How man-made hymns invaded Presbyterian churches in the 1800's
This may be of interest to some that do not know how the EVIL of man-made hymns snaked itself into the Presbyterian church...note the person that Satan used to do this-same line he used with Eve...the evil one is good at giving imitations just look at the Church of Rome.
The first impulse given to depart from the exclusive use of the psalms as the matter of praise to God in his sanctuary, came from a work of Dr. Isaac Watts, entitled An Imitation of David's Psalms. These became very popular among Presbyterians in the United States . As an antidote to this corruption of a divine ordinance, the late Dr. James R. Wilson, of the Reformed Presbyterian Church, published a pamphlet entitled, "Dr. Isaac Watts an Arian, proved from his own Writings." This work opened the eyes of many who had fallen into the very common mistake of inferring Dr. Watts' orthodoxy from his seeming piety. There is no greater fallacy than this, and yet it is quite common. The Arian and Socinian, who "deny the Lord that bought them," can speak and write as piously as the most orthodox divine; and it is only "by good words and fair speeches they deceive the hearts of the simple." If they did openly and boldly avow their heresies, denying the supreme deity of the only Savior, many would take alarm and escape the snare of the fowler.
Watts' Imitation prepared the way for uninspired "evangelical hymns" to supplant the Psalms of the Bible. And here we give one example, illustrating the mode by which the innovation was some tim es introduced:
In the early part of this century, and in the locality in central Pennsylvania , a minister who had been for many years pastor of a Presbyterian congregation was removed by death. During his long pastorate the Psalms had been exclusively used in praising God. The precentor who survived his beloved pastor was stricken in years. In due tim e a successor to the old pastor was called by a majority of the congregation. He was in the vigor of early manhood, fresh from the theological seminary, and fully up to all the improvements of the more fashionable congregations in the Atlantic cities. On the morning of the Sabbath on which the new pastor first occupied the pulpit, instead of the customary order observed by his venerable predecessor, invocation of the divine presence and favor, the explanation of a portion of psalmody, that the worshippers might be prepared to sing God's praise with the spirit and with the understanding; the first movement of the new pastor was to rise with the air and majesty of a perfect and polished gentleman. He held in his hand a hymn book and "gave out a hymn!" The old precentor had occupied his usual position just before the pulpit. The young minister lingered on his feet, expecting the old precentor to lead the congregation in the novel "service of song." Instead of complying, the old gray-headed man arose from his seat, lifted his three-cornered hat, and slowly moved to a suitable position in an aisle of the meeting house. He then turned and addressed the pastor as he was still standing in the pulpit as follows:"Sir, I have been for forty years precentor in this congregation, and you have this day done to me what all the devils in hell could not do; you have shut my mouth from praising my God in this congregation." He then went slowly out at the door, weeping as he went, and never returned. Such is an authentic narrative of the affecting scene by one who was a personal witness. Indeed we have often heard of instances in our own day, bearing more or less analogy to the above example.
Now there are persons who deprecate all controversy in religion. While we can respect their feelings, we cannot approve their judgment. We are to "contend earnestly for the faith." Can any person propose or name any other subject of controversy so worthy of our contending as "the faith?" No, this bears upon the glory of God and involves the present welfare and eternal destiny of man.
PSALMS OR HYMNS. Part 1.
VOL. III. MARCH, 1881. NO. 1.