« PreviousContinue »
litical theories of man, which, during a course of ages, has not found some more enlightened teacher to correct its errors, or supply its defects, the wisdom that is from above, consecrated in the school of example, has proved its unchangeable origin, and directs us to the wretched victims, who have either depreciated its value, or despised its admonitions. Thus mixing the records of antiquity with the operations of our own hearts, the holy writings afford a resemblance to every picture, and give to every document a peculiar worth and influence. The men and the events are blended with the things, which belong to our everlasting happiness; and the judgments which have overtaken iniquity, have only engraven the precept upon so many awful monuments, that there is no peace to the wicked, and that they have great peace, who love the laws of the Lord.
Of the various actions and characters therein enumerated, we may safely leave to the Christian reader the typical application; he may err in some prophetic allusion, he may force a comparison into some remote junctures and dependencies; but he cannot fail to comprehend
the lesson of righteousness, and to know his only teacher, God. He cannot fail to observe, how few have learnt it in the school of that the stubbornness of the heart had only been softened under the discipline of affliction.
In commenting upon the dreadful event, which in our last discourse we purposed making the subject of particular discussion, there can be little danger of any misapplication. It is a history marked with such terrific warning; it is an embassy of mercy and judgment so fully declarative of a Redeemer's office, and of the terms of our Christian covenant; it proclaims to us, with such formidable authority, wherein human safety alone consists, that every part and every incident of it seems an appointed representation of the church of Christ, of its promised security, and of the final overthrow of all its enemies; and the afflictive example comes to confirm the Apostolic assertion, that though the Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptation, He will reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment, to be punished.
Ascending, therefore, the hill of divine contemplation, and looking down from the watchtower of faith on the destruction of a guilty race, and the renovation of mankind in the family of the preserved Patriarch, be it our endeavour to engrave upon the tablets of our hearts every circumstance of the solemn admonition; till beholding in the person and in the preservation of Him who was found faithful, a perfect delineation of Christ the true Noah, and of the salvation wrought by Him at his first advent, we carry our reflections onwards to the present state of our existence, to the things which shall befall us, and the earth on which we tread. And viewing, with suitable apprehension, the same scene which is now acting in the world, may we learn in time the things which belong unto our peace, and to provide against the same dreadful consummation, which will be fully and finally accomplished at Christ's second coming to judgment, at the approaching dissolution of the world by fire, and the preservation of the family of the faithful in the ark of his church.
Noah, says the Apostle, warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house. That is, in the true spirit of faith, he acted upon the ma
nifestation of God's word unto him, as from the most convincing evidence. There were no visible appearances of nature, to warrant the belief of a flood; the sun rose and set as usual; the seasons returned at their appointed periods; and the affairs of the world went on in the same accustomed current. The subtle disputers also of those days, like the enlightened philosophers of these, were probably spending the time allotted to them for repentance and amendment, in deciding upon necessary causes and effects; or during the one hundred and twenty years, in which the Patriarch incessantly warned them of the impending desolation, and to flee from the wrath to come, instead of turning to their God, might be employing their infidel wit in ridiculing the poor man's credulity, and the visionary plan he had adopted, of saving himself and houshold, by building an ark with such toil and expence, to sail over the mountains. Even the few, who from the earnestness of the preacher, or some slight misgivings of conscience, could not shake off all apprehension of the dreadful consequences, should the prophecy prove true, like the wavering Christian
of the present day, might have said, Lord, I believe, and then gone their way; one to his farm, another to his merchandize or to his pleasures, waiting to see what the rest of the world would do; and composing themselves with the thought, that they should fare no worse than their neighbours.
With belief and practice thus at variance, and from an eagerness to fasten upon any shadow of consolation, every plausible objection would soon raise a doubt, or furnish demonstration. By some they would be convinced of the natural impracticability of the event. By others they might be questioned, and which, in minds thus disposed, would amount to the most satisfactory proof. Whether, allowing every thing to the power of God, it were consistent with his mercy, or reconcileable to his justice, to raise up such a goodly fabric in order to destroy it? Could
rational mind deem it credible, that a Being of infinițe goodness should so signally punish a whole generation, whom He had formed for enjoyment, (and among whom, also, there must be different degrees of guilt, and some even incapable of offence) for trespassing