« FöregåendeFortsätt »
But thus we see the Lord deals; thus he dealt with the world in the beginning, when all flesh had corrupted their way; yet, saith he, their days shall be one hundred and twenty years".
Let us learn to curb and cool our brisk humours towards even stubborn sinners; be grieved at their sin, for that is our duty; but think it not strange, nor fret at it, that they continue to abuse the longșuffering of God, and yet that he continues ever abused by suffering them. Zeal is good, but as it springs from love, if it be right, so it is requited by love, and carries the impressions of that, of love to God, and so a complacency in his way, liking it because it is his; and of love to men, so as to be pleased with that waiting for them, in possibility, at least, of their being reclaimed; knowing that, however, if they return not, yet the Lord will not loose his own at their hands. Wilt thou, said these two fiery disciples, that we call for fire as Elias ? Qh! but the spirit of the dove rested on him that told them, They knew not what spirit they were of . You speak of Elias, and you think of his spirit in this motion: But you mistake yourselves; that comes from another spirit than you imagine: Instead of looking for such sudden justice without you, look inward, and see whence that is; examine and correct within you.
When you are, tempted to take ill that goodness and patience of God tu sinpers, consider, 1. Can this be right, to differ from his mind in any thing? Is it not our only wisdom, and ever safe rule, to think as he thinks, and will as he wills? And I pray you, does he not hate sin more than
do? Is not his interest in punishing it deeper than yours? And if you be zealous for his interest, as you pretend, then be so with him, and in his way; for starting from that, sure you are wrong;
2. Consider, did he not wait for thee? What had become of thee, if long-suffering had not subserved his purpose of further mercy, of free pardon to thee? And why 2 Gen. vi. 3.
a Luke ix, 54, 55.
wilt thou not always allow that to which thou art so much obliged? Wouldest thou have the bridge cut because thou art so over? Sure thou wilt not own so gross a thought. Therefore, esteem thy God still the more thou seest of his long-suffering to sinners; and learn for him, and with him, to bear and wait.
But, 2dly, This was not a dumb forbearance, such as may serve for a surprise, but continual teaching, and warning joined with it, as before.
We see they wanted not preaching of the choicest kind. He, the Son of God, by his eternal Spirit, went and preached to them. It was his truth in Noah's mouth, and with that we have a continued real sermon, exprest in this verse, While the ark was preparing : that spoke God's mind, and every knock (as the usual observation is) of the hammers and tools used in building, preached to them, threatening aloud designed judgment, and exhorting to prevent it. And therefore that word is added, izedegero, that the long-suffering of God waited or expected ; expected a believing of his word, and returning from their wickedness: But we see no such thing followed; they took their own course still, and therefore the Lord took his. They had polluted the earth with their wickedness; now, the Lord would have the cleansing by repentance; that being denied, it must be another way, by a flood: And because they and their sins remained one, they would not part with them, therefore was one work made of both; they and their sins, as inseparable, must be cleansed away together.
Thus impenitency, under much long-suffering, makes judgment full and complete. I appeal to you, hath not the Lord used much forbearance towards us? Hath he not patiently spared us, and. clearly warned us, and waited long for the fruit of all? Hath any thing been wanting? Have not temporal mercies been multiplied on us? Have not the spiritual riches of the Gospel been opened up to us ?
And each of you, for yourselves, consider how it is with you after so much long-suffering of God, which none of you can deny he hath used towards you; and so many gracious invitations, with that patience, have they gained your hearts? or do you still remain servants to sin, still strangers to him, and formal worshippers ? I beseech you think on it, what will be the issue of that course? Is it a light matter to you to die in your sins, and to have the wrath of God abiding an you? To have refused Christ so often, and that after you have been so often requested to receive salvation; after the Lord hath followed you with intreaties, hath called to you so often, Why will ye die? yet wilfully to perish, and withal to have all these intreaties come in and accuse you, and make your burden heavier? Would you willingly die in this ettate? If not, then think that yet he is waiting, if at length you will return. This one day more of his waiting you have, and of his speaking to you; and some that were bere with you the last day are taken away since. Oh! that we were wise, and would consider our latter end b. Though there were neither sword or pestilence near you, you must die, and, for any thing you know, quickly. Why wear you out the day of those precious seasons still? As uncertain of Christ, yea, as undiligent after him, as you were long ago? As you love your souls, be more serious in their business. This was the undoing of the sinners we are speaking of; they were all for present things ; they eat and drank, they married, in a continued course, without ceasing, and without minding their after estate. They were drowned in these things, and that drowned them in a flood. Noah did also eat and drink, but his main work was in that time the preparing of the ark. The necessities of this life the children of God are tied to, and forced to bestow some time and pains on them; but the thing that takes up their hearts; that which the bent of their souls is set on, is their interest in Jesus Christ: and all your wise designs are but a pleasing mad. b Deut. xxxii. 29.
ness, till this be chief with you. Others have had as much of God's patience, and as fair opportunity, as you, whose souls and Christ had never met, and now know that they never shall. They had their time of worldly projects and enjoyment, as you now have, and followed them, as if they had been immortally to abide with them; but they are passed away as a shadow, and we are posting after them, and within a while shall lie down in the dust. Oh! how happy they whose hearts are not here, trading with vanity, and gathering vexation, but whose thoughts are on that blessed life above trouble. Certainly they that pass for fools in the world, are the only children of wisdom; that have renounced their lusts and their own wills, have yielded up themselves to Jesus, taking him for their King, and have their minds resting on him as their salvation.
While the ark was a preparing.] Observe, The delay of the Lord's determined judgment on the ungodly was indeed long-suffering towards them; but here was more in it to Noah and his family; the providing for their preservation; and till that was completed for them, the rest were spared. Thus, the very forbearance that the ungodly do enjoy, is usually involved with the interest of the godly; something of that usually goes into it; and so it is in a great part for their sakes, that the rest are both spared, and are furnished with common mercies. The saints are usually the scorn and contempt of others; yet are, by that love the Lord carries towards them, the very arches, pillars of states and kingdoms, and families, where they are, yea of the world"; the frame whereof is continued mainly in regard to them
But they that are ungrateful to the great Maker and upholder of it, and regardless of him; what wonder if they take no notice of the advantage they receive by the concernment of his children in the world. Observe
Here, 1. The work. 2. The end of it. I. in the work, preparing of the ark, observe, 1st, God's appointment; 2dly, Noah's obedience.
d Semeu sanctum statumen terra.
e Isa. vi. 13.
1st, For the appointment of God. . The divine power was not tied to this, yet his wisdom chose it. He that steered the course of this ark safely all that time, could have preserved those he designed it for without it; but thus it pleases the Lord, usually, to mix his most wonderful deliverances with some selected means; exercising that way our obedience in their use, yet so as the singular power of his hand in them, whereon faith rests, doth clearly appear, doing by them what, in a more natural way, they could not possibly effect.
2dly, For the obedience of Noah, if we should insist on the difficulties, both in this work, and in the way of their preservation by it, it would look the clearer, and be found very remarkable. The length of the work, the great pains in providing materials, especially considering the opposition that probably he met with in it, from the profane about him, the mightier of them at least, the hatred, and continual scoffs of all sorts, it required principles of an invincible resolution to go through with it. What (would they say) means this old dotard to do? whither this monstrous voyage? and for that it spoke, as no doubt he told them their ruin, and his safety; this would incense them so much the
You look far before you; and what, shall we all perish, and you alone escape? But through all the sovereign command and gracious promise of his God carried him, regarding their scoffs and threats as little in making the ark, as he did afterwards the noise of the waters about it, when he was sitting safe within it. This his obedience, having indeed so boisterous winds to encounter, had need of a well-fastened root, that it might stand and hold out against them all, and so it had. The Apostle St. Paul tells us what the root of it was; by faith, being warned of God, he prepared an ark'. And there is no living and lasting. obedience but what
f Heb. xi. 7. Vol. II.