Thursday, October 22, 2009

Puritan Preface to the Scottish Metrical Psalter

In 1673, a group of Puritan divines authored a preface to a new edition of the 1650 Scottish Metrical Psalter. The following year, many of these same divines signed an Epistle to the Reader for Thomas Vincent's Exposition of the Shorter Catechism (Vincent himself being a signer of the Psalter preface). Their preface to the Psalter is brief but eloquent so I reproduce it here, along with biographical links and information that I have compiled about the signers.

Good Reader,
’Tis evident by the common experience of mankind, that love cannot lie idle in the soul. For every one hath his oblectation [way of enjoyment] and delight, his tastes and relishes are suitable to his constitution, and a man’s temper is more discovered by his solaces than by any thing else: carnal men delight in what is suited to the gust [i.e., taste] of the flesh, and spiritual men in the things of the Spirit. The promises of God's holy covenant, which are to others as stale news or withered flowers, feed the pleasure of their minds; and the mysteries of our redemption by Christ are their hearts’ delight and comfort. But as joy must have a proper object so also a vent: for this is an affection that cannot be penned up: the usual issue and out-going of it is by singing. Profane spirits must have songs suitable to their mirth; as their mirth is carnal so their songs are vain and frothy, if not filthy and obscene; but they that rejoice in the Lord, their mirth runneth in a spiritual channel: “Is any merry? let him sing psalms,” saith the apostle (James 5:13). And, “Thy statutes have been my songs in the house of my pilgrimage,” saith holy David (Ps. 119:54).

Surely singing, ’tis a delectable way of instruction, as common prudence will teach us. Aelian (Natural History, book 2, chapter 39) telleth us that the Cretans enjoined their children to learn their laws by singing them in verse. And surely singing of Psalms is a duty of such comfort and profit, that it needeth not our recommendation: The new nature is instead of all arguments, which cannot be without thy spiritual solace. Now though spiritual songs of mere human composure may have their use, yet our devotion is best secured, where the matter and words are of immediately divine inspiration; and to us David's Psalms seem plainly intended by those terms of “psalms and hymns and spiritual songs,” which the apostle useth (Eph. 5:19; Col. 3:16). But then ’tis meet that these divine composures should be represented to us in a fit translation, lest we want David, in David; while his holy ecstasies are delivered in a flat and bald expression. The translation which is now put into thy hands cometh nearest to the original of any that we have seen, and runneth with such a fluent sweetness, that we thought fit to recommend it to thy Christian acceptance; some of us having used it already, with great comfort and satisfaction.
  • Henry Langley D.D. (1611-1679) - English Puritan minister and educator. He served as master of Pembroke College (1647) until he was ejected for his Presbyterian convictions (1662), after which he maintained an academy for young men at his house, where he taught logic and philosophy. He preached again after the indulgence of 1672.
  • James Innes ( )
  • Thomas Lye (?-1684) - English Puritan known for his emphasis on and abilities in catechizing. He wrote an exposition of the Westminster Shorter Catechism that was popular. He was one of the ministers ejected for nonconformity in 1662. His additional works include The Child’s Delight, two Farewell sermons, a sermon entitled Death, the Sweetest Sleep and several of the Cripplegate Sermons, among others.
  • John Milward (1619-1688) - English Puritan, fellow of Corpus Christi College and served at a pastorate at during the Interregnum, but was ejected from his pulpit in 1660. After this he settled in London where he contributed two of the Cripplegate Sermons: 1) How ought we to love our neighbors as ourselves? and 2) How ought we to do our duty towards others, though they do not theirs towards us?
  • John Chester ( )
  • George Cokayn or Cokayne (1619-1691) - English Puritan, was a lifelong friend of John Bunyan. He wrote the preface to Bunyan's The Acceptable Sacrifice shortly after Bunyan's death; he also endorsed John Toldervy's The Foot Out of the Snare; assisted Joseph Caryl in the preparation of an English-Greek lexicon; and wrote other works.
  • Robert Francklin or Franklin (1630-?) - English Puritan, ejected from his pulpit for nonconformity in 1662 (he said, "I left my living, rather than defile my conscience by the then Conformity"). He was persecuted and imprisoned often in the following years prior to the Glorious Revolution. He wrote an account of his own life and short catechism, as well as other works.
  • Thomas Doolittle (1630-1707) - English Puritan, born at Kidderminster and was converted at the age of 17 under the preaching of Richard Baxter (sermons later published as The Saints' Rest), under whom he later served as an assistant minister. Doolittle was a one of the ejected ministers of 1662. Afterwards he opened a boarding school, with the assistance of Thomas Vincent, and later a private academy. Among his pupils were Matthew Henry and Edmund Calamy the Historian. He preached one of the Cripplegate Sermons on the subject of Family Worship. He also preached on Motives to Love Jesus and wrote a Plain Method of Catechizing with a Prefatory Catechism (1698).
  • John Ryther (1634-1681) - English Congregationalist, ejected in 1662 for nonconformity. He served time in prison twice for illegal preaching. He preached a funeral sermon for James Janeway, as well as other works.
  • William Tomson ( )
  • Nicholas Blaikie (d. 1698) - Scottish Puritan, graduated from the University of Edinburgh on April 15, 1652 and was later ejected from his pulpit at Roberton in 1662 for nonconformity. He later pastored the Scots' Church in London (afterwards succeeded by Robert Fleming).
  • Charles Morton (1626-1698) - English Puritan minister and educator. He opened an academy for young men in London at which he taught Daniel Defoe. He also served as vice-President of Harvard University.
  • Edmund Calamy the Younger (1635-1685) -- Son of Edmund Calamy the Elder, Westminster Divine, and father of Edmund Calamy the Historian.
  • William Carslake (d. 1689) - English Puritan, graduate of Exeter College, Oxford, and a Presbyterian minister who was ejected for nonconformity in 1662. He preached in London during the Great Plague (1665). Edmund Calamy the Historian says of him that "he was a good and pious man, but inclined to melancholy."
  • John Hickes (1633-1685) - English Puritan ejected from his pulpit in 1662 for nonconformity. His brother George, however, remained part of the Established Church. Following the Battle of Sedgemoor, John Hickes sought shelter at the house of Alice Lisle, who was executed on September 2, 1685 for harboring John Hickes, who was himself executed the following month, both executions arising from the Bloody Assizes.
  • John Baker ( )
  • Richard Mayo (1631-1695) - He was one of the continuators of Matthew Poole's English Annotations, while his son Daniel was one of the continuators of Matthew Henry's Commentary on the Bible.

1 comment:

  1. Excellent article. It was helpful and informative. hope to see more greats posts like this.