Posted by: Jonny | February 24, 2009

Immanent vs. Transient

In John Gill’s discussion of the acts and works of God he divides them into two categories: internal and external. The external acts are those that are done in time, such as creation, providence, and redemption. The internal acts of God are those that are immanent and eternal. Under the category of internal acts of God, Gill also has two divisions: personal and essential. The personal internal acts deal with those that are particular to each person of the Trinity. The essential internal acts are those that are common to all persons of the Trinity.

Gill’s definition of “immanent” is that these immanent works “are in God, and remain and abide in him; and whilst they are so, they put nothing into actual being, they are concerned about, until they bring forth, or are brought forth into execution: then they pass upon their respective objects, terminate on them, and issue in actual operation; and then they are called transient acts; and till then they are secrets in God’s breast, and are unknown to men.”

In speaking of the eternal aspect of these internal acts, Gill says, “They are eternal; as God himself is eternal, so are they; for, as some divines express it, God’s decrees are himself decreeing, and therefore if he is from everlasting to everlasting, they are so likewise.” (Both quotes are found in Gill’s Body of Doctrinal Divinity, p. 175). This distinction between immanent and transient is important for understanding Gill’s theology, as well, I believe, for understanding Scripture correctly.


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