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God's own day, then, let us rise“ to the general assembly and church of the first-born, whose names are written in heaven :" let us, in spirit at least, join “the spirits of the just made perfect," in their admiration of Jesus, in the homage which they pay him.
The highly-favored apostle John shows, in the chapter before us, how, in vision, a door was opened in heaven, and a voice calling hin, promised to show him things that must be hereafter ; immediately, he says, he was in the Spirit; his mind was supernaturally impressed with those ideas which he had to reveal to us. The objects which he beheld must not be thought by us to have a real existence in the world of spirits, for the language is altogether metaphorical; and we are presented with hieroglyphics, the meaning of which may be developed, and will instruct us much in our views of the kingdom. Like Paul, then, not knowing whether he was " in the body or out of the body," in his own apprehension, he was admitted into the presence of God, and he was favored with a vision of a glorious throne, on which sat One whom it was utterly impossible for him fully to describe : for glory, to look upon, he was like a jasper and a sardine stone ; the throne itself, however, was surrounded by a phenomenon, which may well attract our notice at this time; for, says our text, “ There was a rainbow round about the throne, in sight like unto an emerald.”
You ask, what this rainbow is? The bow which God set in the clouds after the flood, was a token of the covenant he had made with man, that he would never destroy the earth any more by water; and there is no doubt, brethren, that the rainbow spoken of in my text, is the better covenant, the
covenant of grace, far exceeding any other covenant whatever. The manner in which a rainbow illustrates this well-ordered covenant, and the several other ideas of it contained in our text, will now come under our notice; and let us, my brethren, all earnestly pray, that the God of creation, providence, and grace, would give us to see how one part of his works illustrates another ; and how they all show forth his eternal power and Godhead, while they are calculated to excite our admiration, joy, and praise.
Permit me, then, my friends, to ask you,
I. Is the rainbow a reflection of the rays of the sun upon a thin watery cloud? The covenant of grace owes all its excellences to Jesus Christ, the « Sun of righteousness.”
That beautiful appearance in nature, the rain. bow, is never seen but when the sun shines, and is evidently formed by a refraction of his rays on a watery cloud. It has often been asked, whether there was an appearance of this kind before the general deluge : it seems most likely that there was not; and, therefore, the rainbow is a more certain proof of the truth of the Divine promise than it otherwise would be. Every disposition of a rainy cloud will not produce a rainbow ; and it is asked, Who knows, but before the flood, the God of creation might have so arranged the clouds that they should not form any ? but be it how it may, it is evident, the sun is the cause of the rainbow's beautiful appearance.
So, brethren, in that covenant which the rain. bow represents, Jesus, our Sun, is all in all. Did he not submit to all the conditions of this covenant, and appear before his Father, as ready to lay down his life for his sheep? Yes, brethren, he
declared his determination " to fulfil the law, and make it honorable, and to bring in an everlasting righteousness." The whole administration of this covenant was committed into his hands; he is the Surety, the Trustee of it; all the blessings of it are lodged in his hands. So also is he the T'estator of this covenant; for he, in the promises of his gospel, has bequeathed all these mercies to us, sinful men: as an Intercessor, he pleads for us, and obtains the full possession of all those favors; yea, in his offices he reveals and applies them to our hearts. There would never have been any covenant of grace at all, if it had not been for Jesus : “ For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things; to him be glory for ever and ever." No wonder, then, that he is represented to us, in another part of this book, as having a rainbow upon his head; for the covenant of grace is his, and we must give him all the glory of its existence, stability, and blessings. On this account it is that we must crown him with honor; and through eternity we shall be praising him for the weight of sufferings that he endured, as its condition ; for his Divine perfections which he has displayed in it; for his administering its rich mercies to us on earth, and causing them to flow uninterruptedly into our souls for ever and ever. The covenant of grace is a reflection of the glory of the Sun of righteousness, and owes all its beauty to him : therefore, whenever we look upon the rainbow, let it serve to remind us of the covenant made with Jesus ; and thus let us
" look from nature up to nature's God."
II. Are our minds struck with the diversified colors of this beautiful phenomenon in nature? Let them remind us of the numerous blessings
which are treasured up in the everlasting covenant. -The beauty of the rainbow consists in its various and well-disposed colors; and, o, what a grand variety of blessings is there in the covenant of grace! What clusters, what heaps, what numbers of favors are contained here! Blessings for time and for eternity ; temporal and spiritual good; our election, calling, justification, sanctification, comfort, righteousness, possession of the Spirit in all his influences and operations, and the security of eternal glory, are all covenant mercies ; hence, you know, they are called “the sure mercies of David." Yea, the believer
the food he eats, the raiment he wears, the air he breathes, and all the common blessings of life, as tokens of covenant-love, and sanctified to him as much through the mediation of Jesus, as his everJasting consolation and good hope through grace. 0, with what distinguishing privileges is this covenant fraught for all the chosen seed! The blessings of the saints are numerous :
“ This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord ; and their righteousness is of me, saith the Lord.”
There is nothing that the child of God can possibly want, but is secured to him here. The blessings that proceed from infinite wisdom, infinite power, and infinite love, are promised to the true Israelites ; their God “ will give grace and glory ; and no good thing will be withhold from them that walk uprightly." On account of this covenant, all things are for our advantage; whether the world, life, or death, or things present, or things to come, all are ours, for we are Christ's, and Christ is God's." Upper and nether spring blessings are secured to us here ; support under trouble, calmness in the prospect of death, a lively
hope at the very moment of nature's dissolution, an open acquittal before an assemblage of all worlds, and a triumphant admission into the society of the blest, are all included in this rainbow. “ There is none like the God of bis saints, who rideth upon
the heaven in thy help, and in his excellency on the sky. The eternal God is thy refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms; and he shall thrust out the enemy froin before thee, and shall say, Destroy them. Israel, thou shalt dwell in safety alone ; the fountain of Jacob shall be upon a land of corn and wine, also his heavens shall drop down dew! Happy art thou, O Israel! Who is like unto thee, O people, saved by the Lord, the shield of thy help, and who is the sword of thy excellency: and thine enemies shall be found liars unto thee, and thou shalt tread upon their high places." These blessings, then, form the various colors in the bow “round about the throne, in sight like unto an emerald.”
III. Was the rainbow an emblem of peace, be. tween God and man, after the flood ? The covenant of grace declares reconciliation, and secures the redeemed for ever from the deep waters of affliction, which had often before overwhelmed them.
That the rainbow is to be regarded by us as a security against another universal deluge, is evident from God's language to Noah immediately after the food : “I do set," says he, “my bow in the cloud, and it shall be for a token of a covenant between me and 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 you and every living creature of all flesh: and the