Quo ego vado, non potes Me modo sequi, sequeris autem postea.
Whither I go, thou canst not follow Me now, but thou shalt follow hereafter.
I. Thou alone, O my God, art what Thou ever hast been! Man changes. Thou art unchangeable; nay, even as man Thou hast ever been unchangeable, for Jesus is yesterday and today Himself, and for ever. Thy word endureth in heaven and earth. Thy decrees are fixed; Thy gifts are without repentance. Thy Nature, Thy Attributes, are ever the same. There ever was Father, ever Son, ever Holy Ghost. I adore Thee in the peace and serenity of Thy unchangeableness. I adore Thee in that imperturbable heaven, which is Thyself. Thou wast perfect from the first; nothing couldest Thou gain, and nothing might Thou lose. There was nothing that could touch Thee, because there was nothing but what Thou didst create and couldst destroy. Again, I adore Thee in this Thy infinite stability, which is the centre and stay of all created things.
2. Man on the contrary is ever changing. Not a day passes but I am nearer the grave. Whatever be my age, whatever the number of my years, I am ever narrowing the interval between time and eternity. I am ever changing in myself. Youth is not like age; and I am continually changing, as I pass along out of youth towards the end of life. O my God, I am crumbling away, as I go on! I am already dissolving into my first elements. My soul indeed cannot die, for Thou hast made it immortal; but my bodily frame is continually resolving into that dust out of which it was taken. All below heaven changes: spring, summer, autumn, each has its turn. The fortunes of the world change; what was high lies low; what was low rises high. Riches take wing and flee away; bereavements happen. Friends become enemies, and enemies friends. Our wishes, aims, and plans change. There is nothing stable but Thou, O my God! And Thou art the centre and life of all who change, who trust Thee as their father, who look to Thee, and who are content to put themselves into Thy hands.
3. I know, O my God, I must change, if I am to see Thy face! I must undergo the change of death. Body and soul must die to this world. My real self, my soul, must change by a true regeneration. None but the holy can see Thee. Like Peter, I cannot have a blessing now, which I shall have afterwards. “Thou canst not follow me now, but thou shalt follow hereafter.” Oh, support me, as I proceed in this great, awful, happy change, with the grace of Thy unchangeableness. My unchangeableness here below is perseverance in changing. Let me day by day be moulded upon Thee, and be changed from glory to glory, by ever looking towards Thee, and ever leaning on Thy arm. I know, O Lord, I must go through trial, temptation, and much conflict, if I am to come to Thee. I know not what lies before me, but I know as much as this. I know, too, that if Thou art not with me, my change will be for the worse, not for the better. Whatever fortune I have, be I rich or poor, healthy or sick, with friends or without, all will turn to evil if I am not sustained by the Unchangeable; all will turn to good if I have Jesus with me, yesterday and today the same, and for ever.
John Henry Newman