صور الصفحة
النشر الإلكتروني

never seen before Noah saw it, on occasion of his revealing his covenant to him, and says, "The tradition of antiquity concerning the rainbow, seems strongly to confirm this opinion; for Iris, which is the name of the rainbow with the Greeks, is said to be the daughter of Thaumas, i. e. Wonder, and the messenger of Jupiter, to carry his great oath to the other gods when they had of fended. Now this seems to be a fable plainly founded upon the solemn covenant now mentioned, which God made with men after the deluge, the covenant of God on this occasion plainly implies the oath of God, as you may learn from Isai. liv. 9, where God declaring his resolution of mercy to the Gentiles, useth these words, For this is as the waters of Noah unto me, for as I have sworn that the waters of Noah should no more go over the earth, so have I sworn that I would not be wroth with thee, nor rebuke thee."

[348] Gen. ix. 12, &c. Concerning the rainbow, the token of the covenant. This is on many accounts a token of God's covenant of grace, and his special promise of no more overthrowing the earth with a flood in particular.

It was a most fit token of the covenant of grace of which this particular covenant was a part, and also an image, as appears by Ísai. liv. 8, 9, 10. Tokens of things that appertain to the covenant of God do as fitly confirm this promise, as they did the promise mentioned in the vii. chap. of Isaiah, ver. 14. It is light which is the symbol of God's favour and blessed communications to those that are the objects of his favour, and a symbol of hope, comfort and joy, excellency and glory. It is a very pleasant light, excellently representing that grace and love that is manifested in the covenant of grace, and that sweet comfort and peace, and that excellent grace and glory that is the fruit of that love.

It is light manifested in all the variety of its beautiful colours, which represent, as has been elsewhere shown, the beauty and sweetness of the divine Spirit of love, and those amiable sweet graces and happy influences that are from that Spirit.

It it a pleasant sweet light in a cloud, which is the symbol of the divine presence, and especially of God manifest in the flesh, or in the human nature of Christ, and therefore fitly represents the pleasant grace and sweet love of God as appearing in Christ God man. The light of the sun is more beautiful and pleasant to our weak eyes appearing thus in a cloud where the dazzling brightness of it is removed, and its pleasantness retained and illustrated, than when we behold it in the sun directly. So the divine perfections, as appearing in Christ God man, are brought down to our manner of conception, and are represented to the greatest advantage to such weak creatures as we are, and appear not glaring and terrifying, but easy, sweet, and inviting. The light of the rainbow

in a cloud, teaches the like mystery with the light of fire in a pillar of cloud in the wilderness, even the union of the divine nature, or God dwelling in flesh.

It is a pleasant light in the bosom of a dissolving cloud, that is wearied with watering, and is spending itself for the sake of men, and in order to shed down its fatness, its nourishing, benign, refreshing influences on the earth, and so fitly represents the beauty and love, and excellent fulness of Christ, as it is manifested in his dying for men. The drops of rain fitly represent Christ's blood, and also his word, and the blessed communications of his Spirit, which come by his death, and are compared to the rain in the scripture.

As the cloud fitly represents the human nature of Christ's person, so also it doth Christ mystical, or the human nature of the church. In the rainbow the light of the sun is imparted to, and sweetly reflected from a cloud, that is but a vapour that continues for a little while, and then vanishes away in an empty, unsubstantial, vanishing thing, driven to and fro with the wind, that is far from having any light or beauty of its own, being in its own nature dark.

The multitude of drops from which the light of the sun is so beautifully reflected, signify the same with the multitude of the drops of dew that reflect the light of the sun in the morning, spoken of, Ps. cx. 3. (See notes in the place.) They are all God's jewels, and, as they are all in heaven, each oue by its reflection, is a little star, and so do more fitly represent the saints than the drops of dew. These drops are all from heaven, as the sanits are born from above; they are all from the dissolving cloud, so the saints are the children of Christ, they receive their new nature from him, and by his death they are from the womb of the cloud, the church: Jerusalem which is above, is the mother of us all; the saints are born of the church that is in travail with them, enduring great labours, and suffering, and carnal persecutions, so those jewels of God are out of the dissolving cloud. These drops receive and reflect the light of the sun just breaking forth, and shining out of the cloud that had been till now darkened and hid, and covered with thick clouds, so the saints receive grace and comfort from Christ's rising from his state of humiliation, suffering, and death, wherein his glory was veiled, and he that is the brightness of God's glory was as it were extinguished, as was signified in the time of it, by that eclipse of the sun. The light which in the sun, its fountain, is one and unvaried as it is reflected from the cloud, appears with great variety, so the glory of God, that is simple, is reflected from the saints in various graces. The whole rainbow, composed of innumerable shining beautiful drops, all united in one, ranged in such excellent order, some parts higher

[ocr errors]

and others lower, the different colours, one above another in such exact order, beautifully represents the church of saints of different degrees, gifts, and offices, each with its proper place, and each with its peculiar beauty: each drop may be beautiful in itself, but the whole as united together, much more beautiful. Numb. xxiv. 5, 6. "How goodly are thy tents, O Jacob! and thy tabernacles, O Israel! as the valleys are they spread forth, as the gardens by the river's side; as the trees of lign-aloes which the Lord hath planted, and as the cedar-trees beside the waters." Ps. xlviii. 2. "Beautiful for situation, the joy of the whole earth is mount Zion." Ps. 1. 2. "Out of Zion, the perfection of beauty, God hath shined." Ps. cxxii. 3. "Jerusalem is builded as a city compact together. Part of this bow is on earth, and part in heaven, so it is with the church. The bow gradually rises higher and higher from the earth towards heaven, so the saints from their first conversion are travelling in the way towards heaven, and gradually climb the hill, till they arrive at the top. So this bow in this respect is a like token of the covenant with Jacob's ladder, which represented the way to heaven by the covenant of grace, in which the saints go from step to step, and from strength to strength, till they arrive at the heavenly Zion; so in this bow the ascent is gradual towards the top in the way to heaven; the beginning of the ascent is sharpest and most difficult; the higher you ascend the easier the ascent becomes. On earth this bow is divided, the parts of it that are here below are at a distance from one another, but in heaven it is united, and perfectly joined together. So different parts of the church on earth may be divided, separated as to distance of place, have no acquaintance one part with another, and separated in manner of worship and many opinions, and separted in affection, but will be perfectly united in heaven. The parts of the rainbow, the higher you ascend, the nearer and nearer do they come together, so the more eminent saints are in knowledge and holiness, the nearer they are to a union in opinion and affection, but perfect union is not to be expected but in heaven.

This beautiful, pleasant light, appears after the heavens have been covered with blackness, and have poured out rain on the earth, seeming to threaten its destruction by a deluge; so it is a fit simbol of his mercy after his anger, the turning away of his anger, his mercy appearing in the forgiveness of sins. So the glorious gospel follows the law, and Christ's glory follows his sufferings, and comfort in the hearts of the saints follows sorrows of conscience; yea this light is light in darkness, it is a beautiful light reflected from the dark cloud, showing God's love in his anger, his love appearing in his frowns. God's love never so greatly appeared as in the sufferings of Christ, the greatest manifesta

tion of his anger against sinners, and his love when the shower is over in past threatenings, and convictions, and terrors of conscience, which the saints have been the subjects of.

The rainbow, if completed, would be a perfect circle, the most perfect figure in every part united, fitly representing the most excellent order and perfect union that there shall be in the church of Christ. The rainbow is sometimes in scripture represented as a circle, Rev. x. 1, "And a rainbow was upon his head." The reason why the circle is not now complete, is because a part of it is as it were under the earth; but if we by standing on an high mountain, or otherwise see it all raised above the earth, we should see it a complete circle. So the church of Christ is now incomplete, while a part of the elect church is buried under the earth, and a part has never yet received being, but after the general resurrection, when that part of the church that is now under the earth shall be raised above it, then the church of Christ would be in its complete state. If we could view the resurrection church from an high mountain, as the apostle John viewed it, and saw it in the colours of the rainbow, reflected from these precious stones, we should see the circle completed without any part wanting, all disposed in the most perfect union and beautiful order. The order of the drops of the rainbow, supposing them to represent saints, and the sun to represent Christ, is the most apt, commodious, and beautiful, both with respect to the sun and each other. They are in the most apt order with respect to the sun, all opposite to him, and so placed in a fit posture to view the sun, and to receive and reflect his rays, all at an equal distance from the sun, and all in a sense round about him to testify their respect to him, and yet none behind him, but all before his face, and all in the most apt order to behold and reflect light on, and converse together, and assist and rejoice one another. On the whole, here is an image of the most pleasant and perfect harmony, of a great and blessed society dependent on, blessed in, and showing respect to, the fountain of all light and love.

The sun is as it were in the centre of this beautiful circle of little jewels or stars, as the sun is in the centre of the orbits of the planets, and as the ark, and mercy-seat, and the seven lamps were in the midst of the tabernacle of blue, and purple, and scarlet, those colours of the rainbow, and as Christ is in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks, and as the throne of the Lamb is in the midst of the saints of heaven, who are round about that throne, and also a rainbow round about the throne, Rev. iv. 3, 4; and as the Lamb, who is the light of the new Jerusalem, has that city adorned with the colours of the rainbow round about him.

Each drop contains in itself a beautiful image of the sun reflected after its manner according to that part of the sun's glory which is most conspicuous in it: one contains a red image of the sun, another a yellow one, another a green one, and another a blue one, &c. so each saint reflects the image of Christ, though each one has his particular gift, and there be some particular grace or spiritual beauty that is most conspicuous in him. The whole bow, when completed into the form of a circle, or all that multitude of shining jewels or stars together united into that excellent form and order, do together constitute one complete image of the sun. Though the image differs from the sun itself in the following things: 1. That whereas the disk of the sun is full within its own circumference, the image is empty, it is a circle not filled, but left empty to be filled with the sun, so Christ has all fulness in himself, but the church is in itself an empty vessel, and Christ is her fulness. 2. Whereas the light is single in the sun, in the bow it is diversified, reflected in a great variety, the distinct glories of the sun as it were divided, and separately reflected each beauty by itself, as it is in Christ and his church. 3. Though there be so many that each one reflects a little image of the sun, and the whole bow or circle be of so great extent, and be so beautiful, yet the sun infinitely exceeds the whole in light, the whole reflects but a little of the brightness of the fountain.

A drop of rain fitly represents man. It is a very small thing, of little value and significancy; a drop of the bucket, and light dust of the balance, are mentioned together as small and worthy of no consideration. It is very weak, very mutable, and unstable, exceeding liable to perish, soon falls and is dissipated, and cannot be made up again. The continuance of a drop of rain is but short, it is a thing of a very posting nature, its course is swift, and in a moment it sinks into the earth, and is no more, which fitly represents the frailty and mortality of man, days are swifter than a weaver's shuttle, who is but a momentary thing, and hastens with a swift course to the grave. Man's dying and sinking into the grave is compared to this very thing, of water's being spilt on the ground, sinking into the earth, and so being irrecoverably gone, 2 Sam. xiv. 14.


The drops of rain reflecting the light of the sun in the rainbow fitly represent the saints, for in them fire and water are mixed together, which fitly represents the contrary principles that are in the saints' flesh and spirit. In those drops are a brighter spark of heavenly fire in the midst of water, and yet it is not quenched, it is kept alive by the influence of the sun, as the heavenly seed and divine spark is kept alive in the saints in the midst of corruption and temptation, that seem often as if

[blocks in formation]
« السابقةمتابعة »