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To the Editors of the Methodist Magazine. DEAR BRETHREN,
In the course of my daily reading, I came yesterday to “ David's Lamentation over Saul and Jonathan.” I had often read it before, with strange emotions of delight; I now consulted Benson's Notes on the passage, and was more than ever struck with the inimitable beauty of this sacred elegy. This morning I was regaling myself with some fragments of sacred poetry, and amongst others found Dr. Watt's paraphrase of the above pathetic ode; I could not forbear sending you a copy for ipsertion in the Magazine, if you please, with the Doctor's prefatory remarks.
"If the Greeks had been acquainted with the songs of Moses, or the Romans bad ever known the Odes of David, and amongst the rest, this admirable Elegy, they would never bave spoken of the Jews with so much contempt, as a rude and barbarous people; at least I am persuaded their poets would have conceived a much better opinion of them, when they found them so far exceed any thing that their own nation had ever produced. I believe I might fairly challenge all the antiquity of the Heathens to present us with an Ode of more beautiful sentiments and greater elegancy, iban this lamentation over Saul and Jonathan. “ Had Horace or Pindar
written this Ode, it would have been the endless admiration of the critic, and the perpetual labour of rival translators; but it is found in the Scripture, and that gives a sort of disgust to an age which verges too much towards infidelity. I could wish the muse of Mr. Pope had chosen out some few of these pieces of sacred psalmody, which carry in them the more sprightly beauties of Poesy, and let the world know what a divine poet sat on the throne of Israel.” Thus far Dr. Watt's. Mr. Benson's remarks are, " There is nothing more elegant and passionate to be found in all antiquity. The bursts of sorrow are so strong, so pathetic, so short, so various, so unconnected, that no grief was ever painted in such living and lasting colours."
I am, &c.
Daughters of Israel melt your eyes Israel, the land of heaven's delight,
To softer tears, and swell your sighs, How is thy strength. thy beauty fled !
Disrob’d, disgrac'd, your monarch lies, On the bigb places of the fight,
On the bleak mountains, pale and cold: Bebold thy Princes fallin, thy sons of victory dead. He made rich scarlet your array, 2.
Bright were your looks, your bosoms gay Ne'er be it told in Gath, nor known
With gems of regal gitt, and interwoven gold. Among the streets of Askelon:
6. How will Philistia's youth rejoice
How are the princes sunk in death! And triumph in her sbame,
Fall'n on the shameful ground ! And girls with weak unhallowed voice
There my own Jonathan resign'd his breath : Chant the dishonours of the Hebrew name!
On the high places where he stood, 3.
He lost his honours and his blood, Mounts of Gilboa, let no dew
Oh execrable arm that gave the mortal wound ! Nor fruitful showers descend on you:
7. Curse on your fields through all the year,
My Jonathan, my better part, No flowery blessings there appear,
My brother, and (that dearer name) my friend, Nor golden ranks of harvest stand
I feel the mortal wound that reach'd thy beart, To grace the altar, or to feed the land.
And here my comforts end. 'Twas in those inauspicious fields
How pleasant was thy love to me! Judean heroes lost their shields:
Amazing passion, strong and free! 'Twas there (ah base reproach and scandal of the No dangers could thy steady soul remove: day!)
Not the fair virgin loves to that degree, Thy shield, 0 Saul, was cast away,
Nor map to that degree does the fair virgin love. As though the Prophet's horn had never shed To name my joys awakes my pain, Its sacred odours on thy head.
The dying friend runs cold through every vein.
My Jonathan, my dying friend, The sword of Saul bad ne'er till now
How thick my woes arise? where will my sorrows Awoke to war in vain,
end? Nor Jonathan withdrawn his bow,
8. Withont an army slain.
Unbappy day! distressing sight! Where truth and honour mark'd their way, Israel the land of heaven's delight Not engles swifter to their prey,
How are thy princes fall'n, thy sons of victory Nor lions strong or bold as they.
The broken bow, the shiver'd spear, Graceful in arms and great in war
With all the sullied pomp of war, Were Jonathan and Saul,
In rude confusion spread Pleasant in life, and manly fair,
Promiscuous lie among the dead, Nor death divides the royal pair,
A lamentable sight o'er all th' inglorious plain." And thousands share their fall.
FOR APRIL, 1824.
A SERMON ON THE SPIRITUALITY AND TRUTH OF DIVINE
WORSHIP. The substance of a discourse delivered at the dedication of the Methodist Church in Danville, Vt. Oct. 30, 1822.
BY THE REV. W. FISK, 4. M. God is a Spirit; and they that worship him, must worship him in spirit and in
truth. John iv. 24.
(Concluded from page 90.) These are some of the principal doctrines which we deem necessary to be preached and believed by those who would worship God in truth. We do not say, however, that all who are not believers in all those doctrines, as expressed above, will miss of Heaven: Yet we know of no one of them, that can, in substance, be dispensed with or denied, without endangering the salvation of the soul. Men may, and many do, from a fortunate inconsistency, bring into their experience and practice, many truths which they do not admit into their creed. For example, there are many that deny, in their creed, the defectibility of believers; yet, feeling their danger, they are careful to “keep their bodies under, and bring them into subjection," lest they should be finally cast off. Thus their experience and practice happily correct their creed. The same may be said in several other
Nevertheless, it remains a general truth, that a man's system of faith has a great influence upon his heart and life; and hence, “ Take heed and beware of the leven of the Pharisees and Sadducees," take heed and beware of errors in doctrine, is a very important and necessary caution. But,
2. The truth of God's worship relates, not only to what is to be believed, but also to what is to be experienced.
The adopting a set of articles into our creed, or giving our assent to them as truths provable from scripture, and according with the dictates of reason, is not sufficient, separately from a personal application of them, to effect any man's salvation. It is VOL. VII.
one thing to believe a proposition, in morals or religion, and another thing to believe it with the heart. Not only must the judgment decide in favour of a doctrine, but the heart must feel
When the man, not only believes the general truths, that men are sinners by nature, and exposed to the wrath of God, and that “ Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners," but also feelingly believes that he himself is the chief of sinners; that he is condemned by the law, and exposed to the wrath of God; and that, in Christ and in him only, he may find pardon and salvation, then his faith will be likely to have its desired effect upon his heart. He will repent of his sins, fly to Christ, plead his merits, abandon himself into his hands; and then, the Holy Spirit will seal the pardon of his sins, renovate his affections, and adopt him into Christ's spiritual family. This is what we call Christian experience. Now, and not before, the man is prepared to become a true worshipper of God. He has now that faith that works by love, that purifies the heart, that conquers the spirit of the world within, and the temptations of the world without. Consequently, his heart does not now give the lie to his creed nor to his profession. His creed says he is a sinner; his heart responds, I am the chief of sinners. His creed tells him, Christ is a Saviour; his heart replies, he is my Saviour, I feel him to be mine. He presents himself in the place of a worshipper, and his heart worships; his soul lies prostrate before God; and all within him loves and adores. He unites to sing, and his vocal praises are the true expressions of his inward joy and gratitude. In short, his body becomes the temple of the Holy Ghost, Christ is in him the hope of glory, truth is written on his inward parts, and the very nature of devotion is stamped upon his soul. He need not now ascend up on high, nor descend into the depths, to find Christ, for he is nigh him, even in his heart. He need not now go to Jerusalem nor to the mountains of Samaria to worship; for he fully comprehends this scripture, “He that worships God, must worship him in spirit and in truth."
If the man, who has had this experience, continue faithful to the grace given, his views of the provisions of the gospel will be enlarged, his faith will be strengthened, and all his Christian graces will be proportionably increased : till finally all that is sinful, all that is false, in his heart, will be purged out by the leven of truth, and his whole soul will become sanctified thereby. This is agreeable to that prayer of our Lord for bis disciples, “Sanctify them through thy truth; thy word is truth."
It is not contended, that every one who begins, in Christian experience, does persevere and increase in this experience, to the perfect grace just mentioned. It is a lamentable truth, that by far the greater proportion of professing Christians, and even of experienced christians, live much short of their privilege and duty. This is partly owing to a deficiency in their creed. They set
the standard of Christian experience too low. They do not believe in that perfection of Christian graces mentioned above. And since it is faith that purifies the heart, that purification will not, cannot, be effected, to any degree, beyond the extent of faith. This shows the necessity of a correct system of faith, in order to secure a complete and genuine gospel experience.But another reason why this advancement in experimental truth is so seldom realized, is deficiency in practice. Which brings us to add,
3. The truth of worship relates, not only to what is to be believed and experienced, but also to what is to be done. And unless this part is connected with the other two, the golden chain of gospel truth, that binds the worshipper to his God, is broken. Neither bis faith nor his experience can be perfected; therefore his worship becomes defective and false. Here we see the close connection between all parts of the system of devotion; and their mutual dependence upon each other. Without faith we can have no true experience, without experience we can have no true practice, and without practice we cannot perfect or retain, either our faith or experience. This is agreeable to the word of inspiration - How can ye believe, that receive honour one of another, and seek not the honour that cometh from God only ?” "Faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.” Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect?” “Seeing ye have purified your souls by obeying the truth,” &c.
If the sacred waters of truth flow into the understanding, and stop there, they all evaporate in a set of notions. If they are received into the heart by an experimental faith, and are stopped there, they become stagnant, and soon putrefy ; but, if they flow out into the life, emptying themselves through all the different channels of Christian duties and active performances, then the spiritual circulation is complete--the purifying stream cleanses the soul, and by its constant flow, preserves it pure. Thus, as God is the source in which the springs of all true devotion are found, and from which they are communicated to the soul, so in acts of loving obedience, they must be returned to him again : for this is the requirement of God, that we “work out our salvation with fear and trenibling,” in the same proportion as he “ works in us, to will and to do, of his own good pleasure.” And in this way, all our acts must be done to the glory of God. “Whether, therefore, ye eat, or drink, or whatever ye do, do all to the glory of God.” So that in a certain sense, all the acts of a devout soul are acts of worship. They are performed with a devotional spirit.
But we cannot now speak of the acts of justice and mercy ; of the various personal, relative, social, and moral duties of a religious life.
We come to speak of worship, properly so called. By which we mean, not merely that spirit of devotion with which the godly heart is possessed, but that spirit going out in acts of worshipthe exercises of active devotion. For we have already seen, that active exercise is necessary to the reception and continuance of the spirit of worship. And the requisition of God in his word, makes such acts necessary. It is impossible, therefore, to worship God in truth without these.
Worship divides itself into private, social and public. I can dwell upon the two former but moment.
By private devotion is understood those seasons, consecrated froin all other employments, in which the soul in secret, engages in meditation, prayer and praise. The necessity for this is found in that command of our Saviour, “ Enter into thy closet, and pray to thy Father which seeth in secret." For this there should be set times; for what is left for any time, will probably be performed at no time. “Stated seasons," says one, * "fór indispensable employments, are absolutely necessary, for so desultory, so versatile a creature as man.” On this part of worship, I can only add, that in secret devotion, the heart should be honest before God; should seek to get near him, and hold cominunion with him; should be fervent, persevering, believing:
The propriety and necessity of social worship, is founded on that Old Testament scripture—“They that feared the Lord, spake often one to another;" and on that encouraging declaration of our Lord, “Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them;" and on many other scriptures. This worship is performed in families, in private circles, and in social meetings for religious conversation, prayer and thanksgiving; and affords the advantage of mutual edification, by the united devotion of a number of individuals. The principal thing to be observed peculiar to social worship, is a union of design, of feeling, of faith and of exertion. Unless this union can be secured, social worship cannot be performed in truth; for indeed, without this it is not social-it is disunited, it is discordant. Such devotion gains nothing, but rather loses, for being performed in the presence of a number. But when this union is effected, the time, the place, the mode, are of but little consequence.
But we hasten to speak more largely upon public worship. We have already seen that the worship of God consists in the right dispositions of the heart, and proper exercise of mind, rather than in any outward peculiarity of time, form, or place. But we have also noticed, that, though the acceptableness of worship was to be determined by the frame of the heart, yet this did not render any outward form or place useless. And that form must be a concerted form, that place must be a concerted place, that time must be an appointed time.
* Miss H, More.