FAITH THE MEANS OF NATIONAL AND PERSONAL PROSPERITY
2Ch_20:20. Hear me, O Judah, and ye inhabitants of Jerusalem: Believe in the Lord your God, so shall ye be established; believe his prophets, so shall ye prosper.
A BELIEF in the providence of God is able to compose the mind under the greatest difficulties. The Scriptures abound with displays of the efficacy of this principle. In this passage before us we are told, that three confederate armies came up against Jehoshaphat: yet, while he acknowledged that “he had no might against them,” he was enabled by faith to commit his cause to God, and to go forth in triumph, as much as if he had already gained the completest victory. The words of our text are his address to his army when leading them forth to meet the enemy. One would have expected that he would rather have exhorted them to be strong and courageous: but, feeling in himself the blessed influence of faith, he rather exhorted them to the exercise of that divine principle, and assured them that by means of it they should attain success.
It is our intention to shew,
What is implied in the faith here recommended—
Doubtless there are many particulars which might be enumerated if it were expedient to enter fully into the nature of faith. But, if we consider to whom, and on what occasion, the address was made, we shall see at once that there were two prominent ideas contained in it; namely,
A renunciation of all false confidences—
[This is indispensably necessary to the exercise of faith. God is a jealous God, and “will not give his glory to another.” He is rather concerned to defeat, than to prosper, the exertions of those who lean to their own understanding, or trust in an arm of flesh; because they practically deny his agency, and would be encouraged by success to harden themselves in their infidelity [Note: See Isa_30:1-3; Isa_31:1-3.].
This self-renunciation is, if possible, still more necessary in relation to the concerns of the soul. If we trust at all in our own wisdom, goodness, or strength, God will consider us as abandoning all hope in him. However good the thing may be which we make even a joint ground of confidence before him, instead of contributing to our welfare, it will make the Gospel of no effect to us, and Christ will profit us nothing [Note: Gal_5:2; Gal_5:4.].]
A simple affiance in God—
[In the instance before us, the people were not to fight, but to stand still and see the interposition of God for them. But we are not therefore to neglect the proper means of self-preservation: we must use the means, but not trust in them: God alone must be our trust and our confidence: and we should commit ourselves to him, without doubting either his ability or willingness to help us.
Thus in reference also to our spiritual interests, we should never limit his mercy or his power. His promises should be the ground of our hopes, and the measure of our expectations — — —]
Having endeavoured to ascertain the true nature of faith, let us consider,
Its influence on our welfare—
It has a favourable aspect upon,
Our national prosperity—
[When a nation is enabled to exercise faith in God, there is good hope that its deliverance is nigh at hand. For faith conciliates his favour: he is honoured by it; and he will surely put honour upon it. Faith engages his protection. He has promised to be a wall of fire round his people, and as a munition of rocks: and, when they plead his promises, he will not fail in the execution of them. Faith also calls forth his aid. He has told us that his eyes run to and fro throughout the whole earth to shew himself strong in the behalf of his people; and he has proved in ten thousand instances how ready and effectual is the succour which he will afford to those who call upon him.]
Our personal welfare—
[In allusion to the circumstances of the history before us we may observe, that faith will secure us victory over all our enemies. Sin, Satan, death and hell shall all be overcome, if only we believe in Christ: yea, we shall be more than conquerors through him that loved us. Faith also will enrich us with the most abundant spoils. Jehoshaphat and his army were three days occupied in gathering the spoils, so wonderfully were they enriched by the very people who had sought only their destruction. And shall not we find ourselves benefited even by the assaults of our enemies? Yes, we shall have deeper discoveries of the love, the power, the faithfulness of our God, and be more amply furnished for our future conflicts. Faith moreover will bring us to a quiet possession of our inheritance. Jehoshaphat had rest and quiet throughout his realm by means of that exercise of faith. But we shall obtain the undisturbed enjoyment of heaven itself. As soon as faith and patience have had their perfect work, we shall be freed from enemies, and “not a dog shall wag his tongue against us” any more for ever.
Thus prosperous, thus established, shall the weakest be, provided they believe in God, and give implicit credit to his word.]
We would further address you on this subject,
As members of the community—
[The state has a right to expect of you all the aid which you can afford her under the pressure of her present troubles. Will any of you say, ‘I am unable to render any effectual assistance?’ Pause before thou repliest in such a way. Can you exercise faith in God? Can you commit her affairs to him? Say not then, ‘I can do no good:’ for whether thou be old or young, male or female, healthful or infirm, thou canst render the most important services. God will hear thy prayer, and respect thy faith. It was not by the sword, but by the simple exercise of faith, that three confederate armies were totally destroyed. Fight then with the same weapon: entreat your God to direct the counsels of our governors, and to prosper their endeavours; and we shall yet have fresh evidence, that the injunction in our text was never given or obeyed in vain.]
As members of the Church—
[Far be it from us to express indifference respecting good works. We know you must abound in them; and we desire you should abound in them to the glory of God. But they can proceed from nothing but a living principle of faith; and therefore, from a regard to the interests of morality, we repeat the exhortation in the text. It is not by self-righteous, self-confident exertions that you are to become holy, but by exercising faith in Him, who is our “righteousness and our strength.” Live then by faith on the Son of God; so shall you derive from him all needful supplies of grace, and progressively advance, both in an enjoyment of his presence and a meetness for his glory.]