Questions regarding 1650 Psalter preface

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deathtolife

Puritan Board Freshman
Friends on the puritan board-

The writers of the preface to the 1650 Psalter said :

Now though spiritual songs of mere human composure may have their use, yet our devotion is best secured, where the matter and words are of immediately divine inspiration;yet our devotion is best secured, where the matter and words are of immediately divine inspiration; and to us David's Psalms seem plainly intended by those terms of "psalms and hymns and spiritual songs," which the apostle useth (Eph. 5:19; Col. 3:16).

1) Would anyone here be able to explain what use "...spiritual songs of mere human composure..." would have had to them? Could they have meant outside of public worship? Also the reference to "...spiritual songs of mere human composure..." are spoken of in the context of the best songs for devotion. It seems that they saw man made songs as being useful in some aspects of Christian worship. If so when and where?

2) Why would they have used comparative language and not exclusive language? They state that our devotion is best secured. Why would they not have written our devotion is only secured? Am I being pedantic/finicky?

Thank you for your time!
 

NaphtaliPress

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Just by way of clarification, that quotation is from a 1673 preface to the only English edition of the Scottish Psalter of 1650. It was I believe signed by Owen and other prominent Puritans at that time. In other words, it is not a Scottish piece.
 

deathtolife

Puritan Board Freshman
Just by way of clarification, that quotation is from a 1673 preface to the only English edition of the Scottish Psalter of 1650. It was I believe signed by Owen and other prominent Puritans at that time. In other words, it is not a Scottish piece.
Thank you for that clarification. Yes you are right. Signed by:

Thomas Manton D.D., Henry Langley D.D., John Owen D.D., William Jenkyn, James Innes, Thomas Watson, Thomas Lye, Matthew Poole, John Milward, John Chester, George Cokayn, Matthew Meade, Robert Francklin, Thomas Dooelittle, Thomas Vincent, Nathanael Vincent, John Ryther, William Tomson, Nicolas Blaikie, Charles Morton, Edmund Calamy, William Carslake, James Janeway, John Hickes, John Baker, Richard Mayo.
 

deathtolife

Puritan Board Freshman
Rowland Ward states in a response to Iain Murray's booklet against EP:

(4)
There was no consensus among the Reformed as to the precise meaning of the term ‘psalms, hymns and spiritual songs’ in Ephesians 5:19 and Colossians 3:16.

a. Some make no special comment on the terms so far as whether they were inspired songs or not (eg. John Davenant (Colossians, Latin 1627, 1630, 1639, English 1831); John Diodati (Annotations, 1642, 1643 etc.) and John Trapp (Epistles, 1647).

b. Some considered the three-fold term referred to material agreeable to Scripture teaching but not necessarily songs embedded in the text of Scripture. Those who thus allowed for new songs included the Englishmen Thomas Cartwright (OnColossians, 1612), Paul Bayne [d. 1617] (On Ephesians 1643, 5th ed. 1658), and Edward Elton (On Colossians 1612, repr. 1620, 1637). We could add the learned Scot, Robert Boyd [d. 1627] (Ephesians, Latin 1652); and the English Baptist hymnwriter, Benjamin Keach (The Breach Repaired, 1691, 2nd ed. 1700).

c. Some regarded the terms as referring to inspired material only (inclusive of the Psalter). These included Nicolas Byfield (Commentary on Colossians, 1615, repr. 1617, 1627, 1628, 1649); Jean Daille (On Colossians, French 1643, English trans. 1672); John Cotton of New England (1647, repr. 1650) and the Scottish Commentator, James Fergusson (Colossians, 1656; Ephesians, 1659). Fergusson seems to restrict the meaning to Old Testament songs.

d. Others regarded the three-fold expression as referring to the Psalter alone. Thomas Ford (1598-1674), a member of the Westminster Assembly, is of this mind. Likewise Cuthbert Sydenham (1622-54), Presbyterian minister at Newcastle, advances this view in his 48 page tract on what he terms one of ‘the two grand practical controversies of these times’ (the other was infant baptism). To the same effect is the Biblical scholar Francis Roberts (1609-75) in his Clavis Bibliorum, 3rd ed. 1665.

This mixed tradition of interpretation is a further confirmation that the statement in the Westminster Confession, a consensus document, was not designed to bind the conscience as to the precise extent of the material of praise in the worship service.

In 1673 an edition of the Scottish Psalter was published in London with a preface signed by 25 of the leading ministers of the age, including John Owen, Thomas Manton and Joseph Caryl. They state:

‘Now though spiritual songs of meer humane composure may have their use, yet our devotion is best secured where the matter of words are of immediately Divine inspiration; and to us David’s Psalms seem plainly intended by those terms which the Apostle useth, Eph 5:19, Col 3:16.’

We know Thomas Manton was not opposed to uninspired materials of praise in public worship (see his Commentary on Jamesat 5:13), but the signers obviously stood in the line of the earlier Calvinistic Reformation. The Psalter was envisaged as the norm of praise, but commonly was not underpinned by an argument for it alone.



Referring to my OP- is it possible the preface was written in such a way to give priority to the Psalms yet recognizing that not all the men who signed the preface were EP?
 

NaphtaliPress

Administrator
Staff member
With all respect to Dr. Ward who I have corresponded and collaborated with, I have strongly disagreed with Rowland's take on this over the years. You can search the PB archives on the subject. It is easy to determine that the WA meant expressly the book of psalms when they used the term. I disagree with the attempt many make on a variety of topics to widen the meaning of the confession by appealing to a broader mix of views simply not evident in the assembly's deliberations or context, such as on creation, or it seems an ever growing list of issues.
 
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