The Glory that Excelleth

Brethren, I refuse to hang my harp on the willow tree; that sort of songless depression belongs to the Old Testament and the glory that is annulled; I belong to the New Testament and "the glory that excels." Hence I have a song, and it is a song of triumph, for God must triumph, and faith anticipates what is yet to be.

I live in New Testament days, and they are different in every way from any that have gone before. They are the days in which God has spoken in His Son. He could not speak fully until the Son came, nor could He speak in a partial way when He did come. The true light shines now, the truth is here. God is fully revealed, and the revelation of God means the overthrow of all evil, and our blessing. "To Him be glory for ever and ever."

There is a magnificence and a munificence about the New Testament that no clouds of evil can obscure. It is Christ triumphant; and God shows us that in spite of every evil work, He has His "beloved" ones. The writers of the short Epistles that describe the evils of the last days exult in this precious epithet — see how Peter, John, and Jude use it. I am one of God's "beloved," and shall I not rejoice? But I am only one of them — He has millions upon millions beside me; they are all beloved, they are all His saints, they are all precious to Christ, they are His great interest on earth, and I, though less than the least of them, am permitted to know and help some of them, and shall I not rejoice? Who would dare to forbid any who have the heart for it, to know and help the "beloved" of God? Onesiphorus will not be forgotten in the day when every man shall receive praise of God, because he sought out very diligently one of them that he might refresh him (2 Tim. 1).

The Old Testament has many things to teach us, for the things therein were written for our admonition, and not the least of the things that it teaches is that we should rejoice that we do not belong to the Old but the New, that our lot is cast in the day when "the glory that excels" is shining from the face of Jesus at the right hand of God.

There are some who live in Moses — they go to Leviticus for their principles of life; no wonder they are legal and would bring others under a yoke of bondage. Others live in the prophets, chiefly the minor prophets, and walk with Nehemiah; no wonder that they are depressed and depressing.* Our Place is in the New Testament, and the saints of the New Testament are free and triumphant. Their Mother is Jerusalem which is above, and their Saviour and Leader is Jesus crowned with glory and honour.
{*If we go to Moses, the psalms, and the Prophets to learn in them the things concerning Himself, we do well, and we put them to their proper use, but that is another matter.}

Elijah in his day wailed, "I only am left." Nehemiah, after cursing the priests, plucking of their hair, and chasing them out of his presence, had no one to pray for but himself. He was an unhappy man, he had no fellowship; and no wonder, he cannot have been a pleasant man to live with. He was a faithful man truly, but he was the product of his day, faithful to his day — and God will not forget that — a day not of blessing but of cursing, the day of the glory that has been annulled. How glad am I that I was not one of Nehemiah's companions, whose sole thought was the building of a wall to keep people out! And perfectly right in his day; it was the character of that day, the glory, of which has faded away. Instead I am a companion of the Holy Ghost, who is gathering together in one the children of God that are scattered abroad the beloved of God — and how it reaches to the heart's very core when we read that Jesus died that it might be so. Not to walls are we now to look, built to keep a few sheep in a fold separate from all others, but A FLOCK, sought for and gathered by divine grace, and following the Good and Great Shepherd who laid down His life for them and rose again. Blessed be God for the glory that excelleth!"

Broken-hearted men were all these old prophets; nothing succeeded with them, their brightest hopes were quickly dashed, their labours amongst the people were all in vain. And some would put the Son of Man on the same level with them, as the people did in Matthew 16, or at least they act as though He were no better than they, for they have lost heart, as though all were lost, they dwell upon the failures of men instead of upon the triumph of Christ. Ah, if they but knew the glory that excelleth they would labour in the light of it and would know that their labour was not in vain in the Lord. The truth is that He is invincible. His work must prevail; the gates of hell shall not prevail against His church, and I am part of it, and shall I not rejoice? And every one of the countless hosts of the beloved of God on earth is also part of it, and I am one with them all. What consolation! What fellowship! We may meet them everywhere, for they are being gathered out "from every kindred and tongue and people and nation," and what a vast range they give us for self-forgetful intercession! Their Leader is Jesus, and He is crowned with glory and honour, and sings a song of triumph in the midst of His own, and shall they not sing a song of triumph as they march? They will; they must if they know that they belong to the New Testament and not to the Old — that they have their part in "the glory that excels" and not in that which is annulled.

Brethren, let us exult in the glory that excels. It has not shone forth making demands upon us that we cannot meet and filling us with terror, but it has ministered a righteousness to us without the law, in which there is no flaw, a righteousness in full consonance with the glory itself. And we may sing:

"Had I an angel's raiment, fair
  With heavenly gems unpriced,
That glorious robe I would not wear;
  My robe is Christ."

And the Spirit has been ministered, given to us from the same glory, and by Him we have been anointed and sealed, and He is the earnest to us of the glory from which He has come, and can by His power occupy us with the glory so that we become like it. This righteousness is upon all the "beloved," and this Spirit dwells in every one of them, and a building of God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens, is the goal of them all. Well may we bless God with all the saints for the glory that excelleth, and live in the light of it, and not in the gloom of Old Testament days. And may the Lord "stablish our hearts unblameable in holiness before God, even our Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with ALL HIS SAINTS." "The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with all the saints. Amen."