Hugh Brown AGAINST Instrumental Music in Worship 1859Instrumental music formed no part of the regular and stated worship of the Jews, either in the Tabernacle, Temple, or Synagogue systems; but merely the production of David as King in Israel
It is popular, if ignorant, to demand that churches of Christ, Baptists, Presbyterians and others which do not use instruments removed instruments from church worship because they were racists wanting to disfellowship northern churches (See the Race Card). And by this refusal they became sectarian.
This flows from a Post-Modern theolog in which truth counts for little. It is a fact that instruments have always been denounced even by Catholics who added them as a "seeker-friendly" effort to attract the crowds. After the Reformation most groups tore down the images and instruments as equally representing dumb idols. Only in the liberal 19th century did instruments again intrude themselves into churches and then by dominant "pastors" who had already rejected the Bible as having any authority over faith and practice.
The addition of instruments was always based on a sectarian or even heretical willingness to "sow discord among brethren" for the sake of roles for theatrical performers to silence the quiet, still voices of the people singing Biblical Psalms in obedience to the practice and command of the early church.
This writer correctly grasps that instruments were never part of the regular and stated worship of the Jews either in the Tabernacle, Temple or the Synagogue. Rather this was a result of Israel's defection from God, and His momentary tolerance during the Monarchy as the kings led Israel into the God-prophesied captivity and death.
Because the American Restoration Movement was "fueled" primarily by Presbyterians who were not tolarated because of their willingness to fellowship those of another "branch," we know that they brought their natural rejection of instruments with them and this 'tradition' reached all of the way back to creation.
Our comments are in Blue.
PASTOR OF THE UNITED PRESBYTERIAN CONGREGATION,
EAST SALEM, WASHINGTON COUNTY, N.Y., 1859
"I will sing with the spirit and I will sing with the understanding also." 1 Cor. 14:15.
All subjects which relate to the peace of the church, the institutions of Jehovah, or the worship of his people, must be important and interesting to every lover of Zion. Psalmody, in its matter and form, has ever claimed, and deservedly obtained, a large share of christian attention. "God is a spirit; and they that worship him must worship in spirit and in truth." Every faculty of man should be consecrated to the service of his great Creator; and it is God's own appointment that his people "come before his presence with singing," and that they "enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise."
His people, from remotest ages, have celebrated his praises "in psalms, and hymns, and spiritual songs," and this is represented as "good, and pleasant, and comely."
In celebrating, however, Jehovah's praises, we are commanded to sing "making melody in our heart to the Lord." And as in all the parts of divine worship,
[The command is first to teach and admonish. The singing and melody is in the heart]
we are to follow the "pattern" given us in the word, so in singing, we are to do it not mechanically, but "with grace in our hearts," for "to the law and to the testimony; if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them."
Jehovah is a spiritual intelligence, and, therefore, incorporeal in his nature. As to his being, he is independent, self-existent, and, eternal as to space, his ubiquity filleth all things, for "whither shall we flee from his Spirit? or whither shall we flee from his presence?", as to knowledge, he is acquainted with all creatures and events, "for known unto God are all his works from the beginning of the world", and as to power, he can do all things, for "he spake and it was done, he commanded and all things stood, fast." He is holy, righteous, just and true; he is good, bountiful and gracious: merciful and compassionate. And in all his natural and moral attributes; in all his will, and mind, and ways, he is immutable.
Seeing then that God is such in all his purposes, and ways and works; we must have respect to the divine will as the rule of our obedience, in singing his praises, and in showing forth his glory.
It is not our fancies, or feelings, or impulses, or the conduct of others, that is to be our guide or standard in celebrating the praises of our great Redeemer,
but the direct revelation of God. Indeed, on any other principle, the ministry would have been as needless, as it must have proved powerless.
To render it availing, it was necessary that its appointment should be accompanied by a revelation from God,
to which nothing was to be added, and from which nothing was to be taken, either as respects doctrine, worship, discipline, and government.
Mighty minds in successive ages, have roused all their gigantic powers to grapple with the system of divine worship contained in the Scriptures of truth. And no other part of public worship has been more tampered with than the celebrating in sacred songs the praises of a Triune God.
This has been done both as regards the matter, and the manner of singing "psalms, and hymns, and spiritual songs."
Some have supposed that it is their duty to celebrate God's praises in hymns of human composition, and others have imagined that organs and other instruments of music should be introduced in the public worship of the New Testament chinch.
But a third class of christians relying on the absolute sufficiency and completeness of the divine word, and imitating the example of Christ and his Apostles in the purity, simplicity, and spirituality of Gospel worship,adhere exclusively to scripture psalmody,
and reject the use of instrumental music in praising God,
believing that to worship aright in spirit and in truth,
we must "sing with grace and melody in our hearts to the Lord."
It is needless to say, that we claim to belong to the last class of christian worshippers,
and while we are advocates for the exclusive use of the inspired book of psalms, or scripture psalmody in the church, we as strenuously reject the introduction of instrumental music in the worship of God.
In giving then "a reason of the hope that is in us," among many others we would mention the following arguments against the use of instruments of music in singing God's praises in the Assemblies of his saints.
And First, it is contrary to the covenanted and recognized standards of the Presbyterian church, both in the general principles, and spirit, as well as in the particular definitions and provisions thereof, to make any innovations and changes such as is practiced by using instruments of music in the public and stated worship of God.
Second, Those who attempt either publicly or secretly, to undermine and corrupt the purity of the church in faith or practice, by human inventions, or additions;such as the introduction of organs into the public and stated worship of God;
ought to be able to prove that such innovations are not merely indifferent,
but actually and indispensably necessary.
Third, The introduction of instrumental music into the public and stated worship of the church, for singing the praises of God,
is in direct contradiction to the express will of Jehovah, as contained in his complete and positive institutions.
Fourth, The innovations of organs in the singing of God's praises in public worship,
is contrary to the fixed and settled principle of Christ and his Apostles in the New Testament, and to the customs and practices of the churches of the Reformation.
Fifth, Instrumental music formed no part of the Jewish ritual, nor, as it used in the ordinary and stated worship of the Old Testament church.
[This is based on the commands of the Law. It is a fact, however, that when Israel rejected God and demanded a king like the nations so that they could worship like the nations, David added the warrior Levitical musicians (under the king and commanders of the army), to enhance the glory of the central temple which was devoted to the civil state. The "congregation" or totality of the Jewish people never worshiped with music, any time or any place. Themmusic was exclusively devoted to the central worship, to the military, to prostitutes or for harmless rejoicing by the young people]
Sixth, Consider the true and exact position occupied by instruments of music among the Jews in the days of David, Solomon, Hezekiah, and other Kings in Judah and Jerusalem.
First then; It is contrary to the covenanted and recognized standards of the Presbyterian church, both in the general principles, and spirit, as well as in the particular definitions and provisions thereof to make any innovations and changes such as is practiced by using instruments of music in the public and stated worship of God.
In the Westminster Confession of Faith it is said in chapter 21st and section 1st, "The acceptable way of worshipping the true God is instituted by himself, and so limited by his own revealed will, that He may not be worshipped according to the imaginations and devices of men,
or the suggestions of Satan, under any visible representation, or any other way not prescribed in the holy Scripture.
Now show me that the use of instrumental music is "prescribed," or ordered, in celebrating the praises of God in the public and stated worship of the church, and then, but not till then, can they be allowed in the Assemblies of his saints. And at section 5th of same chapter, it is said, that
"singing of psalms with grace in the heart," is a "part of the ordinary religious worship of God." But no allowance to use organs in the church is given, but merely to "sing with grace in the heart."
Also in the Larger Catechism, in answer to question 109th, "What are the sins forbidden in the second commandment?" The answer is, "The sins forbidden in the second commandment are, all devising, counseling, commanding, using, and anywise approving any religious worship not instituted by God himself." . . . . . . . and "corrupting the worship of God, adding to it, or taking from it, whether invented and taken up of ourselves, or received by tradition from others, though under the title of antiquity, custom, devotion, good intent, or any other pretence whatsoever."
To Presbyterians then who are in the habit of using instrumental music in the worship of God, we would say, consider your ways, for unless yon are able satisfactorily to prove, that God in his word has commanded organs to be employed in the singing his praises, you do thereby subject yourselves to the displeasure of a jealous God, "for if any man shall add unto the prophecy of this book, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book."
Again, in the Shorter Catechism, at question 51st, "What is forbidden in the second commandment?" The answer is, "The second commandment forbiddeth the worshipping of God by images, or any other way not appointed in his word."
Now prove to me, that instrumental music is "appointed" in the Scriptures, to be used in the. public worship of the New Testament church; and if you do so, then you have authority for what you practice, but if you cannot show any such authority, and we are confident you cannot, then you are guilty of a breach of the second commandment, and Jehovah affirms, "I The Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children."
And lastly here, in the directory for the public worship of God, it is said: "It is the duty of christians to praise God publicly, by singing of Psalms together in the congregation, and also privately in the family. And, in singing of Psalms, the voice is to be tunably and gravely ordered; but the chief care must be to sing with understanding, and with grace in the heart, making melody unto the Lord."
Anything here about organs and instruments of music in praising God? No, but the very expressions employed show distinctly the exclusion of such trumpery in public worship.
That this is the real purport and intention of the standards of the Presbyterian church is evident from an act passed by the long Parliament during the sessions of the Westminster Assembly who composed these standards, and by their advice.
It was decreed that the use of organs in churches was a part of idolatrous worship; and a command was issued ordering every one to be removed.
That organs were an abomination to our venerable forefathers, who aided in composing, and who sanctioned these ecclesiastical standards, is an historical fact, established by the most indisputable authorities. Thus, Baillie, in Vol. 1, let. 43, p. 421, dated 18th February, 1644, among other things, says,
"Paul's and Westminster are purged of their images, organs, and all which gave offence"; &c. Also all the Commissioners at London, in the same year, 1644, among other things, in their letter of 20th May, thus express themselves:
"The great organs at Paul's and of Peter's Westminster, are taken down; images, and many other monuments of idolatry, are defaced and abolished," &c.
And likewise, the General Assembly, 1644, in their answer to the Right Rev. the Assembly of Divines in the church of England, thus say:
"We were greatly refreshed to hear of the great good things the Lord hath wrought among you and for you. Many corruptions, as altars, images, and other monuments of idolatry and superstition, removed, defaced, and abolished; the service book in many places forsaken, and plain and powerful preaching set up;
the great organs at Paul's and Peter's taken down; that the Royal chapel is purged and reformed; sacraments sincerely administered, and "according to the pattern on the mount."
The use then of instrumental music in the worship of God having been thus formally and finally settled;
It is not the province of this or that particular congregation to introduce, and take upon themselves to determine what the standards of the church have decided against.
Neither is it for Presbyteries, Synods, or Assemblies, by the mere casting of votes, to alter any part of the scriptural worship of the New Testament church, or to introduce any changes in either the matter or manner of singing God's praises. The Confession of Faith as the standard of the Presbyterian church, is not in the nature of a civil constitution, which may be amended, or altered at the caprice or whim, of this or the other individual; but it is in the nature of a covenant bond or testimony, written, sworn, and filed in a court of justice. By its decisions and statutes then, as these are founded upon and agreeable to the word of God, the church is to be guided respecting the use of instrumental music in public and stated worship; and this is the most effectual method of securing peace, edification, and purity in the church, as well as uniformity in religion.
Second, Those who attempt either publicly or privately, to undermine and corrupt the purity of the church in faith or practice, by human inventions, or additions; such as the introduction of organs into the public and stated worship of God;
ought to be able to prove that such innovations are not merely indifferent, but actually and indispensably necessary.
It is a fundamental principle in Protestantism, and in the christianity of the Bible to reject everything of human addition, to God's word, God's ordinances, and God's worship.
Now unless it can be shown that the use of organs in public worship is of positive institution, and sanctioned by the Almighty,
it must follow that it is a thing of human invention, and that those who advocate the use thereof are "teaching for doctrines the commandments of men."
That any will be so fool-hardy as affirm, that instrumental music is indispensably necessary in praising God in public worship, I presume not.
This would be to say, that God has not been worshipped aright according to his own appointment for many centuries together. It would be one church un-churching another whilst in the bond of the same ecclesiastical communion. And it would be virtually to affirm, that God has left his church without a perfect pattern of worship,
until the ingenuity of man discovered the flaw, and remedied the mistake. In other words, it would be to make God a liar, and say,
"the wisdom of the world is wiser than the wisdom of God," it has supplied the defect by the necessary adjunct of organs, and other musical instruments in the stated and public worship of the church upon earth.
Few however will venture to assert that the use of instrumental music in the worship of God is absolutely and indispensably necessary; all they will affirm in justification of organs in singing God's praises is,
that it is a thing of indifference, a non-essential, and that it merely assists the congregation in singing.
If then it is a matter of so little indifference, surely the real, general, and long established principle, faith, and practice of the church against them, are reasons sufficient why innovations should not be made in the mode of worship, merely for the sake of bringing in things indifferent.
By the introduction of organs, in the stated and public worship of God, a change takes place from the simple and spiritual exercise of "singing with the spirit, and with the understanding," to a carnal and sensual service, and therefore it must be offensive and sinful in the sight of Heaven.
But still the advocates of instrumental music in the worship of God will reason thus;
"Every thing which is non-essential may be tolerated: instrumental music is such, and therefore it may be justly, properly, and commendably used."
Now in reply to this plausible, but sophistical argument, we only deem it necessary to say, that for this principle we should not require our congregations to be Presbyterians, because Presbyterianism is not essential to salvation.
Neither should any require their congregations to be Methodists, Independents, or Episcopalians; because Methodism, Independency, or Episcopacy, are not essential to salvation.
And hence we have the non-essential element exploded in doctrine, worship, and government; and in its room the heterogeneous medley, that salvation is of grace, and yet that it is not of grace; that there is a parity among the ministers of the gospel, and at the same time there is no parity: and that the diocesan bishop is superior to an itinerant preacher, or grave-digger, and yet that he is not superior.
But it is said, organs are only used in public worship to assist the congregation in singing God's praises.
If then such be a reasonable and justifiable excuse for the introduction of instrumental music; on the same principle, and for the same reason,
why not introduce crucifixes and images of departed saints and angels, to assist the worshippers in their worship.Any argument that will go to justify the use of instrumental music in public worship,
will equally support the superstitions of the church of Rome; and prove that baptism should be administered with chrism and salt,
and that instead of singing psalms "with grace and melody in the heart,"
you may sing mass to a tune on the organ or fiddle.
Third, The introduction of instrumental music into the public and stated worship of the church, for singing the praises of Jehovah, is in direct contradiction to the express will of God, as contained in his complete and positive institutions.
In deciding this question we must be guided by the absolute sufficiency and completeness of the word of God."The supreme judge, by which all controversies of religion are to be determined, and in whose sentence we are to rest,
can be no other but the Holy Spirit speaking in the Scripture;"
Con. of Faith, chap. i. sect. 10. Now it is by this test, viz: the scriptures of truth, as the infallible rule of faith, practice, and obedience, that the doctrines of men, are to be tried; and by this rule all controversies in religion and modes of worship must be determined.
What we mean then is, that in deciding whether instrumental music should, or should not, be used in the stated and public worship of the New Testament church,
the word of God is to be the absolute, infallible, and only rule.
This is the peculiar property of the christian religion, its grand characteristic, that which distinguishes it from all other systems, and elevates it infinitely above human authority and resources. It is clothed in its own majesty; it travels on in its own strength: and it is independent alike of friends and of enemies.
[That is, the very meaning of Christianity is that one follows the teachings of Christ as His disciple. When the Master's teachings are no longer followed then the disciple is no longer a Christian. It is just that simple]
In the Holy Scriptures we have the absolute, infallible, complete, and only rule respecting the doctrine, government, discipline, and worship of the church.
And just as we are bound to believe the whole doctrine revealed in the word of God; so we are strictly to adhere to, and obey the ordinance of God, which Christ Jesus has set up in the form and order of his worship, without any right to add to, or take from the same.
And any attempt to do so, either by the introduction of organs into public worship, or any other way not appointed in his word, whether designedly, ignorantly, or perversely done,
is an encroachment on the divine headship of the Son of God, and a daring usurpation of his royal prerogative over his own heritage. [John Locke would define this as heresy
[John Locke defines heresy or schism as failure to follow the rule of conduct laid down by the Christian Teacher. One can be religious and call themselves anything they wish but they cannot be a Christian while teaching and worshiping as if they have their own incarnation from God. See Locke's Comments Here.]
I presume that all lovers of the word of God,a ll Bible readers, and enlightened christians,will admit that the Lord Jesus Christ is King and Head of Zion hath therein instituted a stated public worship for his church, and to be observed by His professed disciples in the end of time.
Now the several parts and particular modes and forms of said worship are as follows:,1st. The public reading of the scriptures with godly fear: Acts 15:21. Rev. 1:3. 2nd. the public preaching of the gospel, and hearing thereof, in obedience unto God, with understanding, faith, and reverence; Matt. 13:19. Acts 10:33. 2 Tim. 4:2. Heb. 4:2. 3rd. Public prayer to God: Acts 3:1, 16:13. Eph. 6:18. 4th. The due administration and we thy receiving of the sacraments instituted by Christ; Matt 28:19. Acts 2:42. 1 Cor. 11:20, 23-34. 5th. Public praise of God by singing, or singing of psalms with grace in the heart: Eph. 5:19. Col. 3:15. 6th. Public benediction of the congregation: Num. 5:22-26. 2 Cor. 13:14.
Examine then the whole word of God, and you will find that there is no other ordinary, stated, and public part or particular, of the divinely instituted worship of the New Testament church, but the six afore mentioned things, each and all of which are clearly defined, and held forth as of divine appointment. Since then this is the whole of the complete and positive institutions of God contained in the Scriptures of truth, respecting the public and stated worship of Christ's church, to which nothing is to be added, and from which nothing is to be taken; we ask what authority has any man, or body of men, to alter any part of the matter, manner, or mode of said worship. Which, of the particular parts of the divinely instituted worship of God has any man a right to add to, or take from? Not one, the word of God being our complete and infallible rule.
As well may you join with the public reading of the scriptures, the Targum, and Talmuds of the Jews; the Koran of Mahomet, or the bible of the Mormons, as the introduction of organs, or other instruments of music in singing the praises of God.
As well may you add to the public preaching of the gospel, or justification by faith through the imputed righteousness of Jesus Christ, the necessity of penance, and a purgatory; as the adjunct of organs and bass-fiddles to celebrate the excellencies of a covenant God.
With as good a grace you may as well in your public prayers to God, add prayers to departed saints and angels; or to the New Testament sacraments of baptism and the Lord's supper, add the five bastard sacraments of the Romish church; as in vain to worship God by the innovations of organs, or an other way not appointed in his word.
Where is the difference ask between corrupting, the word of God; the appointment of mediators besides the Lord Jesus Christ: or the adding to the sacraments of the church; and the praising God with "artificial noise of machinery," instead of singing "with the spirit, and the understanding, and making melody in our heart to the Lord."
There is no difference, and the one as well as the other involves rebellion against the divine authority of Almighty God, and subjects to the woes denounced in the scriptures of truth.
Of all innovations into the church of Christ, that of organs is the most dangerous and fatal for corrupting the worship of God.
It is in the singing of divine praises, that every human being can take a public, direct and active part.
But by the introduction of organs, the worship of God is corrupted, the Lord Jesus Christ robbed of the public praises of his people, and the sons and daughters of the Lord Almighty deprived of access to him in celebrating his glories.
Besides this, we would observe that frequently things in themselves indifferent, or even commendable, become unlawful when they have been made instruments of dishonor to God, or grounds of temptation to men.
Look for example to 2 Kings 18:4, where Hezekiah King of Judah gave orders to "brake in pieces the brazen serpent that Moses had made for unto those days the children of Israel did burn incense to it.
And he called it Nehushtan." Now observe, this serpent was made according to divine appointment, by Moses in the wilderness, and the children of Israel brought it with them into the land of Canaan, and it was there kept as a memorial of the miracle wrought for them by looking to it. For this serpent they had a great veneration, both because it was made by Moses, and was a means in his time of healing the Israelites.
Hence they imagined that it might be of some service to them in the worship of God; and Laniado says, that they were not guilty of idolatry in worshipping it, but merely used it in worship, supposing that what they did was for the honor of God. But good King Hezekiah perceiving that they were ensnared by it, "broke in pieces the brazen serpent that Moses had made," and by way of contempt called it "Nehushtan," which means brass.
By this he taught them, that it was nothing but a mere piece of brass, and could therefore be of no service to them in divine things, or in worshipping God; and that it might no longer be a snare to them, or the worship of God be corrupted by it, he "broke it in pieces."
Now exactly so is it, that of all instruments of music, the organ is the very one that should not be used in the church of Jesus Christ.
Like the brazen serpent it is the great engine in corrupting the praises of God, and has been of the grand devices of the Romish Church
for seducing mankind to attend upon their superstitious and idolatrous worship. Unless then it can be shown that organs are positively necessary in themselves, or that their use in public worship is absolutely required by Jehovah in his word,
we are led to conclude that they foster idolatry, corrupt the simplicity and purity of divine worship, are dishonoring to the God of Heaven, and ruinous to the best interests of immortal beings.
Away then with such from the service of the living God, they are at best but the work of men's hands, dumb idols, and the use of them in the public and stated worship of God, is only "worshipping and serving the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen."
Fourth, The innovations of organs in the singing of God's praises in public worship, is contrary to the fixed and settled principle of Christ and his Apostles in the New Testament, and to the customs and practices of the churches of the Reformation.
In the New Testament we are told what we are to sing. and how to sing; but we do not find a single syllable about instrumental music being used in the worship of God. We are to sing "psalms, and hymns and spiritual songs," and to sing them "with the spirit and with the understanding also."
No more should organs be used in singing God's praises, than in praying to him. The Apostle in 1 Cor. 14:15, connects them together, and says, "I will pray with the spirit, and I will pray with the understanding also; I will sing with the spirit, and I will sing with the understanding also."
[The Greek Psalmos originally meant a song composed so that it could be accompanied with an instrument or the human voice. Paul defined the human voice and heart as the instrument. And therefore by defining the instrument he necessarily excluded the other. Singing with understanding is outward singing; singing with the spirit is identical to singing with the heart or innermost being based upon expressing the Spirit of God.
Paul defines prayer with the spirit. Who would insist on playing a machine while people are praying?
In the same way, Paul defines singing with the spirit. Who would insist that someone play a machine when the prayers and songs were, in the Psalms, quite identical]
What use could an organ be to aid a man in prayer? and yet you may just as well sing prayers to God with musical instruments, as sing praise to him with them. The one would be as reasonable as the other but God would be dissatisfied with both, and they would be an abomination unto him.
And take notice, that although organs are highly prized and "esteemed" by some in the public worship of God, yet Jesus Christ declares in Luke 16:15. that,
"that which is highly esteemed among men is abomination in the sight of God."
[The clergy tried to seduce Jesus while singing and piping or fluting to Him]
And the Apostle Paul was of the same opinion when he affirmed that he would both pray and sing with the spirit, and with the understanding also.
He would sing vocally, with his own spirit, that is, with his heart engaged in the work, with grace in it, and in the lively exercise of faith, hope and love; with spiritual light, knowledge, experience and judgment, which are, necessary to the discharge of this duty.
But he would also sing, with the aid of the Spirit of God, which is needful to excite attention, assist meditation, enlighten the understanding, raise the affections, strengthen faith, and make a comfortable application of what is sung.
In the New Testament we have many examples of Christ and his Apostles meeting together with others for public worship, and in these assemblies we find them, reading the Scriptures, preaching the gospel, offering up prayer, administering (instituting?) the sacraments, and singing the praises of God;
but never in one solitary instance do we read of organs, or any instruments of music being used by them. For proof of this read in Luke 4:16-22. 24:47. Acts 2:14-47. 3:12-26. 8:5. 13:14-52. 15:7. Eph. 3:8, 9. Heb. 10:25.
The singing of psalms, without the use of instrumental music, was enjoined under the Old Testament, as a part of the ordinary worship of God, and it is distinguished from ceremonial worship. Thus in, Ps, 69:30, 31. "I will praise the name of God with a song, and will magnify him with thanksgiving. This also shall please the Lord better than an ox or bullock that hath horns and hoofs."
Now the name of God is himself, his perfections and attributes, which are to be praised by all his creatures, and especially his saints. But here it may mean, by the Messiah, who sung the praise of God with his disciples at the sacramental supper, and this being said to be done by a song agrees with Heb. 2:12, where the apostle speaking of Christ says: "I will declare thy name unto my brethren; in the midst of the church will I sing praise unto thee."
And that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy; as it is written, For this cause I will confess to thee among the Gentiles, and sing unto thy name. Romans 15:9
These are the words of Christ Jesus addressed to his Father, whose name he promises to declare to his brethren, and he declares that it shall be done "in the midst of the church," in the stated and public worship of God; but how? not with organs, for he adds, "I will sing praise unto to thee," and this he did at the institution of the supper; hence in Matt. 26:30, it is said, "and when they had sung an hymn, they went out into the mount of Olives." This hymn was the Hallel which the Jews were obliged to sing on the night of the passover, and consisted of six psalms, viz: the 113, 114, 115, 116, 117, and 118.
[According to Edersheim, when the 5th cup was used on special occasions (after supper) they used Psalm 137 which specificially claims that the Jews hung up their harps when they were away from the Temple and Jerusalem]
Think you then if it was the will of God that organs should be used in the ordinary worship of the church, that Jesus Christ would not have strictly adhered to it, seeing he was privy to all the counsels of the Father, and decimated that "one jot or tittle should in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled." Seeing then that Jesus Christ sung praises to God, and sung praises in psalms, or hymns, but never did make use of instrumental music in singing, how could he, if such had been used by the law or the prophets, say in Matt. 5:17, "Think not that I am come to destroy the law or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill."
But further here we would observe, that the singing of psalms, is not only enjoyned under the Old Testament, but it is confirmed under the New, and sanctioned by the example of the Apostles, as well as by Christ himself,
but never in a single instance by using musical instruments.
Thus in Eph. 5:19, "speaking to yourselves in psalms, and hymns, and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord." Here we see that "singing," is praising God with the voice, and is rightly performed when the heart and voice agree, for "singing and making melody in the heart" is singing with, or from the heart, and heartily to the glory of God.
There is then, but the heart enjoyned by the Holy Spirit, to accompany the voice in singing the praises of God, and not an organ, or musical instrument of any kind.
[We noted above that by use the human voice and heart as one of the allowable options, Paul excluded the harp. By analogy, if Paul said "make melody with a harp" he would not mean at the same time, "make melody with a flute.]
The same thing also we have in Col. 3:16. "Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms, and hymns, and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord."
Here we find that the first necessary qualification to enable is to sing acceptably the praises of God is, that "the word of Christ should dwell richly in us." By the word of Christ here,
we understand especially the gospel, of which Christ is the author as God, the preacher as man, and the subject-matter as God-man, and Mediator. It is the word of Jesus Christ, concerning him as our God, Redeemer, Saviour, Husband, Head, and King; concerning his person, offices, fulness, freeness, and fitness: concerning reconciliation, peace, and pardon by his blood, justification by his righteousness, and complete salvation through his obedience, sufferings and death.
But how can "this word of Christ," thus dwell in a senseless, dumb organ. An organ has no heart for "the word of Christ to dwell in," hence the heart is far from him; whereas to sing acceptably, it must be "with grace in our hearts." That is with the assistance of Spirit and grace of God, and to spiritual profit and edification.
Seeing then, that neither Christ, nor his Apostles made any mention or reference to instrumental music, their practice, in not using such music in worship, clearly and plainly proves, that it is not of divine authority in the gospel church, and that such was not in use in the days either of Christ, or the Apostles.
2nd. The introduction of organs in the singing of God's praises in public worship is contrary to the customs and practices of the churches of the Reformation.
Respecting the use of instrumental music in public worship, we find no reference either in the apostolic or primitive churches. In fact, there was a total silence upon the subject for at least a period of 800 years.And Neander says, that it was not until the 8th century that the idea was first heard of. Instrumental music, in the worship of God, was not practised by the primitive christians, as is evident from church history.
The organ was first introduced into the church service by Marianus Sanutus, in the year 1290; and
the first that was known in the West, was one sent to Pepin, by Constantinus Copronymus, about the middle of the 8th century.
But that they were not used in the christian church in the primitive times, is attested by all the ancient writers with one consent. This I might easily show by a thousand testimonies,
from Clement of Alexandria, Basil, Ambrose, Jerome, Augustine, Chrysostom, am many others; all of whom figuratively explain the passages of the Old Testament, which speak of musical instruments. For these and many more click for details.
The testimony of Clement is, that musical instruments in worship is fitter things for beasts than for men. Basil says, he thought musical instruments unprofitable and hurtful.
He calls them, the inventions of Jubal of the race of Cain.
At page 955, he says, "In such vain arts, as the playing upon the harp, or pipe, as soon as the action ceases, the work itself vanishes. So that really, according to the Apostle's expression, The end of those things is destruction." And again, at page 957, he says,
"Laban was a lover of the harp and of music, with which he would have sent away Jacob: if thou hadst told me, said he, I would have sent thee away with mirth, and with songs, with tabret, and with harp.
But the Patriarch avoided that music, as being a thing that would hinder his regarding the work of the Lord, and his considering the works of his hands."
[Remember that Laban gave Jacob a "wedding party" with wine and music. Jacob was so drunk that Laban slipped in the wrong wife. His going away party was with the intention of "taking away his inheritance" or "pruning his vines" which is the definition of instrumental music]
Gen. 4:20 And Adah bare Jabal: he was the father of such as dwell in tents, and of such as have cattle.
Gen. 4:21 And his brother’s name was Jubal: [Jubilee]
he was the father of all such as handle the harp and organ.
8610. taphas, taw-fas´; a primitive root; to manipulate, i.e. seize; chiefly to capture, wield, specifically, to overlay; figuratively, to use unwarrantably:-catch, handle, (lay, take) hold (on, over), stop, x surely, surprise, take.
H8611 tôpheth to'-feth From the base of H8608 ; a smiting, that is, (figuratively) contempt:—tabret.
H8612 tôpheth to'-feth The same as H8611 ; Topheth, a place near Jerusalem:—Tophet, Topheth. HELL
H8608 tâphaph taw-faf' A primitive root; to drum, that is, play (as) on the tambourine:—taber, play with timbrels.
H5748 ‛ûgâb ‛ûggâb oo-gawb', oog-gawb' From H5689 in the original sense of breathing; a reed instrument of music:—organ.
H5689 ‛âgab aw-gab' A primitive root; to breathe after, that is, to love (sensually):—dote, lover.
Organon , to, ( [ergon, erdô] ) I. an implement, instrument, engine of any kind, A. instrument, implement, tool, for making or doing a thing 3. musical instrument, 2.organ of sense or apprehension, theaomai, gaze at, behold, mostly with a sense of wonder, 3.view as spectators, esp. in the theatreErgon [Ergô] I.work, 1. in Il. mostly of deeds of war, polemêïaerga, 3.a hard piece of work, a hard task, Il.: also, a shocking deed or act,
Ergon [opposite to productive work] alêth-ês [Opposite of truthful, honest people, opposite of true, unerring oracles] 1. in Il. mostly of works or deeds of war,
Aristotle Politics 1341b and all the instruments that require manual skill. And indeed there is a reasonable foundation for the story that was told by the ancients about the flute. The tale goes that Athena found a flute and threw it away. Now it is not a bad point in the story that the goddess did this out of annoyance because of the ugly distortion of her features; but as a matter of fact it is more likely that it was because education in flute-playing has no effect on the intelligence, whereas we attribute science and art to Athena
And since we reject professional education in the instruments and in performance (and we count performance in competitions as professional, for the performer does not take part in it for his own improvement, but for his hearers' pleasure, and that a vulgar pleasure, owing to which we do not consider performing to be proper for free men, but somewhat menial; and indeed performers do become vulgar, since the object at which they aim is a low one, as vulgarity in the audience usually influences the music, so that it imparts to the artists who practise it with a view to suit the audience a special kind of personality,
Isidore of Pelusium, who lived since Basil, held, that music was only allowed the Jews by the Almighty, in a way of condescension to their childishness; in book 2nd. and epistle 176, he says,
"If God bore with the bloody sacrifices, because of men's childishness at that time; why should you wonder, he bore with the music of an harp and a psaltery."
[Animal sacrifices were not part of the worship defined by God until Israel's musical idolatry at Mount Sinai. When Israel demanded a king so that they could worship like the nations, music was naturally added and tolerated because it didn't matter -- Israel had slipped the yoke and was on their way to Assyrian captivity and death]
It is evident then, that no musical instruments were used in the pure and primitive times of the church.
It first became antichristian, before they were received. Even Bellarmine does not deny, that they were late brought into the church. He says;
"The second ceremony, are the musical instruments, which began to be used in the service of the church, in the time of Pope Vitalian, about the year 600 as Platina relates out of the Pontifical; or as Aimonius rather thinks in book iv. chapter 114, after the year 820, in the time of Lewis the Pious."
[The Jewish worship was related to the king, clergy and civil officials. The public did not participate in this civil worship and not even the Jews imposed it on the ordinary people who worshiped God in the synagogues and in righteousness and justice]
But farther we notice, that instruments of music were not used in public worship about the year 1250, as Thomas Aquinas is himself witness to. He says,
"in the old law, God was praised both with musical instruments, and human voices. But the church does not use musical instruments to praise God, lest she should seem to judaize." Again, he says, "pipes are not to be used for teaching, nor any artificial instruments, as the harp, or the like: but whatsoever will make the hearers good men," &c.
Also, Cardinal Cajectan in his voce musica says, "Tis to be observed, the church did not use organs in Thomas' time. Whence, even to this day, the church of Rome does not use them in the Pope's presence. And truly it will appear, that musical instruments are not to be suffered in the ecclesiastical offices we meet to perform;
and so much the rather are they to be excluded, because God's internal discipline exceeds all human disciplines, which rejected these kind of instruments." [And so says the Catholic Encyclopedia]
But to return, in Justin Martyr's works, at Quest. of Respons. ad Orthodox, Q. 107, we have this answer; "Plain singing is not childish, but only the singing with lifeless organs, with dancing, and cymbals, &c. Whence the use of such instruments, and other things fit for children, is laid aside and plain singing only retained."
Chrysostom also, who flourished in the 4th century, expresses his dislike for organs in worship; and says, Psalm 149, and 143. "But now, instead of organs, Christians must use the body to praise God." Again, Pareus in 1 Cor. 14:7, says, "In the christian church the mind must be incited to spiritual joy, not by pipes and trumpets, and timbrels, with which God formerly indulged his ancient people on account of the hardness of their hearts, but by psalms, and hymns, and spiritual songs."
Also Zepperus, de lege Mosaica, lib. 4. says, "Much less should that jarring, organic music, which produceth a gabbling of many voices, be allowed, with its pipes, and trumpets, and whistles, making our churches resound, nay bellow and roar." Again, Beza in Colloq. Mompelg. parte 2, p. 26, says,
"If the Apostle justly prohibits the use of unknown tongues in the church,
much less would he have tolerated these artificial musical performances, which are addressed to the ear only, and seldom strike the understanding, even of the performers themselves."
Likewise Calvin in Hom. 66, in 1 Sam. 18:1-9. p. 570, says, "Instrumental music was only tolerated, on account of the times and of the people. But in gospel times, we must not have recourse to these, unless we wish to destroy the evangelical perfection, and to obscure the meridian light, which we enjoy in Christ our Lord."
And we find from Reform. Leg. de Div. offic, that the 32 commissioners appointed by Edward VI., the most eminent men then it England, complained of cathedral singing, and advised it to be laid aside.
Organs then, in the worship of God are but of recent origin, and the church of England when the innovation was attempted, had such an abhorrence to the practice, that we thus find her saying in the Apostolical Constitutions, Book viii. chapter 32,
"If any come to the mystery of godliness, being a player upon a pipe, a lute, or an harp; let him leave it off, or be rejected;"
and also in the Homilies of the church of England, we find in part 2nd, page 131, of the place and time of prayer, that when that church was "secured of such gay gazing sights," and "the false religion banished," some lamented and complained, saying,
"Alas! gossip, what shall we now do at church, since all the saints are taken away; since all the goodly sights we were wont to have are gone; since we cannot hear the like piping, singing, chanting, and playing upon the organs as we could before?
But, dearly beloved, we ought greatly to rejoice and give God thanks, that our churches are delivered from all those things which displeased God so sore, and filthily defiled his holy house, and his place of prayer." To this we would also add, that a great number of the ministers of the church of England,
in the first convocation of Queen Elizabeth in 1562, earnestly labored to have organs, and that pompous theatrical way of singing laid aside,
and only by one vote missed the carrying out. It is true, that organs are used by some foreign churches; but Hickman says,
"They are laid aside by most of the Reformed churches;
nor would they be retained among the Lutherans,
unless they had forsaken their own Luther; and who by the confession of Eckard, "reckoned organs among the ensigns of Baal."
Also we would notice, that in the National Synod at Middleburgh, in the year 1581, and in the Synod of Holland and Zealand, in the .year 1594, it was resolved,
"That they would endeavor to obtain of the magistrate the laying aside of organs, and the singing with them in the churches,
even out of the time of worship, either before or after sermon."
Such authorities then as the foregoing, with many others of a like kind that might be adduced, go to prove that organs, and other instruments of music in singing God's praises in public worship, are contrary to the customs and practices of the churches of the Reformation.
But before concluding this part of our discourse, we would take the liberty of adducing one or two testimonies from writings of Roman Catholics. For be it remembered, that just as some honest Papists in these days are shocked with the Pope's impious and newly-invented doctrine of the Immaculate conception of the Virgin Mary,
so many well-meaning ecclesiastics of the Romish church were much opposed to the innovation of organs into public worship. On this hear what Polydorus Virgilius says, in book vi. chapter 2, and page 379.
"Now our singers make such a noise in our churches, that nothing can be heard, beside the sound of the voice; and they who come there are satisfied with the concert of music,
which their ears itch for, and never mind the sense of the words. So that we are come to that pass, that the whole affair of religious worship is lodged in these singers;although, generally speaking, there is no sort of men more loose or wicked,
and yet a good part of the people run to church, as to a theatre, to hear them bawl;
they hire and encourage them; and look upon them as ornaments to the house of God.,
Therefore, without doubt, it would be for the interests of religion, to cast these jackdaws out of the church."
Again, hear the opinion of Erasmus: "We have brought into our churches a certain operose and theatrical music; such a confused, disorderly chattering of words, as I hardly think was ever heard in any of the Grecian or Roman theatres. The church sings with the voice of trumpets, pipes and dulcimers; and human voices strive to bear their part with them. Men run to church as to a theatre, to have their ears tickled. And to this end organ-makers are hired with great salaries, and a company of boys, who waste all their time in learning these whining tones."
By the foregoing quotations then, from the Fathers, the Schoolmen, the Reformers, and others, we have the authority to assert, that the history of the church
gives no countenance for the introduction of instrumental music into the public worship of God. But we would here also add some recent decisions of several branches of the Presbyterian church respecting the use of organs, where it had been attempted to introduce them, into public worship.
An organ having been used in the Presbyterian church, St. Andrews, Glasgow, Scotland, in the year 1807, the Presbytery of Glasgow in connection with the church of Scotland, condemned the practice, and at a meeting of said Presbytery, Nov. 4th, 1807, passed the following resolution;
"That the Presbytery are of opinion, that the use of organs in the public worship of God is contrary to the law of the land, and to the law and constitution of our established church, and therefore prohibit it in all the churches and chapels within their bounds."
Also, in the Synod of the Presbyterian church of Canada, in consequence of an organ having been introduced into the congregation in Brockville, the matter came up before Synod at its annual meetings in 1856, and 1857; and after long and mature consideration. Synod passed a resolution condemnatory of the use of organs in public worships and ordered said one to be immediately removed. Again, at a meeting of the Synod of the United Presbyterian church of Canada, held in Hamilton, June 1st, 1858; the following resolution on Instrumental music, was adopted:,
"That the use of musical instruments in conducting the public worship of God is highly inexpedient, and order the Presbytery of London to use due diligence to see that the congregation of London cease from the practice complained of."
Also, the Synod of the United Presbyterian church of Scotland which met in Edinburgh, May 3d, 1858, condemned the use of instrumental music, in their churches in a series of resolutions. And finally, the Presbyterian church in England which met in Synod, in Manchester, on April 19th, 1858, the subject of Instrumental music in churches, called forth a debate of several sessions, and a resolution condemning the use of organs was adopted.
Here then we have four or five different branches of the Presbyterian church, both in the Old and New Worlds, and all, of late, condemning the use of Instrumental music in public worship. We have the Presbytery of Glasgow, in connection with the church of Scotland, in 1807; then the Synod of the Presbyterian church of Canada, in 1857; next, the Synod of the United Presbyterian church of Canada, in 1858; also, the Synod of the United Presbyterian church of Scotland, in 1858; and lastly, the Synod of the Presbyterian church of England, in 1858.
Seeing then clearly from the history of the church, that musical instruments of all kinds were excluded from public worship in the days of our Saviour, and his Apostles, and also from all the churches founded by the Apostles, for at least six or eight centuries after Christ; we would notice by way of application, the following particulars:,
1st. The innovation of organs into the public worship of Gods has ever been accompanied with the
gradual defection and corruption of the church, in other respects; and has ever been opposed and protested against by the wisest, the greatest, and the best of God's people, in every period of the New Testament church.
2nd. The several denominations of professing christians, who, at the Reformation opposed, and who still continue to oppose the introduction of organs in the singing of God's praises,
will be found on examination to be the most orthodox, and most faithful, and who adhere most closely to the doctrine, purity and simplicity of the gospel of Christ.
3d. Whatever changes have taken place in any of the Protestant denominations, since the Reformation, by the use of organs in public worship,
is uniformly attended by other injurious innovations, either in the rejection of some parts of divine truth, or by adding to the purity and plainness of the gospel; so that if such denomination be not on the way to shake hands with and bid Popery, "God speed," at least it may be written upon them, "Ichabod," the glory is departed.
Fifth. Instrumental music formed no part of the Jewish ritual, nor was it used in the ordinary and stated worship of the Old Testament church.
In considering this proposition, we shall notice briefly the three following things:
1st. The Jewish church has long since ceased to be the church and ours in the New Testament, or gospel church of Jesus Christ.
2nd. Many things which formed part of the Jewish worship, has long since ceased to be a part of divine worship under the gospel dispensation; and
3d. There is no evidence that instrumental music formed any part of the Jewish ritual, or that it was used by the Jewish church, in the ordinary and stated public worship of God.
1st then, The Jewish church has long since ceased to be the church of God, and ours is the New Testament, or gospel church of Jesus Christ. Those who contend for the propriety of using organs in public worship,
because they were used in the Jewish church by the Levites when the priests offered the sacrifices in the Temple, should read carefully the epistles to the Galatians, and Hebrews. In the epistle to the Galatians,
Paul shows, that the design of God in giving the law, was not that it should be of permanent or lasting duration, but only as a temporary institution, showing the necessity of a better righteousness than that of the law, and so to lead convinced souls to Christ, that, being justified by faith in him, they might obtain the benefits of the promises.
Such, being the end and design of the law, the Apostle infers from it, that now, under the gospel, we are freed from the law; and illustrates his inference by God's treatment of the Jewish church, which he put under the law, as a father puts a minor under a guardian.
Then in the epistle to the Hebrews, the Apostle shows, that we are under another and a better dispensation than the Jewish. That Jesus of Nazareth, was the Messiah, the Son of God, and far superior to the angels, to Moses, to the high-priest of the Old Testament, and to all other priests. That from his sufferings and death, much greater and more lasting benefits have resulted to the human family, than the Jews ever derived from their temple service, and from the numerous rites and ordinances of the Levitical law.
The great object, then, of the Apostle is, to prevent the Hebrews or Jewish converts from relapsing into those rites and ceremonies which were now abolished; and to show the typical nature of the tabernacle and its furniture, and of the ordinances there observed.
The church then to which we now profess to belong is not the Jewish church, but the gospel church of Jesus Christ, neither are we Jews, but christians. And be it also observed, that God had a church in the world,
long before there was ever a Jew in the world; and from the Scriptures we learn, that the Jewish system was but temporary and transient, and when compared with the christian dispensation is,
"weak and beggarly;" Gal. 4:9. Admitting even, that the Jewish worship consisted of instrumental music, and that organs were used by them in public worship, still all that would not be sufficiently warrantable authority for us to use musical machinery in the spiritual worship of the gospel church.
But 2nd. Many things which formed part of the Jewish worship, has long since ceased to be a part of divine worship under the gospel dispensation. Has not the earthly tabernacle and temple, with its numerous priesthood, and bloody sacrifices, and the grandeur and pompous services of the Jewish dispensation long since passed away.
And so with these has passed away the use of instrumental music in the stated and public worship of God, for these, like the sacrifices, were only typical of the spiritual sacrifices, viz: the bodies, souls, afflictions, prayers, praises and other duties, which christians are to offer as "acceptable to God, by Jesus Christ," 1 Peter 2:5.
What we mean is, that instrumental music under the Jewish dispensation, was merely a type of that spiritual joy which attends our praising God for the redemption purchased by Jesus Christ. "But Christ being come an high priest of good things," and having "entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us," therefore this type is abolished as well as the whole of the ceremonial law.
But to this some may object and say, that if instrumental music under the Jewish dispensation was merely typical of that spiritual joy with which worshippers under the New Testament should sing the praises of God; and that the type, that is, the organ, the harp, and other musical instruments are now abolished;
then the argument will go to overthrow the ordinance of singing altogether.
In other words, since singing God's praises accompanied by musical instruments, was of divine appointment under the Jewish dispensation, but that the instrumental part is abolished under the gospel,
then it must equally follow that singing in public worship is also abolished.
To this we reply, that as well might it be objected, that, because incense, which was used by divine appointment under the ceremonial law, together with prayer, in the temple; (see Luke 1:8-13), is not now commanded, nor required under the gospel;
therefore prayer ought also to be laid aside.
Those then who thus defend the use of organs in singing the praises of God, because allowed the church under the Jewish dispensation; must by parity of reasoning hold and affirm that God cannot and will not under the New Testament hear and answer prayer unless offered up with the burning. of incense. Besides this, we would notice, that the ordinance of singing God's praises is a duty, as founded on the moral law. Hence we find that the practice was recommended, not only to the Jews, but to all nations. Thus in Ps. 98:4, it is said, "Make a joyful noise unto the Lord, all the earth." And again, in Ps. 100:1, 2, "Make a joyful noise unto the Lord, all ye lands; serve the Lord with gladness; come before his presence with singing." And also we find, that this exercise is preferred before some other parts of worship, which were merely ceremonial; thus in Ps. 69:30, 31."I will praise the name of God with a song; this also shall please the Lord better then an ox or bullock that hath horns and hoof."
And that which is also sufficient to determine the question of instrumental music in public worship is, that, we have no precept or precedent for it in the New Testament, either from the practice of Christ, or his Apostles; but we have sufficient warrant and authority for singing God's praises "with the spirit, and with the understanding also."
But 3rd. There is no evidence that instrumental music formed any part of the Jewish ritual, or that it was used by the Jewish church, in the ordinary and stated public worship of God.
In deciding this question, it will perhaps be necessary for us to take a cursory view of the several places of worship under the Jewish dispensation, and where the people were accustomed to meet for the ordinary and public worship of God. With the exception then of what were called "the high places," where they sometimes met for worship, we find from the Old Testament, that the regular places for public worship were three:,1st. The Tabernacle; 2nd. The Temple; and 3rd. The Synagogue.
In noticing each of these as the places where the Israelites assembled for stated and public worship, we observe 1st, with respect to the Tabernacle; that it was a magnificent, and divine pavilion, built by Moses according to the express command of God; partly to be the place of Jehovah's visible residence as King of Israel, and partly to be the centre and medium of that solemn worship which the people were to render to him. Now it is to be carefully observed that the pattern of the tabernacle, with all its furniture necessary for the worship of God, was not left to the invention of Moses, the fancy of the workmen, or the humour of the people; but the will of God must be religiously observed in every particular. "Look," says he to Moses in Ex. 25:40, "that thou make them after their pattern, which was shewed thee in the mount." The ark with the mercy-seat, the altar of burnt-offering, and the altar of incense; the holy garments for the priests with the Urim and Thummim, the table for the shew-bread, and the candlestick of beaten gold, with his shaft, his branches, his bowls, his knops, and his flowers; the ten curtains of fine twined linen, and blue, and purple, and scarlet, with the loops, the couplings, and the taches; the dishes, the spoons, the covers, the tongs, and the snuff-dishes, all was of divine appointment, and to be made according to the pattern God shewed Moses. But there is not one syllable in the whole about musical instruments of any kind, neither harps, timbrels, organs, or stringed instruments; and says God to Moses in Deut. 4:2, "Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it, that ye may keep the commandments of the Lord your God which I command you."
It is evident then, that instrumental music formed no part of public worship in the services of the tabernacle, as no instruments of music were made by divine appointment, and Moses was forbidden to add any thing to what was commanded by the Almighty.
This tabernacle was set up in the wilderness of Sinai, and carried along with the Israelites from place to place as they journeyed towards Canaan. In Canaan it was first set up at Gilgal, and here it continued for about seven years. Afterwards it was pitched in Shiloh, and here we find it in the days of Eli. The Philistines however prevailing against Israel, the ark of God was taken and carried to Ashdod, and placed in the temple of Dagon their idol God. And now the tabernacle and the ark were entirely, and for ever separated. However, the Lord having smote the men of Ashdod with a terrible disease, the ark was removed to Gath, thence to Ekron, and afterward the men of Bethshemesh, of the tribe of Judah, received it. For their curiosity in looking into it, many of them were slain, and at their request, it; was taken away by the men of Kirjath-jearim, and here it remained 20 years. David in bringing it from this place, left it at the house of Obed-Edom for three months, after which it was brought with great solemnity into that part of Jerusalem called the city of David, where a place was prepared, and a tent pitched for it. Here it remained till it was put into the temple built by Solomon. From this it had been removed, for we find the pious King Josiah in 2 Chron. 35:3, ordering it to be replaced. But not many years after this, it is supposed to have been consumed in the destruction of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar.
With regard however to the tabernacle and the other sacred things, we read that when the ark was placed in the temple of Dagon at Ashdod, in the days of Saul it had been removed from Shiloh to Nob, near Jerusalem, where Abimelech and his son Abiathar were successively high priest. In the reign of David, it was at Gibeon in the tribe of Benjamin, and here it was, as we find from 2 Chron. 1:3, at the commencement of Solomon's reign, after which time t the Scriptures are entirely silent concerning it.
From these remarks then respecting the tabernacle and its sacred utensils, as the appointed place of public worship for the Jews of old, we may notice two things:,
1st. That Moses received, no divine command to make any musical instruments for the tabernacle, neither were any used by the Jews in their stated and public worship. And
2nd. That when instruments of music were used in praising God, it was at national rejoicings, as we find in 2 Sam. 6:1-5, 1 Chron. 15:1-3, 25-28, when David brought the ark from the house of Abinadab in Gibeah, and placed it in the house of Obed-Edom, and afterward in the tent pitched for it at Jerusalem.
But 2nd, having thus taken a survey of the tabernacle, we now proceed to notice the Temple, as the next place of public worship for the Israelites, and which succeeded the Tabernacle. The temple at Jerusalem was erected nearly upon the same plan as the Tabernacle (?), but in a more magnificent and costly manner; and of these there were two, the first erected by Solomon; and the second, by Zerubbabel and Joshua the high priest.
The materials for the first temple provided by David before his death, but the building was erected by his son Solomon.The plan and whole model of it were formed after that of the Tabernacle, but of much larger dimensions.
The utensils also for the sacred service were exactly the same, only some of them were larger in proportion to the size of the building. It took seven years and six months to erect this magnificent temple, and after continuing far about 34 years, Shishak took Jerusalem and carried away its treasures 999 years before Christ.
It was finally plundered and burnt by the Chaldeans under Nebuchadnezzar in the year of the world 3416, or before Christ 584.
The second Temple was built by Zerubbabel after the captivity; but was much inferior to the first in the grandeur of its structure.
The second Temple was deficient in five remarkable things which constituted the glory of the first. It wanted the ark and mercy-seat, the Shechinah or symbol of the divine presence; the sacred fire on the altar, which had been first kindled from heaven; the urim and thummim; and the spirit of prophecy. But it surpassed the first in glory, in being honored by the presence of Jesus Christ. At last through the righteous judgment of God, it was utterly destroyed by the Romans, in the year of the world 4073.
From this survey of the first and second Temple, we have two remarks to make;,
1st, That there were certain persons, Levites, appointed by David to praise God with instruments of music in the temple,
but the true and exact position occupied by such, as well as the occasions when used, will be considered in our next and last proposition. And the
2nd remark is, that as none were allowed the use of musical instruments in praising God, in the temple, but Levites, and this only on particular occasions;therefore in the dispersion of the tribes, the loss of the priesthood, and the destruction of the temple,
there can be now no direct, proper, and divine warrant for their use in the gospel church.
But a 3rd place for the public worship of God was the Synagogue. These were buildings in which the Jews assembled for prayer, reading and hearing the Scriptures, and other religious instructions. No fewer than 480 Synagogues are said to have been erected in Jerusalem before its destruction by the Romans. At length, they became so frequent, that they were to be found in almost every place in Judea; and wherever the Jews resided, they had one or more Synagogues, constructed after those at Jerusalem.
The services performed in the Synagogue consisted of prayer, reading and expounding the Scriptures, and as the ordinance of singing Jehovah's praise is & duty founded on the moral law, we also say singing.
Now from this brief account of Synagogues, as a third place of public worship for the Jews, we have only one remark to make; viz:
that as sacrifices could only be offered at the tabernacle or temple, and as it was in connection with the offering up of sacrifices, that musical instruments were to be employed,
consequently they were not used in singing God's praises in the public worship of the Synagogues.
From this cursory survey of the Tabernacle, Temple, and Synagogues, we would make the three following remarks:,And
1st. That every thing lawful to be used in the stated and public service of the Tabernacle, by every person connected with the worship of God, was made after the divine pattern given to Moses: and every thing else is forbidden to be used, or made; and yet,no musical instrument of any kind, is ever once mentioned, as being made, or in any way connected with it.
Consequently, it is absolutely certain, that instruments of music termed no part of the divinely appointed furniture, or utensils of the tabernacle, and so could not have been used in the stated and public worship of the Jews.
But 2nd, seeing that the most minute as well as the most important things necessary for the stated and public worship of God in the tabernacle is fully described, but no allusion made to musical instruments of any kind.
And as the whole of the divinely appointed utensils of the tabernacle were placed in the temple at Jerusalem to be used in the public worship of God, as appears from 2 Chron. 5:2-5.
Therefore we would conclude, that there is no evidence whatever, that the use of instrumental music formed any part of the ordinary, public worship of the Jews in the Temple service.
[It is a historical fact that music was used at the temple and at Jerusalem only in connection with dedicatory or purification animal sacrifices associated witht the civil state. The public did not participate. The daily singing of the military-musicians under the king and commanders of the army were for the aggrandizement of the civil state]
And 3rd. With respect to the Synagogue worship among the Jews, it is evident that instrumental music formed no part of the religious services. There is not a solitary passage in either the Old or New Testament, which refers even in the remotest degree to the use of organs, or other musical instruments in the worship of the Synagogue.
The conclusion then from the whole is, that instrumental music formed no part of the Jewish ritual, nor was it used in the public stated worship of the Jews in either the Tabernacle, the Temple, or the Synagogue services.
But this brings us to consider in the sixth and last place, the true and exact position occupied by instruments of music among the Jews in the days of David, Solomon, Hezekiah, and other Kings in Judah and Jerusalem.
And under this proposition we shall consider the three following things;,1st. The ministers, or ecclesiastical persons employed the services of the temple, with the duties belonging to each.
2nd. The times and occasions when instruments of music used by the Jews.
And 3rd, The reference to instruments of music in the book of psalms, and why the church should not now use them in the stated and public worship of God, although nothing but the book of psalms, or scripture psalmody should be used in singing God's praises.
1st. Then, The ministers, or ecclesiastical persons employed in the services of the temple, with the duties belonging to each.
On the establishment of the Jewish republic, God himself was king and ruler in Israel; and the temple was the place appointed for offering up sacrifices and prayers. The tribe of Levi was especially devoted to the services of the temple,
but the honor of the priesthood was reserved alone to the family of Aaron, and the rest of the tribe were employed in the interior offices of the temple. Levi had three sons and one daughter, viz: Gershon, Kohath, Merari, and Jockebed. From these three sons were descended the three orders of ministers, or ecclesiastical persons employed in the services of the temple, and which we shall now notice very briefly, with the duties belonging to each.
[Even if you totally restored the Jewish worship you could not serve as a priest or singer because you are not form the tribe of Levi. Not even Jesus could make the grade!]
And 1st, The LEVITES. The principal business assigned this class of officers was to wait upon the priests, and to assist them in the services of the tabernacle and temple
But their duty was different in the time of Moses, when the Israelites were in the wilderness, from what it was in the days of David and Solomon. When Israel was journeying in the wilderness, their chief business was to take down the tabernacle, to carry it about when the camp was removed, to take care of all the instruments and sacred vessels belonging to it, and when Israel pitched their tents to set it up again. Such was the office of the Levites in the time of Moses.
But when the Israelites were settled in the promised land, the employment of carrying the tabernacle and its utensils ceased, and therefore, David and Solomon assigned them new offices.
They were, however, still employed about the service of the temple,
and also in the service of the state as well as of the church, for David, as we find from 1 Chron. 23:4, made 6000 of them officers and judges in the services of the temple,some of the Levites had charge of the treasures, others were to prepare the shew-bread, and unleavened cakes; 4000 were porters, and 4000 were for singers.
[The musical Levites or "excellers" triumphed over the slaves -- even Israelites -- to force them to build the temple]
Now in the service of the tabernacle, Moses did not appoint the use of musical instruments; he only made, as we are informed in Num. 10:10, some trumpets which were to be sounded, when the burnt-offerings and peace-offerings were upon the altar.
[In Numbers 10:7 he specificially outlawed the "triumph over" or loud rejoicing when the congregation came together for instruction]
But David first introduced instruments of music into the service of the temple, and these instruments were exclusively to be used by the Levites, andwhen the sacrifices were offered by the priests,
for the Levites were then to sing praises to God with the musical instruments. For proof of this read in 1 Chron. 23:26, 30, 31,
"and also unto the Levites; they shall no more carry the tabernacle, nor any vessels of it for the service thereof. And to stand every morning to thank and praise the Lord, and likewise at even; and to other all burnt-sacrifices unto the Lord in the Sabbaths, in the new-moons, and on the set feasts, by number, according to the order commanded them, continually before the Lord."
And in 2 Chron. 29:25-28, "And he set the Levites in the house of the Lord with cymbals, with psalteries, and with harps, according to the commandment of David, and of Gad the king's seer, and Nathan the prophet: for so was the commandment of the Lord by his prophets.
- And the Levites stood with the instruments of David,
- and the priests with the trumpets.
And Hezekiah commanded to offer the burnt-offering upon the altar: and when the burnt-offering began, the
- song of the Lord began also with the trumpets,
- and with the instruments ordained by David, king of Israel.
[Yet, this was not, by definition, worship. The next part shows three separate functions going on at the same time:
- And all the congregation worshipped, [Only civil-religious leaders: not the people]
- and the singers sang, and
- the trumpeters sounded:
and all this continued until the burnt-offering was finished."
And also in 2 Chron. 31:2, "and Hezekiah appointed the courses of the priests, and the Levites after their courses, every man according to his service, the priests and Levites for burnt offerings, and peace offerings, to minister, and to give thanks, and to praise in the gates of the tents of the Lord."
But 2nd. Next to the Levites, and superior to them in dignity, were the ordinary PRIESTS who were chosen exclusively of the family of Aaron. These served at the altar, prepared the victims, and offered up the sacrifices. They also kept up a constant fire on the altar of burnt sacrifices, and in the lamps of the golden candlestick in the sanctuary. They likewise prepared the loaves of shew-bread, which they changed every Sabbath, and offered on the golden altar in the sanctuary.
And every day, both morning and evening, a priest brought into the sanctuary, a smoking censer of incense, kindled with fire taken from the altar of burnt sacrifice, and set it upon the golden table. When engaged in the service of the altar, they were clothed with the sacerdotal garments; 1st with linen drawers; 2nd, a linen coat, or tunic down to the feet, and fitting closely to the body; 3rd, a girdle; and 4th, a tiara, or turban made of several rolls of linen twisted round the head.
[The priests who offered sacrifices never used musical instruments. As our priestly sacrifices are "the fruit of the lips" we would not be authorized to use instruments. And without animals to sacrifice the Levites would not be allowed to play.]
But the 3rd ecclesiastical person among the Jews was, the HIGH PRIEST. He was higher in rank and influence than the other priests, and was placed over them. It was his duty alone to enter the Holy of Holies in the temple; to him also was committed the supreme government of sacred things, and he was the final arbiter of all controversies.
At first the high priesthood was made hereditary in the family of Aaron, and he was the first invested with the sacred office. From Aaron it descended to Eleazar, his eldest son, and from him it descended in long and unbroken succession to Eli.From him, on account of the wickedness of his sons, it returned to the descendants of Ithamar, the second son of Aaron.
In Solomon's reign, it again returned into the family of Eleazar by Zadok, where it continued till the Babylonish captivity,
After the return from the captivity Joshua the son of Josedech, of the family of Eleazar, was high priest;
but after him the succession passed into a private Levitical family. And at last in the time of our Saviour, and in the end of the Jewish polity, the right of succession was totally neglected, and thus the dignity, sanctity, and authority of the high priest became extinct.
When then the office of high priest ceased to exist in the church on earth, so also did the ordinary priesthood, and with them of necessity the Levites likewise.And as after the great atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ, the Jewish sacrifice had their fulfillment, and ceased to be offered,
so with the order of the 4000 Levites, the use of instrumental music ceased in the church,
for it was with the temple services, and offering up of sacrifices that these were used.
This then brings us to notice in the 2nd place; The times and occasions when instruments of music were used by the Jews:
And 1st. They were used on occasions of national rejoicings; thus in Ex. 15:20, we have Moses and the Israelites praising God "with timbrels, and with dances," on account of their deliverance from Egypt, and safe passage through the waters of the red sea., And also in 2 Chron. 29:20-29, Hezekiah and the rulers of the city assembled together to rejoice and praise God when the temple was repaired, and when the house of God, and the vessels of the sanctuary which Ahaz "in his wickedness did cast away," had been cleansed and prepared.
And then the priests offered sacrifices, and "the Levites with cymbals, with psalteries, and with harps," stood and praised the Lord.
[There is fair evidence that the musical clergy played music while Jesus was preparing to be sacrificed and during the sacrifice. He identified them as "children playing musical games' trying to get Him to fall into the feminine dance]
2nd. Instruments of music were used when the ark of God was brought up and placed in the tent which David had pitched for it at Jerusalem. Hence it is said in 2 Samuel 6:1-5, that when David, and all the chosen men of Israel brought up the ark of God, that "David, and all the house of Israel, played before the Lord, on all manner of
instruments made of fir-wood, even on harps, and on psalteries, and on timbrels, and on cornets, and on cymbals." Also in 1 Chron. 13:5-8. it is said, that when the ark was brought to Jerusalem, that "David and all Israel played before God with all their might, and with singing, and with harps, and with psalteries, and with timbrels, and with cymbals, and with trumpets."
[This movement failed in part because tried to make it into a "congregational" affair which included people from all corners of the nation. This forced the people to violate Numbers 10:7 and the confusion caused the animals to stumble and Ussah to violate the Law. The successful movement involved the king and civil authorities]
Also in 1 Chron. 15:25-28, it is said, that when David, and the elders of Israel, and the Levites brought up the ark of the covenant of the Lord; "that they offered seven bullocks and seven rams." And "thus all Israel brought up the ark of the covenant of the Lord with shouting, and with sound of the cornets, and with trumpets, and with cymbals, making a noise with psalteries and harps." And in 2 Chron. 5:2-5, 11-14, it is said that when Solomon had brought the dedicated treasures into the house of the Lord, that
"the Levites which were the singers, with their sons and their brethren, being arrayed in white linen, having cymbals, and psalteries, and harps, stood at the east end of the altar, and with them an hundred and twenty priests sounding with trumpets."
3rd. Instruments of music were also used at the dedication of Solomon's temple, and at the laying the foundation of the second temple. Thus in 2 Chron. 7:4-7, it is said, that at the dedication of Solomon's temple, "The King and all the people offered sacrifices before the Lord. And King Solomon offered a sacrifice of twenty and two thousand oxen, and an hundred and twenty thousand sheep.
And the priests waited on their officers;
the Levites also with instruments of music of the Lord,which David the king had made to praise the Lord;
and the priests sounded trumpets before them, and all Israel stood."
And also at the laying of the foundation of the second temple, it is said in Ezra 3:10-13.
"And when the builders laid the foundation of the temple of the Lord,
they set the priests in their apparel with trumpets,
and the Levites, the sons of Asaph, with cymbals, to praise the Lord,
after the ordinance of David king of Israel. And see Neh. 12:27-30.
4th. Instruments of music were likewise used at the three great annual festivals, viz: the passover, the least of pentecost, and the feast of tabernacles; and at which all the males of the twelve tribes were bound to be present. For the appointment of these feasts, read in Ex. 34:23.
"Thrice in the year shall all your men-children appear before the Lord God, the God of Israel." And in Deut. 16:16 "Three times in a year shall all thy males appear before the Lord thy God in the place which he shall choose; in the feast of unleavened bread, and in the feast of weeks, and in the feast of tabernacles; and they shall not appear before the Lord empty."
And see now how instruments of music were used at these feasts. Thus we read in 2 Chron. 30:21. "and the children of Israel, that were present at Jerusalem, kept the feast of Unleavened bread seven days with great gladness; and the Levites and the priests praised the Lord day by day, singing with loud instruments unto the Lord." The same thing we have in 2 Chron. 35:1-19, where according to the commandment of good king Josiah, "the priests, and the Levites, and all Judah and Israel kept a passover unto the Lord in Jerusalem."
5th. Instrumental music was sometimes used among the Jews in meetings of a private nature for mutual instruction, and also in meetings of others exclusively set apart for the services of the temple. Thus it is said in 1 Samuel 10:5. "after that thou shalt come to the hill of God, where is the garrison of the Philistines; and it shall come to pass, when thou art come thither to the city, that thou shalt meet a company of prophets coming down from the high place with a psaltery, and a tabret, and a pipe, and a harp, before them; and they shall prophesy."
The Targum is, "the hill in which was the ark of the Lord," and that was in the house of Abinadab, on a hill in the city of Kirjath-jearim. By the "company of prophets," the Targum, says Scribes, and these, as Kimchi remarks, were disciples. That is, they were the disciples, or the same as the sons of the prophets, and these were, at this time, Elkanah, Samuel, Gad, Nathan, Asaph, Heman, and Jeduthun. Again, we find it thus written in 2 Chron. 8:14, 15, "And he (Solomon) appointed, according to order of David his father, the courses of the priests to their service, and the Levites to their charges, to praise and minister before the priests, as the duty of every day required;" &c. Now the courses of the priests to their service, we find recorded in 1 Chron. 24. And the courses of the Levites, to sing the praises of God when the priests sacrificed, with instruments of music we have in 1 Chron. 25.
The conclusion then we come to from the whole is, that instrumental music was not used in the stated, public, and ordinary worship of the Jews;
still it was used by them at certain times and on particular occasions. Of these times and occasions we have instanced five, and which we believe includes all the occasions in which instruments of music were employed in praising God.
We come now to notice the 3rd and last place, the reference to instruments of music in the book of psalms; and why the church should not now use them in the stated and public worship of God, although nothing but the book of psalms, or scripture psalmody should be employed in singing God's praises. This divides itself into two parts, and as such we shall consider it.
And 1st, The reference to instruments of music in the book of psalms.
Now in entering upon a brief consideration of this part of our subject, it may be necessary to observe; that the style of the prophets was only the poetical, and highly figurative style of the eastern nations.
This emblematic and highly colored form of expression which appears so strongly in the prophetic scriptures, and especially in the book of psalms; is owing partly to the genius of the oriental nations, particularly the Jews, and partly to the modes of their institutions and learning. For the truth of these remarks, we refer to Mede, More, Vitringa, Hurd and others. We must ever hear in mind, that the original language of all nations is very imperfect,and hence they were obliged at first to explain themselves very much by signs, or picture-writing; that is,
the putting down the figures and shapes of such things, as were the objects of their contemplations. Then in process of time, this mode of picture-writing, was succeeded by that of symbols, or certain marks presenting to the eye the resemblance of a particular object, and thereby suggesting to the mind a general idea.
Thus a horn was made to denote strength; an eye, omniscience; a sceptre majesty; and so a harp, or organ, or a psaltery, to signify praise and thanksgiving with spiritual joy and gladness. This kind of hieroglyphic was cultivated with peculiar diligence among the Egyptians, and hence it was, that the Israelites who dwelt in that country when this species of learning was at its height, carried this treasure into the land of Canaan. Is it then any wonder, that this peculiar style which was used in the theology of the East, and in its philosophy, but especially in its poetry, should be that in which the penmen of the sacred scriptures conveyed their highest and most important revelations to mankind.
It is beyond the shadow of a doubt that this hieroglyphic style of writing was predominant in Old Testament times, and especially in Judea, from the time of Moses to the coming of Christ. Thus, a mountain is the symbol of a kingdom or city; a star of a prince, or ecclesiastical ruler; a red horse, of persecution: and a white horse of peace and prosperity.
[For instance, we understand a mountain to symbolize power. However, they would not read the word "power" and think of a mountain. Rather, they would draw a mountain and you would think of power, or as in Chaldee, perhaps a stranger. They did not write the word "harp" but drew a symbol which had been derived from a literal harp. In time, they developed an alphabet]
In addition to this we would make one other remark, and it is this, that in the prophetic style, we frequently find, the literal and figurative mixed. As an example of the literal under the figurative it is said in Nahum 1:8,
"But with an over-running flood he will make an utter end of the place thereof, and darkness shall pursue his enemies."
But for an example of the point before us, in which the literal must be understood figuratively, take an instance from the words of Christ, when in John 2:19, he said to the Jews,
"Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up." Now it was natural enough for the Jews to understand by this expression, the temple at Jerusalem; but at v. 21st, we are told, that Christ meant, "the temple of his body."
And so is it in the book of psalms, when called upon to praise God, "with the psaltery and harp, with the timbrel and dance." We must in such expressions consider the symbolic character of the prophetic writings, and that the literal is to be understood figuratively, meaning, that God is to be praised with spiritual joy, or with the spirit and the understanding.
[For instance, some of the instruments used in Psalm 150 could not be used in the literal temple]
But to come more closely and directly to the point before us, in reference to instruments of music spoken of in the book of psalms in singing God's praises, we would observe; that the writings of the Jews, more than any other people, abound withphrases and terms borrowed from the temple worship and sacrificial services. The prophetical writings, but in particular the psalms, may be adduced in proof of this remark.
Thus it is said in Hosea 14:2, "Take away all iniquity, and receive us graciously; so will we render the calves of our lips."
Not surely calves, bullocks, and oxen, for sacrifices, as under the law; but the sacrifices of praise and thanksgiving for pardoning grace, for a justifying righteousness, and for all good things.
[The proper instrument for burning literal calves would be literal instruments to drown out all evil sounds. However, the proper instrument to accompany the "claves of our lips" would be to make melody in the heart]
Again, in Ps. 51:7, David says, "purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean."
Now this cannot mean ceremonial sprinklings and purifications, for then he would have applied to a priest.
And yet it can mean nothing else on the principle of those who contend literally for the use of organs in public worship, simply because we read of instruments of music in the book of psalms. But it means, the sprinkling of the blood of Jesus, typified thereby, and so he applied to God to purge his conscience with it. [Literal harps would demand literal sprinkling of the literal blood of Jesus?]
Also, in v. 19th of same psalm, David says, "thou shalt be pleased with the sacrifices of righteousness." Now those cannot be the legal sacrifices, and yet they can be none other,
if the interpretation of those be correct, viz: that because David in the psalms calls upon us to praise God "with the timbrel and harp," therefore it is right to use organs in public worship.
But that these cannot be legal sacrifices is manifest from what David says in v. 16th,
"thou desirest not sacrifice," and consequently the reference to instrumental music in the book of psalms, is no proof that they should be literally used in singing God's praises.
The sacrifice spoken of by David means the sacrifice of Christ, and next the saints themselves, who present their bodies, a living and acceptable sacrifice; but especially the spiritual sacrifices of praise and thanksgiving, which are acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.We have the same thing in Ps. 116:17, where David says, "I will offer to thee the sacrifice of thanksgiving."
And in Ps. 141:2, it is said, "Let my prayer be set forth before thee as incense."
Now if organs are to be literally used in singing the praises of God, because David says, "I will praise thee with the psaltery, I will sing with the harp."
Then for the very same season, an altar should be erected in the church and incense offered thereon night and morning, for says David, "let my prayer be set forth before thee as incense."Remember all thy offerings, and accept thy burnt sacrifice; Selah. Ps.20:3
But the incense here spoken of was merely an emblem of holy and fervent prayer offered up through Jesus Christ, and through whose blood and righteousness, and the sweet incense of his mediation and intercession, it becomes fragrant and a sweet odor to the Lord.
And to the instruments of music spoken of by the same writer, and in the same book, must be understood in a similar sense, as typical of the spiritual melody made in the hearts of God's people, when in the public worship of the New Testament church, they praise him in psalms, and hymns, and spiritual songs.
Sacrifice and offering thou didst not desire; mine ears hast thou opened:
burnt offering and sin offering hast thou not required. Ps.40:6
Gather my saints together unto me; those that have made a covenant with me by sacrifice.Ps.50:5
For thou desirest not sacrifice; else would I give it:
thou delightest not in burnt offering. Ps.51:16
I will freely sacrifice unto thee: I will praise thy name, O Lord; for it is good. Ps.54:6
And let them sacrifice the sacrifices of thanksgiving,
and declare his works with rejoicing. Ps.107:22
I will offer to thee the sacrifice of thanksgiving, and will call upon the name of the Lord. Ps.116:17
God is the Lord, which hath shewed us light: bind the sacrifice with cords, even unto the horns of the altar. Ps.118:27
Let my prayer be set forth before thee AS incense; and the lifting up of my hands AS the evening sacrifice. Ps.141:2
It is also upon this principle of interpretation, that many passages in the New Testament can properly be understood. Thus for instance, in Rom. 12:1, the Apostle beseeches christians, by the mercies of God, "to present their bodies a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable, which is their reasonable (spiritual or mental) service."
Now the Apostle here uses phraseology in allusion to the national bloody sacrifices of the Jews under the law; but what Protestant will argue that from the command here given by the Apostle, we should really and literally offer up sacrifices now to God under the New Testament dispensation.
And yet, there is just as much authority, and more so, (because no where in the New Testament are we called upon to praise God with organs or harps) for literally offering sacrifices to God, as there is for using instruments of music in singing his praises.
And again, the same Apostle referring to his own death, makes use of similar sacrificial allusions. He says, in 2 Tim. 4:6, "I am now ready to be offered," or literally, I am already poured out as a libation. And in Phil. 2:17, he says, "and if I be offered upon the sacrifice and service of your faith, I joy, and rejoice with you all."
Here the faith of the Philippians is represented as the sacrificial victim, and the blood of the Apostle "offered," or poured out, as the libation or drink offering poured upon the sacrifice. But who for a moment would suppose, that from this, the congregation should procure a victim for sacrifice, and after pouring wine upon its head, then, lead it to the slaughter, and offer it up as a sacrifice to God.
And yet there is just as much warrant for this in the New Testament, as there is for using instrumental music in praising God.
And also in Heb. 13:16, the Apostle says, "but to do good and to communicate forget not; for with such sacrifices God is well pleased." Now here the Apostle is referring to the oblation of the Jews, (see Lev. 3:1,) as a sacrifice of peace-offering;
but who from this would say, that the church should now burn the fat of rams upon an altar, as an offering to the Lord, and then afterwards the minister and people sit down and eat the remainder thereof. And yet if you adhere to the letter of the peace-offerings,
there is as good a reason still to observe them, as there is for the use of machinery in praising God.
The true and real exposition with respect to instruments of music spoken of in the book of psalms is, that the literal sense involves in it another, and that is, a mystical, a figurative, and a spiritual meaning. And this is not to be wondered at, as it is what we constantly meet with throughout the word of God. Thus in Ps. 89:3, it is said, "I have made a covenant with my chosen, I have sworn unto David my servant."
Now the term David here means Christ; and cannot literally refer to David, Jesse's son, because in v. 27, he is said to be God's "first-born." But David literal was not the first-born, 1 Samuel 17:12-14, but Christ the Messiah is God's "first-born," or first begotten, Heb. 1:6. He is "the first-born of every creature," Col. 1:15. He is "the first-born among many brethren," Rom. 8:29. And he is "the first-begotten of the dead," Rev. 1:5. So also, the term Jew, sometimes means a christian, Rom. 2:28, 29; the incense of the temple-service, means the prayers of believers; and the temple means the church. Thus in 2 Thess. 2:4, it is said, that the "man of sin, the son of perdition, sitteth in the temple of God." But this is not the temple at Jerusalem, but the church of Christ.
Now agreeably to this analogical use of Jewish terms, in the style of the prophets, and especially in the book of psalms, the phrases, harp, timbrel, psaltery, organs, and cymbals, must, in all reason, be interpreted in a typical, figurative, and spiritual sense, and cannot, in the prophetic language, be interpreted otherwise.To say, in prophetic language, that God's praises are to be sung with organs, harps, and timbrels,
and then in the gospel church literally to sing praises with such musical machinery,
is absolutely nonsense, and inconsistent with the analogical use of Jewish idioms.
It is as absurd, as to suppose, that because Zechariah speaks of "the four spirits of the heavens," as "four chariots," with red, black, white, grisled and bay horses;
therefore there must be such chariots and horsemen in heaven. Or as John in the Apocalypse says, that when the Lamb in heaven had opened four of the seals, he saw horses of different colors with riders, therefore there are party-colored horses literally and actually in glory, and that heaven could not be heaven without them.
And farther, if we are to use organs literally in public worship, why should not the congregation get up and dance to the music, for in Ps. 150:4, it is said, "praise him with the timbrel and dance: praise him with stringed instruments and organs."
But we would consider in the 2nd place, Why instruments of music should not be used in public worship, although nothing but this book of psalms, or scripture psalmody should be used in singing God's praises. We have already explained the sense or meaning that is to be attached to instruments of music referred to in the book of psalms. We have also proved, that they belonged exclusively to the Levites, as the offering up of sacrifices did to the priests; and we have seen the times and occasions when they were used;but all these have ceased, and so has the temple and sacrifices where they were used. The worship of God established in the New Testament is divested of every local and national restriction, and is freed from burdensome rites and ceremonies.
That religious system which required all the males to resort to one place three times in the year, to offer sacrifices in the temple, and to celebrate particular festivals which belonged exclusively to the Jewish nation,is totally incompatible with the spiritual worship of the christian church.
Consequently we find, that when the gospel was preached, and the New Testament church organized, there was an entire silence about sacrificing priests, Levites, bloody sacrifices, organs, and ceremonies of any kind.
At the same time the inspired writers of the New Testament retained the typical language of the Old, concerning a temple, a priesthood, and sacrifices. But that is no reason why the thing itself should still be observed; and so it is with respect to instruments of music spoken of in the book of psalms.
Thus for example in Ps. 33:2, David says, "Praise the Lord with harp: sing unto him with the psaltery, and an instrument of ten strings." Now the meaning of this simply is, that when scripture psalmody, or the book of psalms, is used in public worship, these spiritual songs should be sung skillfully, both with the head and the heart, or with the spirit and the understanding also.
That is, they should be sung intelligently, with a clear head; and affectionately, with a warm heart. Also in Ps. 71:22, "I will also praise thee with the psaltery, even thy truth, O my God: unto thee will I sing with the harp, O thou Holy One of Israel."
[Might as well try to use all of these instruments at the same time as the elders in Revelation to hold harps, bowls of incense, fall on their face and play literal harps]
Is it not evident that the psaltery and harp are here to be understood typically of the spiritual melody in the heart, which believers make in praising God, the "Holy One of Israel," when they sing the new song of the Lamb. Also in Ps. 81:2, 3. "Take a psalm, and bring hither the timbrel, the pleasant harp with the psaltery. Blow up the trumpet in the new moon." &c.I will also cause all her mirth to cease, her feast days, her new moons, and her sabbaths, and all her solemn feasts. Ho.2:11
Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days: Col.2:16
Now all this is expressive of holy joy, and sacred triumph. The pleasantness of the harp, and the awfulness of the trumpet, are intended to teach us, that God is to be worshipped with cheerfulness and holy joy, and at the same time with reverence and godly fear.
And the same is the case in all the 14 psalms [All judgmental except perhaps psalm 33] where instruments of music are referred to, or spoken of. But the mention of instruments of music in the book of psalms, is no more authority that organs should be used in public worship when singing these psalms,
than the mention of sacrifices in the New Testament is a command that the church should now continue to offer rams, and lambs, and bullocks, in burnt offerings to God as an atonement for sins.
Besides this, what authority has those churches which use organs in public worship, to exclude the other instruments of music referred to in the book of psalms, and only use the organ. There are seven other instruments of music mentioned in the book of psalms, viz: the harp, psaltery, timbrel, cornet, cymbals, trumpet, and stringed-instruments. But the organ is only mentioned once in the whole book of psalms, and in the very psalm, and in the very verse where it is mentioned, viz: Ps. 150:4, we are also called upon to praise God "with the dance."
Musical instruments were almost universally believed to be the home and mouthpiece of the gods or demons which lived within. Habakkuk insists that they be silenced because idols cannot speak from God. In contrast, Messiah or the Branch would not be a musical device but the "instrument" of God to speak His word. Rather than being inhabited by the seven evil spirits, He would be given the seven spirits of mental capability:
And the spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord; Isa 11:2
And shall make him of quick understanding in the fear of the Lord: and he shall not judge after the sight of his eyes, neither reprove after the hearing of his ears: Isa 11:3
Why, if we are to have instrumental music in the worship of God, not use all the different pieces spoken of in the scriptures, and then finish the services of the day, with a dance. The whole of this is necessary if we are literally to use organs in public worship, otherwise we are serving God by proxy, and cannot therefore be the way appointed in his word.
But say the advocates of instrumental music in public worship, if we are to use no psalmody in singing God's praises, but scripture psalmody, or the book of psalms, then why not use organs seeing we are called upon to sing these psalms with the harp, psaltery, and timbrel.
To this we might content ourselves by replying, since we are to use no New Testament, but the New Testament of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, and not the Koran of Mahomet,why not continue in the church the slaying of victims, and offering up of sacrifices. Besides, who are they who make this objection?
Not the advocates of the book of psalms, or the exclusive use of scripture psalmody in singing the praises of God.
I do not know of a single congregation who use exclusively the book of psalms in praising God, and who also use organs in public worship.
Who then we ask are they who have recourse to the book of psalms to prove the use and lawfulness of instrumental music in public worship?
Why, those very persons who refuse to use exclusively the book of psalms in the singing God's praises. If the book of psalms, of all other parts of scripture, is as they suppose,proof positive of the lawfulness of using instrumental music in public worship;
then to be consistent, why sing hymns of human composition, and not exclusively scripture psalmody.
Does not this fact itself prove that the advocates of instrumental music know right well that they have no divine warrant, or authority for using organs in public worship.
They bring forward for proof, what by their doings, their consciences must tell them is wrong, and then try to palm upon the religious community, sound for sense, the letter that killeth in the room of the spirit that maketh alive, and instead of "standing fast in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free," turn round "to the weak and beggarly elements" of this world.
Let then the advocates of instrumental music in public worship, first cast to the winds their hymns of human composition, and use exclusively the book of psalms in singing the praises of God, and then,
but not till then, can they with any plea for honesty quote the book of psalms in support of their present practices. But if they are not willing to do this, then let them be for ever silent in referring to the book of psalms for proof of organ singing, and let "iniquity stop her mouth."
We would then conclude in the language of the Apostle, Heb. 8:13, "Now that which decayeth and waxeth old is ready to vanish away." Does not this prove that the old dispensation was shadowy, dark, and typical; and that the temple, the sacrifices, and Levitical priesthood were only types of another and better covenant.
This dissolution began when the Chaldeans seized the land of Canaan; then it began to wax old, when the ark, an eminent type of Christ, was wanting in the second temple; next when John, the Baptist proclaimed the near approach of the Messiah, and his kingdom: and lastly it completely vanished away when the city and temple at Jerusalem were destroyed. It was then that the Levitical priesthood, with the sacrifices and services of the Temple ceased for ever;
and as the use of instrumental music formed no part of the regular and stated worship of the Jews, either in the Tabernacle, Temple, or Synagogue systems;
but merely the production of David as King in Israel, and for the use of his own people, in connection with their great sacrifices, so when these vanished away, with them also ceased the use of organs, harps, and timbrels in the worship of God.
To the Levites belonged the use of instruments of music, but there could be no Levites except in connection with the priests, and the offering of sacrifices in the Temple. But there are no sacrificising priests under the New Testament dispensation,
and consequently no rites, and so no musical instruments in the spiritual worship of God.
The name priest, as is justly observed by Owen, is no where in Scripture attributed peculiarly and distinctly to the ministers of the gospel, as such. When Christ ascended up on high, "he gave," as we find in Eph. 4:11, "some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers"; but none as we find to be priests.
Priests are a sort of church officers whom Christ never appointed. Since then, there are no priests properly so called under the gospel dispensation, so then are no Levites; and as therefore neither priests nor Levites, so there cannot be burnt offerings, or sacrifices of beasts, nor instruments of music.
Priests, Levites, sacrifices, and harps, with timbrels, cymbals, and other instruments of music were fitted to the then present, and imperfect state of the Old Testament church; but they were all to vanish with the imperfections of the church.
These, like the Law of Moses were "added because of transgression." After the musical idolatry at Mount Sinai, God imposed the Levites to keep the people, now "strangers," away from the tabernacle as the symbol of God's presence. Click For More
When the end is once attained, then the means must of course be abolished. Under the Old Testament economy, the church was only in its state of infancy, and as children are allowed toys and childish things, which when they arrive at maturity, they throw away. So God as a Father allowed his children, to use instruments of music, and other childish things, in the temple worship, but when the church grew up from childhood to a state of manhood; or when she arrived at her present New Testament state, then she put these childish things away. It is thus, the Apostle Paul reasons, and says in 1 Cor. 13:10, 11, "When that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away. For when I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things."
In conclusion then from what I have said on this subject, I would now in the words of the Apostle, ask all organ singing churches, "am I become your enemy, because I tell you the truth?" If you count me your enemy, can you give any other reason for it, than that I have told you the truth. Though however some may be offended with me, and this my feeble effort to defend the purity of gospel worship, may draw down upon me their displeasure, still I cannot forbear to speak the truth. And I would say, that whether this may gain me friends or enemies, I am perfectly at ease in my own mind, conscious as I am to myself, that the Scriptures being my guide, I have told the truth.
"Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy, to the only wise God our Saviour, be glory, and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever, Amen." Jude 24, 25.
Counter added 10/21/04 5.06.07 415 6.30.09 1072