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“ These are they which came out of great tribulation, and
This is simply a book of hymns for private use. They are chosen from many sources; are of many countries; and were written, some of them, centuries ago. Perhaps I cannot better tell what the book really is, than by a title which I once thought of giving it-Hymns of and for the Church Militant. The pages will, I think, prove such description true. They are not fuller of trial than of consolation.
I wished to bring together all the really fine hymns, and none others; but I found that I must admit a little class of general favourites, sp long known and loved that they are beyond criticism fíke-the faces of old friends.
Of many a hymn I wish I could ferrow the history—80 sure do I feel that adnae special.citeumstances called it forth; and every hỉnt that I have found makes me wish to know more. Thus the hymn.phpage 218, was four treasured up in a chest in some poor cottage in England, —that on page 615 is a French hymn, written in Paris during the cholera summer of 1832; and who can read “The Battle Song of Gustavus Adolphus,” (p. 253) and not feel stirred to know that it was sung by his army before every battle? While many another is the war-cry of unknown combatants, in unseen strife. The old leaf whereon I found " The Saviour's Merit,” (p. 351,) was so worn through with use, though the rest of the book was perfect, that some few words had to be supplied. To me, the hymns have been like a vision of the “great cloud of witnesses."
It is perhaps well that I cannot put in words all the pleasure this hymn-work has given me, nor just what I think of its results,—I fear the gentlest charity would call me at least eccentric. But I may tell (since I am but usher to the book) I may tell some of its titles to favour, and some of the grand truths which its pages collectively teach.
It has brought most vividly before my eyes, some of those Bible facts which before I knew rather by faith. For these are not assembly hymns, nor paraphrases, nor hymns written to order,—they are the living words of deep Christian experience.
And they tell that the Church is one. In prose, one denomination will war with another,—war, and striveas some of the disciples did—for a place above the rest. The Church Militant is to outward eyes, often a Church divided against itself — every banner attacking every other, forgetful that the great standard of the Prince of Peace floats over all.
Yet this is but a difference of head-look here at their hearts. Read Luther and some old Catholic monk, side by side,-read Wesley, and all he ever opposed, or who ever opposed him. They fight still, but it is with themselves, with sin, with unbelief. They work out that other word—“through much tribulation.” O friends whether christian or unchristian-see what a hidden war doth rage in the midst of the Church; and find kinder cause than hypocrisy, for a ruffled temper and an unsteady walk! Even Christian gave way a little, when “Apollyon wounded him in his head, his hand, and foot."
The Church are one here also—they suffer in mind, in
body, in estate; with sometimes no sign of life but this —they would lie in the Slough of Despond for ever, rather than climb out on any side but that which is towards the Celestial City.
“For the desire a better country, even an heavenly." And herein again they are one—"as sorrowing, yet alway rejoicing," -as esteeming " the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt." With one voice they sing,
“Heavenward the waves I'll breast,
Heavenward with Christ-after him. His headship over the Church is wonderfully set forth in their songs. They ever say with the old martyr—"None but Christ!" All eyes are looking unto Jesus, and waiting for him ; and while one says of the loss of all things
“Pass away, earthly joy,
another answers that without him all things are worth nought,
" What have I in this barren land?
“One Lord, one faith, one baptism”—the building of their faith may cover more or less ground, but its corner-stone is the same.
I have read with great edification the prefaces of sundry collectors, who say, that wherever it seemed desirable to alter a hymn, the thing was done without the slightest hesitation !" For me, I have tried to give the author's own words, and all of them. There is always a fresh beauty in the free growth of a fine thing (even though it be a little unruly) which no strange hand can