Larger Catechism

In this post, I will start a commentary on the Larger Catechism, question by question, using Thomas Ridgely’s commentary as a point of departure.

The first question is this: 1. Q. What is the chief end of man? A. Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and fully to enjoy him for ever.

The texts cited in support of this question are as follows: Rom 11.36, 1 Cor 10:31, Ps 73:24-28, John 17:21-23.

Ridgely says that “there is a great difference between God’s glorifying himself and our glorifying him. He glorifies himself, when he demonstrates or shows forth his glory; we glorify him by ascribing to him the glory that is his due, -even as the sun discovers its brightness by its rays, and the eye beholds it” (4). I don’t think I need to comment on this, as this is quite clear. The next question is this: how are we to glorify God?

Ridgely answers this by saying that “We are to glorifty God, by recommending, proclaiming, and setting forth his excellency to others” (4). The particulars include confession of sin (Josh 7:19); loving God; believing and trusting in God; having a fervent zeal for his honor; improving our talents (John 15:8); walking humbly, thankfully, and cheefully before God; heavenly mindedness; and by yielding complete submission to God.

The enjoying of God comes primarily afterwards. That is, one must glorify God before one can enjoy Him. After all, “we cannot be said to enjoy that to which we have no right or claim, as one man cannot be said to enjoy an estate which belongs to another” (6). “One shall not be attained without the other. It is the highest presumption to expect to be made happy with him forever without living to His glory here” (7). The enjoying of God comes primarily in the new heavens and the new earth. We do not enjoy it here.

One further point of interest: “Since the eternal enjoyment of God is one great end which we ought to have in view, it is no sign of a mercenary spirit to have an eye to the heavenly glory that we may be enlivened to duty” (7). It is not wrong to desire our heavenly reward, since it is for that that we are made. God uses that reward as motivation for this life. We are to desire it as the pearl of great price (though that passage is primarily referring to salvation).

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