תמונות בעמוד
PDF
ePub

became a miserable worldling. His posterity greatly increased and walked in his steps. Of some we read, who were ingenious artificers, but of none who sought the Lord. Lamech took to himself two wives, and introduced to the world the dreadful sin of polygamy.

Not long did the descendants of Cain flourish in the earth, without exercising a baneful influence upon the children of God. These, beholding their beautiful women, contracted marriages with them. Their progeny were giants in wickedness. Says the inspired historian, “there were giants in those days; when the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men, and they bare children to them; the same became men of renown;" —no doubt the men of whom Enoch prophesied the Lord would be avenged for " all their ungodly deeds which they had ungodly committed, and all their hard speeches which they had spoken against him.” And now the flood-gates of wickedness being open, and the torrents of iniquity overflowing the earth, the Lord sware in his wrath, “ My Spirit shall not always strive with man, for that he also is flesh,” is corrupt, depraved, has prostituted all his noble powers, before the most debased appetites and passions.

The Spirit of God being withdrawn, the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that worketh in the children of disobedience, had a full triumph. Generation succeeded generation, practising the most open, daring, atrocious wickedness. Violence, murder, war, rapine and vile idola. try filled the earth. Terrible were the enemies of vital godliness.

But amidst the moral desolations of the old world, the Church stood. It was the cause of Jehovah. In the little families of Methuselah and Lamech and Noah it lived; and in the last of these holy men, God designed to carry it through the most awful judgment ever inflicted upon our globe. Upon a view of the horrid impiety which filled the earth, “it repented the Lord that he had made man upon the earth and it grieved him at his heart.” Not only had he an extreme abhorrence of the crimes of men and their desperate wickedness, but his soul loathed them " And the Lord said, I will destroy man whom I have created, from the face of the earth, both man and beast, and every creeping thing, and the fowls of the air, for it repenteth me that I have made them.”

Easily indeed, might he have sent forth his Spirit, and

converted the hearts of that ungodly generation to himself, and fitted them all for the happiness of heaven; and not less impious men of later ages have had the hardihood to contemn God, because, when it lay in his power, he did not save them and all men. But it pleases Jehovah sometimes to manifest his justice and his wrath, as well as his grace. He would have been righteous in destroying them without warning. But to exhibit further his patience and long suffering, he warned them by the preaching of Noah, for the space of 120 years. In that holy man was the Spirit of Christ; he was full of the Holy Ghost. By this Spirit, says Peter, “he went and preached unto the spirits in prison,” (the spirits confined in the time when Peter wrote in the prison of hell, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire,)“ which sometimes were disobedient, when once the long suffering of God, waited in the days of Noah."

For the preservation of this holy man and his family, God directed Noah to prepare an ark. It was a strange commission. It was making provision against a calamity which, to the eye of sense and reason, seemed impossible. But Noah believed the word of the Lord. He did not expostulate against the judgment; nor did he decline a labor almost too great for man, and which would expose him to the most cutting ridicule and reproach. But “moved with fear,” reverencing Jehovah, he commenced his work; and by his works, warned every beholder to repent of his sins and flee from impending destruction. The world beheld, ridiculed, and mocked; went on eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage. No heart relented. No sinner, fearful of the truth, inquired, Where is God my maker? But the purpose of God was fixed; and he moved on to its accomplishment, glorious in holiness.

At the appointed time, the ark was completed; and Noah and his wife, and his sons and their wives, the LITTLE CHURCH OF GOD, and two of every flying fowl and creeping thing, for their continuance upon the earth, were gathered in. Solemn moment! The door was shut; and the rain descended, the windows of heaven were opened, and the fountains of the great deep were broken up, and God had no pity, and man could find no refuge; the tallest trees, the highest mountains were alike covered, and paleness, and horror, and death, seized the vast family of man.

To this great and awful judgment of God upon the enemies of the Church, we have evidently some allusion in

[graphic]

early writings, and the religious rites of Heathen nations; and there are numerous appearances in the earth which clearly indicate that it was once overwhelmed by a deluge of water. Trees, bones of animals, sea-shells, petrified fishes deeply imbedded in the earth, yea, in the hardest strata and on the tops of the highest mountains, are memorials of this dread event. But we believe it chiefly, because God declares it in his holy word. We do not ask how it could be,—we enter into no philosophical discussion, we seek for the intervention of no comet; sufficient for us is it to know that the winds and the waves and the seas obey the Almighty. We learn from it that God abhors the workers of iniquity, and will not let the wicked go unpunished; and we lift up our hearts to God in the heavens and say, Lord, give us grace that we may take warning, and flee from the wrath to come.

The ark consisted of three stories, with one window in the top. It was sufficiently large for the purpose for which it was designed; being 480 feet in length, 81 in breadth, and 41 in height. After floating on the waters 150 days, it rested on one of the mountains of Ararat. Noah and his family continued in it one year and ten days.

The flood took place in the 1656th year of the world; 2348 years before Christ, and 4177 years from the present time.

This flood which cleansed the world was a remarkable type of the redemption by the blood of Christ, which is sealed to us by the baptism of water. These weight souls were saved by water." “ The like figure whereunto" says Peter, “even baptism doth also now save us, (not the putting away the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ.” And the ark, which was the refuge of the people of Jehovah, amid the storms of divine vengeance, was a type of Christ, the eternal refuge of perishing sinners. Come thou,” says God, in this day of mercy to every sinner, “Come thou and all thy house into the ark.”

CHAPTER IV.

Re-settlement of the Church. Prophecies of Noah. Location of Ararat. Building of

Babel. God curtails the future power of the enemies of his church, by the confusion of tongues and shortening men's lives.

WHEN God had fully executed his vengeance on the wicked inhabitants of the old world, he brought forth his little Church from the ark, and gave it the earth for a possession. To express the grateful emotions of his heart, Noah built an altar and offered sacrifices unto the Lord. His offerings were accepted, and God renewed with him and his seed the covenant of grace, making the rainbow, a thing permanent as light, a token of the covenant; and gave them every moving thing to be meat for them, prohibiting however the eating of blood, because he had appointed the blood to be an atonement for sin. As mankind had no right? to eat flesh before the deluge, this grant was a great alleviation of the original curse upon human sustenance;-an alleviation, in prophetic view of which, at the birth of Noah, Lamech might well exclaim, " This same shall comfort us concerning our work and toil of our hands, because of the ground which the Lord hath cursed.”

“Noah was a just man and perfect in his generation." But “ there is not a just man on earth that doeth good and sinneth not;" and such is the fidelity of the scripture his. torians, that they fail not to record the vices of the holiest men. Noah planted a vineyard, and drank to excess of the fruit of the vine. As he lay inebriated and uncovered in his tent, he was discovered by Ham, his youngest son, who made sport of the humiliating spectacle. But, actuated by a better spirit, Shem and Japheth took a garment and went backward, and decently covered the nakedness of their father. When Noah awoke and was informed of the deeds they had done, he declared, under the influence of the Spirit, the feelings of his soul relating to the future condition of their families. - Cursed be Canaan! A servant of servants to his brothers let him be! Blessed be Jehovah, the God of Shem! And let Canaan be their servant! And may God extend Japhet,

And may he dwell in the tents of Shem!

And let Canaan be their servant." It was a wonderful prophecy, which has been astonishingly fulfilled, first, in the subjection of the Canaanites to the children of Israel, and since, in the more extensive subjection of Africa, (which was settled by Ham,) to the Romans, the Saracens, the Turks, and in the millions on millions who have been carried from that unhappy region into foreign slavery;—in the preservation of the true church in the line of Shem, (from whom Abraham descended,) and the tabernacling of Christ among the Jews; and in the wonderful spread of the posterity of Japhet over all Europe and America, and many parts of Asia, where, especially by Grecian, Roman and British conquests, they have dwelt in the tents of Shem; and in a still higher sense, in their extensive conversion to the faith of the Gospel and dwelling in the tents of Shem, the church of the living God.

The Ark rested on one of the mountains of Ararat. These mountains are commonly supposed to lie in the ancient country of Armenia. Some have conjectured that they were farther East, perhaps on the Hymlaya mountains, the highest in the world; as the journeying of the descendants of Noah' towards Shinar is said to have been from the East, and not as it must have been on the common supposition, from the West; as no mention is ever made of Noah in any account of the Western nations, though he lived 300 years after the flood; as the Hindoo and Chinese are very ancient nations; and Fohi, the reputed founder of the Chinese empire, bears strong resemblance to Noah. But it is most probable that they were not far distant from Shinar, as no motive could have led so early to a distant emigration.

At the close of the first century, after Noah came out of the ark, his descendants, who might already have increased to a million of souls, spread over that beautiful country through which ran the Euphrates.

At this time the whole earth was of one language; that language, no doubt, with which God endued Adam. Had men been uncorrupt, uniformity of speech might have been of the highest utility. But guided by the depraved heart, it had become one of the most powerful instruments of corruption, and was probably one of the chief sources of the abominations and violence of the antediluvians. One mind powerful in oratory or song, could easily reach the hearts

« הקודםהמשך »