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are most easily recorded, and consist of fewest articles. The history of an Enoch is comprised in three words, while the exploits of an Alexander, a Cæsar, or any other of the scourges and destroyers of mankind, swell to many volumes. But what comparison is there between the bubble reputation, bestowed by historians, poets, or orators, on the worthless and the wicked; and the solid, sterling praise conferred on the wise and good, by the Spirit of God, by whom actions are weighed, and who will at last "bring every secret thing into judgment?" And woe be unto them, who love the praise of men more than the praise of God.
Into what a little measure shrinks the whole history of mankind previous to the flood; though a period of no less than one thousand six hundred and fifty-six years! To that great revolution of the world we are now brought; and the following Lecture, if God permit, will contain the first part of the History of Noah; in whose person, the old and new worlds, through the vast chasm of the deluge, were connected together; and who is exhibited in scripture as a type of Him, in whose person heaven and earth are united, and by whom all things are to be made new. May God bless what has been spoken. Amen.
HISTORY OF NOAH.
GENESIS V. 28, 29.
And Lamech lived an hundred eighty and two years, and begat a son: and he called his name Noah, saying, This same shall comfort us concerning our work and toil of our bands, because of the ground which the Lord had cursed.
THE fortunes and characters of men are various as their faces. What diversity has appeared in the lives, and in the latter end, of those persons whose history has already passed under our review, in the course of these Exercises! Adam experienced a change more bitter than death. Abel perished by the hand of his brother. The murderer becomes a terror to himself, lives in exile, and dies unnoticed. Enoch is gloriously exempted from the stroke of death, and carried directly to heaven. Noah survives the whole human race, his own family excepted; lives to behold a world destroyed, a world restored.
We are now arrived at that memorable revolution, of which there exists so many striking marks on the external appearance of the globe; of which there are such frequent and distinct intimations in the traditional monuments and records of all the learned nations of antiquity; and of which it has pleased God to give such an ample and circumstantial detail in scripture.
Concerning Noah great expectations were formed, from the moment of his birth. The world was arrived at an uncommon pitch of corruption and degeneracy. The natural evils which flesh is heir to, were prodigiously increased by irreligion and vice; so that the earth groaned, as it were, under the curse of God, and the violence and impiety of men. Lamech, the father of Noah, with the fondness and partiality of parental affection, flatters himself that his new-born son would prove a comfort to himself, and a blessing
to mankind; and, most probably directed by the spirit of prophesy, bestows upon him a name significant of his future character and conduct; of the station which he was to fill, and the purpose which he was to serve, in the destination of Providence. He had the satisfaction of living to see his expectations realized; and his eyes closed in peace at a good old age, five years before that great calamity which overwhelmed the human race-the deluge.
Scripture accounts for the universal depravity of that awful period, in these words; "And it came to pass, when men began to multiply on the face of the earth, and daughters were born unto them, that the sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were fair; and they took them wives of all which they chose."* These expressions the most respectable and judicious interpreters explain, as descriptive of unhallowed and imprudent intermarriages between the posterity of pious Seth, here called "the sons of God," and the female descendants of wicked Cain, denominated "the daughters of men.' Attracted by external and transitory charms, they form alliances inconsistent with wisdom, and disallowed of Heaven. The invention of the fine arts being in the family of Cain, it is not absurd to suppose, that these were called in aid to personal beauty; and that the allurements of music and dress in particular, were employed by the daughters of Jubal, "the father of all such as handle the harp and organ," and of Tubal-Cain," the instructer of every artificer in brass and iron," to support the impression already made by their fair looks. What ensued? That which will always happen to piety unwisely and unequally yoking itself with irreligion and profanity; the evil principle being much more powerful to pervert the good, than the good to reform the evil. Giants are said to have been the issue of those unfortunate marriages; literally, perhaps, men of huge stature, like the sons of Anak in latter times: certainly, men of lofty, aspiring, haughty minds: the heirs to the pride, vanity, and presumption of their mothers, more than to the decency, wisdom, and piety of their male ancestors. That corruption must have been general indeed, which comprehended all, save Noah and his household; and it must have been very grievous, to constrain the Spirit of God, to employ language so strong and expressive as this, on the occasion: "And it repenteth the Lord that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart. And the Lord said, I will destroy man, whom I have created, from the face of the earth, both man and beast, and the creeping thing, and the fowls of the air; for it repenteth me that I have made them."+ When the whole head is sick, and the whole heart faint, dissolution and destruction cannot be at a great distance. "But Noah was a just man, and perfect in his generations: and Noah walked with God." How honourable for Noah to stand thus single, thus distinguished! Goodness supported and kept in countenance by the mode, and by multitudes, is amiable and praise-worthy; but goodness single and alone; goodness stemming the torrent, resisting the contagion of example, despising the universal sneer, braving universal opposition, such goodness is superior to all praise: and such was the goodness of Noah. He distinguished himself in the midst of an adulterous and sinful generation, by his piety, righteousness, and zeal; and God, who suffers none to lose at his hand, distinguishes him by special marks of his favour. "But Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord."
Of no character does scripture speak more highly than of Noah's, "he was a just man, and perfect in his generations, and walked with God." In general calamities, it must needs happen that the innocent suffer with the guilty. But in some cases, Providence is pleased specially to interpose for
* Gen. vi. 1, 2.
+ Gen. vi. 6, 7.
+ Gen. vi. 8.
the deliverance of good men. Rather than one worthy family should perish
It is with pleasure we once more refer you to the sacred expositor of the antediluvian history: "by faith," says he, "Noah being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark, to the saving of his house; by the which he condemned the world, and became heir of the righteousness which is by faith."* Here a crowd of ideas rush upon us at once. Behold the great God in the midst of judgment remembering mercy. He will not destroy the righteous with the wicked. But God will not vouchsafe to perform that immediately by a miracle, which may be effected by the blessing of his providence upon human foresight, industry, and diligence. He who was pleased to save Enoch, by translating him to heaven without tasting death, thought fit to preserve Noah by means of an ark of his own building. The design and contrivance is God's; the execution is man's. He who could have transported Noah to a different sphere, and have lodged him there in safety, till the waters of the flood had abated, kept him alive and in safety, rolling in the ark, upon the face of the mighty waters. He, who in the morning of the sixth day, by the almighty fiat, created at first the whole animal world, and though lost, could have in a moment replaced it, by the word of his power, thought proper to preserve alive the race of animals, by providing a place of refuge, and by a special instinct of his providence, warning them of their approaching danger and conducting them to shelter.
Behold, dreadful to think! the patience of God at last exhausted and the decree goes forth. "The earth also was corrupt before God: and the earth was filled with violence. And God looked upon the earth, and behold it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted his way upon the earth. And God said unto Noah, The end of all flesh is come before me; for the earth is filled with violence through them; and behold I will destroy them with the earth.” God has warned, threatened, borne with men in vain, and Noah has preached to them in vain. The day of the Lord is come, and who shall be able to stand? And who hath seen, heard of, or is able to conceive a calamity so dreadful? "The end of all flesh is come. I will destroy them with the earth." Immediately upon the fall, universal nature underwent a change. The mild influences of the heavens were changed or withheld; the earth refused to yield her increase to the hand of the cultivator but the full extent and awful import of the curse was never felt till now. By the deluge the whole face of nature was to be altered; the solid globe dissolved and disjointed; its parts torn asunder from each other its fertility diminished; that it might present to all future generations, a magnificent palace, but in ruins: the mere skeleton of ancient splendour.
* Heb. i. 7.
Gen. vi. 11,-13.
Some ingenious men have supposed, that at this period, the position and motion of our earth, with respect to the sun, were changed: that till then it was so situated in relation to the heavenly bodies, as to possess an equal and universal temperature of air! that hitherto a perpetual spring went hand in hand with an abundant autumn: but that then it was placed in the slanting and oblique situation, which occasions diversity of climates and seasons; which exposes one part to the burning and direct rays of the sun binds another up in perpetual chains of darkness and ice; gives birth to volcanoes, earthquakes, tempests, hurricanes, and all that tribe of natural evils which afflict the wretched children of men. The effects, undoubtedly, must have been wonderful, as the event itself is altogether preternatural. I have no intention of going at present into a discussion of the question, whether the extent of the flood was universally over all the earth; nor into a philosophical investigation of the means employed in producing a phenomenon so singular. Taking the Bible account of the matter in its literal import, we will rather make such reflections upon it as may, by the blessing of God promote the interests of faith and of holiness in our hearts and lives.
Behold then, the venerable sage, at the admonition of Heaven, undertaking his great work. The foundation is laid: the fabric advances; and every stroke of the axe or hammer, summons a thoughtless and a guilty world to repentance: but "they will not hear, they will not lay it to heart." I see the good man, maligned, derided, insulted. In their gaiety of heart, they scornfully style the ark, Noah's folly. The work is finished, but they continue to sing, dance, and play; and many it is probable have an active hand in the construction of that machine, to which they scorn to resort for shelter from the impending danger. Noah is not to be diverted from his purpose. Neither the immensity of the undertaking, nor the length of time which it required, nor the opposition which he meets with from an unbelieving generation, discourage him in the prosecution of a design, planned by infinite wisdom, and recommended by divine mercy.
How the whole tribe of commentators have gone into the opinion, that the space of one hundred and twenty years were employed in building the ark, is strange and unaccountable. It appears not on the face of the history it is irreconcileable to reason and experience: as without a miracle, the parts first constructed must have failed and decayed before the latter parts were finished: and it expressly contradicts the chronological detail of the facts, as delivered to us in scripture. For Noah was five hundred years old at the birth of his eldest son. When the order for building the ark was given, all his three sons were married, as we learn from the following passage: "But with thee will I establish my covenant: and thou shalt come into the ark, thou, and thy sons, and thy wife, and thy sons' wives with thee."* The youngest therefore may reasonably be supposed to have seen his fiftieth year; and the flood came upon the earth in the six hundredth hear of Noah's life; there is left, then, a period considerably less than fifty years, for the execution of the work; and it most probably occupied a much shorter space than even that.
Some minute inquirers have taken the trouble to calculate the solid contents, and thence to estimate the burthen of this wonderful vessel. A cubit is the distance in a full grown man, from the elbow to the tip of the middle finger; for the conveniency of calculation, it has been fixed at a foot and a half of common measure. Upon this supposition the ark contained one million, seven hundred and eighty-one thousand, three hundred and forty-six cubical feet; which, according to the usual allowance of forty-two feet to a ton, or two thousand pounds weight, makes the whole burthen to be forty-twe
* Gen. vi, 18.
thousand four hundred and thirteen tons; which is considerably more than the burthen of forty ships of one thousand tons each. Such was the vast, unwieldy fabric, entrusted, without mast, sail, rudder, or compass, to the mercy of the waves; and which contained the saved remnant of the human race, and of the animal creation, with all necessary accommodation and provision for the space of more than a year.
Behold the four-footed and the feathered tribes, each according to his kind, by a peculiar instinct of Heaven, flocking to Noah, for protection from the threatening tempest, as formerly to Adam, to receive their names. The beasts take warning and hide themselves, but men, more stupid than the brutes, sin on, till they are destroyed. Every thing announced a storm gathering. Noah preaches to the last hour; admonishes, entreats, threatens, and invites. What means that preturnatural gathering together of the brute creation to one place? How come they in a moment to change their nature; to seek what before they shunned; to forget all animosity towards each other? Whence is it that "the wolf dwells with the lamb, the leopard lies down with the kid, and the young lion and the fatling together?" What so brutish and incorrigible as men given up to their own lusts!
At length all is safely housed, from the dove to the raven, and God shuts in Noah with his charge. When lo! the face of heaven is covered with blackness. Nature shudders at the frown of an angry God-the windows of heaven are opened; the rain descends amain: the barriers that confined the ocean to its appointed bed are removed, and the waters from beneath start up to meet the waters coming down from above, and join their streams to avenge a holy and righteous God of his adversaries. The gradual increase of the calamity is a dreadful aggravation of its horror. Thick clouds first gave the alarm. Rain uncommonly heavy, and of longer than ordinary continuance, increases the growing surprise and consternation. The voice of mirth is heard no more, and "all the daughters of music are brought low." By degrees the rivers swelling over their banks, and seas forgetting their shores, render the plains and the valleys no places of safety. But the lofty mountains will afford a refuge from the growing plague. Thither, in trembling hope, the wretches fly. The gathered tempest will surely spend itself, and serenity return. Ah, vain hope! the swelling surge gains continually upon them; all is become sea; the foundations of the hills are shaken by the tide; it advances upon them. As their last resource they climb the trees which cover the mountain tops, and cling to them in despair. Their neighbours and friends sink in the gulph before their eyes! their ears are filled with the shrieks of them that perish. All is amazement and woe. At length they are all overtaken and overwhelmed. To have lengthened their miserable existence so long by vain efforts, is only to have lengthened out anguish. To fill up the measure of their misery, they perish in sight of a place of security which they cannot reach; they perish with the bitter remorse of having despised and rejected the means of escape, when they had them in their power; like the rich man in hell, whose torment was grievously augmented, by the sight of Lazarus afar off in the bosom of Abraham.
Compare with these, the feelings of Noah and his little family within the ark. They enjoy a refuge of God's providing. They have full assurance of the divine protection. Ample provision for the evil day is made. O what gratitude to their Almighty Friend! O what fervent love among themselves! O what holy composure and rest in God! O what awful reflections on the justice and severity of the great Jehovah! O what sweet and satisfying meditations on his mercy!
The sequel of Noah's history, and the comparison between him and Adam,