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Before the Westminster Assembly of Divines undertook the office of preparing a Directory of Worship, the Parliament had authoritatively adopted measures looking to the removal of organs, along with other remains of Popery, from the churches of England.
On the 20th of May, 1644, the commissioners from Scotland wrote to the General Assembly of their church and made the following statement among others,
We cannot but admire the good hand of God in the great things done here already, particularly that the covenant (the Solemn League and Covenant - RB), the foundation of the whole work, is taken, Prelacy and the whole train thereof extirpated, the service-book in many places forsaken, plain and powerful preaching set up, many colleges in Cambridge provided with such ministers as are most zealous of the best reformation, altars removed, the communion in some places given at the table with sitting, THE GREAT ORGANS AT PAUL'S AND PETER'S IN WESTMINSTER TAKEN DOWN, images and many other monuments of idolatry defaced and abolished, the Chapel Royal at Whitehall purged and reformed; and all by authority, in a quiet manner, at noon-day, without tumult."1
In prescribing, consequently, the singing of psalms without making any allusion to the restoration of instrumental music, it must, in all fairness, be construed to specify the simple singing of praise as a part of public worship.
The question, moreover, is settled by the consideration that had any debate occurred as to the propriety of allowing the use of instrumental music, the Scottish commissioners would have vehemently and uncompromisingly opposed that measure.
But Lightfoot, who was a member of the Assembly, in his "Journal of its Proceedings"3 tells us: "This morning we fell upon the Directory for singing of psalms; and, in a short time, we finished it." He says that the only point upon which the Scottish commissioners had some discussion was the reading of the Psalms line by line (emphases added).
ENDNOTES: 1. Girardeau cites this quotation from the Acts of Assembly of the Church of Scotland, 1644. 2. Girardeau cites Art., Organ. 3. Girardeau cites Works, Vol. xiii., pp. 343, 344; London, 1825.
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.
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."
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).