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A throne of grace, might the criminals cry, else we die, we all die !
1st, They could have no claim to law-goodness and bounty, but
2dly, They were utterly unable to stand before the tribunal of justice, Psalm cxxx. 3, and cxliii. 2. If their process be led there, the sinner falls, he is a condemned man without remedy. No plea can do there, but Not guilty; and that the siuner cannot plead. The Judge is omniscient, and the criminal can never out-wit him, por deceive him, nor keep the truth from him. And in that court tliere is no advocate, intercessor, nor mercy; but the sentence passed must needs be executed, and the criminal fall a sacrifice to justice : for the Judge is just and omnipotent, there is no moving him with cries and tears in prejudice of justice, no out-braving of him, or making head against the Judge or the law.
3dly, The criminal once falling under the weight of the sentence a sacrifice to justice, there is no rising again, he is cut off for ever, Psalm xciv. ult. Were it thousands of rams, or the fruit of one's body, would satisfy for the sin of the soul, the sinner possibly might make shift; yea, were finite sufferings so, though for millions of years, they would have an end: but the offence against an infinite God cannot be expiated but by infinite sufferings, which lay the criminal's head so on the block, that he can never raise it up again.
4thly, Justice had determined the execution-day to be the same with the sinning-day, Gen. ii. 17. And had it not been that the throne of grace was erected the same day to which the process was by appeal carried from the throne of strict justice, the sentence had been fully executed that day. When man was fallen, justice lays hand on the criminal, and binds him for execution. Everlasting love minds a throne of grace, to rescue a ruived world : but where shall a foundation be had to set up the white throne on for the pale criminal ? angels nor men could furnish nothing which could bear the weight of it. Then said the Son of God, Psalm xl. 7, “ Lo, I come : in the volume of the book it is written of me." Let my blood, the blood of God, be the base of the throne, that will bear it; so it was done. Hence ye read, Gen. iii. 8, “ They heard the voice of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day : and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God amongst the trees of the garden.” Ver. 15, " And the Lord God
said unto the serpent, -I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed : it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.” And ver. 21, “ Unto Adam also and to his wife did the Lord God make coats of skins, and clothed them."
Lastly, Yo may see the necessity of a throne of grace for the behoof of poor sinners, in the hopeless case of the fallen angels. They were the first that ventured to break over the hedge of the law, and no throne of grace being provided for their behoof, they were ruined beyond all remedy, 2 Pet. ii. 4. For at the throne of strict justice they must answer, and they have no access to the throne of grace; Heb. ii. 16, “ For verily he took not on him the nature of angels.” The same had been our case, if a throne of grace had not been provided for us.
II. I will shew the necessity of these foundations and stays of justice and judgment against sin, for the throne of grace to stand
Blind sinners, who never saw so much of the ill of sin as to make them question whether the saving of such wretches was consistent with the honour of God or not, are apt to think the throne of grace might have been set up on mere mercy. Nay, but it would stand on no other but justice and judgment against sin.
1. The justice of God could not suffer it to be erected but on these bases, Gen. xviii. 25, “Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?" 1 Thess. i. 6, “ It is a righteous thing with God to recompense tribulation to them that trouble you.” Sinners, by the dictates of their own consciences, know themselves to be worthy of death, and that God has a right to punish them, Rom. i. ult. And shall not a just God give sin its due ? Who can expect mercy over the belly of justico, or that a throne of grace should have been set up on the ruins of the justice of God ?
2. The holiness of God, and his hatred of sin, would not suffer it. Hence says the Psalmist, Psalm v. 5, " The foolish shall not stand in thy sight: thou hatest all workers of iniquity.” And says the prophet, Hab. i. 13, “ Thou art of purer eyes than to behold evil, and canst not look on iniquity.” When God does but spare sinners a while, they are apt to think he is like themselves, in which he shews he will vindicate his own honour, Psalm 1. 21," I will reprove thee, and set them in order before thine eyes.” How then could the honour of his holiness have been supported, in letting out the fountain of his mercy and grace upon the sinner, without taking due vengeance upon the sin ?
3. The truth of God was a bar in the way of emanations of mercy and grace without satisfaction to justice. He said, Gen. ii. 17, “In
the day that thou eatest thereof, thou shalt surely die.” What should have come of the truth of God, had not death followed sin, according to the threatening. True, if one will die for the criminal, he may have life with the good leave of justice and truth, the surety's death satisfying justice. But no mercy without satisfaction, either by the party or the cautioner.
4. The honour of the holy law, the eternal rule of righteousness, stood in the way of erecting a throne of grace but on these foundations; it behoved to be “magnified, and made honourable,” Isa. xlii. 21. The law's hedge was broken down by the sinner, it was the fair transcript of God's holy nature; and therefore it was impossible this gap should always stand open, never be made up, and they that made it not only escape free, but be received into favour.
Lastly, If there had not been an absolute necessity of these foundations for a throne of grace to stand on, they had never been laid at the cost of the blood of the Son of God, Rom. iii. 25. How can we believe that an infinitely good and wise God would bave given his own Son, the Son of his love, to a most cruel and cursed death, to found his throne of grace to singers on, if there had been no necessity of such foundations, John iii. 16,“ God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him, should not perish, but have everlasting life." If there had not been a necessity for it, this love had not appeared.
Use of exhortation. And hence I would direct an exhortation to two sorts of persons.
First, Secure sinners, going on in your sins, fall in with the fair occasion of grace and mercy, now pnt in your hands, while the Lord is come among you appearing on a throne of grace, and offering you his grace and favour through Jesus Christ. Give up with your sins, submit yourselves to this glorious King, and slight not gospel-grace any more.
Mor. 1. Look to him that sits on this throne of grace, that is the great King, and you will see two things may move you.
1. He is one whose favour ye must have, else ye are ruined; for in his favour only is life, Psalm xxx. 5. He is the best of friends, and of all enemies the most dreadful. How can ye live without his favour, since ye live on his ground, and live at his cost ? Acts xvii. 25. How can ye die without it; will ye be able to face the king of terrors without peace with the King of heaven? The throne is among you, then make
address. 2. His favour ye may have, for he is on a throne of grace ; come and fall down before him on that throne, and make peace, Isa. xxvii. 5. The golden sceptre is stretched out, come forward, and let not
the occasion slip, 2 Cor. vi. 2, “Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.” The proclamation of grace is issued out for peace and pardon to rebels, stand not off lest the day of grace go over with you, and that be pronounced, Luke xiv. 24, " I say unto you, that none of those men which were bidden, shall taste of my supper."
Mor. 2. Look to those that go before this enthroned King, and you will see two things inay overcome your hearts to comply.
1. Mercy goes before it to embrace you, and give you a complete remedy for your misery; slip not the golden season, Isa. lv. 0, 7, “ Seek ye the Lord while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near. Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the Lord, aud he will have mercy upon him, and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.” And it is sure mercy, ye may well trust to it; precious mercy, it is most dangerous to slight, since it issues out from a throne established on justice satisfied by the obedience and death of Christ.
2. Truth goes before it, to secure unto all that submit to the King on this throne all the promises of the everlasting covenant; they shall all be yours in Christ, 2 Cor. i. 20. They will begin to be accomplished in this life, but they will serve to tell out through the ages of eternity.
Mot. ult. Look to the foundations this throne stands on, and you will see two things may determine you.
1. That it is costly grace and mercy that is offered you. This white throne had never appeared amongst us, if Christ had not, by his obedience and death, made a foundation for it to stand on. Has he been at the expense of his precious blood to rear it up, and will ye slight the grace purchased at such a rate ? Ye cannot do it but ye trample under foot the blood of the Son of God.
2. What ye must lay your account with, if ye continue in your sins, and slight the offers of grace from the throne, even justice and judgment on your own souls for evermore, Ileb. ii. 3. Will ye look for mercy, yet not take God's way of mercy in Christ. Justice will step in betwixt you and mercy, and part you for ever. If this was done in the green tree, much more will it in the dry. If God spared not his own Son, how shall the slighters of him expect to be spared ? Nay, another throne shall be set up against you, where the flaming sword to devour the adversaries shall go for ever before the face of the dreadful Judge, 2 Thess. i. 9.
Secondly, Poor trembling sinners, pressed with the sense of sin and unworthiness, come forward with humble boldness to the throne of grace, that ye may “obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need,” Heb. iv. 16.
Look to him that sits on the throne: it is not an absolute God, but a God in Christ, 2 Cor. v. 19, whose rays of majesty shoot not forth immediately to you, unveiled; these indeed would confound the poor guilty creature; but they shoot forth through the veil of the flesh of Christ ; so thou may look on them, and be refreshed with them.
Look to the ushers which go before bim : these are not justice and judgment with the flaming sword; these would destroy the guilty sinner at his first approach ; they are mercy and truth, mercy to spare and pardon, truth to enrich thee with the King's favours.
Look to the stays that support the throne, justice fully satisfied, judgment executed against sin, in the person of Christ : hence the waters of mercy flow out, say then, “Spring up, O well, sing ye to it.” Look to these, and ye will see an answer to all the questions that perplex your souls.
1. Will ever the Lord look favourably on the like of me? Answ. Yes, he is on a throne of grace, erected on purpose for his looking favourably on the guilty.
2. But I am laden with chains of guilt, can ever I have access to the throne ? Answ. Mercy and truth go before his face, to cause all these fall off, and bring thee in before him.
3. But is it consistent with the honour of God to pardon such sins as mine are, against so much light, love, &c.; to put me among his children, who am the very worst of sinners? Answ. Yes, very consistent, bis justice, holiness, truth, law, his honour shall suffer nothing by it; Christ has laid a foundation, that equally bears up God's honour, and thy salvation, even thine.
Maxton, Sabbath, July 5, 1719.
Psalm lxxxix. 14, Justice and judgment are the habitation of thy throne : mercy and truth
shall go before thy face.
(The second sermon on this text.)
III. We shall consider the laying of these foundations, and the erecting of the throne of grace upon them. Here consider,
1. The general ends of this new erection.