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DR. JOHNSON hath observed concerning devotional poetry, that “the sanctity of the matter rejects the ornaments of figurative diction." Inferior subjects may be heightened by the charms of rhetorick, but this is too sublime to receive any decoration from human eloquence ; and we often debase it by making the attempt. Dr. W ATTs, 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 imperfection 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 se. lection is made, are subjoined to each psalm ar hymn ; excepting when they are unknown, or have requested concealment. Most of these names are familiar to the readers of poetry ; but there is one, to whom I 'am largely indebted for some of the most elegant of these productions, who is but little known in this country, and of whom I conceive the following account will be acceptable to every reader.
“ ANNE STEELE, was the eldest daughter of a dissenting minister at Broughton, in Hampshire ; a man of niety, integrity, benevolence, and the most amiable simplicity of manners. She discovered in early life, her love of the muses, and often entertained her friends, with the truly poetical and pious productions 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 most part, a life of retirement in the same peaceful village where she 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. Yet, she possessed a native cheerfulnes8 ; of which, even the agonizing pains she endured, in the latter part of her life, could not deprive her. short interval of abated suffering, she 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 unaffected humility, warm benevolence, sincere friendship, and genuine devotion. She waited with christian dignity for the hour of her departure : when it came, she wel. comed its approach ; and having taken an afectionate leave of her friends, closed her eyes with these animating words on her lips, “ I know that my Redeemer liveth.'
This account is taken from the preface to the third volume of her “iniscellaneons pieces in prose and verse," published under the name of Theodosia, by the Rev. Caleb
of Bristol, 1780, after her decease.
It is humbly apprehended, that a grateful and afectionate addrc88 to the exalted Saviour of mankind, or a hymn in honour of the eternal Spirit, cannot be disagreeable to the mind of God. To stigmatize 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 scruple to sing praises to their Redeemer and Sanctifier, will find materials for such a sublime enjoyment ; whilst others, whose tenderness of conscience may oblige them to confine their addresses to the Father only, will find no deficiency of matter suited to their idea of the chaste and awful spirit of devotion."
Boston, May 10, 1793.
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 Charles. V
* Father of Profefoir G. F. 3. Ale752
THE Hymns from the 300th to the end, are added to this edition, and have been selected by the successor of the Rev. Author. It is hoped that they will increase the value of the collection, and will serve to cherish that spirit of genuine devotion, which the whole work is eminently adapted to promote.
xDr. Belknak dici Pure Nó tras a wadace. akit an . Pontes 0 tev7 as hari are o meu
PSALM I. Common Metre. * The Happiness of the Righteous and the Misery of the
Where sinners love to meet ;
And hates the scoffer's seat.
Has plac'd his chief delight;
And meditates by night.
By living waters set,
Enjoys a peaceful state.
Shall his profession shine ;
Like clusters on the vine.
What vain designs they form ;
Or chaff before the storm.
Among the sons of grace;