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Important Notes to the Reader

Please be so kind as to read the Editor’s Introduction; it gives much background material that will make the book more useful to the modern reader. Also, one might initially get the impression that Ashwood’s Epistle Dedicatory is superfluous—it is anything but superfluous. It contains significant theology and is a helpful anticipation of the rest of the book. The same is true of Ashwood’s introduction, To the Readers.

Words or phrases in brackets [] are synonyms, short definitions of the word just preceding the brackets, or words inserted for clarity. Footnotes give longer definitions or explanations.

To aid the reader, all Scripture references (as opposed to quotations of Scripture) in the main text have been quoted in full in a footnote. Since the Word of God is mediated to us by the Holy Spirit in power and in a way that is not true of merely human words, the reader is highly encouraged to read these Scripture quotations! When Ashwood gave a Scripture quotation (as opposed to a mere reference), the editor has provided that quotation in a modern version of the Bible. Ashwood’s audience would have been much more familiar with the Holy Bible than most modern readers. In light of this, the editor has chosen to include additional Scripture references in parentheses that were not found in Ashwood’s text and to expand some of Ashwood’s Scripture quotations so as to give full or additional verses or clarify the reference or context. Also, one side effect of this policy of including all referenced Scriptures is that many times a passage will be repeated in the footnotes; this is simply because Ashwood included repeated references in his text. Preachers in their sermons, and university professors in their lectures, will often repeat things they believe are important; Ashwood likely had the same intent.

Ashwood used many Scripture references simply as illustrations in the same manner in which a modern preacher might use an illustration from sports or family life. When Scripture is used in this way, there is no necessary implication that the passage in question has teaching directly applicable to the topic at hand. Let the reader use God-given wisdom to discern the difference.

Along these lines, it is possible that some readers may be entirely unfamiliar, or at least very unfamiliar, with Christianity or the Holy Bible. While some such readers may well immediately profit from The Heavenly Trade, a better course of action might possibly be as follows:

  1. Obtain a Holy Bible. The English Standard Version is a good first choice. It is also online at

  1. Read the Gospel of John in the Holy Bible.

  2. Read Appendix A of this book.

  3. Read one or more of the following books, all of which are available from major online book vendors:

    1. David McKay, The Bond of Love3

    2. Sinclair B. Ferguson, The Christian Life4

    3. Edward Donnelly, Biblical Teaching on the Doctrines of Heaven and Hell5

  4. Read the Westminster Standards, at least the Westminster Shorter Catechism and Westminster Confession of Faith. Modern translations by this editor are available at If you use these translations, please be sure to read the hyperlinked Scripture passages!

  5. Return to this book and read with profit. Be sure to read each Scripture reference!

The Heavenly Trade includes a comprehensive table of contents that doubles as an outline of the book as an aid to the reader. Thus, at each heading or subheading in the work, an abbreviated hierarchical portion of the table of contents is given to show the reader where he or she is on his or her journey through the book.6

Bon Voyage!

3David McKay, The Bond of Love (Fearn, Ross-shire, Great Britain: Christian Focus Publications, 2001). ISBN: 1857926412.

4Sinclair B. Ferguson, The Christian Life (Carlisle, PA: The Banner of Truth Trust, 2017). ISBN-13: 9781848712591.

5Edward Donnelly, Biblical Teaching on the Doctrines of Heaven and Hell (Carlisle, PA: The Banner of Truth Trust, 2009). ISBN-13: 9780851518114.

6Ashwood did not include any chapter headings except for the Epistle Dedicatory, Epistle to the Readers, and main part of the book. There was, at the end of 1697 edition, a table of contents that the editor used to create the detailed table of contents in this book. Some chapter and subchapter divisions and the hierarchy required editorial interpretation due to ambiguities and errors in the original.

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