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It is here worthy of observation, that the con mon order of the world does not seem to hav been overthrown at the time of which we ar speaking, for it is very possible, for the fram of society to be held together, even when th irreligion and corruption of man is extremel great. It is true, indeed, we read “ that th earth was filled with violence;" for when th passions of men are not restrained by religion much violence,' both in their language and con duct, is apt to follow of course. One chie feature in their character, appears, however, to be their being quite swallowed up by the plea. fures and concerns of this life; for the scripture speaks of them at that time, as eating and drink. ing, and marrying, and being given in marriage; evidently implying, that their whole time and thoughts were engaged in those things, and that by the means of these they were led to forget God, and to neglect the warnings which were fent unto them.
Let us next view Noah entering into the ark, according to the commandment which God had given him: 66 He, and his sons, and his sons' wives, because of the waters of the flood; of beasts also, and of fowls, and of creeping things, there went in two and two, male and female, as God commanded Noah. And it came to pass, after seven days, that the waters of the flood were upon the earth, and all the fountains of the great dcep were broken up, and the windows of heaven were opened."
. But while we accompany Noah into the ark, let us turn our eyes to the multitudes who remained without, of whom no doubt he took his. leave, with many painful sensations. . What a wonderful and tremendous scene! Oh! the lamentations and bitter cries of thou. fands now perishing by that very calamity, the kind notices of which, they had refused to attend to, or had presumptuously derided. Many of Noah's dear relations were included in this number. What anguish must he have felt for them; but in vain! they had despised his warning, their day of grace was past, and he could afford them no relief.
And now the rain overflows the meadows, and the whole innltitude, seek, no doubt, the rising ground; but the waters increase upon them. A few, probably, reach the mountains, and they trust that, at least, the highest rocks on the mountain tops shall save them. “But the waters prevail exceedingly, and all the high hills that were under the whole heaven, were covered. Fifteen cubits upward did the waters prevail, and the mountains were covered. And all flesh died that moved upon the earth, both of fowl, and of cattle, and of beast, and of every creeping thing that creepeth on the earth, and every man; and Noah only remained alive, and they that were with him in the ark.”
It is no unimportant remark, that the truth of this story, of which we have thus given the plain lcriptural account, is confirmed by a variety of
striking circumstances, not necessary here to be mentioned; and also by the several traditions of various and distant nations, differing, indeed, in their religion, but agreeing in their account of an ancient general déluge.
And should we not-feel terror for ourselves, while we contemplate these effects of the divine vengeance? Who can stand before this holy Lord God? We fee here, that the God who threatens, will also execute his threatenings, and that though hand join in hand, the wicked shall not go unpunished.
But a pleasing prospect opens itself to righteous Noah, “ for God remembered Noah, and every living thing with him in the ark, and made a wind to pass over the earth, and the waters were assuaged, and the ark rested on the mountains of Ararat; and in the tenth month, the first day of the month, were the tops of the mountains seen." Noah now sends forth a raven, and afterwards a dove, from the window of the ark; but 6 the dove," as yet, 6 could find no reft for the fole of her foot, and returned into the ark ;' and again, 66 after other seven days, he sends forth the dove" again. 6 And the dove came into him in the evening, and lo, in her mouth was an olive leaf plucked off, so that Noah knew that the waters were abated from off the earth.” What a pleasing confidence would he now feel of his deliverance! Whereever indeed he turned his eyes, he would see the devastation which sin had made; nor can
he be supposed to have reflected, without una · utterable anguish, on the multitudes that had perished in their iniquities; yet a sense of gra. titude for his own wonderful escape, seems to have overpowered him, and to have swallowed up, for the time, every other concern. He begins the new duties of the life which had been preserved to him, by an act of folemn worship to his preserver.
“ Noah builded an altar unto the Lord, and took of every clean beast, and offered burnt offerings on the altar.”
Sacrifices, no doubt, had been originally ap. pointed by God, for the sake of shewing forth that great atonement, which, in due time, was to be made through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, " that lamb of God, which taketh away the fins of the world,” by whose blood, and not by the blood of bulls and goats, the iniquities of men were to be pardoned, and the true worshippers were to be brought nigh to God. ?
And the Lord said, " I will not again curse the ground any more for man's fake, for the imagination of man's heart is evil from his youth, neither will I again smite any more every living thing as I have done. While the earth re. maineth, feed time and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease. I “And God said, I do set my bow in the cloud,
and it shall be for a token of a covenant between me and the earth. And it shall come to pass,
that when I bring a cloud over the earth, that the bow shall be seen in the cloud; and I will look upon it, that I may remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth.”
Thus were the tokens of God's mercy given immediately after He had been displaying his most awful vengeance, and if we are walking in he steps of Noah, we may look on the rainbow, even to this day, with confidence and joy, because it is a sign of security, not from a flood of waters only, but from all the effects of the wrath of God. It is spoken of in the book of Revelations, as the peculiar emblem which sur. rounds our Saviour; for when he is described as 6 fitting on his throne," it is said, “there was a rainbow round about the throne,” implying, that as God was true to his promise made to Noah, both delivering him from a flood of waters, and no more drowning the world for the fins of men, so also would be be true to that everlasting covenant, made through Jesus Chrift, who is indeed the Saviour as is promised in the Scripture, of those who put their trust in him.
And it is said in like manner in Isaiah, for the comfort of each individual, who shall be found among God's faithful people; “ for this is as the waters of Noah unto me: for as I have fworn that the waters of Noah should no more go over the earth, so have I sworn that I would not be wroth with thee. For the mountains shall depart, and the hills be removed; but my kind.