A Sermon Delivered on Sabbath Morning, January 3th, 1858, at the Music Hall, Royal Surrey Gardens
First, then, we open the text by a little EXPLANATION – “Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to-day, and for ever.” He is the same in his person. We change perpetually; the bloom of youth gives place to the strength of manhood, and the maturity of manhood fades away into the weakness of old age. But “Thou hast the dew of thy youth.” Christ Jesus, whom we adore, thou art as young as ever! We came into this world with the ignorance of infancy; we grow up searching, studying, and learning with the diligence of youth; we attain to some little knowledge in our riper years; and then in our old age we totter back to the imbecility of our childhood. But O, our Master! thou didst perfectly foreknow all mortal or eternal things from before the foundations of the world, and thou knowest all things now, and for ever thou shalt be the same in thine omniscience. We are one day strong, and the next day weak – one day resolved, and the next day wavering – one hour constant, and the next hour unstable as water. We are one moment holy, kept by the power of God; we are the next moment sinning, led astray by our own lusts; but our Master is for ever the same; pure and never spotted; firm, and never changing – everlastingly Omnipotent, unchangeably Omniscient. From him no attribute doth pass away; to him no parallax, no tropic, ever comes; without variableness or shadow of a turning, he abideth fast and firm. Did Solomon sing concerning his best beloved, “His head is as the most fine gold: his locks are bushy and black as a raven. His eyes are as the eyes of doves by the rivers of waters, washed with milk, and fitly set. His cheeks are as a bed of spices, as sweet flowers: his lips like lilies, dropping sweet smelling myrrh. His hands are as gold rings set with the beryl: his belly is as bright ivory overlaid with sapphires. His legs are as pillars of marble, set upon sockets of fine gold: his countenance is as Lebanon, excellent as the cedar ?” Surely we can even now conclude the description from our own experience of him; and while we endorse every word which went before, we can end the description by saying, “His mouth is most sweet, yea he is altogether lovely. His matchless beauty is unimpaired; he is still ‘the chief among ten thousand’ – fairest of the sons of men.” Did the divine John talk of him when he said – “His head and his hairs were white like wool, as white as snow; and his eyes were as a flame of fire; and his feet like unto fine brass, as if they burned in a furnace; and his voice as the sound of many waters. And he had in his right hand seven stars; and out of his mouth went a sharp two-edged sword; and his countenance was as the sun shineth in his strength.” He is the same; upon his brow there is ne’er a furrow; his locks are gray with reverence, but not with age; his feet stand as firm as when they trod the everlasting mountains in the years before the world was made – his eyes as piercing when, for the first time he looked upon a new-born world. Christ’s person never changes. We bless Christ that amid his heavenly splendors his person is just the same, and his nature unaffected.. “Jesus Christ the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever.”
Again: Jesus Christ is the same with regard to his Father as ever. He was his Father’s well beloved Son before all worlds; he was his well beloved in the stream of baptism; he was
his well beloved on the cross; he was his well beloved when he led captivity captive, and he is not less the object of his Father’s infinite affection now than he was then. Yesterday he lay in Jehovah’s bosom, God, having all power with his Father – to-day he stands on earth, man, with us, but still the same, for ever – he ascends on high, and still he is his Father’s son – still by inheritance, having a more excellent name than angels – still sitting far above all principalities and powers, and every name that is named. O Christian, give him thy cause to plead; the Father will answer him as well now as he did aforetime. Doubt not the Father’s grace. Go to thine Advocate. He is as near to Jehovah’s heart as ever – as prevalent in his intercession. Trust him, then, and in trusting him thou mayest be sure of the Father’s love to thee.
We have looked back, too, upon the years of our troubles and our trials; and we can bear our solemn though humble witness that he has been true to us in all our exigencies, and has never failed us once. Come, then, let us comfort ourselves with this thought – that though to-day he may distress us with a sense of sin, yet his heart is just the same to us as ever. Christ may wear masks that look black to his people, but his face is always the same; Christ may sometimes take a rod in his hand instead of a golden scepter, but the name of his saint is as much engraved upon the hand that grasps the rod as upon the palm that clasps the scepter. And oh, sweet thought that now bursts upon our mind! Beloved, can you concede how much Christ will love you when you are in heaven? Have you ever tried to fathom that bottomless sea of affection in which you shall swim, when you shall bathe yourself in seas of heavenly rest? Did you ever think of the love which Christ will manifest to you, when he shall present you without spot, or blemish, or any such thing before his Father’s throne? Well, pause and remember that he loves you at this hour as much as he will love you then; for he will be the same for ever as he is to-day, and he is the same to-day as he will be for ever. This one thing I know: if Jesus’ heart is set on me he will not love me one atom better when this head wears a crown, and when this hand shall, with joyous fingers, touch the strings of golden harps, than he does now, amid all my sin and care and woe. I believe that saying which is written – “As the Father hath loved me, even so have I loved you;” and a higher degree of love we can not imagine. The Father loves his Son infinitely, and even so to-day, believer, doth the Son of God love thee. All his heart flows out to thee. All his life is thine; all his person is thine. He can not love thee more; he will not love thee less. The same yesterday, to-day, and for ever.
I can not pretend to enter into the fullness of my text as I could desire, but one more thought. Jesus Christ is the same to-day as he was yesterday in the teachings of his Word. They tell us in these times that the improvements of the age require improvements in theology. Why, I have heard it said that the way Luther preached would not suit this age. We are too polite! The style of preaching, they say, that did in John Bunyan’s day, is not the style now. True, they honor these men; they are like the Pharisees; they build the sepulchers of the prophets that their fathers slew, and so they do confess that they are their father’s own sons, and like their parents. And men that stand up to preach as those men did, with honest tongues, and know not how to use polished courtly phrases, are as much condemned now as those men were in their time; because, say they, the world is marching on, and the gospel must march on too. No, sirs, the old gospel is the same; not one of her stakes must be removed, not one of her cords must be loosened. “Hold fast the form of sound words, which thou hast heard of me, in faith and love which is in Christ Jesus.” Christ Jesus preaches to-day the same as when he preached upon the mount; he hath not changed his doctrines; men may ridicule and laugh, but still they stand the same – semper idem written upon every one of them. They shall not be removed or altered.
Let the Christian remember that this is equally true of the promises. Let the sinner remember this is just as true of the threatenings. Let us each recollect that not one word can be added to this Sacred Book, nor one letter taken away from it; for as Christ Jesus is yet the same, so is his Gospel, the same yesterday, to-day and for ever.
I have thus briefly opened the text, not in its fullest meanings, but still enough to enable the Christian at his own leisure to see into that depth without a bottom – the immutability of Christ Jesus the Lord.