But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that comes to God must believe that he is…
The Christian religion holds out rewards to encourage our obedience. Now how far should rewards and punishments be motives of action? The man of reason immediately informs us, that goodness derived from such motives is no goodness at all — that it is merely the desire of happiness, and the fear of misery. He will add perhaps, as the devil said formerly with regard to Job, that the Christian does not serve God for nought: but that proper rewards are judiciously set before him, to keep his disinterested virtue from swerving. Had the rewards, which the Christian religion places before its worshippers, been such as the Arabian impostor promised — sensual pleasure in all its full-bloom delights — the objection might have weight. The expectation of such rewards is calculated certainly to debase the mind. But if the reward be holy, the expectation of it, or, if you please, the making it a motive of action, must be virtuous likewise. Now it is the excellence of the object that elevates the pursuit. We put youth on the acquirement of learning, and have no conception that the attainment of knowledge, which is the reward annexed, can debase his mind. It has a contrary effect. In the same manner, with regard to the rewards of another world, the very pursuit of them is health to the soul; as the attainment of them is its perfection. They are pursued through the exercise of these great principles of faith and trust in God. These virtues, which have nothing earthly about them, tend to purify the mind in a high degree. They abstract it from earthly things, and fix it on heavenly. It might also be shown that the fear of future punishment is a just motive of action. To the wicked, indeed, it is the natural dread of those consequences which attend guilt; and serves merely to rouse them to a sense of their wickedness. But when it acts upon a well-disposed mind, it consists in the fear of displeasing God. A just, rational, and religious motive of action.
(W. Cilpin, M. A.)
Parallel VersesKJV: But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.