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God saw tbeir works, that they turned from S E R M. their evil way; and God repented of the YJL. Evil that he had said he would do unto them, and he did it not. These passages (I fay ) may at first fight seem to be a very strong Objection, against what has been before laid down concerning the Unchangeablenefs of God in all his Purposes. But the Answer likewise, from what has been before faid, is plain and obvious. 'Those Declarations of the Designs and Purposes of God, which are Prophetick of the great Events of Providence, are in themselves absolutely fx'd and unalterable; because the Wisdom of God could not possibly be deceived, in the original Design and Intention of appointing them: But these Promises and Threatnings, which are merely personal, either to any particular man, or to any Number of men, are always conditional; because the Wisdom of God thought fit to make These depend on the Behaviour of Men; and the Immutability of God with regard to These, does not consist in the unalterableness of the Things themselves, but in the unchangeablenefs of the Condition upon which they are to be performed. Vol. I. M The
Se R M. The Rule, is univerfal and unchangeable; VII. jer xvjjj. jfy wfcaf jnjlant I fall speak
^V7*** concerning a Nation, to pull down and
to destroy it j if that nation turn from
their evil, I will repent of the evil that I thought to do unto them: And at what instant I foall speak concerning a Nation,
to build and to plant it; If it do evil
in my sight, then 1 will repent of the
good, wherewith I said I would benefit them. The Expressions, of God's repenting, grieving, and the like; are only fi~ gurative, in condescension to the weakness of our Apprehensions; signifying, not any Change in God himself, but only a Difference of the Event with regard to Us. God's Affection towards Good or Evil, towards Virtue or Vice, is therefore uniform and unchangeable; because his Promises and Threatnings invariably follow these Dispositions, through all the Changes of mens personal behaviour. Thus Good Parents and Princes, without any Change in Themselves, encourage or discourage their respective children, or subjects, according as They change their behaviour for the better or the worse.
Thus Thus Laws themselves, which- can haveSerm. no AffeEihn, nor Change of Assertion, towards one person or another; yet vary their Effe£t, themselves remaining unvaried; and bring rewards or punishments, according to the different behaviour of the person upon whom they are executed. The only difference in This case, is; that Laws made by the best human Wisdom, can take no notice of the Repentance of great Malefactors in the cafe of capital Crimes; because 'tis impossible for human Wisdom to discern when such Repentance is sincere, and consequently 'tis altogether unsafe to trust to any pretences of That kind: But God who fees the inmost Depositions of Mem Hearts, judges always according to the reality of those Dispositions, and dispenses his Rewards or Punishments accordingly. And in This, he acts uniformly , without Change or Variation. As the fame Fire, with one unvaried Action, consumes combustible matter, but purifies and refines Gold; and the fame Sun, with one continual Heat, melts one fort of Bodies, and hardens another; so God, without M 2 any
S E R M. any change or alteration in himself, punisties the wicked when they so continue, shows compassion towards the fame persons when they become truly and sincerely penitent.
II. The Uses of this Discourse, by way of Application, concerning the Immutability of God, are briefly as follows.
iji, The Unchangeableness of God's natural Perfections, and the Promise of Him to whom those Perfections so invariably belong; is to good men at all times the greatest possible security, that they shall not finally fail to be Happy. When the World, and all things that are therein, shall fail; the Power of God, his Wisdom, his Goodness, his Love of Virtue, are Perfections which can never fail in themselves; and his Promise secures the Application of them to Us; if we continue to live in obedience to his Commands. Heb. vi. 13, 17. When God made Promise to Abraham; because he could swear by no
greater, he sware by himself; Wherein
God willing more abundantly to pew unto the heirs of Promise the immutability of his counsel, confirmed it with an Oath., That
By two immutable things, in which it Toserm. impossible for God to lye, we might have a y^-^ Jlrong consolation, who have fed for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us. And Tit. i. 2, The Hope of eternal life, ivhich God, that cannot lye, promised before the world began. The fame Inference is drawn by the Prophet in the words of the Text; lam the Lord, I change not, ( my Compassion, my Promise, is immutable ;) therefore ye Sons of "Jacob are not consumed. And by the Pfalmist, Ps xxxiii. ii, 12, The Counsel of the Lord Jlandeth for ever; Therefore Blessed is the Nation whose God is the Lord, and the people whom he has chosen for his own inheritance. And Ps xxxvi. 6, 7, Thy righteousness is,
like theJlrong mountains; —; Therefore
the children of men put their trust under the JJjadow of thy wings.
zdly, The Threatnings of him whose nature and perfections are unchangeable, ought to be a perpetual Terror to impenitent Sinners. He will by no means clear the Guilty, nor can by any application be reconciled to Sin. No Bribe, no Force, no Artifice, no Intercession, no length of M 3 Time,