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attestation to the truth of his word; 1 - If we always kept it memory the and he disbelieves the evidence of na-foregoing expression, that the flood ture as much as the testimony of has been in every age God's sermon Scripture, who can doubt or deny the against sin, then we might readily fact of the deluge. We are prepared understand why, though it were not to contend that, in bringing water repeated, a deluge was once brought upon the earth, God was wondrously upon the earth. But we might think providing for the faith of every com- that since there was the same evil ing generation, and was writing in after the deluge as before, there was characters which vo time can efface, the same reason for a second deluge and no ingenuity prove to be for- as for one and it strikes you as geries, that he hates sin with perfect strange that, if God smote once, he hatred, and will punish it with rigid did not smite twice. But it is imporpunishment. He was telling out, in tant to bear in mind, that, when God language understood by the most illi-visibly interferes for the punishment terate, and which shall not cease to of wickedness, there are some ends be heard till the baptism of fire shall of his moral government to be anhave fallen on the earth, that the swered, over and above that of the evil of the imagination of the heart chastisement of the unrighteous. Orbrougbt down his vengeance. - dinarily God delays taking vengeance
If it be true that our globe is its till the last day of account; and we own witness to the fact, that ven- judge erroneously if we judge from geance bas-ridden over its provinces, God's dealings with man on this side and that the wicked land has been eternity. When there is a direct turned into barrenness because of the interposition, such' as the deluge, wickedness of them that dwell therein, we may be sure it answers other dethen it is true that a twofold end signs besides that of punishing unhas been answered by the deluge | righteousness : and before, therefore, the veracity of the Bible, and God's we can show that there was the same indignation against evil -- these are reason for a second deluge as for one, alike stamped upon every fragment we must not only show there was the of wreck and confusion. I am firmly same amount of wickedness, and the persuaded that in the great day of same evil in the imagination of the general assize, when the sea as well heart-we must show there was the as the land shall give up its dead, same end of moral government to be and those who despised the preaching answered, over and above that of the of Noah shall rise up out of the deep, punishment of the rebellious. And awakened by the trumpet call, and here it is you will feel established in walk up to judgment, there shall be the belief, that a great lesson was reagain witnessed the same exhibition corded as to God's hatred of sin, and of wrath against an unbelieving ge- his determination to destroy, sooner neration; and the tens of thousands or later, the impenitent. And God who perished in the flood, shall call furnished this lesson, so that ages loudly and pressingly for sentence on have obliterated no letter of the record, those who had denied God, and forgot by bringing a flood on the earth, and God, whilst they trod an earth which burying in the womb of waters the told them of the deluge, and inhabited unnumbered tribes that crowded its a world on which was engraven the continents. But the lesson required wrecks of a generation which died for not to be repeated; it was sufficient its iniquity.
that it should be given once-sufficient, seeing that it is still so power- son had been given. The circumful and persuasive that it leaves in- stances were not, therefore, the same: excusable all who persist in rejecting there was, indeed, the same provocait. Thus there was a reason for one tion, but there was not the same readeluge which there cannot be for son why that arrangement should be another. When God had manifested interfered with, which makes the prehis hatred of sin, and his resolve to sent the probation time, and the future punish it, there was a witness sent the punishing time. And if the ciragainst the unrighteous; the ends of cumstances were not the same, we his moral government were answered, may readily understand why He who and it was not to be looked for that smote once should not smite twice ; he would again display so striking a and why He who said " I will curse dispensation : so that while there was the earth, for man's imaginations are the same evil and the same provoca- evil,” should 'afterwards, when that tion, there was not the same reason earth arose before him with the curse for interference. The object of the stamped on its surface, declare, “ I deluge was not only to punish wick- will not again curse the earth, though edness, it was also to give instruction man's imaginations are still evil.”
which is especially the business of Now thus far we have dealt only the present dispensation : and since with the first of these questions, which the instruction was immutably given the study of our text seemed to sugby one deluge, that object, which is gest. We have simply endeavoured confined to the present, could not de- to show, that there is no just cause of mand a second.
| surprise in the fact that God, on acThus there could evidently be no- count of man's provocation, should thing more inconclusive than the rea- have smitten once, but that, with son that, because the imagination of exactly the same amount of provocaman's heart was only evil, if the first tion, he should not have smitten twice. deluge were just, there ought to be a The common idea would be that the second. God sent the first that the destroyed were more wicked than the unborn might be instructed as well as spared; but this idea is overthrown the living punished. If the one had by our text, when taken in connexion been insufficient, we might have con- with the passage which refers to the cluded that a second was to be ex-producing cause of the flood. The evil pected ; but since it was full of which moved God to destroy is demeaning, there are none of the prin-clared to have existed when he deciples of God's government which termined to spare ; there was the would warrant our looking for a se- same ground for a second deluge as cond interference. And thus we for the first; and we naturally think, show there was a great end answered that, since the second was withheld, by the deluge, and that, that end so might have been the one; and then being answered, there was no de- we wonder at this outbreak of venmand for another : so that, without geance. But we have shown that the any want of equity, God might de- moral end which one deluge answered termine at one time to send a flood, did not demand a second ; and thos and at another time determine not to we have shown that, though the evil send a flood, though on both occasions was not greater before than after the the reason was, that man's imaginations flood, it was consistent with the prinwere evil. In the one case he had a ciples of God's government to smite lesson to give-in the other that les- once, but that those principles would
have been violated if he had smitten bring a flood, for the imaginations twice.
of men are evil," he must have seen There are truths far more striking that this evil would be best opposed to be examined under the second by the deluge; and when he said, “I question. We propose to seek an will not bring a flood, for the imagi. answer to the enquiry, WHETHER LONG nations of men are evil,” he must SUFFERING CAN PRODUCE THE SAME have seen that this, evil would be best RESULTS AS PUNISHING. And this, opposed by his binding up the waters, after all, is the question most forcibly But how comes it, then, to pass presented in our text. Whether God that it was best at one time to smite, smites, or whether he spares, we and at another time to spare? We know he must have the same objects have given a reason for one deluge, in view the promotion of his own which could not be given for a second, glory and the well being of the uni- The lesson of the deluge was to be verse. If, then, we find him at one spread over the whole surface of time; time determining to smite, and at and thus the one act of punishment another, when the amount of provo-was to have its effect throughout the cation is the same, determining to season of long suffering. Had GOD spare, we cannot but admit that the not smitten once, man might have ends which were in the first instance abused his long suffering, construing promoted by punishing, in the second it into a proof that he concerned not instance were promoted equally by himself with what was done upon the long. suffering. If we hear God earth ; but when once he had intersaying, “I will curse the ground, fered, he demonstrated to the men of for the imaginations of men are evil,” every generation that he is a God and then, “I will not again curse the that will take vengeance ; and then ground, for the imaginations of men he might go on to exercise long sufare evil”-are we to suppose that fering, and yet leave mankind inexGod has altered his purposes; or cusable if they presumed on it for that, like one of ourselves, he gives liberty to transgress with impunity. up one plan as ineffectual, and then Thus it might not have been well to resolves to make trial of another ? have spared the first, since men might We are certain that such a supposi- have been encouraged in false hope ; tion would be altogether erroneous. but when once the lesson against evil If God had been nothing more than had been given, we may easily unan earthly sovereign, he might have derstand that ever after it might be tried punishment, and then, when he best to spare, seeing that men might found the evil undiminished, resolved be led by long suffering to repentance. to try sparing; but we cannot ascribe So that there is nothing unintelligible to GOD the making an experiment in the fact, that God should resolve for the sake of ascertaining a result. to spare on the very account on which He knows the end from the beginning; he had resolved to punish. Punishand he did not therefore try sparing ment was a necessary preliminary to because smiting was ineffectual. long suffering, to prevent the abuse When he smote he knew it would of long suffering. God is only taking not be advantageous to spare, and consecutive steps in one and the same when he smiote he equally knew it design; and if we are right in saying would not be advantageous to smite. that punishment was necessarily preSo that when God said, “I will liminary to long suffering, then even
a child can perceive that God was of waters. I might deal with suconly acting out the same arrangement ceeding generations as I have with when he said, “I will not spare," this very one; and as soon as the and when he said, “I will spare, for earth sent up new harvests of wickedthe imagination of man's heart is ness, I might come forth, and put in evil.”
the scythe of my vengeance; but after But was it, then, by long suffering all there would be no, renovation, that God intended from the first to and evil would still be predominant withstand, and ultimately to win the in this section of the creation. There mastery over evil? We all know fore I will be long suffering ; nothing that with the earliest moment of but long suffering can effect my purhuman apostacy had come into force pose, for nothing but an atonement can the work of the atonement. It was reconcile the fallen; and long sufferonly because our Creator, beholding ing is nothing but the atonement antithe things that were not as though cipated. I will not, then, again curse they were, saw a curse arise on the the ground, for man's imaginations earth as soon as fallen angels had are evil. I will not curse--the evil seduced man, that he prolonged the will not be grappled with by the race; and you may readily perceive curse--the evil would not go away from the expression of the text, that before the curse. If the evil were in determining not again to curse, but not in the very heart, it might be to exercise long suffering, God had eradicated by judgment; if it were respect to the propitiation of the not engraven into the very bone and Mediator. The Lord saying in his / sinew and spirit, it might be washed heart. “I will not again curse the out by the torrent; and I would again ground,” is represented as a con- curse. But it is an evil for which sequence of the Lord's smelling a there must be expiation; it is an evil sweet savour; and if Noah's offering which can only be done away by was acceptable because typical of sacrifice, it is an evil which can only Christ, it equally shows that long be exterminated by the entering in af suffering was exercised only because Deity into that nature." And this the Mediator had covenanted to die. | was presupposing, while at the same And who is there of you that can time it rendered possible, the exercise question, seeing that the determina- of long suffering. “ Therefore I shall tion not to curse was thus based on be long suffering on account of the the appointment that Christ Jesus greatness of the evil :” in other words, should atone,–who will question that “I will not again any more curse the GOD was taking the most effectual ground for man's sake; for the imamethod of opposing evil wben he was gination of man's heart is evil from resolved to exercise long suffering? his youth.” “I will not again curse the ground It is thus, that, so far as we can any more for man's sake ; for the judge, without overstraining the pasimagination of man's heart is evil sage, the corruption of human nature from his youth.” It is as though he will furnish a reason why there was said, " I might send flood after flood, no repetition of the deluge. God's and leave again only an insignificant object was not to destroy, but to fraction of the population ; but the reconcile the world, and the reconevil lies deep in the heart, and would ciliation could not be effected by not be swept away by the immensity judgments; the machinery must be
made up of mercies. Judgments he marshals the elements, and directs might make way for mercies, but the artillery of his wrath against the they could not do the work of mercies. bold ones who defy him. But if, Punishment was preliminary to with all the apparatus of vengeance at sparing, but punishment continued his disposal, ready to crush into powwould not have effected the object of der all who scorn his commands, he the Almighty. So that long suffer- / should abstain from interference, and ing was the only engine by which entreat instead of destroying, wooing the machinery could be mastered. I to blessedness instead of consigning to The whole of Christ's work was despair-oh, this it is which most outgathered, so to speak, into long suf- runs all human calculation: and though fering ; God could bear with men I might well understand the appointonly because Jesus had covenanted to ment of a dispensation under which bear their sins: and if you could every action should be immediately easily understand such a saying as recompensed, I am confounded by this_“I will give my Son to die for the unaccountable fact, that blasmen, because their imaginations are phemy may be uttered, and the evil;" if you could simply have re- ground not cleave asunder, and Jehoceived it as an announcement, that vah be insulted, and no lightning puthe exigencies were so great, that nish the impiety. nothing but the sacrifice of God's And if you examine with any careSon will suffice, and that God's mercy fulness, you must perceive, that longis so great that not even this amazing suffering on the part of God pre-supgift should be withheld ; then you poses arrangement for the pardon of would understand the statement of the guilty. It may well be an incomthe text: for when God, smelling a prehensible thing that God should sweet savour, declared he would be bear long with the rebellious, seeing long suffering, he was virtually de- that, unless there were an after surety claring that Christ should be sacri- for man, we cannot suppose such ficed, and that the sacrifice should be long suffering possible. But there acceptable: and when he gave this could have been no room for repentreason, he did but say that nothing ance, and therefore no place for long short of the atonement had over suffering, had not the second person powered evil; he did but say, “ My in the Trinity undertaken the suretiSon shall die," when he said, “ I will ship; and if the work of mediation be not again curse the ground any more; that stupendous exploit which shall for the imagination of man's heart is employ, and yet baffle, the noble evil from his youth."
powers with which the children of the Now, we suppose it to be unnecessary resurrection shall be endowed-shall to prove what we have assumed, that it not be confessed that the long sufto be 'long suffering is perhaps the fering which takes for granted this greatest outputting of the energies work overpasses' immeasurably all of the Almighty. God shows himself our present conceptions, so that in wonderful and tremendous when,with sparing God is infinitely more amazthe thunderbolt in his grasp, and withing, infinitely further renoved from the scythe of the pestilence on his the comprehension of the creature, chariot wbeels, he rides the circuits than when he bears his arm, or of his sbrieking creation. It is quite breathes in the blast, or loosens the true that he is awfully great when torrent? What then was God doing