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1. Some such may be drooping for that the King on the throne has hid his face from them, and that they have no token of acceptance from the throne; so they fear they have quite mismanaged. Answ. (1.) If sincere in the main, whatever mismanagements there have been, remember it is a throne of grace, where sincerity is accepted, and acceptance is not marred by anallowed infirmities and miscarriages, 2 Cor. viii. 12, “For if there be first a willing mind, it is accepted according to that a man hath, and not according to that he hath not.” (2.) If sin has been made more hideous and frightful to thee by this ordinance, the glorious basis the throne stands on has not been quite hid. If thy desire after a God in Christ be more enlarged, neither has he that sits on the throne quite hid himself from thee. If thou hast got a kindly melting of heart for sin, mercy and truth have darted their beams on thee. (3.) Be as it will, the throne stands, abide ye by it; and what ye have not got, ye sball get in God's time, as did the spouse, Cant. iii. 4, “ It was but a little that I passed from them, but I found him whom my soul loveth." And ye shall be made to say, Grace times its visits well.
2. Others may have had sensible reviving and refreshing from the throne. All I say, is, remember that the least kind glance from the throne is precious; it is not the price of your pains, preparation, tears; it is the price of blood, of the Son of God. Not a smile from heaven but comes through the wounds of a Redeemer, nor a pardon but is written with his blood. Therefore walk softly, and quench not the Spirit.
Lastly, To all whose hope and expectation is all from this throne.
1. Look on sin as the most frightful evil, and stand at a distance from it, Rom. xii. 9, “ Abhor that which is evil, cleave to that which is good.” Oppose to temptations to your former lusts the remembrance of justice and judgment the throne of grace stands on.
2. Never entertain cheap thoughts of pardon; leave it to them that know not God, his law, nor his gospel, to think it is but to ask mercy, and have it. There is no pardon of the least sin, without the good leave of justice, Exod. xxxiv. 7.
3. Love the Lord Jesus, and remember bis love, to whose obedierice and death we owe the throne of grace. Grieve not his Spirit by untender walking; but let his love constrain you to live henceforth not unto yourselves, but unto him which died for you, and rose again.
4. If at any time ye be obliged either to sin or suffer, choose rather the greatest suffering than the least sin. And to animate you thereto, consider what Christ suffered, in order to lay a foundation for the throne of grace.
5. Having settled your matters at the throne by a sincere embracing of the covenant from thence offered, strengthen your faith, and confirm your confidence of grace and salvation, by looking to the firm foundations the throne stands on.
Lastly, Be much at the throne by prayer and supplication, in the name of Christ.
Morebattle, Saturday, July 18, 1719.
Psalm lxxxix. 14, ad judgment are the habitation of thy throne: mercy and truth
shall go before thy face.
(The third sermon on this text.)
I come more particularly to consider, How these foundations of justice and judgment were laid. When a throne of grace was to be erected for the behoof of poor criminal sinners, justice and judgment stand up in the behalf of a holy, but broken law, and require to be satisfied of the sinner, before there could be a throne of grace erected in his favour. And Christ answers for the sioner,
First, Justice requires of the sinner, in behalf of the holy law, perfect obedience to its commands, pleading the truth of God, Isa. xlii. 21. Otherwise there can be no throne of grace erected in his favour, since it cannot be set up on the ruins of the holy law. Therefore justice says to the sinner, Matth. xix. 17, “ If thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments.” But this sinful man could not do; and if the throne of grace cannot stand but on this foundation, he must lose the benefit of it for ever. Alas! then, must all perish? No, Christ answers for bis own; what they could not, he did. He presents himself, and whatever justice has to demand of them for laying this foundation of the throne of grace, he affords. Hear the demands.
1st, Demand. Thy nature must be absolutely pure and holy; for if the fountain be poisoned with sin, how can the streams be otherwise? Hence says Job, chap. xiv. 4, “ Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean ? Not one.” And says the apostle John, Rev. xxi. ult. “ There shall in no wise enter into it any thing that defileth." Without the law's being satisfied in this point, there is no grace por mercy for thee. Alas, the sinner can never answer this. He has a corrupt nature, he cannot purify it, Prov. xx. 9. He was born in
sin; can he enter again into his mother's belly, and be born over again without sin?
But Christ answers this demand for his people ; the law shall have all its asking. Therefore the Son of God takes to himself a true body and soul, both sinless. The Ancient of days becomes an infant of days. He is conceived without spot by the power of the Holy Ghost, in the womb of the virgin Mary, and in due time born without sin, Luke i. 35. Heb. vii. 26. His nature was not in the least tainted, but absolutely free of the least seed of sin. Here is now such a birth, such a nature, as the law exacted; so that demand is
; answered, that bar in the sinner's way drawn.
2d. Demand. Thou must obey every command of the broad law. Thy obedience must be as broad as the law. If some, not all, a curse shall come on thee, and not a blessing, according to that, Gal. iii. 10, “ Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them.” Alas, what can the sinner do with this ! He has lost much of the knowledge of the law; many of these commands he does not know, yet ignorance of the law excuses no man; many quite against the grain with him, “ Love your enemies," &c.; many that, if his life were a thousand times lying on them, and he would set himself to the utmost diligence and watchfulness, he will break sometimes, as by vain thoughts, &c.
Christ answers this. He obeyed all : "fulfiled all righteousness ;": Matth. iii. 15; " did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth,” 1 Pet. ii. 22. He made the law, he could not but know it in every point. It was the transcript of his own holy na'ure, he fulfils it in every jot. Hence says he, Matth. v. 17,“ Think not that I am come to destroy the law or the prophets : I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil.” He gave it external and internal obedience, in heart and life. Its hardest commands he baulked not, loved his enemies, denied himself. Never an idle word dropt from the holy inouth, never a rain thought could run through his holy heart.
3d Demand. Every part of thy obedience must be screwed up to the highest pitch and degree the law requires : Matth. xxii. 37, “ Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind." If any thing of the due measure be wanting there can be no favour. To be sincere, to desire to do better, and to be sorry at the heart thou canst not, will not be accepted here, Gal. iii. 10, forecited. Alas! the sinner shall as soon reach the clouds with his hands, as this perfection of degrees the law requires. Let him do his best, corruption clogs him so as he can never mount to the top; let him be praying never so fervently, there is some coldrifeness about him, his faith is mixed with unbelief, his very sincerity is not without a mixture of hypocrisy.
Christ answers this. His love to his Father was most seraphic, most ardent and intense, it flamed in his holy breast to the utmost point the law could require. His love to men was incomparable, John xv. 13. He went to the utmost boundaries of love with them. Every action of his was absolutely spotless, perfectly refined, and without the least mixture of imperfection.
Last Demand. All this must be continued to the end, without the least trip in one jot, Gal. iii. 10. Shouldst thou live all thy days in a course of perfect obedience, but at the hour of death one vain thought run through thy heart, all is gone. Alas! the sinner can never answer this. He cannot keep perfectly right one year, day, hour, minute, if a thousand hells were upon it.
Christ satisfied this demand too, Phil. ii. 8, “ He became obedient unto death.” The first Adam broke fair off, but lie tripped quickly; the second continued to the end. The law could never, in its greatest rigour, challenge him of the least sin from the womb to the grave, by day or night, alone or in company. His heart and life shone in holiness, before his Father and the world, in its meridian brightness, without the least cloud or spot to stain it. Thus the first foundation of the throne, namely, justice, was laid. But,
Secondly, Ere the throne can stand for all this, judgment, in behalf of the broken law, requires of the singer satisfaction for the wrong done to the honour and law of God. Just judgment, taking the singer by the throat, says, " Pay what thou owest." Thou art in debt to the justice of God for sins committed, thou must satisfy the just threats of the law, and bear the curse ; and without this satisfaction there can be no grace nor mercy shown.
O then, might the sinner say, " Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams, or with ten thousands of rivers of oil ? shall I give my first-born for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul ?” Mic. vi. 7. No, these are too mean to satisfy here, Psalm xl. 6, “Sacrifice and offering thou didst not desire : -burnt-offering and sin-offering hast thou not required.” Bat, 0 ye crowned heads, mighty monarchs, may not ye be cautioners for this debt? No, they cannot; if they would sell their crowns, kingdoms, and dig up all the gold in the bowels of the earth, and lay it down, it will not pay their own debt; themselves must have a cantioner, else they are ruined. O mighty angels, may not ye rather undertake for their debt, than that your fellow-creatures be ruined ? Alas, they cannot, they are not able, they would be broken with the payment of the thousandth part of it, and it would never be paid for
O high demands of just judgment, no creature in heaven or earth can answer! Then said the Mediator, Psalm xl. 7, “ Lo, I come : in the volume of the book it is written of me." What are just judgments ? demands the sinner?
1st Demand. Sinner, thou must suffer for the breaking of the holy law, die the death, for the word is gone out of the Lord's mouth, Gen. ii. 17,“ In the day that thou eatest thereof, thou shalt surely die." Alas, how shall this be answered ? If the sinner's life go for it, what has he more? and if death, armed with law-vengeance, once get him down, it will hold him down for ever. O, may not bearing crosses do it? No, just judgment requires bearing of curses, not crosses. May not tears for sin do it? No, it is shedding of blood, not pouring out of water, it requires, Heb. ix. 22, “ Without shedding of blood is no remission.”
But Christ satisfies the demand. He presents himself to the sword of justice, and judgment is executed on him, Zech. xiii. 7, “Awake, O sword, against my Shepherd, and against the man that is my fellow, saith the Lord of hosts.” Death armed with its sting, and all the force a broken law gave it, falls on him, sheds his precious blood, wounds him to the heart, separates soul and body, carries him prisoner to the grave, and lays him in the dust of death. Death gave him the first fall, but because he was God, he riseth again; and death having got its due, he brings away the keys of hell and death with him.
2d Demand, more particular. Sinner, thy sufferings must be universal in the whole man: that is just judgment, for so has thy sinning been. That body of thine, as the instrument of sin, must suffer : that head, that contrived the mischief against the law, must be wounded : that heart, the spring of all, must be pierced; these feet, that have carried thee so many black gates ; these hands, that have wrought so much iniquity, &c. And thy soul must suffer chiefly, as being the principal actor in all thou hast done against a holy God. Ah, who can endure this ! it is a thousand deaths in one.
Christ satisfies this demand too. He suffers in his body: bis head is crowned with thorns, and his heart is like wax, it is melted in the midst of his bowels, Psalm xxii. 14. His feet, his hands are pierced, his tongue cleaves to his jaws, his bones are out of joint. His body has nothing but shame to cover it, his strength is dried up. The wrath of God fell on his soul, it was troubled, amazed, in an agony; the arrows dipt in the curse were shot into it, till the law had no more to require ; Gal. iii. 13, says the apostle, “ Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us.”
3d Demand. Thy sufferings, 0 sinner, must be most exquisite,