On Solicitude for the Prosperity of Religion
1 Samuel 4:13
And when he came, see, Eli sat on a seat by the wayside watching: for his heart trembled for the ark of God…

I. THAT A GOOD MAN WILL ALWAYS FEEL CONCERNED FOR THE SAFETY, HONOUR, AND ADVANCEMENT OF RELIGION. In the success of the Gospel, are involved the pleasure and glory of God. The good man considers it as an august display of the Divine perfections, as dear to the eternal mind in its design and accomplishment, and as vouchsafed to men in great mercy and trust. As a creature, therefore, of the Most High God, he will feel concerned for the prosperity of a work upon which, from before the foundation of the world, his Creator hath bestowed His care, and the success of which He earnestly desires, and hath sent His Son to promote. As a philanthropist, therefore, he will feel interested in the safety of this ark of mercy, before which the penitent may find forgiveness, and the sorrowful and the dying be cheered with soothing consolations and animating hopes. As a patriot, he considers religion essential to the stability, happiness and prosperity of the state. He contrasts with the rude schemes of polytheism and idolatry, which ancient legislators rendered sacred in the state, the pure, the rational, the consoling theology of the Gospel: and his love for his country will lead him to promote such an extension of the knowledge of Christianity, and such an attachment to its doctrines and worship, as may preserve it from being taken away. When he considers the value of this religion to himself; that it is the guide of his youth, the comfort of his age, his joy in prosperity, his solace in adversity, gratitude to its Author will make him a faithful guardian of the treasure, with which he is entrusted. In short, when he compares the objects which religion proposes, with aught else of high estimation, and ardent pursuit, he perceives that without these a man may possess all other things and be wretched; and that with these, the humblest of the sons of men may be resigned and happy. But hath not the Author and head of the Christian covenant said that "the gates of hell shall not prevail against it?" He hath. And though, for the accomplishment of the Divine purposes, it may be appointed to many trials, and often enveloped in apparent dangers, nothing shall destroy it. But while man continues as he is, proud, corrupt, it cannot be otherwise than that the religion of our Redeemer should have its adversaries, and be sometimes exposed by its friends. These considerations will beget in the bosom of the good man a constant care for its reputation and prosperity. Not noisy and hollow will his concern for the ark of God be, but sincere and deep as Eli's proved. Mark his solicitude when he inquires, "What is there done, my son?" Sublime piety! Wonderful instance of hallowed sensibility!

II. But from admiring the concern of Eli for the ark that was in Shiloh, let us be led TO CONSIDER IN WHAT WAYS WE MAY CONTRIBUTE TO THE REPUTATION AND PROSPERITY OF THE ARK OF THE BETTER COVENANT. "The Gospel of our salvation."

1. In the first place we should not disguise our belief in the religion of our Lord. Too easily does pride, a dread of the ridicule of the profane, or a coincidence with the current of the world's opinions, deter the disciples of the Redeemer from avowing their attachment to Him. Would we advance the interests of our Saviour's kingdom? Let us be seen in the ranks of His friends, and, as an inspired Apostle exhorts, "Go forth unto Him without the camp, bearing His reproach."

2. We may promote both the honour and prosperity of our religion by upholding its institutions and observing devoutly its sacred rites.

3. You may contribute to the safety and honour of the ark of God, by instructing your offspring in its origin, its value, and its uses, and training them up to respect and defend it.

4. We may contribute to the success of Christianity by thwarting the course of its adversaries, and counteracting the poisons prepared against it. There are books, the vehicles of impious sophistry, of debased wit, and of blasphemous philosophy. From the contagion which these diffuse the good man will endeavour to preserve his household and to suppress their reputation and influence.

5. By his personal exertions for the advancement of those arrangements which are necessary to give stability and respectability to the institutions of religion in any place, every Christian may promote the honour and influence of Christianity among men.

(Bishop Dehon.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: And when he came, lo, Eli sat upon a seat by the wayside watching: for his heart trembled for the ark of God. And when the man came into the city, and told it, all the city cried out.

WEB: When he came, behold, Eli was sitting on his seat by the road watching; for his heart trembled for the ark of God. When the man came into the city, and told it, all the city cried out.

Eli Trembling for the Ark of the Lord
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