« السابقةمتابعة »
Finally; from our subject we may learn that though secondary causes, and instruments cannot frustrate, they can subserve the purposes of God, both in the natural and moral worlds. Though exhalations from the earth cannot prevent the earth from being refreshed with rain, they can contribute to this ohject. Though men cannot effectually oppose the purposes of God which respect the spread of the Gospel, they can be used as the humble and honoured instruments of promoting it. Let us rejoice that we live at the period when the set time to favour Zion appears to be at hand; and that we are invited and permitted to lend our feeble influence for refreshing the moral world with the truths of Divine Rev. elation. And while the dormant energies of the head the heart and the hands are aroused, and exerted, for evangelizing the world, we may rejoice in the im. mutable promise of God, “ The liberal shall be satisfied and he that watereth shall himself also be watered. Let the young early form a habit of feeling and acting on this subject, as those on whom much of the honour may rest of ushering in that glorious period when the knowledge of the Lord shall cover the whole earth.
“The parents of this patriarch appear, even at his birth, to have considered him as an extraordinary personage, destined to perform eminent services. His father, probably inspired by the prophetic spirit, gave him the name of Noah; which signifies “ Rest or Comfort :" foreseeing that he would bring comfort to his parents, and be a blessing to the world, and would be a type that Redeemer who alone gives true rest to the soul! The subsequent life of this patriarch did not, as in the case of Cain, disappoint these parental expectations. In the midst of a corrupted age, he was not ashamed or afraid to avow his attachment to piety.
66 Walking with God,” and seeking that honour which cometh from hiin only,” he despised ihe scoffs of the impious. He did
not blush at a holy singularity, when those by whoth he was surrounded renounced the principles and disregarded the practices of religion. Inspired with an ardent zeal, he was a “preacher of righteousness," and faithfully rebuked the ungodly. Though for this, he incurred their opposition and contempt, yet " he found grace in the eyes of the Lord.” My readers, you admire this char. acter--would
you have imitated it had you then lived ? Ah! when I see so much cowardice among Christianswhen I belold so many, who instead of reprovius, with Noal, vices, though sanctioned by custom and general practice, conniving at them by a criminal silence, or basely making compliances against which their conscience remonstrates- -when I behold so few who are willing to stand alone rather than be conformed to the world, I am filled with fear that the greater part of us, had we then been upon the earth, would have partaken of the general destruction, rather than have 66 come out from the ungodly and been separate."
The faithful discharge of the daties of religion is attended by the consolations of grace. No wonder then that Noah often communed with God; enjoyed the tokens of bis special favour, and by the manifestations of his love was abundantly compensated for the unkindness of
God revealed to him his intention to bring the flood upon the world; pointed out to him the method of deliverance; and gave him the most minute directions for the construction of the ark. Noah was not daunted at the obstacles and labour he would liave to encounter at the contumelies and reproach he would have to enduro. God had spoken-he knows that this God ean sustain him, he believes the divine declarations and hastens to obey. Behold him then commencing the ark, amidst the scoffs and derision of the multitude. They accuse him of folly, of enthusiasm, of madness. The steady purpose of his soul, and his firm faith in God, are unshaken, and he perseveres. Every step of its progress, every stroke of the hammer, call them to repentance, warn them to avoid the gathering storm. But they are uneoncerned-they cast upon the building a scornful glance, and return with their accustomed avidity to their husiness and their pleasures. In proportion as it advances, he pleads with them with more earnestgest-he oxhorts, he beseeches, he supplicates-he points them to the mercy of God which is still offered to his judgments, which are just ready to burst upon them. In the hurry of dissipation, and the festive scenes of gayety, all these remonstrances are forgotten; the pipe and the tabret banish them from their minds. The Lord removes one by one of the few pious who were upon the earth, except the family of Noah. Instead of considering them as " taken from the evil to come," and regarding their departure as a signal to prepare for the divine judg. !nents, they rejoice that they are freed from those importunate monitors who troubled their festivity: Some of every species of animals, conducted by the hand of God, and laying aside their natural ferocity and fear of man, flee to him as their protector, and enter into the ark ; and Noah is informed that in seven days the work of desolation will commence. 0! with what energy does he now woo them to flee to the asylum still open to them with what earnestness does he intreat them to have mercy on theinselves in what solemn accents does he warn them-with what supplicating tears does he beseech them! They point to the unclouded sky, and con. sider him as a madman. His last invitation has sounded in their ears_his last warning has been rejected-he has entered with his family into the ark, and the Lord has shut him in." What imagination can conceive the scene which ensued! The skies are covered with blackness-the windows of heaven are opened, and the rain descends in torrents--the earth trembles, as the fountains of the great deep, bursting their strong enclosures, rise from beneath, to mingle themselves with the descending waters-universal nature shows signs of terror and alarm--the roaring of the affrighted beasts, as they flee for shelter-the screaming of the birds, as they in vain seek a place of refuge,-plant paleness on the cheeks of the scoffers, and cause their hearts to quake within them. The rivers rise above their banks, and the ocean, ne. glecting its ancient boundaries, rushes upon the land. The plains are already deluged, and the ark floats upon the waters. The shrieks and bitter cries of thousands rise to heaven--palaces, cities, all the monuments of hu. man pride and splendour, lie buried in undistinguished ruin, The survivors flee trembling to the highest moun.
tains. Thither the vengeance of the Almighty pursues them-in the midst of their peril they view with envy, with self-reproach, with agony, the ark in which they had refused to enter, safely riding on the back of the swelling surges. They cry in anguish to him whose warnings they had despised, to assist them--they behold their dearest connexions borne from their sides, and swallowed up by the fury of the tempest. Before the last groaps and shrieks of their companions cease, they themselves drop into a watery grave. Thus death and destruction advance till the highest mountains are covered, and the divine justice and indignation sit enthroved in terrific majesty upon the watery waste. Impenitent men, scoffers at religion, deriders of the children of God, do you not hear a voice in this event, which speaks to your hearts ! Does it not proclaim to you in accents loud and dreadfulas the thunders of heaven, that the patience of God has its bounds; that the infinite Jehovah will not forever be contemned by the ungodly; that unless they are melted by his mercy, he will at last dart forth his thunders and sink them in despair ? Pause then at last in your course to ruin. If you are uninoved by our supplications, let the distractions, the horrors, the perdition of these unhappy men, preach to you, and warn you no longer to trifle with the Eternal --to sport with the vengeance of the living God. Hear their cries from the midst of the waters-hear their cries from the regions of despair,-and tremble at your danger. Say not, the mercy of God is infinite; we know it-your continuance in life proves it-the offers of mercy that he still makes to you prove it. But his justice, his hatred of sin, are also infinite. Turn then immediately to the Lord. Like these unhappy men, you have slighted his invitation, and braved his terrors; you have despised the means of grace, and the offers of salvation. God forbid that the parallel should ever be carried further! God forbid that it should ever be added, like them you were crushed by his vengeance ! To prevent this, penitently return to him. Delay not this necessary work; for we cannot say to you that the patience of God will continue for one hundred and twenty years : we cannot even cry to you, You have yet seven days to enter into the ark. You have no certainty of an hour to come ; to-morrow's sun may shine upon your grave; this may be the last mean of grace vouchsafed to you. Neglect it not, as did these miserable men ; “Despise not the riches of the patience, and the goodness, and long-suffering of God, lest you should treasure up wrath against the day of wrath, and revelation of the righteous judgment of God.”
How different were the feelings of Noah from those of the multitude perishing around him! What a crowd of mingled emotions rushed upon his heart! Pity for a deluged world, and for friends and relatives who were involved in the common destruction--gratitude to God for his distinguishing goodness to himself azi! his family --Terror at the displays of the divide power and justice -a full persuasion of the faithfulness of God, å firm confidence in his protection, and a sacred reposure of the soul in him,-these were part of them.
The consecrated ark safely floats amidst the convul. sions of the earth; for the providence Criim who " in leis wrath remembers mercy," watches over it.
The flood at length ceases, the dry land appears, and the ark rests on Ararat. Noah waits for the divine command before he leaves it, and at the direction of God comes forth from it in safety, after it has been his asylum for little more than a year. What a spectacle is presented to him! He sees the deserted plains strewed with the remains of those who had perished, and with the moduments of the awful copsequences of sin. He recals those seasons when he exhorted and prayed and wept for those unliappy men; and while he acknowledges that the Lord is righteous, he commiserates their folly and their doom. Recaling the special merey displayed to him. self, his heart swells with gratitude ; and assembling his family around him, he rears an altar, and interrupts the universal silence by the warm effusions of praise and thanksgiving Victims bleed, prefigurative of that Me. siah on whom alone the hopes of all the generations of the pious were founded. Himself and his family were afresh consecrated to their Deliverer, and his protection and grace implored to guard them against dangers which they might still have to encounter. °Learn wisdom from his conduct, you, who when delivered from some great peril, when rescued from some impending calamity, rush into the world to pay it your first homages, instead of bowing before hun to whom you are indebted for every