Third. The very sound or name of a command appears to me to be taken by many people, as incapable of any other meaning than that of devolving some sort of obligation on the commanded, and the same to be fulfilled as a matter of duty. We will most readily admit that whatever is man’s duty by divine command, the Lord both commissioned his ministers in his name, and even made it their solemn duty to enforce upon men to do as their duty to God. But it is nowhere to be found that the apostles and first ministers of God, who had the ‘first fruits of the Spirit,’ and who are patterns and examples to us, have ever commanded any man with the command of our text, as his duty unto eternal life. And as the apostles have never done so, we certainly have no authority to do so, nor to conclude that this is a duty-devolving command at all, nor anything of the kind. There is a commandment that is life everlasting, and besides and beyond the mere commission and ministry of the gospel, our text is in the nature, order, and character of that command, and the very voice of life is in that command, and the commanded accordingly live, Zec. 16:6; and so that command is but the voice of life, from God who giveth life by his command, wherein the duty of any subject is actively impossible; as, ‘Lazarus, come forth! and he that was dead came forth,’ John 11:43,44. ‘Young man, I say unto thee, arise! and he that was dead sat up,’ Luke 7:14. ‘Maid, arise! and her spirit came again, ‘ Luke 8:53,55. ‘The hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God, and they that hear shall live,’ John 5:25. ‘Thy dead shall live, with my dead body shall they arise; awake and sing, ye that dwell in dust, in the regions of darkness and of death; for thy dew is as the dew of herbs; thy dead men raised to life are for comeliness and multitude as the morning dew-drops on the leaf of herbs; , and the earth shall cast out, yield up and surrender the dead, Isaiah 26:19, to God’s command of his blessing of life for evermore, Psalm 133:3.
And this command of life, and of the dead unto life, is also the voice of power, whereby the thing commanded is produced. ‘And he cast out the spirits with his word,’ Matt 8:16. ‘By the word of the Lord were the heavens made,’ Psalm 33:6. ‘For he spoke, and it was; he commanded, and it stood fast,’ verse 9. ‘The worlds were framed by the word of God,’ Heb 11:3. ‘Upholding all things by the word of his power,’ Heb 1:3. ‘By the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing in the water and out of the water; which by the same word are kept in store,’ 2 Pet 3:5. And as the creation, upholding, and keeping of every particle of the world of nature, is by God’s word in the voice of his power, even so is the creation, upholding, and keeping every particle of the salvation world of his grace, by the commanding voice of his power.
And to the truth of this, in regard to the gospel times and subject of our text, the spirit of prophecy, by several figures of speech, evidently bears testimony, as in Psalm xxix saying, ‘The voice of the Lord is upon many waters,’ verse 3, upon many nations, tongues, and people every where. Isaiah 32:16,17,20. ‘The voice of the Lord is powerful,’ verse 4, commanding to effect all the good pleasure and purposes of his will. ‘The voice of the Lord is full of majesty,’ verse 4; commanding, but not to be commanded; ruling, but not to be ruled; sovereign, and not to be compromised; ‘for the God of glory thundereth, verse 3. ‘The voice of the Lord breaketh the cedars,’ verse 5; the dignity, distinction, and pride of the Jews, as a people and nation. Isaiah 5:5-7, ‘And all the trees of the field shall know that I the Lord have brought down the high tree,’ of Babylon, antichrist, all the lofty and religious proud; ‘have exalted the low tree,’ of the humble poor, and needy in spirit, who sigh and cry for the mercy, help and salvation of the Lord; ‘have dried up the green tree,’ of the self-righteous pharisee notion of the Jews as a kingdom; ‘and have made the dry tree to flourish,’ of Gentile sinners every where, by the truth, grace and power intended by our text. ‘I the Lord have spoken, and have done,’ Ez. 17:24. ‘The voice of the Lord divideth the flames of fire,’ verse 7; the judgments of his hand, between the wrathful toward his enemies, and the chastening toward his saints; his ministers, in their different gifts, appointments and measures of usefulness; the voice of the Lord divideth as by flames of fire, the chosen and redeemed from the world, and the precious from the vile, Psalm 97:3,4; Heb 1:7; Jer 15:19; 1 Kings 18:38,39. ‘The voice of the Lord shaketh the wilderness,’ verse 8: the wilderness of the Gentiles, as fruit is shaken from the tree in the time of gathering, Is 17:6,7. ‘And all the men that are upon the face of the earth shall shake at my presence,’ Ez. 38:20. ‘Thus will I magnify myself, and sanctify myself; and I will be known in the eyes of many nations; and they shall know that I am the Lord,’ verse 25. ‘And I will shake all nations, and the desire of all nations shall come,’ Hag 2:7; of all nations a people shall desire him that shall come, Zech 8:21-23; Isaiah 52:10. ‘The voice of the Lord maketh the hinds to calve,’ verse 9. This animal is not so much of the house as of the field, Cant 1:17; is loving and lovely, Prov 5:19; and the voice of the Lord making the hinds to calve, is his love and lovely work of calling and regeneration grace, in a fruitful fulfillment of the truth of our text in the Gentile fields, Isaiah 42:19,20; and according to Psalm 110, saying, ‘In the beauties of holiness,’ from the shapeless deformities and uncleanness of heathenism and the dominion of sin and an ‘From the womb of the morning,’ the gospel morning succeeding the heathen night of darkness and ignorance, ‘thou hast the dew of thy youth,’ thy new-born people in succession about thee, for beauty and multitudes as the dew-drops of the morning, verse 3; and ‘as the bud of the field,’ Ez. 16:7. ‘So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth; it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it,’ Isaiah 55:11.
Now wherein both the truth and fulfillment of the above scriptures appeared, but in the gospel commission and the effectual working power of God therein, according to Peter’s testimony, Acts 15:7,8,9,11; and so showing the gracious matter, and true meaning and intent of our text to be as above set forth.
John Foreman (1792-1872) was a Strict and Particular Baptist preacher. He was appointed the Pastor of Hill Street Chapel, Marylebone, serving this position for close to forty years.