THE MINISTRY OF HOME
Expository Lectures on Divine Truth"
by Octavius Winslow
The New Song of Heaven
"And they sang as it were a new song before the throne."
This passage opens to us a door in Heaven, through which,
as it were, its music steals. The service of heaven is preeminently the
service of song. Music celebrated the beginning of this creation, and music
will celebrate its close. When the new-born creature first entered the
paradise of earth, the morning stars sang together for joy. When the renewed
soul enters the paradise of heaven, all the minstrels of glory strike their
golden harps, and music welcomes home their sister-spirit. The chief
occupation, then, of heaven will, doubtless, be PRAISE. And can we imagine a
more appropriate employment? -a more natural and befitting expression of the
new-born feelings of the glorified?
Prayer- now so needful and precious- would then seem unnatural and out of
place; and praise now so faint and faltering- will then be but the
spontaneous, full, and universal outburst of every happy spirit. In the
absence of all evil and in the presence of all good, there can be no lack of
material for music in heaven. And when the saved sinner, once so vile and
lost, when the renewed believer, once so filled with doubt and trembling,
finds himself safe in heaven at last, oh will its walls, its arches, and its
dome ever cease to ring and reverberate with his hallelujahs, thanksgiving,
Think also, above and beyond all, when the eye rests upon JESUS, when the
glorified form of the exalted Redeemer occupying the central throne, robed
in majesty, first bursts upon the view- when the panting spirit folds its
weary wing within His blessed embrace, and meets the loving welcome of His
eye, will anything but praise- praise waking every faculty, employing every
thought, inspiring every affection- occupy the mind and engage forever the
heart of the countless throng circling the throne of the Lamb?
The vision now unveiling to our eye is a magnificent one. John looked,
and behold! a Lamb stood on the Mount Zion, surrounded by a great multitude
of the redeemed, upon whose forehead His Father's name was written. And he
heard music. It was the voice of harpers harping with their harps. "And they
sang as it were a new song before the throne." To this New Song of the
redeemed let us now bend a listening ear.
If we are Christ's, if we love Him, are following and serving Him, then
this New Song has a profound and entrancing interest for us. We, too, shall
one day possess a harp, and shall wake it to the swelling music of the New
Song of Heaven. For this the Lord is now preparing us, as we shall presently
more fully show. Every grace imparted and every sin subdued, every assault
finished, and every temptation overcome- tested by trial, purified by
affliction, chastened by sorrow, taught by adversity, God is training us to
sing the song of heaven.
All the manifestations of Christ to our souls, all that we now see of His
glory, taste of His love, experience of His grace, and learn of His truth,
forms part of our education on earth for the choir of heaven. Through
suffering our God is training us for song; by sorrow and tears and groans He
is fitting us for the sweet, entrancing, never-ending music of the skies.
Learning thus to sing the New Song upon earth- in what higher sense will it
be new, when we arrive in heaven? To this question let us briefly turn
In the first place, those who sing it will be, in the most enlarged
sense, new creatures. Renewed in part now by the Holy Spirit, this spiritual
renewal admits of a more comprehensive meaning in heaven. Heaven is occupied
by beings once our fellow travelers and companions in tribulation, and like
us born again of the Spirit. But the work of grace, carried to the highest
state of culture earth would admit, is now complete when we get to heaven.
The Divine image is perfect- the spiritual kingdom is finished- the bud has
beauteously flowered- the blossom is set in golden fruit- the outline of the
picture is filled up- the embryo saint has become a glorified spirit; and
now the New Song ascends from hearts perfected in holiness, and breaths from
the lips of choristers "without fault before the throne."
O what then must be the deep melody of that song! With what new
emphasis must they sing it in the happy consciousness of perfect holiness,
of entire freedom from all the taint, and guilt, and power of sin! Every
present victory over the promptings to sin wakes a new song from the lips.
But what will be the music of the soul, what the newness and melody of the
song, when the last fetter of corruption is broken, and the spirit is
entirely and forever free!
My dear reader, permit me earnestly to enforce the absolute necessity of
your being "born again," of your becoming a "new creature in Christ Jesus,"
before you can join in the New Song of Heaven. It will be a new song sung
only by a new creature. What share in this anthem could a heart take, if it
were still the seat of all sin? What sympathy with its music could a mind
feel, if it were still armed in all its powers with enmity and hatred
against God? None whatever! We must be spiritually changed, must be divinely
regenerated, must be born of the Spirit, before we can be admitted to
participate in the New Song of Heaven.
The Lord Jesus shadowed forth this essential truth, when He reminded us
that, "the new wine must be put into new bottles." The new song of the Lamb-
the inspiration of perfect love, of complete holiness, of consummate bliss,
and of endless glory- can only breathe from a soul all whose powers and
affections Divine, grace has made new. There must be spiritual harmony
between the minstrel and the song, a moral fitness of the instrument and the
Again, the song of heaven will be "new" because it will be sung in a new
world. Heaven is a place, not a state- a locality, and not a condition of
the redeemed soul. "I go," said the Lord, "to prepare a PLACE for you." We
know not in what part of boundless space this new and glorious world is; for
the revelations which we possess of heaven are but partial and dim, -but of
this we are assured, that heaven is where Christ is, and wherever Christ is
that will be heaven to the Christ-loving believer, and where He is not will
Now the glorified are in a new place. They have fled from this fallen
planet, have escaped from this sinful earth, and have entered upon a new
existence, in a new world. Blessed thought! they are away from all the sins
and evils, the privations and sufferings of this time-state. The lone-path
is no more bedewed with their tears; the solitude of the mountain no longer
echoes with their groans; the mind is no more affected by sin, misery, and
care; the heart is no more shaded by sorrow- they are in heaven, the
inhabitants of a new world, the occupants of a new home, the companions of
new associates, engaged in new employments- and all this essentially
contributes to the freshness and sweetness of their new-born song.
The circumstances are new in which the glorified sing this new song. In
heaven how changed is all that appertains to the believer! Behold all things
have become new! It would seem at first sight as if it would be impossible
to recognize our own selves. We shall probably find it difficult to imagine
that we were the sinful, the vile, the frail and infirm beings that we once
were. Then we possessed such unamiable dispositions, such selfish natures,
such low-born minds, such corrupt and sinful hearts. But O how changed do we
find ourselves now! All is new- all is ennobled thought, perfect love,
untainted joy, unmingled bliss. Nothing remains to recall our identity, but
the grace that called, sanctified, kept, and at last brought us home to God-
the divine image and superscription of the soul is now visible, resplendent
and indelible. We marvel not that the song which celebrates this new
creation, this spiritual renovation of the soul, should never cease to be
the "new song sung before the throne."
The materials which compose this song will be ever new. It will open with
Redemption- it will begin with Christ. Jesus the Savior will be its grand
theme, its endless subject. Myriads of ages will revolve upon their golden
hinges, and still the song will be of Jesus and His love, as new, as
melodious, and as wondrous as when its first notes broke in trembling
ecstasies from the lips of the glorified. And as His person unveils new
beauties, and His love new depths, and His grace new wonders, and His
atoning sufferings and death, new and still surpassing glories- the
stupendous redemption of man thus dilating in magnitude and heightening in
grandeur- the song will grow in the richness of its tone, in the sweetness
of its music, and in the majesty of its meaning- ever and forever, the new
song sung by redeemed minstrels before the throne of God and the Lamb!
The perpetually recurring memories of the past will contribute to the
endless music of this song. The opening mysteries of Providence, blending
with the unveiling prodigies of grace, will be ever supplying fresh material
for wonder, gratitude, and praise. As each volume is unsealed, and as each
chapter is read, and as each sentence is studied, and as each line is
scanned, and as each word is spelled in the marvellous history of all the
way the Lord our God skillfully and tenderly and safely brought us through
the wilderness, across the desert, and over the flood, another and a higher
chord will be added to the music of this anthem, making it ever new.
"Above the rest this note will swell,
Our Jesus has done all things well."
The enlarged and ever enlarging capacity of the soul will contribute
essentially to the development of this song. With new powers of song there
will be new strains of melody. With the continued expansion of the spirit
will come increased capacity of thought and feeling; and with each accession
of intelligence and love will come fresh material for praise; and thus, as
the mind expands in its knowledge of God's character, as the heart grows
larger with the love of Christ, and the soul gets deeper views of that free
and sovereign grace which chose it to eternal life, the new and heavenly
song will wax louder and louder, and ascend higher and higher, and grow
sweeter and sweeter, rolling its rich majestic strains along the high,
arched roof of heaven.
The study will be interminable. Never shall we come to the end of
Christ's love and grace, or of God's wisdom and power and glory in our
salvation. Never shall we exhaust our gratitude, nor reach the last throb of
love to the Savior for having, by the sacrifice of Himself, and by His free
and sovereign grace, brought us there; and thus new, increasingly new, ever
new, will be the song that will wake the undying symphonies of eternity.
But an important truth is suggested to us here. This song is learned, and
learned on earth, and learned only by the redeemed. There is a remarkable
passage bearing on this truth, recorded in the fourteenth chapter of the
Revelation and third verse. It is this; "No man could LEARN that song but
the hundred and forty and four thousand, who were redeemed from the earth."
The saints of God are trained for heaven. Earth is the school of our graces.
"No man could learn that song."
The new song is a learned, an acquired song. It is not learned by
intuition, nor acquired by ear, nor taught by man- but in the school of God;
and oftimes by a discipline the nature of which would seem to unbelief and
sense the most unlikely to promote and mature the soul's fitness for the
choir of heaven. But to be able to sing it, it must be learned. The great
masters of human art, although "born with music in their souls," reached not
their matchless attainments, and gave not birth to those almost divine
compositions which will perpetuate their genius and their fame to the
remotest age of the world, but by the most diligent and unwearied study.
How much more must the heavenly minstrels be instructed in the music
which is to employ their tongues in ever growing melody through eternity! We
must be trained for heaven. It is a holy place, it is the dwelling of the
Lord- it is the high throne of the Holy One. We must be constituted for its
holiness by becoming holy. Nothing can live in its pure atmosphere but a
nature made pure. No heart can sympathize with its atmosphere of love, but a
Christ-loving heart. None can hold fellowship with God in heaven but those
who have walked in communion with God on earth. None can unite in the song
of the Lamb but those who have learned its first notes beneath the Cross of
Again, the choristers of heaven are represented as "redeemed." O yes!
redemption is the condition, the right, the title to their place in the
celestial choir. They are there because Christ has ransomed and saved them
by His most glorious sacrifice. They have been cleansed from the guilt,
emancipated from the despotism, and released from the condemnation of sin,
by the atonement of the Son of God. Atoning blood has brought them there-
the blood of the Incarnate God. See how glorious this truth appears, bathed
in the light of the throne! "These are those who came out of great
tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood
of the Lamb; therefore are they before the throne of God."
Listen to their music! "And they sang a NEW SONG, saying, You are worthy
to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for You were SLAIN, and
have REDEEMED us to God by YOUR BLOOD out of every kindred, and tongue, and
people, and nation, and have made us unto our God kings and priests." Are we
thus prepared to join in the New Song of Heaven? Have we come as sinners to
Jesus? have we accepted in faith the Savior? have we washed in His blood? do
we believingly and wholly rely upon His one and finished Sacrifice? and are
we growing in holiness, and thus training for the New Song of Heaven?
One more view of this subject yet remains. It is on earth this song is
learned. "We were redeemed FROM THE EARTH." It was on earth the grand
redemption of the Church was made. This world, fallen, sinful, dark as it
is, surpasses in wonder all other material worlds, since it constitutes the
redemptive scene of the Church. It was here the Cross was planted- here the
Savior died- here the Church was ransomed- and it is here the Spirit is
training God's children for their Father's home. And O in what a school! and
by how varied a discipline! There is nothing in our individual history,
nothing in our Father's dealings- not a joy nor a sorrow, not a sunbeam nor
a cloud-mist, which forms not an element in our preparation for the new song
Earth is training us for heaven! Its discipline of trial and of sorrow,
of temptation and of care, is to make us "fit to be partakers of the
inheritance of the saints in light." In the night watches God gives us
songs, and those songs are stray notes from heaven, which here in the house
of our pilgrimage we learn to sing, until we rise to the full anthem of
glory. Taught to say, "Your Will Be Done," is the highest preparation on
earth for the celestial harmonies of the blest; it is to prepare us to take
our place in the white-robed choir around the throne, to sing as sweetly, as
loudly, and as eternally as they- "Blessing, and honor, and glory, and
power, be unto Him who sits upon the throne, and unto the Lamb forever and
Truly does our light and momentary affliction work for us a far more
exceeding and eternal weight of glory. If this, O Lord, be the end of all
Your dispensations, this the blest result of Your wise, holy, and loving
correction, then do with me as seems good in Your sight. Try me, chasten me,
refine me, as You will, if through the hallowed discipline of earth I am but
learning to sing the new, the endless, song of heaven- "Worthy the Lamb That
Was Slain to Receive Power, and Riches, and Wisdom, and Strength, and Honor,
and Glory, and Blessing."
"Jesus, the Lord, their harps employs!
Jesus, my love, they sing!
Jesus, the life of both our joys,
Sounds sweet from every string.
Now let me rise and join their song,
And be an, angel too
My heart, my ear, my hand, my tongue,
Here's joyful work for you.
I would begin the music here,
And so my soul should rise;
O for some heavenly notes,
to bear My passions to the skies!