Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Why are we here?

ALL that men have to know, may be comprised under these two heads,—What their end is; and What is the right, way to attain to that end. And all that we have to do, is by any means to seek to compass that end. These are the two cardinal points of a man’s knowledge and exercise: Quo et qua eundum est,—Whither to go, and what way to go. If there be a mistake in any of these fundamentals, all is wrong...Except you would walk at random, not knowing whither you go, or what you do, you must once establish this and fix it in your intention—What is the great end and purpose wherefore I am created, and sent into the world?

It is certainly the wrong establishing of this one thing that makes the most part of our motions either altogether irregular, or unprofitable, or destructive and hurtful. Therefore, as this point hath the first place in your catechism, so it ought to be first of all laid to heart, and pondered as the one necessary thing. ‘One thing is needful,’ says Christ, Luke 10.42; and if any thing be in a superlative degree needful, this is it. O that you would choose to consider it, as the necessity and weight of it require!

We have read two scriptures, which speak to the ultimate and chief end of man, which is the glorifying of God by all our actions and words and thoughts. ROM. 11.36. "Of him, and through him, and to him, are all things; to whom be glory for ever." And 1 COR. 10.31. "Whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God." In which we have these things of importance: 1. That God’s glory is the end of our being. 2. That God’s glory should be the end of our doing. And, 3. The ground of both these; because both being and doing are from him, therefore they ought to be both for him. He is the first cause of both, and therefore he ought to be the last end of both. ‘Of him, and through him, are all things;’ and therefore all things are also for him, and therefore all things should be done to him.

God is independent altogether, and self-sufficient. This is his royal prerogative, wherein he infinitely transcends all created perfection. He is of himself, and for himself; from no other, and for no other, ‘but of him, and for him, are all things.’ He is the fountain-head; you ought to follow the streams up to it, and then to rest, for you can go no farther. But the creature, even the most perfect work, besides God, it hath these two ingredients of limitation and imperfection in its bosom: it is from another, and for another. It hath its rise out of the fountain of God’s immense power and goodness, and it must run towards that again, till it empty all its faculties and excellencies into that same sea of goodness. Dependence is the proper notion of a created being,—dependence upon that infinite independent Being, as the first immediate cause, and the last immediate end. You see then that this principle is engraven in the very nature of man. It is as certain and evident that man is made for God’s glory, and for no other end, as that he is from God’s power, and from no other cause. Except men do violate their own conscience, and put out their own eyes—as the Gentiles did, Rom. 1.19,&c.—‘that which may be known’ of man’s chief end, ‘is manifest in them,’ so that all men are ‘without excuse.’

Now when we are speaking of the great end and purpose of our creation, we call to mind our lamentable and tragical fall from that blessed station we were constitute into. ‘All men have sinned and come short of the glory of God,’ Rom. 3.23. His being in the world was for that glory, and he is come short of that glory. O strange shortcoming! Short of all that he was ordained for! What is he now meet for? For what purpose is that chief of the works of God now! The salt, if it lose its saltness, is meet for nothing, for wherewithal shall it be seasoned? Mark 9.50. Even so, when man is rendered unfit for his proper end, he is meet for nothing, but to be cast out and trode upon; he is like a withered branch that must be cast into the fire, John 15.6. Some things, if they fail in one use, they are good for another; but the best things are not so,—Corruptio optimi, pessima. As the Lord speaks to the house of Israel, ‘Shall wood be taken of the vine tree to do any work?’ Even so the inhabitants of Jerusalem, Ezek. 15.2-6. If it yield not wine, it is good for nothing. So, if man do not glorify God,—if he fall from that,—he is meet for nothing, but to be cast into the fire of hell, and burnt for ever; he is for no use in the creation, but to be fuel to the fire of the Lord’s indignation.

But behold! the goodness of the Lord and his kindness and love hath ‘appeared toward man. Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us,’ ‘through Jesus Christ,’ Tit. 3.4-6. Our Lord Jesus, by whom all things were created, and for whom, would not let this excellent workmanship perish so, therefore he goes about the work of redemption,—a second creation more laborious and also more glorious than the first, that so he might glorify his Father and our Father. Thus the breach is made up; thus the unsavoury salt is seasoned; thus the withered branch is quickened again for that same fruit of praises and glorifying of God. This is the end of his second creation, as it was of the first: ‘We are his workmanship created to good works in Christ Jesus,’ Eph. 2.10. ‘This is the work of God, to believe on him whom he hath sent;’ ‘to set to our seal,’ and to give our testimony to all his attributes, John 6.29, and 3.33. We are ‘bought with a price,’ and therefore we ought to glorify him with our souls and bodies. He made us with a word, and that bound us; but now he has made us again, and paid a price for us, and so we are twice bound not to be our own but his, ‘and so to glorify him in our bodies and spirits,’ 1 Cor. 6.20. I beseech you, gather your spirits, call them home about the business. We once came short of our end,—God’s glory and our happiness; but know, that it is attainable again. We lost both; but both are found in Christ. Awake then and stir up your spirits, else it shall be double condemnation—when we have the offer of being restored to our former blessed condition—to love our present misery better. Once establish this point within your souls, and therefore ask, Why came I hither? To what purpose am I come into the world? If you do not ask it, what will you answer, when he asks you at your appearance before his tribunal? I beseech you, what will many of you say in that day when the Master returns and takes an account of your dispensation? You are sent into the world only for this business,—to serve the Lord. Now what will many of you answer? If you speak the truth (as then you must do it,—you cannot lie then!) you must say, "Lord, I spent my time in serving my own lusts; I was taken up with other businesses, and had no leisure; I was occupied in my calling," &c.

Hugh Binning summarised from here