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JOHN CALVIN ON MUSICAL INSTRUMENTS IN CHURCH PUBLIC WORSHIP, EDWARDS, SPURGEON, KNOX, OWEN, et al.
MONDAY, AUGUST 15, 2011
Posted by: Still Waters Revival Books | more..
10,850+ views | 930+ clicks
BLOG ON: SERMON Instrumental Music in the NT
Still Waters Revival Books
Greg Price
To sing the praises of God upon the harp and psaltery," says 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."1

He says again: "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 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."2
He 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.3

ENDNOTES:

1. On Ps. lxxi. 22.
2. On Ps. lxxxi. 3.
3. On Ps. xcii. 1.

- From: Instrumental Music In The Public Worship Of The Church by John L. Girardeau
(Still Waters Revival Books, [1888] 2000), pp. 63, 64).

Originally written in 1888, Instrumental Music In The Public Worship Of The Church was highly praised by R.L. Dabney in a book review of this book by Girardeau, which is available on SWRB's new PURITAN HARD DRIVE). In this review Dabney writes,

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 (emphases added).

Listen to the free MP3 series which begins with "Instrumental Music 1 of 3 by John Calvin," for more of the classic Puritan and Reformed view of instrumental music in the public worship of the church. This MP3 series includes quotes from Charles Spurgeon, Jonathan Edwards, John Calvin, John Knox, John Owen, the Westminster Assembly, the Synod of Dort, et al., on why Reformed Christians have considered instrumental music in the public worship of the church the very "badge of Popery" -- as instruments in public worship are a denial of the finished work of the Lord Jesus Christ!

Instrumental music in public worship also brings the shadows of abrogated Old Testament ceremonial laws back into the church -- which marks the Romish Antichrist's defection from truth as few other things do. These abrogated Old Testament ceremonial laws pointed to Christ to come and his finished work, and were terminated by God (see the book Hebrews) after the light of Christ's completed work on earth shone forth.

This is exactly what John Calvin was driving at when he wrote, "it were only to bury the light of the gospel should we introduce the shadows of a departed dispensation."

Moreover, it is this very error (i.e., introducing terminated ceremonial shadows into the New Testament administration of the one covenant of grace), which has given rise to many of the heresies of the Popish Antichrist related to worship (really "will-worship," or Arminianism in worship) and works salvation. Or as Calvin has also written,

Here indeed is pure and real religion: faith so joined with an earnest fear of God that this fear also embraces willing reverence, and carries with it such legitimate worship as is prescribed in the law. And we ought to note this fact even more diligently: all men have a vague general veneration for God, but very few really reverence Him; and wherever there is great ostentation in ceremonies, sincerity of heart is rare indeed (Institutes of the Christian Religion, Book One, Chapter II, Sec. 2, page 43 in the Battles' translation, emphases added).

In short, Protestants should no more use musical instruments in public worship than they should bring a sacrificial lamb to the front of their church, during public worship, and slay the lamb as a part of worship (during the New Testament administration of the one covenant of grace), as such acts "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" (John Calvin). Moreover, such false worship God abominates (as it is a direct violation of the second commandment)!

THE WESTMINSTER ASSEMBLY AND INSTRUMENTAL MUSIC IN PUBLIC WORSHIP, THE DIRECTORY FOR THE PUBLIC WORSHIP OF GOD, THE COVENANTED GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF THE CHURCH OF SCOTLAND AND THE COVENANTED ENGLISH PARLIAMENT TOO!

SWRB PURITAN HARD DRIVE

Instrumental Music in Public Worship: The Views of John Calvin

John Calvin John Calvin

This man, undoubtedly the greatest of Protestant divines, and perhaps, after St. Augustine, the most perseveringly followed by his disciples of any Western...

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