WCF Question

Discussion in 'The Confession of Faith' started by CharlieJ, Aug 14, 2009.

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  1. CharlieJ

    CharlieJ Puritan Board Junior

    I received this from a friend, but I do not have any annotations on the Confession to refer to. Take a look:

    Hey, I just thought of something I've been meaning to ask you but keep forgetting. In the Westminster Confession the answer to the question "what is the chief end of man?" is "to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever." I've heard that when the Confession was written the verb "to enjoy" meant to give or cause joy rather than to take pleasure in something or someone. OED indicates that an older (and now obsolete) sense of the verb when it functions transitively means "to put into a joyous condition; to make happy; give pleasure to." Taking it this way, enjoying God would have more the idea of us giving joy and pleasure to God rather than the other way around. Ever heard of this?

    What say ye?
  2. Wayne

    Wayne Tempus faciendi, Domine.

    I think someone is playing O.E.D. with you.

    Contemporaneous commentaries and sermons on the Shorter Catechism don't bear out that interpretation of "enjoy", do they?
  3. Prufrock

    Prufrock Arbitrary Moderation

    Consult the two proof-texts listed (Ps. 73:24-28, John 17:21-23) for indication as to the divines' meaning.
  4. CharlieJ

    CharlieJ Puritan Board Junior

    Actually, neither of those seem particularly relevant. But then, I often blank-stare at the WCF proof-texts.
  5. Wayne

    Wayne Tempus faciendi, Domine.

    The Westminster Shorter Catechism Project is helpful at this point. And Thomas Vincent [1634-1678] should suffice as a contemporaneous commentator, providing sufficient text to determine original intent:

    Q. 4. What is it to enjoy God?
    A. To enjoy God, is to acquiesce or rest in God as the chief good, with complacency and delight. "Return unto thy rest, O my soul."— Ps. 116:7.

    Q. 5. How is God enjoyed here?
    A. 1. God is enjoyed here, when people do settle them-selves upon and cleave to the Lord by faith. "But cleave unto the Lord your God."— Josh. 23: 8. 2. When they taste the Lord's goodness, and delight themselves in the gracious presence and sensible manifestations of God's special love unto them. "O taste and see that the Lord is good."— Ps. 34:8. "Because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost."— Rom. 5:5.

    Q. 6. How will God be enjoyed by his people hereafter?
    A. God will be enjoyed hereafter by his people, when they shall be admitted into his glorious presence, have an immediate sight of his face, and full sense of his love in heaven, and there fully and eternally acquiesce and rest in him with perfect and inconceivable delight and joy. "Now we see through a glass darkly, but then face to face."— 1 Cor. 23:12. "There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God."— Heb. 4:9. "In thy presence there is fulness of joy, at thy right hand are pleasures for evermore."— Ps. 16:11.

    -----Added 8/14/2009 at 09:27:34 EST-----

    Thomas Watson [1620-1686] would be another contemporaneous commentator.
    His commentary on WSC Q. 1 is here.

    I don't see in his comments anything that would lend to that interpretation of the word "enjoy".
  6. kceaster

    kceaster Puritan Board Junior


    I have always looked at it as having joy in the Lord, or rejoicing in the Lord. In other words,, our full and consummate joy will always be in the Lord, and in no other. The analogy of the bridegroom and bride is a beautiful picture to behold and sort of sums up the kind of eternal bliss that we will enjoy being in the presense of the Lord.

    And I would say that God is not without His joy either. It says, "for the joy that was set before Him, He endured the cross, despising the shame." Or, Isaiah 62:5, "For as the young man marries a young woman, so shall your sons marry you, and as the bridegroom rejoices over the bride, so shall your God rejoice over you."

    And other places in the Confession and catechisms lend a thought or two, especially in talking about the eschatological state of the elect; "to the full enjoying of God to all eternity." But even now, as a benefit of justification, adoption, and sanctification we have, "joy in the Holy Ghost."

    So I would say that the joy is mutual, although much more on our part. And even in that joy, we would never say that we fulfill God in some way, or in some way He is lacking joy until the consummation of all things. But just as Boaz, the kinsman-redeemer, probably did experience joy in having Ruth as wife, the joy of Ruth, and the mercy and grace she was shown as a Moabitess, gives us a great example of our own kinsman-redeemer in whom we have immense joy now, and even more blissful joy in Heaven.

    In Christ,

  7. Semper Fidelis

    Semper Fidelis 2 Timothy 2:24-25 Staff Member

    :lol: What's funny is that the WSC provides its own commentary on what it means to enjoy the Lord lest we believe we have to seek an OED definition on the word.
  8. greenbaggins

    greenbaggins Administrator Staff Member

    Flavel interprets the question in a very interesting way. He says that the glorifying occurs in this life, and the enjoying in the next life. Of course, he does not completely separate the two from each other, but rather says that out enjoyment of Him is but imperfect, and that the enjoyment that is in the next life is the perfect enjoyment. Certainly, he interprets enjoyment of a person's own enjoyment of God, not their instrumentality in someone else's enjoyment.
  9. Backwoods Presbyterian

    Backwoods Presbyterian Puritan Board Doctor

    Where can I find that Flavel Rev. Keister?
  10. greenbaggins

    greenbaggins Administrator Staff Member

    Volume 6 of his works, pp. 141-142. He has a complete exposition of the Shorter Catechism in that volume.
  11. MW

    MW Puritan Board Doctor

    The Latin translator renders it "frui," and a synonym for "enjoyment" in theology is "fruition." I think the OP question is off base in understanding the term in a causative sense. It is definitely man's enjoyment of God which is in view, but I doubt it can be understood in the emotive sense that some writers take it. The word "enjoyment" in Puritan literature and in Shorter Catechism 1 and 38 connotes a state of possessing what brings happiness.
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