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In the Christian Psalmist, compiled twenty-five years ago, by the Author of the present Volume, he became known as a Hymn-Writer; and, since then, having frequently exercised his vein in like manner, a considerable number of his compositions have been republished (with or without leave) by editors of similar Miscellanies, or in authorized Hymn-Books. Of this he has never complained, being rather humbly thankful, that any imperfect strains of his should be thus employed in giving "Glory to God in the highest," promoting "On earth peace," and diffusing "Good will toward men." But of the liberties taken by some of these borrowers of his effusions, to modify certain passages, according to their peculiar taste and notions, he must avail himself of the present opportunity vi to remind them, that if good people (and such he verily believes them to be) cannot conscientiously adopt his diction and doctrine, it is a little questionable in them to impose upon him theirs, which he may as honestly hesitate to receive. Yet this is the Cross, by which every Author of a hymn, who hopes to be useful in his generation, may expect to be tested, at the pleasure of any Christian brother, however incompetent or little qualified to amend what he may deem amiss in one of the most delicate and difficult exercises of a tender heart and an enlightened understanding. This indeed is "a thorn in the flesh," which the sufferer must learn to bear with meekness, and, if possible, to profit by the humiliation; though a versifier of any other class might, perhaps, be forgiven, if he indignantly resented it. It has been, on this account, that the individual (who now presents himself for judgment at a tribunal from which there is no infallible appeal,) has emphatically entitled his lucubrations,--"Original Hymns, by J. M., meaning only thereby, that they are now given to the world in that form of words, vii for which he can, at present, hold himself responsible; being persuaded, that they will be generally accepted with the same candour and indulgence with which a few of them have been extensively read by private persons, and introduced to churches and congregations by faithful and true ministers of Christ's Gospel.
Having, on three former occasions, expatiated freely on Hymnology and Sacred Poesy,11See Introductory Essays, by James Montgomery, to the "Christian Psalmist," the "Christian Poet," and an edition of the "Olney Hymns." Published by William Collins. Glasgow. I will close this egotistical preamble to the most serious work of my long life (now passing fourscore years), with a brief quotation from what may be esteemed a sainted authority on such a subject. Bishop Ken, somewhere, says, beautifully, humbly, and poetically,--
"And should the well-meant song I leave behind,
With Jesus' lovers some acceptance find,
'Twill heighten even the joys of heaven to know,
That in my verse saints sing God's praise below."
And was not this hope prophetic! fulfilling continually to this day, nor ever likely to fail viii while the Gospel is preached throughout the whole world in the language of Britain! It may even be doubted whether there is a stanza of four lines in the compass of our literature, which has been so often remembered, repeated and sung, as the Doxology, appended to each of the good prelate's inestimable Triad of Hymns, for Morning, Evening, and Night.
"Praise God, from whom all blessings flow,
Praise Him, all creatures here below;
Praise Him above, ye heavenly host,
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost."
And who that has learned this rapturous strain on earth, can be presumed to forget it in heaven, if he reaches that consummation of glory, and of bliss?
The Mount, Sheffield,
January 1, 1853.
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