Imatges de pÓgina
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the consequences were the total neglect of order, right and justice, and such an extensive and complete depravity as called for some signal notice and visitation. In this deplorable state of things, Noah was born. As he grew up to manhood and witnessed the profligacy of his fellow creatures, he formed many and firm resolutions of keeping himself apart from their influence. No doubt the endeavours and temptations of his youthful friends made this the more difficult, for none in so corrupt an age would respect his forbearance and goodness, and none be disposed to make the path of duty easy to him. The smile of contempt would greet him, or the shaft of ridicule glance against him, when he refused to become the companion of those who listened only to the enticements of pleasure, and sought to spend the flying moments of time in all the intoxicating delights that liberty without restraint could purchase for them. But he was too firmly attached to goodness, he had too high a sense of moral worth and piety, he saw too clearly the unhappy end of the unrighteous, either to be seduced by their snares, moved by their ridicule, or intimidated by their frowns. To all their attempts to move him from his purpose he was alike indifferent-and continued to live a quiet, virtuous, and pious life; fully persuaded that the choice of his heart was far to be preferred to the choice of those whose heart was set not only on the sinful pleasures of life, but even on the most corrupt and worst of them. 'Noah walked with God! This short sentence bears a noble testimony to his uprightness and piety. It is full of meaning. It tells of persevering devotedness to duty, of obedience to the commands of God, and a holy submission to his will. It speaks of a pure and upright mind, appearing in actions uniformly virtuous, in conduct at once excellent and love

ly. We look with admiration on his character as set forth in this simple description. It appears the more engaging and beautiful amid the general depravity of the times, as the silvery radiance of the moon delights the eye in the gloom of midnight. And as it is more difficult, and requires greater courage to stand alone the friend and champion of religion, than to join the multitude under her banner, the firmness and fidelity of Noah would appear more conspicuous even to the divine eye. He who is the source of all perfection, and the firm friend of human goodness, could not fail to notice such a noble and consistent follower of righteousness as Noah. He looked with love and favor on the man who walked with him, and formed those designs respecting him of which we proceed to speak, which gave him true renown, and made him a second Adam.

Whilst the patriarch was thus moved by a zealous regard for truth and duty, the rest of mankind were filling up the measure of their iniquities, departing farther and farther from God, and throwing off all restraints of religion. And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.' What a dreadful description! There were none who refrained from sinful indulgence, none in whose breast was found a benevolent, or generous, or pure, or honourable feeling. One general ruin overspread the moral world, an emblem and a cause of the physical ruin which soon succeeded it.

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And it repented Jehovah that he had made man upon the earth, and it grieved him at his heart.' Such would be the feelings of a good man who, in putting forward some bene

volent purpose, should experience the neglect of those he wished to serve, and see the means of comfort and happiness which he had supplied, abused to the worst and vilest purposes. It would repent him and grieve him at the heart. This is said, therefore, of God, because he can only be spoken of according to human ideas, and his feelings and designs be expressed in human language. Repentance, in truth, can never visit a perfect and unchangeable Being, nor grief prey upon his heart, known unto God are all his ways; and although such events were hidden in the obscurity of future ages, he clearly saw that his laws would be despised, his gifts abused, and all the higher and nobler purposes of life lost sight of, by the descendants of Adam. He knew that some signal change must take place in the world-the removal of the sinful race as a punishment to themselves and a warning to future generations—some awful ablution to purify the spot He had created, adorned, and blessed.

Amongst those whose crimes had drawn upon them such a dreadful doom, Noah stood singly, a just and perfect man. He alone found grace in the eyes of the Lord, and to him the awful revelation was made of the destruction of his race: 'And God said unto Noah, the end of all flesh is come before me, for the earth is filled with violence through them; and behold I will destroy them with the earth!' At the same time God was pleased to command him to prepare a spacious ark, in which himself, with his family, and the different kinds of beasts, birds and insects, might be preserved, whilst all beside that had life, in the sea and on the earth, were destroyed.

The revelation of so dreadful a judgment about to fall on the ungodly must have astonished and terrified the patriarch. The safety of himself and his family was provided for; but could he reflect on the dreadful end which awaited all who dwelt near him or in distant lands, all whom he knew, all of whose existence he had any idea, all who wore the same form with himself, without being subdued with pity for their wretchedness? that they were guilty he well knew; that the judgment of God was just he could not deny; but the good man feels no ordinary sorrow when the wicked are punished, let their punishment be ever so richly merited. He regrets the necessity-he mourns their fate.

Such regret and sorrow filled the mind of Noah, and prompted him to attempt something on behalf of his fellow creatures. The apostle Peter styles him a preacher of righteousness; and we may readily believe that so just and benevolent a man did not confine the revelation which had been made to him in his own breast, but freely published it on every side. The desire of saving some, at least, from the general ruin, led him to the plain and the city, and he was gratified could he but find attentive hearers whilst he spake the awful visitation which was coming upon them. He dwelt on their conduct, showed how generally and universally they had forsaken the God of their fathers, how hateful their sins were in his sight, and how signally and dreadfully he would manifest his power in their overthrow. Whatever may have been the means to which Noah resorted to rouse his brethren to a just sense of their situation, they appear to have been ineffectual. His remonstran

ces made no impression; and his representations of the coming judgment were, probably, thought to be only the wanderings of a diseased mind. They turned away from the zealous preacher; and it was in the day of Noah, as our Saviour observed, they did eat, they drank, they married, they were given in marriage, until the day that Noah entered into the ark, and the flood destroyed them all.’

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It would have been happiness to him to lead back the sinning in a repenting state to God, and to save them from destruction; but this happiness was denied him. Finding all his attempts fruitless, and exposing him to the neglect if not the scorn of his brethren, he began to prepare the vessel which was to carry him and his family in safety on the bosom of the waters, awaiting the moment when God should bring swift and total destruction upon the ungodly. Yet often as the work proceeded, did he renew the warning. He pointed to the advancing work with a mournful air, and told them that their fate was as much nearer to them as the ark approached to its completion. And when a stranger from a distant part came near and enquired why that immense vessel was preparing, the patriarch stayed his hand and spake of human wickedness, and described the woe which was hastening near, and besought him, if he would live and see his beloved ones live, to go home and repent with them, and teach others to repent. The stran ger returned; but crime still defiled the face of the earth; still Noah was alone, the righteous one, the ark was finished-the flood came.

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