DOCTRINE: That it is the duty of a sinful people to give glory to God, before he cause darkness: to repent, before he bring judgments upon them.
We ought to give glory to God actively, in a way of duty, before he glorify himself, passively, upon us in a way of wrath. This is the great call of God in his word —
Isaiah 55:6-7, 1 Chronicles 16:26,30, “Give unto the Lord the glory due unto his name: bring an offering, and come before him; worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness. Fear before him all the earth.”
Malachi 2:2, “If ye will not hear, and if ye will not lay it to heart, to give glory unto my name, saith the Lord of hosts, I will even send a curse upon you, and I will curse your blessings.”
Revelation 14:7, “Fear God, and give him glory, for the hour of his judgments, is come.”
Revelation 16:9-10, “And men were scorched with heat, and blasphemed the name of God, which hath power over these plagues; and they repented not to
give him glory. And the fifth angel poured out his vial upon the seat of the beast, and his kingdom was full of darkness, and they gnawed their tongues for pain.”
Psalm 46:7-9, “Give unto the Lord, O ye kindreds of the people, give unto the Lord glory and strength. Give unto the Lord the glory due unto his name; bring an offering and come into his courts. O worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness: fear before him all the earth.”
God’s glory is either essential or declarative.
His essential glory is the incomprehensible majesty of his deity. This is incapable of addition or diminution; for, our heavenly Father is perfect, and our goodness extendeth not unto him, Psalm 16:2.
His declarative glory is, when either he himself, by his word, work, or Spirit, manifests his glory to men or angels; or, when they endeavour to declare how glorious he is, by knowing, loving, fearing, serving, obeying, praising, and commending him; by worshipping him, by believing in him; by trusting in him, and depending upon him, and advancing his glory, by their thoughts, words, and actions.
We cannot glorify God, by adding any glory to him. It is his prerogative thus to glorify us; and thus he did in the first creation, when he crowned man with glory and honor. Psalm 8:5, and thus he does in the second creation and restitution of our lapsed state, when he gives the beginning of glory in regeneration; for grace is glory in the seed, and glory is but grace in the flower; therefore, we are said to be changed into the same image from glory to glory, 2 Corinthians 3:18. And thus he does in the consummation of our holiness
and happiness in heaven; as Christ said, John 17:1, “The hour is come; Father, glorify the Son.” So when the believer’s hour is come, the hour of death, God will then glorify him with himself, as verse 5, “Glorify me with thyself, with the glory which I had with thee before the world was.” So will believers be glorified in that glory which he prepared for them before the foundation of the world. It is, I say, God’s prerogative to
glorify us; but in that sense we cannot glorify God, no more than we can create a new Godhead; but our glorifying him is a declaring him glorious. We give him glory when we ascribe glory to him. Brute creatures glorify him passively, but rational creatures ought to do it actively. Wicked men eclipse his declarative glory by sin, which yet is the greater wrong done to themselves than to him: for, as the sun is still full of light in
itself, when you see it under an eclipse, by the moon’s interposition between us and it, which, indeed, is not so properly an eclipse of the sun as of the earth; so the glory of God is eclipsed by the sin and wickedness of men; not by depriving God of any perfection, but they deprive themselves whose highest end and perfection is to glorify God, and to be made conformable to him. Thus to glorify God is to show forth his glory, and to
ascribe glory unto him.
In general, we are to glorify God with our whole man, soul and body: 1 Corinthians 6:20, “Ye are bought with a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are his”; that is, both with the inward and outward man: with the inward man, by loving him with the greatest love, studying acquaintance with him, longing after him, delighting in him, fearing his name, and following hard after him: with the outward man, and that both with our lips, and with our lives; with our lips we ought to pray and
praise God, speaking to him, and of him, and for him; our tongues should be pencils, to delineate and express the glory of God. Many there are whose tongues are but sponges, to wipe out and deface his glory, who seldom speak of God but in an oath, or make mention of his name but when they curse or swear by it.
How like are they to hell already, who have no other use of God but to blaspheme him! and blasphemy will be their work forever if they repent not to give him glory. Alas! how few speak honorably of God in the society they converse with, though he be still intimately present with them, and one of the company? Nay, idle tales and raillery is the business of their tongues, “They speak vanity every one with his neighbor,”
Psalm 12:2, “I hearkened and heard, but they spoke not aright.”
Again, with our lives and actions we are to glorify God: Hence, Matthew 5:16. “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” John 15:8,
“Herein is my Father glorified that ye bear much fruit.” There may be many talkative professors, who would gladly pass for trees of righteousness; yet bear nothing but leaves, an external show and flourishing outside;
these they wear for their own glory, but are wholly deficient in that which is most conducive to the glory of God, the fruits of the Spirit, and “the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ to the praise and glory of God,” Philippians 1:11. We are to glorify the divine perfections, by seeking conformity to them, so as to be holy as he is holy. And by performing these duties which his attributes obliges us unto; for his
incommunicable perfections, such as infinity, eternity, immutability, etc., are inimitable, yet oblige us to duties towards him.
Question: What are the special duties by which we are called, in the text, to give glory to God?
Answer: The context is clear, they are faith and repentance.
1. Faith, verse 15, “Hear and give ear, for the Lord hath spoken.” 2. Repentance, and humbling ourselves under his mighty hand; “Be not proud; for the Lord hath spoken.” Thus we are called this day to give glory to God.
1st, What this faith is, and how it gives glory to God. What this faith is, we may guess from the context,
“Hear, and give ear; for the Lord hath spoken.” It is a hearing and a giving ear to what God speaks in his word. Unbelief stops our ears, like that of the deaf adder that will not hear the voice of the charmer; but faith is opening the ear to hear God himself speaking. By unbelief we hear only what man speaks to us, but by faith we hear and give ear to God, and believe what he says in his threatenings and promises. We give no
glory to God, till we hear him, and give ear to him by faith. When we hear God speaking in the law, then we have the faith of the law, and are awakened: and when we hear God speaking in the gospel, then we have the faith of the gospel, and are quickened. When we truly hear a threatening God, then we believe and fear: and when we truly hear a promising God, then we believe and hope in the mercy of God through Christ. And this
is the faith we are called to this day, that we may give glory to God.
Question: How doth faith give glory to him?
Answer: In general, because it answers God’s faithfulness. It is said of Abraham, “He was strong in faith, giving glory to God.” More particularly, saving faith gives glory to God.
1. Because it brings nothing to him but poverty, wants, and emptiness. Other graces bring something to him, but faith brings nothing; love brings fire to him; repentance brings tears to him; obedience brings
works: but poor faith brings nothing but a bare hand and an empty vessel. Indeed, when we bring anything to God, we are apt to carry away something of the glory that belongs to him; but faith brings nothing to commend the soul to God; and the poorer any come to God, the more they glorify him.
2. Faith glorifies God; because it seeks all in him, and from him. As it brings nothing to him, so it expects everything from him, saying, “All my expectation is from thee”; I have no hope but in thee; all my wants be upon thee.
3. Faith glorifies God, by venturing all upon his word. If that word fail me, says faith, I am gone; but, “My hope is in thy word.” Faith hangs by the girdle of his loins; his faithfulness pledged in his word; and his word as “Yea and Amen in Christ”; and this brings more glory to God than all things else: “The promises of God are Yea and Amen in Christ, to the glory of God,” 2 Corinthians 1:20.
4. Faith glorifies God, because all other acts of glorifying are only so, in so far as there is faith in them, and as they spring from faith; for “Without faith it is impossible to please God,” Hebrews 11:6. No work can please God without faith. Take away faith from your prayers, and God gets no glory, nor you any comfort by them. James 1:5-7, “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, etc., but let him ask in faith, nothing wavering: for he that wave is like a wave of the sea, driven with the wind, and tossed. For, let not that
man think that he shall receive anything of the Lord.” Let faith be separated from your hearing, and God gets no glory by it; yea, “Whatsoever is not of faith is sin.”
2ndly, What is this repentance? And how does it give glory to God? What this repentance is, may be taught us in the context, “Be not proud, for the Lord hath spoken.” The proud soul is the impenitent soul; the proud man slights and disdains the word of God, and will not hear nor regard what God says; the proud man is the rebellious man, saying with Pharaoh, “Who is the Lord that I should obey him?” This repentance,
then, is the direct opposite of pride: to be truly humble under the mighty hand of God, and thereupon subject to God.
You give him glory in respects:
1. By confession of sin, “Give glory to the Lord God of Israel, and make confession to him,” Joshua 7:19. Confess secret sins in secret, and when charged in an ecclesiastical way, do not cover sin.
2. By Thanksgiving, Psalm 69:30, “I will praise the name of God with a song; and will magnify him with thanksgiving.” Psalm 50:23, “Whoso offereth praise, glorifieth me.” When we pray, we act like men; when we praise, like angels.
3. By calling upon God: “Call on me in the day of trouble; I will hear thee, and thou shalt glorify me,” Psalm 50:15.
4. By suffering, when he calls you to it: “Glorify ye the Lord in the fires,” Isaiah 24:15. Dishonor not God, then, by complaining: “Why should a living man complain, for the punishment of his iniquity?”
Remember thou art man, and “Man is born to trouble.” Thou art a living man, and that is a mercy; yet in the land of hope. Thou art a sinful man that deservest hell; and a man but suffering punishment for his sin: and let these be arguments against murmuring.
5. Glorify him by living to his praise, living a fruitful life: “Hereby is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit.” Living a holy life; studying to be holy by avoiding sin, and hating it wherever you see it, especially in yourself. You will hate a toad or serpent wherever you see it; but much more if it be crawling in your own bosom: so here, sin has its residence in your heart: “Out of the heart proceedeth evils”: therefore,
abhor that abominable thing which God’s holy soul hates. Glorify him by a zealous life, “Contending for the faith”; and by being conscientious in the discharge of relative duties, that the name of God be not blasphemed, but that the doctrine of God be adorned.
6. Give him glory by living by faith upon the Son of God; you cannot glorify God, if you do not glorify Christ; “He that honoureth not the Son, honoureth not the Father which hath sent him,” John 5:23.
O then, Sirs, give Christ the glory of his name and offices.