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provided it be innocent and elegant as you say, or even calculated to excite devout feelings?
T. Why not? Is not this a principal end of Christian worship?
A. Because this would open a door for every kind and degree of superstition. If we may engraft on the Gospel, every mode of worship that we think innocent, elegant, and conducive to devotion, every one may innovate as far as he thinks right; and no one wishes for greater liberty than that. This principle would warrant most of the superstitions of Popery; for few of them are immoral in their own nature. I am told that High Mass is a very elegant and imposing exhibition; and in general, the formalities of the Church of Rome are calculated to excite pious emotions; at least their advocates and votaries think so, and that is enough on your scheme. You are partial to music; but, why should the other fine arts be excluded? Why should not the lovers of painting and statuary be gratified? perhaps an altar-piece or a crucifix, a Madonna or a tutelar saint, are better adapted to excite devout love, than an organ; and would unquestionably be felt by a vastly greater proportion of the people. They may also be resorted to at all times, and alone as well as in public. They would present themselves to the mind, when piously disposed in secret; and might reproach the sinner in the very moment of temptation. Are we to gratify the ears, and reprobate the devotion of the other senses; or are all the senses, in their turn, to get the better of reason, Scripture, and common sense? Such notions would have justified the Jewish converts in adhering to the Mosaical rites, and the Gentiles in retaining their idolatrous music and dancing: but the great care, and most difficult task of the Apostles, was to prevent both of these abuses.
T. Your mentioning the Jews, reminds me of a convincing argument in favour of instrumental music, for it made an important part of the service of the Temple. The Psalms of David are an ample proof of this; and if we still admit the poetry into our worship, why should we exclude the music? The bands of singers too, amounting to nearly 300, and the titles of the Psalms, show what a share sacred music had in the thoughts of "the man after God's own heart." There is also a passage, somewhere in Chronicles, which ascribes the employment of instru
ments to the express command of God by his Prophets;* and gives a fine description of the religious concert.
A. This is very true of David; and no one should speak of him, in his capacity of Psalmist, without respect. He was a fine musician and poet, and (humanly speaking) owed his introduction at court, and consequently his elevation to the throne, to his skill in these arts. Solomon, too, was a magnificent prince, fond of the fine arts. Thus music gained a footing, but it made no part of the Mosaical Revelation; and though it had, the Ceremonial Law was abolished by the death of Christ, and carefully excluded from the Christian Church by the Apostles. An argument drawn from this practice, would equally, and even with more force, warrant the revival of the whole Ritual of the Jews, which was unquestionably of Divine appointment; and even of many practices, that were tolerated on account of the hardness of their hearts. Instrumental music was used only in the Temple, where the service was performed wholly by the Priests and Levites, without any participation on the part of the people, who stood at a great distance, without the inclosure, and were only witnesses of the sacrifices offered for the nation. It never obtained a footing in the Synagogue, from which the service and officers of the Church were borrowed; and if it had, that would be no warrant to us. Judaizing was the heresy that gave most trouble to the Apostles and apostolic fathers.
T. On the same principle, you might exclude psalmody; since neither was that practised in the Synagogue.
A. No: I only say, that if it were, it would have no authority with us. Congregational psalmody is a pure Christian ordinance, and to be regulated by apostolic precedents.
T. Give me leave to observe, that instruments were employed in worship before the delivery of the Law; and of course, had divine authority independent of it. In one of the Psalms, the Lord is said to have ordained psalms accompanied by the harp, timbrel, and psaltery, "for a testimony, when he went out through the land of Egypt."† And Miriam the Prophetess and sister of Moses and Aaron, accompanied her song of triumph with a timbrel; and "all the women went out after her with timbrels and dances." As to the Synagogue, I must beg leave to set *2 Chronicles xxix. 25. † Psalm lxxxi. 2. Exodus xv. 21.
you right. There is extant an Epistle, ascribed to S. Girolamo, in which a chorus of bagpipes are noticed as being employed in the Synagogue.
A. Very well. If I consent to the timbrels; you must admit dancing girls into your form of worship. They are of equal weight; or rather of none at all. Your authority from Girolamo and his bagpipes, is too ridiculous to deserve attention. Our Saviour and his Apostles were habituated to the Temple service; yet though they sung many bymns, they never resorted to instrumental music; and this was not owing to poverty, for their instruments were cheap, and portable.
T. Don't you think, that their attendance at the Temple gives a sanction to the practice?
A. No; for none of them were of the tribe of Levi; therefore, none had any share in performing public worship; and our Lord made no opposition to Jewish corruptions, except when they interfered with moral duties. Such a reformation would have been impracticable, and even useless, since the whole was to be abrogated by his death. The primitive Church was composed of Jewish and Gentile converts, both of them accustomed to instrumental music in their devotions; but so abhorrent was it from their new religion, that they seem never to have thought of employing it, at least in the church. The Apostles had much trouble in preventing them from relapsing into their former practices in other respects; but never had occasion to prohibit the use of instruments.
T. I see we are breaking up new ground that I have not time for at present. The use of instruments by the Apostolic Churches, has admitted of much controversy.
A. True. It forms, however, a principal part of our subject. Will you have any objection to breakfast with me to-morrow? We may have occasion to dip into books. That will agree better with the breakfast table than with a peripatetic disputation. Perhaps, too, we may agree better there. It is certainly a little strange, that two such good friends should differ so much on every question that has arisen between us.-Good day.
Reflections on the Principles & Evidences of Christianity.
Christ's Resurrection to an Invisible State, compared with Natural Appearances: with additional Evidence.
It cannot be denied, that the two opposite states in which Jesus is represented to have alternately existed, in the period between his resurrectio and ascension, are not very consistent with prevailing opinions respecting matter and spirit, at the present day. According to this representation, the body and spirit of a man are inseparably connected, intimately sympathising in the changes to which they are respectively subjected, and even, agreeably to the received ideas of their respective properties, being transmutable into each other. On the contrary, according to some metaphysical reasonings, body and spirit have no properties in common, and no mutual sympathy with respect to their fates and transitions; and many, with the evangelical narratives in their hands, have as little idea of the possibility of the transition of corporeity to spirituality, and vice versa, as those who witnessed the phenomena we have been describing.
The most direct answer that can be made to objections of this nature, is, that facts well supported by evidence, must be far more decisive in the establishment of truth, especially in its application to questions of so much subtilty, than abstruse ratiocinations, in which our gross faculties are ever prone to be bewildered and lost. The future state being altogether withdrawn from our senses, from whence all our present ideas are derived, is also, in a great degree, elevated above our most refined conceptions. Revelation is graciously afforded to aid the operations of the understanding, and correct its aberrations, in relation to this difficult but all-interesting subject. It is pleasing, however, to observe, that the most palpable facts presented to our ordinary observation, and the most accurate researches of anatomists and philosophers, appear to concur in exhibiting such views of the intimate connection between the mind of man, and his corporeal structure, as seem sufficiently to accord with the above representation. It is to the curious organization of his senses and nervous system, that man is indebted for all those impressions, by which he becomes acquainted with the external world; and it may, at least, be shrewdly questioned,
whether, without any knowledge of the external world, there could be any internal world to contemplate? whether, if knowledge, from every apparent entrance, were totally shut out, it could have any existence, or mind any reality whatever? Surely, without sensation, we must be as senseless as the inanimate clod on which we tread. But does not this dependence of mind upon the organs of sense, and the frame of nature surrounding them, plainly show the intimate and inseparable connection between matter and mind? if we may not go further and assert, that matter is transmutable into mind.
Perhaps the present state of philosophy may conduct us one additional step in this difficult investigation. It enables us to show, that the gross observations of our senses often completely deceive us. What is more generally believed, than the existence of contact? And yet, in all the ordinary instances in which it is supposed to exist, the effect which is so termed, can be proved to be the result of repulsion between bodies which are not actually contiguous. The particles of the hardest metal do not touch each other, for they can be brought nearer by lowering their temperature, or withdrawing a portion of their latent caloric. Thus, what is termed contact, appears to be only a principle of resistance; which resistance, even in the ordinary course of nature, can be increased or diminished to an indefinite extent. The most solid substances can be transmuted into the lightest air, if not into the subtlest ether, and that again re-transmuted into the firmest solid. Again, the electric fluid, that most subtle and active species of matter, if such it can be termed, the existence of which can, in many cases, only be discovered by its wonderful effects, pervades universal nature, but is peculiarly active upon the nervous system, so as to be intimately connected with sensation and voluntary motion. If operations, so far from the cognizance of our senses, can be continually carrying forward in the course of nature, what still more subtle and refined effects may not be produced by its Almighty Author? Why may not the whole organization of man, and all its operations, be withdrawn from the sphere of the present system of nature, so as to be liable to none of its decomposing influences, and subject to no dissolution or decay? And again, for the purpose of making known to his "brethren" of this life, the glorious change which he had undergone, why