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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
us by the apostle Paul (Colos. iii., 22—24). For what he says to servants is applicable, in its principle, to all the social and natural relations of human life. Of the whole sphere of natural duties which are the result and outcome of Creation, no less than of those which pertain to and proceed from Redemption, Jesus Christ is the Head.
For many of us during our whole lifetime, and for all of us during a considerable part of our lives, the circumstances which God appoints for us may make it clear and beyond all doubt, that some duty, or class of duties, in this sphere of natural responsibilities and relations must be regarded as “my work for God;" that which God Himself has specially assigned to me, in order that therein I may serve and glorify my Creator ; that on which I must specially seek His blessing, and the aid of His Spirit to guide and strengthen me both in body and mind. Whenever such a path of duty is ordained for me by God, let me dismiss from my mind the sinful and enervating thought that, because my work is what is called “secular," it is any the less really service for God; that it any the less needs to be sanctified by the word of God and by prayer ; that it is any the less a work for the right fulfilment of which I must render account to Christ (Col. iii., 25). But to resolve the question for myself, what is my work for God; in which sphere of duty my own proper calling by God lies; and further, how, even when for me it lies primarily in that of natural duties, it must yet be connected, and in one sense even identified, with my work for God in another sphere-for my guidance in regard to all these questions we must proceed to examine the whole subject in another aspect. In the meanwhile, let me remember,
“If in my daily course my mind
And let my motto be, that which the apostle Paul supplies, Not slothful in business, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord.
FIRST THIRTY YEARS OF THE LIFE OF
In reference to this question of serving God in the duties and responsibilities of man's natural life, and of the great value and significance of such service, whether in itself or as a preparation for work in a higher sphere, nothing is more instructive or more deeply interesting than the history of the earthly life of our Divine Redeemer. Perhaps we have never given the careful consideration that it demands to the fact that, when God sent His only Son into the world to be the Redeemer and Saviour of us sinful men, even His work for God during the first thirty years of His life on earth was confined almost exclusively to this sphere of natural duties.