I. FOR WHAT END ARE WE ON THIS EARTH?
As the scholar goes to school in order that he may afterwards attain a certain position in life, so man is placed on this earth in order that he may attain to the lofty end of eternal happiness. As the servant serves his master and so earns his bread, so man has to serve God, and through his service attains happiness to some extent in this life, and in its fulness after death.
We are upon this earth in order that we may glorify God, and so win for ourselves eternal happiness.
The glory of God is the end of all creation. All creatures on the earth are created for this end, that they may manifest in themselves the divine perfections and God’s dominion over His rational creatures, that is, over angels and men, and that He may be loved and praised by them. Even the material world, and creatures not possessed of reason animals, trees, plants, stones, metals, etc., all praise God after their own fashion. “The Lord has made all things for Himself” (Prov. xvi. 4). Man is created for this end, that he should proclaim the majesty of God. He must do so whether he wills it or not. The construction of the body of man, the lofty powers of his soul, the rewards of the good, the punishment of the wicked, all proclaim the majesty of God, His omnipotence, wisdom, goodness, justice, etc. Even the reprobate will have to contribute to the glory of God (Prov. xvi. 4). In the end he will show how great is the holiness and justice of God. Man, from being possessed of reason and free will, is through these enabled in an especial way to give glory to God. This he does when he knows, loves, and honors God. Man is created chiefly for the life beyond the grave. In this life he is a stranger, a wanderer, and a pilgrim. “We have not here a lasting city, but we seek one that is to come” (Heb. xiii. 14) . Heaven is our true country; here we are in exile.
Hence we are not upon earth only to collect earthly treasures, to attain earthly honors, to eat and to drink, or to enjoy earthly pleasures.
He who pursues ends like these behaves as foolishly as a servant who, instead of serving his master, devotes himself to some passing amusement. He stands idle in the market-place, instead of working in his master’s vineyard. He is like a traveller who, attracted by the beauty of the scenery, does not pursue his journey, and so allows the night to overtake him. We are not made for earth; we are made to look upward to heaven. The trees, the plants point upward to heaven, as if to remind us that it is our home.
For this reason Our Lord says: “One thing is necessary” (Luke x. 42), and again “Seek first the kingdom of God and His justice, and all other things shall be added unto you” (Matt. vi. 33.)
Unhappily, too many forget their last end, and fix their hearts on money, influence, honor, etc. They are like the kings of that heathen country who, although they reigned but for a year and after that had to go and live on a barren island, spent all their time in luxury and feasting, and did not lay up any provision for the future on the island whither they were bound. He who does not think on his last end is not a pilgrim, but a tramp, and falls into the hands of the devil as a tramp into the hands of the police. He is like a sailor who knows not whither he is sailing, and so wrecks his ship. Our Lord compares such to the servant who sleeps, instead of watching for his master’s coming (Matt. xxiv. 42).
This article, I. FOR WHAT END ARE WE ON THIS EARTH? is a post from The Bellarmine Forum.
Do not repost the entire article without written permission. Reasonable excerpts may be reposted so long as it is linked to this page.