Sidor som bilder

have excited and directed him. Could Abel | ders is no less good than rewards of good. have stayed God's fire from descending? | ness. or should he (if he could) reject God's ac- ! No sooner doth Abel's blood speak unto ceptation, and displease his Maker to con- God, than God speaks to Cain. There is tent a brother? Was Cain ever the farther no wicked man to whom God speaks not, from a blessing, because his brother obtained if not to his ear, yet to his heart. What mercy? How proud and foolish is malice! speech was this ? Not an accusation, but which grows thus mad for no other cause an inquiry ; yet such an inquiry as would but because God or Abel is not less good. infer an accusation. God loves to have a It hath been an old and happy danger to sinner accuse himself; and therefore hath be holy; indifferent actions must be careful he set his deputy in the breast of man. to avoid offence; but I care not what devil neither doth God love this more than naor what Cain be angry that I do good, or ture abhors it. Cain answers stubborny: receive good.

the very name of Abel wounds him no less There was never any nature without than his hand had wounded Abel : conenvy: every man is born a Cain, hating that sciences that are without remorse, are not goodness in another which he neglected in without horror: wickedness makes men deshimself. There was never envy that was perate. The murderer is angry with God, not bloody; for if it eat not another's heart, as of late, for accepting his brother's obla. it will eat our own; but unless it be re | tion; so now, for listening to his blood. strained, it will surely feed itself with the And now he dares answer God with a blood of others, ofttimes in act, always in question, “ Am I my brother's keeper?" affection. And that God, which in good) where he should have said, Am not I my accepts the will for the deed, condemns the brother's murderer ? Behold, he scorneth will for the deed in evil. If there be an to keep whom he feared not to kill. Good eril heart, there will be an evil eye; and duties are base and troublesome to wicked if both these, there will be an evil hand. minds, while even violences of evil are

How early did martyrdom come into the pleasant. Yet this miscreant, which nei. world! The first man that died, died for ther had grace to avoid his sin nor to con religion: who dare measure God's love by | fess it, now that he is convinced of sin, outward events, when he sees wicked Cain and cursed for it, how he howleth, how he standing over bleeding Abel, whose sacrifice exclaimeth! He that cares not for the act was first accepted, and now himself is sa- of his sin, shall care for the smart of his crificed! Death was denounced to man as punishment. The damned are weary of a curse; yet, behold! it first lights upon a | their torments, but in vain. How great a saint: how soon was it altered by the mercy madness is it to complain too late! He of that just hand which inflicted it! If that would not keep his brother, is cast out death had been evil and life good, Cain from the protection of God; he that feared had been slain, and Abel had survived not to kill his brother, fears now that whoNow that it begins with him that God loves, soever meets him will kill him. The trou“ O death, where is thy sting !"

bled conscience projecteth fearful things, Abel says nothing - his blood cries. and sin makes even cruel men cowardly. Every drop of innocent blood hath a tongue, | God saw it was too much favour for him and is not only vocal, but importunate. to die; he therefore wills that which Cain What a noise, then, did the blood of my wills. Cain would live ; it is yielded him, Saviour make in heaven, who was himself but for a curse. How often doth God the shepherd and the sacrifice, the man hear sinners in anger! He shall live, bathat was offered, and the God to whom it nished from God, carrying his hell in his was offered! The Spirit that heard both, bosom, and the brand of God's vengeance says, “ It spake better things than the blood in his forehead. God rejects him, the of Abel." Abel's blood called for revenge earth repines at him, men abhor him ; him. - his for mercy: Abel's pleaded his own self now wishes that death which he feared, innocency_his the satisfaction for all the and no man dare pleasure him with a murbelieving world: Abel's procured Cain's der. How bitter is the end of sin, yea, punishment-his freed all repentant souls without end! Still Cain finds that he from punishment; better things indeed than killed himself more than his brother. We the blood of Abel; better, and therefore should never sin if our foresight were but that which Abel's blood said was good. It as good as our sense; the issue of sin would is good that God should be avenged of appear a thousand times more horrible than sianers. Execution of justice upon offen- the act is pleasant.

| the ark was a real sermon to the world, CONTEMPLATION V.-OF THE DELUGE. wherein at once were taught mercy ard life

to the believer, and to the rebellious, de. The world was grown so foul with sin, struction. that God saw it was time to wash it with Methinks I see those monstrous sons of a flood: and so close did wickedness cleave Lamech coming to Noah, and asking him to the authors of it, that when they were what he means by that strange work ? washed to nothing, yet it would not off; whether he meant to sail upon the dry land ? yea, so deep did it stick in the very grain To whom, when he reports God's purpose of the earth, that God saw it meet to let and his, they go away laughing at his idleit soak long under the waters. So, under ness, and tell one another in sport, that too the law, the very vessels that had touched much holiness hath made him mad: yet canunclean water, must either be rinsed or not they all flout Noah out of his faith; he broken. Mankind began but with one ; 1 preaches, and builds, and finishes. Doubtand yet he that saw the first man, lived to less more hands went to this work than see the earth peopled with a world of men; his. Many a one wrought upon the ark, yet man grew not so fast as wickedness. which yet was not saved in the ark. Our One man could soon and easily multiply a outward works cannot save us without our thousand sins -never man had so many faith; we may help to save others, and pechildren: so that when there were men rish ourselves. What a wonder of mercy enough to store the earth, there were as is this that I here see! One poor family many sins as would reach up to heaven; called out of a world, and, as it were, whereupon the waters came down from eight grains of corn fanned from a whole heaven, and swelled up to heaven again. barnful of chaff. One hypocrite was saved If there had not been so deep a deluge of with the rest, for Noah's sake; not one sin, there had been none of the waters ; righteous man was swept away for comfrom whence, then, was this superfluity of pany: for these few was the earth preiniquity? Whence but from the unequal served still under the waters, and all kinds yoke with infidels? These marriages did not of creatures upon the waters; which else beget men so much as wickedness; from had been all destroyed. Still the world hence religious husbands both lost their stands for their sakes for whom it was prepiety, and gained a rebellious and godless served, else fire should consume that which generation.

could not be cleansed by water. That which was the first occasion of sin, This difference is strange: I see the sa. was the occasion of the increase of sin : vagest of all creatures, lions, tigers, bears, A woman seduced Adam - women be- by an instinct from God, come to seek the trayed the sons of God: the beauty of the ark (as we see swine, foreseeing a storm, apple betrayed the woman - the beauty of run home crying for shelter),- men I see these women betrayed this holy seed: Eve not: reason once debauched is worse than saw, and lusted - so did they; this also brutishness. God hath use even of these was a forbidden fruit - they lusted, tasted, fierce and cruel beasts, and glory by them ; sinned, died. The most sins begin at the even they, being created for man, must eyes; by them commonly Satan creeps into live by him, though to his punishment. the heart : that soul can never be in safety How gently do they offer and submit them. that hath not covenanted with his eyes. selves to their preserver! renewing that

God needed not have given these men obeisance to this repairer of the world, any warning of his judgment; they gare which they, before sin, yielded to him that him no warning of their sins, no respite ; | first stored the world. He that shut them yet that God might approve his mercies to into the ark when they were entered, shut the very wicked, he gives them an hundred their mouths also when they did enter. The and twenty years' respite of repenting. lions fawn upon Noah and Daniel. What How loath is God to strike, that threats so heart cannot the Maker of them mollify! long! He that delights in revenge surprises The unclean beasts God would have to his adversary; whereas he that gives long live, the clean to multiply; and therefore warnings desires to be prevented. If we te sends to Noah seven of the clean, of were not wilful, we should never smart. the unclean two. He knew the one would

Neither doth he give them time only, annoy man with their multitude, the other but a faithful teacher. It is a happy would enrich him. Those things are worthy thing when he that teacheth others is righ- of most respect, which are of most use. : eous. Noah's hand tauglit them as much But why seven ? Surely that God, that is kis tungue. His business in building created seven days in the week, and made

[ocr errors]


one for himself, did here preserve, of sevention. To have continued this deluge long, clean beasts, one for himself for sacrifice. had been to punish Noah that was righ. He gives us six for one in earthly things, teous. After forty days, therefore, the hea. that in spiritual we should be all for him. vens clear up; after an hundred and fifty,

Now the day is come, all the guests are the waters sink down. How soon is God entered, the ark is shut, and the windows weary of punishing, which is never weary of heaven opened. I doubt not but many of blessing! But may not the ark rest sud. of those scoffers, when they saw the vio-denly? If we did not stay some while un. lence of the waves descending and ascend- der God's hand, we should not know how ing, according to Noah's prediction, came sweet his mercy is, and how great our wading middle-deep unto the ark, and im- thankfulness should be. The ark, thouglı portunately craved that admittance which ! it was Noah's fort against the waters, vet they once denied ; but now, as they for- | it was his prison; he was safe in it, but merly rejected God, so are they justly pent up: he that gave him life by it, now rejected of God. Ere vengeance begin, thinks time to give him liberty out of it. repentance is seasonable ; but if judgment God doth not reveal all things to his best be once gone out, we cry too late. While servants. Behold, he that told Noah, an the gospel solicits us, the doors of the ark | hundred and twenty years before, what day are open ; if we neglect the time of grace, he should go into the ark, yet foretells him in vain shall we seek it with tears. God not now in the ark what day the ark should holds it no mercy to pity the obstinate. rest upon the hills, and he should go forth. Others, more bold than they, hope to Noah therefore sends out his intelligencers, overrun the judgment; and, climbing up the raven and the dove, whose wings in to the high mountains, look down upon that vaporous air might easily descry furthe waters with more hope than fear. ther than his sight. The raven, of quick And now when they see their hills become scent, of gross feed, of tough constitution ; islands, they climb up into the tallest trees; no fowl was so fit for discovery: the likethere with paleness and horror at once look liest things always succeed not. He neither for death, and study to avoid it, whom the will venture far into that solitary world for waves overtake at last, half dead with fa- fear of want, nor yet come into the ark for mine and half with fear. Lo! now from love of liberty, but hovers about in uncer. the tops of the mountains they descry the tainties. How many carnal minds fly out ark floating upon the waters, and behold of the ark of God's church, and embrace with envy that which before they beheld | the present world; rather choosing to feed with scorn.

upon the unsavoury carcases of sinful pleaIn vain doth he fly whom God pursues. sures, than to be restrained within the There is no way to fly from his judgments, | strait lists of Christian obedience! but to fly to his mercy by repentance. The The dove is sent forth, a fowl both swift faith of the righteous cannot be so much and simple. She, like a true citizen of tne derided, as their success is magnified. Howark, returns, and brings faithful notice of securely doth Noah ride out this uproar of the continuance of the waters, by her restheaven, earth, and waters! He hears the less and empty return; by her olive-leaf, pouring down of the rain above liis head; of the abatement. How worthy are those the shrieking of men, and roaring and bol. messengers to be welcome, which with inlowing of beasts on both sides of him; the nocence in their lives, bring glad tidings of raging and threats of the waves under him; peace and salvation in their mouths! be saw the miserable shifts of the distressed Noah rejoices and believes; yet still he unbelievers; and, in the meantime, sits waits seven days more. It is not good to quietly in his dry cabin, neither feeling nor devour the favours of God too greedily; fearing evil. He knew that he which owned | but so take them in, that we may digest the waters would steer him ; that he who them. O strong faith of Noah, that was shut hiin in would preserve him. How happy | not weary with this delay! Some man a thing is faith! what a quiet safety, what would have so longed for the open air, an heavenly peace doth it work in the soul, í after so long closeness, that, upon the first in the midst of all the inundation of evil! notice of safety, he would have uncovered

Now, when God hath fetched again all and voided the ark. Noah stays seven days the life which he had given to his unworthy ere he will open, and well-near two months creatures, and reduced the world unto its ere he will forsake the ark; and not then first form, wherein waters were over the unless God that commanded to enter, had face of the earth, it was time for a renova- bidden him depart. There is no action tion of all things to succeed this destruc- good without faith; no faith without a word, Happy is that man which in all things / us, no temptation is too weak to overthrow (neglecting the counsels of flesh and blood) us. What living man had ever so noble depends upon the commission of his Maker! | proofs of the mercy, of the justice of God:

Mercy upon himself, justice upon others !
What man had so gracious approbation

from his Maker? Behold, he of whom in BOOK II.

an unclean world, God said, Thee only

have I found righteous, proves now unCONTEMPLATION 1.- OF NOAH. clean when the world was purged. The

preacher of righteousness unto the former No sooner is Noah come out of the ark, age, the king, priest, and prophet of the but he builds an altar : not an house for world renewed, is the first that renews the himself, but an altar to the Lord. Our sins of that world which he had reproved, faith will ever teach us to prefer God to and which he saw condemned for sin. ourselves : delayed thankfulness is not wor God's best children have no fence for sins thy of acceptation. Of those few creatures of infirmity. Which of the saints have not that are left, God must have some; they once done that, whereof they are ashamed ? are all his : yet his goodness will have man God, that lets us fall, knows how to make know that it was he, for whose sake they | as good use of the sins of his holy ones, as were preserved. It was a privilege to those of their obedience. If we had not such very brute creatures, that they were saved patterns, who could choose but despair at from the waters, to be offered up in fire the siglit of his sins? unto God. What a favour is it to men, Yet we find Noah drunken but once. to be reserved from common destructions, | One act can no more make a good heart to be sacrificed to their Maker and Re-unrighteous, than a trade of sin can stand deemer.

with regeneration. But when I look to the Lo, this little fire of Noah, through the effect of this sin, I cannot but blush and virtue of his faith, purged the world, and wonder. Lo! this sin is worse than sin: ascended up into those heavens from which other sins move shame, but hide it; this the waters fell, and caused a glorious rain. | displays it to the world. bow to appear therein for his security: all Adam had no sooner sinned, but he saw the sins of the former world were not so and abhorred his own nakedness, seekunsavoury unto God, as this smoke was ing to hide it even with bushes. Noah had pleasant. No perfume can be so sweet as no sooner sinned, but he discovers his the holy obedience of the faithful. Now nakedness, and hath not so much rule of God that was before annoyed with the ill himself as to be ashamed. One hour's savour of sin, smells a sweet savour of rest. drunkenness betrays that which more than Behold here a new and second rest! First, six hundred vears' sobriety had modestly God rested from making the world, now he concealed. He that gives himself to wine, rests from destroying it; even while we is not his own: what shall we think of cease not to offend, he ceases from a pub this vice, which robs a man of himself, and lic revenge. His word was enough; yet | lays a beast in his room ? Noah's nakedwithal he gives a sign, which may speak ness is seen in wine. It is no unusual quathe truth of his promise to the very eyes lity, in this excess, to disclose secrets. of men. Thus he doth still in his blessed Drunkenness doth both make imperfec. sacraments, which are as real words to the tions, and show those we have to others soul. The rainbow is the pledge of our eyes : so would God have it, that we might safety, which even naturally signifies the be doubly ashamed both of those weakend of a shower: all the signs of God's in nesses which we discover, and of that weak. stitution are proper and significant.

ness which moved us to discover. Noah But who would look, after all this, to is uncovered but in the midst of his own have found righteous Noah, the father of tent: it had been sinful, though no man the new world, lying drunken in his tent! had seen it. Unknown sins have their Who could think that wine should over- guilt and shame, and are justly attended throw him that was preserved from the with known punishments. Ungracious waters! that he, who could not be taint- | Cham saw it and laughed: his father's ed with the sinful examples of the former shame should have been his; the defor. world, should begin the example of a new mity of those parts from which he had his sin of his own! What are we men if we being, should have begotten in him a secret be but ourselves! While God upholds us, | horror and dejection. How many grace. no temptation can move us : when he leaves | less men make sport at the causes of their humiliation! Twice had Noah given hum wards that, which we should sin if we did life; yet neither the name of a father and not. Who could ever yet show me a man preserver, nor age nor virtue, could shield rebelliously undutiful to his parents, that him from the contempt of his own. I see hath prospered in himself, and his seed? that even God's ark may nourish monsters. Some filthy toads may lie under the stones of the temple: God preserves some men CONTEMPLATION 11.-OF BABEL. in judgment. Better had it been for Cham to have perished in the waters, than to live How soon are men and sins multiplied ! unto his father's curse. Not content to be a within one hundred years, the world is as witness of this filthy sight, he goes on to be full of both, as if there had been no deluge. a proclaimer of it. Sin doth ill in the eye, Though men could not but see the fearful but worse in the tongue. As all sin is a monuments of the ruin of their ancestors, work of darkness, so it should be buried in yet how quickly had they forgotten a flood ! darkness. The report of sin is ofttimes as Good Noah lived to see the world both ill as the commission; for it can never be populous and wicked again : and doubtless blazoned without uncharitableness ; seldom ofttimes repented to have been the prewithout infection. Oh the unnatural, and server of some, whom he saw to traduce more than Chamish impiety of those sons, the vices of the former world to the rewhich rejoice to publish the nakedness of newed. It could not but grieve him to their spiritual parents, even to their enemies! see the destroyed giants revive out of his

Yet it was well for Noah that Chamown loins, and to see them of his flesh could tell it to none but his own; and and blood tyrannise over themselves. In those, gracious and dutiful sons. Our shame his sight Nimrod, casting off the awe of his is the less, if none know our faults but our holy grandfather, grew imperious and cruel, friends. Behold how love covereth sins! and made his own kinsmen servants. How These good sons are so far from going for easy a thing it is for a great spirit to be ward to see their father's shame, that they the head of a faction, when even brethren go backward to hide it. The cloak is laid will stoop to servitude! And now, when on both their shoulders ; they both go back men are combined together, evil and prewith equal paces, and dare not so much as sumptuous motions find encouragment in look back, lest they should unwillingly see multitudes, and each man takes a pride the cause of their shame, and will rather in seeming forwardest : we are the cheer. adventure to stumble at their father's body, fuller in good, when we have the assistance than to see his nakedness. How did it of company; much more in sinning, by grieve them to think, that they, which had how much we are more prone to evil than so often come to their holy father with re- good. It was a proud word—“ Come, let verence, must now in reverence turn their us build a city and a tower, whose top may backs upon him! that they must now reach to heaven." clothe him in pity, which had so often They were newly come down from the clothed them in love! And, which adds hills unto the plains, and now think of more to their duty, they covered him and raising up of an hill of building in the plain. said nothing. This modest sorrow is their When their tents were pitched upon the praise, and our example. The sins of those mountains of Armenia, they were as near We love and honour, we must hear of with to heaven as their tower could make them ; indignation, fearfully and unwillingly believe, but their ambition must needs aspire to an acknowledge with grief and shame, hide height of their own raising. Pride is ever with honest excuses, and bury in silence. discontented, and still seeks matter of

How equal a regard is this both of piety boasting in her own works. and disobedience! Because Cham sinned How fondly do men reckon without God! against his father, therefore he shall be " Come let us build ;" as if there had been plagued in his children : Japheth is dutiful no stop but in their own will; as if both to his father, and finds it in his posterity. earth and time had been theirs. Still Because Cham was an ill son to his father, do all natural men build Babel, forecasting therefore his sons shall be servants to his their own plots so resolutely, as if there brethren: because Japheth set his shoulder were no power to countermand them. It is to Shem's, to bear the cloak of shame, just with God, that peremptory determinatherefore shall Japheth dwell in the tents tions seldom prosper: whereas those things, of Shem, partaking with him in blessings which are fearfully and modestly underas in duty. When we do but what we taken, commonly succeed. ought, yet God is thankful to us; and re- « Let us build us a city." If they had

« FöregåendeFortsätt »