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Use Everything for Heavenly Advantages

{Since the Heavenly Trade Is the Best Trade…

Exhortation and Counsel to Professors of Christianity

Use Everything for Heavenly Advantages}

Finally, you do carry on the heavenly trade when you use everything for heavenly advantages, getting good from everything you encounter, do, or enjoy. In earthly trades, all people seek their gain from their own territory (Isaiah 56:11).1043 They endeavor to turn everything to some profit. Likewise, heavenly traders, if they intend to thrive, should be getting some spiritual good from everything they do and all that they encounter. This is consistent with the great design of God in all He does for His people, which is to do them good, “who fed you in the wilderness with manna that your fathers did not know, that he might humble you and test you, to do you good in the end” (Deuteronomy 8:16 ESV). To this purpose are His providences directed: “For I was ashamed to request of the king an escort of soldiers and horsemen to help us against the enemy on the road, because we had spoken to the king, saying, ‘The hand of our God is upon all those for good who seek Him, but His power and His wrath are against all those who forsake Him’” (Ezra 8:22 NKJV). And this leads to the accomplishment of the promises toward believers: “For I will set My eyes on them for good, and I will bring them again to this land; and I will build them up and not overthrow them, and I will plant them and not pluck them up” (Jeremiah 24:6 NASB). I will not turn away from them to do them good (Jeremiah 32:40).1044 All of the events in a believer’s life fall under a promise of working for good, both the best and worst things. “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28 NKJV). And why did God give us this statement? So that gracious souls would be expecting good from everything, every affliction, as well as every mercy that befalls them. It was so that they would endure affliction with a full willingness to cooperate with the will of God, so that they might use everything to the great purpose of advantage to their soul. “What more good, Oh Lord?” was the usual saying of a godly man when the Lord brought any new affliction on him, with which he was much tried, and from which he always got some spiritual advantage.

It is for great advantage to their souls that gracious souls are made capable of using their mercies and to bear and use their afflictions for some spiritual good. They have a principle of grace implanted in their hearts and of divine light into their minds. They have received rules and instructions so that they might be able to get advantage to their souls. They are made people of wisdom so that they might hear God in affliction (Micah 6:9),1045 and see God in mercies. They become skilled in divine chemistry so that they might extract the purposes of providences and good of every condition, duty, and mercy. It was said of pious Mr. Dod that he used to turn earth into Heaven by a wise and spiritual use of his earthly affairs. This is a blessed metamorphosis and it shows excellent skill and high achievement in the heavenly trade, to convert copper and brass into gold and to convert everything, even the worst things, to some good. This, Christian, is your privilege, duty, and portion: to so manage every affair, condition, event, and experience so as to help enrich your soul.

There are nine things that Christians should be especially careful to manage to some advantage for their soul and get good from them to:

These nine things are:

  1. Privileges;

  2. Ordinances;

  3. Providence;

  4. The world and the things of it;

  5. Your callings;

  6. Your companions;

  7. Your time alone;

  8. Various occasional events;

  9. Your falls and miscarriages.1047

1043Yes, they are greedy dogs Which never have enough. And they are shepherds Who cannot understand; They all look to their own way, Every one for his own gain, From his own territory” (Isaiah 56:11 NKJV). The last part of this verse, in the Hebrew reads from his קצה [kaw-tseh´]. That Hebrew word may be translated in a variety of literal and idiomatic ways, such as an extremity, after, border, brim, brink, edge, end, infinite, frontier, outermost coast, quarter, shore, outside, uttermost part. Because of this uncertainty, the NASB renders to the last one, and ESV one and all. But whatever is meant here by קצה, translators seem to want to convey that, in whatever place is under consideration, the problem of greedy dogs involves the whole place or else the greedy dogs are getting gain from their own place on earth instead of Heaven.

1044I will make an everlasting covenant with them that I will not turn away from them, to do them good; and I will put the fear of Me in their hearts so that they will not turn away from Me” (Jeremiah 32:40 NASB).

1045The voice of the Lord cries to the city—and it is sound wisdom to fear your name: Hear of the rod and of him who appointed it!” (Micah 6:9 ESV). This verse presents some translation difficulties. It literally reads hear מַטֶה and who appointed it. But the Hebrew מַטֶה [mat-teh´] has the general base meaning of branch and thus also can mean tribe (NKJV) or rod (NASB, ESV), and similar derived or figurative meanings.

1046It is common for preachers and writers to speak of being made fit for Heaven, or something similar when referring to something spiritually beneficial. Ashwood phrases it better as the process is never finished in this life.

1047This list is not in Ashwood’s original text, but is in his table of contents.

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