16 Sun, Moon and Stars


Edward Madeley



THOSE sublime objects of creative energy in the material universe, — the sun, the moon, and the stars, are constantly employed in the Word of God to signify the grand universals of life and salvation. For instance, the sun, in relation to the regenerate man, corresponds to the Lord Himself, ” the Sun of righteousness,” and thus also to the love of God and our neighbor, for this love is derived from his essential life, and is spoken of as the fountain of every celestial beatitude ; as in Malachi, ” Unto you that fear my name shall the Sun of righteousness arise with healing in his wings” (iv. 2). But in relation to the unregenerate man, the sun corresponds to the evil love of self and the world, which, ” when it is up,” or risen, that is, permitted to be active, and increases concupiscence, instead of ministering blessings, is described as ” scorching ” the good seed of truth, so that under the baneful influence it ” withers away” (Matt.xiii. 6), and as causing the heaven-descended manna to vanish (Ex.xvi. 21). The sun is spoken of in the same sense in the Psalms, where it is said, ” The Lord is thy keeper : the Lord is thy shade upon thy right hand. The sun shall not smite thee by day”(cxxi. 5, 6) ; signifying that the Lord can alone protect us from the destructive influence of self-love and its burning passions.

The sun, as the centre of attraction to the planetary worlds and the proximate source of heat, light, life, and fruitfulness to this natural world, is the representative emblem of the Lord Himself as to his divine love ; for this principle is the centre of all vitality in the church and the mind. In the winter season all creation mourns, as it were, the sun s apparent absence; many animals become torpid, and the vegetable kingdom withers apparently ; but on the return of spring, and the more direct rays of the sun, the kingdoms of nature are all warmed into new life, and renewed into activity by his vivifying and genial influences, and universal nature rejoices at the sun’s apparent approach. In all this we may trace and confirm the beautiful correspondence of the sun. The moon, dependent upon the earth, but shining with a borrowed lustre derived from the sun, and whose reflected glories dissipate the darkness of so many of our nights, is, in a good sense, a striking figure of a true faith in the Lord and his Word ; for faith derives all its effulgence and life from love, and dissipates all the doubt and darkness which so often prevail in the night of trial and temptation. Hence, in the sublime promise of a perpetual state of that heavenly joy and delight which flow from the love of God, and faith in his Word, the Evangelical Prophet exclaims in rapture, ” Thy sun shall no more go down, neither shall thy moon withdraw itself” (Isa. Ix. 20). It is from the principles and perceptions of the same love and faith that we are led with heartfelt sincerity to worship and serve the Lord, as being goodness itself, and truth itself; and to ascribe to the outflowing energies of his Holy Spirit all works of benevolence and use, by whatever agents they are made manifest. Then, in the language of correspondence, we are said to ” Praise Him for the precious fruits brought forth by the sun, and for the precious things put forth by the moon ” (Deut. xxxiii. 44).

The stars which bespangle the skies with their innumerable coruscations, and emit rays of light into the atmosphere, are emblematical, in a good sense, of the knowledges of goodness and truth, which irradiate the mental firmament with rays of spiritual intelligence. When, therefore, a desecrated and benighted state of the church is treated of, the sun is represented as darkened and ” shrouded in sackcloth of hair,” to denote the utter extinction of love and charity ; the moon is spoken of as ” turned to blood,” to signify that all genuine faith is darkened and corrupted ; and the stars are said to ” fall from heaven, even as a fig-tree casteth her untimely figs, when she is shaken of a mighty wind,” to represent the awful apostasy from truth, when the revealed knowledges of heavenly things are hurled to the earth, and made subservient to the vilest purposes (Joel ii. 10 ; Matt. xxiv. 29 ; Acts ii. 20 ; Rev. vi. 12, 13). On the other hand, when the strength and glory of the church are treated of, she is represented as a wonder seen in heaven, “a woman clothed with the sun” (Rev. xii. 1), encircled by a protecting sphere of divine love ; as having ” tKe moon under her feet,” supported by a pure, holy, and firm faith; and upon her head ” a diadem of twelve stars,” crowned with the inextinguishable splendors of spiritual knowledge or intelligence.

The communications of divine truths from the Lord were made, in ancient times, not only by inspired speeches, but also by the perceptions which were excited into activity by visions or dreams. These were all representatives, from which the prophets taught the people the divine will and promises, and recorded them as the very Word of God. Joseph was favored with a prophetic dream of this kind, when he saw the sun, the moon, and the eleven stars, in appearance make obeisance before him. This can only, in the mere letter, apply to the single historical fact of Joseph, his brethren, and his parents in Egypt ; but, in the internal or spiritual sense, by Joseph is signified the Lord Jesus Christ, and also, in regard to man, he signifies divine truth from the Lord in heaven and the church, or in the spiritual man ; but the sun and the moon signify here natural goodness and truth, or goodness and truth in the natural mind ; father and brethren signify and include the Jewish religion ; while the eleven stars signify all the knowledges thereof. Bowing, or obeisance, denotes adoration, accompanied with the acknowledgment that all the rites and ceremonies of that religion had, in their internal character, a special relation to the Lord Jesus Christ in his divinely glorified humanity, our heavenly Joseph, the source of all goodness and truth and knowledge. It is He who sustains his church in Egypt, and supplies abundance of corn in states of spiritual famine ; but claims to be acknowledged as Lord of all.