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Genesis 6:2. Sons of God.]—That these were angels is a view which, it is well-known, has been held from ancient times, both by Jews and Christians. Of the latter class may be named Justin and Tertullian among the ancients, and Luther, Stier, Baumgarten, Kurtz and Delitzsch among the moderns. Notwithstanding the weight of these names, we must, in preference, stand with those who decidedly oppose this interpretation; and this, for the following, among other reasons.
(1.) We need not leave the human family to find these “sons of God,” having already a basis for this noble title in the spiritual nearness of the Sethites to God (cf. Deuteronomy 14:1; Deuteronomy 32:5; Psalms 73:15; Proverbs 14:26; Luke 3:38.)
(2.) We interrupt the “genesis” of the book, if we go farther than man: it is, physically, a pure human development so far.
(3.) We set aside the natural generators of the race, the fathers—to make way for angels and women!
(4.) We destroy the representative nature of this apostacy, putting it out of relation to those named in Numbers 25:0, Jude 1:3, 1 Kings 11:16; 1 Kings 11:16, Revelation 2:0.
(5.) The story no longer serves for “our admonition” 1 Corinthians 10:6.) It gratuitously imports what, with our present light, we must call a monstrosity (Matthew 22:30). That, in certain places (Job 1, 38) angels are termed “sons of God,” simply shows how extended the divine family is (cf. Ephesians 3:15, πᾶσα πατριὰ, “every family,” or better perhaps, “an entire family”).
Genesis 6:3. Strive with.] Or, “judge in;” or “plead with:” “rule over” (Fürst, Davies); “be humbled in” (Gesenius); “remain, dwell in” (Sept., Vulg., Arabic, etc.)—They also are flesh.] Some render: “In their erring: they are flesh.”—
MAIN HOMILETICS OF THE PARAGRAPH.—Genesis 6:1-1.6.8
A DEGENERATE WORLD
Sin does not take long to spread. A few ages ago and it only existed in one or two hearts; but now it is almost universal in its prevalence. A little while ago the world was new and pure, dwelling in joy; now it is old in sin, contaminated by wickedness, and frowning with woe. There is a terrible contagion in moral evil. It soon spreads from the individual to the community, from the centre to the circumference of social life.
1. The organic unity of society is favourable to the spread of moral evil. The domestic life of man affords great opportunity for the progress of either good or evil. If an evil disposition, or a wicked habit gains possession of one member of the family, it is very likely to influence the rest. This intimate community of daily life renders the inmates of the household potent in influences which shall form the character and destiny of each other. The family bond is intimate, and sensitive, and one touch of good or evil passes forcefully through it into the human soul. And in common society itself there are many and varied connections which are fraught with potent influences to the mind and heart of man. The master influences his servant; the manager influences those under his control; and the casual intercourse of daily life is influential in determining the moral character of multitudes. Hence a message flashed on the wires of our domestic and social being, reaches to known and unknown destinies. The words we speak to-day, may to-morrow determine the mental and spiritual condition of many people. Hence the conditions of our social existence are favourable to the dire contagion of evil.
2. The native willingness of the human soul to do evil is favourable to the contagion of moral wrong. Seldom do men need to be reasoned into the evil pursuits of conduct, and if they do, a fallacious argument is sufficient to convince them. They do not even require to be solicited or invited to the wrong, they are willing, nay, eager, to find companions who will join them in their carnal pleasures. The unregenerate soul goes in quest of evil, and will work it greedily. It has a native tendency to sin. Hence we are not surprised to find the world rioting in moral wrong, when it is utterly destitute of that love to God, which alone can keep it right. We have here the sad picture of a degenerate world:—
I. It is a world in which marriage is abused. “And it came to pass, when men began to multiply on the face of the earth, and daughters were born unto them, that the sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were fair; and they took them wives of all which they chose.” Thus we find that the longevity of men in those ages was productive of evil. Then one sinful life would extend much longer than at present, and consequently gave a greater encouragement and a more misleading example to wrong doers. The fear of death was largely removed, and men pursued their wicked pleasures without dread of the grave.
1. We find that marriage was commenced on a wrong principle. There has been a very long discussion as to the meaning of the phrases here used “the sons of God” and “the daughters of men.” The former have been regarded as the sons of princes, of angels, and of Sethites or godly men; and the latter as people of the lower orders of mankind generally, and of the Cainites, or of the rest of mankind as contrasted with the godly. It is clear that angels cannot be intended by “the sons of God” in this context, as they do not marry, nor are they given in marriage. It is evident that men were punished for the crime, as the earth and not heaven was deluged by water; we may therefore conclude, that man was the guilty party. Besides, the angels fell long before these ages, probably prior to the creation of the terrestrial globe. Also men, and not angels, were subject to the strivings of the Holy Spirit, hence we conclude that they were alone in their guilt. It is altogether wrong for the sons of God to marry the daughters of men. True, in the first instance, the useful arts, and the embellishments of social life, began to flourish in the house of Cain. Agriculture, commerce, music, and poetry, were cultivated among his descendants. Were the children of Seth to forego the benefit of participating in these advantages thus introduced into the social system? Certainly not. As the children of God they were at liberty to prosecute any laudable undertakings in this direction, but could they not have done this without unholy alliances? It is better to give up the refinements of the world than to abandon good moral character in the effort to attain them. There can be no valid excuse for an alliance in marriage between the church and the world. The church should never ally itself in matrimony with the world. What sympathy can the morally pure and good have with the morally unholy. Summer cannot ally itself to winter. Genius cannot ally itself to ignorance. Life cannot ally itself to death. Neither ought the morally light in the Lord to ally themselves with the morally dark in Satan. Be not unequally yoked with unbelievers, is an injunction the church needs to remember. We find also that physical beauty was made the basis of the matrimonial selection. “The sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were fair.” Thus passion was the basis of the matrimonial life of the age. A man cannot be actuated by a meaner motive than this in seeking a wife. He needs mental intercourse and moral elevation and sympathy from her who is to be the companion of his life, and these are not always associated with physical beauty, nor will physical beauty compensate for their absence. The beauty of the face will soon fade. The moral beauty of the soul is untarnished by time, is rendered more lovely by the flight of years. It will be sought by the true-man, who will care more for womanly excellence than for artistic beauty. Much of the moral pollution of the age in which we live is due to unhallowed and injudicious marriages. Many people are united in wedlock before they reach manhood and womanhood, and often have to struggle through life with a poverty sadly conducive to crime. They sink beneath the social wave, and perhaps never rise to true enjoyment. If the young people of the land would make more thoughtful and hallowed marriages, seeking partners of pious conviction, of genial spirit, of cultivated thought, and of thrifty habit, the pauperism, the business of our criminal law courts, and the debasing influences of society would be almost entirely swept away. The conjugal alliances of men largely determine the moral character of a community.
2. We find that the marriage bond was violated by impurity. Here is the evil of promiscuous intermarriage without regard to spiritual character. The first inlet of sin prepares the way for the flood-gates of iniquity. It would seem that the men of those days had as many wives as their passion desired; they took them wives of all which they chose. When a nation loses the purity of its domestic life, its national glory will soon depart. The divorce court is a true but sad index to the worth of our national character. Under these conditions of home life it is easy to imagine the speedy prevalence of sin recorded in these verses. Parents and not legislators are the true guardians of the world’s moral purity.
II. It is a world in which violence prevails.—“There were giants in the earth in those days; and also after that, when the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men, and they bare children to them, the same became mighty men which were of old, men of renown.”
1. Men of physical strength became the rulers of the people. These giants were men of great physical energy, they were probably Cainites, and were much more violent than the Sons of God, and their descendants. Hence the warrior was the ruler of the age. Mere brute force, rather than legal right, or moral fitness, was the qualification for rulership. We have but little insight given in the inspired record, into the principles and method of government which prevailed in these early ages of the world, but it is probable that God himself was recognized as the true Governor of men; to Him offerings were brought, and to Him obedience ought to have been rendered. Hence we find that the strong men of the times in their self-imposed authority, were in direct rebellion to Jehovah. Surely we cannot imagine a more degenerate and lamentable condition of things than this, when all the foremost men of the day were in antagonism to the Supreme Ruler of the universe. But the people who seek to dethrone the Divine authority will speedily work their own ruin; nor was this an exception to the rule, and the destructive deluge shows how utterly impotent physical strength is in any contention with God.
2. Men of physical strength were the popular favourites of the day. They were men of fame. Fame was not during these ages achieved by rectorial equity and moral purity of character, but by deeds of daring and of blood. These giants were proud and haughty. They were impious. The offspring of these unholy marriages were the rulers of the advancing age, and their wicked training would well prepare them to perpetuate the violence and villainy of their fathers.
3. Men of physical strength were the terror of the day. They had no regard to the rights of the poor; the weak were despised and injured; the good, if any were to be found, were persecuted; legal rectitude was unheeded by them. Force was the supreme law of the age. It was indeed a reign of terror. Multitudes would wish it at an end. Force is the very essence of sin. Sin always brings nations into anarchy. A violent government is a sure guarantee for the spread of moral defilement.
III. It is a world in which spiritual influences are rejected. “And the Lord said, My Spirit shall not always strive with man, for that he also is flesh: yet his days shall be an hundred and twenty years.”
1. This degenerate world had not been entirely left to its own inclination. The world had not been entirely given up to the impurity of its domestic life, to the brutality of its violent measures, without the deep convictions of heaven being given, which were calculated to restrain its sin. It is not the economy of heaven to leave wickedness to itself until it plunges itself into its own hell. God mercifully endeavours to cleanse the impurity, and to subdue the violence of evil by the conviction and restraining influences of His Holy Spirit. Hence the augmented guilt and doom of the persistent wrong-doer. What would be the moral condition of the world without this corrective ministry, no human mind could conceive. God was indeed merciful to the apostate race in thus sending His Spirit to irradiate the darkened mind, to expostulate with the conscience of the violent, to prompt and strengthen holy resolve, and to bring back the heart of the world to Himself. But, alas! this glad result was not attained. The flesh prevailed. Life is a constant struggle between these two forces, the flesh of man and the Spirit of God, and but too often the issue is that of the degenerate times of which we write.
2. The degenerate world rejected the holy influences of heaven. The domestic impurity of the age did not yield to His holy touch. The giants of the age resisted the proper control he would put upon their violent energies. The age rejected the Spirit of God. Its individuals sought Him not. This is an awful possibility. Man is a free agent. He cannot be forced into compliance with rectitude. He must be a consenting party. The age that rejects the Spirit of God is truly in a degenerate and hopeless condition. It has no light to relieve its darkness. How many historic ages since these primitive times have been characterized by an utter absence of spiritual impulse and energy. They have been Godless. They have witnessed a strange growth of moral evil in the nations.
3. The degenerate world was in danger of losing the holy and correcting influences of heaven. “And the Lord said, My Spirit shall not always strive with man.” Heaven can afford to let the impure and violent men alone, because such will speedily achieve their own ruin. The violence of earth cannot injure the inhabitants of the heavens. It is only restrained for the good of man. If it is finally unrestrained, the Holy Spirit will leave the rebellious age to itself, until its impurity and violence shall be washed out and subdued by a great flood of waters. Irreparable punishment certainly follows the withdrawal of holy influences from the soul of man. It is a token of human obstinacy, and of the Divine displeasure. Our constant prayer should be, “Take not Thy Holy Spirit from me.”
IV. It is a world under the immediate inspection of God. “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.”
1. Thus God saw the wickedness of this ancient world. All the impurity and evil of this ancient world was passing day by day under the eye of God. And not merely did He behold its outward phases, but also its inward; He not merely saw the violence with which the earth was filled, but also the moral evil with which the heart was polluted. He saw the imagination of the thought of the heart. He sees the fountain of sin. What a sight it must have been for the infinite purity to behold! God seeth the heart of man. If purity does not reign in the thought and soul of man, however excellent he may be otherwise, he is destitute of the first principle of good. Men only read the world’s newspaper. God reads the world’s heart. A solemn thought. Should calm the passion of the world.
2. Thus God repented that He had made man. The scripture is frank and unreserved, some men would say, imprudent or regardless of misconstruction in its statements of truth. Repentance ascribed to the Lord, seems to imply wavering or change of purpose in the eternal self-existent. But the sublime dictate of the inspired word is “God is not a man,” &c. (Numbers 23:19). In sooth, every act here recorded, the observation, the resolve, the exception, seems equally with the repentance to jar with the unchangeableness of God. To go to the root of the matter, every act of the divine will, of creative power, or of interference with the order of nature, seems at variance with inflexibility of purpose. But, in the first place, man has a finite mind and a limited sphere of observation, and therefore is not able to conceive or express thoughts or acts exactly as they are in God, but only as they are in himself. Secondly, God is a spirit, and therefore has the attributes of personality, freedom, and holiness; and the passage before us is designed to set forth these in all the reality of their action, and therefore to distinguish the freedom of the eternal mind from the fatalism of inert matter. Hence, thirdly, these statements represent real processes of the Divine Spirit, analogous at least to those of the human. And, lastly, to verify this representation, it is not necessary that we should be able to comprehend or construe to ourselves in all its practical detail that sublime harmony which subsists between the liberty and the immutability of God. That change of state, which is essential to will, liberty, and activity, may be, for aught we know, and from what we know must be, in profound unison with the eternity of the Divine purpose. (Dr. Murphy.) This expression clearly shews the abhorrence with which God regarded the sins of the primitive but degenerate world, and was the prelude of impending doom.
3. Thus God was grieved that he had made man.
V. It is a world threatened with destruction by God. The resolve is now formed to sweep away man from the face of the earth. Hitherto men had died; now they are to be drowned. This will be a standing monument of the wrath of God against sin to all future ages.
1. This threat was retributive.
2. This threat was comprehensive. It included “man and beast and the creeping thing, and the fowls of the air.” Man is the head of creation, and hence all below him is included in his doom. If the head is stricken from the human body all the members become dead. So in creation. These inferior creatures of the universe are not moral, and therefore the violent termination of their life is not penal.
3. This threat was mingled with mercy. Many years were to elapse before its occurrence, hence every opportunity would be given to prepare for it. We do not read that the degenerate world sought its removal; it would rather seem that they did not believe it would be executed. Such is the unbelief, folly, and hardihood of the sinner. Lessons:—
1. To sanctify a long life by true piety lest it become a means of impurity.
2. To avoid unhallowed alliances.
3. To coincide with the convictions of the Spirit of God.
SUGGESTIVE COMMENTS ON THE VERSES
Genesis 6:1-1.6.2. The worst of women may be characterized by outward beauty.
Large increase of population is often associated with moral corruption.
Corrupt women are great snares to the church.
Sons of God different to the daughters of men:—
1. In disposition.
2. In profession.
3. In moral character.
4. In eternal destiny.
Eminent Sons of God by profession may be influenced by the lust of the eye, then they become:—
The lust of the eye disposeth to all sensuality and adultery.
A numerous offspring is no sure sign of God’s special favour.
Beauty is a dangerous bait, and lust is sharp sighted. It is not safe gazing on a fair woman. How many have died of the wound in the eye! No one means hath so enriched hell as beautiful faces. Take heed our eyes be not windows of wickedness and loopholes of lust [Trapp].
Let the church be aware of being entangled with the world. The society of the men of the world may have many advantages to hold out. Their daughters may be fair, they may have the power and policy of earth at their disposal, and they may excel in the arts of life, and in its busy commerce; and on all these grounds may be built many a specious reason for cultivating intercourse with them. There are these three modes of alliance with the ungodly, in family intercourse, in self defence and opposition to a common foe, and in the transaction of the common business of life, to which, in that early time, the family of Seth might be tempted; and they are the very snares into which God’s people are ever apt to fall. In these three ways they are continually led to make concessions tending to worldly conformity, and to compromise their high standing and their holy testimony, on the side of the Lord and of His truth [Dr. Candlish.]
The mingling of that which is of God with that which is of man, is a special form of evil, and a very effectual engine, in Satan’s hand, for marring the testimony of Christ on earth. This mingling may frequently wear the appearance of something very desirable; it may often look like a wider promulgation of that which is of God. Such is not the divine method of promulgating with, or of advancing the interests of those, who ought to occupy the place of witnesses for Him on the earth. Separation from all evil is God’s principle; and this principle can never be infringed without serious damage to the truth [C.H.M.]
I. That the Spirit of God does exert an influence on man for the purpose of securing his best interest. Notice—
1. That this spiritual influence is universal. No doubt respecting its possibility. He who made man can influence him.
2. That this spiritual influence is essential to the production of good. Human nature is depraved, and therefore incapable of itself of producing anything good. As every drop of rain which falls from the clouds, and every spring that issues from the rocky mountains, comes from the mighty oceans; as the light which makes every planet and satellite gleam in the dark void of space comes from the sun; so does all good in man proceed from the Spirit of God.
3. That this spiritual influence is, in every case, limited by the conditions of man’s free agency. Nothing compulsory in its nature. If religion be virtue, man in becoming religious must act from choice and not from necessity.
4. That this spiritual influence is effective in proportion to the adaptation of the means by which it acts upon men’s minds. Nature. Providence. Chiefly the gospel.
II. That the Spirit of God may cease to influence men for good. This proved by facts. Saul (1 Samuel 28:15); Belshazzar (Daniel 5:0); Jews in time of Jeremiah (Jeremiah 15:1).
III. That the Spirit of God ceases to influence man for good because of man’s continued rebellion. “For that he also is flesh.” The word “flesh” is often used in Scripture to denote the sinfulness of man. This ceasing to strive may not be the result of a positive act of withdrawal of heavenly influences, so much as that of the law of nature which determines that the momentum of any moving body is diminished by constant resistance. In the moral universe, as well as in the physical, this law operates.
IV. That the benevolence of God is manifested in the manner in which spiritual influences are withdrawn from man. “Yet his days shall be an hundred and twenty years.”
1. The withdrawal never happens till after a long period of existence.
2. It never happens suddenly, but gradually.
3. It never happens without sufficient warning.—(Evan Lewis in Homilist.)
I. A wonderful fact implied. The Holy Spirit shines with man.
1. Remarkable Power. Man can refuse to obey the Creator.
2. Amazing divine condescension.
3. Astonishing human obduracy.
4. A merciful reason. Why not abandon man. Love of God.
5. The benevolent purpose. That man may forsake sin.
6. The mysterious method.
II. An alarming fact stated.
1. A calamity of awful magnitude.
2. Most melancholy.—(Homilist).
God may hold His peace at the lustful uncleanness of sinners for a long time, but He will finally speak with terror.
It is God’s word of threatening which is through revelation, which is declared by His preachers.
God’s Spirit strives for, with, and in men by the ministry for their salvation.
God may prohibit his Spirit any more to labour with rebellious souls.
1. Long manifested.
2. Fearfully abused.
3. Finally withdrawn.
4. Must end in salvation or ruin.
Genesis 6:4. Giants in natural might and power may be also giants in sin.
God’s earth is made the habitation of all impiety and wickedness by mighty sinners.
The greatest might of sinners is but earthly.
Giants in sin are most violent with God when He strives to save them.
Unholy alliances between the Church and the world bring forth these giants.
Sin taketh a mighty power to itself:—
It is but a contemptible name and power with God which the mightiest of sinners have.
The names of sinners are recorded in God’s word that they may be abhorred.
EXTENT OF MAN’S WICKEDNESS
Genesis 6:5. The extent of man’s wickedness is far greater than the generality of mankind have any conception of. Not merely words blameworthy, but also his heart. God looks chiefly at the heart. The heart of every man naturally wicked. In this verse God assigns His reason for destroying the whole world by a universal deluge.
I. The testimony of God respecting man. He speaks more immediately respecting the antediluvian world. In general, the wickedness of man was great in the earth. Every species of wickedness was committed in the most shameless manner. But more particularly, “the hearts” of men were evil; “the thoughts” of their hearts were evil; “the imaginations” of the thoughts were evil, and this too without exception, without mixture, without intermission; for every imagination was evil, and “only” evil, and that continually. What an awful statement. But how could this be ascertained? Only by God (Proverbs 16:2). This is His testimony, after a thorough inspection of every human being. The same must be spoken of man at this day. Proved by observation. What has been the state of your hearts? Pride, anger, impure thoughts have sprung up in them. If occasionally a transient thought of good has arisen how coldly has it been entertained, how feebly has it operated, how soon has it been lost. Compared with what the law requires, and what God and His Christ deserve at your hands, do we not fall short of our duty?
II. What effect it should produce upon you.
1. Humiliation. On review of our words and actions we have all reason to be ashamed. Who amongst us could bear to have all his thoughts disclosed? Yet God beholds all; and has a perfect recollection of all that has passed through our minds from infancy. We ought to be humble. Our religious thoughts, when compared with what they ought to have been in number and intensity, are no less a ground of humiliation than those which have sprung from a more impure source; since they prove how defective are our conceptions of God’s excellency, and how faint our sense of the Redeemer’s love.
2. Gratitude. God sent His Son that through Him all our iniquities might be forgiven. Is not gratitude due to Him in return?
3. Fear. Though your hearts are renewed by divine grace, it is only in part; you have still the flesh within you, as well as the spirit. I need not tell you what precautions people take, when they carry a light in the midst of combustibles, which, if ignited, will spread destruction all around. Know, that ye carry such combustibles about you, and you know not how soon you may come in contact with somewhat that may cause an explosion. David, “Be ye, then, not high-minded; but fear.”—(Simeon.)
God sees otherwise than man, such as are men of name here are men of shame with God.
Increase of sin after warning from God is full of provocation.
God’s eye beholds man’s inward as well as outward wickedness. None is hid.
God’s knowledge of man’s inward life:—
4. Cannot be averted.
5. Cannot be mistaken.
Genesis 6:6. God’s fury on account of man’s sin:—
1. Because man as a sinner does not embody the ideal of moral life which God originally intended to manifest in him.
2. Because man as a sinner does not accomplish the purpose for which he was created.
3. Because man as a sinner is continually debasing his faculties and powers.
4. Because man as a sinner is missing the sublime destiny intended for him.
Sin will always awaken fury within the hearts of men who are in moral sympathy with God.
The fact that the sinner is God’s workmanship will not exempt him from destruction.
God will not suffer the earth to give comfort to sinners.
Genesis 6:7. Bitter and utter destruction is determined upon an ungodly world.
The whole creation subject to vengeance for the sin of man.
God’s creating goodness is a deep aggravation of the sin of such as rise against Him.
Sin is a destructive influence:—
1. Destructive of human life.
2. Destructive of the life of the brute.
3. Destructive of the beauty of the earth.
4. Destructive of the immediate purposes of God.
LONELY MORAL GOODNESS
Genesis 6:8. We have just had pictured the sad condition of the primitive world; and now in beautiful but lonely contrast we are favoured with the mention of a man whose life was pure and Godly.
I. The Christian man is sometimes solitary in his companionships. It was so with Noah. Though the world was crowded with aged and renowned men, he was alone in it; there were none around whose characters would fit them to be his daily companions. He could not find companionship in the violent men of the age in which he lived. The star of his piety shed a solitary light in the great moral firmament of the times. There were no satellites to join him in his light-giving mission. The darkness was all around him. His was not fancied loneliness. At one time Elijah thought himself the only worshipper of the true God, he was ignorant of the thousands who had not bowed the knee unto Baal. God asserts the moral loneliness of Noah, and he could not be deceived in this matter. His eye would only too gladly have beheld another pure life amidst that mass of corruption. His loneliness was not the result of an exclusive spirit. He did not of set intention stand aloof from the social life of the world; he did not look down upon ordinary life with sublime contempt as a thing for men of lower spirit to engage in. He was not above the world. He was in the crowded world. He was lonely.
II. The Christian man is sometimes solitary in his character. The world was universally wicked. Noah was the only man who found grace in the eyes of the Lord. He was lonely in his moral goodness. He was animated by different motives, inspired by nobler ambitions, and engaged in grander pursuits than those by whom he was daily surrounded. He was calm and pure amidst the passion of the age. He was the real king of the age. His sceptre was his holy life. Heaven acknowledged him to be such. These royal spirits are generally lonely in this world. They will not be so in the next. There they will have congenial companionships. The sublime experiences of moral goodness must make a man more or less lonely in his inner life.
III. The Christian man is sometimes solitary in his work. Noah was lonely in his work. He had to build an ark. He was a lonely Christian. He was in the future to be a lonely hero. God gives to Christian men a work to perform, the doing of which may render them lonely, but loneliness is not always solitude, as God is always with the spirit of the lonely good. Sometimes a member of the family circle has a lonely task to accomplish in his home; the teacher in the class; and the minister in the sanctuary. Let us be brave in its execution.
The states and nature of gracious ones stand in opposition to the ungodly world.
It is the grace of God that makes good men what they are.
God’s gracious eye singles out souls, whom he delivereth from the world’s destruction.
Faith must be the finder of grace with God, and no work nor price of man.
MAIN HOMILETICS OF THE PARAGRAPH.—Genesis 6:9-1.6.13
NOAH, OR A GOOD MAN LIVING IN DEGENERATE TIMES
I. That good men living in degenerate times are not overlooked by God. The degenerate and wicked condition of primitive society was under the eye of God. He saw the moral apostacy of the age, that it was almost universal. Noah was the only glad exception. He was the only just and morally perfect man to be found. God did not overlook him in the multitude. God saw Noah and his efforts to be good. Good men are not lost in the mass to the eye of heaven. The surrounding darkness renders the solitary light the more apparent. So the prevalency of evil makes the purity of moral goodness more remarkable. The gardener may overlook the one gay flower in the midst of the weeds, and may pluck all up together; but not so with our heavenly husbandman, he infallibly separates the good from the bad, so that the former is never destroyed through the uprooting of the latter. A good man in the world is conspicuous to the vision of God. In the most wicked ages of the world’s history there has generally been one good man left as a representative of the church, and as a rebuke to the follies of the times, and he has generally been divinely shielded from the perils of his situation, and has been rewarded for his heroic testimony to the right. God remembers Lot in the wicked Sodom. A merciful providence is ever over the good.
II. That good men living in degenerate times are often characterized by signal piety. Noah was not merely a good man, just maintaining a reputation for external morality in these barbarous times, but he was a perfect man. The light of his piety was not dim, but bright and constant. It did not flicker before the rude winds of sin around it. The grace of God kept it bright and constant in its flame. This grace was sought by Noah. Without it he could not have retained his moral rectitude in such perilous circumstances. And if we search the annals of history we shall find that the darkest ages have been illumined by the lives of the brightest and best saints, as if the wickedness around them was a new stimulus to devotion, and also to a decided testimony for moral purity. How often has a noted place of business, where the worst characters have wrought their daily toil, been favoured with one lonely pattern of piety. Piety at such times is:—
(1.) A contrast.
(2.) A rebuke.
(3.) A testimony.
(4.) A duty.
III. That good men living in degenerate times are anxious that their family connections may be preserved from moral defilement. Noah begat a family in those degenerate times. The sons here mentioned were not the offspring of a mixed and wicked alliance. It is not unlikely that the purity of the domestic life of Noah may have been to a large extent his safeguard now. A pure home life is a refuge from the sin of the world at large. It is the tower into which a man may run and be safe. And thus by thoughtful and intelligent considerations, by devout prayer, and by parental solicitations, Noah would endeavour to shield his family from the dark sins of the age. This is a parental duty, but it is often utterly neglected, and not unfrequently frustrated by sorry indiscretions. The father who would keep a son from the world’s allurements to vice must be wise in his measures, and kind in the application of them. In this task coercion means failure.
IV. That good men living in degenerate times receive the communications of heaven in reference to the destiny of men. “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.” There are times when God has need to speak to men. By whom does He speak? Not by the great of the earth, not by the mighty; but by the morally pure. Only a pure heart can vocalise the messages of God to humanity. To such only will the commission be entrusted. God did not give the tidings of threatened destruction to the violent men, to the men of renown, but to Noah, who was just and perfect. To the good are entrusted the purposes of heaven in reference to the future of men. The servants of God know the things which must shortly come to pass.
1. This is a dignity. It is a great honour for any man to be selected as God’s spokesman to the race, especially was it so in the case of Noah. He was probably despised by men, but God made him the teacher of those who ridiculed him. A Divine honour was thus put upon him and upon his name and family for ever.
2. This is a discipline. Honour which comes from God is generally associated with discipline often painful and severe. The visions are generally followed by the thorn in the flesh. Man is in danger of pride, hence exaltation has to be blended with pain. Noah not only was singled out to communicate the message of God to men, but he also had to build an ark for his own safety during the threatened flood. The building of this ark would be a terrible discipline to him. Its successful accomplishment would make him a moral hero. He would have to endure the world’s scorn. He would be nearly alone in his task.
1. The good man is worth the mention and commendation of God.
2. That true piety can survive the darkest ages and live through the most arduous toils.
3. That good men know most of the mind of God in reference to the world’s future.
4. That good men will not be included in the destructions which overtake the wicked.
SUGGESTIVE COMMENTS ON THE VERSES
Genesis 6:9. The piety of Noah:—
1. It was characterized by justice.
2. It was characterized by moral perfection.
3. It was characterized by holy communion with God.
Grace will not suffer the church to cease, but continues its being in the accepted ones of God.
Grace makes a record of the state and propagation of the church for the use of future ages.
In one person or family the church may be visibly preserved, from whence it shall grow anew in after times.
Righteousness by faith must qualify the church of God, from the first to the last in the line of it.
Evangelical perfection turns hearts into the commandments of God, and is proper to the church.
In the worst of times true saints strive to be the most perfect toward God.
The Christian’s walk:—
1. Christ the rule of it.
2. Christ the company of it.
3. Christ the end of it.
Genesis 6:10. Fruitfulness in body is an effect of grace, to continue God’s church.
The holiest parent cannot bring forth a holy seed; that is born of grace.
Little and small may be the visible church; father, sons, and wives, but right.
Grace puts the last before the first, and the younger before the elder. Shem is before Japhet.
Genesis 6:11. Apostacy from God and pollution of worship, is the corruption of men.
Such corruption in God’s face is high provocation.
Violent injury to man generally accompanies apostacy from God.
Fulness of such iniquity makes the world ripe for judgment.
The earth is corrupt to-day:—
1. In its commerce.
2. In its pleasures.
3. In its literature.
4. In its ambitions.
Genesis 6:12. God must see and mark iniquity done before Him.
God layeth open all the corruption of men which He sees.
Man is a self-corrupter; he pollutes his own way.
The habitation of man is an aggravation of his sin:—
1. The earth is beautiful.
2. It is fruitful.
3. It is prophetic.
God’s look toward the world:—
5. The prelude of doom.
Man’s way on the earth:—
2. Contrary to God’s law.
3. Contrary to human enjoyment.
4. Characterized by impurity.
5. Attracts the wrath of God.
Genesis 6:13. God talks with good men.
God reveals His wrath before He executes it.
Thus was Noah put in possession of God’s thoughts about the scene around him. The effect of the word of God was to lay bare the roots of all that which man’s eye might rest upon with complacency and pride. The human heart might swell with pride, and the bosom heave with emotion, as the eye ran down along the brilliant ranks of men of art, men of skill, men of might, and men of renown. The sound of the harp and the organ might send a thrill through the whole soul, while, at the same time, the ground was cultivated, and man’s necessities were provided for in such a way as to contradict any thought in reference to approaching judgment. But, oh, these solemn words, “I will destroy.” What a heavy gloom they would necessarily cast over the glittering scene! Could not man’s genius invent some way of escape? Could not the “mighty man deliver himself by his much strength?” Alas! no: there was one way of escape, but it was revealed to faith, not to sight—not to reason—not to imagination [C.H.M.]
1. Richly deserved.
2. Awfully certain.
3. Penitently averted.
4. Generally neglected.
Genesis 6:14. Gopher wood.] Probably, “cypress” (Conant, Davies); “pitch-trees, resinous trees” (Gesenius); “a hard, strong tree, precise kind unknown” (Fürst).—
Genesis 6:18. Establish.] Or, “set up again,” “restore,” as in Amos 9:11; cf. 1 Peter 4:19.
MAIN HOMILETICS OF THE PARAGRAPH.—Genesis 6:14-1.6.22
THE DIVINELY-ACHIEVED SAFETY OF THE GOOD, AND ITS CONNECTION WITH THE LIFE-GIVING AGENCIES OF THE MATERIAL UNIVERSE
I. That God is never at a loss for a method whereby to achieve the safety of the Good. “Make thee an ark of Gopher wood,” Genesis 6:14.
1. We find that the good are often in eminent peril. This is a fact too obvious to be overlooked or mistaken. It is not in the economy of heaven that moral goodness should avert from men all the perils of daily life and human circumstances. Scripture biography is an exemplification of this truth, and the annals of civilized and Christian nations lend a similar testimony. Good men are often in danger through the persecutions of their ungodly enemies. Daniel. The three Hebrew children. Sometimes royal mandates have been issued for the arrest of the innocent and the pure. But moral goodness is brave in time of peril. It is protected in imminent suffering. While good men are in this world, peril is a condition of their life, as storm is a condition of maritime life on the great ocean.
2. We find that the good are often in peril through the prevalence of sin in the world around them. We do not read that Noah was subject to severe persecution, though it is not improbable that he was; but his danger more particularly arose from association with a degenerate community at the time of its threatened destruction. The ancient world was to be destroyed by a flood; and there was danger lest Noah and his family should participate in the destruction. It does sometimes occur in the economy of heaven that the good and evil are apparently punished together, the same wave lands both on eternal and unknown shores. But it is only in appearance, for though the same event happens to both, the moral character of each renders it different in significance and destiny. To the wicked it is a penalty of woe, which will be eternal; while to the good it is a momentary discipline of pain relieved by the grace of God, and which will soon break into the bright and unending joy of heaven. Both characters go into the chamber of peril at the same portal, but they are immediately accompanied by varied companions, and they awake and emerge to widely different experiences and destinies. And thus a wicked and degenerate people may place a good man in extreme circumstances of danger. They are attractive of the divine anger and judgment.
3. We find that when it is the purpose God to save the good from peril, He is never at a loss for means whereby to do so. He does not always allow the good man to be destroyed by the angry waters let loose upon a degenerate world. He will instruct him as to the best method of safety, yes, even to the building of an ark, in which he shall outride the deluge. And thus the elements which shall destroy the wicked, shall bear up his wondrous craft in unthreatened safety. Such are the mysterious purposes of God. He is never at a loss for means to achieve the welfare of His saints. He can accomplish it by a direct agency, as in the case of Daniel, when heaven stopped the mouth of the lion; as in the case of Jonah, when the great fish was made to preserve the prophet’s life; or He can teach men how to achieve their safety by their own natural and daily effort. It is generally the divine way to make men construct the ark of their own safety. Heaven will not save from peril an improvident or thoughtless man. He is not worth saving. Heaven saves men who help themselves. As a rule God saves men who are brave and industrious enough to build their own ark.
II. That in the working out of these methods for the safety of the good, the good are desired to render their most effective co-operation.—“And this is the fashion which thou shalt make it of,” Genesis 6:15. God arranges the plans for the safety of the good, and the Noah to be saved from the deluge has to work them out. God is the architect of the ark, and Noah is the builder. Heaven teaches men the method of their own safety. Noah was instructed audibly. Men are now instructed by spiritual influences, silent but distinct. God quietly places in the mind of the good man an idea of the way in which his deliverance must be wrought, and he has carefully to work it out into conduct. This idea becomes the inspiration of energetic toil. If men would be saved from the perils of life they must work out the Divine idea in reference to their safety, they must earnestly co-operate with the silent influences of the Holy Spirit, and with the outworkings of Divine Providence in daily life, and then they will attain the truest welfare and safety of which man is capable, a safety environed by the wisdom and power of God. This co-operation:—
1. It involves an utter self-abandonment to the Divine teaching. Noah was told to build an ark. This to him would seem a great folly. The suggestion would be somewhat repugnant to his reason. He would not be able to understand the command, nor indeed the great necessity for its execution. But he had faith in God, and this was the animating principle of his conduct. And those who wish to be safe amidst the future perils of being must go and do likewise. They must listen to the Divine teaching. They must believe God. They must rely upon His word without hesitation. They must give themselves up to the Divine inspiration. God inspires men to build an ark, as well as to write a book. It is in yielding to such an impulse, and in acting on such a principle, that the rude carpenter becomes a saintly hero, preserved of God from an otherwise universal danger.
2. It involves self-sacrifice. Men who are to be saved from the impending dangers of the world are not exempt from hardship. The ark is not built by some unknown hand, and gently floated on some favourable tide to the door of Noah’s house, so that he and his family have nothing to do but to take possession of it. He who would dwell in the ark during the storm must build it. This involves much anxiety. All other enterprise has to be suspended, this heaven-given task demands an undivided attention and energy. The cost of such a building would be immense. The undertaking would not be popular, and men would require high wages for their help. Hence we can imagine that it would necessitate great self-sacrifice on the part of Noah in order to its completion. But his salvation from the deluge was ample repayment for all his effort and self denial. So men who would be saved from the world’s impending doom must be willing to sacrifice their all for Christ, and when the waters rage, He will be their refuge.
3. It involves much ridicule. The man who builds an ark against the coming deluge will always be ridiculed by those who have no insight into the moral history of the future. Some men are too wicked, and others are too thoughtless to inquire into the significance of future events, they think only of the passion of the passing moment and not of the solemnities of the eternal ages. These will not understand the earnest labours of the good to avert impending dangers, and consequently will often regard them with contempt. Their ridicule will soon have to cease its mockery in the cry for help. Hence we see that the safety of the good in times of peril and retribution requires their own effort, in harmony with Divine plans, and that it shall be self-sacrificing and brave.
III. That in the working out of these methods for the safety of the good, the Divine Providence connects them with the temporal needs of the future. “And of every living thing of all flesh, two of every sort shalt thou bring into the ark, to keep them alive with thee; they shall be male and female.” (Genesis 6:19-1.6.22).
1. The perils which overtake the wicked are not yet intended to put an end to the existing order of the universe. The deluge which was predicted to come upon those ancient sinners, was not intended to terminate the affairs of the universe, to make an end of all its material splendour, or to permanently interrupt the usual course of things. The race was to be drowned. The brute world was to share in the ruin. But the earth itself was to survive the deluge. Hence it was necessary that provision should be made for its re-population, both with man and beast. And so it is now, the sinner is destroyed and sent to his own place, but the material world survives his fall. But this will not always be so, as one day the elements will melt with fervent heat, and will pass away as a shrivelled parchment.
2. Then the existing order of things after the flood must be restored by natural and ordinary methods. The old world empty is not to be re-furnished by miracle, or by the immediate voice of God, as in the first instance. It is to be replenished by the ordinary method of life, which is by generation. It is not the purpose of heaven to recover the devastation occasioned by sin by miraculous agency. Sin makes a havoc which takes long ages to repair. It will soon empty a large world. Piety makes the desolate world fruitful. The life-giving agencies of the future are given by God into the care of the good man, their continuance is connected with his safety, and they are to go forth from his refuge to replace the devastation occasioned by moral evil.
3. Thus we see that the safety of the good is inseparably joined and associated with the continuance and welfare of the universe at large. The good are not saved from the perils of the world for the mere preservation of their own lives, not for the mere purposes of religion, but for the preservation of the life-giving agencies of the world at large. A good man casts his mantle of protection over the commercial, social, and material interests of the universe. The lives of the good are linked by God to the continued welfare of humanity. LESSONS:
1. Let a remembrance of God’s care for the good inspire comfort within the hearts of those in perilous circumstances.
2. That good men should be thoughtful and devout in their co-operation with the Spirit and Providence of God.
3. That by such co-operation men enhance the temporal interests of the world.
THE ARK, A TYPE OF THE SCHEME OF HUMAN SALVATION
I. That like the Ark, the scheme of Human Salvation was wrought out after a Divinely-given plan and method. “And God said unto Noah, make thee an ark of gopher wood; rooms shalt thou make in the ark, and shalt pitch it within and without with pitch. And this is the fashion which thou shalt make it of.” (Genesis 6:13-1.6.15.)
1. Like the Ark, the scheme of Salvation was not conceived by any human mind. It was utterly impossible that any human being in the ancient world could have conceived the idea of building an ark for the purpose of outriding the angry waters of the deluge. It could not have originated in the mind of Noah, as he would not have anticipated the impending doom but for the Divine announcement. And as for the men of the times, they were totally ignorant of, and were equally unconcerned about, the threats and purposes of heaven. But even when the world became conscious of its imperilled future, it would be thoroughly unable to devise any method of safety. It would be altogether impotent in the sad emergency. And in this respect, the ancient world is but a type of what would be the woful condition of fallen and sinful humanity, but for the aid of heaven. Man knows that he is a sinner, by the revelation of God. He has broken the original law of his being. He has lost his primitive innocence. And, through the operation of many causes, he has become altogether degenerate. His mental life is impure. His social relationships are unhallowed. He is the creature of violent passion. How then can he conceive any method of salvation from the judgment to which his wickedness has rendered him liable? Probably he has no disposition to contemplate the future of his being. And if he has, and is anxious to know how its penalty may be averted, of himself he will be unable to answer his anxieties. He does not know the relation in which he stands to God. He is ignorant of the complete meaning of sin. He possesses none of the factors necessary to determine the probable issues of the present condition of things, and has not sufficient insight into the purposes of God, or energy, to plan a method of safety from a peril so astounding. Sin destroys the true energies of the mind. In the secular sphere of life, man is capable of sublime invention; he can solve the most difficult problems, and conquer the most dire emergencies. His genius in this respect is at the basis of the civilization of nations. Its discoveries are of vast worth to humanity. They are rich in mental energy. They embody patient labour. They are helpful in commerce. They increase our comfort. They enhance our national prowess. They are the pride of our philosophy and learning. They augment our national fame. And in view of these things we cannot but applaud the inventive genius of man. But when we enter the moral sphere of life, when we leave man as a genius and a scholar, and approach him as a sinner, we find him utterly destitute of any idea as to what will constitute his future safety from the wrath of God. He who can make a steam-engine cannot make an ark; he who can paint a picture to be the admiration of the ages, cannot outline the method of his own salvation in the coming danger. Yes! man is better able to solve the problems, and to ascertain the relations of the material universe than of the moral. He knows more about the fires of earth, and how to escape their injury, than how to avert the lightnings of God’s wrath. He has greater facilities for comprehending and taming the destructive forces around him than he has for those above him. He has a wider knowledge of their relations. He can make a nearer approach to their secrets. He has previous calculations and experiments to aid his inquiries. He has instruments with which to perform his operations. Whereas in reference to the retributive agencies of the future, man, without a Divine revelation, knows not their relation to himself, he cannot penetrate their mystery, he is unable to ascertain their destiny; he is alone in the investigation of them, no previous thinkers can yield him aid; he has no method whereby to calculate their result, and certainly cannot avert their terrible consequence. Man cannot grapple with the awful problem of his sin, and its bearing on the future penalties. It is a certain fact, that man apart from God, however gifted, cannot originate the idea of an ark, or of any method of salvation from the consequences of his guilt. Here he is in an eternal perplexity. How pitiful his condition. For, as Noah and his family would have inevitably perished in the deluge had not God told them how to accomplish their safety, so, had not heaven given to men a scheme of salvation, they must have endured the consequences of their degeneracy.
2. Like the Ark, the scheme of Salvation was originated by God, and was the outworking of a Divine plan. The idea of building an ark was implanted in the mind of Noah by God. And the manner in which it was to be wrought out was communicated to him in varied and complete detail. Thus Noah did not build the ark after his own imagination, nor according to the dictate of his own reason, but from a pattern showed him by Jehovah. And so with the scheme of human salvation. As we have seen, man had no idea as to how to avert the calamity consequent upon his sin. But God, by His written word, announced the advent of Jesus Christ as the world’s Saviour. Thus came to man the first merciful idea of salvation from the retribution of moral evil. Nor was the sending of Jesus Christ into the world to save sinners the outcome of a mere idea in the Divine mind, but of a well-defined plan. And we can trace this plan all through the ages; first in dim outline, and then in sublime completion. The promise merges into prophecy, the prophecy into history; and the seed of the woman is seen in the incarnate Christ. Thus the scheme of salvation was not an accidental thought in the mind of Jehovah. It was a pre-conceived plan. Hence it was in beautiful harmony with all the works of God. The material universe was in idea before it was spoken into permanent form; the sun, moon and stars were arranged in thought before they were sent on their light-giving mission. Throughout the world we have evidence of plan. There is nothing accidental in it. There is nothing random in it. Not one single flower is out of place, even though it bloom upon a desert. And so in the scheme of salvation, there is evidence of design throughout. The priest at the sacrificial altar, and every incident in the life of Christ, was pre-arranged. This plan is the outcome of a Divine intelligence. It displayed a heavenly wisdom. It conveys unfailing comfort to the human soul. It makes men feel that their salvation was intentional, and enables them to place reliance on all its detail.
II. Like the ark, the scheme of human salvation was antecedently very unlikely and improbable for the purpose. If Noah, or any other individual in the ancient world had been informed that it was the purpose of God to save them from the deluge, they would not have imagined that he would have employed such a method. They would not have conceived that he would have saved them in such a manner. They might have thought that He would conceal them in some happy nook where the fury of the angry billows should not reach; or that He would convey them to some distant spot hitherto unknown, where they might dwell in safety till the storm was spent. Such would probably have been the imaginings of the human mind. But as for constructing a rude ark in which to reside during the storm, such an idea would have been the last to have gained their consent. And so, in reference to the scheme of human salvation, it is almost the last that man would have anticipated. That God should send forth His own son into the world, to be incarnate, to die, and to rise again, for the sins of man, was antecedently the most unlikely method of securing our safety that could have been selected. So weak is the human mind to conceive the purposes of God.
1. Some of the ancient world would no doubt say that the ark was wanting in artistic beauty; and have not men said the same in reference to the scheme of human salvation? Look at the ark finished as it stands up yonder the pride and astonishment of Noah, its proportions unequal, its dimensions extravagant, and its materials altogether void of beauty as of polish. It was the building of a rude workman. And as such, it would invite the scorn and ridicule of the people of the age. And men have denounced the scheme of salvation as utterly destitute of moral loveliness. They point to its varied parts, the sacrifices of the ancient times, the bitter sufferings, and painful death of Christ, and ask if such can be accepted as a plan of beauty. But such men are mistaken in their ideas of beauty, as were the people of Noah’s day. The beauty of the ark was not in its timbers, but in its merciful design. And so the moral loveliness of the scheme of man’s salvation, was not so much in the historic circumstances by which it was accompanied, as in the holy and divine purpose contemplated therein. In the death of a supposed impostor, there was humanly speaking nothing to be desired, there was to the human eye no pencilling of light and glory, but in the pardon it secures, in the moral purity it renders possible, and in the heaven it provides, there is a wealth of beauty beyond compare. Thus like the ark, the cross was unsightly to the outward eye, while to the inner vision of the believing soul it was bright with immortal glories. Only the few are true judges of the morally beautiful. There is no beauty equal to the rose of Sharon. There is none that has been more despised.
2. Some of the ancient world would no doubt say that the Ark would be unable to accomplish its purpose; and have not men said the same in reference to the scheme of human Salvation? Many people who came to view the Ark, would predict its utter failure in the time of severe trial, which would be occasioned by the angry deluge. They would say that such a huge mass of timber would not float upon the sweeping waters; that Noah would not be able to control its movements, or direct its course; in short that it would soon expose the pious man to the flood he hoped to escape. But they were false and ignorant prophets, who knew not that the secret of the Lord was with them that fear him. Men have uttered the same prediction in reference to the scheme of human salvation. They have said that it would not answer its contemplated purpose. They have found fault with it as a moral structure. They say that it has not sufficient regard for all the exigencies of the case, and that when the times of retribution come it will be a wreck. This is the prediction of infidelity. It is uttered without sufficient warrant. It is destined to disappointment. No storm can reach the soul that has taken refuge in Christ. He is competent to carry it to the eternal haven of peace. He has shielded thousands from the retributions of Divine anger.
3. Some of the ancient world would no doubt come to criticise the ark; and have not men done the same in reference to the scheme of human salvation? This is implied in what we have already stated; the artist would criticise its beauty; the mechanic of the day would inspect its structure and material; the scientists of the age would regard it in relation to the elements; and the philosopher would view it as the outcome of frenzy. And no doubt each would view it from his own peculiar standpoint; and many would imagine that they could have built a better thing themselves if there were any need for it. And is not all this typical of the amount and kind of criticism which has attacked the scheme of human salvation? The man of intellectual predilictions has criticised and even written books in reference to it. He cannot understand it, and is it any wonder? Could any person understand the ark of Noah without going inside it? Nor can men, however philosophical they may be, comprehend the scheme of man’s salvation unless they have practical and personal experience of it. This is the only remedy for a hostile criticism of the cross. Noah did not criticise the ark; he was saved by it. Men of emotional and fearful natures have approached the scheme of salvation, and anxiously inquired as to its worth. They are timid. They fear it will fail them in the hour of trial. And many imagine that they can save themselves from the impending doom without it. They are mistaken. Many never criticise the ark. They are thoughtless. They neglect it altogether. A sceptical and merely critical spirit is the worst which a man can bring to the sacred inspection of the scheme of salvation.
III. That as the ark had a window, so the scheme of human salvation is illumined by the light of God. The ark was not in total darkness, but was illumined by a window, the plan of which was Divinely given. The light thus brought into the ark would be very necessary to industry, comfort, and life. Otherwise all within would have been in much the same sad condition as the multitudes without. In fact it would have been no refuge to Noah and his family.
1. The scheme of human salvation is illumined by the Holy Spirit. As the rays of the natural light streamed in through the window of the ark, and discovered all its compartments to Noah: so the light of the Divine Spirit of God shines into the wondrous scheme of man’s redemption. This light discloses the meaning of salvation, the great and universal need of it, and also the awful retribution which it averts. Thus men can only see all the inner departments of the great scheme of salvation when they walk in the light of the Holy Spirit of God. Then they see its construction, they perceive its intention, and can admire the great wisdom displayed in its every department. The folly of man is that he tries to see the scheme of salvation by the aid of a light which he himself possesses. He seeks not the light from on high. What would have been the folly and danger of Noah had he rejected the light of heaven, and substituted a tinder and flint of his own for it? He would not have seen the ark to perfection, he would not have been acquainted with it, in fact half his time he would have been in darkness. Yet this is the course men are constantly pursuing in reference to the scheme of human salvation. They use their own feeble lights in the investigation of it, in preference to the eternal light of God, and is it any wonder that they get imperfect conceptions of it? If a man would see God’s truth, he must use the light which comes in at the God-given window. That light is the purest and the best. The light of mere intellect is feeble compared with it. Thus by walking in the light of God shall we see in the scheme of salvation its moral beauty, its fitness for the end contemplated, and its exhibition of the manifold wisdom of heaven.
2. This illumination of the scheme of salvation is the abiding comfort and joy of man. There are and ever will be mysteries in the scheme of human salvation which no created intelligence will be able to fathom, or comprehend. There were compartments in the ark where the light was almost darkness, and where the eye of man would be almost useless. But into these there is little need that Noah should go. All the broad places of the ark are well lighted. So the plan of redemption is illumined by the Holy Spirit in all its departments where human intelligence is required to toil. All is revealed that it is necessary for man, to know. And this is the comfort of the human heart. It is the joy of the human soul. We ought indeed to be grateful that the great centre truth of doctrine is thus so well illumined by the good Spirit of God.
IV. That as the ark had a door, so into the scheme of human salvation there is but one method of entrance.
1. That like the ark the scheme of salvation has an entrance. The ark was not built without a door, if it had been it would have been useless, Noah could not have entered. Neither was the scheme of salvation completed by Jesus Christ and then left without the possibility of human entrance. This would have been a mockery of human hope. Christ is the way to eternal safety.
2. That like the ark, the scheme of salvation has but one entrance. There was only one door in the ark, and that was at the side. Noah was commanded to make it. And so in reference to the scheme of human salvation, there is but one mode of entrance, and that is by Jesus Christ, and no man can come unto the Father but by Him. And this one way is sufficient to admit all comers. None have to wait for admission because the door is crowded, and will not admit the multitudes who are anxious to get in. If the door is solitary, it is wide, and easily accessible. Men may attempt to make new doors into the ark of salvation, but they cannot. They can only enter by the appointed one. There is no other name given under heaven whereby we can be saved, but the name of Jesus.
V. That like the ark, the scheme of human salvation is efficient to the accomplishment of the designed purpose. The ark was efficient to the salvation of Noah and his family from the terrible deluge; and so the scheme of salvation wrought out by Jesus Christ is, and will be, efficient to the redemption of men from the guilt and retribution of sin into the eternal joy of heaven. And as Noah was landed almost upon a new world, so the redeemed sinner shall enter upon the possession of the sinless world, not made desolate by a flood, but enriched with all the fulness and glory of God.
VI. That like the ark, the scheme of human salvation is neglected by the vast multitude. The myriads of the old world perished in the angry deluge; the exploit and glory of the age, all perished in this watery grave. Only Noah and his family were saved. The men of the age were without excuse in their destruction. They had been warned of the penalty of their sin. The facts of the case were made known to them by Noah. They paid him no heed. And so it is to-day. The sins of men are waiting the retributions of God. The judgment is in the future. The ministers of Christ proclaim it near. The world apparently believes them not, but continues in its degenerate course of life. Its passion will only be subdued by the woe of the actual calamity. Then it will see its folly, when too late! LESSONS:—
1. That a Divine method of salvation is provided for the human race from the future retributions of the universe.
2. That this salvation is equal to all the need of the case.
3. That men who neglect or despise it are sure to perish.
4. The holy wisdom of entering the ark at once.
SUGGESTIVE COMMENTS ON THE VERSES
THE PREACHING OF THE ARK
Genesis 6:14. The ark stands out in the dim scene of the remote past, an object of the deepest interest. As we gaze on its huge bulk, now floating on the dark waters, then resting in majestic repose on the heights of Ararat in the sunshine of the renovated world, it seems to us to be replete with instruction. It is at once a memorial of Divine goodness and a testimony to the strength of human faith. It appears both as a symbol of Divine mercy, and as a beacon of Divine wrath. Let us review it in these various phases.
I. A memorial of Divine goodness.
1. It reminds us of His saints. Amongst the thousands of the world, Noah stood alone, firm in faith, dauntless in courage; God does not forget him; the innocent shall not suffer with the guilty. “God waited … while the ark was a preparing.” 1 Peter 3:20. It reminds us of His regard for the families of His saints. It may be some of the members of Noah’s family did not participate in their father’s faith, yet all were saved. It is a universal fact that God specially blesses the children of His servants. They may not be among the saved at last, but they have enjoyed more privileges, heard more warnings, received more entreaties than others.
3. It reminds us of God’s goodness to the world.
All are invited to enter the ark. None who sought admission would be refused.
II. A testimony to Noah’s faith. Hebrews 11:7.
1. It was on account of Noah’s faith the ark was devised.
2. Faith built and furnished it.
3. By faith Noah entered.
4. Faith sustained him there.
III. A symbol of the Saviour.
1. The ark was a refuge. “Thou art my hiding place.” Psalms 27:7.
2. The ark was a home. “Lord, thou hast been our home in all generations.” Psalms 90:1.
3. The ark was a temple. There Noah and his family worshipped. We must be in Christ if we would be acceptable worshippers. John, the divine, speaks of the Lord after this fashion, “The Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple of it.” Revelation 21:22.
4. The ark was a conveyance. So to speak, it bore Noah from the old to the new world; from the valley of his labours and sorrows to the mountain of rest and plenty. “I am the way,” said Jesus.
IV. A beacon for the sinner. The ark warns sinners of their danger. It points out the awful nature of unbelief, of voluptuousness, of pride. It warns us that, though hand join in hand, the wicked shall not be unpunished.” That numbers cannot shield us from divine wrath. The crime of the antediluvians was none the less terrible, because universally fashionable!
1. The ark proclaims the wilfulness of sinners. Who built it? Were not many of its builders destroyed? We may be the means of insuring safety for others, and be ourselves lost. 1 Corinthians 9:27.
1. The ark warns us of the power of sin. How long was it building? Month after month it was surveyed by hundreds, still they continued in sin. Beware of the deceitfulness of sin. Appl. Listen to the strange and varied story this silent ark so eloquently tells. Hear its attestation of the goodness and faithfulness of God; hear, too, its awful revelation of His power to punish and destroy.—[Stems and Twigs.]
In pouring out indignation on the wicked world, God provideth for his saints.
God alone knoweth how to deliver the just from destruction to come.
However, God alone saveth, yet it is by means.
Men must use God’s means in order to salvation according to his prescript.
In God’s command of using means, there is implied a promise. As to make the ark.
Means of salvation to sight, are but mean and despicable, a little timber and pitch.
Genesis 6:15-1.6.16. All church-work for salvation must have its line and measure from God.
Sufficient dimensions doth God give to the means of salvation for his people.
Light must be in the means or instrument of man’s salvation.
A due proportion of place is designed by God for all creatures admitted into the church ark for salvation.
Genesis 6:17. It was an appalling announcement; how solemn and how stern; “I, even I,”—the repetition has in it an awful emphasis and force—“I, even I.” It is the Lord who speaks, the Creator, the Preserver, now coming forth in wrath as the Destroyer.—(Dr. Candlish).
It is an assurance that He will execute His decree, not merely on account of what He has said to His creatures, but also on account of what He is in Himself—that His very nature requires the thing to be done.—(Dr. Candlish).
God, even God himself, will testify against the unbelief of the wicked, and will encourage faith in His own.
God not only threatens, but executes vengeance on the wicked.
Rare and unheard of judgments hath God in store for unbelievers.
All creatures are at God’s commands to work His vengeance.
Vengeance spreads in the earth, as far as wickedness.
Corruption of sin in man brings destruction upon the life of all flesh that serves him.
God has His time to rid sinners from under heaven.
Universal sin brings universal death.
Abused mercy turns into fury [Trapp].
A dismal doom: and God is now absolute in His threatening, because He will be resolute in His execution [Trapp].
Genesis 6:18. Special grace exempts from general desolation.
God’s covenant only conveys His grace for salvation.
God makes His covenant to special persons.
God makes His covenant of grace stable to His covenanted ones.
The covenant of grace carries a common salvation in it.
The whole family sometimes fares the better for a gracious saint.
Wicked men may have the mercies of God’s covenant, and never yet be in it.
1. Given to man.
2. Extended to brutes.
3. Not by chance.
The covenant with Noah. Here is the first appearance of a covenant between God and man on the face of Scripture. A covenant is a solemn compact, tacit or express, between two parties, in which each is bound to perform his part. Hence a covenant implies the moral faculty; and whereever the moral faculty exists, there must needs be a covenant. Consequently, between God and man there was of necessity a covenant from the very beginning, though the name do not appear. At first it was a covenant of works, in regard to man; but now that works have failed, it can only be a covenant of grace to the penitent sinner. My covenant. The word my points to its original establishment with. Adam. My primeval covenant, which I am resolved not to abandon. Will I establish. Though Adam has failed, yet will I find means of maintaining my covenant of life with the seed of the woman. With thee. Though all flesh be to perish through breach of my covenant, yet will I uphold it with thee. [Dr. Murphy.]
Thou and thy sons. Yet Ham soon after degenerated: for the present he concealed his wickedness from men; from God he could not. He bears with hypocrites in his visible church for a season, till the time of separation. [Trapp.]
Genesis 6:19-1.6.20. Providence determineth to continue the world by propagation with male and female.
The highest providence useth man’s care in saving creatures.
An instinct doth God give to creatures whom He will save, to come to the means of their salvation.
Life of all kinds in heaven and earth is the work of God and issue of his counsels.
If more questions be asked as to how untamed and savage animals could be got to live harmoniously and quietly together, let one consideration be remembered. The same Lord who will hereafter make the wolf dwell with the lamb and the leopard lie down with the kid, when the earth shall be as full of the knowledge of the Lord, as it then was full of the waters covering the sea—that same Lord who designed the ark floating on the flood to be the very type and emblem of that holy mountain of his, in all which they shall not hurt nor destroy—He could with equal ease both move the creatures to enter in at Noah’s command, and constrain them for a brief season to resume the peaceful nature which they had in Paradise, before this creation began to groan for the sin of man—the nature which—are they not to have again when creation is delivered and Paradise restored. (Isaiah 11:6-23.11.9; Romans 8:19-45.8.22. [Dr. Candlish.]
Genesis 6:21-1.6.22. Life God maintains by food convenient, and therefore commands providence to men to get meat for themselves and beasts.
True faith in God giveth obedience to him.
God’s command alone is the rule of faith’s obedience.
Faith giveth full and thorough returns to all that God enjoineth.
God could have kept them alive without either food or ark. But He will have us serve His providence, in use of lawful means; and so to trust Him, as that we do not tempt Him. [Trapp.]
The deluge the greatest demonstration of God’s hatred of sin, with the exception of the Cross. One favoured servant was exempted from the retribution—Noah.
I. The obedience rendered by Him. It is not easy to form a just estimate of this. The circumstances in which he was placed. He was appointed a preacher of righteousness, and had to predict the deluge. Thus for 120 years; without sign of its approach. The delay would be almost fatal to the message. The means he was directed to use for the preservation of God’s chosen remnant. The ark. Expense and labour of it. Ridicule; almost beyond endurance. His perseverance in the use of these means till he had completed the work assigned him. Nothing could induce him to desist from his work till it was perfected in every part. This obedience was of the most exalted character. It shows how firmly he believed the Divine testimony, how he stood in awe of God, and how determined he was to avail himself of the means of safety offered. In accordance with this is
II. The obedience required of us.
1. The danger to which we are exposed it similar. God has declared that He will call the world to judgment. We see no preparation for it. Multitudes laugh at it. The wrath of God will fall on them.
2. The means provided for our escape are similar. God has provided an ark for us—His own Son—into which all who believe shall enter; but which will be closed against an unbelieving world. Many think this absurd. They prefer the ark of their own good works.
3. The distinction that will be made between the believing and unbelieving world will be similar. Learn from the whole:—
1. The office of faith. Not to argue, but to believe God. We are not to ask how we can be punished in hell, or how faith in Christ can save us. We are to credit the Divine testimony.
2. The necessity of fear. If we believe God’s threats against sinners, how can we but fear?
3. The benefit of obedience. Noah above the waves in perfect safety [Simeon’s Appendix].
The ark a type of the church:—
1. As Noah built the ark, so Christ, by prophets, apostles, etc., built the church.
2. As the ark is made of the most durable wood, so the church endureth constantly against all adversaries.
3. As pitch was used about the ark to join the parts together, so by ardent love the members of the church are united.
4. As the ark was pitched inside and out, so the faithful have not only good works externally, but holiness within.
5. As the ark was more long than broad, and more broad than high, so the church is of greater extent in its faith, which is longitude, than in its charity, which is latitude, and yet in its love of greater extent than in its heavenly contemplation, which is altitude.
6. As the ark was distinguished by rooms and stories, some higher and some less, so in the church there is great diversity of members, attainments, and social standing.
7. Like the ark, there is but one door into the church; and truth is the only light of the church.
8. All sorts of creatures came into the ark, both clean and unclean, so all sorts, both good and bad, are in the church.
9. As the clean creatures came in by sevens, so the godly in the church are united together in greater Numbers
10. As in the ark there was food for all kinds of creatures, so in the church there is a variety of food for the soul.
REV. WM. ADAMSON
Moral Declension! Genesis 6:1. As there is a law of continuity, whereby in ascending we can only mount step by step; so they who descend must sink with an ever-increasing velocity. No propagation is more rapid than that of evil; no growth more certain. He who is in for a penny, if he does not resolutely fly, will find that he is in for a pound. The longer the avalanche rolls down the glacier slopes, the swifter becomes its speed. A little group of Alpine travellers saw a flower blooming on the slope of the cliff on which they stood surveying the prospect below. Each started to secure the prize; but as they hastened down, the force of their momentum increased with each step of the descent—they were borne on the smooth icy surface swiftly past the object of pursuit—and were precipitated into a yawning crevasse. Such is the declension of the soul, until it passes
“Down into the eternal dark;
Yet not for rest, nor sleep.”—Bonar.
Sin-Proneness! Genesis 6:1. The most lovely infant that is ushered into being has within it by nature the germs of those elements which feed the flames of hell, and leaven its forlorn inmates with their direst misery. It has in its own heart—to borrow the language of Canning—the embryo of that Upas-tree, which distils upon humanity on earth and on humanity in hell its death-drops; and so living are the seeds—so congenial is the soil that, unless overborne by the grace of the Holy Spirit and the appliances of the Gospel, they will inevitably spring up and flourish
“Till the whole soul it comprehends,
And all its powers overclouds
With condemnation’s thunder-shrouds.”—Oriental.
Evil Association! Genesis 6:2. The sons of God could not associate with the godless world without suffering morally. Sophronius, a wise teacher, would not suffer even his grown up sons and daughters to associate with those whose conduct was not pure and upright. His daughter remarked that he must think them very childish to imagine that they would yield to evil when with such companions. The wise parent took a dead coal from the hearth, and placed it in his daughter’s hand, saying: “Do not fear, it will not burn you.” Yet, though it did not scorch, it smirched—not only hands, but dress. When Eulalia vexatiously expressed her objection to such close contact with coal, her father quietly remarked that evil company was like coal; it might not burn, but it would blacken. The company of the vicious daughters of the ungodly soils the purity of the “children of God”:—
“A thousand evil thoughts intrude
Tumultuous in the breast.”—Newton.
Conviction! Genesis 6:3. In times, says Arnot, when vile men held the high places of the land, a roll of drums was employed to drown the martyr’s voice, lest the testimony of truth from the scaffold should reach the ears of the people. So do men deal with their own consciences and seek to put to silence the truth-telling voice of the Holy Spirit. But My Spirit shall not always strive with man. Thus obstinately resisted, He will withdraw, for
“Though the Holy Spirit deigns to dwell
In earthly domes, ’tis not those defiled
With pride—with fraud—with rapine, or with lust.”—Jenner.
Omniscience! Genesis 6:5. The thoughts that issue from the home of the human heart—bold like robbers in the dark—overleap the fences of holiness, suck at will every flower they reckon sweet, and return to deposit their gatherings in the owner’s cup. But as a spectator watches the movements of a hive of bees, so the eye of the Lord sees ALL. Thought chases thought with lightning rapidity; still His eye sees ALL—sees that each is only evil without mitigation—that every germ of idea, every incipient embryo of conception, every inclination is only evil.
“Almighty God! Thy piercing eye
Strikes through the shades of night;
And our most secret actions lie
All open to Thy sight.”—Watts.
Sons of God! Genesis 6:2. Some were born again—and thus a new creation made them sons of God. The Holy Spirit—descending on the wings of love, and moving in the almightiness of His strength—implanted new being in the heirs of life. Death can never generate life—skeletons cannot arise—dry leaves cannot bloom—extinct ashes cannot brighten into flame; only Omnipotence can turn the serfs of sin into the sons of God.
“Spirit of purity and grace,
Our weakness see;
O make our hearts Thy dwelling-place,
And worthier Thee.”—Auber.
Holy Spirit! Genesis 6:3. We sometimes see in ancient mansions that portion once devoted to divine service laid in ruins, while that which was designed for the good cheer of men is whole and in complete repair. The soul is in a state of miserable decay and dilapidation, but the hall of entertainment—i.e., the body—is sound and furnished well. The principles and affections that belong to the lowest range and sphere of our being remain; but the spirit which alone can consecrate and sanctify them is gone. Here it is that the Spirit of God steps in to strive with man—to awaken him to a sense of self-ruin—to arouse in him the desire for self-restoration—and to accomplish that miraculous restitution of all good things in the moral ruin of the sanctuary of the human soul.
“The Spirit of God
From heaven descending, dwells in domes of clay;
In mode far passing human thought, He guides,
Obduracy! Genesis 6:3. Had the antediluvians no outward warning? They had Noah, the preacher of righteousness. Had they no inward check?. They had the Holy Spirit. Scripture is not silent, though the mystery is deep. The Spirit strove for a while, and ceased. He approached, and then withdrew. He came again; but admission was denied Him. His visits became more rare, and then they discontinued altogether. The knocks remained without answer, and ultimately died away. The inward stillness was no more disturbed. The souls slept on, and dreamed into perdition. Each morning in winter, the man breaks the ice forming on the lake, and though repeated frosts follow, the lake is not frozen over. But suffer the ice to form day by day, and little by little, the thickness increases, until thousands may stand with hammers, and strike in vain. These souls had drifted into frozen realms, where no gospel ray shone to thaw the ice upon them.
A blotting night of horror deep,
“That knows no dawn, and knows no sleep.”—Alger.
Sin-Issue! Genesis 6:5. A mountain stream—whose pure and salubrious waters are continually polluted by the daily washing and cleansing of poisonous minerals—is a just emblem of the flesh. Its desires, imaginations, and affections—once pure and holy—are now like a corrupt and troubled spring, which is always emitting impure water. Salter says that the evil nature of fallen creatures is ever bursting out into bad and pernicious motions and lusts.
“Till custom takes away the judging sense,
That to offend, we think it no offence.”—Smith.
Sin! Genesis 6:6. Man is prone to sin. He is like an idle swimmer, that goes carelessly floating down the stream rather than exert himself to swim against the current, and gain the bank. He must reach the sea at last; and when he hears the breakers, and sees the foaming crests of the waves, he becomes alarmed. But it is TOO LATE. The stream is now too strong for him—his limbs are benumbed and enervated from want of exertion, and, unfitted and unprepared, he is hurled into the ocean of eternity.
“Delay not! Delay not! the Spirit of grace,
Long-grieved and resisted, may take His sad flight;
And leave thee in darkness to finish thy race,
And sink in the vale of eternity’s night.”—Hastings.
Sin Growth! Genesis 6:8. Dr. Boyd says: “I do not know why it is that—by the constitution of the universe evil has so much more power than good to produce its effect, and to propagate its nature. One drop of foul will pollute a whole cup of fair water; but one drop of pure water has no power to appreciably improve a cup of impure water. The sons of men were more numerous than the sons of God, and very soon corrupted them; and Noah, who stood alone was unable to any appreciable degree to influence for good the abounding evil men:—
“Men with men wrought wickedness—till crime and craft
Became to them what virtue once had been,
Their joy, their nature—their essential life.”
REV. WM. ADAMSON
Divine Grace! Genesis 6:9. The light of Noah’s piety was not dim, because the Holy Spirit influenced him. What difference can be detected between two needles, one of which has received an electric shock, whilst the other has not? None until the occasion arises! and yet the one has hidden virtues, of which the other has none. The electric shock has rendered the one needle a magnet, which, duly balanced, will enable man to find his way across the trackless ocean. Noah had received the Holy Spirit, and his pious example—like the needle—pointed the wanderers in sin to God’s mercy. But they shut their eyes to the pattern:—
“Which shone, a star amid the storm,
The harbinger of REST.”—Latrobe.
Preaching! Genesis 6:11. Like Enoch, Elijah and John the Baptist, Noah urged his neighbours to flee from the coming wrath. But they would not hear. If aroused for a moment from the sleep of sinful self-sufficiency, they soon slumbered. “Fire! Fire!” Such was the cry in the middle of the night, which echoed through the quiet streets. A ladder was placed against the wall—up its rungs sprang a brave young man to arouse a friend sleeping in that upper room, where he lay in a drunken sleep. To shake him roughly was the work of an instant. The sleeping man stirred—opened his eyes for a moment—turned on his side and closed his eyes in stupid insensibility, murmuring, “I do not believe it.” His would-be deliverer had but just time to drop into the fire-escape to save his own life. Noah preached, but men would not believe that danger and death were near!
“O hasten mercy to implore,
And stay not for the morrow’s sun;
For fear thy season should be o’er
Before this evening’s stage be run.”
Piety! Genesis 6:9. Standing on the sea-shore on a calm summer morning or evening, the vessels in the far distance appear to be sailing in the sky and not on the sea. So doubtless did Noah appear to these worldling spectators of his age, to be walking in the sky, and not on the earth. He was a marked man, secretly to be admired, but openly to be avoided. They took notice of him that he was unlike themselves, living a life of faith, traversing his spiritual way to the glory of God.
“Saints are indeed our pillar-fires,
Seen as we go;
They are that City’s shining spires,
We travel to.”—Vaughan.
Holy Life! Genesis 6:9. On one occasion a man made an effort in argument with a friend to disprove the existence of anything like “motion,” whereupon his friend sprang up, and paced the ground before him. And not more completely was his sophistry confuted who attempted to disprove the doctrine of motion, by his opponent immediately rising and walking, than Noah put to silence the folly and ignorance of the Antediluvians. By a walk holy and close with God he demonstrated to the unbelieving universe of his day that Jehovah’s word is true. In some cases, perhaps, evil was checked, but not subdued—enmity was shackled, but not removed—conscience was roused, but not enlightened—convictions were produced, but no conversions followed. Yet who shall say that Noah met not in Paradise some whose hearts were changed ere yet the waters reached the mountain tops?
“O friend! O brother! not in vain
Thy life so pure and true,
The silver dropping of the rain,
The fall of summer dew.”—Whittier.
The Divine Eye! Genesis 6:12. Secher tells how Plato has a reference to the fact of the King of Lydia being in possession of a ring with which—when he turned the head to the palm of his hand—he could see every person, and yet he himself remain invisible. Though we cannot see God while we live, yet He can see how we live; for His eyes are upon the ways of man, and He seeth all his goings—both outward and inward:—
“Under the surface, life in death.
Slimy tangle and oozy moans,
Creeping things with watery breath,
Blackening roots and whitening bones.”—Havergal.
Judgment! Genesis 6:13. The stroke of judgment is like the lightning flash—irresistible, fatal. It kills—kills in the twinkling of an eye. But the clouds from which it leaps are SLOW to gather. As Guthrie says, they thicken by degrees. The mustering clouds—the deepening gloom—the still and sultry air—the awful silence—the big pattering raindrops, all reveal his danger to the traveller, and warn him to hasten to the nearest shelter. Ahab was busily employed picnicing with his gay court on the grassy slopes of Carmel, and did not see the gathering storm; but the prophet sent him warning to hurry to his ivory palace in the plain of Jezreel. And where is the sinner who goes down unwarned? An unseen hand often restrains with gentle touch—a voice within often persuasively reminds that ruin follows sin. The annals of the old world prove this. Truth announced that the inevitable end would come, but forbearance checked the final step for 120 years. The long-suffering of God waited in the days of Noah:—
“Mustering His wrath, while His anger stayed:
Till full their cup, the Lord of heaven delayed
To pour His vengeance.”—Rolls.
Deluge-traditions! Genesis 6:13. Mr. Catlin vouches for the extraordinary fact that, of all the tribes he visited among the Indians of North-West America, there was not one which did not, by some means or other, connect their origin with a “big canoe,” which was supposed to have rested on the summit of some hill or mountain in their neighbourhood:—
“High on the summit of this dubious cliff
Deucalion wafting moor’d his little skiff.”—Dryden.
Salvation! Genesis 6:13. When Noah heard the announcement of the flood of waters possibly the enquiry instantaneously flashed up; what must I do to be saved? As in the case of the anxious soul, so in the case of Noah, it was an enquiry which only God could answer. Just as the child, gathering pebbles on the sea shore, sinks into insignificance when compared with the diver searching for pearls, or the miner excavating for diamonds; so all Noah’s previous and present surroundings dwindled into nothingness before this important question: If such an overwhelming, universal deluge was ahead, what was he to do for salvation from it? God answered, as He always does the really sincere, anxious enquirer: I will save thee. Salvation is of the Lord. There is the divinely appointed ark of safety. Faith says:—
“Let earth and hell conspire their worst, their best,
And join their twisted might!
Let showers of thunderbolts dart round and round me,
All this shall ne’er confound me.”—Quarles.
REV. WM. ADAMSON
Divine Salvation! Genesis 6:14. Some time ago, a man, who had heard a minister of the Gospel preach on the previous sabbath, went to him in a state of mental anxiety to ask him how he could be saved. The venerable man of God said: “The wages of sin is death,” whereupon the man exclaimed: “Then I am lost.” To this exclamation of bitter anguish, the minister answered that such a conclusion did not follow, because God had found a ransom. “In His infinite love and pity, He devised a plan to save sinners, a plan, which should shew His eternal hatred of sin, while it disclosed the treasures of His compassion for sinners.” He then went on to detail the whole scheme of salvation, the Divinely prepared ark of safety in the cleft body of His dear Son of Calvary. The man was delighted and astonished. He exclaimed: “Is it really so? Is there an ark of safety?” The minister at once briefly replied that it was in the Bible. “Then the Bible is from God; for none but He could have thought it.”
Spritual Vision! Genesis 6:15. As well may you pour tones of delicious music on the ears of the deaf, or floods of brilliant light on the eyeballs of the blind, expecting to awaken corresponding sympathy in the soul, as that the carnal mind can be convinced of the excellence and beauty of the Ark of Grace. The supreme excellence and perfect harmony which pervade its entire structure without and within, can only be discerned by a spiritual eye, others see no beauty in this ark; though Noah did. He could perceive the beauty of the Divine purpose. He could distinguish the harmony of the Divine plan. And this heart to prize the ark, this mind to investigate its nature, this eye to trace its proportions and beauties came from God.
“Oh! take the heart I could not give,
Without Thy strength-bestowing call;
In Thee, and for Thee, let me live
For I am nothing, Thou art all.”
Gospel! Genesis 6:15. On one occasion in France, a group of Sunday-school children were taken a long distance to see the interior of a cathedral, in which was a stained glass window of exquisite beauty and chasteness. As they drew near, the conductor exclaimed: “There is the window,” pointing as he did so to what seemed a dingy sheet scarred with irregular pieces of dull lead. The children were disappointed, and complained of having been brought so far for “only that.” But the leader guided them within the precincts of the cathedral pile, when they at once saw all the beauty of design and structure. So the Holy Spirit leads us to the Gospel of Salvation; but we see nothing attractive in it, until He conducts us within its walls. Then the whole flood of beauty bursts upon our entranced spirits; and, like Peter in the Mount of Transfiguration, we are ready to exclaim: “It is good for us to be here:”—
“Seeing Him in all His beauty,
Satisfied with Him alone.”—Havergal.
Blindness! Genesis 6:16. The mind—divinely illuminated—can penetrate into the vast domain of faith, and discover the glories there revealed. But without the Spirit all is dark—all mysterious. And just what the telescope is to the eye of the astronomer, as when with a glance he sweeps the firmament of nature in search of new and undiscovered worlds, faith is the Spirit of God to man. Man cannot find out God by all his searching; but the Spirit revealeth the deep things of God. The Ark of Christ is equally beyond human comprehension. What beams can its feeble, flickering light cast upon this mystery? But the Spirit must
“Enable with perpetual light
The dulness of our blinded sight.” 1662.—
Gospel-Ark! Genesis 6:16. What has wrought such moral revolutions in the world? If the devotee of superstition has been converted by it—if it has made the spiritually blind to see—if it has transformed the ravening wolf into the gentle lamb, and the greedy vulture into the soft dove—if it has soothed the deepest anguish of the heart, and calmed the fierce tempest of the soul—if it has sweetened the bitterest calamities of life, and unfurled the banner of victory in the last and latest hour of life—if it has shed upon the Christian’s tomb the radiance of a glorious immortality, then it has done what no other schemes have succeeded in doing—then it is the Ark of God, to which we may safely flee. Till another Gospel has been discovered of more grace and goodness—of more power and principle—of more promise and perfection, let us not despise it. Let us make or find a better, safer Ark—not cavil at the Ark which Divine Wisdom has planned and Divine Love has provided:—
“Not to be thought on, but with tides of joy,
Not to be mentioned, but with shouts of praise.”
Ark! Genesis 6:14. Christ is the Gospel-Ark. Behold Him! The ark of old was but an emblem of His full redemption. He is the one deliverance from all peril. He is the heaven-high refuge—the all-protecting safety. He is the building of enduring life—the foundation of which was laid in the counsels of eternity—the superstructure of which was reared in the fulness of time on the plains of earth, and the head of which towers above the skies. He is that lofty fabric of shelter which God decreed, appointed, provided, and set before the sons of men; and all the raging storms of vengeance, and all the fury of the waves of wrath only consolidate its strength. Our Ark of Salvation is the Mighty God.
“Onward then, and fear not,
Children of the Day!
For His word shall never,
Never pass away!”
Activity! Genesis 6:17. Doubtless the Antediluvians were useful in aiding righteous Noah to construct the ark for the saving of his house, while they themselves perished in the flood—clinging, perchance, to the sides, or clutching the keel of the vessel as it floated serenely on its way. The scaffolding, says one, is useful in the erection of the building; but, constituting no essential part of the structure, it is removed when the edifice is complete. Religious activity is not salvation. Working for Jesus is not necessarily living in Jesus. An individual engaged in religious work may be useful in guiding the steps of others, as the finger-post planted midway between two diverging roads may direct correctly the doubtful steps of the traveller, itself remaining stationary. Noah’s neighbours helped him to fulfil God’s command—aided him in securing salvation; yet they never kept God’s statutes themselves, and never succeeded in escaping from the Deluge.
“In vain the tallest sons of pride
Fled from the close pursuing wave.”
Flood of Waters! Genesis 6:17. Mythology tells how Jupiter burned with anger at the wickedness of the iron age. Having summoned a council of the gods, he addressed them—setting forth the awful condition of the things upon the earth, and announcing his determination to destroy all its inhabitants. He took a thunderbolt, and was about to launch it upon the world, to destroy it by fire, when he bethought himself that it might enkindle the heavens also. He then resolved to drown it by making the clouds pour out torrents of rain:—
“With his clench’d fist
He squeezed the clouds:
Then, with his mace, the monarch struck the ground;
With inward trembling earth received the wound,
And rising streams a ready passage found.”—Ovid.
Wilful Blindness! Genesis 6:22. Hosea says: Gray hairs are here and there upon him, yet he knoweth it not. Old age steals on, and we are insensible of its encroachment. The hair is silvered—the eye loses its lustre—the limbs lack elasticity; and yet we take no thought of time. He knoweth it not. Nor does he desire to know it. Some individuals would efface each new mark of growing years, and shrink from every sad memento of approaching senility—as if ignorance of the fact would arrest the march of time, and each evidence of its ravages obliterated would win back the springtide of youth. These men loved not Noah for reminding them of their gradual declension in moral vigour, and of the rapidly approaching hour when moral death in aggravated form would close this decay. And when they saw him busily employed in preparing the ark, how much ridicule they heaped upon this “obedient servant of God,” until
“The clouds went floating on their fatal way.”—Procter.
Bible! Genesis 6:22. There was a sculptor once who made a famous shield, and among the flowers and scrolls which adorned it he engraved his own name, so that whoever looked upon the shield would be sure to see it, and know who made it. Some people tried to erase the name, but they found that the man had put in the letters so cleverly as to render it impossible to take out one letter without spoiling the whole shield. Just so is it with the Bible and the name “Jesus.” Hence that aged ambassador’s counsel to his younger brother was full of potency and truth: There are hundreds of roads to our great English metropolis, so that no matter what point of the compass you start from, you will find that all bring you to London; and there are hundreds of truths in the Bible, and no matter what part of that holy book you take up, it ought to lead you to Christ. But as there are side-roads, and what John Bunyan calls “bye-paths,” so take care that you do not as a preacher wander from the road of truth, otherwise your sermon will never reach to the “Crucified One”—
“Who still for erring, guilty man,
A Saviour’s pity shows;
While still His bleeding heart is touched
With memory of our woes.”—Barbauld.
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Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on Genesis 6". Preacher's Complete Homiletical Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/
the Second Week of Advent