All things new. – the Church - some extracts
From Christ's birth, it was that all old legal ceremonies had their pass, to “pass away;” from hence all things both in heaven and earth are reconciled; by him all things made new; by him the old man abolished, and the new man created in us; the old law abrogated, the new law come in place; the old law of works annulled, the new law of faith established; all “old things passed away, all things become new,” through his coming into the world. 1.245
For how much are we bound to Christ, to God in Christ, that he has freed us from those imperfect yet costly sacri¬fices; those troublesome abstinences, those unprofitable washings, those strict seventies of new-moons and Sabbaths; that painful rite of circumcision, those long journeys to Jerusalem to worship those empty shadows; and given us full perfect liberty of meats and drinks, and all things else, the doing whereof is no real profit; and brought home his temples and service to our doors, our happiness into our bosoms. Though all those “old things” be “passed away,” let not his goodness in passing them away ever pass out of our memories, nor a day pass without praises to him for it, nor the relation of it bass out of our lips without all thank¬fulness and humility. 1.247
What can we then do less than pass ourselves into his service, under his protection? than pass our souls and spirits out of our lips in praises and thanksgiving, that all those “beggarly elements,” as the Apostle calls them - those temporal promises and threats - that heavy slavish servitude ¬that dealing with us as with untoward children under the rod, or as slaves and servants-is “passed” from us;-that we are now at the liberty of sons, and the honour of being the friends of God, such to whom God is now pleased in Christ [249/250] to reveal his secrets and mysteries so long hidden-even “from the beginning of the world,” as the Apostle speaks into which “the angels desire to look into;” - that he hath now “revealed them unto babes;” -that no condition now, be it never so poor, or mean, or weak, but is made par¬takers of his grace and glory in the face of Jesus Christ ! How great a comfort and glory is it to us, that all “old things” are thus “passed away, and all things become new!” Yet there are worse “old things” behind, the “old things” of the Gentiles; which we are to consider now, both what they are, and how they too are “passed away.” The old errors and the old sins of the Gentiles, they are the “old things” of the Gentiles, and they are “passed.”
But how shall we now worthily praise him for the next, for making “all things new?” Novus rex et nova lex, a new king and a new law; novus rex et novum regnum, a new Church and a new kingdom; novum testamentum et novum sacramentum, new covenants and new sacraments; novum sacrificium et novus sacerdos, a new sacrifice and a new priest¬hood ; novum templum et novum altare, a new temple and a new altar; nova spiritus and nova vita, a new spirit, and a new kind of life : all new.
(i.) Novus rex, a new king. We have no ordinary one neither: a king with an Ecce, Ecce venit, both in Prophet and Evangelist: “Behold, thy king cometh,” says Zachary, and S. Matthew says the same. A king worth beholding: the “wise men” came I know not how far to see him.
(ii.) And with a new law he came, “a new commandment ;” “a perfect law ; “a law of liberty;” a royal law;” “the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus.” The old law was a bondage: this new one “makes us free,” as it follows there.
(iii.) A new Church he came to gather, much different from the old: a “Church purchased by his blood,” a costly one, [251/252] “a glorious Church, not having spot or wrinkle, or any such thing, but holy and without blemish;” much larger than the old; an universal Church-all the Gentiles also new come in - “the utmost parts of the earth,” the confines of it.
(iv.) A new kingdom there is come, too; a kingdom above all kingdoms, “the kingdom of heaven;” a kingdom of grace and a kingdom of glory; a kingdom never heard of before Christ's coming with it: no news, no hopes, no mention of the kingdom of heaven, all the old Scripture through; those “exceeding great and precious promises” reserved for us. They under the law were led like children with the nuts and rattles of temporal promises and rewards: Christ first promised a kingdom for the recompence of reward; a king¬dom, too, wherein we are all “kings.”
This new kingdom (v.) brings a new covenant, novum testamentum. Take testamementum how you will, for a covenant or a writing - and novum either for the covenant of grace, or for a new schedule of Scripture that contains it - we find both “new” now: “I will make a new covenant,” says God. And he did so, says the Apostle. But what was it? “I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts; and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people,” &c.; “for I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more;” ¬a covenant of pardon and remission, such as the sacrifices of the law could not give, were not able. And new books we have it written in, as authentic as those old ones in the Jewish canon; where we may find all sealed by the testimony of the Spirit, the author of the New Testament as well as of the Old.
(vi.) The new Church has its new sacraments. Ite et baptizate for Ite et circumcidite; baptism for circumcision, and the Lord's Supper for the Passover; in both which of ours there is more than was in theirs, in those legal ceremonies; not only “outward signs” as they, but “inward graces.”
(vii.) New sacrifices; “ the calves of our lips,” instead of calves and goats: the sacrifices of praises and thanksgivings, nay, the sacrifice of a contrite heart and humble spirit; the sacrificing of our lusts, and the offering up of; “our souls and bodies, a living, holy, acceptable sacrifice.”
[1.2/253] (viii) A new priesthood to offer them; “an unchangeable priesthood” now. Christ our high-priest, and the “ministers of the new testament” as so many under-priests, to offer them up to God. Christ offered himself a sacrifice; offers up also our prayers and praises to his Father; has left his ministers, in his name and merits, to do it too. And this a lasting priesthood, to last for ever.
(ix.) We have a new altar, too - so S. Paul - “an altar that they which served the tabernacle have no power to eat of.” Take it for the cross, on which Christ offered up himself; or take it for the holy table, where that great sacrifice of his is daily commemorated in Christian churches: habemus, says the Apostle; such an one we have, and I am sure it is “new.”
(x.) Temples we have many new: (1) “the temples of our bodies,” those both to offer in, and offer up; and (2) churches many, for that one temple so long since buried in dust and rubbish.
(xi.) There is above these “a new spirit ;” “not the spirit of bondage again to fear, but the spirit of adoption, whereby we cry Abba, Father;” the spirit of love, and not of fear; the spirit of sons, and not of servants ; a spirit that will cause us to “walk in God's statutes, keep his commandments, and do them;” a “new” thing, indeed, that can make “the beasts of the field to honour him,” as the Prophet speaks of it; the dragons and the owls” to do so; the most fierce, cruel, and dullest natures bow unto him, that gives “waters in the wilderness and rivers in the desert;” that “blows but with his winds and these waters flow.” This is a new spirit that is so powerful.
And from this Spirit it is that we (xii.) receive new life and vigour; that we walk not under the Gospel so dully and coldly as they under the Law, where the outward work to the letter served the turn, but according, to the Spirit-in the inward purity of the heart, as well as in the outward purity of the body.
To which, (xiii.) lastly, there is a new inheritance annexed, “a new heaven and a new earth,” which we may “look for according to his promise.”
Old things are passed” with the true Christian; but (2) “all things” also “are become new” in him, he has a new heart and a new spirit; he has no more a heart of stone, but a heart of flesh, - a soft, tender, pliable heart, a meek and well-disposed spirit, a loving spirit; he is no more what he was, the old ego, he has a new understand¬ing; things look not to him as they did of old, he vilifies the world and worldly things. His affections new, he affects not what he did before; he contemns all things below: he is a king, and rules over his passions; he is a priest, and sanctifies them with his prayers: he lives under a new law, the law of the Spirit and not the flesh; he makes every day new covenants with God; a member of the Church he is, and the kingdom of God is now within him. He is a great adorer of the sacraments of the Church, and daily offers up himself a sacrifice to God - his soul and body, and all he has¬ and pours out his praises. His body is the temple of the holy Ghost, and the altar of his heart burns with the continual [255/256] fires of devotion and charity. He now lives no more, but Christ lives in him: that is the new life he leads, and it leads him into glory. A new thing of which he has a glimpse, and a kind of antepast here, that makes him relish nothing else, but cast all behind his back as old rags and dirt, “to press forward to the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” This is the new creature, the new man, in whom “old things are passed away,” and “all things become new.”