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of man: there are dangers to the single and dangers to the married: and none must be ignorant of his devices, or neglect to guard against them.
6. But I speak this by permission, and not of commandment.”
7. For I would that all men were even as I myself. But every man has his proper gift of God, one after this manmer, and another after that.
8. I say therefore to the unmarried and widows, It is good for them if they abide even as I.
9. But if they cannot contain, let them marry : for it is better to marry than to burn.
10. And unto the married I command, yet not I, but the Jord, Let not the wife depart from her husband:
11. But and if she depart, let her remain unmarried, or be reconciled to her husband; and let not the husband put away his wife.
The Jews had rendered divorce so easy, by perverting the law, and “giving writings of divorcement,” that the marriage bond had almost ceased to be a marriage bond. This was one of their corruptions which the Lord had expressly condemned. Paul was not speaking of his own authority, when he said, Let not the wife depart from her husband: and let not the husband put away his wife. Christ had himself declared, (Matt. v. 32.) “Whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, causeth her to commit adultery: and whosoever shall marry her that is divorced, committeth adultery.”
But of the case that follows, the Lord had not given commandment: the case of a husband or a wife converted to the christian faith, whilst the partner remained an unbeliever. A question had arisen, Should these continue together? “Unequally yoked with an unbeliever,” should the believer continue bound by the marriage vow? To this Paul replies according to the wisdom given unto him.
* I would be understood as permitting marriage, rather than
12. But to the rest speak I, not the Lord: If any brother hath a wife that believeth not, and she be pleased to dwell with him, let him not put her away.
13. And the woman which hath an husband that believeth not, and if he be pleased to dwell with her, let her not leave him.
14. For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband: else were your children unclean: but now are they holy.
The unbelieving husband, or the unbelieving wife, is sanctified. As there is only one that sanctifies, even the Spirit of God, so there is only one way by which any one can be sanctified, viz. “by the washing of regeneration and belief of the truth.” It is not, therefore, in that sense that the unbelieving husband or wife is sanctified by the believing partner: but the alliance is not unholy, such as ought to be discontinued: the unbelieving partner is not unclean, in the way in which those meats were unclean which were forbidden to the Jews, not to be touched by God's people. Else were your children unclean. If it were otherwise, the children of such marriages would not be admissible to the covenant of baptism, any more than the children of idolaters to circumcision. But this is not the case. Now are they holy: are accepted of God, as the children of his people. He pities their infirmities, and their difficulties: and will not reject the infants on account of the unbelieving partner, but regard them with favour for the sake of the believer. It might happen, that the unbelieving party, “won by the christian conversation” of the other, might be brought to the same faith, and so the husband might save the wife, or the wife the husband. This would be a blessed consummation. It might also happen, that the unbeliever, offended by the stricter habits and purer life of the christian yokefellow, should choose to separate. Let this be borne with. We are called to peace, and not to strife; and should yield rather than contend.
4 Tit. iii. 5. Y
15. But if the unbelieving depart, let him depart. A brother or a sister is not under bondage in such cases: but God hath called us to peace.
16. For what knowest thou, O wife, whether thou shalt save thy husband? or how knowest thou, O man, whether thou shalt save thy wife?
17. But as God hath distributed to every man, as the Lord hath called every one, so let him walk. And so ordain I in all churches.
So admirably the christian faith adapts itself to the varying circumstances in which it may be placed, and always finds some mode of pleasing and serving God. It may be compared to a healthy plant, which in whatever soil it is growing, meets with something to feed upon. In a congenial soil it will flourish best, and ought not willingly to seek another: but forced of necessity into an unsuitable soil or climate, it will not be destroyed. Therefore, as God hath distributed to every man, as the Lord hath called every one, so let him walk : let him make the best of the situation in which he is placed: if single, devoted to the Lord: if marrying, marrying “in the Lord:” if “unequally yoked,” recommending the faith by meekness, and gentleness, and “chaste conversation:” that “God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ,--to whom be praise and dominion for ever and ever.”
OUTWARD CIRCUMSTANCES NOT ALTERED BY THE GOSPEL.
1 CoR. vii. 18–24.
18. Is any man called being circumcised? let him not become uncircumcised. Is any called in uncircumcision ? let him not be circumcised.
19. Circumcision is nothing, and uncircumcision is nothing, but the keeping of the commandments of God.
This is an answer to a question between the Jewish and the Gentile brethren. The Jewish Christians were disposed to say, “Except ye be circumcised after the manner of Moses, ye cannot be saved.” The Gentiles, perhaps, on their part, might speak disrespectfully of the law which the Jews esteemed, as being “old, and ready to vanish away.” St. Paul's answer might satisfy both parties. If the case related to a Jew who had been converted, let him not become uncircumcised: let him retain such regard for the law as his early education required. Paul himself did this, on many occasions. That he might not offend the Jews, he caused Timothy to be circumcised, because his father was a Greek;” and at Jerusalem he joined a party who were under a Nazarite vow, for no other purpose than to disarm the jealous scruples of his countrymen.” “To the Jews he became a Jew, that he might gain the Jews.” But, on the other hand, he would not suffer Titus, who was a Greek, to be circumcised, as was demanded by a Jewish party, who wished to bring the brethren into bondage." To them he would not yield, “no, not for an hour: that the truth of the Gospel” might not be impaired. For what was circumcision, in itself? An outward ordinance, reminding them that they were the people of God, who had bound them to himself by this covenant. But it is not by signs imprinted on the body, but by the subjection of the heart, that God is served. It is the mind, that keeps the commandments of God: the outward rite is nothing, but a sign that the commandments are to be kept. A soldier may wear the outward dress which distinguishes the army of his king and country: but his dress is nothing, if his heart is with the enemy, and if on every occasion he sides with the enemy against his king. And so he might “not be a Jew, who was one outwardly:” and that “circumcision was not circumcision, which was merely out
* Infra, ver. 39. c 1 Pet. iv. 11. 1 Acts xv. 1. * Heb. viii. 13.