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THE SAINTS' PRIVILEGE AND PROFIT;

OR,
THE THRONE OF GRACE

ADVERTISEMENT BY THE EDITOR

The churches of Christ are very much indebted to the Rev. Charles Doe, for the preservation and publishing of this treatise. It formed one of the ten excellent manuscripts left by Bunyan at his decease, prepared for the press. Having treated on the nature of prayer in his searching work on 'praying with the spirit and with the understanding also,' in which he proves from the sacred scriptures that prayer cannot be merely read or said, but must be the spontaneous effusions of the heart principally in private, or at the domestic altar upon set times in the morning and evening, or more publicly in social meetings for praise and prayer, or in the public assembly of the church-all being acceptable, only as it is offered up in spirit and in truth-he now directs us to the proper medium which our mental powers should use in drawing near to the Divine Being. We have to approach the universal spirit, the creator, the preserver, the bountiful benefactor of our race; and, at the same time, the infinitely holy one, the supreme judge and just rewarder or punisher of all creatures. How shall we, who are impure and unclean by nature and by practice, draw near unto him who is so infinitely holy? Others of our race who were equally guilty have held acceptable converse with God, and received special marks of his favour. We all know that a talented man, high in office, retired at certain times for prayer; this gave offence, and a law was made, by which prayer to God was interdicted for thirty days. He refused obedience to a human law which interfered with the divine authority, and for this he was cast into the den of lions; but they hurt him not, although they devoured his persecutors. When a beloved minister was seized and imprisoned for his love to Christ, the church held a prayer meeting on his account, and while they were praying God sent his angel to the prison. In vain four quaternions of soldiers kept guard, two of them in the prisoner's cell, while the servant of Christ, who was loaded with chains and doomed to an ignominious death, slept sweetly between the armed men. The angel awakes him, his chains fall off, no noise can awake his guard, the prison doors open, and he was restored to his beloved charge. They were yet imploring his deliverance, when he stood in their midst to tell the wondrous miracle, wrought in answer to their prayer. Again, two of their much-loved ministers were seized and beaten, and cast into jail, their feet being made fast in the stocks. In the dark hour of midnight they prayed and praised God, when an earthquake was sent, which shook the prison and threw open its doors, and the jailor, with his house, became converts to the faith. Millions of instances might have been recorded of prayer heard and answered. The child Samuel, and also Ishmael. The Magdalene. The thief on the cross. Ananias, who was directed to relieve the stricken persecutor Saul, for 'behold he prayeth.' But innumerable prayers have been read and offered up which have not been answered. What then is the acceptable form, and what the appointed medium consecrated for our access to God, by which prayer is sanctified and accepted? If ye love me, saith the Saviour, keep my commandments, and whatsoever ye shall ask IN MY NAME that will I do. A sense of our want and unworthiness leads us to God in that new and living way consecrated by Christ though the veil, that is to say, his flesh (Heb 10:20). By that way we can 'come boldly,' because it is 'a throne of grace,' and there and there only we can 'obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.' Wondrous throne! Blessed encouragement to the poor pilgrim, traversing the desert surrounded by enemies, his own heart by nature being one of the most formidable of them!

It is of great importance to all, and especially to the young, to attain correct definite ideas of religious truths. Bunyan had remarkably clear views, arising from his strong feelings and the rugged path by which he was led to Christ. His definition of the difference between grace and mercy is very striking: 'Mercy signifies pitifulness to objects in a miserable condition. Grace acts as a free agent, not wrought upon by our misery but of God's own princely mind.' Christ is the throne of grace-in him dwells all the fulness of the Godhead, and yet he was found in fashion as a man, he took on him the seed of Abraham, and was made like unto his brethren, and offered himself up as the sacrifice for sin. Thus he is the throne of grace on the mercy-seat covering the law. Here he is an object of worship to the angels on the right hand of God. In him the uncreated glory, the dazzling effulgence of God, is so veiled in his glorified body, that man, poor sinful man, can lift up his eyes to behold the place where God's honour most richly dwelleth, and find acceptance and grace to help in every time of need.

Take heed, sinner, this is your only access to heaven. The mercy-seat and throne of grace is God's resting-place; the throne which governs his church, and which eventually will govern all nations. This throne, invisible to mortal eyes, is present at all times and in all places. After the saints have been supplied with all needful grace in this world, their glorified spirits will see the great white throne, and hear the voice proceeding from it, saying, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you; while from that throne the direful thunderbolts will be hurled upon the despisers of divine grace, and they will hurry into irretrievable misery. The safety of the Christian entirely depends upon his being found 'looking unto Jesus': his glorified human body is the throne of grace-the source of all blessedness to his worshippers-the gate of heaven-the way, the truth and the life. Yes, proud nature, HE who was the babe at Bethlehem, the poor carpenter's son, who, notwithstanding his miracles of wisdom, power, and mercy, was despised and rejected of men, HIM hath God exalted to be a prince and a Saviour, to give repentance and the remission of sins, the only medium of access to heaven. Before him every knee shall bow. Wonders of grace to God belong. 'Busy thyself, fellow christian, about this blessed office of Christ. It is full of good, it is full of sweet, it is full of heaven, it is full of relief and succour for the tempted and dejected; wherefore, I say again, study these things, give thyself wholly to them.' Reader, listen to these words of Bunyan, and may the Divine blessing attend the reading of his works.

GEO. OFFOR.

THE SAINTS' PRIVILEGE AND PROFIT

'LET US THEREFORE COME BOLDLY UNTO THE THRONE OF GRACE, THAT WE MAY OBTAIN MERCY, AND FIND GRACE TO HELP IN TIME OF NEED.'-HEBREWS 4:16

This epistle is indited and left to the church by the Holy Ghost, to show particularly, and more distinctly, the high priesthood of Jesus Christ, and the excellent benefits that his people have thereby. In which both the excellency of his person, and transcendent glory of his office, beyond either priest or priesthood of the law, is largely set forth before us, in chapter 1:2, &c.

Wherefore, in order to our beneficial reading of this epistle, the Spirit of God calls upon us, first, most seriously to consider what an one this excellent person is: 'Wherefore, holy brethren,' saith he, you that are 'partakers of the heavenly calling,' consequently you that are related to and that are concerned in the undertaking of this holy one, 'consider the Apostle and High Priest of our profession, Christ Jesus' (Heb 3:1). Consider how great and how fit this man is for so holy and glorious a calling. He being so high, as to be far above all heavens; so great, as to be the Son of, and God equal with the Father. Consider him also as to his humanity, how that he is really flesh of our flesh; sinlessly so, sympathisingly so, so in all the compassions of a man; he is touched with, compassioneth, pitieth, loveth, succoureth us, and feeleth our infirmities, and maketh our case his own. Nay, he again, from the consideration of his greatness and love, puts us upon a confident reliance on his undertaking, and also presseth us to a bold approach of that throne of grace where he continually abideth in the execution of his office: 'Seeing then,' saith he, 'that we have a great high priest that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession. For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities: but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace' (Heb 3:14-16).

In the words we have, First, An exhortation; [and] Second, An implication that we shall reap a worthy benefit, if we truly put the exhortation into practice. The exhortation is that we shall come boldly to the throne of grace: 'Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace.' In all we have an intimation of five things.

FIRST, That God hath more thrones than one; else the throne of grace need not to be specified by name. 'Let us come unto the throne of grace.' SECOND, That the godly can distinguish one throne from another. For the throne here is not set forth by where or what signs it should be known; it is only propounded to us by its name, and so left for saints to make their approach unto it: 'Let us come unto the throne of grace.' THIRD, The third thing is, the persons intended by this exhortation, 'Let us therefore come.' Us: What us? or who are they that by this exhortation are called upon to come? 'Let us.' FOURTH, The manner of the coming of these persons to this throne of grace; and that is through the veil, boldly, confidently: 'Let us come boldly unto the throne of grace.' FIFTH, the motive to this exhortation; and that is twofold, First, Because we have so great an high priest, one that cannot but be touched with the feeling of our infirmities: 'Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace.' And, second, because we are sure to speed: 'That we may obtain mercy, and find grace,' &c. I shall, as God shall help me, handle these things in order.

[THAT GOD HATH MORE THRONES THAN ONE.]

FIRST. For the first, That God hath more thrones than one. He hath a throne in heaven, and a throne on earth: 'The Lord's throne is in heaven,' and 'they shall call Jerusalem the throne of the Lord' (Psa 11:4; Jer 3:17). He ruleth over the angels; he ruleth in his church. 'He ruleth in Jacob, unto the ends of the earth' (Psa 59:13). Yea, he has a throne and seat of majesty among the princes and great ones of the world. He ruleth or 'judgeth among the gods' (Psa 82:1). There is a throne for him as a Father, and a throne for Christ as a giver of reward to all faithful and overcoming Christians: 'To him that overcometh, will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne' (Rev 3:21).

There is also to be a throne of judgment, on which God by Christ, at the great and notable day, shall sit to give to the whole world, their last or final sentence; from which, no, not, not by any means, they shall never be released. This throne is made mention of in the New Testament, and is called by Christ 'the throne of his glory,' and 'a great white throne' (Matt 25:31; Rev 20:11). And his presence, when he sits upon this throne, will be so terrible, that nothing shall be able to abide it that is not reconciled to God by him before.

Wherefore it is not amiss that I give you this hint, because it may tend to inform unwary Christians, when they go to God, that they address not themselves to him at rovers, or at random; but that when they come to him for benefits, they direct their prayer to the throne of grace, or to God as considered on a throne of grace.[1] For he is not to be found a God merciful and gracious, but as he is on the throne of grace. This is his holy place, out of which he is terrible to the sons of men, and cannot be gracious unto them. For as when he shall sit at the last day upon his throne of judgment, he will neither be moved with the tears of misery of the world to do any thing for them, that in the least will have a tendency to a relaxation of the least part of their sorrow; so now let men take him where they will, or consider him as they list, he gives no grace, no special grace, but as considered on the throne of grace: wherefore they that will pray, and speed, they must come to a throne of grace: to a God that sitteth on a throne of grace: 'Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain,' &c.

The unbeliever, the erroneous and superstitious, consider not this: wherefore they speak to God as their fancies lead them, not as the word directs them, and therefore obtain nothing. Ask the carnal man to whom he prays? he will say to God. Ask him where this God is? he will say in heaven. But ask him how, or under what notion he is to be considered there? and he will give a few generals, but cannot direct his soul unto him as he is upon a throne of grace, as the apostle here biddeth, saying, 'Let us come boldly unto the throne of grace.' Wherefore they come and go, or rather go and come to no advantage at all: they find nothing but their labour or words for their pains. For the right considering of God when I go unto him, and how or where I may find him gracious and merciful, is all in all; and mercy and grace is then obtained when we come to him as sitting upon a throne of grace.

[THE GODLY CAN DISTINGUISH ONE THRONE FROM ANOTHER.]

SECOND. We will therefore come to the second thing, to wit, that the godly can distinguish one thing from another. And the reason why I so conclude, is, as I said, because the throne here is not set forth unto us here, by where or what signs it should be known; it is only propounded to us by its name, a throne of grace, and so left for saints to make their approach thereto: 'Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace.' We will therefore take this conclusion into two parts, and consider it under this double position. FIRST, That there is a throne of grace. SECOND, That it is the privilege of the godly to distinguish from all other thrones whatever this throne of grace.

FIRST, There is a throne of grace. This must be true, because the text saith it;[2] also it is that of which the mercy-seat, so often made mention of in the Old Testament, was a type, shadow, or figure; nor is the terms of seat and throne of any strength to make this supposition void. For it is common for the antitype to be put forth in words unto us more glorious than is the figure or shadow of that thing. And the reason is, for that the heavenly things themselves are far more excellent than the shadow by which they are represented. What is a sheep, a bull, an ox, or calf, to Christ, or their blood to the blood of Christ? What is Jerusalem that stood in Canaan, to that new Jerusalem that shall come down from heaven? or the tabernacle made with corruptible things, to the body of Christ, or heaven itself? No marvel then, if they be set forth unto us by words of an inferior rank; the most full and aptest being reserved to set out the highest things withal.

Before I proceed to give you a more particular description of this throne of grace, as also how it may be know, I will a little touch upon the terms themselves, and show briefly what must be implied by them.

[Import of the term grace.]

First, By this word grace, we are to understand God's free, sovereign, good pleasure, whereby he acteth in Christ towards his people. Grace and mercy therefore are terms that have their distinct significations; mercy signifies pitifulness, or a running over of infinite bowels to objects in a miserable and helpless condition. But grace signifies that God still acts in this as a free agent, not being wrought upon by the misery of the creature, as a procuring cause; but of his own princely mind.

Were there no objects of pity among those that in the old world perished by the flood, or that in Sodom were burned with fire from heaven? doubtless, according to our apprehension, there were many: but Noah, and he only, found grace in God's eyes; not because that of himself he was better than the rest, but God acted as a gracious prince towards him, and let him share in mercy of his own sovereign will and pleasure. But this at first was not so fully made manifest as it was afterwards. Wherefore the propitiatory was not called, as here, a throne of grace, but a mercy-seat, albeit there was great glory in these terms also; for, by mercy-seat was showed, not only that God had compassion for men, but that also to be good was as his continual resting-place, whither he would at length retire, and where he would sit down and abide, whatever terrible or troublesome work for his church was on the wheel[3] at present. For a seat is a place of rest, yea, is prepared for that end; and in that here mercy is called that seat, it is to show, as I said, that whatever work is on the wheel in the world, let it be never so dreadful and amazing, yet to God's church it shall end in mercy, for that is God's resting-place. Wherefore after God had so severely threatened and punished his church under the name of a whorish woman, as you may read in the prophet Ezekiel, he saith, 'So will I make my fury toward thee to rest, and my jealousy shall depart from thee; and I will be quiet, and will be no more angry.' And again, speaking of the same people and of the same punishments, he saith, 'Nevertheless, I will remember my covenant with thee in the days of thy youth, and I will establish unto thee an everlasting covenant.' And again, 'I will establish my covenant with thee, and thou shalt know that I am the Lord; that thou mayest remember and be confounded, and never open thy mouth any more because of thy shame, when I am pacified toward thee for all that thou hast done, saith the Lord God' (Eze 16:42,60-63). These, with many more places, show that mercy is God's place of rest, and thither he will retire at last, and from thence will bless his church, his people.

But yet these terms, a throne, the throne of grace, doth more exceed in glory: not only because the word grace shows that God, by all that he doth towards us in saving and forgiving, acts freely as the highest Lord, and of his own good-will and pleasure, but also for that he now saith, that his grace is become a king, a throne of grace. A throne is not only a seat for rest, but a place of dignity and authority. This is known to all. Wherefore by this word, a throne, or the throne of grace, is intimated, that God ruleth and governeth by his grace. And this he can justly do: 'Grace reigns through righteousness, unto eternal life,[4] through Jesus Christ out Lord' (Rom 5:21). So then, in that here is mention made of a throne of grace, it showeth that sin, and Satan, and death, and hell, must needs be subdued. For these last mentioned are but weakness and destruction; but grace is life, and the absolute sovereign over all these to the ruling of them utterly down. A throne of grace!

But this then God plainly declareth, that he is resolved this way to rule, and that he pointeth at sin as his deadly foe: and if so, then, 'where sin aboundeth, grace must much more abound' (Rom 5:20).[5] For it is the wisdom and discretion of all that rule, to fortify themselves against them that rebel against them what they can. Wherefore he saith again, 'Sin shall not have dominion over you; for ye are not under the law, but under grace' (Rom 6:14). Sin seeks for the dominion, and grace seeks for the dominion; but sin shall not rule, because it has no throne in the church among the godly. Grace is king. Grace has the throne, and the people of God are not under the dominion of sin, but of the grace of God, the which they are here implicitly bid to acknowledge, in that they are bid to come boldly to it for help: 'That we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help; to help in time of need.' For as from the hand and power of the king comes help and succour to the subject, when assaulted by an enemy; so from the throne of grace, or from grace as it reigns, comes the help and health of God's people. Hence it is said again, 'A glorious high throne from the beginning is the place of our sanctuary' (Jer 17:12). Here then the saints take shelter from the roaring of the devil, from the raging of their lusts, and from the fury of the wicked. That also is a very notable place, 'He will subdue our iniquities; and thou wilt cast all their sins into the depths of the sea' (Micah 7:19). He speaks here of God as solacing himself in mercy, and as delighting of himself in the salvation of his people, and that without comparison: 'Who is a God like unto thee, that pardoneth iniquity, and passeth by the transgression of the remnant of his heritage? he retaineth not his anger for ever, because he delighteth in mercy' (Micah 7:18). Thus is mercy and grace got into the throne, reigns, and will assuredly conquer all; yea, will conquer, and that with a shout. 'Mercy rejoiceth against judgment' (James 2:13). Yea, glorieth when it getteth the victory of sin, and subdueth the sinner unto God and to his own salvation, as is yet more fully showed in the parable of the prodigal son (Luke 15). But this, briefly to show you something of the nature of the terms, and what must necessarily be implied thereby.

[What is to be inferred from the term 'throne of grace.']

Second. We will in the next place show what is to be inferred from hence. And,

1. To be sure this is inferred, that converted men are not every way, or in every sense, free from the being of sin. For, were they, they need not betake themselves to a throne of grace for help; when it saith there is grace in God, it inferreth, that there is sin in the godly; and when it saith, grace reigns, as upon a throne, it implies, that sin would ascend the throne, would reign, and would have the dominion over the children of God. This also is manifest, when he saith, 'Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof' (Rom 7:12). And the only way to prevent it is to apply ourselves, as by the text we are directed, to the throne of grace for help against it.

2. The text implies, that at certain times the most godly man in the world may be hard put to it by the sin that dwelleth in him; yea, so hard put to it, as that there can be no ways to save himself from a fall, but by imploring heaven and the throne of grace for help. This is called the needy time, the time when the wayfaring man that knocked at David's door shall knock at ours (2 Sam 12); or when we are got into the sieve into which Satan did get Peter (Luke 22:31); or when those fists are about our ears that were about Paul's; and when that thorn pricks us that Paul said was in his flesh (2 Cor 12:7,8). But why, or how comes it to pass, that the godly are so hard put to it at these times, but because there is in them, that is, in their flesh, no good thing, but consequently all aptness to close in with the devil and his suggestions, to the overthrow of the soul? But now here we are presented with a throne of grace, unto which, as presented with a throne of grace, unto which, as David says, we must 'continually resort'; and that is the way to obtain relief, and to find help in time of need (Psa 71:3).

3. As Christians are sometimes in imminent dangers of falling, so sometimes it is so, that they are fallen, are down, down dreadfully, and can by no means lift up themselves. And this happeneth unto them because they have been remiss as to the conscionable performance of what by this exhortation they are enjoined to. They have not been constant supplicants at this throne for preserving grace; for had they, they should, as the text suggests, most certainly have kept from such a fall; help should have been granted them in their needful time. But that is it, of which such are guilty, which is written in the prophet Isaiah, 'But thou hast not called upon me, O Jacob; but thou hast been weary of me, O Israel' (Isa 43:22). Therefore thou art profaned, therefore thou art given to reproaches (Isa 43:28). Now, as they which are falling are kept from coming down by coming to this throne of grace, so those that are fallen must rise by the sceptre of love extended to them from thence. Men may fall by sin, but cannot raise up themselves without the help of grace. Wherefore, it is worthy of our inquiry after a more thorough knowledge of this throne of grace, whence, as we may well perceive, our help comes, and by what comes from thence we are made to stand. I therefore come now to a more particular description of this throne of grace; and to show how the godly know, or may know it, from other thrones of God.

[What this throne of grace is.]

First, then, this throne of grace is the humanity, or heart and soul of Jesus Christ, in which God sits and resteth for ever in love towards them that believe in him. Forasmuch as Christ did, by the body of his flesh, when here, reconcile them unto the Father. 'The key of the house of David,' saith God, 'will I lay upon his shoulder; so he shall open and none shall shut; and he shall shut and none shall open. And I will fasten him as a nail in a sure place; and he shall be for a glorious throne to his Father's house' (Isa 22:22,23). For a glorious throne to his Father's house, that is, for his Father's house, to come to their Father by; for that they shall always find him thereon; or, as another scripture saith, in Christ reconciling them unto him, not imputing to them their trespasses and sins (2 Cor 5:19). Nor is it possible, that we lay aside the human nature of Christ, for us to find any such thing as a throne of grace, either in earth or heaven; for that then nothing can be found to be the rest of God. 'This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased,' is God's own language; but there is none other of whom he hath so said (Matt 3:17). Wherefore he resteth in him towards us, and in him only. Besides, grace cannot be extended towards us but in a way of justice; for that the law and our sin obstructeth another way (Gen 3:24). But, lay the human nature of Christ aside, and where will you find, THAT that shall become such a sacrifice to justice for the sin of men, as that God, for the sake of that, shall both forgive, and cause that grace for ever should reign towards us in such a way? It reigns through righteousness, or justice, by Jesus Christ, and no way else. Christ Jesus, therefore, is this throne of grace; or him, or that, by which grace reigns towards the children of God (Rom 5:21).

That scripture also gives us a little light herein, 'And I beheld, and lo! in the midst of the throne,' &c., 'stood a Lamb, as it had been slain' (Rev 5:6). This is to show the cause why grace is so freely let out to us, even for that there stands there, in the midst of the throne, and in the midst of the elders, a lamb as it had been slain, or, as it was made a sacrifice for our sin; for, as a slain lamb, he now lives in the midst of the throne, and is the meritorious cause of all the grace that we enjoy. And though it seems by this text that the throne is one thing and the Lamb another, yet the Lamb of God is the throne, though not as a lamb or sacrifice, but as one that by his sacrifice has made way for grace to run like a river into the world. The Son of God, Jesus Christ, is ALL; he is the throne, the altar, the priest, the sacrifice, and all: but he is the throne, the priest, the altar, and the sacrifice, under divers considerations. He is not the throne as he is the priest; he is not the priest as he is the sacrifice; he is not the sacrifice as he is the altar; yet is truly all these. Yea, there is no throne of grace, no high priest, no propitiatory sacrifice, &c., but he. Of all which we may yet speak further before we conclude this treatise. I conclude, then, that Christ Jesus, in his human nature, is this throne of grace. In his human nature, I say, he has by that completely accomplished all things necessary for the making way for grace to be extended to men; and that that is not only God's place of rest, but that by and from which, as upon a glorious throne, his grace shall reign over devil, death, sin, hell, and the grave, for ever. This human nature of Christ is also called the tabernacle of God; for the fullness of the Godhead dwells in it bodily. It is God's habitation, his dwelling-place, his chair and throne of state. He doth all in and by it, and without it he doth not any thing. But to pass this, let us come to the next thing.

[Where the throne of grace is erected.]

Second. We will now come to discourse of the placing of this throne of grace, or to discover where it is erected. And for this we must repair to the type, which, as was said before, is called the mercy-seat; the which we find, not in the outward court, nor yet within the first veil (Heb 9:3-5); which signifies, not in the world, nor in the church on earth, but in the holy of the holies, or after the second veil, the flesh of Christ (Heb 10:20). There then is this throne of God, this throne of grace, and no where here below. And for as much as it is called the throne of God, of grace, and is there, it signifieth that it is the highest and most honourable. Hence he is said to be far above all heavens, and to have a name above every name. Wherefore he that will come to this throne of grace, must know what manner of coming it is by which he must approach it; and that is, not personally,[6] but by runnings out of heart; not by himself, but by his Priest, his High Priest; for so it was in the type (Heb 9:7). Into the second, where the mercy-seat was, went the high priest alone, that is, personally, and the people by him, as he made intercession for them. This then must be done by those that will approach this throne of grace. They must go to God, as he is enthroned IN Christ; BY Christ, as he is the High Priest of his church; and they must go to him in the holiest, by him.

But again, as this throne of grace is in the Holiest, not in the world, not in the church on earth, so it is in this Holiest set up above the ark of the testimony; for so was the mercy-seat, it was set up in the most holy place, above the ark of the testimony (Deut 10:1-5; 1 Kings 8:9; 2 Chron 5:10). The ark of the testimony. What was that? Why it was the place of the law, the ark in which it was kept: the testimony was the law, the ark was prepared to put that in. This ark in which was put this law was set up in the holiest, and the mercy-seat was set above it, for so was Moses commanded to place them. Thou shalt make an ark, saith God, 'and thou shalt make a mercy-seat': the ark shall be called the ark of the testimony, and there 'thou shalt put the testimony that I shall give thee,' that is, the law, 'and thou shalt put the mercy-seat above upon the ark, and there I will meet with thee, from above the mercy-seat between the two cherubims, which are upon,' that is, above, 'the ark of the testimony,' 'shadowing the mercy-seat' (Exo 25:16-22; Heb 9:5).

Thus, then, were things of old ordained in the type, by which we gather what is now to be minded in our worshipping of God. There was an ark made, and the two tables of stone, in which the law was writ, was put therein (Deut 10:2-5). This ark, with these two tables, were put into the holiest, and this mercy-seat was set above it. The Holy Ghost, in my mind, thus signifying that grace sits upon a throne that is higher than the law, above the law; and that grace, therefore, is to rule before the law, and notwithstanding all the sentence of the law; for it sitteth, I say, upon a throne, but the law sits on none; a throne, I say, which the law, instead of accusing, justifieth and approveth. For although it condemneth all men, yet it excepteth Christ, who, in his manhood, is this throne of grace. Him, I say, it condemneth not, but approveth, and liketh well of all his doings; yea, it granteth him, as here we see, as a throne of grace, to be exalted above itself: yea, it cannot but so do, because by wisdom and holiness itself, which is also the Lord of the law, it is appointed so to do. Here, then, is the throne of God, the throne of grace, namely, above the ark of the testimony; on this God and his grace sits, reigns, and gives leave to sinners to approach his presence for grace and mercy. He gives, I say for those sinners so to do, that have washed before in the brazen laver that is prepared to wash in first, of which we may speak more anon. Now, behold the wisdom of God in his thus ordaining of things; in his placing, in the first place, the law, and Christ the ark of the testimony, and the mercy-seat, or throne of grace, so nigh together; for doubtless it was wisdom that thus ordained them, and it might so ordain for these reasons-

[Why the law and the mercy-seat are so near together.]

1. That we that approach the throne of grace might, when we come there, be made still to remember that we are sinners- 'for by the law is the knowledge of sin' (Rom 3:20)-and behold just before us is this ark in which are the two tables that condemn all flesh: yea, we must look that way, if we look at all; for just above it is the mercy-seat or throne of grace. So then here is a memento for them that come to God, and to his throne of grace, for mercy, to wit, the law, by which they are afresh put in remembrance of themselves, their sins, and what need they have of fresh supplies of grace. I read that the laver of brass and the foot of it was made of the looking-glasses of the women that assembled at the door of the tabernacle (Exo 38:8), methinks to signify, that men might see their smyrches[7] when they came to wash; so here you see the law is placed even with the mercy-seat, only that stood above, whereby those that come to the throne of grace for mercy might also yet more be put in mind that they are sinners.

2. This also tendeth to set an edge upon prayer, and to make us the more fervent in spirit when we come to the throne of grace. Should a king ordain that the axe and halter should be before all those that supplicate him for mercy, it would put yet an edge upon all their petitions for his grace, and make them yet the more humbly and fervently implore his majesty for favour. But, behold, the mercy-seat stands above, is set up above the ark and testimony that is in it. Here, therefore, we have encouragement to look for good. For observe, though here is the law, and that too in the holiest of all, whither we go; yet above it is the mercy-seat and throne of grace triumphant, unto which we should look, and to which we should direct our prayers. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, notwithstanding the ark and testimony is by; for the law cannot hurt us when grace is so nigh; besides, God is now not in the law, but upon the throne of grace that is above it, to gave forth pardons, and grace, and helps at a time of need.

This, then, may serve to inform some whereabout they are, when they are in their closets, and at prayer. Art thou most dejected when thou art at prayer? Hear me, thou art not far from the throne of grace; for thy dejection proceedeth from thy looking into the ark, into which God hath ordained that whosoever looks shall die (1 Sam 6:19). Now if thou art indeed so near as to see thy sins, by thy reading of thyself by the tables in the ark, cast but up thine eyes a little higher, and behold, there is the mercy-seat and throne of grace to which thou wouldest come, and by which thou must be saved. When David came to pray to God, he said he would direct his prayer to God, and would look up (Psa 5:3). As who should say, When I pray, I will say to my prayers, O my prayers, mount up, stay not at the ark of the testimony, for there is the law and condemnation; but soar aloft to the throne that stands above, for there is God, and there is grace displayed, and there thou mayest obtain what is necessary to help in time of need. Some, indeed, there be that know not what these things mean; they never read their sin nor condemnation for it; when they are upon their knees at their devotion, and so are neither dejected at the sight of what they are, nor driven with sense of things to look higher for help at need; for need, indeed, they see none. Of such I shall say, they are not concerned in our text, nor can they come hither before they have been prepared so to do, as may appear before we come to an end.

[How the godly distinguish the throne of grace.]

SECOND. And thus have I showed you what this throne of grace is, and where it stands. And now I shall come to show you how you shall find it, and know when you are come to it, by several other things.

First, then, about the throne of grace there is 'a rainbow - in sight like unto an emerald' (Rev 4:1-3). This was the first sight that John saw after he had received his epistles for the seven churches. Before he received them, he had the great vision of his Lord, and heard him say to him, I am he that was dead and am alive, or 'that liveth and was dead, and behold I am alive for evermore, amen; and have the keys of hell and of death' (Rev 1:18). And a good preparation it was for a work of that nature that now he was called unto; to wit, that he might the more warmly, and affectionately, and confidently attest the truth which his Lord had now for him to testify to them. So here, before he entereth upon his prophecy of things to come, he hears a first voice, and sees a first sight. The first voice that he heard was, 'Come up hither,' and the first sight that he saw was a throne with a rainbow round about it. 'And immediately,' saith he, 'I was in the Spirit; and behold a throne was set in heaven, and one sat on the throne. And he that sat was to look upon like a jasper, and a sardine stone, and there was a rainbow round about the throne' (Rev 4:1-3).

The firs time that we find in God's Word mention made of a rainbow, we read also of its spiritual signification, to wit, that it was a token of the firmness of the covenant that God made with Noah, as touching his not drowning the earth any more with the waters of a flood. 'I do set,' saith he, 'my bow in the cloud, and it shall be for a token of a covenant between me and the earth. And it shall come to pass, when I bring a cloud over the earth, that the bow shall be seen in the cloud. And I will remember my covenant which is between me and you, and every living creature of all flesh: and the waters shall no more become a flood to destroy all flesh' (Gen 9:13-15). The first use, therefore, of the rainbow, it was to be a token of a covenant of mercy and kindness to the world; but that was not the utmost end thereof. For that covenant was but a shadow of the covenant of grace which God hath made with his elect in Christ, and that bow but a shadow of the token of the permanency and lastingness of that covenant. Wherefore the next time we read of the rainbow is in the first of Ezekiel, and there we read of it only with reference to the excellencies of its colour; for that it is there said to be exactly like the colour of the glory of the man that the prophet there saw as sitting upon a throne (v 28). The glory, that is, the priestly robes; for he is a priest upon the throne, and his robes become his glory and beauty (Zech 6:13). His robes-what are they but his blessed righteousness, with the skirts of which he covereth the sinful nakedness of his people, and with the perfection of which he decketh and adorneth them, 'as a bride adorneth herself with her jewels' (Exo 28:2; Eze 16:8; Isa 61:10).

Now here again, in the third place, we find a rainbow, a rainbow round about the throne; round about the throne of grace. A rainbow-that is, a token of the covenant, a token of the covenant of grace in its lastingness; and that token is the appearance of the man Christ. The appearance-that is, his robes, his righteousness, 'from the appearance of his loins even upward,' and 'from the appearance of his loins even downward' (Eze 1:27); even down to the foot, as you have it in the book of the Revelation (1:13). 'As the appearance of the bow that is in the cloud in the day of rain, so was the appearance of the brightness round about. This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the Lord' (Eze 1:28). The sum then is, that by the rainbow round about the throne of grace upon which God sitteth to hear and answer the petitions of his people, we are to understand the obedential righteousness of Jesus Christ, which in the days of his flesh he wrought out and accomplished for his people; by which God's justice is satisfied, and their person justified, and they so made acceptable to him. This righteousness, that shines in God's eyes more glorious than the rainbow in the cloud doth in ours, saith John, is round about the throne. But for what purpose? Why, to be looked upon. But who must look upon it? Why, God and his people; the people when they come to pray, and God when he is about to hear and give. 'And the bow shall be in the cloud'; says God, 'and I will look upon it, that I may remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is upon the earth' (Gen 9:16). And, I say, as the bow is for God to look on, so it is also for our sight to behold. A rainbow round about the throne, in sight; in whose sight? in John's and his companions, like unto an emerald.

We read of Solomon's great throne of ivory, that though there was not its like in any kingdom, yet he was not willing that the bow of it should stand before him. It was round behind (1 Kings 10:18-20). O! but God's throne has the bow before, even round about to view, to look upon in sight. Solomon's was but a shadow, and therefore fit to be put behind; but this is the sum and substance, and therefore fit to be before, in view, in sight, for God and his people to behold. Thus you see that a rainbow is round about the throne of grace, and what this rainbow is. Look then, when thou goest to prayer, for the throne; and that thou mayest not be deceived with a fancy, look for the rainbow too. The rainbow, that is, as I have said, the personal performances of Christ thy Saviour for thee. Look, I say, for that, it is his righteousness; the token of the everlastingness of the covenant of grace; the object of God's delight, and must be the matter of the justification of thy person and performances before God. God looks at it, look thou at it, and at it only (Psa 71:16). For in heaven or earth, if that be cast away, there is nothing to be found that can please God, or justify thee. If it be said faith pleases God; I answer, faith is a relative grace; take then the relative away, which, as to justification, is this spangling robe, this rainbow, this righteousness of Christ, and faith dies, and becomes, as to what we now treat of, extinct and quenched as tow.

And a very fit emblem the rainbow is of the righteousness of Christ; and that in these particulars. 1. The rainbow is an effect of the sun that shines in the firmament; and the righteousness by which this throne of grace is encompassed, is the work of the Son of God. 2. The rainbow was a token that the wrath of God in sending the flood was appeased; this righteousness of Christ is that for the sake of which God forgiveth us all trespasses. 3. The rainbow was set in the cloud, that the sinful man might look thereon, and wax confident in common mercy; this righteousness is showed us in the word, that we may by it believe unto special mercy. 4. The bow is seen but now and then in the cloud; Christ's righteousness is but here and there revealed in the Word. 5. The bow is seen commonly upon, or after rain; Christ's righteousness is apprehended by faith upon, or soon after the apprehensions of wrath. 6. The bow is seen sometimes more, sometimes less; and so is this righteousness, even according to the degree or clearness of the sight of faith. 7. The bow is of that nature, as to make whatever you shall look upon through it, to be of the same colour of itself, whether that thing be bush, or man, or beast; and the righteousness of Christ is that that makes sinners, when God looks upon them through it, to look beautiful, and acceptable in his sight, for we are made comely through his comeliness, and made accepted in the Beloved (Eze 16:14; Eph 1:6).

One word more of the rainbow, and then to some other things. As here you read that the rainbow is round about the throne; so if you read on even in the same place, you shall find the glorious effects thereof to be far more than all that I have said. But,

Second. As the throne of grace is known by the rainbow that is round about it; so also thou shalt know it by this, the high priest is continually ministering before it; the high priest, or Christ as priest, is there before God in his high priest's robes, making continual intercession for thy acceptance there. Now, as I said before, Christ is priest and throne and all; throne in one sense, priest in another; even as he was priest, and sacrifice, and altar too, when he became our reconciler to God.

As a priest here, he is put under the notion of an angel, of an angel that came and stood at the altar to offer incense for the church, all the time that the seven angels were to sound out with trumpets the alarm of God's wrath against the anti-christian world; lest that wrath should swallow them up also. 'And,' saith John, 'another angel came and stood at the altar, having a golden censer; and there was given unto him much incense, that he should offer it with the prayers of all saint upon the golden altar which was before the throne. And the smoke of the incense which came with the prayers of the saints, ascended up before God out of the angel's hand' (Rev 8:1-4).

Here then you have before the throne, that is, the throne or mercy-seat, the high priest; for there it was that God appointed that the altar of incense, or that to burn incense on, should be placed (Exo 30:1-7). This incense-altar in the type was to be overlaid with gold; but here the Holy Ghost implies, that it is all of gold. This throne then is the mercy-seat, or throne of grace, to which we are bid to come; and, as you see, here is the angel, the high priest with his golden censer, and his incense, ready to wait upon us. For so the text implies, for he is there to offer his incense with the prayers of all saints that are waiting without at his time of offering incense within (Luke 1:10). So, then, at the throne of grace, or before it, stands the high priest of our propitiation, Christ Jesus, with his golden censer in his hand, full of incense, therewith to perfume the prayers of saints, that come thither for grace and mercy to help in time of need.[8] And he stands there, as you see, under the name of an angel, for he is the angel of God's presence, and messenger of his covenant.

But now it is worth our considering, to take notice how, or in what method, the high priest under the law was to approach the incense-altar. When he came to make intercession for the saints before the throne, he was to go in thither to do this work in his robes and ornaments; not without them, lest he died. The principal of these ornaments were, 'a breast-plate, and an ephod, and a robe, and a broidered coat, a mitre, and a girdle' (Exo 28:4). These are briefly called his garments, in Revelation the first, and in the general they show us, that he is clothed with righteousness, girded with truth and faithfulness, for that is the girdle of his reins to strengthen him (Isa 11:5). And that he beareth upon his heart the names of the children of Israel that are Israelites indeed; for as on Aaron's breast-plate was fixed the names of the twelve tribes of Israel, and he was to bear the weight of them by the strength of his shoulders, so are we on the heart of Christ (Isa 22:21).

Thus therefore is our high priest within the holiest to offer incense upon the golden altar of incense, that is, before the throne. Wherefore, when thou goest thither, even to 'the throne of grace,' look for him, and be not content, though thou shouldst find God there, if thou findest him not there, I suppose now an impossibility, for edification's sake, for without him nothing can be done; I say, without him as a priest. He is the throne, and without him as a throne, God has no resting-place as to us; he is a priest, and without him as such we can make no acceptable approach to God; for by him as priest our spiritual sacrifices are accepted (1 Peter 2:5). 'By him, therefore, let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, - giving thanks,' and confessing to and 'in his name' (Heb 13:15). And for our further edification herein, let us consider, that as God has chosen and made him his throne of grace; so he has sworn, that he shall be accepted as a priest for ever there. For his natural qualifications we may speak something to them afterwards; in the meantime know, that there is no coming to God, upon pain of death without him.

Nor will it out of my mind, but that his wearing the rainbow upon his head doth somewhat belong to him as priest, his priestly vestments being for glory and beauty, as afore was said, compared to the colour of it (Rev 10:1; Eze 1). But why doth he wear the rainbow upon his head; but to show, that the sign, that the everlastingness of the covenant of grace is only to be found in him; that he wears it as a mitre or frontlet of gold, and can always plead it with acceptance to God, and for the subduing of the world and good of his people. But,

Thirdly, The throne of grace is to be known by the sacrifice that is presented there. The high priest was not to go into the holiest, nor come near the mercy-seat; the which, as I have showed you, was a type of our throne of grace, 'without blood.' 'But into the second went the high priest alone once every year, not without blood, which he offered for himself, and for the errors of the people' (Heb 9:7). Yea, the priest was to take of the blood of his sacrifice, and sprinkle it seven times before the Lord, that is, before the mercy-seat, or throne of grace; and was to put some of the blood upon the horns of the altar of incense before the Lord (Lev 4:5-7, 16:13-15). So then the throne of grace is known by the blood that is sprinkled thereon, and by the atonement that by it is made there. I told you before that before the throne of grace there is our high-priest; and now I tell you, there is his sacrifice too; his sacrifice which he there presenteth as amends for the sins of all such as have a right to come with boldness to the throne of grace. Hence, as I mentioned before, there is said to be in the midst of the throne, the same throne of which we have spoken before, 'a lamb as it had been slain' (Rev 5:6). The words are to the purpose, and signify that in the midst of the throne is our sacrifice, with the very marks of his death upon him; showing to God that sitteth upon the throne, the holes of the thorns, of the nails, of the spear; and how he was disfigured with blows and blood when at his command he gave himself a ransom for his people; for it cannot be imagined that either the exaltation or glorification of the body of Jesus Christ should make him forget the day in which he died the death for our sins; specially since that which puts worth into his whole intercession is the death he died, and the blood he shed upon the cross, for our trespasses.

Besides, there is no sight more taketh the heart of God, than to see of the travail of the soul, and the bruisings of the body of his Son for our transgressions. Hence it is said, He 'is in the midst of the throne' as he died, or as he had been slain (Rev 7:17). It is said again, 'The Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them.' The Lamb, that is, the Son of God as a sacrifice, shall be always in the midst of the throne to feed and comfort his people. He is the throne, he is the priest, he is the sacrifice. But then how as a Lamb is he in the midst of the throne? Why, the meaning in mine opinion is, that Christ, as a dying and bleeding sacrifice, shall be chief in the reconciling of us to God; or that his being offered for our sins shall be of great virtue when pleaded by him as priest, to the obtaining of grace, mercy, and glory for us (Heb 9:12). By his blood he entered into the holy place; by his blood he hath made an atonement for us before the mercy-seat. His blood it is that speaketh better for us than the blood of Abel did for Cain (Heb 12:24). Also it is by his blood that we have bold admittance into the holiest (Heb 10:19). Wherefore no marvel if you find him here a Lamb, as it had been slain, and that in the midst of the throne of grace.

While thou art therefore thinking on him, as he is the throne of grace, forget him not as he is priest and sacrifice; for as a priest he makes atonement; but there is no atonement made for sin without a sacrifice. Now, as Christ is a sacrifice, so he is to be considered as passive, or a sufferer; as he is a priest, so he is active, or one that hath offered up himself; as he is an altar, so he is to be considered as God; for in and upon the power of his Godhead he offered up himself. The altar then was not the cross, as some have foolishly imagined. But as a throne, a throne of grace; so he is to be considered as distinct from these three things, as I also have hinted before. Wouldst thou then know this throne of grace, where God sits to hear prayers and give grace? then cast the eyes of thy soul about, and look till thou findest the Lamb there; a Lamb there 'as it had been slain,' for by this thou shalt know thou art right. A slain Lamb, or a Lamb as it had been slain, when it is seen by a supplicant in the midst of the throne, whither he is come for grace, is a blessed sight! A blessed sight indeed! And it informs him he is where he should be.

And thou must look for this, the rather because without blood is no remission. He that thinks to find grace at God's hand, and yet enters not into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, will find himself mistaken, and will find a DEAD,[9] instead of 'a living way' (Heb 10:19). For if not anything below, or besides blood, can yield remission on God's part, how should remission be received by us without our acting faith therein? We are justified by his blood, through faith in his blood (Rom 5:6-9). Wherefore, I say, look when thou approachest the throne of grace, that thou give diligence to see for the Lamb; that is, 'as it had been slain' in the midst of the throne of grace; and then thou wilt have, not only a sign that thou presentest thy supplications to God, where, and as thou shouldst; but there also wilt thou meet with matter to break, to soften, to bend, to bow, and to make thy heart as thou wouldst have it; for if the blood of a goat will, as some say, dissolve an adamant, a stone that is harder than flint;[10] shall not the sight of 'a Lamb as it had been slain' much more dissolve and melt down the spirit of that man that is upon his knees before the throne of grace for mercy; especially when he shall see, that not his prayers, not his tears, not his wants, but the blood of the Lamb, has prevailed with a God of grace to give mercy and grace to an undeserving man? This then is the third sign by which thou shalt know when thou art at the throne of grace: that throne is sprinkled with blood; yea, in the midst of that throne there is to be seen to this day, a Lamb as it had been slain; and he is in the midst of it, to feed those that come to that throne, and to lead them by and to 'living fountains of waters' (Rev 7:17). Wherefore,

Fourth. The throne of grace is to be known, by the streams of grace that continually proceed therefrom, and that like a river run themselves out into the world. And, saith John, 'He showed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb' (Rev 22:1). Mark you, here is again a throne; the throne of God, which, as we have showed, is the human nature of his Son; out of which, as you read, proceeds a river, a river of water of life, clear as crystal. And the joining of the Lamb also here with God is to show that it comes, I say, from God, by the Lamb; by Christ, who as a lamb or sacrifice for sin, is the procuring cause of the running of this river; it proceedeth out of the throne of God and of the Lamb. Behold, therefore, how carefully here the Lamb is brought in, as one from or through whom proceeds the water of life to us. God is the spring-head; Christ the golden pipe of conveyance; the elect the receivers of this water of life. He saith not here, 'the throne of the Lamb,' but 'and of the Lamb, to show, I say, that he it is out of or through whom this river of grace should come.' But and if it should be understood that it proceedeth from the throne of the Lamb, it may be to show that Christ also has power as a mediator, to send grace like a river into the church. And then it amounts to this, that God, for Christ's sake, gives this river of grace, and that Christ, for his merits sake, has power to do so too. And hence is that good wish, so often mentioned in the epistles, 'Grace to you, and peace from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ' (Rom 1:7; 1 Cor 1:3; 2 Cor 1:2; Gal 1:3; Eph 1:2; Phil 1:2; Col 1:2; 1 Thess 1:2; 2 Thess 1:2; Phile 3). And again, 'Grace, mercy, and peace, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ' (1 Peter 1:2; 2 Tim 1:2; Titus 1:4). For Christ has power with the Father to give grace and forgiveness of sins to men (John 5:21-26; Mark 2:10). But let us come to the terms in this text. Here we have a throne, a throne of grace; and to show that this throne is it indeed, therefore there proceeds therefrom a river of this grace, put here under the term of 'water of life,' a term fit to express both the nature of grace and the condition of him that comes for it to the throne of grace.

It is called by the name of water of life, to show what a reviving cordial the grace of God in Christ is, shall be, and will be found to be, of all those that by him shall drink thereof. It shall be in him, even in him that drinks it, 'a well of water springing up into everlasting life' (John 4:14). It will therefore beget life, and maintain it; yea, will itself be a spring of life, in the very heart of him that drinks it. Ah! it will be such a preservative also to spiritual health, as that by its virtue the soul shall for ever be kept, I say, the soul that drinks it, from total and final decay; it shall be in them a well of living water, springing up into everlasting life.

But there is also by this phrase or term briefly touched the present state of them that shall come hither to drink; they are not the healthful, but the sick. It is with the throne of grace, as it is with the Bath, and other places of sovereign and healing waters, they are most coveted of them that are diseased, and do also show their virtues on those that have their health and limbs; so, I say, is the throne of grace; its waters are for healing, for soul-healing, that is their virtue (Eze 47:8,9). Wherefore, as at those waters above mentioned, the lame leave their crutches, and the sick [obtain] such signs of their recovery as may be a sign of their receiving health and cure there; so at the throne of grace, it is where true penitents, and those that are sick for mercy, do leave their sighs and tears; 'and the Lamb that is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead them unto living fountains of waters; and God shall,' there, 'wipe away all tears from their eyes' (Rev 7:17). Wherefore, as Joseph washed his face, and dried his tears away, when he saw his brother Benjamin, so all God's saints shall here, even at the throne of grace, where God's Benjamin, or the Son of his right hand, is, wash their souls from sorrow, and have their tears wiped from their eyes. Wherefore, O thou that are diseased, afflicted, and that wouldst live, come by Jesus to God as merciful and gracious; yea, look for this river when thou art upon thy knees before him, for by that thou shalt find whereabout is the throne of grace, and so where thou mayest find mercy.

But again, as that which proceeds out of this throne of grace is called 'water of life,' so it is said to be a river, a river of water of life. This, in the first place, shows, that with God is plenty of grace, even as in a river there is plenty of water; a pond, a pool, a cistern, will hold much, but a river will hold more; from this throne come rivers and streams of water of life, to satisfy those that come for life to the throne of God. Further, as by a river is showed what abundance of grace proceeds from God through Christ, so it shows the unsatiable thirst and desire of one that comes indeed aright to the throne of grace for mercy. Nothing but rivers will satisfy such a soul; ponds, pools, and cisterns, will do nothing: such an one is like him of whom it is said, 'Behold he drinketh up a river, and hasteth not; he trusteth that he can draw up Jordan into his mouth' (Job 40:23). This David testifies when he saith, 'As the hart panteth after the water-brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God' (Psa 42:1). Hence the invitation is proportionable, 'Drink abundantly' (Cant 5:1), and that they that are saved, are saved to receive abundance of grace; 'they which receive abundance of grace, and of the gift of righteousness, shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ' (Rom 5:17). And hence it is said again, 'When the poor and needy seek water, and there is none, and their tongue faileth for thirst, I the Lord will hear them, I the God of Israel will not forsake them.' But, Lord, how wilt thou quench their boundless thirst? 'I will open rivers in high places, and fountains in the midst of the valleys: I will make the wilderness a pool of water, and the dry land springs of water' (Isa 41:17,18). Behold here is a pool of water as big as a wilderness, enough one would think to satisfy any thirsty soul. O, but that will not do! wherefore he will open rivers, fountains, and springs, and all this is to quench the drought of one that thirsteth for the grace of God, that they have enough. 'They shall be abundantly satisfied with the fatness of thy house, and thou shalt make them drink of the river of thy pleasures, for with thee is the fountain of life'; &c. (Psa 36:8,9).

This abundance the throne of grace yieldeth for the help and health of such as would have the water of life to drink, and to cure their diseases withal: it yields a river of water of life. Moreover, since grace is said here to proceed as a river from the throne of God and of the Lamb, it is to show the commonness of it; rivers you know are common in the stream, however they are at the head (Judg 5). And to show the commonness of it, the apostle calls it 'the common salvation'; and it is said in Ezekiel and Zecharias, to go forth to the desert, and into the sea, the world, to heal the beasts and fish of all kinds that are there (Eze 47:8; Zech 14:8). This, therefore, is a text that shows us what it is to come to a throne, where the token of the covenant of grace is, where the high priest ministereth, and in the midst of which there is a Lamb, 'as it had been slain': for from thence there cometh not drops, nor showers, but rivers of the grace of God, a river of water of life.

Again, as the grace that we here read of is said, as it comes from this throne, to come as a river of water of life; so it is said to be pure and clear as crystal. Pure is set in opposition to muddy and dirty waters, and clear is set in opposition to those waters that are black, by reason of the cold and icyish nature of them; therefore there is conjoined to this phrase the word crystal, which all know is a clear and shining stone (Eze 34:19; Job 6:15,16). Indeed the life and spirit that is in this water, will keep it from looking black and dull; and the throne from whence it comes will keep it from being muddy, so much as in the streams thereof. 'The blessing of the Lord, it maketh rich, and he addeth no sorrow with it' (Prov 10:22). Indeed, all the sorrow that is mixed with our Christianity, it proceedeth, as the procuring cause, from ourselves, not from the throne of grace; for that is the place where our tears, as was showed you, are wiped away; and also where we hang up our crutches. The streams thereof are pure and clear, not muddy nor frozen, but warm and delightful, and that 'make glad the city of God' (Psa 46).

These words also show us, that this water of itself can do without a mixture of anything of ours. What comes from this throne of grace is pure grace, and nothing else; clear grace, free grace, grace that is not mixed, nor need be mixed with works of righteousness which we have done; it is of itself sufficient to answer all our wants, to heal all our diseases, and to help us at a time of need. It is grace that chooses, it is grace that calleth, it is grace that preserveth, and it is grace that brings to glory: even the grace that like a river of water of life proceedeth from this throne. And hence it is, that from first to last, we must cry, 'Grace, grace unto it!'[11]

Thus you see what a throne the Christian is invited to; it is a throne of grace whereon doth sit the God of all grace; it is a throne of grace before which the Lord Jesus ministereth continually for us; it is a throne of grace sprinkled with the blood, and in the midst of which is a Lamb as it had been slain; it is a throne with a rainbow round about it, which is the token of the everlasting covenant, and out of which proceeds, as here you read, a river, a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal. Look then for these signs of the throne of grace, all you that would come to it, and rest not, until by some of them you know that you are even come to it; they are all to be seen have you but eyes; and the sight of them is very delectable, and has a natural tendency in them, when seen, to revive and quicken the soul. But,

Fifth. As the throne of grace is known and distinguished by the things above named, so it is by the effects which these things have wrought. There is about that throne 'four and twenty seats, and upon the seats four and twenty elders sitting, clothed in white raiment, and they have on their heads crowns of gold' (Rev 4:4). There is no throne that has these signs and effects belonging to it but this; wherefore, as by these signs, so by the effects of them also, one may know which is, and so when he is indeed come to the throne of grace. And a little as we commented upon what went before, we will also touch upon this.

1. By seats, I understand places of rest and dignity; places of rest, for that they that sit on them do rest from their labours; and places of dignity, for that they are about the throne (Rev 14:13). 'And the four and twenty elders which sat before God on their seats, fell upon their faces and worshipped God' (Rev 11:16). And forasmuch as the seats are mentioned, before they are mentioned that sat thereon, it is to show, that the places were prepared before they were converted.

2. The elders, I take to be the twelve patriarchs and the twelve apostles, or the first fathers of the churches; for they are the elders of both the churches, that is, both of the Jewish and Gentile church of God; they are the ancients, as also they are called in the prophet Isaiah, which are in some sense the fathers of both these churches (Isa 24:23). These elders are well set forth by that four and twenty that you read of in the book of Chronicles, who had every one of them for sons twelve in number. There therefore the four and twenty are (1 Chron 25:8-31).

3. Their sitting denoteth also their abiding in the presence of God. 'Sit thou at my right hand,' was the Father's word to the Son, and also signifieth the same (Psa 110:1). It is then the throne of grace where the four and twenty seats are, and before which the four and twenty elders sit.

4. Their white robes are Christ's righteousness, their own good works and glory; not that their works brought them thither, for they were of themselves polluted, and were washed white in the blood of the Lamb; but yet God will have all that his people have done in love to him to be rewarded. Yea, and they shall wear their own labours, being washed as afore is hinted, as a badge of their honour before the throne of grace, and this is grace indeed. 'They have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb, therefore are they before the throne of God' (Rev 7:14,15). They have washed as others did do before them.

5. 'And they had on their heads crowns of gold' (Rev 4:4). This denotes their victory, and also that they are kings, and as kings shall reign with him for ever and ever (Rev 5:10).

6. But what! were they silent? did they say, did they do nothing while they sat before the throne? Yes, they were appointed to be singers there. This was signified by the four and twenty that we made mention of before, who with their sons were instructed in the songs of the Lord, and all that were cunning to do so then, were two hundred fourscore and eight (1 Chron 25:7). These were the figure of that hundred forty and four thousand redeemed from the earth. For as the first four and twenty, and their sons, are said to sing and to play upon cymbals, psalteries, and harps; and as they are there said to be instructed and cunning in the songs of the Lord; so these that sit before the throne are said also to sing with harps in their hands their song before the throne; and such song it was, and so cunningly did they sing it, that 'no man could learn it, but the hundred and forty and four thousand which were redeemed from the earth' (Rev 14:3).

Now, as I said, as he at first began with four and twenty in David, and ended with four and twenty times twelve, so here in John he begins with the same number, but ends with such a company that no man could number. For, he saith, 'After this I beheld, and lo, a great multitude which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands. And cried with a loud voice, saying, Salvation to our God, which sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb. And all the angels stood round about the throne, and the elders, and the four beasts, and fell before the throne on their faces, and worshipped God' (Rev 7:9-11). This numberless number seems to have got the song by the end;[12] for they cry aloud, 'Salvation, salvation to our God and to the Lamb'; which to be sure is such a song that none can learn but them that are redeemed from the earth.

But I say, what a brave encouragement is it for one that is come for grace to the throne of grace, to see so great a number already there, on their seats, in their robes, with their palms in their hands, and their crowns upon their heads, singing of salvation to God, and to the Lamb! And I say again, and speak now to the dejected, methinks it would be strange, O thou that art so afraid that the greatness of thy sins will be a bar unto thee, if amongst all this great number of pipers and harpers that are got to glory, thou canst not espy one that when here was as vile a sinner as thyself. Look man, they are there for thee to view them, and for thee to take encouragement to hope, when thou shalt consider what grace and mercy has done for them. Look again, I say, now thou art upon thy knees, and see if some that are among them have not done worse than thou hast done. And yet behold, they are set down; and yet behold they have their crowns on their heads, their harps in their hands, and sing aloud of salvation to their God, and to the Lamb.

This then is a fifth note or sign that doth distinguish the throne of grace from other thrones. There are, before that, to be seen, for our encouragement, a numberless number of people sitting and singing round about it. Singing, I say, to God for his grace, and to the Lamb for his blood, by which they are secured from the wrath to come. 'And the four and twenty elders fell down before the Lamb, having every one of them harps, and golden vials full of odours, which are the prayers of saints, and they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof; for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood, out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation; and hast made us unto our God, kings and priests, and we shall reign on the earth' (Rev 5:8-10). Behold, tempted soul, dost thou not yet see what a throne of grace here is, and what multitudes are already arrived thither, to give thanks unto his name that sits thereon, and to the Lamb for ever and ever? And wilt thou hang thy harp upon the willows, and go drooping up and down the world, as if there was no God, no grace, no throne of grace, to apply thyself unto, for mercy and grace to help in time of need? Hark! dost thou not hear them what they say, 'Worthy,' say they, 'is the Lamb that was slain, to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing. And every creature which is in heaven,' where they are, 'and on the earth,' where thou art, 'and under the earth, and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, heard I saying, Blessing, and honour, and glory, and power be unto him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever' (Rev 5:12,13).

All this is written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope; and that the drooping ones might come boldly to the throne of grace, to obtain grace and find mercy to help in time of need. They bless, they all bless; they thank, they all thank; and wilt thou hold thy tongue? 'They have all received of his fulness, and grace for grace'; and will he shut thee out? Or is his grace so far gone, and so near spent, that now he has not enough to pardon, and secure, and save one sinner more? For shame, leave off this unbelief! Wherefore, dost thou think, art thou told of all this, but to encourage thee to come to the throne of grace? And wilt thou hang back or be sullen, because thou art none of the first? since he hath said, 'The first shall be last, and the last first.' Behold the legions, the thousands, the untold and numberless number that stand before the throne, and be bold to hope in his mercy.

Sixth. [The throne of grace is known by what proceeds from it.] As the throne of grace is distinguished from other thrones by these, so 'out of this throne proceeds lightnings, and thunderings, and voices.' Also before this throne are 'seven lamps of fire burning, which are the seven spirits of God' (Rev 4:5). This then is another thing by which the throne of grace may be known as an effect of what is before. So again, chapter the eighth, it is said, that from the altar of incense that stood before the throne, 'there were voices, and thunderings, and lightnings, and an earthquake' (Rev 8:5). All these then come out of the holiest, where the throne is, and are inflamed by this throne, and by him that sits thereon.

1. Lightnings here are to be taken for the illuminations of the Spirit in the gospel (Heb 10:32). As it is said in the book of Psalms, 'They looked unto him,' on the throne, 'and were lightened' (Psa 34:5). Or, as it is said in other places, 'The voice of thy thunder was in the heaven, the lightnings lightened the world' (Psa 77:18). And again, 'His lightnings enlightened the world, the earth saw and trembled' (Psa 97:4). This lightning therefore communicates light to them that sit in darkness. 'God,' saith the apostle, 'who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ' (2 Cor 4:6). It was from this throne that the light came that struck Paul off his horse, when he went to destroy it and the people that professed it (Acts 9:3). These are those lightnings by which sinners are made to see their sad condition, and by which they are made to see the way out of it. Art thou then made to see thy condition how bad it is, and that the way out of it is by Jesus Christ? for, as I said, he is the throne of grace. Why then, come orderly in the light of these convictions to the throne from whence thy light did come, and cry there, as Samuel did to Eli, 'Here am I, for thou has called[13] me' (1 Sam 3:8). Thus did Saul by the light that made him see; by it he came to Christ, and cried, 'Who art thou, Lord?' and, 'What wouldst thou have me do?' (Acts 9:5,6). And is it not an encouragement to thee to come to him, when he lights thy candle that thou mightest see the way; yea, when he doth it on purpose that thou mightest come to him? 'He gives light to them that sit in darkness, and in the shadow of death,' what to do? 'to guide our feet into the way of peace' (Luke 1:79). This interpretation of this place seems to me most to cohere with what went before; for first you have here a throne, and one sitting on it; then you have the elders, and in them presented to you the whole church, sitting round about the throne; then you have in the words last read unto you, a discourse how they came thither, and that is, by the lightnings, thunderings, and voices that proceed out of the throne.

2. As you have here lightnings, so thereto is adjoined thunders. There proceeded out of this throne lightnings and thunders. By thunders, I understand that powerful discovery of the majesty of God by the word of truth, which seizeth the heart with a reverential dread and awe of him: hence it is said, 'The voice of the Lord is full of majesty; the voice of the Lord breaketh the cedars' (Psa 29:45). The voice, that is, his thundering voice. 'Canst thou thunder with a voice like him?' (Job 40:9). And 'the thunder of his power who can understand?' (Job 26:14). It was upon this account that Peter, and James, and John, were called 'the sons of thunder,' because, in the word which they were to preach, there was to be not only lightnings, but thunders; not only illuminations, but a great seizing of the heart, with the dread and majesty of God, to the effectual turning of the sinner to him (Mark 3:16,17).

Lightnings without thunder are in this case dangerous, because they that receive the one without the other are subject to miscarry. They were 'once enlightened,' but you read of no thunder they had; and they were subject to fall into an irrecoverable state (Heb 6:4-6). Saul had thunder with his lightnings to the shaking of his soul; so had the three thousand; so had the jailor (Acts 2, 9, 16). They that receive light without thunder are subject to turn the grace of God into wantonness; but they that know the terror of God will persuade men (Rom 3:8; Jude 4; 2 Cor 5:11). So then, when he decrees to give the rain of his grace to a man, he makes 'a way for the lighting of the thunder,' not the one without the other, but the one following the other (Job 28:26). Lightning and thunder is made a cause of rain, but lightning alone is not: 'Who hath divided a water-course for the overflowing of waters? or a way for the lightning of thunder to cause it to rain on the earth, where no man is: on the wilderness wherein there is no man?' (Job 38:25,26).

Thus therefore you may see how in the darkest sayings of the Holy Ghost there is as great an harmony with truth as in the most plain and easy; there must be thunder with light, if thy heart be well poised and balanced with the fear of God: we have had great lightnings in this land of late years, but little thunders; and that is one reason why so little grace is found where light is, and why so many professors run on their heads in such a day as this is, notwithstanding all they have seen. Well then, this also should be a help to a soul to come to the throne of grace; the God of glory has thundered, has thundered to awaken thee, as well as sent lightnings to give thee light; to awaken thee to a coming to him, as well as to the enabling of thee to see his things; this then has come from the throne of grace to make thee come hither; wherefore observe, where it is by these signs made mention of before, and by these effects; and go, and come to the throne of grace.

3. As there proceeds from this throne lightnings and thunders, so from hence it is said voices proceed also: now these voices may be taken for such as are sent with this lightning and thunder to instruct, or for such [instruction] as this lightning and thunder begets in our hearts.

(1.) It may be taken in the first sense for light and dread, when it falleth from God into the soul, is attended with a voice or voices of instruction to the soul, to know what to do (Acts 2:3-7). This it was in Paul's case. He had light and dread, and voices for his instruction; he had lightnings, and thunderings, and voices: 'Good and upright is the Lord; therefore will he teach sinners in the way. The meek will he guide in judgment; and the meek will he teach his way' (Psa 25:8,9).

(2.) Or by voices you may understand, such as the lightning and thunder begets in our hearts: for though man is as mute as a fish to Godward, before this thunder and lightning comes to him, yet after that he is full of voices (2 Cor 4:13, 7:14). And how much more numerous are the voices that in the whole church on earth are begot by these lightnings and thunders that proceed from the throne of grace; their faith has a voice, their repentance has a voice, their subjection to God's word has a voice in it; yea, there is a voice in their prayers, a voice in their cry, a voice in their tears, a voice in their groans, in their roarings, in their bemoaning of themselves, and in their triumphs! (1 Thess 1:2-8; Psa 5:3, 7:17, 20:2-5, 22:1, 138:5; Jer 31:18).

This then is an effect of the throne of grace; hence it is said that they proceed from it, even the lightning, and the thunder, and the voices; that is, effectual conversion to God. It follows then, that if all these are with thy soul, the operations of the throne of grace have been upon thee to bring thee to the throne of grace; first in thy prayers, and then in thy person. And this leads me to the next thing propounded to be spoken to, which is to show who are the persons invited here to come to the throne of grace. 'Let us therefore come.'

[THE PERSONS INTENDED BY THIS EXHORTATION.]

THIRD. Now the persons here called upon to come to the throne of grace, are not all or every sort of men, but the men that may properly be comprehended under this word Us and We; 'let Us therefore come boldly, that We may obtain.' And they that are here put under these particular terms, are expressed both before and after, by those that have explication in them.

They are called [in the epistle to the Hebrews], 1. Such as give the most earnest heed to the word which they have heard (Heb 2:1). 2. They are such as see Jesus crowned with glory and honour (Heb 2:9). 3. They are called the children (Heb 2:14). 4. They are called the seed of Abraham (Heb 2:16). 5. They are called Christ's brethren (Heb 2:17).

So, chapter the third, they are called holy brethren, and said to be partakers of the heavenly calling, and the people of whom it is said that Christ Jesus is the apostle and high priest of their profession (Heb 3:1-6). They are called Christ's own house, and are said to be partakers of Christ (Heb 3:14). They are said to be the believers, those that do enter in into rest, those that have Christ for a high priest, and with the feeling of whose infirmities he is touched and sympathiseth (Heb 4:3,14,15).

So, in chapter the sixth, they are called beloved, and the heirs of promise; they that have fled for refuge to lay hold on the hope set before them; they are called those that have hope as an anchor, and those for whom Christ as a forerunner hath entered and taken possession of heaven (Heb 6:9,17-20). So, chapter the seventh, they are said to be such as draw nigh unto God (Heb 7:19). And, chapter the eighth, they are said to be such with whom the new covenant is made in Christ. Chapter the ninth, they are such for whom Christ has obtained eternal redemption, and such for whom he has entered the holy place (Heb 9:12,22). Chapter the tenth, they are such as are said to be sanctified by the will of God, such as have boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus; such as draw near with a true heart, in full assurance of faith, or that have liberty to do so, having their hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and their bodies washed with pure water; they were those that had suffered much for Christ in the world, and that became companions of them that so were used (Heb 10:10,19,22-25). Yea, he tells them, in the eleventh chapter, that they and the patriarchs must be made perfect together (Heb 11:40). He also tells them, in the twelfth chapter, that already they are come to Mount Zion, to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels; to the general assembly and church of the first born which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all; and to the spirits of just men made perfect, and to Jesus the mediator of the New Testament, and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better things than that of Abel (Heb 12:22-24).

Thus you see what terms, characters, titles, and privileges, they are invested with that are here exhorted to come to the throne of grace. From whence we may conclude that every one is not capable of coming thither, no not every one that is under convictions, and that hath a sense of the need of and a desire after the mercy of God in Christ.

[The orderly coming to the throne of grace.]

Wherefore we will come, in the next place, to show the orderly coming of a soul to the throne of grace for mercy: and for this we must first apply ourselves to the Old Testament, where we have the shadow of what we now are about to enter upon the discourse of, and then we will come to the antitype, where yet the thing is far more explained.

First. Then, the mercy-seat was for the church, not for the world; for a Gentile could not go immediately from his natural state to the mercy-seat, by the high priest, but must first orderly join himself, or be joined, to the church, which then consisted of the body of the Jews (Exo 12:43-49). The stranger then must first be circumcised, and consequently profess faith in the Messiah to come, which was signified by his going from his circumcision directly to the passover, and so orderly to other privileges, specially to this of the mercy-seat which the high priest was to go but once a year into (Eze 44:6-9).

Second. The church is again set forth unto us by Aaron and his sons. Aaron as the head, his sons as the members; but the sons of Aaron were not to meddle with any of the things of the Holiest, until they had washed in a laver: 'And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, Thou shalt also make a laver of brass, and his foot also of brass, to wash in; and thou shalt put it between the tabernacle of the congregation and the altar, and thou shalt put water therein. For Aaron and his sons shall wash their hands and their feet thereat. When they go into the tabernacle of the congregation they shall wash with water, that they die not; or when they come near to the altar to minister, to burn offerings made by fire unto the Lord. So they shall wash their hands and their feet that they die not: and it shall be a statute for ever unto them, even to him, and to his seed throughout their generations.' See the margin (Exo 30:17-21, 40:30-32).[14]

Third. Nay, so strict was this law, that if any of Israel, as well as the stranger, were defiled by any dead thing, they were to wash before they partook of the holy things, or else to abstain: but if they did not, their sin should remain upon them (Lev 17:15,16). So again, 'the soul that hath touched any such' uncleanness 'shall be unclean until even, and shall not eat of the holy things,' much less come within the inner veil, 'unless he wash his flesh with water' (Lev 22:4-6). Now, I would ask, what all this should signify, if a sinner, as a sinner, before he washes, or is washed, may immediately go unto the throne of grace? Yea, I ask again, why the apostle supposes washing as a preparation to the Hebrews entering into the holiest, if men may go immediately from under convictions to a throne of grace? For thus, he says, 'let us draw near' 'the holiest' (Heb 12:19), 'with a true heart, in full assurance of faith; having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water' (Heb 12:22). Let us draw near; he saith not that we may have; but having FIRST been washed and sprinkled.

The laver then must first be washed in; and he that washed not first there, has not right to come to the throne of grace; wherefore you have here also a sea of glass standing before the throne of grace, to signify this thing (Rev 4:6). It stands before the throne, for them to wash in that would indeed approach the throne of grace. For this sea of glass is the same that is shadowed forth by the laver made mention of before, and with the brazen sea that stood in Solomon's temple, whereat they were to wash before they went into the holiest. But you may ask me, What the laver or molten sea should signify to us in the New Testament? I answer, It signifieth the word of the New Testament, which containeth the cleansing doctrine of remission of sins, by the precious blood of Jesus Christ (John 15:3).[15] Wherefore we are said to be clean through the Word, through the washing of water by the Word (Titus 3:5). The meaning then is, A man must first come to Christ, as set forth in the Word, which is this sea of glass, before he can come to Christ in heaven, as he is the throne of grace. For the Word, I say, is this sea of glass that stands before the throne, for the sinner to wash in first. Know therefore, whoever thou art, that art minded to be saved, thou must first begin with Christ crucified, and with the promise of remission of sins through his blood; which crucified Christ thou shalt not find in heaven as such; for there he is alive; but thou shalt find him in the Word; for there he is to this day set forth in all the circumstances of his death, as crucified before our eyes (Gal 3:1,2). There thou shalt find that he died, when he died, what death he died, why he died, and the Word open to thee to come and wash in his blood. The word therefore of Christ's Testament is the laver for all New Testament priests, and every Christian is a priest to God, to wash in.

Here therefore thou must receive thy justification, and that before thou goest one step further; for if thou art not justified by his blood, thou wilt not be saved by his life. And the justifying efficacy of his blood is left behind, and is here contained in the molten sea, or laver, or word of grace, for thee to wash in. Indeed, there is an interceding voice in his blood for us before the throne of grace, or mercy-seat; but that is still to bring us to wash, or for them that have washed therein, as it was shed upon the cross. We have boldness therefore to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, that is, by faith in his blood, as shed without the gate; for as his blood was shed without the gate, so it sanctifies the believer, and makes him capable to approach the holy of holies. Wherefore, after he had said, 'That he might sanctify the people with his own blood,' he 'suffered without the gate' (Heb 13:11-15). Let us by him therefore, that is, because we are first sanctified by faith in his blood, offer to God the sacrifice of praise continually, that is, the fruits of our lips, giving thanks in his name. Wherefore the laver of regeneration, or Christ set forth by the Word as crucified, is for all coming sinners to wash in unto justification; and the throne of grace is to be approached by saints, or as sinners justified by faith in a crucified Christ; and so, as washed from sin in the sea of his blood, to come to the mercy-seat.

And it is yet far more evident; for that those that approach this throne of grace, they must do it through believing; for, saith the apostle, 'How shall they call on him in whom they have not believed,' of whom they have not heard, and in whom they have not believed? for to that purpose runs the text (Rom 10:14). 'How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed,' antecedent to their calling on him, 'and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard' first? So then hearing goes before believing, and believing before calling upon God, as he sits on the throne of grace. Now, believing is to be according to the sound of the beginning of the gospel, which presenteth us, not first with Christ as ascended, but as Christ dying, buried, and risen.[16] 'For I delivered unto you first of all, that which I also received; how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; and that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day, according to the scriptures' (1 Cor 15:3,4).

I conclude then, as to this, that the order of heaven is, that men wash in the laver of regeneration, to wit, in the blood of Christ, as held forth in the word of the truth of the gospel, which is the ordinance of God; for there sinners, as sinners, or men as unclean, may wash, in order to their approach to God as he sits upon the throne of grace.

And besides, Is it possible that a man that passeth by the doctrine of Christ as dead, should be admitted with acceptance to a just and holy God for life; or that he that slighteth and trampleth under foot the blood of Christ, as shed upon the cross, should be admitted to an interest in Christ, as he is the throne of grace? It cannot be. He must then wash there first, or die-let his profession, or pretended faith, or holiness, be what it will. For God sees iniquity in all men; nor can all the nitre or soap in the world cause that our iniquity should not be marked before God (Jer 2:22). 'For without shedding of blood is NO remission' (Heb 9:22). Nothing that polluteth, that defileth, or that is unclean, must enter into God's sanctuary; much less into the most holy part thereof, but by their sacrifice, by which they are purged, and for the sake of the perfection thereof, they believing are accepted. We have 'therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus,' and no way else (Heb 10:19).

[HOW WE ARE TO APPROACH THE THRONE OF GRACE.]

FOURTH. But this will yet be further manifest by what we have yet to say of the manner of our approach unto the throne of grace.

FIRST, then, we must approach the throne of grace by the second veil; for the throne of grace is after the second veil. So, then, though a man cometh into the tabernacle or temple, which was a figure of the church, yet if he entered but within the first veil, he only came where there was no mercy-seat or throne of grace (Heb 9:3). And what is this second veil, in, at, or through which, as the phrase is, we must, by blood, enter into the holiest? why, as to the law, the second veil did hang up between the holy and the most holy place, and it did hide what was within the holiest from the eyes or sight of those that went no further than into the first tabernacle. Now this second veil in the tabernacle or temple was a figure of the second veil that all those must go through that will approach the throne of grace; and that veil is the flesh of Christ.

This is that which the holy apostle testifies in his exhortation, where he saith, We have 'boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which he hath consecrated for us through the veil, that is to say, his flesh' (Heb 10:19,20). The second veil then is the flesh of Christ, the which until a man can enter or go through by his faith, it is impossible that he should come to the holiest where the throne of grace is, that is, to the heart and soul of Jesus, which is the throne. The body of Christ is the tabernacle of God, and so that in which God dwells; for the fulness of the Godhead dwells in him bodily (Col 2:9). Therefore, as also has been hinted before, Christ Jesus is the throne of grace. Now, since his flesh is called the veil, it is evident that the glory that dwells within him, to wit, God resting in him, cannot be understood but by them that by faith can look through, or enter through, his flesh to that glory. For the glory is within the veil; there is the mercy-seat, or throne of grace; there sitteth God as delighted, as at rest, in and with sinners, that come to him by and through that flesh, and the offering of it for sin without the gate. 'I am the way,' saith Christ; but to what? and how? (John 14:6). Why, to the Father, through my flesh. 'And having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things to himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven. And you that were sometime alienated, and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled [but how?] in the body of his flesh, [that then must be first: to what?] to present you holy and unblameable, and unreprovable in his sight' (Col 1:20-22). That is, when you enter into his presence, or approach by this flesh, the mercy-seat, or the throne of grace.

This therefore is the manner of our coming, if we come aright to the throne of grace for mercy, we must come by blood through his flesh, as through the veil; by which, until you have entered through it, the glory of God, and that he is resolved that grace shall reign, will be utterly hid from your eyes. I will not say, but by the notion of these things, men may have their whirling fancies,[17] and may create to themselves wild notions and flattering imaginations of Christ, the throne of grace, and of glory; but the gospel knowledge of this is of absolute necessity to my right coming to the throne of grace for mercy. I must come by his blood, through his flesh, or I cannot come at all, for here is no back door. This then is the sum, Christ's body is the tabernacle, the holiest; 'thy law,' saith he, 'is within my heart,' or in the midst of my bowels (Psa 40:7,8). In this tabernacle then God sitteth, to wit, on the heart of Christ, for that is the throne of grace. Through this tabernacle men must enter, that is, by a godly understanding of what by this tabernacle or flesh of Christ has been done to reconcile us to God that dwells in him. This is the way, all the way, for there is no way but this to come to the throne of grace. This is the new way into the heavenly paradise, for the old way is hedged and ditched up by the flaming sword of cherubims (Gen 3:24). The NEW and LIVING way, for to go the other is present death; so then, this 'new and living way which he hath consecrated for us through the veil, that is to say, his flesh,' is the only way into the holiest, where the throne of grace is (Heb 10:20).

SECOND. We must approach this throne of grace, as having our hearts, first, sprinkled from an evil conscience. The priest that was the representator of all Israel, when he went into the holiest, was not to go in, but as sprinkled with blood first (Exo 29). Thus it is written in t he law; 'not without blood'; and thus it is written in the gospel (Heb 9:7). And now since by the gospel we have all admittance to enter in through the veil, by faith, we must take heed that we enter not in without blood; for if the blood, virtually, be not seen upon us, we die, instead of obtaining mercy, and finding the help of grace. This I press the oftener, because there is nothing to which we are more naturally inclined, than to forget this. Who, that understands himself, is not sensible how apt he is to forget to act faith in the blood of Jesus, and to get his conscience sprinkled with the virtue of that, that attempteth to approach the throne of grace? Yet the scripture calls upon us to take heed that we neglect not THUS to prepare ourselves. 'Let us draw near with a true heart, in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience,' to wit, with the blood of Christ, lest we die (Heb 10:22, 9:14). In the law all the people were to be sprinkled with blood, and it was necessary that the patterns of things in the heavens should be purified with these, that is, with the blood of bulls, but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these, that is, with the offering of the body, and shedding of the blood of Christ. By this then must thou be purified and sprinkled, who by Christ wouldst approach the throne of grace.

THIRD. Therefore it is added, 'And our bodies washed with pure water.' This the apostle taketh also out of the law; where it was appointed, as was showed before. Christ also, just before he went to the Father, gave his disciples a signification of this, saying to Peter, and by him to all the rest, 'If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with me' (John 13:8). This pure water is nothing but the wholesome doctrine of the word mixed with Spirit, by which, as the conscience was before sprinkled with blood, the body and outward conversation is now sanctified and made clean. 'Now ye are clean through the word,' saith Christ, 'which I have spoken unto you' (John 15:3). Hence, washing, and sanctifying, and justifying, are put together, and are said to come by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by the Spirit of our God (1 Cor 6:11). Thou must then be washed with water, and sprinkled with blood, if thou wouldst orderly approach the throne of grace: if thou wouldst orderly approach it with a true heart, in full assurance of faith; or if thou wouldst, as the text biddeth thee here, to wit, 'come boldly unto the throne of grace, to obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.'

To tell you what it is to come boldly, is one thing; and to tell you how you should come boldly, is another. Here you are bid to come boldly, and are also showed how that may be done. It may be done through the blood of sprinkling, and through the sanctifying operations of the Spirit which are here by faith to be received. And when what can be said shall be said to the utmost, there is no boldness, godly boldness, but by blood. The more the conscience is a stranger to the sprinkling of blood, the further off it is of being rightly bold with God, at the throne of grace; for it is the blood that makes the atonement, and that gives boldness to the soul (Lev 17:11; Heb 10:19). It is the blood, the power of it by faith upon the conscience, that drives away guilt, and so fear, and consequently that begetteth boldness. Wherefore, he that will be bold with God at the throne of grace, must first be well acquainted with the doctrine of the blood of Christ; namely, that it was shed, and why, and that it has made peace with God, and for whom. Yea, thou must be able by faith to bring thyself within the number of those that are made partakers of this reconciliation, before thou canst come boldly to the throne of grace. But,

[What it is to come to the throne of grace without boldness.]

First. There is a coming to the throne of grace before or without this boldness; but that is not the coming to which by these texts we are exhorted; yet that coming, be it never so deficient, if it is right, it is through some measure an inlet into the death and blood of Christ, and through some management, though but very little, or perhaps scarce at all discerned of the soul, to hope for grace from the throne; I say, it must arise, the encouragement must, from the cross, and from Christ as dying there. Christ himself went that way to God, and it is not possible but we must go the same way too. So, then, the encouragement, be it little, be it much-and it is little or much, even as the faith is in strength or weakness, which apprehendeth Christ-it is according to the proportion of faith; strong faith gives great boldness, weak faith doth not so, nor can it.

Second. There is a sincere coming to the throne of grace without this boldness, even a coming in the uprightness of one's heart without it. Hence a true heart and full assurance are distinguished. 'Let us draw near with a true heart, in full assurance of faith' (Heb 10:22). Sincerity may be attended with a great deal of weakness, even as boldness may be attended with pride; but be it what kind of coming to the throne of grace it will, either a coming with boldness, or with that doubting which is incident to saints, still the cause of that coming, or ground thereof, is some knowledge of redemption by blood, redemption which the soul seeth it has faith in, or would see it has faith in. For Christ is precious, sometimes in the sight of the worth, sometimes in the sight of the want, and sometimes in the sight of the enjoyment of him.[18]

Third. There is an earnest coming to the throne of grace even with all the desire of one's soul. When David had guilt and trouble, and that so heavy that he knew not what to do, yet he could say, 'Lord, all my desire is before thee, and my groaning is not hid from thee' (Psa 38:1-9). He could come earnestly to the throne of grace; he could come thither with all the desire of his soul: but still this must be from that knowledge that he had of the way of remission of sins by the blood of the Son of God.

Fourth. There is also a constant coming to the throne of grace. 'Lord,' said Heman, 'I have cried day and night before thee, let my prayer come before thee, incline thine ear unto my cry, for my soul is full of troubles: and my life draweth nigh unto the grave' (Psa 88:1-3). Here you see is constant crying before the throne of grace, crying night and day; and yet the man that cries seems to be in a very black cloud, and to find hard work to bear up in his soul; yet this he had, namely, the knowledge of how God was the God of salvation; yea, he called him his God as such, though with pretty much difficulty of spirit, to be sure. Wherefore it must not be concluded, that they come not at all to the throne of grace, that come not with a full assurance; or that men must forbear to come, till they come with assurance; but this I say, they come not at all aright, that take not the ground of their coming from the death and blood of Christ; and that they that come to the throne of grace, with but little knowledge of redemption by blood, will come with but little hope of obtaining grace and mercy to help in time of need.

I conclude then, that it is the privilege, the duty and glory of a man, to approach the throne of grace as a prince, as Job said, could he but find it, he would be sure to do. 'O that I knew where I might find him!' saith he, 'that I might come even to his seat: I would order my cause before him, and fill my mouth with arguments: I would know the words which he would answer me, and understand what he would say unto me. Will he plead against me with his great power? No; but he would put strength in me. There the righteous might dispute with him: so should I be delivered for ever from my judge' (23:3-7). Indeed, God sometimes tries us. 'He holdeth back,' sometimes, 'the face of his throne, and spreadeth his cloud upon it' (Job 26:9). And this seems to be Job's case here, which made him to confess he was at a loss, and to cry out, 'O that I knew where I might find him!' And this he doth for trial, and to prove our honesty and constancy; for the hypocrite will not pray always. Will he always call upon God? No, verily; especially not when thou bindest them, afflictest them, and makest praying hard work to them (Job 36:13).

But difficulty as to finding of God's presence, and the sweet shining of the face of his throne, doth not always lie in the weakness of faith. Strong faith may be in this perplexity, and may be hard put to it to stand at times. It is said here, that God did hold back the face of his throne, and did spread a cloud upon it; not to weaken Job's faith, but to try Job's strength, and to show to men of after ages how valiant a man Job was. Faith, if it be strong, will play the man in the dark; will, like a mettled horse, flounce in bad way, will not be discouraged at trials, at many or strong trials: 'Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him,' is the language of that invincible grace of God (Job 13:15). There is also an aptness in those that come to the throne of grace, to cast all degrees of faith away, that carrieth not in its bowels self-evidence of its own being and nature, thinking that if it be faith, it must be known to the soul; yea, if it be faith, it will do so and so: even so as the highest degrees of faith will do. When, alas! faith is sometimes in a calm, sometimes up, and sometimes down, and sometimes at it with sin, death, and the devil, as we say, blood up to the ears.[19] Faith now has but little time to speak peace to the conscience; it is now struggling for life, it is now fighting with angels, with infernals; all it can do now, is to cry, groan, sweat, fear, fight, and gasp for life.[20]

Indeed the soul should now run to the cross, for there is the water, or rather the blood and water, that is provided for faith, as to the maintaining of the comfort of justification; but the soul whose faith is thus attacked will find hard work to do this, though much of the well-managing of faith, in the good fight of faith, will lie in the soul's hearty and constant adhering to the death and blood of Christ; but a man must do as he can. Thus now have I showed you the manner of right coming to the throne of grace, for mercy and grace to help in time of need.

[None but the godly know the throne of grace.]

The next thing that I am to handle, is, first, To show you, that it is the privilege of the godly to distinguish from all thrones whatsoever this throne of grace. This, as I told you, I gathered from the apostle in the text, for that he only maketh mention thereof, but gives no sign to distinguish it by; no sign, I say, though he knew that there were more thrones than it. 'Let us come boldly,' saith he, 'to the throne of grace,' and so leaves it, knowing full well that they had a good understanding of his meaning, being Hebrews (Heb 9:1-8). They being now also enlightened from what they were taught by the placing of the ark of the testimony, and the mercy-seat in the most holy place; of which particular the apostle did then count it, not of absolute necessity distinctly to discourse. Indeed the Gentiles, as I have showed, have this throne of grace described and set forth before them, by those tokens which I have touched upon in the sheets that go before-for with the book of Revelation the Gentiles are particularly concerned-for that it was writ to churches of the Gentiles; also the great things prophesied of there relate unto Gentile-believers, and to the downfall of Antichrist, as he standeth among them.

But yet, I think that John's discourse of the things attending the throne of grace were not by him so much propounded, because the Gentiles were incapable of finding of it without such description, as to show the answerableness of the antitype with the type; and also to strengthen their faith, and illustrate the thing; for they that know, may know more, and better of what they know; yea, may be greatly comforted with another's dilating on what they know. Besides, the Holy Ghost by the word doth always give the most perfect description of things; wherefore to that we should have recourse for the completing of our knowledge. I mean not, by what I say, in the least to intimate, as if this throne of grace was to be known without the text, for it is that that giveth revelation of Jesus Christ: but my meaning is, that a saint, as such, has such a working of things upon his heart, as makes him able by the Word to find out this throne of grace, and to distinguish it to himself from others. For,

First. The saint has strong guilt of sin upon his conscience, especially at first; and this makes him better judge what grace, in the nature of grace, is, than others can that are not sensible of what guilt is. What it was to be saved, was better relished by the jailor when he was afraid of and trembled at the apprehensions of the wrath of God, than ever it was with him all his life before (Acts 16:29-33). Peter then also saw what saving was, when he began to sink into the sea: 'Lord, save me,' said he, I perish (Matt 14:30). Sin is that without a sense of which a man is not apprehensive what grace is. Sin and grace, favour and wrath, death and life, hell and heaven, are opposites, and are set off, or out, in their evil or good, shame or glory, one by another. What makes grace so good to us as sin in its guilt and filth? What makes sin so horrible and damnable a thing in our eyes, as when we see there is nothing can save us from it but the infinite grace of God? Further, there seems, if I may so term it, to be a kind of natural instinct in the new creature to seek after the grace of God; for so saith the Word, 'They that are after the flesh, do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit, the things of the Spirit' (Rom 8:5). The child by nature nuzzles in its mother's bosom for the breast; the child by grace does by grace seek to live by the grace of God. All creatures, the calf, the lamb, &c., so soon as they are fallen from their mother's belly, will by nature look for, and turn themselves towards the teat, and the new creature doth so too (1 Peter 2:1-3). For guilt makes it hunger and thirst, as the hunted hart does pant after the water brooks. Hunger directs to bread, thirst directs to water; yea, it calls bread and water to mind. Let a man be doing other business, hunger will put him in mind of his cupboard, and thirst of his cruse of water; yea, it will call him, make him, force him, command him, to bethink what nourishing victuals is, and will also drive him to search out after where he may find it, to the satisfying of himself. All right talk also to such an one sets the stomach and appetite a craving; yea, into a kind of running out of the body after this bread and water, that it might be fed, nourished, and filled therewith. Thus it is by nature, and thus it is by grace; thus it is for the bread that perisheth, and for that which endureth to everlasting life. But,

Second. As nature, the new nature, teaches this by a kind of heavenly natural instinct; so experience also herein helpeth the godly much. For they have found all other places, the throne of grace excepted, empty, and places or things that hold no water. They have been at Mount Sinai for help, but could find nothing there but fire and darkness, but thunder and lightning, but earthquake and trembling, and a voice of killing words, which words they that heard them once could never endure to hear them again; and as for the sight of vengeance there revealed against sin, it was so terrible, that Moses, even Moses, said, 'I exceedingly fear and quake' (Heb 12:18-21; Exo 19; 2 Cor 3). They have sought for grace by their own performances; but alas! they have yielded them nothing but wind and confusion; not a performance, not a duty, not an act in any part of religious worship, but they looking upon it in the glass of the Lord, do find it spaked[21] and defective (Isa 64:5-8). They have sought for grace by their resolutions, their vows, their purposes, and the like; but alas! they all do as the other, discover that they have been very imperfectly managed, and so such as can by no means help them to grace. They have gone to their tears, their sorrow, and repentance, if perhaps they might have found some help there; but all has either fled away like the early dew, or if they have stood, they have stunk even in the nostrils of those whose they were. How much more, then, in the nostrils of a holy God!

They have gone to God, as the great Creator, and have beheld how wonderful his works have been; they have looked to the heavens above, to the earth beneath, and to all their ornaments, but neither have these, nor what is of [or resulting from] them, yielded grace to those that had sensible want thereof. Thus have they gone, as I said, with these pitchers to their fountains, and have returned empty and ashamed; they found no water, no river of water of life; they have been as the woman with her bloody issue, spending and spending till they have spent all, and been nothing better, but rather grew worse (Mark 5). Had they searched into nothing but the law, it had been sufficient to convince them that there was no grace, nor throne of grace, in the world. For since the law, being the most excellent of all the things of the earth, is found to be such as yieldeth no grace-for grace and truth comes by Jesus Christ, not by Moses (John 1:17)-how can it be imagined that it should be found in anything inferior? Paul, therefore, not finding it in the law, despairs to find it in anything else below, but presently betakes himself to look for it there where he had not yet sought it-for he sometimes sought it not by faith, but as it were by the works of the law (Phil 3:6-8)-he looked for it, I say, by Jesus Christ, who is the throne of grace, where he found it, and rejoiced in hope of the glory of God (Rom 9:29-31, 5:1-3). But,

Third. Saints come to know and distinguish the throne of grace from other thrones, by the very direction of God himself; as it is said of the well that the nobles digged in the wilderness-they digged it by the direction of the lawgiver, so saints find out the throne of grace by the direction of the grace-giver. Hence Paul prays, that the Lord w