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:) R. Johnson hath observed concerning de
votional poetry, that the sanctity of the matter rejects the ornaments of figurative diction." Inferior subjects may be heightened by the charms of rhetoric, but this is too sublime to receive any decoration from human eloquence ; and we often debase it by making the attempt. Dr. Watts, in one of his hymns, hath said,
“ Join all the names of love and power
Or set Emanuel's glory forth.” Yet; such was the imperfeétion of one of the best of men, that we frequently find in his divine poems, epithets and allusions taken from “ mortal beauties,' and applied to the Saviour, with a license disgusting, to the spirit of devotion. It has been my aim to avoid these familiarities; and either to change or omit such epithets and allusions.
The names of the authors from whom this felestion is made, are subjoined to cach p;alia or Lyrien; excepting when they are urkuuwt, or have requested concealment. Most of these names are familiar to the readers of poetry; but thers is one, to whom 1 am largely indebted for some of tise most elegant of these productions, who is but little known in this country, and of zuhom I concuiquc ine following account will be acceptable to every reader,
“ ANNE STEELE was the eldest daughter of a di senting minister at Broughton, in Hampshire; a man of piety, integrity, benevolence, and the most amiable simplicity of manners. She discovered in early life, her love of the mufes, and often entertained her friends, with the truly poetical and pious productips of her pen. But, it was her infelicity, as it has been of many of her kindred spirits, to have a capacious soaring mind inclosed in a very weak and languid body. She lived, for the inot part, a life of retirement in the same peaceful village where the began and ended her days. The duties of friendship and religion occupied her time, and the pleasures of both constituted her delight. Her heart was apt to feel, often to a degree too painful for her own felicity; but always with the most tender and generous sympathy for her friends, Þet,
fpe polleled a native cheerfiilnefs ; of which, even the agonizing pains fpe ena dured, in the latter part of her life, could not deprive her. In every short interval of abated suffering, fhe would in a variety of ways, as well as by her enlivening conversation, give pleasure to all around her. Her life
. was a life of uncffected humility, warm benevolence, fincere friendship, and genuine devotion. She waited with christian dignity for the hour of her departure : When it came, she welcomed its appraacht, and having taken an affectionate leave of her friends ciofed.herieges, with tkese animating words on her lif: *know that my Redeemer liveth.
This account is taken from the preface to the third volume of her middellaneous pieces in prose and verse,” published urtder ikke anne of THEODOSIA, by the Rer. Celeb Evans, of Bristol, 1780, after her deceafe.
It is humbly apprehended, that a grateful and affectionate address to the exalted Saviour of mankind, or a hymn in honour of the Eternal Spirit, cannot be disagreeable to the mind of God. To figmatize such an act of devotion with the name of idolatry, is ( to say the least) an abuse of language. It cannot be justly charged with derogating from the glory due to the ONE God and Father of all, because he is the ultimate object of the honour which is given to his Son and to his Spirit.
In this selection, those Christians who do not forum ple to sing praises to their Redeemer and Sančtifier, will find materials for such a sublime enjoyment ; whilst others, whose tenderness of conscience may oblige them to confine their addresses to the Father on», will find ng deficiency of matter suited to their idea of of the chafte and awful spirit of devotion."
Boston, May 10, 1795.
N. B. The characters denoting the sharp or flat key, are prefixed to each psalm or hymn, at my request, by the Rev. Dr. Morse, of Charlestown.