But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that comes to God must believe that he is…
It is a wonderful idea, the idea of the infinite, almighty, eternal Being, as to be approached and communicated with by man. If we might allow ourselves in such an imagination, as that the selected portion of all humanity, the very best and wisest persons on earth, were combined into a permanent assembly, and invested with a sovereign authority — the highest wisdom, virtue, science, and power thus united — would not a perfectly free access for the humblest, poorest, most distressed, and otherwise friendless, to such an assemblage, with a certainty of their most kind and sedulous attention being given — of their constant will to render aid — of their wisdom and power being promptly exercised — would not this be deemed an inestimable privilege to all within the compass of such an empire? But take a higher position, and suppose that there were such an economy that the most illustrious of the departed saints held the office of being practically, though unseen, patrons, protectors, assistants, guides, to men on earth; that the spirits of patriarchs, prophets, and apostles, could be drawn, by those who desired it, to a direct personal attention, and to an exercise of their benignity and interference — would not this appear a resource of incalculable value? But there is another far loftier ascension. We are informed of a glorious order of intelligences that have never dwelt in flesh; many of whom may have enjoyed their existence from a remoteness of time surpassing what we can conceive of eternity; with an immense expansion of being and powers; with a perpetual augmentation of the goodness inspired by their Creator; and exercising their virtues and unknown powers in appointed offices of beneficence throughout the system of unnumbered worlds. Would it not seem a pre-eminent privilege, if the children of the dust might obtain a direct communication with them; might invoke them, accost them, draw them to a fixed attention, and with a sensible evidence of their indulgent patience and celestial benignity? Would not this seem an exaltation of felicity, throwing into shade everything that could be imagined to be derived to us from the benevolence and power of mortal or glorified humanity? Now, here we are at the summit of created existence; and up to this sublime elevation we have none of these supposed privileges. What, then, to do next? Next, our spirits have to raise their thoughts to an awful elevation above all subordinate existence in earth and heaven, in order to approach a presence where they may implore a beneficent attention, and enter into a communication with Him who is uncreated and infinite; a transition compared to which the distance from the inferior to the nobler, and then to the noblest of created beings, is reduced to nothing; as one lofty eminence on an elevated mountain — and a higher — and the highest — but thence to the starry heavens! But think, who is it that is thus to "come to God?" Man! little, feeble, mortal, fallen, sinful man! He is, if we may speak in such language, to venture an act expressly to arrest the attention of that stupendous Being. The purpose is to speak to Him in a personal manner; to detain Him in communication. The approaching petitioner is to utter thoughts, for God to admit them into His thoughts! He seeks to cause his words to be listened to by Him whose own words may be, at the very time, commanding new creations into existence. But reflect, also, that it is an act to call the special attention of Him whose purity has a perfect perception of all that is evil in the creature that approaches Him; of Him whom the applicant is conscious he has not, to the utmost of his faculties, adored. or loved: alas! the very contrary! What an amazing view is thus presented of the situation the unworthy mortal is placed in, the position which he presumes to take, in "coming to God." A sinful being immediately under the burning rays of Omnipotent Holiness! The idea is so fearful, that one might think it should be the most earnest desire of the human soul that there should be some intervention to save it from the fatal predicament. No wonder, then, that the most devout men of every age of the Christian dispensation have welcomed with gratitude the doctrine of a Mediator, manifested in the person of the Son of God, by whom the holiness of God and the sinfulness of man are, as it were, kept asunder; and a happy communication can take place through the medium of One who stands before the Divine Majesty of Justice, in man's behalf, with a propitiation and a perfect righteousness. Thus far, and too long, we have dwelt on the wonderfulness of the fact and the greatness of the privilege of "coming to God." We have to consider, a little, with what faith this is to be done. "Must believe that He is." Must have a most absolute conviction that there is one Being infinitely unlike and superior to all others; the sole Self-existent, All-comprehending, and All-powerful; a reality in such a sense that all other things are but precarious modes of being, subsisting simply in virtue of His will; — must pass through and beyond the sphere of sense, to have a spiritual sight of "Him that is invisible"; and, more than merely a principle held in the understanding, must verify the solemn reality in a vitally pervading sentiment of the soul. And what a glory of intellect and faith thus to possess a truth which is the sun in our mental sphere, and whence radiate all the illuminations and felicities that can bless the rational creation! And what a spectacle of debasement and desolation is presented to us, when we behold the frightful phenomenon of a rational creature disbelieving a God! But how easily it may be said, "We have that faith; we never denied or doubted that there is such a Being." Well; but reflect, and ascertain in what degree the general tenor of your feelings, and your habits of life, have been different from what they might have been if you had disbelieved or doubted. The effectual faith in the Divine existence always looks to consequences. In acknowledging each glorious attribute, it regards the aspect which it bears on the worshipper, inferring what will therefore be because that is. It is not a valid faith in the Divinity, as regarded in any of His attributes, till it excite the solicitous thought, "And what then?" He is, as supreme in goodness; and what then? Then, how precious is every assurance from Himself that He is accessible to us. Then, is it not the truest insanity in the creation to be careless of His favour? Then, happy they who obtain that favour, by devoting themselves to seek it. Then, let us instantly and ardently proceed to act on the conviction that He is the "rewarder of them that diligently seek Him." This faith is required in consideration of the intention (might we presume to say, reverently, the sincerity of the heavenly Father in calling men to come to Him. "I have not said, Seek ye Me in vain." To what purpose are they thus required to make His favour the object of their eternal aspiration; to forego all things rather than this. Why thus summoned, and trained, and exercised, to a lofty ambition far above the world? Not to frustrate all this labour, not to disappoint them of the felicity to which they continually aspire! They "must believe that He is a rewarder"; that He is not thus calling them up a long, laborious ascent, only that they may behold His glorious throne, come near to His blissful paradise, do Him homage at its gate, and then be shut out. Consider again: it is because there is a Mediator, that sinful men are authorised to approach to God, seeking that — no more than that — which the mysterious appointment was made, in Divine justice and mercy, for the purpose of conferring on them. Then they must believe that this glorious office cannot but be availing to their success. What has been appointed, in the last resort, in substitution and in remedy of an antecedent economy, because that has failed, must be, by eminence, of a nature not itself to fail. They that " come to God" in confidence on this new Divine constitution, will find that He, in justice to His appointment of a Mediator, will grant what is promised and sought in virtue of it; in other words, will be a " rewarder " for Christ's sake. And what is that in which it will be verified to them " that He is a rewarder"? For what will they have to adore and bless Him as such? For the grandest benefits which even He can impart in doing full justice to the infinite merits of the appointed Redeemer. But the important admonition, to be repeated here in concluding, is, that all this is for them " that diligently seek"; so habitually, importunately, perseveringly, that it shall in good faith be made the primary concern of our life; so that, while wishes and impulses to obtain are incessantly springing from the busy soul in divers directions, there shall still be one predominant impulse directed towards heaven. And, if such representations as we have been looking at be true, think what might be obtained by all of us, who have them at this hour soliciting our attention, on the supposition that we all should henceforward be earnest applicants to the Sovereign Rewarder. Think of the mighty amount of good, in time and eternity, as our collective wealth; and of the value of every individual share.
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.