Charles Spurgeon Differs from Today’s Baptists on Church Music

[Though I have read and studied these matters many times, I found that I relied upon bible.ca as a lead for sources in this post. **Also, believers may be surprised with what Charles Spurgeon had to say about baptism.]

Baptist churches would not have become so numerous if were not for preachers like Charles Spurgeon, but Spurgeon’s beliefs regarding the use of musical instruments in singing would not be well-received today. Most Baptist churches today conduct their Sunday worship assembly with the use of musical instruments. Here are some of Spurgeon’s statements in his commentary on Psalms concerning the matter of music in worship:

“David appears to have had a peculiarly tender remembrance of the singing of the pilgrims, and assuredly it is the most delightful part of worship and that which comes nearest to the adoration of heaven. What a degradation to supplant the intelligent song of the whole congregation by the theatrical prettinesses of a quartette, the refined niceties of a choir, or the blowing off of wind from inanimate bellows and pipes! We might as well pray by machinery as praise by it” (Commentary on Psalm 42:4).

“‘Praise the Lord with harp.’ Men need all the help they can get to stir them up to praise. This is the lesson to be gathered from the use of musical instruments under the old dispensation. Israel was at school, and used childish things to help her to learn; but in these days, when Jesus gives us spiritual manhood, we can make melody without strings and pipes. We who do not believe these things to be expedient in worship, lest they should mar its simplicity, do not affirm them to be unlawful, and if any George Herbert or Martin Luther can worship God better by the aid of well-tuned instruments, who shall gainsay their right? We do not need them, they would hinder than help our praise but if others are otherwise minded, are they not living in gospel liberty? ‘Sing unto him.’ This is the sweetest and best of music. No instrument like the human voice. As a help to singing the instrument is alone to be tolerated, for keys and strings do not praise the Lord” (Commentary on Psalm 33:2).

Also, when asked why not to use musical instruments in worship, Spurgeon quoted 1st Corinthians 14:15. “I will pray with the spirit and I will pray with the understanding also; I will sing with the spirit, and I will sing with the understanding also.” He then declared: “I would as soon pray to God with machinery as to sing to God with machinery.” (Spurgeon preached to 20,000 people every Sunday for 20 years in the Metropolitan Baptist Tabernacle and never were mechanical instruments of music used in his services.)

Spurgeon was not the only like-minded Baptist. Note the words of these Baptist historians on the matter:

“In my earliest intercourse among this people, congregational singing generally prevailed among them…The Introduction Of The Organ Among The Baptist. This instrument, which from time immemorial has been associated with cathedral pomp and prelatical power, and has always been the peculiar favorite of great national churches, at length found its way into Baptist sanctuaries, and the first one ever employed by the denomination in this country, and probably in any other, might have been standing in the singing gallery of the Old Baptist meeting house in Pawtucket, about forty years ago, where I then officiated as pastor (1840)…Staunch old Baptists in former times would as soon tolerated the Pope of Rome in their pulpits as an organ in their galleries, and yet the instrument has gradually found its way among them…How far this modern organ fever will extend among our people, and whether it will on the whole work a RE- formation or DE- formation in their singing service, time will more fully develop.” (Benedict, Baptist historian, Fifty Years Among Baptist, page 204-207)

“In 1699 the Baptists received an invitation from Thomas Clayton, rector of Christ Church, to unite with the Church of England. They replied in a dignified manner, declining to do so unless he could prove, ‘that the Church of Christ under the New Testament may consist or…a mixed multitude and their seed, even all the members of a nation,…whether they are godly or ungodly,’ that ‘lords, archbishops, etc.,…are of divine institution and appointment,’ and that their vestments, liturgical services, use of mechanical instruments, infant baptism, sprinkling, “signing with the cross in baptism,” etc., are warranted by Scripture.’…It may be interesting to note that this church (First Baptist Church of Newport, organized in 1644 cf. p. 88) was one of the first to introduce instrumental music. The instrument was a bass viol and caused considerable commotion. This occurred early in the nineteenth century.” (Albert Henry Newman, A History of the Baptist Churches in the United States, American Baptist Publication Society 1915, p. 207, 255)

The Baptist Andrew Fuller presented the history of the music of the early church:

“The history of the church during the first three centuries affords many instances of primitive Christians engaging in singing, but no mention, (that I recollect) is made of instruments. (If my memory does not deceive me) it originated in the dark ages of popery, when almost every other superstition was introduced. At present, it is most used and where the least regard is paid to primitive simplicity.” (Andrew Fuller, Baptist, Complete works of Andre Fuller, Vol 3, P. 520, 1843)

The Baptist sect is not the only sect to differ from its past. Regarding all Calvinists, John Calvin declared,

“Musical instruments in celebrating the praises of God would be no more suitable than the burning of incense, the lighting of lamps, and the restoration of the other shadows of the law. The Papists therefore, have foolishly borrowed, this, as well as many other things, from the Jews. Men who are fond of outward pomp may delight in that noise; but the simplicity which God recommends to us by the apostles is far more pleasing to him. Paul allows us to bless God in the public assembly of the saints, only in a known tongue (I Cor. 14:16) What shall we then say of chanting, which fills the ears with nothing but an empty sound?” (John Calvin, Commentary on Psalm 33).

Read more quotes here.

It is strange how times have changed. To think that the use of instruments of music to worship God was opposed by almost all Christians just over 200 years ago. Why did these men believe that it was so wrong? Why do most believe that worshiping with instruments is so right today? This is a subject that all should reconsider. What is the ideal music for worship that God desires and pleases Him? What do the New Testament Scriptures present as true worship that pleases God?

About Scott J. Shifferd

Minister, church of Christ in Jacksonville, FL. Husband and father of four. Email: ScottJon82[at]yahoo.com
This entry was posted in Christian, Salvation and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

26 Responses to Charles Spurgeon Differs from Today’s Baptists on Church Music

  1. Particular Baptist says:

    Consider as well researching John Gill’s Goatyard Confession from 1729 and the 1742 Philadelphia edition of the 1689 Second London Confession. The introduction of musical instruments began as a simple, mere pitch pipe; observe into what it has blossomed today! It is sad to think after the New School separated from the Old School documented in the 1832 Black Rock Address, Fifty Years Among the Baptists, the histories of such as Griffin, Hassell, and others (primitivebaptist.net) has so corrupted the Baptist into tax exempt 501(c)(3) denominational creatures of the state! Patrick Leeland, co-father with James Madison of Amendment I, with the Anabaptists and Paulicians must be rolling in the grave.

    Such a measure as congregational singing defeated ecumenicity as well as makes carnal music and its popish doctrines impossible, videlicet, Contemporary Christian Music and Musicians. To see the heresy and departure of the ecumenical, dispensational (futurist), antinomian and synergist CWM camp, consider David Cloud’s index of over 500.
    http://www.wayoflife.org/publications/books/directory_of_cwm.php

    Liked by 1 person

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