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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. And 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; 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 remaineth, seed time and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night shall not cease.
THE transaction here recorded is the first which took place, on earth, after Noah had escaped, with his family, from that dreadful deluge which destroyed the rest of the human race.
What mingling emotions of sadness and joy-of grief and gratitude must the patriarch have felt, when, after a long, wandering voyage on the shoreless deep, he and his household were allowed to set their feet once more on the solid earth?
He embarked on board his new constructed ves.. sel, leaving the old world in its usual prosperity.
There were flourishing towns and populous cities, verdant meadows and cultivated fields, pastures alive with grazing herds, and groves vocal with the songs of birds, men occupied in their several employments, and youths pursuing their various sports: They were building and planting, eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, full of worldly prospects, and thoughtless of impending danger, until the day that Noah entered into the ark. But on the day when he comes out of it, how mightily is the scene changed!-In what a strange situation he finds himself!-His eyes look around for former objects, and his ears listen for wonted sounds-but all is desolation and silence. Towns with their inhabitants are swept away; groves are stript of their beauty; and fields despoiled of their fruitage. No face of man, or footstep of beast is seen-no human or brutal voice is heard, except from his own few attendants-no sound salutes his ears, but that of hollow winds howling through the naked trees.
But amidst this gloomy scene, still there was room for grateful reflections. When the old world was doomed to destruction, Noah and his family had a promise of security. In the general deluge they had all been preserved through a long voyage, the most perilous that mortal had ever known. And after rolling, for a full year, on the tumultuous element, they again beheld the face of nature, and walked on the dry ground.
Now the patriarch's first work was to return thanks to his great Preserver. "He builded an altar to the Lord, and took of every clean beast and fowl, and offered burnt offerings on the altar.”
Noah was one, who had walked with God, and had been found righteous in his generation. His piety distinguished him in a degenerate age, and procured for himself and his family an exemption from
the general destruction. As in the days of prosperity he maintained the practice of religion, surely he would not neglect it in the solemn period of danger and confinement. The first thing said of him, when he came out of the ark, is, that he presented burntofferings to God. This was an act of social devotion. He had preached righteousness to a degenerate world; but with little success, except in his own household.Happy he was to see them submitting to the influence of his instructions and example.
A more melancholy scene can scarcely be imag ined, than this which meets the patriarch, on his entrance into the new world. But here he recognizes the mercies of God. There is no season or condition of life so adverse, but that blessings attend it. The godly man can find matter for praise in the greatest afflictions. Paul and Silas, confined in
prison, and fastened in the stocks, sang praises to God at midnight. The prophet says, Though the figtree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vine, the labor of the olive shall fail, and the fields shall yield no meat, the flocks shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall be no herd in the stalls; yet I will rejoice in the Lord, and joy in the God of my salvation." The Apostle says, "We are sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; we have nothing, yet possess all things: We are filled with comfort, we are exceeding joyful in all our tribulation.”
Noah, whatever grief and dejection he might feel in viewing the state of the new world, could not but mark with gratitude God's peculiar mercy to him and his family. They, in a time of general destruction, were all preserved alive. God's judgments on others should awaken in our souls admiring thoughts of his distinguishing goodness to us.
We think, perhaps, that God's ways are unequal. But let us view our condition in a just and impartial light. What blessing is withheld, which, we can say, we deserved? What affliction has befallen us, which, we can say, is unrighteous, or unnecessary ? Is there not more good than evil attending our lot? Have we not more days of health and security, than of danger and distress? More days of plenty and fulness, than of hunger and want? In the prosecution of our lawful calling do we not find more success than disappointment? While we act well our part in society, are not mankind our friends? In times of calamity, are there any who insult us ?-Do not most pity us, and many contribute to our relief? Do not our troubles often rise from ourselves, our irregular passions, unreasonable expectations, and vain pursuits? Do we not fear more evils than we feel? And do not mercies sometimes surprize us, which we never had thought of?
We see some men, whom we think to be under better circumstances than ourselves. In this comparison we often judge wrong. But admit this to be really the case: It is not certain, that their circumstances would be better for us. We are probably safer under our own. But let us look round a little farther. Can we see none, whose condition is less desireable than ours? Can we see none in poverty, sickness, and real distress? From their calamities let us learn gratitude to God, and compassion to them. Can we find many, with whom we would wish to exchange conditions in full? If not, let us be content with such things as we have.
The little stock, preserved with Noah in the ark, was all that the world now contained. From this the earth was to be replenished. But still the patriarch devoted a part of it to God. "He took of every clean beast and of every clean fowl, and offered burnt VOL. IV.
offerings on the altar." Present poverty was not alleged in excuse for the neglect of divivne service. All that he had was God's gift, and all his future prosperity depended on God's blessing; and he consecrated a portion of the family substance to him, who had been the family Preserver.
Piety to God is the foundation of virtue. Without the former, the latter cannot exist. Our neglect of the instituted means of piety can be justified by no worldly circumstances, but those which put an attendance on these means out of our power. Whatever may be the calls of secular business, a part of every day must be employed in devotional exercises. Whatever may be the calamities of the times, God's worship must be maintained. Whatever may be our particular condition, we must shew a forwardness in his service. As all our worldly success depends on his blessing, so in all our ways we must acknowledge him. We are then most sure of his smiles upon our labors, when the fruits of them are used to his glory. "Honor the Lord with thy substance and with the first fruits of all thine increase; so shall thy barns be filled with plenty, and thy presses shall burst out with new wine."—" Bring ye all the tythes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in God's house, and prove him herewith, if he will not open to you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room to receive it."
In Noah's offering, "the Lord smelled a sweet savour." It was acceptable and well pleasing to him, as the fruit of Noah's faith and thankfulness.
By faith Abel offered to God a more acceptable sacrifice than Cain."—", By faith Noah, being warned of God, prepared an ark to the saving of his house." And that faith, by which he at first obeyed the divine warning, moved him afterward to offer a