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Charles Spurgeon's Illustration Collection
Church: Her Glory in Tribulation
One will at a certain hour of a bright day be surprised to see a rainbow making an entire circle, surrounding the fall like a coronet of gems, or a ring set with all the brilliants of the jeweller. Every hue is there. We saw two such bows, one within the other, and we fancied that we discovered traces of a third. We had looked upon such a sight but once before, and were greatly delighted with 'that arch of light, boom of the spray, and colored by the sun.' It was a fair vision to gaze upon, and reminded us 'of the mystic rainbow, which the seer of Patmos beheld, which was round about the throne, for it strikes us that it was seen by John as a complete circle, of which we see but the half on earth; the upper arch of manifest glory we rejoice to gaze upon, but the lower and foundation arch of the eternal purpose, upon which the visible display of grace is founded, is reserved for our contemplation in another world. When we read in the first verse of the tenth chapter of Revelation,' I saw another mighty angel come down from heaven, clothed with a cloud: and a rainbow was upon his head,' it greatly assists the imagination to conceive of a many-colored circlet, rather than a semicircle.
We lingered long watching the flashing crystal, dashed and broken upon a hundred craggy rocks, and tossed into the air in sheets of foam, to fall in wreaths of spray; we should not have tired for hours if we could have tarried to admire the harmonious hues of that wheel within a wheel,
'Of colours changing from the splendid rose,
To the pale violet's dejected hue;'
but we were on a journey, and were summoned to advance. As we mounted our mule and rode silently down the pass, mid the pine forests and the over-hanging mountains, we ompared the little stream to the church of God, which in peaceful times flows on like a village brook, quiet and obscure, blessed and blessing others, but yet little known or considered by the sons of men. Abana and Pharpar, rivers of Damascus, .re greater than all the waters of Israel, and the proud ones of the earth despise that brook which flows 'hard by the oracle of God,' because her waters go softly and in solitary places; but when the church advances over the steeps of opposition, and is dashed adown the crags of persecution, then, in her hour of sorrow, her glory is revealed. Then she lifts up her voice, like the sea, and roars as a boiling torrent, quickening her pace till that mighty river, the river Kishon, sweeps not with such vehemence of power. Her sons and daughters are led to the slaughter, and her blood is cast abroad, like the foam of the waters, but onward she dashes with irresistible energy, fearing no leap of peril; and then it is that the eternal God glorifies her with the rainbow of his everlasting grace, makes the beauty of her holiness to shine forth, and, in the patience of the saints, reveals a heavenly radiance, which all men behold with astonishment. The golden age of true religion is the martyr period; war breeds heroes, and suffering unto blood in striving against sin draws forth men of whom the world is not worthy. So far from enduring loss by opposition, it is then that the cause of God receives its coronation. The rainbow of the divine presence in the fullness of majesty encircles the chosen people when tribulation, affliction, and distress break them, as the stream is broken by the precipitous rocks adown which it boldly casts itself, that its current may advance in its predestined channel. When, at any time, our forebodings foretell the coming of evil times for the church, let us remember that before the Spirit revealed to the beloved disciple the terrible beasts, the thundering trumpets, the falling stars, and the dreadful vials, he bade him mark with attention that the covenant rainbow was round about the throne. All is well, for God is true.
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Spurgeon, Charles. Entry for 'Church: Her Glory in Tribulation'. Charles Spurgeon's Illustration Collection. https://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/eng/fff/c/church-her-glory-in-tribulation.html. 1870.
the Fifth Week after Epiphany