Stephen Charnock and Jonathan Clapham on Biblical Worship and Psalmody

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C. Matthew McMahon

Christian Preacher

A Christian’s True Spiritual Worship to Jesus Christ – by Stephen Charnock (1628-1680).

Stephen Charnock (1628-1680) was a Reformed minister of the Gospel and Puritan preacher, widely respected in his day for lecturing on the existence and attributes of God.

From John 4:24, “God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth,” Charnock explains the nature of God as it relates to true, spiritual worship. He shows how God is a Spirit, and what it means that we are to worship God in spirit and truth. His main doctrine from the text is that worship due to God ought to be spiritual, and spiritually performed by his people in truth and righteousness. Worship is nothing else but a rendering to God the honor that is due to him.

Charnock shows that the nature of God and the prescription of his will alone (only found in the Scriptures) informs us what kind of worship is to be presented to him. The pillars on which the worship of God stands cannot be discerned without divine revelation. Worship depends on the scriptural directions God prescribes as the sovereign Lawgiver. True worship, then, must be conformed to the rule and pattern of God’s will and pleasure, revealed in his holy word. It must have truth for its substance, and spirit for its manner, otherwise, it is not worship with which the Father will be pleased.

Charnock warns that lukewarm and indifferent services to God in worship stink in the nostrils of God. To give God only an external form of worship without its life, is taking his name in vain. We mock him when we do not mind what we are speaking to him, or what he is speaking to us in worship.

Annexed to this work is the never before published, “A Short and Full Vindication of that Sweet and Comfortable Ordinance of Singing of Psalms,” by Jonathan Clapham (1611-1676). This is a powerful biblical treatment of psalm singing.

(This work is not a scan or facsimile, has been carefully transcribed by hand being made easy to read in modern English, and has an active table of contents for electronic versions.)

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