What is there to know, and how much can be known, about the throne of grace?
Robert Traill, Scot preacher and reformer (1642-1716), helps us explore these questions in his thirteen-sermon series, The Throne of Grace. These messages were published in the book, A Stedfast Adherence to the Profession of Faith, in 1718, two years after Traill’s death.
The messages in this series are based on Hebrews 4:16.
“Let us therefore draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and may find grace to help in time of need.”
In the introduction to Sermon I, Traill informs us that he is going to address “four weighty questions, which should be in the hearts of all worshippers of God.” These questions are: “Where may I find God?”; “How should we come to God on this throne?”; “What ground hath a sinner for this boldness?”; and “What shall we get, and for what may we come to this throne of grace?”
Under the first “Head,” “Where is God to be found?”, Traill writes that God is found on the throne of grace. He preaches that the most sacred object in Old Testament worship, the mercy seat, is what the writer of Hebrews calls the “throne of grace.” This teaches us that
” …whatever of divine grace was revealed and tendered to, or perceived and received by the faith of the Old Testament believers, in their right use of these sacred old institutions of God to his church, the same, with great advantage, believers under the New Testament have in Jesus Christ, the body, the antitype, and substance of them.”
Three advantages had at the mercy seat, and in Christ, are noted by Traill. They are a solemn approach made to God, atonement for sins, and a Word from God.
Traill then distinguishes the throne of grace from other “thrones” found in Scripture. The other thrones are:
the throne of glory, a throne of the essential, incomprehensible glory of God that no man can approach (I Timothy 6:16)
the throne of government where “God sits, and rules all things in his pleasure, and in infinite wisdom.” (Psalm 9:4,7)
the throne of God’s justice from where men will be judged according to the law and their works (Psalm 143:2), from which “nothing but condemnation can justly be pronounced on sinners.”
And, then there is the throne of grace, the central subject of this sermon series. The preacher defines this throne as
“… God in Christ dealing with men according to the grace of the gospel. It is God in Christ reconciling the world to himself, not imputing to them their trespasses (2 Cor.5:19). It is Christ set forth by God to be a propitiation (Rom. 3:25). This is the new court or throne erected by God, and declared in the gospel, to which sinful man is invited to come.”
In I Corinthians 1:18, the Apostle Paul says that the word of this Cross is to those who are perishing, foolishness. But to those of us who are being saved, it is the power of God.
Robert Traill then asks and answers the question, “Why is it called a throne and a throne of grace?”
He answers this in four parts.
“1. It is called a throne, because of the glory and majesty of God manifested there.”
“The Lord on this throne of grace, dispenseth all acts of grace with great majesty, and a king; but not as a King Judge, and Ruler, but as a King Benefactor, and Giver. This royalty of grace shines, i. In the greatness of the gifts, grace, and mercy; vastly above all that the creation can give.”
ii. In the manner of giving; free, sovereignly free. Grace and mercy is his own, and he doth with them as he will.”
“Approaches to God on the throne of grace, should be made with the deepest reverence and humility.”
“O that captives to Satan, and slaves to sin and the law, would long to be under the reign of this stately power, the grace of God! and that believers themselves would give themselves a more free and large subjection to it”
“2. It is called a throne of grace, 1st, Because grace entered and reared it up.”
“Till men get a sight of God in Christ, they cannot tell what the grace of God is. Search heaven and earth, you can never get a view of God’s grace, till ye come to this throne. You may see God’s infinite power, and wisdom, and goodness, written in great characters, in the great volume of creation and providence; but till ye come to know God in Christ on this throne, you can never see that divine dainty, and saving blessing, the free grace of God; grace, as an everlasting fountain in the heart of God, pouring down, streaming forth eternal salvation on ruined unworthy sinners.”
“3dly, It is called a throne of grace, because all the acts and sentences passed at this new court, are all acts of grace. All the blessings given from this throne, are all mere grace. Nothing is here but grace (John 1:17).”
“We are chosen by grace; we are given to Christ by grace; redeemed by him by grace; by grace we are justified through that redemption; by the same grace we are adopted; by the same grace we are saved, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; and by grace we shall be glorified.”
“4thly, It is called a throne of grace, because the glory of grace is the last and highest end of the building of this throne, and of all the acts of grace dispensed at it, and from it.”
“We read in the word of none of the counsels of God before the creation of all things, but of his purpose of saving a company of poor sinful men by Jesus Christ; and of no other design in this purpose, but to magnify his grace in saving of them this way. So much of the significance of this word, a throne of grace.”
Thus far in the first half of Robert Traill’s first sermon on the Throne of Grace, he has shown us that the throne of grace in the New Testament is the mercy seat of the Old Testament. Traill defines the throne of grace and then explains, in rich and reverent tones, why it is the throne of God’s grace. It is to this throne that we must go for mercy and grace to help in time of our every need.
In the second half of this first sermon, Traill will address the question, “What is it to come unto this throne of grace?” This will be the subject of my second post on Sermon1 on the Throne of Grace.