« PreviousContinue »
for the same beneficial end, under both dispensations? Vocal music ceased not with the law; why should we suppose that instrumental music was abrogated with it? Surely the trumpet may still be blown upon our feast day; the singers and players on instruments may still make their voices to be heard as one, in blessing and thanking the Lord God of Israel, the redeemer of his people.
The power of music is but too well known by fatal experience, when it is misapplied, applied to cherish and call forth the evil that lies concealed in the corrupt heart of fallen man; to recommend and excite in him all the follies of levity and dissipation, of intemperance and wantonness. What are we to do in this case? Are we to renounce and disclaim music? No; let us employ music against music. If the Philistines sing a chorus in honor of their idol, let Israelites sing one louder to the glory of Jehovah. In the heathen mythology we are told, that when the Sirens warble their soft, seducing strains, to allure heedless mortals into the paths of unlawful pleasure, two different methods were made use of, to escape the snare. Some rendered themselves incapable of hearing, while others overpowered their songs by chanting divine hymns. The story is fabulous, but the moral just, and apposite to the subject in hand. For there is no doubt that the heart may be weaned from every thing base and
mean, and elevated to every thing that is excellent and praiseworthy, by sacred music. The evil spirit may still be dispossessed, and the good spirit invited and obtained, by the harp of the Son of Jesse.
BLESSED pair of Sirens, pledges of heaven's joy,
With saintly shout, and solemn jubilee,
That we on earth, with undiscording voice,
Jarred against nature's chime, and with harsh din
To their great Lord, whose love their motion swayed
In perfect diapason, whilst they stood
In first obedience, and their state of good.
Oh! may we soon again renew that song,
And keep in time with heaven, till God, ere long,
To live with him, and sing in endless morn of light!
ADVANTAGES OF PUBLIC WORSHIP.
A REGULAR attendance upon public worship and public instruction, is one of the most natural means that can be used to preserve a sense of God, and of the obligations of religion and morality on the minds of mankind. All devout affections and dispositions are cherished and strengthened by repeated acts and services; so that every act of worship, even in private, contributes to promote a devout temper of mind. Public worship is adapted to produce stronger emotions; for all our passions work more strongly in society than in solitude. When we observe the native marks and symptoms of devotion in others about us, our own devotion is heightened and prolonged. A strong passion of any kind, prevailing among multitudes, spreads itself and catches the spectators. This social devotion has a tendency to diffuse a sense of religion and religious obligations upon all, who in any way or with any view are present at it. Since, then, it is the tendency of social worship to give additional force to our devout affections, and to spread them among others, it must be admitted, that joint acknowledgments of our dependence on God, and of our subjection to his holy authority, together with joint thanksgivings for the manifold blessings we enjoy in
common, when made with solemnity and earnestness, have a natural tendency to increase and strengthen our pious dispositions, and thus habitually impress our minds with a deep sense of all moral and religious obligations.
Bnt further. As public worship is fitted to impress the minds of hundreds or thousands at once, with a lively sense of their subjection to the authority of God, and of their obligations to do his will, so it is also suited to unite men closely in love and affection to one another; and consequently has a great influence towards maintaining peace, good will, and friendship among them, and thus engaging them to a ready performance of the duties which they owe as members of society, and as standing in particular relations to one another. Nothing indeed is better adapted to refine and strengthen all social affections than social worship. The sincere worshipper of God is called, by the precepts of Christianity, to suppress in his breast all the risings of unfriendly and malevolent passions, when he approaches to God in acts of worship. If he would hope to be an acceptable worshipper of that God who is love and dwells in love, he must not only stifle all unsocial dispositions during the time of religious service, but he must resolve to suppress, and, if possible, extinguish them at all times. For our great Instructer teaches, that if we bring our gift to the altar, and