Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor.
I. FELLOWSHIP MAKES LABOR EFFECTIVE. "Two have a good reward for their labor." If this was so in the day of the writer of Ecclesiastes, how much more strikingly and obviously is it so today! Division of labor and co-operation in labor are the two great principles which account for the success of industrial enterprise in our own time. There is scope for such united efforts in the Church of Christ - for unity and brotherly kindness, for mutual help, consideration, and endeavor.
II. FELLOWSHIP PROVIDES SUCCOR IN CALAMITY. When two are together, he who falls may be lifted up, when if alone he might be left to perish. This is a commonplace truth with reference to travelers in a strange land, with reference to comrades in war, etc. Our Lord Jesus sent forth his apostles two and. two, that one might supply his neighbor's deficiencies; that the healthy might uphold the sick; and the brave might cheer the timid. The history of Christ's Church is a long record of mutual succor and consolation. To raise the fallen, to cherish the weakly, to relieve the needy, to assist the widow and fatherless, - this is true religion. Here is the sphere for the manifestation of Christian fellowship.
III. FELLOWSHIP IS PROMOTIVE OF COMFORT, WELL-BEING, AND HAPPINESS. "How can one be warm alone?" asks the Preacher. Every household, every congregation, every Christian society, is a proof that there is a spirit of mutual dependence wherever the will of the great Father and Savior of mankind is honored and obeyed. The more there is of brotherly love within the Church, the more effective will be the Church's work of benevolence and missionary aggression upon the ignorance and sin of the world.
IV. FELLOWSHIP IMPARTS STRENGTH, STABILITY, AND POWER OF RESISTANCE. TWO, placing themselves shoulder to shoulder, can withstand an onset before which one alone would fall. "The threefold cord is not quickly broken." It must be remembered that the work of religious men in this world is no child's play; there are forces of evil toresist, there is a warfare to be maintained. And in order to succeed, two things are needful: first, dependence upon God; and secondly, brotherhood with our comrades and fellow-soldiers in the holy war. - T.
Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their labour.I. PROVE THE TRUTH OF THE WISE MAN'S ASSERTION, that, "two are better than one, and that in reference to society in general, and religious societies in particular." And how can this be done better than by showing that it is absolutely necessary for the welfare both of the bodies and souls of men? Indeed, if we look upon man as he came out of the hands of his Maker, we imagine him to be perfect, entire, lacking nothing. But God, whose thoughts are not as our thoughts, saw something still wanting to make Adam happy. And what was that? Why, an help meet for him. And if this were the case of man before the fall; if a help was meet for him in a state of perfection; surely since the fall, when we come naked and helpless out of our mother's womb, when our wants increase with our years, and we can scarcely subsist a day without the mutual assistance of each other, well may we say, "It is not good for man to be alone." Society, then, we see, is absolutely necessary in respect to our bodily and personal wants. If we carry our view farther, and consider mankind as divided into different cities, countries, and nations, the necessity of it will appear yet more evident. For how can communities be kept up, or commerce carried on, with our society? Many other instances might be given of the necessity of society in reference to our bodily, personal, and national wants. But what are all these when weighed in the balance of the sanctuary, in comparison of the infinite greater need of it with respect to the soul? Let us suppose ourselves in some degree to have tasted the good word of life, and to have felt the powers of the world to come, influencing and moulding our souls into a religious frame; to be fully and heartily convinced that we are soldiers listed under the banner of Christ, and to have proclaimed open war, at our baptism, against the world, the flesh, and the devil; and have, perhaps, frequently renewed our obligations so to do by partaking of the Lord's Supper; that we are surrounded with millions of foes without, and infested with a legion of enemies within; that we are commanded to shine as lights in the world in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation; that we are travelling to a long eternity, and need all imaginable helps to show, and encourage us in, our way thither. Let us, I say, reflect on all this, and then how shall each of us cry out, "Brethren, what a necessary thing it is to meet together in religious societies!" The primitive Christians were fully sensible of this, and therefore we find them continually keeping up communion with each other (Acts 2:42; Acts 4:23; Acts 9:19; Acts 12:12). And it is reported of the Christians in after ages that they used to assemble together before daylight to sing a psalm to Christ as God. So precious was the communion of saints in those days.
II. SOME REASONS WHY "TWO ARE BETTER THAN ONE," ESPECIALLY IN RELIGIOUS SOCIETY.
1. As man in his present condition cannot always stand upright, but by reason of the frailty of his nature cannot but fall; one eminent reason why two are better than one, or, in other words, one great advantage of religious society is, "that when they fall, the one will lift up his fellow."
2. It is an observation no less true than common, that kindled coals if placed asunder soon go out, but if heaped together quicken and enliven each other, and afford a lasting heat. The same will hold good in the case now before us. If Christians kindled by the grace of God unite, they will quicken and enliven each other; but if they separate and keep asunder, no marvel if they soon grow cool or tepid. If two or three meet together in Christ's name, they will have heat: but how can one be warm alone?
3. Hitherto we have considered the advantages of religious societies as a great preservative against falling into sin and lukewarmness, and that too from our own corruptions. But what says the wise son of Sirach? "My son, when thou goest to serve the Lord, prepare thy soul for temptation;" and that not only from inward, but outward foes; particularly from those two grand adversaries, the world and the devil: for no sooner will thine eye be bent heavenward, but the former will be immediately diverting it another way, telling thee thou needest not be singular in order to be religious; that you may be a Christian without going so much out of the common road. But see here the advantage of religious company; for supposing thou findest thyself thus surrounded on every side, and unable to withstand such horrid (though seemingly friendly) counsels, haste away to thy companions, and they will teach thee a truer and better lesson; they will tell thee that thou must be singular if thou wilt be religious; and that it is as impossible for a Christian, as for a city set upon a hill, to be hidden: that if thou wilt be an almost Christian (and as good be none at all) thou mayest live in the same idle, indifferent manner as thou seest most other people do; but if thou wilt be not only almost, but altogether a Christian, they will inform thee thou must go a great deal farther: that thou must not only faintly seek, but "earnestly strive to enter in at the strait gate": that there is but one way now to heaven, as formerly, even through the narrow passage of a sound conversion: and that in order to bring about this mighty work, thou must undergo a constant but necessary discipline of fasting, watching, and prayer. And, therefore, the only reason why those friends give thee such advice is, because they are not willing to take so much pains themselves; or, as our Saviour told Peter on a like occasion, because they savour not the things that be of God, but the things that be of men.
III. THE SEVERAL DUTIES INCUMBENT ON EVERY MEMBER OF A RELIGIOUS SOCIETY AS SUCH.
1. Mutual reproof.
2. Mutual exhortation.
3. Mutual assisting and defending each other.
( G. Whitefield, M. A.)
(C. R. Barnes.)
TopicsBetter, Labor, Labour, Return, Reward, Toil
Outline1. vanity is increased unto men by oppression
4. by envy
5. by idleness
7. by covetousness
9. by solitariness
13. by willfulness
Dictionary of Bible ThemesEcclesiastes 4:9-12
LibraryThe Order of Thought which Surrounded the Development of Jesus.
As the cooled earth no longer permits us to understand the phenomena of primitive creation, because the fire which penetrated it is extinct, so deliberate explanations have always appeared somewhat insufficient when applying our timid methods of induction to the revolutions of the creative epochs which have decided the fate of humanity. Jesus lived at one of those times when the game of public life is freely played, and when the stake of human activity is increased a hundredfold. Every great part, …
Ernest Renan—The Life of Jesus
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Scriptures Showing the Sin and Danger of Joining with Wicked and Ungodly Men.
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