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desires; to resist temptation; and to wrestle successfully with every obstacle which may obstruct our progress to the gate of Heaven. But as we are altogether free agents, as the choice of good or evil is placed entirely in our own power; as we are not machines, nor impelled either to virtue or vice, by any other force than that of our own will; so it too often happens that we perversely neglect or abuse the unspeak"able gift"-we neglect to pray for the aid of God's Holy Spirit; or what seems to be the height of wickedness, we "do despite" to it, by opposing its holy and secret influences, when they are working in our soul for its conversion and salvation.
To this dreadful point of iniquity the world had arrived at the period of the deluge. Moral corruption of the most baneful kind overspread the earth, and so universal was the disease, that only one family appears to have escaped its contagion. Divine mercy had, in vain, exercised itself to reclaim the vicious race; long-suffering had done its utmost; forbearance was of no further avail; and nought remained but the execution of "the true and righteous "judgments of the Lord."
"And God looked upon the earth, and "behold it was corrupt; for all flesh had
corrupted his way upon the earth. 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."
Of the scene of horror which followed this awful declaration, it is utterly impossible for the human mind to form any just idea; for, how can man's imagination picture to itself "the windows of Heaven opened," and discharging, for " forty
days and forty nights," all their mighty store of waters on the deluged earth-the elements, unchecked by the Eternal Power that created them, raging in all their resistless fury-the firmament, " wrapped in "clouds and thick darkness," again mingling itself with the oceans, from which it had originally been divided-"the foun"tains of the great deep broken up:" the secret treasury of waters, hitherto confined to the centre of the earth, bursting from their prison, and spreading havock, confusion, and horror in their course? Or, how can fancy stretch itself to the conception of a world in ruins; its continents torn asunder: its rocks shattered into fragments; its loftiest hills laid low; its gigant mountains uprooted; its universal surface covered with tumultuous waves, bearing upon their
mighty surges the lifeless carcases of "all "flesh that moved upon the earth, both of "fowl, and of cattle, and of beast, and of every "creeping thing that creepeth upon the "earth and of every man, and of all in "whose nostrils was the breath of life?" The mind is staggered at the bare thought of such an hideous convulsion; and language seeks in vain for terms to afford even an imperfect notion of it. It may be useful, however, to remark, that "strange" as the dispensation was, the reality of it is made apparent, not only to the pious believer, who receives it as a fact, authenticated by the Word of the eternal God; but also to the common enquirer, who will find a tradition of an universal deluge among almost all the Heathen nations of the world; and will discover upon the surface of the earth such traces of the Flood, as have convinced some of the most sagacious philosophers, and inquisitive naturalists, that it actually had occurred.
But God is love ;" and will never "suffer his truth to fail ;" nor desert those who trust in Him. There was a little
flock," the family of Noah, who had "found favour in his sight," because the parent was just, upright, and righteous, in the midst of "a crooked and perverse
"generation." On them he looked with an eye of mercy: for them he prepared a place of refuge from the storm; of safety and preservation from the universal destruction that rioted around. Protected by the arm of God, the ark bore the small remnant of the human race secure and triumphant on the world of waters; and when these were assuaged, the same Almighty friend further manifested his love of holiness, by conferring fresh marks of favour on the obedient patriarch. To him God confirmed all the privileges which remained to Adam after his fall-the privilege of increasing and multiplying, and replenishing the earth-the privilege of dominion over "every beast of the field, "and every fowl of the air, and over every
thing that moveth upon the earth, and "over all the fishes of the sea:" and, above all, the privilege of expecting the promised "seed of the woman" from among his descendants; as may be reasonably inferred from the predictive blessing which Noah pronounced upon his own son, the dutiful and pious Shem, "God shall "dwell in the tents of Shem."
In addition to these privileges, God increased the enjoyments of mankind by giving to them "every moving thing that
"liveth for food;" and calmed the fears of the preserved family, and of their future "everlasting progeny, by entering into an "covenant" with Noah, that "the waters "should no more become a flood to destroy "the earth;" and by placing the rainbow "in the cloud" as a visible pledge, and encouraging token, of the stability of the divine promise. Thus reconciling the opposite claims of his justice and his mercy; proving, that though terrible in destruction, he is still" mighty to save ;" and evincing, by the example of a ruined world on the one hand, and of a holy family preserved from perishing with it on the other, that "all things will," eventually, "work toge "ther for good to them that love God."
That the history of the flood was intended both as a warning and an occasion of moral instruction to subsequent generations, there can be no doubt; since the sacred writers themselves have considered it in that point of view. It will lead me, therefore, to conclude the present discourse with calling your attention to two topics of very great importance to us, as mortal and accountable beings: first, the sudden and unexpected manner in which we may be ummoned into eternity; and secondly, the