Page images
PDF
EPUB

SERMON II.

NOAH'S FAITH.

Heb. xi. 7. " By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet,

moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house ; by the which he condemned the world, and became heir of the

righteousness which is by faith.” From the beginning to the end of Holy Scripture we continually hear of faith : and it is represented to us as being, under God, the root of all good in us and to us. Jesus Christ says to the blind men who asked Him to open their eyes, “ Believe ye that I am able to do this ?” and adds, “according to your faith be it unto you';” and again to the father of the possessed, “ All things are possible to him that believeth ";" and here, in the chapter from which my text is taken, “ Without faith it is impossible to please God 3.” Faith, therefore, is indispensable; and accordingly the Apostle spends the whole chapter in explaining and illustrating the nature of it. He shows what it is, by showing what it does; and this, first, by verbal exposition, and then by special exemplification in many instances.

“ Now faith,” he begins, “is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen +.” It is that

2

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

2

1 Matt. ix. 28, 29.
3 Heb. xi. 6.

Mark ix. 23. 4 Heb. xi. 1.

which serves us, for the present, instead of the actual possession or sight of the things we expect and hope for, making us to be fully satisfied that we shall obtain, in due season, the things promised us by God if we go God's way to seek them, though we have them not now in hand; and causing us to act with reference to things invisible, as we should do if they were before our eyes; so that the reality and genuineness of the principle is ascertained by the fruits or effects which it produces on our behaviour. For instance, if we saw heaven, we should run to it; if we saw hell, we should flee from it. We are told of both by God, and of the several courses which infallibly lead to each : repentance, through Christ's merits, to the first : impenitence, in Divine justice, to the second. Now if we assent or consent to the Divine testimony in such manner, as that, by patient continuance in well doing, we are willing to seek and do seek life eternal, and rejoice in the hope of it only in proportion as we are conscious of so seeking it; and if we flee from sin because we fear perdition, never thinking that we can escape it whilst we are wilfully going on in wickedness, but being thankful to surrender all sin that we may escape it; in this case we act just as we should do if heaven and hell and the several roads to them were made visible to our senses ; we give the same credit to Almighty God as we should do to our eyesight; we take his word for sufficient security, and, so doing, we honour Him as we ought to do. And, that being the case, He will honour us as He haspromised; we shall not be disappointed of our hope in Him; we shall save our souls alive. But if we act otherwise we are lost. In the remainder of the chapter the Apostle gives, as I said, various examples or instances in a way of illustration. One is the case of Noah in the text. This, by God's assistance, I shall examine in its particulars, and then make some application.

I. In the time of Noah, mankind generally “had become sinners before the Lord exceedingly," so that it repented God that He had made mankind upon the earth, and it grieved Him at his heart. He purposed

[ocr errors]

therefore to destroy them. Nevertheless He would not slay the righteous, if such there were among them, with the wicked. And, further than this, He was willing, in his great mercy, to give to the wicked a possibility of escape. If

any of them would repent and turn to Him, and seek deliverance out of the midst of the overthrow by the way which He would prescribe to them, they should surely find it.

So God revealed his purpose to Noah, of whom it is said, that lie “found grace in the eyes of the Lord,” and that he was “a just man, and perfect in his generations, and walked with God 5.” To him God made known what He designed to do, and through him to all his brethren. He warned Noah of things not seen as yet; to be seen, indeed, in due season, but, for the present, not indicated by any visible or outward symptoms. He gave notice of three things. First, that there should be a deluge which should destroy the whole earth ; “Behold I, even I, do bring a flood of waters upon the earth, to destroy all flesh, wherein is the breath of life, from under heaven 6.” Secondly, He gave notice that there should be a way of escape by which some should be saved: “Make thee an ark, ” “and thou shalt come into the ark?.” Thirdly, He declared that all this should happen after the lapse of one hundred and twenty years; “My spirit shall not always strive with man, for that he also is flesh: yet his days shall be an hundred and twenty years

Now, though there was, as has been said, no seeming likelihood of the marvel foretold, nothing seen as yet; Noah, nevertheless, had no more doubt about what was coming, than you have whether the sun shall rise to-morrow morning.

For all had been plainly told him, so that he knew what was to be looked for, knowing that He who told him was worthy of implicit credit. It was a strange thing, indeed; nothing like it had ever happened before; and how it

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

.

5 Gen. vi. 8, 9.

6 Ver. 17.

7. Ver. 14. 18.

& Ver. 3.

was.

should be brought about Noah could not tell; but this made no difference as to what he should think, or as to how he should act. God had said, and the words, as we read them, have a peculiar force and emphasis ; “ Behold I, even I, do bring a flood ;” and this was enough. There was God's word for it; He was about to take the matter in hand Himself; and therefore Noah, in the first place, fully expected the flood : nothing was wanted to make him surer of it than he

Such was his faith. And the fruits and signs of it are very clear.

For first, says the text, “ Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet,” was “moved with fear.” This was the immediate effect upon his inward mind, produced by his faith and by nothing else. For when there was no danger of any sort to be seen, he would not have trembled as in the presence of danger, had it not been foretold, and had he not believed what was foretold. The Word of God, through believing, was as eyes to him.

On the other hand, the men of that generation, to whom Noah repeated what had been revealed to himself, feared, as it should appear, not at all; or, if they did, the impression was but momentary, they very soon got over it. If so, it is very clear that they did not believe. For, had they done so, there was just as good reason why they should have been afraid, as there was why Noah should. And, indeed, it would have been quite unnatural and impossible for them not to have been afraid.

But Noah's faith went further, and embraced the whole of the Divine testimony. As his mind's eye saw the flood coming, and he trembled as if an awful danger was actually before him, so his mind's eye saw also the way of escape and refuge; and this counterbalanced his natural dread, and gave him hope and ease, so that he could rejoice whilst he trembled.

" He prepared an ark,” it is said, “to the saving of his house.” He was fully persuaded that, however terrible the coming judgment might be, and however universal the destruction, he and his should be rescued

66

[ocr errors]

this way, and could not be rescued any other way. Though, therefore, there was no water in which his great ship might swim, he nevertheless quietly and calmly began to build after the exact pattern which God had prescribed. The length three hundred cubits, the breadth fifty, and the height thirty, with lower, second, and third stories, just as he was told in all respects; and thus he employed himself patiently, and as upon a necessary business, doing the will of God from the heart, for an hundred and twenty years.

But that hundred and twenty years was spent by his neighbours very differently. Whilst Noah was building, and so preparing the way of deliverance, and preaching of the judgment to come, they, our Lord has told us, were “ eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage," taking no heed to his testimony,

” deriding his labours as useless, and scoffing at his discourses as no concern of theirs; walking after their own lusts, as many do now, and saying, “Where is the promise of his coming?” Do not “all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation '?” Then, as Noah was for an hundred and twenty years walking by faith, they were, for the same period, walking by sight and in unbelief: he honouring God's testimony, hoping in his word, following his directions, keeping his commandments; they making God a liar, mocking at his threatenings, neglecting his great salvation, and following the desires of their own flesh and mind. Noah, therefore, by his faith, laying up for himself a good foundation against the time to come; they, by their infidelity, heaping up unto themselves wrath.

For so it befel. At last the flood came; and God made it manifest that his word was truth. Noah swam in safety, for the ark rode out the storm; they sunk and were destroyed. And thus was the Scripture fulfilled, “though hand join in hand, the wicked shall not be unpunished; but the seed of the righteous shall be delivered?.” Such was the event.

a

[ocr errors]

2

• Matt. xxiv. 38.

1 2 Pet. iii. 4.

? Prov. xi. 21.

« PreviousContinue »