« PreviousContinue »
not be taken down, not one of the stakes thereof shall ever be removed, neither shall any of the cords thereof be broken." Though the kingdoms of the world be built on mountains, yet they shall fall; but the Church, when she is a quiet habitation, though but a tent, she shall stand; and though that tent be but fixed with stakes, yet they shall not be removed : though it be fixed but with cords, not with great ropes, yet none of them shall be broken. Division mars reformation in a charch. It is very remarkable how discipline was weakened in the church of Corinth ; divisions were so bot there, the incestuous man was tolerated amongst them, they could not get that work minded or plied for the contentions among them. Zeph. iii. 9, “ For then will I turn to the people a pure language, that they may all call upon the name of the Lord, to serve him with one. consent." There is a reforming time, and then they will serve the Lord with one consent, so we read it; but in the first language, it is one shoulder; they shall, as it were, all set one shoulder to the Lord's work, and then the work cannot but prosper.
5. I beseech you for ministers' sakes. Ministers are made very odious this day by the dividers of the Church ; but we hope they have not made such impressions on you, but that you, at least some of you, will do something for our sake. Our request then is, that ye would not burden our spirits with division, that ye would not mar the Lord's work in our hands, and make our work a burden to us; ye see that in other things we are not mere ignorants more than yourselves; that in other things we are not men of prostitute consciences more than yourselves ; must a man then be accounted quite ignorant of his duty, or one that will go over the belly of his own light, in things properly belonging to his office, just because he is a member of this Church at this day? Be astonished at this, 0 ye heavens, be horribly afraid, 0 earth! I am sure it is a changed world with some, to whom it may be said in the words of the apostle, Gal. iv. 14–17,“ And my temptation which was in my flesh, ye despised not ;-bot received me as an angel of God.- Where is then the blessedness you spake of ? For I bear you record, that if it had been possible, ye would have plucked out your own eyes, and have given them to me. Am I therefore become your enemy, because I tell you the truth? They zealously affect you, but not well; yea, they would exclude you, that you might affect them.”
Lastly, I beseech yon, for Christ's sake, that ye beware of division. I beseech you for the sake of the Prince of peace, who in his solemn prayer prayed for the uniting of his people, and lays an astonishing weight on it, John xvii. 21, “ That they all may be one ; —that the world may believe that thou hast sent me :” for his sake
who, in the night wherein he was betrayed, instituted the sacrament of his supper, to seal our union and communion with God, and with one another : for his sake who laid down his life to procure our peace with God, and shed his precious blood to unite his elect, Eph. ii. 14," For he is our peace, who ath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us." As ye tender the authority, as ye tender the honour of our Lord Jesus Christ, beware of division. As ye would have his presence with, and blessing upon the Church, and upon the parish, beware of division : Psalm cxxxiii, 1, 3, “ Behold, how good and how pleasant it is, for brethren to dwell together in unity. For there the Lord commanded the blessing, even life for evermore.” And so I close with the apostle, 2 Cor. xiii. 11, “ Finally, brethren, farewell : be perfect, be of good comfort, be of one mind, live in peace; and the God of love and peace shall be with you.” Now to the God of peace, even to the Father, the fountain of peace; to the Son, the purchaser of peace; to the Holy Ghost the worker of peace, be glory and praise, for ever and ever. Amen.
The substance of three Sermons, preached upon Sacramental occasions. The first at
Maxton, Saturday, July 4, 1719.
Psalm lxxxix. 14, Justice and judgment are the habitation of thy throne: mercy and truth
shall go before thy face.
A most solemn and awful approach is before us, we have on our hand business of the greatest import, business with a king, a king on his throne, not a mortal king, but the King immortal, the King of the world, the king of the church, God himself. And whether we consider our business or our party, we have no need to trifle. Our business is for eternity, if we come speed at the throne, we are made for ever; if not, we are undone. Our party is God on his throne, a throne where we see a glorious mixture of majesty and mercy, which requires management with the utmost seriousness.
In the words we have a glorious view the Psalmist takes of Zion's God and King, in two things.
1. The throne he sits in, and appears on, which is most glorious, “ Justice and judgment are the habitation of thy throne." Where let us consider,
(1.) The person sitting on the throne, it is he to whom the Psalmist speaks, even God himself, ver. 8, and particularly the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, ver. 19, “ Then thou spakest in vision to thy holy One, and saidst, I have laid help upon one that is mighty." THE NECESSITY AND FOUNDATIONS OF A THRONE OF GRACE, &c. 615
And he is here represented as actually upon the throne ; for so “mercy and truth going before his face," does require it to be understood.
(2.) The throne itself. I think this text wronged, by expounding the throne of the throne of providence, and God's government of the world in general ; the ushers that go before this enthroned King oblige us to understand it of the throne of grace, Heb. iv. 16, since truth joined with mercy, as here, is always understood of faithfulness in fulllling promises; and the ushers in the kingdom of providence are justice as well as mercy.
(3.) The habitation of this throne, "justice and judgment,” (marg.) " the establishment” or “ place.” So that the habitation is not to be taken actively, for that which inhabits the throne ; but passively, for that in which the throne abides or inhabits. The word is of such a frame as denotes an instrument of something, and it properly signifies a base, a support, or stay, or foundation, on which a thing stands firm, Ezra ii. 68, and iii. 3; Psalm civ. 5. Now justice and judgment are the base or foundation of this throne, i. e. say some, jast judgment is the stability of God's throne, namely, in his government of the world. I am not clear of that sense being safe, far less genuine : for though just judgment is the stability of a creature's throne, who is capable to do unjustly; I see not how it can be thought to be the stability of his throne of providence, who can do no wrong, whose dominion is founded on his having created all things, and is absolutely, and in itself unalterable.
By justice then I understand God's justice proceeding on a righteousness : by judgment, the execution of justice against sin ; which done, justice gives what is due. These are bases, supporters, or stays or foundations the throne of grace stands on: and you may easily perceive they relate to Christ, the Mediator, who became justice's party, and on whom judgment was executed for the satisfaction of justice. The throne of grace could not bave been set up but on these bases; and were it possible they could fail, that moment they failed, the throne would tumble down.
2. The harbingers which go before him, " Mercy and truth shall go before thy face.” Here is,
(1.) Something expressed, viz. that mercy and truth go before this enthroned King, as kings have their ushers who go before them. The one is mercy, i. e. loving-kindness, bounty, clemency, good-will towards poor sinners. The other is truth, viz. faithfulness in performing all the promises made to the Mediator in favour of those that are his. A glorious reviving sight to a sensible lost world!
(2.) Something supposed, namely, that the throne is a portable throne. For these go before his face sitting on his throne. God has a throne of glory in heaven, of justice in hell, of providence through the whole world, of grace in the church, Jer. iii. 17. And wherever the gospel comes, there God comes sitting on this throne of grace, with mercy and truth going before his face, managing the treaty of peace with poor rebel sinners, and allowing all his people access to him, 2 Cor. v. 13, 18," God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them, &c.
Doct. The throne of grace, which God sits upon for the behoof of poor sinners, is founded and stands upon justice, and on judgment executed against sin, in the person of Christ the Mediator.
In discoursing this doctrine,
I. I shall shew the necessity there was of a throne of grace, for the behoof of poor sinners.
II. I will shew the necessity of these foundations and stays of justice and judgment against sin, for the throne of grace to stand on.
III. We shall consider the laying of these foundations, and the erecting of the throne of grace upon them.
I shall shew the necessity there was of a throne of grace, for the behoof of poor sinners. There was an absolute necessity of it for the salvation of any of the posterity of fallen Adam. For,
1. Sin having entered, they could have no more benefit by the throne of law-goodness, which run in that channel, “Do this and live.” Gen. iii. 22, 24, “ And the Lord God said,— And now lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever :-So he drove out the man,” &c. The whole tribe of Adam turning rebels against the throne of heaven, the promised life and favour was forfeited, their claim was cut off by that one blow of the first sin, at the rate that they, with the help of angels, could never have been able to recover it, Rom. viii. 3.
2. They were bound over to answer at the throne of strict justice; for so was the law-treaty related and determined, Gen. ii. 17, “ But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof, thou shalt surely die.” This made them liable to eternal death for the least transgression, Gal. iii. 10. Taste but of the forbidden fruit, and lo! they must die. This made our guilty father, when he heard the voice of God, run and hide himself, when he looked to have the summons to that awful tribunal put into his hand.
In this case, there was the utmost necessity for a throne of grace.