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for all God's purposes are unconditional, or absolute. For instance, God's purposing to save a sinner, if he repent; or to damn him, if he do not repent; is, properly, forming no purpose at all respecting him. From such a statement, merely, it can never be gathered, whether he will be saved or lost; because the purpose expressed is not in favour of the one more than of the other. Every purpose of God must make the event certain, unless the purpose itself fails; but God's purpos ing to save a sinner, if he repent, does not make his salvation certain.
2. What God had said, concerning the priesthood in the family of Eli, concerning the overthrow of Nineveh, and the death of Hezekiah, was conditional. It was spoken as to persons in a state of probation, and, of course, was calculated to encourage and per suade to a holy line of conduct. The good word of God, concerning the priesthood, was to excite persons, in that office, to fidelity. What was denounced against Nineveh was to make them humble, and lead them to a reformation. And the message to Hezekiah, by the prophet, was to prepare him, by solemn and fervent prayer, for the lengthing out of his years. This proves, that none of the purposes of providence were intended to be brought into view, upon those occasions. An absolute divine determination to destroy a particular person, or people, for their wickedness, could never be used as an argument with such subjects to bring them to repent.
ance; neither could it ever have this effect. It is said of the Ninevites, that they believed the word of the Lord by Jonah, that is, they believed the representation, which he had given them from the Lord, to be true. But had they believed, that God had absolutely determined to destroy them, in forty days, it would not have inspired them with a resolution to seek salvation by repentance; because it would have left them without any place for repentance. Nineveh, as above, and all situated like her, come within the limits of such texts as the following: "At what instant I shall speak concerning a nation, and concerning a kingdom, to pluck up, and to pull down, and to destroy it: If that nation, against whom I have pronounced, turn from their evil, I will repent of the evil that I thought to do unto them." Accordingly, though a decree was absolutely passed against the Jewish nation, that they should be punished, in captivity, for their sins; yet as the time for the taking place of this event was not made known, they had encouragement to repent and obey the word of the Lord, as the way to peace and preservation, even to the period of their actual destruction. Whence we see, that notwithstanding any thing that may appear to militate against the sentiment, all the purposes of God may be uniform, unalterable, and abiding.
Fifthly. The immutability of God implies, that none of his promises or threatenings shall ever be disappointed of a due ac
complishment; or that he will abate nothing either of the benignity of the one, or the severity of the other. "The foundation of God standeth sure." Nothing, less solemn or binding than an oath, secures the loving kindness and faithfulness of God, towards the heirs of salvation. And concerning the ungodly, he hath sworn in his wrath that they shall not enter into his rest. The great corner-stone, in the spiritual building, has been laid with this solemn formality. "And in as much as not without an oath he was made priest: (For those priests were made without an oath; but this with an oath by him that said unto him, The Lord sware and will not repent, Thou art a priest for ever, after the order of Melchisedec;) By so much was Jesus made a surety of a better testament." If to Christ, as the head and Mediator of the church, the fulness of divine grace stands pledged, no doubt his throne will endure for ever, and his cause not decline for want of needful support. "For
the strength of Israel will not lie, nor repent, for he is not a man that he should repent." The promise is, "I will make him my firstborn, higher than the kings of the earth. My mercy will I keep for him for evermore, and my covenant shall stand fast with him. His seed also will I make to endure for ever, and his throne as the days of heaven. If his children forsake my law, and walk not in my judgments; If they break my statutes, and keep not my commandments; Then will
I visit their transgression with the rod, and their iniquity with stripes. Nevertheless my loving-kindness will I not utterly take from him, nor suffer my faithfulness to fail. My covenant will I not break, nor alter the thing that is gone out of my lips. Once have i sworn by my holiness, that I will not lie un to David. His seed shall endure for ever, and his throne as the sun before me. It shall be establised for ever as the moon, and as a faithful witness in heaven. Selah." If the kingdom and priesthood of Christ stand thus grounded on unchangeable promises, promises which cannot fail, being sanctioned with an oath; so also does the hope of every believer. "For when God made promise to Abraham, because he could swear by nogreater, he sware by himself, Saying, surely blessing I will bless thee, and multiplying I will multiply thee. And so, after he had patiently endured, he obtained the promise. For men verily swear by the greater; and an oath for confirmation is to them an end of all strife. Wherein God, willing more abundantly to shew unto the heirs of promise the immutability of his counsel, confirmed it by an oath; That by two immutable things, in which it was impossible for God to lie, we might have a strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us. The only comfort and peace there is in believing rests upon the immutability of God's promises; that he, who has spoken good concerning any of his
creatures, will not recede from it, that it should be as water spilt upon the ground, which cannot be gathered up again. And if all gracious, comforting words from the lips. of the most High are absolutely permanent and inviolable; so are all words of terror, in like manner. Whatever is written in the book of God's revealed will must have an accomplishment. "Think not," says Christ, "that I am come to destroy the law or the prophets : I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be ful-. filled." Nay, the word of God, which is. fraught with confusion to sinners,shall, nevertheless, outlive all perishable things,, all changes, that creation may experience, and bring glory to God in the proof of his iminortal and immutable hatred of sin. "Heav en and earth shall pass away; but my words shall not pass away. If the holy One has uttered words, at which sinful creatures have reason to tremble, those words are sacred as his nature. He can have no occasion to retract them, neither will he leave them to die away and fall into forgetfulness. "For as
the rain cometh down and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth. and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater; So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void; but it shall accom