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part in that grateful, triumphant song, “ Unto bim that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, and hath made us kings and priests unto God, and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever." Amen.
HEBREWS iv. 16.
Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace,
that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.
THE great atonement we are this day to commemorate, is the sole foundation of that throne of grace to which the apostle invites us in my text; for it is only “ in Christ Jesus, that God reconcileth the world unto himself.” So that the subject I have chosen hath an obvious and peculiar reference to that sacred service in which we are shortly to be engaged. In order to render it profitable for our instruction and comfort, 1 propose, in dependance upon divine aid,
First. To explain what is meant by coming boldly unto the throne of grace; and,
Secondly. To consider the errand upon which we are invited to come; namely, that we may obtain
mercy, and find grace to help in time of need. After which, I shall, in the
Third place, Illustrate the motives, or grounds of en. couragement, suggested by the apostle in the foregoing context, upon which the exhortation appears to be founded :
And then direct you to the practical improvement of the whole.
I begin with explaining what is meant by coming boldly unto the throne of grace.
You will easily perceive, that the boldness here recommended, must be something entirely different from fear. less presumption, or headlong irreverence, in our approaches to God; for he hath expressly said, and confirmed the truth of it by many awful examples, “ I will be sanctified in them that come nigh me, and before all the people I will be glorified.”—“God is greatly to be feared in the assembly of the saints; he is to be had in reverence of all that are about him." We find tbis same apostle, towards the close of the epistle, concluding a most lofty and animated description of the dignity and privileges of the gospel-church, with this remarkable inference, “ Wherefore, we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably, with reverence and godly fear; for our God is a consuming fire.” Nay, the latter part of my text is sufficient to qualify the expression, and to guard us against any mistake about its true meaning and import.
In what character must we approach the throne of grace? Is it not as creatures that need both mercy and grace? If so, then surely the boldness with which we are exhorted to come, can be no other than the boldness of humble penitents; such as may consist with a conviction of guilt, and a sense of weakness; a boldness that takes its rise, not from any supposed goodness or worthiness in ourselves, but from the highest and most honourable conceptions of the greatness, as well as of the clemency, of that God whom we adore.
It is not then to filial awe and reverence, but to distrust and jealousy, that boldness is here opposed. The spirit becoming the gospel-state is not a spirit of bondage and fear, but a spirit of adoption, disposing and enabling us to “cry, Abba, Father.” In this temper we should approach the throne of grace ; not with terror and amazement, like criminals dragged before a tribunal of justice; but with a cheerful hope of obtaining pardon and acceptance, for the sake of him who died for our sins, and rose again for our justification;" “who suffered, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God."
Man's apostacy began with harsh and injurious thoughts of God; seduced by the tempter, he suspected his Creator both of falsehood and envy: And it is the office of faith to repair that injury, by recognizing his title to the entire and unreserved trust of the creature. It was for this end that “God, being willing more abundantly to shew to the heirs of promise the immutability of his counsel, confirmed it by an oath, that by two immutable things, in which it was impossible for God to lie, they might have a strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before them." It is his pleasure, that we rely upon him with an unsuspecting confidence; and we then honour him most, when, conscious of our own unworthiness, but depending at the same time upon his faithful word of promise; satisfied with the proofs he hath given us of his love, and encouraged by his kind and generous invitation; we come to his throne with a child-like freedom, to pour out our hearts before him, and to present our supplica. tions for that mercy and grace, which he is always rea
dy to bestow upon those who feel their need of such important blessings. But the full meaning and import of the exhortation will better appear, when I have opened the errand upon which we are invited to come boldly unto the throne of grace. Which was the
Second thing proposed in the method. The errand, you see, consists of two parts.
The first in order is, that we may obtain mercy; mercy to pardon our sins, and to reinstate us in the favour and friendship of God. This blessing is introductory to all others; for till we are reconciled to God through the great Mediator, we are incapable of holding communior with him; neither can we yield unto him any service that is acceptable: “Two cannot walk together except they be agreed;" and till the blood of Jesus, who, through the eternal Spirit, offered himself without spot unto God, purge our conscience from dead works, we cannot serve the living God: for “ they that are in the flesh cannot please God." Nay, after we are justified and accepted in the Beloved, though we are thereby secured against final condemnation, yet we are not raised above the need of pardoning mercy; still we shall have this errand to the throne of grace; our repeated backslidings will always render it necessary to make repeated application to the blood of the covenant, for cleansing us afresh, and obtaining renewed intimations of pardon and acceptance.
But we have another errand besides this to the throne of grace; namely, that we may find grace to help in time of need. The form of expression implies, that there is no danger of a disappointment; assisting grace is already prepared; it waits our coming; and if we seek, we shall certainly find it. It farther seems to intimate, that we should be habitually in a posture of waiting upon God, according to that apostolic injunction, “Pray with: out ceasing;" for such is our weak, distempered state, that there is no portion of time in the whole duration of our life upon earth, which is not to us a time of need: should God withdraw his help for one moment, in that very moment we should stumble and fall.
One thing deserves our particular attention; namely, That the grace we are encouraged to ask, is grace for present need, and not present grace for future supposed necessities. This remark is of greater importance than is generally apprehended. It is no uncommon thing for serious people, who suspect their own sincerity, to forecast some trial of the severest kind, and to pass judgment upon themselves, according to the present state and temper of their minds with respect to that supposed trial. What shall I think of myself? saith one; it is required of a disciple of Jesus, that he take up his cross; but so feeble am I, that my nature shrinks at the remotest prospect of suffering; should persecution arise for righteousness sake, I should not be able to stand in that evil day; I should sink under the cross, and “make shipwreck of faith and a good conscience.” Alas! saith another, instead of " desiring to depart, and be with Christ,” Death is to me the “ king of terrors;" when I think of dissolution, my heart dies within me; what shall I do when the fatal period is come? Were I in Christ Jesus, surely it could not be thus with me; have I not then cause to conclude that my religion is vain ? By such unwarrantable experiments do many perplex and discourage their souls, and weaken their hands for present duty. I call them unwarrantable experiments, because they are not only beside the Scripture rule, but directly contrary to it. Our Lord hath commanded us, " to take no thought for the morrow, but leave the morrow to take thought for the things of itself; because suf