THE MINISTRY OF HOME  or "Brief 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."  Revelation 14:3

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, and praise?
  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 our attention.
  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 music.
  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 be hell.
  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 Calvary.
  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 of glory.
  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 ever."
  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!