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III. Argument from the New Testament.

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III. Argument from the New Testament.

James Dodson

WE have seen, by an examination of the Old Testament Scriptures, that throughout the Mosaic dispensation this great principle exerted a controlling influence: That whatsoever God commands is to be observed, and that whatsoever he does not command is forbidden, so far as the public worship of his house is concerned. Under the operation of that principle, instrumental music, as an accompaniment of the singing of praise, was excluded from the tabernacle during almost the whole period of its existence, and from the synagogue, and was introduced into the temple in consequence of a divine warrant expressly furnished to that effect. We come now to the consideration of the New Testament, and the question is, Has Christ, the King of the church, prohibited the introduction of instrumental music into its public worship? That he has will be maintained on the following grounds:

1. What was peculiar and distinctive in the worship of the Jewish temple has been abolished.

This has been the general view of the Christian church, but it has been ridiculed by infidels and opposed, in part, by some prelatists: ridiculed by the former because it supposes a change of divine enactments and infers the admission of God’s mutability; [1] opposed by the latter, because they seek justification for introducing into the Christian church a class of officers and an order of worship which belonged alone to the Jewish temple. It is somewhat curious that this question is but rarely discussed in systems of theology and histories of the church. It will, therefore, not be gratuitous to state some of the reasons which justify the view, that what was peculiar to the temple-worship has been abrogated. This may be inferred from—

(1.) The nature of the case. It is conceded that some of the elements of the temple-service were typical. While the Jew denies that they have met their fulfilment in their corresponding antitypes, the Christian affirms. The latter, consequently, must hold that the types, not as objects of study, but as elements of religion to be observed, have passed away. The anti-types, as substantial realities approaching in the future, cast their shadows before them. They were dimly outlined in those shadows. When, in the process of time, the substances themselves were reached, what need was there for further following the guidance of the shadows? To take another view, indicated also by Scripture, the types were prophecies and promises presented concretely, and not merely in words, to the ancient worshipper. They were real manifestations, in the phenomenal sphere, of the purpose of redemption and of the sure Word of prophecy. But the things prophesied and promised have been actually accomplished, and are now in the possession of the Christian worshipper. History in part, and in part a continuous present experience, have taken the place of prophecy and promise. Once more, the peculiar elements of the temple-service were figurative representations of future realities, of realities not known by experience. What need of the figures when the real objects figured are experimentally known? A surveyor’s plat or a topographical map is of utmost value to one who expects to purchase, but cannot inspect, a tract of land. When he is in actual possession of it, he gazes upon it with his own eyes, and the map is no longer a necessity. A likeness of a person whom one has never seen, but desires to see, is precious until actual acquaintance ensues. Why study the picture when one looks into the face of the person himself? From the nature of the case, then, the distinctive elements of the temple-worship have passed away. They have expired by their own limitation.

(2.) The statements of Scripture. Let us follow the order of the New Testament writings, and select some of the testimonies which they furnish.

First, We encounter the song of Simeon, who, when he had taken the infant Jesus into his arms, "blessed God, and said, Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word: for mine eyes have seen thy salvation;" and the words of the prophetess Anna, who "gave thanks likewise unto the Lord, and spake of him [Jesus] to all them that looked for redemption in Jerusalem."

Secondly, The Baptist, pointing to Jesus as with the index-finger of the old economy, exclaimed, "Behold, the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world." Look! there he is, God’s provided and appointed Lamb, the great atoning sacrifice, who was typified by every lamb sacrificed at the tabernacle and the temple.

Thirdly, "Philip findeth Nathanael, and saith unto him, We have found him, of whom Moses in the law, and the Prophets, did write, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph." And when Nathanael, convinced of his Messiahship, uttered the confession, "Rabbi, thou art the Son of God; thou art the King. of Israel," Jesus received the confession and confirmed the testimony.

Fourthly, "After that John was put in prison, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, and saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand." Again he said, "Neither do men put new wine into old bottles: else the bottles break, and the wine runneth out, and the bottles perish: but they put new wine into new bottles, and both are preserved;" by which he evidently taught that, as the new dispensation was about to begin, its spirit would transcend the forms of the old, and necessitate their abrogation. In his dying words, "It is finished," Jesus, in actually fulfilling the types of the old economy, pronounced them abolished. His whole mediatorial work on earth was completed, and all the figures of it were superceded by the reality. After his resurrection, in rebuke of the unbelief of his disciples, he said, "O fools and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken: ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into his glory? And beginning at Moses, and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself."

There are three aspects in which the necessity which Christ here affirms for his sufferings and glorification may be regarded. First, there was an absolute necessity, on the supposition of a free determination on God’s part to save sinners, that a competent atonement for their guilt should ground their reconciliation to him, consistently with his infinite perfections—his justice, truth and holiness. Secondly, there was a necessity that the legal substitute who would die for the expiation of guilt should be a priest, not only to evince with perfect clearness his own free and cheerful susception of the great undertaking, and to be qualified by actual experience to sympathize with his people in suffering, but also to provide, by the offices of an infinitely meritorious Minister of worship, for the access of sinners to God, and the acceptance of their prayers and their praises. But, thirdly, there was a necessity for a fulfilment of the types and prophecies of the Old Testament, and there can be but little doubt that it was chiefly upon this point that the Lord Jesus insisted, in his talk with the disciples on their way to Emmaus. The legal and ceremonial institutions of Moses and the promissory writings of the prophets he expounded as having had reference to himself, and therefore virtually declared that they had all been fulfilled, so far as they related to his sufferings and atoning work, or were in process of fulfilment, so far as they pointed to his entrance into his glory—his ascension to heaven, his session on the throne, his intercession, his communication of the Holy Spirit, and his second coming to complete the redemption of his people and to judge the quick and the dead. But a promise fulfilled ceases to be a promise, and a type realized in its antitype is a type no more: its prospective office necessarily expires. It is evident, therefore, from the discourse ascribed by the evangelist to our Lord, that the peculiar and distinctive elements of the temple-worship, so far as they figured a future atonement by priestly sacrifice, had been abrogated, and so far as they represented a future effusion of the Holy Ghost soon would be abrogated.

Fifthly, On the day of Pentecost Peter declared that the wonderful outpouring of the Holy Spirit which was then experienced was in fulfilment of a prophecy of Joel. That fulfilment the apostolic preacher explained by saying: "This Jesus hath God raised up, whereof we are all witnesses. Therefore being by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the rather the promise of the Holy Ghost, he hath shed forth this which ye do now see and hear." Now, not only were the death and glorification of Christ conjoined with the effusion of the Spirit in the prophecies, but they were also associated with each other in the temple types. Both classes of prospective representations, the prophetical and the typical, in this their twofold significance, were fulfilled. We have seen, moreover, that the feast of Pentecost, which was a constituent element of the temple-services, was typical of the copious effusion of the Holy Spirit, and it was precisely on the day of Pentecost that it met a conspicuous fulfilment. What are we to conclude, but that as the types of Christ’s death and exaltation had necessarily expired, the same was true of those which pre-figured the outpouring of the Holy Ghost? In answer to this it may be said that the prophecy cited by Peter had only a partial, however glorious, fulfilment on the day of Pentecost, and continues to be a prediction of copious effusions of the Spirit, and so the temple-services which bear upon the same continuous impartation of his grace may be legitimately employed until the consummation shall be reached. What is true of the prophecies may be true of the types.

But, in the first place, the same would hold good with reference to the continued prosecution of Christ’s intercessory work in heaven. Now, that was certainly typified by the high-priestly offering of incense in the Jewish holy of holies. The argument, if worth anything, would avail to show that the typical representations of Christ’s intercession may still be retained in the church. What would be the consequence? This: that so much of the temple-service as typified the sacrificial death of Christ was abrogated and has vanished, and so much as pertained to his intercession, as not yet completed, may still be legitimately employed. That is to say, a service which God made one great whole, may now, at the discretion of the church, be divided in twain—a part discarded and a part retained. No sober Protestant mind could possibly entertain such a view. No more, for like reasons, could it tolerate a retention of those typical services which foreshadowed the continuous effusion of the Holy Ghost. Either the whole temple-service or none: these are the alternatives to which the Christian church was reduced. It elected the latter, and it has been reserved for Rome and the high-church Prelatists who agree with her to pursue a middle course, and not presuming to retain bloody sacrifices, to divorce what God had joined together, and to perpetrate the solemn mockery of a mutilated temple ritual.

In the second place, the temple itself was a type of Christ and his mediatorial work. But it has fulfilled its typical office, and has ceased to exist. To retain a part of its services is to suppose the continued existence of the temple, for God never authorized the employment of those services except in immediate connection with that particular structure, after the tabernacle had given way to it by his inspired direction. The force of this consideration is acknowledged by the Jews themselves, who do not pretend to offer bloody sacrifices elsewhere. If the cathedral takes the place of the temple, we would have many sacred edifices, in many different places, substituted for the only temple which existed by divine appointment, to which the tribes of Israel and proselytes from distant countries repaired to celebrate the great typical festivals. If we may have but one substitute for it, which one? Shall it be St. Peter’s? And must all the world go to that mountain to worship, when Jesus Christ has said that neither at Mount Gerizim nor at Mount Moriah will men be obliged to worship? Jesus has thus declared that the positive enactment which required ceremonial worship at the Jewish temple is abrogated; and the New Testament is utterly silent in regard to any transfer to the Christian church of the services peculiar to that edifice.

In the third place, although the prophecies contained in the Old Testament taught a continuous communication of the Spirit until the complete establishment of Christ’s mediatorial kingdom on earth, yet they themselves were finished when they were uttered. So with the types foreshadowing the same thing. We might as warrantably add to those prophecies new predictions because they have not had a consummate fulfilment, as continue to employ the types because they have not had an exhaustive realization. Both sorts of prospective representations were limited by God’s will, and the attempt to reinstitute either, or to continue either, by the will of man, would be to invade God’s prerogative and to disobey God’s authority.

In the fourth place, the effusion of the Holy Spirit has already in the past been in part enjoyed by the church, and is in part now enjoyed by the church, and to perpetuate services which typify it, would be at one and the same time to confound a type which has reference to the future with a symbol commemorating the past, and to observe the type at the very time that the anti-type is actually manifested. In either case contradiction and absurdity would result. The truth is, that the glorious, though partial, fulfilment of the prophecies and types alike of the old dispensation constitutes a pledge, definite and sufficient, of their exhaustive fulfilment in the future. If it be said that the New Testament contains prophecies of its own touching the future progress of Christ’s kingdom, the reply is easy, that they were finished and sealed up with the completion of the sacred canon, and that unless the church has the right, furnished by fresh inspiration, to create substantive additions to the Scriptures which God pronounces perfect, she has no authority to utter prophecies, in the strict sense, any more; and it may be asked, where are the types peculiar to the New Testament? Are we pointed to baptism and the Lord’s supper? Let it be proved that they are types at all; and if that could be proved, all that would be established is that the church is restricted to them alone, and the plea for sacerdotal ritual of typical services would be cut up by the roots.

To all this it may be answered, that what is contended for is that the Christian church is warranted by the observance of services analogous to those of the Jewish temple to commemorate the past illustrious events of her history. Where is the warrant? We have a divine warrant for the observance of the Lord’s day. We have a divine warrant for the observance of the two sacraments of baptism and the Lord’s supper. What other days are we enjoined to keep holy? What other symbolical ordinances are we commanded to observe? To take the ground that the church has a discretionary power to appoint other holy days and other symbolical rites is to concede to Rome the legitimacy of her five superfluous sacraments and all her self-devised paraphernalia of sacred festivals. There is no middle ground. Either we are bound by the Lord’s appointments in his Word, or human discretion is logically entitled to the full-blown license of Rome.

Sixthly, The speech of Stephen before the Jewish Council. This speech of the illustrious proto-martyr of the Christian church must ever be regarded as one of the strongest scriptural proofs of the abolition of the temple-worship; but as it will come to be considered as one of the elements in the direct argument against the use of instrumental music in public worship, its examination will for the present be deferred.

Seventhly, The decree of the Synod of Jerusalem. Certain Judaizing teachers who went from Judea to Antioch "taught the brethren, and said, Except ye be circumcised after the manner of Moses, ye cannot be saved." This raised the whole question about conformity to the institutions of the ceremonial law by the Christian church. That question was referred to the decision of the apostles and elders at Jerusalem. Paul and Barnabas were the commissioners. They laid the case before an assembled synod. The decree of that body, which was sent to the Gentile churches, was: "That ye abstain from meats offered to idols, and from blood, and from things strangled, and from fornication: from which if ye keep yourselves, ye shall do well. Fare ye well." The significant absence of any allusion, explicitly made, to the question about the ceremonial law was manifestly equivalent to a decision that it was not necessary that the churches should conform to the requirements of that law. It was tantamount to a judgment that the Mosaic institutions, so far as they were ceremonial and typical, were no longer binding. Of course, it follows that the venerable synod regarded the observance of the temple-worship as no longer obligatory, and discharged the Gentile churches from the duty of adhering to any of its elements which were distinctive of the old dispensation. [2] To suppose that those churches, after such a discharge, had discretionary power to retain the services of the ceremonial code is to suppose that they might, at discretion, forsake the liberty they had in Christ and resume the yoke of Moses. The supposition is absurd. As the great body of the Christian church has been gathered from the Gentiles, the inference is obvious.

Eighthly, The speeches of Paul at his last visit to Jerusalem. The charge which was brought against him was this: "This is the man that teacheth all men everywhere against the people, and the law, and this place." If the charge had been even partly false that he taught against the law and the temple, Paul’s first step in his defence would evidently have consisted in denying it. This denial he did not make. How can the fact be accounted for, except upon the ground that Paul was well aware that both the temple and its peculiar services were doomed? He knew the prediction of Jesus that the building would be destroyed, and he had special reason for remembering the defence of Stephen before the Council, in which that servant of Christ contended that the whole typical ritual would give way to the sublime simplicity of worship which would characterize the new dispensation. That Paul himself occasionally worshipped at the temple was a mere matter of expediency. That he took part in its ceremonial and typical observances there is no proof to show. Indeed, without any assertion upon the subject, may not the question be raised, whether, after the day of Pentecost, when the Christian dispensation was inaugurated, the apostles did not, as men, commit a mistake in worshipping at all at the temple. It is difficult to believe that Stephen worshipped there.

Ninthly, The argument in the Epistle to the Hebrews is decisive. In the first place, it shows that the Aaronic priests and Levitical ministers have vanished, having been superseded by a priest after the order of Melchizedek, who has offered a perfect sacrifice, and lives forever to intercede for his people and consummate the work of redemption. If there be no priests and Levites to officiate, how is it possible to continue the services of the temple? To say that they are succeeded by Christian ministers is flatly to contradict the argument of the inspired writer. In the second place, the argument expressly proves that the temple-worship has been abolished. After stating the fact that the first covenant [that is, the Jewish dispensation [3]] had "ordinances of divine service and a worldly sanctuary," and specifying the things contained and the offices performed in the latter, it declares that "the first tabernacle"—and by this term the temple, as well as the tabernacle proper, was designated—"was a figure for the time then present;" but that Christ had come, "a high priest of good things to come by a greater and more perfect tabernacle." The figure had been realized in that which was figured, and consequently there was no longer any necessity for its teaching; indeed, its teaching would be utterly false and misleading. In the third place, the argument shows that the ceremonial law, as a mere shadow of good things to come, was inefficacious to provide for the removal of guilt from the conscience and the sanctification of the soul. But these ends are now secured by Christ through the sacrifice of himself. Now there is no need to approach God by the old way of the temple-worship. We are at liberty to approach him by a new and living way, which Christ hath consecrated for us through the veil; that is to say, his flesh. His atoning death has cancelled the necessity for the temple and all its ceremonial and typical observances.

(3.) The providence of God settled this question. It effectually abolished the temple and its services. The Lord Jesus, before his death, predicted the destruction of the temple itself. Forty years after his death the Romans destroyed it. This, it may be urged, proved nothing as to the legitimacy of continuing its services: it may, for aught we know, be restored. It is true that the temple was rebuilt after the Babylonish captivity. This was accomplished upon the expiration of seventy years only, and then by God’s direction. The Messiah had not come, and the typical office of the temple might still be fitly discharged. But he did come, and the rending of the veil, when he expired, was the patent signal of the temple’s doom. More than eighteen hundred years have elapsed since its destruction, and it is not yet rebuilt. God has never directed its reconstruction, but on the contrary has by his providence prevented it when it has been attempted. The Emperor Julian, commonly called the Apostate, made the effort, and was baffled in a most extraordinary way. In speaking of what he terms "the miraculous interposition of heaven, which defeated Julian’s attempt to rebuild the Jewish temple of Jerusalem," Bishop Warburton says: "Sacrifices constituting the essentials of their [the Jews’] worship, their religion could not be said to exist longer than that celebration continued. But sacrifices were to be performed in no place out of the walls of their temple. So that when this holy place was finally destroyed, according to the prophetical predictions, the institution itself became abolished. Nor was anything more consonant to the genius of this religion, than the assigning such a celebration of its principal rites. The temple would exist while they remained a people, and continued sovereign. And when their sovereignty was lost, the temple-worship became precarious, and subject to the arbitrary pleasure of their masters. They destroyed this temple: but it was not till it had lost its use. For the rites, directed to be there celebrated, were relative to them only as a free-policied people.

"So that this was, in reality, a total extinction of the Jewish worship. How wonderful are the ways of God! This came to pass at that very period when a new revelation from heaven concurred with the blind transactions of civil policy, to supersede the law by the introduction of the gospel: the last great work which completed the scheme of human redemption.

"To confound this admirable order of providence was what induced the Emperor Julian to attempt the rebuilding of the Jewish temple of Jerusalem. The vanity of the attempt could only be equaled by its impiety; for it was designed to give the lie to God, who, by the mouth of his prophets, had foretold that it should never be rebuilt. Here, then, was the most important occasion for a miraculous interposition, as it was to defeat this mad attempt. And thus in fact it was defeated, to the admiration of all mankind.

"But as a large and full account of the whole affair hath been already given to the public, in a work entituled—Julian, or a Discourse concerning the Earthquake and Fiery Eruption which defeated that Emperor’s attempt to rebuild the Temple at Jerusalem; thither will I refer the learned reader, who will there meet with all the various evidence of the fact, abundantly sufficient to support and establish it; together with a full confutation of all the cavils opposed to its certainty and necessity."

It may be pleaded, that although the temple may be irrevocably destroyed, its priestly services may, in some sense, be transferred in a modified form and under new conditions to the Christian church: that the New Testament itself authorizes the offices of a priesthood. Yes, it declares all believers to be made priests in Christ to God, but priests, as offering eucharistic sacrifices—sacrifices of themselves, of their prayers, and of their substance. Nothing more need be said in rebuttal of this wretched perversion of Scripture than that the word priest (ἱερεὺς) is never, in the singular, applied in the New Testament to any merely human officer of the church. He who assumes to be officially a priest usurps the prerogative of Jesus Christ, and audaciously invokes his judgment. This is sufficient in reply to sacerdotalists who, if not already within the pale of Rome, need only to push out their views to a legitimate conclusion in order to reach the popish outrage of the Mass.

We must concur with Warburton in holding that the destruction of the temple, after the death of Christ, involved the "extinction" of all that was peculiar and characteristic in the temple-worship.

The abolition of the temple-worship, so far as it was peculiar to the Jewish dispensation, has now been proved by an appeal to the nature of the case, to the statements of the New Testament Scriptures, and to the awful providence of God; and as it was before incontestably shown that instrumental music was employed alone in that worship, so far as the public religious services of God’s people were concerned, it follows that that kind of music is, with those limitations, abolished, and that its use in the Christian church is contrary to the Word and will of God.

2. The second argument will be derived from the reproduction by the Christian church, under New Testament conditions, of the essential principles of polity and worship which obtained in the Jewish synagogue.

Let us pause to indicate briefly the elements of difference and of similarity between the church of the new dispensation and that of the old.

The prominent elements by which the Christian church was obviously distinguished from the Jewish were:

(1.) The actual advent, death, resurrection, exaltation, intercession, and mediatorial reign, of Christ; with all the consequences which flowed from those stupendous events. The old church looked forward to them all; the new looks backward to some of them, contemplates others as continuing to exist, and looks ever forward to the second coming of the Saviour to complete the redemption of his people and judge the quick and the dead. Jesus is more distinctly, than was possible to the Old Testament saints, recognized and worshipped as the King and Head of the church, and as the Mediatorial Sovereign to whose hands God the Father has committed dominion over all things in heaven, earth and hell.

(2.) The influence proceeding from the copious effusion of the Holy Spirit, and the results attending it, upon the disciples and their fellow-believers in wonderfully increasing their gifts and graces, and upon the mass of unbelievers in the conviction of their minds and the conversion of their souls.

(3.) The elimination of all that was ceremonial and typical in the old dispensation. Only two symbolical ordinances are commanded by Christ to be observed: the sacraments of baptism and the Lord’s supper. Simplicity is the reigning genius of worship, only such external instrumentalities being allowed as are necessary to constitute the media of its expression. All else, save baptism and the Lord’s supper, is swept away.

(4.) The exaltation, accentuation and extension of the preaching function: evangelism is made dominant in contradistinction to the dominant conservatism of the Old Testament church,—dominant, let it be observed, for the Jewish church was not merely and absolutely conservative, as provision was made for the admission of proselytes from the Gentile nations; and the Christian church is very far from being simply evangelistic, since it is an important part of her duty to preserve, maintain and defend the truth, and to train the sons of God for service on earth and glory in heaven.

(5.) The emphasizing of the singing of praise in public worship. There is reason to believe that the apostles made singing, as a distinct and articulate part of worship, more prominent in the Christian church than it had been in the services of the Jewish synagogue. The reason would seem to be plain. It is the most fitting vehicle for the utterance of gratitude and joy; and the Christian is peculiarly called upon to express these sentiments in worship, in consequence of the finished atonement of Christ and the out-poured influence of the Holy Ghost.

The question next being, what elements of similarity there are between the church under the new dispensation and that under the old, it is obvious from what has been said in regard to the typical and temporary character of the Jewish temple, that it could not have constituted the pattern or model in conformity with which the Christian church was organized. We must look elsewhere, if anywhere, for such an ideal. We find that in the Jewish synagogue, as an organized institute, there existed those essential elements of polity and worship which possess the character of permanence, elements which were destined to form the abiding attributes of the visible church through all dispensational changes. We might, therefore, conclude, from the very nature of the case, that such elements would pass over by an easy transition, without the jar of dislocation and a wholly new construction, to the church of the new dispensation. This antecedent presumption we discover to be confirmed by facts.

The synagogue, according to those authors, both Jewish and Christian, who are best entitled to speak on the subject, had, as to its polity, elders, deacons, and—I am disposed to believe—preachers. At least, there was the germ of the preaching function which only needed expansion to make it complete. Here were the essential elements, which only required to be modified by New Testament conditions to become the constituents of the polity and order of Christian congregations. When, accordingly, the majority of a Jewish synagogue were converted to the Christian faith, it became at once, simply by a profession of Christianity, without any marked outward change, a Christian church, with its officers already in existence, and consequently not needing to be elected and ordained. In a word, there was no necessity to create new offices. The old might need to be modified and extended in consequence of the new relations and conditions involved, but not to be vacated so that new offices, another kind of offices, should be substituted for them. Hence, in the accounts given in the Acts of the Apostles of the first gathering of Christian churches, we have no notice of the institution of the office of elder ab initio. The Jewish elders of the synagogue became the Christian elders of the church. The same, with the exception of the apostles and other extraordinary officers, would seem to have been true of all the offices of the Christian church—of preachers, and in all probability of deacons. There is no positive proof that the appointment of the Seven was a creation of the diaconal office. The evidence tends to an opposite conclusion. The narrative leads naturally to the conclusion that there were, under the superintendence of the apostles, Hebrew deacons who attended to the distribution of the common fund contributed by the church; and that the Seven (whose names are Hellenistic), were added to the already existing corps of deacons, in order to still the murmurs of the Hellenist converts and adequately meet their wants. As this is a point only subsidiary to the argument in hand, it will not be elaborately discussed. A considerable mass of testimonies might be collected from learned writers who, although characterized by different types of theological and ecclesiastical thought, have contended that the Christian church was organized after the analogy of the synagogue. It may be sufficient to cite the frequently quoted remarks of one who, in view of his church relations and official position, must be regarded as having spoken with distinguished candor upon this subject. "It is probable," says Archbishop Whately, [4] "that one cause, humanly speaking, why we find in the Sacred Books less information concerning the Christian ministry and the constitution of church-governments than we otherwise might have found, is that these institutions had less of novelty than some would at first sight suppose, and that many portions of them did not wholly originate with the apostles. It appears highly probable—I might say, morally certain—that, wherever a Jewish synagogue existed, that was brought, the whole, or the chief part of it, to embrace the gospel, the apostles did not there so much form a Christian church (or congregation, ecclesia,), as make an existing congregation Christian, by introducing the Christian sacraments and worship, and establishing whatever regulations were requisite for the newly-adopted faith; leaving the machinery (if I may so speak) of government unchanged; the rulers of synagogues, elders and other officers (whether spiritual or ecclesiastical, or both) being already provided in the existing institutions. And it is likely that several of the earliest Christian churches did originate in this way; that is, that they were converted synagogues, which became Christian churches as soon as the members, or the main part of the members, acknowledged Jesus as the Messiah.

"The attempt to effect this conversion of a Jewish synagogue into a Christian church seems always to have been made, in the first instance, in every place where there was an opening for it. Even after the call of the idolatrous Gentiles, it appears plainly to have been the practice of the apostles Paul and Barnabas, when they came to any city where there was a synagogue, to go thither first and deliver their sacred message to the Jews and ‘devout Gentiles’; according to their own expression (Acts 13:17), ‘to the men of Israel and those that feared God;’ adding that ‘it was necessary that the Word of God should first be preached to them.’ And when they founded a church in any of those cities in which (and such were, probably, a very large majority) there was no Jewish synagogue that received the gospel, it is likely they would still conform, in a great measure, to the same model." In these views such men as Grotius, Vitringa, Selden and Lightfoot concur.

If this be so, if the Christian church adopted its polity and its ordinary officers from the Jewish synagogue, it is almost unnecessary to argue that it appropriated its mode of worship from the same source. It was that to which in the past the people of God had been accustomed in their stated meetings on the Sabbath. Why should it not have continued for all the future? This would have been the almost inevitable result, unless the Head of the Church had authoritatively directed a change to be made, and had prescribed another and a different method of worship which he willed to be observed. There is not the slightest proof to show that he did, except in the instances of baptism and the Lord’s supper; and this silence of Christ, and the absence of inspired direction to that effect by the Holy Ghost, are entitled to be construed as an approval of the continuance by the church of the long-standing and venerable mode of worship of the Jewish synagogue. This probable argument amounts to certainty, in view of the significant fact, that the elements of public worship actually enumerated in the New Testament are precisely those which existed in the synagogue. As, then, the use of instrumental music was unknown in the worship of the synagogue it was not introduced into the Christian church.

To this two considerations may be added: first, that the analogy between the synagogue and the Christian church is sustained by the fact that the LXX. frequently use the term ecclesia as convertible with synagogue; and secondly, that as the temple stood and its worship continued for many years after the first Christian churches were constituted, the introduction into them of a kind of music which every Jew knew to be peculiar to the temple would have furnished in itself a reason for intense hostility to Christianity, and have called forth a special opposition which would have left its impress upon the records of the times, both sacred and profane. But we hear nothing of such a conflict, and the inference is well-nigh irresistible that the ground for it did not exist; instrumental music had no place in the early Christian churches. This particular consideration is, moreover, enhanced when we reflect that the Jewish synagogues themselves passed by an easy transition into Christian congregations. But that the converted Jew should, without difficulty, have admitted into the synagogue, even though christianized, an element which belonged to the temple as peculiar and typical, or that the Christian should have adopted part of a worship the abolition of which he knew to be certain, is either of them a supposition too violent to be entertained.

3. The third argument against the employment of instrumental music in the Christian church will be drawn from the great speech of Stephen before the Jewish Council.

He was altogether an extraordinary man. Endowed with great intellectual abilities, full of faith and power and of the Holy Ghost, he disputed with such vigor against the Libertines, Cyrenians and Alexandrians, and them of Cilicia and Asia, that "they were not able to resist the wisdom and the spirit by which he spake." The reference to Cilicia makes it highly probable that in these public discussions he had Saul, the scholar of Tarsus and the disciple of Gamaliel, as one of his antagonists; and it may be that the defeat in argument to which the gifted and aspiring zealot was subjected may have armed him with the acrimony which found so conspicuous expression at the execution of the martyr. Not being able to cope with him on the field of honorable debate, his adversaries resorted to the expedient which discomfited malice is wont to suggest—they prosecuted him before the supreme judicatory. The charge against him was: "We have heard him speak blasphemous words against Moses and against God; this man ceaseth not to speak blasphemous words against this holy place, and the law: for we have heard him say that this Jesus of Nazareth shall destroy this place, and change the customs which Moses delivered us." As is apt to be the case, this charge is partly true and partly false. It was false, so far as it alleged blasphemy against Moses and against God. So far as it affirmed Stephen’s declaration, that the temple would be destroyed, and the customs or rites, as ceremonial and typical, of the Mosaic code, would be changed, it must, for two reasons, be considered true—in the first place, because the defendant never denied that allegation; and in the second place, because his defence itself proved its relevancy. This construction of the charge has strong support. "This charge," says Prof. Joseph Addison Alexander, [5] "was no doubt true, so far as it related to the doctrine that the new religion, or rather the new form of the church, was to supersede the old." "Down to this time," observes Dr. Arthur Penrhyn Stanley, [6] "the apostles and the early Christian community had clung in their worship, not merely to the holy land and the holy city, but to the holy place of the temple. This local worship, with the Jewish customs belonging to it, he [Stephen] now denounced. So we must infer from the accusations brought against him, confirmed as they are by the tenor of his defence. The actual words of the charge may have been false, as the sinister and malignant intention which they ascribed to him was undoubtedly false. ‘Blasphemous,’ that is, ‘calumnious’ words, ‘against Moses and against God’ he is not likely to have used. But the overthrow of the temple, the cessation of the Mosaic ritual, is no more than St. Paul preached openly, or than is implied in Stephen’s own speech: ‘against this holy place and the law—that Jesus of Nazareth shall destroy this place, and shall change the customs that Moses delivered us.’"

The speech, in conformity with a tendency of the oriental mind, is cast in the framework of an historical statement, and to the cursory reader does not present the features of an argument. It is nevertheless a powerful argument. There are two great principles the assertion of which it involved, and upon which it proceeded: first, the spirituality of God; secondly, his infinite immensity. From the first the great speaker argued that it would be folly to hold that God could be adequately worshipped by material emblems and ceremonial rites. From the second he derived the consequence that as God could not be confined to one place, neither could his worship. These positions he sustained by an appeal, in the first place, to the history of Israel, and, in the second place, to the doctrine of the prophets. He shows that the church-state of the Hebrews had undergone great changes—changes which rendered it impossible that they could have worshipped always in one particular mode, in one particular locality, and at one particular sanctuary. The church, as organized in the family of their great ancestor, Abraham, worshipped without the temple. The church, while in bondage in Egypt, worshipped without the temple. The church, in its migrations for forty years in the wilderness, worshipped without the temple. The church, after it had found rest in the land of promise, through the whole period of the Judges, and through the reigns of Saul and David, worshipped without the temple. It was not until Solomon that the temple was built, and its peculiar services were inaugurated as supplementary to, and perfective of, those which had belonged to the tabernacle. Here Stephen reaches the conclusion of the first branch of his argument—namely, that the history of the Hebrew church proved that the temple in which his judges gloried had not been, in the past, a necessity to the spiritual worship of God, and therefore it involved neither absurdity nor impiety to hold that the church would again worship without it.

He then proceeds to confirm this lesson from the Israelitish history by the doctrine of the prophets, which teaches the greatness, majesty, infinity of God: "Howbeit the Most High dwelleth not in temples made with hands; as saith the prophet, Heaven is my throne, and earth is my footstool: what house will ye build me? saith the Lord: or what is the place of my rest? Hath not my hand made all these things?" Evidently the argument went to show the unreasonableness of so localizing the worship of the infinite Being as to tie him to a single house of worship. It implicitly affirmed the temporary character of the temple, and would, in all probability, have made the assertion explicit had not some manifestation of anger and pride on the part of the Council interrupted the speaker. This led the fearless and impassioned witness for the gospel directly to indict his judges: "Ye stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost: as your fathers did, so do ye." It is dearly implied that as their fathers had resisted the Holy Ghost in respect to the matter of worshipping according to God’s appointments, so they resisted him in the same manner. When, for example, the Spirit directed their fathers to worship at the temple, they worshipped in high places and in groves. Now that a new dispensation had been introduced, and the Holy Ghost directed them to abandon the temple-worship as having discharged its typical and temporary office, they disobeyed him, and insisted upon continuing that worship. This outburst of holy eloquence cut them to the heart and drew from them expressions of rage. And when he declared that he saw Jesus, whom he had charged them with having murdered, standing on the right hand of God, it became intolerable, and resolving themselves into a furious mob, they rushed upon him, dragged him outside the gate of the city, and pitilessly stoned him to death.

In this speech it is clear that Stephen erected a testimony which cost him his life in favor of the abrogation of the temple-worship; and as instrumental music was peculiar to that worship, we have an independent line of proof from the New Testament that it was not introduced, and was not designed to be introduced, into the Christian church.

There is, besides, another aspect of this immortal speech which must not be overlooked. Stephen, endowed with extraordinary penetration of mind, and with a wonderful inspiration of the Holy Ghost, seemed to be in advance of the apostolic college itself in his estimate of the genius of gospel-worship, he contended, as the Lord Jesus had before declared, that the spirituality of God demanded spiritual worship, and delivered a testimony sealed with blood in behalf of the absolute simplicity of gospel institutions. Stripped of all the burdensome though splendid ritual of the temple, they would reproduce the simple and unostentatious services of the synagogue, and interject nothing which was not expressly prescribed by divine authority, or required by necessity, between the living worshipper and the living God. The spirituality and simplicity of gospel-worship,—this was what the illustrious deacon insisted upon in burning words and with dauntless spirit before that bigoted and furious bench of zealots; this was the principle which he saturated with martyr blood at the very beginning of the Christian dispensation. Would that every officer of the church would imitate the glorious example, and in the face of popular clamor and the demands of this world’s princes, bear an unwavering testimony against the introduction into the public worship of the church of every abrogated element of the ancient temple-services!

4. The next proof is based upon the teaching of Christ and his apostles—a teaching enforced by their practice.

(1.) The teaching of the Lord Jesus excluded instrumental music from the public worship of the New Testament church, he declared that God is vainly worshipped when the doctrines and commandments of men are substituted for his own. We have seen that, by divine direction, by the doctrine and commandment of God, instrumental music in the Old Testament church was excluded from the ordinary, stated worship of his people on the Sabbath day in the synagogue, and was confined to the services of the temple. We have also seen that the Christian church in its polity and worship was, under the conditions and with the modifications necessitated by the new dispensation, modeled after the Jewish synagogue. No entirely new element of worship was incorporated into the services of that church. Jesus did not authorize the effectuation of such a change. Consequently the introduction of instrumental music, which God had not sanctioned, or rather had prohibited, in the worship of the synagogue would have been the substitution of a doctrine and commandment of men for those which proceeded from God.

In his conversation with the Samaritan woman at Jacob’s well, our Saviour enounced the great principle of the spirituality of worship: "God is a spirit, and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth." While he acknowledged that the Jews, in contradistinction to the Samaritans, paid intelligent worship to God, for the reason that it involved the knowledge of salvation—a salvation to be accomplished by One who, according to the flesh, would spring from the Jewish stock, and while he virtually admitted that they had complied with divine direction in conducting a ceremonial and typical worship with its seat at Jerusalem, he added the significant words: "Believe me, the hour cometh, when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father . . . . The hour cometh and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him." In these words, which adumbrated the genius of gospel-worship, our blessed Lord clearly taught two things: first, that the ceremonial, typical, ritualistic worship of the Jewish temple was designed to be temporary, and that the hour was swiftly approaching when it would be entirely abolished; secondly, that even that stated worship which had been devoid of a ceremonial, typical and ritualistic character, would, under the influences to be exerted upon the people of God in the dispensation about to be inaugurated, become more spiritual than ever. These lessons the Lord Jesus manifestly inculcated, and they justify the inferences: that as instrumental music was a peculiar appendage of the temple it would pass away with it; and that, as it was absent from the synagogue, the Christian church, which was destined to be more spiritual in its worship than was even that unceremonial and untypical institute, could not consistently with its advanced nature and office introduce it into its services. It would suppose in the church of the New Testament a lower degree of spirituality in worship than was possessed by that of the Old.

Furthermore, our Lord, in issuing to his apostles, just before his ascension to glory, the great commission which contemplated the evangelization of the world, imposed upon them this solemn obligation: "Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you." This injunction of the Prophet and King of the church involved three things: first, that the apostles, in their oral communications and in their inspired writings, were to teach all those things which Christ commanded; secondly, that they were to teach nothing but what Christ commanded; and thirdly, that the church to be organized by them was to obey their teaching, originated and enforced by the authority of Christ, and to introduce nothing into her doctrine, polity and worship which was not either expressly or impliedly warranted by the command of Christ as reflected by apostolic inculcation and example. This left the church no discretion in regard to these elements of doctrine, government and worship. She is absolutely bound by Christ’s commands, enounced originally by the lips of the apostles, and now permanently recorded in his inspired Word. She is obliged to do all that he has commanded; she is forbidden to do anything which he has not commanded. She can construct no new doctrine, institute no new element of government, and decree no new rites and ceremonies—introduce no new mode of worship. The inquiry, what discretionary power the church possesses in the sphere of worship, will be reserved to another part of this discussion. It is sufficient now to say, that it is a discretionary power which she is never entitled to use as the church, but simply as an organization acting under secular and temporal conditions belonging to all human societies. It is only where there is no need, perhaps no room, for a command of Christ—in the sphere in which human wisdom, the natural judgment of men, is competent to act, in which indeed it must act, it is only here that the church is, from the very necessity of the case, invested with discretionary power.

The question now being, Did Christ command the use of instrumental music in his church? the answer must be, He did not. There is certainly no such command on record. Nor can it be presumed. The Lord Jesus knew the divine decree by which the temporary services of the temple were destined to be abolished. He himself predicted the utter destruction of the temple. He knew perfectly that instrumental music was an attachment to the peculiar and distinctive services of the temple, and therefore he knew that it must share the wreck to which the temple with all those services was doomed. Did he authorize his church to save instrumental music from the ruins, and employ it in her worship? He did not. Is she then warranted to do it? Assuredly not.

Our Lord, as a man, was perfectly familiar with the worship of the synagogue. It is said that there were in his day at least four hundred and fifty synagogues in the great city of Jerusalem itself, churches in which the population worshipped from Sabbath to Sabbath, just as a Christian people now worship in theirs. His custom was to attend the synagogue wherever in his blessed itinerancy he chanced to be. He full well knew the absence of instrumental music from its services, and he knew that his church, when established as such, would follow the precedents of stated Sabbath worship, which reached immemorially back through the history of his ancient people. Did he leave a command to his church to depart from that order, and introduce instrumental music into its stated Sabbath worship? He did not; and the defect of such a command is sufficient to settle the question.

These considerations, did they need confirmation, would find it in the actual practice of our Lord. We are informed that he sang psalms with his disciples. On the fatal night in which he was betrayed, he closed the affecting solemnity of instituting the sacrament of the supper with singing. "And when they had sung an hymn," say two of the evangelists in identically the same language, "they went out into the Mount of Olives;" and the writer of the Epistle to the Hebrews, in the wonderful chapter in which he argues the necessity of the incarnation—the community of nature betwixt Christ and his brethren, touchingly portrays him as discharging the office of their preacher and of their precentor, saying, "I will declare thy name unto my brethren, in the midst of the church will I sing praise unto thee." Nothing do we hear of instruments of music; but, as Justin Martyr, or the pseudo-Justin, says of the psalmody of the early church, only "simple singing." De Quincy [7] has contemptuously represented the singing of the English Dissenters "as a howling wilderness of psalmody." He might have spared his ridicule, had he reflected that one of the clerks who have led that kind of singing was Jesus Christ himself. But "vain man would be wise, though man be born like a wild ass’s colt." He has, with magnificent rhetoric, described "the swell of the anthem, the burst of the hallelujah chorus, the storm, the trampling movement of the choral passion, . . . the tumult of the choir, the wrath of the organ." Perchance he wrote better than he knew, when he represented the organ as bringing forth wrath; and his prelatical scorn for Christ’s humble and obedient people, as well as his splendid rhetoric in glorifying the pomps of cathedral-service, may be offsetted by the following passage from the coryphaeus of British liberty: [8] "In times of opposition, when either against new heresies arising, or old corruptions to be reformed, this cool unpassionate mildness of positive wisdom is not enough to damp and astonish the proud resistance of carnal and false doctors, then (that I may have leave to soar awhile as poets use) Zeal, whose substance is ethereal, arming in complete diamond, ascends his fiery chariot drawn with two blazing meteors, figured like beasts out of a higher breed than any the zodiac yields, resembling two of those four which Ezekiel and St. John saw; the one visaged like a lion, to express power, high authority and indignation, the other of countenance like a man, to cast derision and scorn upon perverse and fraudulent seducers: with these the invincible warrior, Zeal, shaking loosely the slack reins, drives over the heads of scarlet prelates, and such as are insolent to maintain traditions, bruising their stiff necks under his flaming wheels." Or, we may listen to the rolling thunder of a mightier rhetoric than De Quincey or Milton wielded—a thunder that, like the angry growl of a coming storm, preludes the doom of that apostate mother from whose fertile womb have crept the monstrous corruptions which have slimed the purity of Christ’s fair and glorious bride: "Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen, and is become the habitation of devils, and the hold of every foul spirit, ,and a cage of every unclean and hateful bird . . . . Alas, alas, that great city, that was clothed in fine linen, and purple, and scarlet, and decked with gold, and precious stones, and pearls! . . . Rejoice over her, thou heaven, and ye holy apostles and prophets; for God hath avenged you on her . . . . And the voice of harpers, and of musicians, and of pipers, and trumpeters, shall be heard no more in thee . . . . And after these things I heard a great voice of much people in heaven, saying, Alleluia; salvation, and glory, and honor, and power, unto the Lord our God: for true and righteous are his judgments: for he hath judged the great whore, which did corrupt the earth with her fornication, and hath avenged the blood of his servants at her hand. And again they said, Alleluia. And her smoke rose up forever and ever."

(2.) The teaching of the apostles excluded instrumental music from the public worship of the church.

Among the parts of that worship which are enumerated in the New Testament the singing of praise is included, but not instrumental music. The passages which are relevant are: 1 Cor. 14:26: "How is it then, brethren? when ye come together, every one of you hath a psalm, hath a doctrine, hath a tongue, hath a revelation, hath an interpretation. Let all things be done unto edifying." Eph. 5:19: "Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your hearts to the Lord." Col. 3:16: "Teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord."

"The cause of all the contention," says the Rev. A. Cromar, [9] "is in the fact, that the word psalm and the word translated making melody, suggest at once to the mind the idea of instrumental music. A psalm is with propriety defined, a sacred ode designed to be sung to the accompaniment of the lyre, and the word rendered making melody literally signifies, to strike the string of the same instrument. Taking the words in their simplicity, the passage, as far as music is concerned, seems to consist of two parts—the one enjoining the general duty of praise in compositions sung either with or without an instrumental accompaniment; and the other particularly stating that praise, whether it be with or without instrumental guidance, must always be of true gospel character, that is, must be an exercise of the heart. If this, the most probable, be also the true, sense of the passage (Eph. 5:19); then we have in it what the friends of the organ believe to be the divine mind in the matter."

The weight of scholarly authority is certainly against Mr. Cromar, and those who, like him, would twist these passages to the support of instrumental music in the public worship of the church. Dr. James Begg, in noticing the exception taken by an anonymous writer to our translation of the Bible, and his affirmation, with others, that ψάλλω radically signifies playing on a stringed musical instrument, has these remarks which are worthy of attention: [10] "This attempt to fix the meaning of the word as implying playing instead of singing, as used by the New Testament writers, was thoroughly set aside by Dr. Porteous, by a variety of evidence, one part of which is thus concluded: ‘From these quotations from the Greek fathers, the three first of whom flourished in the fourth century—men of great erudition, well skilled in the phraseology and language of Scripture, perfectly masters of the Greek tongue, which was then written and spoken with purity in the countries where they resided; men, too, who for conscience sake would not handle the Word of God deceitfully, it is evident that the Greek word ψάλλω signified in their time singing with the voice alone. Had they conceived otherwise, we may be assured that they had both sufficient firmness of mind and influence in the church to have induced their hearers to have used the harp and psaltery in the public worship of God.’

"It is curious to observe how constantly, and with what pretence of learning, mistakes are repeated. In a late discussion, the correctness of our authorized translation of James 5:13 was confidently called in question, and it was affirmed that ψαλλέτω meant to strike as on the lyre, and that the passage ought not to have been translated ‘let him sing psalms,’ but ‘let him play on an instrument.’ The issue thus raised is a very broad and important one, being neither more nor less than whether instrumental music is divinely appointed in Christian worship. It indicates, at all events, how far some hymnologists are prepared to go. If this idea is correct, the Christian church in the early ages had entirely mistaken the meaning of inspired men, and so has our church [the Scottish] since the Reformation. We affirm, however, that ψαλλέτω in James can mean nothing else than ‘let him sing psalms.’ The substantive ψαλμός occurs not oftener than seven times in the New Testament; and its use there, apart from other evidence, would be sufficient to determine the meaning of the verb ψάλλω. The noun occurs three times (Luke 20:42, 24:44; Acts 1:20), where it refers to the book of Psalms; once (Acts 13:33), where it refers to the second psalm; twice (Eph. 5:19; Col. 3:16), where with other two words the rendering is ‘psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs’; and once (1 Cor. 14:26), ‘When ye come together, every one of you hath a psalm.’ In regard to the verb itself, besides the passage in James and in Ephesians 5:19, just referred to, ψάλλω only occurs three times in the New Testament; twice (1 Cor. 14:15), where its use absolutely excludes instrumental music, and must imply singing inspired (?) songs or psalms—‘I will sing with the spirit, and I will sing with the understanding also;’ and once (Rom. 15:9), ‘As it is written, For this cause I will confess to thee among the Gentiles, and sing unto thy name.’ It is interesting to notice that the latter passage is exactly copied from the Septuagint (Ps. 18:49), and this affords a striking proof of the correctness of the rendering for which we are now contending. As thus quoted by the apostle, we have an inspired rendering into the Greek verb ψάλλω of a Hebrew word which is usually translated ‘sing praises’ or ‘sing psalms.’ ‘Singing psalms’ was the only authorized vocal praise of the church of old. The question now, as every one knows, is not about the roots or the original meaning of words, but about the sense in which they were used by the inspired writers; ψάλλω never occurs in the New Testament, in its radical signification, to strike or play upon an instrument.

"The forty or fifty high scholars of England through whose hands the authorized version of our Scriptures passed, were thoroughly acquainted with these things, and seldom fail, in matters of the least importance, to give, either in the text or in the margin, a correct version of the original language—although, of course, they were not infallible. In connection with this, it is not uninteresting, however, to observe how fully the correctness of our authorized version is confirmed by Luther and the early Reformers. Luther translates ψαλλέτω (Jam. 5:13) ‘der singe psalmen;’ Wickliffe, ‘and seye he a salm;’ Tyndale, ‘let him singe psalmes;’ and Cranmer, ‘let him synge psalms.’ Dean Alford, too, among recent critics, strong Episcopalian as he is, and interested in vindicating instrumental music, renders the word ‘let him sing praise.’ Mr. Young, in his translation of the Bible ‘according to the letter and idioms of the original languages,’ renders the passage, ‘let him sing psalms;’ and Dr. Giles, late Fellow of Christ Church College, Oxford, in his New Testament, ‘translated word for word,’ London, 1861, also renders it, ‘let him sing psalms.’"

There is no need to multiply authorities. All commentators admit that psalms primarily designated sacred odes which were suited to be accompanied, when sung, by instruments of music. But the great majority concur in holding that the secondary sense, of sacred compositions to be sung, is that in which the word is used in the New Testament. How could it be otherwise with men who had learning enough to know, that instrumental music was excluded from the public worship of the apostolic church? If it be urged that this is begging the question, and proof be demanded, the appeal is taken, first, to the preceding argument; and, secondly, to the practice of the post-apostolic church. If the apostles had allowed the employment of instrumental music in the church, it is morally certain, from the very constitution of human nature, that it would have continued to be used subsequently to their time. But it was not; and its absence can be accounted for only on the ground that the New Testament Church had never adopted it. If it had been in use under the apostles, its ejection could only have been accomplished by a revolutionary change which would have been a revolt from apostolic practice. Such a supposition is on every account absurd—indeed is impossible. The proof that the early church knew nothing of instrumental music it is proposed to furnish in a subsequent part of this discussion. Its presentation is, therefore, postponed.

Even if the foregoing argument from the New Testament Scriptures had only a respectable degree of probability, it would seem to be preposterous to attempt its refutation by a single ambiguous word—a word conceded by those who take that position themselves to have both an original and a secondary signification. As, further, it is not pleaded that the words "hymns and spiritual songs" imply the accompaniment of instruments, they who stand on the primary sense of the word psalms would be obliged to admit that some of the singing of the apostolic church was accompanied by instrumental music and some was not. When they succeed in proving that such was the case, they may with some plausibility claim the surrender of their opponents. Is it not evident that the argument which rests on the single word psalms swings on a rickety hinge?

5. The only other argument from the New Testament Scriptures will be derived from the condemnation which they pronounce upon "will-worship." Will-worship is that which is not commanded by God, but devised by man. We have seen that God commanded instrumental music to be employed in connection with the temple. It was, therefore, in that relation not an element of will-worship. It was of course legitimate. But had the Jew employed it in the synagogue, he would have been guilty of the sin of will-worship. Why? Because, without the divine warrant he would have asserted his own will in regard to the public worship of God. Now that the temple is gone, all that was peculiar to it is gone with it. To revive any of its defunct services, and borrow them from its ruins for the ornamentation of the Christian church, is an instance of will-worship. The general principle is enounced by Paul in the Epistle to the Colossians, although he applies it specifically to a certain class of cases. "Wherefore," says he, "if ye be dead with Christ from the rudiments of the world, why, as though living in the world, are ye subject to ordinances, (Touch not; taste not; handle not; which are all to perish with the using;) after the commandments and doctrines of men? which things have indeed a shew of wisdom in will-worship, and humility, and neglecting of the body; not in any honor to the satisfying of the flesh." Instrumental music, as has been proved, was one of the rudiments of that ceremonial and typical ritual by which it pleased God to train the Israelites, as children in a preparatory school, for the manhood of the Christian dispensation with its glorious privileges and its expanded responsibilities. This was the view of even Aquinas and Bellarmin. He, therefore, who would import that effete element into the Church of the New Dispensation would impugn the wisdom of God, assert his will against the divine authority, and abandon the freedom of Christ for the bondage of Moses.

[go to CHAPTER 4.]


Footnotes:

[1] The answer to this is found in the obvious distinction between moral and positive laws—the former being immutable, the latter not.

[2] This was afterwards expressly asserted to Paul by the apostles at Jerusalem as the sense of the synod’s decision. "As touching the Gentiles," said they, "which believe, we have written and concluded that they observe no such thing." Acts 21:25.

[3] The allusion here cannot be to the covenant of works as historically preceding the covenant of grace. It is to that special form in which God administered the covenant of grace in the Jewish dispensation which gave way to another form of administration under the Christian economy.

[4] Kingdom of Christ, pp. 83-85. Am. Ed., pp. 84-86.

[5] Comm. on Acts, Chap. 6.

[6] Art. Stephen, Smith’s Dict. of Bible.

[7] Writings, Vol. i. p. 224; Boston: Ticknor, Reed and Fields, 1851.

[8] Milton’s Prose Works. Vol. i., p. 135; Philadelphia: John W. Moore. 1847.

[9] Vindication of the Organ, pp. 93, 94.

[10] The Use of Organs, p. 264, ff.