Page images

write, and recite any other lesson. They are all respectable performers, and many of them proficients.

“ The reading of musical notation is learned even in the snow-covered huts of Iceland. In passing through the continent of Europe, the traveller finds every festi. val, whether national or religions, graced with music. Serenades from the common people, are heard every night in the streets. Music echoes from the shops, the boats, and the harvest fields. Some of the best performances of Mozart's difficult pieces are said to proceed from the privates of Prussian regiments. As a general thing, every house in Germany and Switzerland has some musical instrument.

“I once stopped at a German settlement of no great size, where I was invited to hear some music at the house of a mechanic. Here a small company performed, vocally and instrumentally, almost the whole of Haydn's Creation. The master of the house, a blacksmith, more than sixty years of age, took the first violin ; his aged wife in spectacles, gave us a vocal part: the eldest son, a joiner, from a neighboring village, sat down at a Leipsic piano forte, on which, after tuning it, he executed with great skill the whole accompaniment: several young men and women filled the remainder of the score. A boy, five years of age, was pointed out to me as beginning to play on the violin. Upon inquiry, I found there was not a house in that town without a piano-forte, or some keyed instrument. The evening's entertainment has of. ten occurred to me as illustrating the happy influence of music upón domestic life and social habits. If you would have young people love home, induce them to cultivate music. It will beguile many a winter night, which might otherwise be worse than wasted. Few pleasures are cheaper, or more innocent, or more within the home cir. cle.--- Almost all foreigners are proficients. A few years ago, a party of emigrants encamped for the night on a small eminence, about half a mile from my residence. About sunset we were surprised by the most delightful sounds wafted across the valley by those sojourners. It appeared to be their evening hymn, accompanied with horns. The effect was indescribable.

“ Parents ought to place a proper value on music, both as a pleasure and a moral improvement. Their boy may whistle, or sing, dance, or twang the Jew's barp, if he

but they no more think that music is a thing demanding their attention, countenance, or supervision,

choose ;

than that they should cultivate the hoop, the ball, or skating."

When a gentleman wishes to have his daughter taught to play on the piano-forte, the question in these days is not, “ Has the child an ear for music ?' but, if the father can afford the instrument and the tuition, her music teacher will engage to take care of the rest, and to make her, if not a proficient, at least such a performer as will be the delight of her parents. This could not be so if the power of being a musician must always be innate.

The Puritans of New England, and the Moravians of Pennslyvania, almost without exception, were accustomed to have singing at their family devotions, in which all the members of the family soon learned to take a part. So with the Scotch Covenanters ; they were called “ a psalm-singing generation," in fact, because all, old and young, were accustomed to sing.

It has been found at the present day, that good teachers of music can go into our common schools, and take children as they rise, aud teach them all to sing. There will be, to be sure, cases of organic defect, just as there are cases in which the eye has been known to mistake red for green, in which singing cannot be taught. These are exceptions ; but were the seasons of childhood faithfully improved, few would be pronounced unqualified by nature to sing the songs of Zion. Childhood, however, is the right time to form right habits. Find the family where the parents are singers, and the children are almost universally able to sing from imitation.

In the few cases in which the attempt has been made to teach a school to sing, and it has failed, I would suggest whether it has not been because the music was not sufficiently simple. A child may be taught even mathe matics, but you must begin with wbat is very simple. The Methodists seldom fail to get all their children to sing their simple music, The following is from the pen of Wesley

About 3 o'clock in the afternoon of the Lord's day, I met between nine hundred and a thousand of the children belonging to our Sunday-schools in Bolton. I never saw such a sight before. They were

all exactly clean, as well as plain in their apparel. All were serious and well-behaved; many, both boys and girls, had as beautiful faces as I believe England or Europe can afford. When they all sung together, and none of them out of tune, the melody was beyond that of any theatre. And, what is best of all, many of them truly

fear God, and some rejoice in his salvation. These are a pattern to all the town. And this I must avow, there is not such a set of singers iu any of the Methodist congregations in the three kingdoms as iu this town. There cannot be; for we have near a hundred such trebles, boys and girls, selected out of our Sunday-schools accurately taught, as are not to be found together in any chapel, cathedral, or music room within the four seas.

[blocks in formation]

Whene'er thou meet'st a human form
Less favoured than thine own,
Remember 'tis thy neighbour worm,
Thy brother, or thy son.
Ohi pass not, pass not heedless by;
Perhaps thou canst redeem
The breaking heart from misery:
Go, share thy lot with him.

[ocr errors]

ON THE USE OF CREEDS. To Bible Christians of every Denomination. Religion implies belief in one or more doctrines ; these compose a creed : every religious society therefore has a creed.

A creed may be either implied or expressed, and may consist of one or more articles : some sects confine their creed to one, or a few prime articles; others endeavour to embrace them all.

When a society first agree to form themselves into a congregation, and are all of one mind, it is natural for them to wish to continue so, and not to encourage any others to join them who hold discordant sentiments. They may think that they may carry on their religious exercises with greater satisfaction than if they were mingled with those who dissent from them.

This does not hold in small societies only-it applies to the most numerous churches : while they continue all of one mind, they may say' to any body of people that wishes to join them, we are content as we are; we think that we worship with more solemnity and devotion; celebrate the communion with more gratitude to Christ, and brotherly love to one another; give our young people a more effective and consistent education, and perform our domestic duties and devotions with more unanimity than we could do with an intermixture of persons who did not relish our mode of thinking and acting.”

If, in process of time, any portion of the members should change their opinions, and conscientiously differ from the creed, the rest of the brethren might say to them, like the Father of the faithful,-"Let there be no strife among us, for we are brethren ; go you to the right, and we will go to the left; or, if you prefer the left, we will go to the right." All this appears to be natural and reasonable, provided there be no infringement of Christian liberty--no privation of privileges-or any reproach or contempt. In this case the parties may form sister churches, and dwell together in sisterly affection. Such proceedings actually took place in the Synod of Ulster on two occasions, with an interval of 100 years. These separations were both preceded by violent disputes, and much animosity, which were carried on by men of strong feelings and passions, and

overweening confidence and zeal ; yet, on the part of the body principally concerned, the separation was conducted with moderation and amity. The Presbytery of Antrim withdrew with reluctance, from a deep sense of the guilt of schism ; but, when separated, the two bodies continued to partake of the same fund, practise the same discipline and church government, and join in lay and ministerial communion. The same moderation

prevailed on the separation of the Remonstrants; they continued on the same footing as the Presbytery of Antrim did. The wish for separation was mutual; and the Synod engaged to reimburse the Remonstrant congregations for money that they had contributed before their withdrawal. The majority were actuated by a desire of peace, and the minority by the dictates of conscience. Notwithstanding the bitter controversies which so often take place between rival churches, and their bigoted partizans, Christendom is in a more peaceable and amicable state than is generally thought.

If we may suppose that Christ were looking down upon the earth, he would see national churches, and other great bodies of his people, engaged in violent and ungodly contentions ; but beneath this tronbled and clouded atmosphere, he might behold the earth covered with societies of his disciples, living in perfect unity each within itself; he might contemplate these on the day consecrated to himself, offering prayers to his Father in his name, hearkening to the reading and exposition of his Gospel

, with exhortations to faith and repentance, love to God, and love to man, and concluding with the celebration of the communion in grateful commemoration of his merits and sufferings; he would then see them occupying themselves in the instruction of the young, and distributing their alms to the poor ; finally, he would see them retiring to their own homes to spend the remainder of the day in religious exercises, or in domestic society.

This view of the Christian church is highly gratifying, and I should hope true in the main. There are, no doubt, many blemishes on the face of the church, on which our gracious Redeemer may look with more indulgence and complacency than we do ourselves. Men sometimes dwell on these points with aggravated severity; and many even convert them into objections to Christianity itself, while many of these opinions and re

« PreviousContinue »