Prosperity the state wherein things succeed according to our wishes, and are productive of affluence and ease. However desirable prosperity be, it has its manifest disadvantages. It too often alienates the soul from God, excites pride, exposes to temptation, hardens the heart. occasions idleness, promotes effeminacy, lamps zeal and energy, and in general has a baneful relative influence. It is no wonder, therefore, that the Almighty in general withholds it from his children, and that adversity should be their lot rather than prosperity. Indeed, adversity seems more beneficial on the whole, although it be so unpleasant to our feelings. "The advantages of prosperity," says Bacon, "'are to be wished, but the advantages of adversity are to be admired. The principal virtue of prosperity is temperance; the principal virtue of adversity is fortitude, which in morality is allowed to be the most heroical virtue. Prosperity best discovers vice; adversity best discovers virtue, which is like those perfumes which are most fragrant when burned or bruised." It is not, however, to be understood that prosperity in itself is unlawful. The world, with all its various productions, was formed by the Almighty, for the happiness of man, and designed to endear him to us, and to lead our minds up to him. What, however, God often gives us as a blessing, by our own folly we pervert and turn into a curse. Where prosperity is given, there religion is absolutely necessary to enable us to act under it as we ought. Where this divine principle influences the mind, prosperity may be enjoyed and become a blessing; for "while bad men snatch the pleasures of the world as by stealth, without countenance from God, the proprietor of the world, the righteous sit openly down to the feast of life, under the smile of heaven. No guilty fears damp their joys. The blessing of God rests upon all they possess. Their piety reflects sunshine from heaven upon the prosperity of the world; unites in one point of view the smiling aspect both of the powers above and of the objects below. Not only have they as full a relish as others of the innocent pleasures of life, but, moreover, in them they hold communion with God. In all that is good or fair they trace his hand. From the beauties of nature, from the improvements of art, from the enjoyments of social life, they raise their affections to the source of all the happiness which surrounds them, and thus mn iden the sphere of their pleasures by adding intellectual and spiritual to earthly joys."
Spiritual prosperity consists in the continual progress of the mind in knowledge, purity, and joy. It arises from the participation of the divine blessing; and evidences itself by frequency in prayer, love to God's Word, delight in his people, attendance on his ordinances, zeal in his cause, submission to his will, usefulness in his Church, and increasing abhorrence of everything that is derogatory to his glory (3Jo 1:2). See Blair, Sermons, vol. i, ser. 3; Bates, Works, i. 297.