When I think of those Perfections of God, as, for instance, immutability, I stand back, and tremble, and keep my distance, in reverence and godly fear at a Being possessed of such a tremendous quality as this of unchangeableness. “What!” say I, “can it be, that I, — a worm, a creature of a day, a moth, and a shadow, — can ever worship such an amazing Being as one who, infinitely more stable than the mountains, cannot ever be rooted up or altered in the least of His purposes? Can it be that I can worship Him?” Thus godly fear and every grace, with reverence and with admiration, take possession of his breast in whom is displayed, by the Spirit’s power, this or any other admirable quality in God.
When I consider, also, that to this unchangeableness are also added the strictest justice, the most rigid justice, the most unalterable justice, the eternal and infinite determination to “bring the wheel over the wicked,” and “not to clear the guilty,” no, not in the least degree; when I consider a Being armed with such formidable qualities, (formidable to such a guilty wretch as man,) I stand amazed before Him! And, feeling my carnal mind enmity against Him, I wonder not that the unregenerate priests, and rabble, and religious folks among the Jews, called out and roared out for Barabbas, a murderer, rather than the God-Man. The beautiful attribute of hatred to sin, and power and determination to punish it, vexed the carnal professors of letter-godliness to distraction, the unchangeableness of God heightening it all, and the even-handed stroke of Infinite Justice blazing before their crooked goings-on. I say, need any one wonder that human nature roared out for Barabbas rather than Christ, if, in the self-existent light of God in a natural conscience, they saw the unchangeable hatred of God against pride, the show of a mere outward tinsel religion, and His unconquerable power to punish it; when they saw the unchangeable liking to humility which Christ showed; when they saw His unchangeable batterings against the love of the world, against ambition, against laying up money, the modes of life, the wisdom of man, and all the painted drapery of human proceedings?
I declare, for my part, that I have “stood and trembled” when I have thought of even this one attribute, the unchangeableness of this Almighty Being. What! will He not alter? And has the power to execute His purposes too? O the stun that it gives to the little, the great, the serpentine and twisted self-importance of such a wretch as myself! And I find that the patriarch Job shared with me in this; for he felt himself to be a wretch, or else he would never have indulged in that supernatural apostrophe, “I abhor myself.” I say that the patriarch Job shared in this, to be brought to a mighty deep, when, in God’s regenerating light, he was led to contemplate God’s immutability. “For He performeth the thing that is appointed for me; therefore am I troubled at His presence. When I consider, I am afraid of Him.” (Job 23:14-15)
When I consider, again, the Lord Jesus Christ, in whose obedience and blood-shedding I stand acquitted and gloriously righteous before God; in which Lord Jesus Christ all the Perfections of the Deity center, harmonize, and shine in behalf of the redeemed; when I think of the difference between Him and my fellow-creatures, — He God as well as man, and taking on Himself the form of a servant, and being a penny-less carpenter; (for poor women had a minister to His wants;) when I think of Him a servant, though He was Lord of all, and contrast this with the blazing haughtiness of man.
He a servant, and man galloping with the swiftness of a racer after respectability; He having no where to lay His head, and man cheated with the whim of a fine house; He called “a fellow” by the religious, and swarms of self-made Christians glorying in an honorable name; He crucified, and they stretched on their beds of ease; He almost pennyless, and they with their handsome incomes; He laid in wait for from the cradle by Herod, the slaughterer of innocents; hunted much through life by nominal professors, and strung by the cruel death of the cross; when I think of all His troubles internally, which none scarce but God know anything of; I say, when I thus consider Christ, in whom harmonized and concentred, in behalf of the redeemed, all the Perfections of Deity, and contrast Him with man or self, how my soul bubbles up with unutterable feelings, and sees the world to be a wilderness, and myself carnally and naturally a fiend! O God! how unsearchable are Thy thoughts! how high thy glories swell!
And I would observe that the unchangeableness of God stops in me the mouth of prayer; it shows me that GOD HAS A WILL; it makes me WAIT for indicted prayer; it makes me look to the Spirit to teach me to pray; it makes me see that all prayer not according to the will of God is wildfire; it makes me feel that I know not what to pray for; and it makes my ransomed soul (in which the Spirit of supplication dwells) look to the Holy Spirit alone, to teach me how to pray.
O blessed and soul enriching contemplations! My soul as a weaned child waits upon God. I sun myself in the blaze of His unalterable and countless Perfections. It makes me feel Him to be the habitation also of all amiableness, as well as of all power; for what is more amiable than perfect goodness, and what more beautiful than beauty itself? Gladness, goodness, and beauty are in God’s tabernacle. (Joel 1:16; Psalm 96:6) I trust that the furnace of affliction will be sanctified to cleanse my misty eyesight to see more of these things. I trust that I may be brought to say, “My soul fainteth for the living God,” the self-existent habitation of all His many excellencies. May I be able even to say, with one of old, “I opened my mouth and panted” for the very fervent desire that I have towards God’s ways “at all times.”