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First, The general ends of this new erection. For what ends was it to be made and set up? The particular ends are as many as the needs of lost sinners were, but they may be, and are by the apostle, reduced unto two heads, Heb. iv. ult.
1. The saving of sinners from the wrath of God due to them for their sins; “Let us come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy.” Sin entering into the world made a gap, at which the flood of wrath following might enter, and would certainly enter and sweep away all before it into the pit, if the gap was not made up. This throne then was to be erected, that mercy might fill up the gap, rejoice over judgment, and save the signer from perishing; that the sinner might be pardoned, his guilt of eternal wrath be taken away, and he taken out of the jaws of devouring death.
2. The making of sinners positively happy in the favour of God for evermore; “And find grace to help.” By sin's entering into the world, their right to heaven was forfeited and razed, they could not come thither. They could have no communion with God here nor hereafter. Justice bad drawn a bar betwixt them and it, and shut the door never to be opened, but on answering such demands of its own, which the sinner never could do. The throne of grace then was to be erected, that grace might open that door, and let in the sinner to the forfeited inheritance again; not only that the rebel might get liis pardon, but might be restored to his Prince's favour, and loaded with benefits to his everlasting and completo happiness.
Secondly, The necessary foundations of this throne. The text says, these are justice and judgment.
1. Justice, as distinguished from judgment, whereby God gives good unto any, agreeably to the laws of righteousness, which the justice of his nature requires to be observed in his government of the world, Gen. xviii. 25, “Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?” This justice annexeth his favour and good-will to the obedience, the perfect obedience of his law; secures the delivery of a purchase upon the payment of a valuable price for it; and cannot admit of the keeping back of any good that is due. This is justice, this is what is right, which the Judge of all the earth cannot but do, in so far as he cannot but be just.
This answers the end of making the creature happy, upon due obedience to the great Lawgiver, during the course of such obedi
And though there was grace in the first covenant, in so far as the obedience of innocent Adam was not proportionable to the great reward promised therein : yet as it was not comparable to gospel-grace, it might have stood upon this single foot of justice. But supposing this foundation laid, it could not have supported a throne of grace in favour of sinners; it could not have stood on this single foot, anatoned guilt would have undermined it. Therefore there is,
2d, Namely, Judgment, whereby vindictive justice is satisfied for sin, for the breaking of the holy law; vengeance is taken upon it in proportion to the offence, which in a sort is an infinite offence. Hereby,
(1.) Sin is condemned, Rom. viii. 3. Sentence is passed from the throne of revenging justice against it, whereby, according to the law, the curse is pronounced against it, wrath ordained to pursue it in full measure, where it is found; and never to leave it, till full satisfaction be had of the party, who, by the appointment of God, stands answerable for it.
(2.) The sentence is executed, revenging justice is let loose upon it; floods of wrath overflow the party answerable for it; the fire kindled by the breath of an angry God preys upon him, till the vengeance is complete, and infinite justice has enough, that it can demand no more.
This answers the end of saving sinners from the wrath of God, and this foundation could not be laid without them.
Thirdly, How these foundations were laid. The whole creation could not furnish materials for them.
1. Man himself could not, for he was quite unable to obey the law perfectly; he had lost all his strength, for obedience by the fall, Rom. v. 6. He could no more do it than he could reach the stars with his hand. Besides, he was quite unable to satisfy the justice of God for his sin, by suffering; for the punishment required beboved either to be infinite in value, or in duration. The first he could not be capable of, being a mere creature; the last would leave him for ever ruined.
2. Angels could not neither; for though they were capable to obey the law perfectly, yet they owed that obedience for themselves, and therefore could not perform it for a fellow-creature. Neither could they, being but finite beings, bear infinite punishment, so as to satisfy infinite justice; and they were not of the same nature with those who had sinned, and for whom the throne of grace was to be erected.
Thus there being no help among the creatures, God laid help on his own Son, Psalm lxxxix. 19. When the poor criminals stood hopeless and belpless before the justice of God, he undertakes for them, to provide for the laying of these foundations of justice and judgment, a throne of grace might stand firm on.
In order to this the Son of God was incarnate, he becomes man, John i. 14. For this he did strike hands with the Father from eternity; and seeing it was impossible that covenant could be broken, upon the virtue of what he was to do and suffer in the fulness of time, the foundation was laid, and the throne of grace stood firm thereon in Old Testament times.
Behold now how he was fitted to make provision for these foundations of the throne of grace to stand on. (1.) He was a true man, “flesh of our flesh, and bone of our bones; a son of Adam,” Luke iii. "made of a woman," a daughter of Adam, Gal. iv. 4. Having a true human soul, of which he says, “My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death.” Thus obedience was to be performed to the law; and justice satisfied with suffering, in the same nature that had sinned, Heb. ii. 14,
(2.) He was true God too, 1 John v. 20, aud so God and man in one person, which was necessary to make his obedience and death of infinite value, in order to the full satisfaction of justice and the law. In this respect his precious blood was the blood of God, Acts xx. 28. And from thence did arise its virtue to support the throne of grace, for all the gracious purposes God had designed it for. IIence is that of the apostle, 1 John i. 7, “The blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all siu.” And that, Heb. ix. 14, “How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit, offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God ?” Thus he made provision,
1. For the first foundation of the throne of grace, namely, justice, by his obeying the law completely in the sinner's room, observing exactly and giving obedience to its commands. And this for laying the foundatiou of justice to the throne of grace, Matth. iii. 15, “Thus it becometh us (saith Jesus himself) to fulfil all righteousness." He was holy in his birth, life, and death ; Heb. vii. 26, “ Holy, harmless, undefiled, separated from sioners.” And bis obedience was,
1st, Universal, 1 Pet. ii. 22, “who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth.” IIe stuck at none of the law's commands. The hardest of them he complied withi, he loved his enemies, denied himself. And all his enemies were bid defiance to convince him of the least sin, “ Which of you convinceth me of sin ?" says lie, John viii. 46. And he was justified from heaven, by his resurrection from the dead.
2dly, it was perfect in degrees: John xv. 13. Says Christ, "Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life
for his friends." He screwed up love, which is the fulfilling of the law, to its highest possible pitch. So that the law could not but say, It had enough of work.
3dly, It was constant, Phil. ii. 8, says the apostle, “He became obedient unto death." The temptations of Satan, the reproaches of his enemies, the treachery of his friends, could not make him make the least halt in his course, 1 Pet. ii. 23,“ When he was reviled, he reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not.” The first Adam broke off fairly, but quickly sat up, the second endured to the end.
4thly, It was voluntary: Psalm xl. 8, “I delight to do thy will, O my God: yea, thy law is within my heart,” says he. The doing of God's will was his meat, John iv. 34. Though he was a man of sorrows, yet he was never discouraged, Isa. xlii. 4.
2. He made provision for the other foundation, namely, judgment, by suffering in the sinner's stead. Hence says the apostle, Gal. iii. 13, “ Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us.” He set himself up for the mark at which the law might shoot all the poisoned arrows, which should have stuck in the souls of the elect for ever. The fountains of the great deep, and the windows of heaven were opened against him; the flood of wrath pursuing the sins of the elect finding him in the gap, disburdened itself wholly into him. Justice put such a load of wrath on him, as mado him in the open air, in a cold night, sweat drops of blood. And his sufferings were,
(1.) Most exquisite, judgment executed upon him to the utmost rigour, Rom. viii. 32, “ He spared not his own Son.” Justice pursued him from his birth to his burial, and never left him, till it brought him to the dust of death. His cup was pure unmixed vengeance, was filled to the brim, and he drank out the bitter dregs of it. In his greatest extremity, he could not have a cup of cold water to drink, but vinegar mingled with gall; nay, not so much as the light of the sun to shine on him, but it hid its head, then, because “light is sweet to the eyes, and a pleasant thing it is to behold the sun.”
(2.) Nevertheless they were voluntary, John xviii. 11; Isa. liii. 7, without the least murmuring, that so justice might have complete satisfaction. He stood and answered all the demands justice and judgment could have of the sinner, in order to his finding grace in the sight of the Lord.
USE. I would drop a word to two sorts of persons.
1. Unconcerned spectators, who have no part in, but look lightly on this solemn approach here made to the throne of grace. (1.) Had ye no business at the throne of grace, that ye satisfied yourselves with mere onlooking? Is not eternity at stake with you as well as others? Or is it possible for yon to be saved, without application to the throne of grace in the Lord's own way? Acts ir. 12, says the apostle Peter, “ Neither is there salvation in any other : for there is none other name under heaven given among men whereby we must be saved.” And if ye value God's grace and favour, is it possible for you to undervalue the seal of it? (2.) How deep must the guilt of slighting a throne of grace be, which cost so dear to set it up? Is it not a trampling the Father's love, and the Son's blood under foot ? (3.) Yo will not get leave to be mere spectators too at the throne of judgment, but must come out of your graves with others, and receive your sentence, which will be dreadful, if ye do not timely make your application for peace with God while on the throne of grace.
2. Spectators duly concerned, whatever has kept you back from this ordinance, do ye not prize the throne of grace? Are ye not resolved to ply it, for the interest of eternity? if ye do not, ye are not concerned spectators. If ye do, I tell you, though the communion be over, the throne of grace stands, and there is access to it for you; yet there is room. Therefore go away resolved to settle your business there for eternity while it is day.
Secondly, Communicants, ye have been professing to approach this throne, how went the matter? how managed ye your business there?
1. It is to be feared some have quite mismanaged it. These are they that have been careless, formal, and hypocritical in their management, who have retained some underband management with some one lust or other, whose hearts have not opened to receive Christ with his whole yoke, and have not given themselves honestly to the Lord. (1.) Ye have lost a fair occasion of settling your matters for eternity, and God only knows if ever ye will have such another : repent, and with all speed manage better, and do in secret what
ye should have done at the table, as yo would prevent a curse on your treachery. (2.) It is a stout heart that could trifle in such a solemn approach to such a throne, founded on justice and judgment: surely ye have not looked to the bottom it stands on, else it would have commanded dread, reverence, and utmost jealousy, as it did in Jacob, Gen. xxviii. 17, “How dreadful is this place !" said he ; “this is none other but the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven."
2. Some have been sincere in their management, whose consciences cannot but witness for them, they have been upright in the main, whatever mismanagements there have been. Yet,