Monday, July 5, 2010

Cases of Conscience on Psalmody

William Ames, Conscience and Cases Thereof (1639), Book IV, pp. 43-44:

Chap. XIX
Of Singing

Question I. What use has Singing above the ordinary pronunciation?

1. A.1. It brings a kind of sweet delight to godly minds, Psalm 104.34
2. A.2. It has a more distinct and fixed meditation, Ibid.
3 A.3. It has a more copious and ample profession of piety, Col. 3.16
4. A.4. It has more command of mutual edification, if it be with others, Eph. 5.19

Question II. Whether Singing do equally agree to the mind in trouble and in joy?

5. A.1. It doth more properly agree to joy, James 5.13 because of the sweet dilation of the heart, which it makes a show of yet it well agrees to the profitable recording of past sorrow, as appears by these Psalms which are called Penitential; and sometime to the removing of sorrow, Prov. 25.20.

Question III: How are we to sing those Historical Psalms which belong to other persons, and times?

6. A.1. If we so meditate of them, that we reap consoloation, and hope from them, Rom. 15.4.
7. A.2. To this end, we ought in our thoughts to put on, as it were, the person, either of them, of whom those Psalms were composed, or of them who composed them, that whatever is spoken there, we may, in some sort, take it as spoken to ourselves.

Question 4. How may we sing those Psalms aright, which contain dire imprecations in them?

8. A.1. We may upon occasion of those imprecations meditate with fear and trembling, on the terrible judgments of God against the sin of impenitent persons.
9. A.2. We may thereupon profit in patience, and consoloation, against the temptations which are wont to arise from the prosperity of the wicked, and affliction of the godly.
10. A.3. We may also pray to God that he would hasten his revenge (not against our private enemies, but) against the wicked and incurable enemies of his Church.

HT: Chris Rhoades

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