THE WORSHIP OF GOD by Malcolm H. Watts and David Silversides.
Published by Marpet Press, Edinburgh. Booklet, 71 pages, £3.75.
Available from the Free Presbyterian Bookroom, 133 Woodlands Road, Glasgow, G3 6LE
IT is good to see the subject of purity of worship discussed anew in parts of the Christian press. This booklet is a useful contribution to the debate and shows that, as far as Scripture is concerned, there should be no debate about the matter.
In the first chapter, The Importance of Purity of Worship, by Malcolm H. Watts, minister of Emmanuel Church, Salisbury, we first have a clear, concise explanation of the nature of pure worship; then he emphasises the Regulative Principle as the standard of pure worship. John Calvin is quoted: “We may not adopt any device which seems fit to ourselves, but look to the injunctions of Him who alone is entitled to prescribe. . . God disapproves of all modes of worship not expressly sanctioned by His Word.”
Purity of worship is important, Mr Watts says, because: (1) Pure worship involves the Divine glory; (2) The Church as a society belongs to God and is to be subject to His authority; (3) The divinely appointed ordinances of worship excel in beauty and glory; (4) Pure worship, being appointed by God, is pleasing to Him; (5) Satan’s aim is to deny God His honour by corrupting the Biblical ordinances, (6) Pure worship is an effective means to make God known to the world; (7) Only what God has appointed can be a means of grace to His people.
The second chapter, The Westminster Directory of Public Worship – A Puritan View, is by David Silversides, minister of the Reformed Presbyterian Church, Loughbrickland, Ulster. He highlights some of the principles and features of the Directory and shows how they stand up to examination under the Word of God. The framers of this important document had an awesome view of their utter dependence upon God in worshipping Him, and a strong view of order and uniformity in worship. In discussing the regulative principle he says, “True worship is not an exercise in free expression. It is the honouring of the God of the Bible, with the attitude of heart required by the Bible, and according to the external form revealed in the Bible. Our worship is to be wholly regulated by the Word of God and only by the Word of God.” He quotes with approval John Knox’s view: “All worshipping, honouring, or service invented by the brain of man in the religion of God, without His own express commandment, is idolatry.”
In his second paper, How Should our Churches Worship Today?, Mr Silversides states: “The organ and all other instruments are part and parcel of the priestly, ceremonial worship of the Old Testament. There is no warrant in the New Testament for the use of such instruments. We therefore conclude that the use of them has been abrogated. As our forefathers clearly saw, their introduction into the Christian Church is a form of Judaizing and Popery. The organ must go!”
The material of praise must be the Psalms only. In answering the question, Is Psalm singing divisive?, he says that the exclusive use of the Psalms, “far from being divisive, should be a uniting ordinance for all God’s people as they join in singing from the one infallible book of praise which should offend no-one who believes the Bible is the Word of God.” He adds, “Hymn-singers are in the majority now, but if the whole of church history be taken into account, the matter is quite different. The fact is there has been in recent times a lamentable departure from God’s instituted ordinance which needs to be reversed to bring greater harmony among the Lord’s people. We must unite with the true heart He requires, coming through the Mediator He has sent; and we must sing the one hundred and fifty Psalms He has both given and appointed.”
Those who raise objections to certain elements of Scriptural worship will find their objections met in a straightforward and lucid manner by this booklet. Those who have honest questions will discover that it gives them the unerring answers of God’s Word. We recommend it.