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anjine themselves whether they make conscience of performing it. By this means the daily devotions in the family might partly answer the end of homilies or instructions.
Who does not see, that the natural consequences of such an economy, constantly kept up in houses, are likely to be the promoting of fidelity in domestics, obedience in children, and drawing down the Divine blessing upon families; and, on the contrary, that a society, in which no regard is shown to the Supreme Being, is not likely to be blest with the Divine favour or protection?
That all devotions in which others are joined with the person who utters them, even in a private family, are better pre-composed than spoken extempore, seems to me very clear. There are extremely few, even among men of the best abilities, who are capable of uttering fuently, and without hesitation, tautology, or some kind of impropriety, an unstudied speech of any length. And that a speech made in public to God himself, should be ill-digested, must be owned to be very gross. For it is evident, ihat in such a case, the speaker, instead of leading along with him the devotion of his hearers, must confound and distract it. And it seems enough in any reason, that the speaker have the manner and delivery to attend to, without
his being obliged at the same time to study the matter. The supplication of a single person by himself, is, in my opinion, more properly presented in his own thoughts or words, than in those of any other; though the reading
, of books of devotion are useful helps to those whose thoughts want to be helped out.
What ean be more rational, more sublime, or more delightful, than for a dependant creature to raise his thoughts to his Creator! to fill his mind with a sense of the present Divinity ! to pour forth his soul before Him who made it? What so great an honour can an humble mortal enjoy, as to be allowed to speak to God? What exercise can the rational soul engage in, so worthy the exertion of its noblest powers and faculties, as addressing the Majesty of Heaven? How can it, in this present state, approach so near to the Author of its being, or rise to an enjoyment so much resembling the beatic vision, as by this sublime converse with the Omnipresent Deity ? To strell the thought with the infinite greatness of the Object of worship; to consider one's self as addressing that tremendous Power whose word produced the universe; to think that one is going to prostrate bis soul before Him who formed it, who is to be its judge, and has the power of disposing of it for eternity ! - What can be conceived so wonderfully awful and striking ? But to reflect, that the glorious object of worship, though infinitely exalted above the adoration of angels and archangels, is yet ready to hear, and bestow happiness upon the meanest of his rational creatures; to think that the humble petition of the sincere penitent will not be rejected ; that the poor and needy are no more beneath leis notice, or out of the reach of his goodness, than the rich and the mighty; what can be more comfortable? If God is the awful Judge of mankind, he is also the merciful Father of mankind. If his eye is too pure to behold presumptuous vice without abhorrence, and too piercing to be deceived by the most artful hypocrisy ; it is also open to look with pity upon the prostrate mourner, and his goodness ready to forgive the humble penitent what he cannot forgive himself.
Be no longer, unthinking mortal, so much thy own enemy as to exclude thyself from the highest honour thy nature is capable of. Aspire to the sublime bappiness of conversing with thy Maker. Enlarge thy narrow mind to take in the thought of Him for whom thou art made. Call forth all that is within thee to magnify and praise Him. Humble thyself to the dust, in the contemplation of his unequalled Majesty. Open the inmost recesses of thy soul to Him who gave it being. Expose to Him, who knows thy frame, thy weaknesses, and thy faults. Think not to conceal or palliate them before that Eye which is not to be deceived. Hast thou offended ? Make no delay to confess before thy Creator and thy Judge what he already knows. Though he already knows thy folly, he expects thy own confession of it, and that thou deprecate his vengeance. Though he may already have thoughts of mercy for thee, it is only on condition that thou humbly implore it, and by repentance and amendment show thyself worthy of it. Art thou weak and helpless? If thou knowest thyself, thou feelest it. Address thyself then to Him who is almighty, that his power may support thee. Art thou ignorant and short-sighted? If thou dost not think thyself so, thou art blind indeed. Apply then to Hiin, whose knowledge is infinite, that thou mayest be "wise in his wisdom. Ărt thou in want of all things? If thou thinkest otherwise, thou art wretched indeed. Have recourse then to him who is the Lord of all things, and is possessed of inexhaustible riches. If thou hast a just sense of thy own state, if thou hast proper conceptions of thy Creator and Judge, or if thou hast a soul capable of any thought worthy the dignity of a reasonable immortal nature, thou wilt make it thy greatest delight to worship and adore Him, whom to serve is the glory of the brightest seraph in the celestial regions.
A numerous assembly of people, celebrating with grateful hearts the praises of their Almighty Creator and Bountiful Benefactor, may be, for any thing we can conceive, one of the best emblems of some part of the future employment and happiness of immortal spirits which the present state can exhibit. It were well, if we could by the mere force of cool reason, so elevate our conceptions of the Divinity, as worthily to magnify him in our public assemblies. But so long as we continue the mechanical beings we are, we must be willing to use all possible helps for working ourselves up to what our imperfect faculties of themselves are not, generally speaking, equal to, or however, are not at all times in a condition for. Whoever understands human nature, knows of what consequence associations are. And it is wholly owing to the infirmities of our nature and present state, that a due regard to decency and solemnity in public worship is of such importance towards our moral improvement. Considering these things, it is with concern I must observe, upon
the manner of performing the solemn office of praising God in our public assemblies, that it very much.wants reformation. I know of no application of music to this sublime use, that is not sadly deficient, except what is composed in the manner of anthems. For as in every piece of sacred poesy, there are various and very different tastes, and strains, it is evident, that to apply the same returning set of notes to all alike is inconsistent, and not expressive of the sense and iş
spirit of the peace. The eighteenth Psalm, for example, is one of the noblest hymns in Holy Scripture. From the beginning to the fourth verse, the royal author expresses bis, or the Messiah's joy and gratitude for his deliverance from his enemies. It is evident, that the music, which is to accompany this part of the piece, ought to be bold, cheerful, and triumphant: else it will disguise and misrepresent the thoughts, instead of expressing them. The fourth and fifth verses express the Psalmist's, or Messiah's dreadful distress, by the cruelty of wicked men, or evil spirits. It is plain, that the triumphant strains of music, which suited the former part, are not at all proper to express this; but that, on the contrary, it requires a set of the most dreary and horrid sounds which music can utter. The sixth verse represents the Sacred Writer's, or Messiah's complaint in his great distress. To express this suitably, neither of the former pieces of melody is proper; but a set of melancholy and plaintive notes. The seventh, and some of the following verses, give an account of the Divine appearance in answer to the foregoing prayer, attended with carthquakes, tempests, lightnings, and all the terrors of Omnipotence. Every one of which images ought to be represented by a strain of music, properly adapted to the sense, in taste and expression. But to chaunt this whole piece, as is done at cathedral churches, or to sing it, as at parish churches, and meetings, to the same set of notes, returning through every succeeding verse, is not performing the piece so well as if the preacher were to read it to the people : for a person of a good elocution would utter it in such a manner, as at least should not disguise or misrepresent the sense, as is the effect of applying to it upsuitable or bad music, which is worse than none. But, to those who find proper sentiments excited in their minds by the more imperfect ways of performing the Divine praises, I have nothing to say to lessen the satisfaction they have. I only would show what is the most effectual and per fect way of applying music to religious purposes. And, af ter all, a proper disposition of mind is the principal thing, without which no bodily service can be acceptable to lofinite Purity.
To conclude—it is evident, that our duty to our Creator is, as above observed, the most important, and noblest part of what we ought to study and practise in order to attain the true Dignity of Human Nature. For that Infinite Being, by whom, and for whom we are, though in bis essence invisible, in his nature incomprehensible, in his perfections inconceivable, does yet present himself to all our perceptions, bodily and mental. Every object we behold, every sound we hear, every bodily substance we touch, every subject of thought, must be either himself, or the work of his power. Our senses, whenever we exert them, are employed upon some creature of Omnipotence; and when the mind abstracts itself from all the bodily operations, even then it apprehends, it sees, it feels, the sustaining, informing, and invigorating power within it. It finds itself surrounded with the immensity of Divinity, and that itself and all things are established on that universal basis of existence ; that all things are full of Deity; and that his presence is the Mind within the mind.
How amazing, then, the stupidity of numbers of the human species ! An order of beings formed with a capacity for apprehending the Creator and Governor of the universe ; for contemplating the most delightful and most striking of all subjects; for having their minds enlarged and ennobled by being habituated to the grand ideas of immensity, of wisdom, goodness, power, and glory unbounded and unlimited! Yet how do numbers of them pass through life without ever endeavouring to form any just notions of that Being, on whom they depend for their very existence! without ever thinking of any duty they may owe him, or any consequence of gaining or losing his favour! What stupendous glories, what wondrous perfections, what sublime contemplations, are lost to the gross and insensible minds of many of our species ! How is the only Being, who possesses existence in himself, overlooked by those whom he himself has brought into being ? How does He, by whom all things exist, seem to such inconsiderate minds not to exist ! How do the glories of his works, which were intended to point him out; conceal from such unthinking ninds the glorious Maker! How do such ungrateful men basely take up with the gifts, without thinking on the All-bounteous Giver! How much are those meņ