The Joyful Sound!
James Smith, 1855
"Blessed are the people who know the joyful sound! They shall walk O Lord, in the light of your countenance!" Psalm 89:15
The allusion is to the trumpet of the Jubilee. Every fiftieth year this trumpet was blown, proclaiming liberty, restoration to forfeited property, and the full enjoyment of religious privileges. It prefigured and set forth the gospel, which is the most joyful sound ever heard by the ears of man. The gospel preacher is like a trumpeter, who publishes peace, pardon, reconciliation to God, and everlasting salvation. The prophet alludes to this when he says, "And in that day a great trumpet will sound. Those who were perishing in Assyria and those who were exiled in Egypt — will come and worship the Lord on the holy mountain in Jerusalem." Isaiah 27:13.
The gospel is a joyful sound — a joyful sound to sinners. To them it is suitable, for them it is intended.
It proclaims a release from slavery. We are all the slaves of sin and Satan. But now every one who believes in Jesus — is delivered from sin, and rescued from the power of Satan. Sin has no power or dominion over him. Satan cannot lead him captive at his will. The chains which bound him, are broken. He is sent out free.
It publishes a full discharge from all debts and demands. Sin is represented by a debt, as it lays us under the most solemn and awful obligation. Justice has a demand upon us. A demand which we can never meet. The law says, "Pay — or perish!" But the gospel assures us that Jesus has met and discharged all demands, so that every one that believes in him is justified from all things. All his debts are paid. All obligation to punishment is done away; and the believer is, in reference to his state — as though he had never violated the law, or merited the displeasure of God.
It assures us of a hearty welcome to the mercy-seat! There we may go and confess our sins, and obtain a pardon. There we may present our supplications and receive answers of peace. There we may bring our needs, and have them all supplied. God is on a throne of grace. He invites sinners, the vilest sinners to him. He bids them come boldly, that they may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
The gospel informs us that Paradise is regained, that our
forfeited inheritance shall be restored. That there is . . .
rest for the weary soul,
solace for the dejected spirit,
comfort for the troubled and cast down, and
life — everlasting life, for all who are willing to receive it!
Precious gospel! Glorious glad tidings! Blessed be God
for the joyful sound! It just suits our case. It . . .
banishes our fears,
nourishes our hopes,
brightens our prospects,
anticipates our needs, and
bids us to rejoice and be exceeding glad!
Dear reader, in this precious gospel, you will find . . .
all that you need;
all that you can desire;
enough to meet your case — be it ever so sad;
enough to cheer your heart — be it ever so gloomy;
enough to fill you with all joy and peace in believing.
"Blessed are the people who know the joyful sound!"
They have heard it with seriousness and attention;
they have understood it as a message from God, to his poor, depiaved, and rebellious creatures;
they have believed it, as worthy of their confidence, and demanding their credit;
they have approved of it, as just suited to their case, and adapted to make them both holy and happy;
they can distinguish between its free grace melody, and the hoarse legal notes of the law, or the flesh pleasing sound of human systems;
and they have acted upon it, as the rule of their faith and practice.
Does it invite them to Jesus? To Jesus they go.
Does it bid them come just as they are? They go without any preparation.
Does it promise them pardon, peace, and eternal life? They expect these invaluable blessings, not because they in any sense deserve them — but because God has graciously promised them.
Does it command them to renounce their own righteousness, and cease from trying to procure one by their own endeavors, and submit to receive, plead, and be accepted in the righteousness which God devised and Jesus wrought? They renounce all their own imagined goodness, they leave off at once, and forever attempting to recommend themselves to God by anything of their own, and gladly accept and heartily depend on the finished work of Jesus.
In a word, does it require them to become little children, to look for everything in Christ, and be nothing, that he may be all in all? They readily sit down at his feet, look to him as the great mediator of salvation, and receive him as their wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption.
Reader, can you in these lines trace your own experience? Do you know the joyful sound? Do you look simply to Jesus for pardon, peace, righteousness, strength, and life eternal? Have you found peace in Jesus? Have you returned to your Father's bosom, and are you enjoying a Father's love?
"Blessed are the people who know the joyful sound." Yes, and they alone are blessed. All beside are under the curse. Many have never heard it; and many who have heard it have not embraced it. They have made light of it, and so have increased their condemnation.
But all who really know it, are truly blessed. Slavish fear is done away. They no longer view God as an angry judge — but they look upon him as a loving Father; they do not fear his wrath — but believe his love; they do not flee from him as a foe — but approach him as a friend. God smiles upon them. They enjoy the light of his reconciled countenance. His smile creates a present Heaven. A holy, elevating, transforming light shines upon them. God shines into their hearts, and gives the gladdening knowledge of his glory in the person of Jesus Christ. They walk unfettered in the way of peace. They walk with sanctified people, and with God himself. They press on toward the prize of their high calling. They travel homewards every hour of the day. They have a degree of solid happiness now, and they are anticipating full, complete, and perpetual happiness in a brighter and better world!
Reader, such is the gospel. It is good news for the vilest of men. It is glad tidings for the chief of sinners. It is a joyful sound, sufficient to make the most miserable happy, and the most wretched contented. Do you know it? Do you live under its influence? Does it cheer and gladden your heart in your present affliction?
Such also is the true believer's privilege. Do you enjoy it? Are you walking in the light of the Lord's countenance? Those who thus walk below, shall assuredly walk in the light of God's countenance above. Here we walk in the light of grace, there we shall walk in the light of glory. Grace and glory are essentially the same — they differ only in degree. O to know more of this precious gospel, and to walk more constanly in the light of God's countenance!