"I used to know, years ago, a poor laboring man; he was a Methodist of the good old-fashioned school. I never met him, or spoke with him, without finding that, wherever he was, he was always singing. He was up in the morning at half-past five to get out to his farm work, and, he sang while he was dressing. He sang as he pulled on his corduroys, he sang as he put on his smock, he sang as he walked downstairs, he sang as he tramped off down the street, and he sang all day as he was at his work.
He did not keep on singing while I was preaching, but he seemed almost as if he wanted to do that; and every now and then he would burst out with "Hallelujah!" or "Praise the Lord." He was so full of thanksgiving to God that he was obliged to give expression to his feelings sometimes even when it would have been more proper if he had kept quiet. He was one of the holiest men I ever knew, and I used to account very much for his simple gentleness, integrity, and happiness by the habit he had acquired of constantly singing the praises of God.
He worked with some men who were in the habit of swearing, but he kept on singing; and, after a time, they began to think that it was not the right thing for them to swear. He went among men who drank, but he never left off singing; and, somehow, even among such men there was a kind of respect for him. It was so with all who knew him; his employer tried to put him where he would have easier tasks than others as he grew old, and everybody loved him.
I always wished that he had been a Baptist; that would have been just the finishing touch to make him perfect, and then we should have lost him, for all perfect people go to heaven at once. But if I mentioned that subject to him,—and sometimes I did,—he was not long before he began to sing, and he asked me to join with him, which I gladly did.
His was a happy way of living; I wish that I and all of you could rise to it. Perhaps somebody says, "That good man was a very happy, gracious soul, but he was very childish." But I would like to be just as he was; I do not see him as having been child-ish, but child-like, ever praising God like a happy child who is always singing.
You know, dear friends, you can keep on praising the Lord whatever else you may be doing; you can sit down in your house with the needle in your hand, or go abroad into the garden with the hoe, and still be praising God. We do not have half enough of praise, brothers and sisters; I am sure the devil would be more angry with us it we would begin to praise God more; and we certainly are under no obligations to him to keep from irritating his temper, so let us sing unto the Lord as long as we live, and defy the devil to do his worst. As he likes neither music nor song in praise of Jehovah, let him have plenty of them both; let us continually do as David declared that he would: "I will praise thee with my whole heart: before the gods (or before the devils, before the kings or before the beggars, before the drunkards, before the swearers, before anybody and everybody) will I sing praise unto thee."