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The rainbow of the covenant furround
ing the throne of grace.
The substance of some SERMONS
preached at the sacrament of Muckart, June 23, 1728.
By the Rev. Mr. EBENEZER ER SKINE.
Rev. iv. 3. And there was a rainbow round about the throne,
in hght like unto an emerald.
OT to stand in the entrance of this discourse,
we may observe here three things, which John law in the vision. If, A Throne set in beaven, in the close of the second verse. 2dly, The glorious majesty that sat on the throne, who was like a Jasper and Sardine stone for brightness. 3dly, The canopy of the throne, a rainbow round about it in colour like an emerald. I understand the whole of this to have a respect immediately to the church militant here upon earth, and the glorious dispensation of the grace of God under the new-testament economy; and that which inclines me to understand it in this view is because this n is prophetical, and has a respect to things
that were to be done afterward, as you see in the first verse. Come up bither, and I will shew thee things that must be hereafter, that is, things which are to be transacted in the church in the succeeding ages and generations of the world; and therefore by the throne here that was set in heaven, I understand the throne of grace, to which we are invited to come with boldness for grace and mercy to help in time of need, Heb. iv. 16. The throne which hath justice satisfied and judgment executed upon the son of God, for its basis and foundation, Pfal. xxxix. 14. The throne of God and of the Lamb, from which proceeds a pure river or water of life, clear as chrystal, Rev. xxii. 1. And this throne is said to be set in heaven, not as if God's throne of
grace were only in heaven properly so called ; for we find the church militant on earth frequently expressed by heaven in scripture, Heb. xii. 20. She is called the heavenly Jerusalem, to wit, the church, 1 Pet. ii, 2. the heavenly nation ; and therefore by heaven here, we may understand the church of God in general : and it is so called to shew that the hearts of believers even while here upon earth, are in heaven, they are defiring a better country, that is an heavenly, and when they address a throne of grace, they have their eyes upon an exalted Christ, who is set down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, and his ministry in the heavenly sanctuary. By him that fits on the throne, I understand Christ or God in our nature, not excluding the Father and the Holy Ghoft; for it is the throne of God and of the Lamb. Ezek. i.
Ezek. i. 26. we have the same description of a throne in a vision, and we are told that above upon the throne was the appearance of a man, which can be applied to none other than the man
Christ Jesus; and there is no doubt but it is the same throne and the fame person sitting on it, that was seen both by Ezekiel and the apostle John. As for his posture, he is represented as sitting upon the throne. This points at the perpetuity of his government, that he is in the quiet poffeffion of it, it being for ever out of the power of his enemies to disturb his administration. We are told here further, that his appearance upon the throne was like a Jasper and a Sardine stone. These stones being unknown to us, we shall not take up time in telling you what is said about them by naturalists and some curious interpreters, only we are told, in short, the Jasper is a bright transparent stone, representing to the eye a variety of the most vivid or lively colours; the Sardine is said to be red. The Scope is plainly this, to point out the admirable and inconceivable glory and excellency of an exalted Christ. Such is the brightness of the Father's glory shining in him, now when he is upon the throne, that all the precious things on earth put together, are but faint shadows and representations of his divine glory and excellency; The brightness of the Jasper and the redness of the Sardine stone are put together, to Thew that he is white and red, white in his divine, red in his human nature, white in his holiness, red in his suffering; the bright and glorious perfections of God thining through the rent vail of his human nature, do as it were receive a tincture of red from the vail through which they are transmitted, isa. Ixiii. 1. he is said to be glorious, and yet red in his apparel, and his appearance in the midst of the throne is as it were of a Lamb slain, having the sprinkling of his blood about him, which was shed upon mount
Calvary, Calvary, and which cries for better things than the blood of Abel.
But now I come to that part of John's vision, which I have principally in view, and that is the canopy of state which covers the throne, and him that sat on it, in the close of the third verse. And there was a rainbow round about the throne, in hght like unto an emerald. Where again observe it, The covering of the throne, it was very stately, like a rainbow. 2dly, The circuit of this covering, it was round about the throne. 3dly, The colour of it, it was like an Emerald.
Here I conceive there is a manifest allusion to God's covenant with Noah, Gen. viii. When God called back the waters of the deluge from off the face of the earth, he made a promise and bound himself by covenant, That he would never destroy the earth any more by water, and in token of his faithfulness in this matter he set his bow in the clouds. With allusion to this, God's throne of grace, or his mercy seat, from which all the promises of the covenant do proceed, is said to be surrounded with a rainbow, to signify, that as God deals with his people in the way of a covenant ; so his faithfulness in that covenant is established in the very heavens, and this bow surrounding the throne is said to be in colour like an emerald, that is, of a green colour, to signify that his covenant by virtue of the faithfulness of him that fits upon the throne, is ever the fame, without any shadow of turning ; the fashion of this world withers and passes away, but the word of the Lord, his word of grace and promise, it endures for ever.
The doctrine I take notice of from the words, is this, That God's covenant of grace, and his faith
fulness fullness engaged therein, is like a beautiful rainbow Jurrounding the throne of grace for the encouragement of our faith and trust in bim that fits on it.
In discoursing on this doctrine, I shall, through divine assistance, do these things following. (1.) Offer a few thoughts concerning the covenant of grace or promise. (2.) Concerning the faithfulness of God engaged in this covenant. (3.) Take a view of this covenant under the similitude of a rainbow in colour like an emerald surrounding the throne of grace. (4.) Speak a little of that faith or trust which the sight of this bow of the covenant fhould beget in us. (5.) Apply the whole.
The First thing proposed is to offer a few thoughts concerning the covenant of grace and promise. And,
1. I remark, that the occasion of the covenant of grace, like that of God's covenant with Noab was a deluge of wrath which broke out upon Adam and all his family for the breach and violation of the covenant of works. This is what is pointed at Ezek. xvi. 4, 5, 6, 7, see that that which gave occasion to God's entring into a covenant of grace, is that miserable estate man had brought himself into by fin. When I pased by thee, and saw thee polluted in thine own blood, tby time was a time of love, I spread my skirt over thee, and covered thy nakedness: Yea I sware unto thee, and entered into covenant with thee, saith the Lord, and thou becamest mine. Here it may readily be alked, 'what is that state we are reduced unto by the breach of the first covenant? I answer, in short, it is a state of sin; original fin like a contagion has over-run all men, and the whole man from the crown of the head to the soul of the foot: It is