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P R E F A C E.
HILE we sing the Praises of our
God in his Church, we are emW ployed in that Part of Worship
which of all others is the nearest v akin to Heaven; and it is pity
that this of all others, should be performed the worst upon Earth. The Gospel brings us nearer to the heavenly State than all the former Dispensations of God amongst Men: And in these last Days of the Gospel we are brought almost within sight of the Kingdom of our LORD; yet we are very much unacquainted with the Songs of the New Jerusalemn, and unpractised in the Work of Praise. Po see the dull Indifference, the negligent and the thoughtless Air, that fits upon the Faces of a whole Åffem bly, while the Psalm is on their Lips, might tempt even a charitable Observer to fulpeet the Fervency of inward Religion'; and it'is much to be feared, that the Minds of most of the Wor shippers are absent or unconcerned, Peihaps the Modes of Preaching in the best Churches, fill want some Degrees of Reformation ; nor are the Methods of Prayer so perfe&t, as to stand in
, iv P R E. F A' CEZ need of no Correction or Improvement: But of all our Religious Solemnities, Psalmody is the most unhappily managed: That very Action which should elevate us to the most delightful and divine Sensations, doth not only
flatten our Devotion, but too often awakes our Regrét; and touches all the Springs of Uneasiness within us.
I have been long convinced, that one great Occasion of this Evil arises from the Matter and Words to which we confine all'our Songs. Some of them are almost opposite to the Spirit of the Gospel : Many of them foreign to the State of
the New Testament, and widely different from ? the present Circumstances of Christians. Hence it comes to pass, that when spiritual Affectionis are excited within us, and our Souls are raised a little above this Earth in the Beginning of a Pfalm, we are checked on a sudden in our At cent toward Heaven, by some Expressions that are most suitable to the Days of Carnal Ordinances, and fit only to be sung in the Worldly Sanétuary. When we are just entering into an Evangelic Frame, by some of the Glories of the Goffel presented in the brightest Figures of Juđailm, yet the very next Line perhaps which the Clerk parcels out unto us, hath komething in it' so ex? tremely Jewish and cloudy, that it darkens our Sight of God the SAVIOUR. Thus, by keeping too clofe to David in the House of God, the Vail of Moses is throwri overour Hearts. While we are kindling into divine Love by the Medi: tations of the Loving Kindnefs of God, and the Mul
titude of his tender Mercies, within a fow. Verses, some dreadful Curse against Men is proposed to qur Lips; that God would add Iniquity unto their Iniquity, nor let them come into his Righiquiefs, but, blue them out of the Book of the Living Plalm lxix. 26. 28. which is so contrary, to the New.Conmandment of lowing our Enemies; and even under. the Old Testament is best accounted, fory by referring it to the Spirit of, Prophetic: Vengeance. Some Sentences of the Psalmiit, that are exprck five of the Temper of our own Hearts and thic Circumftances of our Lives, may compote.pun Spirits to Seriousness, and allure us to sweet. Retirement within ourselves, but we meet willx. a following Line, which fo peculiarly, bedawgs but to one A&tion or Hour of the Life of Dayid, or of Afaph, that breaks off pur Song in the Midft; and our Consciences are affrighted, left; we fhould speakļa, Falugod unta Gon: Thus the Powers of our Souls are shocked on a fud; den, and our Spirits ruffled, before we have
Time to refle& that this may be fung only as it! History;of ancient; Saints; and perhaps in fome Instances, that Salvo, is hardly sufficient neither: Besides, it, almost always poils, the Deyouion, by breaking the uniform 1hxead of it; For while our lips and per. Hearts sur,!11: fweetly together, applying the Wards to guri own Cafe, there is something of divine Delight in it: but at once, we are forced to turn off the Application abruptly, and our Lips fpeak no-,
thing but the Heart of David. Thus our own Hearts are as it were forbid the Pursuit of the Song, and then the Harmony and the Worship grow dull of mere Neceflity.
Many Ministers, and many private Chriftians, have long groaned under this Inconvenience, and havé wished, rather than attempted a Reformation : At their importunate and repeated Requests, I have for some Years paft devoted many Hours of Leisure to this Service. Far be it from my Thoughts to lay aside the Book of Psalms in public Worship; few can pretend to great a Value for them as myself: It is the most noble, most devotional and divine Collection of Poesy; and nothing can be supposed more proper to raise a pious foul to Heaven, than somie Parts of that Book ; never was a piece of Experimental Divinity fo nobly written, and fo justly · reverenced and admired: But it must be acknowledged ill, that there are a thousand Lines in it which were not made for a Church in our Days to assume as its own : There are also many Deficiencies of Light and Glory, which our Lord Jesus and his Apostles have fupplied in the Writings of the New Teftament: And with this Advantage I have composed these SPIRITUAL SONGS, which are now presented to the world. Nor is the Attempt vainglorious or presuming; for in respect of clear Evangelical Knowledge, The least in the Kingdom of Heaven is greater than all the Jewish-prephers; Maji. xi. ff.
NOW let me give a short Account of the
following Compolurcs. The greatest Part of them are suited to the neral State of the Gospel, and the most common Affairs of Christians: I hope there will be very few found but what may properly be used in a religious Affembly, and not one of them but may well be adapted to some Seasons either of private or public Worship. The mof frequent Tempers and Changes of our Spirit, and Con. ditions of our Life, are here, copied, and the Breathings of our Picty expressed according to the Variety of our Passions, our Love, our fear, our Hope, our Desire, our Sorrow, our Wonder and our Joy, as they are refined into Devotion, and Aēt under the Influence and Conduct of the blefied Spirit; all'conversing with Gom the Father by the ruw and living Way of accels to the Throne, even the Person and the Mediation of our Lord Jesus Christ. To Him alfo, even to the Lamb that was flain and now lives, I have addressed many a Song; for thus doth the Holy Scriptung intruct and teach us to worship, in the various fhort Patterns of Christian Plalmody described in the Revulation. I have avoided the more obscure and controverted Points of Chriltianity, that we might all obey the Dircētion of the Word of God, and fing his Praises with Understanding, Palm xlvii. 7. The Contentions and distinguishing Words of Sects and Parties are fecluded, that whole Assemblies might aslift