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dead, and as exalted at the right hand of God. Acts xü. 33. Rom. i. 4. Did he then become the Son of God by these events? This is impossible ; for Sonship is not a progressive matter. If it arose from his miraculous conception, it could not for that reason arise from his resurrection or exaltation : and so on the other hand, if it arose from his resurrection, or exaltation, it could not proceed from his miraculous conception. But if each be understood of his being hereby proved, acknowledged, or as the scriptures express it, declared to be the Son of God with power, all is easy and consistent."
But is this a subject of mere speculation ? God forbid ! In this name, my brethren, is concentrated all the glory of God ever viewed by mortal minds. In this name centers all our hope and peace and joy. It is this dear name that draws forth our souls to Jehovah in wonder, love and praise. This is the name that comprises all those "things the angels desire to look into.” And it is in the knowledge. love and adoration of this name that the saints shall be “ filled with all the fulness of God." Therefore let all men “honour the Son, even as they honour the Father.”
PRACTICAL QUESTIONS. MR. PILGRIM,
ALTHOUGH the present age is eminently an « Age of Benevolence,” when more is doing than at any former period since the days of the Apostles, to build and beautify the walls of Zion, and to extend the knowledge of the Saviour, and the triumphs of His kingdom, yet there are still many, very many, who profess themselves the followers of Christ, who have never awakened to a sense of the obligations that rest upon them, to be actively engaged, both “in every good word and work,” and to “ minister of their substance" in the cause of Him who esteems the least work done to the least of His brethren, as done unto Himself. Many of these, rolling in afluence, are unmindful of Him who gave them their riches as the stewards of His bounty, and who will one day surely and strictly require an account of their stewardship.
There are many among these, no doubt, either deceiving or deceived, whose hearts have never been changed from the love of this world, its riches and honours, to a love of Christ and his cause. To such, all appeals may be made in vain. Although numbered among the visible followers of the Redeemer, yet their attachment to their wealth corroborates the assertion of Christ, that “a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of Heaven.”
But as there are, undoubtedly, many true Christians, who are still asleep as to the duty of devoting their substance to the service of God, both in “distributing to the necessity of saints,” and in enabling the ministers of Christ to “go into all the world and preach the Gospel to every creature,” it is necessary that this duty be continually and forcibly set before them. I would therefore beg leave to offer for insertion in your magazine the followitig queries, written by Basil of Cesarea, an eminent saint of the fourth century,
hoping that your Christian readers will solemnly and seriously put the interrogatives to their own consciences, to see if he has not anticipated, and fully answered, their excuses for their parsimony, and settle the question, whether they are prepared to “ give an account of their stewardship with joy, and not with grief.”
“One says, I will give to-morrow, to excuse himself from giving to-day. Alas! do you know whether you shall be alive to-morrow in this world ? Another says, I am poor, I have need enough myself of all my means. Yes, you are poor, you are destitute, but it is of love, of benignity, of faith, and of mercy. A third says, whom do I wrong? I keep only my own. I ask you, from whom did you'receive those riches, and whence did you bring them ? Did you not come naked from your mother's womb, and shall you not return naked to the dust ? Whence did this wealth come from chance ? What is this but atheism? If you confess, that you received it from God, why did it fall to your lot rather than to another's ? God is not unrighteous in the unequal division of property among men. Why are you rich, and why is this man poor? It is, that you may receive the reward of dispensing your goods faithfully, and that the poor may receive the recompense of his patience. When, therefore, you appropriate to yourself that wealth which belongs to many, and of which you are the steward, you are a robber. We know not what necessities may happen. Can you make this apology, while you spend your wealth on a thousand superfluities ? But I want it for my children. But, is it from you, that your son received life? is it not from God? Ought he, then, to hinder you from obeying God's commandments ? The riches that you will leave him, may be the occasion of his ruin. Who knows, whether he will make a good or a bad use of them? Will you leave them to the poor after your death? Wretched men, to practice no good works but with ink and paper! It seems, you wish you could have enjoyed your riches forever, and then you would have obeyed the precepts of the gospel: it is to death, it seems, and not to you, that the poor are indebted. God will not be thus mocked; that which is dead is not to be offered to the sanctuary : offer up a living sacrifice. It is certain, that those who rely on Divine Providence, are like the springs which are not dried up by drawing from them, but send forth their waters with greater force. If you are poor, lend your money upon interest ta God, who is rich.”*
REPLY TO “ THOUGHTS ON SINGING.”
TO THE EDITOR OF THE PILGRIM.
I HAVE read a communication, in your useful vehicle of religious instruction, respe, ting unbelievers joining in the psalmody of the church, on the sentiments of which I feel inclined to offer a few observations. I am not disposed to enter into a dispute with the writer, but merely to suggest some thoughts, which seem to have escaped his notice, in treating upon this subject. I perfectly agree with him, relative to the necessity of faith and holiness, in order to the singing of God's praise, in spirit and in truth, or so as to meet the divine acceptance, in this important and delightful part of public worship. But this, I conceive, concerns the singers individually. Each one who exercises the tuneful powers with which the God of nature has distinguished him, should be careful to have affections of heart corresponding with the solemn expressions which he utters. Wo be to him, if he mock God with a solemn sound, which does not originate from a believing heart. He should most seriously consider, that, if his own heart condemn him, God is greater than his heart, and knoweth all things. But this is the concern of the individual, rather than of the church or its rulers. He has the power of examining his heart, and of exercising right affections in it, which they have not. They possess some power, it is true, relative to the former, but it is in a very imperfect degree. If there could be no singing of praise to God, till the church could determine who would sing with the spirit, and with the understanding also, it is evident that psalmody would not be introduced into our public worship. But God, who has commanded it as a duty, does not require impossibilities. He has given us rules on this subject, which are inost explicit, and of easy application. He calls upon all to praise him, and doubtless to sing his praise, if endued with melodious and harmonious powers. In the hundredth Psalm, we have such injunctions as these: “ Make a joyful noise unto the Lord, all ye lands—Come before his presence with singing.--Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise; be thankful unto him and bless his name." In the ninety-ninth we read, “ The Lord reigneth, let the people tremble,-Let them praise thy great and terrible name, for it is holy."Again, in the 148th—“ Praise the Lord from the earth: kings of the earth, and all people ; princes and all judges of the earth: Both young men, and maidens; old men, and children: Let them praise the name of the Lord.”—The concluding words of the book of Psalms are these, “ Let every thing which hath breath praise the Lord. Praise ye the Lord.” The various musical instruments, which had been invented, were called upon in the Psalms, to be used in the worship of God, to assist the devotion of the saints; and why may they not also use the voices of unbelievers as instruments, in this important work? Their voices, simply considered, are as innocent as material instruments; and, being the curious workmanship of God himself, are much better calculated to promote the object : So general are the injunctions of the Old Testament, in which the system of psalmsody was established, and carried to its highest perfection ; and these requirements are no where countermanded in the New. On the contrary, Christ's countenancing the hosannah's of the children in the temple corroborates the idea, that all, who are naturally capable of it, should engage in singing God's praise ; as it must have been impossible for any to have decided, that these infants were all believers.
The writer, above referred to, seems to have erred, by overlooking the distinction between special ordinances of worship, and those which are common. Preaching baptism and the Lord's Supper, may be called special, or peculiar to professed believers. But hearing the word, and joining in the prayers and praises of the sanctuary, are ordinances common to all, whose duty it is to attend at the house of God; for we have no command nor example in scripture, which excludes any from these exercises. Grace in the heart, it is allowed, is necessary to qualify persons to attend on these exercises to divine acceptance; but this is true respecting every thing else, which men are to perform. We cannot labour, nor eat, nor drink, to divine acceptance, without faith and holiness. But who would therefore debar unbelievers from working, or eating? The prohibition stands not against the outward acts, which are, in common cases, indispensable duties ; but against the unbeliet, in which they are often performed. There is no prohibition against any man's externally performing every duty, which God has enjoined on men; but only against the unbelief, which may attend these performances. External duties all ought to be done, and internal not left undone ; as our Saviour asserted, in relation to the Jewish tithes. Besides, who can tell but what, at the moment any one attempts the external part of any duty, he may have grace given him to perform it aright in his heart? The reverse of this would be an imitation of those, who condemn praying till the spirit moves ; whereas praying is the great mean appointed for moving the spirit, or stirring up devotional forms. Therefore ought men always to pray, and perform every other command of God, and not to faint. It is then clear, to my understanding, that there is no scripture authority, for prohibiting even known unbelievers, from joining in singing the praises of God in his house or elsewhere. It is however very desirable, that not only the singers, but the whole assembly, should worship in spirit and in truth. This would render the psalmody more solemn, more heavenly, and more edifying. Especially is it absurd to appoint openly profane and immoral persons, as is sometimes done, to lead the choir. It is also evidently the duty of the church, whenever it is practicable, to organize a set of singers among themselves, to carry on this part of worship, when by any means it fails of being performed decently and in order, by the general choir.
I shall now, (I hope in the spirit of canclour,) and a few concise observations, relative to the writer's answers to objections, and one passage of scripture, which he has introduced. The criminality does not consist in drawing nigh to God with the mouth, and honouring him with the lips ; but in having the heart far from hiin. Let us pot, for want of proper discrimination, condemn what God requires, but what he forbids. Men should be exhorted to honor God with their mouths and lips ; and to not neglect to bring their hearts with them into his worship at all times Unbelievers never use, but always abuse, the means of grace ; but God uses them to purpose, and by them brings men into a state of grace, by which they are prepared to use these means to his glory, and their own spiritual and everlasting good. All wbo become subjects of grace, are made so, by the instrumentality of the means of grace in the hand of God; and we have no authority to forbid, even the most vicious, to attend upon these appointed means. On the contrary, we should urge all men to attend upon them, and to do it with sincere hearts. Wicked men are expressly forbidden to take God's name in vain in the streets ; but required to unite, both visibly and cordially, with his worshippers ; and their neglecting to do it in the latter manner, is no excuse for their neglecting to do it in the former. The third answer I consider answered, by the distinction made above, between common and special ordinances. It is difficult to see how joining in singing with the saints increases the sinner's guilt, any more than joining with them in prayer; and who would dare to forbid the latter :-If the texts quoted above are to the point, it is not unscriptural to permit unbelievers to join with believers in singing God's praise ; and diminishing the number of hearers of the word, by the contrary practice, would be a fault, chargeable on those, who set up an unscriptural rule.-“God will not allow us to trifle with the light of his commandments ;” but where has he commanded us to hinder unbelievers from joining in all parts of public and common worship? Men are no where commanded not to worship God, though they are required to worship him in spirit and in truth. If mens' not having faith, forbids their taking a part in the worship of God, then their not knowing that they have it forbids the same. But this would make the worship of believers as inconstant, as their evidence of a work of grace upon their hearts is fluctuating. The church on earth should not be confounded with the church in beaven ; for while the latter is all glorious with moral purity, the former is almost overpowered with sins of heart, and surrounded and intermingled with unbelievers. The one is placed under the means of grace, until it is prepared for that glory, which is the unalloyed portion of the other. We cannot, therefore, in all cases, argue from the heavenly to the earthly church.
This writer's address to unbelieving singers, considered as individuals, and designed to urge upon then the importance of faith and holiness, in order to divine acceptance in any duty, is pertinent and solemn. One text, however, I think quoted inappropriately, though agreeably to the use I have formerly made of it myself. It is this; “ Better is it, that thou shouldst not vow, than that thou - shouldst vow and not pay.” Vows are voluntary acts, which should be consistent with, but which are not directly required by the divine law. Before vowing, the person could not be said to be under obligation to perform the thing vowed. An evident duty cannot be optional as to its performance, and therefore cannot be the proper object of a vow. But when a vow is made respecting any thing not unlawful, and optional, the performance cannot be neglected without sin. Therefore, saith Solomon, “ It is better not to vow," &c. Of consequence, this passage will not apply to any duty, which is originally and generally binding on mankind, as it is conceived the duty under consideration has been proved to be.