James 1:17
Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, with whom there is no change or shifting shadow.
Sermons
The Days of the WeekCharles KingsleyJames 1:17
The Father of the Lights: a Sermon to ChildrenC. Jerdan James 1:17
Temptation and its HistoryT.F. Lockyer James 1:12-18
All Good is from GodC. Jerdan James 1:16, 17
Again, Again, and Again!J. H. Hitchens, D. D.James 1:17-18
All Good Gifts are from GodR. Turnbull.James 1:17-18
All Good Gifts from AboveJohn Adam.James 1:17-18
Different Temperaments Given by GodW. R. Clark, M. A.James 1:17-18
Divine GiftsJ. R. Thomson, M. A.James 1:17-18
Divine Goodness in Human HistoryHomilistJames 1:17-18
Every Good and Perfect GiftJames Vaughan, M. A.James 1:17-18
Every Good Gift is from GodC. F. Deems, D. D.James 1:17-18
Gifts Front, AboveH. Macmillan, D. D.James 1:17-18
God Cannot Change to Become a TempterA. Plummer, D. D.James 1:17-18
God not the Author of Evil, But of GoodS. Cox, D. D.James 1:17-18
God the Source of GiftsJames 1:17-18
God UnchangeableJames 1:17-18
God's Gifts to ManW. H. Murray, D. D.James 1:17-18
God's Good GiftsW. L. Watkinson.James 1:17-18
God's InflexibilityJames 1:17-18
God's UnchangeablenessJames 1:17-18
Good Things from GodT. Manton.James 1:17-18
Natural and Spiritual GoodT. Townson, D. D.James 1:17-18
No Variableness in GodW. G. Humphry, B. D.James 1:17-18
Prayer for LightC. H. Spurgeon.James 1:17-18
The Best Things are from ShoreH. Macmillan, D. D.James 1:17-18
The Changeless FatherC. F. Deems, D. D.James 1:17-18
The Divine BountyJames Aspinall, M. A.James 1:17-18
The Father of LightsC. F. Deems, D. D.James 1:17-18
The Father of LightsChristian AgeJames 1:17-18
The Father of LightsH. W. Beecher.James 1:17-18
The Unchangeableness of GodJ. Jortin, D. D.James 1:17-18
The Unchangeableness of GodAbp. Tillotson.James 1:17-18
The Unchanging GodH. J. Wilmot Buxton, M. A.James 1:17-18
The Work of God's SpiritCanon Kingsley.James 1:17-18
Light is one of the most wonderful things in the world. Some heathen nations have been worshippers of fire or of the sun; but we should be thankful that we know better than they. Our souls want a living, loving God; and the sun does not love or live. We worship, not light, but "the Father of the lights." Let us think of some of the lights of which God is the Father.

I. SUN-LIGHT. The sun is a great work of God. It is adorned like a "bridegroom;" and it is strong like a "giant." Our whole world, and many others, get all their light from it. The moon takes the sun's place during night; but its light is just sunlight second-hand. Star-light, too, is sun-light, for all the twinkling stars are suns. Now, God made all these upper lights. He made also all light and fire which man has on earth. Every coal-field is just so much "sown" light. Every lump of coal is full of bottled sunshine. Man may strike a light, but only God is its Father.

II. LIFE-LIGHT. The light of life is a higher kind of light than sun-light, and it also comes from God. We see it:

1. In plants. What makes a flower so beautiful? It is the light of life. The eye of the daisy - the "day's eye" - is bright with this light.

2. In animals. Life-light makes the birds sing and the lambs gambol, and fills the air with the buzz of insect gladness. The lion is the king of beasts so long as he has the light of life, but "a living dog is better than a dead lion."

3. In man. In him this light is of a more precious kind, which shall burn on forever. "The soul that rises with us, our life's star," shall never set. It shall blaze on alter the great lights of heaven shall have been put out.

4. In angels. Every angel is "a flame of fire." Those who stand before God's throne are the brightest; they are the seraphim, the shining ones. The angels are "the morning stars," and God is their Father.

III. TRUTH-LIGHT. This gives us the light of knowledge. Every useful book which tells us truth about nature, or the world, or our own bodies and minds, is a light from God. But the highest and best kind of truth is about God himself, and about the way to him. We have this truth in the Bible; and so the Bible is "a lamp shining in a dark place." Those lauds are in darkness which have not the Bible; for it tells of Jesus the Savior, who lived and died and lives again - "the Light of the world," the dear Son of "the Father of the lights."

IV. GRACE-LIGHT. Truth-light is a light outside; but grace-light is one which God kindles within our hearts. Only those persons have the light of grace whose souls are illuminated by God's Holy Spirit. No sooner does he touch our sin-blinded minds and our sin-darkened hearts than they begin to shine with God's light. This new soul-light will "shine more and more unto the perfect day." All the lamps of grace are fed, as well as kindled, by "the Father of the lights."

V. HEAVEN-LIGHT. The home of God there is full of light. In hell, all is darkness; on earth, there is mingled light and darkness; in heaven, there is only light. "There shall be no night there." God and the Lamb are "the light thereof." And everything in heaven reflects its light - the jasper walls, the pearly gates, the golden streets, the crystal river, the white robes, Now it is holiness that is the light of heaven. All there is pure. Grace-light, when a good man dies, blazes up into glory-light. And all the holiness of heaven streams from the Holy, Holy, Holy One - "the Father of the lights."

CONCLUSION.

1. "The Father of the lights" is the Father of little children, and he wants them to call him by that name.

2. He wishes to set the children among his lights. - C.J.







Every good gift... is from above.
It is not from the lowest but from the highest points that the best things in the world always come. We get from the sky, and not from the earth, all those gracious influences without which our world would be only a gigantic lifeless cinder roiling through space. Light and heat come down to us from above; and so do the sunshine that warms and quickens and beautifies everything, and the rain and the dew that refresh the face of nature. The ground is to the plant mainly the soil in which its roots are fixed; it obtains its food chiefly from above, from the air and the sunshine and the showers of heaven. Then, too, it is from the highest parts of the earth's surface, not from the lowest, that all the good things come which make the earth such a beautiful and comfortable home for man. The mountains, not the plains, are the sources of our greatest and most precious gifts. Were it not for the mountains there would be no streams to quench our thirst and water our fields — no winds to purify the air — no clouds to overshadow the earth in the heat of the day, and to keep in the warmth from being diffused in space at night. And is it not a very beautiful, as well as a very striking, thought, that all our flowers come to us originally from the mountains — from the highest and not from the lowest parts of the earth? They bloomed on the heights; and when the foul atmosphere of the plains and valleys vanished gradually, and the air and sunshine became so clear and bright that flowers could breathe in them, they descended as God's good and perfect gifts from above to beautify the lowlands with their lovely presence. Thus you see that even in the natural world every good and perfect gift literally is from above. The things that make this world most beautiful and best fitted to be our abode come from the heights. And is there not a wise lesson for your souls from this fact? If your ordinary natural life is supported and enriched by the good things which come from the sky and the highest parts of the earth, how much more should your true life — the immortal life of your souls — be nourished and enriched by the good things that come to you from the highest of all sources, from the Author of every good and perfect gift — the Father of Lights? The best and most perfect of all gifts has come from above, the unspeakable gift of God's dear Son; and with the gift of His own Son He gives you the gift of the Holy Spirit, that you may know and appreciate fully all the goodness and perfection of Jesus Christ, and make Him your own; that He may work in you the faith which is the gift of God, by which you may believe in Christ to the saving of your soul, and enjoy all the blessings of salvation. In Christ the blessings of this life itself come to you from above, strained and filtered of all their evil, and made truly satisfying without any sorrow being added. And you will get every good and perfect gift from above — from the Father of Lights, by that wonderful ladder set up between earth and heaven along which the angels are ascending and descending — the new and living way of Christ's finished work — in answer to that real earnest prayer of yours which brings your heart and mind into closest contact with the mind and heart of God.

(H. Macmillan, D. D.)

It is not the things that come to you from the earth that will fill the void of your nature, but the things that come to you from heaven. You cannot call any gift that comes to you from below a good gift, for it is mixed with the evil of the earth, like the pure snow when it is soiled by the mud of the ground; or a perfect gift, because it is passing and perishing, and even when at its best it ear, not satisfy your nature. There is ever some drawback to the goodness of the gift that you get from below; some imperfection that, like the worm in the apple, spoils the beauty and the sweetness of it. It is about the things that come from below that people always quarrel; about their lands and wealth and houses and properties — all of the earth, earthy. These are the causes of the frequent strifes and jealousies and greeds that make life often so unhappy. People do not quarrel about the things that come from above — the sunshine and the rain and the sweet influences of the starry Pleiades; and the things of Divine grace from a higher source still — the love and the beauty of heaven. The things that come from above sweeten and ennoble life, reconcile and unite men to one another, and make one family, one loving brotherhood of the human race.

(H. Macmillan, D. D.)

To the bounteous hand of God we owe all that we have, more than we deserve, and all that we hope for. The breath of life was given us by Him, and is dependent upon His pleasure. The stores from which we draw our subsistence are only ours by His permission. It is in His power to withdraw them from us, or us from them, at any moment. We have cause to be thankful that He has so long allowed us the benefit of His mercies. By the "good and perfect gift which is from above," he means more especially the Divine grace b which all other spiritual blessings are rendered attainable. Aptly, indeed, may the preventing and assisting influence of God's Holy Spirit be denominated a "good and perfect gift," since without it we could not make a beginning, much less any progress, in Christian goodness and perfection.

(James Aspinall, M. A.)

Homilist.
I. ALL THE GOODNESS IN HUMAN HISTORY COMES FROM GOD. This principle applies in a specially direct manner to the spiritual forms of human good. Divine influences on the soul come directly from God. Strength, consolation, hope, holiness, are the results of the soul's fellowship with God. Christian virtues are fruits of the Divine Spirit, coming down and operating on the individual character.

II. THE DIVINE GOODNESS IN HUMAN HISTORY COMES IN SEPARATE GIFTS AND DIFFERS IN DEGREE.

1. It comes in separate gifts as man's demands arise (1 Kings 13:10).

2. It comes in different forms: physical; intellectual; spiritual. These forms differ in their intrinsic worth: "Good" — physical and intellectual; "perfect" spiritual. This subject —

(1)Sheds new light on the good of human life, and reveals its sacredness.

(2)Fixed as a habit is favourable to the culture of religious sentiment: humility; gratitude; devotedness.

(3)Reveals the stewardship of humanity.

(4)Discloses the wickedness of a selfish life.

(Homilist.)

The origin of evil is a problem which, in all probability, will never be solved until we reach the world in which there is no evil. And I think we should do well to approach this problem from its brighter rather than from its darker side. I see more hope of our learning what evil is, and even whence it came, if we first ask ourselves what goodness is and whence that came. Now by "goodness" we mean moral goodness; goodness as it exists, or may exist, in man. And by human or moral goodness we mean, not a mechanical and involuntary conformity to law, but a free and willing choice of the righteousness which the law ordains. Moral goodness implies free choice, and how can there be a free choice of that which is good if there be no possibility of choosing evil rather than good? The will of man must have this solemn alternative before it — good or evil — if it is ever to become a good will. God does not make us good, therefore, but He has so made us that we may become good; and in order that we may become good we must be free to choose evil. He is good, perfectly and absolutely good, because His will is fixed in its choice of goodness; and only as our wills rise to that steadfast attitude can we become good. Now if we start from this conception of goodness we shall define its moral opposite, evil, as the wrong choice of the will; we shall say that, just as men become good by freely choosing and doing that which is right, so they become evil by freely choosing and doing that which is wrong. And we shall not blame God for their bad choice, nor for leaving them free to make it; we shall admit that He must leave their will free if they are to be really good, and that, if the will is to be left free, it must be possible for them to choose evil rather than good. Thus we shall reach the conclusion that evil is from man, not from God; that it is not fatal necessity imposed upon them from above, but a wrong choice which they have made when a right choice was open to them. That evil springs from human lust, not from the will of God, St. James has shown us in the verses which precede these; and he now goes on to show how impossible it is that evil should come from God by considerations drawn from what God is in Himself, and from what He has done for us. Even his opening phrase, "Do not err, my beloved brethren," indicates that he is about to resume and carry further the argument with which he has already dealt. Now on this question of the origin of evil men do perpetually err. They ascribe it to a Divine origin. St. James will have no part in such opinions as these. Evil only too certainly is, but he is sure that it is not from God. And he tries to make us sure by giving us the facts and arguments which had most impressed his own mind. His first argument is drawn from the conception he had formed of the nature of God. God cannot be the Author of evil, he argues, because He is the Author of good, because He is light, and in Him there is no darkness at all. "Every good gift and every perfect boon" is from Him; or, as the Greek implies, all that comes to us from God is good, and every good gift of His bestowal is perfect as well as good, perfect in kind and degree. But if all He gives is good, and even perfect, how can evil and imperfection spring from Him. As Bishop Sanderson has it, "We are unthankful if we impute any good but to God, and we are unjust if we impute to Him anything but good." St. James, however, is not content with the argument from the acknowledged and absolute goodness of God. With the ease and simplicity which we so much admire in the proverbs and parables of our Lord, he rises into a fine illustration of his argument. The illustration comes to this: "You might as well, and much more reasonably, attribute darkness to the sun as impute evil to God." But mark for a moment with what a natural and unforced ease he passes to his illustration. He had said, "Every good gift and every perfect boon is from above," from yonder fair, pure world on high. And as, in thought, he glances upward to that world, he sees the sun which God has set to rule the day, the moon and the stars which He has set to rule the night. Of these lights God is "the Father," and of all lights. But can the Source and Fountain of all light be the source and fountain of all darkness? Impossible. The sun gives light, and only light. If we are in darkness, that is only because the world has turned away from the sun, of our hemisphere of the world. And, in like manner, God gives good gifts, and only good. Thus, and so naturally, does St. James bring in his illustrative thought. But even yet he is not content with it. The thought grows as he considers it, grows somewhat thus. The Father of the lights must be more perfect than the lights He has called into being. They vary; even the sun for ever shifts its place, and its relation to the earth. But whatever inconstancy there may be in them, there is none in Him who made them. He is good, and doeth good only and continually. And now he advances another step. He argues that evil cannot be of God, because, of His own free will, God sets Himself to counterwork the death which evil works in us, by quickening us to a new and holy life: "Of His own will begat He us, by a word of truth." If we, when we were sinners, were redeemed and made anew by the free action of Divine will, can we for a moment suppose that evil sprang from the will which delivered us from evil? We acknowledge with joyful certainty and gratitude that He who begat us to a new and holy life, when we were "dead in trespasses and sins," must hate the evil from which He delivered us, that He cannot have been the Author of that which He sent His Son to destroy. It may be said, "You who are redeemed and born anew by the grace of God, at the word of His truth, may have reason to believe in His goodness: but what reason has the world at large, the world which is not saved as yet? Perhaps, in logic, it would be a sufficient answer to this objection were we to say: "The world may be saved if it will; God is always trying to save it; but, as we have seen, good as He is, He cannot make men good against their will." Logically, the answer is fair enough; but. our hearts are not to be satisfied by mere logic, and they crave a more tender and hopeful answer than this. Happily, St. James supplies the very answer they crave. God, he says, has begotten us, by some word of truth which met our inward needs, into a new and better life; and therefore we are sure that He hates evil and death. But He has begotten us, not simply that we ourselves may be saved from evil, but also "that we should be a kind of first-fruit of His creatures." Now the consecration of the first-fruits of the earth wan a recognition of God's claim to the whole harvest, and pledge that it should be devoted, in various ways, to His service. This was the great lesson of the first-fruit offering. It was not a tax on payment of which the harvest was to be exempted; it was a confession that it was all the gift of God, and was all due to Him. When, therefore St. James says that the regenerate are kind of first-fruit of the creation, so far from implying that they alone are to be saved, he implies that "all flesh shall see the salvation of God," and that "the whole creation" shall have a part in their redemption.

(S. Cox, D. D.)

A gift is something that expresses the mind and betokens the love of the giver, and at the same time brings happiness to the receiver. What, then, is "a good gift"? That which fulfils these two requisitions. And what is "a perfect gift"? That which entirely fulfils these two ends. Now everything we have in the world — from the blade of grass, or the ray of sunshine — up to eternal glory; from the slenderest thought that darts through the mind to the highest flights of philosophy; from the earthly songs to the triumphant anthems of heaven — everything we touch, or feel, or see, or hear, everything is "a gift." A gift! We did not make it; we did not buy it; we did not deserve it. It is God who gives it, and He gives it lovingly of His own free will, and He gaves it to make whoever receives it happier and better. That is "a gift." But you may say, Is everything God gives us good? Does not He give us trials, sorrows, separations, sickness, bereavement, death? Are these good gifts?" Yes, as they came from Him they were "good." St. Paul was "caught up to the third heaven, and heard unutterable things." It was "a gift." Presently "there was given him" — it is his own expression — "a thorn in the flesh." It was "a gift," and a second gift. It was necessary to balance and make safe the first gift. Each alone was "a good gift," but the two in combination make "a perfect gift." Is there any difference between "a good gift" and "a perfect gift," or are we to take it only as a repetition of the same thought, expressing the same meaning, rising to the same climax? I think there is a difference. "A perfect gift" is one which exactly fits the minds and the taste of the receiver; expresses the whole heart of the giver, and can never be taken away. A gift which has in it perfect adaptation and eternity. Now we might say that all light — the light of the world — was but one light; but we see it broken up into its prismatic colours. There is the light of nature; there is the light of reading; there is the light of grace; there is the light of knowledge; there is the light of love; there is the light of heaven. But it all comes from the same spring, and in every case it is "the light" which is on it which makes the value of "the gift." Some of us have many "gifts." They are all "from above," from the same:Father; but from the want of "the light" which should reign in that "gift," the gift is valueless. Nay, more, it is an unfulfilled possibility; it is the handle of temptation; it turns to self, to pride, to sin. The "gift" is abused; and in proportion as the "gift" is "good and perfect," it becomes evil, and it incurs the heavier "gift" of condemnation.

(James Vaughan, M. A.)

This text, I believe more and more every day, is one of the most important ones in the whole Bible; and just at this time it is more important for us than ever, because the devil is particularly busy in trying to make people forget God, to make us acknowledge God in none of our ways, to make us look at ourselves and not to God, so that we may become earthly. He puts into our hearts such thoughts as these: "Ay, all good gifts may come from God; but that only means all spiritual gifts. We are straightforward, simple people, who cannot feel fine fancies; if we can be honest, and industrious, and good-natured, and sober, and strong, and healthy, that is enough for us — and all that has nothing to do with religion. Those are not gifts which come from God. A man is strong and healthy by birth, and honest and good-natured by nature." Have you not all had such thoughts? But have you not all had very different thoughts; have you not, every one of you, at times, felt in the bottom of your hearts, after all, "This strength and industry, this courage, and honesty, and good-nature of mine, must come from God; I did not get them myself. If I was born honest, and strong, and gentle, and brave, some one must have made me so when I was born, or before. The devil certainly did not make me so, therefore God must. These, too, are His gifts!" Let us go through now a few of these good gifts which we call natural, and see what the Bible says of them, and from whom they come. First, now, that common gift of strength and courage. Who gives you that? — who gave it to David? For He that gives it to one is most likely to be He that gives it to another. David says to God, "Thou teachest my hands to war, and my fingers to fight; by the help of God I can leap over a wall: He makes me strong that my arms can break even a bow of steel." That is plain-spoken enough, I think. God is working among us always, but we do not see Him; and the Bible just lifts up, once and for all, the veil which hides Him from us, and lets us see, in one instance, who it is that does all the wonderful things which go on round us to this day, that when we see anything like it happen we may know whom to thank for it. So, again, with skill and farming in agriculture. From whom does that come? The very heathens can tell us that; for it is curious, that among the heathen, in all ages and countries, those men who have found out great improvements in tilling the ground have been honoured and often worshipped as divine men — as gods; thereby showing that the heathen, among all their idolatries, had a true and just notion about man's practical skill and knowledge — that it could only come from heaven; that it was by the inspiration and guidance of God above that skill in agriculture arose. Again, wisdom and prudence, and a clear, powerful mind — are not they parts of God's likeness? How is God's Spirit described in Scripture? It is called the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of prudence and might. Or, again, good-nature and affection, love, generosity, pity — whose likeness are they? What is God's name but love? Has not He revealed Himself as the God of mercy, full of long-suffering, compassion, and free forgiveness; and must not, then, all love and affection, all compassion and generosity, be His gift? Yes. As the rays come from the sun, and yet are not the sun, even so our love and pity, though they are not God, but merely a poor, weak image and reflection of Him, yet from Him alone they come. Or honesty, again, and justice — whose image are they but God's? Is He not The Just One — the righteous God? Are not the laws of justice and honesty, by which man deals fairly with man, His laws — the laws by which God deals with us? Now here, again, I ask: If justice and honesty be God's likeness, who made us like God in this who put into us this sense of justice which all have, though so few obey it? Can man make himself like God? Can a worm ape his Master? No. From God's Spirit, the Spirit of Right, came this inborn feeling of justice, this knowledge of right and wrong, to us — part of the image of God in which He created man — part of the breath or spirit of life which He breathed into Adam. From whom else, I ask, can they come? Can they come from our bodies? What are they? — Flesh and bones, made up of air and water and earth — out of the dead bodies of the animals, the dead roots and fruits of plants which we eat. They are earth — matter. Can matter be courageous? Did you ever hear of a good-natured plant, or aa honest stone? Then this good-nature, and honesty, and courage of ours must belong to our souls — our spirits. Who put them there? Did we? Does a child makes its own character? Does its body make its character first? Can its father and mother makes its character? No. Our characters must come from some spirit above us — either from God or from the devil. And is the devil likely to make us honest, or brave, or kindly? I leave you to answer that. God — God alone is the Author of good — the help that is done on earth, He doeth it all Himself: every good gift and every perfect gift cometh from Him.

(Canon Kingsley.)

I. THE GENERAL TRUTH THAT GOD IS THE GIVER OF EVERYTHING GOOD. "Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above." The words rendered "gift" are not the same in the original. They are closely related, but not identical. The one signifies properly the act of giving, the other the thing given, a little before God is represented as He "who giveth liberally and upbraideth not." He stands pre-eminent alone, in His mood of giving. In His case, act and object entirely harmonise. All giving which is really, absolutely good — good in its origin and exercise — good without any mixture of evil, is from the hand of the infinitely, only good God. "And every perfect gift." Here He speaks of what is bestowed, of the benefaction itself. By "perfect" we are to understand complete of its kind, without radical defect, what is adequate, entire, fitted to serve the end, to accomplish the purpose intended. Every gift of this description, be it natural or spiritual, providential or gracious, ranging from common weekday mercies up to the highest crowning blessings of salvation, is of Divine origin and communication. Through whatever channel they reach us, in whatever quarter they present themselves to view, they are all from above — primarily and properly from above. And they are so, not merely as being originally from a celestial region, but as coming from a Divine bestower. They are from God Himself — from God alone. Now mark how He, the great Giver, is here described. He is called "the Father of lights" — literally of the lights. The primary, direct reference, apparently, is to the grand luminaries of the firmament — the sun, moon, and stars of heaven. These majestic orbs, before which so many nations in all ages have bowed down to worship, are preeminently the lights of the natural world, and they were at first created, as they are still sustained, by Jehovah. As their Maker, Originator, He may be appropriately termed their Father. Light is the brightest, purest, most gladsome of all material elements; and hence it is very often used in Scripture as an emblem of knowledge, holiness, and joy — of all excellence, intellectual, moral, and spiritual — of whatever is most precious and perfect. All the glory of heaven is often represented by the same symbol. Everything which resembles this element, of which it is a tilting figure, is here pointed at in the remarkable designation. The bright orbs above shadow forth a higher, nobler splendour than their own, that which adorns the world of spirits, the kingdom of grace and glory. The whole of this light, shine where it may, proceeds from Him, has Him as its great source and centre. But men are not uniform, undeviating in their spirit and actings. They change, at one time they go in opposition to what they have done at another. The most regular and constant of them are subject to disturbing influences. And is it not so even with the material symbols here introduced by the apostle? But God is not only infinitely clearer and purer, He is also steadier, more constant than the great orbs of heaven. Hence, it is added, "With whom is no vaiableness, neither shadow of turning." He has no variableness about Him, no change, alternation, no fluctuation or uncertainty; no, not the least degree of it, not the most distant approach to anything of the kind, for He is without even "the shadow of turning." In these terms there may be, as is generally supposed, an implied contrast between the Father of lights and the lights themselves. All good, then, comes from Him, all kinds and degrees of it, natural and spiritual. Every blessing, great and small, whether for the body or the soul, is of His bestowal. And so nothing but good comes from Him — no evil whatever. He sends trials, troubles, no doubt, but these are often blessings in disguise, and the very best blessings. Night and storm have their beneficial influence in the natural world, and so have frowning providences in the spiritual.

II. THE MORE SPECIAL TRUTH THAT GOD IS THE QUICKENER OF ALL THE SAVED. James speak of regeneration. It is evident that "begat" here is to be understood, not in the natural sense, but the spiritual; for he adds that it was effected by "the word of truth." There is no admission to His favour and family, no possibility of being one of His sons and daughters, but by being born again.

1. The origin of this regeneration. It is here attributed to God as its Author. It is effected by Him, and Him alone. We pass in it from the carnal to the spiritual, from the earthly to the heavenly. We are thenceforth actuated by wholly different views, feelings, desires, and motives. But more is here stated. James says, "Of His own will begat He us." When He regenerates, God acts according to His own free, sovereign purpose. It is always a most spontaneous, gracious proceeding. It is wholly self-moved. The new birth is never necessitated or merited by the creature. There is nothing about us to deserve it, to draw down the Divine power and mercy for its accomplishment (Ephesians 2:8, 9; Titus 3:5; 1 Peter 1:3).

2. The instrument of this regeneration. "The word of truth," the word which is truth — truth without mixture of error, truth the purest and highest, truth absolute, Divine. Jesus prayed, "Sanctify them through Thy truth; Thy Word is truth." It is the Spirit who is the efficient agent in working this change. It was thus that peace first entered the dark, troubled bosom of . It was from the old Bible found in the library at Erfurt that Luther learned the way of life, and began not only to walk in it himself, but to guide into it the feet of multitudes. It was as his eyes rested on the precious words, "the blood of Jesus Christ, His Son, cleanseth us from all sin," that one of those noble soldiers of the Cross whom the army of our Queen has furnished, Captain "Vicars, was led to that resolution, and entered on that course, which was followed by a career of eminent consistency and devotedness. This word is all pure, and is proved to be so by the influence it exerts, the holiness it produces in all who comes under its power.

3. The design or object of this regeneration. "That we should be a kind of first-fruits of His creatures." He speaks of the "creatures," and this term, perhaps, goes beyond the redeemed. It points probably to the wider deliverance — that emancipation extending to nature itself, which is associated with the manifestation of the sons of God hereafter (Romans 8:21, 22).(1) We may learn here a lesson of gratitude. Think of our providential bounties, think of our religious privileges — think, above all, of our spiritual and saving mercies, and of what acknowledgments are due to Him from whom they all issue!(2) We may learn also a lesson of humility. We have not the slightest claim to any of these benefits. We have nothing to boast of, no worth, no merit, for our righteousness is no better than filthy rags, and our proper place is the dust of self-abasement.(3) And, finally, we may learn a lesson of holiness. Is God the Giver only of good? Is His begetting us the greatest, best proof that evil cannot proceed from Him, that He stands essentially opposed to all sin at the utmost possible distance from everything of the kind? Then, clearly, if we would act in accordance with the nature and design of our new birth, if we would show ourselves the children of this Father of lights, we must cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, we must ever sock to be sanctified wholly in heart and life, in soul and body.

(John Adam.)

I. THE CHARACTER OF THE GIVER.

1. The designation employed by the apostle is fitted to elevate our conception of Deity. God is "the Father of lights," the Creator and Governor of sun, moon, and stars. "God is Light." Not only has He kindled the luminaries of space, He is the Lord of all light, both physical, and also intellectual and moral.

2. The description of one of the Divine attributes exhibits the character of God still more clearly and delightfully. With Him there "can be no variation, neither shadow that is cast by turning." There is no fickleness or caprice in the heart, in the action of the beneficent Almighty.

II. THE QUALITY OF HIS GIFTS.

1. They partake of the nature of their origin. "From above." "What have we that we did not receive?" Yet too many men are like the swine that feast upon the acorns, but look not up to the tree whence the fruit falls. There is a Divine flavour, a Divine fragrance, a Divine beauty, in all the gifts of God.

2. They are good. They have all of them a natural goodness, and they are all a means, if used aright, to moral and spiritual goodness, and thus lead to something better than themselves.

3. They are perfect.

(1)Commensurate with the character and resources of the Giver.

(2)Adapted to the recipient.

(3)Complete, being finished as they are begun.

III. THE SPECIAL ILLUSTRATION OF DIVINE GOODNESS. Instead of charging God with tempting us to sin, we are directed to observe, and gratefully to acknowledge, the provision He in His wisdom and love has made for our highest welfare.

1. What it is — the new life. "He begat us," or "brought us forth," — as it is differently translated. Our thoughts are thus led to the supreme blessing of God's covenant of grace. Has God given us His Son? He has done so that we might have life, eternal life. Has God given us His Spirit? He has done so that by that Spirit we might be born anew. The new, the higher, the spiritual life of humanity is the great fact of revelation, the great fact of the world's history.

2. Its origin in the Divine purpose. This gift came from God-"of His own will." Christians are "born not of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God."

3. Its means and instrumentality. A moral end must be effected by moral means.

4. Its end. That "we should be a kind of first-fruits of His creatures," is His aim in all He has done for our salvation. The early Christians were the first-fruits of a spiritual harvest, comprising the Church of Christ in all lands and through every age. Application:

1. Here we have an incentive to gratitude.

2. An inducement to confidence.

3. An encouragement to prayer.

4. An inspiration to hope.

(J. R. Thomson, M. A.)

Whatever is excellent in the creature, is freely imparted to it by the bounty of the Creator; who is high in glory above all, perfect and unchangeable.

I. THE GOOD WHICH WE RECEIVE FROM GOD MAY BE DIVIDED INTO TWO SORTS, NATURAL GOOD AND SPIRITUAL GOOD.

1. Under natural good is comprehended the animal life of our bodies, its health, and all things that contribute to support and render it comfortable. The reason and understanding of man, his power of memory, and faculty of speech, with the knowledge he is enabled to gain by them, and the arts and improvements of life which arise from them, are to be ranked under the same notion.

2. Spiritual good is whatever contributes to purify the soul, to raise it towards heaven, and to prepare it for the presence of God. It bears its blossoms of hope and peace here on earth; but produces a fruit which is to be gathered in eternity.

II. LET US NEXT CONSIDER THE RIGHT USE AND IMPROVEMENT OF THIS DOCTRINE.

1. It should leach us gratitude and thanks for the blessings of life.

2. It should teach us a constant and humble dependence on the providence of God, under a sense of our own insufficiency to our welfare.

3. It teaches us submission to God's blessed will in all things.

III. Hitherto we have been describing our duty to God, as lie is the Giver of all natural good; let us next consider it, AS HE IS THE AUTHOR OF ALL SPIRITUAL GOOD.

1. And, first, it is a duty which we owe to God and ourselves, when He sets such different objects before us, to weigh and examine their different value, and prefer the best. If what is temporal and worldly is oftentimes permitted to the unthankful and evil, let us desire some other blessing which is a surer token of the favour and loving-kindness of the Giver.

2. And to this we have the greatest encouragement, because He who is the Giver of this heavenly wisdom, hath graciously promised to bestow it on those who ask and seek it of Him.

3. The way, therefore, of asking and seeking so as to obtain, is by prayer, accompanied with a suitable practice.

(T. Townson, D. D.)

1. That all good things are from above; they come to us from God. Mere evil is not from above: "the same fountain doth not yield sweet and bitter waters." God is good, and immutably good, and therefore it cannot be from Him, which was Plato's argument. But for good that floweth clearly from the upper spring, there are indeed some pipes and conveyances, as the Word, and prayer, and the seals; and for ordinary blessings, your industry and care. But your fresh springs are in God; and in all these things we must, as chickens, sip and look upwards.

2. Whatever we have from above, we have it in the way of a gift. There is nothing in us that could oblige God to bestow it; the favours of heaven are not set to sale.

3. Among all the gifts of God, spiritual blessings are the best: these are called here "good and perfect," because these make us good and perfect.

4. That God is the Father of lights. Light being a simple and defecate quality, and, of all those which are bodily, most pure and spiritual, is often put to decipher the essence and glory of God, and also the essences and perfections of creatures as they are from God. The essence of God (1 John 1:5). There light, being a creature simple and unmixed, is put to note the simplicity of the Divine essence. So also the glory of God (1 Timothy 6:16). So Jesus Christ, in regard as He received His personality and subsistence from the Father, is called in the Nicene Creed, "Light of light, and very God of very God." So also the creatures, as they derive their perfections from God, are also called lights; as the angels (2 Corinthians 40:14); the saints (Luke 16:8). Yea, reasonable creatures, as they have wisdom and understanding, are said to be lights; so John 1:9. Well, then, if God be the Father of lights —(1) It presseth you to apply yourselves to God. If you want the light of grace, or knowledge, or comfort, you must shine in His beam and be kindled at His flame. We are dark bodies till the Lord fill us with His own glory.(2) It shows the reason why wicked men hate God (John 3:19-21). He is the Father of lights; He hath a discerning eye, and a discovering beam.(3) It presses the children of God to walk in all purity and innocency (Ephesians 5:8).

5. The Lord is unchangeable in holiness and glory; He is a Sun that shineth always with a like brightness. This is an attribute that, like a silken string through a chain of pearl, runneth through all the rest: His mercy is unchangeable," His mercy endureth for ever" (Psalm 100:5). So His strength, and therefore He is called "The Rock of Ages" (Isaiah 26:4). So His counsel; He may change His sentence, the outward threatening or promise, but not His inward decree; He may will a change, but not change His will. So His love is immutable; His heart is the same to us in the diversity of outward conditions: we are changed in estate and opinion, but God He is not changed; therefore when Job saith (Job 30:21), "Thou art turned to be cruel," he speaketh only according to his own feeling and apprehension. Well, then —(1) The more mutable you are, the less you are like God. Oh! how should yon loathe yourselves when you are so fickle in your purposes, so changeable in your resolutions!(2) Go to Him to establish and settle your spirits.(3) Carry yourselves to Him as unto an immutable good; in the greatest change of things see Him always the same: when there is little in the creature, there is as much in God as ever (Psalm 102:26, 27).

(T. Manton.)

The word "gift" is one of the loveliest in the language. It is a flower-like word, and full of fragrance. It is a most significant and expansive term. Like the firmament, it is inclusive of all bright things visible to man in the doings of God. You might enumerate every act of the Father, from the creation of man to the gift of the Holy Ghost, and all the operations of His mercy since, and group them all together; you may call the roll of all His deeds of love to man, and all His gracious acts to us individually: and above them all, or upon the face of each separately, one might, with the accuracy of entire truthfulness, write "Gift." They have all come to the race, and to each of us, fresh from His hand. There is not a hope I have in which I do not see my Father's face; and the reflection of the face reveals the mirror's use, and makes it lovely. There is not a love known to your life, to which is any depth or purity, from which come not Divine reflections. Nor is there any sympathy in your heart or mine, friend, or any sweet impulse or prompting, no high aim or noble motive, no, nor any consolation which makes our sorrows like wounds which heal themselves in bleeding, not of God. I bring all these together, and string them like pearls upon one necklace, and lay them in the palm of His benevolence — a kind of tribute; my little gift to the All-giving. You may begin with the very lowest of His gifts to you — those that come through the ordinary channels of nature, and hence seem least connected with supernatural bestowment — even your bodily powers — and you can but see at a glance how perfectly you are equipped for usefulness and happiness upon the earth. In your own body find proof of your Creator's love. What grace, what beauty, what sensitiveness, and subtlety of feeling, has been given to the body! How responsive it is to the mind I how willing its subjection I how free and generous its service! I know that it shall fail, and be not; I know that by-and-by we shall have a better; but for the time being, for the present state of soul-development, how adapted the instrument is to the wishes and wants of the player! But it is not until you contemplate man in respect to his mental and moral faculties; it is not until you look within yourself, and behold the powers of your mind, and the more subtle but incomparably superior attributes of the soul — that you fairly see what God has done for you. What costly, what magnificent furniture is this with which the almighty Architect has fitted up and adorned the temple of the Spirit! Here is Reason — that pale but lovely reflection of God — which draws the line between beast and man: on one side of which is mastery, the powers and pleasures of intelligence and eternal life; on the other, inbred subjection, absence of thought, and existence that hurries to extinction. This is ours — our birthright; given, not bought: bestowed, not acquired — the sign and proof of our sonship, and a bond that binds us as with ties of blood to His eternal Fatherhood. Here, too, is Memory — life's great thesaurus, where we bestow all our jewels; that gallery in which are hung the faces of the loved as no limner could depict them; that chamber swathed thick with tapestry, on which the days, like flying fingers, have wrought grave and bright forms, and retained the otherwise transient joys. Who would give up his memory? who surrender this shield against forgetfulness? No one. And yet memory is one of God's gifts to you. Here, too, is Imagination, the divinest faculty of them all, winged like an eagle, tuneful as a lark. Of all faculties, of all powers given of God, I count this the greatest, the most subtle, the most ethereal, and the most Divine. Are you not rich in gifts? Are you not blessed? What more could He have done for you than He has done? Has He not given as a father who as a God should give — generously, munificently? What, now, let me ask, have you done for Him? Where are your days of labour? where the long account of service? How and when have you cancelled the bond and obligation you are under? When your Father called, have you answered? when He directed, have you gone? when He commanded, have you obeyed? To what use have you put these faculties? Or again: to what use do you put your memories? Its lessons are many. Do you allow them to teach you wisdom? Do you not know that the highest of all attainments is to so live that recollection shall not be painful? Half of heaven will consist of remembrance: the endless song will derive half its pathos and power from retrospection. The day hasteth on, yea, is even nigh unto us, when we must own all these children of the mind, be they white or black; when they will swarm about us, and say to Him who shall then be sitting in judgment, "This is our father and our mother!" And, lastly, imagination — what have you been doing with that? What are you doing with it day by day? Do you fill its hand with tare-seeds, and send it forth over all the field of your future life, compelling its unwilling palms to sow for a dire harvest? or have you even debauched it until its former Divine repugnance to such service is lost, and it delights itself in wickedness? Christ alone can forgive your abuse of reason; He alone can take remorse from recollection, even by washing out the record of the transgression which feeds it; He alone can restore your imagination to its original purity, and make it as familiar with spiritual sights and uses as you have made it with sensual. And so you see that the bestowments of grace are even greater than the bestowments of nature; and that, in this offer to rectify the misadjustment of your faculties, God does more for you than He did even in their endowment. The mercy which forgives and reforms is greater than the goodness that created.

(W. H. Murray, D. D.)

I. Apart from the religious view of the subject, no thoughtful person can fail to admire the wisdom and the goodness of Almighty God IN GRANTING TO US HIS CREATURES CONSTITUTIONS AND CHARACTERS SO DIVERSIFIED. By means of that wonderful variety human intercourse has received an interest which could not otherwise have attached to it; human thought has been deepened and diversified, so as to include manifold views of every subject which it contemplates, and the work of the world generally is done in a far more perfect manner.

II. We pass from the kingdom of nature to THE KINGDOM OF GRACE. These various temperaments with which God has endowed us, His rational creatures, were given for much higher ends than those which are merely natural.

1. Are you of the choleric temperament? God has need of you and of those gifts which He has bestowed upon you. He requires the earnestness of nature to be consecrated to the service of His grace, and He can raise the lofty aims of this temperament to a height to which nature never could aspire.

2. If we turn to the sanguine, we shall perceive that this has, no less, its own proper work for God. St. Peter was no unimportant element in the body of the apostles. Are not the great mass of men far too slow in receiving impressions of heavenly things?

3. So also the phlegmatic serves an important purpose in the Church of Christ. If we are called upon to a ready obedience to God's holy will, there is another attribute of a faithful service which He no less requires and approves, a steady consistency and stability.

4. And assuredly if all these temperaments are intended by God to be sanctified in the individual and made thereby serviceable also to the Christian community, the same may be said of that which still remains — the melancholic. The temperament of tenderness and of depth could not be removed from the body of Christ without serious loss to every member of it.

III. I want you to believe that THERE IS FULL PROVISION IN THE GOSPEL OF JESUS CHRIST, AND IN THE DISPENSATION OF THE GRACE OF GOD, FOR THE SANCTIFICATION OF ALL THESE VARIOUS TEMPERAMENTS AND DISPOSITIONS.

1. We have referred to the example of our Lord as a means of sanctification and a proof of the possibility of every temperament being made holy and acceptable for the work of God. And this first view of the subject is not devoid of importance. Jesus Christ is the model man. He is much more; but He is this as well. He shows us in His life what man should be. Now in that life we behold all the four temperaments of which we have been speaking, and we behold them all perfectly sanctified.(1) In Jesus we behold the melancholic temperament — He was "a Man of sorrow and acquainted with grief"; but we behold it sanctified and free from every stain of sin, calm and uncomplaining in the peace and the love of God.(2) If we pass to the phlegmatic, we shall perceive that this was not lacking in the human constitution or in the earthly life of Christ. He had all its calmness, its peace, its silence.(3) In Him, too, we see the excellences of the sanguine temperament; specially we may note its readiness and its trustfulness.(4) And so, moreover, in Him we see the choleric temperament present and sanctified. The hypocritical misleaders of the people are called "whited sepulchres." He calls the scribes and Pharisees "hypocrites," &c. His life displays all the firmness, energy, and decision of this temper.

2. But, again, there is provision for the sanctification of this temperament in the redeeming work of Jesus. On the Cross He offered a fall, perfect, and sufficient sacrifice, oblation, and satisfaction for the sins of the whole world. He there tasted death not for one temperament, for one class, for one nation; but for every man. And as He died for all, so He ever liveth to make intercession for all who come unto Him.

3. There is all provision for the daily sanctification of the life of nature in the words of Jesus. To the choleric He prescribes, by His example and in His words, the spirit of love. To the sanguine He says, that if it would build a tower, it must sit down first and count the cost, etc. To the phlegmatic He says, "If any man will come after Me, let him deny himself," &c. To the melancholy, longing for sympathy, He says, "Lo, I am with you always"; dreading the difficulties and dangers of an earthly life, He says, "In the world ye shall have tribulation. But be of good cheer," dec.

4. Nor would it be right to overlook another important means which God has provided for correcting our natural faults, and disciplining our powers and faculties; I mean His providential dealings with us. They are far more; they are instruments of a Divine discipline, parts of that training which the good providence of God affords, in conjunction with those other means which are set forth in the gospel, and provided in the ministry and ordinances of the Church.

5. But once more let it be observed that the great agent in the sanctification of the human temperaments and of the human heart is the Holy Spirit of God. It is He who makes every other means efficacious — flowing in every channel as a stream of life.

(W. R. Clark, M. A.)

God is the fountain of all goodness, the giver of all good gifts, the author of all good things in men, He worketh whatsoever is good in the whole world. Here, hence St. Peter calleth Him the God of all grace (1 Peter 5:10), because all grace and all go, d gifts come only from Him, as from a well-head and fountain. All the effects of God's will are only good, and whatsoever virtue, grace, Food gifts, it is from God. In this place Almighty God is adorned with three ornaments, wherein His excellent goodness more appeareth.

1. First, He is called the Father of Lights, the Fountain and Well-spring, the Author and Cause from whence all good gifts flow and spring unto men.

2. Secondly, and moreover, it is attributed unto God that He is not variable, mutable, changeable, with whom there is, saith St. James, no variableness. This is added to prevent that which otherwise might have been objected, they might say, God, indeed, is sometimes the cause of good things among men, it followeth not therefore but that He may be sometimes in like manner the cause of evil. God is not variable, there is no changing with Him, He is constant, always alike, ever cause of good, never author of evil: whereof even Balaam the covetous prophet truly prophesied (Numbers 23:19). When God altereth things at His own pleasure, saith Gregory, the things alter, but He remaineth the same, and changeth not. Therefore by His prophet Malachi He crieth, "I am the Lord, I change not; and you sons of Jacob are not consumed."

3. Thirdly, as God changeth not, so there is no shadower turning with Him. He is not like the sun, the moon, the stars, which appear and shine sometimes, but at other times are covered with darkness, which have their changes and their courses, the day now, within ten, eleven, or twelve hours the night; the sun glorious now in beauty, but anon in an eclipse; the moon now in the fall, now in the wan, now new, now a quarter old, and so forth. The planets now in this place of heaven, now in that shining. There is no such turning with God. He is not now good, and now turned to the contrary, for He is always light, and with Him is no darkness at all. For His goodness is always clear, bright, and continually shining.

(R. Turnbull.)

There is no such thing as spontaneous goodness among men. If there be anything good in the universe, enjoyed by men or beasts, or any other thing living in heaven or on earth, visible or invisible, it is the gift of God. If it be a transient good, enjoyed and then gone, so that nothing but the memory of the enjoyment is left, it is the gift of God. If it be the fountain of a stream rolling out pleasure or power to irrigate the world, it is the gift of God. The universe may be searched. If anywhere anything can be found which any intellect can perceive, and any heart can feel to be good, it has come from God. If it be good for any man's body, good for any man's soul, good for any man's spirit, if it be good for any other animal, if it be good for the present or future inhabitants of the earth — find a good thing, and you find a Godsend.

(C. F. Deems, D. D.)

First, perhaps, to strike the eye amongst the clusters of our Canaan is home — the father's reason made silken by affection; the mother's voice sweeter than any music; the kindly strength of the brother; tire fondness of the sister; the comeliness and sparkle of little children. Friendship is a kindred cluster engolbing rich wine. Another fruition is philanthropy, delicious as a fruit of paradise plucked from some branch running over the wall. Then the eye longs to drink as well as the lip, and the ear to drink as well as the eye, so art displays creations refreshing as the vineyard's purple wealth; the artist with marble and canvas unsealing fountains of beauty, the musician with pipe and string pouring streams of melody. Science shows the earth a great emerald cup, whose fulness flashes over the jewelled lip. Literature is a polished staff bearing grapes beyond those of Eshcol. Commerce is a whole vine in itself, and we gaze at its embarrassing lavishness with amazed delight. Patriotism is a first rate grape whose generous blood gives to the spirit that unselfish glow which surpasses all sensual pleasure; and the best wine runs last in that sentiment of humanity which gives the crowning joy to the festival of life.

(W. L. Watkinson.)

"Iterum, iterum, iterumque" — "Again, again, and again." Such was the motto wittily adopted by the English dramatist, Samuel Foote, after he happily became the possessor of a third fortune, when two previous fortunes had been entirely squandered away. "Again, again, and again" be had been favoured; and placed each time in an increasingly responsible position. With each new endowment he had the experience of the past to guide him, and had less excuse to furnish for any misuse of his possessions. Samuel Foote's motto may be adopted by every reader in relation to the mercies he has received. Not once, not twice only, has God blessed us, but "again, again, and again." It would be an interesting calculation if the reader could survey his past life and tabulate the number of mercies, in the form of meals, he has received; the number in the shape of suits of apparel, and the number in the persons of friends to cheer life's pilgrimage. Suppose you are twenty years of age, then God has placed upon your breakfast-table 7,300 refreshing repasts to fit you for the day's duties. And if you have partaken of four meals a day, then in twenty years the bountiful Giver of every good and perfect gift has provided for you no fewer than 29,200 meals. This is irrespective of the delicious fruits which tie has oftentimes showered into your lap between the stated meals. Are all these mercies to be received and employed by us without acknowledgment?

(J. H. Hitchens, D. D.)

In 1808 a grand performance of the "Creation" took place at Vienna. Haydn himself was there, but so old and feeble that he had to be wheeled into the theatre in a chair. His presence roused intense enthusiasm among the audience, which could no longer be suppressed as the chorus and orchestra burst in full power upon the passages, "And there was light." Amid the tumult of the enraptured audience the old composer was seen striving to raise himself. Once on his feet, he mustered up all his strength, and in reply to the applause of the audience, he cried out as loud as he was able, "No, no! not from me, but," pointing to heaven, "from thence — from heaven above — comes all!" saying which he fell back in his chair, faint and exhausted, and had to be carried out of the room.

The Father of lights.
Among the good things, the best is light, the physical light which makes the things of the outer world visible, the intellectual light which enables any man to see truths and their relations, the spiritual light which enables a man to walk as seeing Him that is invisible and the invisible world by which He is surrounded. God is the "Father of lights," the source of all conceivable modes of illumination, and Ha pours down upon men all the good things they have. It is not a shower, an occasional gift of things desirable, but it is an unceasing rain of blessings. It is incessant sunshine. As at all hours rays of light are going off in all directions from the sun, and covering all the space of the solar system, so are God's gifts going from Him, descending from Him, ceaselessly, in an unbroken stream of blessing, and an uninterrupted radiation of light. He is the Father of lights, the Producer of the heavenly bodies, the Source of all the light of knowledge, all the light of wisdom, all the light of faith, all the light of hope, all the light of love, all the light of joy. If any man arise in his generation to shine as a star in the hemisphere of human society, God kindled the splendour of his intellect and the benign radiance of his high spiritual character, if any woman arise to brighten a home, or send the kindly light of her sweetness over any cheerless portion of our race, it was God who dwelt in her heart, and smiled through her life. If on the coast of our humanity we, mariners on life's uncertain sea, behold lighthouses so placed along the shore as to enable us to take bearings or shape courses that bring us to our havens of safety, it is God who has erected each such lighthouse and kindled each such pharos.

(C. F. Deems, D. D.)

Christian Age.
God, as the Author of all our spiritual light, receives a faint illustration from the sun, as the source of natural light. The rays from the sun are of three kinds, differing from one another probably only as to the lengths of the waves of which they are composed.

1. Light rays. Nearly all the light we receive comes from the sun. Even the moonlight is but reflected sunlight. Even when we are in the shade, or in the house where we cannot see the sun, the light we receive is sunlight, dispersed from the particles in the air, reflected from all things around us; even the light of our lamps and gas-burners is but sunlight which has been stored up in the earth. So it is that all our spiritual light, from whatever sources it seems to come, is really from God. Our white sunlight is really composed of thousands of colours, shades, and tints, which fill the world with beauty. Such variety is in the pure light from God, reflected from our manifold natures, needs, and circumstances.

2. Heat rays. Nearly all the heat in the world comes directly or indirectly from the sun. The fires that warm us and that are the source of power are from the wood or coal in which the heat of the sun has been stored. Such is God's love to us.

3. Chemical rays, which act upon plants and cause the movements of life. These rays are in a sense the source of life, the instrumentality of life. So God is the Source of our spiritual life. Light, love, and life all come from the Father of lights.

(Christian Age.)

I suggest to you all the prayer of a Puritan who, during a debate, was observed to be absorbed in writing. His friends thought he was taking notes of his opponent's speech, but when they got hold of his paper, they found nothing but these words, "More light, Lord! More light, Lord!" Oh, for more light from the great Father of lights!

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

The sun does not shine for a few trees and flowers, but for the wide world's joy. The lonely pine on the mountain-top waves its sombre boughs and cries, "Thou art my sun"; and the little meadow violet lifts its cup of blue, and whispers with its perfumed breath, "Thou art my sun." And the grain in a thousand fields rustles in the wind and makes answer, "Thou art my sun." So God sits, effulgent in heaven, not for a favoured few, but for the universe of life; and there is no creature so poor or so low that he may not look up with childlike confidence and say, "My Father, Thou art mine."

(H. W. Beecher.)

With whom is no variableness.
I. CONSIDER GOD, AS HE IS UNCHANGEABLE IN HIS OWN NATURE AND PERFECTIONS. This Author of all must be unchangeable. He cannot change for the better, because He hath in Himself all excellences. He cannot change for the worse, because neither can He have a will or a power to hurt Himself, nor can other beings be able to diminish His perfections, since they have no other strength than He gave them, and receive their nature and qualities from Him. Thus reason teacheth us to conclude that God is unchangeable. The Holy Scriptures also teach us the same.

II. CONSIDER GOD IN HIS DEALINGS WITH US, AS HE IS OUR RULER, AND SHOW THAT HE IS UNCHANGEABLE IN HIS WILL, HIS PURPOSES, AND DECREES. This is a manifest consequence of what has been said; for, if God is unchangeable in His nature and perfections, whatsoever He decrees and resolves concerning mankind in general, or any of us in particular, He must and infallibly will accomplish. To resolve and not to perform is a certain mark of imperfection,

III. CONSIDER THOSE ACTIONS AND THAT PART OF GOD'S CONDUCT TOWARDS MANKIND, WHICH SEEM TO ARGUE IN HIM INCONSTANCY AND CHANGE OF MIND.

1. "When God is said to repent, and to be grieved, it is manifest that such popular expressions are to be understood as spoken in condescension to the weakness of our apprehensions.

2. We learn from the Scriptures that God gave the Jews ritual laws, which in themselves and of their own nature were not good, and which He afterwards repealed by His Son. The gospel is the natural and the moral law in full perfection; but, as we are imperfect, and cannot live up to it, it was suitable to perfect goodness and mercy to use some abatement and condescension. Therefore God, in compassion to our infirmities, to exact unsinning obedience, substitutes repentance, which is accepted through the propitiation and mediation of Christ.

3. We find in the Scriptures some promises and threatenings, which are so expressed that they seem to be absolute and irreversible; which yet, as the event showed, were not accomplished; and this seems not to agree with the unchangeable nature of God. The following observations may serve to explain this matter, and to set it in a true light.(1) All the promises and threatenings contained in the New Testament are conditional, and the condition is plainly expressed. Thus our happiness or misery is made to depend upon our own choice and behaviour. In the Old Testament likewise, the far greater part of God's promises and threatenings are of the same kind: they are conditional, and the condition is named expressly.(2) Some of God's decrees concerning societies or particular persons have no dependence upon the moral behaviour of men; and these consequently are absolute and irreversible.(3) These decrees excepted which are prophetic and providential, all other declarations, though they may seem absolute and unchangeable, yet are not so; for God reserves to Himself a power of altering them, or suspending their execution.Application —

1. The consideration of God's unchangeable nature compared with our changeable condition, may teach us to entertain humble thoughts, and to know ourselves to be most imperfect creatures in all respects.

2. Since God is set forth in the Scriptures as the bright and perfect original which in all things we should resemble, His unchangeable nature reminds us that we must endeavour, like Him, to be constant in all that is good, in our love of virtue, and in our lawful promises to one another.

3. The unchangeable nature of God suggests very powerful dissuasions from vice. There is a law which declares that impenitent vice shall end in destruction. This law is eternal and unchangeable.

(J. Jortin, D. D.)

I. EXPLAIN WHAT IS MEANT. By the immutability of God we mean that He always is, and was, and will be, the same; that He undergoes no changes either of His essence and Being, or of His properties and perfections.

II. SHOW THAT THIS IS ESSENTIAL TO GOD.

1. From the dictates of natural reason; which tells us that nothing argues greater weakness and imperfection than inconstancy and change. Now if the Divine nature were subject to change, this would cast an universal cloud upon all the Divine perfections, and obscure all other excellences. And, as mutability in God would darken all His other perfections, so would it take away the foundation and comfort of all religion; the ground of our faith, and hope, and fear; of our love and esteem of God, would be quite taken away.

2. This will yet more clearly appear from the Divine revelation of the Holy Scriptures, which tell us that God is unchangeable in His nature and in His perfections, in all His decrees, and purposes, and promises, in tits essence and Being. "I am that I am" (Exodus 3:14); this is His name, whereby He made known Himself to the comfort of His people, and to the terror of the Egyptians, their oppressors. "From everlasting to everlasting Thou art God" (Psalm 90:2). "Thou art the same, and Thy years fail not" (Psalm 102:27). "I am the Lord, and change not" (Malachi 3:6). Hence it is that the title of "the living God" is so frequently attributed to Him; and He swears by this, as denoting not only His eternity, but His unchangeableness — "As I live, saith the Lord." Hither, likewise, we may refer those texts where He is called the "incorruptible God" (Romans 1:23). "The immortal King" (1 Timothy 1:17), and is said "only to have immortality" (1 Timothy 6:16). And He is immutable, likewise, in His perfections; hence it is so often said in the Psalms that "His goodness and His mercy endure for ever"; His righteousness is likewise said to "endure for ever" (Psalm 111:3), and to be "like the great mountains" (Psalm 36:6); not only visible and conspicuous, but firm and immovable; and the same, likewise, is said of His truth and faithfulness, "His truth endureth for ever" (Psalm 117:2), and of His power, "In the Lord Jehovah is everlasting strength" (Isaiah 26:4). And so likewise in His decrees, and purposes, and promises (Psalm 33:11; Isaiah 14:24; Numbers 23:19; Psalm 89:33). APPLICATION —

1. In regard to sinners and wicked men.(1) The unchangeableness of God is matter of great terror to wicked men. Let but the sinner consider what God is, and the consideration of His unchangeable nature must needs terrify him (Habakkuk 1:13; Psalm 5:4, 5; Exodus 34:7; Psalm 90:11; Psalm 76:7; Revelation 18:8).(2) This should be a powerful argument to urge sinners to repentance.

2. In reference to good men, the consideration of God's unchangeableness is matter of great consolation to them; in all the changes and vicissitudes of the world, their main comfort and hope is built upon a rock, it relies upon the unchangeable goodness and faithfulness of God, "all whose promises are yea and amen," truth and certainty.

(Abp. Tillotson.)

There are two facts for us to look at here; the first fact, that this world and all that is in it are full of change; the second fact, that God who made us, and from whom comes every good gift, is unchanging. The face of the earth and the history of its people are always changing. If we turn from the world of nature and look at ourselves, we shall see change everywhere. Have you ever known what it is to revisit your home after an absence of many years? All changed. The place, once so familiar, looks strange and unnatural now. Yes, the tree lives yet, but the hand that planted it is gone. Seeing these constant changes in the world, in ourselves, in our friends, it becomes a tremendous thought that God is just the same as ever. The same as the God of the new-made universe, the same as the God of Abraham, of Moses; the same who took our flesh and was made man; the same who rose again and ascended into heaven, the Christ of the Gospels, ever the same. One great reason why our lives are so fall of change is that we may learn that this is not our rest. That we may look up from changing earth, to a changeless God, and on eternity, where a thousand years are but as yesterday. The gift of faith in believing, the gift of hope, and of life eternal — these things change not; the gifts of the world, the greatness of the world, pass away, God and His gifts alone remain unchanging.

1. First of all, God's justice is unchanging.

2. Again, the lovingkindness of God is unchanging.

3. Again, the tender care of God for us is unchangeable.

4. Lastly, the forgiveness of God is unchangeable. God will forgive us our sins on the same conditions as of old, and on no other.

(H. J. Wilmot Buxton, M. A.)

Apart from revelation, men in general would not have supposed that God, the Creator of a changeful world, is Himself unchangeable. The heathen nations appear for the most part to have regarded their gods as beings subject to like passions, to the same fickleness of mind and purpose with themselves. Such was the common belief, though here and there one might be found gifted with a deeper insight (Numbers 23:19). The laws by which he governs as are as fixed and immutable, though to us as unsearchable, as those by which He directs the vicissitudes of the seasons and the succession of storm and calm, of sunshine and rain. The great event in the world's history, the Incarnation of Christ, took place so as to seem an after-thought — an interruption in the course of things, occasioned by the sin of man; but what says the Scripture (1 Peter 1:20; Romans 16:25; Ephesians 3:11) And this being true of the most wonderful work of His providence and love, we may be sure it holds good of all His dealings with us. His gracious purposes towards us do not vary, they are Yea and Amen. Though His favour may seem to be withdrawn, and His face turned away from us, it is not so even for a moment. God is said here to be "the Father of lights." He is the Source of all illumination. The light of day, the light of earthly happiness, the light of reason, the light of conscience, the light of revelation, all are from Him, and whether they are continued to us or withdrawn, His purpose is the same — to prepare us for a still more marvellous light into which tie is bringing us, even the light of His presence. But while He is so constant, so immutable, what are we? How fickle, how moody, how unstable! We build castles in the air, and hovels on the ground; promising much, performing little; doing a thing to-day, wishing it undone to-morrow; full of bravery as to the future, and cowards for the present, changing our opinions at the bidding of our interests; making Our way through life, not like the bird of passage, intent upon an unseen home, but like the butterfly, in ancient times chosen as the emblem of the human soul, flitting this way and that, without any certain course in view. Above all, as to the most important concerns of our souls, often we keep not the same resolution for two days, or even two hours together — strongly impressed one hour with their overwhelming importance, aroused, distressed, anxious about them; the next, how glad to get rid of them, to be willingly, wilfully forgetful of them! But the changeableness of our nature has its good as well as its evil side. If you have given yourself up to some bad way, you are not to look upon it as a thing from which there is no escape, a prison from which you cannot get forth. If, indeed, you will not make the effort, you must be as you are; if you will, you may be made free. But in no case is it more true than in yours, that "who would be free themselves must strike the blow." You will be aided, indeed, by God's good Spirit. But you must strive as if all depended on yourself, and then the most inveterate propensity to evil may be overcome, and you may be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so as to know by your own experience what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.

(W. G. Humphry, B. D.)

It is not necessary to press the astronomical figures which St. James employs. It is clear that he means to assert most emphatically two things about God, namely, that with Him there is no alienation of goodness and no obscuration of goodness. As one says, "God is always in the meridian."

(C. F. Deems, D. D.)

He cannot change. He cannot call that no sin which is sin; nor that a small sin which is a great sin; nor that a private sin which is a public sin. His purpose is not the easy, pliable, changeable thing which thine is. He is the God only wise, only righteous, only mighty, and is, therefore, above all such vacillations. O saint, remember that thou hast to do with a holy and unchangeable God! O sinner, think that thou hast also to do with Him, and that this inflexibility is as yet all against thee! He will not alter either His law or His gospel to suit you. You must take them as they are, or perish for ever!

An old writer says, "A man travelling upon the road espies some great castle; sometimes it seems to be nigh, another time afar off; now on this hand, anon on that; now before, by and by behind; when all the while it standeth still unmoved. Thus it is with God; sometimes He seemeth to be angry with the sons of men, another time to be well pleased; now to be at hand, anon at a distance; now showing the light of His countenance, by and by hiding His face in displeasure: yet He is not changed at all. It is we, not He, that is changed.

There is never a time at which one could say that through momentary diminution in holiness it had become possible for Him to become a tempter.

(A. Plummer, D. D.)

There are many Christians, like young sailors, who think the shore and the whole land do move, when the ship and they themselves are moved; just so, not a few imagine that God moveth, and faileth, and changeth places, because their souls are subject to alteration; but the foundation of the Lord abideth sure.

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