An Essay on Psalmody - by Dr. There is no new theology. There are new books published every month. A helpful treatment of Worship and Exclusive Psalmody. Manual of Praise The Psalms are the divine manual for praise in the church.
The vital question at issue is not so much between inspired and uninspired hymns as it is between authorized and unauthorized hymns.
If the position of the Reformed Churches be true, that no mode of worship is acceptable except that which is prescribed in the Holy Scriptures, either by direct command or by good and necessary inference from them, then the question of divine authorization for the hymns that are used in the formal praise of God becomes a matter of paramount importance.
Whatever other considerations may influence men in selecting the sentiment with which they will approach God in praise, it is to be remembered that the real question hinges upon the matter of divine authority.
Authorization is the Little Round Top of our position. Two questions, therefore, respecting the matter of praise in the worship of God are suggested by the theme. Are the Psalms divinely authorized to be used as the matter of praise in the formal worship of God?
Can such authorization be claimed for the devotional compositions of uninspired men? My theme affirms the first and denies the second of these questions. It is manifest that this paper can do nothing more than give an outline or syllabus of the argument by which the positions just mentioned are to be maintained.
The detailed argument is to appear in other papers. No originality is claimed for the findings here announced. As tending to establish the main thesis of this paper, that the Psalms are the divinely authorized and exclusive manual of praise, it is affirmed, first, that these old Hebrew lyrics were given and distinctly authorized to be used as the matter of praise in the Old Testament Church.
This will appear from a number of considerations. There is the a priori probability that God would furnish a book of songs in the use of which fitting praise might be offered to Him.
Properly to celebrate the character and perfections and glorious works of the Triune God requires a knowledge of Him and His ways that men could not possess without having such knowledge brought to them by special revelation.
The Book of Psalms in its structure and form seems to answer to this natural expectation, and to be such a book of praises as God might furnish men for His worship.
Here is a collection of devotional poems.
They were written by various men, all of whom were confessedly under the direct inspiration of God. They were written at various times, stretching over a period of some hundreds of years. Given the antecedent expectation that God would furnish a book of praises for His people, and understanding these facts concerning the structure and history of this particular book, it would seem to be evident that this book was prepared for no other purpose than for use as a manual of praise in the worship of His Church.
The matter and sentiment of these Hebrew poems are especially adapted for use in the praise of God in all ages. It is confessed on all hands that these Psalms are the very highest order of lyric poetry. They are filled with sublime expressions of devotion to God and declarations of the greatness of His name and works, such as were peculiarly adapted to that people whose mission it was to proclaim the one living and true God to the world.
And in this respect they are adapted to all generations of the Church and to every monotheistic people. In variety of matter they are suited to all ages and conditions and circumstances in which men may find themselves. Out of this collection they can take a Psalm and make a fitting approach to God on the wings of praise.
The titles by which these songs are designated in the Word indicate that they were given to be used in praise. The titles and superscriptions of many of the poems contained in this collection indicate clearly that they were prepared for use in the praise of God.
These Psalms were directly commanded to be used in the formal worship of the Church under the Old Testament dispensation.
This statement will be borne out by such passages as 1 Chron. I, 2; and Neh. The hymns contained in the Psalter were the only matter of praise in the formal worship of the Old Testament Church. It seems entirely safe to affirm this without any hesitation.
There is no hint or trace, either in the Bible or in Jewish tradition, of other songs being used in worship. While there are other highly-wrought pieces of devotional poetry in the Old Testament outside the Book of Psalms, the indications seem to be clear that these were not used as the matter of praise in the formal worship of God.
Ancient Jewish tradition would seem to indicate not only that these particular songs were used exclusively as the matter of praise, but that they were the folk songs, the battle-songs, the festal-anthems, of the people. These considerations, when their cumulative force is felt, seem to amount to a demonstration of the proposition that the songs contained in the Book of Psalms were the only authorized matter of praise in the Old Testament Church.
But the question arises, Does this ancient appointment hold in the New Testament dispensation?An essay on Psalmody.
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