Living to Purpose
James Smith, 1856
I took up an old book the other day, written by one Samuel Slater, and glancing over the preface, my eye caught these words, "My desire has been to live to purpose." I immediately felt that I had met with the literary production of a brother in Christ — one with whom I could sympathize. Live we do, live we must; it is not a matter of choice with us; but, do we live to purpose? Is the life we are living worthy an immortal soul? Is it befitting one heading to eternity? What is our aim? What will be the end of our life? My soul, see to it that you live to purpose! Reader, let me exhort you to live to purpose. Live — while you live. Live as you will wish you had lived — when the glories of eternity are bursting upon your view!
If we would live to purpose — we must live a life of FAITH. Faith brings us to Jesus, leads us to renounce everything at the feet of Jesus, and to venture on Jesus to save us with an everlasting salvation. Faith takes the promise of God — and trusts it. Faith takes the precept of Christ-and obeys it. Faith rests upon God's Word, watches God's providence — and strives to glorify God's name.
If I have faith, I have Jesus — for faith brings the soul and Christ into union. If I have faith, I am holy — for faith purifies the heart, works by love, and consecrates the person to God. If there is no faith — there can be no good works; and if there are no good works — there is no faith. Or, if there is what is called faith, it is a dead, a useless faith; for "faith without works is dead, being alone." To live by faith, then, is to live believing God, trusting in Jesus, doing the the will of God from the heart, and seeking to do good to all around us.
If we would live to purpose, we must live a life of
PRAYER. Prayer is the outgoing of the soul to God, as the effect of
communications of grace from God. Prayer . . .
eases the heart,
relieves the mind, and
animates the soul.
Prayer seeks from God, that it may employ for God. Without prayer — there can be no life in the soul. Without habitual prayer — there can be no spiritual health. Prayer brings God and the soul together. It opens God's resources to supply the pleader's needs. Prayer, as it brings us constantly into the presence of God — gradually conforms us to the moral image of God. We become godlike. There is a resemblance to God in our attitudes, aims, and actions. And, as it is impossible to be like God and not live to purpose, so it is impossible to live to purpose if we are not like God. The man of faith is the man of prayer; and the man of prayer is the useful man.
If we would live to purpose, we must live a life of ACTIVITY. We must be active for God's glory, and active for man's good. There is a field for every one to cultivate — a work for each of us to do. The men of the last generation, who planted the fruit trees which now supply us, lived to some purpose; but the men who only lived to eat, drink, and dress — lived to no purpose.
Two young men, members of a Christian church, had to cross several fields to go their place of worship; they agreed to invite every person they met, who was at all likely, to accompany them. They did so, and persevered; at length they could reckon up twenty, whom they had induced to attend; ten of them were converted to God, and became members of the church. They lived so far to purpose.
A young man, whose heart was fired with the love of Christ, collected together twelve poor lads, and formed them into a class, to educate them on the Lord's day. He persevered. He offered special prayer for them. In time, every one of them became hopefully converted to God. Two of them are ministers of Christ, several of them teachers of the young, and the rest continue in a profession of religion. He lived to purpose.
A Christian desired to live to purpose; he wrote a tract, printed and circulated it. He then produced a book. They spread abroad; were owned of God to the conversion of souls. They are translated into other tongues. The work goes on. The man lived to purpose.
If we really desire to live to purpose — let us seek grace from God to enable us to do so, and He will give it. Paul says, "Let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptaly, with reverence and godly fear." If I give a cup of cold water, having nothing better, to a disciple, because he belongs to Christ — I live to purpose, for Jesus will acknowledge and reward it. If, out of love to Jesus, I visit the sick, and point to them His precious blood; if I relieve the widow and the fatherless, trying to sooth their sorrows, and to lead them to the widow's God; if I teach the young who are left uncared for and uneducated, and try to place them in the Savior's arms — I live to purpose.
Just so, if I make the diffusion of God's truth, and the conversion of God's enemies my great object, and follow it up with prayer and perseverance — I shall not labor in vain, or spend my life for nothing. The children converted in our Sunday-schools now, will prove to the next generation that their teachers lived to purpose. The souls brought to God by the efforts of the zealous, prayerful, and persevering tract distributor — will be his witnesses that he has lived to purpose. And the souls born of God in answer to the prayers and by the efforts of the devoted minister of Christ, who has travailed in birth for them until Christ was formed in them — will rise up to testify that he has lived to purpose.
Reader, do you wish to live to purpose? If so, live to Jesus. Live for Jesus. Live like Jesus. He went about doing good. He pleased not Himself — but in everything sought the good of others, and His Father's glory. How can Christians endure the thought of living to no purpose? Dying, the church scarcely misses them. Dying, the Savior has not lost a trumpeter, nor the Sunday school a teacher, nor the church an active instrument of good.
Brethren, let us arouse ourselves; let us determine, in God's strength, that we will henceforth live to some high, holy, and noble purpose. As the apostle said of himself and primitive Christians, let us so live as to say of ourselves, "None of us lives to himself, and no man dies to himself; for if we live, we live unto the Lord; and if we die, we die unto the Lord; living therefore, or dying, we are the Lord's."
Gracious God, grant that the ruling desire of every one of our hearts may be, like that of Samuel Slater, that, when the scenes of life close upon us — when eternity opens before us — when death stands ready to usher us into Your presence — we may be enabled honestly to say, "My desire has been to live to purpose."