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will be predominant. But opportunity must be found for all in the circle of our services. There is a tendency to single out one, or a few, for exclusive manifestation. Some worship wholly towards love and joy. Many lay so much stress on the feelings connected with sin that joyful tones. are smothered. It is a characteristic of some churches to make most of adoration and praise. There can be no question but the feelings which gather about the cross must give form and color to the whole. Everything is to work up towards Calvary, and everything to flow off from Calvary. But the strong feelings we are to pour forth in view of the body broken and the blood shed for our sins are not feelings of sadness, but of inexpressible love and trust and joy. With such emotions demanding utterance, in what ways does the Holy Spirit indicate that we shall express them?
VI. FORMS APPROPRIATE TO EXPRESS CHRISTIAN FEELINGS IN WORSHIP.
The external forms of Christian worship now seem to be included in four particulars: (1) prayer and praise in vocal and musical expression; (2) the presentation of thankofferings; (3) reading and meditating upon the word of God, and preaching; (4) the celebration of the sacraments of baptism and the Lord's supper.
1. Prayer has a prominence in Christian worship it never had before. We use the word not simply to signify suppli cation, which is only a small part of prayer, but as including adoration and homage and ascriptions of praise, in which worship distinctively consists. Praise is a part of prayer, and prayer is a part of praise. Indeed, everything in divine service may be considered as only modifications and various expressions of prayer and praise.
If it were possible, all might join aloud in public prayer. But it is utterly impracticable and it is not necessary. Bowing the head, assuming a reverent posture, fixing the thoughts on God, responding in heart to the petitions and praises of the minister, is as truly joining in the prayer as
though we gave audible utterance. The closing of the eyes may be as true prayer as the opening of the lips. There is this significance in the position we assume; not merely do we shut out the world and show obeisance to God, but by our posture we express our participation in what is done in our behalf. If we stand up to praise the Lord, and make the psalm our own, following the words and adopting the music as the expression of our emotions, we sing, though our voices are not heard. God hears our hearts singing.
For the expression of adoration and praise, and the love and joyfulness of Christian worship, singing and music are needed in the largest measure. Music was a chief constituent in the worship of the Jewish church, and it is more important now. It is capable of filling, and is destined to fill, a nobler place and to make our pure and simple services more impressive and inspiring than the most gorgeous rites of baptized heathenism.
Much has been said, of late, of the participation of the congregation in the service of song; and it cannot be too earnestly insisted upon. But it must not be supposed that in urging congregational singing we lay less stress on the part which belongs to music, as such, in our devotions. Lest it should be thought, by making such a large collection of psalms, that only singing was to be used in worship, it was not enough that directions to praise God with the harp and and various instruments were distributed through the Psalter, but the Holy Spirit closed the collection with the resonant command: "Praise God with the sound of the trumpet, with the psaltery and harp, with stringed instruments and organs; praise him upon the loud cymbals, upon the high-sounding cymbals; let everything that hath breath [with every instrument capable of music] praise the Lord."
The spontaneous utterance of deep emotion is not in speech or in song, but in simple sound. Articulate language is not capable of expressing the utmost solemnity of feeling.
There are delicate shades of emotion which can only be breathed out in sighs and interpreted by music. And yet, instead of recognizing, as the scriptures do, that the highest praise cannot be uttered by the voice, some hesitate about making instruments even adjuncts to singing. That grand Christian instrument, the organ, is employed rather to aid our voices and produce emotions suitable for worship, than to give expression to them, as the only channel capable of pouring out in full volume the praises of the congregation.
Now in the service arranged by special divine direction music held a prominent part. The psalms were probably never sung by voices alone. Suitable persons were trained to "play skilfully and make a loud noise." Not a few psalms were composed music and words together, the music, it would seem, being written first, and the words adapted to it. Directions are given in the titles of many psalms for the instrumentation by which they were to be performed. And the notes which David composed were as truly inspired as the verses. He took his harp and struck off the sounds which expressed his spiritual emotions. And only when those sounds were again awakened was the psalm truly repeated. David, like Beethoven, could not express the spiritual thoughts within him by words. Music was to both of them the natural language.
In fact, to look at the philosophy of the matter, language is only an inferior sort of music. Words are sounds articulated; sounds with suitable joints and hinges, to turn this way and that. Musical notation is a universal alphabet. Letters are a kind of musical signs, signs what sounds to make; and speaking is simply making sounds. The value and meaning and expressiveness is wholly in the sound, not in the letters. And however the most exultant sound can be produced, by one word, by many words wrought into an eloquent period, by peculiar words rythmically connected and welded into a song or psalm, or by the melting of words together, the hinges. and joints being loosened and the full volume of sound rol
ling continuously along; however the sounds of praise can best be uttered, in that way they are to be uttered. We may employ our own voices, or call to our aid the more expressive vocal organs of others; or, if we can find no human throat sufficiently sonorous, we may go abroad into nature and discover what God has made for this purpose, and contrive in a grander organ all the possibilities of sound. The mightiest instrument is but a magnified voice; it is speaking through a thousand instead of through one windpipe. And the flexible muscles of a human throat are no more truly God's workmanship, nor more truly designed for praising him, than the organ constructed by the intelligence God has given to that end. God has established the laws of sound and the resonant qualities of certain materials, and taught man to combine them for the praise of his glory. And we might as properly be precluded from assisting the sight of our eyes by lenses as from assisting the music of the soul by instruments.
It is the heart which sings in praising God, not the voice; the value of music is value which the soul puts into the sounds and utters by them. And if our hearts cannot utter what they feel, because our instruments are too poor, if we are dumb of song as some are dumb of speech, we may sing with the fingers if we are cunning thereto, as the dumb man talks with his fingers; or we may invoke the aid of such as are divinely gifted with song or instrumental skill. And when our hearts respond to the strains of song and music, when we enter into the meaning of the notes, adopting them as our own and rejoicing in them, he who hears in secret detects the silent undertone in our hearts, and accepts the praises which are so jubilant that we are compelled to seek aid to utter them.
2. The presentation of offerings needs to be recognized as an act of the purest, most elevated Christian worship.
That we are to take the words of the Bible in a literal sense, and "bring an offering" when we come into his courts, as we bring a prayer and a psalm, many do not
understand. "That belonged to Judaism. We no longer make sacrifices." Yes; many no longer make sacrifices when they come to worship.
Under the ancient economy a large part of divine service consisted in presenting offerings. Of old, men used their tongues less in serving God and their hands more. There were fewer prayers and songs, less preaching, more obla tions and sacrifices; they uttered their feelings by more emphatic language. Civilization has affected the speech of man chiefly loosened the play of his tongue. The ancient notion was, that deeds speak louder than words, and that it was a truer way of praising the Lord to bring a costly treasure which could be used in the service, and lay it on the altar. They thought this was truer homage and heartier gratitude than simply lifting up the voice and pouring out volumes of sound.
The first worship of which we have an account was not by prayer, nor by singing, nor by sermon; and no sacraments were administered: "Abel brought of the firstlings of his flock. And the Lord had respect unto Abel and to his offering." And when, under divine guidance, the ritual of the ancient church was established, when inspired prophets preached and Aaronitic priests approached the throne of grace, while the smoke of sacrifices and odor of incense ascended, and when king David wrote the hymns and arranged the music for the choir, worship was not complete unless precious gifts were laid as offerings on the altar.
Is there anything in Christianity that changes this? The sacrifice is abolished, the priesthood has given way. Prayer and praise are as needful as ever. Are offerings no parts of Christian worship?
Then what a mistake those wise men made who came from the East when they heard Christ was born, and brought gifts, gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Christian worship was inaugurated with thank-offerings, and it is to be perpetuated with thank-offerings.
Our Saviour made almsgiving of the very essence of the
VOL. XXII. No. 88.