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with the multitude, owing perhaps to its metre, and association with Old Testament history; and we question, therefore, the prudence of Mr. Conder's bold attempt to recast it, especially as there is nothing in it which particularly offends the ear. We would rather have had it retained, as in the original, or omitted altogether. The alteraration of
“ When I tread the verge of Jordan,"
“ When we come to Jordan's river," will not be accepted as an improvement.
Forty-eight hymns of Doddridge's have been given ; a larger number than has perhaps been used by any previous compiler. Considerable alterations will be found in these, nor will it appear surprising that they should require it, when we recollect that they were posthumous publications, edited by that sensible but most unpoetical divine, Job Orton, and were never prepared by the writer for the public eye. Mr. Conder observes, in his preface, that they are “ so strikingly defective in point of rhyme and poetical merit, that scarcely any of them have been adopted into the collections without some alteration.” But, though faulty compositions, they are so thoroughly embued with the spirit of piety, they so 66 shine in the beauty of holiness,” that they will ever be acceptable to the christian public, and we should have been sorry, upon this account, had not Doddridge been allowed to contribute largely to our denominational hymn-book. His well known and justly admired sabbath hymn,
“ Lord of the Sabbath, hear our vows," has been polished and revised by the Editor; but we suspect that it would have been more generally satisfactory, had it been allowed to retain its original dress.
This article has already extended beyond its proper limits, but the importance and interest of the subject, its denominational character, we hope will be deemed by our readers a sufficient apology for its length. We give a perfectly honest opinion of the Congregational Hymn-book, when we say, that, though by no means a perfect performance, yet that it is the best collection of hymns we know, adapted to public and private worship. We offer, therefore, our sincere thanks to the Congregational Union for suggesting the work, and to Mr. Conder, under whose auspices it has been completed; and it must be a source of congratulation to all the parties connected with it, to know, from its rapidly extending circulation, and general adoption in our sanctuaries, that their “ labour has not been in vain in the Lord.” If we have found occasion to differ from the Editor, we have done it with considerable hesitation, fully aware that his task has been one of no ordinary difficulty. By his enlightened taste and scrupulous delicacy leading him to attempt improvements in many of the hymns he has introduced, he has laid himself open to criticism, where many would have avoided it altogether, by passing current the crude conceptions and inelegant rhymes of others, as sound and pure coin.
We must not omit to state, that this volume is enriched with many original compositions from the pens of Mr. James Montgomery, Mr. Conder, and some other writers. We have not left ourselves room to specify several of those which we regard to be highly poetical and devotional; but we should not do justice to our own convictions, were we not to declare, that Mr. Conder's hymn to the Saviour (71),
« Thou art the Everlasting Word,
The Father's only Son,” &c. deserves to be classed with the best evangelical hymns of which our language can boast. The value of these original hymns has been appreciated by several clergymen, who have applied for permission to use them in collections on which they are engaged, and which of course has been granted. This pleasing fact reminds us of the kindness of the Rev. Messrs. Bathurst and Lyte, clergymen of the Church of England, who permitted several of their original compositions to be inserted in the Congregational Hymn-book, and appropriately introduces the beautiful close of the preface to the volume before us, referring to this harmony in praise.
“ The Editor cannot close these prefatory remarks, without adverting to the pleasing demonstration which such a collection as this exhibits, of the essential and indestructible unity of the church of Christ, and of the unison of sentiment which, notwithstanding our unhappy ecclesiastical differences, characterizes the devotional creed of all denominations holding THE HEAD. It has been said, that Ridley and Hooper, who quarrelled about vestments, agreed at the stake. We live in happier times, when Protestant Christians, who differ about more important matters, can still agree in their hymns of prayer and songs of praise. The productions of Bishops Kenn and Heber, of Wesley and Toplady, of Doddridge and Hart, Cowper and Newton, Fawcett and Beddome Episcopal clergymen, Moravians, Wesleyan Methodists, Independents, and Baptists, all harmoniously combining in this metrical service,-prove, that' by one Spirit we are all baptized into one body,' and that there actually exists throughout that body, 'a communion of saints.'”
We hope that this attempt to benefit our congregations, will be met with corresponding feelings on their part, and that the spirit and the faculty of sacred song will be assiduously cultivated. It is surely not unworthy our attention, how we may legitimately render our public services more pleasing to the taste and delightful to the ear, always regarding the externals of devotion as but a means to an important end, that of “ saving some.” It was the error of the Romish Church to rest in her Gregorian chaunts and pealing litanies, as the sole end of religion : it has been, perhaps, the error of the nonconforming Protestants, to discard outward attractiveness, even as a mean. The right path doubtless lies between the two extremes-media tutissimus ibis. We are far behind some of the reformed churches on the continent in our psalmody, in the number and variety of our hymns, in the richness and melody of our tunes, and we suppose that this is partly owing to our being characteristically a prosaic and unmusical people. The German hymnology is said to possess upwards of eighty thousand compositions, whereas our largest estimate does not amount to a tenth of that number. In Switzerland, meetings for the special purpose of praise VOL. I, N. S.
are commonly held; and schools where the science of song is taught, are opened, and well attended. It is not too late for us to amend : the good that may result from an improved psalmody, is a sufficient reason why we should bestir ourselves. The Jesuit, Conzenius, used to complain that more souls were wrested from the Romish church by means of Luther's hymns, than by all his other writings.
But suitable words and delightful melodies, important subsidiaries as they are in devotional exercises, form but a vain oblation, unless the spirit of praise is imbibed-unless the audible harmony of the lip is associated with the silent, yet sweeter music of a rightly disposed mind. In both public and private worship, the “ heart of Aesh” should be sought-an enlightened mind, a tender conscience, and a morally awakened soul; then in religious duty there will be something more than all the machinery of the outward man in action; there will be movements within in accordance with the words we utter and the sentiments we express; and this will render praise what it ought to be, a channel of communication between the worshipper and God; "a ladder set upon the earth, the top of it reaching to heaven," by means of which the thoughts and affections of the individual mind, like ascending angels, will rise up to the source and centre of all true blessedness.
FOREIGN THEOLOGICAL LITERATURE.
Περί των τριών Ιερατικών της εκκλησίας βαθμών επιστολίμαϊα διατριβή,
έν ή και περί της γνησιότητος των αποστολικών κανονών υπό του πρεσβυτέρου και οικονόμου Κωνσταντίνου του έξ οικονόμων έν Ναυπλία,
K.7.1. Tompra. 1835. 1 Tim. i. 15. pp. 360. The question of church-government has begun to be agitated in those regions in which the religion of Christ was first propagated. In consequence of the circulation of the New Testament in Modern Greek; the exhibition of the genuine simplicity of apostolic worship, on the part of some English, and, upon a more extended scale, on the part of the American missionaries who are located in different parts of the Levant; and the replies which they have given to inquiries which have been put to them, not only by the laity, but also by ecclesiastics, numbers have been led to doubt the validity of many of the institutions which have been held sacred for ages : and bringing them to the test of Scripture, find that they cannot be supported by any evidence derivable from that quarter. Of these institutions the triple order of ministers has been most warmly discussed ; and so great has the danger been viewed, that was to be apprehended from the undisturbed prosecution of the inquiry, that the defence of the established order of things has been devolved upon Constantine, a presbyter of distinguished talents, to whose eloquent oration at the funeral of the late Greek Patriarch, it was once our privilege to listen. In the work, the title of which we have given above, this zealous ecclesiastic attempts to prove the apostolic origin of the three orders of Bishops, Presbyters, and Deacons, especially that of the episcopate. The authorities to which he appeals are not only the Greek Fathers, but also Tertullian, Cyprian, Jerome, and Augustine. He is obliged, however, to confess, as Jerome and others did many centuries ago, that in the N. T. the words apeoßúrepos and étiokotos are used promiscuously ; but he, nevertheless, endeavours to concentrate all his forces against those whom he terms the Presbyterians, when treating of Acts xiv. 23; xx. 17, 28; James v. 14. He is particularly anxious to establish the apostolical canons and constitutions in opposition to the Kpitikai, by whom he means those who have dared to call in question their genuineness and authority ; but condescends to derive support to his views from the practice of different churches —not excepting the Lutheran and English.
Adverting to the doctrine held by those whom he opposes, he writes thus: “It is an exotic plant: it comes originally from Luther, who, together with Calvin and Zwinglius, in their attempts to precipitate the tyrants of the Vatican, went too far, and too hastily rejected ceremonial usages, doctrines, and mysteries. From these have grown up all the multifarious heresies to be found in different parts of Europe, like the fable of the accoutred warriors that sprang from the dragon's teeth sown in the ground. Of these heretics, those who go the furthest in their hatred of bishops are the Presbyterians, of whom the kalapoi, Puritans, and áve£apTntot, Independents, are subordinate sects. They were all violently opposed to the papacy; terrible wars were the result; and they imbrued their hands in the blood of Charles I.; ó àquosópos Baoiλεύκτονος Κρομβελος υπήρχε πρεσβυτεριανός” !
We have no doubt that a reply to Constanstine is preparing, and shall not fail to notice it, if it should happen to come in our way.
The Christian's Prospect beyond the Grave : a Sermon preached at Maldon, on
Lord's Day Evening, August 6, 1837, occasioned by the lamented Death of Mr. John May. By Robert Burts. Maldon: P. H. Youngman. London:
Jackson and Walford. 8vo. This very judicious, appropriate discourse, was delivered on occasion of the decease of that venerable and most excellent man, Mr. John May, so well known and so universally respected, not only in the county of Essex, but generally throughout the eastern parts of the kingdom. The christian worth of that good man was of a high order. He was indeed a good man. It would not be inappropriate to call him, in his station and order, a great man; for he had qualities of greatness in his mind and character. His course was not eventful, and he did not come into general, conspicuous observation; and there are not, therefore, it is likely, materials for any extended biography ; but his numerous private friends will, no doubt, rejoice to possess themselves of the pleasing memorials of his last days, and of the great honour paid to his worth, at his decease and burial, by the whole town and neighbourhood in which he lived and died, furnished in this funeral discourse by his very worthy pastor, than whom no minister was ever more favoured in a faithful friend, nor was fidelity and kindness in that relation ever more appreciated by any minister, than in the close and affectionate union of Mr. Burls and Mr. May. Those instances are worthy of record and applause, in which sacred relations are sweetened and endeared by the constancy of a wise and holy friendship. Pp. 27, 28, Mr. Burls remarks, “ Many may be disposed to ask, In what manner did he close his days? How did he die? The Scriptures direct to a previous inquiry, and draw a corresponding conclusion : - Mark the perfect man, and behold the upright, for the end of that man is peace. Whether there be sensible enjoyment or not, death to such is safe and gainful. Our departed friend having lived to God, resigned himself, when laid aside in his last illness, to his holy will; and exercising faith, patience, hope, and prayer, he left this world. On saying to him, in his great weakness, We can now do nothing for you but commend you to God, who is able to do above what we can ask or think,' he replied, in his own way of speaking, I desire to be in his hands, in health and sickness, in life and death, in time and eternity. This was the prevailing state of his mind : and after being reduced, through age and sickness, to the extreme degree of animation, being present in his room, I saw him calmly and easily breathe his last. He was born November the 29th, 1760; and under the same roof which sheltered him at his birth, he died, July the 28th, 1837, in the 77th year of his age. His personal religion it is DOX pleasant to reflect upon. Called to a knowledge and love of the truth in early life, he early made a voluntary public profession; an example worthy of universal imitation. He was admitted into this church of Christ, October the 1st, 1783, now nearly fifty-four years ago, when that good man, the Rev. S. Wilmshurst, was pastor. He was chosen to the office of deacon in the year 1800, when this congregation enjoyed the valued ministry of the Rev. S. Foster : and his manner of living ye know."
If we were to express our view of the character of this excellent person, we should say, that in him a mild, calm wisdom was rendered fervent and active by a holy zeal. It did so not much seem that wisdom guided his fervour, as that fervour came in to warm and impregnate his wisdom, which was the first element of his mind. Hence his course was so uniform; he was always so self-possessed; he was so rarely mistaken; he was so blameless.
As the deacon of a christian church, he was a model. Full of kindness and respect to his pastor, watching for the peace of the church, assiduous in all the duties of his office, beloved by all, and possessing the confidence of all. Liberal according to his ability, kind to the poor, firm and kind in every duty, “he used the office of a deacon well, and purchased to himself a good degree.'
His eminence in the duties of a citizen was equally or more remarkable. Firm and ardent in his well-grounded attachment to religious and civil liberty, he acted with vigour, and even prominence, in many contested elections in the borough of which he was a burgess; yet his conduct amid these trying scenes brought no reproach on his character and profession. There were no ebullitions of temper, no participation in mean and base proceedings, nor even any apparent loss of composure and spirituality. Thus he commanded, as a Christian, the respect of the worldly-minded ; and, as a politician, that of even the most opposed to him in opinion and party. He had rare temper and firmness of mind, certainly, but the observer of his conduct in these affairs, far from concluding that a christian gentleman ought not to engage in politics, would, on the contrary, deem such Christians as he, the best qualified of all men for those difficult but necessary duties. He had his reward. He enjoyed, living and dying, the respect of all men, not least, that of his opponents. He witnessed the triumph of his principles. He lived to take his place as an alderman in the corporation of his native town, and to decline the honours of its chief magistracy. Oh that dissenting gentlemen of character, property, and worth would follow, in public duties, the example of good Mr. May!