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of the most "High, or to deprecate the thought of having all our interests, for time and eternity, lodged in the hands of one, froin whom we could not expect an unvary. ing line of procedure from the beginning to the end of all his works. To rejoice, that the Lord God omnipotent reigneth, we must have a full persuasion, that no contradictions, or incongruities, can have place in his reign, or, in other words, that in him there is neither variableness, nor shadow of turning. That God, as moral governor, should maintain an unimpeachable character, in point of rectitude, it is necessary that he should be absolutely un. changeable. Strip him of this attribute, and you will forever lose all assurance, that he will do right, that he will make all things conspire to the best possible end. That we may feel it safe to lean our whole weight upon God, and cast all our burdens upon him, we have been and are still endeavouring to bring into view the true character of God; and in the course of this investigation we are now brought to the consideration of absolute immutability as necessarily pertaining to him, without which his glory would be incomplete, and it would be more a presumption, than a virtue, to trust in him. examination of the subject, it will be incumbent on us to enquire, what is implied in absolute immutability, and also to show that this must be a necessary part of God's character.
First. In being absolutely and perfectly un.
In the necessary
changeable, it is implied, that one be subject to no alteration, as to the substance or mode of his being. None of God's creatures, with which we have any sensible acquaintance, have this kind of immutability. In the pow. ers and circumstances of their being there is an almost incessant variation. Sometimes they are passing from less to greater maturity, and that by unequal degrees ; at other times their strength declines, and they become more feeble; and then again the cur. rent is changed, and they are restored to former vigour. The bodies of men, which are a considerable part of their being, and their minds proportionably and by the laws of sympathy, are, sometimes, healthy, and at others, wan and sickly ; sometimes wasting and going to decay ; then again resuming their former energy and firmness.
Some. times a faculty is lost, or rendered useless for a season, and then restored to the system again. Such like changes we see are perpetually taking place upon mankind, a striking demonstration that imperfections are interwoven with their physical nature ; that, as to natural faculties, they are not the same, at all stages and periods of their existence; but are,in an almost constant rotation, passing out of one condition into another. Without making any coinparison between what men are in life and what they are in death, between what they are in this world, and what they will be in the world to come; we need folHow them only a short space of the round
hich Providence allots them in time to find
how full they are of changes, and how fitly the following words will apply : “ Cease ye from man, whose breath is in his nostrils ; for wherein is he to be accounted of ?" If God were not infinitely above all changes of this kind, the same prudence, which requires us to cease from man,and forbear any dependence upon him, because he is frail and mutable, would also forbid our exercising confi. dence in the divine being, under an expectation that he would do right. It is of no im. portance, that God has infinite knowledge or power, if they may be either diminished or suspended. It is of no importance, that his being, in all its properties, is complete, at one time, if it be not so at all times. Whatever he is, in respect to his nature, at any given period, he must be from eternity to eternity, and that without the least possible alteration, or else his claim upon all intelligences for their approbation and confidence is unfound. ed.
Secondly. A being, who is absolutely unchangeable, is one, who experiences, or can experience, no alteration in his moral temper. He does not love and hate, honour and despise, seek and avoid, the same object, at different times, or as times and circumstances vary.
It is said of our blessed Redeemer, that, “ having loved his own which were in the world, he loved them unto the end.” A principal objection to the social state, under the present circumstances of our fallen world, is the multiplied and incalculable
changes, which take place in the minds of men, as to the objects of their affections. Few maintain, from first to last, the same inviolable regard to those objects, which have once gained their affections. At first they adınire; afterwards they become indifferent; and, by and by, positive antipathy and disgust take the place of cold dislike. The apostle Paul, once received as an angel of God, as Christ Jesus, and admired as a spiritual father and teacher, was afterwards denounced and reviled as an enemy.
. “ For I bear you record, that, if it had been possible, ye would have plucked out your own eyes, and given them
Am I therefore become your enemy because I tell you the truth ?” With what ease, and apparent unconcern, men can abandon objects they have been accustomed to delight in, and even enthusiastically to dote upon, may be learnt from friends deserted, betrayed, and even persecuted; old connections suddenly broken up and new ones formed ; former companions forsaken and shunned as odious, and new ones courted from among persons just before execrated as the vilest of the species ; and even places of worship, once regarded as the scene of acceptable devotion and of important divine instruction, passed by with wagging heads, and eyes full of opprobrious scorn. And do men thus carelessly flit from object to object, and accomplish whole revolutions in the circle of their pursuits and inclinations, that they may be followers of God as dear children?
or because God has set them an example of fluctuating at this rate ? Does the Almighty favour and approve, to-day, what he will spurn, to-morrow ? Did he ever commend that which afterwards became offensive and displeasing in his sight? Surely not, for he is of one mind, and none can turn him. The great ultimate end of divine government God can never cease to be pleased with. It is eternally the same, and cannot be laid aside for another, more grateful or interesting. And whatever comes in, as of inferior and secon. dary concern, the Deity is pleased with only, as it stands related to that final and supreme object of regard, which his heart is upon. And since his will has fixed the connection between things, and that which is their ultimate end, they can never present to his view a different countenance, at one time, from what they do at another, that his affections towards them should vary, from one period to another. Men are fleeting in their choice of objects to devote their attention to and lavish their affections upon, because their ideas of interest are variable ; but the Deity is necessarily uniform in this. pears to him an ultimate good, at one time, must appear so at all times; and the best way to promote this ultimate, or supreme, good must forever appear to him, in its own true colours, and consequently, point out the meetest course for his all-wise providence. Were it otherwise, or could Jehovah be chargeably with such instability as often ap