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1 CORINTHIANS Vii. 24.
Brethren, let every man, wherein he is called, therein abide with God.
IT is of great importance, both for the confirmation of our faith and the improvement of our practice, that the proper influence of Christianity upon the social concerns of mankind should be well understood. To represent it as utterly at variance with our temporal interests, is to weaken its hold upon our affections, and to excite a prejudice against it not easily to be overcome. The tendency of such a persuasion is to make men either libertines or fanatics; inducing them either to cling to "the world, and the things that are "in the world," to the exclusion of "the one thing needful;" or to neglect their duties to mankind, and desert the station in which the providence of God hath placed them.
Against mistakes of this description the
Apostle's admonition in the text is evidently directed.
It appears, that among the Corinthian converts were certain perverse or misjudging persons, who sought to take advantage of what they deemed their Christian liberty, in dissolving the ties of civil and domestic life. The husband who was married to a wife not yet converted to the faith, and the servant whose master was still a heathen, imagined that they might break off these relationships, and contract others less detrimental to their Christian calling. The Apostle pointedly censures these proceedings. He enjoins every one to continue in the same state of life wherein he had been before his conversion and urges, that in every condition, the main thing to be regarded was "the keeping of the "commandments of God." Christianity, he states, gave no new privileges in this respect. Whatever their worldly calling might be, and whatever were its duties, CHRIST was their Master, who with His own blood had paid the price of their redemption; and to Him they were accountable for the discharge of those duties. Instead of making their Christian profession a pretence for neglecting these, they were to perform them upon the great Christian principle of obedience to the Divine
will: " Brethren, let every man, wherein he "is called, therein abide with God:" let him continue to be an orderly and useful member of the community, yet acting under an habitual impression of his responsibility to the Almighty for his general conduct.
In this injunction two positions are clearly implied;-first, that all men have, or ought to have, their particular callings or occupations in society, with the respective duties attached to them ;-secondly, that they are to discharge these duties upon a religious principle; they are to abide in them with "God."
The necessity of being occupied in some particular course of worldly employment is evidently derived from the ordinance of our great Creator. It results from the very constitution of our nature, and from our connection with every thing around us; which render personal exertion of some kind, bodily or mental, necessary to the well-being of every individual. Even in the state of paradise, occupation was found for man: and had he continued in that state, much of his happiness would probably have arisen from the increased variety of his duties as his sphere of social life became more extended. After his fall, the necessity of laborious and even
painful exertion was indeed laid upon him, as the consequence of his transgression. But even in this penal sentence there was a proof that the Almighty" in his wrath remember"eth mercy"." In its result, the execution of this sentence is productive of health, strength, cheerfulness, and many substantial enjoyments unknown to those who refuse to take their share in fulfilling this part of the Divine will. The wise sayings of Solomon abound with illustrations of the misery of slothfulness and the blessings of industry. Daily experience confirms these representations, and teaches more effectually than words can do, how vainly man attempts to reverse this ordinance of his Maker. God "openeth "his hand, and filleth all things living with plenteousness"." But while the hand of God is bountiful to give, the hand of man must be diligent to receive.
This diligence is no less necessary for the good of others, than it is for our own. " No "man," says the Apostle, "liveth unto him"self." His kindred, his friends, his country, all have claims upon his exertions. To withhold from any of these the benefit of his active services is to withhold from them their
a Habak. iii. 2. b Psalm. cxlv. 16. c Rom. xiv. 7.