« AnteriorContinua »
ry of his grace—that we should be to the praise of his glory who first trusted in Christ." Revelation opens to the view of intelligent beings a scheme of grace, which fills heaven with admiration, and which ought to fill mortals with gratitude. When we consent to and comply with this scheme, we shew forth the praises of him, who has called us to his marvellous light. When we reject it, we spurn his grace, and trample on his authority.
The worship of God, in his appointed way, is called glorifying him; because it is an acknowledgment of his supremacy and our dependence of his goodness and our obligations; and because it is a mean of promoting sentiments of piety in our own hearts and spreading the knowledge of his name among others. "He that offereth praise, glorifieth God." They who " worship him in the beauty of holiness, give him the glory due to his name." He takes pleasure in his house, and there he is glorified. He says, "He will be sanctified in them who draw near to them, and before all the people he will be glorified." He requires us to perform his worship with such inward sentiments of piety, as to sanctify him in our hearts; and with such outward circumstances of solemnity, as to glorify him before men. Paul directs the Corinthians to maintain order and decency in their religious assemblies, that heathens and unbelievers, if they should be present, might be constrained to confess "that God was among them
of a truth."
Men glorify God by exhibiting in their lives the virtues and works of pure religion; for by these they shew, that they believe his holy character, love his righteous precepts and rely on his gracious promises. Christ says to his disciples, "Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit." Paul exhorts
Christians, to "be filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are to the praise and glory of God."
Every thing that we do to advance the cause and diffuse the influence of religion in the world, glorifies God, as it seconds the purposes of his goodness, and contributes to the virtue and happiness of his intelligent creatures. Our Savior says to his disciples, "Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven." Peter applies this advice to Christians in general. "Dearly beloved, have your conversation honest among the Gentiles, that, by your good works which they behold, they may glorify God in the day of visitation." When the Apostles and believers heard, "that Saul preached the gospel, which he before destroyed, they glorified God in him."
As holiness in general, so some particular virtues are said to glorify God.
The Apostle recommending purity of heart and chastity of manners, says, "Your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost, which is in you, which ye have of God; wherefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit which are God's."
By patience and constancy in religion under severe trials, Christians bear testimony to its truth and importance, express in the fullest manner their own faith in it, and powerfully recommend it to the world. Hence our Lord, warning Peter of the manner of his death, is said to have signified to this disciple, "by what death he should glorify God." To Christians, suffering persecution in the cause of Christ, Peter says, "If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye, for the Spirit of glory and of God resteth on you. On their part," on the part of your persecutors, "God is evil spoken of, but on your part he is glorified." VOL. IV.
A peaceable, condescending, inoffensive temper and behavior among Christians do honor to religion and to its Author. The members of the church in Corinth, who were convents, some from Judaism, and some from Gentilism, were tenacious of those usages, respecting meats, days and festivals, to which they had been accustomed. In these things the Apostle directs them to be governed rather by a charitable condescension to the conscientious scruples of their brethren, than by a rigid attachment to their own opinions and customs. He cautions them, not to use their liberty in such a manner, that it would be judged and condemned by the conscience of others -not to expose themselves to censure in the use of those bounties of Providence, for which they gave thanks. And he comprises his whole advice on the subject in this general rule, "Whatever ye eat or drink, or whatever ye do, do all to the glory of God; giving no offence to Jew or Gentile, or the church of God, even as I please all men in all things, not seeking mine own profit, but the profit of many, that they may be saved."
Men glorify God, when, in cases of difficulty, trial and danger, they commit themselves to his care, and persevere in his service with a full reliance on his providence, grace and promise. When Abraham was called to go forth from his native land, he obeyed, not knowing whither he went. When he had the promise of a numerous offspring, at an age;which would naturally have forbidden the expectation, he staggered not at the promise through unbelief. When he was commanded to offer in sacrifice that very son, from whom his seed was to descend, he shewed a readiness to comply with the command, reasoning within himself, that God was able to raise him from the dead, from which he had received him in a figure; for he was born of parents, who for age
were as good as dead. Thus the Apostle says, "He was strong in faith, giving glory to God, and being fully persuaded, that what God had promised, he was able to perform."
Once more. We do honor to God, when we a bide in the calling, which he has assigned us, improve the abilities with which he has endued us, and faithfully apply the means of doing good, which he has given us. "As every man hath received a gift, so minister the same one to another. If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God; if any man minister, let him do it, as of the ability, which God giveth, that God in all things may be glorified.”
We have shewn what the scripture intends by glorifying God; and in what ways men are said to glorify him.
We will now make some remarks on the subject.
1. We here naturally remark, that wickedness is ever in scripture represented, as tending not to the glory, but to the dishonor of God-not at displaying, but as reproaching his true character. To the Jews, who had profaned the sacred ordinances of religion, God says, "A son honoreth his father: If I be a Father, where is mine honor, O ye who despise my name ?" To the unbelieving Pharisees Christ says, "I honor my Father, and ye dishonor me." To the hypocrites, who boasted in the law, and yet transgressed it, Paul says, "Through breaking the commandment ye dishonor God." If we speak of God's essential glory, this can neither be increased by the holiness, nor diminished by the wickedness of men. "If we sin, what do we unto him? If we be righteous, what receiveth he at our hands?" But if we speak of his relative glory, this may be greater at some times, and in some places than othThat is to say, His character is more or less
conspicuous, according to the discoveries which he makes of it, the conceptions which men form of it, and the regards which they pay to it. The adoration, praise and obedience of his intelligent creatures tend to the display of his character. Their disobedience, impiety and wickedness tend to his dishonor, by giving others wrong conceptions of him. Hence he who despiseth the poor-he who doth ought presumptuously—he who oppresseth the righteous, is said to "reproach the Lord." God may and often does overrule the wickedness of men to display his glory. The psalmist says, "The wrath of men shall praise thee." But this is not the natural tendency and direct consequence of wrath, or wickedness in men; for it is added, for it is added, "The remainder of that wrath," or what cannot be made to praise thee, "thou wilt restrain.” If the sins of men are the occasion of displaying God's glory, this is only a remote, or secondary; not a direct and immediate effect of them. The evil designs of men may, by an overruling influence, be made to promote the cause of true religion, and thus to display God's glory. Paul's bonds for Christ turned to the furtherance of the gospel. But, in such cases, God is glorified, not by the evil designs themselves but by the virtue and righteousness, which those designs are overruled to promote. Paul was imprisoned by the enemies of the gospel, that he might be restrained from preaching it. Did this restraint tend to the furtherance of the gospel? No.-But the example of faith and fortitude, which he exhibited, and the excellent letters which he wrote in his confinement, had this effect. It was Paul's virtue, not their enmity, which glorified God. The sons of Jacob, moved with envy, sold their brother Joseph into Egypt. Did they by their cruelty and injustice honor God, and lead the idolators of the country to form more exalt- ·