Page images
PDF
EPUB

who can really recall his attered words ? No doubt, too, this exhortation contains a warning against remorseless severity—even to proven guilt.

These two laws have an important bearing upon the duty of reproof, especially as between Christian and Christian. They do not abrogate it; rather do they enjoin us to speak “the truth in love." They show the spirit in which rebuke should be administered; they indicate that the fault should be told first of all to him upon whom it rests. Where can we read wiser and terser advice upon these subjects than Mr. Wesley has concentrated into the fifth, sixth, and seventh of his “ Twelve Rules of a Helper"?

“ Believe evil of no one, unless fully prored ; take heed how you credit it. Put the best construction you can on everything. You know the judge is always supposed to be on the prisoner's side.

“Speak evil of no one ; ...... Keep your thoughts within your own breast, till you come to the person concerned.

“Tell every one what you think wrong in him, lovingly and plainly, and as soon as may be, else it will fester in your own heart. Make all haste to cast the fire out of your bosom."

III. “Forgive.”—“It must needs be that offences come.” Unintentionally, or of set purpose, men may wound our feelings, damage our interests, injure our persons. How are we to treat personal affronts ? The answer is short and simple : forgive them. The measure and model of our forgiveness of our fellows is God's forgiveness of ourselves. That we are ourselves forgiven is also the basis of the obligation. Why should I forego my just retaliation upon him who has done me wrong? Is it not according to the constitution of my nature that I should take pleasure in revenge? The reply is, not as certain moral philosophers argue, that, apart from the fact that we are sinful creatures, resentment of injustice is, in every case, wrong in itself. The fact that I am commanded to forgive shows that I forego a right. Men do “ trespass against us." We forgive, because it is godlike to forgive the penitent, and we need, and have received, forgiveness. And our forgiveness must be like God's, free, uphesitating, and without after-thought. But as the Divine Being demands repentance as the condition of pardon, so may we. Be it observed, however, that to love our enemies, and to refrain from revenge, are not precisely the same as to forgive. Indeed, the word appears to be used in the Bible with two shades of meaning. So far as forgiveness implies restoration to friendship, and favour, and confidence, we may lawfully and Christianly insist upon repentance. But so far as it signifies the casting forth of all malice from the soul, of all desire to inflict punishment upon the offender, of all pleasure in his pain ; so far as it means that we con. tinue to love him, our neighbour, as ourselves, forgiveness in feeling and spirit ought immediately to follow upon the injury. For motive to this most godlike of all virtues, it is amply sufficient to adduce : "For if ye

forgive men their trespasses, your Heavenly Father will also forgive you : but if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”'

“ Ye shall not be judged,” with rigid justice ; "ye shall not be con. demned ;?"ye shall be forgiven.” Comment is superfluous. Understand them as literally as ye will, these are solemn promises by Him whose

word is yes and Amen. Bat, it may be objected, suppose a man kept these laws, and nevertheless had not received the Atonement. To which the instant reply is, Never can any man observe these precepts perfectly without the indwelling of the Holy Ghost. Alas ! how few Christians invariably ful6l them.

O Lord, huve mercy upon us, and write these Thy laws on our hearts, we beseech Thee !

GAMMA.

66

MR. WESLEY'S PREFACE TO THE HYMN-BOOK,

FOR THE USE OF THE PEOPLE CALLED METHODISTS," 1780. Much has been said and written respecting the preface to the HymnBook published in the year 1780, by the Rev. John Wesley; but I think not always justly, and as comparatively few persons have turned their attention to the consideration of the subject, perhaps the following particulars

may be interesting to members of the Methodist Societies and others.

In the year 1780, Mr. Wesley published, what he called, the Large Hymn-Book, entitled, “ A Collection of Hymns for the Use of the People called Methodists.” It was compiled, by John and Charles Wesley, from about forty publications then in circulation among the Societies; some of them volumes, others, tracts. He selected seven hymns from the works of Dr. Isaac Watts, and two from Dr. Henry More, which were incorporated with the work. Those from Dr. Watts are as follows: Hymn 12, commencing, “Come, ye that love the Lord," 39

"O God! our help in ages past," 40

“ Thee we adore, eternal name,” 215

“I'll praise my Maker while I've breath,” 216

Praise ye the Lord ! 'tis goud to raise," 217

“Eternal Wisdom, Thee we praise,” 307

“Eternal Power, whose high abode.” Those from Dr. Henry More are: Hymn 456, commencing, “ Father, if justly still we claim," 457

"On all the earth Thy Spirit show'r.” The original advertisement lies before me. The conditions are as

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

99

[ocr errors]

under,

“1st. This Collection will contain about five hundred pages. “2nd. It is now ready for the press, and will be published with all expedition.

" 3rd. The price is three shillings; half to be paid at the time of subscribing; the other half on the delivery of the books, sewed.

" 4th. Booksellers only, subscribing for six copies, shall have a seventh gratis."

In the preface, dated London, October 20th, 1779, Mr. Wesley says, "I beg leave to mention a thought which has been long upon my mind, and which I should long ago have inserted in the public papers, had I not been unwilling to stir up a nest of hornets. Many gentlemen have done my brother and me, though without naming us, the honour to reprint many of our hymns. Now they are perfectly welcome so to do, provided

VOL. XXII. -FIFTH SERIES.

[ocr errors]

19

they print them just as they are. But I desire, they would not attempt to mend them ; for they really are not able. None of them is able to mend either the sense or the verse. Therefore, I must beg of them one of these two favours; either to let them stand just as they are, to take them for better for worse ; or to add the true reading in the margin, or at the bottom of the page; that we may no longer be accountable either for the nonsense or for the doggerel of other men."

This I think is perfectly right. And in order to put the matter in its proper light I take the following from the preface to his “ Pocket HymnBook,” published in 1787, which fully explains the above extract from tbe preface to the 1780 edition, compiled by him. He says, “I was desired by many of our preachers to prepare and publish a small Hymn. Book, to be used in common in our Societies. This,” says he, “I promised to do, as soon as I had finished some other business, which was then on my hands. But before I could do this, a bookseller stepped in, and without my consent or knowledge, extracted such a hymn-book, chiefly from our works, and spread several editions of it throughout the kingdom.......

“ • But did not you, in a late preface, give any one leave to print your bymns that pleased ?' No: I never did: I never said, I never intended, any such thing: my words are, ' Many have...reprinted our hymns. They are perfectly welcome so to do; provided they print them just as they are !' They are welcome!' Who? Why Mr. Madan, Berridge, and those that have done it already, for the use of their several congregations. But could any one imagine I meant a bookseller? Or that a Methodist bookseller would undertake it? To take a whole book out of mine ? only adding a few shreds out of other books for form's sake! And could I mean, He was welcome to publish this among Methodists, just at the time when I had engaged to do it myself? Does not every one, unless he shuts his eyes, see, that every shilling he gains by it, he takes out of my pocket? Yet not so properly out of mine, as out of the pockets of the poor preachers ? For I lay up nothing; and I lay out no more upon myself than I did forty years ago."

These circumstances I think are a sufficient reason for Mr. Wesley's remarks in the preface to his Hymn-Book of 1780. And while incom. petent men bad altered and were altering his hymns to suit other creeds, and a Methodist bookseller was publishing them for gain, he, Mr. Wesley, was right in saying, “None of them is able to mend either the sense or the verse.”* But this expression has frequently been quoted as a sample of egotism, whereas there is nothing of the sort in it, as all impartial persons will see, when viewed from its proper standpoint.

The Rev. John Berridge, vicar of Everton, published a volume entitled, “A Collection of Divine Songs, designed for the Religious Societies of Churchmen, in the Neighbourhood of Everton, Bedfordshire. London, 1760.” In the preface to this book, he says, “ All the hymns have been revised, and many of them new made. The greatest and best part of them have been selected from the hymns of the Reverend Mr. John and

As recently in the Life of Dr. Watts, published by the Religious Tract Society.--ED.

Charles Wesley." In examining this volume, I find considerably more than one hundred of the hymns of the Wesleys shamefully mutilated by the unpardonable liberty which Mr. Berridge has taken in compiling his book: to notice all these would require a pamphlet. Besides those instanced in a former paper by the present writer, * the following extracts may be given :

METHODIST HYMN-BOOK.

BERRIDGE'S MUTILATIONS.

Hymn 1.
He speaks, and, listening to His

voice,
New life the dead receive."

“ When Jesus speaks, we know His

voice,
The dead new life receive."

“ Will cast your sins into the deep,

And wash the Blackmoor white."

“ Free grace you then shall taste and

know, And feel your sins forgiv'n ; Be fill'd with joy and peace below,

And find the worth of heav'n."

Cast all your sins into the deep,

And wash the Ethiop white."
** With me, your chief, ye then shall

know,
Shall feel your sins forgiven;
Anticipate your heaven below,
And own that love is heaven."

Hymn 9.
Ready the Father is to own
Ånd kiss His late-returning son;
Ready your loving Saviour stands,
And spreads for you His bleeding
hands."

Hymn 17.
Jesus, from whom all blessings flow,
Great Builder of Thy Church

below;
If now Thy Spirit moves my breast,
Hear, and fulfil Thine
quest!"

Hymn 55. * The solemn midnight cry,

*Ye dead, the Judge is come ; Arise, and meet Him in the sky,

And meet your instant doom!”

“ Ready the Father is to take

Sin's heavy burden from your neck;
Ready the loving Saviour stands,
To clasp you with His bleeding

hands."

" Jesus, from whom all blessings flow,

Hear us who plead with Thee in

pray'r; Great Builder of Thy Church below, Regard Thy suff'ring members

here."

[ocr errors]

re

[ocr errors]

" The solemn midnight cry,

Will quickly, quickly come! Prepare to meet Christ in the sky,

Prepare to meet your doom.”

“ The Blackmoor, too, shall change

his skin."

Hymn 139. "The Ethiop then shall change his skip."

Hymn 147. "Spring Thou up within my heart,

Rise to all eternity.”

" Spring Thou up within my heart,

Ev'ry moment water me.”

* See this Magazine for October, 1872, pp. 916-918.

Hymn 227. “ How do Thy mercies close me round! “ Thy tender mercies close me round! For ever be Thy name ador'd !

For ever be Thy name ador'd; I blush in all things to abound, And yet I blush thus to abound,

The servant is above his Lord!" To see myself above my Lord.” “ Inur'd to poverty and pain.”

“ Train’d up to poverty and pain." " But lo! a place He hath prepar'd.” “ For me a lodging is prepared."

[ocr errors]

In the next extract, as in other cases, not only are words altered, but the measure of the hymn is changed :

Hymn 373.
“ Jesu, Thy boundless love to me “ Jesus, Thy love to me,

No thought can reach, no tongue No tongue can truly tell;
declare;

O knit my heart to Thee,
O knit my thankful heart to Thee,

And in me rule and dwell; And reign without a rival there: Be Thou alone my constant flame, Thine wholly, Thine alone, I am ;

And let me live to praise Thy Be Thou alone my constant flame!

name,
"O grant that nothing in my soul “ Dwell pothing in my soul

May dwell, but Thy pure love But Thy pure love alone;
alone;

Thy love possess me whole,
O may Thy love possess me whole,

And be my joy and crown ; My joy, my treasure, and my crown: Dear Jesus, nothing may I see, Strange flames far from my heart Nor hear, nor feel, nor think, but remove;

Thee." Vyevery act, word, thought, be love."

Hymn 673. Commit thou all thy griefs

“ Conimit thou all thy griefs And ways into His hands,

And ways into God's hand; To His sure truth and tender care, He knoweth all His children's wants, Who earth and heaven com- And doth tbe world command." mands."

Hymn 729. “ Sun and moon are both confounded, “ Sun and moon will be confounded, Darken'd into endless night,

Darken'd into endless night, When, with angel-hosts surrounded, When, with angel-bapds surrounded, In His Father's glory bright,

Blowing all a trumpet loud,
Beams the Saviour,

Comes the Saviour
Shines the everlasting Light."

Cloth'd with everlasting Light." In the same year, 1760, the Rev. Martin Madan published, “A Col. lection of Psalms and Hymns, Extracted from various Authors," in which he has a large number of bymns copied and altered from the Wesleys, without any acknowledgment whatever: to notice every instance of mutilation would be tedions. One case may suffice--the hymo No. 66 in the Methodist Collection, commencing, “Lo! He comes with clouds descending,” verse one, lines five and six, reads, “ Hallelujah! God appears on earth to reign!” altered by Madan, “ Hallelujah! Hallelujah!

« PreviousContinue »