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And make us meet for the inheritance
[From the Charleston Observer.]
My Christian Friends:---In my last Letter I endeavored, by some examples, to illustrate the importance and necessity of having Divine authority for all our acts of worship, and of adhering rigidly to that authority. Suffer me
briefly to present another striking example, enforcing and confirming the same important principle. Immediately after God had uttered the Decalogue, in accents of thunder from the Aaming summits of Sinai, he directed Moses to provide an allar of earth on which to present their offerings. “And if,” said God, thou wilt make me an altar of stone, thou shalt not build it of hewn stone; for if thou lift up thy tool upon it, thou hast polluted it.”' To human view a splendid, polished sione altar, would have been better adapted to the worship of the Great God than one of rough
But the Divine command was that it should be made of earth, or of rough stone, and that was sufficient; human tools and polish would not have improved, but "pollu:ed it.” And if it would have been pollution for Moses, or an Israelite, without Divine permission, to lift up his tool upon God's altar to polish or improve it, what is it to solift up a 100\" upon God's Psalter, and essay to improve and polish exclude the book of praise entirely, as some have done, from Divine worship, in order to make room for something of man's composing? Think of these things, Christian friends, they are worthy of more than a passing thought.
In the Observer of Decernber 31st, the Editor remarks, that some of his readers have been "long anxious for the termination” of this discussion. I am sorry to hear it. I hope, gentle reader, you will not grow impatient, but lend us a little longer your impartial attention. My friend, MIr. C., has much to say yet, and so have I. It is no common topic on which we debate. It is no less than “What shall we sing in the praise of God?" On this subject, in which the honor of God and the purity of his worship are involved, we should earnestly desire to be righı; and I know of no other way, among Protestants, to arrive at a knowledge of truth and duty on disputed points, except by honest and friendly discussion.
In the heat of debate some things a little caustic or improper may be said on both sides, for the best men have sometimes spoken «unadvisedly;" but if any thing rough or severe should be found in my argument, I hope to smooth it off in the sequel, and come over your spirits soft and soothing as the balmy zephyrs.--cool and refreshing as the dews of heaven.
Let me have your attention, then, while I proceed, in my humble way, to establish the Divine authority for the exclusive use of David's Psalıns in Divine worship., In my discourse it was taken for granted, in a measure, that these Divine songs were authorized to be used exclusively under the Old Testament dispensation. But my opponent is un.willing to concede the point; he says, in No. 3, that “the contrary is most clear and undeniable,” and that we have Divine appointient against the supposed exclusive use of the Psalms of David.', It behooves us, therefore, to prove that wbich we supposed would be admitted; and let it be observed that if we can prove that the Psalms of David were to be used exclusively under the Old Testament dispensation, it will go far to establish their exclusive use under the Mosaic economy.
ilance under the New dispensation, no good reason can be assigned why the same duly should not have been confided to her under the
It surely will not be pretended that the Church in our day, rent and distracted as she is, and to some extent corrupted, at least in some of her divisions, is better qualified to prepare songs of praise for the Gospel, ihan she was in old times for the Legal dispensation. Were Watts and Wesley, Newton and Erskine, better Poets than Moses, David, Asaph, and Isaiah? Were the former better qualified to provide songs and sonnets for the Gospel Church, than the latter were to prepare Psalms, Hymns, and Spiritual Songs for the Jewish? Certainly not. If, then, God did not, and would not commit the matter of Psalmody to the “vigilant oversight of such men as we have named, nor to the Jewish Sanhedrin, but exercised a peculiar vigilance over the matter himself, and required that every song sung in His praise should be diciated by His Spirit, it is an ev. idence that the whole matter was above the ability and vigilance of the best men that have ever lived in any age, unless inspired. Under the Old dispensation the selection of Hynins was neither to be left to the "random choice of mere private opinion and judgment,” nor to the united wisdom and vigilance of tne whole Jewish nation. God required that the whole work of making and selecting should come under his own special supervision. This, then, takes it out of the hands of man, and confi les it to the all-wise God, who alone was and is equal to the work of preparing his own praise.
And now what order, what oversight did God exercise on the subject of Psalmody under the Old Testament dispensation? He inspired David and others to prepare a large collection of Hymns. He inspired Ezra, it is adınitted, long after David's day, to collect and arrange the whole into one book, as it now stands. Why? What is the object in preparing a Psalm or Hymn Book? To be employed in praise, of course. Psalns are made to be sung rather than to be read But although the Psalms of David were prepared by the Spirit to be used in praise, was the Book, especially when completed, to be used erclusively? Certainly.
lection, nor to the random choice of mere private opinion and judgment.” This “complete book” then, when provided, is to be used exclusively in the Presbyterian Church, not only by private individu. als, but also by the Churches,” or congregations; for if any one, or all of them, are allowed to select for themselves, who knows what unhappy selections some might make? Even in this day of liberality on the subject of Psalmody, there must be some exclusiveness---some limit to the use of Hymns---some book or books in the different denominations to which the people are to be confined exclusively, otherwise the Church cannot "exercise a vigilant oversight in the matter," and the people, if left to "random choices” will be likely to sing “any thing and every thing." There must, then, be exclusiveness in this matter. Apply this principle to the point in debate; and my friend will surely not object 10 this legitimate application of his own principles. God furnished his Old Testament Church with a "complete Book” of Hymns.--complete, at least, after the time of Ezra. Were his people, or were they not, confined to the use of this book? What says brother C? He says nay. What then? Why it follows, contrary to his principles, that they were left to .random choice”... each one to make his own selection, and who knows now what unhappy selections they sometimes made!... What “blank Arminianismo they sometimes sung? But perhaps, it will be said, while the Old Testament saints were not confined to the use of David's Psalms, they were not to “travel out of the record” for Psalms, they were to select such Hymas, and such only, as were to be found in the sacred writings. Where is the proof? If they were not confined to the Book prepared expressly for the purpose of praise there is certainly no "positive proof” that they were restricted to the use of the inspir. ed writings at all, but were left, as in our day, to sing "any thing and every thing."
Then upon the principle which brother C. has laid down for hiniself, the conclusion is inevitable that the Old Testament Church was confined to the use of David's Psalnis, and consequently, by his own weapons, he is overthrown.
2. We argue, in the second place, that the Church under the Old Testament dispensation was confined to the use of David's Psalms, especially after these Psalms wore compiled into a Book, from the face that the compilation was made.
Had the Psalms been scattered throughout the books of the Old Testament, instead of being collected into one Book, then it might have been fairiy inferred that the people of God were left to sing all the songs contained in the sacred writings---the songs of Moses, Deborah, Hannah, &c., as well as those composed by David, Asaph, and others, and now found in the Psalter. But infinite Wisdom in preparing a Psalm Book for His Church, thought proper to leave out the song of Moses at the Red Sea, of Deborah, of Hannah, and other songs, and who will say that it was a fault, and that God ought to have incorporated these songs with the “Sepher Tehillim," or Book of Praises? How can Mr. C. say, as he often does in substance, that the Church is as much bound to sing those Divine songs which have been left out of the Psalter, as those contained in it? If so, why were they left out? Their omission was surely not an oversight in the Deity. It was His will that they should be omitted, and no man can say with propriety that they should not, and that the Church was, and is still bound to employ them in Divine worship, notwithstanding their exclusion from that standard of praise which God himself has provided. It may be the songs of Moses, Deborals, and others, not found in the Book of Psalms, were sung in the slated worship of God previous to the compilation of that Book, but after the compilation was made, and they were omitted, it was no longer proper 10 employ them in the regular instituted service of the Temple---else where was the propriety of God's “taking order” in selecting a system of Psalmody, if, afier the selection was made, every one had a right to add to it what. ever be thought pioper, and even those very songs which Infinite Wisdom thought wise to omit?
In the Patriarchal age it was proper for heads of families to offer up their sacrifices themselves, and at any convenient place; but af. ter the Priesthood was established, and God had chosen Jerusalem as the place in which to place llis name, and establish His worship, it was not right then for any one to offer sacrifices but the Priests, and ihat only in Jerusalem). So, previous to the time of David, or before the Book of Psalms was compiled, it was proper, it may be, for God's people to use, in the regular service of the Sanctuary, those Divine songs nou now found in that book, though there is no evidence chat such was the fact. But after the selection was made, it became proper to employ those, and those only, which are contained in the collection.
Mr. C. must admit one of two things, either that the Book of Psalms was the standard of pruise for the Old Testament Church, and that the people of God were confined to it, after its compilation, or else that they had no standard, and were left to "random choice,” 10 sing any thing and every thing." He is in a dilemma, and may choose