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that we are the children of God;" but we wait for the adoption itself; for the time when Christians shall be fully manifested as the “sons of God;" and this will be at the resurrection, when our bodies shall be redeemed from the bondage of corruption; it is the same work, for when our bodies are redeemed from the power of death, then we shall receive the adoption. It will then be no secret knowledge that we are indeed the sons of God, but it will be open, before the world. "The adoption includes far more than the redemption of the body. But the latter event is to be coincident with the former, and is included in it as one of its most prominent parts."
Such we consider to be the true interpretation of this passage, which though obscure to the exegete has been sufficiently plain to the practical Christian, who has sought comfort in trial and suffering. The precious truths which he finds on the surface, will be none' the less valuable because others may go deeper in search of other treasures. Whatever may be its full meaning, it will ever be treasured by Christians as furnishing satisfactory proof, that “our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.”
ARTICLE V I.
CHURCH POETRY AND MUSIC.
In the first number of this Review we made a quasi promise to discuss the subject of Hymnology, but have hitherto not found time. The fact that the General Assembly have directed the Publication Committee to go fully into this subject, invests it with interest at this moment. To see how thoroughly the Assembly have gone into this matter, we have only to glance at the parts of their plan which have been confided to the Committee. They are,
1. The purchase of the Church Psalmist, the Psalm and Hymn Book in most general use in our churches.
2. Authority to arrange for the acquiring, if it can be had at a reasonable price, of the Parish Psalmody, a book used to some extent in the Middle and Southern States.
3. The Psalter, in the common version, is committed to Rev. Dr. Duffield, of Detroit, to be prepared for chanting.
4. Drs. Beman, Barnes, and Fisher, are appointed to prepare a supplement to the Church Psalmist, that the collection may be as complete as possible.
5. The Publication Committee are to appoint a committee of three persons, who are to correspond with pastors, leaders of choirs, and other suitable persons, in order to ascertain what tunes are in general use and approved by the churches, that those may be selected that have thus been sanctioned by the general approbation, not only of the present but of past times. The committee will thus be prepared to publish a Tunebook for the Church.
As all these several objects are in the hands of the Church itself, and thus all selfish and private interests are excluded, the Committee can work to the direct point of securing a complete system of apparatus, which may be made the medium through which the praises of God may be suitably celebrated • in the sanctuary. We rejoice in the full and free trust which the Assembly have thus reposed in the Committee. They have the opportunity of accomplishing a work that has never yet been fully done by any Protestant Church, and we hope that the thoroughness with which everything actually accomplished by this Committee has been carried out, will be but the earnest of the manner in which its business is ever to be conducted. We had rather that everything undertaken, even if slowly carried on, should be well finished, than that sundry projects should be begun at once, and all imperfectly prosecuted. .
The first broad remark which must be made on the subject of hymnology is, that, considering the elements of power given in this part of Divine worship, there is a signal failure to make of it what it should be.
God offers Himself as an object of affection and adoration. But he is boundless in his own nature. The impulses of the soul, when it strives to touch infinity, have more than the fullest sway. When the imagination, strengthened by faith, has reached the limits of the created universe, it has passed over only that little portion of Jehovah that has been expressed. Even we, feeble as we are, have a world within us, for which we cannot find fitting expression. The artist, poet, orator, all
feel how faint are marble, colors, words, gestures, to body forth .. the images which the soul finds opening upon its vision.
Lol these are but the whisper of His ways,
God is eternal. Before all worlds, He is. We cannot understand it. We earnestly rejoice that we cannot. What kind of a God would he be whom a creature could comprehend ! The very essence of a creature's glory is to yearn after something better than itself, to go beyond its poor, narrow conditions, and seek for closer and closer union with beings high, pure, and holy. The Highest and Holiest of all has invited us to know and love Himself, and to draw into intimate union with Him. What the religion of Boodh originally meant, at the first and earliest spring of its tradition, by absorption into God, is
however now perverted into mere annihilation-in reality the highest and grandest thing of which humanity is capable, or for which it has to hope.
In this part of Divine service, then, in the language of our Directory for Worship, we “humbly adore the infinite majesty of the living God.” Whatever of excellence in word or rhythm, or harmony or elevation of spirit man is capable of, finds scope here. So far from there being any limitation for want of a wide field, the fact is, that we are only straitened by our own incapacities. Whatever mortal can do in rising to the immortal, there is here scope for its doing; the range is literally infinite.
In the fact that hymns speak mainly of redemption, we see another element of their intrinsic power,-if we only knew how to make that power available. We do not know how to express ourselves better than in words we once before used: “As redemption is the mightiest work the universe has yet known, or perhaps can know, the clearest apprehension of it, and the sublimest aspirations born of it, must be the very highest style of thought and feeling. The nearest approach to the Omnipotent must be the nearest approach to the true sublime, and this must be found in the clearest idea and deepest feeling of the God-man and the Incarnation. The angels bend down continually to look into it, and it is nothing less than the central idea of eternity and infinity.”
Here we see again, that it is not the subject which fails, but our human power to reach it. The only limitation is the limitation of humanity itself, and its power of expression.
It is to be added, that the sacredness of Divine praise is a great power, if rightly used. It is only on this principle, that we can account for the fact that such extraordinary psalms as Rouse's Version, and Sternhold and Hopkins have kept their place for centuries in the British Isles and in America, and that such mere commonplace as many of our hymns, are tolerated in our Church-books. Let any one read the sublime Hebrew odes, in the Book of Psalms, in the original, or even in the English version ; remembering, however, that he is reading a prose-translation of vivid poetry; and turning from this, with his soul aglow, let him find Christian congregations imagining that they are singing the same thing, when they are following precentor or clerk, uplifting, through his nose, the following:
A man was famous, and was had
His axe, thick trees upon.
The intense commonplace of much of the Episcopal book is no better :
To ten-string'd instruments we'll sing,
With tuneful psalteries join'd;
For sacred use design'd. It is on the same principle that masses of the most ordinary rhyme are published every year as religious poetry; pious feeling does not like to reject that which is sincerely written, which contains correct sentiment, and—for the writer at least
-real emotion. Hence the standard of secular poetry is often higher than that of religious.
How true this is, that, where persons are very greatly interested in a subject, they will tolerate the most ordinary and commonplace expositions of it, is seen in patriotic songs, which are proverbial for homeliness. The same principle finds illustration in domestic poetry-songs of the affections. The feeling, universal and deep as it is, bears upon its current every form of verse, as a river, in flood, carries with it the drift-wood of the whole region.
But, while all this is true, no one will yet imagine that it is a disadvantage, in writing poetry of country or fireside, that the writer has a strong and overpowering feeling ready to sympathize with him. And so in devotional poetry, that the strongest emotion of which humanity is capable, stands ready to embalm his verse, is a capital advantage for the sacred poet; that human nature will consecrate it in its holiest hopes and memories is the very hiding of his power.
Another idea, which shows how great a failure there has been, on the whole, in the power of Divine praise, is, that the form in which it appears, no less than the substance, is of the very