The Second Property of the Divine Decree of Predestination: It is UNCHANGEABLE
Hence it is compared to "mountains of brass" (Zec 6:1), and it is called, "immutability of his counsel" (Heb 6:17). This is made evident by sundry reasons, as:
1. The Divine decree hath an unchangeable fountain, to wit, the unchangeableness of God. "He is in one mind, and who can turn Him?" (Job 23:13). He desires and He doth it; no created being can interpose between the desire and the doing, to hinder their meeting together. "God is not a man, that He should lie; neither the son of man that He should repent" (Num 23:19). "I am the Lord, I change not" (Mal 3:6); with Him is no "variableness, neither shadow of turning" (James 1:17). "The counsel of the Lord standeth for ever, the thoughts of his heart to all generations" (Psalms 33:11). "There are many devices in a man's heart; nevertheless the counsel of the Lord, that shall stand" (Pro 19:21). Man is a poor changeable creature and changes his mind oftener than his garment, both from the darkness of his understanding and the perverseness of his will. He frequently sees something that he saw not before.
But there is no such imperfection in God, all things are naked before Him, dissected, or with their faces upward. "Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in His sight; but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of Him with whom we have to do" (Heb 4:13). He knows all His works (their natures and circumstances) as perfectly in the beginning of the world as He will do at the end of it. And He abides still in one mind when His dispensations are changed, for He decreed the change of them from all eternity.
2. The decree of Election stands upon an unchangeable foundation, to wit, that Rock of ages, "Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, and today, and forever" (Heb 13:8). As the first Adam was the foundation stone in the decree of creation, so the last Adam, even Jesus, is the foundation stone in the decree of election. God hath blessed us in Him, yea, and we shall be blessed. He hath chosen us in Him; pardoned us in Him; sealed us in Him; built us up and completed us in Him; "According to His own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began" (2Ti 1:9). All those acts of grace are said to be in Christ, who hath blest us in Christ (Eph 1:3); chosen us in Him (Eph 1:4); pardoned us; "in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins" (Eph 1:7); "in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed" (Eph 1:13); "rooted and built up in Him" (Col 2:7): and ye are "complete in Him" (Col 2:10).
Indeed, Christ Himself was under Divine ordination; He "verily was fore-ordained before the foundation of the world" (1Pe 1:20), and is called the elect stone (1Pe 2:6). Christ is the first person elected. "Behold My servant whom I uphold, Mine elect" (Isa 42:1; Matthew 12:18). Christ was chosen as the Head, and we as His members; therefore are we said to be given to Christ. "Thine they were, and Thou gavest them Me" (John 17:6). Now, so long as this foundation standeth sure, so long doth the superstructure remain unchangeable. The temple stood firmly upon those two pillars, Jachin and Boza, i.e., stability and strength; so the decree of election standeth sure upon Christ the Foundation; and none can pluck an elect soul from off this Foundation. None can pluck any of Christ's out of His hands. Christ will lose none that are given to him; He will fulfill His Father's will by taking care of them all. "And this is the Father's will which hath sent Me, that of all which He hath given Me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day" (John 6:39). "They shall never perish" (John 10:28).
3. 'Tis unchangeable, because it is a decree written in Heaven, and so above the reach of either angry men or enraged devils to cancel. "The Lord knoweth them that are His" (2Ti 2:19), they are "the general assembly and church of the first-born, which are written in Heaven" (Heb 12:23). Thence it is called "the Lamb's book of life," which contains a catalog of the elect, determined by the unalterable counsel of God; which number can neither be increased nor diminished. This is to be rejoiced in above dominion over devils; "rather rejoice, because your names are in Heaven" (Luk 10:20); which, if our names may be written in Heaven today and blotted out tomorrow would be no such ground of joy. If the decrees of the Medes and Persians, which were but earthly writings, were unalterable (Dan 6:8), how much more the decrees of the great God, written in Heaven, must be unchangeable. Must Pilate say, "What I have written I have written" (John 19:22); that is to say, "my writing shall not be altered," and shall not God say so much more? "I know (saith Solomon) that, whatsoever God doeth, it shall be for ever; nothing can be put to it, nor anything taken from it" (Ecc 3:14). "My counsel shall stand, and I will do all My
pleasure . . . I have spoken it, I will also bring it to pass; I have purposed it, I will also do it" (Isa 46:10,11). The sun may sooner be stopped in his course than God hindered of His work or in His will. Nature, angels, devils, men, may all be resisted, and so miss of their design; not so God: for "who hath resisted His will?" All those chariots of human occurrences and dispensations come forth from between those mountains of brass, the unalterable decrees of God (Zec 6:1); and should it be granted that one soul may be blotted out of this book of life (this writing in Heaven) then it is possible that all may be so; and, by consequence, it may be supposed that that book may become empty, and useless as waste paper; and that Christ may be a head without a body.
4. 'Tis unchangeable, for the decree concerning the end includes the means to that end, and binds them altogether with an irrefragable chain, which can never be broken. The predestinated, called, justified, glorified ones, are the same (Romans 8:30). Therefore the purpose of God according to election must stand (Romans 9:11). God doth not decree the end without the means, nor the means without the end, but both together. As a purpose for building includes the hewing of stone, and squaring of timber, and all other materials for building- work; and as a decree for war implies arms, horses, ammunition, and all warlike provisions; so here, all that are elected to salvation, are elected to sanctification also. God ordains to the means as well as to the end. "As many as were ordained to eternal life believed" (Acts 13:48). God hath ordained that we should walk in good works (Eph 2:10). We are elected unto obedience, through the "sanctification of the Spirit" (1Pe 1:2); therefore God hath promised to sanctify those whom He purposed to save. We teach with Augustine that, "Election is an ordaining to grace as well as to glory." In pre-destination, therefore, the means of salvation are no less absolutely decreed than salvation itself. We may not conceive that God's decree runs after this form, "I will predestinate Peter to salvation, if it should so happen that he doth believe and persevere;" but rather thus, "I do predestinate Peter to salvation, which, that he may infallibly obtain, I will give him both faith and perseverance." Were it otherwise, the foundation would not stand sure; yea, and God's gifts would not be without repentance, if God did not absolutely decree to give and bestow faith and perseverance to His elected ones. The covenant of grace runs in this tenure, "I will be a God to you, and ye shall be a
people unto Me" that is, I will make ye so.
Inferences drawn from the foregoing.
1. A name written in Heaven, where no thief, no rust, no moth comes to destroy it, is better than to be enrolled in princely courts; 'tis a name better than of sons and daughters, to be a free citizen of Heaven.
2. Though we are changeable creatures, yet unchangeable love is towards us, that keeps faster hold of us than we of it.
3. It is infinite condescension that the great God should hold a poor lump of clay so fast in His Almighty hands, as to secure our interest to all eternity (John 10:28,29; 1Pe 1:4,5).