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ven. With these views, let marriages be contracted, when it is proper they should be contracted at all. Let none imagine the state itself to be impure ; and let it always be preserved undefiled. Let all occasion of irregular desire be prudently guarded against by those who have entered into it. And let all christians, in every relation, remember that the obligations of devotion are common to all ; and that Christ and his apostles seem to take it for granted, that we shall be careful to secure proper seasons for fasting, as well as for prayer, so far as may be needful, in order that the superior authority of the mind over the body may be exercised, and maintained, and that our petitions to the throne of grace may be offered with greater intenseness, copiousness, and ardour.
He exhorts Christians not to dissolve marriage on account of difference in
rehgion ; to be content with their stations, and to serve God in them, whether bound or free. Ch. vii. 12—24.
12 N O W as to the rest of the cases, obscrve it is I that speak,
I not the Lord. If any brother hath an unbelieving wife, and 13 she consent to dwell with him, let him not dismiss her. And if
any christian wife have an unbelieving husband, and he consent to 14 dwell with her, let her not dismiss him*. For the unbelieving
husband is sanctified to the wife, and the unbelieving wife is
sanctified to the husbandt : otherwise your children werd 15 unclean, but now are they holy. However if the unbelieving
party will depart, let him or her depart. A brother, or a sis
ter, is not in bondage in such cases : but God hath called us to 16 peace ; let is therefore endeavour to preserve it. For how know
est thou, O wife, but thou mayest save thine husband? Or
how knowest thou, O husband, but thou mayest save thy wife? 17 But, as God hath distributed to every one, let every one so walk
even as the Lord hath called him ; and thus I command in all 18 the churches. Is any one called being circumcised ? let him not
become as if he were uncircumcised. Is any one called in uncir
cumcision ? let him not think it necessary to be circumcised. 19 Circumcision is nothing, and uncircumcision is nothing ; but 20 keeping the conimandments of God." In whatever calling fro
fession or circumstance, anyone was called, into the church of 21 Christ, in that let him continue. Art thou called, being a slave ?
Do not greatly regard it: but if thou canst lawfully be made free, 22 choose it rather. Forhe that is called by the Lord, being a ser
vant, is the Lord's freeman. And he also that is called, being 23 frec, is the servant of Christ. You were bought with a price,
* This directly contradicts a notion prevalent among the Jews, that embras cing the true religion (lissolved all former relations.
f so that their matrimonial converse is as lawful as if they were both of the same faith. The following words I cannot but judge to refer to Infant bafitism : the word holy significs persons who might be admitted to the distinguishing rites of Goçi's people. Ex. xix. 6. Deut. vii. 6. Acts.. X. 28, &c.
even that of his own blood ; do not therefore, if you can lawfully 24 avoid it, become the slaves of men. Brethren, in whatever condi
tion a man was called, in that let him abide with God.
REFLECTIONS. Let us learn, from the cxhortations and reasonings of the apostle, a becoming solicitude, to contribute as much as we possibly can, to the Christian edification of each other; and especially let this be the care of the nearest relatives in life. What can be more desirable, than that the husband may be sancrified by the wife, and the wife by the husband! May all prudent care be taken, in contracting marriages, as to the religious character of the intended partner of life ; and in those already contracted, where this precaution has been neglected, or where the judgment formed seems to have been mistaken, let all considerations of prudence, of religion, of affection, concur to animate to a mutual care of each other's soul, that most important effort of love, that most solid expression and demonstration of friendship. Nor let the improbability of success be pleaded in excuse for neglect, even where the attempt must be made by the subordinate sex. A possibility should be sufficient encouragement; and surely there is room to say, How knowest thou, O wife, but thou mayst save him, whose salvation, next to thine own, must be most desirable to thee?
Let us all study the duties of the relations in which God hath fixed us; and walk with him in our proper callings, not desiring so much. to exchange, as to improve them. His wise providence hath distributed the part; it is our wisdom, and will be our happiness, to act in humble congruity to that distribution. Surely the apostle could not have expressed in stronger terms, his deep conviction of the small importance of human distinctions, than he here does ; when speaking of what seems to great and generous minds, the most miserable lot, even that of a slave, he says, Care not for it*. If liberty itself, the first of all temporal blessings, be not of so great importance, as that a man, blessed with the high hopes and glorious consolations of Christianity, should make himself very solicitous about it, how much less is there in those comparatively trifing distinctions on which many lay so disproportionate, so extravagant a stress!
Let Chistian servants (for blessed be God, amongst us we have no slaves) remember their high privileges, as the Lord's freemen. Let Christian masters l'emember the restraint, as the Lord's servants. And let the benefits of liberty, especially, when considered in its as. pect upon religion, be so far valued, as not to be bartered away for any price which the enemies of mankind nay offer in exchange.But above all, let us remember the infinite importance of maintaining the freedom of the mind from the bondage of corruption ; and of keefi. iħy, with all humble and cheerful observance, the commandments of God. While many express the warmest zeal for circumcision, or uncircumcision, in defence of, or in opposition to, this or that mode or
* This fine remark is Dr. Goodwin's, Vol. I. p. 50.
form of external worship, let our hearts be set on what is most vital and essential in religion ; and we shall find the happiest equivalent, in the composure and satisfaction of our own spirit now, as well as in those abundant rewards which the Lord hath laid up for them who fear him.
The inexpediency of marriage, in the circumstances of the church at that juncture : the shortness of trnue, an argument against undue attachment to any secular interest. Ch. vii. 25, &c.
25 D UT concerning virgins, single persons of either sex, I have
D no commandment from the Lord : nevertheless I give my
opinion, as one who hath received niercy of the Lord to be faith26 ful*. I apprehend this therefore to be good in the present exi
gency, while the church is in a state of persecution, that it is best 27 for a man to continue as he is. Art thou bound to a wife ? Seek
not to be loosed. Art thou loosed from a wife? Seek not a wife 28 till the storm is over. Yet if thou dost marry, thou hast not sin
ned; and if a virgin marry, she hath not sinned; yet such will
have affliction in the flesh : but I spare you, by speaking thus ten29 derly. But this I say, brethren, the time of our abode here is
contracted; it remaineth therefore, that we should guard against
100 fond an attachment to any thing in this life : 80 that they who 30 have wives, be as if they had none; and they that weep, as not
weeping; and they that rejoice, as not rejoicing; and they that 31 purchase, as not possessing ; and they who use this world, as not
carrying it to an excess : for the fashion of this world passeth off 32 like a scene in a theatre. But I would have you without anxiety.
An unmarried man careth for the things of the Lord, and is more
at leisure to study how he may please the Lord, and advance his 33 kingdom : whereas he who is married, careth for the things of the 34 world, and how he may please his wife. There is just such dif
ference between a wife and a vigin: she who is unmarried, is careful about the things of the Lord, that she may be holy both
in body and spirit : whereas she that is married, careth for the 35 things of the world, how she may please her husband. But all
this I say for your own benefit; not that I may throw a snare up
on you, but out of regard to what is comely and decent in the 36 Lord, without violent constraint. But if any appreliend that he
· acteth an unbecoming partt towards his virgin daughter or ward if
# This passage and some other similar ones, so far from affording any objection against the general inspiration of Paul's epistles, strengthen the proof of it. . + There is hardly any passage in the epistle about which I have been more perplexed than this.-M. renders it, “But if any one think he acteth improperly towards his virgin [daughter) if she be above age unmarried, and so needs to be MARRIED, let him do what she inclineth (to] he does not sin: let such
she pass the flower of her age in a single state, and if he think that
it ought to be so, let him do what he will, he sinneth not. [If he 37 meet with a proper partner in life for her, let them marry. But
he that hath stood stedfast in his heart, having no necessity, but
hath power over his own will, and hath determined in his heart, 38 that he will keep his maiden single, doth well. So that he that
gives her in marriage, doth well, but he that gives her not in mar
riage, doth better. 39 The wife is bound by the law, as long as her husband liveth,
but if her husband be dead she is free, and may marry to whom 40 she will; only let her marry in the Lord. But she is happier, ac
cording to my sentiments, if she continue as she is. And I appear * to have the Spirit of God.
REFLECTIONS. Let is observe the humility of the excellent apostle with pleasure. When he speaks of his fidelity in the ministry, he tells us, he obtained mercy of the Lord to be faithful. Edified by such an example, let us ascribe to Christ the praise not only of our endowments but our virtues; even to him who worketh in us both to will and to do of his own good pleasure. Let us seriously contemplate the affecting lesson which the apostle here gives of the shortness of time ; and infer how much it is our wisdom to loosen our affections from the things of this vain world, which are ready to ingross so disproportionate a share in them. Let us look upon the world as a transient pageant, and not set our eyes and our hearts on that which is not. We expect, instead of these transitory vanities and empty shews, a kingdom that cannot be moved; in the expectation of which let us be solicitous to please the Lord; making the best of our opportunities, and guarding against all that may unnecessarily divert our ninds, and divide our cures, from what will at length appear the one thing needful. :
Let us attentively reflect upon the advantages and snares of our respective conditions in life; that we may improve the one, and escape, as far as possible, all injury from the other. Let those who are single, employ thcir leisure for God; and endeavour to collect a stock of Christian experience which may support them, when the duties and difficulties, the cares and sorrows of life, may be multiplied. Let those who are married, with mutual tender regard endeavour to please each other, and make the relation into which providence hath conducted them, as comfortable and agreeable as they can. And whatever cares press upon their minds, or demand their attention; let them order their af. fairs with such discretion, that they may still secure a due proportion of their time for the things of the Lord.-If any in their consciences are persuaded, that by continuing single they shall best answer their purposes of religion, and promote the good of their fe low-creatures, in conjunction with their own; let them do it. As for those that mar
*" I think.” E. T. This is no proof of the apostle's uncertainty : Doxw enery often signifies the same as exw. Comp. Luke viii. 18. with Mat. xii. 7. I Cor. x. 1, 2. xiv. 37.
ry, whether a first, or a second time, let them do it in the Lord ; act. : ing in the choice of their most intimate friend and companion, as the servants of Christ; who are desirous that their conduct may be approved by him, and that any avocations and interruptions in his service, which may be occasioned, even in these peaceful times, by marriage, may be, in some measure, balanced, by the united prayers, prudent counsels, and edifying converse of those with whom they unite in this tender and indissoluble bond.
The case of ealing things sacrificed to idels. Ch. viii.
MTOW concerning things sacrificed to idols; we know that we
I all have a general knowledge of the vanity of these fictitious deities. But knowledge often puffeth up, whereas love edifieth. 2 And if any one think that he knoweth any thing, he as yet know3. eth nothing as he ought to know it. But if any man love God,
he is known and approved of him. To proceed to the question, 4 * concerning the eating things sacrificed to idols: We know that
an idol is nothing in the world; and that there is no other God but 5 one. For though there are those which are called gods, whether
in heaven or in earth ; (as there are many gods and many lords :) 6 nevertheless to us there is but one God, the Father, from whom
are all things, and we for him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by 7 whom are all things, and we by him. But there is not in all men,
even Christian converts, this knowledge : but some do, even until now, with consciousness of some religious regard to the idol, eat
the things as sacrificed to the idol ; and their conscience being .8 weak, is defiled. But † meat commendeth us not to God; for ' neither are we the better if we eat, nor the worse if we eat not.
9 But take heed lest this liberty of yours be by any means a stumb10 ling-block to the weak, and the occasion of sin. For if any one
see thee, who hast knowledge, sitting down in an idol's temple,
will not the conscience of bim that is weak be encouraged to eat 11 of the idol sacrifice ? and •80 shall the weak brother, for whom 12 Christ died, perish by thy knowledge. But when you thus sin
against the brethren, and wound their weak consciences, you sin 13 against Christ. Therefore if meat scandalize my brother, and
lead him into sin, I would never as long as I live eat any kind of flesh, that I may not scandalize my brother.
REFLECTIONS. Let us learn from this short, but excellent chapter, to estimate the true value of knowledge and to see how worthless and dangerous it is, when, instead of discovering to us our own ignorance and weakness, it serves only to puff up the mind. Let us rather labour and pray for
* “ Therefore.” D. “ Concerning, then, the eating." _M.
†“ Ye tell me." M. supposing this to be urged by them in defence of their eating of these sacrifices.