June 26, 2017

Our Chief Purpose

Consider the following excerpt from “Of Man’s Chief End and Happiness,” a sermon by the eighteenth-century preacher Thomas Boston, concerning in what respect God’s glory is man’s chief end:

There are some ends which men propose to themselves, which are simply unlawful, as to satisfy their revenge, their lust, their covetousness. These are not capable of subordination to the glory of God, who hates robbery for burnt-offering. But there are other ends which are indeed in themselves lawful, yet become sinful, if they be not set in their due place, that is, subordinate to the glory of God. Now, God’s glory is made our chief end, when these three things concur:

1. When whatever end we have in our actions, the glory of God is still one of our ends in acting. We may eat and drink for the nourishment of our bodies; but this must not jostle out our respect to the glory of God. If the nourishment of our bodies be the only end of our eating and drinking, it is sinful, and out of the due order.

2. It must not only be our end, but it must be our main and principal end, that which we chiefly design. When God’s glory is our chief end, all other ends that we propose to ourselves will be down-weighed by this; all other sheaves must bow to that sheaf: as a diligent servant designs to please both the master and his steward, but chiefly the master. But when, on the contrary, a man eats and drinks (for instance) more for the nourishment of his body than for God’s glory, it is plain, that God’s glory is not the chief end of the man in that action. Hence we read, 2 Tim. 3:4, of some that are “lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God.”

3. When it is the ultimate end, the last end, the top and perfection of what we design, beyond which we have no more view, and to which all other ends are made subservient, and as means to that end. Thus we should eat that our bodies may be refreshed; we should desire that our bodies may be refreshed, that we may be the more capable to serve and glorify God in our stations. Thus we are obliged to seek our own salvation, that God may be glorified; and not to seek God’s glory only that we may be saved; for that is to make the glory of God a stepping-stone to our own safety.

Reminds me of two things. The Westminster Shorter Catechism 1, and the words of Paul in 1 Corinthians 10:31. I think they speak enough for themselves:

“Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever.” 

“So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God”