Wednesday, March 10, 2010

The Eternality of God

Lately I've been working through James Henley Thornwell's collected writings.  Thornwell was an early-mid 19th century Southern Presbyterian who might have been the single most influential theologian in organizing the Southern Presbyterian Church after the Northern church separated from them.  He died shortly before the Civil War.  Here's a wonderful quote from him about how meditating on God's eternal life leads us to worship:

We deny to God beginning of life or end of days; we deny to Him succession of thought or change of state; we deny to Him the possibility of age or decay; He is neither young nor old. Beyond these negations we cannot go, but these negations impress us with the conviction of transcendent excellence. They assert an absolute immortality which surpasses all power of imagination or of thought. Time with its remorseless tooth destroys everything around us; kingdoms rise and fall; generation succeeds generation to the regions of the dead; trees wither and face and perish; the mountain falling cometh to naught; Nature herself waxes old and is ready to vanish away, but the Eternal God remains fixed in His being, the same yesterday, to-day and forever. His years fail not. He is always the great “I Am.” Eternity is a mystery, but it is a mystery which shrouds and covers unspeakable glory. How delightful to think in the midst of universal change and desolation, that there is one Being who liveth and abideth forever – one Being who, when the heavens shall be rolled up as a vesture, the sun blotted out, and the moon and stars bereft of their brightness, can lift His awful hand and swear by Himself, “Behold, I live forever!” Before the earth was, or the stars of the morning sang together, or the sons of God shouted for joy, Jehovah was. Were all the creatures annihilated by a single blow, and the void of nothing to take the place which is now filled by a teeming and joyous universe, Jehovah would still be. Above and beyond time and all its phenomena, He is untouched by its changes and disasters. Eternity is His dwelling-place, and “I Am” is His name.” (James Henley Thornwell, The Collected Writings, Bedford: Applewood, 1:193-4)

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