The English Congregationalists And Presbyterians Confessed The Rule Of Worship

XVI. That God is to be worshipped according to His own will, and that only in and through Jesus Christ.

A New Confession of Faith (1654) in James T. Dennison Jr., ed., Reformed Confessions of the 16th and 17th Centuries in English Translation: 1523–1693, vol. 4 (Grand Rapids, MI: Reformation Heritage Books, 2008–14), 431.

Subscribe to the Heidelblog today!


  1. The more I think about it the more I see how the Reformed made a complete break with previous corruptions. Worship really effects doctrine and visa versa. The too are connected. The Reformed confessions really are marvelous, breaking where needed and yet retaining catholicity.

  2. It could not be any more true or to the point, but dare to suggest that might rule out singing anything except Scripture, or singing without musical instruments, in worship, prepare for fight or flight, or at least duck to avoid assault from verbal projectiles.

      • Yes, Timothy, just as we may sing about killing Gentiles in Ps 68 or Pss 149-50 (probably, originally, one psalm) without actually doing it. We are at a different place in redemptive history, when the types and shadows have been fulfilled.

        N. H. Ridderbos and P. C. Cragie explain:

        Israel was bound to God in a relationship of covenant; the commitment to covenant relationship, on Israel’s part, involved the recognition that obedience would result in blessing, disobedience in cursing (Dt. 27–28). A similar structure is found in international treaties; the persons binding themselves in a treaty invite curses on their own heads if they should break the conditions of the treaty. And similar conditions applied to personal contracts; two persons bound themselves together in a contractual relationship and agreed upon the “divine curses” that should be invoked in the event that one or other party to the treaty should break its stipulations. It is this context of covenant (or personal contract or national treaty) that forms the background to much of the harsh language employed in the Psalms. In royal Psalms the expression of such harsh sentiments against an enemy is in effect the calling down of the curses of the treaty upon the enemy’s head; if the enemy had broken the terms of the treaty, its harsh curses should befall him, for he had agreed to such conditions in the formation of the treaty in the first place. A clear example of the covenant context of the harsh language of the Psalms can be seen in Ps. 7, which has the general characteristics of an individual lament. The psalmist prays for his vindication and asks that wicked persons might die (v 9); yet it is clear that the language of the Psalm as a whole is a reflection of the language of treaty or contract curses. Thus the psalmist invites the same curses to fall on him, if he has been guilty of breaking the terms of the treaty or contract (vv 4f [MT 5f]; cf. J. H. Tigay, JBL, 89 [1970], 178–186). It becomes clear that the apparently vindictive and harsh nature of much of the language of the Psalms should be interpreted in a legal context, rather than being interpreted as an expression of personal hatred. The enemy of the psalmist has broken the stipulations of an agreement, but seeks to bring discredit on the psalmist, as if he were the guilty party. The psalmist, in turn, calls for the curses of the treaty to fall on the head of the enemy, in part to establish his own innocence of the charges laid against him, and in part because the enemy had agreed that he should suffer the curses if he broke the contractual stipulations. This general context of treaty curses provides not only a perspective for understanding harsh language against enemies, but also for interpreting statements concerning the death of enemies’ children. Thus the desire expressed for the destruction of children in Ps. 17:10 must be seen in the context of a national treaty between nations; the Psalm is a royal liturgy, with a treaty background, and its language reflects not personal hatred, but the invocation of treaty curses (agreed to by the enemy) upon all the nation’s foes (cf. F. C. Fensham, ZAW, 77 [1965], 195–202). [ISBE, s.v., Psalms]

        This is how the Reformed understood 2 Chron 29:25. The instruments mentioned in 2 Chronicles were associated with the sacrificial, priestly ministry and, as such, were inherently typological. Indeed, this was the universal understanding of the ancient church until the 8th century (c. 754) and remained the dominant understanding as late as the 13th century when Thomas Aquinas called their use in worship “Judaizing.” The Reformers returned the church to its original, apostolic, understanding of the history of redemption.

        Just as the holy wars and Levitical sacrifices expired with the death of Christ so too did the instruments.

        Here are resources on this:

  3. Dr. Clark,
    I am so late in my reading the History of Reformed Worship that I will probably be in heaven, seeing it all, before making even a tiny dent in all of the amazing works of my brothers. But for now, thank you for posting Beza’s work on the Lord’s Supper. Thank you for devoting your life to recovering confessional Reformed Theology. I am grateful.

  4. In a previous post, on the question of whether musical instruments could become idols, you quote someone as saying, “when I hear the organ, I feel the presence of God.” Yikes! Is that why people get so defensive? Their emotional
    response to the sound of instruments becomes so important to them that it has become a quest for illegitimate religious experience.

    • The insidious thing about QIRE is that it draws us away from dependence on the Word, and into worship that caters to our sinful desire to experience God in a way He has not authorized.

Comments are closed.