severe rebuke of the apostle, who declared them to be without excuse, who 'when they knew God, glorified him not as God, neither were thankful.'-Rom i. 20.
2. This duty is revealed to us, not by the gleamings of unassisted reason only, but by the clear and unclouded light of divine revelation. In reference to the Old Testament dispensation, it is quite unnecessary to allude to the numberless passages in the psalms and elsewhere, in which singing is enjoined by so many powerful and affecting considerations. See Psal. xcv. c. cxxxvi., &c. And that this mode of worship was not intended to be confined to the Jewish economy, but to continue in the church till the end of time, is evident, both from the prophecy of Isaiah, Isai. lii. 8, 9, 10, in which he speaks of the worship of the latter days, and from the precept of the Holy Ghost by the Apostle Paul.-See Eph. v. 19; Col. iii. 16.
3. Not only the precept, but the example contained in the word of God for our instruction and admonition, powerfully urges us to the reverential and habitual performance of this duty. How frequently David calls upon the people to magnify the Lord with him,' is famliar to all. Hezekiah, who lived several ages after David, and those who celebrated the passover with him, are said to have praised the Lord with the words of David and of Asaph the seer; (from this passage