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new world of believers were to be united with all the different creatures which had been drawn thither by the power of God, as the only refuge from surrounding destruction. How wonderful was their association! How readily did they enter their merciful retreat! How harmoniously did they dwell, although so opposite in their respective dispositions ! How well were they supplied, though 80 numerous! How safely did they exist! Not a life was lost. Not a leak was formed in the stately structure which contained them. All were fed. All were kept by the power of God, until the appointed time of their liberation. Who does not instantly advert to the promise of the Redeemer, in reference to the ultimate success of his reign: “ If I be lifted up I will draw all men unto me?" And when his people shall thus be made willing in the day of his power, “ when all things shall be subdued unto him," how beautifully will the prediction of the prophet be fulfilled, of which the scene in the ark presented so pleasing a type : “ The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together, and a little child shall lead them. And the cow and the bear shall feed; their young ones shall lie down together: and the lion shall eat straw like the ox, And the sucking child shall play on the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put his hand upon the cockatrice' den. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain; for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea."
But observe the situation of the ark. It was upon the face of the great waters, in the midst of a storm. Thus it is with the Church in the world, where “ deep calleth unto deep at the noise of Jehovah's waterspouts; whilst all his waves and billows go over us." Yet, without an earthly pilot, or sails, or helm, or human skill and assistance, how safely did the mighty structure ride! What could Noah do? What could his family do? Not any thing. They had followed divine direction, and had employed the means prescribed, so far as they could be used; and they were now passive in the hands of God, wholly dependent upon his providence and grace. This is our case. We are shut up in the ark of the Gospel: we are navigating the sea of life: we are in a storm. As far as means are availing, they should be employed in humble dependence upon the God of the means; when they fail, we should cast our entire care upon the Lord, and he will sustain us. Nor shall we be disappointed, as we have the promise, “ Fear not, for I have redeemed thee; I have called thee by thy name; thou art mine. When thou passest through the waters I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee." With such a promise the Christian may be shut up in the chamber of affliction, or in the house of mourning, or in the confines of a vessel, and yet he can enjoy communion with God, and feel perfect safety, sweetly whispering,
“ We may, like the ships, by tempests be tost
On perilous deeps, but cannot be lost:
What the feelings of this favoured family were on entering the ark, as they looked upon the earth for the last time, which was devoted to so severe a visitation, may be better imagined than described. There were the strong emotions
of pity and compassion for those who were doomed to destruction. Many of these unhappy persons were their neighbours and acquaintances. Some, it is probable, assisted in the erection of that mighty structure. Some may have been attendants on Noah's ministry, and possibly gave occasional indications of seriousness. And others may have been once ranked as members of the antediluvian Church, but were led away by the corruptions of the age, and conformity to the world; but all perished. To these emotions of pity, were added those of wonder and awe, as they heard the storm descend, and felt their peaceful habitation rising and floating upon the flood. What lofty conceptions they must have had of the power of God, “who doeth according to his will in the armies of heaven, and amongst the inhabitants of the earth; while none can stay his hand, or say unto him, What doest thou ?” Such was the astonishment of the disciples upon the sea of Gennesaret, when their Lord arose, and rebuked the storm, and they exclaimed, “What manner of man is this ! for even the winds and the sea obey him." These sensations of wonder and awe were doubtless succeeded by gratitude and praise for their merciful preservationthat they were made to differ from the ungodly—that they had another spirit, and were sheltered from destruction, whilst others were overwhelmed under the sin-avenging hand of God.
These are still the feelings of the Christian when surveying the prevalence and punishment of sin. Though he deplores its existence, and pities those who are smarting under the scourge, it excites his thankfulness for converting grace; it inspires his song; it leads him to exult,
What, then, will be our emotions at the last day, when Christ shall come to be glorified in his saints, and to be admired in all them that believe; when we shall enjoy an everlasting deliverance from sin and sorrow, and shall be for ever with the Lord; whilst the wicked are turned into hell, and all the nations that forget God.
But though Noah and his family were thus safely sheltered in this merciful retreat, they were not to remain there. The text informs us that “the Lord remembered Noah, and every living thing, and all the cattle that was with him in the ark, and God made a wind to pass over the earth, and the waters asswaged.”
What an honour, what a privilege to have a place in the favourable recollection of the Most High! Who that values his condescending regard can omit to pray, “ Remember me, O Lord, with the favour which thou bearest to thy people.” He does remember his people for good. He did remember us in our low estate, and he still declares, “I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee." So that we may exult with the grateful Psalmist, “ I am poor and needy, yet the Lord thinketh upon me."
In noticing the incidents which were connected with the gradual cessation of the flood, we are forcibly reminded of some of the occurrences of the Gospel dispensation. The wind, by the agency of which the waters were abated, calls
to our recollection the breath from the Lord, by which the dry bones were animated in Ezekiel's vision, and the holy, vivifying influence of the Spirit, of which the Redeenier spoke to Nicodemus, and which he conferred upon the disciples, when “he breathed on them, and said, Receive ye the Holy Ghost;"' which shews us that “where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty," and that when the Comforter descends in the time of trouble, the deepest waters subside, and the darkest scenes are cheered. The departure of the raven from the ark, which, as a bird of prey feasted upon the slain as they floated upon the surface of the flood, resembles the ungodly, who, having been under the restraints of religious discipline for a season, in pious families, or in churches, in which they have been unworthy members, at length obtain their liberty, and gladly seize the corruptions and refuse of the world, for which they possess a lamentable congeniality of taste. But notice the gentle dove ; she also was sent forth, but finding no place for the sole of her foot, and being disinclined to the impure gratifications of the raven, returned back again. Here, in this innocent emblem of constancy, affection, and purity, we see the genuine believer. He, too, must go forth into the world like the sinner; but he is not at home there-finds no food for his soul there—and gladly returns again to the ark of the Gospel, and to the presence of his God, and cries as he enters that asylum of mercy, “ Return unto thy rest, O my soul.” At length, on being sent forth a second time, the faithful dove returned with an olive leaf. Thus it is with the Redeemer, who brings peace to his people, and upon whom the Spirit sat like a dove. Thus it is with the Comforter, the Holy Ghost, whom the Lord promised to send in his Father's name. And thus it should be with us. Have we relatives or friends who are shut up in the chamber of sickness, in the season of trouble, in the house of mourning, or in a state of captivity to sin and Satan? Let us carry them the olive-leaf. Let us tell them of the good Physician; of the doctrine of reconciliation; the blood of the cross; the consolations of the Gospel ; the hope of glory; of the ability and willingness of the Lord Jesus to save unto the very uttermost.
At length the Patriarch ventured to remove the covering from the ark," and behold the face of the ground was dry." What must have been his feelings? What were yours when the waters of affliction subsided? What will they be when you survey “ the new heavens and the new earth wherein dwelleth righteousness?" But however desirous Noah and his family were to enjoy their liberty, after more than twelvemonths' confinement, though a merciful confinement, it does not appear that they took one step without Divine permission. Like faithful servants and obedient children, they waited for orders. Until the Lord
gave the command they were willing to remain where they were. This is worthy of our recollection. We should never adopt a new enterprise, or proceed in any new direction, but as our heavenly Guide takes the lead. “ It is not in man that walketh to direct his steps :" and we may be assured that those who wait and look for Him, shall not wait in vain.
Hear the tasti nony of David: “I waited patiently for the Lord, and he heard my cry;" and his advice, “Wait upon the Lord, be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, upon the Lord."
You will now be anxious to ascertain, what was Noah's first act on going torth from the ark. “ And Noah builded an altar unto the Lord and took of
every clean beast and of every clean fowl, and offered burnt-offerings on the altar.” This is a fine specimen of his gratitude for his preservation. And what
a a lovely soul-inspiring spirit is this ! It is the genuine feeling of the Christian's affection and fidelity, which leads him to exclaim, “ I will bless the Lord at all times, his praise shall continually be in my mouth ;” and which constrains him to inquire, “ What shall I render unto the Lord for all his benefits towards me?" Thus he erected an altar for his God, before he built a house for himself. This was a proper acknowledgement of his dependence upon the Providence and grace of Him to whom he felt infinitely indebted for the salvation of his soul, and the preservation of his family. He therefore very properly determined not to employ a hand, not to fix a stake, or stretch a cord for a tent until he had avowed his faith in Christ by burnt-offerings and sacrifices, and dedicated himself anew to the glory and service of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. Here is an example worthy of the imitation of young persons, urging you to “ seek first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness :" a pattern for those who are entering into social life, to commence their course with God-for invalids on recovering from sickness—for mourners on being delivered from trouble. In each of these cases, the claims of the Redeemer demand our first consideration. Let us erect a similar Ebenezer to that which Samuel set up, when he cried, “ Hitherto hath the Lord helped me.” But this was a family altar: my dear hearers, have you such an one? Recollect that “the curse of the Lord is in the house of the wicked, but he blesseth the habitation of the righteous.” I pity that family in which the Bible is seldom or never read, and in which the voice of social prayer and praise is never heard. What must angels think as they pass by such graceless tenements in a Christian land ?
But observe what the patriarch offered. Not the blind, and the lame; not the refuse, and the unclean ; but the best of his little flock, amounting to a seventh portion of his property. The stock of living creatures were so much reduced, that a worldly, selfish mind, might have pleaded an excuse for delaying such valuable victims in sacrifice until their number was increased by propagation, or would have presented others of less utility as a substitute. Noah, however, had another spirit, and illustrated that divine axiom, “ Honour the Lord with thy substance, and with the first-fruits of thine increase ; so shall thy barns be filled with plenty, and thy presses with new wine." We may rest assured, that what is consecrated to the Lord, or devoted to the welfare of our fellow-creatures, from evangelical motives, will never be missed. Did the widow's barrel of meal and cruse of oil diminish because she fed the prophet ? Did Noah's six couple of beasts and birds increase more slowly because the seventh pair was devoted in sacrifice ? Yet how many excuse themselves, because their means are slender, forgetting the widow's mite, and the pleasing fact, that when there is a willing mind, it is accepted according to that a man hath, and not according to that he hath not. You will find a fine specimen of self-denying generosity in 1 Corinthians, viii.
And how significantly and graciously did the Lord accept the offering of his grateful servant! “ The Lord smelled a sweet savour; and the Lord said in his heart, I will not again curse the ground any more for man's sake.” Whoever came with a proper sacrifice in a proper spirit without being received? “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and contrite heart, O God, thou
wilt not despise." But it was not merely the victims which were slain, nor the occasion on which they were offered, nor from a regard to the party who presented them, which gave rise to the announcement in the text. It was the spirit in which they were dedicated; it was the reference which they bore to the atoning sacrifice of Christ, as Lamb without spot and without blemish," of which these burnt offerings were an obvious type. This sacrifice was founded upon the covenant of grace; it originated in Divine appointment; it shadowed forth the sufferings and death of the Redeemer; it was offered with genuinc Christian feelings of humiliation for sin, faith in the doctrine of expiation by the substitution of the Son of God, with love, self-dedication, gratitude, and praise; thus, like the offering of Abel, “ the Lord had respect unto it," and this produced “the sweet savour" particularized in the text. An occurrence somewhat similar is recorded in the twenty-fourth chapter of the Book of Exodus. “ And Moses wrote all the words of the Lord, and rose up early in the morning, and builded an altar under the hill, and twelve pillars according to the twelve tribes of Israel. And he sent young men which offered burntofferings, and sacrificed peace-offerings unto the Lord. And Moses took half of the blood, and put it in basons, and half of the blood he sprinkled on the altar.” “ Then went up Moses and Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel, and they saw the God of Israel: and there was under his feet as it were a paved-work of a sapphire stone, and as it were the body of heaven in his clearness, (fit emblem of the light and beauty of the Gospel dispensation.) And upon
the nobles of the children of Israel he laid not his band: also they saw God and did eat and drink.” Such was the result of the propitiatory sacrifices which had been offered, and such is still the effect of the blood of the cross.
But this was not all; as a visible and perpetual demonstration of the Divine regard, “God spake unto Noah, and to his sons, saying, And I, behold I, will establish my covenant with you and with your seed after you; neither shall all flesh be cut off any more by the waters of a flood; neither shall there any more be a flood to destroy the earth.” This covenant of preservation was evidently based upon the covenant of grace, so called because its origin, contents, and consequences, are all illustrative and confirmatory of the free and unmerited favour of the ever blessed Trinity, elsewhere called, “the sure mercies of David." This "everlasting covenant, ordered in all things and sure,” antecedently made for the benefit of true believers, was now repeated to Noah, to strengthen his faith, to banish his fears, and to secure to him and his posterity the rich enjoyment of those inestimable blessings which have been obtained by our Lord Jesus Christ, who is emphatically called the Messenger and Mediator of that covenant. Of the importance which the blessed Jehovah attached to that valuable compact, we may form a correct opinion by a reference to the fifty-fourth chapter of Isaiah: “For this is as the waters of Noah unto me: for as I have sworn that the waters of Noah should no more go over the earth, som have I sworn that I would not be wroth with thee nor rebuke thee. For the mountains shall depart, and the hills be removed: but my kindness shall not depart from thee, neither shall the covenant of my peace be removed, saith the Lord, that hath mercy on thee.” In this kind consolatory manner the God of love soothes his afflicted Church.
Let us now turn, for the last time, to the Patriarch and his children. What