The Promises of the New Covenant

Heb:10.---' This is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days.'

It is of the utmost importance to me to know how I may live in happy intercourse with God. Some relationship I must have, for I cannot get rid of God, even should I wish to do so. He will be here close upon me, knowing, watching, weighing me, whether I wish it or not. It is obviously best that the relationship should be a friendly one. I am not left in any doubt as to these terms, for this passage of Holy Scripture tells me what they are. The terms which God has proclaimed are distinctly stated. Those who read them with any care can hardly fail to notice that they consist of four promises.

The first promise is this: 'I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts.' The covenant is to be an inward one. It is to be made between me and my God in the secret place. There is to be an intimate understanding in the innermost rooms of my being. It is beautiful how the Lord expresses the terms of the intimacy! Let us just glance at the different grades of fellowship. It is possible for a law to be written in a book; the law is then entirely outside the man; it is an external thing and may have no relationship to the inner life. Or the law may be put into the mind; it may mix itself with the thought; it may enter into the purpose and ambitions, and control many of the movements of the life. Or the law may be in the heart; it may be entertained by the affections, received as a welcome guest among the dispositions, live as one of the inmates of the spiritual house. Anyone can see that these are three different planes of fellowship proceeding in an ascending gradient to the intimacy of the heart. Here, our Father has proclaimed that His purpose is to create intimacy in the heart; He will not make Himself known only in a book, or upon the plane of thought, but as a present Guest, recognized and beloved by the affections. We are to know Him in the heart; we are to discern His will by our dispositions; we are to read His purpose through the ministry of our affections.

Spirits that hold familiar intercourse with the Father must needs be refined. The coarse and the selfish could never discern His presence, and would need some obtrusive commandments uttered in tones of thunder to wake them from their sleep. Some men's spirits are hard as stone, others are a little more plastic and are like a cactus plant, others are a little more sensitive and thrill with the motion of an oak-leaf, others are finer still, and tremble with the sensitiveness of a silver birch! If our spirits are attempered to exquisite discernments, purified and chastened by the Spirit of God, we shall feel the faintest coming of our Lord and be able to enter into deep appreciation of His will. We shall know Him by instinct.

The second promise is: 'I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people.' How calm and happy is the relationship! How fruitful would be such a communion! God and His people are to share in common riches. God will offer His grace to His people: His people will offer their substance to their God. Was not this the ideal communion described by our Savior in the parable of the prodigal son? 'Son, thou art ever with me, and all that I have is thine.' ALL THAT I HAVE IS THINE. I may come to my God and partake of His powers: 'I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.' I can come to my God and partake of His wisdom: 'If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God.' I can come to my God and share His purity; He will give to me of the 'river of water of life, clear as crystal', and its purifying ministry will make me clean. But there is one condition to this wondrous reception. If all that God has is to be mine, all that I have must be offered to God. It is wise to sit down and make a register of my powers, naming them one by one, and as each is named, signing it away to the service of God. In the consecration service of the olden time the priest's ear was touched with the blood, and his hands, and even the toes of his feet. It was symbolic that all the powers of sense and of motion should be consecrated to the Lord of Life. As soon as this offering is made, there begins to flow toward me the riches of the Divine grace. 'I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people.'

The third promise is: 'They shall not teach every man his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for all shall know me, from the least to the greatest.' The promise tells of the personal knowledge of a personal God. The words do not speak merely of a knowledge of God, but---and it is a very different thing---of knowledge of God Himself. We all know a good deal about a king or president. Newspapers tell us something ever day; yet few of us know them; we are not personal friends. So there are many who know about God. The heavens declare His glory; 'the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead'; His doings at various times in the history of mankind are recorded in a book which is now published throughout the greater part of the world. Some measure of knowledge about Him is very widely diffused; men can tell of His greatness. Yet this is not the promise of the New Covenant. There are indeed many who go beyond this, and, like Abraham, know God as a Friend, like Joshua as a Leader, like St. Paul as a Savior; yet the clause of the New Covenant promise, short as it is, goes beyond this; there is no 'as' in it. All is summed up and included in the brief pregnant words, 'All shall know me.' The poorest, the most unlearned, the youngest, the humblest may have this, the most profound knowledge of the universe, the personal knowledge of the personal God. What is the deepest knowledge of things created compared with knowledge of the Creator Himself? The gain of such knowledge is immeasurable. Education through books is useful and good, but better is personal friendship with great, noble, and inspiring minds. Training of mind and soul and character through the Bible is of inestimable value, yet there is something better, and that is personal contact with the Person, God. This trains character, and purifies the heart. What can be more elevating, more refining than to know God and constantly to associate with Him, or, as the Scripture calls it, to walk with Him? What can give a more restful calm in the presence of adversity or a greater sense of security when we look into the future than to know God, the ever present, the eternal?

The fourth promise is: 'I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more.' This is a wonderful promise; God will erase my sins from His memory! If I were to name them in His presence I should find He had forgotten them! It is perhaps the most wonderful of all the tones of the evangel of grace; the sins of the forgiven child are never again to be in the Father's mind! If I am burdened about the past, if the marks of yesterdays sin still trouble me, if the signs of far-off rebellion are abounding, they shall all be transfigured in the light and life of the new covenant between me and God. He will be merciful. The place of failure is to be beautified.

I was in the garden the other day, and I noticed a peculiarly beautiful garden bed, and as a surprise I reflected that it was made out of a refuse heap! What was an eyesore and exceedingly ugly from all manner of organic scraps; a great, deep and ungainly site has been converted into a garden. It is suggestive as to how my Lord will deal with the rubbish heaps of my past days. His mercy will transfigure them, and the desert shall rejoice and blossom as the rose.

In Christ, timothy. maranatha