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THE ARK OF NOAH, A TYPE OF SALVATION
MY DEAR FRIEND, “God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him:" Gen. i. 27. This image consisted mainly* in “ righteousness and true holiness; or, in a resemblance of the moral perfections of Jehovah his Creator. It was not long, however, that man retained this glory of his nature; for by yielding to the temptation of Satan, and transgressing the commandment that was given him, he deprived himself of this Divine similitude, and rendered himself the child of the Devil. “Earthly, sensual, and devilish,” are the epithets by which the Scripture stigmatizes the natural state of fallen man. The baleful poison of the old Serpent, instantly on the fall, spread itself through our whole nature, and its dismal effects soon became apparent.
* Man is spoken of by St. James as still bearing a similitude of God." Chap. iii. 9. See Letter VI. The moral image of God in which man was created is entirely lost, as appears by the necessity of his being created anew in it: “ The new man is after God, created in righteousness and true holiness." Eph. iv. 24. But something remains which St. James calls
a similitude of God," the retention of which aggravates, and, indeed, constitutes the offence of those who are guilty of cursing, or imprecating evil on, their fellow men.
In tracing the history of man from its origin, we are soon brought to an event, the report of which is enough to chill the warm fluid which circulates through our arteries and veins, and to arrest its progress. For soon after two other persons, besides the common parents of mankind, existed, the one became the murderer of the other. And in following the clew which the narrative affords (concise indeed, but sufficient for the intended purpose) we find the posterity of the fratricide proceeding to progressive stages of iniquity, and, by mingling with the better race of Seth, corrupting them; till at length Divine patience was, (to speak after the manner of men) exhausted, “ And God saw that the wickedness of man was great on the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of man's heart was only evil and that continually. And it repented the Lord that he had made man on the earth." Chap. vi. 5, 6. In this and several other passages of Scripture, wherein God is said to repent, or change his mind, the meaning is that “ He acts in such a manner as men do when they repent or alter their designs, and consequently changes his method of proceeding, though in truth He changes not,” but the change is in his
creatures : for “ God is not a man that he should lie, nor the son of man that he should repent."* Thus we read, 1 Sam. xv. 11, that it repented the Lord that he had “set up Saul to be king” over Israel: yet in the 29th verse of the same chapter it is said that “ The Strength of Israel will not lie nor repent; for he is not a man that he should repent.” So we likewise read, Jonah iii. 10, that God saw the works of the Ninevites that they turned from their evil way, and God repented of the evil that he had said he would do unto them, and he did it not.” The word does not imply a change of mind, but a change of acting, in consequence of a change of circumstances ; and, therefore, expresses a truth which is liable to no objection. In like manner, in the case now before us where it is said that “it repented the Lord that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at the heart,” we know that nothing unforeseen by Divine prescience had occurred, nothing unprovided for by Divine compassion. The plan of redemption had been before contrived, and before revealed. The increase of infidelity, the growth of error, and the abounding of excess, were natural results of the innate depravity of the human heart. Of that depravity the murder of Abel was the first overt act; but that instance of fratricide was but the
* Num. xxiii. 19.
first fruits of an abundant and awful harvest of evil, which the now accursed soil soon produced and ripened.
Mankind having generally apostatized from the faith and worship of God, and baving filled the earth “ with violence,"_enormities of every hideous kind,—the determination of the Divine Mind to sweep the whole earth with the besom of destruction was inade known to his servant Noah, who, with his family, was preserved through Grace, from the general pollution, and enabled to hold fast the hope of salvation which on the fall was revealed to Adam, maintained by tradition and new revelations of its nature among the antediluvian patriarchs, and explained by the rites of sacrificature which had been Divinely instituted for this purpose.
Of Noah the sacred record testifies that he was “ a just man,” justified as Abel had been before, and as Abraham afterwards was, through faith in the promised seed of the woman; perfect in his generations," distinguished among his cotemporaries by the effect of sanctifying grace on his heart; and that he “ walked with God, in a course of spiritual fellowship with Him and of holy obedience to His will.” Ver. 9.*
have the ,תמים and צדיק ,Both the participles here used *
, , hiphil · after the second radical, implying, as I conceive that the effects which the participles describe were not naturally inherent in the patriarch, but derived. And it is to be remarked that
In the first general destruction of the human race there was a remnant saved from the catastrophe as there will be also at the second. For the preservation of the faithful few, consisting of eight persons, the God of mercy provided previous to the deluge. With a view to this, Noah was directed to build an ark (for the construction of which directions were given him by God Himself) wherein he and his family, together with a sufficient number of every species of animals, might, under Divine protection, outlive the storm, and re-people the earth, when it should be purged from its present impious race of apostates. Accordingly, “ by faith Noah, being warned of God, of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house; by the which he condemned the world, and became heir of the righteousness which is by faith.” Heb. xi. 7.
That we are justified in considering this transaction among the illustrations of the great salvation, to be found in the patriarchal dispensation, is sufficiently clear from the use which St. Peter has made of it. In his first Epistle (chap. iii. 18, &c.) he has furnished a clew to guide us in an application of the several circum
the word which denotes the personal character of Noah, is in the reduplicate form, the second radical being doubled, intimating that the grace which he had received was of no common kind. He was a very holy man.