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congregational system to be; and that they should comprehend also the two offices of pastor, or bishop, and deacons—the former being entrusted with spiritual, the latter with temporal affairs. If there are societies to which the description above given may not with perfect accuracy apply, they may be considered as deviations from the general rule.
Let us now briefly notice the general character of the method of religious association which is before us.
1. It is obvious to remark, that it is extremely innocent and unexceptionable. It wears no aspect of treason or sedition, or of hostility to any creature. Those who adopt it do nothing more than exercise the admitted right of judging for themselves respecting the manner in which it may be most accordant with God's will, that they should promote his glory and the good of men; points upon which none but God himself can give them just and satisfactory information. Nothing can well be less adapted to provoke hatred, or to subject men to reproach, even if it were an error.
2. But the advocates of the congregational system cannot content themselves with taking this ground. They conceive it to be not only innocent, but right. They hold it to be in accordance with the primitive and apostolic model, and therefore with the mind of Christ; a topic, however, on which there is no occasion to dwell here, as it has been already treated in a former number of this work. But it may be additionally remarked, that this kind of association for religious purposes naturally grows out of the very existence of religion itself, and accords strictly with the nature and tendency of all religious feelings. It is a union of persons who have individually felt alike on the most important subjects, for the promotion of ends which are deeply interesting to them all, and in joint obedience to a rule to which they have previously submitted themselves. Out of such feelings such an association naturally grows. It requires no force to bring such persons together, but they approximate, like particles attracted by a common power, of their own accord; the force would be required to keep them asunder. And when they are thus united, the feelings which brought them together find scope to operate, both with benefit and delight; while it needs nothing more than the vigorous and continued operation of them to carry that benefit and delight to the highest pitch, and to realize all the objects for which the association was formed. Let this kind of union be contrasted with one that is compulsory, which herds men together by virtue of mere local proximity, irrespective of similar character or common interests, and which, when they are brought together, restrains, thwarts, and vexes them, by an authority which uses power without conviction; and it will be seen in a moment that the superior accordance of the former with the social principles of our nature stamps it as the institution of the author of our being. Congregational union, indeed, is the only kind of religious association which could have existed, for ages after christianity was in the world; since human authority and worldly power were for three hundred years bitterly hostile to it, and armed for its extermination.
3. We must go yet further, and affirm, not merely that the congregational system of religious association is right, but that it is obligatory. It is the only right method of proceeding in this respect. We request attention more particularly to this point, because it has been frequently and extensively held, that the constitution of ecclesiastical communities is immaterial; that if one is right, so also is another; that any form, in short, may be adopted at our pleasure, provided we therein pursue the glory of God and the good of men. That matters of church constitution and government are not of so much importance as repentance and the fear of God, we freely allow; and we could go the whole length of the statements we have referred to, if no discovery of God's will had been given to us. We hold it to be certain, however, that the contrary is the case; and if it be so, on what principle of love, or submission, or reverence to the Most High, are these expressions of his will to be set aside, and a point which he has decided to be thrown open to the varying judgment of men? Could we deem this to be justifiable, we should feel much more readiness than we now do to yield to the opinions of our brethren, and should lose much of the courage we have hitherto felt in maintaining peculiarities exposing us to no slight inconveniences, which indeed we are content to bear for fidelity to God, but which we should very reluctantly incur for the sake of our own whims. Believing that the great author of religion has imperatively made known the method in which he would have religious communities formed and conducted, we may not, we dare not, deviate from our views of the divine and inspired model.
We are confirmed in this conviction by the fact, which observation fully establishes, that a departure from this model invariably leads to immediate wrong. Let the principle of the congregational system be violated, either by composing religious societies of irreligious persons, or by establishing over them or within them any human authority, and we affirm that there immediately exists something essentially wrong and anti-scriptural. Such methods are not merely unauthorised by the word of God, but are positively contrary to it; they are not, therefore, among things which may be chosen, if thought good, but among things prohibited, and, under all circumstances, to be let alone.
We have deemed it important, in the first instance, to exhibit the congregational system of religious association in its rectitude and its obligation, because, if these points could not have been established, it would have been of little use to discuss its alleged advantages or disadvantages. Although we have no fear of entering upon this ground, and shall indeed almost immediately proceed to it, yet we must maintain that questions of church constitution and government are not to be disposed of on the ground of expediency alone. Under the plea of expediency were introduced all the mummeries of popery; nor is there any effectual method of ridding the church of these and kindred evils, but by insisting upon an appeal to the law and the testimony. The stress of the argument lies here: Is the congregational system scriptural, and therefore obligatory? If it be not, we offer not a word in its defence upon any ground of supposed advantage. If it be, we bring forward nothing more in its support. It stands firm, and needs no auxiliary appendages. Whatever may be said of its beneficial tendency will add nothing to its rectitude; neither will the most aggravated view of contingent evils diminish anything from its obligation.—Library of Ecclesiastical Knowledge.
INSTRUMENTAL MUSIC IN CHRISTIAN
WORSHIP. It has become of late years a very common opinion that the most effectual means of securing good music in public worship is the introduction of an organ.
That instrumental music was used in worship by the Jews, with divine sanction, is undeniable; but it must at the same time be admitted, that as the whole economy of the New Testament Church is throughout more spiritual than was the Jewish, so its worship in particular is distinguished by its having in it far less to please the senses and far more to employ the mind. God was always a “Spirit" and he always required spiritual worship, but he not only now requires it still more explicitly, but has so constructed the New Testament Church as to ensure a greater degree of spirituality in the worshippers.
I will not contend that instrumental music in public worship is unlawful: I content myself with feeling assured that it is unnecessary and injurious. That a good organ well played (two conditions, however, the union of which constitutes the exception rather than the rule in places where organs are used,) produces a grand and imposing effect, is admitted; but how far does that effect partake of a religious and legitimate character ? To me it appears that the feeling usually produced by instrumental music is akin to that which is created by Gothic arches, “long-drawn aisles,” crucifixes, paintings, painted windows, and the “dim religious light” which those windows transmit. No one needs to admire these things as matters of taste more than we do, but their introduction into religious services is another and more serious affair. Profane swearers, drunkards, adulterers, swindlers, and wicked men of all sorts, are susceptible of the religious feelings which such sights and sounds produce, and yet continue to be wicked men still. This sentimental religion is not only inefficient for good; it is productive of positive evil. It becomes an opiate for the soul. It lulls the conscience asleep. The man who is affected sometimes to tears by all this ecclesiastic grandeur flatters himself that there must be something good in his heart, although all the while he is living in neglect of God's gospel and in violation of God's law.
With regard even to sound, much as I admire good instrumental music, I confess my decided preference for the music of the human voice; nor am I singular in this preference. А modern writer on music, whose books have been widely circulated and eminently useful, thus speaks : “ The human voice is the finest instrument in the world. All voices are not indeed equally good, but four even indifferent voices heard in correct harmony will produce a more powerful effect than any equal number of instruments played upon by skilful performers. A party of German peasants, singing together in a cabin, will often make better music than the whole band of the Italian Opera."
Some of the best psalmody ever heard in this country is heard at the anniversaries of our religious and benevolent institutions ; a considerable number of the attendants at which sing both with heart and voice. A foreigner who was present in Exeter Hall, at the Anniversary of the Sunday School Union in May, 1840, was struck with admiration at the manner in which a Doxology was sung by three thousand voices, and rejoiced that the organ did not attempt either to overpower or to assist these voices with its thunder, as he felt assured that the interference of that instrument would have been decidedly injurious. But it is, I conceive, on the score of sympathy that the superiority of vocal over instrumental music principally appears; and it is on this account especially, that I prefer it in religious worship. Let the pipes of an organ emit sounds ever so grand, I cannot but know that those pipes, though inflated by one human being and regulated by another, are mere matter, wholly devoid of feeling and of reason ; in addition to which it may be remarked that no instrument can be made properly to articulate words. But let the tones of a human voice reach my ear, in articulate words which convey affecting ideas to my mind, and my heart is touched while my ear is pleased. Feelings similar to those which originated the voice are at once stirred up within me.
Another objection which I feel against the use of instrumental music in public worship is, that it favours idleness with regard both to singing and learning to sing. The organist, especially if aided by a band of singers, makes a sufficiency of sound, so that although the melancholy fact may be that not six people out of six hundred, besides the choir, are personally engaged in