Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever you had formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting…
I. IN WHAT RESPECTS GOD IS ETERNAL.
1. Without beginning.
2. Without end.
3. Without succession or change.Of a creature it may be said, he was, or he is, or he shall be. As it may be said of the flame of a candle, it is flame, but it is not the same individual flame as was before, nor is it the same that will be presently after; there is a continual dissolution of it into air, and a continual supply for the generation of more; while it continues it may be said there is a flame, yet not entirely one, but in a succession of parts: so of a man it may be said, he is in a succession of parts; but he is not the same that he was, and will not be the same that he is. But God is the same without any succession of parts, and of time; of Him it may be said, He is; He is no more now than He was, and He shall be no more hereafter than He is.
II. GOD IS ETERNAL, AND MUST NEEDS BE SO.
1. This is evident by the name God gives Himself (Exodus 3:14). The eternity of God is opposed to the volubility of time, which is extended into past, present, and to come. Our time is but a small drop, as sand to all the atoms and small particles of which the world is made; but God is an unbounded sea of Being, — "I am that I am," i.e. an infinite life.
2. God hath life in Himself (John 5:26). He hath life by His essence, not by participation. He is a sun to give light and life to all creatures, but receives not light, or life from anything, and therefore He hath an unlimited life; not a drop of life, but a fountain; not a spark of a limited life, but a life transcending all bounds. He hath life in Himself; all creatures have their life in Him, and from Him. He that hath life in himself doth necessarily exist, and could never be made to exist, for then he had not life in himself, but in that which made him to exist, and gave him life. What doth necessarily exist, therefore, exists from eternity; what hath being of itself could never be produced in time, could not want being one moment, because it hath being from its essence, without influence of any efficient cause.
3. If God were not eternal, He were not —
(1) Immutable in His nature;
(2) An infinitely perfect being;
(4) The first cause of all.
III. ETERNITY IS ONLY PROPER TO GOD, AND NOT COMMUNICABLE (1 Timothy 6:16). All other things receive their being from Him, and can be deprived of their being by Him. All things depend on Him, He of none. All other things are like clothes, which would consume if God preserved them not. Whatsoever is not God, is temporary; whatsoever is eternal, is God.
IV. USES —
1. Of information.
(1) If God be of an eternal duration, then Christ is God (Colossians 1:16, 17; Hebrews 13:8; Revelation 1:8; John 16:28; John 17:5). As the eternity of God is the ground of all religion, so the eternity of Christ is the ground of the Christian religion. Could our sins be perfectly expiated had He not an eternal divinity to answer for the offences committed against an eternal God? Temporary sufferings had been of little validity, without an infiniteness and eternity in His person to add weight to His passion.
(2) If God be eternal, He knows all things as present.
(3) How bold and foolish is it for a mortal creature to censure the counsels and actions of an eternal God, or be too curious in his inquisitions!
(4) What a folly and boldness is there in sin, since an eternal God is offended thereby!
(5) How dreadful is it to lie under the stroke of an eternal God!
2. Of comfort.
(1) If God be eternal, His covenant will be so.
(2) If God be eternal, He being our God in covenant is an eternal good and possession.
(3) The enjoyment of God will be as fresh and glorious after many ages as it was at first.
(4) If God be eternal, here is a strong ground of comfort against all the distresses of the Church, and the threats of the Church's enemies. God's abiding for ever is the plea Jeremiah makes for his return to his forsaken Church (Lamentations 5:19).
(5) Since God is eternal, He hath as much power as will to be as good as His word. His promises are established upon His eternity, and this perfection is a main ground of trust (Isaiah 26:4).
3. For exhortation.
(1) Let us be deeply affected with our sins long since committed. Though they are past with us, they are in regard of God's eternity present with Him; there is no succession in eternity as there is in time.
(2) Let the consideration of God's eternity abate our pride.
(3) Let the consideration of God's eternity take off our love and confidence from the world, and the things thereof. The eternity of God reproaches a pursuit of the world, as preferring a momentary pleasure before an everlasting God; as though a temporal world could be a better supply than a God whose years never fail.
Parallel VersesKJV: Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever thou hadst formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, thou art God.