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while floating, and to the means of rendering it water-proof. Mr. Taylor (Calmet's Dictionary, article Ark) has shown it to be very probable that in form and construction it resembled the houses in the East, only on a large scale. This appears to be the plain and obvious meaning of this important passage. Much ingenuity, mechanical skill, and first-rate workmanship, would undoubtedly be required in such an erection. These, there can be no doubt, Noah had at his command; and, with them, the directions of Jehovah could be worked out; and such a hollow body, built on a strong framework firmly floored, and, of course, not fastened to the ground, but merely resting on it, would rise and float with the prevailing waters; and, as they retired, would again ground in quiet security.
There are, however, two or three obscure phrases in this account. We read, “A window shalt thou make to the ark, and in a cubit shalt thou finish it above." Verse 16.
The latter part of this passage has been sometimes applied to the ark itself, and regarded as pointing out in some way the rising of the roof for the purpose of throwing off the water. The Septuagint makes no mention of the window, and renders the words, “Thou shalt narrow the ark in making it, and in a cubit shalt thou finish it above." But as the word which our English translation renders “window," literally means "a transparency," it is probable that it alludes to some means of admitting light into this capacious magazine. Hence some critics read the words, “ And in a cubit shalt thou finish it above,” thus—which, they say—is the literal rendering, “ . Even to the support shalt thou extend it, from the rising,' or 'from the elevations;' meaning, perhaps, 'It shall extend from end to end of the ark, except where intercepted by the finishing posts at the ends, and by those strong timbers which, running up the sides, join others in the roof.'”__ Taylor's Calmet. If we were disposed to speculate on this subject, we should venture to say that the roof of the ark was raised in the middle, and that the sides of it projected over the perpendicular sides of the ark, leaving an interval of a cubit in height for the purpose of giving light and ventilation to the interior of the building. But this is uncertain.
There can be no doubt that the ark was one of the most remarkable vessels which were ever constructed. Taking the cubit at 21.888 inches, the length which the elaborate investigations of Mr. Greaves has rendered most probable, then the ark would
be five hundred and forty-seven feet long, ninety-one feet two inches wide, and forty-seven feet two inches high. This is nearly three times the length of a first-rate man-of-war in the British navy; a colossal fabric, the erection of which would require the exercise of the most perfect scientific, as well as practical, knowledge. The fact that the construction of this vessel was effected by human skill and energy, affords ample proof of the cultivation of mathematical and mechanical science at that period.
The purpose of God having been formed and declared to Noah, Holy Scripture informs us that it was made known to afford the wicked antediluvians a motive to repentance. The religious aspect of this circumstance is important. The Scripture narrative informs us of the measures adopted to secure the preservation of the family of Noah without affording any information respecting the nature of the communications made to the great mass of mankind, who were living in sin and under impending danger. The New Testament Scriptures, however, cast some light on this subject. Peter tells us that God "spared not the old world, but saved Noah the eighth person, a preacher of righteousness, bring. ing in the flood upon the world of the ungodly.” 2 Peter ii, 5. From this text it appears evident that Noah not only exhibited a pious life to his ungodly cotemporaries, but that he actually preached to them. This term, in the sense in which it was used by the apostles, implies a making known the will of God, and, more than that, an earnest and fervent entreaty and exhortation that this will should be complied with and submitted to by mankind. It is plain, therefore, that Noah announced the divine will to the people of his day: they were not kept in ignorance of the divine purpose, or of the threatened judgment; but, on the contrary, were instructed and warned. This is confirmed by the language of the same apostle, when he says, “ The long-suffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing." i Peter iii, 20.
Here, then, we have before us a scene unequaled in the annals of the world. We see a widely-spread population throwing off the restraints of divine government, and giving themselves up to unmitigated and continual wickedness. God observes this prevailing depravity, selects one holy man from the multitude of mankind, and promises him deliverance, while he announces his purpose to destroy the whole world in a flood of waters. This favored individual is made acquainted with the divine purpose,
and is instructed to build an ark "for the saving of his house." He obeys: the building is erected according to the plan which the God of heaven had marked out. But while this is in a course of being done, and the colossal ark is rising up before the children of men, they are not allowed to remain ignorant of its design and their danger. The delay of judgment does not take place that the thunder-stroke of vengeance may fall with more terrible effect. No; it is a merciful delay; it is “long-suffering.” For, while the ark is preparing, the builder has another object besides the construction of its mighty frame-work. He is a preacher of righteousness, and at once apprises his fellow-men of their danger, and urges them to repentance, that they may escape. Yet in vain! The building is completed, and the world remains impenitent. He whose eyes saw, and whose heart felt, the full amount of human iniquity and perverseness, has told us, “ They did eat, they drank, they married wives, they were given in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark.” Luke xvii, 27. There was no effect produced by the declaration of the divine Word. Unlike the inhabitants of Nineveh when Jonah preached, the antediluvians pursued their round of sensual pleasure and gratification until the day came. There was not sufficient faith in their hearts to induce a pause even for a day. How terrible the consideration !
But the narrative proceeds. The ark was finished : Noah had done "all that God commanded him." Gen. vi, 22. “And the Lord said unto Noah, Come thou and all thy house into the ark. Of
every clean beast thou shalt take to thee by sevens, the male and his female. Of fowls also of the air by sevens, the male and the female; to keep seed alive upon the face of all the earth." Gen. vii, 1-3. And Noah obeyed, and himself and his wife, and Shem, Ham, and Japheth, the sons of Noah, and the three wives of his sons with them, entered into the ark: “They, and every beast after his kind, and all the cattle after their kind, and every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth after his kind, and every fowl after his kind, every bird of every sort. And they went in unto Noah into the ark, two and two of all flesh, wherein is the breath of life. And they that went in, went in male and female of all flesh, as God had commanded him: and the Lord shut him in." Verses 13-16.
What a mighty display of divine power and providence do these words exhibit! The ark being finished, Noah and his sons, with
their wives, are commanded to go into it. And then the animals, chosen and marshaled by the power of God, are conducted to the ark. We are sometimes tauntingly asked, “How could Noah collect specimens of all the different tribes of animals, and conduct them to the ark?” The Scriptural reply is, Not at all. Nothing of the kind was done or attempted. The narrative distinctly informs us that they “went in unto Noah.” Verse 9. The same almighty Influence which brought them to Adam to be named, led them to Noah to be saved. If the patriarch did anything in this matter, it was to select the different creatures by pairs, or by sevens, according to the divine commandment. If
, in the case of Balaam, "the dumb ass speaking with man's voice forbade the madness of the prophet,” (2 Peter ii, 16,) how much more effectually must the gathering of these herds of animals, assembling together, and seeking admittance into the ark, have reproved the blind impenitency of the entire generation of mankind, who, although repeatedly warned, persisted in their rebel. lion against God, and, reckless of consequences, dared to continue in their sin!
We can scarcely contemplate a more signal phenomenon in the whole history of humanity than is here presented. Earth and heaven smiled in placid complacency; everything remained as it had been from the beginning. Yet a man, whose life was holy, declared that he had been specially warned of God to prepare an ark, that he, his family, and a selection from the different tribes of animals, might be saved from the universal ruin which God, by means of a flood of waters, had announced that he would bring upon the earth. Through faith in this word an ark was built, Noah and his family go into it, the various tribes of living creatures congregate about it, the ferocity of lions and tigers is subdued, and beasts of every kind, obedient to the divine impulse, seek the appointed means of security. This important object being secured, the Lord shut them in. We are not informed when this took place; but, from the whole account, we think it likely that it transpired on the sabbath. However this may be, nothing remarkable immediately resulted. Day after day passed away, the world pursuing its wonted course of sensual pleasure, while those within the ark committed themselves to the care and compassion of God. Seven days elapsed in this manner; and who can tell how many profane jests, how much insolent mockery, were perpetrated during this period by the
ungodly mass, on account of the course taken by the pious patriarch? Who can tell how his faith, and that of those who were with him, was exercised? And then came the terrible catastrophe ! Perhaps, when Noah, and his family, and the various classes of animals, went into the ark, there did exist some apprehension in the public mind; the people might have had some doubts whether the preaching of the man of God would be verified; but when the day passed away without alarm, when the next morning arose in all its brightness and beauty, and day after day followed in regular course, we may well believe that these apprehensions were gradually dissipated, and mankind confirmed in their wickedness.
Thus the week passed, the sabbath returned. The pious few in the ark worshiped God, the impenitent without rioted in their sin; when the heavens gathered blackness, the floods descended, the fountains of the great deep were broken up; the whole day -the whole night-day after day—the rains descended; until at length the valleys were flooded, and the waters gradually ascended to the plains. Then men began to be alarmed; but there was neither respite nor consolation. Still the waters rose, villages were covered, cities were overthrown: men crowded to hills and mountains for refuge; but in vain. The waters prevailed, until every high hill under heaven was covered. And all flesh died ! The whole human family was destroyed, and every beast perished. Meanwhile, the ark, borne up by the prevailing waters, floated over the watery expanse. What an awful period in the history of man! A world in ruins—a single family shut up in a floating tabernacle! And this event was not the work of a day: it seemed as if God was determined to magnify his power in this awful visitation. Forty days and forty nights did the rain descend; and still the ark continued to float over the waters. What a season of desolation and trial! Five months did the waters prevail; so long did the ark float upon their surface; until, on the seventeenth day of the seventh month, one hundred and fifty days after the beginning of the flood, the ark rested on Mount Ararat; proving to Noah and his family that the substantial framework of the earth still remained, and thereby affording them a hope of deliverance from their solitary abode.
But the retiring of the waters was much less rapid than their rise. Although the water had never risen more than fifteen cubits above the highest mountains, yet nearly three months