1 Cor. 7:24--"Brethren, let every man wherein he is called therein abide with God."

Such was Paul's memorable decision in reply to certain questions proposed to him by the Church of Corinth. It had become matter of doubt with the early converts--who were few in number, and thinly scattered throughout society--who were, besides, exposed to much and bitter persecution from their relatives and neighbors--what was the true line of Christian conduct. "Was the believing wife to forsake the unbelieving husband? or the believing husband to forsake the unbelieving wife? Was the believing child to desert the unbelieving parent?--the believing slave to sever all connection with an unbelieving master? Were they to break asunder all family and social ties--to form themselves into a separate and distinct community, and live apart from the world's society--presenting a united front to the world's persecutions?" The apostle says, "No; Christianity was never intended to interfere with existing relationships; it was no part of the religion of Christ to alter the forms of civil government. On the contrary, it even set itself to the support of existing institutions, by requiring of its disciples that they should be content, whatever their condition." Christian men were to remain in those relationships in which they were, and in them to develop the inward spirituality of the Christian life. No doubt, Christianity would gradually tell upon the politics, as well as the morals of a land. It would, if thoroughly followed out, abolish war and slavery, and every form of oppression; but not by exciting prejudice, or attempting to overturn existing institutions. The slave, who had with joy embraced a religion which taught the worth and dignity of the human soul--a religion which declared that rich and poor, king and peasant, master and slave, were equal in the sight of God--the slave, who had come to know that there was such a thing as brotherhood and Christian equality, and who might thus be tempted and excited to throw off the cruel and oppressive yoke by force, was not taught to labor for the acquisition of his freedom. No; but he was told of a higher feeling--a feeling that would make him free, even with the chain and shackle upon his limbs. He was told of the possibility of being a high and lofty Christian, even though in bondage--told of his true dignity as a man, as a child of God, an heir of glory. Were he to have his choice, then, indeed, Paul bids him prefer liberty. But the great Christian rule was this, "Let every man wherein he is called therein abide with God."

Now, this great truth cannot be too frequently insisted upon, that it matters not what a Christian's walk in life may be, he has opportunities, if he only takes advantage of them, of truly serving and honoring his Divine Master. And one great reason why religion does not advance more rapidly, may be found in this, that Christian men and women, albeit they are earnest and sincere, do not realize the fact, that they can labor for God, and advance His cause, even in the midst of the most common and menial occupations--that Christianity does not call a man away from his occupation or residence; but in these to adorn the doctrine of God his Savior in all things.

The Savior likened His kingdom to good seed. It was to spring up and grow, raising up other plants to scatter forth seed also, until the whole land should become one fruitful field. He likened it to a grain of mustard seed--the least of all seeds--which when it is grown, becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and lodge in the branches thereof. He likened it to leaven, which a woman took and hid in three measures of meal, until the whole was leavened. It was by the leaven coming into contact with the meal that the whole became leavened; and so the followers of Christ, coming into contact with the children of the world, are to commend His religion, and spread its influence wider, by their pure, earnest, and Christlike temper and bearing. Their daily lives, so to speak, are to be perpetual pleadings with man for God; and, by exhibiting the softening power of Christ's grace, by holding up the mirror of a life bright with purity and love and goodness, they are to attract those around them, and win them to the Savior--they are to let their "light so shine before men, that they seeing their good works, may glorify their Father in heaven."

It is true that, in every age, some have imagined that religion must best thrive in retirement, far from the din and bustle of the world--that, in some convent's quiet gloom, away from the dwellings of careworn men, the soul would attain a deeper devotedness and higher sanctity, and cultivate closer and more uninterrupted communion with things above. But experience has proved all this to be mere fancy. The growth of character which is there promoted is stunted and unhealthy. Outward temptations may be avoided; but, from the sinful heart there is no escape. The eye may never gaze on the world's wealth and grandeur, and, by penance and fasting, the body may be bruised and broken; but, to the eye of the soul, other and equally seductive pleasures may be presented, and, while the flesh is writhing beneath the lash, the heart may be lifted up with spiritual pride, and the faith of the enthusiast be a faith on works, and not on Christ.

Besides, the world is our appointed sphere of action; there, we are not merely to cease to do evil, but learn to do well; there we are to be proof against temptation, and to fight the good fight; there, we are to maintain, not a negative, but a positive character; and, as the servants of Christ, we are to be blameless, not through freedom from temptation, but through overcoming it by His imparted grace. Christian! you are called to carry your religion into the world; and in the performance even of its lowest and most trivial duties, to serve God. You are to strive by His help to "make a bad world better;" and, so to live in it, that men may honor you, and, when you die, that they may miss you. Do not think, that yours is a calling in which you cannot "abide with God." If it is lawful, however humble it may be, therein you may conform to the apostolic injunction, and be a faithful and diligent servant of Christ.

Religion does not demand the forgetfulness of our worldly duties. It is not to be confined to the Sabbath day or the house of prayer, but is to be diffused through all our week-day employments and occupations. It is true, that these must be attended to--true that business, with its manifold requirements, must be attended to--true, that we must labor diligently for our daily bread--true, that we must associate with our fellow-men, and take part in the secularities of life. But into all these religion may, and if we would "abide with God" must, accompany us. We may ply the busy hand through the hours of labor--prosecute our daily employment--relax our feelings amid the enjoyments of the domestic circle--indulge in the prattle of infancy, and in all the joyousness of an innocent heart--yet carry religion with us into all, and diffuse it as a coloring through all the substance of life. Our commonest daily occupation may thus be sanctified--the spirit of our inner life may run through all our words and actions, and while "diligent in business," we may yet be "fervent in spirit, serving the Lord." We may discharge every duty--partake of every innocent joy--engage in every honest and lawful occupation, in the spirit of the Lord, whose "food and drink it was to do the will of God." There is not one of us--no matter what be his situation in life--but may thus "abide with God." And, so far from religion being incompatible with a due regard to the just interests and engagements of the present life, it will ever be found that a proper attention to them is secured by religious principles; for, it is by a "patient continuance in well-doing," that we are to "seek for glory, honor, and immortality."

Reader! be active, be industrious, be diligent in your ordinary pursuits. This is your Father's will. Be an example of blameless integrity and of self-denying benevolence--be faithful in the discharge of all the duties which are lawfully required of you, belonging to the station which God's providence has called you to fill. Do all this from a purer and higher principle than worldlings do it, on the high principle of approving yourself to your "Father in heaven." Do it with a view to glorify God on earth--that the religion you profess may be honored--that Christ may be glorified--that the cause of the gospel may be advanced. While you aim, as you may lawfully aim, at success in the business of this life--never forget that your birthright it eternal life--that heaven is the home for which you are summoned to prepare--that immortality is the prize for which you ought to be seeking. And be this your prayer–

"O God, You who alone work in Your people, both to will and to do of Your good pleasure, grant me grace, at all times, to abide with You. In all my wanderings here upon the earth, may I seek Your glory, and steadfastly look up to heaven as my eternal home."

"Abide with me! fast falls the eventide;
The darkness thickens--Lord, with me abide.
When other helpers fail, and comforts flee,
Help of the helpless, oh, abide with me.

"Swift to its close ebbs out life's little day;
Earth's joys grow dim, its glories pass away;
Change and decay in all around I see;
O You, who change not, abide with me.

"Not a brief glance, I beg, a passing word;
But as You dwell with Your disciples, Lord–
Familiar, condescending, patient, free,
Come, not to sojourn, but abide with me.

"Come, not in terrors, as the King of kings,
But kind and good, with healing in Your wings,
Tears for all woes, a heart for every plea–
Come, Friend of sinners, and abide with me.

"You on my head in early youth did smile,
And, though rebellious and perverse meanwhile
You have not left me, oft' as I left Thee;
On to the close, O Lord, abide with me."
–H. F. Lyte


"Why thus longing, thus forever sighing,
For the far off, unattained and dim,
While the beautiful, all round you lying,
Offers up its low, perpetual hymn?

"Would you listen to its gentle teaching,
All the restless yearnings it would still;
Leaf and flower, and laden bee, are preaching.
Your own sphere, though humble, first to fill.

"Poor indeed you must be, if around you
You no ray of light and joy can throw
If no silken cord of love has bound you
To some little world through weal and woe.

"If no dear eyes your fond love can brighten,
No fond voices answer to your own;
If no brother's sorrow you can lighten,
By daily sympathy and gentle tone.

"Not by deeds that the crowd applauses,
Not by works that give the world renown,
Not by martyrdom, or vaunted crosses,
Can you win and wear the immortal crown.

"Daily struggling, though enclosed and lonely,
Every day a rich reward will give;
You will find, by hearty striving, only,
And truly loving, you can truly live."


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