3. Effectually in his grace and mercy. So he is the same, (1) Yesterday to our fathers; (2) To-day to ourselves; (3) Forever to our children.
(1.) Yesterday to our fathers.—All our fathers, whose souls are now in heaven, those ‘spirits of just men made perfect,’ Heb. 12:23, were, as the next words indicate, saved, ‘by Jesus, the Mediator of the new covenant, sand by the blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better things than that of Abel.’ Whether they lived under nature, or under the law, Christ was their expectation; and they were justified credendo in venturum Christum, by believing in the Messiah to come. So Luke 2:25, Simeon is said to ‘wait for the consolation of Israel.’
(2.) To-day to ourselves. —His mercy is everlasting; his truth endureth from generation to generation. The same gracious Saviour that he was yesterday to our fathers, is he to-day to us, if we be to-day faithful to him. All catch at this comfort, but in vain without the hand of faith. There is no deficiency in him; but is there none in thee? Whatsoever Christ is, what art thou? He forgave Mary Magdalene many grievous sins; so he will forgive thee, if thou canst shed Mary Magdalene’s tears. He took the malefactor from the cross to Paradise; thither he will receive thee if thou have the same faith. He was merciful to a denying apostle; challenge thou the like mercy, if thou have the like repentance. If we will be like these, Christ, assuredly, will be ever like himself. When any man shall prove to be such a sinner, he will not fail to be such a Saviour.
To-day he is thine, if to-day thou wilt be his: thine tomorrow, if yet tomorrow thou wilt be his. But how if dark death prevent the morrow’s light? He was yesterday, so wert thou: he is to-day, so art thou: he is to-morrow, so perhaps mayest thou not be. Time may change thee, though it cannot change him. He is not (but thou art) subject to mutation. This I dare boldly say: he that repents but one day before he dies, shall find Christ the same in mercy and forgiveness. Wickedness itself is glad to hear this; but let the sinner be faithful on his part, as God is merciful on his part: let him be sure that he repent one day before he dies, whereof he cannot be sure, except he repent every day; for no man knows his last day. Latet ultimus dies, ut observetur omnis dies. Therefore (saith Augustine) we know not our last day, that we might observe every day. ‘To-day, therefore, hear his voice,’ Psa. 95:7.
Thou hast lost yesterday negligently, thou losest to-day wilfully; and therefore mayest lose forever inevitably. It is just with God to punish two days’ neglect with the loss of the third. The hand of faith may be withered, the spring of repentance dried up, the eye of hope blind, the foot of charity lame. To-day, then, hear his voice, and make him thine. Yesterday is lost, to-day may be gotten; but that once gone, and thou with it, when thou art dead and judged, it will do thee small comfort that ‘Jesus Christ is the same forever.’
(3.) Forever to our children.—He that was yesterday the God of Abraham, is to-day ours, and will be forever our children’s. As well now ‘the light of the Gentiles,’ as before ‘the glory of Israel,’ Luke 2:32. I will be the God of thy seed, saith the Lord to Abraham. ‘His mercy is on them that fear him, from generation to generation,’ Luke 1:50.
Many persons are solicitously perplexed, how their children shall do when they are dead; yet they consider not how God provided for them when they were children. Is the ‘Lord’s arm shortened?’ Did he take thee from thy mother’s breasts; and ‘when thy parents forsook thee,’ (as the Psalmist saith), became thy Father? And cannot this experienced mercy to thee, persuade thee that he will not forsake thine? Is not ‘Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to-day, and forever?’ ‘I have been young,’ saith David, ‘and am now old; yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken’—that is granted, nay—’nor his seed begging bread,’ Ps. 37:25.
Many distrustful fathers are so anxious for their posterity, that while they live they starve their bodies, and hazard their souls, to leave them rich. To such a father it is said justly: Dives es haredi, pauper inopsque tibi. Like an over-kind hen, he feeds his chickens, and famisheth himself. If usury, circumvention, oppression, extortion, can make them rich, they shall not be poor. Their folly is ridiculous; they fear lest their children should be miserable, yet take the only course to make them miserable; for they leave them not so much heirs to their goods as to their evils. They as certainly inherit their father’s sins as their lands: ‘God layeth up his iniquity for his children; and his offspring shall want a morsel of bread,’ Job 21:19.
On the contrary, ‘the good man is merciful, and lendeth; and his seed is blessed,’ Ps. 37:26. That the worldling thinks shall make his posterity poor, God saith shall make the good man’s rich. The precept gives a promise of mercy to obedience, not only confined to the obedient man’s self, but extended to his seed, and that even to a thousand generations, Exod. 20:6. Trust, then, Christ with thy children; when thy friends shall fail, usury bear no date, oppression be condemned to hell, thyself rotten to the dust, the world itself turned and burned into cinders, still ‘Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, and to-day, and forever.’
Now then, as ‘grace and peace are from him which is, and which was, and which is to come;’ so glory and honour be to him, which is, and which was, and which is to come; even to ‘Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, and to-day, and forever,’ Rev. 1:4.