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WHAT IT IS TO DO ANY THING TO THE GLORY
The desirableness of giving clear views of leading things in practical religion we have already attempted to shew. When therefore we come to speak of so essential and pervading an ingredient in piety, as the aim to do all things to the glory of God, it is obviously proper that we should endeavour to shew what it is. And this is the more needful, as there are many reasons to suppose that it is far less clearly understood than many other important parts of religion. Many a mind that forms some tolerably correct notions of being spiritually minded, of loving God, of sincerity, and some other branches of practical piety, has almost no notion of doing anything to the glory of God. Alas! to numbers how unmeaning, how inept appears the phrase! There is in it, to them, nothing substantial, tangible, or real. All seems visionary and shadowy. Nay, even of the shadow of its import it is found difficult for them to catch a glimpse. To multitudes, what this doing all to the glory of God may mean, is a deep secret. Though it is desirable to remember that the profound mystery arises not from the inexplicableness or difficulty of the thing itself, but
from its sublime distance from the carnal mind. It is too high for giddy, earthly, selfish eyes to see. “A brutish man knoweth not; neither doth a fool understand this.” Some religious principles are partially recognised by unrenewed minds, since they have many things analogous to them in common morals and human affairs. The notions are not perfectly new and strange to them. They have had some acquaintance with the types, so to speak, of these things, in ordinary life, and are therefore partly prepared to recognise the same principles when clothed with the sanctions, and consecrated to the higher ends of Christian truth. But where in all the range of common things, shall we look for a clear type, or even a well shaped shadow of “ doing all to God's Glory?” O how strange, how mystic, how impossible does it appear, when forced for the moment upon the ungodly mind!
And it is to be feared that the phrase, though of frequent and current use in religious discussion, converse, and devotion, conveys but a vague and ill defined notion even to many sincere Christians. Many who have a general riew of its meaning, and who often respond ardently to it, as something of which God, whom they fear and love, is the object, yet can give no clearness, or order, or shape to their thoughts about it. By a law of pious association it meets their holy feelings, rather than their understandings. It touches the devout chords of the heart, although it has had to find its way there through dimness and confusion. It will most probably accord with the consciousness, or with the remembrances of many of my readers, that their minds have played around
this phrase, again and again, and have left it without a lucid view of its precise and definite meaning. A doubtfulness, an unfixedness, a kind of shapelessness, have attended your thoughts upon the point. Surely the Author is not wrong in taking it for granted that a peculiar and more than ordinary dimness and undefinableness, attend the views of christians upon this phrase. It was' partly this impression which led to the present attempt.
It is not difficult to perceive that this obscurity of view upon 80 prime a point must have great inconveniences and evils. In such a case how are christians to meet steadily and uniformly the question which they ought often to ask themselves—am I doing all things, or any thing to the glory of God? The heart is not invariably, though as we have shewn, it be sometimes, responsive, in the absence of well-defined views. It may be out of tune. And ills, physical, mental, or circumstantial, may prevent a response. What shall give answer, if, in these circumstances, the judgment be not instructed ? The mind then falters, doubts, and becomes dismayed. It cannot tell whether it seeks God's glory or not, simply because it cannot' tell what it is to seek God's glory. The subject is painfully mysterious to them. Its indistinctness awes, disturbs, and alarms. Although they have much in their own hearts that answers to it, yet they are unable to see the correspondency. All that lies beyond their understanding of the matter, they fear lies also beyond their possession of it. All the unseen part of the subject, they are apprehensive, if revealed, would bear towards them a sombre, unfriendly, and menacing
aspect. They are fearful that they have no fellowship with what they can so little define. They are suspicious, where so much seems dark. To such it must be desirable and pleasant, and indeed important, to have this mystery and undefinableness disclosed and reduced to order; and to see in it the features of their every day-their cherished—their familiar thoughts and feelings.
But this vagueness is as detrimental to the piety as to the peace of the christian,
How imperfect, how feeble, how irregular must be the application of a principle not clearly understood! How shall we try ourselves by a test unapprehended? And how shall we discern defects and evils by the light of a requirement which gleams fitfully and faintly in the mind ? It is surely true that much of the entireness of piety, much of elevated design, much of singleness and purity of motive, much of eminence and devotedness of character, are lost through confused and indistinct conceptions of the great requirement to do all things to the glory of God. .
It is of importance that our general DefiniTION be as strict and clear as the wide compass of the subject will allow. To do any thing to the glory of God, we should say, is to do any thing with a proper regard to God. We say with a proper regard to God, as comprehensively embracing whatever is done from a proper respect to him, as the impelling motive, and whatever is done under a proper regard to him, as the regulating and controlling principle, beneath which even those acts are to be placed, which are termed indifferent, or which have not God for their direct and immediate end.
By a proper regard to God, we understand, such a regard as suits his nature, character, the relations in which he stands to us, and the claims arising out of them all. It is manifest then, that this regard must be reverential, submissive, confiding, complacent, and grateful.
But although the principle be one, yet it becomes so variously modified and shaped by the special relations subsisting between us and God, that a general definition, even when amplified, as above, by explanatory epithets, will not meet, with sufficient clearness, the large demands of this comprehensive topic. We cannot therefore dispense with a close and particular SPECIFICATION. Not that it is intended to enumerate instances or state obligations, in this part of the subject, except so far as simply to explain and illustrate the principle.
To do any thing to the glory of God is
1. To do it in deep deference to God's will. It is thus with respect to men.
When we act with a particular view to the will of another, we do it to his honour. No idea is more familiar or natural to us. The ordinary method of showing contempt or doing dishonour to another, is to disregard his wishes. Thus we judge especially in cases where that will is authoritative. The child acts to the honour of his parent, the servant to the honour of his master, the scholar to that of his instructor, the soldier to that of his commander, the subject to that of his sovereign, when they have severally, due regard in their actions, to the will of those under whose authority they are