Colossians 3:16
Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God.
Sermons
Colossians Iii. 16, 17St. Chrysostom Colossians 3:16
Indwelling of the Word of ChristA. Raleigh, D. D.Colossians 3:16
Phrygia was Proverbially a Land of MusicBp. Alexander.Colossians 3:16
Power of a HymnW. Baxendale.Colossians 3:16
Power of a HymnG. F. Pentecost, D. D.Colossians 3:16
PsalmodyW.F. Adneney Colossians 3:16
Psalms and Hymns and Spiritual SongsArchbishop Trench.Colossians 3:16
Saved by a HymnCanadian BaptistColossians 3:16
The Conditions of the Service of SongBp. Davenant.Colossians 3:16
The Hymnology of the ChurchJ. Spence, D. D.Colossians 3:16
The Indwelling of the WordT. Watson, B. A.Colossians 3:16
The Indwelling Word of ChristR. S. Candlish, D. D.Colossians 3:16
The Poets of the New TestamentP. L. Davies, M. A.Colossians 3:16
The School of the WordBishop Vincent.Colossians 3:16
The Service of SongN. Byfield.Colossians 3:16
The Service of Song a Means of Christian EdificationA. Maclaren, D. D.Colossians 3:16
The Use of the Word for Spiritual EdificationT. Croskery Colossians 3:16
The Word of ChristT. W. Sydnor.Colossians 3:16
The Marks, Method, and Motive of the Christian LifeU.R. Thomas Colossians 3:12-17
The New Life of LoveR.M. Edgar Colossians 3:12-17
What Particularly We are to Put On. How We are AddressedR. Finlayson Colossians 3:12-17
The Power of the Word and the Name of ChristE.S. Prout Colossians 3:16, 17
The apostle, in view of the right exercise of the foregoing graces, counsels the Colossians to make the Word of Christ the subject of experimental study. "Let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom."

1. THE EFFICACY OF CHRIST'S WORD.

1. The Scriptures are Christ's Word. They have Christ for their Author, for their Subject, for their End. This is the Word that is "sounded forth" everywhere (1 Thessalonians 1:8), that "runs" everywhere, to be glorified in its success. It is Christ, too, who gives power to this Word.

2. This Word ought to dwell in us. Not come and go, but tarry as in a fixed abode. It ought to be an abiding power within us. "The Word of God abideth in you" (1 John 2:14).

3. The place of its indwelling is the heart; not the memory or the head, but the heart. "Thy Word have I hid in my heart" (is. 119:11).

4. The manner of its indwelling. "Richly in all wisdom."

(1) Not "with a scanty foothold, but with a large and liberal occupancy."

(2) It implies

(a) receiving the Word with all meekness and humility (James 1:21);

(b) dividing it aright (2 Timothy 2:15);

(c) trying all things so as to keep that which is good (1 Thessalonians 5:21).

II. THE USE OR END OF CHRIST'S WORD. "Teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord." There is a double function here assigned to the Word: one making its influence felt upon the mind - "teaching;" the other upon the heart - "singing" with thanksgiving.

1. The Word is useful for teaching and for warning. These represent the positive and the negative sides of instruction.

(1) Teaching.

(a) This implies that the Word is to be used by every Christian for the purposes of instruction (Exodus 24:12). When we have received the "ingrafted Word" into our hearts, we must spread it abroad.

(b) It deepens our sense of the value of the Word to impart it to others.

(c) It is a test of the sincerity of our attachment to make it known.

(d) It is by the efforts of all Christians in this way that the Word will eventually reach the ends of the earth.

(2) Admonition.

(a) It must be grounded on the Word (Titus 1:6).

(b) It must be done in love and meekness (2 Thessalonians 3:1; Galatians 6:1).

(c) With a reasonable secrecy (Matthew 18:15).

(d) With compassion and tenderness (2 Corinthians 2:4).

(e) With perseverance (Proverbs 13:19).

2. The Word is useful for the purpose of sacred song. As those who make the songs of a nation can shape its political and moral life, so the hymn writers have in a large degree shaped the theology of the Church.

(1) Singing is a necessary part of Divine worship (Ephesians 6:19; James 5:13; Psalm 66:1, 2). It is good for spiritual recreation (James 5:13). We should sing in our houses as well as in our churches (Psalm 101:1, 2; 1 Corinthians 14:26).

(2) The matter of singing - "psalms, hymns, spiritual songs." These are supposed to represent three varieties of the psalms of Scripture. There is evidence, however, that Christians themselves composed hymns for public worship (1 Corinthians 14:26).

(3) The manner of singing - "singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord."

(a) It was to be with the accompaniment of Divine grace, that is, with a holy joy (Psalm 9:2), with a humble trust in the Lord's mercies (Psalm 13:5), with a lively recollection of his benefits (Psalm 47:7).

(b) It was to be the outcome of the heart's feeling as well as the expression of the life. This implies singing with understanding (1 Corinthians 14:14). Therefore we are to prepare our hearts before we sing (Psalm 57:7).

(c) It was to be addressed to the Lord, not to man. - T. C.







Let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly.
I. WHAT IS IT? The Scriptures of the Old and New Testament.

1. Christ is their author.

2. He is their subject-matter — they testify of Him. Christ is the Word, the wisdom of God, the truth; and truth as well as grace came by Him.

II. HOW SHALL WE TREAT IT?

1. Let it dwell in us. It must not be as a stranger, or a visitor, or as an acquaintance with whom we are not specially intimate, or as a friend away and seldom seen, but rather as a resident member of our family with whom we are in constant and loving communication.

2. Let it dwell in you. It is not enough that it be in our house, study, pocket, and so at hand. It must be in our heart, pervading our whole spiritual nature, directing and controlling all our life and conduct. "Thy Word have I hid in my heart." "Out of the heart are the issues of life."

3. Let it dwell in you richly, plentifully, profoundly. This implies —

(1)An intimate knowledge of the truth.

(2)A believing, saving experience of the truth.We should seek to understand it in its inmost compass; in all its bearings and relations, and then gladly receive it, in the love of it, into good and honest hearts (James 1:2).

(T. W. Sydnor.)

I. THE LESSON-BOOK. The Word of Christ, so called, because —

1. He is its central theme. The beginning of the story of the race is told that the first Adam may prepare the way for the second: then the mass of the race is forgotten, and one chosen family selected because Christ was to come out of it. The songs, prophecies, teachings of the Old Testament are full of Christ, and its characters are as fragments of the perfect character of Jesus. The ethics of the book find their full manifestation in Him. The Gospels are biographies of Him, and the Epistles expositions of the truths of that biography.

2. It was originated by Christ. Some write of what they see or hear, but Christ produces the history He causes to be recorded. He not only breathed His Spirit upon men's minds that they might write its doctrines; He produced the facts which are the basis of the doctrines. Pardon is taught; but He made the atonement by His death. Immortality is taught; but He revealed it first by His resurrection.

3. He dwells in it. Men are in quest of Christ, and seek Him in sacraments and holy things and places. But we have "not to ascend into heaven to bring Him down,'" etc. "The Word is nigh thee." Christ is in His Word, not as Plato in his. republic or Shakespeare in his plays, but as a living and operating power. "My words are spirit, and they are life."

4. Through it He works. There is not a process of grace promised or commended that it does not promote.(1) Conviction of sin. "The entrance of Thy Word giveth light." "The Word is powerful, sharper than any two-edged sword."(2) Conversion. "The law of the Lord is. perfect, converting the soul."(3) Salvation from sin. "Thy Word have I hid in my heart," etc.(4) Edification. "The Word of His grace... is able to build you up," etc.(5) All sound Christian profit. "Is profitable for doctrine," etc

II. THE SCHOOL.

1. The Church generally. Christ appointed the Church to teach His Word, and His Word forms the basis of her creeds, and the final authority when those creeds are questioned. It is to be exalted in her worship, commemorated in her sacraments, and proclaimed and defended in her pulpits.

2. The school of devotion; the prayer-meeting.

3. The school of experience; the class or fellowship-meeting.

4. The school of the family, where children learn theology, and the Divine character and administration, by object lessons, by what father and mother say and do.

5. But pre-eminently is the Sunday school the school of the Word.

III. THE TEACHER.

1. His qualification. The Word is to dwell in him richly — in his tongue as its expounder; in his memory as a student; in his heart as a believer: so that when he prays he uses it, when he teaches texts come to his tongue-ends, and as he lives he illustrates it. It must so dwell in him that he will delight in it, love to quote it, go to sleep in times of storm resting upon it, and use it in the hour of death as the key to the kingdom.

2. His method.

(1)Teaching;

(2)admonishing;

(3)translating into life.

(Bishop Vincent.)

There is nothing easier than to hear the Word with a general regard, and few things more difficult than to receive it as a principle of spiritual life. Satan hinders; cumbering with much business, diverting with trifles, or disturbing with wicked imaginations or affections.

I. THE WORD OF CHRIST.

1. In a special and limited sense this is the gospel, because He preached and published it.

2. In a larger sense it is both Testaments, for He is the author of both.

3. Then in listening to Bible teaching we are listening to Christ Himself. "The Word" is one of His titles, and He would have us honour it by honouring the Scriptures which testify of Him.

4. It is sometimes called the Word of the Kingdom, because it shows the way to the kingdom of grace, that we may be partakers of the kingdom of glory; "the Word of life," because the instrument of regeneration and spiritual sustentation.

5. But though necessary, how many unnecessary things are preferred before it. It is the polar star which shines out in the spiritual firmament to point you to Christ; and yet in how many instances is the glimmering taper of human reason preferred! It opens a well of life; yet many choose the broken cistern.

II. ITS DWELLING-PLACE.

1. It is to dwell.(1) This points out a contrast between a settled and vagrant life. With the mere wanderer we hold little in common: the resident is well known. As you give yourself up to the study of the sacred oracles, the mind of the Spirit becomes imparted to your own.(2) This is an allusion to God's "dwelling" in the Holy of Holies. Christ's Word is to be as the Shekinah.

2. It is to dwell within: not in the understanding merely to enlighten it, nor in the judgment to inform and convince it, but to be deeply seated and treasured up in the heart. "I will write My law in their inward parts," etc. And unless it is so written it is quite certain that we have no interest in the covenant.(1) It is to dwell there as a man dwells in his own house, which he is proud of calling his castle, and which is not as a temporary tent. "If ye continue in My Word," etc. How many there are who give it only the entertainment of a wayfaring man who obtains with difficulty a lodging for the night, and in the morning is gone.(2) In order thus to dwell it must be mixed with faith. Without faith it may produce various effects: it may make you, like Herod, "do many things," and induce yon, like Felix, "to hear Paul gladly"; it may produce feelings of wonder, etc.; but it is only when received in faith that it can really profit.

III. THE MEASURE IN WHICH IT IS TO DWELL IN US.

1. Richly: not as a scanty stream, but as a full flowing river. You are not to be content with partial views of God's truth. The whole written Word is the soul's pasturage. "All Scripture... is profitable." "Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word," etc.

2. This requires prayerful searching, and much more than reading in haste a chapter in the morning or at night. We do not search after worldly wealth so.

3. This rich indwelling will be fruitful in

(1)comfort;

(2)holiness;

(3)revived spiritual life.

(T. Watson, B. A.)

I. This exhortation is connected with the exhortation out of which it springs (vers. 14-15); and with the outward expression in which it finds vent (ver. 16).

2. The Word of Christ is not His personal teaching merely, but the whole Bible as His present Word, affording the materials of present speech.

3. Its indwelling is personal, and is not to be evaporated, as if it referred to the Church collective (Romans 8:11; 2 Corinthians 6:16; Ephesians 3:17; 2 Timothy 1:5, 14).

I. LET THE WORD OF CHRIST DWELL IN YOU.

1. This implies a sense of the preciousness of Christ Himself realized by faith.(1) No one's word will be precious to you unless he is precious whose word it is. The word of one you dislike will be contemptuously rejected; the word of one who is an object of indifference will pass swiftly by you.(2) How much of the Word of Christ may be missed unless He is precious. In many parts you think that He is only dimly and distantly to be found, and even passages fullest of Him do not bring Him as speaking personally to you. But it is only as it does that that the Bible is the Word of Christ. A friend's letter is his word to me when by means of it I call him up before me in his own loved person speaking to me. Then it dwells in me. Thus, through my love to Him and His preciousness to me, Scriptures which seem to have little to do with Him may become His Word to me.

2. The preciousness of Christ's Word, as well as of Christ Himself, is essential to its dwelling in you.(1) If Christ is precious, His Word must be precious. The word of a precious friend is precious even before you know what it contains. Its very outside is welcome. But it becomes more so as you study it, and especially if it be of real value.(2) Most Christians can name a text apparently having little to do with Christ, which has become, nevertheless, one of His best remembrancers. It is connected with some marked crisis; as a whisper of consolation, a breath of pity in sinfulness, felt as the Word of Christ just then wanted.(3) The way of finding Christ all through the Bible is not merely to get it to speak of Christ, but to get Christ to speak to you about it; and so to make it all His, i.e., let it all, every bit and fragment of it, be welded into your experience, with Christ living in you the hope of glory.(4) This may be by the Spirit being given in answer to the prayer of faith. He teaches you all things as said by Christ. Do not force it to tell of Christ formally, so as to offend critics and offend ordinary readers. Take it in its plain meaning, but expect that Christ in it may have some lesson to teach; some comfort to impart; some rebuke to administer.

3. The felt preciousness of real present and living intercourse between Christ and you will cause the Word, as His, to abide in you.(1) That Word sustains the intercourse, and is for colloquial uses. You are to dwell in Christ and He in you, but communion cannot long be maintained without language. We may dream of this mutual indwelling after some vague, sleepy fashion; but if it is to be more than a dream there must be talk between us. He Himself deals with this subject (John 15:7; John 16:23). This can only be realized by the Comforter "bringing to remembrance whatsoever He hath said unto you." His Word, then, must be the staple of the verbal intercourse. He uses it in speaking to you, and you in speaking to Him.(2) Thus used, it will dwell. Otherwise, while whole strings of texts or chapters may be retained in the memory, and may be glibly quoted, the virtue will be gone out of them. If you would have the Word to abide in you as the precious Word of a precious Saviour, you must always turn it to account in fellowship with Him.

II. RICHLY.

1. In quantity. Let the mind and soul be richly stored. Ah! how much there is of the Bible that does not dwell in you because you do not realize it as the Word of Christ; whole chapters that have not been linked to any gracious dealing of Christ.

2. In quality.(1) A rich manure is one that enriches the soil; and it dwells in the soil richly in proportion as it enriches it, turning its hard, dry sterility into fruitful mould. So let the Word of Christ dwell in you as to enrich your souls.(2) But it must be as the Word of Christ. For such is the poverty and perversity of the soil, that otherwise even the Word will, instead of enriching the soul, become partaker of its deadness, and end in being as salt which has lost its savour. The letter killeth, but the Spirit giveth life, making it truly the living Word of a living Christ.(3) And how penetrating, as well as powerful, should be its virtue. It should reach to every nook of your life.

3. In correspondence to the riches of Him whose Word it is. Riches of goodness, glory, wisdom, knowledge, grace; unsearchable riches of Christ.

4. It is to dwell in you, not only as rich receivers, but dispensers. "Freely ye have received, freely give." You are to be richly productive, fruit-bearing, in faith, in good works.

5. Notice the social hearing of the precept as embedded in the context (vers. 12-15 on the one hand, and ver. 16 on the other). In either view this indwelling is not to be like a mass of dead matter crammed into a dead receptacle; as bales are packed in a warehouse, or loads of unread learning are crowded on library shelves for show. Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth, the life, the hand must speak.

(R. S. Candlish, D. D.)

I. THE WORD OF CHRIST.

1. The literal Word of Christ is one of the most wonderful things that ever has been in the world. Not from Roman rostrum, nor in terms of Greek philosophy, nor as a Jewish rabbi, but simply and naturally to simple and ordinary men wherever they could be got together, and as He spake the words seem to root themselves in the heart, and grew a living force in the life of the nation. Then came the alternative that He must keep silence or die; but He went on speaking till lie said, "It is finished." Immediately on His resurrection He began to speak, and when He went away He left nothing behind Him but His Word. At that time His life and death were unknown powers, and He did not leave the least written explanation of them, nor were the Gospels in existence at the time of this Epistle; but there was the Word of Christ in its newness and energy.

2. Whether or not that Word would have lived without a literary embodiment we are not required to settle. For evidently it was Christ's purpose to condense His living speech into writings for the instruction of men. And there is clear reference here to the written as well as the spoken Word. Thus the phrase takes its most comprehensive sense — the gospel — all that is revealed of God for human salvation.

3. Manifestly all this lies solely in the Scriptures. There is authoritative Word of Christ for us nowhere else. But here the Book is all His. He has fulfilled it, explained it, inspired it, made it a living Word from first to last, that He might by His Spirit give it living and blessed applications.

II. ITS INDWELLING. Yield yourselves up as sacred dwellings to be occupied with it.

1. This means that other tenants are not to remain unless in full agreement with this chief dweller. Thoughts and words of men, plans of earthly ambition, pleasures of sin — away! All thoughts are to be ruled, all cares hallowed by it, and all enjoyments made safe and good. It must be this much, or it can be nothing vital. Christ's Word in the morning, selfish prudence all through the day; Christ's Word for religious service, the word of man for the mercantile transaction; Christ's Word for sickness and death, other words for times of health and pleasure; will not do. The tenant will only occupy as sole possessor of the tenement.

2. Let it dwell. There is plenty of it to fill the wonderful house.(1) Down to the deepest base of life it will go, where passions lurk, and flowing round and through them, it will purge away what is unhallowed, leaving only wholesome forces to strengthen and perfect character.(2) Into the rooms that lie more open to common day, and more level with the world, where many busy feet come and go — where knowledge gathers her stores, prudence holds her scales, judgment records her decisions, diligence plies her tasks, acquisition counts her gains, and foresight watches the opening future; into all these the living Word will enter, and at her ingress the darkening shadow melts, the wrinkles of care are smoothed, and slippery things cease their blandishments, and injustice and unkindness hide their heads.(3) Up higher yet, where imagination lights her lamp, and invention stirs her fires, and desire bends the knee, looking upward, and hope sits watching with nothing between her and the stars.

3. Richly — in its best forms and sweetest fragrance, with all its luminous, guiding powers. Fill yourselves with it. Open all the doors, fling wide the windows. You have only to do that. You have not to make the Word: it is nigh thee in thy heart and in thy mouth if thou wilt but let it dwell in thee richly.

4. But here is more than a mere passive allowance. There is a direct appeal to the will and to the activity of the mind. The Word, abundant as it is, will not come to dwell at all without consent and careful and diligent endeavour. Much "wisdom" is needed for the due remembrance and seasonable entertainment of the various parts in order to apply it to meet the wants of life as they arise. In this every man must be his own minister. We do not need the whole Bible every day; we need it as we need corn in the granary, as the lamps by night. There is many a passage in reserve. We glance at them to-day with only a general interest, but the day will come when they will be as thousands of gold and silver. Meantime it is a great matter to know what is daily bread for this day.(1) Am I in the dark about myself, about the world? Then it will be wise to let the Word of Christ dwell in me as a revelation.(2) Am I doubting and desponding, finding few signs of grace? Then let me remember the Word of Christ as a word of assured salvation, saving the eyes from tears, the feet from falling, and the soul from death.(3) Am I, though calmed with forgiveness, very weak, and unfit for continuing the struggle of the nobler life? Then let me take some strong promise, adapted to the need, and drink it up as a tainting man would drink a cordial until I am refreshed.(4) Am I sorrowing? Can I forget "Let not your heart ,be troubled."(5) Am I passing away from earth and time? More than ever do I need to take Him at His word: "I will not leave nor forsake."

III. THE OUTFLOW. One of the divinest and most necessary truths is that we must give in order to have. The Word of Christ, in order to secure continuance, must be always leaving us. Go among the mountains, and you will see that it is the living stream that flows away; and where it flows the grass is green, and the flowers bloom, and the cattle drink, and the children linger to dip the foot and hear the song. Yet the spring is in no way exhausted. It is fed by the drawing sun, the condensing mountains, the bountiful clouds, the wide sea. Let your inner life, nourished by the indwelling Word, have not ostentatious and noisy, but natural and continuous expression. Its light will come to you from the land of lights. So will you draw from the infinite ocean of Divine love (see vers. 16, 17). A beautiful life; a life of poetry and heart music; a life, too, open alike to all.

(A. Raleigh, D. D.)

I. The Psalms of the Old Testament have no single and universally accepted designation in the Hebrew Scriptures. They first obtained such in the Septuagint. Psalm comes from a word signifying properly a touching, and then a touching of a stringed instrument with a plectrum, and next the instrument itself, and lastly the song sung with this musical accompaniment. It was in this latest stage that the word was adopted by the Septuagint, and to this agree the ecclesiastical definitions of it. In all probability the word here and in Ephesians 5:19 refers to the inspired Psalms of the Hebrew canon, and certainly designates these on all other occasions where it is met with in the New Testament, with the doubtful exception of 1 Corinthians 14:16. The psalms, then, which the apostle would have the faithful to sing to one another are those of David, Asaph, and the other sweet singers of Israel.

II. HYMNS. While the "psalm" by right of primogeniture, as at once the oldest and most venerable, occupies the foremost place, the Church of Christ does not restrict herself to such, but claims the freedom of bringing new things as well as old out of her treasure house, a new salvation demanding a new song. It was the essence of a Greek "hymn" that it should be addressed to, or be in praise of a god or a hero, i.e., a deified man, as Callisthenes reminded Alexander, who, claiming hymns for himself, or suffering them to be addressed to him, implicitly accepted divine honours. In the gradual breaking down of the distinction between the human and the divine which marked the fallen days of Greece and Rome, with the usurping on the part of men of divine honours, the hymn came more and more to be applied to men; although this was not without remonstrance. When the word was assumed into the language of the Church, this essential distinction clung to it still. A "psalm" might be a De profundis, the story of man's deliverance, or a commemoration of mercies received; and of a "spiritual song" much the same could be said; a "hymn" must always be more or less of a Magnificat, a direct address of praise and glory to God. in more places than one states the essentials of a hymn.

1. It must be sung.

2. It must be praise.

3. It must be to God.But though "hymn" was a word freely adopted in the fourth century, it nowhere occurs in the early Fathers, probably because it was so steeped in heathenism, so linked with profane associations, there were so many hymns to Zeus, Hermes, Aphrodite, etc., that the early Christians shrank from it. We may confidently assume that the hymns referred to in the text were direct addresses to God, such as Luke 1:46-55, 68-79; Acts 4:24, and that which Paul and Silas sang in the Philippian dungeon (Acts 16:25). How noble, how magnificent uninspired hymns could prove we have evidence in the Te Deum, in the Veni Creator Spiritus, and in many a later heritage which the Church has acquired. That the Church, brought at the time when St. Paul wrote into a new and marvellous world of realities, would be rich in those we might be sure, even if no evidence existed to this effect. Of such evidence, however, there is abundance (Ephesians 5:14; 1 Timothy 3:16; 2 Timothy 2:11-14). And as it was quite impossible that the Church, releasing itself from the Jewish synagogue, should fall into the same mistake as some portions of the Reformed Church, we may be sure that it adopted into liturgic use, not psalms only, but also hymns, singing them to Christ as God (Pliny, Ep. 10:96); though this we may conclude, more largely in Churches gathered out of the heathen world than in those wherein a strong Jewish element existed.

III. SPIRITUAL SONGS. Ὀδή is the only word of this group which the Apocalypse knows (Revelation 5:9; Revelation 14:3; Revelation 15:3). St. Paul, on the two occasions when he employs it, adds "spiritual" to it, and this, no doubt, because "Ode" by itself might mean any kind of song, as of battle, of harvest, or festal, or hymeneal, while "psalm," from its Hebrew use, and "hymn," from its Greek, did not need such qualification. The epithet thus applied does not affirm that these odes were Divinely inspired, any more than the spiritual man is an inspired man (1 Corinthians 3:1; Galatians 6:1), but only that they were such as were composed by spiritual men, and moved in the sphere of spiritual things. How are we, then, to distinguish these from the former two. If "psalms" represent the heritage of sacred song derived by the Christian Church from the Jewish, the "hymns and spiritual songs" will cover what further in the same kind it produced out of its own bosom; but with a difference. What the hymns were we have seen; but Christian thought and feeling will soon have expanded into a wider range of poetic utterances than those in which there is a direct address to the Deity. If we turn, e.g., to Herbert's Temple, or Keble's Christian Year, there are many poems in both, which, as certainly they are not "psalms," so as little do they possess the characteristics of hymns. "Spiritual songs" these might be fitly called; even as in almost all our collections of so-called "hymns" there are not a few which by much juster title would bear this name.

(Archbishop Trench.)

I. THE EXTENT OF THE POETIC ENDOWMENT IN THE PRIMITIVE CHURCHES. That it was extensively bestowed we may conceive —

1. From the frequent reference made to it (1 Corinthians 14:26). In Corinth it was valued as a charismata (see also Ephesians 5:19; James 5:13).

2. From the universality of the preternatural endowment. The gift of the Spirit was generally bestowed, and this would rouse the poetic faculty in all who had it, and consecrate it to sacred uses.

3. From the universality of excited feelings in the apostolic Churches. Most of those who embraced religion were subject to extraordinary excitement, and poetry is the language of excited feelings. To the unconverted this inspiration was madness or intoxication.

II. ITS CHARACTER. Poetical productions have a character. They are fruitful or barren, corrupt or chaste. There is much in our great poets repugnant to our sense of propriety and which we would fain suppress; but the mere fact that these early Christian poets were under the power of the Spirit would show that their poetry must have been high and pure. There are three things which determine the value of poetry.

1. Intellectual merit. This was high with the primitive Christians. "Let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly." Christian truth is calculated to incite the highest feelings of the soul, and these lofty emotions would find utterance in "psalms and hymns and spiritual songs." The profoundest feelings of our nature can only be expressed in poetry. The highest strains of the orator are poetical.

2. Moral purity. "Admonishing one another." This implies a deep concern for each other's moral welfare. The basis of this concern is personal morality, and issued in strains that were morally improving.

3. Poetic conception. The ideas of the primitive Christians were imaginative and creative.

III. ITS UTILITY. Every Divine gift is bestowed for a useful purpose. What is the use of this?

1. For personal enjoyment. The true poet lives in a creation of his own, and in the deepest solitude he communes with the infinite source of light, life, love, and beauty. "Poetry," said Coleridge, "has been to me its own exceeding great reward. It has soothed my affliction, it has endeared solitude, and it has given me the habit of wishing to discover the good and beautiful in all that surrounds me."

2. As an element in public worship. Nothing adorns, enlivens, and augments the interest of public worship more than music. It secures the harmony of hearts as well as of voices.

3. It is of social utility. Poetry has exercised a powerful influence on society in all ages, for consolation, inspiration, etc.

(P. L. Davies, M. A.)

I. THE DUTY.

1. Singing is God's ordinance, binding all sorts of men (Ephesians 6:19; James 5:13; Psalm 66:1-2; Psalm 92:1; Psalm 135:3). This is a part of our piety, and is a most comely thing.

2. A Christian should recreate himself chiefly this way (James 5:13). God does not allow us to shoulder out this with other recreations.

3. We should sing in our houses as well as in our Churches.

(1)For daily exercise (Psalm 101:1-2).

(2)When Christians meet together (1 Corinthians 14:26; Ephesians 5:19).

II. THE MANNER.

1. We should teach and admonish by singing, and that —

(1)ourselves, by considering the matter.

(2)Others, as ministers in appointing hymns for the congregation, or masters of the family, or when Christians meet, there should be choice of such psalms as may comfort or rebuke according to occasion (1 Corinthians 14:26).

2. We must sing with grace. This is diversely interpreted; some understand it of the dexterity that should be used in singing; others of the comeliness, right order, reverence, or delight of the heart; others of thanksgiving. Rut I think that to sing with grace is to exercise the graces of the heart in singing, i.e., with holy joy (Psalm 9:2); trust in God's mercies (Psalm 13:5); a holy commemoration of God's benefits (Psalm 47:6); yea, with the desire of our hearts that our singing may be acceptable (Psalm 104:33-34).

3. We must sing with our hearts, not with our tongues only for ostentation. To sing with the heart is to sing with the understanding (Psalm 47:7; 1 Corinthians 14:14), with sense and feeling. Hence we are said to prepare our hearts before we sing (Psalm 57:7). Then we must sing earnestly and awake out of our lethargy (Psalm 57:8).

4. We must sing to the Lord (Ephesians 5:19), both to God's glory and with a sense of His presence, and upon a holy remembrance of His blessings.

III. THE USES.

1. For instruction. When we are merry to sing psalms (James 5:13), yea, to account this a heavenly melody (Ephesians 5:19).

2. For reproof of such as delight in profane songs.

(N. Byfield.)

I. Psalms, etc., must be SPIRITUAL.

1. As to the origin. As Moses, David, and others under the impulse of the Holy Spirit, composed their psalms, etc., so we, whether we sing the same or others, ought to do it under the same direction (Ephesians 5:18, 19).

2. As to matter: they treat of spiritual things, relating to the glory of God and our salvation; not of secular and vain matters.

II. THEY MUST BE SUNG WITH GRACE.

1. With gratitude. The word sometimes means this (1 Corinthians 15:57; 2 Corinthians 2:14). Gratitude is not improperly joined to songs; because we are moved to sing in joyous and prosperous circumstances, in which condition thankfulness is binding and necessary.

2. With gracious affability, which conveys both pleasure and utility to the hearers; so that what Horace says concerning poets may he said of these spiritual songs. "They would both profit and delight." So the word means in Colossians 4:6, and Ephesians 4:29.

III. THEY MUST BE SUNG IN THE HEART, i.e., from the inmost affection. And rightly is an ardent emotion required, for the action of singing declares the inward exultation of the heart. He therefore acts the hypocrite who sings with the heart asleep. Hence David not only tunes his voice to the harp, but his voice before either (Psalm 57:7-8). So Mary (Luke 1:46-47). Do not think one thing and sing another.

IV. THEY MUST BE SUNG UNTO THE LORD. The songs of Christians ought not to aim at promoting dissoluteness or gain; but to be employed in celebrating the praises of the Redeemer. Corollaries:

1. The custom of singing is useful, and is to be adopted in the assembling of Christians, as well in public as in private.

2. It is so to be performed, that they who hear may from thence derive spiritual .pleasure and edification. Therefore farewell to all nugatory, and much more to impure songs.

3. In singing it ought to be our especial care that the heart be affected; they who neglect this, may perhaps please men by an artificial sweetness of voice, but they will displease God by an odious impurity of heart.

4. What things are done for cheerfulness and relaxation of the mind by Christians, ought to be of such a kind as are agreeable to Christ and religion: we must therefore detest the madness of those who cannot be cheerful without the reproach of Christ and the ridicule of religion.

(Bp. Davenant.)

Whenever a great quickening of religious life comes, a great burst of Christian song comes with it. The mediaeval Latin hymns cluster round the early pure days of the monastic orders; Luther's rough stormy hymns were as powerful as his treatises; the mystic tenderness and rapture of Charles Wesley have become the possession of the whole Church. The early hymns were of a dogmatic character. No doubt just as in many a missionary Church a hymn is found to be the best vehicle for conveying the truth, so it was in these early Churches, which were made up largely of slaves and women — both uneducated. "Singing the gospel" is a very old invention though the name be new. In these early communities Paul said, "Every one of you hath a psalm, a doctrine." If a man had some fragment of an old psalm, or some strain that bad come fresh from the Christian heart, he might sing it, and his brethren would listen. We do not have that sort of psalmody now. But what a long way we have travelled from it to a modern congregation, standing with hooks that they scarcely look at, and "worshipping" in a hymn which half of them do not open their mouths to sing at all, and the other half do in a voice inaudible three pews off.

(A. Maclaren, D. D.)

has from the first been a most important element in her holy progress and means of usefulness. A large part of the Bible is poetry. Instruction thus conveyed aids the memory and makes a greater impression on the mind. How constantly did David find relief in expressing his hopes and fears, his joys and sorrows in song; and in the record of his experience how precious is the boon he has left for the instruction and encouragement of God's children in all ages. There was a special impressiveness in the use of psalms and hymns in the early Church. The first forms of literature in every country and in great national movements are for the most part in song. Thus it was in Greece; thus it was in Scot land. Facts of history, deeds of prowess, wonderful providences, are handed down in song, and are in this form better remembered and more easily preserved. In our own day, with the power of the printing press, this may not be so necessary; but when books had to be copied in MS., and books were scanty, the citation of song and psalm formed an important element of instruction. It has been said, by a well-known author, that if he were allowed to make the songs of a nation, he cared not who made the laws. The hymns of the Church have often been as the very shrine of spiritual life, for the preservation of doctrine, and the means of progress. How many cares have been relieved by some well-known hymn? How many Christians have crossed the river strong in the faith with the words of some precious stanza on their tongues which they learnt in the Sunday school?

(J. Spence, D. D.)

Singing with grace in your hearts unto the Lord
A music of wild excitement was used in the worship of Cybele, and of Salazion, the Phrygian Diouysos. Hence St. Paul might be the more anxious that Christian singing should be sweet and graceful in a Phryglan Church. For a deep feeling of anxiety on the part of a ruler in the ancient Church that sacred song should be beautiful, see the story how Ignatius brought back the melody of angels heard in vision to his Church at Antioch (Socrates, Hist. 6:08). Heartfelt singing is not voiceless singing (Psalm 111:1). The Psalmist's praise was in his heart, but it must have been vocal also, for it was such praise as is offered in the "assembly." The three conditions of sacred song are sweetness of vocal expression, fulness of inward devotion, direction to a Divine object. These are expressed in this clause.

(1)As to outward expression — "gracefully, sweetly, so as to give pleasure and be attractive."

(2)As to inward devotion — "heartfelt."

(3)As to the Being addressed — "to the Lord."The clue to the real meaning of the passage is to bear in mind that the apostle is speaking of singing as a Church duty, a part of the Church's corporate life, a declaration of peace among her children, and a means of edification. The recognition of sweetness and pleasingness as an element of public worship is very interesting and important. Such care for singing, again, is quite of a piece with Paul's high ideal of womanly grace and beauty in youth (1 Corinthians 11:15), priestlike dignity in age (Titus 2:3), with his recognition of things "lovely" (Philippians 4:3), with his appeal to primary aesthetic instincts (1 Corinthians 11:13), with his horror of "confusion" in public worship (1 Corinthians 14:33), with the word for agrave and majestic beauty in public service expressed in that great foundation-rubric (1 Corinthians 14:40). It shows how thoughtfully he considered local circumstances, and adapted his lessons to them. Phrygian music was apt to become the accompaniment of the passionate and unmanly wailing of Asian barbarism. As Plato says, "The Phrygian strain was adapted for sacred rites and fanatical excitement, being of almost frenzied wildness."

(Bp. Alexander.)

On one of the days when President Garfield lay dying at the seaside, he was a little better, and was permitted to sit by the window, while Mrs. Garfield was in the adjoining room. Love, hope, and gratitude filled her heart as she sang the hymn commencing "Guide me, O Thou great Jehovah!" As the soft and plaintive notes floated into the sick chamber, the President turned his eyes up to Dr. Bliss, and asked, "Is that Crete" "Yes," replied the doctor; "it is Mrs. Garfield." "Quick, open the door a little," anxiously responded the sick man. Dr. Bliss opened the doer, and after listening a few moments Mr. Garfield exclaimed, as the large tears coursed down his sunken cheeks, "Glorious, Bliss, isn't it?"

(W. Baxendale.)

— A little boy came to one of our city missionaries, and holding out a dirty and well-worn bit of printed paper, said, "Please, sir, father sent me to get a clean paper like that." Taking it from his hand the missionary found it was a bill with the hymn "Just as I am" printed upon it.. He looked down into the little earnest face and asked the boy where he got it, and why he wanted a clean copy. "We found it, sir, in sister's pocket after she died; and she used to sing it all the time she was sick, and loved it so much that father wanted to get a clean one to put in a frame to hang up. Won't you give us one, sir?"

(G. F. Pentecost, D. D.)

On board the ill-fated steamer Seawanhaka was one of the Fisk University singers. Before leaving the burning steamer and committing himself to the merciless waves, he carefully fastened upon himself and his wife life preservers. Some one cruelly dragged away that of his wife, leaving her without hope, except as she could cling to her husband. This she did, placing her hands firmly on his shoulders, and resting there until, her strength becoming exhausted, she said, "I can hold on no longer!" "Try a little longer," was the response of the wearied and agonized husband, "let us sing 'Rock of Ages.'" And as the sweet strains floated over the troubled waters, reaching the ears of the sinking and dying, little did they know, those sweet singers of Israel, whom they comforted. But, lo! as they sang, one after another of the exhausted ones were seen raising their heads above the overwhelming waves, joining with a last effort in the sweet, dying, pleading prayer, "Rock of Ages, cleft for me," etc. With the song seemed to come strength; another and yet another was encouraged to renewed effort. Soon in the distance a boat was seen approaching! Could they hold out a little longer? Singing still, they tried, and soon with superhuman strength, laid hold of the lifeboat, upon which they were borne in safety to land. This is no fiction; it was related by the singer himself, who said he believed Toplady's sweet "Rock of Ages" saved many another besides himself and wife. And this was only salvation from temporal death I But, methinks, from the bright world yonder the good Toplady must be rejoicing that God ever taught him to write that hymn, which has helped to save so many from eternal death, as, catching its spirit, they have learned to cast themselves alone for help on that dear "Rock of Ages," — cleft, sinner, for them, for you, and for me, and which ever stands rent asunder that it may shelter those who Utter the cry, "Let me hide myself in Thee."

(Canadian Baptist).

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