But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that comes to God must believe that he is…
I. WITHOUT FAITH THERE CAN BE NO RELIGION. And this will appear by inquiring into the nature of all human actions, whether civil or religious; and this is common to both of them, that they suppose some kind of faith or persuasion. For example, husbandry, or merchandise; no man will apply himself to these, but upon some belief or persuasion of the possibility and necessity, or at least usefulness and convenience, of these to the ends of life. So it is in Divine and religious things; nothing is done without faith. No man will worship God unless he believe there is a God; unless he be persuaded there is such a being, which, by reason of his excellency and perfection, may challenge our veneration; and unless he believe the goodness of this God, that "He will reward those that diligently serve Him." So likewise no man can entertain Christ as the Messias and Saviour of the world, and yield obedience to His laws, unless he believes that He was sent of God, and ordained by Him to be a Prince and a Saviour. So that you see the necessity of faith to religion.
II. THE INFLUENCE THAT A DIVINE FAITH HATH UPON MEN TO MAKE THEM RELIGIOUS.
1. A true Divine faith supposeth a man satisfied and persuaded of the reasonableness of religion. He that verily believes there is a God, believes there is a being that hath all excellency and perfection, that is infinitely good, and wise, and just, and powerful, that made and preserves all things. Now he that believes such a Being as this, cannot but think it reasonable that He should be esteemed and adored by all those creatures that are sensible and apprehensive of these excellences; not only by constant praise of Him, but by a universal obedience to His will, and a cheerful submission to His pleasure. For what more reasonable than gratitude? And seeing He is truth itself, and hath been pleased to reveal His will to us, what can be more reasonable than to believe all those discoveries and revelations which " God, who cannot lie," hath made to us, and to comply with the intention of them? And seeing He is the original pattern of all excellency and perfection, what can be more reasonable than to imitate the perfections of the Divine nature, and to endeavour to be as like God as we can? And these are the sum of all religion.
2. A true Divine faith supposeth a man satisfied and persuaded of the necessity of religion; that is, that it is necessary to every man's interest to be religious; that it will be highly for our advantage to be so, and eminently to our prejudice to be otherwise; that if we be so we shall be happy, if we be not we shall be miserable and undone for ever.
(1) From the nature and reason of the thing. Every man that believes a God, must believe Him to be the supreme good; and the greatest happiness to consist in the enjoyment of Him; and a separation from Him to be the greatest misery. Now God is not to be enjoyed but in a way of religion. Holiness makes us like to God, and likeness will make us love Him; and love will make us happy in the enjoyment of Him; and without this it is impossible to be happy.
(2) Every man who believes the revelations which God hath made, cannot but be satisfied how much religion is his interest from the promises and threatenings of God's Word. APPLICATION:
1. This shows why there is so little of true religion in the world; it is for want of faith, without which it is impossible for men to be religious. If men were verily persuaded that the great, and holy, and just God looks continually upon them, and that it is impossible to hide from Him anything that we do, they would not dare to commit any sin in His sight, and under the eye of Him who is their Father and Master, their Sovereign and their Judge, their Friend and Benefactor; who is invested with all these titles, and stands to us in all these relations, which may challenge reverence and respect. Did men believe that they shall live for ever, and that after this short life is ended they must enter upon eternity; did men believe this, would they not with all possible care and diligence endeavour to attain the one and avoid the other? Did men believe the Scripture to be the Word of God, and to contain matters of the highest importance to our everlasting happiness, would they neglect it and lay it aside, and study it no more than a man would do an almanac out of date.
2. If faith have so great an influence upon religion, then the next use shall be to persuade men to believe. No man can be religious that doth not believe these two things:(1) The principles of natural religion — that there is a God; that His soul is immortal; and that there are future rewards.
(2) That the Scriptures are the Word of God; or, which comes all to one, that the doctrine contained in them is a Divine revelation. Therefore whoever would persuade men to be religious, he must begin here; and whoever would improve men in religion and holiness, he must labour to strengthen this principle of faith.
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.