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ruin : but they are still in that other better world of contemplation and devotion, which affords them all the pleasures and improvements of the mind, and is preparatory to a state of uninterrupted felicity.
Let us then, finally, give thanks to him, who to the light of his gospel hath added this light of nature, and opened the wonderful volume of the creation before us, for the confirmation of his truth, and the illumination of his people; that we may thence know and see the certainty of those things wherein we have been instructed. As all his works are for our good, let it be our study and our wisdom to turn them all to his glory.
; SERMON V.
SING TO THE HARP WITH A PSALM OF THANKS.
GIVING. PSALM XCVIII. 6.
THESE words, like many others in the
Psalms of David, assert and encourage the use of music, both vocal and instrumental, in the worship of God: the propriety and benefits of which will be evident from such an examination of the subject, as the present occasion may well admit of: and I hope the good affections of my hearers will be as ready to enter into a rational consideration of the nature and uses of music, as their ears are to be delighted with music. For this art is a great and worthy object to the understanding of man: it is wonderful in itself; and, in its proper and best use, it may be reckoned amongst the several means of grace, which
God God in his abundant goodness hath vouchsafed to his church; some to direct our course through this vale of tears, and some to cheer and support us under the trials and labours of it.
Music will need no other recommendation to our attention as an important subject, when it shall be understood, as I mean to shew in the first place, that it derives its origin from God himself: whence it will follow, that so far as it is God's work, it is his property, and may certainly be applied as such to his service. The question will be, whether it may be applied to any thing else. • What share soever man may seem to have in modifying, all that is found in this world to delight the senses is primarily the work of God. Wine is prepared by human labour : but it is given to us in the grape by the Creator. The prismatic glass is the work of art; but the glorious colours which it exhibits to the eye are from him who said, Let there be light. Man is the contriver of musical instruments; but the principles of harmony are in the elements of nature; and the greatest
of instruments, as we shall soon discover, was is formed by the Creator himself. The element of air was as certainly ordained to give us har
monious sounds in due measure, as to give respiration to the lungs. This fluid is so constituted as to make thousands of pulses at an invariable rate, by means of which the proportions and co-incidences of musical sounds are exactly preserved. The same wisdom which established the seven conspicuous lights of the firmament, which gave names to the periodical measure of time in a week; and which hath distinguished the seven primary colours in the element of light, hath given the same limits to the scale of musical degrees, all the varieties of which are comprehended within the number seven.
In the philosophical theory of musical sounds, we discover some certain laws which demonstrate that the divine wisdom hath had respect, and made provision for the delight of our senses, by accommodating the nature of sounds to the degree of our perception. As this must be a pleasing consideration to the lovers of music, I shall beg leave to enlarge upon it.
There is no such thing in music as a simple or solitary sound. Every musical note, whether from a string, a pipe, or a bell, is attended by other smaller notes which arise out of it. When a string sounds in its whole length, the
parts also sound in such sections or divisions as have a certain proportion to the total sound. We find by calculation and experiment, that these measures are harinonious in the greater of them, but tliat in the lesser they run into discords. Now herein is the wisdom and goodness of God manifest; that these sounds are sny attempered to the sensibility of the hunan ear, that we feel all the pleasant without any part of the disagreeable effect. Were the car more sensible, or these discords louder, all music would be spoiled.
There is another providential circumstance in the theory of sounds, that if a pipe is blown to give its proper note, a stronger blast will raise it to its octave (8 notes higher.) This is done by an instantaneous leáp, which if it were done by procession from the one to the other, as bodies in motion rise or fall, not music, but a noise would be the consequence, most disagreeable to the ear; to which nothing is more offensive than a sound rising or falling by the way of the whole intermediate space, and not by just intervals; for that is a principle of noises as they differ from notes : and a curious principle it is, if this were a proper occasion for pursuing it. We find music as a work of God in the constitution of VOL. VI.