The Bearing of the New Creation.

"If any one be in Christ, there is a new creation: the old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. And all things are of the God who has reconciled us to Himself by Jesus Christ." 2 Cor. 5:17-18.

"In Christ Jesus neither is circumcision anything, nor uncircumcision, but new creation. And as many as shall walk by this rule, peace be upon them, and mercy, and upon the Israel of God." Gal. 6:15-16.

"For we are His workmanship, having been created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God has before prepared that we should walk in them." Eph. 2:10.

"These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God." Rev. 3:14.

Few subjects are to the saints of God more interesting or more weighty than the new creation; but we may also add that few are less generally understood. We all know that "God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness;" and we read, "So God created man in His own image, in the image of God created He him." (Gen. 1:26-27.) We all accept that in the exercise of creatorial rights God was entitled to put the man He had created (an intelligent being, able to know and do His will) under any conditions He saw fit to impose. Indeed we may go further, and say that in the very nature of things the relations of an intelligent creature to his Creator require that he should receive and observe a revelation of His will. Thus we find that the Lord God had no sooner placed His creature in the garden He had planted for him than He "commanded the man." He was entitled to man's ohedience, for he was His handiwork; to his confidence, for He had done him nothing but good; and to his dependence, for He was not only the source of his being, but his Sustainer and his Supplier through evening shade and morning sheen. Alas, how soon he fell! and how deep his fall! We do not dwell on the dismal story. "Where art thou?" and "What is this that thou hast done?" tell their own tale more impressively than any human language, and indicate conclusively that ohedience, confidence, and dependence, the vested rights of God in His creature, had been flagitiously denied Him. That which man owed to God, the true debt of his nature, he failed to pay, and in consequence brought its righteously ordained but terrible penalty upon himself and his prospective race. The righteousness of God demanded the imposition of a penalty, and no less did the holiness of God require that its rigorousness should mark His eternal ahhorrence of sin. The divine commentary upon this is, "By one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned." (Rom. 5:12.)

To that Adamic creation we all belong naturally and physically. Were I an angel, I should belong to the angelic creation, another and earlier order of intelligent existences, though equally with us creatures, and equally under creature obligations. But I am a man, and thus belong to the human family, the material creation; and that which, as we have seen, pertains to the creature as such pertains to me, because I am a creature. Unless God could cease to be Creator, He could not cease to have creatorial rights or claims; and unless I could cease to be His creature, I could not cease to owe Him creatural obligations; He is our "faithful Creator." (1 Peter 4:19.)

But it may be asked, (1) Is there not for us a change of relationship? (2) Are not our old creation debts all gone in the cross? (3) Are not the things of the old creation passed away and replaced by a new creation? (4) Have we not died out of all that you have referred to, our old man being crucified with Christ? (5) Are we not redeemed from the curse of the law, being dead to it by the body of Christ?

Such questions, deeply interesting as they are, indicate no small degree of confusion in the enquirer's mind. A sound nomenclature is in these things of the first importance. Unless penalty be distinguished from debt, person from nature, that which is physical from that which is spiritual, the old man from the so-called old creation, and creature-obligations from the demands of the Mosaic law, no clear and correct conclusions are possible.

Now let us see, (1) What "change of relationship" is possible between a creature and his Creator as such? My son may become my servant or my master; but he can never cease to be my son. New and added relations there may be, and there are, between God and us; but those which He has formed are as eternal as Himself. Sin never changed the fact of man's creatureship, though it constituted him a sinner; grace has not changed it, though it has made him a son of God; and neither will glory for ever and for ever. Adam innocent, Adam a sinner, Adam a believer, Adam in glory by-and-by, in no one of these conditions more than in another was, and is, and will be a human being, intelligent, and therefore responsible, under, and never from under, creature-obligations, whether in a state of probation in Eden, a state of failure in the world, or in the perfected state in the Father's house, when "spirit and soul and body" (1 Thess. 5:23) will be glorified with. Christ. Equally so is a sinner alive in this scene under these obligations; and should he go down to perdition will never drown them in the lake of fire, though he will then be where their breach is as irremediable as their validity is irrevocable.

(2) The obligations referred to, constituting our original indebtedness to God, belong to our creatureship, not to our sinnership, if we may use the word. Thus while the penalty of every default, in other words, the sins we have committed, has been borne by Christ, the divinely-provided Substitute, the ever-existing responsibility we are under as creatures remains untouched, being uninvalidated by the work of the cross.

(3) Scripture never speaks of the "old creation," or of old debts, or old indebtedness, as some do, for the palpable reason that the creation referred to, and the ohligations attaching to us therein, are never obsolete, nor ever will be. Sin has come in for the time being, and spoilt that which God made and pronounced "very good;" but the sin of the world (John 1:29) will be taken away eventually -

"He'll bid the whole creation smile,
And hush its groan."

The new creation is entirely a spiritual thing, and is only in Christ, who is "the Beginning of the creation of God." (See scriptures at the head of this paper.) Hence it is an entire mistake to regard it as having come in successionally to take the place of the physical or natural creation. That which is moral does not supplant or replace that which is material. It is an essentially new character and divine order of blessing super-added to what went before, which latter God will yet clear of its ruin, and of which we shall be witnesses for eternity. So far from the natural creation being set aside, I could not possibly be a new creation unless I were generically of the Adamic; for it is from such, and not from angels, is formed a new creation, essentially heavenly and constituted for heaven, having Christ, its glorified Head, already there, who is over all, God blessed for ever! The eternal state will consist of a new heaven and a new earth, when the tabernacle of God will be with men, and He will dwell with them and be their God!

(4) That we have died in the death of Christ is unquestionahly true to faith; but let us not be misled. This is never predicated of us as creatures, but as men in the flesh; that is as sinners under broken responsibilities. In His death we have died, and in His resurrection are risen. Our old man is crucified with Christ; its history is thus for ever closed in the cross; but the person, the living, sentient being, the accountable creature, continues, being born again, and a new creation in Christ, having then a new order of responsibilities super-imposed and connected with the former, which have now new motives, and get a higher character.

(5) The curse of the law is not at all a question of creature-obligations as such. Five and twenty centuries rolled by (during which those obligations were in full force, however unfulfilled) ere the law and its condemnation came in; then only to one people of all the nations of the earth, and to them only because they in their self-sufficiency entered into a covenant of works. Says the apostle, "It was added because of transgressions." (Gal. 3:19.)

Let us recapitulate then the conclusions we submit to the reader for his prayerful consideration.

I. Man as a creature owes to God obedience, confidence, and dependence. So long as I am a creature I am under this inherent obligation; it is my debt to God. I have not ceased, and shall never cease to be a creature; therefore I shall never cease to owe this debt.

II. Man as born into the world is also a sinner as to his nature, and every default of his debt to God is a committed sin; accordingly by nature and by practice we are sinners and sinful.

III. But Christ became the divine substitute of them that believe, and as such bore the penalty of our sins, which penalty we had incurred by default of our obligations to God. In His death He also ended for faith our history (not as creatures, but) as men in the flesh - sinners under judgment. Through grace we as believers have in consequence received eternal forgiveness of our sins. We also reckon that in His death we died, and thus our old man was crucified; moreover, we are in Christ a new creation, essentially heavenly.

We have here three distinct things - man as a creature, man as a sinner, and man as a believer. To the first belong characteristically the creature responsibilities; to the second belongs the penalty for his sins; to the third belong remission of sins and new creation.

The first did not (looked at alone) call for Christ's death, and Christ's death has nothing necessarily to say to it. The second brought in the work of Christ in atonement, in whose death we are accounted to have died, and have thus put off the old man, which is crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be destroyed. The third is that into which I am brought as the result of the resurrection of Christ, and which is so wonderful in its character that the apostle predicates of our bodies that even now they are members of Christ and temples of the Holy Ghost.

Thus two of these things, the first and third, remain to me. (1) That I am as I have been from birth, and ever shall be, a creature owing to God obedience, confidence and dependence; my original obligation maintained in its immutable validity, and which indissolubly attaches to me in common with every intelligent creature, be he man or angel, and in whatever condition of existence. (2) That new and distinct order of purely spiritual blessedness which is only in Christ (involving relationship to the Father as a son, union with Christ by the Holy Ghost given, and eternal glory), which I came into for eternity by the death and resurrection of Christ, in whom I have died and am risen. But the same being in its very essence a heavenly thing, it awaits its blissful consummation when this corruptible shall put on incorruption, and this mortal shall put on immortality; when the natural body shall be changed into a spiritual body, being fashioned like unto the glorified body of the Lord Jesus Christ, who is Himself the beginning of the creation of God!

In no respect whatever are these two things incompatible with each other, nor do the obligations and responsibilities pertaining to the second (incomparably higher though they be in character) set aside or weaken those which are inherent in the first; but entwined together they subsist in perfect harmony, in divinely established order, and in eternal duration. Even amid the wondrous blessedness of the Father's house, where the unsullied joy is as perpetual as profound, in the dignity and the grace of a seat in the throne of Christ as being of His body and of His bride, though enraptured in the ineffable delight and ecstatic bliss of His own presence (heaven's crowning joy to my soul), throughout all eternity shall I love to obey Him who formed me by the skill of His hand, shall love to confide in Him who won me with the love of His heart, and shall love to depend upon Him who divinely upholds me for His own glory for ever and for ever! W. R. (D).

Humility before all gives courage before all. The beginning of all excellence is to confess that we have none. J. N. Darby.