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and every occupation as assigned by him in his capacity as upiversal master. We readily allow the title in question to the selfdenying missionary, who has gone forth to the deserts of heathenism. carrying with him the precious seed which can alone cover them with moral verdure.
rdure. As we hear of the intrepid man, wrestling with the barbarism and idolatry of centuries, and sparing no toil and foregoing no sacrifice, that he may turn benighted tribes from the error of their way, every tongue gives him the name of a servant of Christ, or declares that he is labouring for a master in heaven. The same is often done in reference to ministers, who, with apparently less to surrender than the missionary, but with frequently full as much to endure, are struggling against the ignorance of a home population, and devoting all their energies to introducing practical Christianity in a dark and profligate parish. There is something about the ministerial occupation, which se manifestly associates it with the work which Christ himself was exalted to finish ; it is so evidently designed and constructed for the furthering the cause of Christ, that none will hesitate when they see it faithfully discharged, to regard and describe it as emphatically the service of the Redeemer.
But if we take any of the ordinary businesses of life, of the merchant, of the tradesman, or of the lawyer, do we view in each of these an employment in the service of Christ, so that we are prepared to say to each man, so engaged, “ Whatsoever ye do, do it beartily as to the Lord, and not unto men, knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance, for ye serve the Lord Christ ??' Are ye not rather disposed to think that the secular nature of the business quite detaches it from connexion with the heavenly; so that while we cheerfully allow that the men whose business it is may be true servants of Christ, we suppose that the service which they render their Redeemer is a service unconnected with their ordinary employment, performed almost in spite of that employment, in place of being identical or even associated with it? When we speak of an active merchant as also a faithful and zealous servant of Christ, are we not practically regarding him under two different considerations? Do we not separate the man in his religious capacity, from the man in his mercantile capacity ? And though we may be persuaded, that religion exerts a certain influence over the transactions of life, yet, when we speak of an individual as engaged in the service of Christ, are we not referring to what he does when he is away from his merchandize, rather than to what he does in his character of a trader! We call him a servant of Christ, because we know him diligent and ready to do all in his power to further the cause of the Gospel, and anxious to minister, with an unwearied generosity, to the relief of his suffering fellow-men. But, do we also call him a servant of Christ, in reference to the occupation in which his days and his nights are consumed ? In other words, are we prepared to say to him, when we behold him immersed in all the engagements of his commerce, “Remember, you serve the Lord Christ ?”
It cannot be denied, that our text requires of us thus to regard all the businesses in which Christians can be lawfully engaged, as included under the definition, “ the service of Christ.” The parties whom the apostle addressed filled the very meanest offices in the state. If any employment might seem devoid of all religious character, their's was that employment: if it could be affirmed of any occupation, that it was too secular, too earthly, too grovelling, to be considered as discharged in the service of heaven, their's was that occupation. Yet, even to slaves St. Paul could say, “ Ye serve the Lord Christ.” And this he says, not as meaning that they might serve the Lord Christ, notwithstanding they were slaves, but, as slaves of man, they were the servants of Christ. He does not console them under their bondage, by telling them that, in spite of all the disadvantages of their condition, they might find opportunities of doing something for Christ, as a master : on the contrary, he exhorts them to diligence in their calling, on the very principle that, in serving their earthly master, they were actually serving their heavenly. Whatsoever they did, they were to “ do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men;" a most plain intimation, that the Lord was served by and through the very act of that service which they render to man.
And this is putting an ennobling and encouraging character on the various businesses of life. We are well aware that many pious individuals feel as though their worldly occupations were necessarily lets and hinderances to the growth of vital godliness; so that if they could be let loose from secular engagements, they should make far more rapid progress as servants of Christ. They are disposed to regard the time which they are compelled to spend in the haunts of trade, as so much time lost to the concerns of eternity; and only those few hours which they can occasionally steal from pressing labours, to devote to public and private worship, the studying of the Bible, or the visiting the sick, seem to them employed for a Master in heaven. This must be here altogether a mistake, or St. Paul is incorrect in his address to the Colossian slaves. It is as much the appointment and fixed ordinance of God that you should labour for the subsistence of yourselves and your households, as that you should assemble in the sanctuary, hear the preached word, and receive the Sacrament of the Lord's Supper. You are quite as much submitting yourselves to the known will of your Maker, whilst carrying forward your weekday employments, as when abstracting yourselves from the din and bustle of the world, that you may enjoy the hallowed rest of the Sabbath. We know too well there may be practically too little, or nothing, of thus serving God in the occupations of the week; but then we equally know that there may be little or nothing of the serving God in the occupations of the Sabbath: and just as a worldly-minded man may go through the Sabbath, and yet not engage in the service of God, so may a spiritually-minded man pursue in the avocations of the week, and never for a moment be withdrawn from its service. The only thing required is, that he strive to do whatever he does 66 as to the Lord, and not unto men.” If he will consider himself as in all places equally the servant of Christ; if he will allow such considerations to exert their natural influence in repressing inordinate desires, withholding him from any conduct which might dishonour his profession; we should have as little hesitation in saying to this man, in his shop or counting-house,
Thou art a servant of Christ,” as when we found him in the church, or at the bed-side of the sick. And we do heartily rejoice that the Bible contains such portions as this on which we meditate. We feel that the majority of those whom it is our duty to address, have to give themselves throughout the week to secular occupations; they must rise up early, and late take rest; and that, except when the Sabbath comes round, and sheds its blessed silence along the avenues of traffic, they have but few moments wherein to perform religious duties. And we feel how probable it is that these ingrossing occupations will tell injuriously on your spiritual interests, that your very souls will become wholly secularized ; and therefore are we often earnest in warning you against covetousness and the deceitfulness of riches, and in beseeching you to remember, that over and above providing for our wants in the present world, you have to secure your well-being through the ages of eternity. But with all our consciousness that worldly business may become a great snare, we have no desire, even if we had the power, of withdrawing you from that business. We know of no worth which it would necessarily be to your practical Christianity, that you
should cease to be obliged to labour for your livelihood; on the contrary, we should consider the peril to be mightily aggravated, if, in place of the necessity of toil, you had the option of being idle. And then comes in, as a refreshing and animating truth, that it is altogether
your own faults if your secular occupations have nothing of a spiritual character, and that the industry that is turned on the gaining subsistence is not accompanied by industry in the working out your own salvation. You may be-and, if not false to yourselves and
your God, you actually are-engaged in a work of obedience to the divine appointment, submission to the divine pleasure, and faith in the divine promises, whilst engaged in drawing up deeds as lawyers, making shipments as merchants, or dealing out goods as tradesmen. “Ye serve the Lord Christ.” Aye, it may be a wonderful thing, that He who is exalted far above all principality and power, on whom the heavenly hosts wait as ministers to do his will, should be served by and through the various transactions of trade, and handicraft, and agriculture; there may be a suspicion afloat, that it is derogatory to his greatness to regard the various businesses with which the minds of men are engaged as so many departments of occupation appointed and presided over by himself. But the just light in which to view the matter is, not that of the Master degraded by the meanness of the servant, but of the servant ennobled by the majesty of the master. It is no degradation to a divine Being, unto whom the only great thing in the universe is necessarily himself, that he can be served through our trades and professions. But it puts a vast dignity on those trades and professions, that a divine Being condescends to account them his service. And there needs nothing but that the occupation be lawful in itself, and pursued with that sobriety of mind which proves that men are not burying the future in the present; and, forasmuch as those engaged therein are submitting themselves to an ordinance of God, they are fairly to be reckoned as performing their duty “ heartily, as to the Lord."
We would have you, therefore, put away from you the thought that your worldly employments are necessarily withdrawing you from the service of Christ. It may be a convenient notion to entertain, because, since you feel the engagements unavoidable, you may fancy a slow growth in religion excusable. But God does not allow one of his appointments thus to thwart another. Having made it incumbent upon you to toil for subsistence, and having also made it incumbent upon you to toil for salvation, we can be quite sure there is no contrariety between the two, but that, in rightly doing the former you may be doing also the latter. We have only, therefore, to ask, as we have already intimated, whether it is your effort,“ whatsoever ye do,” to “ do it unto the Lord, and not as to men?” and if you can answer in the affirmative, we can pronounce you serving Christ whilst busied in your week-day employments.
And you may easily judge what is meant by acting as to the Lord, and not to men. He cannot be acting as to the Lord, who is not acting most conscientiously, most honourably, and with desires duly regulated by thoughts of the account which he must render up at death. The common mode of acting, is to act as to men, as though men alone were to be feared and consulted : hence all the trick and evasion, and grasping, of which, indeed, it were monstrous to say, that those who practise them can be serving the Lord Christ. But the Christian merchant, the Christian lawyer, the Christian tradesman—the men, that is, who carry the principles of Christianity into their respective professions—they are as truly working in the service of Christ, while working in their callings, as the Christian minister when addressing his congregation, rousing the unconverted, and confirming the wavering. And this should be an encouraging truth to those of you who feel the pressure of worldly occupations.
It should be further an elevating truth, to those who fill the lower stations of life. Why should any station be despicable, when it is one in which Christ may be served as in the highest and most illustrious ? Let us take the very case suggested by our text. I can quite believe of servants, that they may be galled by the apparent inferiority of their condition ; their menial employments may seem to them degrading, and they may indulge a wish that they were placed in another sphere where their business would be such as would be honourable to perform. But these servants are vastly underrating their position. If the apostle speaks correctly in our text, there is nothing which it is their duty to do, which they may not so perform as thereby to render a service to Christ. And what more can they desire ? Can they be degraded by that by which the Lord Christ is served ? Is an employment too menial, when the master, for whom it is undertaken, is the Mediator by whom they were redeemed? O it should cheer the heart, and raise the spirit of the poorest, the meanest amongst you, to think that, however base his office in society, he is actually in the service of the King of kings and Lord of lords. It is Christ who has given him his place to fill, and his work to do. And we could come with confidence into the midst of those on whom the world may be looking down haughtily, between whom and the great ones of the earth there is the widest separation that there can be between man and man, and who seem to live only to wear away life in drudgery for others; and we could feel that we were surrounded by the domestics of Him, all the members of whose household are kings and priests to the holy and living God: and we could say to them,