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Instrumental Music in the Public Worship of the Church (1888) by John Girardeau

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Resource Details

Full Title:
Instrumental Music in the Public Worship of the Church (1888)
Author:
John Girardeau
Media:
Digital Download (Adobe PDF)
Searchable:
Yes
PDF Index:
Embedded, Appended
Pages:
116
File Size:
10.78MB
Publisher:
Still Waters Revival Books

Resource Description

"To sing the praises of God upon the harp and psaltery," says John Calvin, "unquestionably formed a part of the training of the law and of the service of God under that dispensation of shadows and figures; but they are not now to be used in public thanksgiving."

Calvin continues:

"With respect to the tabret, harp, and psaltery, we have formerly observed, and will find it necessary afterwards to repeat the same remark, that the Levites, under the law, were justified in making use of instrumental music in the worship of God; it having been his will to train his people, while they were yet tender and like children, by such rudiments until the coming of Christ.

But now, when the clear light of the gospel has dissipated the shadows of the (ceremonial--RB) law and taught us that God is to be served in a simpler form, it would be to act a foolish and mistaken part to imitate that which the prophet enjoined only upon those of his own time."

Calvin further observes,

"We are to remember that the worship of God was never understood to consist in such outward services, which were only necessary to help forward a people as yet weak and rude in knowledge in the spiritual worship of God. A difference is to be observed in this respect between his people under the Old and under the New Testament; for now that Christ has appeared, and the church has reached full age, it were only to bury the light of the gospel should we introduce the shadows of a departed dispensation.

From this it appears that the Papists, as I shall have occasion to show elsewhere, in employing instrumental music cannot be said so much to imitate the practice of God's ancient people as to ape it in a senseless and absurd manner, exhibiting a silly delight in that worship of the Old Testament which was figurative and terminated with the gospel."

Written in 1888, this book was highly praised by R.L. Dabney (in a review which we have included together with this file). Dabney notes,

"Dr. Girardeau has defended the old usage of our church with a moral courage, loyalty to truth, clearness of reasoning and wealth of learning which should make every true Presbyterian proud of him, whether he adopts his conclusions or not. The framework of his argument is this: it begins with that vital truth which no Presbyterian can discard without a square desertion of our principles.

The man who contests this first premise had better set out at once for Rome: God is to be worshipped only in the ways appointed in His Word. Every act of public cultus not positively enjoined by Him is thereby forbidden. Christ and His apostles ordained the musical worship of the New Dispensation without any sort of musical instrument, enjoining only the singing of psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs.

Hence such instruments are excluded from Christian worship. Such has been the creed of all churches, and in all ages, except for the Popish communion after it had reached the nadir of its corruption at the end of the thirteenth century, and of its prelatic imitators."

Sherman Isbell also notes,

"It is often forgotten that the use of musical instruments in the church's worship is a comparatively recent development among Presbyterians and Baptists, and that it was opposed by Calvin, the Westminster Assembly, Owen and the other Puritans, Gill and Spurgeon, as being out of accord with the simplicity of gospel worship under the new covenant. Girardeau's book is a standard defense of the Puritan view, examining the grounds for discerning what is carried over from the Old Testament and what is not."

Arguments from Scripture, history and creedal standards are all considered, while objections are noted and countered. Defending the Apostolic (and later Puritan and Reformed) position, against Popish innovations, Girardeau clearly lays down what God requires in the area of public worship. Given the present rejection of the regulative principle of worship (which is nothing less than the biblical application of the second commandment) in most Protestant quarters, this book is even more valuable today than when it was first written.

It contains the best discussion of biblical and godly guidelines regarding worship in general, and the instrumental music question in particular, that has come to us out of the 19th century.

116 pages.


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