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in relation to the existence of a Divinely instituted ceremonial law before the time of Moses, cannot but have struck the mind of my friend. We have therein renewed mention of sacrific rites as performed by Noah so soon as he had left the ark. We find an altar immediately built, and animal offerings laid and consumed on it in atonement for sin, and those animals of the same species which Abel had before offered, and to which sacrific victims were confined by the Mosaic code. The sacrifices which Noah offered are stated to have been acceptable to Jehovah, which was, perhaps, attested, as in the case of Abel and numerous other instances, by the usual token of Divine approbation, consumption by fire Divinely kindled. Whether the sacred tent of Adam, the existence of which has, I conceive, been rendered more than probable by a former letter, had been preserved in the ark or not, is unrecorded; but we learn that such a tent existed before Moses built the Tabernacle in the wilder
And whether the first rainbow, after its appointment to be a token of the covenant, did not appear in the cloud of glory which was the usual symbol of the Divine Presence, and from which, on other occasions, the fire proceeded which consumed the sacrifices, is a subject for meditation which may, without detriment to the analogy of faith, engage the pious mind. But the federal aspect of the rainbow will be the subject of my next communication. In the mean time, I remain
THE RAINBOW A SYMBOL OF DIVINE MERCY.
MY DEAR FRIEND, BEFORE the world had existed two thousand years, it pleased God who made it to destroy all its inhabitants with the exception of eight persons. The cause of this catastrophe was the universal corruption, both of faith and practice, which prevailed among them. The means which he chose to employ was a deluge of waters.
In the exercise of judgment God, however, remembered mercy. His grace had preserved one family from the deluge of corruption, with a view to its preservation from the deluge of destruction. And as he could be at no loss for the means of punishing sin; so he could be at none for the means of saving his servants.
It was not unnatural for those who had been preserved from the universal catastrophe, in so extraordinary a manner as that which had been the means of security to Noah and his family, and still less for their posterity, to fear lest, on some future occasion, a similar vengeance might be taken on his sinful creatures by the Sovereign Disposer of all events.
The fullest assurance,
therefore, was necessary to the peace of mankind under circumstances of so alarming a nature as a consciousness of demerit, and a recollection, accompanied with evidence every where to be found, of the effects which human depravity had once produced.
That gracious Being who had, both by word and deed, so mercifully provided for the comfort of our guilty first parents immediately after their fall, in the paradisiacal promise and the institutions connected with it; discovered the same tender consideration for the second parents of mankind on their coming out of the ark. A promise was made that “all flesh should not any more be cut off by the waters of a flood,” and this promise was conveyed in the form of a solemn engagement to the survivors of the antediluvian world and their posterity, and to every living creature of the various tribes that had escaped from the universal ruin and to their progeny throughout all generations. But this promise and covenant, in which the ALEIM were the only contracting parties (for no notice is taken of any mutual stipulation on the part of Noah or his sons, and no condition of its fulfilment was required of them) might in future ages be called in question, as we know that every other part of Divine Revelation has been ; and, therefore, it pleased God to appoint a magnificent natural phenomenon, which had probably been often visible before the flood, to be from thenceforward a voucher for the truth of the promise he had made. As this natural phenomenon was not arbitrarily chosen for the purpose of sustaining faith in the Divine promise, but was, in its own physical character, adapted to the important end to which it was appointed; and as it had also a symbolical reference to a more stupendous salvation than that which Noah and his family had experienced; its history will form a suitable subject for another letter in the series which you have requested me to write to you.
In calling your attention to this subject, I shall, first, lay before you the transaction as it is recorded in the ninth chapter of Genesis ; and, then, offer you a few remarks for its illustration, following the Scriptural direction by “comparing spiritual things with spiritual,” or one part of the Sacred Volume with others.
After the promise which I have already cited, the ALEIM added, “This is the token of the covenant which I make between me and you, and every living creature that is with you, for perpetual generations. I do set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be for a token of a covenant between me and all the earth. And it shall come to pass, when I bring a cloud over the earth, that the bow shall be seen in the cloud. And I will remember my covenant which is between me and