Imatges de pÓgina

ficence and antiquity of the matter, the sweetness of compiling, the strange variety of memorable occurrences: and if the delight be such, what shall the profit be esteemed of that which was written by God for the salvation of men? I confess no thoughts did ever more sweetly steal me and time away, than those which I have employed in this subject; and I hope none can equally benefit others: for if the mere relation of these holy things be profitable, how much more when it is reduced to use?"

The Patriarch Noah.

The brevity of Moses, in the early part of his history of mankind, is much to be regretted. All that he says possesses so much interest, that we naturally wish it had been his object to relate more at length the various events, both of a public and private nature, which happened in the first ages of the world. To trace the manners and customs of the antediluvians, their civil institutions and religious observances, and to compare them with the manners and customs of mankind in later ages, would be a high gratification to the lovers of history. Less pleasing it would certainly prove, though by no means without advantage, to note the progress of the moral corruption and depravity which overspread the world-of that disobedience to the commands of the Creator of all things which, first appearing in Adam, descended with his posterity, increasing on its descent, til!

it became at length very fearful and dreadful. This, however, is not in our power. The historian, proposing to himself to record the divine call of Abraham and the sepation of his family from the rest of mankind, takes a rapid but striking view of the creation of the world and the destruction of its first inhabitants, as an introduction to his account. He traces the descent of Abraham from the original father of the human race through Noah the second father, introducing a short account of the descendants of Cain who were the inventors of the useful arts. In fulfilling his task so very brief, is he, that a genealogical table, a table of descent, suffices, for a period of 1400 years which elapsed from the birth of Seth to the 500th year of Noah and we are, therefore, quite unacquainted with the state of mankind during this long period. Whether, as men increased, they formed themselves into communities and states, and erected kingdoms, or lived for the most part unconnected with each other; whether they peopled the immense continent of the globe, or confined themselves to the regions of the East, it is in vain to ask. We are told that there were mighty men of old, men of renown; and these would soon subdue the weak, and make them the objects of their violence. And we may be sure that power was unduly exerted and abused, for the historian informs us that the whole earth was filled with violence.

What was the moral condition of the human race, is a question more easily answered. Rapidly increasing in members, their crimes seem to have increased in an equal degree. They lost all regard for the Supreme Being, all sense of his presence, all thought of his government and their duty to him. They cared for little except the gratification of their impure desires and lawless passions,—and

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. '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.

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