This is the first post of what I hope to be many on the Westminster Shorter Catechism. A weekly reminder of a new WSC Q&A with some comments and thought provoking quotes.
So, without any further delay, here is Q&A #1:
Q: What is the chief end of man?
A: Man's chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever.
There is so much theology here and just so much that can be said about this first question I will try to limit the commentary. Thomas Vincent (1634-1678) has penned an excellent commentary on the shorter catechism titled The Shorter Catechism Explained from Scripture(see sidebar). He writes, What is it to glorify God?...to glorify God is to manifest God's glory: not only passively, as all creatures do, which have neither religion nor reason, but also actively, men glorify God, when the design of their life and actions is the glory and honour of God. He explained how we are to enjoy God when he wrote, God is enjoyed here, when people do settle themselves upon and cleave to the Lord by faith. "Bur cleave unto the Lord your God." - Joshua 23:8. When they taste the Lord's ggodness, and delight themselves in the gracious presence and sensible mainfestations of God's special love to them. "O taste and see that the Lord is good." - Psalm 34.8. And why should men chiefly desire to seek the enjoyment of God forever? Because God is the chief good and the enjoyment of God doth consist man's chief happiness.
Thomas Boston wrote concerning glorifying and enjoying, Glorifying of God is put before the enjoying of him, because the way of duty is the way to the enjoyment of God. Holiness on earth must necessarily go before felicity in heaven, Heb.12:14. There is an inseparable connection betwixt the two, as between the end and the means; so that no person who does not glorify God here, shall ever enjoy him hereafter. The connection is instituted by God himself, so that the one can never be attained without the other. Let no person, then, who has no regard for the glory and honour of God in this world, dream that he shall be crowned with glory, honour, immortality, and eternal life, in heavenly mansions. No; the pure in heart, and they who glorify God now, shall alone see God, to their infinite joy in heaven.
And finally, John Watson enlightens us with the following: The enjoyment of God in this life. It is a great matter to enjoy God's ordinances, but to enjoy God's presence in the ordinances is that which a gracious heart aspires after. 'To see thy glory so as I have seen thee in the sanctuary' (Ps. 63:2). This sweet enjoyment of God, is, when we feel his Spirit co-operating with the ordinance, and distilling grace upon our hearts, when in the Word the Spirit quickens and raises the affections, 'Did not our hearts burn within us' (Luke 24:32); when the Spirit transforms the heart, leaving an impress of holiness upon it. 'We are changed into the same image, from glory to glory' (2 Cor. 3:18). When the Spirit revives the heart with comfort, it comes not only with its anointing, but with its seal; it sheds God's love abroad in the heart (Rom. 5:5). 'Our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ' (1 John 1:3). In the Word we hear God's voice, in the sacrament we have his kiss. The heart being warmed and inflamed in a duty is God's answering by fire. The sweet communications of God's Spirit are the first-fruits of glory. Now Christ has pulled off his veil, and showed his smiling face; now he has led a believer into the banqueting-house, and given him of the spiced wine of his love to drink; he has put in his finger at the hole of the door; he has touched the heart, and made it leap for joy. Oh how sweet is it thus to enjoy God! The godly have, in ordinances, had such divine raptures of joy, and soul transfigurations, that they have been carried above the world, and have despised all things here below.
A man could spend many hours delving into the depths of this first q&a. Reflection on this answer will be sweet and time well spent.