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Singing Psalms with Grace in the Heart - by David Dickson (1583-1663)

Articles on Exclusive Psalmody

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Comments on the Westminster Puritan and Use of the Psalter.

David Dickson was a Scottish Presbyterian and author of the first commentary on the Westminster Confession:

“Is singing of psalms with grace in the heart, a part of the ordinary worship of God? Yes (Col. 3:16; Eph. 5:19; James 5:13). Well then, do not the Quakers, and other sectaries, err, who are against the singing of psalms, or at least tie it only to some certain person, others being excluded? Yes. By what reasons are they confuted? 1st, From the practice of Christ and his apostles (Matt. 26:30). Form the example of Paul and Silas (Acts 16:25). Form Moses and the Israelites (Ex. 15). 2nd, Because the singing of psalms was commanded under the Old Testament, and that, not as a type of any substance to come, nor for any ceremonial cause Neither is it abrogated under the New Testament, but confirmed (Ps. 30:4; 149:1). 3rd, From the general and universal commands in the New Testament (Eph. 5:19; Col 3:16; I Cor. 14:15). 4th, Because the apostle James says, ‘Is any man afflicted, let him pray; is any man merry, let him sing psalms (James 5:13). The meaning is not, that none should sing bus such as are merry; for then none should pray but such as are afflicted. 5th, Because by singing of psalms we glorify God, we make his praise glorious; we edify others with whom we sing as well as we edify ourselves. So the end to be proposed in singing is teaching and admonishing one another, in psalms, and hymns, and spiritual songs (Col. 3:16). Lastly, We cheer and refresh ourselves by making melody in our hearts to the Lord, (Eph. 5:19). Which ariseth, first, from our conscientious going about it as a piece of the worship to God, and in so doing we are accepted in that. Secondly, From its being a part of Scripture appointed for his praise, whether it agree with our case or not. That being the end wherefore it was designed to be sung, is sufficient warrant for our joining in the singing thereof” (Truth’s Victory Over Error: A Commentary on the Westminster Confession of Faith by way of Question and Answer [Australia: Presbyterian’s Armoury Publications, repr. 2002], pp. 119-120).

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