Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Not A Square Inch

It was 90 years ago this week that a remarkable saint passed into glory. Abraham Kuyper died on November 8, 1920. Minister of the gospel, theologian, scholar, journalist, author, editor, educator, politician, and patriot, he stands tall almost a century after his passing among the heroes of the Christian faith.

It might fairly be affirmed that his credo was: "There is not a square inch in the whole domain of our human existence over which Christ, who is Sovereign over all, does not cry, 'Mine!'"

A brilliant and diverse man, who served his God and his country in many capacities, he meditated upon Psalm 73 (To Be Near Unto God 1):

You have love for your native land, you have love for the beauty and grandeur of nature, you have love for the creations of art, from the sense of compassion you have love for suffering humanity, you are conscious of love for what is noble, true and of good report, and thus in all honesty almost every man can say that he also has love for God, and that his love for God even exceeds all other loves, since all good that inspires love is from God, and God Himself is the highest good. And yet while this love for God can be a lofty sentiment, can be deeply serious, and can even be able to ignite a spark of enthusiasm, the soul may have no fellowship with the Eternal, and have no knowledge of the secret walk with God; the great God may not have become his God, and the soul may never have exclaimed in passionate delight: "I love God!"

Love for God, taken in general, is still largely love for the idea of God, love for the Fountain of Life, for the Source of all good, for the Watcher of Israel Who never slumbers, for the One Who, whatever changes, eternally abides. But when there echoes in the soul the words "I love God!" then the idea, the sense and the reality of the Eternal Being becomes personified. Then God becomes a Shepherd Who leads us, a Father Who spiritually begat us, a Covenant-God with Whom we are in league, a Friend Who offers us His friendship, a Lord in Whose service we stand, the God of our confidence, Who is no longer merely God but our God.

A defender of hymnody in worship, he nevertheless wrote (Our Worship, p. 39):

1. In Holy Scripture we do not find a separate collection of prayers, but we do find a separate collection of psalms.
2. The spiritual depth of the psalms exceeds by far anything that afterward was composed as a church hymn and was sometimes claimed to be even more spiritual.
3. Whenever hymns came into the churches, they always seemed, first, to push back the psalms, and then to supplant them.
4. The psalms have always echoed the enduring, eternal keynote of the pious heart, while hymns usually had a temporary quality and were marked by what was popular at the moment.
5. Hymns in most cases led to the singing by choirs, with the congregation becoming listeners.
6. In the struggle between hymn and psalm, all nominal members favored the hymns over the psalms while the truly pious members were much more inclined to use the psalms rather than the hymns.

At his funeral, 90 years ago, the mourners sang the timeless words of Psalm 89.7-8:

7 God is greatly to be feared in the assembly of the saints, and to be had in reverence of all them that are about him.
8 O LORD God of hosts, who is a strong LORD like unto thee? or to thy faithfulness round about thee? (KJV)

No comments:

Post a Comment