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THE DESERT OF SINAI. 67
the places in which many of the inscriptions are found. Dr. Bonar says, “A large number we could easily reach with the hand, and the rest with Aladder of very moderate length; certainly no ropes or scaffolding could be necessary in any that we saw.” The figures of camels, goats, serpents, etc., he believes to be not hieroglyphics, but intended for the recreation of these primitive sculptors. Many of the figures are in grotesque and absurd attitudes. The Christian origin of these writings is still more void of any plausible support. And the single consideration, that, while the Christian pilgrims of the sixth century, for instance, spoke tongues still known, the inscriptions are in a character unknown, is itself fatal to this theory. Couple with this the fact, that though pilgrims resorted o: in great numbers to the convents in Wady Feirán, where thousands of monks and hermits : dwelt, yet no inscriptions are found in that valley, while Wady Mukatteb is full of them; and we shall see that this theory is untenable. The writings are evidently much more ancient, the characters being obviously those of a rude and early alphabet. But does our author do no more than upset previous theories? No; he suggests another, but with the modesty which is demanded by the obscurity of the subject, and by the want of a more exhaustive investigation. He throws a new light upon an interesting passage in “the Lands of the Bible,” in which Dr. Wilson tells us, that seeing in the neighbouring mountains by the aid of the telescope, “dark metallic veins or basaltie dykes," he proceeded to examine them and found every evidence of mining on a vast scale. The mountains were peeled and excavated where the dykes occurred. Great quantities of debris and slag, with what appeared to be the remains of mortars and smelting furnaces, were found. Other visitors of the same mountains have discovered tools and ehisel-marks, and, besides this, have observed inscriptions and representations of animals. Does not this suggest as a probable explanation that the ancient miners, who must have been long resident in those regions, may have been the authors of the Mukatteb writings? We still desiderate a careful comparison of the inscriptions occurring in the old mines with those in Mukatteb, as an important element towards a satisfactory solution. Even if this point were established, it still remains to be inquired to what nation th: miners belonged. They were not Egyptians, or the Egyptian hieroglyphics would not have been absent. The similarity of the character to that of the Phoenician alphabet suggests a Phoenician origin: no nation, perhaps, is more likely to have been engaged on such vast schemes of mining and export than these active traders. But further investigation is required. It is not without considerable regret that we see the foundations of the stately Israelitish theory, by which Mr. Forster, a few years ago, led captive our imaginations, crumble into dust. But we search for truth not for gratification; and the judgment ought to be satisfied before the fancy is indulged. The good cause gains nothing by being propped with flying buttresses of sand which the first wind of the desert will sweep away. We thank Dr. Bonar for his contribution towards the elucidation of this interesting subject, and for his graphic narrative; and we shallexpect with interest the promised record of his journeyings in Palestine.
AN APPEAL TO THE CHURCH ON THE IMPROVEMENT OF PRAISE.
THE expression of praise in public worship is not a ministerial service. It is the exercise of all the church. Therefore it requires a verbal expression of sentiment, or poetry, and a melodious expression, or music. Poe and music are the great vehicles of praise. They best befit the utterance of deep feeling and rapturous gladness. Both should be of the highest order. Bad poetry and good music are discordant. Bad music and good poetry are equally outrageous. But there is no necessity for our dependence on either. We have the same inspired psalms as were sung in the ancient church, and which express the varied experience of the spiritual mind. Of old they were used in the unmetrical form, to which our prose translation is most akin, and which could still be sung. But our metrical version—a most admirable translation, oting its ruggedness and occasional difficulty of use—has become time-honoured, and could not easily be superseded. In this form, these songs of Zion were our cradle hymns and our father's dying melodies. They are hallowed by the history of our church's sufferings, ingrained in our national * and belong to the English-speaking Presbyterians all over the .." ut as the New Testament contains poetic sentiments, and a new dispensation of clearer light and greater #. than the Old, it is o: and right that evangelic hymns of praise, more verbally Christian, should be part of our psalmody. This has been acknowledged, and a contribution made to our spiritual songs in the paraphrases and hymns attached to our psalms. An extension of these É. also been commended and ordered to be prepared. And we humbly think that, without engaging poetasters of the present to write new ones, there are hymns enough which have received the sanction of all the churches within this empire, which contain sound theology, rich Christian experience, glowing devotion, and most poetic sentiments, and would in a small collection prove a valuable boon to our Christian congregations. Such as, “There is a fountain filled with blood,” “Rock of ages,” “Jesus, lover of my soul,” etc., have long been favourites with the people of God. Music is necessary to praise in the sanctuary. In Israel of old an educated song raised the sacred melodies in worship. Christianity has not weakened, but improved our sciences and arts. It encourages the
music should therefore partake of our advancement. Of course, it must not supplant, but aid devotion. It must be appropriate to the subject and to the people. It is sacred and for worship, and should be such as may stir the spiritual feelings of the soul, and draw them forth. It is for the many, not for the few, and should therefore be simple, easy of comprehension and of expression. But sacred music is an art, and requires cultivation. It is employed for the noblest purpose, and is worthy of the best attention we can afford, and of the highest attainment we can acquire. Piety can give the psalmody of the heart, but a cultivated taste only can produce a music worthy of #. sanctuary. These two influences act and re-act upon each other. The art is improved by consecration, and piety by refinement.
cultivation of all refinement, intellectual, emotional, and aesthetic. Our
Music has been neglected. How are we to improve it? A well-skilled divine" has suggested three things: (1) the religious view of the subject, or the appeal to every worshipper's conscience, (2) the refinement, or perhaps creation of a musical taste among the people, and (3) the cultiwation of the art. These are rules applicable to ourselves, and if observed would do much to place our praise in its right position in public worship. There is better education both in our pulpits and pews on other subjects, and there ought to be in this. A refined mind is satisfied and sanctified by a sacred music that is artistic as well as devotional. We are aware of the difficulty which those feel who have neglected music in youth, to begin improvement in riper years; yet even they may be appealed to for the sake of their families. The young are the church's hope. Among them secular music has many votaries accomplished in the art, who are, sad to relate! most deficient in the music of the sanctuary. The world finds plenty to sing its praise. Its scenes of beauty and grandeur, its deeds of bravery, and its joyous and sorrowful affections, never lack their choristers. But, alas! how often are the voices of professing worshippers dumb in praise of the love of God, the sufferings of Christ, the victory of faith, and the consolations of grace! Are these themes not inviting? Are the subjects of praise unreal? They are no fictions, but events that engage the interest of heaven, and produce experiences never to fade. If anything should encourage and evoke extatic gladness and sweetest music, salvation surely is the theme. We said, the young are the church's hope. They should therefore receive our attention and education in this part of public worship. The service of song was wont to be practised in domestic worship, and thus all were prepared for taking part in the sanctuary. But Ichabod is written on many a hearth—the ark of God is gone. Let us use the schools, and let the church be the spiritual mother of rising youth, and train singers for the house of God. Praise is essentially gladness and gratitude. The music of the sanctuary should therefore be joyous. The gospel is “glad tidings of great joy.” Its o should therefore be lively. Nevertheless there are times of sorrow, when a rapid air would ruffle the soul; but there are plaintive psalms and “grave sweet melodies,” calm and slow to suit the subdued feelings at such seasons. These, however, are exceptions to the idea of praise in the sanctuary. Dr. Watts wrote strongly on this subject, and argued that a more rapid praise “would make our psalmody more agreeable to that of the ancient churches, more intelligible to others, and more delightful to ourselves.” “Why wilt thou make bright music Give forth a sound of pain?
Why wilt thou weave fair flowers
Church music is reviving. It is becoming a branch of education in schools, and drawing the attention of congregations. By God's blessing it may be a means of elevating our piety, and of alluring others to the sanctuary. George Herbert says—
“A verse may find him who a sermon flies,
* The Rev. A. L. R. Foote, of Brechin, in the “Psalmodist.”
When singing is intelligent, artistic, congregational, and solemn, it will be edifying. Such music diverts our service from the selfish petition into common praise, and gives a heavenly experience to the earthly sanctuary. It is desirable that we had our psalms associated with particular tunes, so that the former would at once suggest the latter. It is greatly to be desiderated that congregations could sing in parts. This would give each voice a place in the general harmony. Such attainment was made by the common people at the Reformation period in Edinburgh. , Calderwood tells us in his history that when Mr. John Durie, one of the city ministers, was restored to his charge in 1582, after banishment: “As he is coming up from Leith to Edinburgh there met him at the Gallowgreen two hundred men of the inhabitants. Their numbers still increased till he came within the Netherbow, there they began to sing the 124th Psalm, ‘Now Israel may say,’ &c., and sang in four parts, known to the most part of the people. They came up the street till they came to the great Kirk, singing all the way, to the number of two thousand.” A recent article in one of our Reviews, after quoting this extract, remarks: “It thus appears that our Scottish ancestors, during the period of the first Reformation, were so well versed in harmony, that a promiscuous crowd could, without any previous concert, without book or precentor, easily join in singing a whole psalm in counterpoint of four parts.” Were we to make a similar acquirement, how rapturous and edifying would be our music in the sanctuary ! It is desirable that an honest and hearty effort be made to improve the service of song amongst us; that parents get their children instructed, teachers their scholars, and the church her members. Kept within its own sphere and consecrated to the service of God, music is an influential handmaid to devotion. The Holy Spirit has used, and still deigns to use it. When the heart is thrilled with the sweet strains of the Redeemer's praise, He can deepen the impression, and bear the soul into the choir of heaven. We feel in that solemn moment that
“We join our cheerful songs,
It is desirable that a deeper sense of personal obligation to the Lord Jesus pervaded the hearts of worshippers. Then there would be heart to give cultivated song its grandest virtue, its certain acceptance, and its reflex blessings. Praise is comely only when fragrant with the Redeemer's merits, and mixed with faith. It is blessed only when the service of son is laid on the golden altar of incense as an offering to God. An ioi salvation tunes the sweetest melody. Otherwise mirth will soon be changed to wailing, and music into the discord of despair. The heart well tuned by the love of Jesus is the best praise of God. Thus are these lines true: “For never harp nor lyre revealed Such music as the heart can yield.”
...But in addition to the melody of the heart, let us have “a psalm of life.” The heart grateful for a Saviour's love evinces its gratitude in a holy and useful life. The acquirements of grace adorning the character, and the labours of love adorning the life, make a harmonious psalm to God. Like the harp AEolian which every passing breeze made musical, the life of a consistent Christian sends forth by its every act and aspect notes of praise. This is something more than musical genius and joyous
song, it is an ever-echoing anthem. Like the fragrant breezes that float upon the air around some Eastern isle, this "psalm of life" is never silent. Its vibrations thrill the hearts of observers around, and gladden the heavenly halls. There are no strains more winning to woo sinners to the Saviour, and none that create more pleasure in the heart of Him who thus sees of the travail of his soul. Let our “ psalm of life” be musical, without discords, or false notes. Let it be harmonious, clear, and impressive. Let it be like Christ's, "a psalm of life" undisturbed by sin, pathetic with tribulation, and rapturous with the joy set before Him.
In fine, let us prepare for the Hallelujahs of the ransomed church. Praise will be the constant occupancy of the redeemed. There they all are full of gratitude to Him " that loved them and washed them from their sins in his own blood.” There all have places in the many-millioned choir, and fill the heavenly temple with a grand diapason of praise. They cease not day nor night. They weary not. They change not their song, Infinite variety is in the one great theme, and they never exhaust its fulness. Glorious orchestra !
“ A thousand times that man were blest,
That might its music hear."
ELI AND HIS SONS:
A WORD FOR FATHERS AND CHILDREN.
Ir is by such cases as those of Eli and his sons that we are reminded that grace is not hereditary, and that God's own children are born, not of the will of man, but of God.
"If the conveyance of grace,” says Bishop Hall, “were natural, holy parents would not be so ill-suited with children. If virtue were as well entailed on us as sin, one might serye to check the other in our children; but now, since grace is derived from heaven on whomsoever it pleases the Giver; and evil, which our children receive hereditarily from us, is multiplied by their own corruption, it can be no wonder that good men have evil children ; it is rather a wonder that any children are not evil,
"The sons of Eli were as lewd as himself was holy. If the goodness of examples, precepts, education, profession, could have been preservatives from the extremity of sin, these sons of a holy father had not been wicked! Now, neither parentage, nor breeding, nor priesthood, can keep the sons of Eli from being sons of Belial.
“ If,” he adds, “our children be good, let us thank God for it; if evil, they may thank us and themselves for the improvement of it to that height of wickedness.” i We honour, then, the sovereignty of God, in giving or withholding
grace. But yet, it is distinctly a principle enunciated in the case of Eli and his sons, that grace is withheld, grace is given according to the neglect or the use by parents of the ordained and appointed means of training children for God. And surely no parent who has ungodly children, with an Eli's consciousness of neglect, will dare to lay the fault at any other door than his own ? Sovereignty there is, and God does, in its exercise, “take one of a city and two of a family and bring them to Zion.” |