"And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new."—Revelation 21:5.
How pleased we are with that which is new! Our children's eyes sparkle when we talk of giving them a toy or a book which is called new; for our short-lived human nature loves that which has lately come, and is therefore like our own fleeting selves. In this respect, we are all children, for we eagerly demand the news of the day, and are all too apt to rush after the "many inventions" of the hour. The Athenians, who spent their time in telling and hearing some new thing, were by no means singular persons: novelty still fascinates the crowd. As the world's poet says—
"All with one consent praise new-born gawds."
I should not wonder, therefore, if the mere words of my text should sound like a pleasant song in your ears; but I am thankful that their deeper meaning is even more joyful. The newness which Jesus brings is bright, clear, heavenly, enduring. We are at this moment specially ready for a new year. The most of men have grown weary with the old cry of depression of trade and hard times; we are glad to escape from what has been to many a twelve-months of great trial. The last year had become wheezy, croaking, and decrepit, in its old age; and we lay it asleep with a psalm of judgment and mercy. We hope that this newborn year will not be worse than its predecessor, and we pray that it may be a great deal better. At any rate, it is new, and we are encouraged to couple with it the idea of happiness, as we say one to another, "I wish you a happy New Year."
"Ring out the old, ring in the new;
Ring, happy bells, across the snow;
The year is going, let him go;
Ring out the false, ring in the true."
We ought not, as men in Christ Jesus, to be carried away by a childish love of novelty, for we worship a God who is ever the same, and of whose years there is no end.
In some matters "the old is better." There are certain things which are already so truly new, that to change them for anything else would be to lose old gold for new dross. The old, old gospel is the newest thing in the world; in its very essence it is for ever good news. In the things of God the old is ever new, and if any man brings forward that which seems to be new doctrine and new truth, it is soon perceived that the new dogma is only worn-out heresy dexterously repaired, and the discovery in theology is the digging up of a carcase of error which had better have been left to rot in oblivion. In the great matter of truth and godliness, we may safely say, "There is nothing new under the sun."
Yet, as I have already said, there has been so much evil about ourselves and our old nature, so much sin about our life and the old past, so much mischief about our surroundings and the old temptations, that we are not distressed by the belief that old things are passing away. Hope springs up at the first sound of such words as these from the lips of our risen and reigning Lord: "Behold, I make all things new." It is fit that things so outworn and defiled should be laid aside, and better things fill their places.
-- from Sermon for New Year's Day, Delivered on January 1st, 1885, Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington.