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David Dickson on ceremonial use of musical instruments

David Dickson was a Presbyterian minister who was born in 1585 in Glasgow, Scotland. He was an only child, and one asked of the Lord by religious parents who had been childless for many years. Mr Dickson was first a pastor at Irvine in Ayrshire, where under his ministry “multitudes were convinced and converted” despite the fierce persecution under Prelacy. A very close and familiar friend of James Durham, one result of their friendship was the excellent “Sum of Saving Knowledge” which is usually bound with the Westminster Confession and the Catechisms. In the 1640’s he became a minister in Glasgow and professor of theology; in 1649 he moved to Edinburgh to be minister and professor at the college there until his death in 1662.


From Mr Dickson's commentary on Psalm 4.


From the inscription of this Psalm, which is the first wherein mention is made of the chief musicians, or musical instruments: learn 1. The praise of God and the joy of his Spirit, allowed on his people, surpass all expression which the voice of words can make; for this was signified by the plurality, and diversity of musical instruments (some of them sounding by being beaten, some of them by being blown,) superadded to the voice of singing in the prædagogy of Moses. 2. Albeit the ceremonial, figurative, and religious use of musical instruments be gone, with the rest of the Levitical shadows, (the natural use of them still remaining:) yet the vocal singing of Psalms in the church is not taken away, as the practice and doctrine of Christ and his apostles make evident; and so the voice of a musician in the public worship still is useful. 3. The Psalms are to be made use of with discretion, as the matter of the Psalm, and edification of the worshippers may require. And in the public, it is the called minister of the congregation's place, to order this part of the worship with the rest; for this, the direction of the Psalms to the chief musician giveth ground.



A COMMENTARY ON THE PSALMS, by David Dickson. Published by The Banner of Truth Trust, 1985. p 14.