The Christian’s Trade is Heavenly - From Gurnall

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Ed Walsh

Puritan Board Senior
from Gurnall's
Christian in Complete Armour;
Chapter XII

The Christian’s trade is heavenly; the merchandise he deals for is of the growth of that heavenly country, Phil. 3:20: ‘Our conversation is in heaven.’ Every man’s conversation is suitable to his calling; he whose trade is heavenly, follows that close. ‘Every man minds his own business,’ the apostle tells us. You may possibly find a tradesman out of his shop now and then, but he is as a fish out of the water, never in his element till he be in his calling again. Thus when the Christian is about the world, and the wordling about heavenly matters, both are men out of their way, not rightly girt, till they get into their employment again. Now this heavenly trade is that which Satan doth in an especial manner labour to stop. Could the Christian enjoy but a free trade with heaven a few years without molestation, he would soon grow a rich man, too rich indeed for earth; but what with losses sustained by the hands of this pirate Satan, and also the wrong he receives by the treachery of some in his own bosom, that, like unfaithful servants, hold correspondence with this robber, he is kept but low in this life, and much of his gains are lost; now the Christian’s heavenly trade lies either within doors, or abroad; he can be free in neither; Satan is at his heels in both.

First, Within doors; this I may call his home trade, which is spent in secret between God and his own soul; here the Christian drives an unknown trade; he is at heaven and home again, richly laden in his thoughts with heavenly meditations, before the world knows where he hath been. Every creature he sees is a text for his heart to raise some spiritual matter and observations from. Every sermon he hears cuts him out work to make up and enlarge upon when he gets alone. Every providence is as wind to his sails, and sets his heart a moving in some heavenly affection or other, suitable to the occasion. One while he is wrapped up with joy in the consideration of mercy, another while melted into godly sorrow from the sense of his sins. Sometimes exalting God in his praises, anon abasing himself before God for his own vileness. One while he is at the breast of the covenant, milking out the consolations of the promises; another while working his heart into a holy awe and fear of the threatenings. Thus the Christian walks aloft, while the base worldling is licking the dust below. One of these heavenly pearls which the Christian trades for is more worth, than the worldling gets with all his sweat and travel in his whole life. The Christian’s feet stand where other men’s heads are; he treads on the moon, and is clothed with the sun; he looks down on earthly men, as one from a high hill doth upon those that live in some fen or moor, and sees them buried in a fog of carnal pleasures and profits, while he breathes in a pure heavenly air; but yet not so high as to be free from all storms and tempests; many a sad gust he hath from sin and Satan without. What else mean those sad complaints and groans which come from the children of God, that their hearts are so dead and dull, their thoughts so roving and unfixed in duty, many times so wicked and filthy, that they dare hardly tell what they are, for fear of staining their own lips, and offending the ears of others by naming them? Surely the Christian finds it in his heart to will and desire he could meditate, pray, hear, and live after another sort than this? doth he not? Yes, I durst be his surety he doth. But so long as there is a devil tempts, and we continue within his walk, it will be thus, more or less; as fast as we labour to clear the spring of our hearts, he will be labouring to thicken or stop it again: so that we have two works to do at once; to perform a duty, and watch him that opposeth us; trowel and sword both in our hands. They had need work hard indeed, who have others continually endeavouring to pull down, as they are labouring to rear up the building.

Secondly, That part of the Christian’s trade, which lies abroad, is heavenly also. Take a Christian in his relations, calling, neighbourhood, he is a heavenly trader in all; the great business of his life is to be doing or receiving some good; that company is not for him, that will neither give nor take this. What should a merchant do where there is no buying nor selling? Every one labours, as his calling is, to seat himself where trade is quickest, and he is like to have most takings. The Christian, where he may choose, takes such in relations near to himself,—husband, wife, servants,—as may suit with his heavenly trade, and not such as will be a pull-back to him: he falls in with the holiest persons as his dearest acquaintance; if there be a saint in the town where he lives, he will find him out; and this shall be the man he will associate with; and in his conversation with these and all else, his chief work is for heaven; his heavenly principle within inclines him to it. Now this alarms hell: what, not contented to go to heaven himself, but by his holy example, gracious speeches, sweet counsels, seasonable reproofs, will be trading with others, and labour to carry them along with him also? This brings the lion fell and mad out of his den; such, to be sure, shall find the devil in their way to oppose them. ‘I would have come,’ saith Paul, ‘but Satan hindered me.’ He that will vouch God, and let it appear by the tenor of his conversation that he trades for him, shall have enemies enough, the devil can help him to such.

Gurnall, W., & Campbell, J. (1845). The Christian in Complete Armour (p. i). London: Thomas Tegg.
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