But you are the same, and your years shall have no end.
God is unchangeable in His essence, nature, and perfections. This unchangeableness of God was anciently represented by the figure of a cube, a piece of metal or wood framed four square; when every side is exactly of the same equality, cast it which way you will, it will always be in the same posture, because it is equal to itself in all its dimensions. He was therefore said to be the centre of all things, and other things the circumference; the centre is never moved, while the circumference is; it remains immovable in the midst of the circle. Shadows and variations have no place in the eternal Father of lights; He hath not the least spot or diminution of brightness; nothing can cloud Him or eclipse Him.
I. IN WHAT RESPECTS GOD IS UNCHANGEABLE.
1. God is unchangeable in His essence. He is unalterably fixed in His being, that not a particle of it can be lost from it, nor a mite added to it. God is the first being, an independent being; He was not produced of Himself, or of any other, but by nature always hath been, and therefore cannot by Himself, or by any other, be changed from what He is in His own nature: that which is not may as well assume to itself a being as He who hath and is all being have the least change from what He is. Again, because He is a Spirit, He is not subject to those mutations which are found in corporeal and bodily natures; because He is an absolutely simple Spirit, not having the least particle of composition, He is not capable of those changes which may be in created spirits.
2. God is immutable in regard of knowledge. God hath known from all eternity all that which He can know, so that nothing is hid from Him; He knows not at present any more than He hath known from eternity, and that which He knows now He always knows (Hebrews 4:13).
3. God is unchangeable in regard of His will and purpose (Isaiah 55:11; Isaiah 46:11; Numbers 23:19).
4. God is unchangeable in regard of place. Therefore observe, that when God is said to "draw near to us" when "we draw near to Him" (James 4:8), it is not by local motion or change of place, but by special and spiritual influences, by exciting and supporting grace.
II. THE REASONS TO PROVE GOD IMMUTABLE.
1. The name Jehovah signifies this attribute (Exodus 3:14). ]f we say not of Him He was, nor He will be, but only He is, whence should any change arrive?
2. If God were changeable, He could not be the most perfect being. God is the most perfect being, and possesses in Himself infinite and essential goodness (Matthew 5:48). If He could change from that perfection, He were not the highest exemplar and copy for us to write after.
3. God were not the most simple being if He were not immutable. But God is the most simple being; for that which is first in nature, having nothing beyond it, cannot by any means be thought to be compounded; for whatsoever is so depends upon the parts whereof it is compounded, and so is not the first being. Now, God being infinitely simple, hath nothing in Himself which is not Himself, and therefore cannot will any change in Himself, He being His own essence and existence.
4. God were not eternal if He were mutable. God cannot be eternally what He was; that is, He cannot have a true eternity, if He had a new knowledge, new purpose, a new essence; if He were sometimes this and sometimes that, sometimes know this and sometimes know that, sometimes purpose this and afterwards hath a new purpose, He would be partly temporary and partly eternal, not truly and universally eternal. All changeableness implies a corruptibility.
5. If God were changeable, He were not infinite and almighty. All change ends in addition or diminution; if anything be added, He was not infinite before; if anything be diminished, He is not infinite after. All change implies bounds and limits to that which is changed; but God is infinite, "His greatness is unsearchable" (Psalm 145:3).
III. IMMUTABILITY IS PROPER TO GOD, AND INCOMMUNICABLE TO ANY CREATURE.
1. The changeableness of all creatures is evident.
(1) Of corporeal creatures it is evident to sense. All plants and animals, as they have their duration bounded in certain limits, so while they do exist they proceed from their rise to their fall; they pass through many sensible alterations, from one degree of growth to another, from buds to blossoms, from blossoms to flowers and fruits; they come to their pitch that nature hath set them, and are torn back to the state from whence they sprung; there is not a clay but they make some acquisition, or suffer some loss; they die and spring up every day; nothing in them more certain than their inconstancy (Romans 8:20). The heavenly bodies are changing their place; the sun every day is running his race, and stays not in the same point; and though they are not changed in their essence, yet they are in their place; some indeed say there is a continual generation of light in the sun, as there is a loss of light by the casting out its beams, as in a fountain there is a flowing out of the streams, and a continual generation of supply. But in man the change is perpetually visible; every day there is a change from ignorance to knowledge, from one will to another, from passion to passion, sometimes sad, and sometimes cheerful, sometimes craving this and presently nauseating it. His body changes from health to sickness, or from weakness to strength; some alteration there is either in body or mind.
(2) Spiritual natures, as angels. They change not in their being, but that is from the indulgence of God; they change not in their goodness, but that is not from their nature, but Divine grace in their confirmation; but they change in their knowledge, they know more by Christ than they did by creation (1 Timothy 3:16).
2. No creature can be unchangeable in its nature.
(1) Because every creature rose from nothing. As they rose from nothing, so they bend to nothing, unless they are preserved by God.
(2) Because every creature depends purely upon the will of God. He that created them by a word, can by a word destroy them.
(3) Because no creature is absolutely perfect. The perfections of all creatures are searchable, the perfection of God only is unsearchable (Job 11:6), and therefore He only immutable.
IV. SOME PROPOSITIONS TO CLEAR THIS UNCHANCEABLENESS OF GOD FROM ANYTHING THAT SEEMS CONTRARY TO IT.
1. There was no change in God when He began to create the world in time. The creation was a real change, but the change was not subjectively in God, but in the creature; the creature began to be what it was not before.
2. There was no change in the Divine nature of the Son when He assumed human nature. There was an union of the two natures, but no change of the Deity into the humanity, or of the humanity into the Deity, both preserved their peculiar properties.
3. Repentance and other affections ascribed to God in Scripture argue no change in God.
4. The not fulfilling of some predictions in Scripture, which seem to imply a changeableness of the Divine will, do not argue any change in it. God declared what would follow by natural causes, or by the demerit of man, not what He would absolutely Himself do; and in many of those predictions, though the condition be not expressed, yet it is to be understood; so the promises of God are to be understood with the condition of perseverance in well-doing, and threatenings with a clause of revocation annexed to them, provided that men repent. And this God lays down as a general case, always to be remembered as a rule for the interpreting His threatenings against a nation, and the same reason will hold in threatenings against a particular person (Jeremiah 18:7-10).
5. God is not changed, when of loving to any creatures He becomes angry with them, or of angry He becomes appeased. The change in these cases is in the creature; there is a change in the dispensation of God, as there is a change in the creature, making Himself capable of such dispensations.
6. A change of laws by God argues no change in God, when God abrogates some laws which He had settled in the Church, and enacts others. God commanded one thing to the Jews, when the Church was in an infant state, and removed those laws when the Church came to growth (Galatians 4:3). A mother feeds not the infant with the same diet as she doth when it is grown up. Our Saviour acquainted not His disciples with some things at one time which He did at another, because they were not able to bear them.
Parallel VersesKJV: But thou art the same, and thy years shall have no end.