IF any one had told us, forty years ago, that we would live to see the day when those professing to be Christians; who claim the Holy Scriptures as their only rule of faith and practice; those under the command, and who profess to appreciate the meaning of the command, to "observe all things whatever I have commanded you," would bring any instrument of music into a worshiping assembly, and use it there in worship, we should have repelled the idea as an idle dream. But this only shows how little we know of what men would do; or how little we saw of the power or the adversary to subvert the purest principles, to deceive the hearts of the simple, to undermine the very foundation of all piety, and turn the very worship of God itself into an attraction for the people of the world, an entertainment, or amusement. It never entered into our mind that people once enlightened, and made partakers of the heavenly calling, could so easily be turned away from the contemplation of the ever-blessed God, his wonderful love for man, and the scheme of redemption; from our Lord, the Christ; all he said and did; his great sufferings for us, his death, resurrection, ascension and coronation; being crowned Lord of all, imparting gifts to men; his grace, his blood, the remission of sins, the impartation of the Spirit; the ransom of man from the grave; the change of his vile body into an immortal body; the now heaven and now earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness; the presence of the Almighty Father, and the Lord Jesus, the Christ; the pure and the holy angels, with songs of everlasting joys in the great assembly of the ransomed of the Lord, out of every nation, and kindred, and tribe, and people, from under the whole heaven, to dwell with God and the Lamb forever and ever--we say, that we had no idea that people could be so easily turned away from the contemplation of all this, and all the pure and heavenly aspirations it inspires, to the mere contemplation of the pleasing sounds of an instrument of music, of the melodious voices of men and women, when trained in artistic music, and taught how to perform their part well in an operatic drama.
It appears never to occur to the multitudes who throng the assemblies to hear instruments, sweet voices and artistic melodies, that there is no worship in it, or, at least, divine worship. All that can be heard in a theater, in a museum, or less godly places, where there is certainly no worship. There is no worship in music, in itself. There is power in it, enchantment, but as easily associated with vice as virtue, with cruelty as with beneficence, with corruption as purity. We find music where there are no moral qualities, either good or bad--a mere secular entertainment. We listen to it, and admire it for its own sake, its beauty, its delightful strains, its enrapturing sounds, its melodies, and the pleasing sensations it produces within us. But there is no worship in this. It is simply secular, having neither moral nor immoral qualities in it. We listen to a fine performer to see how he can perform, and admire the performance, as artistic, dramatic, and elegant, and give him the praise due a good performer. But there is nothing religious in it. There is not a moral idea in it; it has no moral character--there is nothing spiritual in it; it has no spiritual character--there is nothing religious about it; it has no religious character.
In this respect it is like elocution--it has no moral, spiritual, or religious character. We listen to a lecture on elocution, not as an act of worship, not as a religious act, or even a moral act. We listen to it as a secular entertainment, to see the proficiency of the man in an artistic performance. We speak of his performance and of him, not in view of worship, religion, or morality, but in view of his performance--that he did well or otherwise. Elocution, in itself, has nothing religious in it, nor even moral; but relates to all speaking, no matter what the theme. It is a great advantage to a speaker to be able to speak eloquently, no matter what he is speaking on. But, then, if we go away simply admiring the eloquence, he has done no more than to get admirers of his eloquence and of himself, and taught the people nothing. This is a poor compliment to a speaker. If the speaking is worth anything, we speak of what was said, what was taught, proved, or enforced, and not of the man.
Fine reading is a great art, a rare acquirement, and much to be admired. But if a man reads so finely that we go away talking of the fine reading, and do not know what was read, it amounts to but little. Reading, however, is nothing but human art, and is, not, in itself, worship. It is not religious, spiritual, or even moral. It has no religious, spiritual, or moral character. We like to hear a person read well; but, then, we do not hear reading merely to judge how well a person can read, or to admire the reading, or a good reader. The great matter is that which is read. Did we get that which was read? Did we understand it? If we did, the true object in reading was attained. We go away speaking of what was read, and not of him who read it, or of the fine reading, unless it be in a very subordinate sense--even then the exception, and not the rule. Reading has no moral character, but is merely a human art, a secular acquirement. It is, however, a very good and useful acquirement, and very desirable. The attainment is right; but there is no religion in it, nor worship, in itself. The more act of reading is not worship. No one thinks of worshiping when reading newspapers, secular I news, nor in reading of agriculture. It depends on what we read, and the spirit in which we read, whether there is any worship about it. The mere art itself of reading is not worship at all.
In the same way, in music itself there is not a spiritual idea or moral quality. It is human from first to last. It is purely an invention of man, a human art, a fine art, a delightful and useful art. It is right to encourage the cultivation of this art. But, then, it must be kept in mind all the time that there is nothing religious in music, nor irreligious. Nor is there any religion in singing, in itself--the mere art of singing. It depends on what is sung. Singing may be corrupting, demoralizing and degrading. Men sing obscene, vulgar and licentious songs. That is corrupting and debasing. The singing, in itself, is not corrupting, but that which is sung. Then there is mere secular singing, about pretty birds, sweet flowers, and the like, that has no moral character--merely for entertainment. This is no worship, but merely singing of worldly things for amusement. This may be connected with refinement, improvement and taste.
But there is a higher order of singing than any of this; singing in the regularly ordained worship of the Most High; singing in obedience to the commandment of God. This is the singing we are concerned with. This is prescribed in Scripture. Indeed, the entire worship is prescribed in the law of God. No man knows what worship is, only as the Lord has prescribed it. The worship is all positive, and comes with the weight of authority. The whole of it is arranged to please God. The whole of it is of the Supreme Will. It was not intended as an attraction, an entertainment, or amusement; but as homage, adoration, praise and thanksgiving, from those who were lost and have been found; who were fallen, but are lifted up; were enemies, but are now reconciled; were separated from God, but have been united with him; were in bondage under sin, but are now redeemed by the blood of Jesus. They do not sing because they love to sing, or because they love music, but because they love God and delight to do those things that are pleasing in his sight; to obey his command; to sing, making melody in their hearts to the Lord. In obeying this command their minds are not taken up with a bundle of note books, tune forks, or with music at all; but with praising God, thanksgiving, exhortation, admonition and teaching. The happy soul is trying to praise God in song; to render thanks to the Fountain of eternal love; to "teach and admonish one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs," and not to make a display of music, or of himself.
But we come now to the explicit law on the subject: "Let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also you are called in one body; and be you thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God, even the Father by him."--Colossians iii. 15-17. "Be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit; speaking to yourselves in psalms, hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord; giving thanks always for all things to God, even the Father, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ."--Ephesians v. 18-20. This covers the ground, so far as singing is concerned. Let us look over this carefully, and see what is contained in it. We collect the following items:
1. Singing is commanded in the words, "Singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord." It is the precise thing to be done. It is not a command to perform music, either vocal or instrumental. The music is only a secondary matter, and incidental, and not the thing commanded. The singing is the precise thing commanded. The Apostle says, "And even things without life, giving sound, whether pipe or harp, except they give a distinction in the sounds, how shall it be known what is piped or harped. For if the trumpet give an uncertain sound, who shall prepare himself to the battle? So likewise you, except you utter with the tongue words easy to be understood, how shall it be known what is spoken? for you shall speak into the air."--1 Corinthians xiv. 7-9. Again, a little further on, he says: "I thank my God, I speak with tongues more than you all. Yet in the church I had rather speak five words with my understanding, that by my voice I might teach others also, than ten thousand words in an unknown tongue." Then the Apostle is here speaking of spiritual gifts, but showing the importance of being understood in the church. In the midst of this he says, "What then? I will pray with the spirit, and I will pray with the understanding also: I will sing with the spirit, and I will sing with the understanding also."
The singing in worship is no mere exercise in music, or musical display, but singing in obedience to the divine command; to please God; to do his will; and is to be with the spirit and the understanding, and to be understood by the congregation, as we shall see more fully presently.
2. We are to teach one another in singing. This singing is not for music, a musical entertainment, amusement, or attraction, but one method of teaching one another, in the church, in worship; and, therefore, must have teaching in it, and the words must be sung so that they can be understood, or they can teach nothing. This divine appointment has been almost wholly subverted, and this important method of teaching set aside by a variety of pieces that have no teaching in them; the merest vapor ever put into poetry; the most insipid trash ever uttered, and sung purely for music, without ever thinking of the meaning of the words, or whether they have any meaning. No wonder the people are in ignorance, when the very means God has ordained for teaching is thus subverted. But to complete the farce an instrument is brought in, as if the determination was that the appointment of God, to teach one another in singing, should be defeated by musical sounds, that utter no words, and confuse the ear, so that not one word of five can be caught at all! Who is taught in the songs where they use an organ? Who listens to it with the idea of being taught? No one. Not a spiritual idea is imparted in a month. Still, they say, "What harm is it?"
3. "Admonishing one another." What becomes of the admonishing in these times of musical show and display? Piece after piece is sung and played, without a word of admonition, or one word out of ten being understood of the insipid ditty that is sung. The whole thing is thrown into confusion by the sound of an instrument that can not admonish anybody. There stands the clear command of God, to admonish one another in psalms, hymns and spiritual songs--singing. We put the matter to any man who fears the Lord and desires to do his will, to answer the question, Is the command to admonish obeyed at all? Is the thing commanded done at all? Is the aim to do it? Does any one think, while listening to the organ and the choir, that the command to admonish one another is being obeyed? Not a word of it! They are thinking about music, and musical performance. They are thinking about entertaining those, who come to be entertained, with fine music; and amusing those that come to be amused; and attracting those that come to be attracted. They are doing the very work intended in their appointment. But the purpose of God is thwarted, and what he commanded to be done in singing is defeated, and not done at all. No teaching and admonishing is done, and there is no "spirit and understanding" in it, only the spirit and understanding of a piece of music. Not a soul is taught or admonished; nor a religious or spiritual impression made. There was a pleasurable sensation in hearing fine music, a good instrument, and beautiful voices of men and women. Not a cold professor went away reproved or taught, and not a sinner brought to repentance. This is the terrible work the instrument is doing in the Church. How can a holy man or woman give it any countenance?
But where is the Scripture against it? It is not forbidden. Neither is infant church-membership forbidden; but the Pedobaptists have no Scripture for infant membership! Certainly they have in the Jewish Church; but the Jewish Church is abolished. Certainly it is; and, with it, away goes infant church-membership, instrumental music in worship, and all that David said about the psaltery, the timbrel, the harp, the organ, and all the other instruments in worship. This brings us to Christ; the Head over all things to the Church. The command now is to hear him. We have no authority about worship only from him. When be came into the world there were instruments in abundance. We are not aware that the inventive genius of modern times has added much to the list. They had them in the worship among the Jews in the synagogues, and in all the public worship. The Pagans had them in their worship everywhere. There would have been no conflict in the establishment of the kingdom of God, with Jews or Pagans, in bringing instrumental music in and utilizing it. The way was open, and it would have been one popular element. But did our Lord utilize it? No; he established his religion in a country where all worshipers, of all kinds, used instruments in worship, but left the instruments all out! He did not leave them out because there were not plenty of them, nor because he could not get them, nor because they were not popular; but because he did not want them. This is a divine prohibition. Neither he, nor any one of his apostles, ever used any instruments to enable them to sing; nor any one even professing to follow him, till the man of sin was fully developed, and there was a full-grown pope. He is the gentleman to whom we are indebted for the use of the organ in worship. His fruitful mind caught the idea of utilizing the organ, and he took it from its more congenial place, in the theater, and consecrated it to divine service.
We do not see that there was anything particularly inconsistent in the pope doing this, as he depends on worldly attractions, influences and powers, wholly to sustain his cause. He appeals to the lust of the eye and the pride of life, to popularity, secular power, or anything that can be addressed to the eye or ear, or any of the senses of human beings, to draw the people, gull them, and assist him in leading them captive at his will. He has borrowed from the Jew, the Pagan, the philosopher, the statesman, the rich man, or from any source under heaven, to build himself up, gain strength, popularity, wealth and influence in the world. He has carried the utilizing principle out to perfection, and utilized everything that he could lay his hand on, till he has built up a Babel of iniquity, described in Holy Writ, "the man of sin," "a falling away," "an apostasy," a "sea monster," or, under the last and most fitting emblem of all, "Mystery Babylon the Great, the mother of harlots and abominations of the earth." She has corrupted the earth, and to-day has two hundred millions of the human race seduced by her sorceries, and the blood of fifty millions of martyrs cries to heaven for redress for her cruelties. This is what has come of the utilizing principle! The mind is turned away from the Lord, and an immense swarm of devouring priests has risen up, worse than the locusts or lice of Egypt, who never think of a divine influence for converting and saving man. The gospel has disappeared from among them. God has long since turned away from and given them over to believe the lie, that they all might be condemned who received not the love of the truth that they might be saved.
The work of God can not be improved. The wisdom of God is in it at the start--it is perfect. When he gave Peter the keys of the kingdom, and declared that what he bound on earth should be bound in heaven, used the keys, or the power thus vested in him, prescribed the terms of coming to God, the matter was settled. No other terms could be prescribed, no, other gospel could be preached, by man or angel, without incurring the curse of heaven. Nothing can be added to these terms, and nothing can be taken from them. There they stand, the immutable terms to all nations, all kindreds and peoples, till the last trumpet shall sound, as if guarded by the angel with the flaming sword. They are stereotyped, perfect and complete. In this we are generally agreed. Back of this we need not go in this argument.
The law of the Lord for the saints is equally unalterable. Nothing may be added to it, or taken from it. The worship is prescribed in the law. If every transgression and disobedience in the Old Covenant received a just recompense of reward, how shall we escape if we tamper with the better Covenant, founded on better promises? If it were death under the law given by the ministrations of angels, to offer strange fire on God's altar, what may we expect for him who shall tamper with the prescribed worship in the law given by the Son of God? If death were inflicted on Uzzah for violating the law, in touching the ark of God, what shall we expect to befall the man who shall tamper with the law prescribing the worship of God?
We have now come to the point where the main trouble is anticipated. We should like to be heard patiently by those who differ from us. But we do not expect this. We can, therefore, only expect to benefit those who will hear. We invite the attention of these to what we are about to say now, even if they resolve to hear us no more. We are under the influence of no prejudice, no ill-feeling toward any, no desire for opposition and strife, but an utter aversion to all strife. We desire union and harmony among the saints, and intend what we say here for the consideration of many when our voice will be heard no more on earth, and when we shall be troubled no more about the organ in worship, or any other innovation. Of course we desire every word to be in the kindness, humility and meekness of Jesus. Please hear us, then, while we offer a few considerations further.
1. We have nothing but the common interest at stake in this matter. We can not see an earthly interest to influence us in the course we are going. We know we are going against the current, against wind and tide; and it has been said that "He who spits against the wind spits in his own face." We are not blind to this; we know it. We know that it is not popular. We are perfectly aware that it is calling down on us the disfavor of many or the rich, the influential and popular; and that, on account of it, we are cut off from many amiable people, and can not meet and worship with them. We are perfectly aware that it is against our temporal interests. We have not been, and are not, blind to all this, but have it before us, and have considered it carefully, and made up our mind to take all the consequences, and bear with meekness and patience whatever shall come. We do not court these consequences, nor desire them, but we see no way to avoid them, and maintain what we solemnly believe to be right. We, then, cheerfully accept the situation, and take the consequences, rather than give up the fullest, strongest and most settled conviction of our inmost soul. We can not worship, and maintain a good conscience, with the organ. We are certain that we can worship acceptably without the organ. The friends of the organ do not doubt this. They entertain not one doubt that they can worship acceptably without it. Here is something that is safe. There is no doubt or uncertainty about it. There is no one that has the least doubt that we can worship acceptably without the organ. Here, then, is safe ground, and here we can all meet and worship acceptably, in harmony and without any doubt. But we can not meet and worship with it without doubt. We hold it in doubt, to put it in the mildest form, and can not yield to a doubtful practice, or doubtful worship, when we can have that about which there is no doubt.
2. Some advocates of the organ quote the words, "Praise God on the harp." These do not quote enough to get the full scope. We must assist them a little. "Praise him with the sound of the trumpet: praise him with the psaltery. Praise him with the timbrel and dance: praise him with the stringed instruments and organs. Praise him upon the loud cymbals: praise him upon the high-sounding cymbals." Our organ friends are partial, to select one instrument, the organ, out of such a variety! If they go here for divine authority, why throw aside the trumpet? We find it here. See Psalm cl. 3-5. Why pass by the psaltery? It is in the list. Why say nothing about the harp? It is involved. Why overlook the timbrel? It is enumerated with the other instruments. Here, too, in the midst of this group, we find the dance. Why not bring it in? We have the authority of David for it! Would it not be well to bring the dance into the worship? "It would draw the young people out;" yes, and some of the old ones, too, and then we might preach the gospel to them! But the list, according to Judaism, is not complete yet. The stringed instruments are mentioned. We must have those. Then, here comes the organ! Yes, and the loud cymbals, and the high-sounding cymbals!
What think you of this list? Is here divine authority for the use of the organ? Certainly, it is commanded. So is the use of all these other instruments, not as expedients, nor things indifferent, but part of the worship--the dance and all! No revolting; no backing off from your ground. You are commanded to praise God with these instruments and with the dance! Let there be no wincing about it. Come up and accept the situation. The use of these instruments, and the dance, constitute a part of the worship, and is commanded. It is no matter of opinion, expedient, or indifferent thing, but commanded and worship. It is worship to praise God, and here is a clear command to praise God with these instruments and the dance! It is, then, worship and commanded! Those who do not obey are disobedient. Let him that has no instruments put out to the vendors of instruments and buy; and those who can not dance, proceed at once and learn to dance; then bring these instruments, the loud trumpet and all--the dance, too--into the church, and let us once in our lives worship according to Scripture, and obey the command in this Scripture!
"That was under the Old Dispensation!" Certainly it was. "It is not binding on us, then, to have all these instruments and the dance!" No; it is not. Why not? Because it was under the Old Institution, and not to us at all. Then away with these instruments, and the dance, too, in worship; not some of them, but all of them, as things not belonging to the New Dispensation at all. Jesus and the apostles never used any of them in the worship; not because they were not in use, for they were in use in the Jewish worship and the Pagan worship--in all the worship in the world. All this belongs not to modern progress, invention, or to advanced society. but to Judaism and Paganism, and was adopted not by our Lord, his apostles, or any Christians during the first six centuries, but by the pope in the seventh century, utilized, and connected with "divine service!" This gives up all idea of the organ in worship, or, at least, all idea of its having any authority in Scripture, and of its use being any part of worship.
"We do not claim any divine authority for the use of the organ in worship, or that it is commanded at all, or that it is any part of the worship, or an element in worship; but a mere expedient, one of the things indifferent, that we may have or not." Why, then, press a thing indifferent into the church, against the will of good members, and create contention and strife? Why be so persistent in this, as to push it in and split the church in two? A singular expedient, indeed, that which must be pushed into the church, against the will of good brethren, and forced upon them, though, in many instances, it drives them clear away from the church and the worship! A singular indifferent thing, that which must be forced into the church, even if it divide the church! Who can believe you when you call it indifferent, but persist year after year in pushing, till you get it into the worship, and then persist in keeping it there, when it is destroying the peace of the church, driving good members away, and not a good fruit resulting from it! If you mean what you say when you call it indifferent, why not leave it out when you see the trouble it makes? What a spirit it must be that persists in pushing an indifferent thing into the worship, an element of contention, and there can not be prevailed on, for the sake of peace, love, harmony, and the unity of the Spirit, to desist! There is something more than indifference in this!
But, then, if you hold it to be a matter of indifference, others do not, and can not. We do not hold it as a matter of indifference. We can not hold it thus. We have considered it for many years, and looked at it from every possible angle, and tried it in every possible way, and our judgment, our deepest and most settled convictions are against it, as all innovation, a corruption of the worship, subversive of the divine purpose in worship--to teach and admonish in song; carnalizing the worship, by turning it into an entertainment, a mere musical attraction, an amusement. Every conviction of our soul is against it, and disapproves it. We can no more avoid this than we can change our sense of right and wrong. We have tried to make every excuse for it, every allowance and apology, but all to no purpose; there remains the judgment God has given us, the understanding we have exercised on every question that has ever come before us, the most settled conviction of our inmost soul against it. We do not believe the Lord approves it. We can not approve it, no matter what it costs.
If it were a matter that those could have who desire it, and not impose it on those who can not approve it, the case would be different. But those who put it down on the list of indifferent things, put it into the church, and compel those who do not regard it indifferent, whose judgments are against it, and to whom it is offensive, to submit to it. Their judgment must be set aside; their most settled convictions must be trampled down; their consciences must be treated with indifference. They must have the organ, no matter how much nor whom it wounds; no matter how many there are who can not conscientiously worship with it, they must submit to worship with it, or leave. It becomes a bar of fellowship, and must be submitted to as much as the Bible by every one who worships in the congregation. Can good men thus impose on their brethren in a matter which they themselves consider indifferent? If they may, where is the matter to end? One thing after another may be imposed on them indefinitely.
It has been said that we must maintain principle--immutable principle. This is correct--a settled matter. What, then, is the true principle? For the want of something better, we embody it in the following:
1. We are united on the things of God, as set forth in Scripture, in all things in the kingdom of God. The will of God to man contains all things, both of faith and practice. Nothing may be added, and nothing taken from it.
2. The worship is prescribed in the law of God--the whole of it--and nothing may be added to it, and nothing may be taken from it. We may not offer strange fire on God's altar, nor do anything else, under a profession of worship, only what is divinely prescribed.
3. There is no provision for the use of instruments in the divine law prescribing the worship. This is not denied by any one. No one attempts to find any provision or authority for it there. It is simply not in the New Covenant.
4. The history shows that the use of instruments in worship finds no place among Christians in the time of our Lord and his apostles, nor for many long centuries after their time. This ought to be enough for those who talk of "the ancient gospel," "primitive Christianity," "the ancient order," and the like.
5. The first account of the organ in worship is from the pope, and not from our Lord; from Rome, and not from Jerusalem; from man, and not from heaven. This ought to end the matter with us.
6. One class go to David for the use of instruments. These find too much for the use of the organ party. They find more than they claim. They find the command, "Praise God on an instrument." To praise God is worship. This, then, makes the use of the instrument worship. This, then, gives it divine authority, and those who do not praise God on the instrument do not obey the command. It is, then, no matter of opinion, but a matter of divine law. Nor are we left to select one instrument, the organ, and leave out all the other instruments, the use of which is commanded by David. Nor are we to stop, even with the use of all these instruments in worship, but we must praise him in the dance. This is no expedient, nor opinion, but divine law. But you say, "It is under the Old Covenant." Certainly it is. "That was abolished." So it was; and with it the use of all these instruments in worship, and the dance! This is an end to all talk of divine authority for their use. There is none.
7. " We only use it as an expedient, a matter of opinion, a matter indifferent." Why, then, are you so persistent? "We only ask to be left free; to use it or not, as we see fit." But you do more than that. You put it up in the congregation, and use it in the public worship, where all are as free as you are, and compel all to submit to its use, or not worship with you! You thus make your expedient, matter of opinion, of indifference, imperative; and to it every man. must submit, or not worship with you! A singular expedient, that! A singular matter of opinion! A singular matter of indifference!--that to which I must submit, or be debarred from the worship with you! If you are sincere, and mean that it is a mere expedient, a mere matter of opinion, a mere matter of indifference, why do you compel me to submit to it, or not worship with you? Can you tell why? You certainly could not, if you were in the last judgment? You must know that you are departing from all apostolic authority in thus compelling me to submit to an expedient, a matter of opinion, of indifference, for which no authority is claimed; that you have no precedent in the apostolic practice, or in the original Church, or, for many centuries after, for thus compelling all who differ from you to submit to your expedient, matter of opinion, matter of indifference.
In doing this, in the place of making the use of the organ a matter of indifference, you make it a matter of indifference whether we shall adhere strictly to the law of God in worship, do the things commanded, add nothing, or take, nothing away from what is clearly prescribed in the law of God. That is where the indifference comes in, and not indifference to things indifferent. Things indifferent can easily be laid aside for peace, but the law of God can not be laid aside for anything. The law of God must be observed. But you deny setting aside the law of God! I have charged that in the use of the organ in worship there is indifference, not to things indifferent, but indifference to the law of God itself.
1. Those who use the organ, instead of showing indifference about it, push it into the worship, against the will and conscience of many good brethren, and compel them to worship with it, submit to it, or not worship with them. This is an utter repudiation, in that which "speaks louder than words," of all professions of indifference. No man can think they look on it as a matter of indifference while they, with such persistence and determination, press it into the worship. Many of them show more zeal in this than they ever did to spread the gospel, or build up the kingdom of God. The profession of indifference is without foundation, only as they wish those opposed to it to be indifferent enough to submit meekly, and let them bring it in. Their indifference never leads them to think of leaving it off for the sake of peace.
2. They violate the law of God in bringing a dumb instrument into the worship, that can not teach, admonish, sing, praise God, or give thanks, but confuses the worshipers, so that they can not teach, admonish, or sing to edification, as commanded in Scripture; or, in other words, it prevents doing precisely what the Lord commanded. To this no Christian, with due consideration, can submit.
3. Instead of devout worship, in song, teaching and admonishing one another, the whole affair is turned into a musical entertainment, an attraction, for the people of the world, and professors of religion, who have lost their taste, or never had one, for pure, devout and spiritual worship, in spirit and in truth, with the spirit and understanding. This is turning the worship of God into an entertainment, an amusement, an attraction for the people of the world, and others who have no spiritual relish. It is a perversion of the divine worship, and defeating the very thing commanded to be done. Can he be guiltless who does this?
4. It is a bone of contention, a source of strife, an entering wedge to rive the churches asunder. It has already brought in more strife, produced more discord, and caused more grief than any other evil. It has been productive of more evil, resulted in more division, and caused more alienation than any other one thing among us, and done more to impede the progress of the gospel. Can he be a friend to the cause, no matter how much he means it, who will press such a source of evil into the worship?
5. The movement is factious, and subversive of fundamental principle, of clear scriptural and pure worship, and should be repudiated and utterly avoided by all Christians. It is of the spirit of the world, and of ruin, and will open the way to ruin for us all, if we do not repudiate and avoid it. We must maintain the worship in its purity, as the Lord gave it, and permit no perversions of it.
6. It is a revolutionary movement. It involves a principle that opens the floodgates for all innovations--the observance of Christmas as a holy day, etc.--without limit; the admission of anything not forbidden in Scripture, involves a principle that opens the way to surrender every principle we hold, and leaves us without a reason for our existence as a religious body.
7. "Well, the churches generally are going into it, and it is 'a foregone conclusion that they will have and use the organ,' and it is useless to stand against it." No "the churches generally" are not gone into it, nor are they going that way. We do not know the number of churches in the United States; but doubt not that six thousand would be a low enough estimate. How many of them use the organ in worship? We do not know this with certainty, but probably not more than from one hundred and fifty to two hundred, and certainly not five hundred. The organ party is yet small, and would amount to but little, had it not found way into a few places of note and prominence. There are still whole States that have not an organ in the Church. We think there is not one in use in Canada, not one in Virginia, Tennessee, nor Texas, that we have heard of; scarcely any in Kentucky, West Virginia, Arkansas, Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, and many other States. The organ is still the exception, not the rule; and the party is small. The main body are true to the great principles of reformation--to the divine purpose of returning to and maintaining, the original practice in all things.
8. We are anxious to maintain the original practice in all things, so that the way would be clear to invite the people to come to the Lord, with the full assurance that not a burden should be laid on them, not a humanism imposed on them, and so that they could see their way clear, to come up to the assembly of the Lord, and participate in the pure and holy worship, as the Lord gave it--and this we intend to maintain. If others will not, on their own heads be the consequences; we will not be partakers with them. We are for the peace of the Church; the pure worship and true worshipers, who worship in spirit and in truth.
We have done a great work in the past fifty years, in building up so many congregations and setting them in order, and it is a wonderful mortification to see that great work impeded by human expedients--specially such as are borrowed from the pope. We do not believe the churches of the Lord will yield to this worldly scheme, thus pervert the worship, and retard the greatest work on earth!