MEDITATIONS ON CHRISTIAN DOGMA TREATISE I. 8. THE IMMUTABILITY OF GOD
Sts Francis of Assisi, Louis of Toulouse and Anthony of Padua
MEDITATIONS ON CHRISTIAN DOGMA
8. THE IMMUTABILITY OF GOD
I. "With God there is no change or shadow of alteration" (James i. 17). This attribute of unchangeableness is a great perfection in God. We are always impressed by the sight of stability, firmness, permanence of strength and fitness, whether we see them in a grand building, in a political constitution, in a landscape, or in the character of a noble man. All this exists in a supreme degree in God. Change of any kind is impossible to Him, whether it be in His substance or in His relation to creatures; for change denotes the improving of the position or making it worse, gaining something or losing. As being infinite and possessing in Himself all perfection, it is impossible for God to suffer any addition or any diminution. As eternal, He exists outside of the conditions of succession and time, so that the progress of events is not a change to Him. The whole of the celestial bodies are in a state of most rapid motion, but this is no change relatively to God, who is everywhere by His immensity. As all-wise and all-knowing, God cannot experience anything unexpected ; nor can He learn any new thing that would change His determinations or His action towards creatures. How majestic is God, imperturbable, unmoved, unchangeable for all eternity I Prostrate yourself before this grand attribute. Know that God will never change towards you, never desert you, never fail you, never deceive you, nor grow weary of you or forget you. Rest firmly on Him and you will be strengthened in faith, in virtue, in perseverance, by participation to some extent in His immutability.
II. We speak of God changing His dispositions and acting differently at different times towards His creatures. But this is an inaccuracy, necessary in the transference of spiritual idea* ?jto human speech. What change there is is in ourselves, and in the different results produced by the one law in its incidence on our varying actions. So it is that we speak of the sun as rising, or withdrawing his light, or growing hotter, whereas the changes are really in the conditions of this earth. No alteration then takes place in God as a consequence of our action. As our sins do not injure Him or disturb Him, so, on the other hand, our service and love are not any new happiness to God, or any increase in His essential glory. So far as we are said to advance His glory, it is only His accidental and temporal glory with regard to creatures that is promoted. "What doth it profit God if thou be just ; or what dost thou give Him if thou be unspotted?" (Job xxii. 3). Acknowledge humbly that all your justice, which you esteem so highly, is worthless before God ; that you have never really done any thing for Him, and that you are a most unprofitable servant. He does not want you except for your own good.
III. Consider, on the other hand, how variable and in constant creatures are. All things are in a state of flux, rising and falling, flourishing and decaying and taking new forms. So the days and seasons and generations pass by. So kingdoms and civilizations and races of men come and go, and the whole surface of the earth is renewed. All ideas, customs, theories, and even sciences, change from day to day. "They shall perish but Thou shalt continue; and they shall all grow old as a garment, and as a vesture Thou shalt change them, and they shall be changed. But Thou art always the self-same and Thy years shall not fail" (Heb. i. 11, 12). There is no fixedness, no certainty, no permanence, except in God and in that religion which is never to fail. Human religions change like the minds of men, and all at last suffer the final change of dissolution. The Church of God alone outlives all institutions and never grows antiquated. Thank God that your faith is founded on an immutable rock ; but pray that your life may ever change for the better.
MEDITATIONS ON CHRISTIAN DOGMA BY THE RIGHT REV. JAMES BELLORD, D.D.