Friday, February 07, 2014

Man is not God's chief end

The problems of the private life are often so intractable because they are not conceived in any but private relations; which is to judge the house from a sample brick. The manna so hoarded goes wrong. The soul’s lot lies in the eternal and universal counsel of God. And the first question still is man’s chief end, and the collective destiny of every soul there. The eternal does not begin on the other side of time; rather all time and space is the content of eternity. Faith is really faith in that eternal destiny as present, and then in our part and place therein by God’s grace. Immortality means living on in Eternity; it is Eternity living on in us. It is God thinking Himself, living Himself in us. But we are apt to treat God as if He were only a patron saint magnified, whom we expect to attend to our affairs if He is to retain our custom and receive our worship.
There is even what we might call a racial egoism, a self-engrossment of mankind with itself, a naive and tacit assumption that God were no God if He cared for anything more than He did for His creatures. We tend to think of God as if man were His chief end, as if He had no right to a supreme concern for His own holy name, as if His prodigals were more to Him than His only begotten Son in whom He made the worlds and has all His delight. We think and worship as if the only question was whether God loves us, instead of whether His love has absolute power to give itself eternal and righteous effect. Modern science is especially prone to remind us of this egoism latent in Christian faith, and is eager to prune it. Accordingly we are told of the infinities of space and time, amid which our earth and its history swim but as a mote in the air; and we are urged, with such knowledge, to moderate our ideas of a future, and our expectations of divine attention. Now, though science is wrong in asking us to suppress our soul or conscience before world on world of spacial or temporal existence (because the spiritual is not spacial), yet the advice is not without value. There are considerations which should quell a crude, racial egoism, and should lift mankind out of the self-absorption which blights and shrivels the individual. But they are not considerations of the Creation but of its Creator, not of a Universe but of a Sovereign God, who is so much to us because He is more to Himself, and whose love is infinite because it is holy, and must be hallowed, even if He spare not His Son. His Son spared not Himself in the hallowing of that name. It was the first function of His Cross. And so He was Saviour—because He loved God more than man, and glorified His name over all weal of ours. We have no final weal but our share in that worship and glory of the Father by the Son.  
 
P T Forsyth, in The Justification of God, pages 10-11
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