“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 business?”
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 right end.
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 business?
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 religion.
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 pleasure!”
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 this!”
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 it.
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, Numbers 5:22.
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 business?
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 being.
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 weighty considerations.
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!