“It is, by being instrumental in the salvation of souls, that the church promotes the glory, and secures the worship, of Jehovah. Divine worship can be celebrated, and the praise of the glory of divine grace can be shewn forth, only by those who are ‘saved and called with an holy calling, not according to their works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus, before the world began:’ and this work of salvation is carried on in and by the church. The church, by subjecting the conscience to the authority of Christ, by maintaining wholesome discipline, and by affording opportunity of communion with God and with his saints, tends powerfully to enlighten the understanding, to enliven the affections, to restrain the passions, to promote Gospel morality, and to advance the divine life in the soul. ‘The Lord added to the church such as should be saved.’ ‘He gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers: for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ.’
Such are the ends subserved by the existence of a church in the world. And it is carefully to be observed, that all these ends are brought about by the mediatorial administration of the Saviour. He it is who sends forth his light and his truth to gladden and direct an ignorant and benighted world; who prompts and enables men to celebrate the ordinances of God’s worship; and who carries forward the work of salvation in the souls of believers.”
“By setting up a church in the world the Mediator has provided for the public celebration of Divine worship. It is every way proper that some acts of public homage should be paid to the God of the whole earth. The private adoration of individuals would seem not to be all the honour that is due to Him whose claims are so universal and transcendent. He is certainly entitled to acknowledgment in the most public and open manner possible. This is secured by the existence of a visible church, in which his being, perfections, purposes, and works, are publicly discussed; in which his praises are publicly sung, and in which united and public supplications are offered at his throne of grace. Even supposing that, for this end, secret acts of worship might suffice, it may fairly be questioned whether the spirit of such could be kept up, without the influence arising from public institutions. The devotions of the sanctuary, doubtless, exert, and are designed to exert, no small influence on those of the closet and the family. The lamp of personal or domestic piety will send forth but a dim and sickly ray, unless trimmed and replenished by frequent visits to the house of the Lord. When the believer feels those fervent emotions that are represented by his soul thirsting for God, and under the impulse of which he is stirred up to seek the Lord with great earnestness, it is that he may ‘see the power and glory of the Lord as he had seen them before in the sanctuary.’ If the psalmist David poured forth the sweetest and warmest strains of devotion in the wilderness of Judea and in the forest of Hareth, we must go back, for the secret of his high and holy inspiration, to the days when he trod the courts of the temple,—days which not merely exerted a reflex influence on his solitary exercises, but which, so far from making him contented with these, caused his soul still to long, yea even faint, for the courts of the Lord, and to count a day in God’s house better than a thousand. If we would rise to true elevation of heart in the closet, we must ‘lift up our hands in the sanctuary.’ So necessary is the church to the proper worship of God.”
“From the 1871 Associate Reformed Presbyterian Synod’s “Summary of Doctrines”:
“It is the will of God, that the sacred songs contained in the Book of Psalms be sung in His worship, both public and private, to the end of the world; and the rich variety and perfect purity of their matter, the blessing of God upon them in every age and the edification of the church thence arising, set the propriety of singing them in a convincing light ; nor shall any human composures be sung in any of the Associate Reformed churches.” This regulation not only asserts the propriety of singing the Psalms in Christian worship, but forbids the use of human composures, and is supported by the following, among other considerations:
1. The Book of Psalms is a portion of the “Word of God and is, therefore, the truth most pure; human productions may, and often do contain error.
2. The true idea of praise is the celebration of God’s perfections and work; this the Infinite God, who only knows Himself can express inconceivably better than man, and we should reverently leave the expression of it to Him.
3. God has appointed the Book of Psalms to be used in His praise; human composures are unauthorized.
4. When we lay aside God’s own inspired Psalter in order to use man’s in the place of it, we seem to dishonor God and give man the preference.
5. The hymn books prepared by churches are sectarian, give prominence to their peculiar dogmas, and thereby perpetuate the divisions of the church; the Book of Psalms, like the Bible of which it is a part, is common ground on which the whole visible church may stand.”