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contended by the trinitarian, that the pronoun this" must here refer to “ Jesus Christ” as the nearest antecedent. We reply, that it is no more necessary here, than it is in 2 John 7th verse, where if the pronoun “this” refer to the nearest antecedent, our Saviour will be called “ a deceiver and an antichrist. We contend that if this reference be absurd and impossible in the one case, it is no less so in the other, and that it was as far from the intention or imagination of the apostle to call Jesus Christ the true God, as to call him a deceiver. Instances of this reference of the relative pronouns to the more remote antecedent are by no means infrequent in the New Testament. We refer our readers to Acts vii. 18, 19, and Heb. v. 7, as some very clear cases in which the pronouns do not refer to the nearest antecedent.
Another argument adduced to prove that Jesus Christ is here called “ the true God," is the second title which is contained in the verse, “this the true God, and eternal life.” It bas been argued* that this appellation is not bestowed upon God the Father, in the writings of St. John, while Christ is called by him “life" and "eternal life." In order to render this ar. gument conclusive, it must be shown not merely that the appellation is given to Christ; but that is given exclusively to him. But this is by no means the case. In the Gospel of John xii, 20. our Saviour says, “I know that his commandment is life everlasting;" in the 17th chap. 3d verse, “ This is life eternal, that they might know thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou has sent." God is repeatedly called in express terms the giver of eternal life, as in Rom. vi. 23. · The gift of God is eternal life," and in this very 5th chap. of 1 John 11th verse, “ This is the record, that God hath given to us eterpal life: and this life is in his son." No trinitarian will deny that God the Father is here intended, and it seems to us that the transition is easy from the language of the 11th to that of the 25th verse. The appellation, life, or eternal life, when given to Jesus Christ, is figurative; he is so called because he
brought life and immortality to light.” Now we can perceive 10 reason why the same figure should not be applied to him who is the ultimate source of life, as well as to the being by whose agency it was revealed to us.
In John xvii. 3. the only true God is expressly distinguished from Jesus Christ. Can any one believe that John would introduce such confusion into his writings, as would be the result of distipguishing them at one time, and asserting that they are the
* Stuart's Letters, p. 87. 2d edit. New Seriesvol. III.
same at another, calling Jesus Christ at once the true God, and the son of the true God? We cannot attribute to him such improprieties in the use of language, and we do not feel compelled by any “rules of exegesis” to apply to Christ either the • aanbevos eos, or the siwn whos, of this text. On the contrary these rules lead us to offer a very different explanation of the
66 We know that the son of God has come to reveal to uz him that is true, and we are made acquainted with him that is true, by his son Jesus Christ. By him that is true I mean the true God, the only source of eternal life.”
There are seven other texts in the New Testament, viz. : Acts xx. 28. Ephes. v. 5. 2 Thess. i. 12. 2 Tim. iv. 1. Titus ii. 13. 2 Peter i. 1. Jude 4. in which by the same contrivance the title God is made to be applied to Christ. The rendering of them all depends on the use of the article and conjunction in Greek, and we will spare our readers the discussion which it would not be difficult to make on this subject. Though there are eight texts enumerated, we cannot allow that they are to be regarded as eight distinct authorities on the point, for they all depend on the same principle. We think the common version of them is correct, and if any one doubts the soundness of our opinion, we refer him to the dissertation of Mr. Winstanley on the subject, in which the received version is defended with much learning and sound sense.*
We believe we have now examined all the most important texts in the New Testament, (excepting 1 Tim. iii. 16. of which the reading has been so much disputed, which we propose to notice hereafter), in which it is contended by trinitariaus that the title God is applied to Christ. And what is the result? We have endeavoured to show that there is not one in which, even when considered by itself, the application of the title to our Saviour is not either doubtful or clearly erroneous. Regarding them in connexion, and taking into view the very small number of passages which can by any possibility be adduced on this side of the argument, and their plain inconsistency if understood in the trinitarian sense, with other passages of scripture, which will occur to the mind of every one; remembering how strange must have been the character of the apostles if they did not regard this doctrine as an important one, supposing it to be true, and how guilty they would have been in its concealment; we cannot feel a doubt as to the result in which any unprejudiced and clear mind must come, with regard to the
* This excellent little tract may be procured of Cummings & Hilliard.
direct support which the doctrine of the divinity of Jesus Christ derives from scripture. And if there be a defect in the direct support of the doctrine, of what value is that which is indirect?
REQUISITE QUALITIES OF A GOOD COLLECTION OF
PSALMS AND HYMNS FOR PUBLIC WORSHIP.
Mr. EDITOR, The annunciation of a new collection of Psalms and Hymns in your last number, and the recommendation of it to the immediate adoption of our religious societies, have induced me to offer the following remarks to those of your readers, who may interest themselves in the subject.
I have not yet had an opportunity for perusing the New-York Collection; but from the representations in the Disciple I am disposed to believe it superior to any other now in use; and should certainly rejoice to find it “a book of precisely the character we could desire;" calculated to promote in the highest degree the great design of sacred music. Such a book ought to meet a grateful reception ; for hitherto it has been a great desideratum.
Frequent changes in the poetry of our churches are attended with serious inconveniences, and almost every change is obstructed by unreasonable objections. To render it expedient, therefore, to substitute any new collection for one that is already in use, the new one should not only be decidedly better than the old, but it should be the best which, within a reasonable time, could probably be produced by the combined exertions of piety, genius and taste. To decide correctly on this point, we must have clear apprehensions of the grand essentials of a good collection ; of every thing necessary and every thing desirable; of the relative importance of each, and of the difficulties, or facilities of securing one of these properties without the sacrifice of another. The following properties, I conceive, should characterize every collection of hymns and psalms, intended for general use in the churches.
All the sentiments it contains should be just and true; for we must not “lie one to another;" still less to our God, and least of all in the solemn exercises of worship.
It should be free from all party sentiments and expressions, which might give unnecessary offence to any, whose edification and comfort we are required to consult.
It should abound in the most affecting thoughts, or those, which in their own nature are best suited to produce and cherish in the heart the various feelings comprised in genuine worship.
It should contain something appropriate to every important subject of practical religion, and to every interesting occasion, that is likely to occur; for one grand design of church music is to prepare the mind for the instructions of the pulpit, or to enforce them when given; and without appropriateness in the psalms and hymns this design must in a great measure fail. In order to this adaptation there must be the same unity in the subject of each particular psalm or hymn, which is required in a
The style should be simple ; excluding, as far as possible, uncommon words and phrases, and all such rhetorical figures as are likely to be unintelligible, and therefore unaffecting to the greater part of almost every assembly.
It should be distinguished by every poetical virtue and grace, that is not inconsistent with more important properties. It should not be mere prose, reduced to measure and rhyme; still less should it be incumbered with such expletives, as would not be admitted into the tamest prose.
There should be a considerable variety of measure; as the interest of the whole may in that way be increased.
There should, if possible, be a perfect uniformity in the structure of the several verses, intended to be sung together; an exact coincidence between the emphasis of one verse and those of every other; so that any tune, which is well suited to one verse, may not in point of rythm, or emphatic modulation, be unsuitable for any other.
If any doubt the importance of this uniformity, I would ask them, What is the use of music in our churches ? Why do we not have our psalms and hymns read, and then dismiss them without further ceremony? Only one answer can be given, viz. That we wish to superadd the force of musical to the poetical expression, in order to strike the sentiment deeper into the hearts of the hearers. But how is this to be effected, without a coincidence between the musical and the poetical emphasis, which depends chiefly on the rythm? We do not promote the effect of one man's exertions by setting a more efficient man than he to counteract him. As little can contradictory emphasis in music contribute to the effect of poetical expression. Now in exact proportion to the want of uniformity in the several verses of a hymn, to be sung in the same tune, these counteractions must of course take place. Hence our feelings so often stagnate in the swelling notes, employed on an a, a the, a to, or an as; and hence we are so frequently shocked in hearing the most important words, for instance, the name of God, of heaven, or hell, flitted over in half, and perhaps one quarter of the time, that is given to the most insignificant syllable in the verse. Is it not amazing, that we have so long endured such monstrous perversities in matters so interesting to piety and taste ? That we should still compel the most accomplished choirs to sing with a disgusting cant, of which almost every one would be ashamed in reading ? Very few of those who have composed or compiled hymns, appear to have paid any attention to this point. The question has not been, How are the several verses of this hymn to be expressed by music ? but how do they read ?
Perhaps it may be thought, that the uniformity I am here recommending, would be incompatible with a sufficient variety. To this I would reply, that you may increase the varieties of metre and measure, as much as you please. You may make one hymn as different from another, as you please. You may make the several lines of the same verse as different one from another, as you please. All that is desired, is, that the several verses of every hymn have such a degree of uniformity, as to render them capable of a good musical expression, without having tunes, equally numerous, and of the same length, which no common choir would be able to perform.
Again it may be said, such uniformity could not be attained without a frequent sacrifice of sentiment, or poetical grace. To this I answer, that from an extensive attention to the subject, I believe that one half of the irregularities, that appear in our sacred poetry, are perfectly gratuitous. The only reason, why they were not excluded, was, that the authors never thought of such a thing. They had no tune in their mind; no model. In this respect they wrote at random. And a great part of the remaining irregularities might, with a moderate degree of labour, have been avoided, and that without any sacrifice of sentiment or poetry; for in general we may find many different ways of expressing the same thought. If, however, a perfect uniformity would not in all cases be possible, or expedient, that is no reason, why it should not be generally attempted ; and we may farther contend, that the sacrifice of a mere poetical grace, which the musical expression required by the correspondent parts of the hymn, would either annihilate or convert into a positive blemish, is not to be much regarded.
It would be impossible to combine in full perfection all the qualities, named above. Some of them will be limited by others; and most of them by the imperfections of language. If the New