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What can secure such a reward, or produce such an effect as these hymns? Or when, sung in the sacred choir, they took deep hold of the dissipated, and enveloped him in thick clouds of amazement-when, under the gloomy dome, accompanied by the deep tones of the bell, and the penetrating notes of the organ, they announced the judgment of God upon the oppressor, or the power of the Judge to the secret criminal-when they united the high and the low, and brought them together upon their knees, and impressed eternity upon their souls-what philosophy, what trifling songs of merriment or folly have produced such effects, or ever can produce them? I would not deny that even the language of the monks in the middle ages had much that was affecting of this kind. I have seen elegies and hymns in the miserable dialect of these monks, that I really knew not how to translate. They possess something so solemn, so devotional, or so gloomy and tenderly pensive, as to penetrate directly to the heart. Scarcely can a man be found whose heart has not been affected by the moving tones of the hymn of Prudentius-Jam moesta quiesa, &c., or penetrated with horror at the death song-Dies iræ, &c., and whom many other hymns of various character, as-Veni redemptor gentium-Vexilla regis prodeunt-Salvete flores Martyrum-Pange lingua gloriosi, &c. have not transported each into its peculiar spirit and tone, and subdued with all its ecclesiastical peculiarities into submissive acquiescence. In one we hear only the voice of the suppliant, another admits the accompaniment of the harp; in others the trumpet resounds, or the deeper organ with its thousand tones."
The ancient Hymnology is different from the modern in being more exclusively devotional. Their composers seem never to have forgotten that God was the grand object of worship, and that their praises, as well as their prayers, could only be appropriate when directly addressed to him. The primitive Church acknowledged no sacred songs but those sung to the praise of God, the glory of his perfections, the
kindness of his condescension, the goodness of his Providential care, the work of Redemption-the glories and works of the Redeemer, the influences of the Holy Spirit, and the faith and hopes of the pious. Their psalmody, in so far as it was composed of the Biblical psalms, corresponded of course substantially with ours; but their hymns were made more directly the expression of their feelings of reverence, gratitude and devotion. Hence the hymn was always deemed the most solemn act of worship. It was not the voice of an individual confessing his sins and praying for pardon, or giving thanks for mercies enjoyed; it was not the language of a minister standing in the holy place, and offering prayers and thanksgivings in the name of the Church; but it was the Church itself uttering in sympho nious concert the deep toned expressions of gratitude, or the ardent aspirations of prayer, awakening and expressing the strongest emotions, and the holiest affections of which the human mind is capable. It was to them, what it always ought to be, as an echo from the world of glorified spirits, and a prelibation of their glorious work-a stammering, a beginning of the "new song before the throne," in which they anticipated spending a blissful eternity. Gregory Nazianzen, one of the earliest and best of the Grecian Hymnologists, expresses his views of the nature of a hymn in these
Επαινος ἐστὶν οὖν τι τῶν ἐμῶν φράσαι,
It is praise to utter my own emotions,
And thanksgiving is reverent praise to God, And the hymn, I consider, melodious thanksgiving. Chrysostom exhibits the same exalted view of the character of the genuine hymn : οἱ ψαλμοὶ πάντα ἔχουσιν, οἱ δὲ ὕμνοι πάλιν οὐδὲν ἀνθρώπινον. "The psalms embrace all subjects, but the hymns on the contrary none merely human." How differ
ent the character of many admired pieces, which have found a place in our modern hymn-books; in which there is nothing but what is human, mere addresses to men, to saints, to sinners, exhortations to penitence, faith, or good works, without an intimation adapted to elevate the thoughts to higher and holier objects, to God, to heaven. While the pagan hymns were addressed to their imaginary deities, "we," says Origen,* "only sing hymns to him who is called God over all, and his only begotten Son, the Word and God; and we celebrate the praise (Suvoμev) of God and his only Begotten, even as do the sun, and moon, and stars, and all the heavenly host; for all these being a divine chorus, with the righteous among men, sing praises to God over all, and his only begotten Son." "And finally," says another ancient writer," who does not know, that the Scriptures represent. Christ as God and man; and all the psalms and songs composed by believing brethren from the beginning, celebrate with divine honours (ὑμνοῦσι θεολογοῦντες) Christ the Word of God." Thus were the primitive hymns enriched with the treasures of doctrinal truth; and the faith and piety of the worshippers nourished by them into all that vigour and elevation which enabled them to endure hardness as good soldiers of Jesus Christ, to stem the torrent of an opposing world, and scal their testimony to the truth of God with their blood and their lives. May the same spirit fill the hearts of future composers, and the same measure of faith and devotion animate the bosoms of all who sing the songs of Zion.
* Contra Celsum Lib. VIII. c. 67.
† Quoted in Euseb. Hist. Eccl. Lib. V. c. 28. The word becλyouv
as used by the primitive Christians in reference to Christ always means reckoning, or celebrating as Divine, as God. Hence also sohoyia was used for the doctrine of the divinity of Christ; and Gregory Narzianzen was honoured with the title of ó sokóyos for his zeal and fidelity in maintaining this doctrine,
EXAMINATION OF THE REVIEW OF THE
AMERICAN EDUCATION SOCIETY.
TO THE EDITORS OF THE BIBLICAL REPERTORY;
MESSRS. EDITORS,-IN the third number of the new series of your Work, dated July, 1829, I have met with a piece, on the General Assembly's Board of Education, and the American Education Society, which has deeply interested my feelings. Whoever the writer of that piece may be, I take the liberty to tender him my most sincere and hearty thanks for the very valuable considerations which he has suggested, at the commencement of his Strictures, respecting the present aspect of the moral and religious world, and the duties and obligations of Christians which result from it. I do most entirely concur with all his remarks, respecting the past failure of the churches to perform their duty in regard to spreading the knowledge of the Gospel abroad; and in regard to their error in seeking, at any time, to sustain themselves by leaning on the arm of civil power. For one, I rejoice that God has taught them so instructive lessons on this subject; for we may now venture to hope, in this country at least, that she will not again seek for help from a quarter which will never afford it; and which, if at any time it condescends to put on the appearance of affording it, exacts more as a return for its favours, than conscience can allow, or the interests of religion permit without injury.
The picture of the religious wants of our country; the calls for pastoral labours, from thousands of places that are destitute of the word of life; the interest which Christians are taking in this subject; the importance of immediately furnishing our new settlements with faithful spiritual guides; the necessity of having these well instructed and disciplined for their great work; and the imperious duty of all Christians, who are praying the Lord of the harvest to
send forth more laborers, to be active in furnishing all the means of training up such laborers; are drawn, described, and urged in a manner which satisfies the most ardent feelings and wishes of my heart. I fully concur with the writer, also, in the directions which he gives, as to the manner in which our spiritual wants are to be supplied. It is true that our first duty is, to raise our humble and earnest cries to the Great Lord of the harvest, that he would multiply the number of laborers; and equally true, that the Christian church is under the highest obligations, while she prays for this, to do all in her power to promote it, by taking pious and indigent youth under her care, and providing for their education in an adequate manner.
With the writer I do also sympathize most entirely, on the subject of beneficed livings in the church. If a graceless ministry is to be raised up; if the church is to be thronged with aspirants after her favours, whose hearts are rankling with enmity at the strictness of her principles, and filled to overflowing with insatiable desires after worldly and sensual pleasures; then let her provide livings which will afford the means of ease and luxury. She will thus hold up a premium to men of secular views who are desirous of enjoying these; and will never fail to have at least as many ministers, as she has benefices to bestow upon them.
In view of the deadly evil which such a course has occasioned in other countries, it seems to be the plain duty of all sincere Christians in ours, to pray that the clergy may always continue to have very moderate incomes; to see to it that they never can become rich; at least never become so, by means of what the church bestows upon them in the way of salary. In respect to the usefulness of ministers of the Gospel, I can truly say, that their poverty appears to be great matter of congratulation. None but the most prejudiced and bigoted opposers of religion can now accuse them of selfish and pecuniary views, in choosing the ministry for a profession. There is scarcely a salary in this country, at least among the Presbyterian and Congregational churches, which could be the object of ambition to any man of a worldly spirit, and of talents above mediocrity.
It would give me much pleasure if I could proceed through the whole piece, on which I have commenced making remarks, and find nothing which I could not sincerely