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presumptuous but acceptable. Pray in Christ's name, and as Christ's redeemed, and your prayers will not be in vain. Pray in Christ's name, and labour in Christ's name; for without Him we can do nothing. Our own resolutions will fade away as they have faded before, and only leave us the weaker for the useless effort which they cost us. But when made in Christ's strength, and fostered by our prayers in His name, they are not our fond resolutions, but Christ's effectual power; and they will be mighty to the deliverance of our souls from that spiritual poverty in which they were lying utterly destitute, and will make them rich towards God.
February 7, 1841.
THE NECESSITY OF CHRISTIAN EXERTION.
GENESIS, vi. 12.
And God looked upon the earth, and behold it was corrupt ; for
all flesh had corrupted his way upon the earth.
ST. LUKE, xvii. 26, 27.
As it was in the days of Noah, 80 shall it be also in the days of
the Son of Man; they did eat, they drank, they married wives, they were given in marriage, until the day that Noah entered into the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all.
I HAVE brought these two passages of scripture together for two reasons; first, because the latter explains in what the corruption of the earth mentioned in the former consisted ; and secondly, because by telling us expressly that what happened in the days of Noah will happen again, it gives to the whole account of the flood, which was read in the first lesson this afternoon, an interest beyond that of merely past history: that account represents what will have happened, not once only, but yet again, either in our days or in those days that will come after us. And as it is said also, that wherever the carcase is, there will the eagles be gathered together; so we know that whenever and wherever there is a life led like that described in the text, it is most certainly the object of God's displeasure, and His judgment sooner or later will surely overtake it.
Now, in the first place, the statement in Genesis of the corruption of the world before the flood, is expressed in very strong language. “ The wickedness of man was great in the earth.” “Every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” “It repented the Lord that He had made man on the earth, and it grieved Him at His heart.” One only particular feature of this corruption is given, “that the earth was filled with violence;" yet this is mentioned as forming rather a part of the general corruption than as being the whole of it. Another, and as it may seem, a more prevailing part, is given by our Lord : “ They were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage.” Doubtless He to whom all things were known thought fit to mention this point of the evil of the whole world, because it was that very one which, resisting all improvements of civilization, perhaps even gaining strength from them, would exist in the world's latest age no less
than in its earliest. The violence which prevailed before the flood is, on the contrary, the very part of the general evil which human means were most likely to restrain ; and it is certain that crimes of violence, whether of nation against nation, or of private persons against one another, are less numerous and less atrocious now than in times past; and it is very likely that they may be diminished still more in the days that may come after us. Had the violence therefore of the old world been its chief sin, we might have thought that its fate was no warning to us, as our sin in that respect is so much lighter. But when we hear our Lord's account of the sin which caused the flood, we feel at once that the same sin exists no less in us; that it exists not amongst the rich and great only, but in all ranks of human beings; that in this matter the sin of the man is in no degree greater than that of
Therefore the account of the flood concerns us even here.
The sin which brought down that judgment is not a thing of the most remote antiquity, or belonging only to the great and rich ; it is of our own days, it is here amongst us, it is everywhere. For what does our Lord mean, when He says “they ate, they drank, they married wives, they were given in marriage”? He is naming, not occasional crimes which disturb society, but society's most ordinary and most necessary practices; things which are neither crimes nor sins in themselves; things which all may do and must do. It is as if He had said, “They rose in the morning, and lay down to rest at night; they went to their daily work and were refreshed by their daily recreations; they had their hopes and their enjoyments; they lived as we are living daily.” But then our Lord goes on to say, that the end of this life was, that the flood came and destroyed them all; that is, in the emphatic sense of the word death, which it bears when spoken of as God's judgment, “the end of all these things was death.”
Such simply is our Lord's language, with no softening or explanation given.
Yet we know that He did not mean that because men ate and drank, and married, and bought and sold, and planted and builded, that therefore they were and would be destroyed. We have here the same sort of language which He employs on other occasions: "Woe unto you that laugh now, for ye shall mourn
, and weep.” Yet it is no sin to laugh. “Woe unto you that are full, for ye shall be hungry.” Yet it is no sin to be full. “ It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.” Yet Abraham, the father of the faithful, was rich; and David, the man after God's own heart, had kingly wealth, and kingly state and power also. Why then does our Lord so speak, and that not