What profit is it that we have kept his ordinance?
STEPHEN CHARNOCK (1628-1680): Self is the chief end of every natural man…It is natural for man to worship God for self; self-righteousness is the rooted aim of man in his worship since his revolt from God, and being sensible it is not be found in his natural actions, he seeks for it in his moral and religious [acts]…Self is the measure of a world of seeming religious actions; while God seems to be the object, and His law the motive, self is the rule and end, Zechariah 7:5.
JOHN FLAVEL (1630-1691): It is not the matter of any duty that distinguishes the sound and unsound professors; but the motives, designs, and ends of the soul in them.
WILLIAM JAY (1769-1853): May we not learn from hence that we should always have an end in view in repairing to the ordinances of religion, and be able to answer the question, why we attend the ministrations of the word?
STEPHEN CHARNOCK: Some present themselves to God, as poor men offer a present to a great person: not to honour him, but to gain for themselves a reward richer than their gift―“What profit is it that we have kept his ordinance?” Some worship Him, intending thereby to wipe off their scores and satisfy their debts; as though a spiritual wrong could be recompensed with a bodily service, and an infinite Spirit be outwitted and appeased by a carnal flattery. Self is the spirit of carnality; to pretend a homage to God, and intend only the advantage of self, is rather to mock Him than worship Him.
J. H. M. d’AUBIGNÉ (1794-1872): The sovereign law given by God to all His creatures is, to love Him above all things, Deuteronomy 6:5. Now if a man, in doing what God commands, does it not from love to God, but from love to self, will God approve of his presuming to prefer himself to His infinite majesty, and will there be nothing vicious in an act containing indirect rebellion against his supremacy?
JOHN CALVIN (1509-1564): Whatever is devoid of love is of no account in the sight of God.
STEPHEN CHARNOCK: Whatsoever any man aims at in worship above the glory of God, that he forms as an idol to himself instead of God, and sets up a golden image; God counts not this as a worship. The offerings made in the wilderness for forty years together, God esteemed as not offered to Him, Amos 5:25: “Have you offered to me sacrifices and offerings in the wilderness forty years, O house of Israel?” They did it not to God, but to themselves; for their own security, and attainment of the possession of the promised land.
JOSEPH ALLEINE (1634-1668): Wrong motives in holy duties―this was the bane of the Pharisees. Oh how many a poor soul is undone by this, and drops into hell before he discerns his mistake! He performs his “good duties” and so thinks all is well, but does not perceive that he is actuated by carnal motives all the while. It is too true that even with the really sanctified many carnal ends will often creep in; but they are the matter of their hatred and humiliation, and never come to be habitually prevalent with them, and bear the greatest sway. But when the main thing that ordinarily moves a man to religious duties is some carnal end—as to satisfy his conscience, to get the reputation of being religious, to be seen of men, to show his own gifts and talents, to avoid the reproach of being a profane and irreligious person, or the like—this reveals an unsound heart. Oh Christians, if you would avoid self-deceit, see that you mind not only your actions but your motives.
HENRY FOSTER (1760-1844): The unregenerate man does not sift his motives, and, therefore, is satisfied with himself; but the spiritual man, the more progress he makes, then more deeply does he see the corruption of his motives; and the more his need of Christ.
STEPHEN CHARNOCK: Such base scents will rise up in our worship from the body of death which cleaves to us, and mix themselves with our services, as weeds with the fish in the net. David, therefore, after his people had offered willingly to the temple, begs of God that their “hearts might be prepared to him,” I Chronicles 29:18…Without the heart it is no worship. It is a stage play.
THOMAS WATSON (1620-1686): Love to God evidences sincerity. The upright love thee, Song of Solomon 1:4. Many a child of God fears he is a hypocrite. Do you love God?―To love God is a better sign of sincerity than to fear Him. The Israelites feared God’s justice: When he slew them, they sought him, and inquired early after God, Psalm 78:34. But what did all this come to? Nevertheless, they did but flatter him with their mouth, and lied to him with their tongue; for their heart was not right with him, verses 36, 37. That repentance is no better than flattery, which arises only from fear of God’s judgments, and has no love mixed with it. Loving God evidences that God has the heart, and if the heart be His, that will command all the rest.
MATTHEW HENRY (1662-1714): Where love is, duty follows of course, and is easy and natural, and flows from a principle of gratitude.
D. L. MOODY (1837-1899): I am tired of the word “duty”—tired of hearing, duty, duty, duty! Men go to church because it is their duty. They go to prayer-meeting because it is their duty…Suppose I told my wife that I loved her because it was my duty—what would she say? Every year I go up to Connecticut to visit my aged mother. Suppose when I go next time, I should tell her that I knew she was old, and that she was living on borrowed time; that I knew she had always done a great deal for me, and that I came to see her every year because it was my duty. Don’t you think she would say, “Well, then, my son, you needn’t take the trouble to come again”? Let us strike for a higher plane.
C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892): Unless the soul shall truly love, and really adore, and sincerely bow, our worship will be as unacceptable as though it were formal and outward…Dost thou love God, not with lip-language, but with heart-service? Dost thou love to pay Him homage?
ABRAHAM BOOTH (1734-1806): No worship is agreeable to the Messiah’s kingdom, which is not animated by heavenly affections.
WILLIAM BATES (1625-1699): Therefore let us exercise this duty―this affection, that so we may be truly wise―wise for ourselves, and wise towards God.
C. H. SPURGEON: Search yourselves, then, and see whether you love God or no. Put your hands on your hearts, and as in the sight of Him whose eyes are as a flame of fire, answer to Him; make Him your confessor at this hour; answer this one question: “Lovest thou me?”