I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, said the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty.
I. THE DIFFERENT SENSES IN WHICH THE WORDS ETERNAL, IMMORTAL, AND EVERLASTING, ARE USED BY THE SACRED WRITERS.
1. Sometimes they signify nothing more but only a long duration (Genesis 17:8; Numbers 10:8; Genesis 49:26; Habakkuk 3:6; 1 Samuel 3:13; Exodus 21:6).
2. The next sense they are used in is to denote a duration continuing as long as the subject exists, and then putting it in a state out of which it shall never be restored (Numbers 24:20; Deuteronomy 13:16; Jude 1:7).
3. In other places of Scripture the words "eternal" and "for ever" signify in a higher sense a duration, not figuratively, but properly and literally everlasting, without end, though not without beginning. Thus angels and the souls of men are eternal, or immortal.
4. The last and highest and most absolutely perfect sense of the words "eternal" and "everlasting," is when they signify a duration of inexhaustible and never-falling permanency, both without beginning and without end. And not only so, but including also necessary and independent existence, so as in no manner whatsoever to derive from any other.
II. SOME OBSERVATIONS CONCERNING THIS DOCTRINE OF THE ETERNITY OF GOD IN PARTICULAR.
1. This eternity is a perfection, an attribute, by which God is very frequently described in Scripture, in order to raise in our minds a just veneration of His Divine majesty (Deuteronomy 33:27; Romans 16:26; Isaiah 57:15; 1 Samuel 15:29; 1 Timothy 1:17; 1 Timothy 6:16; Psalm 102:24).
2. Not only in Scripture is God frequently described by this attribute of eternity, but even under the light of nature also is He represented to us after the same manner. For since it is in some degree a perfection to be, and a greater degree of that perfection, to continue in being, it is evident, when we conceive of God the most perfect being, we must conceive Him to be infinite in this perfection also, as well as in others. Again, it is evident even to the meanest capacity which considers things at all, that He who first gave being to all other things could not possibly have any beginning Himself, and that He who hath already existed from all eternity, independently and of Himself, cannot possibly be liable to be deprived of His being, and must therefore necessarily exist for an eternity to come.
3. The true notion of the Divine eternity does not consist in making past things to be still present, and things future to be already come, which is an express contradiction. The eternal, supreme cause has such a perfect, independent, and unchangeable comprehension of all things, that in every point or instance of His eternal duration, all things past, present, and to come, must be, not indeed themselves present at once, but they must be as entirely known and represented to Him in one single thought or view, and all things present and future be as absolutely under His power and direction (Psalm 90:4; 2 Peter 3:8).
III. WHAT USE THIS MEDITATION MAY BE TO US IN PRACTICE.
1. This attribute of eternity, absolute, necessary, and independent, is one of the principal characters by which the true God of the universe is distinguished from false Gods.
2. The consideration of the eternity of God is an argument why His providence ought not to be cavilled at, nor His promises doubted of, even though there be no present appearance of the performances of His promises, and no present way of explaining the methods of His providence.
3. The consideration of God's eternity is a sure ground of trust and confidence, of hope and cheerfulness, to good men at all times, seeing His protection may be relied on and depended upon for ever.
4. The consideration of this Divine perfection, the eternity of God, is a ground for frail and mortal man to hope for pity and compassion from Him.
5. The consideration of God's being eternal leads us to a right knowledge and just sense of the excellency of that reward, wherewith He will finally crown those who obey His commandments.
6. If God is eternal this consideration ought to be matter of infinite terror to all impenitent sinners; that He who liveth for ever, as He will reward His servants eternally, so He can punish His enemies as long as He pleases, for there is no end of His power.
(S. Clarke, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty.