The fact that there is a new creation is of itself sufficient to prove that failure has come in on the first (compare Heb. 8:13), and that whatever may have been the divine delights, as scene after scene came forth from the forming hand of God, when the morning stars sang together and the sons of God shouted for joy, yet now He who made it surveys it no longer with satisfaction; for another potter has been at the wheel, and produced the ruin and the sorrow that lie around and upon us too.
But before we proceed to say anything of the new creation, it is well to look back and seek to apprehend something of the satisfaction of God as He beheld the work of His hands, and pronounced it all very good; and something too of the feelings with which He must have regarded the disobedience and sin of the man whom He had created in His own image, that so we may have deepened in our souls the sense of our sin against Him who is perfect goodness; and the sense too of the exhaustless resources and boundless grace of Him who has turned the temporary success of the enemy into a means of more brightly displaying, and an occasion for fully manifesting, the riches of His glory. Man, who was given a place upon earth, and lost it by disobedience, is now to be taken into heavenly glory. The sip that brought in the curse has been the occasion of revealing a far more glorious character of blessing. Man's rebellion has been the dark background on which is now displayed, in the brightest colours, the infinite and exceeding riches of the grace and the glory of God. And may we not say - and with worshipping hearts may it be - that it could not be otherwise? for if God had nothing wherewith to meet and overturn Satan's apparent success, then indeed would the latter have succeeded in his great object of trampling God's glory in the dust, while the insulted Majesty of the Most High would have remained unvindicated, and thus would it have been proved that there was one with more power than God, and that was Satan himself.
The Bible is the history of Satan's attempt to dishonour God while using man as his instrument for this purpose. The Old Testament records the complete failure of the First Adam, with promises and predictions of the triumph of the Second; while the New Testament reveals to us that the battle is over, and the victory won, and the Great Victor gives to those who believe in Him a share in the glory He has won, and power while here over the enemy He has conquered. Now the full results of that wondrous victory are not yet publicly manifested, though they most surely will be; and when the new creation is displayed in all its blessedness, the new heavens and the new earth, with the saints of every age in their glorified bodies, then will it be seen what was the infinite value of the blood of the Lamb, which has thus for ever secured God's glory and man's richest blessing. And first let it be observed that redemption was no afterthought, only proposed when failure and ruin had come in; but that this ruin had not only been provided for from all eternity - for 1 Peter 1:20 tells us that Christ, as the Lamb, was fore-ordained before the foundation of the world" - but, in the surpassing riches of the wisdom of God, was to be made the occasion of bringing out a larger blessing for man and a deeper glory to God. Up to this time man had been blessed here, and given dominion over this whole creation, while the Creator came down to hold converse with him in the garden; and here, if sin had not come in to interrupt it and to bring in all its attendant consequences of death and sorrow, here that holy converse might have gone on, and man would have ruled as the vicegerent of God upon earth. But how immediately did the fall alter all this. Man could no longer be at ease in the presence of God, but hid himself the moment he heard His voice. Satan had thus far succeeded in his effort: the creature had rebelled against the Creator, and, as the sad consequences, death was to be man's lot, sorrow was to be multiplied to the woman, toil to be the man's portion, while the curse was pronounced upon the earth and the serpent. But there was a bright light for faith to be hold and rejoice in, amid all the darkness of that dark and dreadful day; for the promise was there, that "the seed of the woman should bruise the serpent's head," that he who had caused all this sorrow, the author of all this misery, was himself to be completely vanquished by the promised seed; and what might have seemed to sight was the successful beginning of Satan's attempt against the power and glory of God, was to end in his complete and everlasting ruin in the lake of fire.
Amid all the want and suffering and sorrow that lie now so thickly around us on every hand, it is refreshing to the spirit to look onward to the day when the groaning of Creation shall give place to the universal song of gladness; when man's days shall be lengthened out, so that at a hundred years old he shall be but a child; when the King shall be seen in His beauty, and the inhabitant of the land shall no more say, "I am sick." Man boasts now of his inventions and discoveries, and of his success in gratifying his tastes, and ministering to his ease and comforts. He points to the progress in the arts, so that the simplest things of every-day life are now made attractive to the eye; and as he looks upon his telegraphs and railways, and all the wonders of this wonder-working age, he says in spirit "Is not this great Babylon that I have built! I sit as a queen, and shall see no sorrow." Little recks he, alas, of all it costs, in order that the commonest things may be produced that contribute to his comfort and enjoyment. As he whirls along at express speed in his luxurious carriage, he thinks not of the toilsome lives that are spent in the bowels of the earth in order that he may travel at ease. He bestows not a thought on those who spend their days amid the ceaseless whirl of machinery in an unhealthy atmosphere, and still more noxious morally, in order that he and his may be clothed with the products of the ever-busy loom. Can we suppose that necessaries or comforts produced under such conditions will be worthy of Him who shall then wield the sceptre of this world? And does not all that the prophets tell us of that golden and glorious age justify us in concluding that then the sentence pronounced in Eden will be reversed, and that under the peaceful sway of Christ the Lord, man shall no longer eat his bread in the sweat of his brow?
The blessings of that millennial age which the earthly people will enjoy, when the saints of this and previous dispensations will be in their place in heavenly glory, are largely unfolded to us in the prophetic writings. But the state and time of blessedness unending and undefilable will not yet have been reached, and such alone will be worthy of God, and must for His own glory of very necessity be brought in. Bright as will be that day when the sun shall no more be needed; for the Lord shall be to Israel an everlasting light, and her God her glory: blessed as will be that time when "Thy people shall be all righteous:" yet the state of things thus described is but a faint dim outline - a feeble illustration of that unending day of unutterable blessedness, when the New Creation will be displayed in all its glory; and God Himself will rest in the deep repose of a satisfaction that nothing can heighten, and in the fulness of delight that never can be increased. Before, however, the dawning of that eternal day that no darkness shall ever shroud, no night succeed, Satan is once more to be loosed from his prison; and man, who through the millennial age has been surrounded with nothing but blessing, is once again to be put to the proof. Once, more will there be found a countless multitude deceived by the father of lies, who at his bidding will encompass the camp of the saints and the beloved city. And, just as before the millennium, the city was besieged (Zech. 12:2), the enemies of God's people smitten by His judgment (Zech. 12:4, 9; Zech. 14:3, 12), while the beast and false prophet were consigned at once to their eternal doom (Rev. 19:20); so now, by a direct judgment from God will His enemies all be devoured (as to their bodies) by the fire from heaven; while the devil who deceived them, will be at once cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, there to be tormented day and night for ever and ever. (Rev. 20:10.) And now shall the heavens pass away with a great noise, and the elements melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burnt up; while the saints who had been living on the millennial earth will be transferred to the new heavens and the new earth, that will then come forth in a beauty that will never be tarnished, and a glory that will never grow dim. He that sits upon the throne will have said, "Behold, I make all things new;" and then will God's eternal purposes find their full accomplishment, for the tabernacle of God will be with men and He will dwell with them, and God Himself shall be with them and be their God. Through the long ages of this world's history had He been working, and as the result souls had been born again, and endowed with divine life and a new nature, and thus been introduced into that new creation in which God will find His never-ending rest. Each soul that has thus come under the forming hand of God is thereby a new creation; for the life then given, finds not its sustenance, joy, or strength, in anything here, but outside of this world altogether, in God Himself, so that even when the truth of a new life and nature had not been revealed, yet even then its instincts and actings were seen. And thus we find Abraham looking for a city whose builder and maker was God, and David finding his joy in God Himself, which the Adam-nature never did nor can do. One by one during their lifetime here had these "new creations" been called out and endowed with the requisite title and the fitting capacity to enjoy a heavenly portion. The measure in which this was revealed differed widely before and after the exaltation of Christ and the descent of the Holy Ghost, but when faith is exchanged for sight, then will it be found that the saints of former dispensations, as well as of the present, have been capacitated and empowered to enjoy that new scene and sphere where all things are of God, all things after His own heart, all things suited to Himself. To the saints of this period who constitute the Church is given the wonderful privilege, while here on earth, of knowing their heavenly place and portion, and of even now in spirit dwelling there, and thus having that blessed scene, not merely as the object of their hopes, but finding in it their present joy.
Too often, alas! in every age has Satan succeeded, by the attractions he presented to the old nature, in hindering some from anticipating that eternal day, or from enjoying in. spirit now a heavenly place, so that many a one has turned aside and sought some quiet haven, some pleasant resting-place in this world, but only to find that he that was born of God could never rest in a world of sin, defiled and disturbed by the presence and activity of Satan. But now in God's eternal rest will His saints of every age, for ever delivered from a fallen nature, with their bodies changed into the likeness of Christ's body of glory, and with a capacity for enjoyment which will never fail in satisfaction through the everlasting ages, adore the grace of Him who has brought them into such a scene, the New Creation, fully displayed now in all its blessedness, and all worthy of its divine Author. Now will the seventh day of the first creation find its true antitype; for now once more will God be able to look out upon the work of His hands, and to pronounce it all very good. Now will He rest with everlasting satisfaction and delight in a rest that shall never again be broken, and which has been the hope that has cheered His saints in every age, invigorating their spirits, and gladdening their hearts as they passed through the sufferings and sorrows of this wilderness-world.
There are those who might desire to have this blessedness more fully unfolded to them; but surely it should be enough for us, and more than enough, to know that God is going to bring us into His own rest - a state and a scene that shall be altogether worthy of Himself, and in which every thing will be after His own heart. There no sin can ever enter, no sorrow can ever intrude; there the gold will never be tarnished, and the blaze of that glory will never grow dim; there in unsullied holiness and spotless light will shine through out the eternal ages that New Creation, of which we already are, and in which we shall then for ever be, to God's eternal praise and glory. And if this be the scene to which already we belong, and if the Holy Ghost has come down to enable us in some measure in spirit to enter into it, and to bring us now into the enjoyment of it, do we not well to ask ourselves how far it has been made good in our souls, so that we are formed and moulded by it? There is a rule by which we are to walk here, and that is the rule of the new creation (Gal. 6:15, 16); and though at present we are found in earthly circumstances, yet have we been given all we need, so that we may pass through them in a heavenly manner. Suffer me then, my reader, to ask you in all affection, Is everything about you - the training of your family, the conduct of your business, the discharge of your duties, the employment of your time, the furniture of your house, the apparel on your person, your associations and your friendships, is it all suited to that heavenly scene? and does it all unmistakeably declare that you are heavenly in your ways and that the new creation is not for you, as it is for many, like an idle song, or a pleasant tale, but a blessed reality in your soul, of formative power in your ways, and affecting you in every detail of your life?
F. S. M.
Duties are more apt to lead away the soul from God than open sin. Many a Christian has been ensnared by duties whose heart would have shrunk from open sin.
J. N. Darby.
Christ is both loveliness and love immense,
And loves to be reloved with love the most intense.