Proving, that it was peculiar to the Jewish Church; is nowhere enjoyned in the New Testament; nor received into the Primitive Church: But first introduced by Pope Vitalian: And is therefore deservedly banished [in] the most part of Protestant Churches, and condemned by the Current of Orthodox Divines.
And answering the arguments usually adduced by Papist and Formalists for its defence.
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.
1 Cor. 14:15. I will sing with the Spirit, and I will sing with the understanding also.
Ad hoc malorum devoluta est Ecclesia DEI, et Sponsa CHRISTI, ut Hæreticorum Exempla sectetur; et ad celebr and a Sacramenta Cælestia, Disciplinam lux mutuatur de tenebris: Et id faciunt Christiani, quod Antichristi faciunt. Cyprian.
[To this evil the Church of GOD, and bride of CHRIST, is devolved, to follow the examples of heretics; and to the celebration of the heavenly sacraments, the light borrows correction from darkness; and Christians do what the Antichrist will do.—Cyprian.]
Si habet animus unde oblectetur extrinsecus, sine deliciis manet interius. August.
[And if the mind has whereof it may have delight outside itself, does it remain without delights within?—Augustine.]
Religiones pie magis, quam magnifice coli debent. Livius.
[Reverence for God ought rather to be paid with piety than with magnificence.—Livy.]
N.p: n.p., 1713.
To the Reader.
In this short essay, wherewith I present thee, I challenge nothing as mine, save the Composure only: The Arguments are none other than what have been formerly advanced by men of great name, both in the Ancient, and Reformed Protestant Churches; whose Sentiment upon this subject I have faithfully recited, and presented to thy view: Which way of Reasoning, I conceive to be more convincing, than had I only proposed mine own private arguments. For I am confident, that the concurring judgment of so many great men, whose singular learning, humanely speaking, did put them beyond the danger of being deceived in a matter so obvious and clear in the holy Scriptures; and their piety and candor was too great, to say, that their judgment was capable to be byassed [biased] by affection and party-interest. Their concurring judgment, I say, cannot but be of great weight with every conscientious person, that is willing to find out truth, and have solid grounds for what he practices in GOD’s worship.
I have given thee the quotations in English only, because I design this essay for the information of these especially, who have not the learned languages: Others, if they list, may consult the authors, whence these sentences are taken; which if they do, they will find, that not elegant paraphrases, but a closeness to the very grammatical frame of the authors words, so far as could be, is wholly observed in the translating of them.
May the GOD of all grace make this essay useful to confirm the weak, and stop the mouths of gainsayers, and to convince men of danger of making such innovations and corruptions in GOD’s publick worship, as are now advanced in the land.
The Sacred Use of ORGANS in Christian Assemblies.
Amongst the many recommending qualifications of the Christian religion, which render it highly acceptable to all rational men, who have the happiness to come by the knowledge of it, this is none of the least, that it affords its embracers the most solid, rational and durable joy and solace, of any other thing in the world. Nothing can claim a paternity with it upon the score of rendering mankind happy, and consequently it must excel all other grounds of making them cheerful. That the great author and instituter of this platform of religion might make it most worthy of all acceptation, and for ever confute the false calumnies of unregenerate and fleshly men, and of their father the Devil, objected against it; as tho it were some morose melancholy business, to be employed therein; he hath not only made it the privilege of his Saints, that they should have strong consolation, and rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory; but also hath enrolled it among their duties, and made it a part of the Christian employment, by an express command and positive injunction, that they should rejoice evermore: And because this passion being like new wine which must needs have a vent, must have some channel and conveyance to give it free passage, that the heart be not overcharged therewith, he allows it a reflux into the ocean, whence it had its source, by a devout and holy expressing thereof in singing of psalms, or spiritual songs. Is any man merry? Let him sing psalms. This is a joyful sound, which Ethan, a man renown’d for wisdom in his generation, elevated beyond himself by a supervenient Divine Inspiration, put so high a price upon, as to pronounce the people blessed that know it.
This heavenly gospel duty, tho sweet and pleasant to the Saints, who have their spiritual senses duly exercised, to discern the amiableness of Spiritual objects; hath upon the one hand been despised and rejected by Anabaptists and Enthusiasts, as a puerile and carnal exercise, too mean and low for Christians of such elevation, as these pretended Perfectionists give themselves out to be; and upon the other hand, it has been converted into a carnal diversion, and a theatrical pageantry by Papists and Formalists, setting up organs and consorts [groups] of singing boys in the places of GOD’s publick worship. The former of which errors seems to owe its original to the latter; for by perverting this ordinance, and prostituting it to the cynical vanity of human fancy, some dull souls, who are not so happy as to be able to distinguish between the lawful and commendable use of a divine institution, and the sinful superstitious abuse thereof, introduced by the vanity of human invention, have been so far stumbled at the substance of the duty, as wholly to diffuse and undervalue it. With these I shall not at this occasion trouble my self; being, the generality of ‘em are fitter for Bedlam than argument; but shall rather deal with the other, who (if they be not absolutely intoxicated with superstition) are more apt to be wrought upon by demonstrative conviction and rational evidence.
If I be demanded a reason of my undertaking, why I trouble the world with my thoughts upon this subject, especially the people of SCOTLAND, who seem never to have much admired such pompous gaudy braveries [shows] in the worship of GOD; as the musical whistlings of a pair of organs; and who, for the generality, have something else to do with what little moiety [portion] their barren clime can afford ‘em, than to lavish it out upon an expensive organ, and a choir of chanting choristers; I shall for my reader’s satisfaction shortly assign it. Only in doing it, I am obliged infandum renovare dolorem [with unspeakable grief], to make a very melancholy reflection upon the misery this kingdom is involved into by the folly and mismanagement of its representatives, who like Esau, that for one morsel of meat sold his birthright; upon a fallacious prospect of some worldly gain, or preferment, gave away their own and their nation’s privileges, to advance the English grandeur: folly and mismanagement did I call it? ‘Tis too soft a term, when as there were so apparent discoveries of plain treachery against the Sovereignty and Freedom of the nation, and the reformation and security of religion, visible in the most of their conduct.
These pretended friends, but real enemies to religion and liberty, having patched together an Incorporating Union with their kind neighbors of England, were no sooner masters of the honor they gaped for, to sit in the Parliament of England, but with their trusty friends the Archbishops and Bishops, &c., they found means to obtain an act in favor of the Episcopal party in SCOTLAND. And to gratify their good masters the Bishops, they’re no more content with the old dull model of Scottish Episcopacy; but they must have it dressed up ala mode d’Angle terre, and must have the Common Prayer Book, the Rubrick and Calendar, the canonical habit [vestments], organical musick, and what not. After obtaining of this Royal and Parliamentary FIAT, to patronize ‘em in their superstitious designs, the nation has occasion to know (if anything would alarm) with what vigor and application, that party has propagated the English service: and they are not ashamed to profess their intentions of having organs too, so soon as they can get ‘em set up. And as their other stratagems have had no small success already, so this may prove very alluring to some ignorant and unstable people, who may not have occasion to know the sinfulness thereof; and may partly by the natural sweetness of the musick, and partly by the example of others, but more especially by the cunning craft and fallacious pretenses of such as lie in wait to deceive, be enticed to run headlong to their own destruction, by joining in a false superstitious worship, hateful to GOD and pernicious to men. If this small treatise may be useful to inform the judgments, and caution the precipitant affections of any such, so as to deter ‘em from this dangerous course, before custom therein harden ‘em against the fear of hazard; I think this essay was a sufficient apology for its walking abroad into the world, and I have designed my end.
I must own there has been less occasion to write against Episcopacy and ceremonies, whether in whole, or only in particular heads, had ministers been faithful to the great trust reposed in them, and to the COVENANTED PRINCIPLES they pretended to espouse: for then people had not been so generally ignorant of the sin and danger of these things, and of the direful wrath of JEHOVAH, which a compliance with these corruptions will inevitably draw upon their heads. But ‘tis matter of lamentation, that most ministers have looked upon it, as a business below the ministerial function, to inform the people committed to their charge of the nature and danger of publick and national sins. I confess, the Magnalia Evangelii [great works of the gospel], the opening and pressing of faith in our LORD JESUS CHRIST, and repentance towards GOD, are the great and chief parts of the ministerial work; but notwithstanding, in all ages of the Church, it has been reckoned a character of a faithful watchman, to warn people of the danger of national sins and judgments: And such ministers as wholly neglect this duty, cannot account to it for their LORD and Master, let them dwell never so much upon these other great gospel concerns.
I shall not enter into this deplorable theme, tho’ it be one of the main sources of many national evils at this day, in regard it is found by sad experience, that whatever can be said upon this subject, tho’ with the sincerest regret, is taken for satire rather than lamentation, and tends to irritation rather than conviction; wherefore without further prefacing, I shall address myself straight upon the matter intended. And that my way be more clear in handling the proposed subject, my method shall be. 1st. To shew that the use of organs in the divine worship under the Old Testament economy was ceremonial, and adapted to the infant state of the Church. 2ly. That there is not institution of instrumental or organical musick in the service of GOD to be found in the New Testament, nor practice of it in the primitive Apostolic Church, for six centuries at least, but that the unanimous suffrage of the Fathers is against its use in the Christian Assemblies: And that it was first introduced into the church by Pope Vitalian, together with many other idolatrous ceremonies. And therefore, 3ly. That it is disclaimed by the current of Protestant Divines, and justly banished by the best Reformed Churches. 4ly. I shall answer the arguments of the patrons of organs, brought to prove their use to be lawful in the Christian Church.
That the use of organs in Divine Worship under the Old Testament economy was Ceremonial and adjusted to the minority or infant state of the Church.
The patrons of organ worship have not a stronger argument, in their conceit, for advancing the credit of their cause, than the antiquity of the invention and use of organs in Divine service. And because (as saith Tertullian) Primum quodque verissimum, that is truest which is most ancient, truth being older that error, therefore they judge that have done some mighty performance in favours of their singing instruments, if they demonstrate that these are almost co-temporary with the world, being invented in its infancy. Their ground they take from the Mosaick History of the Antediluvian affairs, where in describing the line and offspring of Cain, he relates, That Jubal was the father of all such as handle the harp and organ Gen. 4:21. So our translation hath it. I shall not need curiously to enquire whether or not our translators have certainly hit upon the genuine signification of the word which they translate organ, for whether it be the same with our organ or not, it will stand the advocates for organical worship in no stead, seeing Moses in this place speaks not one syllable of its application to the service of GOD, but only who was its inventor; And as it is no very commending circumstance that this musical instrument took its beginning from one of bloody Cain's cursed posterity, so to argue from the antiquity of its invention to the equal antiquity of its use in sacred services, is too gross a non-sequitur for any rational man to admit. But if any should be so absurd as to attempt the proof of the one from the other, he willfind it equally hard to demonstrate that the Hebrew word עוּגָֽב which we translate organ, is exactly rendered. The word derives itself from a root which signifies to love, play, delight, &c. And is property applied to doting, fond and lascivious love, Ezek. 23:7; Jer. 4:30. The current of Interpreters and Lexicographers take it to be a general name of all kinds of musical instruments, Quodvis instrumentum musicum quasi amibile dictum Schindl, musicum instrumentum apud nos tamen incognitum Munst. [Any collection of musical instruments as amiable, said Schindler. A musical instrument with us yet unknown, Munster.] Mr. [Matthew] Pool translates it the lovely instrument, and adds, but what kind of instrument this was even the Jews do not understand, and gives the sense of the verse thus, He was the inventor of musick and musical instruments. So the Chaldee Paraphrast [i.e., the Targum], he was master of all that play on the psaltery and knew musick; and the Seventy [i.e., the Greek Septuagint] read it, This was he that shewed the psaltery and the harp. So that from this place of Scripture, there can be but very slender proof of the antiquity of the invention of organs, none at all of their sacred use.
Neither for we find any of the least vestige of instrumental musick in the devotion of the antediluvian patriarchs, nor yet or any of the saints till about the space of seven hundred years after the Flood. The first remarkable instance we have in Exod. 15:20, 21. upon the back of that miraculous delivery of the Israelites, and overthrow of their enemies the Egyptians, Miriam the prophetess took a timbrel in her hand, and all the women went after her with timbrels and with dance. Upon this illustrious discovery of GOD’s goodness, that the women, who were sharers therein as well as the men might not be deficient in celebrating the author of their extraordinary preservation, the prophetess leads ‘em out with musick and dancing to testify their thankful acknowledgement of that surprising instance of the divine bounty. This being the first account of the sacred use of instrumental musick which the Scripture affords us, falling (as some compute) about the year of the world 2513 [A.M.], or (as others) about the year 2453 [A.M.]. It is manifest that it is not of that antiquity that the patrons of organ worship pretend. For the proof they bring for the sacred use of instrumental musick’s being greater antiquity than this time from Job 21:12. They take the timbrel and harp and rejoice at the sound of the organ: I conceive not to be worth the noticing in regard that neither is it determinately known in what age of the world Job lived, nor is there one word in that place of the sacred use of organs. The scope of the place and whole context is plainly to describe the prosperity and pleasure wherein wicked men many tines flourish in a world, to that all that Job mean to say in this text is, That the posterity of the ungodly in his age sported and squandered away their time in mirth and jollity, which is abundantly evident from the effect he ascribes to it, verse 14. Therefore they say unto God depart from us, for we desire not the knowledge of thy ways: Which effect our organical advocates will not willingly attribute to their beloved musick: Tho’ by the way, ‘tis to be feared that this is the most common effect it produces upon the most part of ‘em that are enamored therewith.
This example of the prophetess Miriam, being the first instance of instrumental musick used in the service of God. And indeed one of the strongest arguments that are brought from Scripture in its defense, I shall before I proceed to the immediate subject of this section, endeavour to prove that it can be of no force for organ worship in Christian assemblies. The strength of the argument (if it have any strength) lies mainly in its being before the giving of the ceremonial law upon Mount Sinai; Hence say the patrons of organ service, that whereby the people of God made their solemn addresses to him, in celebration his praises for the greatest vouchsafements of his favour before the giving of the ceremonial law, must needs be of standing use in the Church, as being a dictate of the law and light of nature. I shall have occasion afterwards to consider, whether the sacred use of instrumental musick be a dictate of the light of nature and a part of natural religion; in the mean time, that the example of Miriam cannot be a just precedent for the Ecclesiastical use of organs and singing boys, may appear from these three considerations, 1. Miriam was a prophetess and acted by an immediate and extraordinary impulse of the Holy Ghost, which to her and the other women that went out after her, was equivalent to a Divine institution; But I hope our modern organists don’t pretend any such impulse for what they do; the generality of them being not only enemies to Enthusiasms (as they ought) but also deriders of all the ordinary operations of the Holy Spirit in the hearts of the saints, as some Utopian fancies of melancholy brain-sick persons, and revolving all these supernatural motions into the power of mechanism. 2ly. They which sung and played at this occasion were women, whom the apostle will not suffer to speak in the Christian Church; so that if this primitive pattern of instrumental musick be pleaded in defense of organs and choristers they must be girls and not singing boys as the manner now is. 3. ‘Tis to be observed that they not only play’d but danced too. Whence we may see that dancing in sacred services can plead equal antiquity with instrumental musick; if then we must have a pair of organs to dress and decor[at]e the Gospel worship according to this pattern why not dancing too? And so make the Christian worship like the mad devotion of the Corybantes, who (as Strabo relates) danc’d about in a ring with their cymbals, pipes, drums and arms, when they performed their idolatrous services [to Cybele].
It being therefore evident that this first pattern of instrumental musick is the service of God, cannot serve to advance its lawfulness under the New Testament, come we more directly to enquire whether its use was not altogether ceremonial and adjusted to the legal pedagogy.
That the matter is plainly so may appear, by comparing it with other part of the ceremonial worship, and by applying the characters of legal services thereunto. The characteristick and distinguishing properties of ceremonial services, as they are commonly assigned by Divines are these, 1. Ceremonial rites are founded upon positive precepts, not on the law of nature and consist of such things as of themselves have no intrinsical goodness nor aptness to the end for which they are used, abstract from the consideration of the Divine Injunction and Command, and their whole goodness or proportioned agreeableness to the end consist’d solely in their Divine Institution. 2. They say, in such things as were obvious to the senses, and did conciliate some external decency and order to the publick worship during the Old Testament dispensation. 3. They consisted of such ordinances as had a typical respect to future things to be more fully exhibited under the New Testament, which were therefore to cease and evanish upon the coming of the Substance or thing signified. 4. They were the rudiments or first elements of heavenly things consistingfor the most part in carnal ordinances imposed until the time of Reformation, which served as so many bars to hold in that stiff-necked people most prone to idolatry from embracing and practicing the abominations of the heathen.
All these CRITERIA of legal services may by comparison be found exactly to agree to instrumental musick. For 1st. It has no natural or intrinsickaptitude in it to celebrate GOD’s praises, that being the peculiar work of a rational BEING, capable to form suitable conceptions of the great and glorious excellencies and perfections of the DEITY displayed in his word and works, and to express the fame to others in distinct and articulate sounds, which, ‘tis plain a harp or organ can not do. Nor can instrumental musick be a fit and proper means to stir up, and beget in the human mind becoming thoughts and apprehensions of GOD and his perfections. The most that it can do in ratione medii [i.e., in the mind], is to make the crasis [blending of constituents] and temperature of the body sedate and calm, and in some measure free from disturbing motions, which cause perturbations in the mind, and put something of a pleasing motion upon the blood and animal spirits. And therefore seeing it has no innate efficiency to beget in the soul spiritual & heavenly contemplations and affections, its use in sacred services depended solely upon the Divine precept and institution, which institution we find very express under the Jewish economy, 2 Chron. 29:25. 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. But this institution being now ceased, the thing it self must consequently cease; and is hence forth of no more use in the Church, which being arrived to more perfection and maturity, has no more occasion for such mean and beggarly elements (as the Apostle calls ‘em) but must put away such childish things.
To elude the Evidence of this argument, and make this mark of ceremonial rites not to appear applicable to instrumental musick, the organical advocates lay down two petitions, which I shall here refute. 1st. That instrumental musick is of its own very nature fit to celebrate Divine praises, or, that it is a part of natural worship. 2d. That it was used in the Church before the giving of the law, and has no institution in the Pentateuch; and therefore can be no part of the legal service. The former of these assertions they ground upon the consent of nations. Not the Jews only (say they) but Heathens also used this solemnity in their worship: And this concurring consent of nations, they will have to be accounted the very voice of nature; and consequently the sacred use of their melodious organs, to be a dictate of the law and light of nature, extending itself universally to all men, Jews, Heathens and Christians. To this I answer, first. I willingly yield the maxim, Universalis consensus est nature vox. The universal consent of mankind seems to be the voice of nature; but, I notwithstanding affirm, that we are not to be too hasty, to recommend that to the world, as a dictate of natural religion, which has been early embraced by some considerable number of nations, considering how far custom and education may influence men to embrace things in religion, which are any way agreeable to their humors and fancies, or not opposite to their natural inclinations, tho they have no foundation in the law of nature. ‘Tis the opinion of Dr. Taylor (Duct, Dub,[Ductor Dubitantium, or the Rule of Conscience] Lib. 2. pg. 371. ) That the consonant practices of Heathens in a matter not expressly commanded by GOD to them, is no argument, that what they did in that instance was by the light of nature: and, that consent is no argument, when it is nothing but imitation. That the Heathen borrowed many of their rites from the Hebrews has been demonstrated by the Learned. The Israelites abstained from swines’ flesh, and had their distinctions of clean and unclean meats; so also did the Egyptians: the Priests among the Israelites were clothed in linen garments, the Priest of Isis aped ‘em in this. The Israelites had their shew-bread the Egyptians likewise offered bread to Serapis: The Israelites used wine and oil at their daily sacrifices, the Egyptians did the like. See Huetii Demonst[ratio] Evangel[ica], p. 125, 126, and Witsii Ægyp[tiaca et Dekaphylon]. p. 263.
2ly. If we may argue from the concurring practices of the Heathen nations in external rites of worship, that these rites are parts of natural religion, and so of standing obligation, it will follow, that we must bring sacrifices, circumcision, religious dancing, and many other sacred usages into practice again. For 1st, sacrifices commence’d very early, even in the days of Adam, and were used by GOD’s own people in his true worship; and universally by the Heathens in their addresses to their supposed Deities, as is known to every person of letters. 2ly. Circumcision was not practiced by the Hebrews alone, but also by the Egyptians, as Huetius tells us, ubi supra. And Dr. [John] Spence assures us (de Legibus Hebræorum, Lib. 1. p. 27.) That not only the Jews, but also the Egyptians, the Colchi; the Phenicians, the Syrians, th’ Arabians, th’ Ethiopians and others had the rite of circumcision amongst ‘em. 3ly. Dancing was used in the sacred services amongst GOD’s own people, as well as instrumental musick, and was not confined to them only; but (as the learned Huetius affirms, Demonst. Evang. p. 79.) A religious dancing before idols was of an early practice amongst almost all nations. From all which is evident, that many rites which cannot be pretended to be of the law of nature, have been used by the people of GOD, and imitated by heathen nations, more early and universally than instrumental musick; and consequently, that, to plead the consent of nations as an evidence, that the use of organs is a dictate of natural religion, is but a very frivolous pretext.
To their 2d. evasion, to wit, That instrumental musick is no legal institution; because it was prior to the giving of the ceremonial law, and hath no precept enjoining it in the law of MOSES. I rejoin. 1st. That its being before the giving of the law upon Mount Sinai will not prove it not ceremonial, more than sacrifices, abstaining from eating of blood, circumcision, the Paschal Lamb, Dancing, &c., can be proved not ceremonial; because of their precedency to this more solemn and express giving of the law. For GOD who at sundry times and in diverse manners revealed his will to his Church, did institute several parts of the ceremonial services before the giving of the law to Moses at Horeb, which he then only renewed and confirmed with more ample and express sanction. 2ly. ‘Tis a mistake to affirm, that there is no institution of instrumental musick in the Pentateuch, or law of Moses; for Numb: 10:10. ‘Tis said, Also in the day of your gladness, and in your solemn days, and in the beginnings of your months, ye shall blow with the trumpets over your burnt offerings, and over the sacrifices of your peace offerings; that they may be to you for a memorial before your GOD, I am the LORD your GOD. And that this blowing with the trumpets was a part of their instrumental musick in David’s time, and afterwards, is evident, from 1 Chron. 15:16, 24, 42. & 2 Chron: 5:12, 13. where they are reckoned up amongst the other musical instruments of the temple. And from Psa. 81:4, 5. where the Divine institution by the hand of Moses is applied to all the musical instruments of the temple worship, as well as to trumpets; For this was a statute for Israel, and a law of the GOD of Jacob. This he ordained in Joseph for a testimony, when he went out through the land of Egypt. Which place the learned Dr. [Henry] Hammond thus paraphraseth, And this is but agreeable to the ordinances of Divine service given by GOD himself on Mount Sinai, for all posterity most strictly to observe. If it be said, that in Numb. 10:10. There is no institution of several sorts of instruments us’d in the praises of GOD in the time of David and Solomon: I shall willingly yield there is no specific mention made of ‘em in this institution, but they are included in the general institution, as there is no express command for the number of candlesticks, tables, lavers made by Solomon, or of the courses of the priests, Nethinims &c., appointed by David. Whence it appears, that the ceremonial law had not its entire complement, as to all particulars, ‘till the finishing of Solomon’s Temple; and that the musical instruments added by David and Solomon were ceremonial, as well as these other things whereunto they made additions, which they did not by virtue of their royal prerogative, but by virtue of the command of the GOD of Heaven. Thus far of the first character of legal services, which I conceive is evinc’d to be justly applied to organical, or instrumental musick.
The second to wit, that they were composed of such things as were obvious to the senses, and did conciliate some external decency and beauty to the publick worship during the Old Testament dispensation, is no less evidently applicable to organical musick by the confession of its keenest vouchers, whose chiefest argument for its being continued in the Gospel Worship, is, that in their opinion it renders the publick worship the more decent, solemn, august and venerable: but these gentlemen are not aware that while they plead this argument they overthrow their cause, and make their beloved musick a legal service while they would have it evangelical, by applying that to it which divines make a criterion of legal ceremonies, viz. That these make the outward worship the more specious, pompous and delightful to a carnal eye or ear. If it be objected that decency and beauty cannot be a proper and peculiar mark of legal services, because the Gospel worship is orderly, decent and beautiful as well as the legal. I answer that the external beauty and objective splendor of pompous ceremonies cease not to be a peculiar contradistinguishing mark of legal worship, because the Gospel worship has its own order and decency, which renders it very amiable to solid and judicious Christians, because this decency and beauty which recommends the New Testament worship is wholly of another kind, consisting not in external pomp, splendor and bravery, by inward sweetness and spiritual evidence, attended with outward simplicity and gravity. To this purpose excellenty speaks the learned Monsieur Claude in his Historical Defense of the Reformation, pag, 25. Shewing what just prejudice the ancient Reformers had against the worship of the Romanists.
It had been yet very hard (saith he) if our Fathers had not been offended by that worldly pomp, wherewith they saw religion so excessively clothed, for they very well knew that true Christianity was contented to gain the hearts and souls of men by the majesty of its doctrine, and the holiness of its precepts, and that for the rest it professed to retain its simplicity, notwithstanding which they observed a clean contrary character in the magnificence of their temples, in the gold of their tabernacles, in the pride of the sacrifices, in the riches of their ornaments, and is general, in all that external splendor, which seemed destined only to strike extraordinarily the senses, and by this means to raise an ill grounded admiration, which is proper only to corrupt religion which Tertullian (de Baptisme) takes notice, labour to gain their authority and to obtain the belief of the people by their pomp and profuseness.
The third character of legal services, viz. That they consisted of such ordinances as had a typical respect to some thing which was to be more fully exhibited under the New Testament; is also true of instrumental musick, as is abundantly evident by its expiring with the other legal ceremonies of the Mosaick economy, upon the promulgation of the Gospel; which, that none may impeach me of begging the question, I resolve to demonstrate fully in the following section. I must own it is hard to pitch upon the precise things typified by the musical instruments in use among the Jews, as what the timbrel did represent, and what the silver trumpets, the harp, the psaltery, &c, Have a determinate respect unto, under the Gospel: But it will not follow, because we cannot satisfyingly determine what may be their distinct and particular ante-types that therefore they were not typical; more than it will follow that many other utensils of the temple were not typical, becauseexpositors cannot satisfy us anent the particular things in the New Testament, both Fathers and Modern Expositors agree, that the temple musick performed upon instruments was designed to shadow forth Christians praising of GOD with the organs of their bodies.
1. The Fathers seldom speak of that ancient Jewish musick but they spiritualize it as typical.
Clemens Alexandrinus (Pedag. Lib. 2. page 164) saith thus,
Praise him upon psaltery, for the tongue is the psaltery of the Lord: And praise him with harps. By the harp we are to understand the mouth which is played upon by the bow or quill of the Spirit. Praise him with strings and the organ; for he calls the body the organ, and the nerves of it strings, which being played upon by the Spirit sends forth human sounds.
Chrysostom, on Psalm, 150, saith,
As therefore the Jews did praise the Lord with all instruments, so we are in like manner commanded to glorify God with our members.
Isidore Pelusiota (Lib. 1. Epist. 457 in Psal. 150), speaks to the same effect
If ye seek an explication of that musick which the scripture speaks of, understand it after this manner, praise ye the Lord in the sound of the trumpet, that is, in the memory of the resurrection, which will be with a trumpet. As it is written, praise him with the psaltery and the harp, that is with the tongue and mouth struck upon by the Spirit as with a bow or quill. Praise him with the timbrel and the dance, that is with the body and spirit from whence prayers pass to God, praise him with the strings and organ, that is with the heart and all the inward parts, and the nerves which truly he calls the organ. Praise him with the parts, and the nerves which truly he calls the organ. Praise him with the loud sounding cymbals, that is with the lips.
And (Lib. 2. Epist. 176.) The same Father ranks musical instruments with sacrifices (which none deny to have been typical) his words are,
If the Divine BEING, by reason of their Childishness in which they then were, did allow ‘em to offer Sacrifices; why do you wonder that he also allowed ‘em that Musick which is performed by the Harp and Psaltery?
Theodoret (Comment. In Psal. 32:2, 3.) is express to this purpose,
All these things (saith he) were performed according to the legal worship; for they made use of harps, and cymbals, and timbrels, and other musical instruments, and these things spoken of them agree to us, if they be understood spiritually: And we may render ourselves an harmonious organ to GOD, and praise GOD by the instruments of all the senses, as well internal as external.
The Protestant Commentators in their Notes upon Psalm 150, and other places where the Jews are enjoin’d to praise GOD with variety of musical instruments, agree fully with the Father that these instruments were typical of the heavenly musick and inward melody, which the saints should have in the times of the Gospel, arising from the joys and graces of GOD’s spirit in their hearts. Thus the learned Dr. [William] Ames in his Lecture upon Psalm 150, Que laudis perfectiones figurate aut typice declarantur & illustrantur per illam musicam, que in Veteri Testamento, ex instituto DEI vigebat. [translation:] Which perfections of praise (to wit, zeal, care, cheerfulness and variety) are figuratively, or typically held forth and illustrate, by that musick, which by GOD’s appointment, was in use under the Old Testament. And Mr. [Benjamin] Keach in his Treatise of Metaphors Book 5, p. 88.. saith, There was musick used in the Temple, which signifies that joy of heart, and heavenly melody, that is in the Church amongst the faithful and sincere converts thereof. Nay even [Robert] Bellarmine himself, tho’ a mighty Champion for the sacred use of instrumental musick, seems to acknowledge, that it was typical, as used by the Jews, consult his commentary upon Psa. 149:3.
That instrumental musick was typical of the praises of the Saints under the New Testament, seems to by clear (as some learned expositors have observed) from Rev. 5:8, And when he had taken the book, the four beasts and four and twenty elders fell down before the lamb, having everyone of them harps, and golden vials full of odors, which are the prayers of Saints. Where the vials full of odors are by the Holy Ghost made types of the prayers of the saints; whence we may safely gather, that harps are emblems of their praises; where of we have an account in the verse immediately following. The promulgation of the Gospel is generally taken to be the antitype of the silver trumpets, which is favoured by several texts of Scripture, where GOD’s ministers are called trumpeters, and bidden to set the trumpet to their mouth, and lift up their voice like a trumpet, Isa. 58:1. And Hos. 8:1; Ezek. 33:3. compared with ver. 7. Thus the judicious Mr. [John] Calvin understands that text in Isa. 27. 13. And it shall come to pass in that day, that the great trumpet shall be blown, and they shall come, which were ready to perish in the land of Assyria &c. Tubæ spiritualis, nempe Evangelii clangor. [translation:] ‘Tis meant of the sound of the spiritual trumpet, to wit, the Gospel. (Calvin in loco)
As to the fourth mark, or property of legal ceremonial services, namely, that they were weak elements, and carnal ordinances, indulged to that stubborn people, as a means to keep them from falling in love with the idolatrous customs and inventions of the Heathen nations. I think none who understands any thing of the nature of instrumental, or organical musick; but must own that this property is very applicable to it. The greatest sticklers for it, commend it as a very charming thing to the ear and fancy, which is sufficient to evidence it to be but a carnal ordinance; surely that must be a carnal ordinance as best, which is more apt to change religion into air and fancies, than fitted to edification; and yet the learned Doctor Taylour doubts not to affirm this of instrumental musick (Duct. Dubit. Lib. 3. p. 329) And what ever is pretended for its usefulness to stir up devotion, yet none of these that plead in its defense do, or can affirm, that is does so any other way, but only as a carnal means, acting upon the senses, or animal spirits; but that it produceth spiritual motions upon the soul in a spiritual manner, as the ordinances of the Gospel do, I find none that pretends to maintain.
That the Jews were a people prone to imitate their idolatrous neighbours in their sacred rites and worship, I think will not be denied; and that therefore GOD indulg’d ‘em a pompous worship, and enjoyn’d ‘em a great deal of splendid rites to prevent their taking up with the superstitious vanities of the Heathens, seems to be pretty plainly made out by the learned Dr. Spencer (de Leg Hebræor, p. 5, 6.) where he hath these words, GOD gave them that law, to that end, that he might confine that people, so very prone to take up with the Gentile rites, within the limits of piety and obedience: Which position seems to be confirmed by Scripture, Numb. 15:38, 39. Where the LORD having commanded the Israelites, to make them fringes in the borders of their garments, and to put upon the fringe of the borders a ribbon of blue. Adds the end and design of the precept, viz. That they might not seek after their own heart and their own eyes, after which they used to go a whoring. And that musical instruments are one of these many rites that were prescribed ‘em for this end, Theodoret doubts not to assert (in Psal: 150.) where speaking of the Jewish instrumental musick, he saith,
GOD being willing to free them from the error of idols, suffered these things to be, for seeing they were studious of sports and plays, and lovers of mirth and jollity, and that all these things were found in the temples of idols, GOD permitted them these things, by this means alluring them, and preventing a greater damage, by a less detriment, and teaching them by imperfect things.
And Cyprian to the same purpose assigns the infant state and weakness of the Jewish Church as a reason, why instrument musick was then permitted to be a part of divine service. His words are (in Psal. 150.)
Such organs or instruments were then permitted ‘em for this cause, even for the sake of their weakness, to stir up their minds to perform their external worship with some delight.
From this ground Mr. [John] Cotton (of singing the Psalms p. 6) reasoneth very pertinently, that organs should not continue a part of the worship under the New Testament.
Suppose, saith he, that singing with instruments was not typical, but only an external solemnity of worship, fitted to the solace of the outward senses of children under age, such as the Israelites were in the Old Testament, Gal. 4:1-3. yet now in the grown age of the heirs of the New Testament, such external pompous solemnities are ceased, and no external worship reserved, but such as holds forth simplicity and gravity; nor is any voice to be heard now in the Church of Christ, but such as is significant and edifying by signification, 1 Cor. 14:10, 11, 26. which the voice of instruments is not.
Upon the whole, seeing it is evident to a demonstration, that instrumental musick, and consequently the use of organs in divine service is a legal institution, and a part of the pompous ceremonies of the Old Testament, it must needs follow, that to reintroduce, or retain it in the Gospel worship of the New Testament, is a high profanation thereof, and a superstitious hankering after Judaism, and carnal ordinances; which tho’ they formerly had GOD’s institution, and therefore behooved to be observ’d in the Church, yet now are vacated, and become empty and ridiculous shadows, void of all good, as to pleasing of GOD, or bringing salvation to men. ‘Tis the observation of the learned Junius, upon Exod.15:20. That to make use of those things after the coming of Christ, which were significative of some thing future, is impious; And now to use those things which were peculiar to that Church, is ridiculous. Taking this for the proposition, I think, I may assume, as sufficiently evinced already, that the organs, or musical instruments used by the Jews in their worship were significant of some thing future, and peculiar to that Church. And may from these premises safely infer, that the sacred use of organs in Christian Churches is both impious and ridiculous.
I suppose it may be a Postulatum, that legal ceremonies have no divine authority now, to warrant their use. And I conceive ‘tis demonstrated, that the use of organs in GOD’s worship is ceremonial. Whence if I mistake not, it follows by all the rules of logic, that they want Divine institution for what they do, who retain them. And I wish they would hearken to the opinion of a Catholick friend, that minister of Church ceremonies, Thomas Aquinas (Sum: Quest 91. art. 1.) That nothing ought to be introduced into the Divine service, but what may be warranted by Scripture command; or if they think shame to take advice from a Papist, that they would at least hearken to that maternal admonition of the Church [i.e., the English, or Anglican], whose sons they glory to be call’d (in her Discourse about the Abolition of Ceremonies) CHRIST’s Gospel (saith he) is not a ceremonial law, but it is a religion to serve GOD, not in the bondage of the figure or shadow, but in the freedom of the Spirit. That is, GOD is to be worshiped now under the gospel in Spirit and in truth, and not with the antiquated ceremonies of the law, such as cymbals, trumpets, psalteries and organs.
That there is no Institution of Instrumental Musick in the Service of GOD to be found in the New Testament, nor Practice of it in the Primitive Church, for six Centuries as least, That the Fathers unanimously declare against it; That it was first introduced into the Church by Pope Vitalian, together with many other Idolatrous Ceremonies.
That our LORD JESUS CHRIST, and his divinely inspired disciples, whom he authorized to plant the New Testament Churches in the world, made no use of organs in their approaches to GOD, I shall not need to prove, the New Testament offering us no account of it, neither by precept nor example. And the sacred writings of the Evangelists and Apostles, containing a complete System of all the institutions of that religion, whereby Christians hope to be saved, I conceive that it is an unanswerable argument to prove any usage destitute of Divine Right, that there is a profound silence about it in the New Testament, so the learned Dr. [Edward] Stillingfleet and others in answer to the Romanists shew frequently that we need no other argument against their errors in doctrine and innovations in worship, but that they are such things as whereof the New Testament makes no mention: And that ‘tis a ridiculous piece of nonsense for them to require of us, that we should prove their opinions about the mass, purgatory, image worship, the Pope’s authority, &c. to be false and erroneous by express words and sentences of scripture, seeing it is sufficient for that end, that we evidence that the scripture is silent about them, and contains principles whereby organs, which seeing they can claim no institution or warrant, by command or precedent in the New Testament, must therefore take their fate with the humane ceremonies, which render the worship wherewith they are intermixed vain and unprofitable. Matth. 15:9. In vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.
Indeed our modern high flyers who are so charmed with the gay and gorgeous apparatus of cathedral worship and with the melodious sounds of organs and choristers, that the true gospel simplicity of God’s worship, is a saltless and unsavoury dish to their delicate and dainty palates, have resolved that ere they part with their beloved musick, they’ll rather put on a little more impudence than their predecessors could be masters of, and by their witty criticisms make a nose of wax of the sacred text, that it may give countenance to their will worship; and these places of scripture which all unprejudiced Commentators take to be meant of vocal musick, they will have to be meant instrumental.
The scriptures which they pervert to this end are Ephes. 5:19. Jam. 5:13. Rev. 14:2. And 15:2. Which I shall briefly vindicate from their false glosses, and show that they afford no patrociny [patronage] to organs in the gospel worship. And first as to Eph. 5:19. Where the Apostle dehorting from the sinful diversions of the world, such as tipling and being drunk with wine; and the vain and unprofitable chat, that usually attends that debauching pastime, puts the Christian Ephesians upon a more sublime, spiritual and heavenly diversion of speaking to themselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in their heart to the LORD. From this test the Bishop of Derry, and other Patrons of the sacred use of organs infer, that the apostle enjoins the practice of instrumental musick upon Christian Churches; because he uses a word, which in the original most properly signifies to play upon an instrument or psaltery. This criticism they strengthen from Jam. 5:13. Where the same word is used. Is any man merry (ψαλλέτω) let him sing psalms. Hence the Bishop reasoneth thus (of Inventions of Men in the Worship of GOD Cha. 1 sect: 1.) If the Apostles had not approved the Jewish way of singing, which was with instruments, they would never have used a word that imported it. To which argument advanc’d by the Prelate, I can’t give a more concise and pertinent answer than in the words of Mr. [Joseph] Boyse, in his Remarks [on the Bishop of Derry’s Inventions of Men in the Worship of God, and Vindication] p. 18, where he saith,
I confess his Lordship would persuade us, the apostles recommend such musical instruments, because the Apostle James, when he exhorts those that were merry to sing psalms, uses the word (ψαλλέτω) Jam. 5:13. which he tells us signifies singing with Instruments: But surely his Lordship can lay no stress upon this argument, when it is so apparently weak, and so often concludes wrong; of which I shall give him a parallel instance of his own: He tells us p. 111 προσκυνέω (word generally used in the New Testament for worship) signifies to pay homage by kissing the hand; and might he not as wisely infer from thence, that we are still obliged to pay our external homage the same way? But if he look again upon the passage of the apostle James, he will find this slender criticism too weak a foundation for organs to stand upon; because the apostle could not reasonably suppose all those to have instruments of musick by them, or to be capable of using them, when he there exhorts vent their spiritual joys by singing the psalms. Thus he, I may say the same thing concerning Eph. 5:19. Where the context seems to shew, that the singing there enjoined by the apostle is chiefly meant of private singing in a closet or family; for so the opposition betwixt the sinful diversion dehorted from in the preceding verse, and this sweet and heavenly diversion exhorted to, is the more clear and full, and in the following verse he adds, Giving Thanks always for all things &c, which they were to do, not only in their sacred assemblies, but upon every emergent occasion of GOD’s goodness to them: And that the Christians did observe this Apostolick injunction, by the frequent and constant practice of private singing in their shops, houses and closets, Doctor Hammond assures us from the Fathers (in his Preface to his Paraphrase on the Psalm) “The Primitive Christians (saith he) who lived in seculo, that is, were employed in secular affairs, had psalmody as their constant attendants, sometimes at their meals, generally in their business in the shop, and in the field, and they learned the whole Book of Psalms by Heart.” And if it be chiefly meant of private singing as I conceive it evidently is, I hope our organists will not say, that the Ephesians were advised to have each an organ in his house, or to have a harp, or psaltery still in their pockets, and each one to have skill in instrumental musick; all which behooved to be true, did their hypothesis hold. I say, the text is to be chiefly understood of private singing; yet I do not exclude publick singing in Churches from being comprehended likewise in it: For so much is intimated in that phrase, speaking to yourselves, or rather to one another (λαλοῦντες ἑαυτοῖς) for so the parallel place Col. 3:16. is rendered (νουθετοῦντες ἑαυτούς) admonishing one another. But let it be meant of singing in Churches, yet there is a circumstance in the text, that evidently destroys, and cuts the sinews of this learned criticism, where the word (ψάλλοντες) which they will have to signify playing upon an instrument, is immediately constructed with (τῇ καρδίᾳ) the heart, and so (according to them) it must be read, playing upon an instrument in the heart (ψάλλοντες τῇ καρδίᾳ) which, how good sense it bears, I refer to the judicious: If it have any it must be this, that the heart was to be the instrument, upon which they were to play these spiritual songs; and if this be what they plead for, I shall freely grant it them, and consent with their good friend the Bishop of Galloway, that the best musical instrument for GOD’s praise is an upright heart: but with all, I would ask ‘em. What their cause has gain’d when they have got this sense granted ‘em, but only to see it self overthrown by the sacred text?
But why did the Bishop of Derry, or some of the highflying sticklers for organs, forget to produce that text, 1 Cor. 14:15. to help confirm their criticism? For what could have been more confirming, than the Apostle’s own practice and resolution; especially when he was proposing it as a pattern to the Corinthians, I will sing with the Spirit, and I will sing with the understanding also: For the same Greek word is here used, that is found in the other two texts (ψαλῶ τῷ πνεύματι, ψαλῶ δὲ καὶ τῷ νοΐ). Their not proposing this place is a very palpable discovery of their disingenuous, base and unmanly design of perverting the Scripture in favour of their superstitious: For they saw, that had they brought this text upon the stage, it would have wholly baffled their critical argument; for to read this text according to their pretended sense of the Word, it would sound thus; I will play upon a musical instrument with the Spirit, and I will play upon an instrument with the understanding also: Which every rational person cannot but see to be plain jargon.
Had they proved, that the Greek word (ψάλλω) is never used by the sacred penmen, or other Greek writers, but only in their sense; they had said something to the purpose: but if they’ll consult Dr. Hammond on Ephes. 5:19. he will tell them, that it signifies also concisum carmen DEO canere, to sing a short song, or psalm to GOD. And in this sense undeniably both Basil and Chrysostom use the Word. The former relating the religious exercises of the private Christians of his time, saith (Καὶ δία πᾶσης ἡλικιὰς διατελοῦσι ψάλλοντες) And they continue thro’ the whole course of their life in the exercise of singing of psalms. And the latter on Psa. 42. recommending the practice of religious singing of Psalms, saith, Altho’ you were a tradesman sitting and working in your shop, yet may you (ψάλλειν) sing Psalms. ‘Tis certain, that neither Basil nor Chrysostom can be thought to mean this of singing with organs, or playing upon instruments; for an artificer cannot do that and work in his employment at the same time. And therefore seeing that both in the New Testament, and other Greek authors, the word is used to signify vocal singing, I see no reason, why it should not signify the same thing in those texts, when the whole scope and circumstance of these places bid so fair for it; albeit the most proper etymological import of the word be to play upon psaltery.
But let us suppose a little contrary to truth, that their fine new critical remark is so good, that it deserves a place in the next edition of Mr. Pool’s Synopsis; and let them have their hypothesis, and see it will not prove more than they incline it should; for upon their supposition, all Christians, at least all Christian assemblies, would be obliged to have a pair of organs, or some bagpipe or other to sublimate their spirits, and help their devotions under pain of slighting & contemning the Apostolick injunction: And then what, may we suppose is because of the former Scotish Episcopalians, and very many Congregations of the Church of England too, who have liv’d and died in such a gross omission? I hope, they’ll not send them a packing to the infernal regions for it, as they do the Presbyterians for denying their belov’d distinction of Bishop and Presbyter. Nay if they will, after all, still stick to their supposed sense of the Apostles words, let them withal account for these difficulties, that attend it. 1. Why the Apostles themselves proved not better ensamples to the flock, by doing that first themselves, which they enjoy’d upon others; and whether this supposition does not make the Apostles guilty of that, for which our LORD so severely upbraided the lawyers, Luke 11:46. Even of lading the Christian Church, with the heavy and expensive burden of organs, and other musical instruments, while they themselves would not teach them with one of their fingers? For I think it will not be asserted, that the Apostles made use of organs, to elevate their devotions. 2. Why the primitive Christians, who justly paid so universal a reverence to all the other Apostolick admonitions, did wholly disregard this for 600 years at least, as I shall shew anon? Yea, 3. Why the greatest lights amongst the prime antiquity did mistake so far, as to judge that, which the Apostles had enjoined upon Christians under the Gospel, to be typical and peculiar to the Jewish pedagogy, as we have seen above, in the former section?
Having shown the weakness and absurd consequences of this argument, I come to consider the other pretended to be brought from Rev. 14:2. and 15:2. In which texts they that stand upon Mount Zion with the Lamb are represented as having the harps of God, and harping with their harps, singing a new song, &c. Hence the organical advocates reason to this purpose. “That worship which they perform who stand with the Lamb upon Mount Zion, and have got the victory over the Beast, &c. is certainly Gospel worship and has an institution in the New Testament, but instrumental musick is a part of that worship which is performed by those that stand with the Lamb upon Mount Zion, and have gotten the victory over the Beast, &c. For they are represented harping with their harps, and have the harps of God: Therefore instrumental musick is a Gospel worship, and of Divine institution under the New Testament.” This is their argument in its full strength, without any disguise to the best of my knowledge. But there are a few exceptions obviously lying against its concludency, which I believe will perfectly cut its nerves, and puzzle the expertist organist to give a satisfying answer unto.
The greater part of the book of Revelation is so obscure and dark to the ablest Expositors, that the Protestant Divines do not think fit to make use of proofs drawn from the obscure part of it, to establish any theological position, which wants sufficient evidence from plainer Scriptures: and therefore it argues the deplorableness of a cause, when its advocates are forced to have recourse to such dark and doubtful premises to support its conclusions; of then the disingenuity of the persons, who rather than abandon their error, will hide themselves in the thickest of mysterious prophesies, where they think with the less difficult they may distort the Scripture to make ‘em patronize their errors.
If it be urged that the adversaries of the instrumental musick do argue from Revelation 18:22. against the sacred use of organs, and that therefore we cannot in justice deny that same liberty to its defenders. I answer, 1: By concession that some have raised an argument from that place, or at least a very handsome conjecture which has if I mistake not, more cohering agreement with the scope of the place than the argument brought from Rev. 14:2 and 15:2. [Benedictus] Aretius upon the place saith,
He puts musick in the first place because all their Temples are filled with the sound of it there are organs and trumpets and pipes, but all these things made use of in religion do displease the Lord, as this place teacheth.
Mr. [Samuel] CLARK saith to the same purpose,
The voice of harpers and musicians, that is their Church musick shall be heard no more.
So likewise saith the learned Dr. [Henry] More commenting on the place (Mystery of Iniquity page 428)
There may be a more particularly contrived allegory on reference to this mystical city here meant, as if we should understand rather the musick at their idolatrous worship, by these here specified.
But, 2. Tho’ some Protestant writers have made such a pretty conjecture upon the place, yet they do not urge it against organs and other musical instruments used in Divine worship, of any necessity or deficiency of arguments from plainer Scriptures, but rather ex superabundanti, or by way of supererogation, if I may use the term. Whereas the pleaders for organ service are forc’d to have recourse to this mystical book because clearer places visibly cross their design.
It is carefully to be observed, that this book of the Revelation being a mystical prophesy bears a great likeness to the prophecy of Daniel in several of its tropes and allegories; but the chief scheme upon which most of the right understanding thereof depends is the shadowing forth of the Divine Providence and administrations in the New Testament Church under the types and figures of the law, and by the providential occurrences that befell the Jewish Church. As the very learned Mr. Joseph Mede in his commentary on Revelation shews almost in every one of the Apocalyptical types, but chiefly in describing the scene upon which John had all these Revelations displayed and as it were acted before him, (see Josephi Medi Comment. Apocalypt. Pars. 1. de sigillis page 221. ) does likewise take notice of the frequently of this Scheme, and styles it
Israelitismus i.e. A speaking of the affairs of the Church under the names with allusion to such places, or persons, or things, as did of old concern the Israelites and people of the Jews, and that in a mystical or spiritual meaning. The frequency of this scheme (saith he) is not to be wondered at, if we consider that the people of Israel were one great and entire mysterious type or sacrament of the Church of God, such as it should be under Christ, according as Saint Paul has written, 1 Cor. 10. That all things befell them in figures.
Hence the commentators who understand these places, Rev. 14. and 15. concerning the Church militants, fully agree that the whole prophecy is represented by the platform of the temple of Jerusalem, and worship therein performed. Doctor [John] Lightfoot (in his Works, Vol. 1. page 350.) gives the sense of that place, Rev. 15. thus,
At the beginning of the story of the seven vials, John again calls us to reflect upon the scheme of the Temple in Heaven, which all along speaks according to the platform of the Temple at Jerusalem; Here is a sea of glass and harpers harping by it, &c. singing the Song of Moses, which as it calls to mind Moses and the people singing upon the Red-Sea-Shore upon their delivery from Egypt, so doth it plainly allude to the Musick at the Temple.
Mr. Joseph Mede upon the place is of the same opinion (Comment. Apocalypt. Pars 11. page 259.) For saith he,
In his vision the state of the Church is shadowed forth by a hot bath, wherein she is washing her self from the stains and pollutions of idolatry in that sacred laver or sea of the Temple, not made of brass as was Solomon’s sea, but of crystal; and during the whole time of this washing, and while she yet stands upon the very brim of this laver she is singing a song of triumph over the beast now vanquished.
And upon Rev. 14:1. He shows the same thing,
Therefore here it is parabolically made use of to point out that place of the world, which Christ having vanquished the Dragon, made the seat of his Church and Kingdom.
And giving the sense of the second verse concerning the new song, and the harpers harping with their harps, he saith,
It is deeply impressed upon my mind, that the whole mystery of the Gospel worship is here intended.
Now I appeal to the judicious if it be not the most absurd and ridiculous thing in the world, and a very unsafe way of reasoning, to draw an argument for the literal and real use of organs in the worship of God, from those places of scriptures, which the current of learned Commentators take to be mystical and parabolical pictures of the state of the Reformed Church, and of the whole Gospel worship wherein performed?
Not a few expositors understand these places of the consummate joy and melody of the heavenly choir of Saints, upon their final and complete victory over all their spiritual enemies, sin, Satan and the world, which joys are shadowed forth to our weak and dull capacities by images taken from material things, and particularly by the ravishing melody of the temple songs. Now if this exposition be good (altho’ I incline rather that the former is the immediate scope of the places) I hope it will be thought not very conclusive argument that because harps are made use of as emblems of the joys of heaven, therefore they must be used in the publick worship of the Gospel Church; for then whatever is used to set out the joys of heaven behooved to be applied to sacred service; as for instance, the joys, mirth, laughter, dancing, feasting, &c. used at a marriage solemnity, behooved to be made a part of Divine worship, for by these our Lord shadows forth the inconceivable blessedness of the Saints of heaven, Matth. 25:10. So that we see plainly that whatever sense these places are taken in, they yield no countenance to the ecclesiastical use of organs.
The book of Revelation it self fully overthrows this conceit, for Chap. 5, vers. 8. harps are joined with golden vials full of odours, and these odours (as was observed before) are expounded by no meaner interpreter than the infallible dictator of all Holy Scripture [i.e., the Holy Spirit], to be emblems of the prayers of the saints, and of consequence harps must be emblems of their praises; So that we may as well infer the lawfulness of offering incense and sweet odours in the Christian Church from the schemes and allegories of the Revelation, as we may infer from thence the sacred use of instrumental musick. And if they doubt whether the places be parallel, that harps signify the same thing in chap. 5. ver. 8. And chap. 14. v. 2. I shall adduce the opinion of one of their own admir’d Prelates to convince ‘em. [William] Cooper Bishop of Galloway upon Rev. 5:8. saith,
The harp of a Christian wherewith he praises God is his heart, the strings of the harp are the affections of the heart, which must be well tuned and prepared, before they can make any melody to the Lord.
And upon Rev. 14:2. he saith,
there is an harping which we make to God, our heart is the harp, saints are excellent harpers to God, the strings of this harp are our affections.
And with him agrees [Augustine] Marlorate on Rev. 5:8. “By harps we are to understand hearts.”
Having now considered their arguments from the New Testament, I think I may safely conclude that there is no evidence for the sacred use of organs from thence; None from any command of the great prophet and high priest of our profession Jesus Christ; None from the practice or infallible writings of his Apostles. Come we therefore to enquire if what is wanting in the sacred text can be made out from prime antiquity, to whose gray hairs, if found in the way of righteousness, we owe no small veneration; and to which the patrons of organ worship pretend the greatest regard imaginable, as being their Catholick topick for defense of Episcopacy and ceremonies, when they are baffled by the sacred text, tho’ it has been often made out by the learned, that it affords little or no real patrociny [patronage] to their cause. Well, let the Fathers speak; let us hear their practice or opinion for organs in the gospel worship: nothing but deep silence? Not one word for their defense from the pens of the ancients?
I hope our good organists will not take it unkindly, till their leisure may serve ‘em to make a fuller research into these venerable monuments of the ancients, to see what they can find to speak for them, that I entertain them with some testimonies from the Fathers, which declare fully against ‘em. I have produc’d several testimonies already, showing that the Fathers unanimously were of opinion that instrumental musick in sacred services was proper to the Jews, and that the exhortations to use it found in the book of the Psalms were to be understood typically and spiritually now under the Gospel. To these, for avoiding repetition, I refer the readers as they are set down in the former section; and shall only add some few more here, omitting many that might be adduc’d because I would not make this small essay to excress [grow out] too far, or burden the reader with too many or prolix citations.
I begin with Justine Martyr who lived near to the Apostles times and died about the year of our Lord 164 he tells us, That in his time, there was only plain simple singing with the voice used in the Church. And calls the instrumental musick of the Old Testament A childish way of serving God.
And he puts the question,
Why do we use in the Churches those songs, after the manner of these childish persons under the law?
To which he makes this return.
To persons in a state of childhood or minority it is not agreeable simply to sing: But to sing with inanimate instruments with dancing and cymbals; wherefore the use of songs with these sorts of instruments, and others agreeable to persons in a state of childhood is not received into the Church, but simple singing is retained in them (Just. Mart. ad Orth. Quest. 107.)
I know many of the learned doubt whether this piece of antiquity commonly ascribed to Justine Martyr, be really his, and incline rather to think it the product of some later pen, and that it has been written about the end of the fifth century. However they all agree, that ‘tis a genuine and very valuable monument of antiquity; so that suppose it be not Justine Martyr’s, yet the testimony is good, and the later the stronger for what I am proving.
Clemens of Alexandria, who flourished about the year 196, beside the testimonies cited from him above hath these words, having described the instruments used among the heathens at their idolatrous worship he adds by way of opposition.
We (i.e. we Christians) make use only of one organ or instrument, even the peaceful word, with which we honour God; no longer with the old psaltery, trumpet, drum, or cymbal and pipe. (Paedag. Lib. 2. Page. 164)
And again the same Father saith,
He that sprang from David and was before him, the Word of God [i.e., Jesus Christ], despising the harp and cittern, lifeless instruments, when he curiously formed by the Spirit this world, and the little world, man, sung to God by an instrument of many voices, and by this instrument man. (Admonit. ad Gentes Page. 4.)
Tertullian who flourished about the year 202, giving an account of the primitive custom of worship in their publick assemblies saith this of it;
The Scriptures are read, Psalms are sung, sermons are preached, and prayers are presented (Tertull. de anima cap. 3.)
Not one syllable in this account of the form and order of their worship that looks like their having the organs and choristers that are so delightful to some modern ears.
Chrysostom, who flourished about the year 398 or 400, hath these words (on Psalms 144.)
Then (meaning under the law) there were organs by which songs of praise were offered up to God; But now in the stead of organs we make use of the body, for now we sing not only with the tongue but with the eyes, the hands, the feet and the ears: For if any one of these members do these things which bring praise and glory to God, for instance, if the eye be not delighted with lascivious wanton fights, if the hands are stretched forth not to robbery, but in alms deeds, if the ears are ready to hear spiritual precepts, if the feet run to the Church, if the heart contrives not deceit, but breathes forth charity, then the members of the body become a psaltery and a harp, and they sing a new song which consists not in words, but works.
And in another place speaking of musical instruments, he saith,
Let no man deceive you, these appertain not to Christians; these are alien to the Catholick Church: all these things do the nations of the world seek after. (Chrysost: Opera. Tom:7. p. 222, Editio Etoniensis.)
Isiodore Pelusiota, the scholar of Chrysostom, who flourish’d towards the 30th year of the 4th [5th] Century, delivers himself to the same purpose with his master. See him cited above, Sect: 1.
Theodoret, who flourish’d much about the same time, saith,
GOD indulged them (meaning the Jews) the use of musical instruments of a sweet sound, not because himself was delighted with their harmony, but so, by little and He put a stop to the deceit of idols. (Theod. Θεραῶ Serm. 7.)
Augustine (Confess. LX 7.) informs us, that the Western Churches were strangers even to the artificial way of vocal singing, till the time of Ambrose, who died Anno 397. He in the time of Valentinian the emperor being obliged to watch whole nights, lest Justina the emperor’s mother, who was a friend to the Arians, should deliver up the Church to them, brought in the Eastern way of singing, to be a lawful diversion to the Christian people that watched with him; and from Milan it spread thro’ the rest of the Western Churches. Shall we imagine that the Western Churches were lovers of organs who had not for a long time learn’t the more artificial way of singing with the voice?
Augustine acknowledges that he had been too much tickled with this artificial way of vocal Church musick, and wishes that it were not only removed from his ears, but also laid aside in the Church; and that the way of Athanasius who caused his reader to sound the psalm with so swift a turn of his voice, that he looked rather like one barely pronouncing the words, than singing. (Aug. Confess. 10.3.) Can we suppose that this devout person would have been fond of our bag pipe and organ musick in the Church, who wish’d a reformation of the more tickling flourishes of vocal singing?
These Passages may suffice to evince that the Fathers and ancient Christian Churches were against the sacred use of the organs, both in their judgment and practice. And yet the gentlemen who of all others pretend most reverence to the authority of the Fathers, yea even to that degree as almost to equal their writings with the sacred Scriptures, when they seem to make any thing for their beloved principles, do notwithstanding their paternal admonitions, still retain their own antichristian rites, and seek to propagate ‘em into these places, where by the mercy of GOD they are happily abolished. Thereby verifying of themselves the black epithet the prophet Isaiah gives to the Jews, children that are corrupters.
There are some who have the impudence, notwithstanding the most pregnant evidences to the contrary, that can be adduced; to tell us, That the Fathers may be supposed to have approv’d the sacred use of organs, but thro’ poverty and persecution they wanted them, to exalt their devotions, which was not of choice, but necessity. But the reverse of such a supposition is evident enough to every unprejudiced person, from the testimonies I’ve produc’d from their writings; and the ground upon which it is built is evidently false to every one, that has any acquaintance with the prime ecclesiatick affairs. They were generally of the meaner sort of people, who embrac’d Christianity, I shall grant; but yet they were not so oppressed with poverty, but that they might have sustain’d the experience, if not of a stately organ, yet of a harp, or brace of timbrels, or some other musical instrument. They were persecuted I must own, but not so constantly, nor so universally, but that they had their lucida intervalla [lucid intervals], wherein they might have had organs, or some other musical instruments in their Churches, as I might that poverty and persecution were the causes why they wanted organs and choristers, during the reigns of the Heathen emperors, and let them assign us a reason why the Christian, who longed so much for these chanting instruments to put fire into their devotions, as the pleaders for organs pretend, did not set ‘em up in the time of Constantine, under whose good government the external grandeur and wealth of the Church, flourished, and the Churches were stately & magnificent, with all manner of rich ornaments. Or let them adduce a solid proof, that the primitive Christians needed any such beggarly elements, to elevate their spirits in celebrating the Divine praises. But our modern Formalists, it would seem measure the religious exercises of the Apostles of JESUS CHRIST, and holy martyrs of the first ages, by the standard of their own dull and lifeless liturgical services; not considering, that the primitive saints were elevated to heavenly contemplations and joys, by internal motions of the Holy Ghost shed upon them abundantly, in the use of such Ordinances as CHRIST had enjoined them; And, that the holy men of these times, that approached our Saviour, (as Dr. Goodman speaks) had as it were some rays of his Divinity shed upon ‘em, and their faces shone like Moses’s, when he came down from the holy Mount. And that a Christian Church was a college of holy and good men, and the glory of GOD filled the place where they were assembled, and fire came down from Heaven to exhale and lift up the odors of their pious & devout prayers. These men imagine, because themselves are flat and low in their devotions, and need the musick of an organ, or a dram to the cask to make ‘em lively and sprightly (as indeed they cannot but need some thing or other to help their devotions, who lean wholly upon the crutch of a Common Prayer Book) that therefore the primitive Christians were flat and dull in their spiritual performances too.
I must acknowledge, that the primitive warmth and zeal too soon decay’d in the Christian Church, whereof Clemens of Alexandria frequently complains in his writings; but yet for all these bitter complaints, we never find him wishing for a pair of organs, or a choir of singing boys to cure this Church lethargy: Nay even our LORD in his epistles to the Asian Churches Rev. 2 & 3. Chap. complains of this distemper in several of these Churches, as mainly of the Church of Ephesus, That she had left her first Love; of the Church of Sardis, That the things that remain’d in her were ready to die; of the Church of Laodicea, That she was neither cold nor hot; and yet this GRAND PHYSICIAN puts not a pair of organs into any of the receipts, he prescribes for the cure of this disease, no not to Laodicea, which was come to the very crisis of that foul infection.
We have found no argument for organs in Church musick, in the New Testament, nor in prime antiquity. Whether will our organical patrons lead us next for their original? Will they take us to Rome, to find them amongst the paltry stuff of Popish ceremonies? Yes, there’s the fountain of ‘em; there we’ll find both father and mother to ‘em.
Their father that introduced them into the Church, which by that time was become more Antichristian than truly Christian, was Pope Vitalian, whom Mr. [Humphrey] Prideaux ranks in the class of usurping Nimrods; At last (say they) in the Year 666, when the number of the Beast, Rev. 13. was now full, that Churches received Latin singing [i.e., continuous, antiphonal and using choristers] with organs from Pope Vitalian, and from thence began to say Latin Mass, and to set up altars with idolatrous images. (Centur. Magdeb. Cent. 7. c 6.) And if organs have no better father than a Roman Pontiff, nor more gracing birth, than to be twins with the Mass and idolatrous images, I conceive, they’ll not be for these reasons, the more acceptable to any true Protestant.
I know there are amongst the Learned, that incline to think, that organs were not so early receiv’d into the Church, by near an hundred years, as the term affixed by the Centuriators; because an organ was not known in Germany or France till long after Pope Vitalian’s time; and [Johannes] Aventinus (Anal. Lib. 3. P. 300.) informs us, That the organ was a thing unknown to the French and Germans, till such Time as Stephen Bishop of Rome brought ‘em to King Pepin. And Amonius tells us of one George [Georgius] a Grecian Presbyter, who undertaking to make an organ for Lewis the emperor [Louis the Pious], was heartily entertain’d by him, and that he gave solemn thanks to GOD; because he had granted him, that which was formerly unknown to the Kingdom of France; and ordered the things needful for furthering that work, to be provided out of the publick revenues, which Calvisius makes to fall about the year 826. Yea, some think, that the sacred use of organs was much later than either of these periods; For Thomas Aquinas, who liv’d about the year 1270 (Sum, Quest. 21. Art. 2.) saith, The Church doth not take musical instruments, as harps and psalteries into the Divine praises, lest she should seem to imitate the Jews, upon which [Thomas] Cajetan makes this remark, Observe that in the time of St. Thomas the Church made no use of Organs.
But be that as it will, ‘tis certain and agreed amongst all, that the use of organs in Divine service owes its original to the dark times of Popery, and claims Rome its mother. But perhaps it will be thought that tho’ the modern organ worship be the daughter of the scarlet coloured whore, and have the Mass, image worship, exorcisms, prayers for the dead, etc. for its sisters, yet not withstanding it is better than its mother, and has more lovely and charming features, than the rest of her bastard brood. Possibly it has changed its disposition since it began to dwell in an English cathedral, and may become yet more reigned; if it be set nearer the cold North [i.e., Scotland], it may be so, let’s hear the opinion of the learned Rector of All Saints in Colchester in Essex: wherein he compares the Romish and English ceremonies and the organs amongst the rest.———
His cap, his hood, his surplice, his rochet, his cringing worship, his altars with candles on ‘em, his bagpipes or organs, and in some places viols and violins, and singing boys are so very like Popery, that I protested when I came in 1660, from beyond sea to Paul’s and Whitehall, I could scarce think myself to be in England, but in Spain or Portugal again, I saw so little difference, but that their service was in Latin, and ours in English, but less intelligible and edifying; because of the inarticulate boatus [bellowing] and braying, the alternate jabberings and mouthings of the people, whilst all of ‘em read half the Psalms, with a noise as confused as the rumbling thunder; that any man in the world, that had seen high mass beyond sea must say, that the contrivance of both was to keep people in ignorance: Bellarmine’s Mother of Devotion. (See Ceremony Monger, Chap. I. P. II. 17)
And a learned man of our own [i.e., Andrew Melville], in an epigram upon the English service perform’d in King James, VI. his Royal Chapel makes the same judgment of organs in conjunction with other English ceremonies there used.
Roman & Ritudum Regalem instruit Aram,
Purpuream pingit Relligiosa Lupam,
Which may be thus Englished,
While superstitious England doth decore,
The Royal Altar, with the Romish store,
She lively represents the Scarlet Whore.
Hence it appears, that tho’ these Romish trash of organs and other ceremonies be transplanted into a Protestant soil, they will be the same poisonous and infectious weeds still; and so that its safer they be wholly cast out, for ‘tis dangerous to take so much as one stone out of that falling city Babylon to build up the Temple of GOD therewith. And it brings me to the third thing which I proposed to handle, viz,
That the sacred Use of Organs is condemned, as a Popish Innovation, by the Current of Protestant Divines, and justly abandoned by the best Reformed Churches.
Having in the former section adduced the opinions of the Fathers against the Church use of organs, method requires, that we take a view of the concurrent judgment of approved Protestant writers, and practice of Reformed Churches; and tho’ such authorities be but human, and consequently fallible, as are also the opinion of the Fathers; yet the concurring judgment of many persons, and Churches famous for piety and literature, cannot but have a very great weight with it, to determine us concerning the lawfulness or unlawfulness of an action, especially when they bring reasons to ground their opinions, and when not so much their authority, as the reason of their opinion is pleaded.
I have quoted many passages already from the Reformed Divines, proving instrumental Musick typical, and so unlawful in the Christian Church, I shall here insert some more direct assertions against it from their writings.
I begin with [Martin] Luther, who tho’ otherwise a zealous Reformer, was too much addicted to Popish ceremonies, as appears by that infamous opposition of his against Carolstadius’s abolishing them at Wittenberg in the year 1522. He (as [Heinrich] Eckard in Fascicul. C. 21. p. 639. reports) ranked musical organs amongst the badges of Baal. Eckard’s words are these, Quod organa music inter Baalis insignia refert. [instruments of music are considered among the ensigns of Baal] And if it be said, that Luther cannot be supposed to have been against organs; because the Lutherans have them in their Churches. I reply, that ‘tis well known the modern Lutherans recede I many things very far from the opinions of Luther, as in their opinion concerning th’ ubiquity of Christ’s Body, which tho’ a native consequent of Luther’s consubstantiation, was notwithstanding disclaimed by him. [John] Calvin another famous Reformer from Popery a very learned and judicious minister of the Gospel in the Church of Geneva in his Commentary on Exod. 15:20 saith, That instrumental musick is reckoned among the number of legal ceremonies, which CHRIST hath abolished, where as now we must retain a Gospel simplicity; And that the Jewish altars and frankincense are every whit as lawful, as musical instruments in GOD’s worship.
[Huldrych] Zuinglius, who was the first Reformer of the Helvetian Church, is very zealous and warm against it. It is evident (saith he) that this ecclesiastick chanting is a most foolish, vain abuse, and a most pernicious hinderance to piety (Zuinglii Acta Disp. 2. pag. 106)
Peter Martyr [Vermigli] (speaking of church musick performed upon instruments, saith, it cannot be lawfully retain’d; because the hearers are so taken with it, that they cannot apprehend and perceive the words if they would.
[Jerome] Zanchy on Ephe. 5:19. speaking of instrumental musick, saith, Read St. Jerome upon this place, what he writes against this theatrical, gaudy sort of musick, whereby men are drawn to be more attentive to the melody of the sound, than to the words.
[Marc Friedrich] Wendeline speaking of this sort of ecclesiastical musick, saith, the devil tempts the ears of Christians by a canorous musick, that it may emasculate and weaken their spiritual vigor by its sweet or charming sound, (Wendel. Syst. Theol. p. 1643.)
[Christoph] Pezelius, a learned professor of divinity at Bremen in lower Saxony, calls the musical instruments of Pope Vitalian, Thieves that steal away prayers and the preached word. (Pezel. In Sleidan. de quotuor Imperiis.)
[Johann Heinrich] Alting largely and purposely disputes the point against the Lutherans, and propounds three solid reasons against musical organs, in syllogistical form, thus,
1. Whatsoever in the Divine service of the people of the Jews was ceremonial, all that is abolished. Instrumental musick in the Divine service of the people of the Jews was ceremonial; as is abundantly evident by comparing the Old Testament church with the New. Therefore, &c.
2. The design and end of Church Assemblies ought to be edification and instruction, 1 Cor. 14:19, 26. By organs, or musical instruments, there is not edification or instruction; for if unknown tongues be unprofitable for that end, much more these confusedly sounding instruments. Therefore, &c.
3. Organs were first invented, and brought into the Christian Church, by Pope Vitalian, while Superstition did prevail, about the year of CHRIST 770. Therefore they should be hateful to us; and are again by us deservedly thrown out of the churches.
See likewise his answers to the Lutheran arguments Syllab. Controver. p. 160.
Dr. [Jeremy] Taylour, a Divine of the Church of England, saith,
The use of singing Psalms is very apt for the edification of churches, but as for musical instruments, they are more apt to change religion into air, and fancies, and take off some of its simplicity, and are not so fit for edification (Duct. Dub. Lib. 3. p. 329)
Dr. [John] Lightfoot saith, CHRIST abolished the use of the Temple, as purely ceremonious; but he perpetrated the use of the synagogue, such as reading the scriptures, preaching, praying and singing of Psalms, and translated it into the Christian Church, as purely moral. (Lightfoot’s Works, Vol. 2: p. 1060) The pertinency of this passage will be the clearer if it be observed, that instrumental singing was peculiar to the temple service, and never used in the synagogues amongst the Jews.
Should I bring the unanimous opinion of the Scotish Divines upon the stage, in favours of what I demonstrate; I believe I should have only some scurrilous jeer for my pains, that these were of the Geneva cut, or the like buffoonery. Wherefore in lieu of these I shall adduce one only Scotsman, who will be of unquestionable authority with the gentlemen I am arguing against, to wit, Mr. [John] Maxwel bishop of Ross, a true Episcopalian Highflyer, and a keen Cavalier too; in his book entitled, The Excellency of the Church of England above that of Geneva, he saith.
We agree with Reformed Divines, that instrumental musick is neither a part of, nor a help to Divine or ecclesiastical worship.
Where I would have the gentlemen advert, that Mr. Maxwel delivers not his own opinion along, but he declares, that he gives his suffrage to the common judgment of Reformed Divines: And that therefore this is a most ample and complex testimony against the sacred use of organs.
I shall add other two from the Church of England her self. The one is the result of the consultations of the flower of the English Reformers, commonly called the Thirty two Protestant Commissioners, who in the reign of Henry VIII, and Edward VI, were authorized by Acts of Parliament, to examine and purge all Canons, Constitutions and Ordinances Provincial and Synodal. They unanimously declare, That they would have all instrumental musick, as organs, &c. quite taken away out of the Church. See Reformation Legum Anglicarum de Divinis Officiis. That this determination of theirs took not effect, was owing to the untimely death of King Edward, and the Marian persecution immediately following.
Bishop Burnet affirms that this commission was renew’d in the reign of Queen Elizabeth, but quickly dropt, which I believe was thro’ the Queen’s default, who (to say no worse) was too much a friend to such Popish vanity. The other instance is found in her approved homilies, ratified and confirmed by Church and State, Acts of Convocation, and Acts of Parliament, ordered by Queen Elizabeth to be read in Churches, and by the 35 article approven, as containing a good and whole some doctrine; In the Homily of the Time and Place of Prayer, part 2. There is this complaint supposed to be made by some popishly affected person, who did not like to frequent the parish Church viz.
[Popishly affected person:] “Alas! Gossop, what shall we 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, that we could hear before?”
To which the Church thus gravely replies “But dearly beloved, we ought greatly to rejoice, and give GOD thanks, that our Churches are delivered out of ALL THOSE THINGS, which displeased GOD so sore, and filthily defiled his House and his Place of Prayer.”
So much for the judgment of the Reformed about the sacred use of organs, come we next to enquire into their practice. ‘Tis obvious from the historical accounts we have of the affairs of the Reformed Churches, that the greatest and best part of them, have upon their first Reformation from Popery abandoned the sacred use of organs together with other Antichristian rites, and never used ‘em to this day; and there churches have been mostly signally pious, zealous and constant to the Reformation under the greatest pressures of Romish persecution, of any churches in Christendom, namely the Reformed Churches of Germany, France, Piedmont, Helvetia, Transylvania, Scotland, most of the protestant churches of Poland, Swedland, Denmark, the United Provinces of Holland, &c. The whole of the dissenting congregations, and the greatest part of Parish Churches is England and Ireland.
Upon the other hand the churches that retain them are the Greek churches, the Popish, the Lutheran, the Cathedral Churches in England, and some of the Dutch Churches. As for the former two, I conceive a Protestant won’t be very fond to argue from their practice. Or if he will I can oppose to him the opinion of some of his Catholick friends, who declare against it. I have let down the Sentiments of Tho. Aquinas above, and Gregory de Valentia is of the same mind. [Heinrich]Cornelius Agrippa who was Counsellour to Charles V. calls the church musick a lecherous and licentious sort of devotion, filling the church with such a loud noise, that the worshippers can neither hear nor attend to what is spoken. (De vanitate scient. Cap. 6 p. 17) [Desiderius] Erasmus (on 1 Cor. Chap. 14) is tart and vehement against it.
We have brought into the church (saith he) a laborious and theatrical musick, a tumultuous prattling of diverse voices, such an one as I think was never heard upon any stage amongst the Greeks or Romans. A rabble of sordid and light persons is bred, and the church is loaded with their maintenance, and that too for a pestilent employment: How many poor that are ready to famish, might be maintained with the salaries of these singing men.
Nor can the practice of the Lutheran Churches, and English Cathedrals be any defense for them, seeing these retain so very many other Popish Rises and usages, and their worship bears so near affinity to that of Rome. The Lutherans, not to mention their doctrinal errors, retain auricular confession, exorcism, crucifixes, images of the Trinity, and pictures of the saints, Latin singing, &c. The English maintain the hierarchy of archbishops, bishops, &c. The sign of the cross in baptism, confirmation, kneeling at the communion, bowing at the name of Jesus, consecrated habits, altars, a stinted liturgy, lay chancellors, and many other things unknown in the primitive Church, and derived allenarly [only] from Rome. And I see no reason to exclude organs out of the catalogue.
Nor can the example of the Dutch Churches be pleaded, seeing organs were obtruded upon them by the usurpations of some Magistrates without the consent and against the inclination of their ministers; As [Gisbertus] Voetius tells us (Polit. Eccles. Pars. 1. page 561, 562. Polit. Eccles. Pars. 1. page 561. 562. 563.) And their ministers solicited to have them removed, as appears from the decree of the National Assembly held at Middleburgh in the year 1581. And of the Synod of Holland and Zeeland, Anno. 1554. wherein it is stated, “That the ministers should endeavor to prevail with the magistrates to banish organs and instrumental musick out of their Churches.”
And now to conclude this section, I appeal the reader if that usage in Divine worship be not a justly suspected one, which has the concurrent judgment of Reformed Divines and Churches, and even of the more learned and impartial Romanists in flat contradiction to it? And whether any Scotsman can promise himself any glory by it, who notwithstanding of all these things, would introduce into this Kingdom such ridiculous vanities, and turn the Churches of Christ into stages for Antichrist?
Wherein the Arguments commonly adduced by the Defenders of the Sacred Use of Organs for its Lawfulness in the Gospel Worship, are clearly proposed and answered.
The first and greatest argument I find adduc’d in favours of the sacred use of organs, which as some Goliath goes before all the rest, challenging an encounter, is greater devotion; might once this champion be overthrown by a smooth stone taken out of the brook of Holy Scripture, I nothing doubt but all the uncircumcised host of arguments that come against the purity and simplicity of God’s worship should quickly be routed and put to flight. This is the Popish master piece for defense of all their detestable idolatries, their images, crucifixes, light candles, relicts, habits, organs, &c. are all pretended to be made use for more effectual stirring up of devotion. The Lutherans have borrowed this argument from the Papists and use it in defense of their hosties [i.e., communion wafers], altars, images, crucifixes, &c. And the same defense do our hierarchical Formalists plead for their organs. And I cannot say but its reasonable that what they have borrowed from Rome, and foisted into the Worship of God, should be defended by Rome’s weapons. Their argument they propose thus: “Organs are found by experience to be mighty helps to devotion and to excite persons to be lively and affectionate in performing Divine service, and Christians being naturally dull, need such helps to exalt their devotions.” And so they ought to be made use of in the Christian Churches.
Mr. Baxter refines the argument a little, and proposes it thus.
Tho’ we may not institute sacraments of our own, yet ’tis duty and not a sin, to make use of the helps of nature and lawful art, and organs being a natural help to the minds alacrity, it follows that we may lawfully use them in Divine praises.
This argument he illustrates, by the similitude of a pair of spectacles which are a comfortable help in reading of the Bible.
In answer to this argument, I shall propose a few things
1. Every kind of devotion and warmth of affection is not acceptable to GOD, abundance of devotion is but strange fire offered upon his altar, nor is every kind of alacrity of mind presently to be reckoned spiritual joy, that which is born of the flesh is flesh; it’s a true maxim, that the effect cannot be better, or more noble and excellent than it’s cause. So that devotions and affections produced by carnal means and sensual objects must be carnal and sensual not heavenly and spiritual. There is a devotion (if we may believe Bellarmine) which is the daughter of ignorance: And shall we be so wicked as to imagine that the infinitely glorious Deity can be delighted with a blind and ignorant devotion? There is an alacrity [cheerfulness] of mind which is carnal, that may be produced by the sound of an organ, but this is fitter for the tavern than the Church, and is so far from being dispositive of the mind to praise God, that it clogs and hinders its spirituality.
2. If organs be pleaded as an help to spiritual alacrity and devotion, the proposition is absolutely false: For nothing can be any such help but what has a Divine institution, and so a promise of Christ’s concurring therewith by his Spirit, which that the organs under the Gospel have not, I have already proved.
3. If devout affections and spiritual alacrity in celebrating GOD’s praise be the effect of organs or other musical instruments, it most be either their natural effect, or only accidental. If the former be asserted as Mr. Baxter’s words seem to import, and as some others directly affirm, adducing many instances of the natural power of musick such as that it can cure diseases and frenzies, can make the Spirit of prophesy to come upon men, can remove evil spirits and the like; then I would gladly learn how it comes to pass that organs or other musical instruments do not always and necessarily produce spiritual alacrity and devour thoughts? And why they put not men upon their devotion, as well in a dancing room or tavern, as in the church things that act naturally, as the flame ascends and the stone descends. And that which is natural is inseparable, and cannot be taken away without the destruction of the subject. Did this hold true that devotion is the natural effect of organs or other musick performed upon instruments, then they would be most devout and religious, most pious and spiritually cheerful who have most occasion of piping and fiddling, who resort most to balls and concerts of musick, who frequent taverns and penny bridals; whereas experience universally proves the contrary. I shall not trouble myself to examine the pretended effects of the natural power of musick, such as curing madness and bodily diseases, driving away evil spirits or the like, which the advocates of organ worship in their rhetorical encomiums grace it with, if the things related by Plutarch, Theophrastus and others to have been effected by it, be true, which I shall not dispute, yet if we may believe Sir William Temple (in his Miscel. Part. 2. p. 45.)
The science of musick so admired of the ancients, is wholly lost in the world. And these admirable effects, which many great authors have attributed to musick, either of health procured to the body, or of exciting or appeasing the motions of the soul, are now none at all; if Ludovicus Vives deserve credit (de Caus. Cor. Art. p. 322.)
But be it as it will, ‘tis wholly foreign to the purpose, many other things have naturally wrought admirable cures of this kind, as plants and herbs, must they for that be consecrate to the divine service, or deified as the Egyptians did? Whom therefore the poet deservedly jeers.
Foelices Gentes quibus hæc nascuntur in hortis
O happy folks whose pleasure Gardens yield
Great Deities, them to Protect and Shield.
But instrumental musick can command the Spirit of prophecy; For 2 King. 3:14. The prophet Elisha commanded a minstrel to be brought to him. And it came to pass when the minstrel play’d, that the hand of the Lord came upon him. And 1 Sam. 10:5, 6. Samuel tells Saul, 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; and the Spirit of the Lord will come upon thee, and thou shalt prophesy with them. Here’s a mighty proof for the power of instrumental musick, exciting spiritual motions upon the soul by its natural efficiency, no less then an argument a fortiori; it can excite the Spirit of prophesy, Ergo much more devote affections and alacrity of mind. What cannot organs do? Organa vel cælo possunt deducere lunam, [organs can even bring the moon down from heaven] but all this is non Causa pro Causa. For it was not the natural effect of these musical instruments used by Elisha and the prophets coming down from the high-place, to produce the Spirit of prophesy or excite it to exercise: for the text shews us, that is was not a spirit inherent and immanent in the prophets, but a powerful transient motion of the Holy Spirit who blows where he lists [desires]; for it is expressly said, that the hand of GOD came upon Elisha; which phrase imports something greater than the exercise of an immanent and permanent principle. And whatever was the efficiency of instrument musick in these instances certainly it was not owing to its natural energy, but to the Divine institution, which then was in force; for had it been the natural property of instrumental musick to excite the Spirit of prophecy, it would have done it always when ever any prophet heard such musick in the temple or else where, which is absurd. Moreover Elisha called for a minstrel for this end (as the learned Witsius observes Miscel, Sacr. p. 78.) to wit,
Because he would have some sacred hymn sung before him, joining there with prayers and praises to GOD, with which at that time the minds of the saints were composed and elevated, and so made fitter to receive prophetical inspiration.
Now this he might lawfully and commendably do to compose his spirit probably chaffed and discomposed with the sight of the idolatrous king of Israel, to whom he did not incline to vouchsafe so much as a look, yea not only might he lawfully do it, but it was his duty, because instrumental musick was then an ordinance of GOD. So that all that can hence be inferred, is that Christians may lawfully, use the ordinances of Christ’s institution to help their devotions, which I freely grant: But I have shown that organs are none of them.
But if our organ-advocates will not say that the exciting of devotion is the natural and necessary result of a spring of their beloved bagpipes; but only that they do it accidentally, as they may chance to bring persons in mind of the sweet melody of the heavenly choir, or be an emblem of the joys that are to be the eternal inheritance of the saints; or as it sweetens the temper of the body, and so frees the soul from something that might disturb its spiritual contemplations. To this I answer, that the Christian religion gives abundance of means to excite devotion by a direct causality such as the word, sacraments, prayer, singing of Psalms, &c. These excite devotion by discovering man’s sinful and undone state by nature, the way of his recovery thro’ Christ, the infinite love of GOD in electing sinners to eternal life, and sending his Son to expiate their iniquity with his precious blood, his unconceivable great and manifold wisdom in contriving; mercy, goodness and faithfulness in perfecting and consummating the redemption of the elect world: The blessed comfortable and happy condition whereinto believers are re-instated by their union and communion with Christ, to be infallibly completed in heaven. If these be not means and motives sufficient to excite devotion, I wonder what an organ can be supposed to do towards that end, when it can at best but accidentally dispose a person to devotion? And even this is denied to organs by them who have most acquaintance with and experience of them, Aquinas, out of Aristotle saith, that these sort of musical instruments do rather create in the mind a sensual delectation, than form in it a good disposition. Won’t the conjunct authority of two such great masters as Aristotle and Aquinas, the one of philosophy, the other of Church ceremonies, have any weight with our organists to convince them of the unfitness of their musick to excite devotion? Shall I add Cajetan’s opinion, which is in no danger to be biased by the Geneva doctrine? Speaking of organs, he saith,
We must use them sparingly lest we should injure the sound, by diminishing and extinguishing their devotion:
but if they like not that such good Protestants as they are, should be remanded to the Pagan and Popish schools to learn that their organs have no aptitude to excite devotion; will they at least listen to a protestant doctor? [David] Pareus in his Comment[ary] on 1 Cor. 14:7. page 599. saith
‘Tis foolish and impertinent to plead for the church-use of organs; For in the church the mind is not to be raised to God and spiritual joy, by pipes trumpets, and timbrels (which God of old indulged his people, who were of a stiff neck and stupid mind) but by sacred sermons, psalms and hymns.
Navarre. (de Orat. et horis.) is of the same mind;
the harmony of organs (saith he) commonly prejudices those who are knowing and solidly established in Christianity, taking from them the sense of the words which would much more efficaciously excite and increase devotion.
4. Vocal musick has in all ages been preferred to instrumental as a proper mean to excite affections, as I might show from many authors, were it not that my intended brevity hinders me to make any citations but what are absolutely necessary: and if vocal musick be sufficient and more fit for begetting spiritual alacrity, why is it not rested in, being it has an express institution? And why is that sought after to be a help to devotion, which both wants institution, and is of its own nature less proper for attaining the end.
Mr. Baxter’s simile of “a pair of spectacles, which may be lawfully used and are a comfortable help in reading the Bible,” is so very lame and halting, that as it is perfectly unworthy of a man of his reach, so I think it scarcely deserves an answer. For we have a command for reading the Bible but none for instrumental musick. The Bible cannot be read by these whose eyes through the decaying of the inward humors are become unable to perceive the characters with distinctness, without the assisting help of such glasses. But God’s praises can be sung without the help of organs. Were there a command in God’s Word for instrumental musick to be used by Christians, I should yield that his simile would prove that we may make use of the best instruments that lawful art can afford. And I shall allow him likewise (which is all that his simile proves) that we may make use of the helps of nature and lawful art to enable us to sing decently with the voice, seeing we have a command for vocal melody in the sacred pandects [legal code].
I shall conclude my answer to this argument with one syllogism the proposition whereof I shall take from a Reverend Father in the Church of England, whose paternal authority will, I doubt not, bear me out in this matter. Bishop Burnet in his preface to the abridgment of the history of the Church of England, p. 7. saith thus, All the helps to devotion, that the Gospel offers are in every one’s hand. My assumptions, I take from experience and ocular demonstration; But a pair of organs are not in every one’s hand; which I believe will not be deny’d me, while so many Episcopal meeting houses in Scotland are obliged through plain poverty to want them; Whence I may well infer, Ergo, organs are none of the helps to devotion which the Gospel offers.
A second argument for the sacred use of organs, is, That our LORD joined with the Jews in their Musical Worship, and never spake a Word against it. Thus I find the argument proposed by Mr. Baxter, and am sorry a Covenanting Presbyterian should have so far assisted the cause of Antichrist.
Ans: Our LORD joined in all the temple worship, and observed all the ceremonial rites commanded in the law of Moses, and so gave proof of his becoming subject to the law, and fulfilling all righteousness; for as yet the ceremonial law was not abolished, nor the handwriting of ordinances nailed to his cross; nor cancelled by his blood, and consequently had a divine institution; so that our LORD’s practice herein can be no pattern for us in respect of organs, unless we shall say, that we are obliged to observe the whole Jewish ceremonies. Moreover our LORD spoke many words against the traditions and inventions of men in his worship: and organs are nothing better, as used in Christian Churches.
Another argument I find urged by Mr. Baxter, is this, No Scripture forbiddeth it, therefore it is not unlawful.
Ans. 1st. Many Scriptures forbid it by a direct, near and necessary consequence, even all the Scriptures that discharge the use of Jewish ceremonies and human inventions in divine worship; whereof this is one. And I hope neither did Mr. Baxter, nor will the pleaders for organs deny the use of Scripture consequences, or if they do, they will find the bulk of the most learned writers in Europe against them. 2dly. It must not be admitted for a theological position, that whatever is not forbidden expressly in Scripture, is lawful in the worship of GOD: should we once allow this for a principle, we might multiply significant ceremonies ad infinitum, and they should be all lawful, providing they were not in so many words cautioned against in Scripture. But our LORD assures us the quite contrary of this principle, Matth. 15:9. Nay even Artaxerxes, a heathen monarch could frame a better notion of the worship of GOD, and what was lawful to be done therein, than what this principle would be; for in his Royal Decree, recorded Ezra Chap. 8. He orders, That whatsoever IS COMMANDED by the GOD of Heaven, be diligently done for the House of the GOD of Heaven. He does not say, Whatsoever is not expressly forbidden by the GOD of heaven, let it be diligently done, &c. But, Whatsoever is commanded, &c. Intimating, that he thought it was reasonable, that the divine command should be the measure, and rule of the things that concern his house or service.
A fourth argument is, that there is the same reason why singing with organs, and singing with the voice should be retain’d in the Gospel-Church. Mr. Baxter proposes it thus, Nothing can be said against it, that I know of, but what is said against tunes and melody of the voice.
Ans. To this the learned Alting answers by denying, that it follows that organs should be retain’d in the Church: because singing with the voice ought to be used in it. And he adduces two reasons for it (Syllab. Controver. p. 160) 1. Because vocal musick is lawfully instituted and commanded, 1 Cor. 14:5. Eph. 5:19. Coloss. 3:16. Instrumental musick has no institution, nor command. 2. Vocal musick is joined with knowledge, 1 Cor. 14:15. And therefore it is a reasonable service, Rom: 12:1. Such as the worship of the New Testament ought to be; But instrumental musick is without knowledge and unreasonable. I shall add other two reasons to what are here given by this learned author. 1. Vocal musick is an immediate act of Divine worship, wherein the affections and conception of the soul are immediately expressed to GOD as they are in prayer. Instrumental musick is not, nor ever was a part of immediate worship; when it had the stamp of Divine institution, it was part of mediate worship, as other ceremonies were; but is no part of worship now at all, neither mediate nor immediate, because the institution is ceased; and the vail of the ceremonies being now rent in twain from the top to the bottom, GOD allows his people immediate access into the Holy of Holies by the blood of JESUS, without the intervention of intermediate ceremonies. 2. The generality of the learned are agreed, that vocal singing of GOD’s praise is a part of natural religion, I mean of that service, which the light of nature teaches us to pay to our Creator and Preserver. Dr. Templer, (of Divine Worship, p. 15). saith, As prayer, so praises in hymns and psalms is a part of natural worship. Glorify GOD with your bodies, and with your spirits, which are GOD’s is a precept of the law of nature, and deducible from reason, as well as from Scripture. And if we are to employ our members as instruments of righteousness to the glory and service of him, who first made, and still preserves them, and to employ thereunto every way that he hath made them capable to be employed, than which there is nothing more consonant to reason, then it will follow, that the tongue is to be employed in a melodious and cheerful singing of GOD’s praise, for it is a member capable to be so employed. But instrumental musick is no part of natural religion, as I have demonstrated in the 1 section.
All which considered, I think it evident, that much more may be said against instrumental musick, than can be said against tunes and melody of the voice. For I have shown, that the former [instrumental music in divine worship] was peculiar to the Jews, whereas the latter [vocal music in divine worship] is enjoin’d in the New Testament. And that organs are a part of the Popish ceremonies, which cannot be said of vocal melody. As also that organs were not used in the primitive Church; but vocal melody was of most frequent use therein, and never rejected by any that I read of, save Paulus Samosatenus, who counted Psalmody the new found figment of some late writers. See Euseb[ius’]. Ecclesiastical History, Lib. 7. c. 29. I grant we have no precept for this, or that particular tune. But seeing we have a command to sing and praise GOD with the melody of the voice, we have also a command to use tunes, seeing without some tune or other, it is impossible to perform this duty. And therefore a lawful and sober use of artificial musick and tunes cannot be condemned. Indeed we are carefully to advert, that we be not tainted with that too common vanity, which I believe many that dislike instrumental musick in divine service, may upon a due research find themselves chargeable with, namely a sinful humor of being more intent upon the tune and harmonious cadencies of the voice, than upon the matter that is sung, and more careful to attain a melodious air, than a serious and well composed heart. This was the abuse that Augustine complained of, and wished to be removed from his own, and the Church’s ears. But its plain he was not altogether against singing with the voice, but only against the abuse of it, as being assured, that not outward melody so much as inward was acceptable to GOD.
Ere I leave this argument I would put the gentlemen that use it, in mind whence they borrowed it; namely out of the store house, and magazine of Rome, for thus it is propounded by Cornelius a Lapide, as he is quoted by [André] Rivet, in Exod. 15:21.
If singing with Instruments do belong to the ceremonial law, then by a parity of reason the singing of psalms and hymns wherein the Calvinists glory so exceedingly will also belong to it.
The learned Rivet replies,
There is a vast difference between a simple singing with the human voice which is natural, and singing with inanimate musick instruments which agrees only to the unwise.
These are the chief of the arguments that I find adduced for the ecclesiastical use of organs. There are yet some straggling auxiliaries behind to be considered. As namely that organs procure reverence to the worship, by making it more glorious and venerable in the eyes of the people: Are sweet and delectable to the hearers, and charm many to Church, that otherwise would be employed in worse exercises: Are helps to tune the voices of the congregation, and prevent confused jarring: Stir up to attention and prevent drowsiness: remove scandal and offence from the Papists, and bring them to a better liking of our Churches.
To the first of these pretenses, viz. That organs conciliate a reverence and veneration to the worship of God. I answer, 1. So say the Papists of their images, tapers, relicts, crosses, &c. Bellarmine speaking of the ornaments of the Romish temples saith,
They preserve the majesty of the sacraments, and that reverence which is due to sacred things.
But [Rudolph] Hospinian answers him, and so our organical advocates too,
That these external things do not excite persons to the greater reverence of divine things, but rather the command and appointment of GOD.
2. Let it be granted that organs do beget some kind of reverence in the ignorant populace, who rather admire things beautiful, than reverence things sacred, yet, it is but at best an ignorant superstitious reverence like that which Lactantius (Lib. Instit.) reprehends in the Heathens,
Who the more their temples were adorned, and the more their images were stately and beautiful, the more majesty they supposed them to have.
3. It is owing to the superstitious ignorance, vanity and pride of men to mix their inventions, and blend their ceremonies with the worship of God’s institution in order to make it more venerable and add a greater majesty to it: For the authority of the infinite majesty of God stamped upon that which to the apprehension of men is meanest and lowest, makes it more majestic and venerable to an understanding Christian, than a thousand such ceremonies. But (as a learned author (Charnock On the Attributes page 749.) well observes)
When GOD has by his sovereign order framed a religion for the heart, men are ready to usurp authority to frame one for the sense, to dress the ordinances of God in new and gaudy habits [i.e., clothing], to take the eye or the ear with a vain pomp.
Superstitious men do by the Christian worship, as the vain modish [fashionable] ladies do by their faces, who tho’ GOD has bestow’d upon them sufficiently of natural beauty, must notwithstanding be daily daubing and plastering with artificial colours and washes. And when men disguise the sacred service of God, by putting upon it the attire of an harlot, then the LORD disowns it as none of his.
The pretense, That it will charm some to come to Church, is most frivolous, they that come for the musick, will go their way when the play is ended, as Hospinian observes they did in his time. Or suppose they stay, their attendance is but an abomination to the Lord, when they have no higher end than to gratify their ears with the harmony of an organ. The strict exercise of good discipline might be more effectual for bringing men to the Church than a musical instrument; but that especially which would allure persons to come to Church, is a worship of God’s institution fit for the edification of the hearers, together with pious, powerful, convincing sermons. But I must own that they who have nought to entertain the hearers with but the Crambe Repetita of some stinted homilies, and set forms of a Common Prayer Book, need some bag-pipes to charm the people to come to Church.
Nor is it any whit better argument to say, That organs are good for tuning the jarring voices of the congregations. They may by their loud noise drown the sound of the congregation’s voices, but they cannot tune them; a little education in the art of regular singing will do it far more easily and effectually than an organ. Nor is there any great hazard tho’ there be some discordant and harsh notes in the external Church-melody, providing there be an harmonious concord of the hearts and affections of the worshippers in their praising God. ‘Tis the hidden man of the heart, not the sweet charming flourishes of the voice that make melody to the Lord. Non musica cordula, sed cor. [not the plucking of the instrument but of the heart] Hierom [Jerome] has a very pithy saying to this purpose, (as I find him cited in a little collection entitled Exceptiones S. S. Patrum)
When thou singest a Psalm, saith he, understand whose words thou speakest, and be more delighted with the contrition of the heart than with the sweetness of a warbling voice; for God approves more of the tears, than the voice of him that sings his praise.
That organs are useful to rouse worshippers to presence of mind and attention during the sacred offices, is another plea urged in their behalf. But it is most false, for in no place where the service of God is pretended to be performed, can one see more irreverent gestures and less of attention than in a Cathedral Church, as they can witness sufficiently who have most observed the gestures of the people in such places. But besides, a lively and convincing sermon would do more to persuade attention than all the organs in England.
Whereas it is pleaded, That organs retain’d in Churches amongst Protestants are a means to gain Papists to a better liking of our worship. I answer, that this argument has been pleaded for the retaining many other Popish rites both by Lutherans and other Formalists, and has been sufficiently baffled [refuted] again and again by the learned, and retorted from experience, that ‘tis the only way to harden them in their idolatries, when they see Protestants come so near them in their own way of worship. The same argument might have been pleaded for using Jewish and Pagan rites in the primitive Church viz. Thereby to gain Jews and Pagans to Christianity. But we find the symbolizing with these frequently cautioned against in the New Testament, forbidden and condemned by Fathers and Councils, and generally abhorred by all Orthodox Christians.
Having now performed to my power what I undertook in this essay, I submit it to the judgment of all such as design conscientiousness and sincerity in the worship of GOD, whether the setting up of organs in Christian congregations, to be used as a part of the Gospel worship, be not a most sinful corruption, and superstitious innovation: And whether all that love the purity of God’s worship once happily established in this land, be not under the strictest religious obligations to oppose all such attempts to the utmost of their power by all lawful and proper means?
I conclude with the words of the learned Bishop Hall in his Contemplations on the altar of Ahaz. p. 1286, which I wish all our Scottish innovators would seriously ponder, it is a dangerous thing to make innovations, if but in the circumstances of God’s worship; Those human additions which would seem to grace the institution of GOD, deprave it: The foolishness of GOD is wiser than the wisdom of man: idolatry and falsehood is commonly more gaudy and plausible than truth.
. This is the Luther comment that is referenced:
Why, then, you may ask, have the papal ceremonies been rejected [by Protestants]? For the ensigns [insignes] of pomp, the musical instruments [musica organa], and festive songs, and whatever was of this kind, was not this whole institution [in Joel’s day] in order to invite the common people [i.e., the Jews] to the Temple? Why censure such ceremonies? Indeed, why abolish them? I [Luther] answer: The purposes of the ceremonies in the Papacy, and those of which the prophet [Joel] mentions here, are different. In the Papacy, the ministry of teaching is completely fallen. And thus idolatry has prevailed, so that the ministry of the Word in the divine worship is no longer to be counted.—Martin Luther, on Joel 2:15-16, (Exegetica Opera Latina, XXV:190)