O LORD, save us, we pray. We beseech You, O LORD, cause us to prosper!
I. WHAT IS IT?
1. Not mere numbers. Crowd-winning is not soul-winning.
2. Still less mere rank, wealth, and talent in the Church. He is a fool who despises these things; but he is a still greater one who claims them to be identical with true prosperity, or a substitute for it.
3. But it consists in the presence and power of the Holy Spirit of God. This will be seen in the conversion of sinners; in the holiness and zeal of believers; in their increase of unity and love.
II. WHENCE IS IT? It is from God. We are to look to him. We are terribly apt to look elsewhere.
III. HOW IS IT OBTAINED? By waiting upon God with earnest, importunate prayer. "O Lord, I beseech thee," etc. And one such earnest seeker can do much to gain this. It is the prayer of one man - "I beseech thee" - that we have here.
IV. WHEN MAY IT BE HAD? NOW! The earnest longing for it is an omen of its approach. The prayer of faith works marvels.
V. WHY SHOULD WE SEEK IT? For our own sake; for the Church's sake; for the world's sake; for Christ's sake. - S.C.
I. THE BLESSING IMPLORED.
I. WHAT IS THE OBJECT TO BE THUS ARDENTLY DESIRED? A Church is prosperous —
Save now, I beseech Thee, O Lord: O Lord, I beseech Thee, send now prosperity
Homilist.I. The voice of the CHURCH IN RELATION TO ALL. Here is the voice of prayer (ver. 25).
1. It is a prayer for immediate salvation. "Save now, we beseech Thee, O Lord." The great want of mankind is salvation from their sins.
2. It is a prayer for immediate prosperity. "I beseech Thee, send now prosperity." There are different kinds of prosperity. Some prosperities become curses. Temporal prosperity is often spiritual adversity. The prosperity which is here prayed for is soul prosperity — prosperity in all that is Christ-like.
II. The voice of the Church in relation to those WHO ARE ENTERING IT (ver. 26). Here is a hearty welcome. The true Church is always ready to welcome those who enter it in the name of the Lord. Nay, it goes further, it sends out messengers to the highways and hedges, cud seeks to compel those who are morally hungry and thirsty, to come to ira feast.
III. The voice of the Church in relation to ALL WITHIN (ver. 27).
1. It is the voice of mutual congratulation. He "hath showed us light." How blessed are we!
2. It is the voice of mutual exultation. "Bind the sacrifice with cords," etc. We should all provoke one another to love and good works.
1. Where there is growing knowledge and holiness among its members.
2. When there is the cordial exhibition of brotherly love amongst its members.
3. When there is a constant accession of new converts.
II. WHY WE SHOULD BE CONCERNED TO SECURE THIS PROSPERITY.
1. The proof of our godly sincerity requires it.
2. The value of the object itself demands it.
3. No system of means can alone ensure this prosperity.
(W. G. Barrett.)
1. That peace and union may prevail amongst us.
2. That a spirit of zeal may be manifested by us.
3. That increased spirituality may be found in us.
4. That true disciples may be added to us.
II. THE EARNESTNESS EMPLOYED. "O Lord, I beseech Thee!" It is the language of one who feels what he says. What is prayer without earnestness and fervour? What is the outward form without the inward feeling?
I. A growth in knowledge. In a prosperous Church the members will manifest a growing acquaintance with the teachings of God's Word — their views of the Person and work of Christ, of the spirituality of God's law, of the privileges and duties of piety will be expanded and enlarged.
2. Where this growth in knowledge and in spiritual understanding obtains there will be found a corresponding growth in holiness. The two things are inseparable (2 Corinthians 3:18).
3. A quickened Church will, as the result of its deepened spiritual life, address itself to aggressive work — to evangelize the nations, to convert the world.
II. WHAT IS ESSENTIAL TO SUCH PROSPERITY?
1. Purity of doctrine. Truth is to the Church what food is to the body.
2. The maintenance of godly discipline. What should we think of a gardener who allowed a diseased or a withered branch to remain on the tree, or of a general who tolerated in his camp the presence of known traitors? Far more perilous is it for us to tolerate in the Church that which is manifestly evil.
3. Union of feeling and of action. On the field of battle a small band of brave men acting in unbroken phalanx, with one common determination, and under one bold and resolute leader, will accomplish far more than ten times their number acting singly and alone. So a Church composed but of few members, if they be living to God, one in feeling and in action, will do more for Christ and for the salvation of the world than ten times their number who are alienated in affection and who work independently of each other.
4. The manifest presence and power of the Holy Spirit. A Church without the Spirit is like an engine without steam; the engine may be beautiful to look upon, perfect in all its parts, admirably adapted to answer the ends for which it was made, but without steam there is no motion, no power.
III. WHAT CAN WE DO TO PROMOTE AND ENSURE THE PROSPERITY OF THE CHURCH? We suffer, the Church at large suffers, from the great rush and hurry of life in the present day. Let us find time for thought. If we do this our minds and our hearts will become full of the subject, and out of the abundance of the heart the mouth will speak.
(C. Garrett.)I. WHAT ARE THE ELEMENTS OF TRUE PROSPERITY TO SUCH A COMMUNITY AS THE CHRISTIAN CHURCH? First, "righteousness"; the great generic principle of righteousness living in the heart, rising up to its ascendancy in the heart, and working itself out in the life: "righteousness and true holiness," as the idea is amplified and illustrated. Second, "peace"; holy tranquillity, "the peace of God which passeth all understanding, and keepeth the heart and mind through Jesus Christ"; "peace" in the Christian, and "peace," too, among Christians. And, third, "joy in the Holy Ghost"; "joy " produced by "the love of God shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost, which is given unto us," and by the hope of glory.
II. FROM WHOM DOES PROSPERITY COME TO THE CHURCH? The work is as really God's, as is the production of the animal life which pulsates in our bodily frame; and so is all that belongs to the preservation of the spiritual life, and to its progress up to perfection. Is it nourished? He nourishes it. Is it revived? He revives it. Is it developed and exercised in holy and useful activity? He draws it out, and guides and sustains it (Jeremiah 33:4-9; Hosea 14:5-8).
III. WHAT IS REQUIRED ON THE PART OF THE CHURCH IN ORDER TO THE ATTAINMENT OF PROSPERITY?
1. Prayer is required of us for this purpose. The psalmist knew this: nay, more, he felt the knowledge to he so working at his heart, as to bring warm from his lips the words that lie before us, "Save now," etc.
2. With our prayers we must combine activity.
3. Another thing necessary to the success of social prayer is pervasive unity of purpose, giving rise to unity of desire.
(D. Young, D.D.)I. THE SALVATION OF MEN IS THE FIRST PLEA OF THE CHURCH.
1. Our increase depends on it.
2. The Church's best joy lives in it.
3. Our riches in gifts and graces, labours, and in all variety of experience, will be found as the Lord answers this prayer. We shall value our spiritual wealth, our wealth of gifts and graces, all the more if we know they come to us in answer to our own pleadings.
II. SOUL CULTURE AND SPIRITUAL LIFE IS THE BEST PROSPERITY OF A CHURCH. Not numbers, or social status, or human applause, or intellectual greatness; but the spirituality of her life, and all increase of saved men brought into her midst.
III. THESE TWO .MATTERS THAT COME OUT OF THE PRAYER OF THE TEXT ARE THE HIGHEST GLORY OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST. He Himself came to save. That was His one great business while here among men. He came on this one specific errand, and when He had made it complete He passed up into the heavens, still to give repentance unto Israel and remission of sins. He is coming again to gather us to Himself. Let us hope and trust, let us watch and pray, and we shall not be disappointed.
(W. Cuff.)I. It is not to be determined by the mere number of the congregation.
II. Neither is prosperity determined by the wealth of the Church. History shows us that the days of least usefulness of the Church have been the days of its greatest wealth.
III. Prosperity is not determined either, by the magnificence of the meeting place.
IV. The way to judge of the prosperity of a Church is to see if it accomplishes the purpose for which it was organized.
(W. L. Harris.)I. THE NATURE OF THE PROSPERITY HERE DESIRED. It includes —
1. A revival in the personal religion of each member of the Christian Church.
2. Numerous conversions to God.
3. Harmony, peace, and joy in the Church.
4. Liberal support to religious institutions.
II. THE IMPORTANCE OF THIS PROSPERITY.
1. This is important in its relation to your personal happiness. The Christian should not only possess but enjoy religion.
2. It is important in its relation to our usefulness. Spiritual prosperity is important that the parent may be a blessing to his children, that the Sabbath school teacher may be a blessing to his class, that the minister may be a blessing to his people, and that the Church may be a blessing to the world. Eminent piety is essential to eminent usefulness.
3. This prosperity is important in its relation to our ineptness for heaven. There are two things essential to our ineptness for heaven, viz. justification and sanctification. The first refers to a change of our state, the second to a change of our nature. Justification is derived from the righteousness of Christ, sanctification from the spirit of Christ. The one is instantaneous in its accomplishment, the other is gradual in its advancement. Justification gives us a title to heaven, sanctification a ineptness for it.
4. This prosperity is important when viewed in its relation to God's glory. The fruitful Christian exercises strong faith in God, which produces ardent love, meek submission, and cheerful self-denial; these, and the other graces of the Spirit, reflect the highest honour upon the character and government of God. "Herein is My Father glorified that ye bring forth much fruit."
III. THE MEANS IN THE USE OF WHICH THIS PROSPERITY MAY BE SECURED. The Holy Spirit operates upon the human soul through the medium of truth, this truth is contained in the Scriptures, and is to be presented to the minds of men by the Christian Church.
(H. Hollis.)I. WHEREIN DOES IT CONSIST?
1. The preached Word made effectual to salvation.
2. A steadfast, zealous adherence to the leading doctrines of revelation.
3. A universal observance of the duties of religion.
4. Where the bond of union is such as to promise permanent stability. Not custom, nor wealth, but love.
5. Profession in grace, love, humility, and general resemblance to God.
II. REASONS WHY THIS SHOULD BE ADOPTED AS A PRAYER.
1. Because this prosperity is from God.
2. And when you look to your own characters, you will find abundant reason for this prayer.
3. Your cordial adoption of this prayer will prove the truth, and promote the growth of your own personal religion.
I. WHAT IS THE PROSPERITY HERE SOLICITED, AND WHEN MAY THE CHILDREN OF GOD BE REGARDED AS IN A PROSPEROUS STATE?
1. When her borders are extended — when the light of Divine truth is carried into the dark places of the earth, making inroads on the seats of ignorance, of sin, and of Satan.
2. When her converts increase.
3. When her members are fruitful.
4. When her helpers multiply.
5. When the Head is present with the Church.
II. WHAT IS NECESSARY TO PROSPERITY? ON WHAT DOES IT DEPEND?
1. The blessing of God — without which the most able, learned, and zealous minister, without which the most pious, active, and generous people, without which the most unremitting exertions of both, will be perfectly unavailing.
2. Those means which the blessed God has appointed, and to which He has promised His blessing for a portion of success and prosperity, are such as the following: —
(1) (2) (3) (4) (5) (W. Atherton.)
(2) (3) (4) (5) (W. Atherton.)
(3) (4) (5) (W. Atherton.)