"Lift up your eyes to the heavens, and look on the earth beneath, for the heavens shall vanish away like smoke, and the earth shall wax old like a garment; and they that dwell therein shall die in like manner: but my salvation shall be for ever, and my righteousness shall not be abolished." (Isaiah 51:6)
IF you read the fourth verse of this chapter, you will therein discover unto whom it is that the Lord is speaking; who it is that he desires to look at the Heavens and on the Earth, and you will find it is to some who are acquainted with wisdom and understanding, and in whose hearts is his fear; for he addresses himself to them, saying, "Hearken unto me my people, and give ear unto me my nation;" and by which you see it is his own people and his own nation, and not to those who have not God in all their thoughts. "My righteousness is near, my salvation is gone forth;" by which you may see it is a righteousness that God himself has promised, and a righteousness which none but God himself can bestow; and it is such a one as will admit a sinner into the presence of God; for, says the Father, speaking to the Son, "Thy people shall be all righteous, they shall inherit the land for ever, the branch of my planting, the work of my hands, that I may be glorified;" (Isa. 60:21) and all this lay in a promise. The Father promised, that them that believed in Christ should be all righteous. It lay in a promise, yet it was so already in the sight of God; before this righteousness was imputed, or the promise applied to the sinner, for the Lord speaks of things that are not as if they were. He says they shall be all righteous, but you may ask me what is to make them so; I answer, it is not their own good works and human performances that is to procure a righteousness for them, as Papists and Arminians teach, but it is to be the work of the Lord's hand, that he may be glorified, and Christ Jesus is particularly called the Lord our righteousness; that is the righteousness that he has wrought out and brought in, is freely imputed to the sinner, which is accepted of God as the sinner's own; and hence it is the Lord Jesus is called our righteousness; and you that know him so to be in your experience, will glorify God. Now all this lay in a promise; and in the first place, the promise was made to Christ, and then to his seed through him, which are the elected in Christ Jesus--which are first called, chosen; and so says Peter. But ye are, says he, a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a peculiar people: and the Angel told John that all that were with the Lamb, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords; by which he meant Christ who is King of Kings and Lord of Lords; that all that were with him, are chosen, and called, and faithful; (Rev. 17:14) therefore they are chosen: for, says the Lord, you have not chosen me, but I have chosen you; (John 15:16) and what I say unto you, I say unto all, (that is all my elect or chosen ones.) And they are called the redeemed.
Read the eleventh verse of this chapter, and you will there find, that the Lord says "Therefore the redeemed of the Lord shall return and come with singing unto Zion, and everlasting joy shall be upon their heads;" (Isa. 51:11) and to this agrees the words that John tells us of, that he heard the saints of the Lord sing a new song in honor of their Lord, unto whom they said in songs of Joy, "Thou wast slain and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood, out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation:" (Rev. 5:9) which, in another place, is said, that the Angel informed John when he beheld the innumerable multitude of saints, "that these were redeemed from among men, being the first fruits unto God and to the Lamb;" (Rev. 14:4) and this may be sufficient to satisfy you and me of the folly and weakness of workmongers, who expect to gain admittance into heaven by means of their own performances, who are sold unto sin, and must be redeemed by the blood of the Lamb, or they will never get there: they are likewise called his offspring; and this the Lord told the Jews, by the prophet Isaiah, that he would hasten it in its time, when the seed, (that is believers in Christ,) should be known among the Gentiles, and their offspring among the people. Forasmuch then, says Paul, as we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Godhead is like unto silver, or gold, or stone; they are likewise called his people, and the price of his blood; ye are not your own, for ye are bought with a price; (1 Cor. 6:20) and Paul when he departed from Ephesus, told the Ephesians to feed the Church of God; which, says he, "He hath purchased with his own blood;" (Acts 20:28) and therefore if they are His chosen, His redeemed, His offspring, His people, and the price of His blood, you must agree with me in this, that they are nothing of themselves nor in themselves, and that it is God alone that can give them this righteousness. And if you will not believe nor agree with me, then hear what he himself says to his Church, the elect of God. "No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper, and every tongue that shall rise against thee in judgment, thou shall condemn; This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord, and their righteousness is of me, (mind that,) and their righteousness is of me, says the Lord. (Isa. 54:17) Therefore, however men may rail against an imputed righteousness, and against those servants of his who preach it, and enforce it; who, as Paul says, are the partakers of the righteousness of Christ; or however they may go about to establish their own righteousness, crying up their own good works, righteous performances, or human merits; yet notwithstanding all their legal zeal and formal profession, God's word will remain true and faithful; that this is the heritage of the servants of the Lord, and their righteousness is of me says the Lord; therefore all the righteousness that is found on the people of God, and that will be of any service to their souls, is truly of God--it is his free gift; and so says the Apostle, (Rom. 5:17) "For if by one man's offence death reigned by one, much more they which receive abundance of grace, and of the GIFT of RIGHTEOUSNESS, shall reign in life by one Jesus Christ." But moreover they are to be called trees of righteousness, which perhaps you will say is a strange name, and are ready to ask what you are to understand by God's people being so called; hear me attentively, and I will tell you. And in the first place you must know, when the Lord is about to make a person acquainted with his covenant of life and salvation by Christ, he is pleased to begin this by sending cutting convictions into the soul, and to make that man understand the wretched condition he is in by nature; and this is called a set time to favor Zion, for her set time is come. (Ps. 102:13) But does the soul understand this to be favor; no, for he thinks it very unfavorable; but you are to remember, this is the beginning of his favor; he brings him off from trusting in his own heart, by making him feel the abomination, and carnality, and the hardness thereof; he brings him off from trusting in a broken law, by showing him its spirituality, and by making him feel the condemning power thereof; he brings him off from trusting in his own righteousness, by showing him, that in him dwelleth no good thing, and that of himself he can do no good thing; he gives him the power, the affection, and the will to make choice of Christ, and that in preference of every other object; he loves him from a sense of the love that he knoweth Christ has, and has had to him, in stooping so low as to death and the grave, and for bearing such unprecedented suffering in his room and stead; he makes him close in with Christ, who is made the righteousness of God in him, for so says the Apostle, "He was made unto us righteousness; (1 Cor. 1:30) he becomes his willing and loving servant; thy people shall be all willing, says he, in the day of my power; (Ps. 110:3) he trusteth in him with his whole heart, and when this is the case, he is compared to a tree, which you know, as it continueth to grow upward, continues to take root downward, that it may be able to support its standing in the storm, the wind, and the tempest that is likely to come against it; and so in like manner a soul begotten of God, and taught to believe in Christ, is called a tree of righteousness, and is so called because, by virtue of his Saviour's righteousness, he stands, for no unrighteous person can stand before God; and no other righteousness will do, but the righteousness of the Son of God; and when he has this righteousness on, he is a tree of righteousness rooted and grounded in love, in hope, and in faith; for by faith we stand, and Christ is in us the hope of glory, and in the Lord we have righteousness and strength. We are called trees, because trees are planted, and we are planted by Christ, taken out of the wild wilderness of nature, and transplanted into the church, the garden of God: "for," says Paul, "if ye have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection." (Rom. 6:5) We are compared to trees, because like a tree we have no power to grow, nor take root, nor to bring forth fruit; it is the work of the Lord to do all this for us, and to carry on his work within us, that we may do that which is pleasing in his sight; we have no power of our own; a spiritual and divine power to perform good works is of the Lord; and hence it is we cannot trust in him, nor hope in him, nor believe in him, nor close in with him, nor love him, before he gives us the power, and furnishes our souls with his grace; and when he has once freely bestowed these heavenly gifts and graces, he assures us, that these trees shall be continually watered by his most Holy Spirit.
And because, says David, "He is planted by the rivers of water, he bringeth forth his fruit in season; his leaf also shall not wither, and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper: but the ungodly are not so, but are like the chaff driven by the wind:" (Ps. 1:3,4) They have no righteousness but their own; let them alone, for every tree that my heavenly father hath not planted shall be rooted up: (Matt. 15:13) this was the state of the Scribes and the Pharisees; Christ told them they should be rooted up; these were the dry trees twice dead, and now were to be plucked up by the roots; take notice of our Lord's words to the women that followed him to Calvary: for as they were following him to his crucifixion weeping, he turned to them saying, "Daughters of Jerusalem weep not for me, but weep for yourselves and your children, for if they do these things in a green tree, what shall be done in the dry." (Luke 23:28,31)
Now our Lord meant by this, that he was the green tree, and the people of God being possessed of the Holy Ghost, are called by Isaiah and by Zachariah green trees; and the wicked are by Jude called dry trees. And Paul writing to the Romans, calls Jesus the good olive tree, who is the tree of life; and therefore if the wrath of God knew of no abatement--if offended justice exacted the very utmost mite from a suffering Saviour, who bore with patience the cruelty and insults of men and devils--what shall be done in those dry trees, who are void of the spirit of God, who have no interest in Christ when his wrath is kindled against them; will it not burn with indignation for ever and for ever to the lowest Hell: "Let them alone," says the Saviour, "for every tree that my heavenly Father hath not planted, shall be rooted up;" but my righteousness is near, my salvation is gone forth, (Isa. 51:5) says the Father; and his love and affection to sinners made its appearing at the birth of Christ Jesus, who was the righteousness of his people, and was looked for in every age. The Redeemer shall come to Zion, says the prophet Isaiah; and the desire of all nations shall come, says the prophet Haggai: and in the fullness of time he did come, according to the promise of God and the predictions of good men; for he was spoken of by the messengers of God in all ages; and when he was come, he put on righteousness as a breast plate, and an helmet of salvation upon his head, and he put on the garments of vengeance for clothing, and was clad with zeal as a cloak, for he knew he had to contend against Satan, sin, and death, the infernal malice of devils and of men; and having on this armor, he went forth for our salvation against all opposers, and never gave up until all was finished by his death on the cross; and as no man can stand against the accusation of his own conscience, (for a wounded spirit who can bear,) he will soon sink under the weight of his own guilt; but if the Holy Ghost takes possession of him, reveals the righteousness of Christ to him, passeth the sentence of justification in his conscience, that man will then find peace, for being justified by faith, (in the righteousness of Christ,) we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.
Before justification, all was confusion, guilt, sin, and the sentence of a broken law in the conscience, with the accusation of Satan, fear of death, and dread of judgment; but the work of righteousness shall be peace, and the effect of righteousness quietness and assurance for ever; (Isa. 32:17) so that if a man is once pardoned by the blood and righteousness of Christ, he is sure to have peace in his conscience; but before this, his conscience is the principal accuser.
But there is another thing which may be called a second branch of this righteousness, that is, if a man is complete in the righteousness of Christ, he will find the love of God shed abroad in his heart by the Holy Ghost; and hence it is the Apostle tells you to put on the new man, which, after God, is created in righteousness and true holiness, (Eph. 4:24) and true holiness is, in the highest sense of the word, love towards God, wrought in the soul by the Holy Ghost. "Love," says the Apostle, "worketh no ill to his neighbour," therefore love is the fulfilling law; and thus righteousness and true holiness is the new man of the soul. We may hear people speak of different kinds of holiness, and many have wrote on it, yet the Bible treats of but one, which is the love of God shed abroad in the soul by the Holy Spirit; and if we never have this, whatsoever other holiness we may have, we shall be deceived after all, and be found to be, as Paul expresseth it, (that is, without charity,) "To be nothing, for love is the fulfilling of the law; and though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, I am nothing; will profit us nothing, but that which will profit us, is the love of God that passeth all understanding" of charity; and thus righteousness and true holiness, which is love, is the new man of the soul; for him that loveth is born of God and knoweth God, for God is love, the righteousness of Christ is imputed to us, and it is the obedience of our surety. "For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one, shall many be made righteous," (Rom. 5:19) and this righteousness is unto all and upon all that believe.
And in the next place, this righteousness is called a wedding garment, as may be seen in our Lord's parable of the wedding feast. "And when the King came in to see the guests, he saw there a man which had not on a wedding garment,"--he had not on the spotless obedience of Christ Jesus; he came into a profession under the gospel, but never trusted in the righteousness of Christ for salvation; he was seeking to be saved by his own righteousness--he was trusting in a broken law--that was a way that seemed right in his eyes. "There is," says Solomon, "a way which seemeth unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death," (Prov. 14:12) and this is truly the case with thousands; they trust in their own righteousness and in the precepts of a broken law, and perish out of Christ: and that this was what the man was deficient in is plain, by John, who informs us, that at the marriage supper of the lamb, the guests were arrayed in fine linen, clean and white, which he says is the righteousness of the saints, (Rev. 19:8) by which is meant the righteousness of Christ has obtained. Now by this parable you see a person may be taken into the church militant, as many are, without this righteousness on; he may deceive his fellow men, but he cannot deceive the Searcher of Hearts; he will never enter the Church triumphant, without he is perfectly and completely enrobed in the righteousness of the Saviour of sinners. But you may say, how are we to get this righteousness into our souls. Why I can tell you, that one single act of faith on the Lord Jesus Christ, will bring it in--and faith is his gift; and, says the Saviour, "ask, that you may receive:" therefore if you can but act faith on the spotless obedience of Christ, it will bring peace, love, joy, and consolation into the soul. Now if so be that either of you were accused of murder, and was brought to take your trial in either of our courts in this land, and although you were perfectly innocent, yet there were some to witness against you, and prevailed so as to influence the minds of the Judge and Jury, and there was nothing for you left but to expect the sentence of condemnation; but at that juncture of time, a person unexpected should appear in your behalf, and so plead your cause, as to answer to your honor all they could allege against you, and silence all the accusers, insomuch that the whole court clearly saw you were an injured person, and therefore sentence of justification was passed upon you, or in other words, you were acquitted; now don't you think you should love and respect that person. So it is with a soul whom God justifies, only with this difference, we are all sinners and guilty before God. And of this Satan accuses us, the law that condemns us, conscience accuses us, sin is a burden, guilt is intolerable, death is terrifying, and the thought of future judgment awful. Until God the Holy Ghost enters the soul, silences all accusers and accusations, points to Calvary and a bleeding Saviour, applies his merits, his death, his satisfaction to Justice, and spotless obedience to God's most holy law, as the poor sinners righteousness. And thus by the ransom-price Christ has paid, he is delivered from going down into the pit; and then by the Holy Spirit shedding abroad his love in the heart, the poor sinner is enabled to love him with a love inexpressible, and he is sensible it is unmerited and undeserved, which makes him highly prize the salvation appointed of God. This was the case with Joshua the High Priest; when he stood before the Lord, we are told that Satan stood at his right hand to resist him, that is to accuse, condemn, and to make a prey of him; but to the comfort of Joshua, the Saviour appeared, he was Joshua's surety, and he said to the Devil, the Lord rebuke thee Satan, even the Lord that has chosen Jerusalem, rebuke thee. Is not this a brand plucked out of the fire (Zech. 3:1,2)--and you all know what a brand is--it is a piece of wood or stick that is almost consumed, insomuch that there is scarcely any thing but the coal left, by which you may see what a deplorable state man is in by nature. He must be regenerated and made anew, or else he will eternally perish. And what the Lord said of Joshua is applicable to all who are saved by grace. Is not this a brand plucked out of the fire. Take away, says the Lord, his filthy garments. Here went his sin and filth. "Behold," says the Lord, "I have caused thine iniquity to pass from thee," and remember I have done this myself, it is a free gift of pardon, for no man can save his own soul, no man can add to nor diminish from the work which I perform. "Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God's elect," says Paul. It is God that justifieth, who is he that condemneth? (Rom. 8:33,34) "I will clothe thee." says the Saviour, "with a change of raiment" (Zech. 3:4)--this is enrobing the soul. Now, Satan, (says the Saviour,) can you accuse and condemn a righteous man? can his conscience condemn him? can the law condemn him; can sin destroy a righteous person, one who has faith to purify his conscience, faith to credit his Saviour's love, faith in the spotless obedience of his surety, and unto whom my righteousness is freely imputed? Is not this a brand plucked out of the burning, a sinner that has been burning in the fire of his lust until he was almost destroyed, and to appearance nothing but a coal. Therefore what has thou to do with a righteous man, seeing he is a brand plucked out of the fire. Ah, says the malice of the Devil, I see the salamander, and if I had my will, he should burn to everlasting death. But, say the Scriptures, "whom God justifies, them God glorifies;" (Rom. 8:30) and glorification is the believers right and title; and Paul the Apostle tells us, that whilst he remained here below, that he waited in hope of eternal life beyond the grave, which, says he, "God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began." (Titus 1:2) But, say you, how did Paul know that. Hear what he says: it begins thus--"which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began, but hath in due time manifested his word through preaching, which is committed unto me according to the commandment of God our Saviour;" (Titus 1:3) and if you have, what Paul had, you have Christ in you the hope of Glory. (Col. 1:27) You have the Truth and Eternal Life, for Christ is the Truth, that is, he is the true God, and the truth of the Scriptures who have their fulfillment in him. Christ is the life of the soul, and you that have got him have got every needful blessing in him. Then ask that you may receive.
My righteousness is near, salvation is gone forth.--This was spoken in the next place of our Lord on his entering into his ministry, for Christ is our righteousness. For, says Paul, "He was of God made unto us wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption." (1 Cor. 1:30) My Salvation is gone forth. Christ is God's salvation, and the only salvation for sinners. And when the Lord says my salvation is gone forth, it means Christ is clearly revealed; he is manifested to bestow his rich grace on his people. And when he came to one he said, "Go in peace;" to another, "Thy sins are forgiven thee;" and to another, "thy faith hath saved thee; thy faith hath made thee whole." And therefore it is said, the grace of God, that bringeth salvation, hath appeared unto all men. (Titus 2:11) And many there are and have been who have felt its rich and powerful effects. And the faith that Christ gives, not only purges the conscience from sin, but it gives us the victory over death, over hell, and over the tyranny of Devils,--for God's grand design is to give us the knowledge of salvation; by the forgiveness of sins we shall know him, and the power of his resurrection.
In the next place, his salvation went forth to save his people from the guilt of their sin, to take that intolerable load away, and to supply his people with a troop of heavenly graces instead. "For sin," says the Apostle "shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under the law, but under grace." (Rom. 6:14) And what was it but salvation by Christ Jesus that delivered them from the bondage of the law. But all the time that you find a conscience loaded with sin, you will find yourself at a distance from God. You cannot draw near with holy familiarity in prayer. You find a great bar, insomuch that you cannot find any access; and because you are conscious of your transgressions and offence, you will hang down your heads as the bullrush. "It is your iniquities," says Isaiah, "that hath separated between you and your God." (Isa. 59:2) But if the Holy Spirit is pleased to apply the atonement of Christ, which, in other words, is the salvation that God has appointed to take away the sins of mankind, for as the sacrifice of Christ atoned for our sins, so an application of that atonement to the soul of a sinner, obliterates from his mind and conscience the guilt and bondage of sin; and where this is not the case, that soul will be cut off, which may clearly be seen by the passover blood being sprinkled on the lintel and door posts, when the destroying Angels cut off the first born in Egypt; for in every house where this blood was not sprinkled, there entered death; but where this blood appeared, there was safety; and there is no safety for sinners but by the blood of the Son of God.
And, says Paul to the Ephesians, "You that were strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world, even you who were sometimes afar off, are made nigh by the blood of Christ:" (Eph. 2:12,13) "for I have," said God, "blotted out as a thick cloud thy transgressions, and, as a cloud thy sins: return unto me, for I have redeemed thee:" (Isa. 44:22) this is as much as if the Lord said, take courage my chosen, and return; let no obstruction hinder you;--let not sin, nor iniquity, nor the reflection of an ill-spent life; I will give you double for all your sins; I will give you a double portion of my spirit, and I will enable you to triumph over every evil;--for my salvation is gone forth, and my arms shall judge the people.
By arms the Lord means his power or divine strength; and hence, when Isaiah was lamenting the small number of believers, he cries out, "Who hath believed our report, and unto whom is the arm of the Lord revealed?" (Isa. 53:1) Is there any who into their conscience have received Christ, the power and the wisdom of God: and if so be there is any that have known this power, he shall grow up before them as a tender plant out of a dry ground; and in them the Lord will fulfill the good pleasure of his will with power. By this arm God maketh his gospel effectual to the saving of sinners: it means the effectual and the powerful work of his most Holy Spirit, in regenerating and carrying on the work of grace in believers. And this arm is first made manifest by his coming near to the sinner to judgment. When it pleased the Lord to make known his power and terrible majesty to me, in coming near to me to judgment, I felt I was a poor condemned criminal. I was in the first place judged of God by the law, and found, as the Apostle before observed, "By the law is the knowledge of sin." (Rom. 3:20) I was judged by mine own conscience; it accused me, and justified God in destroying me. And if I had not been thus judged, I could not have been justified; for judgment begins at the house of God.--And it is the condemned, the lost, the guilty, and the sensible sinner, that feels the need of a Saviour: and it is not before we get into this perishing and condemned state, that we think Christ can be of any service to us, for they that are whole need not a physician, but they that are sick; and it was this that made Peter cry out; he saw and felt his state, and therefore he came to a point at once; he knew there was no time to lose, for awful eternity presented itself, and a bright evidence of his salvation the Lord had not favored him with: "therefore," says he, "save, Lord, or I perish:" and when, like Peter, I was saved from perishing, I saw more extensively the condemned state I was in by nature, because I felt and knew more of my Saviour's sufferings. And the Lord fulfilled the good pleasure of his will in me with power, for after he had judged and condemned me, and brought me in guilty, he wrought faith in my soul, and enabled me to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ: he purified my conscience, and I was brought into a justified state. And this is agreeable to the words of the Apostle, for, says he, "Whom he called them he justified;" (Rom. 8:30) and a man must be in a dead helpless state, he must be dead as to all hope in his own power and strength, before Christ can be on any use to him.
Nor can any one hear his voice until he is dead, for it is written, that the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God, and they that hear shall live. (John 5:25) And this the Apostle Paul found to be true, for he tells us, "He was alive without the law once, but when the commandment came, sin revived, and I died." (Rom. 7:9) He died to all hope of salvation from the works of the law, and his trusting to his own righteousness, gave up the ghost, which before this he so much boasted of, and prided himself in; but now he was in a dead helpless state, and the law, which before had been his glory, and had given him occasion to boast, now proved his condemnation, and made him a very fit object for God's free mercy. Therefore it is necessary that we should be judged and be brought in guilty, and that we should die to all hope short of Christ Jesus; for if we are not, then God's salvation cannot be of any service to our souls. For the promise that God the father made to Christ was--thy dead men shall live. Together with my dead body shall they arise, says the Saviour; (Isa. 26:19) and if they are dead, then it follows that it is the dead that are to be quickened, and it is the infinite power or arm of God that quickeneth the dead, and a person must be dead to the law before he can be espoused to Christ; for so says the apostle. "Wherefore my brethren," says Paul, "ye are also become dead to the law by the body of Christ; that ye should be married to another, even to him who is raised from the dead;" (Rom. 7:4) "for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ." (2 Cor. 11:2) And in the next place, until we are condemned, we have no appetite for righteousness; for what is to make us hunger and thirst after righteousness, but the curses that we feel from the righteous law of God, and from an accusing conscience. And when a guilty condemned sinner finds both of these work hard against him, he will directly confess that sin is the occasion of his dreadful feelings. If I had not broken the righteous law of my Maker, says he, then it could not condemn me; if I had not sinned against God and my own soul, then my conscience could not so violently accuse me: but I have sinned--I have incurred the wrath of God--and punishment is my due reward.
But if you take away this judgment and condemnation, then there is no dead men; no hungering and thirsting after righteousness; no accusations from conscience, for that is seared; no curses from the law, for that is not yet revealed; but one that is under condemnation, whose heart is made honest, if he hears of the justice of God, he knows he has offended it; if he hears of the holiness of God, he knows he is impure and defiled by sin; he is convinced of the spirituality of God's law, and he is sensible that he is carnal, sold under sin. And if such a passage as this should meet him--"judgments are prepared for scourners, and stripes for the backs of fools," he takes it to himself. I am the man, I am the man, says he; in short, he takes all God's threatenings to himself, and expects sooner or later the fulfillment of them in his own soul; he feels the bitter gnawing of a guilty conscience. And tell me where is the man that can have the least enjoyment of this life, whose conscience is powerfully armed against him on the account of sin. When the power or arm of God is come near against him to judgment, it will bring him near unto death; he will appear as one on the brink of the grave, and he will curse the day he was born: and would to God, says he, I had been deprived of existence.
Now all the time that he is under these bitter sensations, he has faith in the righteousness, holiness, and justice of God, and he has faith in the holy commandments of God; he knows the law is spiritual, but he is carnal, sold under sin; and this makes him tremble; and can this be wondered at, that a poor finite worm of the earth should tremble at the terrible majesty of his Creator, when we are told by the apostle James that Devils believe and tremble. But what an advantage have sensible sinners over fallen Spirits, who have no righteousness or them provided, no mediator, no advocate, no surety, nor intercessor. They having once fallen are fallen for ever. But when the Holy Ghost teacheth a sinner, he not only gives light to see our fallen state, but he makes us hunger and thirst after righteousness, and makes us sensible that no other will do but the righteousness of the Son of God; and he likewise puts it on when he has given us faith to bring it in; and if you never knew what it was to be dead, you cannot be a partaker of that blessing God promised on Mount Zion, which is the Church, for it was there God commanded the blessing, even life for evermore; (Ps. 133:3) and if you were never dead, or, in other words, saw yourself in a dead lost condition, then it is evident you never had life, for it is these dead men that are to live.
Mine arms shall judge the people, yes, and all the Churches shall know that I am he that searcheth the reins and hearts; and it is by a powerful application of his most holy law that he searcheth the heart, for by the law is the knowledge of sin. "I will search Jerusalem with candles, says the Lord, and punish the men that are settled on their lees:" (Zeph. 1:12) and this is done by the Holy Ghost, who begins and carries on in the souls of his servants the whole work of grace and salvation, and is with the believer in all the different experiences that he has to wade through. He is with us from first to last. It is his most blessed and holy power, called in my text the arms of the Lord, that makes us feel and see the spirituality of the righteous law of God, the justice, the holiness, and the majesty of our great Creator, that makes us hunger and thirst after the righteousness of Jesus Christ--gives faith to believe in him, and that makes us complete in him--and this our dear Redeemer promised, "that when he the Comforter is come, he shall take of the things that are mine and show them unto you." (John 15:26; John 16:14,15) He makes us renounce all the righteousness of our own, all confidence in the flesh; we forget the things that are behind, and he enables us to reach forth unto those things that are before, so that we press towards the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. (Phil. 3:14) And in whatsoever you are deficient in your faith, he will reveal even this unto you; and our blessed and invaluable Redeemer kindly invites us to come unto him, and buy of him all that is valuable, needful, and necessary for perishing sinners. "I counsel thee to buy of me Gold tried in the fire that thou mayest be rich, and white raiment that thou mayest be clothed, that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear, and anoint thine eyes with eye salve, that thou mayest see." (Rev. 3:18) He invites you by this text to partake of his choice blessings. By gold tried in the fire, he intends faith, to be rich in faith; by white raiment, he means his righteousness or spotless obedience; and by eye salve, nothing less is intended than his Holy Spirit; and this the Saviour counsels thee or invites thee to buy; but some may be ready to say, but what will purchase these things, and what is the price he will take. Then let me tell you, that every son or daughter of Adam, who got in possession of those things, were made willing to give up and part with their nearest and dearest worldly delights, and would let him have the first place in their esteem, heart, and affections. Now this is the price he demands, this is the exchange you must make--he will have no rival. Consider this and weigh matters well. Have you been enabled to give up all for Christ's sake. Hear what account Paul gives, and how he valued Christ above every object besides; says he, "what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ; yea, doubtless and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ." (Phil. 3:7,8) Does your experience come up to this. It is the love of Christ, or a sense of his love to you and me, that enables us to love him in return. God's arm so effectually judged Paul, until Paul judged every thing beneath the sun to be no better than dung and dross for Christ's sake. And this is the case with many of you. But some who cannot see their way clear, who are still under this arm, may be ready to tell me they dread this way of judging; oh, say they, it is very bitter: it makes my soul grieve because of the roughness, unpleasantness, and oppositions I meet with, without and within. It is well called a path of tribulation; and I have not a greater enemy in Satan than I have in my own evil heart, and on account of those things I feel nothing but rebuke, chastisement, and sorrow.
If this is your case, attend to the words of the Saviour, and take some encouragement from that; "As many as I love I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore and repent;" therefore let none of those things dishearten you, for it is a safe way, and a road that leads to everlasting and uninterrupted peace; and remember although you meet with some severity, yet it is your Saviour that judgeth you, for the Father has committed all judgment unto the Son, and he is a judge that is merciful, slow to anger and of great kindness, and will take part with and stand at the right hand of the poor to save him from them who condemn his soul. And whenever he takes a sinner's cause in hand he is sure to bring him through, for truth inviolable and power invincible is with him, whose name is the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end, the ALMIGHTY. Therefore, can it be likely that a poor chastened Christ-depending sinner can utterly sink whilst he has such a supporter as this is? And in the next place, observe the good-will he bears towards you, whilst he tries and teaches you, that all this chastening is for your profit, because you may not be condemned with the world. And there is another thing take with you, that before you can or will be justified by the righteousness of Christ, you must well understand the severity of God, and have faith in that as well as in his mercy, and there can be no justification without it.
With respect to God's mercy it is superabounding; with respect to his truth, he is the true God, and no lie is in him; he is faithful to his promised mercy to the believer, and severity to the infidel. With respect to his righteousness, no unrighteous person, or one out of Christ, can stand before him; and as for the peace of God, it passeth all understanding. Now in Christ Jesus these all harmonize, for mercy and truth have met together in him, righteousness and peace have kissed each other, and this is my beloved son, in whom I am well pleased, spake the Lord out of heaven. And do you attend to what he says, or, in other words, "hear him."
"Mine arm shall judge the people, the isles shall wait for me." (Isa. 51:5) We may reasonably suppose that the prophet Isaiah had well weighed those things in his mind. God had given him suitable understanding in the things he gave him to speak; and as he has in several places mentioned of isles, he must well know that Gentile nations would be blessed with the righteousness and salvation of God, for, says he, in the forty second chapter of this prophecy, when speaking of God the Father's promise to Christ--"I have put my spirit upon him; he shall bring forth judgment to the Gentiles. He shall not fail nor be discouraged till he have set judgment in the earth, and the isles shall wait for his law." And for my part, I never did hear nor read of any isle, wherein it is or ever has been so completely fulfilled, as in our island of Great Britain. Nor do I believe it ever was; and I make no doubt but it was known to the Jews in an early age, for Josephus in his writings makes mention of the Romaus, Spain, and Britain. And from what we have heard and from what we know, we have every reason to conclude that the British Islands are chiefly intended, for it is well known that the everlasting Gospel of our Lord has been known and preached for many years in England, Ireland, and Scotland. And when the prophet says, "the isles shall wait for his law," he means the arm or power of God shall be made bare; and the time cometh when these ignorant Islanders shall be made wise to salvation, for I will have my servants out of every nation, and kindred, and people, and tongue. But, say you, how is this done. Why, in the first place, the mind of man is persuaded, and it is nothing less than the power and operation of God that can do it. Arminians and Papists may and do boast of what they have done, and can do, in this matter, but you may depend on it, that it is the work of God only; for, says God by Noah, God shall enlarge, that is (originally) persuade Japheth, and he shall dwell in the tents of Shem. Now it is well known that of Shem came the Jews; and what advantage then had the Jew over the rest of mankind. Paul tells us much every way--but more particularly because that unto them was committed the oracles of God, and every believing Jew dwelled in the love of God, for so says the psalmist,--"Lord thou hast been our dwelling place in all generations;" and every offspring of Japheth, which are we Gentiles, that is enlarged or persuaded of God, dwelleth in God and God dwelleth in him, as did the believing Jews.
God must powerfully convince or persuade the mind that the religion of a crucified Saviour is the only religion with which he is well pleased; that his blood is the only atonement accepted for sin; his righteousness imputed the only covering for souls, so as to appear justified before him; and if he never does so persuade you, and bestow it on you too, you will go out of this world in ignorance, and idolatry, and in possession of the curse of God.
In the next place the Lord says, "I will not put my law in their hearts;" and by the heart you must understand the conscience, which is by Paul called "Holding the mystery of faith in a pure conscience." And it is faith that purifieth the heart, and it is faith that purgeth the conscience from dead works; and if God has been pleased to do this for any of you, then hear the result--"You are kept by the power of God, through faith, unto salvation;" (1 Peter 1:5) and wherever this power of God comes, it will not lift that person up with pride and conceit of himself, but will humble him in his own eyes, and will exalt the Saviour of sinners; Christ will be all in all, and the recipient of this power will be nothing at all. And what is the power but a rich display of God's eternal unmerited grace, love, and mercy to a set of poor helpless perishing sinners, in sending his Holy Spirit to quicken our souls, to subdue our sins, to guide us through our pilgrimage here in this world, and to fit us for a better; and wherever this power comes, the law here spoken of is sure to follow.
"The isles shall wait for his law;" but perhaps some may think that it is the law that God gave to the children of Israel, on Mount Horeb, by Moses, that is here meant. But strictly speaking it is not the law of Moses that is meant here, and which the isles were to wait for; for long before Christ came to finish our salvation on the cross, the writings of Moses were to be found in most parts of the Roman empire, who were masters of the greatest part of the then known world, which we may gather from James, Acts 15:21. "For Moses of old time hath in every city them that preach him, being read in the synagogues every sabbath day," which, in comparison to the Gospel, made but very few Proselytes amongst the Gentiles; therefore this is not the law that is here meant, but was another law that the isles were to wait for. A law shall proceed from me says the Lord, and as soon as they hear of me they shall obey me; strangers shall submit themselves unto me; and if you go to the Apostle Paul, you will find he is able, as a good minister of the word, to harmonize this matter. When about to conclude his epistle to the Romans, he does it in this dignified manner: "Now to him that is of power to stablish you according to my Gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery which was kept secret since the world begun, but now is made manifest, and by the scriptures of the prophets according to the commandment of the everlasting God, made known to all nations for the obedience of faith." (Rom. 16:25,26) Now here you find what is this grand mystery, which was kept secret for four thousand years, but now no longer a secret but made known to all nations, which revelation is the object of their faith, and by faith they agree with, delight in, and willingly obey the grand mystery of God's redemption by Christ Jesus. Now here you find in him the mystery is revealed, the secret is made manifest, and the scriptures of the prophets are fulfilled in the person of our Emanuel; he is the substance of every shadow, the truth of every type, which was darkly set forth under Jewish ceremonies and figures, but now is made known by the preaching of the gospel to all nations, for the obedience of faith. And this is the turning point with all men. He or she that believes this account, that God has made known of Christ by his ministers, by his word, or by his spirit, shall be eternally saved--from sin, death, and hell; but whosoever that believeth not shall be damned. You may call it a law, or a mystery, or a secret, or whatever you please, yet the sum and the substance of all is, Christ crucified; and wherever you believe this power is preached, or where this power attends the ministry, there you are to wait and watch with diligence, for faith comes by hearing. And when you hear the ministers of the gospel expound the word, speak out their experience, and confess what God has done in and for them, you will meet with encouragement, which will enable you to wait and watch in hope. The Lord is pleased at first to use severity, to root out all confidence in the flesh, to cut off all occasion for boasting, or hope in a broken law, and that we may be brought to understand what is penned by the apostle, "Not by works of righteousness that we have done, but of his mercy he saves us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost;" (Titus 3:5) and you are encouraged to wait upon God, because he has told us, he has a set time to favor Zion: (Ps. 102:13) and when this power comes into the soul, such waiters and watchers shall not be ashamed; for if they are conscious that they stand in need of this power, they shall wait in hope and expectation; for, says truth, blessed are all they that wait for me. You have perhaps expected that it would be under this sermon or the other discourse, at this or the other means of God's appointment, and behold you have been disappointed, yet fear not, for the promise is, "at the end it shall speak and not lie, though it tarry long, yet wait for it," (Hab. 2:3) because it will surely come, and not tarry beyond God's appointed time; and blessed are all them that wait for me.
Now from what has been said, this is the sum, it is the people of God that are to hearken, and his nation that is to hear. This law that is to proceed from his is faith, called the law of the spirit of life. He will judge sinners, and bring them in guilty; and by the light they have received, they will acknowledge his judgment just; but then he promises the righteousness of Christ to all such, and an everlasting salvation. This is gone forth from the mouth of the Lord, it shall not return void, his own arm shall judge his people, he will not give them up to an unmerciful Judge. By Isles he means the Gentiles shall wait upon me, and on my arm or power shall they trust; and then comes in the words of my text.
"Lift up your eyes to the heavens and look upon the earth beneath, for the heavens shall vanish away like smoke, and the earth shall wax old as a garment; and they that dwell therein shall die in like manner: but my salvation shall be for ever, and my righteousness shall never be abolished;" which showeth us how infinitely inferior all sublunary and terrestrial objects are, when put in competition with the salvation and righteousness of God by Christ Jesus. But you must understand when the Lord bids us to lift up our eyes to the heavens, that it is in order that we may learn some very instructive lessons thereby; for, as Paul says, his eternal power and Godhead is clearly seen by the things he has made, which creatures of his are intended to afford wholesome lessons to his children, for it is them who are to lift up their eyes to the heavens, as well as to hearken and to give ear. And the first thing I shall take notice of is God's covenant with Noah, and with every living creature to the end of time, which runs thus---"I do set my bow in the clouds, and it shall come to pass with I bring a cloud over the earth, that the bow shall be seen in the cloud, and I will look upon it that I may remember the everlasting covenant." The prophet Jeremiah bids the relenting Israelites to lift up their eyes to heaven, and to consider this covenant, that God made with Noah--For we are told, that they, seeing nothing but famine, death, and captivity before their eyes, began to say that God had cast off the family he had chosen; but to oppose unbelief and to raise hope in their souls, God tells them by the Prophet, "if ye can break my covenant of the day, and my covenant of the night, and that there should not be day and night in their season, then may also my covenant be broken with David my servant, that he should not have a son to reign upon his throne; and with the Levites the priests, my ministers;" (Jer. 33:20-22) therefore, by looking here we are to remember the promise that God made to David, saying, "I will set up thy seed after thee, which shall proceed out of thy bowels, and I will establish his kingdom;" (2 Sam. 7:12) and as sure as these witnesses in heaven, that the covenant with Noah of day and night, and of the waters no more to drown the earth, remains unbroken, so sure shall the promise to David be fulfilled, although the present calamity had for their sins overtaken them. Now the seed of David are the elect of God, for Christ is called David; and the elect of God are David's seed, which you may be satisfied of by that text in Isaiah, where the father tells our Lord, for our profit, saying, "I will pour water upon him that is thirsty, and floods upon the dry ground; I will pour my spirit upon thy seed, and my blessing upon thy offspring;" (Isa. 44:3) and this water and these floods, are nothing less than the spirit of life that is poured out to quicken dead sinners, which is to abide with them for ever, which is further confirmed by this same Prophet; "as for me," says the Lord, "this is my covenant with them; my spirit that is upon thee, and my words which I have put in thy mouth shalt not depart out of thy mouth, nor out of the mouth of thy seed, nor out of the mouth of thy seeds seed, saith the Lord, from henceforth and for ever." (Isa. 59:21) Therefore, by looking at the heavens you are to consider that God has made this covenant of promise with Christ, and the elect, his seed in him; and you are to understand by Levites, the same is meant. In the first place, it is his ministering servants in the gospel; and in the next place the believer, who offers up spiritual sacrifices; which you may see by reading the sixty-first chapter of this prophecy. "And strangers shall stand and feed your flocks, and the sons of the alien shall be your plowmen and vinedressers. But ye shall be named the priests of the Lord: men shall call you the ministers of our God." (Isa. 61:5,6) And you must understand that those strangers, aliens, plowmen, and vinedressers, and Levites, are believers in the Lord Jesus Christ, and are in the Church, some ministers, some teachers and pastors, and some private believers; and his most Holy Spirit anoints and furnishes them, that they may be enabled to offer up spiritual sacrifice,--and what is the sacrifice that believers offer to God, say you,--why it is prayer, praise, and gratitude that flows from a heart inspired with the Holy Ghost. And we are to bring forth the covenant, as Jeremiah did, to establish our minds in God's covenant with Christ, and with believers in him.
"Therefore lift up your eyes to heaven." And another lesson you may learn is this; when you look on the sun, you behold the grand luminary of heaven, which cherishes the creation of God. It lightens and enlivens mankind, it warms the earth, it brings forth, cherishes, and perfects all vegetation; and that indeed is a dungeon where its bright rays never come; and if you will profit by looking at this, turn your thoughts as the holy penman did on the sun of righteousness, who does arise with healing in his wings; and this is no other than the Lord Jesus Christ, who throws a glorious light on the darkened understanding of man, and reflects his glorious rays on the benumbed conscience; who heals all our wounds which sin has made, cherishes the drooping soul, and strengthens them that are weak. Behold in what ecstasy the Prophet breaks out, and calls to the Gentile church, when in faith he looked forward to the time of their glorious visitation. "Arise, shine, for thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee; for behold the darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people, but the Lord shall arise upon thee, and his glory shall be seen upon thee; and the Gentiles shall come to thy light, and kings to the brightness of thy rising." (Isa. 60:1-3) Christ Jesus is the church's sun--he is the light in the midst of her. But when you look on this bright and glorious luminary in the heavens, take care that your thoughts rest not there, as thousands have done, who have been professed worshippers of the sun, whilst totally ignorant of him who made the world and formed the sun. But you are to look for the precious fruits brought forth by the son of righteousness, flowing from a sense of his love to you, which is thankfulness, praise, and gratitude, and for the good will of him that dwelt in the bush. "Therefore lift up your eyes to heaven." And there is another wholesome lesson to be learnt, which is from that noble piece of God's workmanship, the Moon. Under the former dispensation, all things relating to the worship of God were, in one sense or the other, typical of Christ Jesus, our dear redeemer, whether it was the passover feast, or ceremonial sacrifices; these were all spiritually fulfilled and realized in Christ, who is the bread and the life of the world; for all God's worshippers are spiritually to feed on him. Now the Jewish feasts were all regulated by the moon--so says the scripture, "Blow up the trumpet in the new moon, in the time appointed, on our solemn feast day, for this is the statute for Israel, and a law of the God of Jacob." (Ps. 81:3,4) And the heavenly banqueting that some poor souls found at those feasts, made them prize the time of their return; but since the Lord Jesus Christ is come, who is the end of the law, the substance of every shadow, the truth of every type, all these things have ceased, they are done away, as the Lord by Hosea foretold it should, saying, "I will cause all her mirth to cease, her feast days, her new moons, and her sabbaths, and all her solemn feasts." (Hosea 2:11) But, say you, has God given the church, under the gospel dispensation, nothing in return for these which he has taken away. Yes, blessed be God, he has given us the same things in a more glorious and spiritual sense, for we have our mirth when we rejoice in Christ Jesus, when we rejoice in hope of the glory of God; our feast days are when by faith we eat his body and when by faith we drink his blood; and when we eat of the fruit from the tree of life--indeed our feasting days which begin here are never to be ended, for in heaven the lamb, in the midst of the throne, shall feed us, and lead us to fountains of living water, and God shall wipe away all tears from our eyes. And the same lamb that is to feed us there feeds us now; "for the Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want; he maketh me to lie down in green pastures; he leadeth me besides the still waters;" (Ps. 23:1,2) and all the time we have his presence with us he maketh it our feast days, for he says his children cannot fast whilst the bridegroom is with them. And blessed be God because we know it--we are to have a sun that is never to set, and a moon that is never to wane; and if you wish to reap any spiritual advantage, by looking at the heavens, I say consider these things.
And another lesson that you are to learn by looking at the heavens is this: you are to consider the stars, which serveth to teach you that the day of small things is compared in scripture to these luminous objects. When Peter is recommending the word of God, he says, "We have also a more sure word of prophecy, whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts;" (2 Pet. 1:19) "which," as Zacharias says, "is through the tender mercy of our God, whereby the day spring from on high hath visited us." (Luke 1:78) When Balaam prophesied on the Saviour's coming, he said, "There shall come a star out of Jacob, and a sceptre shall rise out of Israel," (Num. 24:17) which our Lord acknowledges is his name--"I am the root and offspring of David, the bright and morning star." (Rev. 22:16) When our Lord appeared and sent his gospel out into a benighted world, it was compared to the morning star, or the day dawn. And when convictions, by God's spirit, break in on the soul of man, this is called the same. It was by the means of a star that the wise men were guided to the very spot where our Lord was born; and ministers of God are called stars, and they that turn many to righteousness shall shine as the stars for ever and ever. Thus you may see that the Lord makes use of these things to teach and instruct us: and when he bids you to lift up your eyes to heaven, it is that you may see and behold these things and meditate thereon.
Take notice further,--The pattern of the ark of the covenant, which had the mercy seat, came from heaven; and Christ is the true ark of the covenant, in whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. It was the same with the ark wherein Noah was preserved; God gave him the pattern, and preserved him from that deluge of water when he drowned the unbelievers of the old world, which family represented the elect as preserved in the ark, Christ Jesus, from the deluge of God's eternal wrath.
But the greatest thing of all is this, and on this account we are to lift up our eyes to heaven. When Noah came out of the ark, God gave him a promise, and a token. He entered into covenant with Noah, and with the whole world, and for a token of that covenant, "Behold," says the Lord, "I have set my bow in the clouds." I promised I never would drown the world any more with water, and this bow, when you and your posterity behold it, shall remember that I have thus covenanted with you, and this is my token. But we must not stop here, when we see this; we must carry our thoughts further, for the bow which we behold is typical of another, and so is the covenant. When God the Father entered into covenant with Christ and his seed, the elect through him, which covenant is called the covenant of grace, "this," says the Father to the Son, "is as the waters of Noah unto me; for as I have sworn that the waters of Noah shall no more go over the earth, so have I sworn that I would not be wroth with thee, nor rebuke thee." (Isa. 54:9) And this bow, of which that in the clouds is a type, was put on the head of Christ: and hence it is, when we see something of a likeness or something drawn to represent him, we see a bow drawn around his head. The prophet Ezekiel tells us that, when he saw the Lord upon the throne, that as the appearance of the bow that is in the cloud in the day of rain, so was the appearance of the brightness round about; and although there are many which have seen the bow which is in the clouds, yet there are few in comparison that see this bow around the head of Christ Jesus. God entered into this covenant with our Lord, and gave him this sign for our sakes, that we should not be destroyed nor drowned in ruin and perdition. "His seed shall endure for ever, and his throne as the sun before me; it shall be established for ever as the moon, and as a faithful witness in heaven;" (Ps. 89:36,37) which faithful witness is particularly spoken of the rainbow. And if you take notice of its beauty and color, you may behold it complete with grandeur, setting forth the greatness, wisdom, and majesty of its Maker. When I look at the color thereof, and behold the green, I consider it as an emblem of life; for life, in the scripture of truth, is set forth by that color. If you read the book of Revelations, you will find that the power of the scorpions and locusts was restrained from touching the grass or any green thing: by which you must understand those men and women who have the life of God in the souls. When I see the yellow in the bow, I consider it an emblem of faith, which I gather from the scriptures; when the Psalmist, in speaking of God's mercy and care of the church says, "and although ye have lien among the pots, yet shall ye be as the wings of a dove covered with silver, and her feathers with yellow gold;" (Ps. 68:13) by silver is meant the purity and holiness of the spirit of God on the soul, and by yellow gold is particularly meant faith. In the next place, our Lord persuades the church of Laodicea to buy of him gold tried in the fire, that they might be rich; but this is not spoken of gold literally; but that faith is intended, you may see by Peter, who says, "that the trial of your faith being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire;" (1 Pet. 1:7) which was well understood by Job, "He knoweth the way that I take: when he hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold," (Job 23:10) says he. It is by faith we are saved, it is by faith we are to overcome, and come forth into the happy liberty of the children of God. And thus by the yellow is meant faith.--And when I behold the red color in the bow, I understand it to mean the conquest of Christ over sin, death, and hell. He was seen by Zachariah riding on a red horse; and the prophet Isaiah cries out when he saw the Lord, "who is this that cometh from Edom, with dyed garments from Bozrah; wherefore art thou red in thine apparel, and thy garments like him that treadeth in the wine fat." (Isa. 63:1,2) In the first place he conquered our foes, and in the next place he conquered sinners; he split his precious blood in the conflict; by his death he conquered him that had the power of death, and us sinners he conquered by his grace; "he went forth," says John, "conquering and to conquer." (Rev. 6:2) "His seed shall endure for ever, and his throne as the sun before me; it shall be establised for ever as the moon, and as a faithful witness in heaven." The man after God's own heart considered these things, and wondered at the mercy of God to rebel man. "When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon, and the stars which thou hast ordained," says David, "Lord what is man that thou art mindful of him;" (Ps. 8:3,4) what, Lord, canst thou see in man to move thee to provide for him in so gracious a manner. Why the truth is, we have it all for Christ's sake. Therefore, from what has been advanced, you may partly understand the reason for which you are commanded to lift up your eyes to heaven,--it is, that you may consider the work of God, behold the bow in the clouds; the sun, the moon, and stars in the firmament of heaven; view their beauty, order, greatness, and transcendent usefulness, which discovered to the Psalmist the majesty of the Maker. "The heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament sheweth his handy work; day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night sheweth knowledge;" (Ps. 19:1,2) and when you, like David, have well considered of the greatness, wisdom, and almighty power of God, in creating all these things, remember it is all for Christ's sake, and for the elect of God in him, and will remain in the same order and grandeur as we now behold it, till all the elect are saved by an application of their Redeemer's atonement and righteousness in time.