Exclusive Psalmody in the ARP

For those who are unaware until 1946 (for reasons immediately unknown to this writer) the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Synod (of which I am a member), the ARP was one of the few remaining Presbyterian denominations (do not forget that EP was the understanding for 95% of Presbyterian churches prior to the 19th century) that held to Exclusive Psalmody. The following excerpts from the article/paper I am posting was written at the turn of the 20th Century by an ARP minister by the name of the Rev. John T. Chalmers, D.D. of the First ARP church of Charlotte, NC. I post this first to present the historical argument from an ARP perspective, second to stimulate responses on the individual points presented by Rev. Chalmers.

Part One from Rev. Chalmers Paper:

I. From the reasonableness of the expectation or the strong presumption that God would give such a manual of praise to his church.

To understand this proposition clearly, let us ask what it is to praise God?

Let it be borne in mind that the main object of praise is to declare and magnify the excellencies of the divine character, as well as to give expression to every variety of devotional feeling which the contemplation of these perfections is designed to quicken and call forth. Such a task requires a perfection of knowledge of God and humanity which is beyond the natural capacity of the highest angel, much more of such ignorant, fallible men as the best of God’s saints are, even when enlightened by the word and ordinary influence of the Spirit of God, as much beyond their ability as the writing of one of the epistles or other books of the Bible would be. “What man knoweth the things of a man save the spirit of man which is in him? Even so the things of God knoweth no man but the Spirit of God”—because the Spirit, and he only, “searcheth all things, even the deep things of God.”

“To praise God is to exalt Him in words of song; to magnify Him, to glory His perfections and the infinite excellence of His words and works. What man can do this? Who is sufficient for these things?” “No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son who is in the bosom of the Father, He hath declared him.” Who can tell us what God is? Who can describe His glorious majesty? Who can teach us how to praise Him and frame words fit to magnify His name? Who but God Himself? “God is a Spirit,” His own Son has told us. What of Spirit life and Spirit nature can these dull senses of ours describe or comprehend, that we should think ourselves sufficient to write the praise songs that are due to Him?

What man lives now, or has ever lived with native power sufficient fully to comprehend and rightly to magnify so great a God as our God? Only one who knows God, who understands Him, who comprehends Him in all His infinite perfections, has any reason to think that he is sufficient to assume the task of writing hymns of praise. Such attainment is necessary if the attempt be made without a call to this office and without the aid of inspiration.

In the very nature of the case, understanding what praise is, and to whom it is to be rendered, the thoughtful mind will find good reason to expect a manual of praise ready prepared and put into His people’s hands by the Lord Himself.

For the whole of Rev. Chalmers Article see here.


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