Imágenes de páginas

were not quite immoveable, and who by this last measure would have been stirred up to consider their latter end. But we read of no such persons. An ark'so long preparing would naturally excite the scorn of those who, disbelieving the prediction, set no value on the work. And they who had for a century made a jest of our patriarch's labours, would feel less and less disposed to stand in awe of the judgment the longer it was delayed. For above one hundred years they had heard of this calamity, and yet the calamity came not. Still the sun in heaven shone brightly, and all was gaiety on earth. Wby then should they be moved by this last act of Noah? It was perfectly in unison with all he had been saying, all he had been doing for so long a time: and heretofore they had derided him, and done it with impunity. Why not do it still? Brightly on that morning rose the sun above the eastern plains. In the fullness of his strength he shot his accustomed beams, as he rode a cloudless sky, and climbed the hill of heaven. All was calm, all promised the stability of former days and years, as Noah with his family entered in. Nobody was warned, nobody was alarmed, no one even regarded this last solemn presage.

The Saviour has informed us that all things went on as usual. They planted, they builded, they married, they were given in marriage-they all pursued in security their avocations and amusements, or followed up their trade of violence and blood. But who will trust appearances even on the face of heaven? Who has not witnessed how on many a summer's day the gay fáce of nature is swathed in sudden darkness; the busy songsters of the forest sit silenced and terrified, or seek some place of shelter; the lucid lightnings glance where late played the beam of heaven; and the rushing of

[ocr errors]

the tempest and the roaring of the thunder hurl confusion and dismay and desolation on the scene late tranquil and smiling in all its summer's pride.

Such change we often witness even in these ordinary times, when no judgments that had been denounced are to be executed on the earth, but the sole intent is to revive the face of nature and fructify the ground. But here was a tempest intended to destroy and not to bless the nations, designed to spread havoc through universal nature, and to shorten the ordinary duration of human life by deranging the structure and altering the constitution of the material world. We can judge what violence was needed to promote these ends; we can imagine how tremendous must have been the face of things, what blackness shrouded heaven, what thunders shook the earth, when the Creator rose in the awfulness of his power to vindicate his judgments on a world of culprits. Your most dreadful tornadoes are but the sighing of the breeze, your deluges of rain but as the gentle dew, compared with that dread scene in which the windows of heaven are said to have been

open ed, and the fountains of the deep broken up. God of grandeur, we have known something of thy works; past ages have recorded the horrors of the scene when Omnipotence has arisen to signalize itself. But how shall we tell this people what the scriptures mean when they speak of cataracts precipitated from the heights of heaven, and met midway by other cataracts spouted from the yawning caverns of the earth. Dreadful was the sight when the heaven's first changed their livery, and clouds raked by whirlwinds flew in quick succession as if winged with the lightnings ever darting from their sides. But the horrors of that darkness, the crashing of that thunder, the spout

ing, spattering, dashing of heaven's cataracts, were as things of nought when the earth began to reel. The crust of earth was broken, the fountains of the great deep were let loose; yonder spouted a cataract a thousand fathoms wide, ten thousand fathoms high; there sunk a plain in the bottomless abyss, with all its fields and villages and populous cities crowned. The mountains began to beave, lightnings from above made all their tops to tremble, lightnings from beneath cleft in twain their wide-spread bases, and massive slabs of marble, and large masses of granite, each one for size a mountain, were loosened from their seals, and tossed like hail stones in the air.

The Alps and the Andes at this good hour bear witness to the horrors of the scene. Rocks rightly called the bones of those huge mountains, great mammoth rocks, like mountains in circumference, rocks so prodigious that no volcano could have heaved them, no earthquake could unseat them, may now be found by thousands, thrown up in wild disorder, and whole miles from the spots that evidently gave them birth. These facts are well known to all geologists; and in vain they would account for them by supposing such earthquake as no nation has recorded, or imagining volcanoes to which Vesuvius is a squib. Vain and useless are all such suppositions. The book of God records a deluge so desolating and horrible as to have found its way into the traditions of almost every nation under heavena deluge that was intended to destroy the frame of nature; and while continents were sinking, while cataracts were bursting, while earth was teeming forth whole oceans by the hour; it is easy to suppose that amid the nodding of the mountains and the rushing of the waters, these masses were borne so far from their native bed. Much more ea;

sy than to suppose there have been earthquakes and volcanoes, in the great belt of Asia, among the mountains of Europe, in lofty Atlas, or the still more lofty Andes earthquakes and volcanoes which no tradition mentions, which no example equals, with which none can once compare.

We need not tell you that desolations so tremendous must very soon have approved themselves to the astounded world as indeed the very judgment which Noah had been denouncing for 120 years. It is easy to suppose that people in the immediate vicinity of the ark, people who had heard the last warning of the patriarch, and marked him when he ascended on the morning of that day to take up his long abode--it is easy to suppose that such people would be terrified when the heavens first assumed their unusual darkness and put on their garniture of death. But no tongue can describe, no imagination can conceive the traits of horror that were presented in a world so popu. lous when the dire work of destruction was commenced. It did not commence, merely commence with loud and dashing rains, that deluged the fields, and swelled the brooks, and then raised the rivers high above their banks. There was no room left for that climax of many horrors, which would naturally arise from the gradual augmentation of the waters, first over the plains, then mounting up the hills, then leaving only the mountain tops uncovered, then earth bursting and the mountains tumbling in. The work was far more fearful at the very outset. It was on the very day that Noah entered the ark-"that same day were all the fountains of the great deep broken up, and the windows of heaven were opened.” No space was given for the gradual accumulation of horror upon horror; no

[ocr errors]

opportunity afforded for suppliant thousands to surround the ark, and with outstretched hands entreat to be admited. Deluges of rain, cataracts from heaven, beat down the adventurous who were found from under shelter, washed off at once the mud walled cottages, and unroofed the buildings of a firmer mould. Earth tossed and bellow. ed; lightning and earthquake did their speedy work; and rare must have been the scenes of protracted agony, and small the multitude that amid the tossings of the moun tains, and the tumblings of the cataracts could have essayed to scale their heights. Few would be the screams of children clinging to their mothers, and short the silent anguish of females folded to the heart of those they trusted most. Directly---yes, directly the desolation was complete. And no noise disturbed the air save the howling of the tempest, and now and then a mountain nodding to its fall. But the design of heaven did not terminate with the destruction of all flesh. Earth must be cleansed from their polluted carcases, and her face must retain not so much as one memorial of the abuse and degradation to which her riches had been subject. Thence in part the change upon the face of nature, that every memorial, every vestige of human crime might be done away; and that the sun of heaven when once and again he should look from behind those clouds might witness no remains of scenes profaned by vice, the memorials of dishonour done to God who formed them.

For forty days and nights the tempest was continued, till the waters prevailed to the height of fifteen cubits above the tallest monntains, and not even one twig of the stunted shrubbery that clothes the mountain top was to be seen above its surface. It was a world of waters, an ocean

[merged small][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors]
« AnteriorContinuar »