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ISAAC WATTS, D.D.
HYMNS AND SPIRITUAL SONGS.
IN THREE BOOKS.
Hail, bear'a born Muse! that with celestial fame
PRINTED AT THE Apollo Press, BY GEORGE CAWTHORN, NO. 132, STRAND; BOOKSELLER AND PRINTER TO HER ROYAL HIGHNL83
THE PRINCESS OF WALES,
HILE we sing the praises of our God in his church we are employed in that part of worship which of all others is the nearest akin to heaven, and it is pity, that this of all others should be performed the worst upon earth. The gospel brings us nearer to the hea, venly state than all the former dispensations of God amongst men; and in these last days of the gospel we are brought almost within sight of the kingdom of our Lord, yet we are very much unacquainted with the sɔngs of the new Jerusalem, and unpractised in the work of praise. To see the dull indifference, the ne, gligent and the thoughtless air, that sits upon the faces of a whole assembly while the psalm is on their lips might tempt even a charitable observer to suspect the fervency of inward religion, and it is much to be feared that the minds of most of the worshippers are absent ør unconcerned. Perhaps the modes of preaching in the best churches still want some degrees of reformas
tion, nor are the methods of prayer so perfect as to stand in need of no correction or improvement; but of all our religious solemnities psalmodỹ is the most unhappily managed, that every action which should elevate us to the most delightful and divine sensations doth not only fat our devotion but too often awaken our regret, and touches all the springs of uneasiness within us.
I have been long convinced that one great occasion of this evil arises from the matter and words to which we confine all our songs: some of them are almost opposite to the spirit of the gospel, many of them foteign to the state of the New Testament, and widely different from the present circumstances of Christians hence it comes to pass that when spiritual affections åre excited within us, and our souls are raised a little above this earth, in the beginning of a psalm we årë checked on a suddert in our ascent toward heaven bộ some expressions that are most suited to the days of cárnál ordinances, and hit only to be sung in the worldly $änctuary. When we are just entering into an evän. ģelic framé by some of the glories of the gospel prešented in ihe brightest figures of Judaism, yet the very next line perhaps which the Clerk parcels out unto us hath something in it šo éxtreměly Jewish and cloudy that därkenš our sight of God the Saviour. Tlius by keeping too close to David in the house of God the
veil of Moses is thrown over qur hearts. While wę are kindling into divine love by the meditations of the lovingkindness of God, and the multitude of his Jender mereies, within a few verses some creadful qurse against men is proposed to our lips, that God would add iniquiry, unto their iniquity, nor let them come into his righteousness, but blot them out of ihę book of the living, Psal. lxix. 26, 27, 28. which is so contrary to the new commandment of loving our enemies, and even under the Old Testament is best accounted for by referring it to the spirit of prophetic vengeance. Some sentences of the Psalmist that are expressive of the temper of our own hearts and the circumstances of our lives may compose qur spirits to seriousness, and allure us 10 a sweet retirement within ourselves; but we meet with a following line which so feculiarly belongs but to one action or our of the life of David or of Asaph that breaks of our song in the midst; gur consciences are affrighted least we should speak a falsehood unto God. Thus the powers of our souls are shocked on a sudden, and our spirits ruffled before we have time to reflect L'iąt thus may be sung only as a history of ancient saints; and perhaps in some ins:ances that salyo is bardly sufficient neisher; besides, it almost always spoils the devotion by breaking the uniform thread of it; for while our lips and cur hearts run on sweetly