At the time of this writing (September 9) the undersigned and his wife are once more in an apartment in Pella, Iowa, situated at 1218 North Main. We arrived here on Saturday, September 3, after a very hot trip, made the more wearying due to the pre-Labor Day traffic on the highways. Now the hot weather of late summer has given way for the cooler air of early fall, and, we believe, that beautiful autumn days will come according to the word of God to Noah.
We look back upon the summer that has passed with its sorrows and joys. Summer in these parts is certainly not the time for lectures, visits or any concerted effort. The climate here is too hot and humid during the summer, and farmers are busy and others are off on vacations, etc. Hence, we can only relate that we preached here in Pella for four Sundays, two during June and one in July and one in August.”
It may interest our readers to know that the undersigned preached, catechized, taught Sunday School, led Consistory meetings and gave a Fourth of July address in our South Dakota churches during the month of July. (While in South Dakota we were called to Michigan to the funeral of our dear niece, Agalene VanBaren.) On the Fourth of July the undersigned spoke on “Stewardship In A Democratic Society.” It was a good day, all in all. During the month of July we also gave a lecture in Randolph, Wisconsin on the subject, “God’s Unchangeable Marriage Ordinance.” Of course, even during the summer months, and that, too, in spite of much traveling, copy had to be supplied for The Standard Bearer.
Then, there were the very busy weeks, called our “vacation?’ We had the privilege (as had many of our ministers on their vacation) to preach seven times in three weeks, in Creston, Grand Haven and in First Church. There was the ever interesting and joyful Y.P. Convention to attend, with its instructive and timely speeches; its delicious banquet meal, meeting old friends and colleagues, and seeing those who were but children a few years ago also at the convention as young men and women. It seems a long while ago since the first Convention, held at South Holland, Illinois, whither we drove from Pella, Iowa honored as the first and only speaker at that occasion. One says then: Tempus fugit!
Also we might attend and enjoy the outing at Douglas Walker Park near Byron Center to remember the great goodness upon God’s servant, Rev. H. Hoeksema, at the occasion of the forty-fifth year of his ministry. How good it is to meet with friends and brethren.
If I am permitted to say just something of a more domestic nature: we might also officiate and be present in First Church at the occasion of the marriage of one of our daughters, Garretta, to Thomas Newhof. One sees his children marry and leave the paternal home with mingled feelings of joy and pain. Who said that parting was sweet sorrow?
I must not forget to relate that during this, summer we also were present to witness the deliberations of the Synod of our churches. It was so very heartening for the undersigned and Mrs. Lubbers that Synod received these two churches, Forbes and Isabel, without a dissenting vote. May these churches press forward in faith and confidence and obedience to Christ’s will, expressing their unity in faith and life with all our churches.
However, there was one meeting which was not held, and which I could not attend. I felt and feel that such a meeting should have been held. I have reference to a meeting which should be called “Mission Day.” How wonderful it would be for our people and also for the Home Missionary should the Consistory of the calling church and the Mission Committee arrange a program with appropriate speeches and song. I think of a very wonderful address which I heard many years ago on a Mission Fest. It was on the subject, “Election and Mission.” I shall never forget the three points of the speaker. They were: 1. Election the basis of Mission. 2. Election the directive of Mission. 3. Election the guarantee of fruits of Mission. Points which are well to reflect upon. What a boon to be sent off by the prayers of the calling church, who have the needs of the Mission bound upon their hearts, heeding Paul’s exhortation: “withal praying for us, that God would open the door of utterance to speak the Mystery of Christ . . . that I may make it manifest as I ought to speak.” Col. 4:3, 4.
At the present time we are planning and preparing a few lectures to be given in these parts again. Will there be audiences? We remember: where two or three are gathered! The Lord knows and we wait for Him! And: we are always a sweet savor unto God, both to them that perish and to them that are saved. May the Lord of the harvest give the increase upon our labors.
Contribution On The Hymn Question
Dear Rev. H.C. Hoeksema:
I wish you God’s richest blessing upon your work and not only you, but all our members, ministers, consistories, classes and synod. Shall, we, however, experience that blessing, we must walk in His ways. The Word of God says that we shall not turn to the left nor to the right and in another place it says that we shall not add to nor take away from that Word. All we need is the Word of God: In our prayers! In our preaching! Also in our singing!
Then if we look at all the so-called. churches that begin with thinking that they can express the truth better in song than the Holy Spirit does in the Word, where then are they? They should be a good example unto us that we should not start with this. The devil knows that if we start to play with that we are on his side.
Then they start to say, “But must we then condemn all hymns? I know that there are a lot of good hymns.” This is the same as with books. Surely there are a lot of good books, but it is just like brother Huiskens wrote inThe Standard Bearer that we would not think of reading those good books or sing those good songs on the Sabbath Day in our worship services.
All that we need and can trust is the inspired Word of God. If we sing of the birth, the work, the death and the resurrection and the ascension into heaven of our Lord, we surely cannot do that with a hymn. Then we need the Word of God, namely; the Psalms.
And what an unrest all this brings into the church. Brother Huiskens surely had a good example when he writes that like a flock of sheep that have heard the bark of a wolf they will cling together. We should thank the Lord for that. That is surely still a sign of life.
Then you say, Rev. Hoeksema; that what brother Huiskens says about the consistory of First Church does not fit. Well, he surely could not blame the consistories of South Holland and Oak Lawn. He must surely use your consistory as an example and then I would say, “Shame on a consistory that even desires or suggests bringing hymns into our churches.”
Oak Lawn, IL
—Mr. R. Rooda
Reply To Brother Rooda
Thank you, brother, for the interest and concern you show in your contribution.
In reply, the following:
1. Brother Rooda’s main contention seems to be that in our church music we must have nothing but the inspired Word of God, namely, the Psalms. In fact, this thought takes up the biggest part of his contribution. I believe that this is a position which cannot be maintained, which Mr. Rooda does not really maintain, and which our churches do not maintain. It is neither the language nor the intent of our Church Order. This is plain:
a. From the fact that Article 69 speaks of much more than the Psalms. The Twelve Articles of Faith, the Morning and Evening Hymns, and the Hymn of Prayer are not the inspired Word of God. And therefore, if by Psalms the article means the inspired Word of God, and intends that only this inspired Word of God may be sung in the church, the article is self-contradictory.
b. From the fact, which we all can see, that we do not have and do not sing the inspired Word of God in our Psalter or in our Dutch Psalms. This is a catchy phrase, “the inspired Word of God.” And it has been appealed to more often in support of psalm-singing. And I would certainly say that if it were a question of the inspired Word of God over against mere human compositions, we would have to choose for the former as a matter of principle. But that is not the case. In both our English and Dutch Psalters we do not have the inspired Word of God, but versifications based on the Word of God. All these versifications involveinterpretation. Many of these versifications are rather far from the text of Scripture. And some of them can even be called erroneous. Let me give a couple examples. Number 7 of our Psalter is:
1. “On the good and faithful God has set His love;
When they call He sends them Blessings from above.
Stand in awe, and sin not, Bid your heart be still;
Through the silent watches Think upon His will.”
This is a versification of: “But know that the Lord hath set apart him that is godly for himself: the Lord will hear when I call unto him. Stand in awe, and sin not: commune with your own heart upon your bed, and be still. Selah.”
A comparison will show that there is only one little part of these two verses which appears literally in the versification, namely: “Stand in awe, and sin not.” The rest is versification and interpretation.
Or think of verse 2 of Number 7:
“Lay upon God’s altar Good and loving deeds,
And in all things trust Him To supply your needs.
Anxious and despairing, Many walk in night;
But to those that fear Him God will send His light.”
This is a versification of: “Offer the sacrifices of righteousness, and put your trust in the Lord. There be many that say, Who will shew us any good? Lord, lift thou up the light of they countenance upon us.” Inspired Scripture? The latter is; the former is far from it!
Or in the Dutch compare that old and beautiful favorite, which I do love, 89:8, “Gij toch, Gij zijt hun roem, de kracht van hunne kracht ….” Compare this with Scripture. It is supposed to be a versification of Psalm 89:18, 19: “Want Gij zijt de heerlijkheid hunner sterkte, en door uw welbehagen zal onze horn verhoogd worden. Want ons schild van den Heere, en onze koning is van den Heilige Israels.” A beautiful versification? O yes, and it expresses the faith of the church. But inspired Scripture? Absolutely not; merely a versification, involving interpretation.
2. If the former is true—and it is—then there can be noprincipal objection to other versifications of Scripture, whether Old or New Testament, and to hymns in that sense. And no one need shame himself for thinking of it.
3. But I repeat: let one of the elders of the First Consistory write about the meaning and intent of their overture. I did not hear the wolf bark!