According to C.H. Spurgeon, Thomas Watson ‘was one of the most concise, racy, illustrative, and suggestive’ of the Puritans. ‘There is a happy union of sound doctrine, heart-searching experience and practical wisdom throughout all his works, and his Body of Divinity is, beyond all the rest, useful to the student and the minister.’ What follows is a precis of what Watson has to say on glorifying God:-
Everything has an end, or purpose; man’s chief end is to glorify God, 1 Cor 10:31. This has respect to all the persons of the Trinity: the Father who gave us life; the Son who who gave his life for us; and the Spirit, who produces new life in us.
What is God’s Glory?
1. God has an intrinsic, essential glory. This is as essential to the Godhead, as light is to the sun, cf Acts 7:2. God is most jealous of his glory: he may give us many things, wisdom, honour, riches, and all the riches of his grace; but he will not give his glory, Isa 48:11.
2. God has an ascribed glory, which his creatures labour to bring to him, 1 Chron 16:29; 1 Cor 6:20. We glorify God when we lift up his name in the world, and magnify him in the eyes of others, Phil 1:20.
What is it to glorify God?
1. Appreciation. We glorify God when we set God highest in our thoughts, Psa 92:8, ‘But you, O Lord, are exalted for ever’. We glorify him when we admire his attributes; his promises; the riches of his grace; his wisdom and power, and so on.
2. Adoration. Psa 29:2, ‘Ascribe to the Lord the glory due to his name; worship the Lord in the splendour of his holiness’. There is a civil worship which we give to persons of honour, Gen 23:7, ‘Abraham rose and bowed down before the people of the land, the Hittites;’ (for ‘piety is no enemy to courtesy’). There is also a divine worship which we give to God as his royal prerogative, Neh 8:6, ‘Ezra praised the Lord, the great God; and all the people lifted their hands and responded, “Amen! Amen!” Then the bowed down and worshipped the Lord with the face to the ground.’ ‘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, Lev 10:1, ‘Aaron’s sons Nadab and Abihu took their censers, put fire in them and added incense; and they offered unauthorised fire before the Lord, contrary to his command;’ cf Ex 25:40.
3. Affection. God is glorifed when he is loved, Deut 6:5. We may love another, because he has done us a good turn; we are to love God for himself, with delight, as our highest treasure.
4. Subjection. We glorify God when we dedicate ourselves to God, and stand ready to do his service, as the angels in heaven.
Why must we glorify God?
1. Because he gives us our being, Psa 100:3. We owe him our lives, our breath, our health, our food. ‘Should we not live to him, seeing we live by him?’ Rom 11:36.
2. Because he has made all things for his glory, Prov 16:4; Isa 43:21; 1 Pet 2:9.
3. Because the glory of God has intrinsic value and excellence, it is worth more than heaven and earth; better these were lost, than God should lose one beam of his glory.
4. Others bring glory to God, ‘and do we think to sit rent free? Shall everything glorify God but man?’ Creatures below us glorify God, Psa 19:1; Isa 43:20. Creatures above us glorify God, Heb 1:14. God has honoured man more than the angels, having brought him redemption; ‘the angels are God’s friends, not his spouse.’
5. All our hopes hang upon him, Psa 39:7; 62:5. An obedient child will honour his parent, by expecting all he needs from him.
How may we glorify God?
1. By aiming purely at his glory. Thus did Christ, Jn 8:50. We should not have an eye for our own glory, and the other for God’s, Mt 6:2. Cyprian says, ‘Whom Satan cannot prevail against by intemperance, those he prevails against by pride and vainglory.’ We do this, (a) when we prefer God’s glory above all other things, above possessions, reputation, relations, Deut 33:9; (b) when we are content that God’s will should prevail, though it cross ours. ‘Lord, I am content to be a loser, if thou be a gainer; to have less health, if I have more grace, and thou more glory’, cf Mt 26:39; Jn 12:28; (c) when we are content to be outshone by others in gifts and esteem, so that his glory may be increased, Phil 1:15. ‘Let my candle go out, if the Sun of Righteousness may but shine.’
2. By an ingenuous confession of sin; Josh 7:19; Lk 23:41. ‘A humble confession exalts God.’ Contrast with Gen 3:12. ‘Confession glorifies God, because it clears him; it acknowledges that he is holy and righteous, whatever he does,’ Neh 9:33. See also Lk 15:18.
3. By believing, Rom 4:20. Unbelief affronts God, making him out to be a liar, 1 Jn 5:10. Faith brings glory to God, Jn 3:33. We honour a man if we put our entire trust in him; so with God, Dan 3:17. ‘Faith knows there are no impossibilities with God, and will trust him where it cannot trace him.’
4. By being tender of his glory. A loving child will weep to see a disgrace done to his father. See Psa 69:9.
5. By being fruitful, Jn 15:8; Phil 1:11; Mt 5:16.
6. By being contented in that state in which Providence has placed us, 2 Cor 11:23; Phil 4:13; Psa 16:5.
7. By working out our own salvation. ‘God has twisted together his glory and our good…Would it not be an encouragement to a subject, to hear his prince say to him, “You will honour and please me very much, if you will go to yonder mine of gold, and dig as much gold for yourself as you can carry away”? So, for God to say, “Go to the ordinances, get as much grace as you can, dig out as much salvation as you can; and the more happiness you have, the more I shall count myself glorifed.”
8. By living to God, 2 Cor 5:15. ‘The Mammonist lives to his money, the Epicure lives to his belly; the design of a sinner’s life is to gratify lust, but we glorify God when we live to God.
9. By walking cheerfully.
10. By standing up for his truths.
11. By praising him.
12. By being zealous for his name.
13. By having an eye to God in our natural and our civil actions, 1 Cor 10:31.
14. By labouring to draw others to God. ‘It is a great way of glorifying God, when we break open the devils’ prison, and turn men from the power of Satan to God.’
15. When we suffer for God.
16. When we give God the glory of all that we do.
17. By a holy life.
(Thomas Watson, A Body of Divinity, 7-18)