Free Presbyterian Church of Scotland

Glasgow Church

Book Review



Published by The James Begg Society. Booklet, 36 pages, £1.75. Available from the Free Presbyterian Bookroom, 133 Woodlands Road, Glasgow, G3 6LE.

THIS well-produced booklet contains a collection of tracts written by two Reformed Presbyterian ministers towards the end of the last century. Both were ministers in Scotland. The Rev. John M’Donald wrote two of the tracts, one defending the exclusive use of the inspired psalms and the other showing the unlawfulness of musical instruments in public worship. The Rev. James Kerr wrote a further two tracts, in which he gathered quotations from a surprising number of ecclesiastial sources to demonstrate a wide consensus of opinion in support of biblical purity of worship as advocated by Mr M’Donald.

Other publications explain more fully the entirely Biblical reasoning to support unaccompanied psalmody (for example, the booklet "The Worship of God" by Malcolm Watts and David Silversides reviewed in the January 1999 Magazine). However, no publication that we are aware of gathers together such a wide range of quotations in support of pure worship. One thing is plain: many have been the voices over the centuries agreeing that no Scriptural warrant exists for either uninspired hymns or musical instruments in the praise of the New Testament church. Unaccompanied psalmody is neither "Scottish" nor the hallmark of a few strange "extremists". On the contrary, it has beautified the church of Jesus Christ in her best days. Above all, it is biblical, and here is proof that in the past many understood that.

From the beginning of her existence, the Free Presbyterian Church of Scotland has always contended for the regulative principle of worship. To worship God in any way not expressly appointed by Him in His Word is to break the Second Commandment. No device graven by human imagination can be acceptable in divine worship. This was a necessary witness last century because the old Free Church of Scotland had allowed uninspired hymns and musical instruments into her worship in certain places. The same witness is no less necessary today. Therefore we welcome the timely republication by the James Begg Society of these valuable tracts as an additional resource for use in the ongoing war against unscriptural worship. We look to the Head of the Church to bless their use to the recovery of biblical worship. Reformation of worship is urgently needed, even among many who profess to be reformed in doctrine and practice.

Rev. Keith Watkins


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