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« His servants shall see His face, and His name “ shall be on their foreheads. And there shall “ be no night there; and they need no candle, “ neither light of the sun; for the Lord God “ giveth them light: and they shall reign for
ever and ever.” (Revelation xxi. 3, 4. xxii. 3, 4, 5.). Besides these, there are many passages to a similar effect both in the Old and in the New Testament. These, however, should be enough to convince us, that the new heavens and the new earth, which God is creating, shall prove to their inhabitants entirely blissful and glorious, so as to prevent those natural feelings of regret wherewith, otherwise, they might continue to regard the past. Considering only the descriptions which have been cited, you can easily imagine (what my text foretells) that the former shall not be remembered, nor come into mind. It were indeed an unaccountable thing, if men admitted into that world of unalloyed felicity should be vain enough still to dwell (in memory) upon this, or even on the Paradise which was early forfeited by transgression.
Yet, in drawing towards a conclusion, let me state how discreetly this point should be understood. The Lord's intention by the Prophet was probably no more than to assure His people, that, on having received His promise of a new creation, they shall be fully satisfied with
it, and unspeakably prefer it to the very best condition which they can possibly have experienced in the old world. The final word of the text might justly be rendered heart, instead of mind. This difference is not an immaterial one,
With the mind, we ponder and comprehend a thing; with the heart, we affect and love it. Thus,
66 the former shall not be remem“bered nor come upon the heart,” (Isaiah lxv. 17. marg.) will simply mean, shall not be remembered with affection. Neither here nor elsewhere are we required utterly to forget the past, or instructed that such a forgetfulness will ever become us. The people of God are merely admonished, that hereafter, provided they run well unto the end, their hearts shall be so exclusively occupied with somewhat better, as to prevent them from at all grieving for the things which have been, and shall then have passed away. According to which, a believer may easily discern the conduct which, while conversant with them, it will behove him to pursue. He will see fit to cherish a regretful sense of the happiness formerly ordained for man in Paradise, so long as it helps to beget in him livelier notions of the happiness ordained to come. He will think right to mind earthly things, so far as to discover occasions for thankfulness in the goods which are still remaining,
and to learn, by the abundance of tribulation which hath been let in, humility, obedience, and resignation. Such habits of recollection and of sober attention to our present state, appear in no degree inconsistent with the words before us, and are to be reckoned expedient and indispensable towards an admission into that better one in reserve. We have only to beware of setting our hearts, our affections and hopes, on worldly objects; because the very best of them shall sometime become naught, so surely as even now they are unsatisfactory, and because (not to mention the danger of being involved in their destruction) in what proportion we permit ourselves to love them here, in the same we must suffer loss hereafter.
To this extent therefore, my brethren, and within these limits, prepare yourselves not to remember nor keep in mind the things of this old world. Never allow them to occupy the place of that salvation which ought to be your principal desire; nor seek after peace and happiness chiefly by them, which turn to their own decay, and are doomed to perish, so that, in the morning of the resurrection, they shall be no more; but determine rather to have your portion and your lives“ hidden together with “ Christ in God," and thus to wait with a patient confidence, that in the day “ when His
glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also “ with exceeding joy.” (1 Peter iv. 13.)
And, finally, in order to such a blessed consummation, “ make you” (according to the exhortation of Ezekiel) “ a new heart, and a new “ spirit:" (Ezekiel xviii. 31.) “ put off” (as the apostle exhorts) “ concerning the former con“ versation the old man, and be renewed in the
spirit of your minds.” (Ephes. iv. 22, 23.) Such a new creation must certainly be wrought in you previous to an entrance into the new heavens and the new earth; and it must be wrought not without your own good-will and sincere exertions; for could not man have done something towards making himself a new creature, the above exhortations to that effect had been vain words. No doubt God “ worketh
mightily” in His children, by the constraining love of Christ, and the powerful influences of His Spirit, to renew them unto a conformity with His will; still it is incumbent on them gladly to second His gracious operations, and especially to claim, by earnest prayer, His repeated promises, that a new heart and a new spirit He will give them. (Ezek. xi. 19; xxxvi. 26.) About this there can be no question with men of honest and unclouded understandings. Wherefore, instead of foolishly looking for happiness, which is not to be found by man in his old, or unrenewed state, be ruled, my brethren, by the wise arrangement of God. According to your desire of new or better circumstances, see that yourselves be first of all made new. Call without ceasing upon Him who giveth more grace to every one that will humbly ask for it; and strive thereupon as fellow-workers with His grace, that your whole spirit and soul and body may be purified from the corruption that is in the world, and be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Then, “ as the new heavens and the new earth, " which I will make, shall remain before me, “ saith the Lord,” so shall you remain to inherit and enjoy them. Unto death shall succeed an endless life in a kingdom which cannot be removed; and you shall walk for ever “ in the