Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him for ever.
The Glorifying of God
The first in the consideration of our chief end is the glorifying of God: ‘That God in all things may be glorified’ (1 Peter 4:11). The glory of God is a silver thread which must run through all our actions: ‘Whether therefore ye eat or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God’ (1 Corinthians 10:31).
Everything works to some end in things natural and artificial. Now, man being a rational creature, must propose some end to himself, and that should be that he may lift up God in the world. He had better lose his life than the end of his living. The great truth is asserted, that the end of every man’s living should be to glorify God.
What is it to glorify God?
Glorifying God consists in four things: 1. Appreciation, 2. Adoration, 3. Affection, 4. Subjection.
To glorify God is to set God highest in our thoughts, and to have a venerable esteem of him (Ps 101:8; 97:9). There is in God all that may draw forth both wonder and delight; there is a constellation of all beauties. We glorify God, when we are God-admirers; admire his attributes, which are the glistering beams by which the divine nature shines forth; his promises which are the charter of free grace, and the spiritual cabinet where the pearl of price is hid; the noble effects of his power and wisdom in making the world, which is called ‘the work of his fingers.’ Psalm 8:3. To glorify God is to have God-admiring thoughts; to esteem him most excellent, and search for diamonds in this rock only.
Glorifying God consists in adoration, or worship (Psalm 29:2). This divine worship God is very jealous of; it is the apple of his eye, the pearl of his crown; which he guards, as he did the tree of life, with cherubims and a flaming sword, that no man may come near it to violate it. Divine worship must be such as God himself has appointed, else it is offering strange fire (Leviticus 10:1).
This is part of the glory we give to God, who counts himself glorified when he is loved (Deuteronomy 6:5). There is a twofold love:
(a) A love of lustful desire, which is self-love; as when we love another, because he does us a good turn. A wicked man may be said to love God, because he has given him a good harvest, or filled his cup with wine. This is rather to love God’s blessing than to love God.
(b) A love of delight, as a man takes delight in a friend. This is to love God indeed; the heart is set upon God, as a man’s heart is set upon his treasure. This love is exuberant, not a few drops, but a stream. It is superlative; we give God the best of our love, the cream of it. It is intense and ardent. True saints are seraphims, burning in holy love to God. The spouse was in fainting fits, ‘sick with love’ (Canticles 2:5). Thus to love God is to glorify him. He who is the chief of our happiness has the chief of our affections.
This is when we dedicate ourselves to God, and stand ready dressed for his service. Thus the angels in heaven glorify him; they wait on his throne, and are ready to take a commission from him; therefore they are represented by the cherubims with wings displayed, to show how swift they are in their obedience. We glorify God when we are devoted to his service; our head studies for him, our tongue pleads for him, and our hands relieve his members. The wise men that came to Christ did not only bow the knee to him, but presented him with gold and myrrh (Matthew 2:11). So we must not only bow the knee, give God worship, but bring presents of golden obedience.
Adapted from A Body of Divinity, 6-8.