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degree of light, the most genial influences upon the fruits of the earth ; and Nature becomes arrayed in all her charms and brings forth all her sweetest perfumes ;-but it stops not there. Very soon it begins to descend, and gradually declines until it reaches the equator again, and then sinks to its utmost depth-producing by its absence the intense cold of winter, the shortest duration and the smallest power of light; and yet it stops not there, but then begins to ascend again. So that winter and summer, spring and autumn are the yearly changes of the sun. It is always on the move, on the change. In like manner it has its diurnal variations. It rises in the morning and gradually ascends to its meridian ; and then again descends until it disappears beneath the horizon, leaving nothing but darkness. And the sun as it rises, has, by reason of intervening objects—its shadows. These are lengthened in the morning; as the sun ascends they decrease ; at the meridian they cease; but instantly they appear again on the reverse side ; shortened, indeed, at the first-yet they become drawn out as the evening approaches, until by the sun setting they are lost again in the deep darkness of night. But not so with Jehovah, whether as to His nature and character—which is his love, or as to his Personal relationship as Father, or his finished work of salvation by Christ Jesus, or his gifts of grace in time—“With him there is no variableness or shadow of turning !" Again, St. Paul in Heb. i. is setting forth, by the way of contrasts, the super-excellency of the Lord Jesus-over angels even; and then, as to his High Priesthood and office, his pre-eminence over Moses and Aaron and every other order of priesthood—whether of human or divine ordination-testifying at the same time to his Divine nature and Personality as the Son of God, the only begotten of the Father, yea, as "very God of very God :”—see verse 8, “Thy throne, oh, Elohim is for ever and
ever.” Then the Apostle quotes the closing verses of Psalm cii. “ Thou, Lord, in the beginning hast laid the foundation of the earth, and the heavens are the works of thine hands: they shall perish, but thou remainest; and they all shall wax old as doth a garment, and as a vesture shalt thou change them, and they shall be changed ; but thou art the same, and thy years shall not fail !”—The heavens and the earth, notwithstanding their transcendent beauty and splendour, shall grow old, and fade, and die away; and, like a worthless, worn-out garment, they shall be changed. But then the Holy Ghost immediately adds, “Thou art the same—thou art He; the Hebrew word expresses the Eternity and Immortality of Jehovah ;-of Jesus, therefore, as the Immutable Jehovah. Indeed, I cannot forbear pointing out to you that, whatever other great and blessed truths are contained in this Epistle, this one thing is quite clear, that as this Epistle begins with proclaiming the Eternity and Immutability of Jehovah Jesus, as it does in the Psalm quoted, so also it closes with the same that as to the Lord Jesus Christ—His Godhead, His Personality, his Mediatorship; and finished Salvation, and destruction and triumph over sin, law, death, and hell; and in his Resurrection and Glorification, and the gift of the life eternal, immortal and incorruptible, which he received of the Father, not for Himself alone, but for all them who are one with Him, Heb. ii. 11, He is still Jesus as yesterday-so to-day and for ever and ever, immutably the same!
Now, so long as the people of God remain in this flesh and blood state, possessed indeed through grace, but as yet, in the earnest of it only the Divine Nature, and of the principle of the divine and heavenly life in their newborn minds; it cannot fail but that they shall, and they must, by the necessity of the case, experience, such is the evil propensity of their creaturely and fallen nature, or such the overpowering and ensnaring temptations of this time-state, or such the bitter hatred, and fierce persecution of an ungodly infidel world—(And in the case of the professedly religious, the more religious natural men become, the more bitter their hatred, the more intense their fiery persecuting zeal)—It cannot be, I say, but that Gods believing people must experience many changes and vicissitudes, many sore trials and hard conflicts, many downfalls and direful calamities; but in the midst of all their sins, convictions, corruptions and distresses, oh, may the Lord enable them ever to bear in mind this one great fact, and let them cherish it in their heart of hearts, “I, Jehovah Jesus, I change not.” The mind of man by nature was filled with enmity and opposition to God, the opposition and antagonism of hatred against God: but the mind of God, the Divine nature was love, everlasting love-love before all worlds, and it has never changed. And though this divine grace, the divine love has been shed abroad in the heart of a believer, still that believer must confess, oh, what changes and alternations many poor frames and feelings, but God never changes towards thee. “His heart towards thee is what it was. Clouds and darkness may come between thee and him, but it is day still. Storms and tempests there may be upon thy soul, but it is day still ; his love is lever in its zenith, like Joshua's sun ; and is over thee, fixed, and perpetually. He may let thee feel the effects of his love less one day than another, in its comforts and quickening, but his love is substantially and solidly the same, and varies not whatever you may think !"
Do you ask-why is it thus with me ?-why am I left to encounter such disastrous troubles? The answer is plain; this state of things was divinely and wisely fore-ordained-ordained to bring out a great fact, to prove to you the vanity and mutability of the mere fleshly nature, the insufficiency and worthlessness of the world, and the emptiness of everything that is creaturely—“to humble you, and cause you to know what is in your hearts;" not to cause God to know the state of your hearts, but to cause you yourselves to know what is in your own hearts, that you cannot keep his commandments; that so you may be powerfully constrained to acknowledge, and flee to, and trust in the immutability of Jehovah. Beloved, this is the end and purpose of God in our daily changes and trials ; but Oh, beloved, remember also that they are God's purposes of love, when they have a humbling and self-abasing influence, and produce, as their proper effect, godly sorrow unto repentance not to be repented of; and oh, beloved, still further remember, that where they do not humble and abase to the lowest dust, as in the case of. Job, they harden, as in the case of Pharaoh !
The faith of every believer is one with the faith of his Covenant Head, the Lord Jesus, for it is he who is the real speaker in the thirty-first Psalm ; and he confesses with a holy confidence, “My times are in thy hands,” verse 15; but, at the same time, the believer forgets not the precious principle, that, with respect to all " these times,” (Rom. viii. 29) “ All things work together for good to them that love God.”
Jehovah yorks and acts in all things naturally, i.e., according to his divine nature, and not contrary to it; and his nature is love. He is self-moved in all that he does; He is unmoved and immovable by anything out of himself; He cannot be moved by anything in the creature ; he is the Alpha and Omega of all things to Himself as well as to all the works of his hands ; (1 Cor. viii. 6., Rom. xi. 36.)
Also, He acts necessarily; in other words, he works, and must work, according to his own eternal counsels and designs, whether in Creation, Providence, or Grace (Acts xv. 18; Ps. 145; Deut. xxxii. 4). But then, the justice and judgment, holiness and righteousness-these never vary, never change, never alter-are ever one and the same-immutable. God can never deny Himself.
If then, these be facts, we may be sure and certain that no creature righteous. ness and purity was the cause of the divine love; for if the righteousness of the creature were the cause of divine love, it would be the cause of the divine nature ; or in other words, the inferior and Caused one would be the cause of the superior and uncaused God! And we may be equally certain that as the divine love, which is the divine nature, is eternal, absolute and unlimited, so neither sin, nor corruption, nor anything else in the creature, can alter or change the divine nature or love into enmity and hatred towards the creature; for that would be just as much as to say that the divine nature was not eternal and absolute. For the love of Jehovah was not, in the first instance, fixed upon the creature for the creature's sake alone, but had respect to God himself, and to his manifested Self-existent Essence, Being, Persons and Perfections : and had respect to creatures only, in so far as, according to his Sovereign will and good pleasure, whether elect or non-elect, they by his will in his eternal election and predestination, or in creation, or in salvation, were respectively constituted the glorifiers of Jehovab, according to their ordained state and condition. True--" The law entered, Rom. v. 20-21; temptation entered, sin entered, death entered ; equally true it is, that God is of purer eyes than to behold iniquity” (Habak i. 13; Ps. v. 5), and hateth them as such. But the law entered as a means to an end; to shew that no creature can stand before God, for one monent, in any creature righteousness and purity; no, not even the brightest, and best, and noblest of men or angels; that the law was given, not to prove how good man is, but to disprove the goodness of the creature, and to make it manifest that “ every man, every Adam (literally) at his best estate is altogether vanity” or mutable. And then the law having discharged its office and done its work, as a part of the divine plan, the way was opened by which the grace of God might be manifested as supreme, as paramount, as "reigning through righteousness "unto eternal life, by Jesus Christ our Lord;" or, in other words, a way was prepared, in which the believer should stand, not as men express it, by imputation, righteous merely, but by virtue of the divine union and consequently by imputation, righteous, in the righteousness of Christ, which is the righteousness of God, which is, therefore righteousness everlasting and immutable.
Do you ask what end or purpose, then, was answered by the death and sacrifice of the Lord Jesus ? Is it not rendered needless and useless ? Not 80—the death of Christ was not indeed, the cause of the love of God to the creature; for that would be all one as saying that Jehovah, before Christ's death, was not love-was not grace--was not the Father of mercies-was not what ages before he had declared himself to be, “the Lord--the Lord God gracious and merciful ;" but the death of Christ was to give effect to, and make full proof of, the divine love, the divine grace, the divine mercy-was not designed as a remedy for some unforeseen accident, called sin, or to repair something discovered to be faulty and defective in the creature-a flaw in the raw material, but as the act of loving and willing obedience to the will of the Father, to glorify the Father, by proving the perfection of the divine nature: and, as regarded the sinner, to give effect, I say, to the divine love, by the exhibition of it under the most trying and contradictory, and, humanly speaking, impossible case and circumstances; to give effect to it by delivering the sinner from his sins, and, by divine power, reconciling him in his heart and conscience to God, and bringing him to love God, to lie down in that blissful and heavenly bosom of the divine harmony, described by the Evangelists. (1 John, iv. 16.)—“God is love : and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him.” This is his heaven upon earth! In short we must say, that the death of Christ was thė blessed medium, in and through which-the creature having given full effect to his own nature as vanity or mutability-God was pleased to shew forth, not only the enormity of sin—and his own just and righteous abhorrence of sin—but, at the same time, to give full effect to his divine love in its glorious greatness—its eternity, perpetuity, and immutability.
Why did he die ? He died then to answer the eternal purposes, and high behests of love. He did not die to save us from the bitter consequences of our sins and sinful nature, or to enable us to evade or escape the penal effects of our sins, its curse, and condemnation. We do—and we must-undergo the sentence of the curse, “ the judgment unto condemnation ;" for we die—and " death is the wages of sin." “The soul that sinneth, it shall die.” Nor did he suffer—the Just One-that we, the unjust, might be freed from sufferings, from the just punishment of our sins; because “ sin shall not go unpunished,” neither in this age, nor yet in the age to come: punishment for sin must have full sway, must have the utmost satisfaction. Hath God said it, and shall he not do it? But the Lord Jesus, having once died -died altogether, died into the grave-died all the deaths that he could die, and so brought wholly and altogether under the curse and condemnation. (Eccles. xii. 7; Gen. iii. 19.) He might save us by rescuing us through resurrection from the grave; that resurrection being the resurrection unto eternal life (Johnxi. 25). Or, in other words, that whereas (Titus i. 2) God, who cannot lie, promised eternal life before all worlds (1 John i. 25); and all the promises of God, in Christ Jesus, as risen and glorified, were realised and proved immutably true, "yea, and Amen" to us (2. Cor. i. 20), that we might be established in them, and even now, on this side the grave, receive the enjoyment of them, in the earnest of them, in our spiritual minds, and hereafter perfectly and completely in our re-united resurrection bodies and glorified spirits. Thus Jehovah might prove both presently, as well as eventually, what he is in himself, and in his Being, and in his love-so too in his counsel-purposes and word and work—the great I Am, the Eternal God, the everliving one—that “I, Jehovah, I change not.”
May the good Lord pardon all my infirmities, and bless this word, so far as it is according to his will and for his glory, by his blessed spirit, to your present peace, comfort and stability of mind, for Christ Jesus, the Lord's sake. Amen.
THE SOLAR ECLIPSE,
REV. C. H. SPURGEON,
“I form the light, and create darkness.”—Isaiah xlv. 7. We are all expecting to-morrow to witness one of the greatest sights in the uni. verse—the annular eclipse of the sun. It is possible that many of us shall have gone the way of all flesh before such a sight shall again be seen in this country, and we are therefore looking for it with some degree of expectation. It is probable that hundreds and thousands of the human race will be attracted by it, to study, for a few hours at least, the science of astronomy. Certain it is that our astronomers are making the most capital they possibly can of it by endeavouring to thrust it in every way under our notice, in order to induce us to make the sun, the moon and the stars a little more the object of our attention than they have been hitherto. Surely I need offer no apology whatever if religion comes forward to-day, and asks that attention should be drawn to her, even by the eclipse itself. Without a doubt, if there be sermons in stones, there must be a great sermon in the sun; and if there be books in the running brooks, no doubt there is many a huge volume to be found in a sun suffering eclipse. All things teach us, if we have but a mind to learn. There is nothing which we can see, or hear, or feel, which may not be the channels of great instruction to us. Let us see whether this may not lead us this morning into a train of thought which may, under God's blessing, be something far batter to us than the seeing of an eclipse.
I shall note this morning, addressing you, that since the Lord creates darkness as well as light; first of all, eclipses of every kind are part of God's way of governing the world; in the second place, we shall notice that since God creates the darkness as well as the light, we may conclude beyond a doubt that he has a design in the eclipse-in the darkness as well as the light; and then, thirdly, we shall notice that as all things that God has created, whether they be light or whether they be dark, have a sermon for us, no doubt there are some sermons to be found in this.
1. First of all, ECLIPSES ARE A PART OF GOD'S PLAN. In the olden times the ignorant people in England were frightened at an eclipse, they could not understand what it meant. They were quite sure that there was about to be a war, or a famine, or a terrible fire. They were absolutely certain that something fearful would happen; for they regarded it as being a prophecy of coming ills. They were totally at a loss to account for it, and knew nothing about the theory which now so satisfactorily sets our minds at rest. And you are aware, that till this day, in the East and in other parts of the world still in the ignorance of barbarism, an eclipse is looked upon as a very horrible and a very unaccountable thing. The