From The Puritan Experiment:

Puritan leaders emphasized man’s duty to work with his fellows in pursuit of common goals. Each individual was under an obligation to use his gifts for the public welfare and not his own advancement. Society had, in the view of the Puritans, been ordained by God but required the cooperation of its members if progress were to be achieved.

Members of a state were mutually dependent, each possessing certain God-given gifts upon which his neighbors relied. In elaborating on this point the Puritans spoke of each man having a particular calling. In the pre-Reformation Christian tradition the concept of calling had referred to the sense of vocation felt by those who entered the religious life as priests or nuns. While medieval philosophers and theologians believed that each man was placed in his particular staiton in life by God, it was not until the Reformation that the concept of calling was extended by the reformers—particularly Calvinists—to spiritualize the honorable secular activities of individual’s occupation, and also to the other roles in which he performed as father or son, husband or wife, subject or ruler, and so forth.

After due consideration of the clues offered by God, a man was expected to choose and settle into those roles for which God had suited him. Having discerned his calling, it was his duty to work at it to the best of his ability.

I find these kind of descriptions helpful as the doctrine of vocation is one of the many significant wedge issues that still exist between Protestantism and Rome and especially Geneva and Rome.

Posted by Jake Meador

Jake Meador is the editor-in-chief of Mere Orthodoxy as well as the Vice President of the Davenant Institute. He is a 2010 graduate of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln where he studied English and History. He lives in Lincoln, NE with his wife Joie, their daughter Davy Joy, and sons Wendell and Austin. Jake's writing has appeared in Christianity Today, Fare Forward, the University Bookman, Books & Culture, First Things, National Review, Front Porch Republic, and The Run of Play.

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