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mutual return of sentences from side to side. They are not ignorant what difference there is between other parts of Scripture and Psalms. The choice and flower of all things profitable in other books, the psalms do both more briefly contain, and more movingly also express, by reason of that poetical form wherewith they are written. The ancients, when they speak of the Book of Psalms, use to fall into large discourses, shewing how this part above the rest doth of purpose set forth and celebrate all the considerations and operations which belong to God; it magnifieth the holy meditations and actions of divine men; it is of things heavenly an universal declaration, working in them whose hearts God inspireth with the due consideration thereof, an habit or disposition of mind whereby they are made fit vessels, both for receipt and for delivery of whatsoever spiritual perfection. What is there necessary for man to know, which the Psalms are not able to teach P They are to beginners an easy and familiar introduction, a mighty augmentation of all virtue and knowledge in such as are entered before, a strong confirmation to the most perfect amongst others. Heroical magnanimity, exquisite justice, grave moderation, exact wisdom, repentance unfeigned, unwearied patience, the mysteries of God, the sufferings of Christ, the terrors of wrath, the comforts of grace, the works of Providence over this world, and the promised joys of that world which is to come, all good necessarily to be either known, or done, or had, this one celestial fountain yieldeth. Let there be any grief or disease incident unto the soul of man, any wound or sickness named, for which there is not in this treasure-house a present comfortable remedy at all times ready to be found. Hereof it is, that we covet to make the Psalms especially familiar unto all. This is the very cause why we iterate the Psalms oftener than any other part of Scripture besides; the cause wherefore we inure the people together with their minister, and not the minister alone, to read them as other parts of Scripture he doth.
Touching musical harmony whether by instrument or by voice, it being but of high and low in sounds a due proportionable disposition, such notwithstanding is the force thereof, and so pleasing effects it hath in that very part of man which is most divine, that some have been thereby induced to think that the soul itself by nature is, or hath in it harmony; a thing which delighteth all ages, and beseemeth all states; a thing as seasonable in grief as in joy; as decent being added unto actions of greatest weight and solemnity, as being used when men most sequester themselves from action. The reason hereof is an admirable facility which music hath to express and represent to the mind, more inwardly than any other sensible mean, the very standing, rising, and falling, the very steps and inflections every way, the turns and varieties of all passions whereunto the mind is subject; yea, so to imitate them, that, whether it resemble unto us the same state wherein our minds already are, or a clean contrary, we are not more contentedly by the one confirmed, than changed and led away by the other. In harmony the very image and character even of Virtue and Vice is perceived, the mind delighted with their resemblances, and brought by having them often iterated into a love of the things themselves. For which cause there is nothing more contagious and pestilent than some kinds of harmony; than some, nothing more strong and potent unto good. And that there is such a difference of one kind from another we need no proof but our own experience, inasmuch as we are at the hearing of some more inclined unto sorrow and heaviness, of some more mollified and softened in mind; one kind apter to stay and settle us, another to move and stir our affections; there is that draweth to a marvellous grave and sober mediocrity; there is also that carrieth as it were into ecstasies, filling the mind with an heavenly joy, and for the time in a manner severing it from the body; so that, although we lay altogether aside the consideration of ditty or matter, the very harmony of sounds being framed in due sort, and carried from the ear to the spiritual faculties of our souls, is by a native puissance and efficacy greatly available to bring to a perfect temper whatsoever is there troubled, apt as well to quicken the spirits as to allay that which is too eager, sovereign against melancholy and despair, forcible to draw forth tears of devotion, if the mind be such as can yield them, able both to move and to moderate all affections. The prophet David having therefore singular knowledge, not in poetry alone, but in music also, judged them both to be things most necessary for the House of God, left behind him to that purpose a number of divinely indited poems, and was further the author of adding unto poetry melody in public Prayer, melody both vocal and instrumental for the raising up of men's hearts, and the sweetening of their affections towards God. In which considerations the Church of Christ doth likewise at this present day retain it as an ornament to God's service, and an help to our own devotion. They which, under pretence of the Law ceremonial abrogated, require the abrogation of instrumental music, approving nevertheless the use of vocal melody to remain, must shew some reason wherefore the one should be thought a legal ceremony and not the other. In Church music curiosity and ostentation of art, wanton, or light, or unsuitable harmony, such as only pleaseth the ear, and doth not naturally serve to the very kind and degree of those impressions which the matter that goeth with it leaveth, or is apt to leave in men's minds, doth rather blemish and disgrace that we do, than add either beauty or furtherance unto it. On the other side, the faults prevented, the force and efficacy of the thing itself, when it drowneth not utterly, but fitly suiteth with matter altogether sounding to the praise of God, is in truth most admirable, and doth much edify, if not the understanding, because it teacheth not, yet surely the affection, because therein it worketh much. They must have hearts very dry and tough, from whom the melody of the Psalms doth not sometime draw that wherein a mind religiously affected delighteth.
A DISCOURSE OF JUSTIFICATION, &c.
We are but upbraided, when we are honoured with names and titles whereunto our lives and manners are not suitable. If indeed we have our fruit in holiness, notwithstanding we must note, that the more we abound therein, the more need we have to crave that we may be strengthened and supported. Our very virtues may be snares unto us. The enemy that waiteth for all occasions to work our ruin, hath found it harder to overthrow an humble sinner than a proud saint. There is no man's case so dangerous as his whom Satan hath persuaded that his own righteousness shall present him pure and blameless in the sight of God. If we could say, we were not guilty of any thing at all in our consciences; we know ourselves far from this innocency, we cannot say, we know nothing by ourselves; but if we could, should we therefore plead not guilty before the presence of our Judge, that sees farther into our hearts than we ourselves can do? If our hands did never offer violence to our brethren, a bloody thought doth prove us murderers before him: if we had never opened our mouth to utter any scandalous, offensive, or hurtful word, the cry of our secret cogitations is heard in the ears of God. If we did not commit the sins, which daily and hourly either in deed, word, or thoughts we do commit; yet in the good things which we do, how many defects are there intermingled ! God, in that which is done, respecteth the mind and intention of the doer. Cut off then all those things wherein we have regarded our own glory, those things which men do to please men, and to satisfy our own liking, those things which we do for any by-respect, not sincerely and purely for the love :
God, and a small score will serve for the number o our righteous deeds. Let the holiest and best thin which we do be considered. We are never bette affected unto God than when we pray; yet when w pray, how are our affections many times distracted How little reverence do we shew unto the gran majesty of God, unto whom we speak How little remorse of our own miseries' How little taste of the sweet influence of his tender mercies do we feel ! Are we not as unwilling many times to begin, and as glad to make an end; as if in saying, “Call upon me,” he had set us a very burdensome task? It may seem somewhat extreme, which I will speak; therefore let every one judge of it, even as his own heart shall tell him, and no otherwise: I will but only make a demand: If God should yield unto us, not as unto Abraham, if fifty, forty, thirty, twenty, yea, or if ten good persons could be found in a city, for their sakes this city should not be destroyed, but, and if he should make us an offer thus large; search all the generations of men, sithence the fall of our father Adam, find one man, that hath done one action, which hath passed from him pure, without any stain or blemish at all; and for that one man's only action, neither man nor angel shall feel the torments which are prepared for both. Do you think that this ransom, to deliver men and angels, could be found to be among the sons of men P The best things which we do, have somewhat in them to be pardoned. How then can we do any thing meritorious, or worthy to be rewarded? Indeed, God doth liberally promise whatsoever appertaineth to a blessed life, to as many as sincerely keep his Law, though they be not exactly able to keep it. Wherefore we acknowledge a dutiful necessity of doing well, but the meritorious dignity of doing well we utterly renounce. We see how far we are from the perfect righteousness of the Law; the little fruit which we have in holiness, it is, God knoweth, corrupt and unsound: we put no confidence at all in it, we challenge nothing in the world for it, we dare not call God to reckoning, as if we had him in our debtbooks: our continual suit to him is, and must be, to bear with our infirmities, and pardon our offences.