1 Corinthians 7:17
Regardless, each one should lead the life that the Lord has assigned to him and to which God has called him. This is what I prescribe in all the churches.
Sermons
Celibacy and MarriageH. Bremner, B. D.1 Corinthians 7:1-17
MarriageJ. Lyth, D. D.1 Corinthians 7:1-17
MarriageM. Dods, D. D.1 Corinthians 7:1-17
Paul's Conception of MarriageD. Thomas, D. D.1 Corinthians 7:1-17
Paul's View of CelibacyDean Stanley.1 Corinthians 7:1-17
Celibacy and MarriageE. Hurndall 1 Corinthians 7:1, 2, 7-9, 25-35
Marriage: its Nature and DutiesE. Hurndall 1 Corinthians 7:2-6, 10-17
Christian CasuistryF. W. Robertson, M. A.1 Corinthians 7:10-17
DivorceJ. Lyth, D. D.1 Corinthians 7:10-17
Divorce: Mixed MarriagesH. Bremner, B. D.1 Corinthians 7:10-17
Paul's InspirationPrincipal Edwards.1 Corinthians 7:10-17
The Marriage UnionJ. Lyth, D. D.1 Corinthians 7:10-17
Unity in Marriage1 Corinthians 7:10-17
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
From the special case with which he has just dealt, the apostle proceeds to lay down a general principle. To understand the need for this, we have only to remember the circumstances of the time and the bearing upon these of the doctrines of the gospel. To many minds Christianity must have appeared to be revolutionary in its tendency. It proclaimed the equality of all men in the sight of God, the temporary nature of earthly things, the approaching advent of the Lord Jesus Christ, when a new era was to dawn; and men who drank in these views as the new wine of life were apt to become intoxicated. They were ready to cast off family obligations, disrupt social ties, and break up every earthly relationship. Against this tendency Paul here warns them. Christianity was not meant to revolutionize society in this violent way. On the contrary, it adapts itself to every position and relation in life in which men may be placed.

I. A GENERAL RULE. This rule is thrice repeated with slight variations (vers. 17, 20, 24). "Let each man abide in that calling wherein he was called."

1. The Christian view of life.

(1) It is a distribution of God - a lot. Our station, occupation, relationships, are of Divine appointment. He assigns us our lot (Psalm 16:5, 6) and. determines the bounds of our habitation (Acts 17:26).

(2) It is a calling. Our true work in the world is that to which the voices of Providence call us. If we are where we ought to be, we should look upon our occupation as a real vocation of God.

2. The Christian's duty in relation to his lot or calling in life. The general rule is - Remain where you are. This follows from the view of life just presented; for it is our duty to abide by the Lord's appointment, and conversion does not necessarily change our secular vocation. If he finds you at the plough, or at the desk, or engaged in trade, or in the married state, or in the service of another, - serve him where he finds you. Christianity is a hardy plant that thrives in every clime. Do not imagine that if you were in a different line of things it would be easier for you to follow Christ. Nothing is more needed in our day titan a consistent exhibition of Christian principle in the common walks of life - the family, the workshop, the office, the exchange, etc. Let your light shine where it is first kindled, continuing there "with God" (ver. 24). To this rule, however, there are two obvious exceptions.

(1) When we discover that our occupation is inconsistent with the Law of God. A wrong course of life, such as a business which cannot be conducted on Christian principles, should be abandoned at once. It is not a "lot" or a "calling" of God.

(2) When there is a clear call to a position of greater usefulness, presenting fuller opportunities of serving the Lord. Thus the apostles left their boats and nets to follow Jesus. Thus many a young man is called to leave his secular occupation and give himself to the ministry of the Word.

II. ILLUSTRATIONS OF THE RULE. TO show how the rule applies, Paul takes two illustrative examples - the one from religious position, the other from social position.

1. Circumcision. If a Jew is called, let him not attempt to efface the mark of the covenant; if a Gentile is called, let him not think it needful to be circumcised. To do otherwise in either case would be to attach a value to external forms which they do not possess. Paul's own practice in circumcising Timothy (Acts 16:3), and refusing to circumcise Titus (Galatians 2:3, 4), throws light upon this. To have acted otherwise in the case of Timothy would have been to attach importance to the omission of the rite, since one of his parents was a Jew and the other a Greek. To have allowed it in the case of Titus, whose parents were both Gentiles, would have been to attach importance to the performance of the rite, and so to submit to the yoke which the "false brethren" sought to impose. By acting as he did he showed that both circumcision and uncircumcision were to him matters of indifference. Religion is not an affair of outward ceremonies, but of spiritual obedience. Comp. ver. 19 with Galatians 5:6 and Galatians 6:15, in all which the first clause is the same. In opposition to such matters of ritual observance, he places:

(1) "Faith working through love;"

(2) "A new creature;" and

(3) "The keeping of the commandments of God." These are the great essentials of Christianity (see Stanley, in loc.).

2. Slavery. If there is any institution to which we should have expected Christianity to show itself hostile, it is just this. Slavery strikes at the root idea of humanity, denying to man his proper dignity as a person; and is therefore in collision with the axiom on which the gospel proceeds, that "He made of one every nation of men" (Acts 17:26). At the time when Paul wrote, it was the great "open sore" of the world, and was frequently accompanied with great hardship and cruelty. Yet he does not counsel the Christian slaves - a numerous class - to rise in rebellion and throw off their bondage. He bids them "care not for it" (ver. 21). Freedom, indeed, is to be preferred if you can obtain it; but you can serve God as a bondservant as truly as if you were free. It was not by dint of hacking and cutting that the fetters were to be struck off, but by a surer and more excellent method. As the frost fetters of winter give way before the warm breath of spring, so Christianity was to loosen the bonds of the slave wherever it came. And this principle was to regulate individual action. For:

(1) It makes no difference to your Christian standing whether you be bond or free. You were bought with a price, and so redeemed from the bondage of sin and Satan in order to serve Christ. Hence, though you are a bondservant, you are really the Lord's freedman; and though you are outwardly free, you are really Christ's bondservant. Man must serve, but he cannot serve two masters. Our Redeemer delivers us from Satan, so that we are now free; but this freedom shows itself in the service of our new Master. "Let my people go, that they may serve me," is still the Lord's demand.

(2) The service of Christ is true freedom. It delivers us from every other spiritual service. Christian liberty is compatible with outward slavery, but not with subjection to men in spiritual things. Here we must not call any man "master." How often do Christians become bondservants of men! We fall into this error when we shape our views and conduct according to tradition, or party, or school, or the popular voice, instead of simply asking, "What saith the Lord?" - B.







But as God hath distributed to every man, as the Lord hath called every one, so let him walk.
1. God appoints every man his station and condition in life.

2. Has called him in it.

3. Requires him faithfully to fulfil its duties.

4. Allows of no exception unless when compliance is sinful.

(J. Lyth, D. D.)

He rises above the circumstances —

I. OF CASTE.

1. Externals are nothing.

2. Only conformity to the will of God gives true dignity.

II. OF STATION.

1. As a servant he is free; serving God in his calling, contented to leave the improvement of his position to Divine Providence, rejoicing in the liberty of Christ.

2. As free he is unaffected by external advantage, and glories in being a servant of Christ.

III. OF HUMAN SERVILITY.

1. He is redeemed by Christ.

2. Therefore not the servant of man.

3. Can in every condition abide with God.

(J. Lyth, D. D.)

I. RESPECTS—

1. Our religious privileges.

2. Our earthly condition.

II. ARISES out of the conviction —

1. That we are redeemed.

2. Can serve Christ.

3. Enjoy fellowship with God.

(J. Lyth, D. D.)

I. HIS TRUE FREEDOM.

1. From an over-estimate of externals.

2. From pride of condition and false shame.

3. From servility.

4. In the service of Christ.

II. HIS TRUE DEPENDENCE.

1. He knows that self-dependence is impossible.

2. Regards himself as Christ's property.

3. Accounts it his highest honour to abide in God.

(J. Lyth, D. D.)

Is any man called
1. God calls us without any reference to our former condition.

2. Puts no value upon religious externals.

3. Requires holiness of heart and life.

4. Hence anxiety about mere forms is reprehensible.

(J. Lyth, D. D.)

es: —

1. External circumstances are of no importance in the sight of God (vers. 18, 19).

2. God overrules them for our advantage (vers. 20-22).

3. By seeking to change them we may easily forget Christ and become the servants of men (vers. 23, 24).

(J. Lyth, D. D.)

Circumcision is nothing... but keeping the commandments of God.
(text, Galatians 5:6; Galatians 6:15): — The great controversy which embittered Paul's life turned upon the question whether a heathen could come into the Church by the door of faith, or of circumcision. Time, which settles all controversies, has settled that. But the principles are eternal, though the forms vary with every varying age. The Ritualist and the Puritan represent permanent tendencies of human nature. These three passages are Paul's deliverance on the question of the comparative value of external rites and spiritual character. Note —

I. THE EMPHATIC PROCLAMATION OF THE NULLITY OF OUTWARD RITES.

1. Circumcision neither is anything nor does anything. Paul speaks about baptism, in chap. 1 Corinthians 1., in a precisely similar tone and for precisely the same reason.(1) Forms have their value. A man prays all the better if he bow his head, &c. Forms help us to the realisation of the truths which they express. Music may waft our souls to the heavens, and pictures may stir deep thoughts.(2) But then external rights tend to usurp more than belongs to them, and in our weakness we are apt, instead of using them as means to lift us higher, to stay in them, and to mistake the mere gratification of taste and the excitement of the sensibilities for worship, if there be as much form as will embody the spirit, that is all that we want. What is more is dangerous. All form in worship is like fire, it is a good servant but it is a bad master. Now, when men say about Christian rites that they are necessary, then it is needful to take up Paul's ground and to say, "No! they are nothing!" If you say that grace is miraculously conveyed through them, then it is needful to declare their nullity for the highest purpose, that of making that spiritual character which alone is essential.

2. Uncircumcision is nothing. It is very hard for a man who has been delivered from the dependence upon forms not to fancy that his formlessness is what the other people think that their forms are. The Puritan who does not believe that a man can be a good man because he is a Ritualist or a Roman Catholic, is committing the very same error as the Ritualist or the Roman Catholic. There may be as much idolatry in reliance upon the bare worship as the ornate; and many a Nonconformist who fancies that he has "never bowed the knee to Baal" is as true an idol-worshipper as the men who trust in Ritualism.

II. THE THREEFOLD VARIETY OF THE DESIGNATION OF ESSENTIALS.

1. By "keeping the commandments" the apostle does not mean merely external obedience, but conformity to the will of God. That is the perfection of a man's nature, when his will fits on to God's like one of Euclid's triangles superimposed upon another, and line for line coincides. When his will allows a free passage to the will of God, without resistance or deflection, as light travels through transparent glass; when his will responds to the touch of God's fingers upon the keys, like the telegraphic needle to the operator's hand, then man has attained all that God and religion can do for him, all that his nature is capable of; and' far beneath his feet may be the ladders of ceremonies and forms and outward acts by which he climbed to that serene and blessed height.

2. But I can fancy a man saying, "That is all very well, but how can I attain to that? "Well, take Galatians 6:15. If we are ever to keep the will of God we must be made over again. Our own consciences and the history of all the efforts that ever we have made, tell us that there needs to be a stronger hand than ours to come into the fight if it is ever to be won by us. But in that word, "a new creature," lies a promise from God; for a creature implies a Creator. We may have our spirits moulded into His likeness, and new tastes, desires, and capacities infused into us, so as that we shall not be left with our own poor powers to try and force ourselves into obedience to God's will, but that submission and holiness, and love that keeps the commandments of God, will spring up in our renewed spirits as their natural product and growth.

3. And so we come to Galatians 5:6. If we are to be made over again, we must have faith in Christ. We have got to the root now. External rites cannot make men partakers of a new nature. He that trusts Christ opens his heart to Christ, who comes with His new-creating Spirit, and makes us willing in the day of His power to keep His commandments; and faith shows itself living, because it leads us to love, and through love it produces its effects upon conduct. The keeping of the commandments will be easy where there is love in the heart. The will will bow where there is love in the heart. Paul and James shake hands here.

(A. Maclaren, D. D.)

As with all deeply earnest men, the teaching of St. Paul grew out of the special events of his life. The crisis called out the struggle, and the struggle called out the word of command. For some years of his life St. Paul passed through a strange experience. The man who to us is a saint, the very type of all that is most exalted, the very man who now keeps the conscience of Christendom, and of whom it is a commonplace to say, "Follow him, as he followed Christ," this man, while he lived, was for many years regarded by religious men, and doubtless by devout women also, as a dangerous man, as lacking true reverence in things pertaining to God, as what we might call in these days an innovator and latitudinarian. "Circumcision," in the eyes of St. Paul's opponents, was the symbol of what they reverenced and what they accused him, rightly or wrongly, of disparaging. He called himself the Apostle of the Gentiles. He turned his back on his own race and training. He seemed eager not to bridge over the chasm which separated the new from the old, but to glory in the conviction, which, indeed, in one of these four Epistles he expressly enunciated, that "in Christ old things had passed away; behold, all things had become new." Now, how did St. Paul bear such comments, and the consciousness that they came not only from unscrupulous partisans, but also doubtless from devout and aggrieved souls? I think we may say that among all his manifold troubles he had no heavier cross to bear than this. It led him not only to justify himself — not only in various ways and at various times to make an Apologia pro vita sua — but to dwell earnestly, solemnly, may we not also say wistfully, and with something of a holy impatience, on the real stake at issue. Why all this battling about symbols, about outward things, about the things below, instead of the things above? Circumcision and uncircumcision, symbol and no symbol, conformity with the past, or no conformity, what were they in the sight of Him who is a Spirit, and knows no difference between Gerizim and Jerusalem? The essential thing is this — the keeping of the commandments of God; faith which worketh by love; a new creature, We may regard these as three essentials, or as one essential; but here we have from a master of the spiritual life, at a time when he was attacked on every side by misrepresentation, besides that which came upon him daily, " the care of all the churches," an emphatic declaration of the essence of true Christianity; obedience to God's commands, faith working by love, a new creature.

I. Whatever else may be important or unimportant in Christian teaching or discipline, this at least is essential, THE KEEPING OF THE COMMANDMENTS OF GOD. The expression may mean almost anything, or almost nothing, according to our rank in the school of Christ. To the ripe scholar it means almost everything. "The keeping of the commandments of God." "Which be they?" "The same which God spake in the 20th chapter of Exodus?" Yes, of course, and much more. The same which the life and death of Christ have written, not on tables of stone, but on tables of the heart and conscience. The commandments which every development of thought, every discovery or half-discovery as to the origin or the mysterious interdependence of mind and body, nay, every acceptance, general or partial, of some moral half-truth or even honest heresy, have concurred in stamping upon an enlightened conscience. Wherever the spirit of the age is in harmony with the Spirit of God, wherever the increase of thought and knowledge points to wider sympathies and enlarged fields of human service, there are fresh provinces marked out for the empire of "the commandments of God." To learn these commandments, to accept them with ardour and intelligence, with the mind as well as with the heart — to "do them" ourselves and to "teach men so" — this is one of the essentials of a true Christian faith.

II. "In Christ neither circumcision availeth anything, nor uncircumcision, but FAITH WHICH WORKETH BY LOVE." We are not content, surely, that these should remain merely technical words; we would have them living forces. To St. Paul faith is that outgoing of the whole being — mind, heart, spirit — which attaches itself to a Person; believes in Him, "clings to Him, trusts Him, worships Him; finds in His will, and even more in His assured sympathy, the plainest guarantee of duty, and cannot, even in imagination, separate itself from His presence and His indwelling. By this test may we know whether we are Christ's disciples. In Christ Jesus faith working through love is an essential. We cannot live without regard to Him, as though He were nothing mow to us beyond an illustrious Example. We cannot look at Him, speak of Him, criticise Him as from outside. We cannot think of Him as the citizens of a neutral power might think of the ruler or the general of some belligerent nation, sympathising perhaps in part with his policy, but still regarding it as outside their own. No! we are not outsiders. We are servants of One who has used the strongest language as to His claims upon His servants; One who has said, "He that is not with Me is against Me"; and again, "Abide in Me, and I in you; as the branch cannot bear fruit of itself except it abide in the vine, no more can ye except ye abide in Me"; and again, "Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, ye have no life in you." "Faith which works by love," perfect trust in Jesus Christ showing forth its devotion by sympathy with those whom He calls His brethren — this is life eternal; this can never disappoint, never betray the soul that trusts it.

III. "Neither is circumcision anything, nor uncircumcision, but A NEW CREATURE." It is not easy, nay, it is morally perilous, to try to analyse, as in a laboratory, the essence of an expression wrung, one might dare to say, from the very heart, and steeped in the very life-blood of this great soldier of Christ, a "new creature," a "new creation." One thing is clear — we may interpret at least, if we hesitate to apply — that St. Paul must have meant to express by this phrase the greatest of all changes, not a mere improvement, the lopping off of a vice here, and an ambition there; not a taming down of the old wild nature under the yoke of some humanising and civilising charm: nothing so small as this, but a change comparable to a new birth, a new order of being, a new manifestation of life, with new aims, new conceptions, new ideals, new organ, new powers. To become a Christian, then, whether the change were from heathendom or Judaism, must, of course, have been something different from what it can be to the sons of Christian parents in the nineteenth century of the Christian Church, and at a place like this where the very stones are witnesses to the reforming and re-creating power of the name of Christ. But even now I venture to say that we do not know what true Christianity is unless we are able to recognise it as "a new creature." It is the "new creature" which "through peril, toil and pain," was to "overcome the world." It was the "new creature" which was to root out gradually all that was vile and refuse in humanity, and to present to Christ a changed society, worthy to be called His own bride, "a glorious Church, not having spot or wrinkle, or any such thing."

(H. M. Butler, D. D.)

Let every man abide in the same calling wherein he was calleth
In seasons of unusual religious excitement and earnestness men are tempted to regard all political and social distinctions, and all ordinary secular employments, as abolished or suspended. This apostolic injunction may be considered as directed in principle against a twofold form of error prevalent at such times.

1. In the first place it is directed against the error of making religion a business or profession by itself, leaving us no time or thought for anything else. Who is the best Christian? Not he who makes the loudest professions of Christianity, nor he who gives the most time to thinking about it, nor yet he who best understands its principles; but he who best succeeds in applying these principles to his daily cares and duties, and in filling his place in society, whatever it may be, in a Christ-like spirit.

2. Again, the injunction in the text is directed generally, and in principle, against the kindred error of supposing that there are many lawful callings or professions in which it is impossible to lead a Christian life. More difficult it may be, but not impossible, the difficulty only enhancing the virtue which has strength and resolution enough to overcome it. On the other hand, the clerical profession, to those who are fit for it, is generally thought, in a moral and religious point of view, to promise best of all; because the special business and object of the calling coincide so entirely with what ought to be the highest business and object of us all. But here also there is difficulty and drawback, showing that the difference in the eligibility of the various professions on moral grounds is not so great as is often supposed. Where the profession is religious, the danger is that the religion will become professional. Then, too, looking merely at the effect of his labours, I believe it is often possible for a layman to do more for religion than a clergyman, from the very fact that he cannot be suspected of a professional bias or bribe. We arrive, then, at the conclusion that all the great professions are open to choice, and that there is nothing in any one of them, in itself considered, to hinder a good man in certain cases from choosing it. But it by no means follows that all professions are equally eligible in themselves; much less, that all are equally eligible to every person and under all circumstances. All are open to choice; but this does not exclude the duty of making a wise choice, as being that on which, more perhaps than on any other one thing, a man's usefulness and happiness will depend. Let me begin by observing, that if the time for choosing a profession has come, it is not well, as a general rule, to postpone it by unnecessary delays. If you say, your mind is unsettled; I reply, in the first place, that in practical matters the will has more to do in settling the mind than arguments; and, secondly, that the probable effect of another year spent without an object will only be to unsettle your minds still more. To enter on the practice of any profession without being duly prepared for it is, I admit, a great error; but this is a reason for beginning the preparation as soon as may be; certainly it is no reason for unnecessary delays. So much impressed was Dr. Johnson with the mischief of fickleness on this subject, that he is half inclined to recommend that every one's calling should be determined by his parents or guardian; at any rate, he does not hesitate to conclude, "that of two states of life equally consistent with religion and virtue, he who chooses earliest chooses best." Another preliminary suggestion is, that in choosing a profession we should take care not to allow too much weight to local and temporary considerations; — considerations which will have no bearing on our future progress, except perhaps to narrow and limit it. I suppose there are those who can give no better reason for being in one profession rather than another than this, that they found it easier to get into it. But certainly our success and happiness are to depend, not on our getting into a profession, but on our getting on in it; that is to say, on our being able to fill it honourably and well. I know the common excuse. It will be said, that we are often placed in circumstances where we must do, not as we would, but as we can. We talk about what we can do, and what we cannot; but, after all, this is, for the most part, an arbitrary distinction. What one man calls impossible, another man calls merely difficult; and, with minds which are made of the right sort of stuff, difficulties do not repel or dishearten; they only stimulate to new and greater efforts. Hence we conclude, that every young man owes it to himself, at any sacrifice consistent with virtue and religion, to find, as soon as may be, his proper place and calling, meaning thereby the place and calling in which, with his education and abilities, he is most likely to become useful and happy. But how is he to find it? that is the great question. I answer generally, By considering what he was made for, taking into view, at the same time, his intellectual aptitudes, and his moral needs and dangers. As regards intellectual or mental aptitudes, or what is sometimes called the natural bent of one's genius, two extreme opinions have found supporters, which seem to me to be almost equally removed from practical wisdom. The first is that of those who contend that a strong tendency to one profession rather than to another is to be considered; but only, that it may be crossed and overruled. Thus, if a person early manifests extraordinary talents for business and affairs, this is a reason why he should not be, by profession, a man of business and affairs, for he is enough of that already: he ought rather to go into the army or the Church, which will have the effect to call forth his latent qualities. I hardly need say that this doctrine, plausible as it may seem to some minds, is theoretically false, and practically absurd. It is theoretically false; for, though balance and harmony of character enter into the theory of what a man ought to be, these have nothing to do with an equal, or even with a proportionate development of his faculties. Moreover, to pursue this course would be practically absurd. Every man would do what he is least fitted to do; and the consequence would be, that the whole work of life would, be done in the worst possible manner and under the greatest possible disadvantages. Nor is this all; for the subject has its religious aspects. When we refer to a man's profession as being his vocation, or calling, we suppose him to be called. Every man is calmly and impartially to consider what he was made for, what by the constitution of his mind and character he is best fitted to become, and to look upon this as a call from God — the voice of God speaking in his own nature, which, when distinct and emphatic, he has no right to disregard. Often, however, and I suppose I may say generally, the call is not distinct and emphatic, at least as regards most professions; and this leads me to notice the other of the two extreme opinions referred to above. It consists in supposing that every man has his place, and that everything depends on his finding that particular place, a mistake here being final and fatal. No such thing. We are not born with adaptations, but with adaptabilities; and these are such in most men that they can fit themselves as well, or nearly as well, for one as another of several professions. Leaving out of view eminence in the fine arts, which seems to require at the start a peculiar nervous organisation, I do not believe there is one man in ten whom nature has endowed with aptitudes and predispositions so special and marked that he might not succeed perfectly well in any one out of several pursuits. In a large majority of cases the battle of life is won, not by natural, but by personal qualities; by those personal qualities which invite favour and inspire confidence and insure courage and persistency in whatever is undertaken. Neither your profession nor your circumstances, but the quick eye, and the strong arm, and the iron will must work out for you the great problem of life. These qualities, however, are little better than brute force, unless inspired and directed by a high moral purpose; and this high moral purpose little better than a breath of air, unless it rests on religious faith; and this religious faith "unstable as water," unless accepted as the revealed will of God. "For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ."

(J. Walker, D. D.)

if it is an honest one.

1. It is God's own appointment.

2. God has blessed you in it.

3. It can be no impediment to a holy life.

4. Affords ample scope for the development of Christian character.

5. May be dignified by fidelity.

(J. Lyth, D. D.)

It is —

I. ADAPTED TO EVERY RANK AND CONDITION.

II. INTERFERES WITH NO HONEST CALLING, but rather alleviates, dignifies, and makes it subservient to the noblest ends.

III. TEACHES UNIVERSAL CONTENTMENT.

1. In the recognition of the Divine will.

2. By the enjoyment of the Divine blessing.

(J. Lyth, D. D.)

Art thou called, being a servant?
I.His PRIVILEGE — called.

II.HIS DUTY — contentment.

III.HIS EMANCIPATION — a lawful object of ambition.

(J. Lyth, D. D.)

I. DOES NOT CONSIST IN INDEPENDENCE.

1. A slave may be free.

2. The freeman a slave.

II. IT CONSISTS IN THE SUBJECTION OF THE HEART TO CHRIST who —

1. Makes the hardest service freedom.

2. Subjects the freest will by the force of love.

(J. Lyth, D. D.)

1. Emancipates the slave.

2. Captivates the free.

(J. Lyth, D. D.)

In the "Records" of Dr. Raleigh's Life we meet with some striking thoughts suggested while he journeyed in Palestine. The following remarks are interesting and instructive: "It seems strange that events so great should transpire in a geographical area so small. Palestine is not much larger than Wales, to which, in some parts, it is not unlike, and not only is it small, but rugged, even what men call 'common.' Some travellers come back almost oppressed with the commonness of what they have seen. God does not need much earthly space, nor that the little should be of what men esteem the best, on which to prepare the scenes of the great drama, historical and celestial, which has been there unfolded. He does not want a continent with far-stretching plains and ship-bearing rivers. He wants only a strip of land running along the sea shore; a confused mass of mountain and high land and plain; a single river of moderate size, a lake, and a Dead Sea. Only so much — and the great drama may go on which has already culminated in a tragedy, and which is destined, on some future day, to end in a world-wide triumph. God has repeated that type and method of action often. Egypt is a river-bed. Greece is little else than rock and sea. Montenegro is an eagle's nest. Grandly the Divine action shows against a background of plainness! Beautifully the Divine idea is worked out in scenes of common life! The fisherman in his boat on the sea; the shepherd leading his flock along the hillside; sisters dwelling in a brother's house in a village — these, and such as these, are the characters illuminated for ever for the instruction of all the world. What can we do better than construct our life, and seek to have it inspired after the model of God's own action? Do our souls begin to hanker after the fat pastures, the broad acres, the rich estate, the ample, well-furnished house? And do we dislike the commonness, the ruggedness through which we must work our way? We are wrong, we need much less than we are apt to imagine, we must correct our ideal. We need only foothold — room to begin. We do not need selected and auspicious circumstances — we need just such as come. We may take the commonness and glorify it by our temper and spirit. We may vanquish the hardships of life by courage and industry, and fill all its scenes with a gentle and noble simplicity. We may put righteousness into it, strong as the bars of the mountains round about Jerusalem, and love in the heart of it, rising ever more like the waters of Shiloah, and so all our life will be a Holy Land."

For he that is called in the Lord, being a servant, is the Lord's freeman.
I. THE BONDAGE SUPPOSED BY THE GOSPEL, AND WHICH CALLS FOR ITS INTERFERENCE. It is a bondage —

1. In which all are born.

2. Produced and perpetuated by an awfully evil agency from without. Satan exercises his dominion in a secret way, by adapting it to our own perverted inclinations. He moves us, not violently, but by means of exciting in a natural way, our depraved powers and propensities.

3. Toilsome and painful, profitless and punishable.

II. THE NATURE OF THAT FREEDOM FROM IT, WHICH THE GOSPEL EFFECTS IN THE CASE OF ALL ITS CONVERTS. Every such one is "the Lord's freeman" Of this freedom the Lord Jesus is the author. He is the meritorious cause of its being bestowed; the agent of effecting it by His Spirit, and the leader of all who partake of it. It is a freedom of three steps and degrees,

1. It is a deliverance from the rightful power and custody of Satan.(1) Our bondage, because voluntary, is our crime. Satan does not force, but only draws, and we obey. Hence guilt is contracted, and guilt renders us amenable to the Divine justice. Thus guilt brings us under condemnation, and gives Satan a rightful power and custody over us, as the permitted executioner of the Divine displeasure. Such a power the law gives a jailer over the prisoner under sentence.(2) This is the state of which we are made aware when convinced of sire Nor can we think of any plea for mitigating or removing the sentence of Divine justice. Finding ourselves in this dilemma, we are prepared for the revelation of Divine mercy. Jesus steps forth as an Almighty Deliverer. We see Him in the gospel offering His life, paying it into the hands of justice as a ransom for the deliverance of sinners. But this deliverance must be sued by us, accompanied with a reference by faith to the great ransom presented. Then it becomes applied, and we are set free.(3) Our sentence being cancelled, Satan loses his rightful power over us. He retains his vexing, tempting, accusing power; but his right is g, no. By the removal of condemnation we are taken out of his custody for ever (Romans 8:1).

2. It is a deliverance from inbred sin, by means of new and holy tastes, inclinations, and principles. The faith by which we obtain deliverance from guilt and the power of Satan is a holy principle. There is a law in the mind now, stronger than the law of sin in the members, and overcoming its dictates (Romans 8:2).

3. It is a freedom of acting and moving in a noble and elevated condition. The converted person is the Lord's freeman. He serves Him in obeying His laws, reverencing His institutions, cherishing His image, cultivating His worship, and promoting His glory. This service is perfect freedom. It is the soul moving in its proper element, and feeling the pleasure which every creature enjoys so moving.Conclusion:

1. Observe the noble character of Christianity.

2. Those who are partakers of the spiritual freedom of the gospel have three appropriate exercises allotted to them.(1) They should promote the natural and civil freedom of men, according to the dictates of the gospel, and in its spirit. The genius of the gospel is opposed to bondage and vassalage of every kind.(2) By teaching men in the highest ranks to be just, they can hold none of their fellow-creatures in slavish and ignominious subjection. The reign of Christianity, therefore, must be productive of liberty.(3) Anticipate for yourselves the liberty of heaven, and exult in the prospect. Your freedom is here only begun. You shall enter into full redemption.

(J. Leifchild, D. D.)

The ideas are antithetical; they therefore explain each other. We cannot understand the liberty spoken of until we understand the bondage, and vice versa. Liberty is not freedom from restraint or authority. No creature is thus free. All rational beings are under the authority of reason and right. And as these are in infinite subjection to God, all creatures are under absolute subjection to Him. And this is the highest liberty. Consider —

I. MAN'S SERVILE STATE,

1. In renouncing subjection to God man lost his liberty and became —(1) The slave of sin. This subjection is bondage because —

(a)It has no right to rule. It does not belong to our normal state, and is inconsistent with the end of being.

(b)It is independent of the will. We cannot throw it off.(2) The slave of the law. He is under the obligation of satisfying its demands or of bearing its penalty. This —

(a)Is inexorable.

(b)Reveals itself in the conscience.

(c)Produces the slavish spirit — fear and anxious looking for of judgment.(3) The slave of Satan. We are in his power, subject to his control.

2. This subjection manifests itself in various ways.(1) It destroys the balance and power of the soul.(2) Not being subject to God, and being unable to guide itself, it submits to the world and public opinion, and to the priesthood and the Church.

II. MAN'S FREE STATE. Christ is our Redeemer, and the author of our liberty. They only are truly free whom He makes free. He frees us —

1. From condemnation. Until this is done nothing is done. A man in prison under sentence of death must be freed or he cannot be delivered from other evils.

2. From the law or the obligation of fulfilling its demands.

3. From the authority and power of Satan (Hebrews 2:14, 15).

4. From the reigning power of sin.

5. From a slavish spirit.

6. From all undue subjection to men.(1) By bringing the reason under subjection to His truth we are freed from their authority as to doctrine.(2) As we are subject to Him alone, as to the conscience, we cannot be subject to any other authority in deciding what is morally right or wrong.(3) As we have through Him deliverance from condemnation and acceptance with God, we are free from the priesthood.(4) As all we do is done in obedience to Him, lawful subjection to men is part of our liberty.

(C. Hodge, D. D.)

This remarkable saying occurs in a remarkable connection, and is used for a remarkable purpose. The apostle has been laying down the principle that the effect of true Christianity is greatly to diminish the importance of outward circumstance. Paul says, "You will better yourself by getting nearer God, and if you secure that — art thou a slave? care not for it; if thou mayest be free, use it rather. Art thou bound to a wife? seek not to be loosed. Art thou loosed? seek not to be bound. Art thou circumcised? seek not to be uncircumcised. Never mind about externals: the main thing is our relation to Jesus Christ, because in that there is what will be compensation for all the disadvantages of circumstances."

I. First, then, note how, according to the one-half of the antithesis, CHRIST'S FREED MEN ARE SLAVES. Now the way in which the New Testament deals with that awful wickedness of a man held in bondage by a man is extremely remarkable. It might seem as if such a hideous piece of immorality were altogether incapable of yielding any lessons of good, But the apostles have no hesitation whatever in taking slavery as a clear picture of the relation in which all Christian people stand to Jesus Christ their Lord. He is the owner and we are the slaves. And all the ugly associations which gather round the word are transported bodily into the Christian region, and there, instead of being hideous, take on a shape of beauty, and become expressions of the most blessed truths. And what is the centre idea that lies in this metaphor, if you like to call it so? It is this: absolute authority, which has for its correlative — for the thing in us that answers to it — unconditional submission. Jesus Christ has the perfect right to command each of us, and we are bound to bow ourselves, unreluctant, unmurmuring, unhesitating, with complete submission at His feet. And His authority, and our submission, go far, far deeper than the most despotic sway of the most tyrannous master, or than the most abject submission of the most downtrodden slave. For no man can coerce another man's will, and no man can require more, or can ever get more, than the outward obedience, which may be rendered with the most sullen and fixed rebellion of a hating heart and obstinate will. Absolute submission is not all that makes a disciple, but depend upon it there is no discipleship worth calling by the name without it. Bow your obstinate wills, surrender yourselves and accept Him as absolute, dominant Lord over your whole being! Are you Christians after that pattern? Being freemen, are you Christ's slaves? What does it matter what you and I are set to do? Nothing! And so why need we struggle and wear our hearts out to get into conspicuous places, or to do work that shall bring some revenue of praise and glory to ourselves? "Play well thy part; there all the honour lies," the world can say. Serve Christ in anything, and it is all alike in His sight. The slave-owner had absolute power of life and death over his dependents. He could split up families; he could sell away dear ones; he could part husband and wife, parent and child. And Jesus Christ, the Lord of the household, the Lord of providence, can say to this one, "Go! "and he goes into the mists and shadows of death. And He could say to those that are most closely united, "Loose your hands! I have need of one of you yonder. I have need of the other one here." And if we are wise, if we are His servants in any real deep sense, we shall not kick against the appointments of His supreme and yet most loving providence. The slave-owner owned all that the slave owned. He gave him a little cottage, with some humble sticks of furniture in it, and a bit of ground on which to grow his vegetables for his family. But he to whom the owner of the vegetables and the stools belonged owned them too. And if we are Christ's servants, our banker's book is Christ's, and our purse is Christ's, and our investments are Christ's; and our mills, and our warehouses, and our shops, and our businesses are His. We are not His slaves if we arrogate to ourselves the right of doing what we like with His possessions. And then, still further, there comes into our apostle's picture here yet another point of resemblance between slaves and the disciples of Jesus. For what follows my text immediately is, "Ye are bought with a price." Jesus Christ has won us for Himself. There is only one price that can buy a heart, and that is a heart. There is only one way of getting a man to be mine, and that is by giving myself to be his. And so we come to the very vital, palpitating centre of all Christianity when we say, "He gave Himself for us, that He might acquire to Himself a people for His possession." The one bright point in the hideous institution of slavery was that it bound the master to provide for the slave, and though that was degrading to the inferior, it made his life a careless, childlike, merry life, even amidst the many cruelties and abominations of the system. If I am Christ's slave it is His business to take care of His own property, and I do not need to trouble myself much about it.

II. Then there is the other side, about which I must say, secondly, a word or two; and that is, THE FREEDOM OF CHRIST'S SLAVES. As the text puts it, he that is called, being a servant, is the Lord's freedman. A freeman was one who was emancipated, and who therefore stood in a relation of gratitude to his emancipator and patron. So in the very word "freedman" there is contained the idea of submission to Him who has struck off the fetters. I do not forget how wisdom and truth, and noble aims, and high purposes, and culture of various kinds have, in lower degrees and partially, emancipated men from self and flesh and sin and the world and all the other fetters that bind us. But sure I am that the process is never so completely and so assuredly effected as by the simple way of absolute submission to Jesus Christ, taking Him for the supreme and unconditional Arbiter and Sovereign of a life. If we do that, if we really yield ourselves to Him, in heart and will, in life and conduct, submitting our understanding to His infallible Word, and our wills to His authority, regulating our conduct by His perfect pattern, and in all things seeking to serve Him, and to realise His presence, then be sure of this, we shall be set free from the one real bondage, and that is the bondage of our own wicked selves. There is no such tyranny as mob tyranny; and there is no such slavery as to be ruled by the mob of our own passions and lusts. And that is the only way by which a man can be delivered from the bondage of dependence upon outward things. Christian faith does so, because it brings into a life a sufficient compensation for all losses, limitations, and sorrows, and a good which is the reality of which all earthly goods are but shadows. So the slave may be free in Christ, and the poor man may be rich in Him, and the sad man may be joyful, and the joyful man may be delivered from excess of gladness, and the rich man kept from the temptations and sins of wealth, and the freeman taught to surrender his liberty to the Lord who makes him free. And if we are the servants of Christ we shall be set free, in the measure in which we are His, from the slavery which daily becomes more oppressive as the means of communication become more complete, the slavery to popular opinion, and to men round about us.

(A. Maclaren, D. D.)

Freedom! What a word! It has in it the music of the trumpet and psaltery, the harp, the loud cymbals and the high sounding cymbals of heaven and earth!

I. AMBITION SPEAKS OUT BOLDLY. Feeling fettered by our present lot, our poverty, hard toil, obscure position and such like, we indulge the animus of discontent, pine to rise above penury, grinding toil and isolation. Independence affirms that freedom is her legitimate offspring. The boy at home, curbed in many ways, feels under restraint and dreams of liberty. And this spirit of reckless independence belongs to us all. One of our ruling passions is a desire to be our own master — to do as we like — set up on our own account — throw off all Divine control.

II. But some will say, TO BE FREE IS TO BE EDUCATED. There is but one thing needed, we are told, to roll back the dark cloud of bondage from the race and cause the stars of liberty to stud every man's blue vault, viz., intelligence. Give the people a profound learning, a broad culture, and you give them freedom. All will concede the great blessing of education and the utter impossibility of lifting men up without it. But it must be borne in mind that never yet have a people been made free, m any true sense, by mere intellectual culture, however profound. I appeal to Greece of old, with her high scholarship represented by Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle, and to France in modern history with her Voltaire, Diderot, Beaumarchais, and Rousseau. After all their learning, Greece ended in corruption, and France in the horrors of revolution. Examples we have of men, bound in hand and foot and heart by chains of vice and ill-formed habits, bearing the most crushing yoke of bondage, yet highly educated in the sense in which the term is here used. Julius Caesar was a great scholar, but he borrowed money, which he never paid back, to bribe the people in election times, and he made common traffic of female virtues. Aristotle was profoundly educated, but he classed working men with brutes, and made lewdness in woman excusable so long as she thereby accumulated wealth. Cardinal de Richelieu was one of the brightest intellectual stars of his age, yet he lived an immoral life, being a helpless slave to intemperance and uncleanness. And what are we to say of the defaulters, rogues, impostors, and backsliders from integrity so numerous in our midst and all over the country? Looking at the facts of the case, is it not the wildest absurdity to speak of education as the ultimate source of freedom?

III. Once more, GOVERNMENT ASPIRES TO BE THE TRUE LIBERATOR OF THE RACE. Now it is an absolute monarchy for which the high claim is made, now limited monarchy, now an oligarchy, now a republic. In the name of freedom has every government of earth been set up. From the capitals of all the States and the seats of power of all nations has floated the silken banner of freedom. But oh, how often the breezes that have carried out these folds from the flag-staff have brought to the people themselves a pestilence of corruption, self-seeking, intrigue, and imperialism — bondage in its worst forms!

IV. Over against government, education, ambition, vaunting independence, and every other such thing, I PLACE THE DECLARATION OF THE OLD SAGE OF TARSUS AS THE ONLY REAL SOURCE OF TRUE FREEDOM: "For he that is called of the Lord, being a servant, is the Lord's freeman." When a man is called of Jesus Christ into His kingdom as a regenerated soul through the power of the Holy Spirit, such an one is free, has come into possession of that liberty which knows no trammels save what his duty to God and to man puts upon him. "Ye shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free." "Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty." But what is the freedom here taught? First of all, it is from sin. The essential element of all servitude and degradation and bone and heart crushing forces is sin. Here, then, is the first thing from which Jesus Christ gives freedom. But Christ in the soul not only emancipates from the polluting and condemning power of sin, but secures for us the joy and exercise of the highest freedom, notwithstanding the most hampering earthly circumstances. Paul had in mind this thought. He was thinking about what the gospel did even for slaves. In short, Paul says: "It makes no difference what your calling is or what your circumstances are; if Christ is in you, you are a free man, and your duty is to serve Him." How this argument rebuts what many affirm, that they cannot be Christians because of their peculiar lot in life; or they cannot serve the Lord because the state of their affairs will not permit them. Some plead poverty as an excuse for not being Christians, or for taking no part in the service of Christ and the work of the Church. Not a few say they have no time for these things. Others again parade the wrong-doing of others, the hindrances placed in their way, it may be, by domestic infelicities. Over against this, the Scriptures declare that the grace of God is sufficient to save us, no matter what our lot or fortune may be, and being saved, we are, therefore, free men in Christ, and hence His servants. Art thou called being a slave — a poor person, a man crushed with cares and toil, a heart-broken husband or wife, mother or father — care nothing for it. Remember that God is greater than adverse circumstances, and He can straighten every one of them and make you free to enjoy and serve Him. Nothing is any more a thraldom when the soul has been born into the light and liberty of the gospel. With this liberty comes the duty of serving the Lord — a duty which is never irksome, but always a glorious delight, as all obligations springing out of a sense of true freedom ever are. "He that is called, being free, is Christ's servant." My text also involves freedom from all ecclesiastical trammels and sectarian and denominational rigidities. Not that we are to condemn Church forms and laws and observances, but these are not to hamper us in our service of Christ or, in any way, keep us from the largest possible usefulness. Then, too, political freedom is found in Christ. "Of one thing I am convinced," remarked a Brahmin, "do what we will, oppose it as we may, it is the Christian's Bible that will work the regeneration of India. Wise indeed is this confession of the learned Oriental. Applicable to every nation is the thing he says. The Bible is the world's emancipator.

(A. H. Moment.)

In Christ there is neither bond nor free. It is not what they are with respect to man that is thought of, but what they are with respect to Christ. Thus considered, the servant is the Lord's free man, the free man is Christ's servant. The apostle speaks to the bond as free. The man who is called being a servant, may remain so. And then in some sense he is still the servant of his earthly master, and in some sense he is not so. His freedom consists in his being Christ's. That one thing, while it sets him free from the dominion of sin, and thus brings him into the glorious liberty of the children of God, changes the nature of that service which he pays to his earthly master, and gives the character of liberty to that also. For in reality he has but one master, i.e., the Lord; and the service which he now most dutifully renders to his master on earth, is but a part of the service which he pays to his Master in heaven. It may be still called service from the nature of the work, but it is freedom from the spirit in which it is done. As the servant of man, he once found his work drudgery, and did it unwillingly. But as the Lord's freeman, he finds it liberty, and does it with delight. He then served through fear. He now serves through love, and therefore performs every part of his duty better than ever he did. His joy is to approve himself to the Master whose he is, and whom he loves, as well as serves. His service is uniform, because Jesus is always the same, whatever be the changing humour of an earthly master. But now let us pass to him who has been called, being free. Of him it is said, Chat he is Christ's servant. He also is reminded that he has a master. In fact, he that is called being a servant, and he that is called being free, are both, after their calling, exactly in the same circumstances. Both are under the law to Christ, and neither of them under the law to man any further than the law of Christ permits. The servant, therefore, is bound no further than the superior will of Christ requires; and so far the free man, when he becomes the servant of Christ, is bound also. He is no longer his own. He has not himself only to please. He has talents committed to him, and he must employ them according to the will of Him who committed them. His time is not to be idled away, nor his health and strength wasted in frivolous employments, nor his substance squandered in selfish gratifications. And these, whether they be professional, or mercantile, or agricultural, are all appointed of God; and by them the servants of Christ, though they serve no one earthly master, serve the public at the command of their Master. Thus those who are not servants to men, are servants to Christ. They have to serve their generation by His will; and they have to receive the law from Him. And now let us endeavour to review the subject in as practical a manner as we may be enabled to do. We have already observed, that to be the servant of Christ, and to be the Lord's free man, are one and the same thing. Thus both were the servants of Christ, and both were free, because the service of both was a service of love. A service of love must be a free service, because it is childlike and willing, delighting to do what pleases him whose person is loved, as well as his authority owned. But whence arises this love which makes the servant of Christ thus affectionately dutiful, the free man of the Lord thus willingly laborious? It is faith. The servant of Christ can then only be satisfied when he is conscious of being where he is, and doing what he does, according to the will of Christ. Hence will arise two benefits.

1. It is obvious that this habitual reference to the will of his Lord will very much tend to give him assurance, and to prevent doubts concerning his state. And it is absolutely necessary to this end. It is impossible for a man to hope assuredly who lives negligently. They who habitually acknowledge Christ as a Master will also steadily hope in Him as a Saviour.

2. And as this spirit of obedience, which leads a man habitually to consider himself as Christ's servant, is the best evidence of that faith and interest in Christ with which salvation is connected, so it gives a nobleness to every station of life, and every work of man, which is thus conducted. The magistrate on his bench, or even the monarch on his throne, has the most exalted, as well as the most just views of his office, when he considers himself as the minister of God, as the servant of Jesus Christ.

3. Lastly, I may observe, that Christ is too good a Master to let His servants obey Him for nothing.

(J. Fawcett.)

Personal Christianity —

I. MAY BE POSSESSED BY BOTH BOND AND FREE (ver. 22). Many slaves were in connection with the Corinthian Church. Naturally enough some would desire their emancipation, and the more so as Christianity gave them a sublime sense of their manhood. Paul's advice is not to be too anxious about their enfranchisement, but rather to be anxious to "abide" in their "calling," their religion. Christianity is for man as man, not for him as bond or free; it comes to him as outward nature comes to him, with equal freeness and fitness for all. The physical, civil, or ecclesiastical condition of a man, therefore, in this life is no excuse for his not becoming a Christian; though bound in chains, his soul is free, and it is with the soul that Christianity has to do. Slaves were members of many of the first Churches, and religion reigned amongst a large number of American slaves.

II. ITS POSSESSION, WHETHER BY THE BOND OR THE FREE, INVESTS MAN WITH THE HIGHEST LIBERTY. He is the "Lord's freeman," however manacled his bodily limbs. There is no freedom like this from the dominion and consequences of moral wrong — the "glorious liberty of the children of God."

III. THIS HIGHEST LIBERTY AUGMENTS MAN'S OBLIGATION TO SERVE CHRIST (ver. 23). No creature owns itself. The highest angel has nothing in him that he can call his own. Man is not merely the property of God on the ground of creatureship, but on the ground of Christ's interposition (1 Corinthians 6:19). This being the case, however free and independent of men, you must ever serve Christ heartily, faithfully, loyally, and for ever. His service is perfect freedom, it is heaven.

(D. Thomas, D. D.)

Slavery is the subordination of one will to another will under the influence of fear; loyalty is the subordination of one will to another will under the inspiration of love. Here are two soldiers: one has been dragged by conscription and put in the army, and fights for fear, because there is a bayonet behind him; and beside him another man who loves his country, his flag, and he courts danger and death for love's sake — fear there, loyalty here. Here are two pupils sitting side by side in school: one afraid of his teacher, with his mind half on his book and half on his sports, eyeing his teacher and dreading the rod — slave, he! at his side another pupil who reveres the teacher, whose ambition it is to be such a scholar as this teacher and such a man as this man is — loyal pupil, he! Subordination to a larger, nobler, diviner will for reverence' sake and for love's sake is not slavery; it is the great emancipator of the world. The men who have believed in Divine sovereignty have not been the world's slaves, they have been the world's freemen. When a man has a conscience behind his will, and God behind his conscience, no man can put manacles upon his wrists. Submission is not the weak, invertebrate, jellyfish quality that men imagine it to be. Submission to fear is. But submission to love and loyalty is not. Men tell us that if a man yields his will to the sovereign and supreme will of Christ, he will be made gentle, amiable, peaceful, kindly, meek, but the heroic will be taken out of him. Ask history to answer the question. What sort of men were the Scotch Presbyterians? Not famous for meekness and gentleness and invertebrate qualities. What sort of men were the Swiss Calvinists? Not men famous for truckling and letting other people walk over them. What sort of people were the New England Puritans? Men who were strong because their will had behind it the Divine will, and they willed to do the will of Another, A weak will is one thing, and an obedient will is another and a very different thing. To be a Christian is to take the Divine will as your will.

(Lyman Abbott.)

If you are His servants you are free from all besides; if you give yourselves up to Jesus Christ, in the measure in which you give yourselves up to Him, you will be set at liberty from the worst of all slaveries, that is the slavery of your own will and your own weakness, and your own tastes and fancies. You will be set at liberty from the dependence upon men, from thinking about their opinion. You will be set at liberty from your dependence upon externals, from feeling as if you could not live unless you had this, that, or the other person or thing. You will be emancipated from fears and hopes which torture the men who strike their roots no deeper than this visible film of time which floats upon the surface of the great invisible abyss of Eternity. If you have Christ for your Master you will be the masters of the world, and of time and sense and men and all besides; and so, being triumphed over by Him, you will share in His triumph.

(A. Maclaren, D. D.)

(see on 1 Corinthians 6:20). —

True freedom: — Observe —

I. THE IMPORT OF THE APOSTLE'S COUNSEL. "Be not under bondage to men."

1. This excludes —

(1)Slavish fear.

(2)Servility.

(3)Unlawful submission.

2. A servant must maintain his Christian dignity as serving the Lord Christ.

II. THE MOTIVE BY WHICH HE ENFORCES IT. Christ's claim upon us secured by redeeming grace — by the price of blood.

(J. Lyth, D. D.)

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