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HYMNS AND POEMS
From the best AUTHORS.
To thee, O God,
And whatsoever fpirits be
To thee, in heav'nly lays,
This is their bus'ness, this their fole employ,
E DIN BURGH:
Printed by R. FLEMING, and fold by YAIR and FLEMING in Company, and the other Booksellers.
P R E F A C E.
NY one who confiders the nature of man, must
needs own that poetry is very proper to work upon it; that it may be of excellent use unto him, and that it has in some respects the advantage of abftraet reasoning and philosophy.
Tis true, were we nothing but pure intelle&t, were we stript of Aes and blood, and arriv'd at that perfect ftate the saints above enjoy, then a bare abstraction of thought, and orderly ranging of ideas might serve the
But while we continue such beings as we are, while blood, and spirit, imagination and passion, make up a part of our nature, these must have their proper objects and incentives, or we fall scarcely engage in the queft of glory: For what are these but a sort of wings to the soul? She may creep, but will hardly foar without them.
Now the great businefs of poetry (as every one knows) is to paint agreeable pictures on the imagination, to actuate the spirits, and give the passions a noble pitch. All its daring metaphors, surprising turns, melting accents, lofty flights, and lively defcriptions, serve for this end. While we read, we feel a strange warmth boiling with. in, the blood dances through the veins, joy lightens in the countenance, and we are insensibly led into a pleasing captivity.
These are some of the genuine effects of poetry; so that without all quefiion, it may be of excellent use to mankind, may improve our souls, and serve as a powerful charm to deter us from vice, and engage us on the side of wisdom and virtue.
But then, for the same reason, it cannot be deny'd, that it may be equally pernicious. Profane and leud THE PREFACE. poetry is one of the greatest incentives to wickedness in the world, like the Syren's melody, while it charms it kills us. Vice is a deform’d and odious thing, and if expos’d naked, would have but few admirers; it owes all its luftre to false colours, and these it chiefly borrows from the poets ; 'tis they that smooth the monster's brow, and make her smile, that conceal her defeets, and set her off to the greatest advantage. How many, who wou'd have started at the open face of vice, have been entic'd into its fatal embraces by means of those bewitching disguises that poetry has bestow'd on it?
Who, that has any concern for religion, or the happiness of mankind, can consider, without melancholy, what Store of prophane and lewd poetry these late times have produód, how much 'tis valued, and what great mischief is done by it? What numbers of plays, and other books of poetry and gallantry, are daily expos’d to sale ; which, besides the wit, (pity so excellent a thing should be employ’d to such forry purposes) contain nothing but fuel for mens corruptions ? that burlesque religion den fie its Author, and turn the most serious things into fulsome ridicule? Vice here rides triumphant, has foro, got to blush, and puts on that air of confidence which truth and virtue should only appear in : One would think these had resign'd up all their authority to it, and acknowledged vice to be the more noble and excellent thing. The antient heathens are at length conquer'd by us; and should the poets and comedians of those days return again, they'd freely own themselves outmatch'd by Christians, and wonder at our improvements in all the arts of wickedness. 'Tis strange, as well as deplorable, to see what credit the leudest authors obtain among us ; bow fast their infection spreads, and how fond men are of the instruments of their ruin. These are the famous volumes that croud the press, and enrich the printer and bookseller! Books of a contrary firain, tho their fubjects are never fo noble, and they are writ with a great deal of sense and wit, go off but dully, they want the most charming accomplishment, and don't agree (God