Aiming at God’s Glory
In how many ways may we glorify God?
1] It is glorifying God when we aim purely at his glory. God must be the untimate end of all actions. Thus Christ, ‘I seek not mine own glory, but the glory of him that sent me’ (John 8:50) . . . Oh let us take heed of self-worshipping! We do this,
1. When we prefer God’s glory above all other things; above credit, estate, relations; when the glory of God coming in competition with them, we prefer his glory before them. If relations lie in our way to heaven, we must either leap over them, or tread upon them. A child must unchild himself, and forget he is a child; he must know neither father nor mother in God’s cause. ‘Who said unto his father and mother, I have not seen him; neither did he acknowledge his brethren’ (Deut. 33:9). This is to aim at God’s glory.
2. We aim at God’s glory, when we are content that God’s will should take place, though it may cross ours. Lord, I am content to be a loser, if thou be a gainer; to have less health, if I have more grace, and thou more glory. Let it be food or bitter physic [medicine] if thou givest it me. Lord, I desire that which may be most for thy glory. Our blessed Saviour said, ‘not as I will, but as thou wilt’ (Matt. 26:39). If God might have more glory by his sufferings, he was content to suffer. ‘Father, glorify thy name’ (John 12:28).
3. We aim at God’s glory when we are content to be outshined by others in gifts and esteem, so that his glory may be increased. A man that has God in his heart, and God’s glory in his eye, desires that God should be exalted; and if this be effected, let who will be the instrument, he rejoices. ‘Some preach Christ of envy: notwithstanding Christ is preached, and I therein do rejoice, yea, and will rejoice’ (Phil. 1:15); they preached Christ of envy, they envied Paul that concourse of people, and they preached that they might outshine him in gifts, and get away some of his hearers: well, says Paul, Christ is preached, and God is like to have the glory, therefore I rejoice; let my candle go out, if the Sun of Righteousness may but shine.
2] We glorify God by an ingenuous [frank] confession of sin. The thief on the cross had dishonoured God in his life, but at his death he brought glory to God by confession of sin. ‘We indeed suffer justly’ (Luke 23:41). He acknowledged he deserved not only crucifixion, but damnation. ‘My son, give, I, pray thee, glory to God, and make confession unto him’ (Josh. 7:19) A humble confession exalts God. How is God’s free grace magnified in crowning those who deserve to be condemned! The excusing and mincing of sin casts a reproach upon God. Adam denied not that he tasted the forbidden fruit, but, instead of a full confession, he taxed God. ‘The woman whom thou gavest me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat’ (Gen. 3:12); if thou hadst not given me the woman to be a tempter, I had not sinned. Confession glorifies God, because it clears him; it acknowledges that he is holy and righteous, whatever he does. Nehemiah vindicates God’s righteousness; ‘Thou art just in all that is brought upon us’ (Neh. 9:33). A confession is frank when it is free, not forced. ‘I have sinned against heaven and before thee’ (Luke 15:18). The prodigal charged himself with sin before his Father charged him with it.
3] We glorify God by believing. ‘Abraham was strong in faith, giving glory to God (Rom. 4:20). Unbelief affronts God, it gives him the lie; ‘he that believeth not, maketh God a liar’ (1 John 5:10). But faith brings glory to God; it sets to its seal that God is true (John 3:33). He that believes flies to God’s mercy and truth, as to an altar of refuge; he engarrisons himself in the promises, and trusts all he has with God. ‘Into thy hands I commit my spirit’ (Psa. 31:5). This is a great way of bringing glory to God, and God honours faith because faith honours him. It is a great honour we do to a man when we trust him with all we have, when we put our lives and estates into his hand; it is a sign we have a good opinion of him. The three children glorified God by believing. ‘The God whom we serve is able to deliver us, and will deliver us’ (Dan. 3:17). Faith knows there are no impossibilities with God, and will trust him where it cannot see him.
4] We glorify God, by being tender of his glory. God’s glory is dear to him as the apple of his eye. An ingenuous [innocent] child weeps to see a disgrace done to his father. ‘The reproaches of them that reproached thee are fallen upon me’ (Psa. 69:9). When we hear God reproached, it is as if we were reproached; when God’s glory suffers, it is as if we suffered. This is to be tender of God’s glory.
5] We glorify God by fruitfulness. ‘Hereby is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit’ (John 15:8). As it is dishonouring God to be barren, so fruitfulness honours him. ‘Filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are to the praise of his glory’ (Phil. 1:11). We must not be like the fig tree in the gospel, which had nothing but leaves, but like the pomecitron, that is continually either mellowing or blossoming, and is never without fruit. It is not profession, but fruit that glorifies God. God expects to have his glory from us in this way. ‘Who planteth a vineyard, and eateth not of the fruit of it?’ (1 Cor. 9:7). Trees in the forest may be barren, but trees in the garden are fruitful. We must bring forth the fruits of love and good works. ‘Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven’ (Matt. 5:16). Faith sanctifies our works, and works testify our faith; to be doing good to others, to be eyes to the blind, feet to the lame, much glorifies God. Thus Christ glorified his Father; ‘he went about doing good’ (Acts 10:38). By being fruitful, we are fair in God’s eyes. ‘The Lord called thy name a green olive-tree, fair and of goodly fruit’ (Jer. 11:16). And we must bear much fruit; it is muchness of fruit that glorifies God: ‘if ye bear much fruit.’ The spouse’s breasts are compared to clusters of grapes, to show how fertile she was (Song of Sol. 7:7). Though the lowest degree of grace may bring salvation to you, yet it will not bring much glory to God. It was not a spark of love Christ commended in Mary, but much love; ‘she loved much’ (Luke 7:47).
6] We glorify God by being contented in that state in which Providence has placed us. We give God the glory of his wisdom, when we rest satisfied with what he carves out to us. Thus Paul glorified God. The Lord cast him into as great variety of conditions as any man, ‘in prisons more frequent, in deaths oft’ (2 Cor. 11:23), yet he had learned to be content. Paul could sail either in a storm or a calm; he could be anything that God would have him; he could either want or abound (Phil. 4:13). A good Christian argues thus: It is God that has put me in this condition; he could have raised me higher, if he pleased, but that might have been a snare to me: he has done it in wisdom and love; therefore I will sit down satisfied with my condition. Surely this glorifies God much; God counts himself much honoured by such a Christian. Here says God, is one after mine own heart; let me do what I will with him, I hear no murmuring, he is content. This shows abundance of grace. When grace is crowning, it is not so much to be content; but when grace is conflicting with inconveniences, then to be content is a glorious thing indeed. For one to be content when he is in heaven is no wonder; but to be content under the cross is like a Christian. This man must needs bring glory to God; for he shows to all the world, that though he has little meal in his barrel, yet he has enough in God to make him content: he says, as David, ‘The Lord is the portion of mine inheritance; the lines are fallen to me in pleasant places’ (Psa. 16:5).
7] We glorify God by working out our own salvation. God has twisted together his glory and our good. We glorify him by promoting our own salvation. It is a glory to God to have multitudes of converts; now, his design of free grace takes, and God has the glory of his mercy; so that, while we are endeavouring our salvation, we are honouring God. What an encouragement is this to the service of God, to think, while I am hearing and praying, I am glorifying God; while I am furthering my own glory in heaven, I am increasing God’s glory. Would it not be an encouragement to a subject, to hear his prince say to him, You will honour and please me very much, if you will go to yonder mine of gold, and dig as much gold for yourself as you can carry away? So, for God to say, Go to the ordinances, get as much grace as you can, dig out as much salvation as you can; and the more happiness you have, the more I shall count myself glorified.
8] We glorify God by living to God. ‘That they which live should not live to themselves, but unto him who died for them’ (2 Cor. 5:15). ‘Whether we live, we live unto the Lord’ (Rom. 14:8). The Mammonist lives to his money, the Epicure lives to his belly; the design of a sinner’s life is to gratify lust, but we glorify God when we live to God.
From A Body of Divinity, pp. 10-14.
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