By Thomas Ridgely
Man’s chief and highest end is to glorify God, and fully to enjoy him for ever.
l. It is supposed, in this answer, that every intelligent creature, acting as such, designs some end, which excites endeavours to attain it.
2. The ends for which we act, if warrantable, may be considered as to their degree of excellency, and, in proportion to it, are to be pursued by proper means conducing thereto.
3. There is one that may be termed the chief and highest end, as having an excellency and tendency to make us blessed above all others: this consists, as it is observed in this answer, in the glorifying and eternal enjoyment of God, the fountain of blessedness.
If it be enquired with what propriety these may both be called chief and highest, the answer if obvious and easy, viz., That the former if absolutely so, beyond which nothing more excellent or desirable can be conceived; the latter is the highest or best in its kind, which, notwithstanding, is referred, as a means leading to the other; and both these ends, which, with this distinction, we call chief and highest, are to be particularly considered by us, together with the connection that there is between them. And,
I. We are to consider what it is to glorify God. In order to our understanding of this, let it be premised,
l. That there is a great difference between God’s glorifying himself and our glorifying him; he glorifies himself when he demonstrates or shows forth his glory; we glorify him by ascribing to him the glory that is his due: even as the Sun discovers its brightness by its rays, and the eye beholds it. God glorifies himself, by furnishing us with matter for praise; we glorify him when we offer praise, or give unto him the glory due to his Name.
2. Creatures are said to glorify God various ways; some things do it only objectively, as by them, angels and men are led to glorify him. Thus the heavens declare his glory (Ps. 19:1). The same might be said of all other inanimate creatures which glorify God, by answering the end of their creation, though they know it not: but intelligent creatures, and particularly men, are said to glorify God actively; and this they do by admiring and adoring his divine perfections: these, as incomprehensible, are the object of admiration; and accordingly the Apostle admire the divine wisdom, O the depth of the riches, both of the wisdom and knowledge of God; how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out (Rom. 11:33 ). And as they are divine, so they are the object of adoration: God is to be admired in all the displays of his relative or manifestative glory; and his work, which men behold, is to be magnified (Job 36:24 ). But he is to be adored more especially for his essential perfections.
We are to glorify God, by recommending, proclaiming, and setting forth his excellency to others. What we have the highest value for, we desire that others may have the same regard to it with out selves: thus it is observed by the Evangelist, that when the Disciples received their first conviction that Jesus was the Messiah, they imparted this to others; as Andrew to Peter, and Philip to Nathanael; so the woman of Samaria being convinced hereof, endeavoured to persuade all her neighbors to believe in him, as she did. Thus we glorify God by making mention of his name with reverence, proclaiming his goodness with thankfulness, and inviting others, as the Psalmist does, to taste and see that he is good. (Ps. 34:8).
But since this is a very comprehensive duty, including in it the whole of practical religion, it may be considered under the following particulars.
1. We glorify God by confessing and taking shame to our selves for all the sins we have committed, which is interpretatively to acknowledge the holiness of his nature, and of his law, which the Apostle asserts to be holy, just and good. (Rom. 7:12 ). This Joshua advises Achan to do; to give glory to God, by making confession to him (John 7:19 ). And thus the penitent thief, who was crucified with out Saviour, glorified God by confessing that he received the due reward of his deeds (Luke 23:40,41 ). So did the Levites, in their prayer recorded by Nehemiah, when the said to God, Thou art just in all that is brought upon us, for thou hast done right, but we have done wickedly (Neh. 9:33 ).
2. By loving and delighting in him above all things, which is to act as those who own the transcendent amiableness of his perfection, as the object of their highest esteem. Thus the Psalmist says, Whom have I in heaven but thee; and there is none upon earth, that I desire besides thee. (Ps. 73:25).
3. By believing and trusting in him, committing all our concerns, both in life and death, for time and eternity, into his hands: thus Abraham is said to the strong in faith, giving glory to God (Rom. 4:20 ) And the Apostle Paul, to have committed his all to him.(2 Tim. 1:12 )
4. By a fervent zeal for his honour; and that either for the honour of his truth and Gospel, when denied, disbelieved or perverted; or for the honour of his holiness, or any of his other perfections, when they are reflected on, or reproached, either by the tongues or actions of those who set themselves against him.
5. By improving our talents, and bringing forth fruit in proportion to the means we enjoy; hereinsays our Saviour, is my father glorified, that ye bear much fruit. (John 15:8 ).