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kingdom, O Lord, and thou art exalted as head above all.-In thine hand is power and might; and in thine hand it is to make great, and to give strength unto all."
God is unchangeable.
MALACHI iii. 6.
For I am the Lord, I change not.-first clause.
N the context, great good is spoken concerning the house of Israel. God tells them what good thing he is about to accomplish for them, upon the prospect of which they are encouraged to ground their spiritual confidence and consolation. "Behold, I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me and the Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to his temple, even the messenger of the covenant, whom ye delight in behold, he shall come, saith the Lord of hosts.” This, no doubt, is a prediction of the coming of Christ, whose way was prepared by a special messenger, ap. pearing in the spirit and power of Elias, and whose object it was to effect a reformation in
the church, that the people of God might be better fitted to receive their gracious Redeemer and Lord. After stating this mat ter as a future event, promising great glory and felicity to God's kingdom on earth, the prophet goes on to intimate the reason, which all believers have to gather comfort and assurance from such a revelation. The matter of it is, in itself, most pleasing and joyful; and that it will not fail of taking entire effect, of being brought about in its season, is a certain consequence from the unchangeableness of God. If Jehovah has declared, that he will raise up to his people a Saviour, Christ the Lord, is there danger of its being prevented by the unbelief, or other gross wickedness of those, for whom such a benefit is designed? God answers, no. And the apos
tle confirms it with such words as the following: "For what if some did not believe? shall their unbelief make the faith of God of Hone effect? God forbid." If a word has gone forth out of the mouth of the most High, it shall not return to him void. "Hath he said, and shall he not do it? or hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good?" He will not give up his own gracious purposes to be nullified and frustrated for the sake of letting loose the arm of his vengeance upon. the wicked; nor will the sins of men ever be suffered to hinder the fulfilment of thosepromises, which ensure blessings upon mankind or the church. If, in the word of God, blessings, of any kind or to any extent, are
promised to the people of any particular age, and they are found, when the time of the promise draws near, to be wicked and sinners before the Lord exceedingly, as the men of Sodom were, this will give no reason to believe, or suspect, that the promise will fail, or that the fulfilment of it will be delayed., The seed of Abraham were in a state of great spiritual degeneracy, when their 400 years of affliction in Egypt came to an end; but this did not hinder the fulfilment of God's prom. ise to appear for them and bring them out. The same may be said of their Babylonian captivity, many ages afterwards. Were it not, indeed, that God is engaged on the side of mercy; and that his grace is immutable; that he is of one mind and none can turn him; promises would not be a sufficient foundation of hope; the church itself would sink into ruin, though compassed about and sheltered with the most explicit and absolute promises of protection. That guilty creatures should have hope, rather than despair, depends solely upon sentiments like that in the text. "For I am the Lord, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed." No small share of the happiness to be derived from knowing God, and realising that we stand in a near relation to him, rests upon a persuasion of his immutability, that he is the same yesterday, to-day and forever. By the loss of this attribute his Godhead. would be most essentially impaired. In such case he could not sustain the confidence of
the creatures he has made. A being subject to change, whatever be his other excellencies, is grossly defective and imperfect; and will not be confided in, by the prudent and foreseeing, but with the utmost caution and. reserve. It is impossible to calculate where the counsels of one, who is not uniform and steadfast, will conduct him. As far as experience throws light upon the subject, we are authorized in believing, that all intimacies with such are rather dangerous than safe. In proportion to our dependence upon him, we have reason to be afraid of the consequences of instability and inconstancy in one, with whom we are united. If he proceed in an unsteady and crooked course, it is impossible to foresee where he will land us, and all those interests which we have cast upon him. On the other hand, it is with a cheerful, unsuspecting confidence, that we yield up ourselves and our concerns to the disposal of one, who is incapable of wavering, or of double-mindedness; who, in addition to all other good qualities, possesses a consistency, firmness, and uniformity of conduct, which brings all his measures to unite in one final, all-important end. If, in our commerce with men, we have abundant reason to sep. arate ourselves from those, who are known to be of a fickle and alterable disposition, lest their frequent shifting and turning about should expose us to harm; much more should we have reason to dread the unhap py fruits of the least change in the counsels