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THE OBJECT OF LIFE.
THERE is much in what we are as intelligent beings, and in what God has done for the promotion of our present and everlasting welfare, to indicate that we are destined for something great and noble, not only in the world to come, but even in this. We have intellectual powers which raise us far above the brutes that perish, and which ally us with angels and with God; we are susceptible of high and varied emotions; we cannot but exert an influence on others, and the influence which some of us possess is very great; we are placed in a world where there is everything adapted to our physical and mental constitution; there is exercised over us the constant care of God's watchful and superintending Providence; God has given us the clearest intimations of the nature of that obedience which he requires from us'; and he has revealed himself as our Saviour. Now, from these facts, the conclusion is irresistible, that we must have been called into existence, not for trifling ends, but for something vast and important. There is no inquiry, then, which we should deem more interesting, and none which we should prosecute with greater diligence, than this :-WHAT IS THE PURPOSE FOR WHICH I WAS CREATED, AND WHICH I SHOULD KEEP IN VIEW AS THE GREAT OBJECT OF MY LIFE? If we set before our minds a right and worthy object, it will be as the beacon-light of the headland, or the pole star to the mariner, preserving us from evil and directing us in all our course. If we set before our minds an unworthy object, it will be like the meteor of the marsh, glittering only to betray. This is a matter on which there has been great mistake, and such mistake is always injurious. It is the design of this tract to guard you against error on this momentous subject, and to set before you the true purpose of life.
THERE ARE OBJECTS WHICH MEN HAVE IMPROPERLY SET
BEFORE THEM AS THE GREAT OBJECTS OF LIFE.
Some, indeed, seem to have hardly any purpose at all. Fickle, or apathetic, they can scarcely be said to live, but barely to exist. There is nothing in their characters either marked or decided. The best that can be said of them, if even that can be said with truth, is, that they are harmless, inoffensive beings, doing neither good nor ill. They are like the loungers in some crowded thoroughfare, who, whilst others are pressing steadily onward, some intent on business and some on pleasure, seem as though they had nothing else to do than gaze vacantly around them, and occasionally impede the progress of those who are better occupied. We may admit that this is better than devoting their talents to the active prosecution of what is evil, but still it is deeply guilty. Though those talents be not directly expended in the service of Satan, they are “ folded up in a napkin" and laid uselessly by.
These, however, are few, compared with those who are more actively engaged. Thousands, especially of the young, regard it as their chief purpose to enjoy pleasure ; and everything is deemed tedious and irksome which does not minister pleasure. They are like the gay butterfly, flitting in the summer's sunbeam from flower to flower, utterly heedless of the future, and making no provision for a dark and wintry day. All pleasures are "pleasures of sin," which leave out the thoughts of duty and of God; but there are some which are especially worthy of this designation, and which even the world condemns as wrong. But waving the distinction, and viewing the matter as a whole, we would ask
think this an object worthy of one who is gifted with intellect, who is capable of living and serving God, who was created for immortality, and who besides lives in a world where there is so much to engage his most serious thoughts and his most active energies? Well is it said by Him who cannot lie, “She that liveth in pleasure is dead while she liveth;” dead to everything to which a thinking and an immortal being should be most alive!
The great object of another class is the promotion of their worldly interests. They are anxious, if not to acquire riches, yet, to use a common phrase, to get on in the world. You are, we will suppose, a young man, just starting in life. You see,
far above your present position, some station to which you aspire. You often in imagination trace the you
You will acquire whatever knowledge may be needful for the attainment of your end; you will be patient, self-denying, laborious; you will spare no pains; you will secure, if not what the world would reckon wealth, a competency, that which, if attained, would really be wealth to you. Now, we do not say that all desire after worldly prosperity and all pursuit of it are wrong. The word of God describes it as a blessing; a blessing, under certain limitations, to be desired and sought. But we ask you if you can think it really worthy to be set before you as the great object of life?
Can you suppose
noble nature was given you only for this? The disposition of absorbing worldliness is often described as sinful; as leading to many crimes; as the bane of religious impression; and as, in short, “the root of all evil.” It could never be intended, then, that this should be the great object of life.
The object of others is distinction and honour. The states. man often plans, and maneuvres, and uses every art, that he may reach some giddy height from which he may almost at any moment be hurled ; and all this for a name. The soldier leads his armies to battle ; ravages fields ; destroys cities ; pours forth torrents of human blood; and entails misery, not only on those whom he conquers, but too often on those for whom the conquest is achieved ; and from no higher motive. The student trims his midnight lamp, and rises from insufficient slumbers, and overtasks his powers, and sows the seeds of premature : death; and too often his only purpose is a name.
6 All this,” we think we hear some one say, “is far beyond me. neither the statesman, the soldier, nor the student." Perhaps not; but this may still be your ruling passion. You may have endowments which have already secured for you the flattery of. the circle in which you move; it may be of personal appearance, of conversational powers, of wit, of music, of public address; and the degree in which you have already gained that approval may lead you to exalt it into the ruling principle of your life. But apart from its vanity-and who has not seen how often, as
in a moment, “a breath has scattered what a breath has made !" -is it reasonable or wise to make that your primary object ? How frequently must you vary your course; and, with all your variations, how frequently must you fail in the attainment of your end! Besides, how sternly is the pursuit reprehended ! “Verily I say unto you," said our Lord, after he had described the conduct of those who did their good works that they might be seen of men—and it is evidently the language of severe rebuke—“they have their reward." We must have a higher end than this, or our characters will be very defective, and neither our persons nor services will be accepted by Him who alone can confer enduring honour.
WHAT, THEN, 18 THE TRUE OBJECT OF LIFE ?
I almost fancy I hear some one ask-“But what motive do you leave us, if
forbid all these? If we are not to be actuated by the love of pleasure, by the prospect of advantage, by the desire of human applause, do you not reduce us to the condition of those who have before them no definite
?" We answer, No! Whilst God forbids the ascendancy of these, he points out another, which is likely to be far more powerful, which is inconceivably more honourable, which confers a greatness on the least acts which are performed beneath its influence, and which is calculated to impart to the character the highest dignity and elevation. That object is THE PROMOTION OF THE DIVINE GLORY. “Whether, therefore, ye eat or drink, or whatsoever
ye do, do all to the glory of God." The object of God in all his works is to promote his own glory, that is, to display to his intelligent creatures the perfections of his character, and to secure from them the praise which is justly his due. This was his design in creation. heavens declare the glory of God.” This was his purpose in redemption. We behold “the glory of God in the face of Christ Jesus.” And we, his intelligent creatures, are to seek his glory. There is something truly great and sublime in this ! We are to prosecute that aim which occupies the thoughts of the Infinite mind that aim, for whose accomplishment he
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formed this earth with all its fair creations of beauty, and yonder heavens with all their magnificence, and man, who was the image of God, and those brighter spirits that stand before his throne; that aim, for which he devised the stupendous scheme of redemption, and gave his only begotten Son to die, and raised him from the dead, and invested him with universal dominion, and sent his Spirit to sanctify our hearts ! Nothing less than this is to be the supreme object of our life-the glory of God!
And first of all, if we would glorify God, there must be the cordial reception of his mercy.
“ Christ hath received us," says the apostle, “ to the glory of God." For the conversion of a sinner confirms the Divine faithfulness, attests his love of holiness, and proclaims his infinite wisdom, power, and grace. If you have been converted, all these perfections have been displayed in harmonious operation in you. There are, besides, acts of obedience by which we are to glorify God, which we cannot possibly perform aright, except our hearts are renewed. Our first act, then, in seeking the glory of God, must be our cordial belief in the Lord Jesus Christ.
Then there must be the formation of a character, and the pursuit of a course of conduct in agreement with God's will. The design of the gospel-a design, however, to which our own active co-operation is indispensable—is to make us “partakers of a Divine nature,” to renew us in the image of God. Every true Christian is a revelation of God, presenting in the love, the rectitude, the purity, the faithfulness, which adorn his character, the reflection of the love, the rectitude, the purity, the faithfulness of God. It was urged by our Lord, as a motive to christian forgiveness, “ That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven.” He is glorified by the believer's praise; for “Whoso offereth praise, glorifieth me." He is glorified by his obedience : for obedience acknowledges his rightful supremacy and recognises the beauty and the justice of his law. There is not an act we perform which should not have reference to the Divine glory, and respecting which we should not ask, “ Shall I, in doing this, honour God ?” There must be active effort for the good of others, and