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Posted by: Still Waters Revival Books | more..
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BLOG ON: SERMON Instrumental Music in the NT
Still Waters Revival Books
Rev. Greg Price
With reference to the time when organs were first introduced into use in the Roman Catholic Church, let us hear Bingham:1 "It is now generally agreed among learned men that the use of organs came into the church since the time of Thomas Aquinas, Anno 1250; for he, in his Summs, has these words: 'Our church does not use musical instruments, as harps and psalteries, to praise God withal, that she may not seem to Judaize."

... Mr. Wharton also has observed that Marinus Sanutus, who lived about the year 1290, was the first who brought the use of wind-organs into churches, whence he was surnamed Torcellus, which is the name for an organ in the Italian tongue.

... Let us pause a moment to notice the fact, supported by a mass of incontrovertible evidence, that the Christian church did not employ instrumental music in its public worship for 1200 years after Christ.

... It deserves serious consideration, moreover, that notwithstanding the ever-accelerated drift towards corruption in worship as well as in doctrine and government, the Roman Catholic Church did not adopt this corrupt practice until about the middle of the thirteenth century.

... When the organ was introduced into its worship it encountered strong opposition, and made its way but slowly to general acceptance. These assuredly are facts that should profoundly impress Protestant churches. How can they adopt a practice which the Roman Church, in the year 1200, had not admitted?

... Then came the Reformation; and the question arises, How did the Reformers deal with instrumental music in the church?

... Zwingle has already been quoted to show instrumental music was one of the shadows of the old law which has been realized in the gospel. He pronounces its employment in the present dispensation "wicked pervicacity." There is no doubt in regard to his views on the subject, which were adopted by the Swiss Reformed churches.

... Calvin is very express in his condemnation of instrumental music in connection with the public worship of the Christian church... In his homily on 1 Sam. xviii. 1-9, he delivers himself emphatically and solemnly upon the subject:
In Popery there was a ridiculous and unsuitable imitation [of the Jews]. While they adorned their temples, and valued themselves as having made the worship of God more splendid and inviting, they employed organs, and many other such ludicrous things, by which the Word and worship of God are exceedingly profaned, the people being much more attached to those rites than to the understanding of the divine Word...
Whatever may be the practice in recent times of the churches of Holland, the Synods of the Reformed Dutch Church, soon after the Reformation, pronounced very decidedly against the use of instrumental music in public worship. The National Synod at Middleburg, in 1581, declared against it, and the Synod of Holland and Zealand, in 1594, adopted this strong resolution, "That they would endeavor to obtain of the magistrate the laying aside of organs, and the singing with them in the churches...."

The Provincial Synod of Dort also inveighed severely against their use.

... The Rev. Charles H. Spurgeon, ...upholds an apostolic simplicity of worship. The great congregation which is blessed with the privilege of listening to his instructions has no organ "to assist" them in singing.

... The non-prelatic churches, Independent and Presbyterian, began their development on the American continent without instrumental music. They followed the English Puritans and the Scottish Church, which had adopted the principles of the Calvinistic Reformed Church.

... It has thus been proved by an appeal to historical facts, that the church, although lapsing more and more into defection from the truth and into a corruption of apostolic practice, had no instrumental music for twelve hundred years; and that the Calvinistic Reformed Church ejected it from its services as a element of Popery, even the Church of England having come very nigh to its extrusion from her worship.

The historical argument, therefore, combines with the scriptural and the confessional to raise a solemn and powerful protest against its employment by the Presbyterian Church.


1. Works, Vol. iii., p. 137, ff.

- From: Instrumental Music In The Public Worship Of The Church by John L. Girardeau (Still Waters Revival Books, [1888] 2000), "Historical Argument," pp. 158, 159, 161, 165, 170, 179).

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)!

C. H. Spurgeon C. H. Spurgeon

Charles Haddon Spurgeon (1834-92) was England's best-known preacher for most of the second half of the nineteenth century. In 1854, just four years after his...

Category:  Instrumental Music

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