Purpose of This Blog

The Final Goal of this Blog is to work towards the unification of the seceding denominations (and the one true original denomination) into a unified and public body of believers so as to properly fight the False Presbyterian Church (better known as the PC (USA)) and to subdue it from preaching a false gospel.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Another Look at Exclusive Psalmody

The two responses on EP I have posted below are quite lengthy and involve many issues. So I thought it would be best to concentrate on one item at a time. First we will look at Calvin's thoughts on Ephesians 5:19 and Colossians 3:16 which both contain the phraseology of hymns and spiritual songs.

Ephesians 5:19. To psalms, and hymns, and spiritual songs. These are truly pleasant and delightful fruits. The Spirit means “joy in the Holy Ghost,” (Romans 14:17;) and the exhortation, be ye filled, (ver. 18,) alludes to deep drinking, with which it is indirectly contrasted. Speaking to themselves, is speaking among themselves. Nor does he enjoin them to sing inwardly or alone; for he immediately adds, singing in your hearts; as if he had said, “Let your praises be not merely on the tongue, as hypocrites do, but from the heart.” What may be the exact difference between psalms and hymns, or between hymns and songs, it is not easy to determine, though a few remarks on this subject shall be offered on a future occasion [the text links to the text from Colossians 3:16]. The appellation spiritual, given to these songs, is strikingly appropriate; for the songs most frequently used are almost always on trifling subjects, and very far from being chaste.

Colossians 3:16. Let the word of Christ dwell. He would have the doctrine of the gospel be familiarly known by them. Hence we may infer by what spirit those are actuated in the present day, who cruelly interdict the Christian people from making use of it, and furiously vociferate, that no pestilence is more to be dreaded, than that the reading of the Scriptures should be thrown open to the common people. For, unquestionably, Paul here addresses men and women of all ranks; nor would he simply have them take a slight taste merely of the word of Christ, but exhorts that it should dwell in them; that is, that it should have a settled abode, and that largely, that they may make it their aim to advance and increase more and more every day. As, however, the desire of learning is extravagant on the part of many, while they pervert the word of the Lord for their own ambition, or for vain curiosity, or in some way corrupt it, he on this account adds, in all wisdom — that, being instructed by it, we may be wise as we ought to be.

Farther, he gives a short definition of this wisdom — that the Colossians teach one another Teaching is taken here to mean profitable instruction, which tends to edification, as in Romans 12:7He that teacheth, on teaching; also in Timothy — “All Scripture is profitable for teaching.” (2 Timothy 3:16.) This is the true use of Christ’s word. As, however, doctrine is sometimes in itself cold, and, as one says, he adds at the same time admonition, which is, as it were, a confirmation of doctrine and incitement to it. Nor does he mean that the word of Christ ought to be of benefit merely to individuals, that they may teach themselves, but he requires mutual teaching and admonition.

Psalms, hymns. He does not restrict the word of Christ to these particular departments, but rather intimates that all our communications should be adapted to edification, that even those which tend to hilarity may have no empty savor. “Leave to unbelievers that foolish delight which they take from ludicrous and frivolous jests and witticisms; Pleasantries full of vanity and silliness.” and let your communications, not merely those that are grave, but those also that are joyful and exhilarating, contain something profitable. In place of their obscene, or at least barely modest and decent, songs, it becomes you to make use of hymns and songs that sound forth God’s praise.” Farther, under these three terms he includes all kinds of songs. They are commonly distinguished in this way — that a psalm is that, in the singing of which some musical instrument besides the tongue is made use of: a hymn is properly a song of praise, whether it be sung simply with the voice or otherwise; while an ode contains not merely praises, but exhortations and other matters. He would have the songs of Christians, however, to be spiritual, not made up of frivolities and worthless trifles. For this has a connection with his argument.

The clause, in grace, Chrysostom explains in different ways. I, however, take it simply, as also afterwards, in Colossians 4:6, where he says, “Let your speech be seasoned with salt, in grace,” that is, by way of a dexterity that may be agreeable, and may please the hearers by its profitableness, so that it may be opposed to buffoonery and similar trifles.

Singing in your hearts. This relates to disposition; for as we ought to stir up others, so we ought also to sing from the heart, that there may not be merely an external sound with the mouth. At the same time, we must not understand it as though he would have every one sing inwardly to himself, but he would have both conjoined, provided the heart goes before the tongue.





16 comments:

Benjamin P. Glaser said...

I find the whole EP argument interesting to say the least. I had not known growing up that there was anything of the sort. However as I am attending Reformed Presbyterian Theological Seminary part of the deal is attending chapel on the day I am there for classes. Of course the worship follows a strict RP service of which EP is a part and I have been intrigued by its fellowship. Especially not having a obnoxiously loud Organ drowning out the voices of the saints is a nice thing.

Ebenezer Erskine said...

Thanks for that Benjamin. Is RPTS affiliated with the RP's?

Benjamin P. Glaser said...

Yes RPTS is the official denominational Seminary of the RPCNA.

Gary said...

I was looking at the 1928 Book of Common Prayer that was used in the Episcopal Church until the 1970s. (I believe before the denomination went to the %#%^ but I could be wrong) I found this prayer that might be useful for the blog:

For the Unity of God’s People.

O GOD, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, our only Saviour, the Prince of Peace; Give us grace seriously to lay to heart the great dangers we are in by our unhappy divisions. Take away all hatred and prejudice, and whatsoever else may hinder us from godly, union and concord: that as there is but one Body and one Spirit, and one hope of our calling, one Lord, one Faith, one Baptism, one God and Father of us all, so we may be all of one heart and of one soul, united in one holy bond of truth and peace, of faith and charity, and may with one mind and one mouth glorify thee; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Anonymous said...

Ebenezer,

I think you have a wonderful blog here and I wish you the Lord's blessings with it. Reformed Presbyterian Theological is definitely over my head!

Jim

http://thywordistruth.wordpress.com/

Rev. Brian Carpenter said...

Gary,

Well said.

BTW, the Episcopal Church went to hell in a handbasket before the 1970's. The Anglo Catholic movement gained steam in the mid to late 1800's, and theological liberalism rose there in the late 1890's. A bit earlier in the British context because of the proximity and academic exchanges with Germany.

Richard said...

Have a read of this: http://churchsociety.org/crossway/documents/Cway_106_PsalmsWorship.pdf

Ebenezer Erskine said...

Richard,

I have linked it in the sidebar so it can be read in conjuction with the other views.

Warren said...

The Narrow Mind podcast (access via Unchained Radio: http://www.unchainedradio.com/new/) recently posted a two-hour "exclusive Psalmody" debate that took place in San Diego in early December. The pro exclusive Psalmody side was represented by a reformed Presbyterian and the con side by a reformed Baptist. I'm far removed from either of these denominations (and have never even visited a church that sings only Psalms), but, in my opinion, the reformed Baptist had the more scripturally-based argument.

Ebenezer Erskine said...

Thanks for that Warren. I have them listed now in the EP Links section on the right-hand side of the blog for everyones perusal.

Ebenezer Erskine said...

Scratch that Warren. I looked on the website and could not find it.

Warren said...

I think you need to be a subscriber to get access to the archives of the radio program. Unfortunately, that costs a little bit of money. I subscribe to the Narrow Mind podcast via iTunes and have the debate on my computer. Gene Scott (a.k.a. the Narrow Mind) focuses a lot on debating atheists and challenging their world view, but he also covers a lot of other ground from a reformed perspective. I don't agree with everything he has to say, but he is always entertaining to listen to.

Gary said...

I might have to harass my pastor with this new information. :) My pastor was once a pastor in the Episcopal Church. He and several others were kicked out because of their conservative views at the same time if I remember what he told me correctly. So I probably shouldnt harass...

He likes the Book of Common Prayer that was used before the one they have now. Of course they might have had multiple ones since then since he's been out of there for at least 20 years since that's how long I think he said he's been the pastor of the church.

Rev. Brian Carpenter said...

There were only two prayer books written in the 20th C. The 1929 and the 1978 ('77? can't recall.)

The 1929 prayer book is a sound document and I use parts of it myself. It's just that the church which produced it was in the process of becoming most unsound.

For a snapshot of the Anglican/Episcopal church in the '30's and '40's, the works of CS Lewis are really quite helpful.

Ebenezer Erskine said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Benjamin P. Glaser said...

I as well also still use the old BCP. My great-great-Grandfather's 1856 BCP that is...