The Rainbow; Or,
Covenant Promises Seen Through Tears
William Bacon Stevens
"I set my rainbow in the cloud." Genesis 9:13
"And there was a rainbow round about the Throne." Revelation 4:3
We have joined together the two extremes of Holy Writ — yoked in one text, passages from Genesis and from Revelation — placed beside each other as kindred truths, sentences written by Moses and by John; one, relating to the old world more than forty-three centuries ago, and the other, referring to a scene in that "new heavens and new earth wherein dwells righteousness," which is yet to be revealed.
Thus beautifully harmonizes the whole Word of God. Thus are its beginning and ending made to meet and form one circle of truth, having Christ for its center, and Infinitude for its circumference. Nor need we wonder at this unity of purpose, thought, language, and doctrine: it was all dictated by the same Divine Spirit, it is all occupied with the same Divine salvation, and its united aim is to advance the glory of God, and the redemption of man.
The passages quoted at the head of this chapter, introduce to our notice two striking, sublime, and at the same time symbolic scenes — in each of which we have a personal interest, and both commend themselves to our earnest attention.
The first carries us back to the morning of the post-diluvial world.
The Deluge had ceased, "The fountains also of the deep and the windows of Heaven were stopped, and the rain from Heaven was restrained." The ark containing the eight survivors of the old world rested on Mount Ararat, the dove had been sent forth, and, after returning with an olive leaf in her beak, was again let go, and came back no more. The land became dry, the covering of the ark was removed, and Noah and his family went out of their floating habitation, and stood once more on the firm dry earth, the source of a new generation. The pious patriarch built an altar to the Lord, and the sweet savor of his sacrifice rose up acceptably to Heaven, and God returned to the worshipers promises of rest and peace.
But God did more than merely give a promise. He entered into a formal covenant with Noah and his sons, the purpose of which was, that "all flesh should not be cut off any more by the waters of a flood; neither shall there any more be a flood to destroy the earth." This covenant was ratified by a seal of signal beauty and expressiveness: "And God said: 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 set my rainbow 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 rainbow shall be seen in the cloud and I will look upon it, that I may remember the everlasting covenant."
A few days, perhaps, after this solemn transaction, there is seen a gathering of clouds in the heavens, the sky is quite overcast, the dark masses roll in intermingling convolutions, the wind rises and sweeps down the mountain gorges — the big drops of rain fall with a heavy patter, the thunder mutters its distant warnings, and all conspire to fill their minds with terror and alarm. They recall the scene a few months back, when the first waters of the deluge fell, and the first of the fountains of the great deep was broken up; and a secret and unwillingly admitted fear steals into their minds, lest perchance another storm may sweep them from the earth! But it is only for a moment; they think of God's promise, they remember his covenant, and, lo! as they gaze upon the dark clouds — they discern delicate tints and many-colored stripes, acquiring each moment more perfect brilliancy and form, until the whole eastern sky is spanned by the seven-fold rainbow of promise; and, as they look upon the beautiful arch, they recall the covenant of God, and rejoice in the assurance of safety thus given, beholding, as they do, upon the very storm which created alarm, the seal and signet-ring of a covenant-keeping God.
As a token of God's gracious assurance, it is very peculiar. It never appears but at the time when the rain is falling, and hence, viewed in itself, is rather a ground of apprehension than of peace. But God has chosen that to be a pledge of our security, which is, in itself, an intimation of our danger — that our trust might be, not in any change of terrestrial arrangements — but in the simple Word of God, a pledge repeated to us by each new-born rainbow, as it carries our thoughts back to the days of Noah, and the covenant token then first pointed out.
Look then upon the rainbow, whenever it appears in its many-colored glory, and praise Him who set it in the clouds as the perpetual token of his covenant love. "Very beautiful is it in the brightness thereof, it compasses the whole Heaven with glory, and the hands of the Most High have bended it."
But another rainbow is spoken of in the Bible. The apostle John opens his Apocalypse with the announcement "At once I was in the Spirit, and there before me was a throne in Heaven with someone sitting on it. And the one who sat there had the appearance of jasper and carnelian. A rainbow, resembling an emerald, encircled the throne!" Revelation 4:2-3. The rainbow is not introduced here as a mere ornament — but as a most expressive emblem. Our eye is first directed to the throne, that habitation, as the Psalmist terms it, of justice and judgment, and to the majestic appearance of Him who sat upon it — compared here to two precious stones, the jasper and carnelian; the jasper, as we gather from other passages, representing the essential holiness; and the blood-red carnelian — the punitive justice of God, Which declares "without the shedding of blood there is no remission of sin."
Lest, however, we should be repelled by this holiness of God, and overawed by his retributive justice — there is also seen, overarching this throne and Him who sits upon it, a rainbow — the symbol of grace returning after wrath, to testify of God's covenant of mercy in Christ Jesus. It is said to be a rainbow like unto an emerald, because to the eye of the holy apostle green was the predominating color, and green is of all colors the most refreshing and agreeable.
We may not, we cannot, look with unblinking eye upon the jasper-like holiness of Jehovah, for it is that dazzling glory which, filling Heaven with its effulgence, causes it to have "no need of the sun or the moon to lighten it." We may not, we cannot, gaze upon the blood-red carnelian-like justice of the Almighty, for the shocking glare would scorch the eyeballs of the mind with its scenes of burning and deserved wrath! But we may and can look upon the heavenly rainbow, "in sight like unto an emerald," and the great sign and seal of this covenant of grace, hung up over the throne of Heaven, where "He who sits upon the throne" can ever look at it, and ever repeat to his children the promise, "For the mountains shall depart and the hills be removed — but my kindness shall not depart from you, neither shall the covenant of my peace be removed, says the Lord that has mercy on you."
What beautiful imagery Scripture employs in exhibiting the truths of God! Were we so familiar with the figurative language of the Bible, as to be reminded of blissful truths every time we beheld those objects, which have been employed to illustrate sacred ideas — how would it invest the material world with new beauty, and paint every picture of nature in the hues of Heaven!
The sun would then ever tell us of Christ, "the light of the world."
The moon would remind us of the Church, deriving all her brightness from "the sun of righteousness."
The well-spring would speak in sparkling language of the "fountain open to cleanse from sin and impurity!"
The river would remind us of that stream of "living water, as clear as crystal, flowing out from the throne of God and the Lamb."
The grass would preach to us of the frailty of man, "today growing up, tomorrow cut down and withered."
The "lily of the field," would beautifully set forth the protecting care of the Almighty.
Our Lord drew illustrations of his doctrine from the stars, the sea, the birds, the fish, the clouds, the fields; and the Holy Spirit has used the forms and changes of the visible world to embody forth eternal truths; so that we may truly say that God has made nature the eloquent expounder and advocate of revelation.
When, therefore, we employ such a striking emblem as the rainbow to set forth some of the precious truths of God, we are but following in the track of Scripture, and using God's own covenant seal to illustrate God's own promises.
The rainbow is made up of seven colors, caused by the different angles at which the light is refracted and reflected from the falling drops of rain. The conditions under which it can be seen are, that there must be rain falling at the time; that there must be sunlight at the time; and that the beholder must be between the two. Let us look, then, if we can see on the dark and showery cloud of sorrow — the rays of the Sun of Righteousness so refracted as to form the rainbow of mercy, at once inspiring hope and exciting thanksgiving.
1.We turn to Isaiah, the evangelical prophet, and find the first of these prismatic promises in the comforting words, "But now, O Jacob, listen to the LORD who created you. O Israel, the one who formed you says: Do not be afraid, for I have ransomed you. I have called you by name; you are mine! When you go through deep waters — I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty — you will not drown. When you walk through the fire of oppression — you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you. For I am the LORD, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior!" Isaiah 43:1-3. How much and how beautiful the light refracted from this glowing passage! As if God had said. Fear not, for He who created you out of nothing, He who formed you in the shape and fashion of humanity, He who redeemed you from the dominion of death, He who so knows you as to call you by name, and to grave you on the palms of his hands, and to make you unto him a chosen peculiar people — will not forsake you in any emergency or trial. But "when you pass through the waters" of affliction — "I, the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior," will be with you! When you go through "rivers" of sorrow — "I, the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior," will not allow them to overflow you! When "you walk through the fire" and along the flame-enkindled pathway of persecution — "I, the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior," will not allow you to burn — but will protect you from the fiery trial.
What wide promises, what divine assurance! How full of hope and comfort to the sorrowful and the persecuted!
2.A few pages on, and we find another promise for our covenant rainbow; one, too, which has specific relations to the rainbow of the deluge, for that token was evidently present to the mind of God when the words were uttered: "For a small moment," says Jehovah, speaking to his ancient people, "for a small moment have I forsaken you — but with great mercies will I gather you. In a little wrath I hid my face from you for a moment — but with everlasting kindness I will have mercy on you, says the Lord your Redeemer." "For," he continues, "to me this is like the days of Noah, when I swore that the waters of Noah would never again cover the earth. So now I have sworn not to be angry with you, never to rebuke you again. Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken, nor my covenant of peace be removed," says the LORD, who has compassion on you!" Isaiah 54:8-10.
This strong promise, made originally to the Israelites, is reaffirmed to each individual believer; for each child of God experiences moments when God seems to forsake him, and periods of darkness when his face seems hidden from him by intervening wrath or sorrow. And at such times we are tempted to murmur, as if we had a right to perpetual sunshine, forgetting that it is our iniquities which have separated between us and God, and our sins which have hid his face from us, that he cannot hear. Yet if we are in truth his children, and do seek to honor and glorify him — he will let it be but a small moment that he forsakes us, and but a passing gush of wrath in which he hides his face from us. The cloud between us may for a little while be black, angry, tempestuous, electrical; but when the gust is over and the Sun of Righteousness again shines out — then will the bright arch of hope span the vanishing cloud! For God declares that, as when he looks upon the rainbow, he remembers his covenant with Noah never again to bring the waters of the deluge upon the earth, so this promise that He would not forever be angry with you nor rebuke you, shall be to him a token never finally to remove his covenant of peace. Sooner far shall the everlasting hills depart; sooner far the deep foundations of the earth be moved — than God's promise fail or his covenant of peace be removed.
3.Sitting with our Savior upon the grassy mount, and listening to the sermon he delivered there, we find another tinted promise of a dye so heavenly, that it at once finds its place as one of the seven-fold colors in this rainbow of hope. The words are few but condensed, the promise is brief but of intensive force, of infinite expansibility — it is the verse "Blessed are those who mourn — for they shall be comforted." But how comforted? Not with earthly sympathy, for that gives but little solace; not with worldly support, for the world has no balm for a broken heart; but comforted with the choice blessings of the Divine Comforter, by which . . .
strength is imparted to the weak,
light to the darkened,
joy to the saddened,
peace to the troubled,
and hope to the sinking spirit.
I know that this passage refers not so much to the mourning over the the various afflictions of life — as to mourning over indwelling corruption and remaining sin. But then, what sorrow is greater to bear than a sin-burdened spirit? What grief more heavy than the weight of an oppressed and fainting soul just waking up to a consciousness of its danger? These are sorrows that the world knows nothing of; they lie out of the range of earthly vision, hidden away in the heart, pondered over in secret, confessed perhaps to none — yet how deep and poignant they are! They drink up the spirit, they weary the heart, they at times crush the soul! Yet though so dark and stormy, the slanting light reflected from the face of Jesus, draws out of this angry cloud, a ray of bright and gladdening hope, adding another stripe to the covenant rainbow of promise — as it is seen through the tears of a godly, penitential sorrow.
4.But our Savior furnishes another prismatic color for our covenant arch in the invitation, "Come unto me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." There is here no restriction as to the people invited — none as to the rest promised. Whether then you labor under the cares, trials, and perplexities of life; whether you are burdened by the crushing weight of poverty, sorrow, and sickness; whether you labor under the sharp convictions of sin from which you struggle to free yourself, or whether you are burdened by a sense of weighty guilt and a conscious deserving of eternal woe — in each case you are invited to Jesus with the promise of heavenly rest. There is no mind laboring under any of the burdens of life, there is no soul overworked and exhausted by the pressing cares of this mortal state, there is no heart aiming to work out its own righteousness under the taskmasters of formalism and morality — which will not be at once relieved of its burden and find rest in Christ!
Sooner can you find in the Bible instances of the sick and the blind going to Him for healing, and sent away uncured — than you can produce an instance of a laboring, burdened soul, accepting the invitation which calls him to the Savior, and not finding the rest which the Savior covenants to give. You may search the Evangelists through, and not find an instance of rejection to the petitioners for Christ's mercy when he was on earth. And were the records of the inner experience of all Christians since the day of Pentecost open to our inspection — we would be equally unsuccessful in noting any instance of a laboring, burdened soul being turned away from Jesus and deprived of his promised rest.
And such rest! The rest of one who has found what he has long sought and deeply needs. The rest of one who has been wearied and overborne with ineffectual seekings after peace and hope; a rest from the dominion of sin, from the harrowing assaults of the adversary, from the restless wanderings of unbelief; a rest in the assured confidence of faith; a rest not of passive indifference, or inactive repose — but full of lively emotions, of holy zeal, of outgoing love; the forecast shadow of that eternal rest which remains for the people of God.
When, then, we reflect upon the person who issues the invitation, Jesus Christ, proving his large-hearted love by giving his life for the ransom of his enemies; when we consider the nature of the rest which he offers — spiritual, holy, rejoicing, unending; and when we mark the broadness of his invitation — all you who labor and are heavy laden — thus covering the whole human race, for there is no man that lives and has not some laboring care, and some burdening sorrow; and when, to all these precious facts, we add the individual experience of the truth of this promise, by each disciple of Jesus for nearly two thousand years — then we cannot fail to observe how glowingly such a promise shines on the sorrow-clouds of earth, bending over the laboring and heavy laden child of sin, at least one of the colors of the Christian rainbow of hope.
In the last interview of our Savior with the apostles before his crucifixion, he gave them many and peculiar consolations in view of his near removal from them. But though those precious chapters in John's gospel beginning with the cheering words, "Let not your heart be troubled," were originally addressed to the sorrowing band that clustered around Him on that night of His agony and arrest — yet are they also appropriate and even designed for believers in all ages, for they form an important part of that Scripture which, at all times, and to all people, "is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness."
5.Among the many thrilling sentences uttered on that memorable night, there is one so terse, so full of thought, so rich in comfort, that we may well claim for it a place in Mercy's triumphal arch. It is the passage "I will not leave you comfortless, I will come unto you." The original is, I will not leave you "Orphans." Accordingly Wycliffe, in his translation, renders it, "I will not leave you Fatherless;" while the Rhiems version, following more closely the Greek word, reads, "I will not leave you Orphans." An orphan is indeed sad and comfortless; his earthly props and counselors have been taken away, a painful void is made in his life, and his heart is stricken and desolate.
It is not, however, of natural orphanage that the words of Jesus apply, it is of that spiritual desertion, that loss of the props and supports of the Christian life, which too often occurs with the careless, unwatching, and prayer-restraining professor. In those days when doubt perplexes the mind, and shadows of earthiness fall upon the spirit, when there is no comfort in devotion, and zeal smoulders in the ashes of a once blazing activity, when there is the first relenting of sorrow for such a cold or lukewarm state, and the awakening soul begins to feel the great lapse which it has made, and the grievous errors which it has committed; when the sense of deserved desertion and spiritual destitution gains ground and almost oppresses the heart, and the Christian feels that he is well near fatherless in the moral universe — an abandoned orphan with no spiritual parentage to which he can cling — then it is that there is seen stretching across this dark cloud, that hue of glory which streams from the words of Jesus, "I will not leave you orphans!"
You may seem to be forsaken and disinherited; you may think from the severity of God's dealings, that your Heavenly Father has forgotten you or cast you out from his presence; and you may feel as homeless, parentless, portionless orphans! Yet it is only in the seeming thereof. Christ's promise stands out in full prismatic beauty, the sign of that covenant of grace which assures you, with lips of peace and truth — I will not leave you orphans! I will come to you —
come to you in the cheering influences of my love;
come to you in the precious outpourings of my Spirit;
come to you in the imparted strength and comfort of my Spirit;
come to you in sickness, in suffering, in sorrow;
come to you with the oil and wine of gospel truth;
come to you in the light of my own countenance, making your dark soul radiant with joy, and painting upon the lowering vapor, whose showers have but just discharged themselves upon your head — the overarching rainbow of covenant peace and hope!
6.The sixth color of this "bow in the cloud" is added by the pencil of the apostle Paul. No one of the apostles endured more persecution and affliction — or had richer experience of sustaining grace under them, than this holy martyr. His estimate of sorrow, therefore, is the more valuable, because it is evolved by the deep experience of his own life, and is the deliberate judgment of one who had tried the world and Christ, and thus was prevented from giving one-sided evidence in the matter. This judgment he has recorded in his second letter to the Corinthians; and, while it expresses his personal experience, is yet a type of all affliction endured for Christ's sake, or so borne as to be subservient to His glory. His words are, "For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal!" 2 Corinthians 4:17-18.
It will perhaps increase our idea of the intensive force of this passage, if we place beside it that brief catalogue of the Apostle's sufferings which he has drawn up in this same epistle. "I have been in prison more frequently, been flogged more severely, and been exposed to death again and again. Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea, I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my own countrymen, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false brothers. I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked!" 2 Corinthians 11:23-27.
Few of us could run up such a catalogue of personal sorrow as this — yet how does he speak of it? As a light affliction, but for a moment! And not only so — but an affliction which is an instrument of working out for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory. Mark the two scales under the respective heads of affliction and glory; observe the diminuendo of the former, and the crescendo of the latter. The "affliction" was "light" as to its character; and "but for a moment" as to its duration. While the "glory" has "weight" as being heavy with blessing; is "eternal" as to its permanence; is "exceeding," as passing human conception; is "far more exceeding," as expressive of its unspeakable excellence.
So intense was the feeling of the Apostle here, that the usual superlatives could not embody forth his thought, and he was forced to make a new word to give utterance to his emotion:
it is glory,
it is a weight of glory,
it is an eternal weight of glory,
it is an exceeding and eternal weight of glory,
it is a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory!
What a climax! Like the rainbow, its foot, indeed, rests on earth — but it arches upward to Heaven, spanning the dark cloud of affliction with a rainbow of beauty!
And if the Apostle could say this of himself — so persecuted, afflicted, tormented — then ought not each child of sorrow to look at his own trials as light and momentary? We can do thus, if we have such a living faith in Christ, that we cling solely to his atoning blood, and hence regard all the adversities of life, as the chastenings of parental love — designed to fit us to enjoy the far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, which shall be ours when the light affliction, which is but for a moment, shall be done away forever!
We are too much disposed to shroud ourselves with our sorrows, to dwell in the settlings down of the cloud, and have our hearts ever kept wet by its weeping showers. So long as we do this, we cannot have peace or comfort. We must go towards the sunshine, and just in proportion as we get into the fuller light of Jesus' face — is the rainbow more clearly seen in the cloud, and the covenant promise of Jehovah more rejoicingly believed. It is only "while we look not at the things which are seen — but at the things which are not seen," that we are enabled to lift up ourselves above surrounding and often depressing influences.
The "things seen" are the present sorrows, with their accompanying trials and sadness, and upon these we morbidly look — and as we look, we magnify, distort, add weight to them, and thus increase the burden! While, would we but look away from our trials, and open wide the lids of faith's eye towards unseen and the eternal realities, gazing by this spiritual vision upon the future glories and blessedness of those who through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of Heaven — we would be so ravished with delight, that every sorrow would be cheerfully borne, and not a cloud of affliction could skirt the horizon of our life, upon which we could not discern the rainbow of the covenant!
7.The last color in this prismatic arch, is furnished by "the Beloved Disciple," and is drawn from a revelation to him of some of these very "things which are unseen and eternal." The Apostle, in his vision at Patmos, had "beheld, and, lo, a great multitude which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands." While he listened to their ascriptions of praise, one of the celestial host approached and asked him, by way of calling his attention to the scene, "Who are these who are arrayed in white robes? And where did they come from?" The surprised Apostle answered, "Sir, you know."
In reply to this the heavenly visitant said unto him, "These are they who have come out of the great tribulation; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. Therefore, they are before the throne of God and serve him day and night in his temple; and he who sits on the throne will spread his tent over them. Never again will they hunger; never again will they thirst. The sun will not beat upon them, nor any scorching heat. For the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd; he will lead them to springs of living water. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes!" Revelation 7:14-17
Can human thought add anything to this picture? No! All that we can do is to ponder word by word over the terms of this description, to strive to take in one by one the ideas which they convey:
the white robe,
the branch of palm,
the cleansing blood,
the posture before the throne,
the mighty chorus,
the Lamb in the midst of the throne,
the absence of hunger and thirst,
the feeding in green pastures,
the drinking from living fountains, and
the wiping away from our eyes all tears by the very Father's hand, whose chastening rod had caused their flow!
Did we dwell more upon these terms, we would realize more than we now do — that they are designed to assure us of what will be our state when we pass the valley of tears, and stand upon the Mount Zion above! Yes, every one of these blessings shall be ours — if we have been washed in the blood of the Lamb. If tribulations are the necessary preparative, if there can be no weight of glory unless there has been previously the light affliction — then let us welcome sorrow, welcome suffering which endures but a moment here — but which brings eternal joy hereafter.
And now we have laid side by side, seven rich and precious promises, as the seven colors of the rainbow — each lovely in itself, but combined, forming that arch of covenant glory which God has equally "set in the cloud" of sorrow on earth, and "around the throne" in Heaven. Behold it in its varied but exquisite hues! Is it not beautiful as it springs upward — as it swells heavenward — as it bends downward, curving over our sorrow-drenched hearts, with assurances of present sunshine and of future bliss!
Having thus far looked upon the "cloud" and the "rainbow in the cloud" — let us now cast one glance at the SUN whose refracted and reflected rays make this arch of glory.
Many are the passages in the Bible which represent Christ as the light of the world; and Malachi especially designates him as the "Sun of Righteousness." Striking and appropriate comparison! Christ is a "Sun" — the great light-producing, light-imparting center of the moral universe. Christ is a "Sun of Righteousness," whether we regard Him as infinitely righteous in Himself, or as shedding abroad righteousness upon a dark and sinful world. Christ is a Sun of Righteousness that casts no shadow. The material sun casts shadows — nay, more, has immense dark spots on its bright disc — but the Sun of Righteousness is immaculate — unblemished in Himself, and like a vertical sun, makes no shadow. Christ is a Sun of Righteousness that cast no shadow — and that never sets. The earthly sun has its risings, its meridians, its setting, and the light of midday is soon followed by the dark of midnight. Not so with Christ; He shines out from the zenith of the spiritual firmament, and there is no going down of His light — no evening to shroud his departed rays. Once shining — forever shining — without a shadow — without an eclipse — without a sunset!
Such is the Sun whose refracted rays paint the rainbow of hope on the cloud of sorrow. For though the promises which I have adduced, like the different stripes of the rainbow, are of different hues — yet the light which produces them is the pure and colorless essence of Divine glory.
In this light it is our privilege, as Christians, to dwell. Abiding in this light, we have peace, hope, joy, and prove ourselves to be "the children of light" through faith in Christ Jesus. Hence unrenewed men have no comfort or solace in any of the trials and afflictions of life. The heart must be surrendered to Jesus Christ, it must be washed in His atoning blood, it must be sanctified by His holy Spirit — before we can become "children of light and of the day;" but when through the sovereign grace of God, we receive this "adoption of sons," then is it our peculiar privilege to see God's love in every dispensation of His hand — and to see His rainbow of covenant promise in every cloud of sorrow!
When the sun with cheerful beams
Smiles upon a lowering sky,
Soon its aspect softened seems,
And a rainbow meets the eye;
While the sky remains serene,
This bright arch is never seen.
Thus the Lord's supporting power
Brightest to the saints appears.
When affliction's threatening hour
Fills their sky with clouds and fears;
He can wonders then perform,
Paint a rainbow on the storm.
All their graces doubly shine,
When their troubles press them sore;
And the promises divine
Give them joys unknown before,
As the colors of the bow
To the cloud their brightness owe!