"The old and the new."

God never gives up the creature, or the original order of the thing which He has created or established. "For thy pleasure they are and were created," is His rule. Whatever the ruin may be which sin and Satan have introduced, yet all will be infinitely surpassed, when set up again for His glory and our blessing, in the second Adam.

This is true as regards the first heavens and the earth, and the man and the woman, who were made in the image of God, and who walked with their Creator in the midst of the garden of Eden. It further applies to the relations of life in which Adam and Eve were set as one flesh so that marriage itself is claimed by Jesus (Matt. 19) for "an order of God," as He made them in "the beginning," and will find its perfect fulfilment at last in Christ and the Church. (See Eph. 5:31.) It is true "the patterns" of the heavenly things have been sadly dimmed, and even marred by the fall; and "the tree of the knowledge of good and evil" has taken deep root, and spread its branches and fruits far and wide amongst the generations of men. But even this interruption by sin has been turned round for the display of the forbearance and goodness of God towards His guilty creatures, in the plans of His government of the world. Ways and means of recovery have ever and anon been employed by God, if man were reclaimable; but all reformatory measures failed, whether by the law, or the kings, or the prophets, and evil has established itself in the earth. "There was none good but one," and He was God! He alone could measure or meet this mighty ruin, and this was met, in the fulness of time, by sending forth His Son, made of a woman, to redeem them that were under the law; and beyond this, God was in Christ "reconciling the world unto Himself," not imputing their trespasses unto them. He who alone could provide a remedy, did so in His infinite love, and "made Christ, who knew no sin, to be sin for us, that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him." But beside the efficacy of His sacrifice, and our redemption by His blood out of the state and condition we were in, as men in the flesh, and in our sins - "in Him was life, and the life was the light of men," and of the world. God manifest in flesh (Jesus the Lord) had come into the midst of the human family, not to judge and condemn, but as a man amongst men, going about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with Him. Perfect too as the Son of man in His daily life, He was viewed with delight from the opened heavens, and declared to be "the beloved Son, in whom the Father was well pleased."

One had come forth from God, into the midst of a disobedient and gainsaying people, whose meat and drink it was to do the will of Him that sent Him, and to finish His work. Led too into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil (that in all things He might stand between men, and what man was powerless to meet), He resisted the tempter by the word of the living God, and finally, in the triumph of that hour, bade Satan go behind Him. Nor did Jesus stand alone in His life of service towards the oppressed and the guilty, but sent forth His disciples into the cities and towns, whither He Himself would come; so that they returned, saying, "The devils are subject to us through thy name.

But the Son of God upon the earth, speaking as never man spoke, and with such a ministry maintained by His own personal glory, through mighty wonders and miracles which He and His disciples wrought, failed to win the confidence and faith of men in the glad tidings of the prophetic kingdom, which the Messiah presented in His own person. They would not accept Him - divine power and grace were all ineffectual - and they crucified their King. Life and light in "the word made flesh" were thus refused, and the love rejected which brought them down into the midst of moral darkness and death in which men lay. Majesty and glory, in the Son of David, were despised; and the throne, the sceptre, and the kingdom, alike refused, when presented, as He rode into Jerusalem, the royal city.

In effect, the world broke the link which the heavens supplied, as the only recovering means of present blessing, by refusing the hand and heart that formed it. Goodness, supreme goodness, was driven back to its source in God by the crucifixion of Christ. Righteousness, cast out of the world by the expulsion of Him in whom it dwelt, went up for a home with the Father on high. Sad as this was, it was all that Satan and man could do, and did, by means of the cross; but in thus getting rid of Christ, how little did they see that this last act of combined wickedness was the limit of their power, which expired in the outburst of its own enmity and rage. The glory of Christ's resurrection was its contradiction and reversal by the right hand of God, and now His intentions and counsels have changed their centre, and are to begin and be carried out in sovereign grace and Almighty power "from the heavens" above, where the rejected One of the earth has been accepted and crowned with glory. Redemption by blood, the blood of Christ, has been accomplished for the overwhelming ruin under which the whole race lay by the guilt of the cross; and the Lord in resurrection life, and ascension power on high, is declared to be the head and beginning of the new creation of God. Consequent upon this change of divine operation for the glory of Christ, and as regards ourselves, "if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. And all things are of God." No higher place can be reached than that into which God has exalted Christ, as the head, of all principality and power; and we await His coming forth in manifested glory. Moreover, the witness of all this to the Church is the Holy Ghost, which the Father has sent in the Son's name, till the shout calls away the bride to meet her Lord in the air. It is well to be assured thus, by the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, that the very next thing is "manifestation in love," and then "display in glory;" for all that precedes, and is necessary to this, has been accomplished. It is this expectation of the heart which makes "the blessed hope" of the Lord's coming so precious and present to it. Nothing but this can make it the ruling passion of the soul, for transformation here, by separation from evil; or for the comfort and joy of knowing that we shall be like nothing else when He does come. J. E. B.