In the end, we rightly profit from the discipline of the cross when we learn that this life, considered in itself, is troubled, turbulent, attended by many miseries, and never entirely happy, and that whatever things we consider good in this life are uncertain, passing, vain, and spoiled because they’re mixed with many evils. And from this we likewise conclude that we should expect and hope for nothing other than trouble in this life, and that we should set our eyes on heaven where we expect our crown. So, indeed, we ought to realize that our souls will never seriously rise to the desire and contemplation of the future life until they’ve been soaked in scorn for this present life.from A Little Book on the Christian Life Trans. Denlinger and Parsons (Ligonier, 2017), 91-92.
Variations on a theme in Reformed theology: on what human beings are for
A. John Calvin’s Latin Catechism (1538)
1. All Men Have Been Born for Religion
No human being can be found, however barbarous or completely savage, untouched by some awareness of religion. It is evident, consequently, that all of us have been created in order to acknowledge our Creator’s majesty and to receive it and esteem it, once acknowledged, with all fear, love, and reverence.
But, leaving aside the ungodly who are bent upon one thing only — to blot out of memory the notion of God sown in their hearts — those of us who claim to be godly must deem this fleeting life, soon to fall into ruin, to be nothing but a meditation upon immortality. Now, nowhere but in God can one find eternal and immortal life. Hence the chief concern and care of our life ought to be to seek God, to aspire to him with our whole heart, and to rest nowhere else but in him.
B. The Heidelberg Catechism (1563)
Q. 1. What is your only comfort in life and in death?
A. That I am not my own, but belong — body and soul, in life and in death — to my faithful Savior, Jesus Christ. He has fully paid for all my sins with his precious blood, and has set me free from the tyranny of the devil. He also watches over me in such a way that not a hair can fall from my head without the will of my Father in heaven; in fact, all things must work together for my salvation. Because I belong to him, Christ, by his Holy Spirit, assures me of eternal life and makes me wholeheartedly willing and ready from now on to live for him.
C. The Westminster Shorter Catechism (1648)
Q. 1. What is the chief end of man?
A. The chief end of man is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever.