By Thomas Watson
"Don't you know that I must be about My Father's
business?" Luke 2:49
These are the words of our Lord Jesus, whose lips dropped
as a honeycomb. The occasion was this, Christ, having the Spirit of
wisdom and sanctity poured out upon Him without measure, being
but 12 years old, went to the temple and fell to disputing with the
religious teachers, verse 46. Where should learning blossom, but upon that
tree which bore several sorts of fruit? Who could better interpret
secrets—than He who lay in His Father's bosom, Colossians 2:9? According to
Luke 2:47, "All who heard Him were astonished at His understanding."
Well might they admire—that He who had never been at the university should
be able to silence the great religious teachers. John 7:15, "How did this
man get such learning without having studied?"
While they were wondering, his mother, who now was come
to seek Him, propounded this question, "Son, why have You thus dealt with
us?" Luke 2:48. That is, "Son, why have you treated us like this? Your
father and I have been anxiously searching for you." In the words of the
text, Christ made a rational and pious reply, "Didn't you know I had to be
about My Father's business?" In the Greek it is "in the things of My
Father." It is as if Christ had said, "I must be doing the work which My
Father in heaven has set Me about; for this I received My mission and
unction, that I might do the will of Him who sent Me." What am I in the
world for but to promote His glory, propagate His truth, and be as a magnet
to draw souls to heaven? "Didn't you know I had to be about My Father's
From this example of our blessed Savior in making His
Father's work His business, we learn this great truth:
DOCTRINE. It is the duty of every Christian to make true
religion his business.
True religion is not an occasional thing, only secondary
in importance, or the thing "by the by," proper only for spare hours; but it
must be the grand business of our lives. Paul made it so. His great care was
to know Christ and be found in Christ, Philippians 3:9-10. How abundantly
did he lay himself out for God! "I labored more abundantly than they all," 1
Corinthians 15:10. Paul moved heavenward, not slowly as the dial on the
sun—but as the sun in its hemisphere, with a winged swiftness. He made true
religion his business.
For the illustrating and unfolding of this, there are
three questions to be resolved:
1. What is meant by true religion?
2. Why must we make true religion our business?
3. What is it to make true religion our business?
Question 1. What is meant by true religion?
Answer. The Latin word for religion, signifies a
knitting together. Sin has loosened us from God—but when true religion
comes into the heart it fastens the heart to God again, as the members are
knit to the head by several nerves and ligaments. True religion is the
spiritual sinew and ligament, which knits us to God. The Greek word for
religion signifies a right worshiping. This is true religion, when we
not only worship the true God—but in that manner which He has
prescribed—by a right rule, from a right principle, and to a
Question 2. Why must we make true religion our business?
Answer. Because true religion is a matter of the highest
nature. While we are serving God, we are doing angels' work. The business of
true religion, infinitely out-balances all other things besides. Pleasure,
profit, and honor (the trinity which the world adores) are all of an
inferior alloy—and must give way to true religion. The fear of God is said
to be the whole duty of man, Ecclesiastes 12:13; or, as it is in the Hebrew,
the whole of man. Other things may delight; true religion satiates. Other
things may make us wise to admiration; true religion makes us wise to
salvation, 2 Timothy 3:15.
Question 3. What is it to make true religion our
Answer. It consists principally in these seven things:
1. We make true religion our business—when we wholly
devote ourselves to true religion. Psalm 119:38, "Establish Your
Word unto Your servant, who is devoted to Your fear." We must be as the
scholar who devotes himself to his studies, and makes learning his whole
business. A godly man may sometimes run himself, through rashness and
thoughtlessness, upon that which is evil. There is no man so bad but he may
do some good actions; and there is no man so good but he may do some bad
actions. But the course and tenor of a godly man's life is pious. When he
deviates to sin—yet he devotes himself to God. It is with
Christians as it is with a company of mariners at sea. They are bound for
some coast, and may meet with such a crosswind as may turn them back and
drive them in a quite contrary way. But as soon as the storm is over and the
sea calm, they recover themselves again and get into the right way where
they sailed before. Just so, it is with a Christian. Heaven is the haven he
is bound for; the Scripture is the compass he sails by; yet, by a contrary
wind of temptation blowing, he may be driven back into a sinful action. But
he recovers himself again by repentance and sails on constantly to the
heavenly port. This is to make true religion our business—when,
notwithstanding some excursions through human frailty, we are devoted to
God's fear and dedicate our entire existence to God.
2. We make true religion our business—when we devote much
attention to the business of true religion chiefly. It gains the
preeminence. "Seek first the kingdom of God," Matthew 6:33; first in
time, before all things, and first in affection, above all things. We must
give true religion the precedence, making all other things either
subservient or subordinate to it. We are to provide for our families—but
chiefly for our souls. This is to make true religion our business. It is
unworthy to make true religion come behind in the rear. It must lead the
van, and all other things must stoop and bow to it. He never had true
religion in his heart who said to any worldly thing, "In the throne, you
shall be greater."
3. We make true religion our business—when our thoughts
are most busied about true religion. While others are thinking
what they shall do to get a living, our thoughts are what we shall do to be
saved. David mused upon God, "While I was musing, the fire burned," Psalm
39:3. Thoughts are as passengers in the soul. When we travel every day to
the city of God and are contemplating glory and eternity, this is to make
true religion our business. Theophylact calls holy contemplation "the gate
and portal by which we enter into heaven." A Christian, by divine
soliloquies and meditations, is in heaven before his time. He is taken up
into paradise; his thoughts are all packed up and gone.
4. We make true religion our business—when our main end
and scope is to serve God. He is said to make the world his
business—whose great design is to get the world. Paul's ultimate end was
that Christ might be magnified, and the church edified. Our aims must
be good, as well as our actions. Many make use of religion for
sinister ends, like the eagle; while she flies aloft, her eye is upon her
prey. Hypocrites serve God on account of other advantages. They love the
temple for the gold; they court the gospel not for its beauty—but for its
jewels. These do not make true religion their business—but a political trick
and artifice to get money. But then we make true religion our business—when
the glory of God is mainly in our eye, and the very purpose and intent of
our life is to live to Him who has died for us. God is the center, and all
the lines of our actions must be drawn to this center.
5. We make true religion our business—when we trade with
God every day. "Our conversation is in heaven," Philippians 3:20.
The Greek word for "conversation" signifies commerce and traffic. Our
merchandise is in heaven. A man may live in one place and drive his trade in
another. Though a saint lives in the world—yet he trades above the moon. He
is a merchant for the pearl of price. This is to make true religion our
business. When we keep a holy fellowship with God, there is a trade driven
between us and heaven. "Our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son
Jesus Christ," 1 John 1:3. God comes down to us upon the wing of His
Spirit—and we go up to Him upon the wing of prayer!
6. We make true religion our business—when we redeem TIME
from secular things—for the service of God. A godly man is the
greatest miser. He hoards up all the time he can for God. Psalm 119:62, "At
midnight I will rise to give thanks to You." Those are the best hours, which
are spent with God. David, having tasted how sweet the Lord was, would
borrow some time from his sleep that he might take a turn in heaven. It well
befits Christians, to take time from worldly occasions, vain amusements,
idle visits—that they may be the more intent upon the matters of true
I have read of a holy man who, being tempted by his
former evil companions to sin, made this answer, "I am so busy in reading
a little book with three pages, that I have no leisure so much as to
mind my other business." And being asked afterward whether he had read over
the book, he replied, "This book with three pages is of three colors—red,
white, and black—which contain such deep mysteries that I have resolved with
myself to read therein all the days of my life. In the first leaf, which is
red, I meditate on the precious blood of
Christ which was shed for my sins. In the white leaf, I meditate on
the pure and delicious joys of heaven. In the black leaf, I
contemplate the hideous and dreadful torments of hell, prepared for the
wicked to all eternity."
This is to make true religion our business—when we are so
taken up with it, that we have scarcely any leisure for other things.
Christian, you have a God to serve, and a soul
to save; and if you have anything of true religion in you, you will take
heed of the thieves of time, and will reserve all opportunities for the best
things. How far are they from Christianity, who jostle out holy duties!
Instead of borrowing time from the world for prayer—they steal time from
prayer that they might follow the world!
7. We make true religion our business—when we serve God
with all our might. Our strength and spirits are drawn forth
about true religion. We seek, sweat, strive, and bestir ourselves as in a
matter of life and death. We put forth not only diligence, but a holy
violence. 2 Samuel 6:14, "David danced before the Lord with all his
might." This is to make true religion our business—when we shake off sloth
and put on zeal as a garment. We must not only pray—but pray fervently. We
must not only repent—but be "zealous and repent," Revelation 3:19. We must
not only love—but be "sick with love," Song of Solomon 2:5.
This is to be a Christian with purpose, when we put forth
all our vigor and fervor in true religion, and take the kingdom of God, as
it were, by storm. It is not a faint desire, which will bring us to heaven.
There must not only be wishing, but working; and we must so
work as to be damned if we come short.
Use 1. Of Information.
Branch 1. Hence learn that there are but few
godly Christians. Oh, how few make true religion their business! Is he an
craftsman—who never worked in the trade? Is he a Christian—who never wrought
in the trade of godliness? How few make true religion their business!
Some make religion a complement—but not their
business. They court religion by a profession, and, if need be, religion
shall have their letters of commendation—but they do not make true religion
their business. Many of Christ's disciples who said, "Lord, evermore give us
this bread," John 6:34—yet soon after basely deserted Christ and would
follow Him no more. John 6:66, "From that time, many of His disciples went
back and walked no more with Him."
Others make the world their main business. "They mind
earthly things," Philippians 3:19. As the earth puts out the fire—so the
love of earthly things puts out the fire of heavenly affections. It was a
judgment upon Korah and Dathan, "The earth swallowed them up."
Numbers 16:32 Thus it is with many; the world swallows up their time,
thoughts, and discourse. They are swallowed alive in the earth! There is a
lawful use of these things—but the sin is in the excess. The bee may suck a
little honey from the flower; but put it in a barrel of honey—and it is
drowned. How many engulf themselves in the creature and drive such a trade
in the shop that they quite break in their trading for heaven! The farm and
oxen have kept millions from Christ. These do not make true religion their
business—but make the world their business. What will all the world be at
death--but a dream! Habakkuk 2:13, "They work so hard, but all in vain!"
Branch 2. Hence see how hard it is to be
saved. It is not as easy as some think. True religion must be our business.
It is not enough to have a smack of religion, a touch of religion—but we
must make it our business. How many precepts have we to obey, how
many temptations to resist, how many graces to treasure up!
True religion is the work of our whole lives, and all is little enough!
Lord, then how hard is it to be saved! "Where will the sinner appear?" What
will become of the gallants of our time—who make sin their business, whose
whole employment is to indulge and pamper the flesh, lovers of pleasure more
than lovers of God? "All their care is," said Jerome, "to crisp their hair,
to sparkle their diamonds; instead of steeping their souls in brinish tears,
they bathe themselves in perfumed waters and ride to hell upon the back of
Use 2. Of Trial.
Let us deal impartially with our own souls, and put
ourselves upon a strict trial before the Lord whether we make true religion
our business or not. And, for our better progress herein, I shall lay down
ten signs and characters of a man who makes his true religion his
business; and by these, as by a gospel touchstone, we may try ourselves.
Character 1. He who makes true religion his business—does
not place his piety only in externals. Romans 2:28, "He is not a
Jew, who is one outwardly." True religion does not stand only in forms and
shadows; this is to give God leaves instead of fruit. It is
often seen that the pomp of worship destroys the purity of worship—as
the paint of the glass hinders the light. And it is no untruth to say, that
religious formality will as well damn—as profane wickedness. A superstitious
religionist will as well be in hell—as a drunken sot. A Christian's main
work lies with his heart. He who makes true religion his business gives God
the heart; he worships Him in spirit and truth. In distilling, the spirits
are strongest. The godly Christian distills out the spirits for God. Aaron
must offer the fat upon the altar, Leviticus 3:3, 16, "He shall offer
an offering made by fire unto the Lord; the fat that covers the inwards. All
the fat is the Lord's." If Aaron had offered the skin instead of the fat, it
would not have been accepted. External devotion alone is offering the skin,
and they who give God only the skin of religion, shall carry away
only the shell of comfort.
Character 2. He who makes true religion his
business—avoids everything that may be an obstacle or a hindrance to him in
his work. A wicked man does not care whether he makes progress in
true religion. He stands in the way of temptation, and, as if sin did not
come fast enough—he draws it as with a cart rope, Isaiah 5:18. But he who
makes true religion his business, flies from temptation; and while he is
running the heavenly race he "lays aside every weight of sin which does so
easily beset him," Hebrews 12:1. A man may as well miss heaven by
loitering in the way—as by losing the way. "The king's business
required haste," 1 Samuel 21:8, so the business of true religion requires
haste. Therefore, the godly Christian is careful that he is not taken off
the work, and so found tardy in it.
Character 3. He who makes true religion his business has
a care to preserve conscience inviolable, and would rather offend
all the world—than offend his conscience. 2 Timothy 1:3, "I thank God, whom
I serve from my forefathers with a pure conscience." Much of true religion
lies in conscience. Faith is a precious jewel—but conscience is the cabinet
where this jewel must be kept. 1 Timothy 3:9, "Holding the mystery of the
faith in a pure conscience." 1 Timothy 1:5, "Charity out of a pure heart,
and of a good conscience." So sacred a thing is conscience, that without
this all true religion drops in pieces. He who makes true religion his
business labors to get conscience regulated by Scripture as the watch is set
by the dial, and, having done this, he keeps his conscience as would protect
his eye—so that no dust of sin falls into it.
Character 4. He who makes true religion his business sees
to it that piety has an influence upon all his civil actions.
True religion has an influence upon his eating and
drinking. He holds the golden bridle of temperance; he eats
sparingly. As Chrysostom said, "The godly man feeds not to please the
sensual appetite—but that he may, by the strength he receives from the
creature, be the more fit for the cheerful discharge of spiritual services."
He does not make his food fuel for lust—but help to duty. Epicures dig their
own grave with their teeth; they feed without fear, Jude 12; they are
lawless gluttons. Sinners do not fear lest their table should be a snare.
While the wine is in the cup, they do not fear the handwriting on the wall.
But the godly man, being regulated by true religion, puts a knife to his
throat—that he may cut the throat of intemperance.
He who makes true religion his business sees to it that
piety has an influence upon his recreation. The strings of the violin
must sometimes be slacked, lest they break. God affords His people generous
delights. The Scripture allows the use of recreation, but we are apt to
offend most in lawful things. More are killed with poison. True religion
sits as moderator in the soul. The man influenced by true religion dares not
make recreation an occupation. It is oil to quicken him in God's service,
not a sea to engulf him. He who is devoted to true religion puts bounds to
the Olympian sports. He sets up a pillar or boundary as immovable as one of
those which bear the name of Hercules, on which he writes, "No further than
He who makes true religion his business sees that true
religion has an influence upon his buying and selling. The
wicked get a livelihood often by deception; sometimes they depreciate
commodities; they sell the refuse of the wheat, Amos 8:6. They would pick
out the best grains of corn and then sell the rest. Sometimes they falsify
their weights. Hosea 12:7, "The balances of deceit are in his hand." But he
who makes true religion his business, is regulated by it in the shop. He is
just in his dealings; he dares not hold the Book of God in one hand and
false weights in the other. He is faithful to his neighbor, and makes as
much reckoning of the Ten Commandments as of his creed.
True religion has an influence upon his marrying.
He labors to graft upon a religious stock. He is not so ambitious of
nobility as of piety. Nor is his care so much to espouse dowry as virtue. In
a word, he seeks for a "helpmeet," one who may help him up the hill to
heaven. This is marrying "in the Lord." That marriage indeed is honorable
when the husband is joined to one who is the temple of the Holy Spirit. Here
is the man who makes true religion his business, who, in all his civil
transactions, is steered and influenced by true religion. True religion is
the universal ingredient.
Character 5. He who makes true religion his business—is
good in his calling and relations. Relative grace much
graces true religion. I shall suspect his goodness, who herein is deficient.
Some will pray and discourse well—but it appears they never made true
religion their business—but rather took it up for ostentation than
occupation because they are defective in relative duties. They are bad
husbands, bad children, etc. If one should draw a picture and leave out an
eye, it would greatly eclipse and take from the beauty of the picture. To
fail in a relation stains the honor of profession. He who makes true
religion his business, is like a star shining in the proper orb and station
wherein God has set him.
Character 6. He who makes true religion his
business has a care of his company. He dares not twist into a cord of
friendship with sinners. Psalm 26:4, "I have not sat with vain people."
Diamonds will not cement with rubbish. It is dangerous to intermingle with
the wicked, lest their breath prove infectious; sin is very catching. Psalm
106:35-36, "They mingled among the pagans and adopted their evil customs.
And they served their idols, which were a snare unto them." If you mingle
bright and rusty armor together, the rusty will not be made bright—but the
bright will be made rusty. He who makes true religion his business, does not
like to be near those whose nearness sets him further off from God, and
whose embraces, like those of the spider, are to suck out the precious life.
The godly man engrafts himself into the communion of saints, and hereby, as
the scions, he partakes of the sap and virtue of their grace. He who makes
it his business to get to heaven associates only with those who may make him
better, or whom he may make better.
Character 7. He who makes true religion his
business—keeps his spiritual watch always by him.
He watches his eye. Job 31:1, "I made a covenant
with my eyes." When Dinah was gadding, she was defiled, Genesis 34:1-2. When
the eye is gadding by impure glances, the heart is defiled.
He who makes true religion his business watches his
thoughts lest they should turn to froth. Jeremiah 4:14, "How long shall
your vain thoughts lodge within you?" What a world of sin is minted in the
mind! A child of God sets a spy over his thoughts; he summons them in and
takes them captive "to the obedience of Christ," 2 Corinthians 10:5.
He who makes true religion his business watches his
passions. Passion is like gunpowder, with which the devil, setting on
fire, blows up the soul. In a passion, Jonah quarreled with the Almighty,
Jonah 4:1, 9. He who is devoted to true religion watches his passions lest
the tide, growing high, should be carried down the stream and be drowned in
He who makes true religion his business watches his
duties. Matthew 26:41, "Watch and pray."
First, he watches in prayer. The heart is subject
to remissness; if it is not dead in sin, it will be dead in prayer. A
Christian watches lest he should abate his fervor in duty. He knows if the
strings of his spiritual violin slacken, he cannot "make melody in his heart
to the Lord," Ephesians 5:19, Colossians 3:16.
Second, he watches after prayer. As a man is most
careful of himself when he comes out of a hot bath, the pores being then
most open and subject to cold, so a Christian is most careful when he comes
from an ordinance lest his heart should decoy him into sin. Therefore, when
he has prayed, he sets a watch. He deals with his heart as the Jews dealt
with Christ's sepulcher. Matthew 27:66 says that they "made the sepulcher
sure, sealing the stone, and setting a watch." A godly Christian, having
been at the Word and sacrament (that sealing ordinance), after the sealing
sets a watch.
He who makes true religion his business watches his
temptation. Temptation is the scout which the devil sends out to
discover our weaknesses. It is the fiery dart to blow up our grace. Satan
has his depths (Revelation 2:24), his methods (Ephesians
4:14), and his devices (2 Corinthians 2:11). He is continually
fishing for our souls, and if Satan is angling we need to be watching! He
who makes true religion his business is full of holy watchfulness. He lies
sentinel, and, with the prophet, stands upon his watchtower, Habakkuk 2:1.
Solomon said of a virtuous woman, Proverbs 31:18, "Her candle goes not out
by night." The godly Christian keeps his watch-candle always burning.
Character 8. He who
makes true religion his business—every day casts up his accounts to see how
things go in his soul, Lamentations 3:40. Solomon said, "Know the
state of your flocks," Proverbs 27:23. A man who makes true religion his
work is careful to know the state of his soul. Before the Lord brings him to
a trial—he brings himself to a trial. He would rather use the looking-glass
of the Word to see his own heart—than put on the broad spectacles of censure
to see another's fault. He plays the critic upon himself. He searches what
sin is in his heart unrepented of; and, having found it out, he labors by
his tears, as by the waters of jealousy, to make the thigh of sin to rot,
He searches whether he has grace or not—and he tries it
to see whether it is genuine or spurious. He is as much afraid of painted
holiness—as he is of going to a painted heaven. He traverses
things in his soul and will never leave until that question, whether he is
in the faith or not, is put out of question. Here is the man making true
religion his business. He is loath to be a spiritual bankrupt. Therefore, he
is still calling himself to account; and where he comes short, he gets
Christ to be his Surety.
Character 9. He who makes true religion his business will
be pious, whatever it costs him. He is a resolved man.
Psalm 119:106, "I have sworn that I will keep Your righteous judgments."
There are some who will be rich—and there are some who will be
godly. He who makes true religion his business will not, as Luther said,
be put off with other things. He can lack health, riches, or friends—but he
cannot lack Christ or grace. He will be godly. Let the times be what
they will, they shall not take him off the work of true religion. He will
follow Christ whatever the cost—the floods of persecution cannot drown his
zeal. He does not say, "There is a lion in the way." He will wrestle with
difficulties and march in the face of death. The Christians of the primitive
church cried out to the persecutor, "Hew us in pieces, burn us—but we will
never worship your idols." These were in good earnest for heaven.
There is a great deal of difference between those who go
to sea for pleasure, and those mariners who are to go on a voyage to the
East Indies. The first, upon the least storm, retreat back to shore; but
those who are embarked for a voyage hold onto their course though the sea is
rough and stormy, and will venture their lives in hope of the golden harvest
at the Indies. Hypocrites seem religious when things are serene and calm—but
they will not sail in a storm. Only those who make true religion
their business, will hold out their voyage to heaven in the midst of
tempests and death-threatening dangers!
Character 10. He who makes true religion his
business—lives every day as his last day. He prays in the morning
as if he were to die at night. He lives as if he were presently to be called
to God's bar. He walks "soberly, righteously, and godly," Titus 2:12. He
girds his loins, trims his lamp, and sets his house in order that when death
comes for him—he may have nothing to do but die. Behold here the man who
makes true religion his business.
Use 3. Of Exhortation.
Let me persuade all you whose consciences may smite you
for former neglects—now set upon the work; make true religion your business;
bestir yourselves in this—as in a matter of life and death.
Question. But what must we do to make true religion our
Answer. That you may be serious in this work, I shall lay
down several rules for your help and direction therein.
Rules for Making True religion Our Business
Rule 1. If you would make true religion your
business—possess yourselves with this maxim—that true religion is the end of
your creation. God never sent men into the world only to eat and drink and
put on fine clothes—but the end of their creation is to honor Him. 1 Peter
4:11, "That God in all things may be glorified." Should the body only be
tended and looked after, this would be to trim the scabbard instead
of the blade. It would be to invert and frustrate the very end of our
Rule 2. If you would make true religion your
business—get a change of heart wrought. Breathe after an inward
principle of holiness. He cannot make true religion his business who has no
true religion. Can the body move without a principle of life? Christian, get
your heart spiritualized by grace. An earthly heart will no more trade in
heaven, than a millstone will ascend, or a serpent fly in the air. The heart
must be divinely touched with the Spirit, like a needle with the magnet,
before it can cleave to God and follow Him fully, Numbers 14:24. Never
expect the practice to be holy until there is first a holy principle.
Rule 3. If you would make true religion your
business—set yourselves always under the eye of God. The master's eye makes
the servant work. God's eye will quicken our devotion. Psalm 16:8, "I have
set the Lord always before me." If we leave off work, or loiter in our work,
God sees. He has a window which opens into our breasts. This is, as
Chrysostom called it, "the eye of God which never sleeps," and would make us
active in the sphere of duty. If, indeed, God's eye were at any time off of
us, we might slacken our pace in piety. But He is always looking on. If we
take the wings of the morning we cannot fly from His presence. And He who is
now the Spectator, will be the Judge! Oh, how would this
consideration of God's omniscience keep us from being truants in
religion! How would it infuse a spirit of activity and gallantry into us,
making us put forward with all our might in the race to heaven!
Rule 4. If you would make true religion your
business—think often of the shortness of time. This life is but a
vapor, James 4:14; a shadow, 1 Chronicles 29:5; it is as nothing, Psalm
39:5. We are wheeling apace out of the world—and there is no work to be done
for our souls in the grave. Ecclesiastes 9:10, "Whatever your hand finds to
do, do it with all your might, for in the grave, where you are going, there
is neither working nor planning nor knowledge nor wisdom." Now is the time
of life; now is the day of grace. You do not know how soon these two suns
may set. The shorter our life—the swifter should be our pace!
Rule 5. If you would make true religion your
business—get an understanding heart. Weigh things seriously in the balance
of reason and judgment. Think of the infinite importance of this
business—our eternal misery or happiness depends upon it! Other things are
but for convenience; this is of necessity. If this work is not
done—we are undone! If we do not do the work which believers are
doing, we must do the work which devils are doing. And if God gives
us a serious heart to lay ourselves out in the business of true religion,
our income will be greater than our expense. True religion is a good
trade—if it is well followed. It will remit the cost; it is like working in
gold. 1 Peter 1:9, "Receiving the end of your faith—even the salvation of
your souls." God will shortly take us from the working house to the
throne, and will set upon our head a fresh garland made of the
flowers of paradise!
Rule 6. If you would make true religion your
business—implore the help of God's Spirit. All we can do is but lost labor,
unless the Spirit stimulates and empowers. Beg a gale from heaven. Song of
Solomon 4:16, "Awake, O north wind, and come south wind—blow upon my
garden." If the Spirit joins with our chariot, then we move to heaven
swiftly like a roe upon the mountains, or as the chariots of Amminadib, Song
of Solomon 2:17, 6:12.
Now, having laid down the rules, let me, for a
conclusion, press all Christians to this great duty of making true
religion their business. And I will use but two
1. The sweetness which is in true religion.
All her paths are pleasantness, Proverbs 3:17. The way of true religion is
strewn with roses, in regard to that inward peace which God gives. Psalm
19:11, "In keeping Your precepts there is great reward." As while the mother
tends her child, and sometimes beyond her strength too—yet finds a secret
delight in it; so, while a Christian is serving God, there is that inward
contentment and delight infused; and he meets with such transfigurations of
soul, that he thinks himself half in heaven. It was Christ's food and drink
to do His Father's will, John 4:34. True religion was Paul's recreation,
Romans 7:22. Though I should not speak of wages, the joys which God gives us
in this life are enough to make us be in love with His service.
2. Millions of people have eternally miscarried—for lack
of making true religion their business. They have done
something in religion—but not to any purpose. They have begun—but
have made too many stops and pauses. They have been lukewarm and
indifferent in the business. They have served God—as if they served Him
not. They have sinned fervently, but prayed faintly. True
religion has been only an incidental thing. They have served God by
fits and starts—but have not made true religion their main business.
Therefore, they have miscarried to all eternity!
If you could see a wicked man's tombstone in hell, you
might read this inscription upon it, "Here lies one in hellish flames—for
not making true religion his main business!" How many ships have suffered
shipwreck, notwithstanding all their glorious names of "The Hope," "The
Safeguard," and "The Triumph"! Just so—how many souls, notwithstanding their
glorious title of saintship, have suffered shipwreck in hell forever because
they have not made true religion their main business!