The Helpless Church and the Mighty God
by J. J. WEST
On Thursday evening, March 27th, 1851,
In a church such as this, where the distinguishing Truth of the gospel is plainly and faithfully declared, I have no occasion to occupy a single moment of time in preaching doctrines, and I hope, dear hearers, that on the several occasions I have stood up here I have shown distinctly my own colours, and that I can say with the Apostle Paul, "I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ," having found it in my own soul "the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth." And without a man knows that power, for as Paul tells the church at Corinth, "the kingdom of God is not in word, but in power, unless he has felt the power in his own soul, he is unfit to preach to poor sinners, that gospel which is essentially, power and might.
Without entering fully into the historical subject of the text before me, I will just take it as a text, as God shall give me power, to preach the experience of the power of God. And before I enter upon the subject under four or five distinct headings, suffer me to picture before you King Jehoshaphat surrounded by enemies and greatly in fear of them! "The children of Moab, and the children of Ammon, and with them other beside the Ammonites, came against Jehoshaphat to battle." There was a reality! It was no sham case. There were "the children of Moab, and the children of Ammon, and with them other beside the Ammonites, came against Jehoshaphat to battle." We read in the third verse, "and Jehoshaphat feared." And where did his fear take him to? "He set himself to seek the Lord." A good fruit of fear, is it not, dear hearers? He feared, and then set himself to seek the Lord "and proclaimed a fast throughout all Judah. And Judah gathered themselves together to ask help of the Lord." Nationally, that would be a good hint to Englishmen at this particular time. It would be a good hint for our House of Commons: it would be a good hint to all persons in power, authority and trust, to "ask help of the Lord." However, men can only do so as their hearts are set upon seeking the Lord, God seekers! "And Jehoshaphat stood in the congregation of Judah and Jerusalem, in the house of the Lord, before the new court, and said, O Lord God of our fathers, art not Thou God in heaven? and rulest not Thou over all the kingdoms of the heathen? and in Thine hand is there not power and might, so that none is able to withstand Thee? Art not Thou our God, who didst drive out the inhabitants of this land before Thy people Israel, and gavest it to the seed of Abraham Thy friend for ever?" See how Jehoshaphat pleads with Jehovah. He reminds Deity of the various times and circumstances in which He had manifested His power, as reasons why He should assist them in their present emergency, and thus he pleads with a covenant God. "And they dwelt therein, and have built a sanctuary therein for Thy name, saying, If, when evil cometh upon us, as the sword or pestilence, or famine, we stand before this house, and in Thy presence (for Thy name is in this house,) and cry unto Thee in our affliction, then Thou wilt hear, and help." The crying Christian, the poor in spirit, know what it is to be in the dark, and in the deep, and in the dungeon, and then they cry unto God for help in their affliction. Such prayer, is not mere formal, notional prayer: it is a crying in affliction; "then Thou wilt hear and help." He is a prayer-hearing and a prayer-answering Jehovah. See the particular enemies that were pressing upon Jehoshaphat. "And now, behold, the children of Ammon, and Moab, and Mount Seir, whom thou wouldest not let Israel invade, when they came out of the land of Egypt, but they turned from them, and destroyed them not. Behold, I say, how they reward us, to come to cast us out of Thy possession, which Thou hast given us to inherit." Might I not take this as applicable to cunning Cardinals and Jesuits, at the present time? But I cannot enter upon that now. And then, after the words that I have read comes the text. "O our God, wilt Thou not judge them? for we have no might against this great company that cometh against us; neither know we what to do: but our eyes are upon Thee." There is the gospel in all its experience. There is a poor beggar surrounded by wicked men, who desire to destroy him, appealing to the God of all power to defend him against a million enemies. On this verse I would preach the gospel! the gospel in all its blessed experience.
1. Now then, first of all, let us contemplate the three first words of the text, which have got hold of my own heart since I have been in the pulpit "O our God." There is a pronoun! and the pronouns are not to be passed over in the Bible. "O our God." Here is an appropriation of God; it was the same in Thomas's case, and so it must be in ours. "My Lord and my God!" But Thomas could not say so of himself; "Except I thrust my hand into His side, I will not believe." (John 20:25) What an honest state the Apostle was in. There was no canting profession in the man! there was no duty-faith. But with the command came the power. When Thomas was to believe the Redeemer exposed to His poor servant the wounded hand and side. Thomas must believe now. Christ had driven the unbelief out of His servant's heart, and Thomas cried out, "My Lord and my God." That settled the matter. There was an appropriation of God, of the Saviour then, to Thomas's soul. Look at the difference between the servant and the Master. The one all helpless, like Jehoshaphat, what could he do, but when God gave the command, power was given to Thomas, and he claimed Jesus as his own God and Lord.
"O our God." The "Abba" of the church. "The Spirit beareth witness with our spirit that we are the children of God." (Rom. 8:16) David says, "This God is our God for ever and ever. He will be our guide unto death." (Ps. 48:14) Nothing can hinder it. He loves you, if you are His people, there is the turning point. If you are His own elect, redeemed by the blood of His dear Son, and new-born as all God's dear people shall be, then in spite of self, in spite of sin, in spite of all obstacles His chosen ones shall all be washed, sanctified, and made perfectly holy in the blood of Jesus. There is a thought for the poor of the flock, "O our God."
Now, I wonder if all the people who are hearing me preach, can thus appropriate that great Jehovah. Is He your God? That is a matter, dear hearers, for our solemn thoughts. But I am to preach distinctly to you that there is a covenant God, over a covenant people; and that covenant people, when they are newborn by the Holy Spirit of God, shall claim Him as their God for ever and ever. They shall be able to say with the Psalmist in that blessed passage, at the end of Psalm 48, "This God is our God for ever and ever, He will be our guide unto death." Jehovah Himself said, by His servant Jeremiah, in reference to His elect people, "I have loved thee with an everlasting love, there with lovingkindness have I drawn thee." (Jer. 31:3) Ah! when He has drawn you, it becomes very easy then to say, "O our God!" If I was to preach on these three first words of the text for two hours, I should not have exhausted the subject "O our God!" But I must pass on
2. "Wilt Thou not judge them?" You have heard the history. You know in what position Jehoshaphat stood. He was in that state in which all the poor people of God stand: every poor creature, now in this Church, is encircled by enemies: yes! he has enemies internal, external, and infernal; foes all around, "Moabites, Ammonites, and others beside the Ammonites," and all you can do, is to go where Jehoshaphat did, and say, "Our God will not Thou judge them?" But our most formidable enemy is our own vile and "deceitful" heart. The greatest foe resides within our own breast. "The heart, (saith God, by Jeremiah,) is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked." (Jer. 17:9) Did you ever get to the bottom of your own heart? My God suffers His people to be tried; but He leads them by His own hand, and upholds them by His own power. All the time that He is suffering the enemy to try them, He guards them. He suffers them to feel their own sinfulness, He desires to make them sensible sinners, in order that they may cry, "O our God wilt Thou not judge them?" "Wilt Thou not judge them? That word "judge" has much meaning "wilt" Thou not entirely destroy them, put an end to them; and thus defend us against them? There is a similar passage in one of the Epistles of the Apostle Paul. "But when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world." (1 Cor. 11:32) Have you ever been brought into that judgment? O, yes, self must be brought there Jehoshaphat asked that his enemies might be brought. Self must be brought under judgment; for it is the greatest enemy that the people of God have. There are more snares in self than in anything else. The devil is a formidable and a tiresome foe; but I think I am strictly correct in saying that self is worse than anything: I know that I find it so. But, "O our God wilt Thou not judge them!" There is a reference I see in the margin of the Bible, to that passage in Samuel" For I have told him that I will judge his house for ever, for the iniquity which he knoweth, because his sons made themselves vile, and he restrained them not." (1 Sam. 3:13) You get there, into the secrets of judgment. When Jehoshaphat was tried he stood and trembled. It says in the third verse, "And Jehoshaphat feared," and then all he could do was to go to the Lord. And, poor sinners, you must go to the same God. "O our God wilt Thou not judge them." I have got too much text to enter fully into each head of it; so I must pass on to the third consideration
3. "For we have no might against this great company that cometh against us." Here was a king, a man in authority, high and mighty, yet he had no power: but he knew that the King of kings had. And so it is with the poor exercised Jehoshaphats now. Notional Christianity is nothing at all; Christianity in the brain is nothing! That, friends, is very easy; but Christianity in the heart is a different thing. We hear a great deal about this, being a day of revivals; that Christ is preached in such a church or such a chapel, as he was hardly ever heard of before. Evangelical Christianity! Well, dear hearers, but where is the preaching that sets forth the work of the Holy Spirit? We read in the book of Deuteronomy, "He is the Rock, His work is perfect." (Deut. 32:4) We know that "The Rock" is sure, but there must be the work of the third person in the Godhead. Who only can bring Christ into the heart, set us upon The Rock, and make us feelingly know that we are really standing upon the Foundation of the Apostles and Prophets, even Jesus Christ Himself. "For we have no might against this great company." Although it is very trying work it is a great mercy to be brought here, to have no might! no will! no power! No ability! to be nothing! that God may be all in all.
"Perfect poverty!" we must have that. Just look for a moment at that blessedly instructive parable in the Gospel by Luke, of Simon and Mary. There was "a certain creditor which had two debtors, the one owed five hundred pence and the other fifty, and when they had nothing to pay, he frankly forgave them both." They had "nothing to pay;" spiritual insolvents, bankrupts, that can never pay one farthing. All the true disciples of Christ must be brought into this state, and those who are not, are hypocrites. Here was poor Mary, a notorious sinner, and Simon, a Pharisee, Simon owed fifty pence, and Mary five hundred, but they were both brought to the same spot for pardon. Nothing to pay, and then pardoned that is the gospel. I know what it is to come to Christ as a man who has nothing of his own. Dear Toplady, used to say (and I wish we had a Toplady in every parish church at this time)
The good man knew what he penned when he wrote these lines
I know that in these things I am preaching the gospel to you, for they have been burnt into my vile and broken heart. "We have no might," said Jehoshaphat the king; and the people of God use the same language, although they are "kings and priests" and priests unto God. What do we read in the book of Samuel? "Whatsoever the king did pleased all the people." What a blessed state to be brought into. And then I think this passage immediately follows it "I am this day weak, though anointed king." O friends, it is a blessed thing to be able to feel helpless as a child in its mother's arms
O the rubbish of Arminianism! O the nonsense of Popery, and all other systems, save that blessed one gospel which is "the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth." (Rom. 1:16) But this is not to be learnt with the head. O no, says Paul "it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure." (Phil. 2:13) My dear hearers, you are most of you strangers to me, I only know a fraction of you, but do let me ask whether you know what it is to be brought into a state of submission to God in your heart? Do you know the experience of that passage in the Psalm" Through the greatness of Thy power shall Thine enemies submit themselves unto Thee?" (Ps. 66:3) I have been brought under submission. God has made me submit to His will. I know what that Scripture means, "a new heart also will I give you." It is He that giveth us the desire in our souls to be conformed to the image and mind of God. Through sinners, the vilest of the vile, who can say with Paul, sinners, "of whom I am chief," yet the desire of the church of God is, that "this mind may be in us which was also in Christ Jesus." This is but an echo of the language of the church of God. "We have no might against this great company that cometh against us; neither know we what to do." Now there is a great company coming against us. You know what it was in Jehoshaphat's case: the history tells you, "Moabites, Ammonites, and others," but what is it with the people I am preaching to? You know your own temptations! You know your own besetting sins. Do you know Paul's experience? "The good that I would I do not, but the evil which I would not that I do." (Rom. 7:19) Do you know anything of the temptations of the flesh and of the mind? Do you know what it is to writhe under the attacks of the enemy? Do you know what it is to be pushed into a corner? Do you know what it is to be so entangled with sin as to have no power to extricate yourself? And do you then know what it is to have a visit from "the God of all grace?" Have you had the truth burnt into your heart, that God "will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able, but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it." (1 Cor. 10:13) O yes! We must know what it is to be tried, and tempted, and harassed, and buffeted by the devil. "Joseph is a fruitful bough by a well, whose branches run over the wall." (Gen. 49:22) But mark! Because he is a "fruitful bough," therefore he is a good object for the enemy; the enemy understands that, "The archers have sorely grieved him, and shot at him, and hated him." They shot at him because he was a fruitful bough. That is the experience of the Christian, and the Christian pastor; he must be hated and shot at. "Woe unto you when all men speak well of you." (Luke 6:26) But his bow abode in strength, and the arms of his hands were made strong by the hands of the mighty God of Jacob." Again: "Issachar is a strong ass, crouching between two burdens, and he saw that rest was good, and the land that it was pleasant, and bowed his shoulder to bear, and became a servant unto tribute."
"We have no might against this great company that cometh against us; neither know we what to do but our eyes are upon Thee." They call us, me and my friend who is in the desk, Antinomians. But His is our doctrine "We are His workmanship created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained, that we should walk in them," (Eph. 2:10) so that man has no merit; the good works are all prepared. So in the passage in the 62nd of Isaiah, verse 12, "And they shall call them the holy people, the redeemed of the Lord, and thou shalt be called, Sought out, a city not forsaken." There is the gospel in the Old Testament. "The holy people," but no holiness in themselves. The old Adam," says Toplady, "Never shall be a saint." The heresy of perfection in the flesh held by the Arminians, is an awful error "The holy people," "the redeemed of the Lord;" "and thou shalt be called, 'Sought out.'" There is discrimination! There is the character of the people of God, "The holy people," "the redeemed of the Lord, and thou shalt be called, "Sought out! a city not forsaken." The apostle Paul understood this in his own experience. He says, "O wretched man that I am;" (Rom. 7:24) wretched under the pressure of sin! The Apostle Paul; the great Apostle of the Gentiles, even he said, O wretched man that I am, who shall deliver me from the body of this death." "The body" it was a thing chained up to him, so that he could not cut it off; but when deliverance comes, he says, "I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord." God you see, must give him deliverance, he could not accomplish it himself and then comes the experience! "So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God, but with the flesh the law of sin." There's a statement. Well, we have the same experience in our own souls every day and every hour. There is no such thing as "Progressive sanctification." It is a master-piece of the enemy. There is a "growing in grace," but there is no such thing as progressive sanctification, which some are preaching and insisting on. Was there any progressive sanctification in Abraham? Any progressive sanctification in Noah? Read his history! Any progressive sanctification in Lot? Was there any progressive sanctification in Peter? Is there any progressive sanctification in the church now? What say you who are now in this house of prayer? If you think so you are deluded by the enemy! And may the very statement I put before you, now extract from your hearts such a device of the devil. There is a growing in grace: there is an increasing in the knowledge of God that is Scriptural but there is no such thing as progressive sanctification.
The apostle Paul says, "So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God, but with the flesh the law of sin." What an honest statement! Then comes the blessed opening of the eighth chapter of his epistle to the Romans "There is therefore no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit." O, the love that Christ bears to His Church. You know that passage in Timothy "And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived, was in the transgression." (1 Tim. 2:14) Adam was not deceived, but his love to his poor Eve was such that he would not allow her to fall alone. Now take that as a type of the church. Look at Christ as the anti-typical Adam; look at the second person in the Godhead, who could never be deceived, yet such was His love to His own elect, that He came down to die for our salvation. As Isaiah thrillingly states it in the 53rd chapter of his prophecy. "For the transgression of My people was He stricken." What encouragement to any poor transgressor here burdened with a sense of sin, that burden is intolerable to you. If then this word comes to your heart, applied by the Spirit, it will comfort and soothe, and give you peace. May it be so, in the purposes of God. "For the transgression of My people was He stricken." It was for sin; and hence this blessed statement of the Apostle, "Sin shall not have dominion over you, for ye are not under the law, but under grace;" (Rom. 6:14) there is, therefore, no cause to fear, and yet we find the children of God are often full of fear. Why are there so many "Fear nots" in the Bible? Why, because the people of God, taking them generally, are fearers, tremblers, and they cry out, "We have no might against this great company that cometh against us. But now meditate upon the great mercy of Him who came to relieve His church. Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression. What a glorious Scripture for the church. "Christ loved the church and gave Himself for it," says a sister passage in the Ephesians, "that He might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, that He might present it to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle, or any such thing, but that it should be holy and without blemish." (Eph. 5:25-27) He will present it to Himself a glorious spotless church.
What a blessed statement that is "They shall walk with me in white, for they are worthy." (Rev. 3:4) In white: an emblem of their purity, made so by His blood; "that He may present it to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle, or any such thing." What a picture of the church, and in the book of Canticles, God says "Thou art all fair, My love, there is no spot in thee." (Songs 4:7)
This language is scriptural. Jeremiah says, "Though thou hast played the harlot with many lovers yet return again to Me, saith the Lord." (Jer. 3:1) "Those whom God hath joined together, no man, (no sin, no Satan, no world, nothing) shall put asunder. What a beautiful and blessed passage is in the opening chapter of Isaiah, "Come now and let us reason together saith the Lord; though your sins be as scarlet they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson they shall be as wool." (Isa. 1:18) There is another blessed verse in the book of Numbers upon the same wonderful subject. He hath not beheld iniquity in Jacob, neither hath He seen perverseness in Israel." (Num. 23:21) Again, in Jeremiah it is said, "In those days, and in that time, saith the Lord, the iniquity of Israel shall be sought for and there shall be none, and the sins of Judah, and they shall not be found for I will pardon them whom I reserve." (Jer. 50:20) You remember how the wicked Balak tempted the reprobate Balaam to curse Israel "But Balaam answered and said unto Balak, told not I thee saying all that the Lord speaketh that must I do." Balaam was obliged to confess that whatever the Lord said unto him that must he speak. There was honesty even in a hypocrite. But I must proceed, for I have not got half into the subject.
4. "Neither know we what to do." Here is another experience of the church of God. So it was with Israel. You know the history of that people. Behind they were pursued by Pharaoh, with his army, his horsemen, Calvary and infantry sword in hand. On either side were impassable hills, they could not climb up, and the sea was before them; they knew not what to do. "Speak unto the children of Israel," said God to Moses, "that they go forward." They could not turn to either side, and if they had gone back they must have flown right into the enemy's mouth. "Man's extremity is God's opportunity." See how wonderfully the Lord appeared for them, and opened a path in the mighty waters
Have you ever been there?
There are dangers all around us, but as I heard a dear faithful minister say a short time ago, speaking of the trials and temptations of the church, when the devil assails you, show him the blood of Christ; tell him Christ has died, that He has finished the work; that you are brought by the Holy Ghost, by faith to trust only and entirely an exalted Saviour. This is the Gospel. "Neither know we what to do." This is the condition of the church. She is the most helpless of all creatures. Arminians and infidels can help themselves to something, but the Christian is utterly helpless, "he knows not what to do." O what an experience it is to be brought to this, and nothing can bring us there but the mighty power of God "Who worketh in us both to will and to do of His good pleasure." The children of God must not expect to be ever free from enemies. If the Moabites are destroyed the Ammonites will be ready to come upon them. There are, nevertheless, blessed intervals of rest; yes, there are, for I know them; but the path of the Christian is a troubled path, a narrow path, and full of trials and temptations. Many of you, dear hearers, can follow me in what I am saying. I am preaching no strange gospel. There is a union of heart and experience between all who know the truth. There would be no dissent in England if all men had the truth in their hearts. "Where the body is, there will the eagles be gathered together." And they are not only all united, but they are all safe and all immortal "they shall never perish." "Because I live, ye shall live also." (John 14:19) But before you can understand anything about this, you must undergo a change, you must be "born from above," by the operation of the Holy Spirit upon your hearts. Now a word or two upon the next head
5. "But our eyes are upon Thee." "Mine eyes," says the Psalmist, "are ever towards the Lord." (A blessed spot for the eye) for "He shall pluck my feet out of the net." David, then, was entangled. But his eyes, he says, were "ever toward the Lord." (Ps. 25:15) Another blessed passage of the same import occurs in Psalm 16, "I have set the Lord always before me." What a blessed scripture I have found that in time of temptation! "I have set the Lord always before me." But before man can do this, God must charm and captivate him, and show us His love, and then we can echo back the sentiment; and when once the eye and the heart are set upon Jehovah, the poor sinner shall never be moved; he shall be immovable. Again in another Psalm, the 123rd"Unto Thee lift I up mine eyes, O Thou that dwellest in the heavens, Behold, as the eyes of servants look unto the hand of their masters, and as the eyes of a maiden unto the hand of her mistress; so our eyes wait upon the Lord our God, until that He have mercy upon us. Have mercy upon us, O Lord, have mercy upon us; for we are exceedingly filled with contempt. Our soul is exceedingly filled with scorning of those that are at ease, and with the contempt of the proud." I must turn also to that passage in Psalm 121, and I will read it as it is in the margin "Shall I lift up mine eyes to the hill" that is a better version than as it stands in the text, which reads "I will lift up mine eyes to the hills." David speaks as it were to himself, and says, "shall I lift up mine eyes to the hills?" What can the hills do for me? From whence cometh my help? and then he replies, "My help cometh from the Lord, who made heaven and earth." Is that Antinomianism? What an honour then, to be branded with the name. You know it says in Matthew 5, "Blessed are ye when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you, FALSELY for My sake. Let God be true, and every man a liar." "O our God wilt Thou not judge them? for we have no might against this great company that cometh against us: neither know we what to do; but our eyes are upon Thee." I was speaking to my own hearers in the country on Sunday on this text, and it flows very sweetly fresh into my own heart at this moment while preaching to you; it is in Psalm 34"The angel of the Lord encampeth round about them that fear Him, and delivereth them." "The angel of the Lord," you know Who that is? It is the Angel of the Covenant, of whom it is said "Behold! I send an Angel before thee to keep thee in the way, and to bring thee into the place which I have prepared." (Exod. 23:20) And then just couple that promise with the statement in John's gospel "I go to prepare a place for you, and if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you unto Myself, that where I am there ye may be also." (John 14:2,3) You see that the Angel of the Covenant is the Lord Jesus Christ! O, to have these things in the heart; to have heart Christianity. O to know what it is to have a broken heart, and to know the only healer "He healeth the broken in heart." There is a blessed promise. And when the time of healing comes, God will help every poor sinner to cry for healing. O yes, the blessed and glorious Saviour does everything for His dear people. "Thou art my battle-axe and weapons of war for with Thee will I break in pieces the nations; and with Thee will I destroy kingdoms; and with Thee will I break in pieces the horse and his rider; with Thee will I break in pieces man and woman; and with Thee I will break in pieces old and young; and with Thee I will break in pieces the young man and the maid; I will also break in pieces with Thee the shepherd and his flock; and with thee will I break in pieces the husbandman and his yoke of oxen; and with Thee will I break in pieces captains and riders. And I will render unto Babylon and to all the inhabitants of Chaldea all these evils that they have done in Zion in your sight saith the Lord." (Jer. 51:20-24) Thus will a blessed, glorious, and gracious Saviour defend His dear people. O friends, what a mercy it is, in reference to things that are passing around us, not only as concerns the movements of those Jesuitical Papists, but as to all the other infidels of the day, that whether Acts of Parliament are carried or not "We have an altar of which they have no right to eat that serve the tabernacle." (Heb. 13:10) We can go to "One mighty to save." (Isa. 63:1) One who can chain up the hands of our enemies, and thus often "though we know not what to do;" We do know this secret, which I defy the carnal professor to know anything about "That our eyes are upon Thee." Whatever happens then we know that "All things work together for good to them who love God, to them who are called according to His purpose." (Rom. 8:28) If when you leave the church and go home, you feel that outside and inside you have "Moabites, Ammonites, and others beside the Ammonites" remember the preaching of Thursday evening, and see whether God gives you power, as He did to Jehoshaphat, to take this step to flee unto Himself.
But I must finish with showing you that wonderful announcement that God made to Jehoshaphat. "Then upon Jahaziel, the son of Zechariah, the son of Beniah, the son of Jeiel, the son of Mattaniah, a Levite of the sons of Asaph, came the Spirit of the Lord in the midst of the congregation; and he said, Hearken ye, all Judah, and ye inhabitants of Jerusalem, and thou king Jehoshaphat; Thus saith the Lord unto you, Be not afraid or dismayed by reason of this great multitude." Solomon says, "Where the word of a king is, there is power." "For the battle is not yours but God's." Let me leave that upon the hearts of the church "Tomorrow go ye down against them; behold, they come up by the cliff of Ziz; and ye shall find them at the end of the brook, before the wilderness of Jeruel. Ye shall not need to fight in this battle; set yourselves, stand ye still, and see the salvation of the Lord with you, O Judah and Jerusalem: fear not, nor be dismayed; tomorrow go out against them; for the Lord will be with you. And Jehoshaphat bowed his head, with his face to the ground: and all the inhabitants of Jerusalem fell before the Lord, worshipping the Lord. And the Levites of the children of the Kohathites, and of the children of the Korhites, stood up to praise the Lord God of Israel with a loud voice on high." There was distress first, and then, a song of praise. That is the experience of the child of God; he cannot sing in the dark dungeon; but when he is brought out into liberty, then he can sing and give praise to God.
There is a fearful picture at the end of this chapter. And after this did Jehoshaphat king of Judah join himself with Ahaziah king of Israel, who did very wickedly, O! what a long suffering God is our God! "Lord, what is man that thou art mindful of him." (Heb. 2:6) What is man, and what are all mere forms and ceremonies and observances. We are the circumcision "which worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh." (Phil. 3:3) May the preaching this evening not be in vain. "The gospel is not a vain thing for us, because it is our life," when it comes with power to the heart. May your faith stand, "not in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God." Mere human learning and scholarship are vain. You can do nothing of yourselves, you must say with Hart
That is the place to which you must come, under a feeling sense of sin. There can be no surer evidence of your being a child of God than your having a feeling sense of sin, the vileness of your own hearts, your utter inability to do anything of yourself, and your whole heart depending upon Christ. O what a precious Christ! there is a finished salvation in Him. "Who is of God made unto us Wisdom, and Righteousness, and Sanctification, and Redemption, that according as it is written he that glorieth let him glory in the Lord." (1 Cor. 1:30,31) In ourselves we have no power, but relying on Him we shall be able to overcome all temptations and vanquish all our enemies. "O our God wilt Thou not judge them? for we have no might against this great company that cometh against us; neither know we what to do; but our eyes are upon Thee.
May God command a blessing on the Gospel through Jesus Christ. Amen.