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Exhortation and Counsel to Professors of Christianity

{Since the Heavenly Trade Is the Best Trade…

Exhortation and Counsel to Professors of Christianity}

If the heavenly trade is the best trade, then you who profess this calling are exhorted to follow it. Keep up and make good use of your trade for Heaven. What occupation does not demand continual improvement? The most profitable calling gives little advantage if not followed. The day we live in gives people obvious experience of this truth. Those who intend to live in the world must give heed to their jobs. The idle person suffers hunger. People who expect to make anything of their earthly affairs must be careful and diligent in their business. And so it is in this trade of godliness; those who want to be saved must work out their salvation (Philippians 2:12).536 A trade is a person’s business and course of life, which he pursues and carries on from day to day. It is the subject of his thoughts, counsels, attention, time, strength, and daily work. A person’s trade is where he ends one day, begins the next, and gives his utmost wisdom, talents, and labor to the most vigorous prosecution of it. And so it must be in the heavenly trade. Christian, the heavenly trade must be the continuous537 business and principal concern of your whole life. It must be that which commands your thoughts, purposes, and abilities. It must be that which consumes your time, care, and strength. Every other business must give way to it and every occasion and event must be subservient to it. The heavenly trade must be followed and pursued every day, and in every thing and place and with all companions. Whatever [else] is neglected, the heavenly trade must go on without interruption for even a moment. You must not tell godliness, as Felix did to Paul, to go away for now until you have a more convenient time (Acts 24:25).538 Halts in the way of God are not easily recovered; one day’s neglect throws all out of order. Prosperity in Christianity allows no gaps in its work and does not allow interruptions. Piety must be as the blood that runs through every vein of your life and affairs in the world. In eating, drinking, talking, thinking, buying, or selling, you must still be pursuing wisdom’s merchandise. Christian, do your work or lay down your trade. It is vanity and the way to beggary to profess a calling and not pursue it.

QUESTION: But in what does this heavenly trade consist that I must make my business? What are you driving at by all these arguments for heavenly trading?

ANSWER: What I intend by this metaphor I will explain to you under these seven general headings; these are the main duties of a Christian and are to be carried on in the whole course of life:

  1. To have and to keep up a heavenly spirit.

  2. To secure your portion of heavenly things.

  3. To obtain more and more heavenly goods.

  4. To pursue heavenly work each day.

  5. To be heavenly in your thoughts and meditations each day.

  6. To keep up heavenly conversations each day.

  7. To make good use of everything you have, meet with, and do for heavenly purposes and advantages.

536So then, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your salvation with fear and trembling” (Philippians 2:12 NASB).

537Grammatical purists may think to object that continual ought to be used since continuous refers to something that goes on without interruption. Continuous is the correct word here; Christians are always on duty.

538But as he was discussing righteousness, self-control and the judgment to come, Felix became frightened and said, ‘Go away for the present, and when I find time I will summon you’” (Acts 24:25 NASB).

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