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The Heavenly Trade Brings Great Returns

{Proof That the Heavenly Trade is the Best Trade

The Heavenly Trade Is the Most Profitable Trade

The Heavenly Trade Brings Great Returns}

Now, nothing gives greater returns than a thorough pursuit of piety. Whatever people think, Christianity is the most thriving way with respect to the:227

  1. Excellent fruit of it;

  2. Abundant fruit of it;

  3. Durable fruit of it.

First, great returns will soon make traders rich when the time and labor they expend is abundantly compensated and the resources they spend bring in far more than what was spent. So it is with this heavenly trade. There is no proportion between what heavenly traders venture and their returns.228 Their duties are poor, imperfect things and when they have done all, they are unprofitable servants. But their reward is great and glorious. Their afflictions are light and momentary, but they end in a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory (2 Corinthians 4:17–18).229 It is great profit indeed, when some weak works of faith, labors of love, and a little patience, obedience, and duty—for a time—are rewarded with eternal rest, pleasure, and glory. There is no equality between the race (2 Timothy 4:7),230 price, and this world’s striving, and a heavenly crown. What is a cup of cold water (Matthew 10:42)231 compared to a river of pleasures? A crown of thorns to a crown of glory? The world’s frowns to divine smiles? A troubled conscience to the consolations of God? A few tears, fears, some watching, weakness, duties, and afflictions—what are these compared to the joys of the Lord into which believers will enter forever?

It is a great bargain to give up small, worthless things for excellent things, beastly lusts232 for the beauty of holiness, an unclean heart for a clean heart, vile affections for a virtuous disposition, filthy rags for beautiful garments, and a body of death for a Holy Spirit of life. To let go of the world for God, fellowship with demons for communion with Christ, to lose guilt and gain righteousness, to escape Hell and gain Heaven—this is great gain. To swap away old things for new, rotten things for sound things, hypocrisy for sincerity, and lies for truth, is a good bargain. To exchange empty things for things that satisfy, things that are not for things that are, goods that wear out with use for things that never become old, and fading trifles for eternal treasures—this is a thriving trade indeed. And such are the revenues of the heavenly trade; they are incomparably great and excellent. Wisdom’s merchants never deal with contemptible or cheaply made goods. All of their riches are pleasant and precious. “By knowledge the rooms are filled with all precious and pleasant riches” (Proverbs 24:4 ESV)—precious faith, precious promises, the precious blood of Christ, and precious thoughts of God are some of the precious things heavenly traders meet with in the way of holiness. Besides this, pursuit of godliness brings souls into acquaintance and conversation with God and helps them to keep a relationship with Heaven and to maintain a life above and beyond the reach of all others. Is this not a great advantage?

Christianity also leads people into blessed experiences of the love, power, greatness, and faithfulness of God. This constant employment about heavenly things makes the way pleasant and delightful, and fills the soul with much contentment with its lot in the world, in spite of whatever trials, losses, and sufferings the soul may experience or fear. Also, engaging in this heavenly trade secures the good and comfort of all their other interests. It sweetens whatever portion in the world God’s sovereign pleasure allots to them, whether it be more or less. It brings all their concerns under divine care and promises for their good, comfort, and sufficient supply during their passage to home [Heaven]. Are not all these great returns enough to make the heavenly trade the greatest portion and advantage beyond all others in the world?

227Ashwood gives this list here and in his table of contents, leading the reader to an expectation that these three things will be individually discussed, but they are blended together in the following text.

228This is literally, mathematically true: divide infinity by anything, and you have an infinite ratio; there is thus no proportion.

229For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal” (2 Corinthians 4:17–18 ESV).

230I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith” (2 Timothy 4:7 NKJV).

231And whoever in the name of a disciple gives to one of these little ones even a cup of cold water to drink, truly I say to you, he shall not lose his reward” (Matthew 10:42 NASB).

232lusts: not only sexual lust, but all indulgence of the flesh and self.

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