"Glorify God in your body, and in your spirit." - I Corinthians 6:20.
THAT God has a design in our creation, is evident from the fact that He never acts without one. We find ourselves endowed with intellectual faculties, reason, judgment, and a will capable of discrimination and choice, and with affections and reverence, which are ever disposed to seek for some object superior to ourselves, to love, revere and worship. So evident is this fact that it has passed into a proverb that "man is a religious animal." We are not at a loss to decide that we ought to worship some being, and He has revealed Himself as the only being in the universe worthy of it. In three ways can we fulfil this design:
I. By choosing Him as our chief good.
Making Him the object and center of our supreme affections - this every Christian professes to do. Neglecting this, we are but faithless servants.
We find that God has connected His greatest glory with the creature's greatest happiness. If man would love so as to secure his own greatest happiness, he would in the highest degree "glorify
God." All man's unhappiness is occasioned by his mistaking the object of his creation, and the first law, "glorify God."
II. By improving ourselves - self-culture.
1. God is glorified by us in proportion as we cultivate, improve and expand those intellectual faculties with which He has endowed us. The more we learn of Him, the more devout and reasonable will be our worship. The more we inform ourselves of His attributes, of the heavens which are the workmanship of His hands, of the wide spread and wondrous creation around us - its economy, the laws that govern it; just in that ratio shall we learn and know God, consequently be prepared to render to Him that rational and exalted worship that can glorify and honour Him. The angels can excel us in worship, for they excel us in knowledge.
2. By making ourselves more intelligent. It is the duty of each individual Christian, however humble his sphere, to devote a portion of his time to study and reading:
(1) The word of God, which alone can make him wise unto salvation.
(2) Books that teach him the structure and economy of the heavens, that point him:
"To the range of planets, suns and adamantine spheres
Wheeling unshaken through the void immense,"
as well as those books that unfold the organization
and laws of the earth on which he lives. Ignorant of these things, how can he with understanding exclaim with David: "The heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament sheweth his handywork. Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night sheweth knowledge" (Psalm 19:1-2), or: "When I survey thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and stars, that thou hast ordained; what is man, that thou art mindful of him, or the son of man, that thou visitest him"? l To the reading mind, what a field is here opened for the exercise of every pious emotion! And how irresistibly do such contemplations as these awaken the sensibility of the soul!
"Here is infinite power to impress you with awe; here is an infinite goodness to fill you with admiration; and infinite goodness to call forth your gratitude and love. The correspondence between these great objects and the affections of the human heart is established by nature itself; and they need only to be placed before us, that every religious feeling may be excited." The works of Thomas Dick cannot be too highly commended to every Christian. They are so cheap as to be within reach of every one, and comprise a whole library within themselves. No one can spend an hour with them without rising wiser and better. They will help a man to pray. It would be a great blessing to the Church were these works in every family.
l See Psalm 8:3-4.
Man must possess a certain amount of knowledge in order to worship God intelligibly. He must have some knowledge of the sciences, natural laws, the economy of the universe, etc., etc. He must have some knowledge of these things, and of history and geography, in order to understand the Bible. No one can doubt this. God is glorified in us in proportion as we make ourselves intelligent and exalted in the scale of being - become like Him in knowledge. God never made a rational or intelligent man, but made him with powers capable, if improved, of making him so.
Without self-improvement, we are but trees planted for choice fruits, but never coming to their growth.
III. We glorify God in being useful to our fellow-creatures.
He designs this. He has placed us in the midst of want and woe - in a world that demands our efforts. He commands us to be useful to others. We glorify God and fulfil the object of our creation in proportion as we benefit our fellow-men. The Christian cannot live to himself, 'tis not the spirit that religion imparts, 'tis not the spirit of Christ. Christ lived and died for others, and we are commanded to imitate His glorious example. "We are created in Christ Jesus unto good works." The spirit of religion commands, and the wants of a perishing world demand, our kind offices, and not to feel our duty, or the claims of the destitute
upon us, is not to fulfil the design of either our first or second creation. The Bible, on every page, impresses the fact upon our minds that we are only God's stewards. If so, our first duty is to labour, and expend for His interest, not our own, to advance His cause and Kingdom in the world, not our own aggrandizement. What will be the reckoning of thousands of Christians in this land?
Let us illustrate: Here is a Christian possessed of $10,000 or $20,000 of his Master's goods. The Lord tells him that he is a steward and very soon must give an account, not only of the use and disuse, but the not using, of the money as the Lord commands. He is anxious, if a good servant, to know how much the Master requires of him. Under the old dispensation he learns it was a tenth of all the increase of the flocks or the fields. Under the New Testament, it was no doubt intended to be much greater, for two reasons.
First, the enlarged measure of the blessings enjoyed by us; freely as we have received, freely give, is our rule of action. Therefore, if we have received more under the Gospel than those did under the law, we must give more. The apostle lays down the law on this subject, i. e.: On every first day of the week to lay by a portion for the Master's use, according as the Lord has prospered us. Who does this?
The second reason for our giving more under the Gospel than those did under the law, is because
there are more objects presented to us for alms, and benevolent effort. For instance, all the objects the Jews were required to sustain were the priests, or ministers of Christ, and the expenses of the house of God. Christ had not uttered the command: "Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature." This is to the Gospel Church. Now, it is just as much our duty to sustain the ministers of Christ as it was the Jews. It is equally our duty to defray the expenses of the house of God now as then; while in addition to all these things, we have the Gospel, the Bible and the living preacher, to send into every nation, and language and tongue, of babbling earth.
Then, as a steward, the Christian is not at a loss to learn that it is his duty to devote the largest amount of his increase and gains to his Master's service.
Does he require, for the proper objects:
1. To support the Gospel in his own neighbourhood.
2. To defray the expenses of his own church, such as building or repairing, and lighting and keeping it cleanly.
3. To aid in preaching the Gospel to the destitute in his own state.
4. To send forth, broadcast, over the land, religious books, Bibles and tracts, to elevate the Church and bless the world.
5. To lift the pall of ignorance from the land,
and guard against error and vice, by sending abroad the sunlight of universal education, by means of efficient schools.
6. While we are doing this at home, to begin to look abroad. The thousands of the aboriginal tribes on our western borders are perishing for the crumbs that fall from our abundance, at our very threshold - we can almost hear their cries, borne to our ears on the wings of every western gale. Philanthropy, patriotism, even-handed justice, and the imperious dictates of our holy religion, call upon us to hear their cry, and give them the bread of life. How can we appear in judgment with them, unless we make a proper recompense for all the bitter burning wrongs we have heaped upon them!7. Finally. Is not Asia benighted, and Africa and the isles of the ocean regions of darkness and in the very shadow of the second death? Are they not calling and imploring us for a ray of our light?"Shall we not rise, and blot from the accusing scroll
Those guilty traces with repentant tears,
And teach our red brother in the day of wrath
To stand before the Judge and plead: Forgive,
Forgive, for he hath sent Thine Holy Word;
Hath told me of a Saviour, and diffused
The day-beam o'er my darkness. His kind voice
Taught me to call Thee Father. Oh, forgive
Those earthly wrongs, which he hath well atoned
By pointing me to heaven."
What says Christ: "Ye are the light of the world." Are they not in darkness? "Give to him that asketh." Do they not implore? Shall we be guilt-less in the great day, possessed as we are of such abundance, if we hoard it up in our coffers, or bury it in the earth by adding acre to acre, and leave the heathen to die and go down to the pit? Will not God be avenged, by making that which we have unjustly withheld from Him, a curse to our children? How numerous are the instances! We are not at a loss for channels through which to send. They are open on every hand, ready to bear our alms forth to water the desert and bless the world.
We learn: "To glorify God" implies:
1. To make Him the object of our supreme affections.
2. To improve ourselves which will make us capable of still greater love and devotion.
3. To do good to others. For the more that are brought by their influence and effort to glorify God, the greater will be the revenue of honour to His name. This must be done by using the means which God has given us.
And now, Christian brother, by the mercies of God; by the riches of His goodness toward you in nature, providence and grace, by the sacredness of the commands laid upon you, and by a legitimate regard for your own well-being, and the credit of that religion whose honour should be dearer to you than life, I beseech you, dedicate your property to
God. By the love of Christ, by His painful self-denial and deep humiliation, by His obedience unto death, even the death of the cross, oh, by that mystery of love which led Him to become poor that He might make you eternally rich - ask yourself, while standing at the foot of the cross, "How much owest thou unto thy Lord?" and give accordingly. By the tender and melting considerations which led you at first to surrender yourself to His claims, by the vows you made to Him when you besought Him to have mercy upon your own soul, "look on your property as the Lord's and give it freely to His glory."
And now, Christian, what shall be the practical effect of the truths which have been made to pass before you? Allow me, in conclusion, to suggest what it ought to be, and may God, the Holy Spirit, give you grace to carry it into practice.
Have you while reading this page, felt a single emotion of benevolence warm and expand your heart? Instantly gratify it. Let it not pass from you in an empty wish, but immediately bring forth something to be appropriated to His glory. Are you a stranger to self-denial in the cause of charity? Then remember that benevolence with you has yet to be begun; for, on Christian principles, there is no benevolence, no glorifying God, without self-denial.
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