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introduction to the admirable work of Doddridge. The perusal of the prefatory pages demands a very different effort of mind, from that which is required by the subsequent portion; and its effect, though equally intense, belongs to another class of sensations, or rather is suited to a distinct state of mental cultivation. Mr. Foster is not less intelligible than the Author of the Rise and Progress, but it requires a more decided effort of mind to follow his leading; and we can easily imagine two descriptions of readers, one of which shall dwell upon his vigorous and imaginative composition with fixed attention and strong emotion, while the other shall turn with more congenial admiration to the simpler eloquence of Doddridge.
A fierce caricature of Doddridge's mild and characteristic countenance is prefixed: mustachios, a banditti beard, and a Judas wig are alone wanting to make it a very satisfactory edition of the Saracen's head.
Art. VI. The Christian Psalmist, or Hymns, selected and original. By James Montgomery. 12mo. pp. 444. Price 5s. Glasgow, 1825.
E have now a tolerable variety of collections for the purposes of religious worship, and yet, notwithstanding the acknowledged merit of some among them, there seems to be a general feeling that something in this way, both more select and more complete, is still wanting. Some of those in use are adapted to the peculiar views of different sects; others have not been compiled with sufficient regard to the affinities between verbal articulation and musical cadence. There is much excellent poetry that would make an ill figure in the hands of a composer, or the throats of a choir. In short, whatever the origin of such a sentiment may be, there does exist a prevalent opinion that a manual of devotional poetry, adapted for congregational singing, would, if selected with knowledge and practical skill, be highly acceptable to Christian churches. There are ample materials for such a compilation, and we would lay it down, as a rule never to be departed from, that nothing of inferior or doubtful quality should, on any pretext, be admitted. The neglect of this has marred many an otherwise excellent selection. Some dull favourite, some sterile lyric by an unrefusable friend, some anxiety to please, or fear to offend, certain individuals, have interfered with the symmetry of a well-arranged plan, and given it the aspect of incoherence. There should be nothing of what is technically called balaam, nothing to fill up an awkward gap:
where completeness might be unattainable, its absence would be preferable to bad proportion. A picturesque ruin is better than an entire, if awkward, structure. A regiment is more. efficient when the poltroons are sent to guard the baggage.
No selection can ever be popular of which the hymns of Watts do not form the foundation. In particulars he has been surpassed, but, on the whole, he is without a rival; and if, in some of his productions, he has failed, in the large proportion he has combined more of the specific requisites for congregational psalmody, than any who have come after him: as to his predecessors, we are not aware of any, with perhaps a partial exception in favour of Bishop Ken, that can be considered as approaching him.
Next to Dr. Watts as a hymn writer, undoubtedly stands the Rev. Charles Wesley. He was probably the author of a great number of compositions of this kind, with less variety of matter or manner, than any other man of genius that can be named. Excepting his "Short Hymns on Passages of Scripture," which of course make the whole tour of Bible literature, and are of very unequal merit,— Christian experience, from the days of afflictions, through all the gradations of doubt, fear, desire, faith, hope, expectation, to the transports of perfect love, in the very beams of the beatific vision,— Christian experience furnishes him with everlasting and inexhaustible themes; and it must be confessed, that he has celebrated them with an affluence of diction, and a splendour of colouring, rarely surpassed. At the same time, he has invested them with a power of truth, and endeared them both to the imagination and the affections, with a pathos which makes feeling conviction, and leaves the understanding little to do but to acquiesce in the decisions of the heart. As the Poet of Methodism, he has sung the doctrines of the Gospel as they were expounded among that people, dwelling especially on the personal appropriation of the words of eternal life to the sinner, or the saint, as the test of his actual state before God, and admitting nothing less than the full assurance of faith as the privilege of be. lievers :
"Faith, mighty faith, the promise sees,
Laughs at impossibilities,
And says-It shall be done.
"Faith lends her realising light,
The clouds disperse, the shadows fly,
The Invisible appears in sight,
And God is seen by mortal eye!"
These are glimpses of our Author's manner, broad indeed, and awful, but signally illustrative, like lightning out of darkness, revealing for a moment the whole hemisphere. Among C. Wesley's
highest achievements may be recorded, "Come, O thou traveller unknown," &c. page 43, in which, with consummate art, he has carried on the action of a lyrical drama; every turn in the conflict with the mysterious being against whom he wrestles all night, being marked with precision by the varying language of the speaker, accompanied by intense, increasing interest, till the rapturous moment of discovery, when he prevails, and exclaims, I know thee, Saviour, who thou art," &c. The hymn, page 364, "Come on, my partners in distress," &c. anticipates the strains, and is written almost in the spirit of the Church triumphant. "Thou wretched man of sorrow," &c. and its companion-piece, "Great Author of my being," &c. pages 278, 9, are composed with great strength and fervency of feeling, feeling congenial, yet perfectly contrasted with that in the former instance; for here, instead of the society of saints and angels, he indulges lonely, silent anguish, desiring to live and die alone" with God, as if creature-communion had ceased with him for ever. "Thou God of glorious majesty !" &c. page 158, is a sublime contemplation in another vein; solemn, collected, unimpassioned thought, but thought occupied with that which is of everlasting import to a dying man, standing on the lapse of a moment between "two eternities." The hymn on the Day of Judgement, "Stand the omnipotent decree," begins with a note abrupt and awakening like the sound of the last trumpet. This is altogether one of the most daring and victorious flights of our Author. Such pieces prove, that if Charles Wesley's hymns are less varied than might have been desired for general purposes, it was from choice, and predilection to certain views of the Gospel in its effects upon human minds, and not from want of diversity of gifts. It is probable, that the severer taste of his brother, the Rev. John Wesley, greatly tempered the extravagance of Charles, pruned his luxuriances, and restrained his impetuosity, in those hymns of his which form a large proportion of the Methodist collection; the few which are understood to be John's in that book, being of a more intellectual character than what are known to be Charles's, while the latter are wonderfully improved by abridgement and compression, in comparison with the originals as they were first given to the public.'
Doddridge, Toplady, Cowper, Beddome are names too well known to need our eulogy, and as we are not, at present, intending to frame a hymnological code, we shall not attempt a discriminative estimate of their excellencies and defects. there are less obvious sources from which contributions may be obtained; and one of these, which seems hitherto to have lain under a sort of ban and interdict, has furnished Mr. Montgomery with some beautiful specimens of devotional poetry.
Give to the winds thy fears;
Hope and be undismayed;
God shall lift up thy head.
Through waves, through clouds and storms,
Wait thou his time; so shall the night
He every where hath sway,
Thou seest our weakness, Lord;
And publish, with our latest breath,
These fine stanzas are from the Moravian Hymn-book, and there are other examples of equal worth from the same collection. The last section of the volume contains about a hundred ⚫ original hymns' by Mr. Montgomery himself, and a more interesting series of compositions will not be found in the pages of the most highly favoured among the writers of sacred poetry. They are not overloaded with epithet and ornament, though there is enough of decoration to give colour to the thought and feeling. Evangelical simplicity and devotional sentiment are, however, their distinguishing characteristics; and with Mr. M.'s pure taste it could not be otherwise, since nothing can betray greater infirmity of judgement than the sacrifice to the imagination, of that which concerns the heart. The following is an average specimen.
Thou, God, art a consuming fire;
From toil and tumult to retire,
And meet Thee face to face.
Though "Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord!"
And angel-choirs, with one accord,
Worship, with veiling wings ;
Though earth thy footstool, heaven thy throne,
Thy path deep floods, thy steps unknown,
Thy counsels mystery ;
< Yet wilt thou look on him who lies
A suppliant at thy feet;
'Between the Cherubim of old
But God, through Christ, we now behold
Through Him who all our sickness felt,
• Touched with a feeling of our woes,
All our infirmities he knows;
Our souls are in his hands.
He bears them up with strength divine,
Lord, cause thy face on us to shine;
On the whole, we feel ourselves under much obligation to Mr. Montgomery for this volume, both as an excellent manual of devotion, and a collection of delightful poetry. It is decidedly of a higher order than any other book of the kind that we are acquainted with; compiled under the guidance of better canons of selection, and printed, as far as our recollections serve, without any of that affectation of editorship and alteration which has so frequently annoyed us. There are several hymns of antique character, and remarkable for the raciness and vigour which such compositions frequently exhibit, that are new to us; and there is an admirable instance of the effect of judicious adaptation, in a hymn formed by the selection of five stanzas from one of Merrick's psalms consisting of seventeen. The collection is divided into five parts. I. Scripture subjects.-2. Prayer and Praise.-3. Special Occasions.-4. Miscellaneous Hymns.-5. Original Hymns. The Introduc