THE GREAT TRUMPET OF THE EVERLASTING GOSPEL.
This Sermon was preached at Abernethy, upon Saturday,
July 24th, 1786 being the preparation-day before the
administration of the Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper.
“And it shall come to pass in that day, that the great trumpet shall be blown, and they shall come which were ready to perish in the land of Assyria, and the outcasts in the land of Egypt, and shall worship the Lord in his holy mount at Jerusalem?” Isaiah 27:13
My friends, it is only the trumpet of common providence that hath, perhaps, gathered you together to this place—you hearing the news go through the country, that the sacramental feast was to be kept here, and so you have come along with the rest; but it is the great trumpet of special powerful grace that can gather perishing sinners together to Christ, and make them come to him for life and salvation, liberty, and redemption from their spiritual captivity. And, O may the sound of this trumpet be so heard, as many may come to Jesus at this occasion, that they may worship the Lord spiritually in his holy mountain
These words are to be considered, first, in their literal, and then in their typical and spiritual meaning, in order to deduce a suitable doctrine from them.
1st, As to the literal import of the words, they relate to the church of Israel that was scattered, their being gathered together and brought back to Jerusalem. Though the body of the people was abandoned as a people of no understanding, (v. 11); yet mercy was laid up in store for some that were to be gathered as the sheep of the flock, when the shepherds (the rulers in church and state) that scattered them should be reckoned with: “Thus saith the Lord God, behold I am against the shepherds and I will require my flock at their hand, and cause them to cease from feeding the flock; neither shall the shepherds feed themselves any more; for I will deliver my flock from their month, that they may not be meat for them. For thus saith the Lord God, Behold, I, even I, will both search my sheep, and seek them out. As a shepherd seeketh out his flock in the day that he is among his sheep that are scattered; so will I seek out my sheep, and will deliver them out of all places, where they have been scattered in the cloudy and dark day,” (Ezek. 34:10-12). Now concerning these scattered Israelites you may observe these particulars.
1. From what place they were to be brought and gathered. We are told, the Lord shall beat them off; that is, as fruit from a tree, which is carefully gathered for the use of men; and he should beat them off from the channel of the river to the stream of Egypt; that is, from the river Euphrates to the river Nilus, which were the two borders of the land of promise. All the Israelites left in the land, are here opposed to these of them that are dispersed into foreign parts, such as Assyria and Egypt: he shall find out his scattered people, and separate them from these with whom they seem to be incorporated; these that were driven to the land of Assyria, ready to perish for want of necessaries, and ready to despair of deliverance; and these that were outcasts in the land of Egypt, whither these that were left behind, after the captivity into Babylon, went, contrary to God’s express command, (Jer. 43:6-7), and there lived as outcasts.
2. In what manner they were to be gathered; “Ye shall be gathered one by one, O ye children of Israel,” (v. 12); pointing out either the smallness of the remnant of that numerous people, or rather God’s exact and singular care of them, that not one of them should be lost. As God had mercy in store for perishing outcasts, and will make it appear that, though they are cast out, they are not cast off; so he takes particular of gathering them one by one; not in multitudes, but first one, as it were, and then another. This, indeed, is the way of God’s gathering his elect remnant: for ordinary they are but few: “And of Zion it is said, This man and that man is born there.”
3. By what means they shall be gathered, “The great trumpet shall be blown;” that is, by the proclamation of liberty by King Cyrus to the captives, which awakened the Jews, that were asleep in their thralldom, to bestir themselves and return to Jerusalem and their own land; of which proclamation you read, (2 Chron. 36:22-23; Ezra 1:2-4). This was like the sounding of the jubilee-trumpet, which published the year of release; thus God was to summon them, as it were, by the sound of a trumpet from the remotest parts of the earth, by an eminent call or act of his providence in their behalf; and particularly from Assyria, where the ten tribes were carried captive; and from Egypt, where many of the Jews were.
4. For what end they should be gathered, namely, To worship the Lord in the holy mountain at Jerusalem. Though the holy temple was in ruins, yet they had the holy mount, the place of the altar, (Gen. 13:4). Liberty to worship God in his instituted ordinances is a most valuable and desirable liberty.
2dly, As to the typical and spiritual meaning of these words. That they have a further view than what I have yet mentioned, will appear, if you consider that as King Cyrus was an eminent type of our Lord Jesus Christ, so the deliverance of Israel from the Babylonish captivity and Egyptian thralldom, by his means, was eminently typical of the redemption to be wrought for sinners through Jesus Christ, from their spiritual bondage. To this purpose you may read, Isaiah 44:28 and 45:1-
5. In all this Cyrus was a type of Christ, who was made victorious over principalities and powers, and entrusted with unsearchable riches, for the use and benefit of God’s servants his elect. When he ascended on high, he led captivity captive, taking these captives who had taken others captive, and opened the prison to them that were bound.
Again, Cyrus’ proclamation of liberty to the captive Israelites, which was here prophesied of, more than a hundred years before it came to pass, is compared to the blowing of a great trumpet, in allusion plainly to the silver trumpets which the priests were to use, (Num. 10:2), for assembling the Israelites: which signified how the ministers of Christ should lift up their voice like a trumpet, to show the people their sins, (Isa. 58:1); and to call them home to Christ out of their captive state. To the same purpose, (Lev. 23:23), we read of the feast of trumpets; a memorial of blowing of trumpets on the first day of the seventh month, the beginning of the year of jubilee. This was typical of the preaching of the gospel: and in allusion to this, they are said to be blessed that hear the joyful sound, (Ps. 89:15); that are invited to come to Christ, and to wait upon God in his public instituted ordinances. Mount Zion also here mentioned being an eminent type of the gospel-church, this text is not only applicable to the preaching of the gospel of Christ for gathering sinners to him; but the typical and spiritual sense of it is a prophetical declaration and promise of the conversion of the nations to the faith of Christ, by the blowing of the silver trumpet of the everlasting gospel.
Here then in the words, you have these four things represented to you.
1. The sad and miserable ease of sinners by nature, they are outcasts, ready to perish, under their spiritual captivity to sin, and Satan, and the wrath of God.
2. The relief provided and proclaimed in their ears, by the great trumpet of the gospel, which proclaims the acceptable year of the Lord, the year of liberty to perishing captives; “The great trumpet shall be blown.”
3. The power and efficacy of this relief thus proclaimed by sound of trumpet, for determining all the chosen Israel of God, to betake themselves to the city of refuge; “They shall come:” the gospel of Christ shall be the power of God to their salvation; they shall come to Christ.
4. The end and design of their coming to Christ, namely, that they may serve and worship the Lord in his holy mount, and that they may have fellowship and communion with God in Christ; and, being accepted in the beloved, may offer acceptable service to him in his holy place.
Passing many doctrines that may be drawn from the words, I shall, as the Lord may assist, speak to this only.
OBSERVE: That as it is the duty of perishing sinners, who hear the gospel, to come to God in Christ as the only Saviour and glorious object of worship; so it is an encouraging promise, that when the great trumpet of the gospel is blown a number, of outcast sinners, ready to perish, shall come, and shall worship and serve him acceptably in his holy mount.
I might, at considerable length, prove every branch of this doctrine.
1. That it is the duty of perishing sinners to come to Christ the Saviour: this is plain from all the calls of the gospel; “Whosoever will, let him take of the water of life freely,” (Rev. 22:17). “Ho, every one that thisteth, come ye to the waters,” (Isa. 55:1). “Come unto me all ye that labour and are heavy laden; and I will give you rest,” (Matt. 11:28).
2. That they ought to come to him as God the Saviour, and God the glorious object of worship, by whom we are to worship God, and whom we are to worship as God; “Look to me, and be saved, all the ends of the earth; for I am God, and there is none else,” (Isa. xlv. 22). “All men must honour the Son, even as they honour the Father;” (John 5:23), who therefore says, “This is my beloved Son, hear ye him.”
3. That it is the great trumpet of the gospel that is the means for gathering sinners to Christ is plain; “Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God,” (Rom. 10:17). For this end a gospel-ministry is given, (Eph. 4:12); and therefore ministers are called to preach the gospel to every creature, (Mark 16:15).
4. That a number of sinners, ready to perish, shall come at the blowing of this trumpet, and that it shall be powerful and effectual for bringing them, is also plain; for the gospel is the power of God to their salvation, (Rom. 1:16): “For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith. The election shall obtain. And as many as were ordained to eternal life shall believe, (Rom. 11:7; Acts 17:48). “His people shall be willing in the day of his power,” (Ps. 110:3).
5. That, being thus brought back to God in Christ, they shall worship him acceptably in his holy mount, is also plain from these and the like promises; “All the ends of the earth shall remember and return to the Lord; and all the kindreds of the nations shall worship before thee; for the kingdom is the Lord’s, and he is the governor among the nations. (Ps. 22:27). All nations whom thou hast made shall come and worship before thee, O Lord, and shall glorify thy name,” (Ps. 86:9). They will worship towards his holy temple, (Ps. 138:2). Hence says David, “Do good in thy good pleasure to Zion; build thou the walls of Jerusalem. Then shalt thou be pleased with the sacrifices of righteousness, with burnt-offerings, and whole burnt-offerings; then shall they offer bullocks upon thine altar,” (Ps. 51:18-19). When he sends forth his light and truth, then he brings them to his holy hill and to his tabernacle; and then do they come to the altar of God, to God their exceeding joy, (Ps. 42:3-4); then they shall worship a God in Christ acceptably and joyfully, (Isa. 56:6-7).
Thus you may see the doctrine plain in every branch of it; “That as it is the duty of perishing sinners, that hear the gospel, to come to God in Christ, as the only Saviour and glorious object of worship; so it is an encouraging promise, that when the great trumpet of the gospel is blown, a number of outcast sinners, ready to perish, shall come, and shall worship and serve him acceptably in his holy mount.”
The method wherein I would speak to it, as the Lord may assist is the following:—
To consider a little the state and condition of sinners by nature, as outcasts, ready to perish.
The duty of sinners to come to Christ as the Saviour, the great Lord-deliverer, and glorious object of worship.
Speak of the means by which the Lord gathers these sinners thus to him, namely, the blowing of the great gospel trumpet.
Touch at the efficacy of these means, and show why it is promised they shall come.
Speak of the end for which they shall come, their worshipping him in his holy mountain.
Deduce some inferences for the application of the whole.
I. We are to touch a little at the sad state and circumstance of sinners by nature. Now, there are two words here by which, O sinner, your natural sad state is represented: 1. As outcasts, or sinners cast out. 2. Sinners ready to perish.
1. We are outcasts, as Israel in Egypt were designed: and this is the name several times given to sinners in Scripture, in allusion to the outcast Israelites; “The Lord shall build up Jerusalem, the Lord gathereth in the outcasts of Israel,” (Ps. 147:2). “He shall set up an ensign for the nations; he shall assemble the outcasts of Israel from the four corners of the earth,” (Isa. 11:12). The Lord seems to glory in this name of gathering outcasts, for I find him again taking it to himself; “The Lord which gathers the outcasts of Israel, saith, Yet I will gather others to him, besides these that are gathered to him,” (Isa. 56:8). Now, if you enquire in what respect sinners are outcasts (the consideration of this is necessary, in order to your coming to Christ, when the gospel trumpet is blown in your ears; for you will not prize the proclamation of mercy if you do not see what a miserable outcast state you are in), know then, O sinner, that by your sin and fall in the first Adam, you are cast out of God’s favor and fellowship, being an alien from the commonwealth of Israel, and a stranger to the covenant of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world, (Eph. 2:12). Like the wretched infant, (Ezek. 16:5), cast out into the open field, to the loathing of thy person, in the day that thou vast born; having no eye to pity, or have compassion upon thee. O sinners, you are such outcasts, that not only have you cast out yourselves, by sin in Adam, and in your own person, by original and actual sin, but you are cast out by the justice of God, executing the law sentence against you. You are under the curse of the, law; “Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them,” (Gal. 3:10). You are not only under the sentence of the law, the sentence of condemnation, but the sentence is partly executed; the sentence is, “Thou shalt die, thou shalt surely die,” (Gen. 2:17). And behold thou art dead, thou art surely dead in sins and trespasses. The sentence is passed on thee, thou art legally dead; the sentence is executed in thee, thou art spiritually dead: being legally dead, thou art condemned already; and, being spiritually dead, the sentence of condemnation is partly executed already: and there is nothing but the small hair of a mortal life between thee and the full execution of that sentence in thy eternal death. Thus you are cast out of God’s presence, cast out of his vineyard; not only set out, or gone out, but by virtue of the law of wrath you are under, cast out like a dead dog cast over the wall of a city; “For without are dogs,” (Rev. 22:15).
In a word, O sinner, you are cast out to the devil, and led captive by him at his pleasure. The devil hath possession of you, he works in the heart of the children of disobedience. The devil is your god, for he is the god of this world, that blindeth your minds that believe not, (2 Cor. 4:4).
In these, and the like respects, you are outcasts, cast out of God’s house, and cast out to the devil; cast out into the mire, and wallowing in the mire of sin and lusts; poor, vile, and miserable outcasts.
2. You are ready to perish in your out-cast state, on the very brink of perishing forever if mercy interpose not; ready to die both the, first and second death. Ready to die the first death; for your life is but a span and the half of it is past already, and perhaps much more. Pray, where are your grandfather and grandmother? Yea, may we not say to some here, Where are your fathers and mothers? Is not their time past, and their acquaintance, whom you and your neighbors knew? Is it not just a dream to think on the days of old? Are they not all gone like a shadow, and the place where they were know them no more? Like a bird that flies through the air, leaving no vestige behind it; or like a ship that cuts out its way in the sea, and immediately the water closes up behind it and the place is not known through which it went. Is not your life perishing in that same manner? And you cannot promise upon another year, nay, nor upon another month, nay, not upon another week, nay, not upon another day, nay, nor upon another hour, nay, not upon another minute, another moment. You are ready to perish in your out-cast state, ready to die; and if you die in it, then you die forever.
You are ready to die the second death, which you have described; “But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone, which is the second death,” (Rev. 21:8). You have it described also, where it is said, “Christ will come in flaming fire, taking vengeance on them that know not God, and obey not the gospel; who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and the glory of his power,” (2 Thess. 1:8); or by his powerful and wrathful presence, which they shall forever have; and by being banished from his gracious and glorious presence, which they shall for ever want; for as heaven is a being forever with the Lord, so hell is a being forever without him. The wicked may think it an easy punishment to be without God now, while they know not his infinite excellency; but beside the punishment of sense, and sensible pain forever, the punishment of his loss will be found to be dreadful. Hunger puts no positive torment or pain upon a man; yet his suffering through hunger may be very great, when he can get nothing to ease it: now the nature of perfection is such, that whatever rational creature apprehends it, cannot but desire union with it, and be pained for the want of it. Now, if once God had unmasked his infinite glory and excellency (for there is no atheist in hell) they will see what infinite excellencies they are deprived the enjoyment of. What inexpressible uneasiness and torment will it be, to be under a necessity of desiring that happiness which can never be granted A man may be deeply in love with a mortal, a piece of clay which God hath painted amiable and lovely in his sight, and that mortal perhaps painted amiable and lovely in his sight, and that mortal perhaps light his addresses, and he may suffer such torment by his being slighted as may pine him away to death: and if one bit of clay desired, and not granted, be so tormenting and uneasy to bear, let none have slight and light thoughts of the pain of loss that these will sustain who are secluded the presence of the Lord, and his infinite beauty and excellency. Here then is the second death; God’s everlasting wrathful presence, and privation of his glorious presence forever. Thus you are ready to perish: O dismal case! ready for hell, prepared for it, and ready every moment to be thrown into that place of perdition!
II. The second thing proposed was, To speak a little of the duty of outcast sinners, ready to perish; and that is, to come to Jesus; to come back to God, by this new and living way, that they perish not in their outcast state and miserable condition. I shall here consider a little what this coming imports and in what capacity they are to come to him.
1. This coming to Christ, or to God in him, as it supposes that natural, outcast, perishing state and condition, which is a state of distance from God; and a sense or conviction of this distant and dismal state, seeing the first step in God’s way is to see ourselves entirely out of the way, and that the devil and our lusts are driving us to hell; so it supposes, indeed, a drawing power of divine grace, making the soul willing to be saved in a way of free grace, both from sin and wrath, through the righteousness of Jesus Christ. It supposes one’s hearing of the way of relief to be had in Jesus Christ, and a weighty errand that brings the soul to Jesus. Being sensible of blindness, he comes for light; being sensible of guilt, and under fear of wrath, he comes for justification and reconciliation with God; being sensible of the power of sin, and hell of corruption within him, he comes for sanctification and freedom from these massy chains of hell: being weak, they come for strength; being weary, they come for rest; being naked, they come for clothing; being destitute of all good, they come for supply of all in him, who is “all in all.” And hence,
More particularly, this coming imports a knowledge of the person to whom we come; for there is a seeing of the Son necessary to believing in him, (John 6:40). By the light of heaven the comer is made to see his absolute need of Christ, and the glorious excellency and suitableness of Christ. A man’s coming to any place; supposes his knowledge where he is going. It imports spiritual life and motion, without which none can come or go anywhere in a spiritual sense; no more than there can be any coming in a natural sense without natural life and motion. In the day of coming to Christ, the soul is quickened by the spirit of life, by the spirit of faith; and quickened to a lively hope: for this coming imports a hope of coming speed, at least a maybe the merciful king of Israel will pity me. A poor man will not come for an alms to any person that he thinks hath nothing to give him; the believing comer is persuaded there is fulness enough in Christ; fulness of virtue, in his blood; fulness of merit, in his death; fulness of power, in his arm. And hereupon chiefly this coming imports a resolute outgoing of soul after Christ, as offered in the gospel; an actual closing with him, by a practical assent of the understanding, a pleasant consent of the will, and a vigorous egress of the affection towards the Son of God. Seeing an absolute need, he ventures on an offered Christ for wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption, (1 Cor. 1:30). But this leads to the next thing here to be considered, for I must not enlarge.
2. In what capacity we are to come. We are to come to him in a twofold capacity. 1. It is to him as the Lord Redeemer. 2. As the Lord, the glorious object of worship; “They shall come and worship.”
(1.) It is to Christ as the Lord and Saviour, Redeemer and Deliverer. Christ stands as a Saviour upon Mount Zion, inviting all sorts of sinners to come to him; old sinners, young sinners, great sinners, gross sinners, the vilest and blackest outcasts, to come and get salvation; for it is his name to save; it is his nature, his delight, his office, to save. We are to come as captives to a Redeemer, ready to deliver those who are ready to perish in their captivity to sin, Satan, justice, death, and hell; and hence his voice is, “Turn to your strong hold, ye prisoners of hope:” come to me outcast sinners, ready to perish; here am I, ready to save.
(2.) It is to Christ as the Lord Jehovah, the glorious object of worship. This, I think, is also imported in the words, “They shall come and shall worship the Lord in his holy mount at Jerusalem.” Before men come to Jesus Christ, from their spiritual captivity, they are worshipping and serving the devil and their lusts; but; whenever they come to Jesus, they both worship him, and worship God in him: “He is thy Lord, worship thou him,” (Ps. 45:11). “When they saw him, they worshipped him,” (Matt. 28:17). And then, and not till then, do they worship God acceptably, when they worship God in the Spirit, and by the Spirit of Christ; and worship the Father, in the Son, by the Spirit: for the Spirit is the way to Christ, “He shall testify, of me;” and Christ the way to the Father, “No man cometh to the Father, but by me.” Faith, in coming to Christ, takes him up both as God, the great Jehovah, the glorious object of worship; and as the Christ of God, the way to God: because he is both God and man; Immanuel, God with us. Thus he is both the end and the way; and so both the glorious object of worship, and the person in whom our worship is acceptable: “They shall worship the Lord in the holy mount.” But of this more afterward.
III. The thing proposed was, To speak of the means by which the Lord gathers outcast sinners, ready to perish, and makes them come to him and worship him—namely, by the blowing of the great Gospel-Trumpet: “The great trumpet shall be blown, and they shall come.” This, as I have already showed, is the preaching of the gospel of Christ and the proclamation of the grace of God therein to poor outcast perishing sinners.
That I may speak a little of this the more distinctly, I shall show, 1. Why the preaching of the gospel is compared to the sounding or blowing of a trumpet. 2. Why it may be called a great trumpet. 3. What sort of a sound this great trumpet makes; or what the meaning of it is, as to the contents of the proclamation made by it. 4. The quality of the sound when blown.
1st, Why the preaching of the gospel is compared to the blowing of a trumpet. I design not to stretch the metaphor beyond the design of the thing: I shall only mention these two or three particulars.
1. A trumpet is a royal and majestic sort of an instrument, and hence usually kings of the earth are crowned and proclaimed by their heralds with sound of trumpet: so the gospel is the royal and majestic trumpet of the great King of kings, and therein he discovers his glory and majesty, when he rides prosperously on the word of truth, meekness, and righteousness, (Ps. 45:3-4). Therein is Christ proclaimed king of Zion, and the royalties of his grace published.
2. A trumpet is a high and loud sounding instrument, and the sound of it heard at a considerable distance. Such a trumpet is the gospel; and therefore it is said of the heralds of the great king, that preached the gospel, “Their sound went into all the earth, and their words into the ends of the world,” (Rom. 10:18). It is the loud voice of the Son of God by his ambassadors: and it is to be heard through all the earth before the end of time: “The gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world, for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come,” (Matt. 24:14).
3. A trumpet is a martial, warlike instrument, and usually blown to proclaim peace or war: and thus the gospel is a proclamation of peace with God, and war with the devil. The first sound that ever this trumpet made was a sound of peace and war both war with the devil, the destroyer of mankind; “The seed of the woman shall bruise the head of the serpent;” and peace on earth upon this ground, because the God of peace was, in this way, to bruise Satan under our feet. The gospel is the great instrument, many ways useful in directing the holy war. Sometimes it is to sound a gathering, a gathering of the people to Shiloh: the rendezvous under the standard of the Captain of salvation, calling all to come to him, and enlist with him. Sometimes to blow an alarm; “When ye blow an alarm, the camp shall go forward, and take their journey,” (Num. 10:5-6). Sometimes to sound a march, to go forward to the battle against the enemy in his name and strength, of whom it is said, “He went forth before the people; he marched through the wilderness. The Lord gave the word; great was the company of those that published it: kings of great armies did fly apace,” (Ps. 68:7, 11-12). It never sounds a retreat, nor a sist from war, except in so far as he himself sees fit to spare his enemies alive for necessary uses toward his people, saying, “Slay them not, lest my people forget.” But when they fight the good fight of faith and fights lawfully and successfully, the trumpet sounds the victory and the triumph. Thanks be to God which always causes us to triumph in Christ, (2 Cor. 2:14). “We are more than conquerors, through him that loved us,” (Rom. 8:37). “O death I where is thy sting? O grave! where is thy victory?” (1 Cor. 15:55). “To him that overcometh will I give to sit with me on my throne, even as I overcame, and am set down with the Father on his throne,” (Rev. 3:21).
4. The blowing of a trumpet requires life, breath, and wisdom also: even so, in order to the blowing of the gospel-trumpet, the spirit of life is necessary, and the breathing of the spirit of life. They who are not quickened by the Spirit of Christ, and do not enjoy the breathing of the Spirit of Christ, cannot blow the gospel-trumpet to any good purpose, at least, they are not God’s ordinary instruments of quickening others: but Who is sufficient for these things? “Not that we are sufficient of ourselves, to think anything as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God, who hath made us able ministers of the New Testament, not of the letter but of the spirit; “for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life,” (2 Cor. 3:5-6). The gospel-trumpet will do little service, if the Spirit of Gad be not the, breath that blown it. A great trumpet requires great breath; and therefore, O sirs, look to heaven for the great breathing of the Spirit to accompany the gospel. Yea, the blowing of the trumpet requires wisdom and skill; one may have both life and breath, and yet want skill to blow a trumpet; even so, much, spiritual wisdom is requisite in blowing the gospel-trumpet, that we handle not the word of God deceitfully; that we blow not a false alarm, or a false peace; that we give not an uncertain sound; for, as the apostle says, “If the trumpet give an uncertain sound, who shall prepare himself to the battle?” If it be not precious truth, and pure gospel that is preached, we are not to regard it, though the trumpet were blown by the mouth of an angel: “If we or an angel from heaven preach another gospel, let him be accursed,” (Gal. 1:6).
2dly, I am here to inquire, why the gospel may be called a great trumpet. This I shall dispatch in a few words.
1. It is a great trumpet, because it is the trumpet of the great God, and of the great King, the great Saviour; for so our Lord Jesus is called, “They shall cry unto the Lord because of the oppressors; and he shall send them a Saviour and a great One, and he shall deliver them,” (Isa. 19:20). O how great is this man, this God man! How great in his person, being the brightness of the Father’s glory, and the express image of his person; the Prince of the kings of the earth; great in his offices: a great Prophet, a great High-priest, a great King; great in his relations, great in his names; great in his promises; great in his purchase; great in his victories; great in his fulness; having all the fulness of the Godhead in him. It is the trumpet of the great King.
2. It is the trumpet of a great salvation: “How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation,” (Heb. 2:3-4) published by the gospel-trumpet? The great Saviour comes with a commission under the great seal of heaven; “For him hath God the Father sealed.” And he comes upon a great design, the salvation of great sinners, in such a way as the ultimate end thereof is the glory of God’s great perfections, and the praise of grace. It is salvation from the greatest moral evil—namely, sin; and salvation from the greatest penal evil, from the wrath to come, that is proclaimed by this trumpet.
3. It is a great trumpet, in opposition to all other earthly trumpets, that are but little emblems of this great one. What are the trumpets of earthly kings and conquerors, when laid in the balance with the gospel-trumpet, sounding the triumph of our glorious Conqueror, and saying, “Who is this that cometh from Edom with dyed garments from Bozrah? This that is glorious in his apparel, travelling in the greatness of his strength? I that speak in righteousness, mighty to save?” (Isa. 63:1).
4. It is a great trumpet, in respect of the great consequence of the sounding and blowing of it; for, as the gospel is called the everlasting gospel, so everlasting life or everlasting death will be the consequence of your hearing thereof: “To some we are the savour of death unto death, and to others the savour of life unto life,” (2 Cor. 2:16). Not that the gospel brings a sound of death and damnation to any of itself; no, by no means; it is a word of salvation to sinners: but when this joyful sound is slighted by final unbelief and impenitency, then it brings the greatest ruin and perdition. See and read to this purpose, Hebrews 10:28-29, and chapter 11.
5. To slight the sound of this great trumpet, then, brings the greatest damnation, the hottest hell; but in itself it is a merciful sound. Therefore,
2dly, I am here to consider what sort of a sound this great trumpet brings, and what sort of a proclamation is made by it. In general, when this great trumpet is blown, it gives a sound of grace and mercy to poor outcast sinners ready to perish. It is called, “The grace of God, that bringeth salvation to all men,” (Titus 2:11), as you may read in the margin. More particularly,
1. The sound of this great trumpet is a sound of life to dead sinners; “I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly, (John 10:10).” “The hour cometh when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God; and they that hear shall live,” (John 5:25). “I am the resurrection and the life: he that believeth on me, though he were dead, yet shall he live,” (John 11:25). This trumpet is for rousing and awakening the dead; and blessed are they that are awakened and quickened with the sound of it; for the voice of it is, “Awake, thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light,” (Eph. 5:4). No trumpet but that of the living and life-giving God can sound after this manner; and it is like himself; for he is the God that quickens the dead, and calls things that be not, as though they were, (Rom. 4:17).
2. The sound of this great trumpet is a sound of liberty to captive sinners; “The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, for he hath anointed me to preach good tidings to the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the broken-hearted; to proclaim liberty to the captives; and the opening of the prison to them that are bound; to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn,” (Isa. 61:1-2). “O captive sinner, lying in the chains of sin and Satan, and in the chains of unbelief and enmity, would you have your chains loosed, and your soul set at liberty? Hear the voice of the trumpet;” “The Lord looseth the prisoners,” (Ps. 146:7). Turn ye to the stronghold, ye prisoners of hope,” (Zech. 9:12). “By the blood of thy covenant have I sent forth thy prisoners out of the pit wherein is no water,” (v. 11).
3. The sound of this great trumpet is a sound of pardoning grace to the condemned sinner; it proclaims indemnity to all the guilty rebels against heaven that hear and welcome the sound of it; “Be it known unto you, men and brethren, that through this man is preached unto you the forgiveness of sin. And by him all that believe are justified from all things, from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses,” (Acts 13:38-39). It is free indemnity through Christ, to the praise of his glorious grace, that is proclaimed; “In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the richness of his grace,” (Eph. 1:7). O! will any condemned sinner accept of pardon and indemnity upon these gracious terms? The condition is already fulfilled; the blood of Jesus Christ hath bought remission. This blessing of his blood comes therefore to you freely, that you may accept of it freely, and you have it. “Not for your sake, not for your sake doth he give it, but for his own name’s sake: I, even I, am he that blotteth out your transgressions for mine own sake,” (Isa. 43:25); for no other reason but that you may have the good of it, and I may have the glory of it.
4. The sound of this great trumpet is a sound of purifying grace to the filthy sinner; “In that day there shall be a fountain opened to the house of David, and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, for sin, and for uncleanness,” (Zech. 13:1). The trumpet proclaims to you, O filthy, polluted sinner, going quick with vermin, all overspread with the ugly vermin of sin and corruption: it proclaims, saying, Behold, The God of Heaven, hath provided a fountain of purification, both for sin and for uncleanness; both for taking away the guilt of sin, and the filth of sin; yea, behold, he hath provided both a Red-sea, and a crystal river; a Red-sea of blood, The blood of Christ cleansing from all sin, (1 John 1:7); and the crystal river that proceedeth out of the throne of God and of the Lamb; and this is to be in you as a well of water springing up to everlasting life, in his quickening, purifying, and sanctifying presence and operation, (John 4:14). You cannot sanctify and purify yourself, no more than you can create a world: but here am I that can create a clean heart within you; “Behold the Lamb of God, who taketh away the sin of the world;” therefore, “Take with you words, and say, Take away all iniquity,” thou whose work it is, and whose promise thus sounds in mine ears, “I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean: from all your filthiness and from all your idols will I cleanse you,” (Ezek. 36:25). This great trumpet then, hath a sound of life and liberty, pardon and purity; life to the dead, liberty to the bound, pardon to the guilty, and purity to the filthy. These comprehend all that you need, both in time and for eternity; for the everlasting gospel proclaims everlasting blessings, everlasting life, everlasting liberty, everlasting pardon, everlasting purity and holiness; all to be had in Christ, the everlasting Lord and Saviour, who was dead, and is alive, and lives for evermore; and all to be had, partly and graciously here; and fully and gloriously hereafter.
5. In a word, the sound of this great trumpet is a sound of complete salvation, in all the respects wherein poor sinners that hear the joyful sound need to be saved. It is a sound of instruction to the ignorant, saying, “They shall be all taught of God.” A sound of direction to the bewildered, saying, like a voice behind them, “This is the way, walk ye in it.” The trumpet proclaims, saying, Here is rest for the weary soul; comfort for the drooping soul; strength for the weak; riches for the poor; raiment for the naked; sight for the blind; supply for the needy soul; here is salvation for the lost soul; grace, glory, and every good thing for these that have nothing. Here, in short, then, is the matter of the proclamation by sound of trumpet from heaven. You have a sum of the joyful sound of this trumpet; “In this mountain shall the Lord of Hosts make unto all people a feast of fat things, a feast of wines on the lees, of fat things full of marrow, of wines on the lees well refined,” (Isa. 25:6). “Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters; and he that hath no money, come ye, buy and eat; yea, come buy wine and milk, without money and without price,” (Isa. 55:1). Ho, every one that pleaseth, come and match with the Son of God: “All things are ready, come to the marriage,” and so come to the marriage-feast. So much shall suffice for this particular.
4thly, I proposed here to speak a little of the quality of this sound of the great gospel trumpet, when it is blown in Zion. And,
1. It is a joyful and a charming sound; “Blessed is the people that know the joyful sound; they shall walk, O Lord, in the light of thy countenance. In thy name shall they rejoice all the day long; and in thy righteousness shall they be exalted,” (Ps. 89:15-16). The voice of the trumpet is, “Behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be unto all people: for unto you is born this day in the City of David, a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord,” (Luke 2:10). Some that were once delivered by a conqueror, from outward bondage, made the elements ring, and the birds fall out of the air with their voice, crying out, Soter, Soter, a Saviour, a Saviour. O how much more should the glad news of a Saviour, to save from sin and everlasting wrath, be received with joy! It is a joyful and charming sound; shall the voice of the Charmer be rejected and despised by the deaf adders here?
2. It is a divine, awful sound; it is the voice of the Son of Man; yea, the voice of the Son of God; it is the voice of the great God that is to be heard through this trumpet, that voice that shakes the heaven and the earth, (Heb. 13:26). It is a lofty sound, from the high and lofty One, that inhabits eternity: a majestic sound, for “The voice of the Lord is full of majesty.” Though it be a still small voice, like that Elijah heard, (1 Kings 6:12); yea, the Lord is in it; and happy they that, through the voice of a man, hear the voice of God, by receiving it not as the word of man, but, as it is in truth, the word of God, which worketh effectually in you that believe, (1 Thess. 2:13). Hence,
3. It is an internal and spiritual, as well as an external sound; “It is the Spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing; the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life,” (John 6:63). Hence it is a sound that both wounds and heals the soul; that first kills, and then quickens the soul; and so it appears to be the voice of the living God, who says, “I kill and I make alive; I wound, and I heal.” It is external, in the publication to the ear; and faith comes by this hearing; and then it is internal and spiritual, in the operation of it upon the heart; and, O may it be a living and life-giving, and soul-quickening sound too many here; for, it is the voice of the Son of God, that makes the dead to hear and live.
4. It is a long and lasting sound. The sound of common trumpets, when they are blown, is but a dying sound; but the great trumpet of the everlasting gospel is not so: it is the word of God that lives and abides forever, (1 Pet. 1:23). The echo of this joyful sound will be heard forever, both in heaven and in hell. The joyful echo among the redeemed, and the dreadful tormenting echo among the damned, will be everlasting: it will not sound forever as now it doth; but the echo thereof will be heard louder and louder to all eternity, when all things else will wither and fade; this you see clear from 1 Peter 1:24-25, compared with Isaiah 40:6, “The voice said, Cry. And I said, What shall I cry? All flesh is grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of the grass. The grass withereth, and the flower thereof falleth away; but the word of the Lord endureth for ever; and this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you.” And as to the present external dispensation of the gospel, God keeps the count of the time how long the trumpet sounds in your ears: “All day long have I stretched out my hand to a disobedient and gainsaying people,” (Rom. 10:21).
5. It is a near sound, not at a distance, like news from a foreign country, but near at hand, and bringing heavenly things near us: “Hearken unto me, ye stout-hearted, that are far from righteousness: I bring near my righteousness; it shall not be far off; and my salvation shall not tarry,” (Isa. 46:12-13). He placeth this salvation in Zion, for Israel his glory; “The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart; that is the word of faith which we preach,” (Rom. 10:8). The word is nigh to your heart; for the Lord is dealing with your by it; O may he not only deal, but prevail. For,
6. It is a powerful, conquering sound: it will prevail, so as to reach the end of it one way or another: “not return unto me void; but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it,” (Isa. 55:11). God will not blow his trumpet in vain; all rejectors and despisers shall be rendered inexcusable by it; and all his elect shall be mercifully conquered; for the trumpet hath a surmounting sound; it sounds over the tops of all the hills and mountains of sin and guilt, and of unbelief and enmity; “The voice of my Beloved! behold he cometh, leaping upon the mountains, and skipping upon the hills, (Song 2:8). The voice of the Lord is powerful, melting down mountains in his way. “The voice of the Lord breaks the cedars of Lebanon.” This leads,
IV. To the fourth general head proposed, To touch at the efficacy of this means; and why is it promised, that a number of outcast sinners, ready to perish, by the blowing of the great trumpet, shall come. Arminian doctrine, that aboundeth in our day, makes the efficacy of the gospel depend upon man’s free will: but, we have not so learned Christ: he hath made surer work; and all the efficacy to depend upon his free grace; and this is secured by his, shall be: “The great trumpet shall be blown, and they shall come.” The Father’s promise to the Son secures it; “Thy people shall be willing in the day of thy power,” (Ps. 110:3). “He shall see his seed. He shall see the travail of his soul, and be satisfied,” (Isa. 53:11). The Father’s promise to the Son is secured and confirmed by his oath upon this head; “Once have I sworn by my holiness, that I will not lie unto David. His seed shall endure for ever,” (Ps. 89:35); his seed among Jews and Gentiles, and among the nations afar off; “I will give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the utmost ends of the earth for thy possession. He shall bring forth judgment to the Gentiles, and the isles shall wait for his law.” Amidst all the discouragements that men may give us in our preaching the gospel, here is the encouragement that God gives us in blowing the great trumpet in the ears of outcasts, ready to perish. There is a number among them that shall come; “Other sheep I have that are not of this fold; them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice,” (John 10:16). I must bring them, and they must come. The sweet necessity he is under of bringing them, produces in the day of power, a sweet necessity in them, saying, O, we must come to Christ; we perish without him: we hear the sound of his trumpet; and therefore we say, “Behold, we come unto thee, for thou art the Lord our God.”
QUESTION: Why is it promised, that a number of outcasts, ready to perish, shall come, when the gospel trumpet shall be blown?
ANSWER: 1. Because none would have encouragement to come, if there were not a promise that they shall come. Here is encouragement to all that hear the sound of this trumpet. It is true, may a soul say, I know not if I be intended, but I see the promise respects the like of me: the promise of drawing grace, respects the like of me, that cannot come of myself; the promise of pardon respects these that are guilty; the promise of cleansing respects these that are filthy; the promise of taking away the stoney heart respects these that have a hard, stupid heart. Now, this is my case, and therefore, here is a door of hope; here is some encouragement for me to come to him, and wait upon him. And as none would have encouragement if it were not so: so all may have encouragement here: the door of hope is open.
2. He hath promised they shall come, because as none would have encouragement to come, so none would have grace to come, if it were not promised; and if it were not by virtue of the promise made in Jesus Christ: for it is grace coming out of the promise that is turned to grace in the heart. Then, indeed, the soul comes, when the grace that lies in the promise is turned to grace in the heart, and wrought there by the means of the promise. It is by virtue of the great and precious promise we are made partakers of the divine nature, and of the Spirit of faith; the promise being pleas and arguments for faith, and for the prayer of faith, saying, Lord, hast thou not so and so said to such as I am; and will thou not do as thou hast said: hast thou not said, That Solomon shall reign, that grace shall reign? and wilt thou suffer sin to reign? And the promise being the pipe and channel for the communication of grace, the conduit from Christ to us, “All the promises being Yea and Amen in Christ,” and the conduit-pipe reaching from the heart of Christ to the mouth of faith, we suck in his fulness. As the law begets terror, so the promise begets faith; both by the freeness of it to the most unworthy, and the fulness of it, being a plaster as big as the sore, and exactly answering to its want; and by the efficacy of it, through the secret working of the Spirit, discovering this fulness and freeness of divine grace, and drawing the heart towards this promising God.
8. He hath promised they shall come, that thus he may secure his own glory, which he designs to show forth in his way. His great design, in saving any poor perishing sinner, is the glory of his name, and the honor of all his perfections: “Sing, O heavens; for the Lord hath redeemed Jacob, and glorified himself in Israel,” (Isa. 44:23). He designs, by redeeming them, to glorify himself; and that he may show forth his perfections, and they may show forth his praise: “This people have I formed for myself, they shall shew forth my praise,” (Isa. 43:21). He thus shows forth the glory of his wisdom, power, holiness, justice, mercy, and truth; and therefore he hath promised they shall come: and this, with all the other promises of God, are Yea and Amen in Christ, to the glory of God, (2 Cor. 1:20).
4. He hath promised they shall come by faith to him, that their salvation may be sure; “Therefore it is of faith, that it might be by grace; to the end the promise might be sure to all the seed,” (Rom. 4:16). As God’s word, “Let it be,” brought the world into a being; so his “shall be,” is the cause of what comes to pass in the new creation. His saying, “they shall come,” is the cause of their coming, otherwise they would never come. He hath declared his will in this world, concerning their coming to him for life and salvation; and by his will they are sanctified, and saved through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all, (Heb. 10:10). And what can be surer than the will of God, and that God will have his will? “He worketh all things after the counsel of his own will,” (Eph. 1:11).
V. The fifth head I proposed was, To speak a little of the end for which they shall come, namely, “To worship the Lord in the holy mount of Jerusalem.” To speak now of divine worship at any length, is what I cannot propose; there are only four things concerning it, that, I think, the words here lead me to, namely, here is the nature, the object the manner, and the spring of worship.
1. The nature of it, imported in the name worship. “To worship is to give any one the honor due unto him; so to worship God, is to render that honour and homage that is due to him,” (Ps. 29:2). Now, the worship of God is twofold, internal and external. Internal worship is to love God, to fear him, to believe and trust in him; these are acts of inward worship, and the sum of that honor we are required to give to God in the first command. External worship is the serving of God according to his own ordinances and institutions, which is the sum of the second command, comprehending all the several ways wherein he will be honored and served, such as prayer, praise, &c. Both these must go together: internal worship pleaseth God best: external worship honoureth him most, and setteth forth his glory in the world. Hence the temple was called, “The place where God put his name,” i.e. his worship; by which God is known, as a man is by his name. “They that worship God must worship him in spirit and in truth:” in Spirit, that is, with inward love, fear, reverence, and uprightness; in truth, that is, according to the true rule of his word. The former respects the inward power and the latter the outward rule; the former strikes at hypocrisy, and the latter at idolatry; the one opposes looseness of our hearts in worship, and the other opposes the inventions of our heads.
2. The object of worship is the Lord; “They shall worship the Lord.” Hence we read, “Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve,” (Matt. 4:10). To me it would seem, that by the Lord here, in the text, we are to understand the Lord and Saviour Christ, because I see no difference made between the object of faith here expressed by coming, and the object of homage here expressed by worship; “They shall come, and shall worship the Lord.” However this be, it is God. Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, that is the object of religious worship; and the Unity must be worshipped in Trinity, and the Trinity in Unity: and, when we direct our worship to any one person, we must include the rest in the same worship; and we are to conceive of him as he hath manifested himself to us in his word. If we worship God out of a Trinity, as the Turks; or God out of Christ, as the Jews; we worship not the true God, but an idol.
3. The manner of worship, and the acceptable way thereof, is here pointed out: “They shall worship the Lord in the holy mount at Jerusalem;” that is, to worship him in the beauty of holiness, (Ps. 29:2), i.e. in his holy temple, or in his beautiful sanctuary: in a way honorable to him, which can only be in and through Jesus Christ.
Now, for the further understanding of this, you would consider, that Jerusalem of old was the place of worship, “Whither the tribes went up, the tribes of the Lord to the testimony of Israel,” (Ps. 122:3-4). But now, under the New Testament dispensation such is the great goodness of God to us, he doth not now tie us to any place. See and read, John 4:20-21. He doth not tie us to go to the further part of the nation to worship: no; the land is everywhere holy: wherever his name is recorded, there is a Jerusalem, there is a Zion.
Again, consider that the holy mount at Jerusalem, Mount Zion largely taken, including Mount Moriah, was the place of the temple, which was eminently typical of our Lord Jesus Christ. And as all the true worshippers of God then were to worship at or toward the material temple (hence the expression of worshipping at his holy hill, (Ps. 99:9); and worshipping towards his holy temple, (Ps. 5:7); “In thy fear will I worship toward thy holy temple:” and thus, (Ps. 138:2); so, to worship the Lord now, in the holy mount, is to worship God in Christ. And as to ascend into the hill of the Lord, and to stand in his holy place, (Ps. 24:3), this to worship God in the holy mount at Jerusalem, is, in the language of the New Testament, to worship God in Christ: in the Spirit of Christ, for assistance; and in the faith of the merit and righteousness of Christ, for acceptance; for “We are accepted in the Beloved,” (Eph. 1:6). It is an entrance with boldness into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, (Heb. 10:19). It is to have access to God in our prayers and praises, and in the ordinances of the word and sacrament of his own appointment and institution; and access with boldness and confidence by the faith of him, (Eph. 3:12). This is the same with that of David, “Bring me to thy holy hill, and to thy tabernacle: then will I go to the altar of God, to God my exceeding joy,” (Ps. 43:3-4).
4. Here also is the root and spring, or the cause of this worship implied in these words, “They shall come, and shall worship:” importing that faith is the internal principle that leads on the soul to religious duties and worship; for first they shall come, namely, by faith; and then they shall worship. “Without faith it is impossible to please God,” and to worship him acceptably. And importing also that the power of the spirit is the internal efficient cause of spiritual worship, stirring up and exciting the soul to it; for here is a double promise; first, “They shall come;” and then, “They shall worship;” which says, that not only must the Spirit give us faith to come, but also grace to worship when we have come. One may be a believer in Christ that hath come to him, and yet out of case to worship the Lord in his holy mount, till the Spirit by his new breathing and influence raise up the dormant seed of grace; and, by his blowing upon our garden, make the spices thereof flow out. The same power that is first put forth in the mighty sound of the great gospel trumpet, by virtue of that promise, “They shall come,” is necessary also to be put forth by virtue of that promise, “They shall worship.” Our coming to Christ believingly this day needs a powerful shall be, for that, “They shall come;” our communicating worthily tomorrow needs another powerful shall be, for that, “They shall worship.” So much for this head, “They shall worship in his holy mount at Jerusalem.” I come,
VI. To the sixth and last thing proposed, which was to draw some inferences for the application.—And,
1st, By way of information. If it be so, as has been said, hence,
1. We may see the infinite mercy of God towards poor perishing sinners, especially these within the pale of the visible church. Though they be outcasts, by casting out themselves, yet he sends the great trumpet of the gospel to call them in. They are ready to perish in their sin and misery, and behold, he here shows himself ready to pity, and ready to save them, saying, “To you, O men, do I call; and my voice is to the sons of men. Incline your ear unto me; hear, and your soul shall live.”
2. Hence we may see what is the work of ministers, whom the Lord sends forth, namely, to blow the trumpet in Zion, (Joel 2:1). There is a twofold trumpet they are to blow; the trumpet of the law, and the trumpet of the gospel.
(1.) Sometimes they are called to put the terrible trumpet of the law to their mouth, to “Tell Jacob their sin, and Israel their transgressions;” to “Cry aloud, and not spare,” (Isa. 58:1). They are to spare no pains, nor to spare their breath in blowing from Sinai, to show sinners both their sinful and miserable state, and how they are upon the very brink of ruin, and ready to perish. But then still they are to preach the law with a view to the gospel, and as a schoolmaster to lead them to Christ.
(2.) Again, they are called to blow the great gospel-trumpet to these perishing sinners, proclaiming life, liberty, and salvation to them in a way of coming to Jesus, as the end of the law for righteousness, that the curse of the law may be put to an end with respect to them; not that from henceforth they may be lawless, but that they may be conform to the law, as a rule; for, in coming to him, they come to worship the Lord in his holy mount. Thus, indeed, the true gospel-minister preaches always Christ, whether it be the law or the gospel that is in his mouth; and he brings in more honor to the law than all the legal preachers in the world, with their moral harangues, and high encomiums upon moral virtue: for the gospel-minister preaches the law and its curse, to bring the soul to Christ, in whom the law gets full satisfaction and complete payment, as it is a covenant of works; and the sinner coming to him, gets redemption from all the curses of it: and then he preaches the gospel of the grace of God in Christ, so as the sinner, being come to Christ, may come to his duty of right worship toward God, according to the direction of the law as a rule. He shows their perishing state, that they may come to Christ, and he calls them to come to Christ, that they may come to God in him, and worship the Lord in his holy mount.
Great skill then is requisite in blowing this great trumpet. It is true, some are qualified of the Lord for blowing more loud and awfully, like Boanerges, as sons of thunder: others for blowing more softly and sweetly, like BOANERGES, as sons of consolation: and indeed, “There are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit,” (1 Cor. 12:4). Some are qualified and set apart for one piece of the tabernacle work, and some for another: some to be founders, and some to be as it were, barrow-men in the work of the spiritual temple; some for this post and station, and some for the other. Let the great God be reverenced in all this; for it is he that qualifies and separates every one for his own proper work. If he call one and the same person, at different times, to different work; or, if he call out one to go forth and blow an alarm, with a terrible sound, and another to trumpet forth grace, and make the people know the joyful sound; there is need for each of them: let infinite wisdom be adored.
3. Hence we see may the duty of people, with reference to the ministers and their message, when blowing a great gospel-trumpet; it is surely people’s duty, both to pray for them, and to receive their message, by harkening to the sound of the trumpet.
On the one hand, it is their duty to pray for poor ministers, that they may blow the great trumpet with the breath of the Spirit; and preach the gospel in the demonstration of the Spirit, and with power, (1 Cor. 2:4). “Brethren, pray for us,” says the apostle; pray that a door of utterance may be opened. Never was there a time wherein God’s people had more need to pray for ministers; it is a day wherein it is much for them to hold their feet. There are grievous defections among the most part in Scotland, and these breaking out in judicatories, which we should lament over, and give our testimony against, as sometimes we essay to do: yea, there are sinful defects in testifying among these that desire to do so; and yet sin in not doing so much as they ought. But I say again, ministers had much need to be prayed for: and I have a word to say to you upon this head, not to offend you but to deal plainly with you in the sight of the great God, whose trumpet I am honored to put in my mouth. I see some offence is taken at some worthy ministers, whom you and I both, perhaps, reckon so; I mean these that, upon the main, are known to be faithful, so far as their light and ability goes, and that have the seal of their ministry upon many souls, and whose ministry the Lord is still owning and blessing; when these do anything that is amiss in your eyes, whether it be seemingly or really, I ask you, Whether you be more taken up in judging them or in praying for them? As to rash judgment, there is nothing you are more cautioned against in God’s word; and as to praying for ministers particularly, there is nothing more expressly commanded. Now, I ask you again, before God and conscience, Whether you are more taken up in judging them, or in praying for them? I shall suppose they are really left to some wrong step; but, if you have been neglecting to pray for them, perhaps that is the cause why God hath left them, and thereupon you turn your back upon them also and revile them; and so the poor men suffer both the rebukes of God, and the reproaches of men, for your sin in neglecting to pray for them: and, therefore, hereupon I ask you again, Whether or not, before ever you are offended with them before the world, you are first displeased with yourself before God, and humble yourself before him, for your sinful neglect in praying and wrestling with God for them? If this be not your way, but, on the contrary, you be rashly disobliged at the poor honest ministers, for the evil which your sin hath brought upon them: then, I must tell you, in God’s name, though you were as the signet of his right hand, God will take his own time and way of restoring them, and rebuking you.
But again, as it is your duty to pray for ministers, so also to receive their message, and hearken to the sound of the trumpet in their mouth; and, indeed, if it be God’s great trumpet that they blow, then surely not to listen to it is to stop your ears at the voice of the charmer, like the deaf adder, and to refuse him that speaketh from heaven, which is a sin; how deep it runs you may see; “See that ye refuse not him that speaketh: for if they escaped not who refused him that spake on earth, much more shall not we escape, if we turn away from him that speaketh from heaven,” (Heb. 12:25).
4. Hence we may see, from this doctrine, what it is that makes the preaching of the gospel effectual to the salvation of perishing sinners, when the great gospel trumpet is blown. It is not any virtue of this or that preacher; no; it is the power of God exerted according to the promise, that then they shall come and they shall worship. What is it that will make the dead sinner to believe savingly? It is the efficacy of this word, “They shall come.” What is it that will make the believer a worthy receiver at the Lord’s table? It is the efficacy of this word, “They shall worship the Lord in his holy mount.” It is a day of power that is here promised to accompany the blowing of the great trumpet, which he makes the rod of his strength, and sends it out of Zion. The gospel is the ministration of the Spirit which is received by the hearing of faith. This leads me to the next use we intend from the doctrine.
The second use we make is for examination. You may try both your state and frame from this doctrine, in these following particulars, whether or not you be of these who, by the blowing of the great trumpet, have been made to come to Christ, and to worship the Lord in his holy mount. Examine by these two particulars, 1. If you have been made to hear the voice of God in the great trumpet of the gospel. 2. If thereupon you have been made to live, so as to come and worship. These two are the sum of God’s saving work comprehending all; “The hour cometh, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God; and they that hear shall live,” (John 5:25).
1. Have you heard the voice of God in this great gospel trumpet? I ask not if you have heard this or that man speaking to you; but if you have heard God speaking by the word to you and heard it, not as the word of man, but as the word of God. More particularly, have you heard,
(1.) So as to be convinced of your Egyptian thralldom and Assyrian bondage; and found yourself to be an outcast wretch, a sinner ready to perish, whereas before you were sleeping in your chains? Hath God’s trumpet alarmed you, so as you have seen yourself lying under the curse of the law, and putting you in fear of everlasting wrath and damnation, as one lying on the very brink of hell, and made you to cry, “Oh! What shall I do to be saved?”
(2.) Have you beard so as to be awakened, as it were, from among the dead, to see that life and salvation is to be had in the glorious IMMANUEL, Jesus Christ, who is proclaimed a Saviour and Redeemer by the sound of the gospel trumpet? There is a seeing of the Son by a spiritual discerning, before there can be a believing on him, (John 6:40). Hath the great trumpet then so far roused and wakened you up, that you have got your eyes opened, not only to see the massy chain of spiritual captivity you were under to sin, Satan, and wrath; but also to see the Redeemer and deliverer that is come out of Zion to turn away ungodliness from Jacob, and that there is salvation in none other? Hath Christ revealed to you by the word, been thus revealed in you, so as you have seen and perceived him to be the glorious and only Saviour?
2. Have you not only been made to hear the sound of the trumpet, thus wakening you out of your dead sleep, to a sense of sin and sight of the remedy; but, have you thereupon been made to live? “The dead shall hear his voice, and they that hear shall live.” Now, how may this life be tried? Why, the text mentions also two parts of this life; first, they shall come; and next, they shall worship in his holy mount.
(1.) Then, have you been made to come; that is, to believe in Jesus, to fly for refuge to him, and to fly out of yourself, as having nothing but sin and guilt, hell and misery about you; to him, as having all for wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption? Have you been brought under a sweet necessity of coming to Christ, and resolutely to throw yourself into his saving arms, saying, if I perish, let me perish there, where never one did? Have you found some secret drawing cord about your heart, making you restless till you come to Christ for rest to your heart and conscience? Faith is an entering into this rest, (Heb. 4:3).
(2.) Have you hereupon been made to come and worship in the holy mount; to worship God in Christ with holy fear and reverence, coming with humble boldness to the throne of grace? Hath your faith wrought by love, and the love of Christ constrained you to seek and serve him in his temple, and ordinances of his appointment. And, is this holy place the place of your abode desiring still to ascend to the hill of the Lord, and to stand in his holy place? The sum of this mark is, Are you brought to David’s one thing? “One thing have I desired of the Lord, and that wilt I seek after, that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to enquire into his temple,” (Ps. 27:4).
Now, examine yourself by these plain marks; for if you know nothing less or more thereof, whatever be your good disposition at the time, you are a stranger in Israel, and have no right to a communion table; but if you have the experience of these marks, then, whatever be the alterations of your frame, you may conclude you are in a safe state, as well as sometimes in a spiritual frame; and so have a right to the great gospel-feast of the Lord’s Supper in the holy mount, and may venture to it in his name and strength.
The third use with which I shall close, may be in a word of exhortation, especially to all the sinners here that are yet in a lost state and condition ready to perish, and like outcasts in the land of Egypt; and we would blow the great trumpet in your bearing, and “He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.” Our preaching the gospel to you is the accomplishment of one promise: “It shall come to pass in that day, that the great trumpet shall be blown:” and we are encouraged to this work by the promises annexed to it, concerning outcast sinners ready to perish, “They shall come, and shall worship.” Why, then, in the name of the great King, whose unworthy herald I am, I do, as it were, by sound of trumpet, proclaim life to dead sinners here, and liberty to you captive sinners, pardon and indemnity to guilty rebellious sinners, and purifying grace to filthy polluted sinners, and all to be had freely: “Whosoever will, let him come and take of these waters of life freely.” Will you give a hearing to our great Lord, whose treasure is put into earthen vessels, and whose voice sounds through earthen trumpets: for God’s sake, look over the poor unworthy instrument; little matter who blow the trumpet, if the breath of the Spirit convey the sound into your heart. Look over the head of the poor servant; the Master calls you, even you that are afar off, and farther from God than Egypt and Assyria are from you; yet the sound of the trumpet reaches to you.
What is your name, man, woman? Surely your name is in this text, if you be a sinner, ready to perish. “Alas I may some say, I am so ready to perish, that I am ready to give over all duties of religion, and ready to doubt of all revealed religion, and of the very being of God, and truth of the scriptures; I am ready to blaspheme, and to say, God is a liar. Oh! says another, I am ready to raise the foundation of all that ever was done in me, and ready to conclude, that now it is impossible I can be saved.” Say on, soul! and tell me more in what respects you are ready to perish. “Oh! say you, I am ready to pine away in my iniquity, and live in rebellion all my days, such is the power of my corruption; yea, I am ready through fear and dread, and terrible temptations, to kill, destroy, and put away myself; and, while I suffer the terrors of God, I am distracted; I am ready to think, that the day of grace is past, and that I am a castaway.” Are you an outcast, ready to perish in the wilderness of darkness, ignorance, and confusion? Are you an outcast, ready to perish in the prison of unbelief, atheism, enmity, and hardbound with all the chains of hell about you? Well, whatever prison you be into, whatever outcast state you be into, and in whatever respect you are ready to perish, yet, O hear the sound of the great trumpet, saying, Come, ye that are outcast sinners; come all ye that are ready to perish; come to the great King, whose heralds we are; come to the great Saviour and Redeemer; you will never worship acceptably in his holy mount, till first you come; you will never communicate worthily, till first you come to Christ. O come while the trumpet sounds, come and take his helping hand, who comes to seek and save you that are lost. He offers to save you fully, to save you freely, too save you everlastingly. Since you cannot save yourself, will you welcome a Saviour? O what disobliges you at him, who is as ready to save as you are ready to perish; and who says, Welcome to the worst of you all; Young sinner, old sinner, great sinner, chief of sinners, come while the trumpet sounds.
The second coming of Christ to judgment is hastening on, and then the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall arise; dead bodies will then rise and come to the Judge, at the sound of the last trumpet. But now the great gospel-trumpet calls dead souls to rise and come to the Saviour; “The dead shall hear the voice of the Son of man, and they that hear shall live.” Whenever dead bodies hear the last trumpet, they shall live; and whenever dead souls now hear the voice of the Son of God, in the great gospel trumpet, they shall live also.
“Alas!” say you, “I do not find a quickening power, accompanying the word, and raising my soul to life.” Why what is the reason of that? Surely, where the voice of a king is, there is power,” (Eccl. 8:4). And where the word, the voice of the King Jesus is heard, there is power. Perhaps, you are hearing the word delivered by us as the word of a man, and not as it is indeed the word of God, which would work effectually. As long as you hear but the voice of a man speaking to you, there is no power, virtue, or efficiency; but, O, tell me, do you hear the voice of the Son of God through this trumpet of man’s voice? For we speak to you in his name, whose name is the God that quickens the dead, and calls things that be not, as they were. O! then tell me, do you hear his voice, a voice that goes not into your ear only, but into your heart? Is the sound of God’s trumpet going in through and out through your heart? Then, hope, there is some power, and if you be hearing his powerful voice, then rise, the Master calls you. Rise, dead Lazarus; rise, stupid soul, ye that are as stupid as the earth beneath your feet. “O earth, earth, earth, here the word of the Lord.” The last trumpet will not be more powerful, to make the earth and sea give up their dead bodies than this great gospel-trumpet is powerful to raise dead souls, if the Lord by the breathing of his Spirit be blowing it, and if you be hearing his voice: “They that hear shall live.” I have no more to say, and I have said nothing that will be heard, unless he say the word. Rise and live; rise and come to Jesus and in this way come and worship in his holy mount. May the Lord himself speak powerfully too you.