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is an admirable facility which music hath to express and represent to the mind more inwardly than any other sensible mean, the very standing, rising, and falling; the very steps and inflexions every way; the turns and varieties of all passions whereunto the mind is subject; yea, so to imitate them, than whether it resemble unto us the same state wherein our minds already are, or a clear contrary, we are not more contentedly by one confirmed than changed and led away by the other. In harmony, the very image and character even of virtue and vice is preserved. The mind, delighted with their resemblances, and brought, by having them often iterated, into a love of the things themselves. For which cause there is nothing more contagious and pestilent than some kinds of harmony : than some, nothing more strong and potent unto good. And that there is such a difference of one kind from another, we need no proof but our own experience, inasmuch as we are at the hearing of some more mollified and softened in mind; one kind apter to stay and settle us; another to stir and move our affections; there is that draweth to a marvellous, grave, and sober mediocrity; there is also that carrieth us as it were into ecstacies ; filling the mind with the heavenly joy, and for the time in a manner severing it from the body, so that although we lay altogether aside the consideration of duty, the very harmony of sounds being framed in due sort, and carried from the ear to the spiritual faculties of our souls, is, by a nature, puissance, and efficacy, greatly available to bring to a perfect temper whatsoever is there troubled: apt as well to quicken the spirits as to allay that which is too eager; sovereign against melancholy and despair; forcible to draw forth tears of devotion, if the mind be such as can yield them; able both to move and to moderate all affections. The prophet David having therefore singular knowledge, not in poetry alone, but in music also, judged them both to be things necessary for the house of God; and left behind him, for that purpose, a number of devoutly indited poems; and was further the author of adding unto poetry, melody in public prayer, both vocal and instrumental, for the raising up of men's hearts, and the sweetening of their affections towards God. By which consideration, the church of Christ doth likewise at the present day retain it as an ornament to God's service, and an help to our own devotion.”
George Herbert, a man of deep and heartfelt piety, and one of the most accomplished scholars of his age, spent most of his diversions from studies in the practice of music; and of which he could say, “that it did relieve his drooping spirits, compose his distracted thoughts, and raise his weary soul far above earth; that it gave him an earnest of the joys of heaven before he possessed them.” His partiality for music was not the result of a weak mind; for few, if any, of his contemporaries, were more noted for intellectual prowess. “His chief recreation was music; in which heavenly art he was a most excellent master. He would usually sing and play his part at appointed private music-meetings; and to justify this practice, he would often say, "religion does not banish mirth, but only moderates and sets rules to it.” The death of this saintly man was glorious; on the last day of his life, he observed to a friend,
I am sorry I have nothing to present to my merciful God but sin and misery; but the first is pardoned, and a few hours will now put a period to the latter. I shall suddenly go home, and be no more seen.” Thus the most refined devotedness to God, and an ardent attachment to the science of music, may dwell in the same heart, and help that heart in its aspirations of prayer and praise.
But it has been objected : Is there not something fanciful in the belief that devotion can be excited or increased by the aid of musical science? I apprehend not; and this opinion has been maintained by men never suspected of being wafted from truth by flights of imagination, or who bartered the meaning of words for the vibration of a chord : “Since I have known God,” says Henry Martyn, “poetry, painting, and music, have had charms for me unknown before. I have received what I suppose is a taste for them, for religion has refined my mind, and made it susceptible of impressions from the sublime and beautiful.” “ Those do well,” observes Philip Henry, “ that pray morning and evening in their families; those do better that pray and read the scriptures; but those do best of all that pray, and read, and sing psalms; and christians should covet earnestly the best gifts.” Sir Thomas More argued, that “large food and rest bring diseases, both to bodie and minde," and enjoined among other exercises for his servants, “musicke, both song and instrument,” encouraging them by his own example, "to doe honour to God's service : yea, when he was lord chancellor, sitting and singing in the quire with a surplice on his buckle.” Luther was a man of great musical talent: “I verily think,” said he, "and am not ashamed to say, that, next to divinity, no art is comparable to music. We know that music is intolerable to demons." We all know what a diligent composer of music was the son and successor of the royal psalmist. His songs were a thousand and five. True it is, he lived in the meridian of Jewish splendour, but that has no tendency to weaken the example. God was pleased, at the dedication of the temple, to signify by a marked token, his approbation of the mode by which, in all the pomp of ceremonial magnificence, and the full power of a resounding chorus, Solomon ushered in this high and holy festival.
That instrumental music may be lawfully used in the house of God, there is not the least doubt. Still it must be viewed as a measure on which the right of private judgment must be allowed. Some persons have a strong objection to the practice altogether. These objections may be founded on prejudice, or they may proceed from principle ; whether right or wrong, is a separate consideration; but in either case, I would recommend that instrumental music be introduced into the house of God, with a hand somewhat sparing, and be employed, not to supersede or put down the assembled vocal power, but simply to guide and sustain
it. That the praises of God should be sung in his house, is unquestionable ; the man who doubts it must labour under an unusual iciness of affection; and if the vocal strength of a congregation be insufficient for the cheerful and proper discharge of this agreeable duty, then I think it right to ohtain such instrumental assistance as the exigency may require; only let it not be introduced for the purpose of feeding a vitiated taste; but with solid use, and with those sober restraints which so weighty a design as an approach to the Almighty should inspire. “They which, under the pretence of the law ceremonial abrogated, require the abrogation of instrumental music, approving, nevertheless, the use of vocal melody to remain, must show some reason wherefore the one should be thought a legal ceremony, and not the other.” We shall not positively affirm that such help is absolutely necessary in the worship of God; but, certainly, there can be no good reason given why the apostle's rule should not be observed in this, as well as in other cases : “Let not him that hath it despise him that hath it not; and let not him that hath it not despise him that hath
Between these two a strange dispute arose, (Letters may rise to words, if not to blows ;) P, urged of pedigree, he was the first, And preference demanded, as but just; Whilst O cried, "O! all this proceeds from pride! Admit you are to paradise allied, Yet Iin chaos a fifth part did hold, And in formation I am not untold. In all the elements, as fire, or air, In earth, or water, where's your boasted share ; And pimping P will out of date be hurled, Whilst I am found in governing the world." Quoth P, “Your answer, like yourself, is round; And though oft multiplied, no number's found. I princes, powers, and potentates command, Whilst you ’mongst figures still for nothing stand; I lend my aid to form your parliaments, Priests, politicians, prelates, presidents, To peace, to plenty, poets, and projectors, To philomaths, physicians, and protectors. Without my aid no man needs look for hope, Or see without me emperor or pope; But you, I'll prove upon this very spot, A near relation to an idiot ; And though for ages you have been at school, It still is plain that you are half a fool.” Says O to P, “ I'll prove by what shall follow, And will submit the case to great Apollo; That by your tricks I oft have been a loser, And others' places are usurped by you, sir. How oft in phial, under F's disguise, In phonix, too, your pilfering talent lies, In which last word my very sound is lost, And by an E my face's features crost;