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loud voice, for all the mighty works that they had seen, saying, “ Blessed be the king that cometh in the namo of the Lord ! peace in heaven, and glory in the highest !" The Pharisees said to Christ,“ Master, rebuke thy disciples.” They did not understand such great transports of joy ; it seemed to them a very unsuitable and indecent noise and clamour that they made, a confused uproar, many crying out together, as though they were out of their wits: they wondered that Christ would tolerate it. But what says Christ í “I tell you, that if these should hold their peace, the stones would immediately cry out.” The words seem to intimate, that there was cause enough to constrain those whose hearts were not harder than the very stones to cry out, and make a noise ; which is something like that other expression, of " causing the lips of those that are asleep to speak."
When many, under great religious affections, are earnestly speaking together of divine wonders, in various parts of a company, to those who are next them; some attending to one, and others to another; there is something very beautiful in it, provided they do not speak so as to drown each other's voices, that none can hear what any say. There is a greater and more affecting appearance of a joint engagedness of heart, in the love and praises of God: and I had rather see it, than to see one speaking alone, and all attending to what he says ; it has more of the appearance of conversation. When a multitude meets on any occasion of temporal rejoicing, freely and cheerfully to converse together, they are not wont to observe the ceremony of but one speaking at a time, while all the rest in a formal manner set themselves to attend to what he says. That would spoil all conversation, and turn it into the formality of set speeches. It is better for lay persons, speaking one to ano. ther of the things of God, when they meet together, to speak after the manner of christian conversation, than to observe the formality of but one speaking at a time, the whole multitude silently and solemnly attending to what he says; which would carry in it too much of the air of the authority and solemnity of preaching. The apostle says, 1 Cor. xiv. 29, 30, 31. “Let the prophets speak, two or three, and let the others judge: If any thing be revealed to another that sitteth by, let the first hold his peace: For ye may all prophecy, one by one, that all may learn, and all may be comforted :" but this does not reach the present case, because what the apostle is speaking of is the solemnity of their religious exereises in public worship, and persons speaking in the church by immediate inspiration, and in the use of the gift of prophecy, or some gift of inspiration, in the exercise of which they acted as extraordinary ministers of Christ,
VII. Another thing, that some have foand fault with,
is abounding so much in singing in religious meetings. Objection against such a thing as this, seems to arise from a suspicion already established of this work. They doubt of the pretended extraordinary love and joys that attend this work, and so find fault with the manifestations of them. If they thought persons were truly the subjects of an extraordinary degree of divine love, and heavenly rejoicing in God, I suppose they would not wonder at their having a disposition to be much in praise. They object not against the saints and angels in heaven singing praises and hallelujahs to God, without ceasing day or night; and therefore doubtless will allow that the more the saints on earth are like them in their dispositions, the more they will be disposed to do like them. They will readily own that the generality of Christians have great reason to be ashamed that they have so little thankfulness, and are no more in praising God, whom they have such infinite cause to praise. And why therefore should Christians be found fault with, for shewing a disposition, to be much in praising God, and manifesting a delight in that heavenly exercise? To complain of this, is to be too much like the Pharisees, who were disgusted when the multitude of the disciples began to rejoice, and with loud voices to praise God, and cry, Hosanna, when Christ was entering into Jerusalem.
There are many things in scripture, that seem to intimate that praising God, both in speeches and songs, will be what the church of God will very much abound in, in the approaching glorious day. So on the seventh day of compassing the walls of Jericho, when the priests blew with the trumpets in an extraordinary manner, the people shouted with a great shout, and the wall of the city fell down flat. So the ark was brought back from its banishment, with extraordinary shouting and singing of the whole congregation of Israel. And the places in the prophecies of scripture, signifying that the church of God, in the glorious Jubilee that is foretold, shall greatly abound in singing and shouting forth the praises of God, are too many to be mentioned. And there will be cause enough for it: I believe it will be a time wherein both heaven and earth will be much more full of joy and praise than ever they were before.
But what is more especially found fault with, in the singing that is now practised, is making use of hymns of human composure. I am far from thinking that the book of Psalms should be thrown by in our public worship, but that it should always be used in the Christian church to the end of the world : But I know of no obligation we are under to confine ourselves to it. I can find no command or rule of God's word, that dose any more confine us to the words of the scriptare in our singing, than it does in our praying; we speak to God in both. And I can see no reason why we should limit ourselves to such particular forms of words, that we find in the Bible, in speaking to him by way of praise in metre, and with music, than when we speak to him in prose, by way of prayer and supplication. And it is really needful that we should have some other songs besides the Psalms of David. It is unreasonable to suppose that the Christian church should for ever, and even in times of her greatest light, in her praises of God and the Lamb, be confined only to the words of the Old Testament, wherein all the greatest and most glorious things of the gospel, that are infinitely the greatest subjects of her praise, are spoken of under à vail, and not so much as the name of our glorious Redeemer ever mentioned, but in some dark figure, or as hid under the name of some type. And as to our making use of the words of others, and not those that are conceived by ourselves, it is no more than we do in all our public prayers; the whole worshipping assembly, excepting one only, makes use of the words that are conceived by him who speaks for the rest.
VIII. Another thing that many have disliked, is the religious meetings of children to read and pray together, and perform religious exercises by themselves. What is objected is children's want of that knowledge and discretion which is requisite in order to a decent and profitable management of religious exercises. But it appears to me the objection is not sufficient Children, as they have the nature of men, are inclined to society: and those of them who are capable of society one with another, are capable of the influences of the Spirit of God in its active fruits. And if they are inclined by a religious disposition, which they have from the spirit of God, in order to improve their society one with another, in a religious manner, and to religious purposes, who should forbid them? If they have not discretion to observe method in their religious performances, or to speak sense in all that they say in prayer, they may notwithstanding have a good meaning, and God understands them, and it does not spoil or interrupt their devotion one with another. We who are adults have defects in our prayers, that are a thousand times worse in the sight of God, and are a greater confusion, and more absurd nonsense in his eyes, than their childish indiscretions. There is not so much difference before God, between children and grown persons, as we are ready to imagine; we are all poor, ignorant, foolish babes, in his sight. Our adult age does not bring us so much nearer to God as we are apt to think. God in this work has shewn a remarkable regard to little children; never was there such a glorious work amongst persons in their chjldhood, as has been of late, in New England. He has been
pleased in a wonderful manner to perfect praise out of the mouths of babes and sucklings; and inany of them have more of that knowledge and wisdom that pleases him, and renders their religious worship acceptable, than many of the great and learned men of the world: it is they, in the sight of God, who are the ignorant and foolish children; these are grown men, and an hundred years old, in comparison with them. It is to be hoped that the days are coming, prophesied of Isa. Ixv. 20. " when the child shall die an hundred years old."
I have seen many happy effects of children's religious meetings; and God has seemed often remarkably to own them in their meetings, and really descended from heaven to be amongst them: I have known several probable instances of children being converted at such meetings.
I should therefore think, that if children appear to be really moved to it by a religious disposition, and not merely from a childish affectation of imitating grown persons, they ought by no means to be discouraged or discountenanced. But yet it is fit that care should be taken of them by their parents and pastors, to instruct and direct them, and to correct imprudent conduct and irregularities if they are perceived, or any thing by which the devil may pervert and destroy the design of their meetings. -All should take heed that they do not find fault with and despise the religion of children, from an evil principle, lest they should be like the chief priests and scribes, who were sore displeased at the religious worship and praises of little children, and the honour they gave Christ in the temple. We have an account of it, and of what Christ said upon it, in Matt. xxi. 15, 16. “And when the chief priests and scribes saw the wonderful things that he did, and the children crying in the temple, and saying, Hosannah to the son of David, they were sore displeased, and said unto him, Hearest thou what those say? And Jesus saith unto them, Yea, have ye never read, Out of the mouths of babes and sucklings thou hast perfected praise ?"
SHEWING WHAT THINGS ARE TO BE CORRECTED OR AVOIDED,
IN PROMOTING THIS WORK, OR IN OUR BEHAVIOUR UNDER IT.
Having thus observed, in some instances, wherein the conduct of those that have appeared to be the subjects of this work or have been zealous to promote it, has been objected against or complained of without or beyond just cause; I proceed now, to shew what things ought to be corrected or avoided.
Many, who are zealous for this glorious work of God, are heartily sick of the great noise there is in the country about imprudences and disorders ; they have heard it so often from the mouths of opposers, that they are prejudiced against the sound. And they look upon it, that what is called being prudent and regular, so much insisted on, is no other than being asleep, or cold and dead in religion; and that the great imprudence, so much blamed, is only being alive and engaged in the things of God. They are therefore rather confirmed in any practice, than brought off from it, by the clamour they hear against it, as imprudent and irregular. And, to tell the truth, the
of irregularity and imprudence has been much more in the mouths of those who have been enemies to the main of the work than others; for they have watched for the halting of the zealous, and eagerly catched at any thing that has been wrong, and have greatly insisted on it, made the most of it, and magnified it; especially have they watched for errors in zealous preachers, who are much in reproving and condemning the wickedness of the times. They would therefore do well to consider that scripture, Isa. xxix. 20, 21. “ The scorner is consumed, and all that watch for iniquity are cut off, that make a man an offender for a word, and lay a snare for him that reproveth in the gate, and turn aside the just for a thing of nought.” They have not only too much insisted on and magnified real errors, but have very injuriously charged them as guilty in things wherein they have been innocent, and have done their duty. This has so prejudiced the minds of some, that they have been ready to think that all which has