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THE FIRST EPISTLE OF PAUL THE APOSTLE TO THE CORINTHIANS - Chapter 7 - Verse 34

Verse 34. Between a wife and a virgin. Between a woman that is married and one that is unmarried. The apostle says, that a similar difference between the condition of her that is married and her that is unmarried takes place, which had been observed between the married and the unmarried man. The Greek word here (memeristai) may mean, is divided, and be rendered, "the wife and the virgin are divided in the same manner;" i.e., there is the same difference in their case as exists between the married and the unmarried man.

The unmarried woman, etc. Has more advantages for attending to the things of religion; has fewer temptations to neglect her proper duty to God.

Both in body and in spirit. Entirely holy; that she may be entirely devoted to God. Perhaps in her case the apostle mentions the "body," which he had not done in the case of the man, because her temptation would be principally in regard to that—the danger of endeavouring to decorate and adorn her person to please her husband.

How she may please her husband. The apostle here intends, undoubtedly, to intimate that there were dangers to personal piety in the married life, which would not occur in a state of celibacy; and that the unmarried female would have greater opportunities for devotion and usefulness than if married. And he intimates that the married female would be in danger of losing her zeal, and marring her piety, by attention to her husband, and by a constant effort to please him. Some of the ways in which this might be done are the following:

(1.) As in the former case, 1 Co 7:33, her affections might be transferred from God to the partner of her life.

(2.) Her time will be occupied by an attention to him and to his will; and there would be danger that that attention would be allowed to interfere with her hours of secret retirement and communion with God.

(3.) Her time would be necessarily broken in upon by the cares of a family; and she should therefore guard with peculiar vigilance, that she may redeem time for secret communion with God.

(4.) The time which she before gave to benevolent objects may now be given to please her husband. Before her marriage she may have been distinguished for zeal, and for active efforts in every plan of doing good; subsequently, she may lay aside this zeal, and withdraw from these plans, and be as little distinguished as others.

(5.) Her piety may be greatly injured by false notions of what should be done to please her husband. If he is a worldly and fashionable man, she may seek to please him by "gold, and pearls, and costly array." Instead of cultivating the ornament of "a meek and quiet spirit," her main wish may be to decorate her person, and render herself attractive by the adorning of her person rather than of her mind.

(6.) If he is opposed to religion, or if he has lax opinions on the subject, or if he is skeptical and worldly, she will be in danger of relaxing in her views in regard to the strictness of Christianity, and of becoming conformed to his. She will insensibly become less strict in regard to the Sabbath, the Bible, the prayer-meeting, the Sabbath-school, the plans of Christian benevolence, the doctrines of the gospel.

(7.) To please him, she will be found in the gay circle—perhaps in the assembly room, or even the theatre, or amidst companies of gaiety and amusement—and will forget that she is professedly devoted only to God. And,

(8.) she is in danger, as the result of all this, of forsaking her old religious friends, the companions of purer, brighter days, the humble and devoted friends of Jesus; and of seeking society among the gay, the rich, the proud, the worldly. Her piety thus is injured; she becomes worldly and vain, and less and less like Christ; until Heaven, perhaps, in mercy smites her idol; and he dies, and leaves her again to the blessedness of single-hearted devotion to God. Oh, how many a Christian female has thus been injured by an unhappy marriage with a gay and worldly man! How often has the church occasion to mourn over piety that is dimmed, benevolence that is quenched, zeal that is extinguished, by devotion to a gay and worldly husband! How often does humble piety weep over such a scene! How often does the cause of sacred charity sigh! How often is the Redeemer wounded in the house of his friends! And oh, how often does it become NECESSARY for God to interpose, and to remove by death the object of the affection of his wandering child, and to clothe her in the habiliments of mourning, and to bathe her cheeks in tears, that "by the sadness of the countenance her heart may be made better!" Who can tell how many a widow is made sucK from this cause? Who can tell how much religion is injured by thus stealing away the affections from God?

{b} "married" Lu 10:40-42

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