‘Does Religion Pay? ’
[By Du Talmage.]
Godliness is profitable unto ail things, bavin? promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come.—l Tim., iv., 8
You are expecting prosperity this year, and I am determined, so far as I have anything to do with it, that yon shall not be disappointed; and therefore I propose, as God may help me this morning, to project upon your attention a new element of success, You will have in the business firm frugality, patience, industry, perseverance, economy—a very strong business firm but there needs to be one member added, mightier than them all, and not a silent partner either—the one introduced by my text: “Godliness, which is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come.” _ . I suppose you arc all willing to admit that godliness is important in its eternal relations ; but perhaps some of you say : “All I want is an opportunity to say a prayer before I die, and all will be well. There arc a great many people who suppose that if they can finally get safely out of this world into a hotter world they will have exhausted the entire advantage of our holy religion. They talk as though religion were a mere nod of recognition which we are to give to the Lord Jesus on our way up to a heavenly mansion; as though it were an admission ticket, of no use except to give in at the door of Heaven. And there are thousands of people who have great admiration for a religion of the shroud, and a religion of the coffin, and a religion of the hearse, and a religion of the i cemetery, who have no appreciation of a | religion for the bank, for tho farm, for the j factory, for the warehouse, for the jeweller’s shop, for the broker’s office. I have noticed that tho healthy Christian, the man who is living near to God, and is on the straight road to Heaven, is full of jubilant satisfaction, and talks about the duties of this life, understanding well that if God helps him to live right, He will help him to die right. Now, in the first place, I remark that godliness is good for a man’s physical health. I do not mean to say that it will restore a j broken down constitution, or drive rheuma- j tism from tho limbs, or neuralgia from the j temples, or pleurisy from the side ; but I do ' mean to say that it gives one such habits and puts one in such condition as is most favorable for physical health. That I believe, and that I avow. Everybody knows that buoyancy of spirit is good physical advantage. Gloom, unrest, dejection are at war with every pulsation of the heart, and with every respiration of tho lungs. It lowers the vitality, it slackens tho circulation, while exhilaration of spirit pours the very balm of Heaven through all tho currents of life. You will observe that godliness induces industry, which is the foundation of good health. There is no law of hygiene that will keep a la*y man well. Pleurisy will stab him, erysipelas will bam him.
/aundice will discolor him, wi cripple him, and the intelligent physician will not prescribe antiseptic, or febrifuge, or anodyne, but saws and hammers and yardsticks and crowbars and pickaxes. There is no such thing as good physical condition without positive work of some kind. Our religion says: “Away to the bank! away to the field! away to the shop! away to the factory ! do something that will enlist all the energies of your body, mind, and soul.” “Diligent in business, fervent in spirit, serving the Lordwhile upon the bare back of the idler and the drone comes down the sharp lash of the apostle as he says: “If any man will not work, neither shall he eat. Again, I remark, that godliness is good for the intellect. I know some have supposed that just as soon as a man enters into the Christian life, his intellect goes into a bedwarfing process. So far from that, religion will give new brilliancy to the intellect, new strength to the imagination, new force to the will, and wider swing to all the intellectual faculties. Christianity is the great central fire at which Philosophy has lighted its brightest torch. The religion of the Lord Jesus Christ is the fountain out of which learning has dipped its clearest draught. The Helicon poured forth no such inspiring waters as those which flow from under the throne of God clear as crystal. Religion has given new energy _ to Poesy, weeping in Dr Young’s ‘ Night Thoughts,’ teaching in Cowper’s ‘Task,’ flaming in Charles Wesley’s hymns, and rushing with archangelic splendor through Milton’s 1 Paradise Lost.’ The religion of Jesus Christ has hung in studio, and in gallery of art, and in Vatican the bed pictures Titian’s ‘ Assumption,’ Raphael’s ‘ Transfiguration,’ Ruben’s Descent from the Cross,’ Claude’s ‘Burning Bush,’ and Angelo’s 'Last Judgment.’ Religion has made the best music of the world Haydn’s ‘Creation,’ Handel’s ‘Messiah,’ Mozart’s ‘Requiem.’ Is it possible that a religion which builds such indestructible monuments, and which lifts its ensign on the highest promontories of worldly power, can have any effect upon a man’s intellect but elevation ?
Again I remark, that godliness is profitable for one’s disposition. Lord Ashley, before he went into a great battle, was heard to offer this prayer: “0 Lord, I shall be very busy to-day ; if I forget Thee, forget me not.” With such a Christian disposition as that, a man is independent of all circumstances. Our piety will have a tinge of our natural temperament. If a man be cross and sour and fretful naturally, after bo becomes a Christian be will always have to be armed against the rebellion of those evil inclinations, but religion has tamed the wildest nature ; it has turned fretfulness into gratitude, despondency into good cheer, and those who were hard and ungovernable and uncompromising have been made pliable and conciliatory. Good resolution, reformatory effort, will not effect the change. It takes a mightier arm and a mightier hand to bend evil habits than the hand that bent the bow of Ulysses, and it takes a stronger lasso than ever held the buffalo on the prairie. “ Oh,” says some one, “ I have a rough, jagged, impetuous nature, and religion can’t do anything for me.” Do you know thut Martin Luther and Robert Newton and Richard Baxter were impetuous, all consuming natures, yet the grace of God turned them into the mightiest usefulness. A manufacturer cares but very little for a stream that slowly runs through the meadow, but a strong torrent that leaps from rock to rock, and rushes with mad energy through the valley, and out toward the sea. Along that river you will find fluttering shuttles and grinding mill and flashing waterwheel. And a nature the swiftest, the most rugged, and the most tremendous, that is the nature God turns into greatest usefulness. Oh, how many that have been pugnacious, and hard to please, and irascible, and more bothered about the mote in their neighbor’s eye than about the beam like ship-timber in their own eye, who have been entirely changed by the grace of God, and have found out that “Godliness is profitable for the life that now is as well as for the life to come.”
Again I remark that religion is good for worldly business. I know the general theory is, the more business the less religion ; the more religion the less business. Not so thought Dr Hans, in his ‘ Biography of a Christian Merchant,’ when he says: €< He grew in grace the last six years of his life more than at any time in his life; during those six years he had more business crowding him than at any other time.” In other words, the more worldly business a man has, the more opportunity to serve God. Does religion exhilarate or retard worldly business ? is the practical question for you to discuss. Does it hang like a mortgage over the farm ? Is, it a bad debt on the ledger ? Is it a lien against the estate? Does it crowd the door through which customers come for broadcloths and silks ?
! Now, religion will hinder your business I if it be n bad business, or if it be a good : business wrongly conducted. If you tell lies behind the counter, if you use false weights and measures, if you put sand in , j sugar, and beet juice in vinegar, and lard in butter, and sell for one thing that which is another thing, then religion will interfere with that business ; but a lawful business, lawfully conducted, will find the religion of r the Lord Jesus Christ its mightiest auxiliary. Religion will give an equipoise of spirit. It will keep you from ebullitions of temper —and you know a great many fine businesses have been blown to atoms by bad temper ; it will keep y9u from worriment about frequent loss, it will keep you industrious and prompt, it will keep you back from squandering and from dissipation, it will prepare you for the practical duties of every-day life, and it will help us to direct the bank, to manage the traffic, to conduct all our business matters, and to make the most insignificant affair of our life a matter , of vast importance, glorified by Christian principle. Now if this be so, then I am persuaded, as you are, of the tact that the vast majority of Christians do not fully test the value of their religion. They are like a farmer in California with 15,000 acres of good wheat laud, and culturing only a quarter of an acre. Why do you not go forth and make the religion of Jesus Christ a practical affair every day of your business life, and all this year beginning now ; and to- . morrow morning putting into practical effect this holy religion, and demonstrating that godliness is profitable here as well as hereafter ?
How can you get along without this religion? Is your physical health so good you do not want this divine tonic ? Is your mind so clear, so vast, so comprehensive that you do not want this divine inspiration? Is your worldly business so thoroughly established that you have no use for that religion which has been the help and deliverance of tens of thousands of men in crises of worldly trouble ? And if what I have said this morning is true, then you see what a fatal blunder it is when a man adjourns to life’s expiration the uses of religion. A man who postpones religion to sixty years of age gets religion fifty years too late. He may get into the Kingdom of God by final repentance, but what can compensate him for a whole lifetime unalleviated and unoomforted? Yon want religion to-day in the training of that child. You will want religion tomorrow in dealing with that customer. You wanted religion yesterday to curb your temper. Is your arm strong enough to beat your way through the floods? Can you, without being encased in the mail of God’s eternal help, go forth amid the assault of all Hell’s sharpshooters ? Can yon walk alone across these crumbling graves and amid these gaping earthquakes ? Can you, waterlogged and mast-shivered, outlive the gale ? Oh, how many there have been who, postponing the religion of Jesns Christ, have plunged into mistakes they never conld correct although they lived eighty years after, and, like serpents crushed nnder cartwheels, dragging their mauled bodies under the rocks to die; so these men have fallen under the wheels of awful calamity, crashed here, destroyed forever, while a vast multitude of others Lave taken the religion of Jesus Christ into every-day life, and first, in practical business affairs, and secondly on the throne of heavenly triumph, have illustrated, while angels looked on and a universe approved, the glorious truth that “Godliness is profitable unto all things, having the promise of the life which sow is as well as of that which is to come.”
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‘Does Religion Pay?’, Evening Star, Issue 7928, 8 June 1889, Supplement
‘Does Religion Pay?’ Evening Star, Issue 7928, 8 June 1889, Supplement
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