Intimate Union

From “The New Creation” (1739)

What a strange scene is here opened to our view! How remote from all our natural apprehensions!… The earth will no more be bound up with intense cold, nor parched up with extreme heat… It will then contain no jarring or destructive principles within its own bosom. It will no more have any of those violent convulsions in its own bowels. It will no more be shaken or torn asunder by the impetuous force of earthquakes, and will, therefore need neither Vesuvius nor Etna, nor any burning mountains to prevent them. There will be no more horrid rocks or frightful precipices; no wild desert, or barren sands; no impassable morasses, or unfruitful bogs, to swallow up the unwary traveler. There will, doubtless, be inequalities on the surface of the earth, which are not blemishes, but beauties… The fields in cheerful green! thousand herbs his hand displays, a thousand flower between!

And what will the general produce of the earth be? Not thorns, briers, or thistles; not any useless or fetid weed; not any poisonous, hurtful, or unpleasant plant; but every one that can be conducive, in anywise, either to our use or pleasure. How far beyond all that the most lively imagination is now able to conceive!… All the earth shall then be a more beautiful Paradise than Adam ever saw.

Such will be the state of the new earth with regard to the meaner, the inanimate, parts of it. But great as this change will be, it is little, it is nothing, in comparison of that which will then take place throughout all animated nature. In the living part of the creation were seen the most deplorable effects of Adam’s apostasy. The whole animated creation, whatever has life, from leviathan to the smallest mite, was thereby made subject to such vanity, as the inanimate creatures could not be. They were subject to that fell monster, Death, the conqueror of all that breathe. They were made subject to its fore-runner, pain, in its ten thousand forms; although “God made not death, neither has he pleasure in the death of any living.” How many millions of creatures in the sea, in the air, and on every part of the earth, can now no otherwise preserve their own lives, than by taking away the lives of others; by tearing in pieces and devouring their poor, innocent, unresisting fellow-creatures! Miserable lot of such innumerable multitudes, who, insignificant as they seem, are the offspring of one common Father; the creatures of the same God of love! It is probable not only two-thirds of the animal creation, but ninety-nine parts of a hundred, are under a necessity of destroying others in order to preserve their own life! But it shall not always be so.

He that sits upon the throne will soon change the face of all things and give a demonstrative proof to all his creatures that “his mercy is over all his works.” The horrid state of things which at present obtains, will soon be at an end. On the new earth, no creature will kill, or hurt, or give pain to any other. The scorpion will have no poisonous sting; the adder, no venomous teeth. The lion will have no claws to tear the lamb; no teeth to grind his flesh and bones. No creature, no beast, bird, or fish, will have any inclination to hurt any other. Cruelty will be far away, and savageness and fierceness will be forgotten. Violence shall be heard no more, neither wasting or destruction seen on the face of the earth. “The wolf shall dwell with the lamb,” (the words may be literally as well as figuratively understood,) “and the leopard shall lie down with the kid: They shall not hurt or destroy,” from the rising up of the sun, to the going down of the same.

 

But the most glorious of all will be the change which then will take place on the poor, sinful, miserable children of men. These had fallen in many respects, as from a greater height, so into a lower depth, than any other part of the creation. But they shall “hear a great voice out of heaven, saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men: And he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be their God” (Rev. 21:3, 4). Hence will arise an unmixed state of holiness and happiness far superior to that which Adam enjoyed in Paradise. In how beautiful a manner is this described by Paul: “God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: For the former things are done away!”

As there will be no more death, and no more pain or sickness preparatory thereto; as there will be no more grieving for, or parting with, friends; so there will be no more sorrow or crying. There will be a greater deliverance than all this, for there will be no more sin. And, to crown all, there will be a deep, an intimate, an uninterrupted union with God; a constant communion with the Father and his Son Jesus Christ, through the Spirit; a continual enjoyment of the Three-in-One God, and of all the creatures in him!

John Wesley (1703-1791) was an Anglican priest and evangelist, and the founder of the Methodist movement. After experiencing a profound conversion in 1738, he began a ministry of itinerant evangelistic preaching, travelling an average of 8000 miles a year and making thousands of converts. He sparked a renewal in preaching and discipleship that swept across the Anglo-American world and is one of the fathers of evangelicalism. He is commemorated on March 3 on the liturgical calendars of several Anglican churches. The text is adapted for contemporary readers.

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