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MY WORK FOR GOD.
OUR WORK FOR GOD IN THE SPHERE OF
WHEN God created man in His own image, after His own likeness, and gave them dominion over all His other creatures, and blessed them, and said unto them, “Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it," from that time man's work for God on the earth began. His appointed work was to fulfil, through the exercise of those faculties of body and mind which he had received from his Almighty Creator, what we may call the primary
purposes of God's goodness in creation. And God gave woman to be a helpmeet for man in this work, his companion in his labours, his solace and comfort in his hours of repose, one with him in the most intimate of all possible earthly relations. It must be observed also that from the first God not only appointed to mankind generally the work of having dominion in the earth, as His representative there, and of subduing it by cultivation, but also assigned a special and defined work to the individual man. He placed the first man, with the first woman, in the garden of Eden, “to dress it and to keep it,” and ordained for him certain duties, responsibilities, and conditions necessary for the fulfilment of his work for God there. In the first two chapters of the book of Genesis we have the account which Holy Scripture gives of the origin of all the natural duties of man.
The Fall of man altered in some respects the character of the work ordained for him on the earth, but it made it none the less his work for God. It was no longer in a Paradise, a garden
of delights, where was “every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food,” but in a world, the very
soil of which was cursed on account of man's sin, and which brought forth thorns and thistles for man, so that henceforth he had to eat bread in the sweat of his face : yet his work, though now more necessary for himself, was, nevertheless, also a submission to the Divine laws in nature, and thus was as truly as ever obedience to God's will, and afforded quite as much opportunity as ever for a reasonable service. Indeed, to sinful man, the very punishment of his sin was a blessing, now that he had the knowledge of good and evil, and needed a spiritual and moral training. The difficulties that beset his work not only stimulated his natural energies, and developed all his natural faculties, as they could never have been perfected in an earth that yielded its fruit almost spontaneously in return for easy and indolent labour ; but they also formed a healthful and invigorating discipline for his spirit, no less than for his lower nature, teaching him patience and perseverance, and at the same time, if only he would learn the lesson, dependence upon God both for the necessities and for the comforts of his earthly life, and thankfulness to Him who had given man the power to alleviate the evils of the curse which had followed on his sin.
On the other hand, the sorrow, suffering, and death which the Fall brought into the family life of man and woman, and which at first might have seemed only calculated to cloud its happiness and destroy its enjoyments, filling it with cares and anxieties,--yet increased and multiplied its mutual duties and obligations; and, if used aright, would quicken its sympathies and make its ties stronger and more tender, and its affections more real and self-denying. And as the sphere of social relations enlarged, and from the family whole communities sprang and formed themselves, and from communities whole nations, so also did the sphere of man's work for God on earth, which was appointed for him as created in God's image, further enlarge itself so as to embrace, in due course, all the natural duties
and responsibilities of his earthly life, in all ages, and under all its varying circumstances and conditions.
And it must here be observed, for the principle pervades the whole question of work for God in every sphere of human energy, that the work that each individual has in regard to these responsibilities of our natural life is not undefined and general, but special and definite, and is seldom if ever, and to a very small extent, if at all, determined by our own choice; but is always more or less determined for us by the constitution of society, by natural relationships, or other circumstances over which we have no control, or at most by the natural powers and faculties of body and mind which God has given
That, for each one of us, every work of body or mind that belongs to any lawful employment or relation "in that state of life unto which it shall please God to call me,” is not only part of “my duty towards my neighbour," but also of “my work for God,” is, indeed, plainly taught