is to alienate the heart, and destroy all desire after him: this is seen in the conduct of the prodigal, who left his father's house and went into a far country. The tendency of grace is to bring us back, and bring us near. Behold, we come unto thee; for thou art the Lord our God." Coming to him is not only expressive of love and confidence, and of the going forth of the soul after God; but it includes the whole of religious worship. Those who worshipped at the altar are described as the comers thereunto; and of believers, in reference to Christ as the foundation, it is said, To whom coming, as unto a living stone. Our whole life should be a continual coming unto God by him. Duties should closely follow one another, like the successive products of the field, and even our ordinary concerns in life should be so conducted as to bring us nearer and still nearer the Lord. The great object of the christian life is to maintain an habitual spirituality, to be in the fear of the Lord all the day long, as well as when we are in the immediate discharge of holy duties, that so our intercourse with heaven may be uninterrupted. 2. Acceptance implies approbation and delight on God's part, as well as an approach on ours. "Him that cometh unto me I will in no wise cast out." We might be rejected, even though we come to him: but the promise not only secures us from this, but insures to us the most gracious acceptance: the Lord will receive such with infinite good will, and embrace them in the arms of love. Like Noah, they find grace in the eyes of the Lord: for "the righteous Lord loveth righteousness, his countenance doth behold the upright. He frowns upon the ungodly, but smiles upon those that seek him; and though despised and hated of the world, they are the objects of his delight.

3. When God accepts, he not only approves, but grants 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. When the

Publican had prayed, " God be merciful to me a sinner," he went down to his house justified: he came to the temple trembling, and went away rejoicing, his soul being refreshed with a sense of pardoning mercy. "Thou meetest him that rejoiceth and worketh righteousness, those that remember thee in thy ways-Thou shalt call, and the Lord shall answer; thou shalt cry, and he shall say, Here I am." And when God accepted Job, he did it openly, and made his friends to know it, and to bring their offerings to him that he might present them before the Lord. Those that honour him he will honour; and with the upright, he will shew himself upright. "All flesh shall know that I the Lord am thy Saviour, and thy Redeemer, the mighty one of Jacob." Isai. xlix. 26.

4. Our persons must be accepted before our services 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 offering, he had not respect." In both these instances the person is put first, as the more immediate object of acceptance, and then the offering; and this shews that the different treatment they met with, was not altogether owing to the different nature of the offerings they brought, though Abel's consisted of the firstlings of the flock, and Cain's of the fruits of the ground, but to the difference of character and condition between the offerers. The one came in the exercise of faith, and the other not. 66 By faith, Abel offered a more excellent sacrifice than Cain," and without faith it is impossible to please God. Acceptance ends in the service, but begins in the person: "I will accept you with your sweet savour."-Many there are, indeed, who hope to commend themselves to God by a multitude of duties, and are ready to think it hard if they may not be accepted on that ground. "Wherefore have we fasted, say they, and thou seest not? Wherefore have we afflicted our soul, and thou takest no knowledge?" (Isai. lviii, 3.)

All this flows from a spirit of self-righteousness, which God abhors; and he can no more accept the services of such, than a prince could the offering of a condemned malefactor. Let but the curse be removed, and the sinner shall be accepted; and when he is so, his offering shall not be despised, though it be only that of a broken heart and a contrite spirit. Psal. li. 17.

II. Consider what must accompany our being accepted of God: "I will accept you with your sweet

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The illusion is to the burnt-offerings and peace-offerings under the law, which are said to be of a sweetsmelling savour unto the Lord. 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. To serve him acceptably, with reverence and godly fear, we must have grace; and not only have grace implanted, but grace in exercise. The Lord's people are to him a kingdom of priests; and their work is to offer spiritual sacrifices, holy and acceptable, by Jesus Christ. The various graces when in exercise yield a sweet savour, like the holy unction and the incense, which consisted of the richest odours. The precious ointment that was poured upon Aaron's head was as the dew of Hermon, and as that which descended upon the mountains of Zion. And of the anointed Saviour it is said, "All thy garments smell of myrrh, and aloes, and cassia, out of the ivory palaces." And when the beauty and glory of the church is described, it is said, "Who is this that cometh out

of the wilderness like pillars of smoke, perfumed with myrrh, and frankincense, with all powders of the merchant?" As the Lord smelt a sweet savour in Noah's sacrifice, so he delights in and graciously accepts the offerings and prayers of his saints. It is the exercise of grace that makes every part of religion sweet to us, as well as well-pleasing to God. Prayer, reading, hearing, when they savour of faith and love, are sweet, and shed a rich perfume; but otherwise they are neither pleasing to God nor man.

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2. Though the exercise of grace in holy duties is pleasing to God, yet they are accepted only through the sacrifice of Christ. The numerous services and sacrifices under the law were acceptable only as they referred to him, and were typical of his atoning blood; and our services under the gospel are only so as they are performed by faith in him, and are perfumed with his merits and intercession. "Christ hath loved us, and given himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling savour;' and now at the golden altar he offers his much incense with the prayers of the saints. This it is that takes away the iniquity of our holy things, and becomes the only ground of acceptance. First he is accepted, and then we in him. "This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased;" but it is in him only that God can be pleased with us. Duties from us send forth an ill savour, but receive a sweet smell from Christ. But for the savour of his sacrifice, the most elevated strains of devotion would be an abomination to the Lord. It is this which makes the saints and their service like what Isaac said of Jacob-" as the smell of a field which the Lord hath blessed."

(1.) How dreadful then is the state of the unregenerate! However numerous and decent in the eyes of men their services may he, yet as they neither savour of grace nor of the Saviour's sacrifice, they will be utterly rejected, and themselves cast out. When they

fast, I will not hear their cry; and when they offer burnt-offering and an oblation, I will not accept them." Jer. xiv. 12.

(2.) How happy for the people of God to find grace in his sight, and what encouragement to abound in holy duties! "I will accept you with your sweet savour." The good will of him that dwelt in the bush will more than counterbalance all the ill will of creatures and if he accepts us, no matter of whom we are rejected. His approbation will be a rich reward for all our services, and will be the crowning blessing another day.

(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. This it was that Paul sought after in all he did: "Wherefore we labour, that, whether present or absent, we may be accepted of him." Let us then "go to the King with ointment, and increase our perfumes;". let us go with grace in our hearts, and Christ in our arms; and he will accept us with our sweet savour. 2 Cor. v. 9. Isai. lvii. 9.

How shall the sons of men appear,
Great God, before thine awful bar!
How may the guilty hope to find
Acceptance with th'eternal Mind!

Thy blood, dear Jesus, thine alone,
Hath sovereign virtue to atone :
Here we will rest our only plea,
When we approach, great God, to thee!

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