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Anew History and Ilustration of the Common Prayer.
[Continued from page 191.] THE variety of uses, and the most excellent application of the Psalms for devotional purposes, having been enumerated, it is on this ground the christian church has uniformly appointed them to be repeated oftener than any other part of scripture, excepting only that divine form of prayer which was taught by our Lord himself, and in our church makes a part of every service. This also has been the practice of all antiquity. Christians, says Chrisostom, exercise themselves in David's Psalms oftener than in any part of the Old or New Testament. Moses, the great lawgiver, who saw God face to face, and wrote of the creation of the world, is scarcely read through once a year. The holy gospels, where Christ's miracles are preached, where God conversed with man, where devils are cast out, lepers are cleansed, and the blind restored to sight, where death is destroyed where is the food of immortality, the holy sacraments, the word of life, holy precepts, precious promises ; these we read over once or twice a week. What shall I say of blessed Paul, the preacher of Christ ? His epistles are read twice in the week. We get them not by heart, but attend to them while they are reading. But as to David's Psalms, the grace of the Holy Spirit has so ordered it, that they are repeated night and day. In the morning David's Psalms are sought for and the first, the midst, and the last, is David. At funeral solemnities, the first, the midst, and the last, 'is David. The same in private houses. Many that know not a letter, can say David's Psalms by heart. And as in our church also, the Psalms are recited much oftener than any other part of scripture, thus far our established practice corresponds with the usage of the ancient church. At the same time, that all the Psalms may be read in course, and that our morning and evening prayer may not tire or disgust by its prolixity, we assign for this purpose the term of thirty days.
But that the primitive practice mostly consisted in an alternate recitation is clear, though the uniformity of it is much less easy to trace. Whatever was the origin, we cannot pursue it higher than the existence of the first century. However it is a practice that nearly corresponds with what is related of Miriam and Moses, in the Old Testament, and the subsequent custom of the Jewish Church, that our Lord and his disciples also sung an hymn alternately is an opinion by no means improbable. Still though the alternate recitation of the Psalms is not to be found under any injunction of our church rubric, it is uniformly adopted, not merely through the sanction of antiquity, the ratifications of respectable councils, and the most approved ecclesiastical laws, but most probably, because it is obviously calculated to keep up the attention, and assist the devction of the people.
It may be proper to observe, that what some uninformed persons call the difference between tlie Psalms in the prayer book and the bible, arises from their being taken from the great bible, so called from its appearance in a bulky volume, published under the authority of Henry VIII. by which we are to understand, the translation
made by Tindal and Coverdale, and revised by archbishop Cranmer, in contradistinction both to the bishop's bible, published in the reign of queen Elizabeth, and the present translation now used in our church. But even this last it is said “ was too hastily, and consequently in many respects not so successfully executed under the aus. pices of James, in 1603.”
In answer to the reviewers, who were very unjustly censured for retaining this old translation of the Psalms, it may be remarked, that they probably entertained an opinion now very general among the learned, that the old translation is preferable to the new, which being unfettered with the ideom of the Hebrew, is expressed with greater freedom, and more regard to the genius of our language ; while the new, from too servile an adherence to the letter of the original, is often more harsh in its construction, and less harmonius in its periods. In this, however, as must be expected in a work composed above 250 years ago, some antiquated words or phrases are sometimes to be met with, which in the new are rejected. But blemishes of this kind are not numerous, and where they do occur, they are sufficiently compensated by the general merit of the work, which will not shrink from a comparison with the most approved devotional composition of more modern times. And in fact had not the last reviewers of the liturgy, under Charles II. in 1661, been influenced by a very favorable opinion of the first translation we have been speaking of, it is reasonable to conclude that the Psalms, as well as the lessons, epistles and gospels, would have been taken from the translation made in the reign of James I.
Relative to the pointing of the Psalms as they are to be sung or said in churches, it should be observed, that these points are two dots (:) thus resembling a colon, and were intended to regulate the chanting. But their original design, there is no doubt, is now generally misunderstood, as many pious persons, taught to observe the points in reading, are prompted to make a sudden and considerable pause, to the manifest injury and sometimes to the entire subversion. of the sense, not knowing that these points (:) denote a rest in the music only, and are to be totally disregarded in the reading. To remedy this error which applies most strongly to the Te Deum, and forms a very improper disjunction in the Gloria Patri, it has been proposed to print an edition of the Psalms, pointed as they are to be sung, for cathedral and collegcate uses.*
With respect to the Gloria Patri, to be said at the end of every Psalm, there is a peculiar propriety. This doxology serves as a general application to each Psalm; and as a penitential Psalm may be followed by one of thanksgiving, and that succeeded by one of adoration or prophecy, if they were not separated by this doxology, or something of the like naturc, subjects, very distant and distinci, might be strongly and improperly united.
The order in which the Psalms are placed as part of public worship, has induced a late commentator to consider the daily service of the church of England as composed of different parts, viz. the peni.
The whole of this clause relating to the printing of the Psalms, is parti. e'tlarly adapted to the English enn 12 parer, the com;»ilers, of the American liturgy having priorit!"nonly 15 the suite of the realing requires.
tential and the eucharestical, which consists of praise and thanksgiving ; the reason of which classification is, that we are not properly qualified to praise God, till we have obtained remission of our past sins; and previous to our addressing him for new benefits and blessings, it is highly proper we should render him thanks for those we have already received. And hence it is observed, that if we have duly performed the preceeding parts of the service, we shall be disposed to recite David's Psalms with David's spirit, which frame of spirit, as Basil remarks, is more peculiarly necessary in the use of them, as the other parts of the scripture are read to us, but these every man repeats as his own words.
[To be Continued.]
On want of Respect for the Clergy. An Oration, by Samuel F. Jarvis, delivered in New Haven, before Liter. ary Association, stiled the Phi Beta Kappa Society, has lately fallen into our hands. The author's main scope is to point out the causes which contribute to retard thc progress of literature in this country. But as science and religion have a close communion with each other, he has introduced many observations that comport well with the object of this Religious Miscellany. Without assuming the office of a reviewer, or pretending to criticise the merit of the work, it is believed the following extract will be acceptable to all the friends of religion and literature, as well as honorable to the writer.
“ THE cause of Learning is intimately connected with the cause of Virtue, and consequently the decline of one, accompanies that of the other. As the pursuits of Vice centre wholly in the procurement of sensual gratifications, the attention of the mind which it influences is, of course, entirely drawn from the contemplation and improvement of its own powers. Hence those powers become relaxed ; they grow teeble from the want of vigorous action ; and the mind sinks under the labor of application, as the pampered body, whose nerves are unstrung by indolence and excess, faints under any exercise, however gentle. When such becomes the case with the great body of the community, then it is that learning and the professors of it are equally neglected. The solid, the useful studies of an alert, and bold, and vigorous, and active mind, are deemed unworthy of attention. Nothing pleases but the brilliant sallies of the imagination, which it requires no labor to understand, and which, like the meteor, sparkle for a moment, and then disappear without leaving a trace behind. Application is derided as drudgery, and genius considered not only as its superior, but as absolutely doing away the necessity of it.
Yet how fallacious is this idea! Whatever may be the powers of the mind, application alone can call them into action. It is alsurd to substitute one thing for another, when the natures of each are so widely different. Learning is the knowledge of facts, and application alone can collect them. But the leading quality of genius is the power of invention ; that quickness of apprehension which discerns the connexion of ideas however remote, and like
the magnet, and with the same inexplicable power, separates from the great mass of thought those materials which are necessary to its purpose. But the ferruginous particles must be collected before the magnet can operate, and Application must furnish ideas before Genius can compare or compound them.* Application lays the foundation ; Genius raises the lofty superstructure. Application is the soil which produces the fruits ; Genius is the sun which, by its invigorating warmth, causes those fruits to ripen, and vegetation to become more rapid. · From what has now been said, let us make the application to our own country. Look at the occupation of its inhabitants, and you will generally find that the whole extent of their reading is comprehended in the productions of the imagination. The taste for Novels and all other kinds of light reading, has risen to an astonishing and alarming height. Like the lean kine of Pharaoh, they have swallowed up all other reading, and like them too, they have not looked the better for it. The evil consequences attendant upon Novel Reading are much greater than has generally been imagined. Few writers who forge a series of events, consider the responsibilisy which they are under, and the hazard attached to the undertaking. Without having truth for their basis, they are continually liable to give false notions of things, to pervert the consequences of human actions, and to misrepresent the ways of Divine Providence : for “ the ways of men,” as a learned and sensible author observes, “ so far as they are passive under the consequences of their own actions, are the ways of God.”+
In a Republic, Luxury and Corruption of Morals are said to be the invariable precursors of national dissolution : it is no less true that the perversion of national taste, and the disrelish for the solid attainments of Science, evince a degeneracy in Learning, Morals, and Religion. The polite Author of the Travels of Cyrus, describing the state of the Medes when their empire was declining, gives a lively picture of the literary corruption which then prevailed. “ Solid knowledge was looked upon as contrary to delicacy of manners ; agreeable trifles, fine-spun thoughts, and lively sallies of imagination, were the only kinds of wit admired there : no sort of writing pleased but amusing Fictions, where a perpetual succession of events surprised with their variety, without improve ing the understanding, or ennobling the heart."
“ Behold the picture ? Is it like ? Like whom ? But however inimical to the encouragement of Learning, may be those causes which have been mentioned, still their is another, which is no less hurtful in its operations ; I mean the want of res. pect so general among us for the Clergy. So distinguished has this order of men been in every age, as the patrons and support
• Vid. Gerard on Taste. Part 3. Sect. 2. On the connexion of Taste with Genius.
+ Vide Works of the Rev. WILLIAM Jones, of Nayland, vol. XI. p. 236. To this author I am indebted for most of these observations upon Novel Reading; but as I have not the book at hand, I cannot ascertain to how great an extent.
# Travels of Cyrus by the Chevalier Ramsay, p. 5.
ers of Science that it may safely be assumed as an axiom that Literature will never flourish but in those countries where there is a learned Clergy: and never will there be a learned Clergy, unless they are regarded with reverence, and supported with dig. nity.”
Here the Orator goes on to assign several reasons for disrespect shown to. wards the Clergy viz. “ the growing corruption of the country—the ex. clusive attention of people to politicks-and the system of making the Clergy entirely dependant upon the people.” On the last of these reasons he dilates in the following manner.
But a third cause of the disrespect shown to the Clergy, and one the more dangerous because from this the two which have been mentioned derive most of their power, arises from their extreme dependance upon the people. It is a trait, generally attached to the human character, that Power, when it is exerted for the protection and maintenance of a dependant, is gratified in proportion to the submission of him whom it patronizes. And is not this the precise relation in which the Clergy stand towards the people ? And is not this the degradation to which they are compelled to stoop? Instead of being considered in the venerable and exalted station, which, as the Embassadors of God to Man, they have a right to claim, they are treated as the mere servants of the people, created at their pleasure, continued at their pleasure, and destroyed at their pleasure. They hire a Minister, (such is the contemptuous and degrading language which they use) just as they would hire a day labourer ; and if he do not perform his task to their satisfaction, if he do not adapt his doctrines, his words, his tones, his pronunciation, to the fastidiosity of their taste, they turn him off again with as little ceremony. Skill in Oratory has become too much the criterion of Clerical excellence, and the inquiry is not so much whether the doctrines are sound, as whether the mode of delivering them is pleasing :
It has been a favorite theme with Protestants, ever since the Re. formation, to declaim against the oppression and enormous power of the Clergy. That the complaint against the Church of Rome was too well founded, cannot be denied ; but one extreme should be avoided as well as the other; and I question much whether the degradation of the clerical order to so low a state, will not give a much more fatal blow to the interests of Religion and Literature, than they ever received from its exaltation."