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The tradition of many centuries has not only pointed the nations of the world to that mountain, but has constantly asserted that there the remnants of the ark still exist. But centuries have probably elapsed, possibly thousands of years, since any one has scaled its heights. The celebrated traveller Tournefort attempted it; but he found the ascent so steep and dangerous that the attempt was relim quished as perfectly impracticable, after he had toiled nearly a whole day.
We will not detain you with the various expedients which our patriarch tried in order to ascertain the condition of the plains below. Though he must await the Di. vine command before he dare venture to depart the ark, yet it was a natural and an innocent solicitude which prompted him to discover the actual state of the retiring waters. His raven, poised on easy wing, and furnished with appropriate food which the receding deluge would naturally leave in all the hollows of the mountain top, manifested no disposition to return. But the dove which could find nothing on the bleak and rugged sides of this great mountain, whose every space presents either barren sands or sharp and rugged rocks, would natarally direct its course down to the level country. There all was water still, no food, no resting place, was found, and till the third time of her dismission she still returned to the ark, her well known place of refuge.
It was on the seventeenth of September that the level grounds were freed from water, and the dove departed to return no more. But though drained it was not dried; and till this should be effected, till her face should no longer teem forth noxious vapours, the ark on the top of Arraraf was man’s fittest dwelling. At length however, on the
27th of the second month, answering to the 18th of Decemher, the plains were fitted to become his habitation, and he and cvery living thing were released from their long imprisonment. One year and eleven days had elapsed since they had trod the face of the earth before. It was a period fraught with unparalleled horrors, with unequaled revolutions; and strong and peculiar as were the emotions of that family on the day in which they entered the ark and left all the world to perish, they could scarcely be less strong and less peculiar, on the day of their revisiting the former haunts of men, where they and every vestige of their work had perished. We formerly said that the world must have been exceedingly populous before this great calamity occured. The salubrity of the air, the fruitfulness of the soil and the great longevity of man almost infallibly secured such a result. Suppose then that there occurred no more than 20 births during the first century, and that their numbers doubled only once in fifty years after that period.-And from what we have gathered from the history of Cain and Abel, there seems good reason to suppose many more than twenty births during the first century; and the fact will shew that even under the disadvantages of contracted life and an altered state of things, population even now often doubles in far less than half a century. Yet take our modern estimate; suppose but twenty persons at the end of the first hundred years; and let that number be doubled every succeeding fifty, it will be found by a short and simple calculation that in the year of the deluge the world may have contained above twenty billion of souls; that is at least thirty times as many as all the nations number at the present day.—Make what deductions you please from this very moderate estimate, and still it will appear that our patriarch must have left a crowded busy throng when he bade the world adieu. And who may not enter into Noah's feelings when at the foot of Ararrat;on a winter day, he trod once more the former seats of all this busy multitude and found the world a waste Dreary at all times are scenes far removed from the cheerful haunts of men; drearily the winds hurl through the waste where decaying timbers and dilapidated walls call up to the imagination of the transient visiter what had been the scenes of busy industry or of wassail mirth before that mansion was forsaken of its inmates. But far more dreary must have been the face of things when our patriarch amidst the silence of those scenes could advert to no far distant spots still alive with busy multitudes; for there stood behind him just seven human beings, the last and little remnant of a populous world. No decaying timbers, no dilapidated walls spoke to his senses of former busy scenes; the retiring waters had drifted all away, or they lay hid from human sight far below thc surface of the settled mud and slime. To Noah, as to Adam, it was an empty world; but not, as formerly, enlivened with herds of cattle grazing on the plain, and with birds innumerable perched on all the trees.
It was a world yet more desolate, and that chilling sense of loneliness would be rendered far more strong by the contrast with a populousness hë had so lately witnessed, but which Adam never saw. Cold as were the winds that whisked along that mountain's foot, still more chilling was the sense of
of so many desolations; it chilled the very heart.
But though our patriarch must have felt it as a man, as a christian man he bore it. And the very first use he made of life so preserved and liberty restored, was to pre:
sent the solemn services of adoration and thanksgiving to God his great preserver. Few as were the creatures saved from the deluge, and desirable as it must have been felt to preserve and cherish them, that plain and forest might again soon present the charms of animated life, no selfish considerations, no plausible dictates of a cold and calculating prudence, restrained him from expressing in the appointed way and in the most liberal style the feelings of devotion which he cherished. He and all those saved, together prepared an altar; and then instead of selecting a single victim from the small and precious rem. pant, they chose one of every beast and bird called elean; a sample of all that was fitted for the sacrifice; and offered at once a hecatomb to the God of their salvation. Who cannot see that little family of love surrounding that loaded altar! Who does not seem almost to hear their praises and to catch the voice of fervent supplication which mounted with the flame of that amazing sacrifice as it peered high towards the heavens! While the blazing altar disarmed the piercing winds of that December day, who does not feel that the effusions of their thankfulness and the flow of many hearts together recording the mercies of the Most High, and casting themselves and the whole world upon his care, must have dispelled the chill that at first seized on their bosoms, and converted every feeling to tenderness and love. Again they looked around, but they were do more alone; the God whom they worshiped was present to console them, and again all nature smiled. This first act of worship, so impressive and important, made a deep impression on the memory of man. Still its memorial is distinctly to be traced in the rites and traditions of the Eastern world. But, what is far more important, marked
as it was with many traits of tenderness, it met a marked reception from the mercy seat of God: “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 thing living, as I have done."--Gen. viii. 21. Accordingly we find in the succeeding chapter that all his words were fraught with blessings to our race.. He confirmed to our patriarch dominion over the creatures; be multiplied the enjoyments and increased the facilities of human life, by authorizing what never before had been permitted to mankind, the use of animal food; and finally, after multiplying his cautions and his blessings, he gave a pledge to all the earth that such a deluge of waters should cover its face no more. And then he appointed as the token of his covenant that noble arch that lifts its awful form, but softened and beautified with all the dies of heaven. “And the bow shall be in the cloud; and I will look upon it, that I may remember the everlasting covenant between God and eves ry living creature of all flesh that is upon the earth." Gen. ix. 16. From that hour to this the bow of that cova enant has been often seen in heaven; indeed almost as often as retiring clouds sweep along the face of heaven, and receding thunders mutter in the distance, God rears aloft his many.cloloured bow, in signal to the nations that his covenant is remembered; and that tho'clouds may often shroud the cheerful face of day, he will be true to his purpose that they shall deluge earth no more. Four thousand years are gone and that promise is not broken; to this hour the fact has been in consonance with the symbol. Be it ours to improve by the lesson he would teach us; and