Glorifying God [A Vignette from the 17th Century]

“And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent. I have glorified You on the earth. I have finished the work which You have given Me to do. And now, O Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was. “I have manifested Your name to the men whom You have given Me out of the world. They were Yours, You gave them to Me, and they have kept Your word.” John 17:3-5

“What it is to glorify God upon earth . . . God is glorified passively. So all things shall at length glorify God (Psa. 76:10; Rom. 3:5, 7). This is no thanks to them, but to God’s wise and powerful government. We glorify God actively when we set ourselves to this work, and make it our end and scope. Thus actively to glorify God is—(a) To acknowledge His excellency upon all occasions (Psa. 50:23; 145:10). (b) To resign our wills to His. Verbal praises merely are but an empty prattle (2 Thess. 1:11, 12). God is most glorified in the creatures’ obedience. First, to His laws, when we study to please Him in all things (Col. 1:10). Second, to His providence. It is an honour to Him when we are contented to be what God will have us to be, and can prefer His glory before our own ease, His honour before our plenty (Phil. 1:20). (c) To entertain the impressions of His glory upon us, i.e., when we grow most like Him, and show forth His virtues (1 Pet. 2:9; Eph. 1:12). A Christian’s life is a hymn to God; his circumspect walking proclaims God’s wisdom; His awfulness and watchfulness against sin, His Majesty; His cheerful and ready obedience, His goodness; His purity, God’s holiness.

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(d) To do those things which tend to the honour of God’s name, and to bring Him into request in the world (1 Pet. 2:12; Matt. 5:16; chap. 15:8). (e) To promote His interests in the world. This is the method of the Lord’s prayer, ‘Hallowed be Thy name;’ and then, ‘Thy kingdom come.’ (f) To do the work which He hath given us to do. First, the duty of our particular relations. If poor, I glorify God by my diligence, patience, innocence, contentedness; if rich, I glorify God by a humble mind; if well, I glorify God by my health; if sick, by meekness under His hand; if a magistrate, by my zeal (Neh. 1:11); if a minister, by my watchfulness; if a tradesman, by my righteousness. From the king to the scullion, all are to work for God. Second, the duty of our vocation and calling. Every Christian hath his way and place, some work which God gave him.

(g) To make God the great scope and end of our lives and actions. In our ordinary actions (1 Cor. 10:31). So in acts of grace. (2) Where? On earth. (a) Where so few mind God’s glory, but seek their own things (Phil. 3:20). (b) Which is the place of our trial? Many expect to glorify God in heaven, but take no care to glorify God on earth. But here where the danger is there is the duty and trial (Matt. 10:32). (3) How? ‘I have finished,’ &c. (a) It is work that glorifieth God; not empty praises, but a holy conversation (Matt. 5:16; Psa. 50:23; John 15:8). (b) Every man has his work. Life was given to us for somewhat; not merely that we might fill up the number of things in the world, as stones and rubbish: not to grow in stature, like the plants; nor merely to taste pleasures, like the beasts. God gave man faculties of reason and conscience to manage some work and business for the glory of God and his own eternal happiness. The world was never made to be a hive for drones and idle ones. (c) This work is given us by God. By His word. There is no course of service good but what is agreeable to the word of God (Psa. 119:105; Titus 2:12). By His providence, which ruleth in everything that falleth out. But how should a man glorify God in his place and station wherein God hath set him? Be content with it; God is the Master of the scenes, and appoints which part to act. With patience digest the inconveniences of your calling.

(d) This work must be finished and perfected (Rev. 2:10; 2 Tim. 4:7, 8). 2. Why this should be our great care? (1) This is the end why all creatures were made (Rom. 11:36; Prov. 16:4). (2) God has a right and interest in us (Rom. 14:7, 8; 1 Cor. 6:19, 20). (3) We shall be called to an account (Luke 19:23). (4) Great benefit will come to us by it. God noteth it (chap. 17:10), and rewards it (Matt. 19:28). (5) This ennobles a man. (6) God will have His glory upon you, if not from you, for He is resolved not to be a loser (Prov. 16:4; Lev. 10:3). (7) When we come to die this will be our comfort, Christ hath left us a pattern here; and Hezekiah (Isa. 38:3), and Paul (2 Tim. 4:7, 8).”

Thomas Manton, quoted in Joseph S. Exell, The Biblical Illustrator: St. John, Vol. 3. (London: James Nisbet & Co., n.d.), 135-136.