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heavenly rejoicing in God, I suppose they would not wonder at their having a disposition to be much in praise. They will not object 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 thean. They will readily own that the generality of Christians have great reason to be ashamed that they have so little t'iankfulness, and are no more in praising
God, whom they have such infinite cause to praise. And I why therefore should Christians be found fault with, for & showing 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, th:it signify that the church of God, in that 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 where
in both heaven, and earth will be much more full of joy 1 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 or hymns of human composure. And 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 kuow of no obligation we are under to confine ourselves to it, I can find no command or rule of God's word, that does any more confine us to the words of the scripture 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, io 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 needföl that we should have some other songs besides the psalms of David. It is unreasonable to suppose that the Christian church, should forever, 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 a vail, and not so much as the name of our glorious Redeemer, ever mentioned, but in some dark figure, or as bid 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 that speaks for the rest.
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, that 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 that 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, that they have from the Spirit of God, 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 for another. We that are grown persons, 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 childhood, 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 many 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, are the ignorant and foolish children. These are grown men, and an hundred years old, in comparison with them; and 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's 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 honor they gave Christ in the temple. We have an account of it, and what Christ said upon it, in Matth. 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 Hosanna to the son of David, they were sore displeased, and said unto him, Hearest thou what these say? And Jesus said unto them, yea; have ye never read, Out of the mouths of babes and sucklings, thou hast perfected praise?”
Shaving what things are to be corrected or anoided in pro
moting 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 in the
Il. Place, to chew what things ought to be corrected or avoided.
Many that 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 that which is called a being prudent and regular, which is so much insisted on, is no other than being asleep, or cold and dead in religion, and that the great imprudence that is so much cried out of, is only a being alive, and engaged in the things of God. And they are therefore rather confirmed in any practice, than brought off from it, by the clamor they hear against it, as imprudent and irregular. And to tell the truth, the cry of irregularity and imprudence has been much more in the mouths of those that 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, that 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