I. What is implied in our being accepted with God.
1. It supposes a drawing near to him on our part.
2. Acceptance implies approbation and delight on God’s part, as well as an approach an ours. “Him that cometh unto me I will in no wise cast out.”
3. When God accepts; he not only approves, but gives some visible token of his favour. “I will accept you with your sweet savour,” and you shall know it, yea, and the world shall know it.
4. Our persons must be accepted before our service can be so, and the latter are accepted for the sake of the former. “God had respect to Abel, and his offering; but to Cain, and his oferring, he had not respect.”
The allusion is to the burnt-offerings and peace-offerings under the law. The holy fragrance rendered them pleasing in his sight; and such are the exercises of grace in the offerings which we present.
This leads us to observe,
1. That our approaches to God must be accompanied with spiritual and holy dispositions, or they cannot be acceptable to him. “I will accept you with your sweet savour” but not without it. Duties without grace in exercise are like dead carcases, not fit to be presented before the Lord.
2. Though the exercise of grace in holy duties is pleasing to God, yet they are accepted only through the sacrifice of Christ.
(1.) How dreadful then is the state of the unregenerate.
(2.) How happy for the people of God to find grace in his sight, and what encouragement to abound in holy duties!
(3.) Let acceptance with God be the great object aimed at in all our religious duties, and let us rest in nothing short of it.
Great God, before thine awful bar!
How may the guilty hope to find
Acceptance with th’eternal Mind!
Hath sovereign virtue to atone:
Here we will rest our only plea,
When we approach, great God, to thee.