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and shadows of Jesus Christ in his person and office. There was the holiest of all, into which the high-priest went alone, and only once a year ; in this was the ark of the covenant, and the mercy-seat, and cherubims covering it: whence these common expressions in the Old Testament, of God's dwelling between the cherubims, and of believers trusting in the shadow of his wings. Now, the holiest of all was their type of heaven; and the ark, cherubims, and mercy-seat, were all but shadows (as the apostle calls them, Heb. x. I.) of our Lord Jesus Christ, and of that peace with God, and access to God, that he hath wrought ought for men. More particularly, that most sacred of all things in the Jewish Old Testament worship, that was called the mercy-seat, the apostle calls a throne of grace; thereby teaching us, that whatever of divine grace was revealed and tendered to, or perceived and received by the faith of the Old Testament believers, in their right use of these sacred old institutions of God to his church, the same, with great advantage, believers under the New Testament have in Jesus Christ, the body, antitype, and substance of them.
We find three most solemn things in the Old Testament, in which the mercy-seat (the type of the throne of grace in the New Testament) was applied unto. 1. The most solemn approach was made unto God, in the high-priest's going in once a-year to the holiest of all, where the mercy-seat was. This was made, not by the people in their own persons; nor by any ordinary Levite, who were privileged with a greater nearness to God than the people, Numb. xvi. 9. ; nor by any of the inferior priests of the house of Aaron, to which family the office of priesthood was by divine appointment confined ; nor by the high-priest himself, but only once a-year, at a determinate time, and with many appointed ceremonies of preparation and performance. Some tell us of a custom in their worship, that music, by singing and instruments, was used by the people, to express their joy and praise, when the highpriest returned safe out from that sacred and awful place, the holy of holies. 2. The most solenın atonement for the sins of Israel was made at the mercy-seat. This was done in that yearly entrance of the high-priest into the holiest of all, Lev. xvi, 12, 13. especially verse 14. And he (Aaron the first of
that order of priests) shall take of the blood of the bullock, and sprinkle it with kis finger upon the mercy-seat eastwards and before the mercy-seat shall he sprinkle of the blood with his finger
. seven times. Ver. 30. On that day shall the priest make an atonement før you, to cleanse you, that ye may be clean from all your sins before the Lord. 3. The most solemn answers were given by God to their high-priest, Exod. xxv. 17,-22. where we have the institution of the mercy-seat, and the form of it : And there (saith the Lord) I will meet with thee, and I will com, mune with thee; and again, Exod. xxx. 6. What the Old Testament Urim and Thunimim was, and what their Shechinah was, neither Jew now, nor Christian know, though they guess; only that they were special manifestations of the grace, and favour, and mind of God, which expired with, and some of them, it is thought, before the end of that ministration. But all these three glories, and dignities, and advantages of their mercy-seat, are all to be found in Christ Jesus; who represents his people before God, and presents them to him; who hath made the perfect atonement for all his Israel; and who declares to his church all the saving will of God, which he heard and received of his Father.
The apostle here in this epistle, and in this text, would have all believers in Christ to know, that the New Testament throne of grace is the same in substance with, and with great advantage above the Old Testament mercy-seat. See Heb. ix. 4,-8.
The truth I would speak to is this:
Doct. That God in the gospel sits on a throne of grace, and from it calls and invites sinners to come unto him.
Let us come to the throne of grace, certainly means, Let us now come to God sitting on a throne of grace; let us take both direction and encouragement to come to God, because he is on a throne of grace.
In handling of this point of doctrine, I would shew three things;
İ. What this throne of grace is, and how distinguished from other thrones of God spoke of in the word,
II. Why it is so called, a throne, and a throne of grace.
I. What is this throne of grace, and how distinguished from other thrones of God spoke of in the word?
These other I would first name, to prevent mistakes.
1. We find a throne of glory much spoke of : a throne of the essential, incomprehensible glory of God. This no man can approach to. Of this the apostle speaks, 1 Tim. vi. 16. He dwelleth in light that no man can approach to, whom no man hath seen, nor can see. Marvellous is this light. We find the more light there be in or about a person or thing, the more easily and clearly it is perceived : as the sun is such a glorious body, that though it be at a vast distance from the earth we dwell on, we yet can take it up with our eyes immediately. As soon as it shines, we can see it, because of its light. It is its own light, and nothing else, that doth, or can discover it. If the sun did withdraw its own light, all the eyes of men, and all the artificial fire and light men can make, would never help us to find it out., But such is the majesty of God, that he is clothed with it, Psal. xciii. 1. Men are dazzled and confounded by a little ray of his glory: With God is terrible majesty, Job xxxvii. 22. This is not the throne we are called to come unto. They are but triflers in religion, that know not in their experience how overwhelming the views and thoughts of God's majesty and glory are, when he is not seen as on a throne of grace. I remembered God, and was troubled, saith one saint, Psal. lxxvii. 3. I am troubled at his presence; when I consider, I am afraid of him, saith another, Job xxiii. 15. No wonder Manoah said unto his wife, We shall surely die, because we have seen God, Judg. xii. 22. when a view of the heavenly glory of Jesus Christ makes John, who was wont to lean on his bosom in his humbled staté, to fall down at his feet as dead, Rev. i. 17.
2. There is a throne of God's government of the world oft spoke of, Psal. ix. 4, 7. On this throne God sits, and rules all things at his pleasure, and in infinite wisdom. This throne is to be believingly regarded by us; but it is not the throne of grace that singers are called to come unto for grace and mercy.
3. There is a throne of God's justice spoken of. This is that throne David deprecates his being brought before, Psal. cxliii. 2. Enter not into judgment with thy servant : for in thy sight shall no man living be justified. If a man be wronged and oppressed by men stronger than he, he may appeal to this throne of justice, and expect redress. But if a man's business be with God, he should be afraid of this throne of justice. Men are oft proud and vain in their thoughts, and before others : but if the Lord call them before this high court of justice, they will surely be cast : Job ix. 2, 3. How should a man be just with God? If he will contend with him, he cannot answer him one of a thousand. When God sits on a throne of justice, to judge men according to his law and their works, nothing but condemnation can justly be pronounced on sinners. Whoever he be of sinful Adam's seed that expecteth saving favour from God's throne of justice, will find himself wofully deceived.
4. We find the throne of the last judgment. Before this all must appear, 2 Cor. v. 10. Rev. xx. 12, This is not the throne of grace in the text. No grace nor mercy
is shown to any from this throne, but to them that have plied and sped at the throne of grace before. When our Lord comes, and sits on the throne of his glory, Matth. xxv. 31. no sinner that hath despised his grace now, will find any quarter then, Luke xix. 27.
What then is this throne of grace? It is God in Christ dealing with men according to the grace of the gospel. It is God in Christ reconciling the world to himself, not imputing to them their trespasses, 2 Cor. v. 19. It is Christ set forth by God to be n propitiation, Rom. iii. 25. This is the true mercy-seat, or throne of grace, or propitiation, 1 John ii. 2. and iv. 10. This is the new court or throne erected by God, and declared in the gospel, to which sinful man is invited to come.
JI. Why is it called a throne and a throne of grace?
Passing what is said of the apostle’s alluding to the mercyseat in the tabernacle and temple of old,
1. It is called a throne, because of the glory and majesty of God manifested here. God's condescending to display and dispense his grace and mercy to sinners, is no debasing of
God, but an advancing of his glory. When he gives grace, he acts royally, and as a king, with majesty. Araunah's offering to David, is said to be like a king, 2 Sam. xxiv. 23. He was no king, but a subject; but he had a free, noble heart. The Lord on this throne of grace, dispenseth all acts of grace with great majesty, and as a king; but not as a King Judge, and Ruler, but as a King Benefactor, and Giver. This royalty of grace shines, 1. In the greatness of the gifts, grace, and mercy ; vastly above all that the creation can give. 2. In the manner of giving; free, sovereignly free. Grace and mercy is his own, and he doth with them as he will. When Moses prays, Exod. xxxiii. 18. I beseech thee, shew me thy glory, we cannot conceive what was in his holy heavenly heart. He was now just come down from the mount the first time; he is going up again to spend other forty days there, in such communion with God as never mere man enjoyed before or since out of heaven; he had prevailed with God for Israel, and hath a most gracious answer, ver. 17. And the Lord said unto Moses, I will do this thing also that thou hast spoken : for thou hast found grace in my sight, and I know thee by name. What means Moses then by this prayer ? ver. 18. Whatever he meant, the Lord's answer is much to be observed, ver. 19. And he said, I will make all my goodness (or beauty) pass before thee, and I will proclaim the name of the Lord before thee. (What is in this name that hath so much of glory and goodness in it, as should satisfy such a mighty hungerer for more of God, as Moses was?) I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will shew mercy on whom I will shew mercy. God's glory shines highly, in his being the sovereign disposér of his own grace and mercy; and happy is the believer that adores this glorious sovereignty. Paul in Rom. ix. 15,--25. makes a deep improvement of it. Jer. xvii. 12. A glorious high throne from the beginning, is the place of our sanctuary.. See then that you, in all your pleadings for grace and mercy, remember that you are before a high stately throne. Approaches to God on the throne of grace, should be managed with the deepest reverence and humility. So did the publican, when he came to it, Luke xviii. 13. God be merciful (propitious) to me a sin. Mier, (or me the sinner, the great singular sinner. So the Greek