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you;' and the longer you live in sin, the more you are treasuring up wrath against the day of wrath, and revelation of the righteous judgment of God.'
How merciful was God in giving warning to the old world. His servant Noah was a preacher of righteousness. The Spirit of Christ was in him; and by this Spirit he preached to the
disobedient and rebellious sinners of that time, as St. Peter speaks : (1 Peter iii. 19, 20) By which (Spirit) he went and preached to the spirits in prison ; which some time were disobedient, when once the long-suffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing: Christ, by his Spirit in Noah, was the preacher. The hearers were the wicked people of the world in Noah's days; but when Peter wrote this they were spirits-disembodied spirits in prison, that is, in the prison of hell ; so that they were not only drowned, but damned. This passage, therefore, does not mean that they were in prison when Christ preached to them, as the Papists pretend: but Christ, by his Spirit, preached to them on earth ; yet, alas ! to no purpose. Noah might say with the apostles and others, Who hath believed our report. They were disobedient; they did not regard the merciful warning; and very probably despised and ridiculed Noah for his faith, his preaching, and his building. Thousands would come to see the ark, and ask him what it was for ; they would ask him whether he meant to sail on dry land ? or, where so much water must come from as would drown the world. Such a thing, they would say, is quite contrary to reason,-such a thing never was, nor can ever be; and no doubt they would
say, Noah was righteous overmuch, and religion had turned his brain.
In the very same manner the merciful warpings of God are treated to this day. Serious religion is despised. Holiness is accounted needless preciseness : and the terrors of the Lord, by wbich we would persuade men, are reckoned idle bugbears, fit only to alarm weak people and children. Thus unbelief tends to eternal ruin and destruction;
for no person will Ay from the wrath to come, who does not believe wrath is coming ; who does not believe God, who says it is coming. But this very
unbelief fulfils the Scriptures. St. Peter says, ' In the last days there shall be scoffers, walking after their own lusts, and saying, Where is the promise of his coming ? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation. But this is false. The world was once destroyed by water, and it shall be again by fire. Not only does the Scripture assure us of the deluge, but almost all nations retain a tradition of it; and we may see the traces of it with our own eyes. The trees which are found in the bowels of the earth; and the shells and bones of fishes dug out of the mountains remote from the sea, are ocular proofs of this event. But sin hardens the hearts of men, and they will not believe till they feel. Our Saviour tells us it will be just the same at the day of judgment. Matt. xxiv. 37, &c. • But
the days of Noah were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be; for as in the days that were before the food, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered into the ark; and knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.'
They knew not-mark the expression! They knew Rot. How could they help knowing, when they
told of it for near one hundred-and-twenty years? The meaning is--they believed not. They might have known, but they would not know; they would not believe; they reasoned themselves out of it. Just so do sinners now. They love sin, and they will not believe that God will punish it; which is, in fact, saying that God is a liar, and will not do as he has said. They were secure, because they were sensual ; they were eating and drinking, minding the things that were seen, and su neglecting the things that were not seen.
Nevertheless, the flood came, and took them all away. If we believe not, God abideth faithful; he cannot deny himself.' Heaven and earth shall pass away, but his word shall not pass away. Whatever God threatens or promises is sure to come to pass. The flood came.
Then they saw what they would not believe. The day of mercy was ended. There was no
hope for them. No means of escape ; but they miserably perished in the mighty waters.
Let us now turn our eyes from this dreadful scene, to contemplate the goodness of God towards Noah and his family: let us consider,
II. The ark provided for his preservation.
God himself devised this means of safety. He directed him to build a vessel of inmense size, and pointed out all the dimensions of it. Proper rooms were to be made for his family, and others for a small remnant of all other creatures, who were thus to be preserved from the universal desolation.*
Thus the salvation of the church is by a plan of God's own contrivance. The method of salvation by Jesus Christ is wholly of God. It could never have entered into the heart of man. No human or angelic being could ever have thought of God's taking our nature into union with his own, or have devised the astonishing plan of redemption by the blood of his Son. So remote is this method from the wisdom of man, that he calls it • Foolishness;" but it is the wisdom of God;' yea, • the manifold wisdom of Godis therein displayed : and it will be the admiration of saints and angels to all eternity.
As fallen man is totally ruined, it is necessary that his restoration should be in such a way as to secure the whole glory of it to God alone;-and so it does. In the redemption of sinners by Jesus Christ, Grace reigns" from first to last. Grace devised the charming plan ;Grace gave Jesus, the unspeakable gift. It is by grace we are called.
By grace we are justified. We are
• Infidels have pretended that the ark was not large enough to hold all the creatures, &c., but it appears from the calculations of learned men, that it was amply suffi. cient. It was about 550 feet long, 90 feet wide, and 50 feet high ; so that it contained near 43,000 tons of lading, and would hold more than 40 of our ships of 1,000 tons each. It was nearly as long as St. Paul's church in London. And if all the animals together, as the learned have computed, would not be equal to 500 horses, there would surely be room enough, and to spare.
sanctified by grace ;-by grace we are preserved; and the top-stone of salvation, in the everlasting glory of the elect, shall be brought forth, shouting, Grace ! Grace ! unto it.
It was the same grace that selected Noah from the great mass of the profane and wicked of that day. The nature of Noah was no better than that of others, but grace made him to differ. It is said (Gen. vi. 8) • Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord.' The like expression is used concerning Lot. When Sodom was. destroyed, he was delivered ;— the Lord being merciful to him. The salvation of the best men must be ascribed to God's mercy, not their own merit. Onesiphorus was a good man; but St. Paul prayed for him, that he might find
mercy of the Lord at the last day ; and it will then be manifest, with respect to all the redeemed, that it was. not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy.' Rom. ix. 15, 16.
The ark afforded perfect security. Noah being forewarned of the approaching flood, and having received full instructions how to build the ark, believed God and obeyed. St. Paul, treating of faith (Heb. xi.) mentions him as an eminent believer. By faith, 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 comdemned the world, and became heir of the righteousness which is of faith.' Here is the way of salvation. God warns. The Christian believes the warning. He fears the misery threatened : he flies to the refuge provided, and there he is safe.
Believing that God would do as he said, he began to build the ark. It was a work of great labour, but he did not shun it on that account. It was an unexampled thing; he had no precedent for it; and it required no small courage and resolution to persist in the work. Reason might hesitate, and form objections ; but the Lord hath said it was an answer to them all. The world despise him, and treat him as a visionary romantic fool, who frightened himself, and wanted to frighten others with ungrounded danger; but the power of faith carried him through every difficulty, and at the appointed season he received the end of his faith, even the salvation of himself and family.
For now, the hundred-and-twenty years are just expired. The long expected day is just at hand- for yet seven days, saith the Lord, and I will cause it to rain upon the earth forty days and forty nights : and every living substance that I have made will I destroy from off the face of the earth. Here was a fresh warning: While the time was distant they disregarded it. But now there was only a week to turn themselves in ; and this week was spent like the rest. We do not hear of one person converted in the last week. The week is expired. And now the rain descends, not in drops, but in torrents; and not for a few hours, but for six weeks together without intermission. But not only were the windows of Heaven opened, but the fountains of the great deep were broken up,—the great abyss of waters under the earth, which hitherto God had confined by certain bounds, that they might not pass over to cover the earth.' Psalm civ, 9. But now these bounds are removed, and the water covers the surface of the land.
Probably many of the profane scoffers, when they saw the increasing violence of the waters, came wading middle deep to the ark, earnestly craving admittance; but as they formerly rejected God, now they are justly rejected by him. Ere vengeance begins, repentance is seasonable ; but if judgment be once gone out, we cry too. late. While the gospel solicits us, the doors of the ark are open; if we neglect the time of grace, in vain we seek it with tears. God holds it no mercy to pity the obstinate, Others, more bold than they, hope to overrun the judgment; and climbing up to the high mountains, look down upon the waters with more hope than fear. And now, when they see the hills become islands, they climb up into the tallest trees; there, with paleness and horror, look for death, and study to avoid it, whom the waves overlake at last, half dead with famine, and half with fear. Lo ! now from the tops of the mountains they descry the ark floating upon the water, and behold with envy that which before they beheld with scorn.'
In the mean time, Noah sits secure in the ark. The