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Sermons on Important Subjects
By J. M. Pendleton

Godliness in All Respects Profitable

     But godliness is profitable to all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come. - 1 Timothy iv:8.

      As we are God's creatures, placed temporarily on his footstool, but destined to inhabit an eternal world, we may rationally infer that a religion of heavenly origin will make provision for supplying our present and our future necessities. Many persons, however, consider the benefits of Christianity altogether prospective. They think piety, unless encompassed with the splendors of eternity, has no attractions. They deem it strange for the advantages of godliness to be spoken of in connection with the interests of earth. Let men think as they please, it is one of the recommendations of the religion of Jesus Christ, that while its paramount object is to concentrate our attention on our eternal interests, it allows us to bestow requisite consideration on things temporal. It adapts its blessings to all the exigencies of our being, whether those exigencies occur in this or in the world of spirits. And this is a strong proof, of the divine origin of Christianity. It does that which we would expect a religion originating in heaven to do.

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      The text contains one general proposition. Let us consider it.

      I. Godliness Is Profitable to all Things.
     The term godliness sometimes denotes the whole system of Christian doctrine. For example, it is said, "Great is the mystery of godliness." Its usual signification is piety. This is its meaning in the text. It implies likeness to God, and consecration to his service. In these two things the essence of piety consists. Godliness is, therefore, necessarily advantageous; for the best interests of all creatures are identified with conformity to the image of God, and with devotion to his cause. This will readily appear, if we consider that God is the original source of all excellence - the center of all perfection. All the diversified glories of the universe are but faint emanations of his underived glory. His character is the supreme standard of moral rectitude and loveliness. It must, therefore, be advantageous to his creatures, in all places of his dominion, to be conformed to his holy image; and whatever calamities may befall the universe, it is certain that they who, in moral character, resemble the Ruler of the universe, will be placed in circumstances more eligible than those surrounding the ungodly; in other words, Jehovah will not deal with his friends as he does with his enemies.

     Another fact may be taken into consideration. God, in the administration of his government.

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acts in entire consonance with the principles of justice embodied in his law. This law must be holy, for its Author is holy. It must partake of the nature of the Lawgiver. Now, godliness presupposes conformity to the law of God, as well as to his image. And as this law is his rule of action, it follows that those whose characters coincide with the requisitions of the law, will be dealt with favorably, while the unpardoned violators of it will suffer its penalty. Thus does it appear that godliness is profitable. It is in all respects profitable. As an additional argument in proof of this proposition, I might refer to all the pious who have lived and died on earth. Were I able to convoke them all in your presence today, and interrogate them on this subject, they would unanimously testify that godliness is profitable; they would eloquently expatiate on its benefits in time and in eternity; they would speak, too, what they know, and affirm what they feel. On the other hand, I might deduce a powerful argument in favor of the advantages of godliness from the history of the ungodly, who have died in sin, and gone to destruction. Oh! could I describe their unhappiness in life, could I paint the anguish of their expiring moments, could I develop the terrors of damnation, reminding you that all this results from a destitution of piety, you would then see that godliness is profitable. I might refer to fallen angels, and show indirectly the advantages of godliness, by showing in what remediless ruin their ungodliness
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has involved them. It is true of every department of the divine empire, that godliness is profitable. Having established the general proposition of the text, I proceed to notice the two specifications made out under this proposition:

     1. Godliness has promise of the life that now is. - This language indicates that there are advantages connected with religion in the present world. Peculiar promises relative to the blessings of this life are made to the godly. It is nowhere intimated in the Bible, that to be God's people secures the wealth of the world. To be rich has not been their distinction. On the other hand, it may be said that the ungodly prosper in the world, and increase in riches. But all necessary temporal blessings are promised to the righteous.

      There is much meaning in the language of Christ, "Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things - temporal blessings - shall be added to you." And the Spirit of inspiration had spoken through David before, saying, "Trust in the Lord and do good: so shalt thou dwell in the land, and verily thou shalt be fed." Paul intimates that as God has not spared his Son, he will withhold no inferior blessing. It should be remembered, too, that "a little, which the righteous man has, is better than the riches of many wicked." The reason is obvious. The pious receive every temporal favor as a gift from God. They recognize him as their benefactor. The reception of blessings excites the Christian's gratitude. Hence, the devout

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believer has more enjoyment in the necessaries of life, than the sinner has in its luxuries. Godliness has promise of the life that now is. Let Christians seek the kingdom of God first in respect to time, and first in respect to importance, and they need not apprehend a destitution of temporal blessings. It is true God often withholds from his people the superfluities and the comforts of life, but he does it for their good. All things work together for their good. The spiritual welfare of the saints is often promoted at the expense of their worldly prosperity. When this is the case, adversity is suffered to come upon them, because it brings along with it spiritual blessings which far more than compensate for the absence of temporal prosperity. But godliness may be said to have promise of the present life, because of the support it affords the people of God under the trials and afflictions to which they are now subject. Trouble is the inheritance of fallen man. Nor are the saints exempt from it. Religion consoles the broken heart when it can receive consolation from nothing else. It can wipe the falling tear and hush the heaving sigh.

     Godliness is also profitable in this life, because it directs the attention of the godly to the rest reserved for them in Heaven. It enables them to look through the gate of death, and through the gloom of the grave to the throne of God. Christians, are you not often transported when anticipating the bliss of heaven? This leads me

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to the other specification under the general proposition of the text.

     2. Godliness has promise of the life to come. - There is a future life. There is, beyond the grave, a state of endless existence. In the invisible world there are two places to which the sons of men go when they make their exit from earth. One of those places is termed Heaven, the other hell. Godliness has promise of the former. It guarantees an admittance into the kingdom of God. There is an indissoluble connection between godliness and eternal glory. Piety on earth is a prelude to the bliss of Heaven. Grace on God's footstool eventuates in glory around his throne. Godliness has promise of the life to come. Says the beloved disciple, "This is the promise which he has promised us - even eternal life." It seems as if John forgot every other promise, or rather considered every other promise as comprehended in the promise of eternal life - the life to come. Ah! this is life worthy of the name! Life embittered with no apprehension of death. Life harrassed with none of the precursors of death - disease, suffering, pain. Life flowing from Jesus Christ, the inexhaustible fountain of life. Life protracted through endless ages, and synonymous with a blissful immortality. This is the life to come. It will always be life to come. "When millions of ages, spent in the enjoyment of this life, shall have rolled away, it will still be life to come! Eternal life is the grand object to be secured through the incarnation and death of

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Jesus Christ. "For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." "The gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord." Christians, elevate your thoughts, and, in imagination, traverse the bright fields of eternity. Look at the river of life as it proceeds from the throne of God. Behold the precious fruit of the tree of life. See the brilliancy of the crown of life. Hearken to the doxologies of angels. Listen to the ecstatic sonnets of the redeemed. Behold the Savior of men, for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honor. Who can adequately conceive of the bliss of heaven? Godliness has promise of all that heaven means. The godly may, without presumption, expect a place at God's right hand. Theirs will be the "fullness of joy" and the "pleasures forevermore" promised to all saints. They will be ever with the Lord. Is not godliness profitable? What is there so advantageous? What is the value of all the wealth of the world as compared with the value of godliness? Piety in rags is a thousand times more to be desired than thrones whose occupants do not fear God. The text is true - godliness is profitable to all things.
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      1. Is this godliness exemplified in you? Pass not lightly over this question. It concerns you deeply and vitally.

      2. Do you calmly rely on the promise which godliness gives of the life that now is? Can you, without any sinful solicitude in regard to your worldly interests, commit them all to God?

      3. Does the promise which godliness gives of the life to come cheer your heart along the way of your earthly pilgrimage? Do you live in expectation of Heaven?

      4. If godliness is profitable, then ungodliness is unprofitable. There is infinite disadvantage in it, for "the wrath of God is revealed from Heaven against all ungodliness." Dying sinner, beware lest you learn experimentally what terrible consequences result from sin.


[From J. M. Pendleton, Short Sermons on Important Subjects, 1859. This book is from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary Library, Wake Forest, NC via Inter-Library-Loan through Boone County Public Library, Burlington, KY. Scanned and formatted by Jim Duvall.]

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