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TO the account, given by the Author, in the following Preface, of the occasion and design of these Scripture Songs, it may not be improper to acquaint the Reader with the manner of their first publica. tion, and the reason of their present arraignment.
As to the manner in which these Songs were emitted into the world, át was at first in four different tracts. The Paraphrase on the Lamentations of Jeremiab was first published as a specimen of the whole, with an intimation to any, who had a mind, to offer their remarks thereupon. We never heard of any observations made to the Author upon it; and we are quite certain he himself made no alterations upon it after the first publication. The kindly reception it met witb, encouraged him to proceed ; and the public was next favoured with A New Version of ibe Song of Solomon, published along with his large Explicatory Poen on that book.
Some time after this he published what was intitled, Fot's Hymns; or, his Poems on several felect passages of that book. Then we were favoured with the rest of the Scripture Songs, in three parts. All these were carefully revised and prepared for the press by the Author bimself, except a few Poems which composed what was called the third part of the Scripture Songs, which were not extracted from his shorthand characters before his death; but these were carefully revised and compared with the original by his fon, the Rev. Mr. Henry Erskine of Falkirk,
We are next to align the reason of their present arraignment. Though these Poems were published at first in sundry separate tracts, and at different times, yet it is certain they were designed to compose one intire work. As we have now the whole before us, it was judged proper to arraign them in such a manner as to compote one complete Collection of Scripure Songs. To cffectuate this design, they are divided into two books: the first book contains Old Testament Songs, in fix parts; the other consists of New Tepament Songs, in three parts. All these are placed in the regular order, in which they ly in ane fcripture.
It is probable, had our Author lived some time longer, he would have enriched this collection with several other Poems, upon other parallel and celebrated pallages of feripture; for it appears he was going on with the work when providence put a period to his natural life, and translated him to sing the song of Moses and the Lamh, in the church triumphant above.
THE OCCASION AND DESIGN OF THE
as the Psalms of David are, and for the same public use, was proposed by the church of Scotland, more than an hundred years ago, and that in one of the most noted periods of her reformation; parti. cuarly by an act of the General Assembly, August 28th, 1647,This affair having never yet been accomplished to general fatisfaction, though some essays were made towards it*, it was recommended to me, however sensible of my own unfitness for it, to try my
this work. The first public recommendation was by the Aflociate Synod, Anno 1747. : and though I began it, by turning some of these Songs
I into metre, the best way I could, such as the song of Moses, Exod xy. and Deut. xxxii. the Song of Deborah and Barak, Judges v, and several others; yet, I may fay, Satan hindered me in my progress therein, and stood at my right hand to resist me, by calling templations in my way: and the holy providence of God seemed, from time to time, in vacant hours, to be putting other necessary work in my hand; which yet, I hope, (with means that others also have used) has had its own usefulness, for fencing and fortifying a number of the Lord's people against the terrible temptations, into which too many have been so much in Inared, as that, under the mask of zeal for a new religion and profesion, they cannot tell what, Satan has got his circle drawn about them, to hedge them in from coming to feed in these green paltures, wherein they have been formerly nourished : and in which strait and sinful irclosure they will, in all appearance, be detained, till God himself break the snare, and loose the prisoners; and till “ The captives of the mighty be taken away, and the prey of the terrible be delivered," Isaiah xlix. 24, 25. +
But as I have again got a little leisure, amidst the intervals of my other ministerial work, to go on in the profecution of what has been so often recommended to me; so I have yielded to the publication
This recommendation of the Asembly was given to Mr. Zacharias Boyd. He complied with the recommendation ; for we find the Afiembly 1648. ap. pointing two of their number to revile his labours: but they were never pub. lickly approven of.- About forty years after this tiiere was another attempc to Have this delign accomplished ; and lo we tind a vertion of the Scripture Songs published, Anno 1686. Supposed to be written by one Mr. Simpson: but there did not yield public fatisfaction neither.--This affair was again proposed by fome latier Allemblies; and some of the scripture songs underwent a revisiog : but none of them have as yet obtained the public lanction of the church.
+ The interruption that our Author met with in this affair, and the other necessary work that was called for at his hand, has a respect to the unhappy contest about the lawfulness of the Religious Clause of some Burgess Oath, and the writings lie published on that subje t.
of this small * part of the work in the mean-time; because this being one of the intire books of scripture by itself, and having just now made this essay upon it: the judgment of the judicious about this being once given, and remarks offered by those that please upon it, there may be the less ado, if providence bring forward all the rest, to be subjected also to the trial of those who have parts as well as piety. And, no doubt, but the rest, if the Lord will, may be forwarded with the more pleasure, if this, as a specimen, shall be acceptable.
In case this paraphrase (viz. on the Lamentations,) or any other part of the Scripture Songs, intended to be published, should come to have another edition, thele who inclinc, and have skill and judgment, are hereby allowed and desired to send, by letters, their observations to the author, if they find any real improprieties or failures, either in the frame of the poely, or fitness of the paraphrase; especially the latter of these, for he does not pretend to a genius fitted to act the sublime pret; and it may, perhaps, be no disadvantage, in composures of this kind, designed for general use, that the middle path be kept between the too flat and too soaring frain. But he will reckon himself much obliged to any skilled hands, that shall not only observe what they think needs to be amended, but also set down their own essays for correcting thereof; and, according to the gravity,' merit and importance of the observations and amendments, fo fhail he endeavour to give those that make them all the satisfaction he can in the next edition. And that any who pleale, may the more easily compare the Text' and the Pharaphrase, he has caused print them both together t. Where the decent frame of the metre allo vs not any seeming agreement with the words of the text, the learned reader is to judge especially of its agreement with the scope and intent thereof : and in this I bave not neglected to consult commentators ; only in places where they were of different minds, I was obliged to make a choice of what I thought best, and most
a consonant with the context. And when the marginal readings, or the original Hebrew text yielded any assistance, they were not neglected.
I have not, in all and every one of the Scripture Songs, studied rhyme in the first and third line of every stanza; though, in the most part of them, it is carefully observed. That all may be blessed of God, for the edification of his church and people, is the earnest desire of their servant, and yours in Christ,
The small part of the work, here alluded to by the Author, is bis Para. phrase on the Lamentations of Jeremiah, which he first published by itself, as a specimen of the whole, (with the fcriptures annexed on the margin at full lengil, and the marginal readinys at the foot of the page, that the reader mi he easily compare the vertion with the original text,) and to which this account of the occasion and design of his writing these SCRIPTURE Songs was first prefixed; but as it refpets them all, it is now made to front the whole.
+ This was done in the niist edition of the Paraphrase on the Lamentations of Jeremiah, which was deligned as a specimen.
в оок 1. Old Testament Songs; or, Songs upon several
Select Passages in the Old Testament.
PART I. Poems selected from several Passages of Scripture in
the Historical Parts of the Old Testament, viz. from the Book of Genesis to job.
INTRODUCTION. It is generally agreed, among the learned and inquisitive, that writings.
in poetry have been the first that were used in the world; that they have been co-equal with, if not even prior to the invention or usage of letters: nay, that in several nations poetical compositions actually preceded the
very invention or usage of letters. And in such venerarion was this way of writing held among the antients, that their poets were called vates, Prophets; and their muses were deified. But, which is still more certain and considerable, the most antient composia tion that we meet with in the facred volume itself, is the Song of Moses at the Red Sea, recorded, Exod. xv. 1,--22. * which we find before the very first mention of writing ; for that occurs not till Exod. xvii. 14. when the Lord injoins Moses to write a memorial
of the war with Amalek, Many sacred Songs are to be met with in the Old Testament, scattered
both in the historical and prophetical books, penned upon particular and remarkable occasions ; which, in the opinion of very competent judges, have in them as true and noble strains of poetry and picture, as are to be met with in any other language whatsoever, in spite of all the disadvantage from trarNation into fo different tongues, and common prose; nay, are nobler examples of the true sublime stile of poetry than any can be found in the Pagan writers: the images are so strong, lively, and proper; the thoughts so grand, elevated, and profound; the exprcílions so lofty, magnificent, and divine; and the figures so admirable, bold, and moving, that the wonderful
manner of these writings is quite inimitable. Some other very important and highly interesting pallages of fcripture,
very apposite for the matter of a song, are also here versificd, though not so in the original. And although the historical parts of Scripture afford us the smallest number cither of these, or poetical passages, yet the following Songs are selected therefrom.
* This Song is the most antient and most lubline piece of poetry in the world: the images are noble and lively; the arraignment of its ideas is proper and beautiful; the ftile, lofty and magnificent ; and the Itrain of piety, which breathes through the whole, is evangelical.
SON G I. Tbe first Six Days Work; or, the first Chapter of
Genesis compendized. *
"HE first day at Jehovah's word,
Which brought from nothing all, Did heav'n, and earth, and light afford,
To form the spacious ball
A large expanded sky,
And bear the clouds on high.
Ere fun and rain were seen;
To paint her face with green.
Within their circling spheres,
And mark out months and years. The fifth, made finny tribes to move,
And cut the floods beneath;
And wing their airy path.
And form the grazing herb:
His Maker great preferr’d.
Thus fair at first he stood,
That all was very good.
Was fain'd, the change was fad! Of all the fix days work of God,
The best was very bad !]
* The Reader, if he pleases, may see this tranfaâion in another kind of poefy, p. 259.251.