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parable, doth represent a true serious Christian trading for eternity, and that's it (without further preface) I shall fasten upon.
Doctrine—That a true Christian is a spiritual tradesman; and 'tis not only here, but in other places also, wherein a Christian is thus represented, as Luke xix. 13, 15. Matt. xiii. 45. Perhaps the opening of this may not be unuseful, for some will be more affected with a similitude, than with the naked truth.
Shew First, in general, what the Christian's trade is. Trades are called mysteries, and the Christian's trade the greatest of mys
“ for without controversy great is the mystery of godliness. (1. Tim. iii. 16.) He hath a mysterious trade indeed that deals in things he never saw, and yet such is the Christian's trade. Two things are to be considered in a trade :
I. There's something to be done. A trade is an occupation or business. Every trade is a work either of mind or body, hand or brain ;-so in the Christian's trade. When the master sends us into the vineyard, he sends us to work. “Son, go work." (Matt. xxi. 28.) Christianity doth not give a writ of ease, but finds its serious professors always something to do.“ Always abounding in the work of the Lord.” (1 Cor. last.)
Trades are of two ŝinds.-1. Merchant trades, the business of which is to buy and sell; and such a trade is Christianity. Our work is to " buy the truth;" to buy wine and milk, (Isaiah lv. 1.) and especially to purchase the pearl of great price, (Matt. xiii. 45.) and in order thereunto, to sell every thing else. The Christian's trade is to part with all our sins, all our own righteousness, every thing that is near and dear to us, when it comes in competition with the glory of God, the will of Jesus Christ, or our own salvation. Nay, there's a constant merchandise, (Rev. iii. 18.) a going, fetching in wisdom, grace, knowledge, strength, and comfort from the new covenant, and the laying it out again or improving it for God's glory, or the furtherance of our own or others' salvation. Add," (2 Peter i. 5.) as tradesmen to their stock. Receiving“ grace for grace” looks like a merchant's trade, (John i. 16.) as some understand it, receiving one grace as the reward of our improvement of another, for to the humble " he giveth more grace." (James iv. 6.)
2. Manufacturers' trades—the work of which is the labour of the hand, making something; and the Christian's trade is something like this too. A Christian's business is to make him a new heart. (Ezek. xviii. 31.) To work out his own salvation. (Phil. iii. 21.) To work in holy duties, for they'll never be done well, except we do work in them. The temple was built upon a threshing floor. We shall never do duties to acceptation, unless we set our bones to them. Sweat at it, (Rom. xii.'11. James v. 16-dénous évepyoupévn.) Striving in prayer, (Rom. xv. 30.)
II. There's something to be gotten, which is the end aimed at in the work, “ for in ail labour there is profit.” (Prov. xiv. 23.) Those that buy and sell do it with design to get again. (James iv. 13.) Trading is designed for getting, and so is the Christian's trade; there's something to be got by it. Other tradesmen aim at any good, but the Christian tradesman aims at God's favour, (Ps.iv. 6,7.)
and that he gains withal the blessed fruits of it, in this world and in the other. His gains are as the good servant's.
1. The increase of his stock, “ he made it other five talents." Knowledge increased, grace and strength increased, for the best way
is to be much in acting grace. 2. The commendation of his master. God's acceptance is the gain of the Christian tradesman, for which he labours, (2 Cor. v. 9.) to be accepted of God.
3. A place in the joy of his Lord. The great gains of the Christian tradesman are reserved for heaven, like the return of a long voyage. Christ is the gain of the Christian trade, as some read Phil. i. 21.-To me, living and dying, Christ is gain.
Shew Secondly, more particularly, wherein a Christian is a spiritual tradesman. There are many who have some little dealings in trade, that buy and sell, and make a little now and then, by the by, that yet are not to be called tradesmen. So 'tis as to the Christian ade: there are many huxters and pedlars (give me leave to call them so that are hang-bys to the trade-hypocrites, I mean,-pretenders to the Christian trade, but do not deserve to be called tradesmen. 'Tis the true Christian that I call the spiritual tradesman. A tradesman makes his trade his choice.
1. A tradesman is one that has spent a deal of time, and taken a deal of pains to learn his trade. If it is reckoned so necessary to make a tradesman, that, as we know, in most places a seven years' apprenticeship served, is a qualification required before a man can set up, -so a Christian. Skill to manage the Christian's trade is not born with us, but must be acquired by pains and diligence. We can never trade in wisdom's merchandise, without sitting at wisdom's gates. (Prov. viii. 34.) Seek it as silver. (Prov. ii. 4.) Ministers' work is to bring up apprentices to this trade; and the Christian makes it his business to get more and more an insight into it. 'Tis a bad sign, we are no good tradesmen for heaven, if the getting of our trade cost us no pains.
2. A tradesman is one that having learned his trade makes it his business to follow it. His trade is his to epyov.–So 'tis with the true Christian, whose characteristical mark I look upon this to be, that he is one who makes religion his business—that gives himself wholly to these things. (1 Tim. iv. 15.) The great thing he minds, that fills his thoughts, takes up all his care is, how to do this work and get the gains of the Christian trade. Indeed we may sometimes find a good tradesman engaged in other things, for diversion or recreation, but still he makes his trade his business. So a Christian, and herein he is differenced from a hypocrite.
3. A tradesman is one that layeth out all he hath for the advancement and improvement of his trade. If he hath a portion left him, it shall all go to promote his trade.-So a Christian, if he hath five talents put into his hands, he trades with them all,—time, strength, parts, abilities of mind or body, estate, credit, interest all devoted to his Christian trade, and if these may be made in any way subservient to that, he thinks he makes his best of them. Even
the mammon of unrighteousness shall help to make him friends. (Luke xvi. 9.)
4. A tradesman is one that rests satisfied with the gain of his trade and lives upon it; as to worldly things, he makes his trade his portion ; 'tis that to him and his family, what a gentleman's land or inheritance is to him and his family.-So a Christian. As he takes the work of his trade for his business, so he takes the gains of his trade for his portion, and thinks himself rich indeed if he have got the pearl of price. If his spiritual trade thrive, he reckons himself happy indeed, and can say, with Jacob, (Gen. xxxiii. 11.) 32-75-w', I have all; and with Paul, (Phil. iv. 18.) I have all, and abound. This the hypocrite cannot be content with ; he must have something else beside his trade.
5. A tradesman is one that hath entered himself in the incorporation company
of them that are of the same trade.-So a Christian. He is a church member. When new converts set up the Christian's trade, they were added to the church. (Acts ii. last.) The Church of Christ is the great company of spiritual tradesmen, and God being the God of order, will have all that desire this trade to be members of that company. Ministers are officers of that company, to guide and conduct them under Christ—all the members must seek the good of their company.
Shew Thirdly, What kind of trade the Christian trade is.
1. It is an ancient trade. Adam, in innocency, was set up in this trade; his business was to serve God, but he foolishly broke and ruined himself and all his family, but that God, like a tender father, was pleased to set him up again, and trust him with another stock upon
other terms. 2. It is an honourable trade. The greatest of men need not reckon it a disparagement to be of this trade. David thought it an honour to be called God's servant. (Ps. cxvi. 16.) Some of the kings of England have condescended to be made free of some particular trading company ; but the blessed Jesus, the King of kings, was of this trade. (John iv. 34.) This society of Christian tradesmen are a royal society, not only as they have a royal founder and a royal head, but they are themselves kings and priests.
3. It is an easy trade. The yoke is easy. (Matt. xi. last.) The commandments of it not grievous (1 John v. 3.); very easy when compared with the trade of sin, the best of which is labouring in the fire, (Hab. ii. 13.) whilst the worst of this is but the heat and burden of the day. (Matt. xx. 12.)
4. It is a comfortable trade. Wisdom's ways are ways of pleasantness. (Prov. iii. 17.) There is a present great reward of obedience in obedience, (Ps. xix. 10.) inward joy and satisfaction, free from those disturbances which other tradesmen are liable to.
5. 'Tis a gainful trade—not as to worldly things-you spoil all if you expect it, or take up this trade in hopes of it, but spiritual gain, and that is,-(1.) Great gain; better than the merchandise of silver. (Prov. iii
. 14.) The Christian trades for crowns and pearls. (2.) Quick gain. Besides what's in hand in daily gains, the full return is not far off. “ A few stiles more and I be at my father's house.”—Dr. Tayler. (3.) Sure gain. The Lord Jesus hath set up an insurance office, so that if you be faithful to your trade, he hath undertaken to insure the gains ; 'tis lodged in his hands. (4.) Everlasting gain-gain that can never be lost again.
Application. Give me leave from hence to direct a twofold exhortation to you, and I beseech you suffer the word of exhortation.
1. Be persuaded with all speed to set up the Christian trade ; I mean by this to be truly religious, to do the Christian's work in hopes of the Christian's reward. You that are young and chusing trades for this world, will you be persuaded, together with them, to choose a trade for eternity ? O that I could prevail with you
all! This trade would never be the worse for the multitude of tradesmen. To move you, besides what hath been said of the excellence of this trade, consider
(1.) Till you set up this trade you stand all the day idle. (Matt. XX. 6.) Whatever you are doing, in God's account you are doing nothing till you are beginning to work for your souls and eternity; you are doing nothing of the great work you were sent into this world about, like a trifling factor in a foreign country. (2.) Till
of God in vain. (2 Cor. vi. 1.) All the gifts that God gives you to improve for his honour and your own benefit are all received in vain. Buried in a napkin. (Matt. xxv. 25, 26.) Time, strength, parts, estate, means of grace-all in vain.
(3.) Til you set up this trade you are trading for hell—that's bad trading, I'm sure; spending money for that which is not bread. (Isa. lv. 2.) Sowing to the flesh. (Gal. vi. 8.) Treasuring up like a tradesman, but it is wrath. (Rom. ii. 5.) Driving bargains with hell.
(4.) Your setting up this trade will have a comfortable influence upon your worldly trades, which, I dare say, will thrive the better for it, for godliness hath the promise of the life that now is. (1 Tim. iv. 8. Matt. vi. 33.)
Direction 1. Work upon your hearts a powerful conviction of the excellency and necessity of this trade below, that there is no trade like trading for heaven.
Direction 2. Get a right understanding of this trade. Set yourselves apprentices to Christ, who invites you to come and learn of him. (Matt. xi. 29.) Study the Scriptures, which contain the rules of this trade.
Direction 3. Make sure a good stock of true saving grace. Go to God your heavenly Father, and, in good earnest, buy it of him, and improve the means of grace, and be ready to comply with the motions of the Spirit of grace. No trading without grace. If you would trade with heaven, you must have some effects that will pass there, and these are nothing but grace. The great trading grace is faith. (Heb. xi. 1.) This exports and imports. The work is done, and your gain is brought in by faith.
Direction 4. Break off all trading with sin, for that will quickly spoil your spiritual trade. You cannot serve God and Mammon, (Matt. vi. 24.) You cannot trade for sin and Christ. Indeed the
best Christian may fall into sin, and doth daily, but he doth not make a trade of sin. That trade must be left; the agreements disannulled. (Isa. xxviii. 18.)
Direction 5. Take up a stedfast resolution by the grace of God to make religion your business. Let the time past suffice that you have trifled. Here's a good bargain offered you on easy terms; begin your trade with the purchase of that, and you are made for ever.
2. You that have set up the Christian trade, be persuaded to manage it well. Ye see your calling, brethren, (1 Cor. i. 26.) Yes, it is the tradesman's calling, O that Christians would but learn to be as wise for their souls, as the children of this world are in their
generation. Let me leave with
you, for the right management of the Christian trade(1.) If you would drive a good trade
for your souls, make all your other affairs to truckle to this trade. Thus tradesmen do. A spiritual trade will never thrive well if you do not make it your chief
You must not entangle yourselves in the affairs of this life, (2 Tim. ii. 4.) Worldly business we cannot avoid while we are here, but take heed of worldly entanglements. In other things buy as though you possessed not, (1 Cor. vii. 39.) let your spiritual trade govern your choices.
(2.) Keep up your correspondence; this a tradesman must do. Be often reading God's letters to you in his word, and sending letters to him hy prayer, and all about your spiritual trade. Do not let your
intercourse fail on this side, God's ear is always open. “ As a shoemaker's trade is to make shoes, and a taylor's trade is to make clothes, so 'tis a Christian's trade to pray.”—Luther.
(3.) Trust the faithful, but never trust the false. God is faithful, (1 Cor. i. 9.) you may, you must trust him. Those who will deal with God must deal upon trust. The devil, the world, your own hearts, are false, trust them not. (Prov. xxviii. 26.)
(4.) Be wise to discern, and watchful to improve your opportunities. Tradesmen have some special seasons which, if well hit, are hugely for their advantage-So have Christians opportunities of doing good, and getting good, and both helpful to their trade. Know when you have a good bargain offered you. Gather in summer. (Prov. vi. 6-8. Matt. xvi. 2.)
(5.) Be constant in attending the markets and exchange—these are ordinary opportunities. The sabbath day is the market day for our souls to busy them. The solemn assembly is the exchange, be not absent then. Thomas lost a sight of Christ by being absent when the disciples were together. (Prov. viii. 34.)
(6.) Keep out of debt as much as may be. Debt ruins many a tradesman. “Our sins are our debts. (Matt. vi. 12.) Have a care of it, for 'twill cramp you in your trade. Have nothing to do with sin. Unfruitful works are bad for tradesmen. (Eph. v. 11.)
(7.) Have a care of displeasing your friends; that's a piece of folly that hath ruined many a tradesman. Avoid quarrels as much as may be. Tradesmen must be pleasing. Your best friends are God, and Christ, and the blessed Spirit, be sure you are in with