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…
We are here directed to a throne with its character: it is said to be a throne of grace. We are here led to contemplate our Redeemer in His most exalted character; we are here called to view Him as a Priest upon a throne. Priests are seldom advanced to a throne, or have the opportunity of exercising influence around them without evil to themselves and mischief to society. We have here, however, a Priest on a throne — from whom we have everything to hope and nothing to fear.
1. Some thrones, you know, are hereditary; and so is this, for He that occupieth it is the Son, the only-begotten Son of God, the Firstborn of every creature, the brightness of His Father's glory and the express image of His person — the Heir of all things, and consequently the Heir of this throne.
2. Some thrones, you know, have been secured by conquest; and so has this. He came up from the conflict, His garments dyed in His own blood and the blood of His enemies; and through the ranks of fiends and death He pushed His triumphant course to the possession of that kingdom, and gained the glorious victory.
3. Some thrones are elective; so is this also. "The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit Thou at My right hand until I make Thine enemies Thy footstool." "Him hath God exalted at His right hand to be a Prince and a Saviour."But it is termed "the throne of grace" — not a throne of grace, as we often hear talked about, as though there were a great many of that character: no such thing; there is only one.
1. "The throne of grace" — to distinguish it from that throne of the Redeemer on which He sits as the Ruler of the universe, the Governor of earth and heaven and hell.
2. It is distinguished, again, from that throne of equity on which He sits as the Moral Governor of the world; in which capacity He exercises a judicial influence which extends to all minds and to all consciences.
3. Then, again, it is distinguished from the throne of judgment, on which He will sit by and by. This is "the throne of grace." Here we are called to view the Redeemer as sitting on the mercy-seat, between the cherubim, as He did when He gave audience to the high priest and issued His commands. Hero He opens an audience-chamber to His people; here He receives the applications made in prayer by the needy, humble, desiring children of God.Here He listens to their diversified cases and necessities, and imparts suitable, sustaining, and abundant assistance.
1. It is the "throne of grace," because grace, unmerited love and goodness, designed and erected it. We had neither claim nor right to any such privilege. It is grace continues it; and it is very difficult to say whether grace abounds most in erecting this throne, or in continuing it to the children of men.
2. It is the "throne of grace," because grace is here given. Here He gives grace to instruct the ignorant, to direct the doubting, to enliven the mild spirit, to sustain the feeble heart, to strengthen its weaknesses, to comfort its distresses, to supply its needs. Here He gives grace to save to the uttermost; for every good and perfect gift which comes from the Father of light is here dispensed.
3. Now, to this "throne of grace" we have all errands. In the first place, we have errands because we need mercy. We need the mercy of God to forgive our every offence and to remit the punishment to which we are exposed.
4. We not only need mercy, but we need an assurance that God has given us mercy. We know and feel that we are guilty; why may we not know and feel that we are pardoned? A consciousness of guilt brings alarm, and while this is the case there can be no comfort, no peace, till such time as the guilt is removed and taken away. And what a mercy is this! What a heaven of bliss to be pardoned and to know it! But we are unprofitable, short-coming creatures. We need mercy to bear with us like the barren fig-tree. Our precious time, for instance, has not always been profitably improved; our talents have not always been usefully employed; our duties to God, in gratitude, in faith, in affection — our duties to men, in kindness, charity, and love — have not been strictly discharged. We need God's mercy to pardon all this; we need the mercy of God to bear with us and forgive us all our transgressions. We are necessitous pensioners on the Divine bounty, and need supplies of grace. We are every moment dependent upon God, and we can only live through that dependence; we can live only so long as His bounty is exercised. We are dependent upon Him for life, which is perpetually exposed to danger; we are dependent upon Him for help, which is only to be obtained from His hand. We are dependent upon Him for temporal supplies — day by day for our daily bread. We are dependent upon Him for delivering our souls from the power of sin, the world, the flesh, a d the devil. In short, we need the mercy of God in every period of life, in the article of death, and even at the day of judgment: we shall need to "look for the mercy of God unto eternal life." We have errands at this throne that we may obtain mercy.
5. But we not only need mercy to pardon our sins, to bear with our unprofitableness, and to supply our need, but we need grace to renew us. We need renewing grace — grace to enlighten our minds, grace to renew our hearts, grace to regenerate our heart's nature, grace to conform our will to the will of God — grace that we may approve, desire, and relish spiritual enjoyment, and thus be prepared for all the service of God.
6. We need also grace to keep us in this renewed state. The life of God imparted to human nature placed in circumstances like these would be like dropping a spark of fire upon an ocean of ice. How it should be kept alive, how it should burst into a flame, how it should illuminate with its light the darkness and melt the hardness of the world, can only be by receiving grace. And though God has promised to impart this life, and is delighted to impart it, yet He will not give it without being inquired of: we must go for grace to the throne of grace.
7. But we need grace inasmuch as we have duties to perform. Our duties are numerous; they pertain to God, to man, and to ourselves. The text adverts to a special season, which the apostle calls "time of need": "that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need." Speaking generally, every time is a "time of need"; for when is it that no enemy, like a cunning, wily beast of prey, is not watching for a moment of unguardedness to seize and to devour? Yet there are certain ascertained seasons which may more emphatically be called a "time of need." We are dying in a state of uncertainty; we know not at all what is before us. I am aware that it may be said that if we have grace to live to God now, suffering grace will be given for suffering times; and if we have grace to live to God now, when God changes the work from doing to suffering, from living to dying, He will change the grace too. Yes, He will; but only in answer to prayer: He will be "inquired of."What is the use that we may make of this subject?
1. The apostle says, "Come boldly to the throne of grace" — not irreverently. We should never forget the justice, holiness, dignity, and mystery of Him whom we address: we should have grace to "serve Him with reverence and godly fear; for our God is a consuming fire."
2. When it is said, "Come boldly unto the throne of grace," the apostle does not mean you are to come presumptuously. as if you would command God.
3. When the apostle says, "Come boldly to the throne of grace," we understand that we are to come readily. We are to have a knowledge of our state, to feel our wants, to entertain desires after holiness. We are not to pore over our unworthiness; we are not to parley with the enemy; we are not to wait till we are better; we are not to expect a more convenient season.
4. When it is said, "Come boldly to the throne of grace," we understand that we are to come near. It is not enough to catch God's eye at a distance, but to get His heart, and the very fulness of His heart. "Come boldly to the throne of grace," and expect to find Him near to save.
5. "Come boldly to the throne of grace"; come cheerfully. And in order to do this we should contemplate God in all the encouraging aspects of His character. When we come to the throne we should look on Him in all the friendly, brotherly, Scriptural relations in which He has discovered Himself to us.
6. "Come boldly to the throne of grace" — come with liberty; not straitened in your own souls, not contracted in your desires, not limited in your aspirations.
7. "Come boldly to the throne of grace" — come confidently, with the confidence that you shall receive.
8. "Come boldly to the throne of grace" — come frequently. The path leading to this throne should be trampled, well used, such a beaten path as to be as bare as the street.
9. We should come importunately — like Jacob when he grasped the angel and said, "I will not let Thee go except Thou bless me"; like the Canaanitish woman when she said, "Is it meet to take the children's bread, and to cast it to the dogs?" like the widow who, by her continued coming to the unjust judge, wearied him; like the person who applied to his neighbour at night for the loan of bread to entertain his friend, and would take no denial.
10. The apostle suggests encouragement. We are encouraged to come because we have a High Priest who is great in all the attributes of mercy and love, who hath finished His work to His Father's satisfaction, and hath entered within the veil. "Seeing that we have such a High Priest." When you come to the throne, He takes you by the hand, and introduces you to God; He takes your prayers, and perfumes them with the incense of His merit, and urges your feeble requests.
Parallel VersesKJV: 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.