« PreviousContinue »
And to say,
I will now adduce some direct proof that immutability is a trait in the character of Jehovah. This may be drawn,
1. From his absolute self-existence and eternity. Since God exists, and does not derive his existence from any other being, it is evident that he must have life within himself. This á life in himselfis neither more nor less than his absolutely necessary existence.
that God exists of necessity, and independently of all other beings, is the same as to say, that his existence never had a beginning, and will never have an end. And being thus self-existent and eternal, it is manifest that no cause or influence whatever can affect or alter his nature, in the least degree. He is, therefore, absolutely unchangeable. To state the argument in a different form: every effect must have a cause. No change can take place in the divine nature and attributes without an adequate cause. But no such cause can exist; as is manifest from the fact, that God is self-existent, and independent of every other being and thing. With him, therefore, is “no variableness, neither shadow of turning."
2. The same thing is evident from the plain declarations of scripture. “God is not a man that he should lie, neither the son of man that he should repent.” “Hath he said, and shall he not do it? Hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good ?” “God said unto Moses, I am that I am." " Also the strength of Israel will not lie nor repent.” “I am the Lord, I change not. “He is of one mind, and who can turn him?" Jesus Christ, who " was with God and was God," is declared to be “the same yesterday, to-day and forever.” “One day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.” i With whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning." Other passages, of similar import, are frequent and numerous in the inspired volume.
Such is the nature, and such the proof, of the divine immutability. We pass now to remark, in conclusion,
1. The attribute which has been under consideration constitutes the only solid ground of unlimited confidence in God. Were he possessed of every other perfection, and yet destitute of this, who could feel secure in his hand ? His promises, his threatenings would be unworthy of confidence. What he purposed to-day, he might disannul tomorrow. His invitations might allure, only to disappoint. All confidence in the equity of the divine government must cease; and created intelligences be thrown into a state of agonising uncertainty. No trust could be reposed in the regularity even of the laws of nature. The seasons might capriciously change places, and seed-time and harvest, summer and winter, be mingled in strange confusion. The sun might forget to rise, and day and night come to a perpetual end. But we need fear no such events as these; God is unchangeable--" With Him is no variableness.” His proinises are sure. His threatenings cannot return unto him void. His purposes are immutable. He is the same yesterday, today and for ever. Here is solid rock. The immutability of Jehovah affords ground for unlimited confidence.
2. If God is unchangeable, the great interests of Christ's kingdom are safe. The church of the living God hath passed through many and
The proud waters have often gone over her. She has been compelled to flee into the wilderness, to hide in unfrequented valleys, in dens and caves of the earth. Bloody, exterminating edicts have been levelled against her; and she has had to contend with the combined powers of renowned and mighty empires. But she has never been annihilated. Far from it. In the end she hath always come off victorious. And no wonder ; for God who cannot lie, hath given his word, and confirmed it by an oath, that she shall live, and triumph, and overspread the earth. “Fear not, little flock, it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom." The church which he hath redeemed by the blood of his son, has ever been an object exceedingly dear to him. She is graven upon the palms of his hands, and her walls are continually before him. Thus saith the Lord of hosts-he that toucheth you, toucheth the apple of his eye.” He has even sent forth this decree; “The nation and the kingdom that will not serve thee, shall perish; yea, those nations shall be utterly wasted.” “The Gentiles shall come to thy light, and kings to the brightness of thy rising." What more can be desired? The word has gone out of his mouth-he hath pledged himself to defend his people; and “the strength of Israel will not lie, nor repent." 5. The mountains shall depart, and the hills be removed ; but my kindness shall not depart from thee, saith the Lord" --“With whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning." Here, then, in the inimutable perfections of Jehovah, the church is safe. Here she hath "strong consolations." The resources of infinite wisdom, the strength of omnipotence are at her command. The rains may descend, the winds blow, the floods come, and rage in all their fury; it is in vain. The daughter of Zion shall despise them, and laugh them to scorn.
3. If God is unchangeable, then we have great encouragement to pray. Some, indeed, have contended, that this doctrine renders all prayer useless. But suppose, for a moment, that God were to be divested of this glorious attribute. He is now a mutable being. We are still his dependent creatures, and need, as much as ever, the blessings which he only can bestow. Shall we pray now, or shall we not pray? Who can inform us? If you say we must ask in order to receive; then it may be inquired, how, in what manner, with what spirit, must we pray, in order to ensure a favorable answer ? What arguments shall we plead? Who can answer these questions? We know full well, that the time was when he required suppliants to come into his presence, with a humble, childlike temper of heart; but he may, long ere this, have changed his mind; and for aught we know he may low require some other posture of the soul. Who can tell us? Once he said, “Ask what ye will, believing, and it shall be done unto you." But will faith avail any thing now? Who can scatter these clouds of uncertainty? It is even possible, that all prayer may be fruitless, nay, exceedingly displeasing to him, and bring down upon the suppliant the fierceness of his auger. Take away the immutability of Jehovah, and this would be our condition in regard to the duty and privilege of prayer. No human being conld have the least encouragement to pray. And should we pray, and obtain the thing we songht, a changeable God might revoke ii the next hour.
and leave us destitute as before. Thus we should be afloat in a sea of shadows, doubts and dreadful uncertainties; driven about by fierce winds; wholly unable to tell where is safety, or where is danger. But we have the blessed assurance, that “with Him is no variableness, neither shadow of turning." We may therefore know with infallible certainty, how and with what spirit to pray; what to pray for ; what arguments to use. We may come boldly unto the throne of grace, and if we pray as directed, may confidently expect the blessing. What higher encouragement to prayer can be given? He hath promised; he abideth faithful; he cannot deny himself.”
4. If God is immutable, then the sanctification and final salvation of every true believer are infallibly certain. The promises of the everlasting covenant assure him, that he shall reeeive grace and strength equal to his day; that his afflictions shall yield the peaceable fruits of righteousness, and work out for him a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; that all things shall work together for his good ; that he shall be kept by the mighty power of God, through faith, unto salvation ; and that he shall dwell in the blissful presence of his Redeemer for ever.
How rich, and how large the promise! But what security has he that the great promise will be fulfilled ? This is to be found in the glorious attribute of immutability. God cannot lie, and will not repent. Being “willing more abundantly to show unto the heirs of promise, the immutability of his counsel, he hath confirmed it by an oath; that by two immutable things, in which it was impossible for God to lie, we might have a strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold on the hope set before us: which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast.” Here, verily, the Christian hath 66
a strong consolation." Let him lay hold upon it with the strong hand of unwavering faith. When he prays, let him plead the promises of God's unchangeable covenant Such pleas he cannot resist, because " he cannot deny himself.”. Here are great encouragements to labor and pray for eminent attainments in holiness. Success is rendered certain by the immutable promise of Jehovah. This is enough. In the day of adversity therefore, in the day of darkness and sorrow, when earthly props and earthly friends fail, and the soul seems ready to sink in deep waters, let the Christian remember that God's “ truth is like the great inountains which cannot be moved." He will never disappoint the trust reposed in his promises, either in time or eternity. His immutability secures their fulfilment both here and hereafter. 'Saints in heaven will never indulge a moment's apprehension respecting the permanence of their bliss; they will rejoice that God reigns, and the assurance that he will ever reign, and will ever be the same holy and blessed being that he now is, will fill all hearts with joy unspeakable and full of glory for ever.
5. If God is unchangeable, then all who are saved must ascribe their salvation to his eternal purpose. If God is unchangeable in any respect, he is so in his attributes. If he is unchangeable in his attributes, he must of necessity be unchangeable in his purposes. It seems to me impossible, in the nature of things, that the latter should be mu
table, while the former remain immutable. His wisdom, and goodness, and power, then, being infinite and immutably perfect, it follows that all his plans and purposes are unchangeable and eternal. God has no new thoughts. His knowledge can neither be increased nor diminished. There can never be any occasion for his adopting a new purpose, unless we may suppose the occurrence of events which were unexpected ; which however is impossible, for he seeth the end from the beginning. The purposes of God, then, are as immutable and eternal as his own nature. If it is now his purpose to sanctify and save any soul in this house, such has been his purpose from eternity. To deny this, is most clearly to make God an imperfect being. If then you are ever saved, you will owe it to the unchangeable and eternal purpose of God. Consider the following plain declarations of the inspired volume. “Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began." “ Being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will." “ Moreover, whom he did predestinate, them he also called ; and whom he called, them he also justified, and whom he justified, them he also glorified."' " As many as were ordained to eternal life, believed.” “God hath not appointed us to wrath ; but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ ; according to the eternal purpose which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord.” What can be plainer? Who, that believes the scriptures, can doubt, that every Christian is called, and sanctified and saved, according to the eternal purpose of God ? This great doctrine which exhibits so clearly the astonishing riches of the divine goodness and grace, is inseparably connected with the immutability of Jehovah. If God is unchangeable, this doctrine is true; if he is not unchangeable, it is not true. The two things stand or fall together.
“ Well then," says an objector, “ If I am to be saved, I shall be saved, do what I will." Not exactly so. If God has purposed your salvation, you will indeed be saved; yet not without repentance, faith, and holiness. It was the purpose of God to save Paul and his companions in the ship, from a watery grave, and bring them all safe to land; and this purpose he had made known to the apostle. Yet when some of them were about to betake themselves to the boat, Paul said to the centurion, “Except these abide in the ship, ye cannot be saved." In like manner it may be the purpose of God to save some hardhearted sinner now in this assembly; and yet I am authorized to say to him, that if he does not repent and believe the Gospel, he cannot be saved. The purpose of God, be it remembered, includes repentance, and faith, and holiness. It is a golden chain, every link of which is perfect. It is made fast in the unchangeableness of Jehovah, and extending down through the effectual calling, and the free justification, reaches to eternal glory.
6. If God is unchangeable, then the sinner “must make to himself a new heart and a right spirit," or perish without remedy. If rightly viewed, no attribute of the Godhead is more dreadful to the sinner, than the one which constitutes the theme of this discourse. Here he may
read his fearful, unchangeable doom, if he continues impenitent. It is
From the cross uplifted high,
Come and welcome, sinner, come.” By the glories of heaven and the pains of hell, I entreat you, reject not this Savior. His love is wonderful, it passeth knowledge.' To-day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your heart.