1 Corinthians 7:24
Brothers, each one should remain in the situation he was in when God called him.
Abiding as CalledR. Tuck 1 Corinthians 7:24
Abiding in Our CallingWeekly Pulpit1 Corinthians 7:24
Christian ContentmentJ. Lyth, D. D.1 Corinthians 7:24
Christianity Diffusive, not RevolutionaryProf. Godet.1 Corinthians 7:24
Everyday ReligionJ. Vaughan Pryce, M. A.1 Corinthians 7:24
Godliness in All Conditions of LifeD. Thomas, D. D.1 Corinthians 7:24
Home Life and DutiesJ. H. Ecob, D. D.1 Corinthians 7:24
How to Walk with God in Our CallingW. Bridge, M. A.1 Corinthians 7:24
Our CallingR. A. Hallam.1 Corinthians 7:24
Quietness of SpiritD. Fraser 1 Corinthians 7:24
Religion and BusinessR. Tuck 1 Corinthians 7:24
The Christian CallingBp. Huntington.1 Corinthians 7:24
The Christian LifeA. Maclaren, D. D.1 Corinthians 7:24
The Dignity of the Secular CallingJ. Baldwin Brown, B. A.1 Corinthians 7:24
The Need, Choice, and Use of a CallingBishop Sanderson.1 Corinthians 7:24
VocationJ. C. Lambert.1 Corinthians 7:24
Celibacy and MarriageE. Hurndall 1 Corinthians 7:1, 2, 7-9, 25-35
Mixed MarriagesC. Lipscomb 1 Corinthians 7:12-28
Abide in Your CallingJ. Lyth, D. D.1 Corinthians 7:17-24
Christianity and the Relations of LifeH. Bremner 1 Corinthians 7:17-24
Christianity Universally ApplicableJ. Lyth, D. D.1 Corinthians 7:17-24
Christ's FreemenA. Maclaren, D. D.1 Corinthians 7:17-24
Deliverance from SlaveryJ. Leifchild, D. D.1 Corinthians 7:17-24
Every Christian At His PostJ. Lyth, D. D.1 Corinthians 7:17-24
Forms Versus CharacterA. Maclaren, D. D.1 Corinthians 7:17-24
Freedom Through ChristA. H. Moment.1 Corinthians 7:17-24
In Christ, the Servant the Lord's FreemanJ. Fawcett.1 Corinthians 7:17-24
Liberty and SlaveryC. Hodge, D. D.1 Corinthians 7:17-24
On the Choice of a ProfessionJ. Walker, D. D.1 Corinthians 7:17-24
Personal Christianity for the Bond and the FreeD. Thomas, D. D.1 Corinthians 7:17-24
Slaves and FreeA. Maclaren, D. D.1 Corinthians 7:17-24
The Christian SlaveJ. Lyth, D. D.1 Corinthians 7:17-24
The Common Lot the Best Sphere1 Corinthians 7:17-24
The Dignity of the True ChristianJ. Lyth, D. D.1 Corinthians 7:17-24
The External and the Real in ReligionJ. Lyth, D. D.1 Corinthians 7:17-24
The GospelJ. Lyth, D. D.1 Corinthians 7:17-24
The One Threefold EssentialH. M. Butler, D. D.1 Corinthians 7:17-24
The Subordination of LoveLyman Abbott.1 Corinthians 7:17-24
The True Freedom and Dependence of Every ChristianJ. Lyth, D. D.1 Corinthians 7:17-24
True ContentmentJ. Lyth, D. D.1 Corinthians 7:17-24
True FreedomJ. Lyth, D. D.1 Corinthians 7:17-24
True LibertyJ. Lyth, D. D.1 Corinthians 7:17-24
Why Christians Should be Contented with Their CircumstancJ. Lyth, D. D.1 Corinthians 7:17-24
Christianity and StavesE. Hurndall 1 Corinthians 7:20-24

St. Paul knew how to hold the balance between the stirring forces of Christianity, and. its calming, soothing power. He exemplified the combination in his own character; for he was ever moving yet never restless, ever aspiring yet always content, ever fighting, and that not as one that beats the air, and yet always breathing and making peace. The application of Christianity to actual conditions of society in ancient Greece raised many questions on which the Corinthian Church needed apostolic guidance. Such were the continual obligation of marriage after husband or wife had become a Christian; the question whether Judaism should yield to Gentilism, or vice versa, in the new community; and the problem of domestic slavery. St. Paul had no express command from the Lord Jesus on such matters, but guided, as he firmly believed, by the Spirit of God, he handled these three points with rare wisdom and foresight.

I. THE LESSON FOR THE FIRST CENTURY. The introduction of the Christian faith into such cities as Corinth could not but operate as a disturbing, unsettling force. It was therefore the duty of the Christians to avoid as far as possible giving alarm to rulers, by abruptly or violently assailing the forms of life and the established institutions round about them. If their religion should present itself to the eye of observers as mainly an agitation or social revolution, it would be put on a false issue, and would give to its adversaries a strong argument for its suppression. Therefore, though the apostle hated all social injustice, he perceived and taught that precipitate action, even with the best intentions, would be a serious mistake; and that the only sound policy was to work on men's consciences and subdue their hearts, and gradually lift them up into a condition of moral feeling and a love of righteousness which could, no longer brook such institutions as Greek and Roman slaveholding. On this topic, therefore, he checked impatience. The first thing needful was to bring Jesus Christ into every station and walk of human life. When Christ should dwell among and in men, society would take to new moulds by an inward necessity, not from any outward dictation. This was the best course to be taken even with regard to slavery. The endurance of it was hard; for St. Paul wrote at a period when the rich in Greece and Italy were cruel and contemptuous to their slaves, and it was possible for a Roman emperor to give their flesh to feed his pet fishes. But the institution was so familiar to the public mind that it was regarded as indispensable; and so Christianity was not to assail it directly, but to teach masters to give to their slaves what was just and equal, and slaves to be faithful and. honest in service. If a slave could get his liberty, he was to take it joyfully - "use it rather." If not, he was to abide with God in that calling. His spirit was with God in a far loftier sphere than could be conceived of by the heathen master, who probably treated him with scorn. The Christian slave was the Lord's freeman.


1. Negatively.

(1) This text must not be quoted to require or justify adherence to a questionable calling or occupation. A Christian may find himself in a trade or business which offends his now enlightened conscience and is hurtful to his fellow men: he may be in a place or appointment which requires him to practise deceit or minister to vice. Then be must leave it, because in such a place it is not possible to "abide with God." At the same time, such abandonment of one's situation or means of livelihood must be only under real stress of conscience, and not merely because the work is hard or troublesome.

(2) This text must not be quoted to retain Christians in ecclesiastical positions which they see to be at variance with the Divine Word. The presumptive evidence always is in favour of one's continuing in that Church in which he obtained mercy from the Lord, and it is foolish and ungrateful to leave it so soon as he sees a flaw or fault in it. lie who cannot live in a Church that has faults will have an unhappy Christian career, and end probably in a small clique of impracticable persons like himself. At the same time, one must avoid the other extreme of refusing to consider what is or is not in harmony with the Law of Christ, and sheltering or defending abuses which ought to be confessed and corrected. Such a mode of acting puts a stop to all Church reformation. Of small faults we do not speak; but serious errors and abuses we should try to remove. If we fail, we must change our position in order to "abide with God."

(3) This text must not be quoted to check human aspirations. It is not to be implied that, because a man was poor at the time of his conversion, he must always be poor; or if he was a servant, must continue a servant to his dying day. Christianity gives no countenance to the idea that the ranks of society should be stereotyped, and no one allowed to rise above the station in which he was born. There is a wriggling anxiety to gain personal importance which is not worthy of a Christian; but if, by honest industry or conspicuous ability, one should rise in position and influence, the thing commends itself to good feeling and to reason. Therefore it cannot be condemned by Christianity, which is pervaded by good feeling and is supremely reasonable.

2. Positively. The text sets a wholesome check on self regarding ambition. The great problem of life is not bow to step up from one calling or station to another, but how, in this calling or that station, to abide in communion with God and advance his glory. No doubt, one position appears to great advantage over another, for happiness and for usefulness; but the difference is seldom so great as appears. That which has outward facilities has special risks and anxieties, and that which has disadvantage in one respect has compensation in another. But to "abide with God," not when apart from our worldly calling, gathered into a church on a holy day, but in our calling, - this is the problem. To have him with us and in us by the Holy Spirit; to walk up and down in his Name; to work and to rest as in his sight; to have his light shining on our path; to have his grace working in us both to will and to do; to have our labour lightened, our care relieved, our leisure sweetened, by his love! This, indeed, is life - high life. Oh, to abide in our calling calmly with God - our minds and hearts open to his impulse and direction - our wills submissive to his! This is what will baffle the tempter and silence the gainsayer, by proving that our religion is no mere selfish hope of future enjoyment, but a power deep seated in the soul, which can conquer passion and covetousness, and diffuse over the life a sweet serenity. To quote an English poet of the sixteenth century, now little known

"He most of all doth bathe in bliss
That hath a quiet mind." F

Brethren, let every man wherein he is called, therein abide with God.
1. The word "calling" in a Christian sense is a condensed confession of faith. It means that our life is governed by a will above it, and is capable of receiving influences of attraction from the Spirit of God.

2. In its secular use, as a man's common employment, it discovers the same origin. It must have sprung up in days when it was believed that each man's business was sacred, and that he himself was on a Divine errand.

3. The expression stirs some feeling of mystery; yet a life without the sense of God calling it is far more perplexing than with that key to its changes. For severed from a Father it is not only a mystery but a contradiction, an enigma which neither genius nor sensuality nor stoicism, nor suicide can solve: Earnest minds, however, find rational comfort in it, and only triflers will ignore it altogether. So true is this that the world's great men have represented themselves as led on by a power beyond themselves — a genius, a destiny, or a deity. But the apostle refers to something higher and holier than this dreamy sentiment. It is God who calls. Christ has lived, and He asks living followers. He has died, and asks the spirit of sacrifice.

4. It is remarkable how perseveringly the New Testament clings to this conception (see Concordance on "called" and "calling"). Note its prominent teachings.


1. It is a "calling" by itself. It is to be distinguished from all other occupations, systems, &c. It springs from its own root, grows by its own laws, bears its own peculiar fruit.

2. It is a Divine calling. Paul speaks as if no pursuit were to he thought of in comparison with it.

II. THIS IDEA OF A CALLING INDIVIDUALISES THE CHRISTIAN PERSON. Paul had no conception of a social Christianity apart from the personal righteousness of the men who make up society, and therefore he uses personal language. It is quite vain for us to congratulate ourselves on a state of general integrity and order, if we tolerate depravity in ourselves, or excuse it in the usages of the class to which we belong. If we have a community of a thousand people, in which we want to see the Christian graces flourishing, our only way is to go to work and turn one and another into a Christian person, each beginning with himself. How weary God must be at hearing these Pharisaic praises of a Christian country, legislation, &c., from those who allow Christianity to conquer no one of their propensities.

III. NOTWITHSTANDING ALL THIS, THE CALLING IS OF UNIVERSAL APPLICATION. It is not meant for a class here and there. "Whosoever will"; and its speciality is the very ground of its universality. For it addresses men —

1. Of all kinds of mental equipment.

2. Of all varieties of outward fortune.

3. In every time.Conclusion: The text appeals to —

1. Families.

2. Parents.

3. Men of action.

(Bp. Huntington.)

Weekly Pulpit.
The Christian must appear in the man of business. He is to abide with God.

I. BY THE MODERATION OF HIS DESIRES AND EXERTIONS; not entangling himself in the affairs of this life; diligent in business, but not, by multiplication and complexity, injuring the health of his body and the peace of his mind, and compelling himself, if not to omit, to curtail his religious duties.

II. BY UNVARIABLE CONSCIENTIOUSNESS; not content to keep himself within the precincts of legal obligation, but shunning everything that is mean and over-reaching; and exemplifying everything that is fair and honourable.

III. BY A DEVOUT TEMPER AND HABIT that will remind him of the presence of God; that will keep him from planning any enterprise without dependence upon Heaven; practically owning the agency of Providence in all the contingencies of his affairs; ascribing all to the blessing of the Lord. Conclusion: This secular life is Christianised, and the bounds of religion enlarged far beyond the district of what we commonly mean by devotion. In all situations, the cares of life demand the vaster part of his time and attention; but he must always walk before the Lord in the land of the living; and whether he eats or drinks, or whatever he does, he may do all to the glory of God. The spirit of devotion actuates him in the absence of its forms; and this principle, as is reported of the philosopher's stone, turns all it touches into gold. Thus his natural actions become moral; his civil duties become religious; the field or the warehouse is holy ground; and the man of business is the "man of God."

(Weekly Pulpit.)

I. A GOOD CALLING IS A GREAT MERCY, whether you take the word "calling" for the calling of condition, or for the calling of employment. For —

1. A man is thereby kept —(1) From idleness, which is the nurse of all wickedness.(2) From busy-bodiedness. The more idle a man is the more apt he is to be meddling with others' matters (2 Thessalonians 3:11).

2. A lawful calling is God's ground, inasmuch as no calling or an unlawful one is the devil's ground.


1. Therefore there is an aptness in us to change or lay down our callings, or why should the apostle three times call upon us to abide in them?

2. But it is not absolutely unlawful for a man to leave or to change his calling." For possibly a man —(1) May be qualified for higher employments. In this case, David left his calling of a shepherd and became a king; the apostles left the calling of their fishing and became apostles.(2) May see the same hand of God leading him out of his calling which did bring him into it. So when Noah had the same command to go out of the ark that he had to go in, then he went out.(3) May be forced through want to change his calling. Paul, though a preacher and apostle, was sometimes forced to work with his hands.

3. Though it he lawful in some cases to do so, yet ordinarily a man is to abide in his calling, for a good calling is the Lord's gift.(1) It is God that calls a man to it, and is it likely that God will bless him who deserts it?(2) There is no calling but God may be served and enjoyed therein (ver. 22).

4. But, says one, that is the reason why I would lay down my calling, because I cannot serve God so well therein. Are you sure of that? Luther tells us of a certain man that was given to anger, and who to avoid provocation would go live alone as an hermit; and going to the well with his pitcher something displeased him, and he threw clown his pitcher, and he broke it in anger; which when he had done, he said, Well, now I see it is not in my condition, but in my heart, that doth cause provocation; therefore I will return to my calling again.

III. IT IS THE DUTY OF EVERY MAN TO WALK WITH GOD IN HIS CALLING, and not barely to abide therein.

1. It was so from the beginning. Adam had a calling in the state of innocency, and therein he was to walk with God.

2. And if a man do not walk with God in his calling, how can he walk with God at all? A man is not said to walk with God because he prays in the morning or evening; walking is a constant thing.

3. Thereby a man is distinguished from men of the world. A man is not of another world because he deserts his calling that he may give himself unto his devotions. Christ Himself was in the world, "but not of the world."

4. This is that which will sweeten and elevate your callings: everything is raised or depressed as God is present with it or absent from it.

5. Every man is as he is in his calling; a man hath no more grace than he may or can use in his calling; and though I have all parts and gifts, yet if I be not gracious in my calling, they are but sounding brass and as tinkling cymbal.


1. Negatively.(1) You must not be ignorant of the way of your calling; for if you take up a calling, and are ignorant of it, you may tempt God therein. Every man should be the master of his art.(2) You must not be negligent. Diligence in our callings is commanded, commended, and rewarded in Scripture.(3) You must not deal unjustly with men (Micah 6:8).(4) You must not be too fond of your calling, or you will forget the God of your calling. You will go with an apron into your shop that you may keep your clothes clean, and hath not your soul as much need of an apron in your calling? If the ivy clings too close unto the oak it hindereth its growth; so if your callings cling too close to you, and you to your callings, it will hinder your spiritual growth.

2. Affirmatively.(1) You must observe what those temptations are that are incident to your calling, and take heed thereof (vers. 23, 35).(2) You must live by faith in your callings. Thereby you shall be kept from covetousness and love of the world. "This is our victory," &c.(3) Whatever you do therein, do all to the glory of God.(4) Be sure that you so manage your calling that your general calling may not be a hindrance, but a help to your particular; and thus your particular calling may be no hindrance, but a help to your general calling.(5) Be sure that you turn as God turns, sweetly complying with His dispensations in the way of your calling.(6) You must judge of things in your calling as God judges.(7) You must spiritualise your particular calling with heavenly things; not put all upon a morning and an evening prayer. Conclusion: If you walk with God in your particular calling, God will walk with you in your general calling.

1. Then shall your calling be a blessing to you indeed, and you shall have a greater reward than the wealth of your calling.

2. Thereby the knots and difficulties of your callings shall be taken off, and your way made easy.

3. Thereby you shall be kept from the sins and temptations of your calling.

4. Thereby shall your way of godliness be convincing and winning.

(W. Bridge, M. A.)

1. It is unfortunate that this chapter is mainly occupied with subjects the public discussion of which is in these days hardly possible. Few portions of his Epistles more largely reveal the far-sighted wisdom of St. Paul. He was the foremost statesman of the kingdom of heaven. The golden mean between extreme opinions to him was clear. How firmly he held the balance between asceticism and license!

2. The subject here is most difficult and delicate. Fanatics on either side were watching eagerly for a word which might support their views. A less able, wise, and self-controlled man might easily, with such a force as the gospel, have shattered the whole framework of civilisation. Well was it for the world that this tremendous power of revolution was in hands so wise, so calm, so firm. Note —

I. THE EARNEST DESIRE OF ST. PAUL THAT THERE SHOULD BE NO VIOLENT, VISIBLE CHANGE IN THE RELATIONS OF CLASSES AND THE ORGANISATION OF SOCIETY. "These men, that have turned the world upside-down, are come hither also." But the marvel is that practically they overturned so little, and left so much peacefully and patiently to grow. Whatever has come forth from Christianity for human welfare and progress has come, not from without, by any rearrangement of classes or orders, but from within, by the renewing and reordering of individual arts. Christianity introduced an idea absolutely new into the world: "There is neither Greek nor Jew... for ye are all one in Christ Jesus." Here was explosive matter enough to shatter society. This issue Paul's wisdom and firmness averted. Read the Epistle to Philemon. What a world of practical wisdom is there. Take this great question of slavery. The slaves bore the yoke uneasily, and in fact slavery in those days was eating out the very heart of the empire. Throw this new thought into their minds, It is hateful to God and wrong; all are equal before Him, and have the right from Him to contend for equality. It might have originated a new and more awful servile war, which would have reduced to ruin the whole structure of Roman society, ages before the German races were trained to occupy its room. But the gospel announced the principle, and yet maintained the order.

II. PAUL'S DEEP CONVICTION THAT NO EXTERNAL CHANGE IN THE CONDITION AND RELATIONS OF MEN IS WORTH ANYTHING UNLESS IT GROW OUT OF AND CLOTHE A CHANGE DEEP DOWN IN INDIVIDUAL SOULS. Nothing can be more fallacious than the notion that in different circumstances you would be a different man. A bad slave would be a bad master; a bad child a bad parent; a bad man would be bad everywhere. Man cannot be content with the world as it is. But he dreams that the mischief is in things. God says it is in souls. And God sets up His kingdom in souls — in the heart of the mischief. The Jews thought the evil was in their condition, so they dreamed of a splendid Messiah's kingdom. God saw that it was in their spirits, and said, "the kingdom of God is within you." Paul would have had little hope of any great ultimate good if he could simply have struck the sceptre out of the hand of the brutal Nero, emancipated every slave in the broad Roman dominion; while no new life-blood was poured into the exhausted veins of society. No! it must go on struggling, suffering, while the inward renewing was working; then it might be lifted bodily into a clearer and brighter heaven.

III. THAT THE CONDITION OF A MAN IN HIS PARTICULAR CALLING IS JUST THE INSTRUMENT WHICH GOD HAS FURNISHED, BY THE USE OF WHICH HE MAY TRAIN HIMSELF FOR YET HIGHER THINGS. Do not be content to aspire, but grow. Do not demand things as abstract rights, win them by manifest power. Do not talk of being, or boast of calling, but be, and thus make your calling and election sure. And this runs through the whole scale of life. Have you capacity for higher things? Prove it by doing the lower more perfectly. Throw all your soul into your work; you are surely training yourself for the highest work of heaven (Luke 19:16, 17). Despising the one talent it the most fatal folly. All faculty is like seed. Planted in work, it grows, and fills wide neighbourhoods with shade and fruit. The condition wherein a man is called is God's best school for him. Not by wriggling hastily out of it, but by working bravely and patiently in it, he is helping the progress of his own being and of mankind.

IV. BUT A MAN MAY SAY, IT IS POOR WORK AFTER ALL. IS IT? "THEREIN ABIDE WITH GOD." Let the poorest remember that God abode with it; and that all that is most blessed for the universe came to it out of a poor workman's home. But the lot is a very humble one! Be it so. It is humble with Him. What is it to abide in our lot with God? Surely it means, Let a man abide in it with the full consciousness of all that he is, all that he has, all that he shall have, in Christ Jesus.

1. Let him dismiss all fretful impatience at the meanness of his figure and the poorness of his pay. Such matters are not, cannot be, vital to a man who is so rich in hope. He must calmly wait God's time.

2. Let him know that the Lord abides with him in his lot, and has a deeper interest and joy in his daily labour than in the debates of the world's most famous congresses, and the acts of its most splendid kings.

3. The man who abides with God in the lowliest condition makes that condition illustrious by the patient, strenuous discharge of its duties, and manly resistance to the temptations which beset it, and which drag many a helpless worldling down.

4. Such a man will wait for God's word, and not man's, to "go up higher."

5. Wherever he is, he will abide with dignity and patience, because assured of the supreme promotion at last.

(J. Baldwin Brown, B. A.)

The text teaches —

I. THAT MEN ARE FOUND IN VARIOUS CONDITIONS OF LIFE. Some are free men, some are slaves, &c. This variety —

1. Affords scope for benevolent activity. If all men were in precisely identical worldly conditions, there would be manifestly no sphere for it.

2. Creates a bond of social unity. Gratitude is one of the strongest social ties, and hence the relation between the giver and the receiver, the helper and the helped, is generally close, tender, and strong. Were all men in exactly the same condition, there would be a spirit of reckless independency, and a state of social disorder.

3. Invests society with social charms. Variety is one of the charms of existence.

II. THAT SOME OF THE CONDITIONS OF LIFE ARE OF DIVINE APPOINTMENT. Of some this cannot be said. People are found in —

1. Matrimonial relations which God has not appointed. Two people are brought together for life whose instincts, temperaments, habits, are antagonistic.

2. Ecclesiastical positions which God has not appointed.

3. Commercial engagements which God has not appointed. Those who turn the ores of the earth into implements of destruction, and distil the fruits of the earth into liquids that drown the reason, ruin the health, and destroy the morals of a community, are not "called" to their sphere.

III. THAT IN EVERY CONDITION OF LIFE MEN SHOULD PRACTISE GODLINESS. What is it to "abide with God"? It means constancy of supreme love and obedience to Him, and of devotion to His cause. Godliness is —

1. Binding in all conditions of life. As much so in the market as in the chamber or the temple. God is every- where, and your relation to Him remains intact in all circumstances.

2. Possible. Let no man say his conditions are such that he cannot be religious. If they really are, he must come out of them. If lawful, God knows them, and will help you in them.

(D. Thomas, D. D.)

Three times within the compass of a very few verses this injunction is repeated (vers. 17, 20, 24).

1. The reason for this emphatic reiteration is that there were strong temptations to restlessness besetting the early Christians. The great change from heathenism to Christianity would seem to loosen the joints of all life. Hence would tend to come the rupture of family ties, the Jewish convert seeking to become like a Gentile, and vice versa, and the slave trying to be free. To all three the apostle says, Stop where you are. For if Christianity had become the mere instrument of social revolution, its development would have been thrown back for centuries, and the whole worth and power of it, for those who first apprehended it, would have been lost. Paul believed in the diffusion of the principles which he proclaimed, and the mighty name which he served, as able to girdle the poison-tree, and to take the bark off it, and the rest — the slow dying — might be left to time.

2. But, besides this more especial application of the text, it carries with it a large general principle that applies to all. Our maxim is, "Get on!" Paul's is, "Never mind about getting on, get up!" Our notion is, "Try to make the circumstances what I would like to have them." Paul's is, "Leave circumstances to take care of themselves — or rather leave God to take care of the circumstances — and everything else will right itself."


1. Constant communion, the occupation of all our nature with Him. As we go to our work to-morrow, what difference would obedience to this precept make upon our lives? Before all else, we should think of that Divine Mind that is waiting to illumine our darkness; we should feel the glow of that perfect Love which, in the midst of change, treachery, is ready to fill our hearts with tenderness and tranquillity; we should bow before that Will which is "the good pleasure of His goodness and the counsel of His grace." And with such a God ever in our thoughts, love, and obedience, what room would there be for agitations and distractions? They die in the fruition of a present God all-sufficient, even as the sun when it is risen may wither the weeds that grow about the fruitful tree whose deeper roots are but warmed by the rays that ripen the rich clusters which it bears.

2. And then there will follow the recognition of God's will as operating in and determining all circumstances. When our whole soul is occupied with Him, we shall see Him everywhere, and connect everything which befalls ourselves and the world with Him.

II. SUCH UNION WITH GOD WILL LEAD TO CONTENTED CONTINUANCE IN OUR PLACE, WHATEVER IT BE. You have been "called" in such and such worldly circumstances, which proves that these circumstances do not obstruct the highest and richest blessings. And that is the one point of view from which we can bear to look upon the world and not be bewildered and overmastered by it. Peace, a true appreciation of all outward good and a charm against the bitterest sting of outward evils, a patient continuance in the place where He has set us, are all ours — when by fellowship with Him we look upon our work as doing His will, and upon all our possessions and conditions as means for making us like Himself. The only question worth asking in regard to the externals of our life is, How far does each thing help me to be a good man, and open my understanding to apprehend God, and prepare me for the world beyond? Is there any other more satisfying, more majestic thought of life than this — the scaffolding by which souls are built up into the temple of God! And to care whether a thing is painful or pleasant is as absurd as to care whether the bricklayer's trowel is knocking the sharp corner off a brick, or plastering mortar on the one below it before he lays it carefully on its course. Is the building getting on? That is the one question that is worth thinking about. If, then, we have once got hold of that principle that all the antitheses of life are the product of His will, the manifestation of His mind, His means for our discipline, then we have the talisman which will preserve us from the fever of desire and the shivering fits of anxiety as to things which perish.


1. Though you may change about as much as you like, there is a pretty substantial equipoise and identity in the amount of pain and pleasure in all external conditions. The total length of day and night all the year round is the same at the North Pole and at the Equator. It does not matter much at what degrees between the two we live, when the thing comes to be made up we shall be all pretty much upon an equality. What is the use of such eager desires to change our condition, when every condition has disadvantages attending its advantages, as certainly as a shadow; and when all have pretty nearly the same quantity of the raw material of pain and pleasure, and when the amount of either actually experienced by us depends not on where we are, but on What we are?

2. Whilst the portion of external pain and pleasure summed up comes pretty much to the same in everybody's life, any condition may yield the fruit of devout fellowship with God.

3. What is the need for my troubling myself about outward changes, when in Christ I can get all the peculiarities which make any given position desirable to me? Hear how Paul talks to slaves wanting to be set free (vers. 21, 22). If a man is a slave he may be free in Christ. If free, he may have the joy of utter submission to an absolute master in Christ. If you and I are lonely we may feel all the delights of society by union with Him. If distracted by companionship, and seeking for seclusion, we may get all the peace of perfect privacy in fellowship with Him. If we are rich and think that if we were poorer we should be less tempted, we may find all for which we covet poverty in communion with Him. If we are poor and fancy that if we had a little more we should be happier, we may find all tranquillity in Him.

4. Think seriously of the antagonism between these principles and the maxims current in the world. Our text is a revolutionary one. It is dead against the watchwords that you fathers give your children — "push," "energy," "advancement," "get on whatever you do." If you, by God's grace, lay hold of these principles, in ninety-nine cases out of a hundred you will have to make up your minds to let the big prizes of your trade go into other people's hands, and be contented to say, "I live by peaceful, high, pure, Christ-like thoughts."

(A. Maclaren, D. D.)

I want to take the general principle Paul lays down here and draw from it some lessons which I think it plainly teaches.

1. In the first place, then, we learn that our daily work may be work to which we are divinely called. Now that: is not how many men think of their work. We may admit that the prophet, the reformer, or the patriot receive their calling from above — that a John Knox, a Joan of Arc, were called to their vocations in life; but to most people it seems a little ridiculous to say that a painter, a sailor, a manufacturer, or merchant has been called by God to do the work he is doing. The reason we think this is, I suppose, because of the hard definition we make between the sacred and the secular. That distinction should not by any means be an absolute distinction. In the tabernacle, in the Jewish temple, there was a "holy" and a "holy of holies," and yet they were both under the same roof, and formed part Of the great Temple of God; and so it is with the things we call sacred and the things we call secular. We must admit that much of God's work is what we would call secular. He makes the sun to shine, the rivers to flow, the grass to spring: and if God is interested in work like that, the man ought not to feel he is bemeaning himself if God calls upon him to be a fellow-labourer in the same vineyard. For instance, we talk of God supplying us with food. But when we come to ask how it is that the world is provided with its meat, we find that God calls in human agencies. The farmer who grows the grain, the miller who grinds it, and the baker who makes the bread, have all been called by God.

2. There is another great lesson to be drawn from this principle, and it is — if this be true we ought to have a plain call to the occupation we follow, because it must be admitted that every occupation is not a Divine occupation. Sometimes a man is engaged in a particular form of business which his conscience tells him is wrong; such a man cannot think he is Divinely called. Again, a young man may be employed in a business that is worked on wrong principles. Another man may be employed in quite an honest calling, yet for which he is unsuited — sometimes a square man gets into a round hole — and if he gets a change to a vocation he likes, he should take the opportunity and enter into the calling he really cares for. How does God call upon us? Well, sometimes He gives us a bias for a special business. Another way in which God's guiding hand comes in is in our outward circumstances, because we must remember these circumstances are shaped by God's own hand, and sometimes our way is made pretty clear by circumstances alone. Another way in which God's voice can be heard is in the advice of our friends, and we ought to take the advice of those who can look at our character and work from a different standpoint than that we ourselves occupy. And now let me say this — that we should all choose our calling in the full light of the Word of God, "Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path." Then we must remember prayer. Remember that more things are done by prayer than people think of; that if we lift up our voices in prayer for guidance, that guidance will come. Again, I would remark that when we have received our calling we should abide in it. "Let every man abide in the calling wherewith he is called." No doubt, the statement might be twisted into a wrong meaning. It might be said that this was an advocacy of the great fallacy that whatever is, is right, teaching that man should have no aspirations after better things. Christianity is something that has the principle of revolution in it; and yet though Christianity has the revolutionary principle inside of it, it does not make its followers revolutionists. And now in the last place we are taught that, abiding in our callings, we should therein abide with God. It matters not what your duties are, however common, however merely secular, do them as under your great Master's eyes.

(J. C. Lambert.)

We are the subjects of two callings. There is our "high calling of God in Christ Jesus," that is the calling of grace; and there is our outward situation in life, that is the calling of Providence. In the text both these callings are mentioned, our temporal and our spiritual calling; and we are directed to abide in the same temporal calling, wherein we may be, when we are spiritually called. A Christian man is not to murmur or be fretful and restless in that situation which the providence of God has assigned to him, but to be patient, quiet, submissive, and cheerful in it. Grace, when it takes possession of a man, does not alter his place in society, nor annul the obligations that pertain to it, unless it be intrinsically wrong and sinful, requiring of him a course of action which is immoral and injurious. If that be its character, it is the devil's calling and not God's, and we cannot too promptly abandon it at whatever sacrifice. Now what I wish to impress upon you is that our temporal condition, with that peculiar form of life which it imposes, is a calling, and is such because God has called us into it. I would remind you that the fashion of our existence in this world is not an accident, not the fruit of chance, nor of our own will, nor of the will of other men. God has assigned us our place. Whether we shall work with our brains or our hands, and in which of the various departments of human activity that belong to either, He has determined. How important, indeed, is the truth which we express in the naming our work in this world our vocation, or which is the same, finding utterance in homelier Anglo-Saxon, our calling. What a calming, elevating, solemnising view of the tasks which we find ourselves set in this world to do, this word would give us if we did but realise it to the full. What a help is this thought to enable us to appreciate justly the dignity of our work, though it were far humbler work even in the eyes of men, than that of any one of us present! What an assistance in calming unsettled thoughts and desires, such as would make us wish to be something else than that which we are! What a source of confidence when we are tempted to lose heart, and to doubt whether we shall be able to carry through our work with any blessing or profit to ourselves or others l It is our vocation, our calling; and He who called us to it will fit us for it and strengthen us in it. That the circumstances which frame our outward condition into its actual fashion are of God's ordering, none will doubt, who believe in the presence and agency of God in the affairs of the world. Our parentage, the period of our birth, the associations of our childhood, the events that betide us in our early days, the influences that act upon us as we advance to manhood, all the causes that cooperate to fasten upon our life the form it finally and permanently assumes, are of God's ordering and fixing. And thus the whole sum of society, in all its complicated framework, its mutual relations and dependences, its necessary gradations and shares of honour and advantage, will appear to be a visible outgoing of the Divine will, instinct throughout with a Divine presence, a Divine authority, and a Divine blessing; and every member of the same, in his own proper station and work, his special "vocation and ministry," believing God made his place for him and him for his place, will be enabled to walk in it with God, without pride in elevation, with self-respect in inferiority, in a spirit of cheerful submission, conscientious fidelity, and lowly hope. What we contend for is that every Christian should believe himself called to every work in which he finds his occupation and his livelihood; and that, except he believes this, the work of life, whatever it may be outwardly, will be unholy and cheerless, lack its best stimulus and its purest support and comfort, and be pursued without confidence in God, or any expectation of high and worthy fruit. The rich man who is exempt from the necessity of relying on some trade or profession for a living, is not so exempt in order that he may be an idler. He also has a calling, and a calling has always a work, and the work of his calling is by no means the least arduous and difficult; and if, because he is not driven to it by the stern pressure of necessity, he leaves it undone, and dies a mere loiterer, his will be the fearful reckoning of one who wrapped not one but many talents in a napkin and hid them in the earth. This view of our work as a calling communicates dignity and comfort to life, and this not in some of its ranges, but in all of them. The precious ointment on the head goes down to the skirts of the garments. There is no valley in life so low that the dew of Divine service does not visit and refresh it. The honour of the noble head pervades the family, stops not at the favourite of the lord, or chief officer of the household, but goes on till it reaches the bottom of the social fabric; and the lowest menial shines in the reflected lustre of his Master. And surely there can be no debasement in filling any station which God has created and assigned to us. It is an honour to serve Him in any place. It is looking upon our lot in life apart from God, viewing ourselves as the sport of a blind chance, or the victim of human tyranny, caprice, or injustice, that makes us despise and scorn it, view it with a bitter contempt and an indignant hatred. Only let us look at it as our calling, the utterance of God's will, and the appointment of God's wisdom, and we shall respect it and ourselves in it; for we shall sea that we are parts of a system, in which it is an honour to hold any position, of a mechanism so glorious, that the cog of the smallest wheel, or the cord of the obscurest pulley that is needful to its well-being and well-working, is honoured by its function. Nothing has so elevating an influence on men as to feel that they are members of a Divine economy in which honour depends not upon place, but upon faithfulness; so that some who are far down in it, may be higher in the estimation of Him whose judgment is its only rule of eminence, than many that are outwardly above them, as sweet violets lie low and nestle in the sod, overhung and hidden by tall, thrifty, but idle weeds, and gaudy but scentless blossoms. But if this view of the work of life as a calling confers on life a dignity that relieves and gladdens it, so does it also load it with a weight of responsibility which communicates to it a tincture of seriousness and solemnity. Seeing that all stations are of God, it is indeed a grave and awful thing to live in any station. God does not ask at our hands volunteer services, but prescribed and ordered services; and if in the final reckoning we undertake to recite our performances of the former kind, we shall be cut short with the inquiry, Who hath required this at your hand? how did you fill your station? A soldier who is appointed to stand sentry will not escape censure if he has left his post to reconnoitre the enemy's camp, or capture a solitary straggler. Nor will a farmer be satisfied with his servant who leaves his field unploughed to instruct his neighbour in agricultural science. When every man does his own work, the specific service of his place, then is the welfare of society most advanced, God's will best done, the gospel best recommended, and the souls of men best fitted for eternal life.

(R. A. Hallam.)

Learn —

I. WHAT THE RELIGION OF JESUS CHRIST REALLY IS. The godly man is the man who "abides with God." We use the term "religious" very loosely, meaning by it the observance of certain ceremonies or the reception of certain opinions, but religion in deed and in truth consists in a right state and action of the soul towards God. It is our knowledge of God in Jesus Christ leading us to aim at a Christ-like life.

II. RELIGION SO UNDERSTOOD IS A RIGHT AND A REASONABLE THING. It is the exercise of our powers upon Him who is infinitely worthy of them all. It is the rendering to God His own what He is pleased to ask and require. The eye is no more fitted to see or the ear to hear than is the constitution of your nature fitted for religion; and just as the formation of the eye tells us that though there may be blindness, nevertheless, we were made to see, and just as the formation of the ear tells us that though there may be deafness the ear was constructed that men should hear, just so the very structure of our moral nature teaches us that, in spite of all the wanderings of the intellect and the worse wanderings of the heart, we are made, it is the very end of our being, to love and honour God. Regarded as a life, religion is the life a man is fitted to live. Regarded as a work, religion is the work a man is adapted and intended to perform. A man is not a man in the full sense of the term unless he is religious; he is other than he ought to be, he is less than he ought to be if he is not religious. He is a ground not tilled, a seed not sown, a perversion of power.

III. THIS RELIGION MAY BE A MATTER OF EVERY-DAY LIFE WITH US IS EVERY CONDITION OF LIFE A MAN MAY BE CALLED TO OCCUPY. If it consisted in the observance of certain rites, then it would be a thing of times and places; but since it is a life, it cannot be restricted to times and places and conditions. Even slaves are told that whatsoever they do they do heartily as unto the Lord. Well, now, if the bard service of slaves may be a service of God, is it not perfectly clear that every-day religion must be possible to each one of us?

(J. Vaughan Pryce, M. A.)

(Mark 5:19, and text): —

1. The first text is the reply of Jesus to the maniac out of whom He had cast a legion of devils. This man certainly had passed through a very remarkable experience; and we might reasonably expect that so remarkable a case would be made much of by Jesus. This man will at once be sent out into the world as a witness to the power of his Saviour. The man seems to have thought that something of this sort was called for in his case. He prays to be always with Jesus. But instead he is met by the quiet, tame words, "Go home to thy friends. They saw you go wrong, and are the ones, above all others, to be moved by the sight of your restoration. Go back to your former life, and from that centre work outward."

2. The same thought lies in the second text. The early Christians thought that in their conversion something unearthly, prodigious, had happened, and expected a complete translation from their past life. They had caught the significance of Jesus' words, "I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil." No disruption of your life in the world is proposed, but simply to conduct that life to nobler issues by purified and sanctified spirit. So the apostle says to these restless Corinthians, "Go home to your friends and to your occupation." Your relations to your fellow-beings in the household, in the state, in the market and shop, are the very points of contact at which your new spiritual life is to get access to the gross life of the world. Let every man, therefore, abide in the same calling wherein he was called.

3. There is something perennial in the mistake of this maniac and the early Church, and it arises from a total misconception of our life. We have not two lives, but life. We have not two sides to our life any more than a ray of light or a current of electricity has sides. We live; that is all. If you would see the absurdity of this division of our life, carry it up to God, our Father. He is a Spirit, yet He is constantly carrying on the affairs of a material universe. Now has God two lives — one spiritual, when He is lost in self-contemplation, or when receiving the adorations of the heavenly hosts? The other life material, when He is conducting the minute affairs of a world or a constellation, tempering its climates, mixing its soils, ordering wars and overturnings here, prosperity and abundance there? All actions of a spiritual being are spiritual. We are the children of God, and to divide our life and call one part earthly, the other heavenly, is just as absurd as to attempt to draw such a line through the life of God our Father.

4. Now, this being so, it follows that the practical life is the only point of vital, spiritual contact with the world, and if you are to make yourself felt as a spiritual power, it must be in the practical life. What is the world to you and to me? It is just our own small circle of the daily life. Now just that is our point of contact with the great round world. A tree is a mighty growth, with thousands of leaves, presenting to the sun and atmosphere a vast area of surface. Now suppose a single leaf should busy itself with thinking of that vast surface of absorption and radiation, and forget that its own daily life was its world of absorption and radiation. And having made this mistake, it hastens to make another. It forgets that its own stem is the nexus, the point of vital contact with the great life of the tree, and whatever transactions it may have with light and air, the results must be communicated to the great life of the tree through its own stem. Our point of living union with the great life of the world is our daily practical life; that is the stem which joins us to the mighty tree. Whatever dealings we may have with the heavens, the result must be communicated to the world through that one point of union, that leaf-stalk, the practical life. E.g., here is an humble, honourable craft — shoemaking. Now the average Christian shoemaker says to himself, My secular life lies in my craft. But my spiritual life lies in another realm. I must go apart there to do my praying and meditating, and get my spiritual nourishment. Now Christ meets that man in his so-called spiritual realm, and orders him off at once. "Go home to thy friends." And the apostle re-echoes the words of his Lord. You are joined to the great world at the point of your daily life. The need of the world for shoes is just as imperative, therefore as sacred, as its need for praying, and singing, and Bible-reading. If it imperatively needs shoes, it just as imperatively needs good shoes. You are called of God to minister to that honourable need. The principal part of your time, your thought, your labour, is held to that one point. If you are not spiritual there, then the principal part of your life is unspiritual. If you fail of a spiritual impression there, you have failed altogether, and any fine talk or earthly experiences which you may bring to your fellow-men from some other dreamy spiritual realm will be to them as chaff and dust. They turn upon you in just wrath, saying, Away with your religion. I needed you. I had a right to demand of you, and all that I asked of you was good work. You have lost your chance on me. And so the man loses his chance of spiritual influence upon the world. See to it that spiritual power goes into your work, through it and with it as it passes from your hands into the world. Genuine material, honest work; clean and sound thought and speech; these are the vehicles for transmitting spiritual power to the world. St. Paul was a tent-maker. I pledge you he made the best tents to be had in the country.

(J. H. Ecob, D. D.)

Observe —


1. Of becoming discontented with our calling.

2. This is common.

3. It may be excited by the more enlightened views produced by conversion.

II. THE DUTY. "To abide," &c.

1. This does not mean —

(1)That a slave may not seek his liberty.

(2)That a man must not relinquish a nefarious occupation.

(3)That a Christian may not desire a position of greater advantage and usefulness.

2. It —

(1)Inculcates contentment.

(2)Teaches that every honest calling affords scope for Christian development, and that we should serve God in our calling.


1. Has appointed your condition.

2. Blesses you in it.

3. Can easily improve it if desirable.

(J. Lyth, D. D.)

The Christian calling doth not at all prejudice, much less overthrow, it rather strengtheneth those interests that arise from natural relations, or from voluntary contracts betwixt man and man. I desired to speak, and judged expedient for you to hear, concerning —

1. The necessity.

2. The choice.

3. The use of particular callings.Points, if ever need to be taught, certainly in these days most. Wherein some habituated in idleness will not betake themselves to any calling: like a heavy jade that is good at bit and nought else. These would be soundly spurred up and whipped on end. Other some, through weakness, do not make good choice of a fit calling: like a young unbroken thing that hath mettle and is free, but is ever wrying the wrong way. These would be fairly checked, turned into the right way, and guided with a steady and skilful hand. A third sort, through unsettledness, or discontentedness, or other untoward humour, walk not soberly and uprightly and orderly in their calling: like an unruly colt that will over hedge and ditch, no ground will hold him, no fence turn him. The first sort are to be taught the necessity of a calling; the second, to be directed for the choice of their calling; the third, to be limited in the exercise of their calling. Of which three, in their order; and of the first —

I. THE NECESSITY OF A CALLING. The necessity whereof you are to imagine not an absolute and positive, but a conditional and suppositive necessity. Not as if no man could be without one, de facto, but because, de jure, no man should be without one. And this necessity we are now to prove. And that — First, from the obedience we owe to God's ordinances, and the account we must render for every one of God's gifts. Amongst those ordinances this is one, and one of the first, that in the sweat of our faces every man of us should eat our bread (Genesis 3:19; Ephesians 4:28), and woe to us if we neglect it. But say there were no such express command for it; the very distribution of God's gifts were enough to lay upon us this necessity. Where God bestoweth He bindeth; and to whom anything is given, of him something shall be required. We may not think the God of nature' doth bestow abilities whereof He intendeth no use, for that were to bestow them in vain. Secondly, the necessity of a calling is great in regard of a man's self, and that more ways than one. For man being by nature active, so he must be doing. There is no Cross, no holy water, no exorcism so powerful to drive away and to conjure down the fiend, as faithful labour in some honest calling. Thirdly, life must be preserved, families maintained, the poor relieved; this cannot be done without bread, and bread cannot be gotten honestly but in a lawful vocation or calling. Fourthly and lastly, a calling is necessary in regard of the public. God hath made us sociable creatures; contrived us into commonwealths; made us fellow-members of one body. Every man should put to his helping hand to advance the common good. For which reason the ancient renowned commonwealths were so careful to ordain that no man should live bug in some profession. It is the sin of many of the gentry whom God hath furnished with means and abilities to do much good, to spend their whole days and lives in an unprofitable course of doing either nothing, or as good as nothing, or worse than nothing. Manual, and servile, and mechanic trades and arts are for men of a lower condition; but yet no man is born, no man should be bred unto idleness. There are generous, and ingenuous, and liberal employments sortable to the greatest births and educations. But for our gallants who live in no settled course of life, but spend half the day in sleeping, half the night in gaming, and the rest of their time in other pleasures and vanities to as little purpose as they can devise, as if they were born for nothing else but to eat and drink and sport. The third sort of those that live unprofitably and without a calling, are our sturdy rogues and vagrant towns-end beggars; the very filth and vermin of the commonwealth. I mean such as have health and strength and limbs, and are in some measure able to work and take pains for their living. God is just, and will not call any man to that which is not honest and good. God is all-sufficient, and will not call any man to that which is above the proportion of his strength. God is wonderful in His providence, and will not call any man to that whereto He will not open him a fair and orderly passage. Somewhat by your patience of each of these. And first, of the course we intend. Wherein let these be our inquiries — First, whether the thing be simply and in itself lawful or no. Secondly, whether it be lawful so as to be made a calling or no. Thirdly, whether it will be profitable or rather hurtful to the commonwealth. Now observe the rules.

II. Our first care past, which concerneth the calling itself, our next care in OUR CHOICE MUST BE to inquire into ourselves, what calling is most fit for us and we for it. Wherein our inquiry must rest especially upon three things; our inclination, our gifts, and our education.

III. Remaineth now the third and last point proposed, THE USE OF A MAN'S CALLING. Let him walk in it (ver. 17). Let him abide in it (ver. 20). Let him abide therein with God. It may seem he would have us stick to a course; and when we are in a calling, not to forsake it, nor change it, no, not for a better, no, not upon any terms. Perhaps some have taken it so, but certainly the apostle never meant it so. It is lawful to change it, so it be done with due caution. It is lawful, first, in subordinate callings. How should we do for generals for the wars if colonels, and lieutenants, and captains, and common soldiers might not relinquish their charges? It is lawful, secondly, yea, necessary, when the very calling itself, though in itself good and useful, doth yet by accident become unlawful or unuseful. As when some manufacture is prohibited by the State. It is lawful, thirdly, when a man by some accident becometh unable for the duties of his calling, as by age, blindness, maim, decay of estate, and sundry other impediments which daily occur. It is lawful, fourthly, where there is a want of sufficient men, or not a sufficient number of them in some callings, for the necessities of the State and country; in such cases authority may interpose. But then it must be done with due cautions. As first, not out of a desultory lightness. Nor, secondly, out of the greediness of a covetous or ambitious lust. Thirdly, nor out of sullenness, or a discontentedness at thy present condition. Much less, fourthly, out of an evil eye against thy neighbour that liveth by thee. But, fifthly, be sure thou change not, if thy calling be of that nature that it may not be changed. Wheresoever thy calling is, therein abide; be content with it. The second is faithfulness and industry and diligence. What is here called abiding in it, is at ver. 17 called walking in it, and in Romans 12:17, waiting on it. The third is sobriety, that we keep ourselves within the proper bounds and limits of our callings. For how doth he abide in his calling that is ever and anon flying out of it, and starting beyond it? like an extravagant soldier that is always breaking rank. But yet abide with God. The clause was not added for nothing; it teacheth thee also some duties. First, so to demean thyself in thy particular calling as that thou do nothing but what may stand with thy general calling. Magistrate, or minister, or lawyer, or merchant, or artificer, or whatsoever other thou art, remember thou art withal a Christian. God is the author of both callings. Do not think He hath called thee to service in the one, and to liberty in the other; to justice in the one, and to cosenage in the other; to simplicity in the one, and to dissimulation in the other: to holiness in the one, and to profaneness in the other. It teacheth thee, secondly, not to ingulf thyself so wholly into the business of thy particular calling as to abridge thyself of convenient opportunities to the exercise of those religious duties which thou art bound to perform by virtue of thy general calling, as prayer, confession, thanksgiving, meditation, &c. God alloweth thee to serve thyself, but He commandeth thee to serve Him too. It teacheth thee, thirdly, to watch over the special sins of thy particular calling. Sins, I mean not that cleave necessarily to the calling, for then the very calling itself should be unlawful; but sins unto the temptations whereof the condition of thy calling layeth thee open more than it doth unto other sins, or more than some other callings would do unto the same sins.

(Bishop Sanderson.)

Paul reminds us of the moral act which has the power of sanctifying and ennobling every external position: the eye fixed on God, walking in His presence. This is what preserves the believer from the temptations arising from his situation, and what raises his humblest duties to the supreme dignity of acts of worship. This principle has been of incalculable importance in the development of the Church. It is by means of it that Christianity has been able to become a moral power, at once sufficiently firm and sufficiently elastic to adapt itself to all human situations, personal, domestic, national, and social. Thereby it is that without revolution it has worked the greatest revolutions, accepting everything to transform everything, submitting to everything to rise above everything, renewing the world from top to bottom, while condemning all violent subversion. Whence has the apostle derived this principle in which there meet the most unconquerable faith and the most consummate ability (see Romans 12:3)? Wisdom from on high did not less direct Paul the pastor than Paul the teacher; and it is not improbable that he was acquainted with the parable of the leaven.

(Prof. Godet.)

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