Index: In-Page Navigation
Please click on the following links to go to each Lesson.
- Lesson 01 Genesis 1:1
- Lesson 02 Genesis 1:2-3
- Lesson 03 Genesis 2:7
- Lesson 04 Genesis 2:15-17
- Lesson 05 Genesis 3:1
- Lesson 06 Genesis 3:1
- Lesson 07 Genesis 3:2-5
- Lesson 08 Genesis 3:6-7
- Lesson 09 Genesis 3:8-13
- Lesson 10 Genesis 3:15
- Lesson 11 Genesis 4:3-5
- Lesson 12 Genesis 4:5
- Lesson 13 Genesis 5:24
- Lesson 14 Genesis 6:5-6
- Lesson 15 Genesis 6:9
- Lesson 16 Genesis 6:16
- Lesson 17 Genesis 7:16
- Lesson 18 Genesis 8:11
- Lesson 19 Genesis 8:21
- Lesson 20 Genesis 9:14
- Notebook Images
These notes were copied from a personal notebook of John Newton (kindly loaned by the curator of the Newton and Cowper Museum at Olney, England). These sermons were preached by Newton in 1769. We have 20 of these sermons or "lessons" as he called them and it is most unlikely that they are available in print elsewhere. In Lesson 1, it is interesting that Newton affirms his belief in the Bible chronology of creation about 6,000 years ago. It is even more interesting that this was being challenged in 1769 by ideas of billions of years. This is well before James Hutton published his Theory of Uniformitarianism (Geological Ages) in 1788 and 90 years before Darwin's publication of the Origin of the Species.
The last section in this page are sample pages from Newton's handwritten original notebook and dated 1769.
LESSON 1. GENESIS 1:1
It would make plain people more sensible of the advantage of the word of God, if they knew the uncertainty and perplexity of the wisest men who were not favoured with this light with respect to the most obvious truths. The world with all their wisdom knew not God. A child that has read the Bible knows more than all the philosophers of old put together. Some thought the world was eternal, others that it made itself. But the Scripture gives a clear and satisfactory though brief account. There is more in this first verse of the Bible than in 10,000 volumes of man's invention.
In the beginning as Adam was created on the sixth day and the year of his life assigned in which he saw Seth was born and soon in the life of each of his descendants and through all the history of the old testament events are connected with the dates which they happened to the time of the return of Israel from Babylon from which period the prophecies assigned 490 years to the death of Christ. By comparing these accessions of years we may assign how long ago it is since the beginning of time here spoken of. There are indeed many disputes and differences among the learned about the settling this chronology exactly, but a very great unity is not necessary, and it is pretty certain tha the birth of Christ took place about 4,000 years after the creation, but that is to us about 5,770 ago was the commencement of time which Moses speaks of.
What then was before the beginning? I answer the same that shall be when all things have an end - eternity. This is too great a thought for our feeble minds too grasp. We are lost indeed when we consider eternity with respect to the future as having no end, but it is harder to consider of it by looking back as having had no beginning. Before anything was made that was made. God was supremely happy and glorious in Himself and would have been forever if neither heaven or earth had been created, but when He pleased He manifested His power in producing creatures to whom and in whom He might communicate and display His goodness. If a thought arises in our minds of wonder that through a whole eternity it should not please God thus to manifest Himself till within a few thousand years ago, we should charge such a thought to the darkness and weakness of our own minds.
Supposing the beginning had been not 5,000 but 5,000 million years ago there would have been room for the same objection, for even then there would have been an eternity before the beginning the same as there is now. We must submit then to the wisdom, will and word of God "in the beginning He created".
GOD, who can describe Him? Guess at Him by His works, but alas we know them not nor can order our speech by reason of darkness. If I was qualified to speak at large of the magnitude, the motions, the regularities and order of the heavenly bodies, many of which taken singly are probably hundreds or thousand times larger than the globe we live on, if I could help you to judge of their immense distance from each other and from us, if to some hearer I could assist you to number the sand upon the shore and the drops of water in the ocean, every one of which is as much the effect of Divine power and is the object of His providential care as the sun is in the firmament, if I could give you a view of that great family in heaven and earth from the highest angel to the meanest worm, which all derive their being from Him and could not subsist a single moment without Him, this might give some assistance to help you to conceive of His greatness, His wisdom and goodness.
The consideration of these things is very useful in its proper place, to those who have leisure and abilities for it, but these are not the direct subjects of the Gospel ministry. Such knowledge of God as is attainable from His works will neither break a hard heart nor heal a wounded conscience. I would rather speak of Him as He has revealed Himself in Scripture in a waymore suited to sinners. The Lord Jehovah, Father, Word and Holy Spirit. The God who in the fulness of time was in Christ reconciling sinners to Himself. He in the beginning created the heavens and the earth. The work of creation is ascribed to each of the Glorious Three, to the Word or Son. John 1:3, Colossians 1:16, to the Holy Spirit, Acts 4:24-25, compare with Genesis 1:16.
Let us always keep in view the God of the Scriptures as the Three in One. The covenant God whose glory and grace is revealed to sinners in the person of Jesus Christ.
God created by an immediate act of almighty power. Creatures can make, that is form, one thing from another, but to give being to the first principles of things belongs to God alone, and this in a strict and proper sense was the work of creation. Other things were produced and disposed afterwards in the several days. When God would remind His people of His power to help them under the greatest difficulties, when He would silence the vain reasonings of their unbelief, which is so ready to say - How can these things be ? He often puts them in mind of this first discovery of His almighty arm. Isaiah 44:24, Jeremiah 31:35, Isaiah 51:12-13, Jeremiah 5:22, and though we have a general conviction of His power we are too apt to fail in a right application of it to our particular cases. I should therefore often consider what He hath wrought.
The heavens and the earth that is the visible world with all their furniture and inhabitants. Genesis c 2 v 1. Let us humbly enquire into some of the ends for which He created all things by His good pleasure.
In general, for the display of His glory to intelligent creatures, by the order, beauty and variety and grandeur of His works as I have already hinted and for the effusion of His goodness in giving life and a suitable perfection to different orders of beings.
In particular He formed the earth as a theatre where only to display the riches of His glorious grace in the salvation of a people chosen for Himself in Christ before the foundation of the world.
He formed the visible heavens with an immediate reference to the benefit of the earth particularly of man for whom the earth was made. Under the term heaven we may likewise understand that glorious state in which He makes Himself known as the fountain of happiness and joy to His angels and redeemed people. This kingdom was prepared for them from the beginning, Matthew 25:34.
Believers this is our God. How miserable they who have no part in Him.
LESSON 2. GENESIS 1:2-3
The immediate act of creation mentioned in the first verse produced the earth in the state here described. The matter out of which the beauty, order and variety we now observe were framed was at first all in confusion. The earth, the water, the deep were one mixed map and darkness covered the whole. Here observe:
The description, without form, without a rude map and void, that is, empty, unfurnished, destitute of ornaments and inhabitants, and incapable of receiving any till God was pleased to put forth His mighty power and dispose everything according to His wise plan. The wisdom of man, who would fain account for everything, had endeavoured to guess by what steps the Almighty proceeded in this work, many conjectures of this sort have been started but they are all vain and trifling and no better than waking dreams, naughty and presumptuous. The Lord pours contempt upon such proud reasoners in His outline questions to Job in chapter 38 and intimates that it is counsel far above - out of our sight. It is enough for us that things were thus in the beginning and if we consider this darkness and confusion and then compare it with the creation as it now appears, so as to say with humble admiration what God has wrought and to be affected with His greatness and goodness, then we have the true philosophy - all besides is vanity and food for pride.
The great Author of that beautiful change which took place in the course of six days - the Spirit of God moved - the same word is used in Deuteromy 32:11, as an eagle "fluttereth" over her young. It signifies the powerful influence of energy which penetrated the whole map and by a general motion prepared the separation out of that confused state in which they were blended together. And this is ascribed to the Spirit of God. It was not, as some men afterwards dreamed, by a blind and casual impulse. The Scripture teaches us to ascribe all to God.
By the word of His almighty power God produced light and said - let there be - and it was. This is the most excellent and beautiful of all visible things, and that by which all other things are made known. It was a direct opposition to the state just before and there could be no hindering in darkness to produce it.
Yet the word of God brought it forth immediately. From this beginning the whole beautiful creation was gradually accomplished in the course of six days, as in the course of this chapter. For it so seemed fit to His wisdom, otherwise He could have finished it all in an instant. Now this account of the creation the Scripture teaches us chiefly for three purposes:
- To help our conceptions of the wonder working of God and His WISDOM Psalm 104:24, His POWER Amos 4:12-13, Isaiah 40:25, His GOODNESS Psalm 104 vv 1345.
- To instruct us in His readiness and willingness to help His people in their greatest troubles and in the darkest times. When our hearts faint we should remember the right hand of the most high, Isaiah 51:12-13, Psalm 146:5.
- As a type or emblem of the new creation. The sinner has faculties and powers singularly suited for the service of God, but all is in disorder. His mind is without form and void. Darkness, gross darkness, sin, ignorance and misery covers his heart, BUT 2 Corinthians 4:6. The life of fruitfulness takes place and the evil darkness becomes the garden of the Lord.
This God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself by the cross in the sacrificial death of Christ. He still reigns upon a throne of grace, mighty to save. BELIEVE IN HIS NAME.
LESSON 3. GENESIS 2:7
When the earth was finished and furnished a suitable inhabitant was wanting capable of admiring the Creator's work and yielding a tribute of worship and praise. Such an inhabitant was man in his original state, yet man was not made for the sake of the earth, but the earth for the sake of man, concerning whom the Divine Counsels had been engaged from eternity and when the appointed season of his existence drew near the earth was fitted to receive him. Concerning this masterpiece of the creation from our text compared with chapter 1:26 and 5:1-2 we may note:
A peculiar form of expression - "Let us" - which seems to indicate:
- That mysterious distinction in the Godhead which we call The Trinity. The word is plural and joined with a verb in the singular - compare 3:22.
- The excellency and importance of the design that is pointed out to our weak capacity by the idea of an act of council, an agreement and indeed the great events and manifestation of the divine Glory which depended upon the creation of man give us no cause to consider this as the chief of all the works of God.
The formation of man's body:
Here first the materials - the dust of the ground - and yet by nature capable of immortality, for that man was afterward liable to death was a consequence of sin. Hence we may observe that everything is what it is in consequence of the divine appointment. Dust by the will of God may be immortal and stones become bread.
The expression "formed" - the word is properly used of the skill and power of the potter over the clay which can be moulded according to his own will and makes it very different from what it is in the mass. Much of the wisdom of God is manifest to an attentive eye in the admirable structure of our bodies. We are fearfully and wonderfully made.
The communication of life - "He breathed" which seems to impart the union of an immortal soul, for the animals were living creatures likewise yet no such expression is used of them. The life of the soul was distinct from the life of the body and did not like that depend upon his obedience, for the wicked are "immortal". Only sin perverts this (original, primitive) blessing and honour into the greatest curse. Consider this, you that forget God, you are not creatures of a day, but designed for eternity.
In His own image, or likeness. I will not stand to distinguish these expressions taken together, I apprehend they signify:
- Man formed in the image of God, as His representative here below, honoured with the subordinate dominion of the earth and all its creatures 1:27.
- Perhaps the expression may intimate, in the image and likeness of that body which the Word of God would in time take into union with Himself. For this was His purpose before neither man or the earth were made. Man was therefore formed according to the resemblance of Him who now sits upon the throne. The head of the whole creation.
- The capacities of man being some faint image of the divine perfections. Understanding, conscientiousness, will and vast affections, which the possession of all the creatures could not satisfy verse 20, and this natural dignity and vastness of soul which makes it incapable of being satisfied with anything short of an infinite good, still remains under the ruin of the fall. Though this likewise becomes a curse and punishment. Sin having rendered the union between the soul and its chief good impracticable without the interposition of free grace.
- Man was created in the moral image of God, endued with a portion of His goodness, holiness and truth by which he was qualified for communion with His maker and fully enabled for obedience to His righteous law. Ephesians 4:24, Colossians 3:10. This image was lost and defaced by sin and therefore the work of grace which restores it is called a NEW CREATION.
This account agrees likewise to the woman and though she was made afterward and immediately from the substance of the man. The subject we are upon is so mysterious and so briefly related - but it is our wisdom to avoid an attempt of being wise above what is written. Let us fix to what is profitable.
Cause for lamentation - Lamentations 4:1 - what an awful difference: instead of dominion - misery and confusion. Instead of the moral image of God, the image of Satan, full drawn upon the soul. Nothing remains but immortality and capacity and these constitute our wickedness so that if men have no more than sin has left them they will one day wish they had been dogs or toads to crawl upon the earth awhile and then be forever forgot.
Cause of praise - to say - Blessed be God for Jesus Christ - this ruin is under His hand. He came that we may have life and that we may have it more abundantly. BELIEVE IN HIM AND YOUR SOULS SHALL LIVE.
LESSON 4. GENESIS 2:15-17
We have reason to believe that before sin brought a curse upon the creation the whole earth was a garden of Eden in comparison to what it is now. Yet when ALL was good it pleased God to make a further display of His goodness in favour of mankind and to enrich and beautify a particular spot for his residence. In this paradise Man was placed with a general permission of the right use of all, that he could desire - with only one exception - mentioned in my text.
THE NAME - the tree of knowledge of good and evil. On the conduct of our first parents (for they were both involved) 3:2, with respect to this tree depended their knowledge of that good for which they were created, OR the evil of which they were yet unknown that would be the consequence of disobedience. Note that Adam's whole duty to God consisted in abstinence from the forbidden fruit - for we have shewn that his being made in the divine image signified that he had the law of love, holiness and righteousness written in his heart. But his ability to maintain communion with His Maker was suspended upon his observation of this particular precept.
THE PROHIBITION - thou shalt not eat - to remind him:
- Of his state of dependence on God and that he was not absolute lord of himself.
- That God was his chief good and nothing truly desirable but in subordination to Him.
- To intimate that he was not as yet established in happiness but in a state of probation.
THE OUTCOME, or condition with which the prohibition was attended:
- The penalty of disobedience - death - SPIRITUAL - which immediately took place when he had transgressed - TEMPORAL -to which he became immediately subject though the execution was deferred, and ETERNAL which is necessarily opposed to life which is by the gospel, Romans 6:23, and which is inflicted upon impenitent sinners and therefore included if the first penalty for we cannot suppose that the Righteous Judge would inflict a greater punishment than He had threatened.
Since he was not to die unless he sinned, a promise of continuance in life and happiness was necessarily implied, Romans 10:6. This is what is frequently called the covenant of works - on which a few observations:
- This law of covenant was evidently holy, just and good. The Great God had a just right, and His gracious bounty had given everything else to His creation. Man was furnished with sufficient strength to obey and warned of the danger if he rebelled.
- In this covenant Adam was a public person, he stood for himself, and posterity and his fall involved them all in guilt and misery. He lost the divine image and favour and love of God and therefore could not impart to them more then he had. A part of this conseqence may be imperfectly illustrated by the case of TREASON with us.
The difference between the covenant of works and that of grace afterwards revealed - they differed and they agreed in various respects. By the original a perfect obedience to the law, the first personal, and the second by a surety. The end and design of both was to give life, but the former became insufficient through sin Romans 8:3. The one was directly WITH man, the other FOR man in with a mediator by which it was sound from miscarriage. In the first, man was left to his own strength, and in the other - grace effectual is treasured up and freely bestowed.
The first covenant revealed no pardon or room for repentance to those who transgressed it. In the second, Christ is the end of the law for righteousness and the feeble services of His people performed by His grace are accepted for His sake. Though in themselves unable to bear strict examination by the Holy Law. Psalm 130:3-4.
All men by nature and under the first covenant show no way of escape, but by fleeing to Jesus. Oh that this truth laid home to the conscience, might make you all prize the gospel of salvation. If the Son make you free you shall be free indeed, if not you will die in your sins. JESUS has all power to save, He has obeyed, He has suffered, He is risen and He is ascended. YOUR HEARTS SHALL LIVE THAT SEEK HIM.
LESSON 5. GENESIS 3:1
To the word of God we are indebted for the knowledge we have of the first state of things, as described in the two preceding chapters and it is only from the same word that we have any satisfaction concerning the entrance of evil. This has always been a puzzling question to the wisdom of man. We have here the mournful account which is given not to indulge our curiosity but because it most highly concerns us to know it and to be suitably affected with it.
We have to speak of the serpent, his design, his wiles and the dreadful issue of his temptations in seducing our first parents from their obedience and happiness whereby they exposed themselves and their posterity to every kind of misery as the just desert of sin.
THE SERPENT - Yet he was not a mere serpent - but that evil spirit who is called in Scripture (1 suppose on this account) the old serpent, the devil - John 8:44, Revelation12:9. The Scripture is very brief in the account it gives us of the invisible world - but this much is clear:
- That there is then in the scale of God, creatures of an order of beings superior to man in power and knowledge, called angels formed for the service and vision of God.
- That many of these angels kept not their first estate, but rebelled against God, were cut off from His light and holiness and became fallen, apostate and hopeless spirits, or in other words, devils.
- That the word devil - singularly in Scripture seems used sometimes collectively for the whole body and interest of these powers of darkness and sometimes to denote one Chief Spirit or head amongst them - who is called the Prince of the bottomless pit (and from the advantages he gained over our first parents) - The God of this world.
- That Satan and all his associates in misery are filled with malice, enmity and rage against God and His creatures. Their study is to defile and destroy, and, though they are chained by the power of God and cannot do all they would, yet have a permissive liberty which God by His holy wisdom makes subservient to His own glory.
- In brief we may collect from Scripture that Satan or the head of these apostate angels was suffered to tempt Adam to break God's commands - force him, he could not. The event was infallibly foreknown to the God to whom past, present and future are the same, and He had before determined to manifest on the dark ground the brightest display of His glory both to angels and to man.
THE DESIGN OF SATAN - was doubtless:
- To dishonour and affront God.
- To destroy man whose happiness he envied. But see how he was taken in his own craftiness. Hereby occasion was offered for the revelation of God's glory in justice and in grace and man was raised from the misery into which Satan plunged him to a noble and more established happiness than that in which he was at first created. We may admire and say as Romans 11:23.
HIS WILES - I doubt not but in this first temptation might be noticed the chief traces of all the arts he practices to this day upon Adam's posterity and that the steps by which he prevailed show much of the workings of the hearts of all men under his influence. But I do not believe that the line of my experience is sufficient to sound the depths of this mystery on iniquity. It is a mercy if we can say we are not altogether ignorant of his devices. What I can observe to you may be gathered from his appearance, his address and his arguments.
He appeared as a serpent - either in the likeness of a serpent or rather I suppose he actually possessed a real serpent. If I was to tell you of the conjectures of the learned upon this subject it might be more for your amusement than edification. I WOULD SAY AS LITTLE AS POSSIBLE THAT IS NOT FOUNDED UPON THE SURE WORD. It is plain that the serpent was degraded by the sentence and therefore was a more excellent creature before the fall than since. It did not go upon its belly or feed upon dust. What other properties it might possess we know not.
Satan's principal reason for choosing this creature is assigned. He was the most subtle and therefore Eve was less likely to be surprised at the subtlety of Satan and such a form. From hence we may note in general that Satan knows how to avail himself of the fittest instruments. In all succeeding times Satan is carried on by the subtle instruments. When he would oppose the commands of God, when he would deprave the doctrines of the gospel, when he would darken the glories of Christ and deny the operations and influences of the Holy Spirit he does not ordinarily employ fools in these services but men of parts and abilities of genius and learning. We shall hardly find one dangerous of damnable error that had considerable prevalence in the Church but what has been started and maintained by persons of this sort. Had they been ignorant blockheads as we say their dreams might have been quickly despised and forgot.
From hence - two Lessons:
- That none should be proud of natural abilities or a turn of reasoning or the furniture of learning. The more of these things a man has if they are not sanctified by grace, they make him but so much a titter instrument for Satan and qualify him for the greater mischief. Many wise men and great scholars who have admired themselves and been admired by the world for their ingenuity will one day wish they had been idiots!!
- Of caution - that none be carried away by great names - so as to take things on trust - because the person who teaches them is called a scholar, a divine, a doctor or a Pope. For ought I know if, Satan had appeared to Eve as an ass she might have disdained to confer with him. But the serpent was so subtle - now perhaps some of you would not be so willing to venture your souls upon your own righteousness to think so meanly as you do of the person and gospel of Christ - if you did not know that the same sentiments are maintained by persons whom you suppose wiser than yourselves. But if you are blindly led by those who are wrong themselves (and the wisdom of man's foolishness with God) what must the issue be?
We have but yet entered upon this important subject and our time draws to a close I must therefore only add a word of exhortation:
- Be sober, be vigilant - you have an adversary. Did he attempt this against Adam in paradise, and shall you escape ? If you do not find him assaulting and endeavouring to deceive you, is it because you are asleep in his hands. He thinks he has you sure. He has blinded your eyes and has stopped your ears and is leading you captive at his will.
- You that are seeking the Lord - wonder not that Satan is against you - Be humble and continue in prayer - But remember, who has conquered him - make the name of JESUS your high tower and take to you the armour of God. Amen.
LESSON 6. GENESIS 3:1
In considering the wiles of Satan from this passage for our introduction I offered the first instance from the name and character he assumed. I now proceed to a second - his addressing himself to the woman. The serpent said to the woman who was created to be a help meet for the man. Adam was the immediate head of creation and God gave him the woman to be his companion. We may believe that they were each furnished suitably for the different parts assigned to them in life. Equal with respect to this great end - the knowledge and love of God, but the woman in some respects subordinate to the man even in paradise. It seems probable that Satan expected more easily to prevail over her.
That he was afraid of being discovered and repulsed if he applied directly to man, but if he could deceive the woman first he hoped by her means to draw the man into transgression likewise as the event proved - see 1 Corinthians 11:3-9; 1 Timothy 2:13-14. In this first temptation we may see something of his general methods to this day.
It seems that Satan was well acquainted with Adam's ability, therefore he proceeded cautiously; he knew his situation and suited himself accordingly. The Scripture as I have observed intimates that even in the state when both were perfect, the woman was in a sense the weaker vessel, therefore, he began with her. Watching an opportunity - as it should seem when Adam was absent, and thus he besets and watches us all, especially awakened souls. He will not ordinarily come upon you in your strength at a season when you are best prepared and most upon your guard, but will wait his advantage. He did not tempt Peter to deny his Master when upon the mount, but when he found him in the high priest's hall. He will not tempt you by directly thwarting your knowledge and judgment, but will tempt you when you are weaker, by your imaginations, passions or prejudices.
The great advantage Satan proposed against Adam by seducing Eve, seemed to lie in her nearness and relation to him and the influence she had in his affections. He tempted Eve by a serpent, Adam by Eve herself. She was bone of his bone, his dearest friend, his other self. But by sin she was brought under Satan's power and because his instrument - so that then he had access to Adam in the least suspected and the most ensnaring way. If he did not prevail thus, he could have little hope of success in any other method, and alas he took his measures surely. Adam hearkened to the voice of his wife - hence:
- By the subtlety of Satan our best earthly comforts and the choicest gifts of God may become our greatest snares. If it was so in paradise, how much more are we exposed to the danger now. Do you rejoice in the possession of many blessings and comforts, rejoice with trembling. The enemy is watching to make that which is good an occasion of your falling. There is not one of them but may draw you into sin.
- We know how often our nearest friends may (perhaps unaware to themselves) be influenced by the enemy to tempt us to sin. He will not so frequently solicit us by those we hate as by those we love. And when they mean us well they may be acting the part to our hurt, which a professed enemy could not attempt. Thus Satan employed Peter to discourage our Lord from His purpose of love to us. But He saw that the words were Peter's, but that the suggestion was from Satan and treated it accordingly Matthew c 16 v 23.
- As Adam and Eve were in a marriage relation I may take the occasion to remind all who fear God and have yet their choice to make, of the Apostle's words BE NOT UNEQUALLY YOKED. If you marry in the Lord and join with those who love and fear His name, yet the enemy may sometimes make you hindrances to each other. But if you marry with those who know Him not you can expect no better from day to day, from year to year. I would not discourage those who are already fixed, the day that is past cannot be recalled or perhaps the Lord has mercifully called you since and you have not offended against His precept because at that time you were not concerned in it. The Lord can make all work for good, but you have need of a double guard of watchfulness and prayer and ordinarily such shall have trouble in the flesh.
We shall find a train of Satan's subtleties in his discourse with the woman and in her answers. We shall see how he prevails by degrees when he can get us to listen to his reasonings:
- He does not show all his design but begins starting with a doubt - is it possible? I can hardly believe it and this he expressed ambiguously - of EVERY TREE? as if he asks for information. Such questioning - where the command of God was concerned the woman ought not to have indulged. Here seems to have been the beginning of sin and we are often endangered in the same way. (Satan's doubt respected).
- The reality of the command - and so still he prevails - persuading many that the precepts and threatenings in the Bible are not the sure word of God. Yes, he would sometimes force such doubts even upon believers.
- The reasonableness of it. Why should God say so? Thus he teaches sinners to reason. If God has threatened - He will not make His threatenings good. Surely He will not punish me with everlasting misery for taking my pleasures here a few years,
So there are many points of doctrine as plainly expressed as words can express them. Yet Satan teaches men to reason about them till they deny and disbelieve them totally. Even some of God's dear children are kept in suspense to their hurt. But I must stop for the present, adding a word concerning JESUS who was revealed to destroy the works of the Devil. In HIM there is pardon for all transgressions and wisdom to enable us to withstand Satan. Without Him sinners must perish, but those who believe in Him shall be more than conquerors and placed out of Satan's reach for ever. SEEK HIS FACE, therefore, and YOUR SOULS SHALL LIVE. Amen.
LESSON 7. GENESIS 3:2-5
If the enemy of our souls can reduce us so far as to parley with him we seldom come off unhurt. Something then was in his appearance and in the manner of his speaking that drew the attention of Eve. She might have been upon her guard - for had he meant well he would rather have commended the goodness of God to her than to have started a doubt concerning His command. We have here the woman's answer and the serpent's reply.
- Her answer, including - an acknowledgement of the bounty and blessings she enjoyed. This heightens the ingratitude and folly of her compliance afterwards and left her without excuse. How unreasonable as well as rebellious to disobey a good God who had given all things richly to enjoy. The devil tempts poor sinners to think of God as a hard master - but if you will be His servants, you will find nothing forbid you, but what hurts you, and what it would be in your interest to avoid, even if you were not to give an account of yourself to God.
- She owns the prohibition - and therefore sinned with her eyes open. Why was not Satan discouraged when he found she had the precept in mind ? Probably he saw or judged she was beginning to yield - that though she remembered the precept she wished it was otherwise. Observe - Satan will not be afraid of those who have much light in their heads, if their hearts are insincere before God.It is not TALKING about Christ and grace and holiness that will preserve you from the powers of temptation, if your hearts desire the forbidden thing. It is a high aggravation to sin against such light. It is the case of many amongst us. You do it not ignorantly - You know the judgments of God. Satan can hardly be said to cheat you for you obey him with your eyes open.
- She seems to add to God's word. He said NOT EAT - she puts in NOT TOUCH. Perhaps Satan insinuated this against her, and when she did not die for touching it she might venture more boldly to eat it. Men are very prone to add their inventions to the word of God, which in many ways becomes a snare unto them. The commands of God are perfect and cannot be amended and they are so broad as to call for all our strength and time to observe them.
If we do more than we are commanded we shall infallibly leave something unattended to that which He has made our duty. In his reply we may note:
- From starting a doubt concerning the threatening. He proceeds to a bold denial - this Eve could have hardly have born at first - but by listening to the first she was prepared for the second - and now we may pronounce her fallen. She had sinned in her heart though she had not actually eaten the fruit, for the law is spiritual and reaches to the thoughts as Matthew 5:28.
- He instils hard thoughts of God, as though He withheld something which He knew would increase their happiness. God doth know and therefore He forbids this seed of the old serpent while it abounds in our fallen nature Why are sinful pleasures pursued ? but upon a secret surmise that we shall be more happy by following our own will that the will of our Creator, and,
- He opens his temptation to suit that spirit of pride and curiosity with which he had already infected her and flattered her with. An advance in state. Not only impunity but advantage - you shall be as gods - thus self sits on the throne of God and the creature is drawn off from subjection to a desire of independence. An increase of knowledge - what this was to be she could only learn by making the experiment. Then she found a knowledge of guilt and shame was all she gained. Ever since vain man would be wise, but acquires nothing but vanity and vexation of spirit.
- When Satan has drawn us from belief of the truth, there is nothing so false absurd and dangerous, but he continues to persuade us to receive. How vain was the thought that she could do better than she was without the Lord's leave, and in defiance of His will.
- The deceitfulness and hardening nature of sin. How it prevails by degrees till at length the soul ventures the loss of all for present qualification - and is equally unmindful of past obligations and future consequence of disobedience.
- As pride and self seeking were the first sins, so the first work of God's Spirit, when He comes to renew the sinner, is to lay the axe to these roots of the evil tree which He does by CONVICTION OF SIN upon the conscience and giving affecting views of the humiliation of Jesus - Man would be as God - therefore - God became man.
OH ADMIRE THIS GRACE AND LOOK TO THIS SAVIOUR WHO ALONE IS ABLE TO REPAIR THE RUIN WE HAVE BROUGHT UPON OURSELVES. Amen.
LESSON 8. GENESIS 3:6-7
So true is that word James 1:15. The serpent had so entirely perverted the woman's judgment and hardened her heart that nothing new appeared so desirable as what God had expressly forbidden. We have 1. Her motives, 2 Her fact, 3 The consequences:
- In the view she had of this fruit, we may see the leading principles by which sin has always deceived, which the apostle enumerates as the chief branches of the spirit of the world 1 John 2:16. It was pleasant to the eye. Great reason we have to make David's prayer Psalm 119:37 and with Job to make a covenant with our eyes for they are the inlet of many temptations. In many countries there are pleasant trees that bear poisonous fruit. Had not the eye of her mind been blinded she had not made this judgment.
- And good for food. If she had been starving this might have seemed more plausible, but she had abundance and variety of what was ready, good and liberty to use it. Because it looked pleasant she thought it good for she had not tried it, the serpent told her so, or perhaps she saw him eat.
- Desirable to make one wise. Besides the gratification of her sensual appetites, she was drawn away by the pride of her heart and this perhaps was the chief reason. The fruit of other trees were probably as pleasant and she knew were good for food, but none but this flattered her ambition to be raised higher in rank and knowledge.
Observe: When the heart is resolved upon sin every pretence and presumption becomes a strong argument for compliance. When Satan had gained the will!' and made us careless of God's command and authority his work is done, the grossest temptations will then be welcome. How else could sinners think there was something good and desirable in drunkenness, uncleaness, blasphemy and other wise abominations which he urges them to do.
- She completed the transgression by actually eating the fruit - in a daring spirit despising the threatenings of God who made her.
- She gave her husband and he did eat. It would seem Adam was absent at first, but now she had hardened her heart she sought him out to make him partner in her iniquity. I suppose she used some arguments because the Lord charges Adam not only with taking the fruit from he hand, but with hearkening to her voice. As she had eaten and was yet alive the effect from that circumstance might tempt him to doubt and disbelieve the threatening as she had done before him.
- When Satan has prevailed upon any to sin he will not suffer them to sin alone, but employs them as instruments to tempt others. Many of you know this but too well. It is a small thing for you to break God's command yourself unless you can seduce others. When Adam came to consider what he had done, his answer to the Lord intimates that be wished he had never seen the face of Eve. 0 what miserable greeting will those have in the other world who have helped to ruin each other in this. How they will revile and charge and curse each other.
- The patience of God which ought to lead sinners to repentance is a means of hardening them - Ecclesiastes 8:11. If Adam had found Eve struck dead upon the spot for eating the fruit it would have terrified him from a compliance. But now her impurity made him bold. Consider sinners though the mercy of God to those who seek Him is infinite, His patience is bounded. He bears long, but unless you repent you shall surely perish.
The immediate consequences were:
- A sense of guilt and shame. Their eyes were opened. Satan had blinded them, but when the Lord pleased they came to themselves they knew now the difference between good and evil. The full meaning of these expressions I am not able to explain. They were naked before, but now they were sensible of such a change in their state that they were ashamed of themselves.
- They made a covering of fig leaves, an emblem of the poor expedients of sinners to supply their own wants, to hide their own shame and to satisfy their consciences by their own performances. Here was the first sin - which indeed contained all other sins in one Idolatry, Rebellion, Robbery and Murder - yet they found mercy. Here is encouraged mercy to convicted souls. The Lord Christ who was revealed to them as the seed who should break the serpents head is preached among you. Say not your sin is great and therefore no hope - so was Adam's, but where sin abounded, grace has much more abounded.
LESSON 9. GENESIS 3:8-13
Though sin through its deceitfulness may appear pleasing in the commission in the end it bites like a serpent. Guilt, shame and fear that seized our first parents - but what was past could not be recalled or undone - we have here:
The Lord's appearance - the expression is remarkable, the voice, and the Lord God walking. Some think that the word walking agrees to the voice. They heard the voice or the word of the Lord, that is He whose glorious and essential name is the Word of God. He who in the fullness of time was to put away their sin by the sacrifice of Himself was now coming to deal with them not in judgment but in mercy.
The effect on them - they hid themselves - How great a change:
- Before no doubt His visits were welcome, but now they trembled, because they had sinned. They no longer desired the knowledge of God. Thus it is with all their posterity.
- Instead of gaining an increase in knowledge, sin had made them so stupid that they thought to hide themselves from an all seeing eye - at least it intimates the greatness of their terror. Thus when the Lord visits a sinners conscience, how fain would he hide and seek refuge in lies. It would take many sermons to speak of such vain attempts. I any not so bad as others, or, I wish to be better, etc.
- But the Lord calls - Adam where art thou? Why not joyful at my approach as formerly. Thus He speaks, not for information, but to bring them forth, and to bring them to a confession. Where art thou ? - Alas bow fallen. How much these words pierce the offenders hearts. These in a measure can tell who have heard the voice of the convincing Spirit. May the Lord put this question home to some consciences today. Where art thou, sinner ? Alas under the curse of the Law, in a state of enmity with God and of course (if mercy prevent not) upon the very brink of eternal ruin. You may make light of my saying so, but if the Lord speaks to your heart you will know it.
- At length they are constrained to appear. Adam confesses his fear, but not his sin - he was stubborn, but the Lord followed him closer. Hast thou ? is, it possible? hast thou made light of my command ? lie is forced to own it, but still would find excuse, he lays the fault upon the woman and in effect upon the Lord. Him for giving him such an ensnaring companion. The woman in her turn tries to remove the blame to the serpent. Hitherto the Lord had not revealed His gracious purpose of forgiveness, but they stood trembling under the conviction of having broken His righteous Law.
From hence we may observe:
- Legal convictions will never humble the sinner's heart to a true and gracious repentance for sin. Nothing that passed as yet discovers the frame of Adam's mind to have better than that of the serpent himself. I mention this for the sake of some who are ready to question whether they are right because they have not been in such great terrors as some others. If you felt the terrors of Judas you could not effect one gracious desire. Again, whatever uneasiness people may sometimes feel on account of sin if their hearts are not humbled under a sense of its vileness, we cannot be sure that it is the effect of a good work upon their hearts.
- A sinner that feels the condemning power of the Law, would never expect or ever ask for mercy, if the Lord did not first reveal that there is forgiveness with Him. A true law work without any gospel light would shut up the soul in black despair - therefore:
- We may be sure that those who venture upon general and unscriptural notions of mercy never truly knew what the word SIN means, considered as an offence against the Majesty and Holiness of God.
- When a soul has had such a conviction and yet in the midst of many fears and fainting continues waiting and hoping for salvation by Jesus, cannot seek it in any other, cannot give over seeking it in Him, then there is certainly a degree of faith.
Hence appears the value of the Gospel..- you that have tasted the wormwood and the gall can tell what a case you must have been in, when your sins came upon you like an armed man, if God had not provided for you beforehand. O bless Him for Christ - that ever that precious name sounded in your ears, and let him that is athirst come. Sinners why will you harden yourselves here is mercy, grace and pardon without money or without price. The Law is fulfilled, justice is satisfied, God is reconciled. ALL THINGS ARE READY, ETC. Amen.
LESSON 10. GENESIS 3:15
If I was to dwell upon every circumstance and expression in this Chapter it would confine me too long. I shall therefore insist upon this memorable verse in which the first and great promise of mercy and salvation to fallen man is contained. The curse of God fell heavily and absolutely upon Satan whose doom is couched in figurative expression suitable to the figure of the serpent he assumed. Our first parents likewise received a sentence implying such misery and pain and labour in the present life to terminate only with death, but in this verse a way of escape is provided from the eternal death which their sin had justly deserved - in the words of:
- A promise of the Redeemer
- A brief intimation of His suffering and success
- And those so expressed as to be applicable to all His people.
A promise the seed of the woman. The Redeemer thus spoken of to intimate:
- That He should be truly man, made of a woman and partaker of our very nature. Galatians 4:4, Hebrews 2:14.
- That His incarnation should be miraculous and extraordinary, made of a woman, but without a human father by the agency of the Holy Spirit. Luke 1:35.
The nature of His work is set forth by a conflict with the serpent and his seed - on which:
- Christ should be completely victorious. Removing the guilt of sin, the curse of the Law from His people, that He should destroy him that had the power of death, that is the devil. These great things He has already done - sin is expiated - God is reconciled - death is disarmed of its sting, and Satan is a vanquished enemy who can do nothing but by permission. And then in a day appointed He will openly solemnize His triumph and bruise this enemy finally tinder His feet.
- He should conquer by suffering. Yet great as these were in the garden and upon the cross His bloody agony and bloody death, only His heel was affected - His human nature and that life which He took on purpose that He might lay it down. His head was invulnerable. His divine nature and His life that He had in Himself were out of the enemy's reach. Romans 6:9, Revelation 1:18.
These expressions are likewise applicable to all believers:
- The name of Christ includes both head and members in one mystical body 1 Corinthians 12:12.
- As all who believe in Christ are in Him denominated as the seed of the promise. So the seed of the serpent includes all the wicked according to John 8:44, 1 John 3:8.
- There is opposition * a war between these respective seeds - an irreconcilable war in which each party is supported and strengthened by its proper head. The carnal mind is enmity against God, his Christ, his truth and his people. And though the Lord's seed do not hate the persons of wicked men, yet grace enables them to set their ways, practices and spirit at defiance so that they will by no means make peace and a league with them.
- In the course of this warfare, they are made conformable to their head. The serpent and his seed occasions them much trouble and suffering and thus bruises their heels - but can do no more than wound them in their present concerns in this mortal state, and the by His finally bruising his head, overcoming all faults by His blood and the words of ills testimony they are made more than conquerors through Him that has loved them.
I shall further just notice two things that follow in the Chapter:
- An intimation of Adam's faith in this promise, in the name he gave his wife - He called her Eve, which is derived from a word signifying LIFE. The reason is given, because in her seed the true life, the dead in sin should live to God, and thus she was to be the mother of all living.
- The seal of this promise on the Lord's part - clothing, them with skins. The skins without doubt of beast slain for sacrifice, and thus I doubt not the imputation of righteousness of the great sacrifice was typically set forth to their faith.
Now from this text:
- We may preach the Gospel to poor sinners - Jesus is here revealed as set apart of God from the beginning to destroy the works of the devil. BELIEVE IN HIM AND YOU SHALL BE SAVED.
- We may remind believers of the nature of their calling. Think not of stable peace and rest here. The serpent and his seed are in close conspiracy against. you. Pray therefore for the whole armour of God that you may stand fast in the evil day. Amen.
LESSON 11. GENESIS 4:3-5
After some interruption and changes of subject I now return to follow the Old Testament history. From the fall of man the Scriptures proceed to an exemplification of grace and the opposition foretold between the seed of the serpent and those who by faith belonged to Him who was revealed as the hope of sinners by the name of the seed of the woman. There are the chief points insisted on through the whole Bible. The first remarkable instance in which they are confirmed is the history of Cain and Abel.
It seems that Eve had great joy in the birth of Cain, nay some from the manner of her expression that she supposed Cain was the promised Messiah. If so she was greatly disappointed. Parents usually receive children with joy, but if God has given you children pray that they may be the children of His grace, if not, rejoice with trembling. If the Lord is not honoured by them, you will have small comfort in them. You know not what they may come to, and this should be a quieting thought when the Lord has taken away the children while young. They might have proved like Cain, and have brought your grey hairs down with sorrow to the grave.
We are informed that though Cain was a wicked man yet he was not without a form of religion. Cain himself would probably pass for a saint if he was alive now, in comparison with many who are not only destitute of the life and power of goodness, but despise and renounce the very appearance of it. But his religion was vain, the Lord had respect to Abel and not to Cain. If any say - is God then a respecter of persons? I answer:
God respects not persons of man so as to be influenced by any outward differences between one man and another, which is the proper sense of the word. He does not prefer the rich to the poor, the wise to the ignorant or the mighty to the mean. The cry of a beggar will enter the ear of the Lord of Hosts and obtain a gracious answer as soon as the cry of a king. Yet in the dispensation of this grace He is sovereign, He gives what none has a right to demand to whom He pleases. Cain and Abel were both born in sin, He might have rejected them both, and in preferring one to the other He exercised His undoubted right to do what He will with His own. This is a mystifying doctrine to the pride of man, but as it gives all the glory of salvation to the Lord, so it provides the surest ground of peace to an awakened soul when taken in connection with the rest of His Word. When you know yourselves you will soon see that if it was not thus you could not be saved at all, but observe;
Though the ways of God are sovereign, they are just and equal. Though He gives not a full account of His matters, yet He reveals enough not only to silence our cavils, but to satisfy our doubts. Let us consider Cain's offering a little more attentively and we should perhaps see that in the nature of things it was utterly impossible that such an offering and such a worshipper could be accepted by a God of truth and holiness, for:
We read that God clothed our first parents with the skins of beasts, then of Abel's sacrifice, bloody sacrifices were doubtless instituted. When God gave the promise of a Saviour and His death was shown forth in type till He appeared in the flesh to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself. That WITHOUT THE SHEDDING OF BLOOD, there is no remission, and this was a truth taught to fallen man from the beginning. To this Abel confessed and therefore is said by faith to have offered a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, who seems to have made light of the divine appointment of blood, and to have presented his offering rather as a natural homage to God as His creator, than to come in the prescribed way as a poor sinner to plead for mercy. This should be well considered - we have too many like Cain who affront God while they pretend to be worshipping, making light of the prescription of His Word, putting a slight upon the blood of Jesus. They presume to serve Him with inventions of their own. God will accept nothing from us but what has the sanction and warrant of His own Word.
You see Cain's was a bargain. He thought it no small matter that he would submit to bringing a little of the fruit of the ground to the Lord. He expected to be highly commended and rewarded for it and when he found that the Lord did not think so well of him as he did of himself, he was wroth as if some great injury had been done.
He disdained that Abel should be preferred to him and upon this account he hated him and at length engaged his hands in his blood.
You see then under the appearance of Cain's religion there was hid disobedience and pride in the sight of God and hatred and malice against his brother. What wonder then that it should be said of the Lord who searcheth the heart, that to Cain and his offering he had not respect.
But this is the very picture of the spirit of self righteousness in all ages - thus it acts towards God - opposing His will and yet expecting His favour and thus it acts towards man, who dare not offer a service or allow themselves any hope, but through the blood and mediation of Jesus.
Be assured that the principles of Cain and Abel - divide this assembly if you are of Cain's religion, you have Cain's spirit, you never find comfort in your way, and you are angry with those who profess to it in another way. Therefore, you despise, perhaps revile, and probably if all restraints were taken away, you would think to do God service by putting others to death, in whom He lives.
But happy are you who are seeking salvation in Abel's way - by blood- the blood of Jesus - IT CLEANSETH FROM ALL SIN. He is able to save to the uttermost. Believe and you shall be saved. Amen.
LESSON 12. GENESIS 4:5
We have here the first effort of Satan to manifest his enmity against the servants of God. It is a specimen or example of the religious history of mankind from the beginning to this day. We have:
- The murder of Abel
- The cry of his blood
- The judgment of Cain
The occasion of the murder. Cain talked with Abel. The subject of the conversation is not recorded. If we may conjecture from what we hear with our own ears, it is not improbable that Abel was reproached as a hypocrite, despised as an enthusiast and a bigot. And that Abel's humble joy in the Lord's acceptance, and His steadfastness in preferring sacrifices with blood, together the free and faithful advice he gave his brother to acquaint himself with God and be at peace provoked Cain to slay him. Something like this may perhaps be inferred from the Apostle's account of the cause - 1 John 3:12. Now from hence we may observe for our own instruction:
- The desperate wickedness of the heart. The carnal mind of Cain was enmity against God - he thought himself injured and affronted because Abel was preferred. His Maker was out of his reach and therefore he wreaked his displeasure against His faithful servant. Thus it is with all persecutors whatever degree they are permitted to act. For Thy sake we are killed. If a person does not discover any sign of fear, love and image of God he shall pass unnoticed, but if he does he will be sure to meet with opposition.
- The progress of sin. Cain first indulged anger and then proceeded to murder. One is the seed, the other the fruit. Therefore, whoever hateth his brother is a murderer in the sight of God, if he was not restrained by His providence, he would proceed to the outward act. Take heed of indulging dislike and ill will, it may lead you farther than you are aware to do injury, if not to touch life. However, the law of God will condemn you even for the evil thought.
- The nature of a religious profession and what it will expose you to. Look through the whole Bible, you may trace the same spirit - Isaac, the child of the promise was mocked by Ishmael. This the Apostle calls persecution. The life of Jacob was sought by Esau because God gave him the blessing. So David was hunted like a partridge upon the mountains.. Christ and His Apostles were despised and opposed even to the death. Marvel not if the world hate you and see the necessity of a continual dependence upon grace that you may not fear them who can kill the body, but can do no more. For if you are strengthened by faith in Him who is invisible you will dare to obey God rather than man.
- What we owe to the providence and goodness of God in restraining the wrath of man. The same spirit is always awake, but He who rules the stormy wind and the raging waves of the sea, keeps it within bounds. Especially in air, land and sea we have reason to be thankful.
Abel's blood had a voice. Think it not strange that the Lord did not protect him, by death he entered into life,had the honour to be the first martyr for the truth. Thus God confirmed the belief of a future state. Otherwise it would appear a dangerous thing to please God. But it was not overlooked, his blood cried for vengeance, what a dreadful account will the wicked world have to make for the blood of believers they have shed. Yea all their sufferings and all their tears shall be had in remembrance, when He maketh inquisition He will not forget. The Lord's people are now to an eye of sense left destitute and exposed as if everyone was at liberty to use them ill with impunity, but a change will soon take place. But there is blood that speaketh better things than the blood of Abel. Jesus was slain like Abel - but His blood calls for pardon and mercy upon the poor sinners who spilt it and upon those who by their wicked deeds have crucified Him afresh. ONLY BELIEVE AND YOU SHALL BE SAVED.
Cain did not escape. The Lord called to him. By his answer you may perceive how sin had hardened his heart. What ignorance to think his way was hid from the Lord. What insolence in asking:
Am I my brother's keeper ? - but he was soon silenced - the fact pressed home upon his conscience and though he was suffered to. live - his life was a burden - he was driven from the presence of the Lord, from His 'ordinances and the society. of His people, and, made for a season at least, a terror to himself. If he afterwards recovered his spirits he seems to have done it by getting the better of his conscience and to have been given up judicially to an impertinent mind. This is the greatest punishment on this side of hell, when a; man has been convinced and distressed for sin and yet afterwards finds a way without the application of the blood of sprinkling to make himself whole, and can busy himself for the rest of his time with 'a worldly life, till at length his hour comes and he falls with all his sins unpardoned in to the hands of the Living God.
LESSON 13. GENESIS 5:24
Though I preached not a very long time since from this text, it is of so much importance that I am not willing to pass it over in my present course. I then insisted only upon the first clause, I shall now chiefly consider the other part of the verse.
To walk with God imparts:
- Acceptance by faith, Hebrews 11:6. This is through Christ the Saviour to whom believers of old looked to as He who was to come the dispensation under which they lived was different, but their faith and its object, are the same.
- Obedience and devotedness to God in the way of His commandments. For how can two walk together except they are agreed. Therefore, none can walk with God who have not experienced a change of heart and views.
- Communion. In which the sweetness and comfort of religion consists. The desires, affections and breathings of the soul rising towards God, and God manifesting His light, love and peace to the soul. This is chiefly maintained on our part by a humble attendance on the means of grace. They who thus walk with God experience His direction, protection and support. Examine what you know of this subject.
We may take some notice of other circumstances:
- The beginning of Enoch's walking with God seems to be marked out in v. 22, from the time when he begat Methusalah, when he was about 65 years old. But whether it is so or not, we have seen there always must be a beginning, for we are born in sin and under the law, we have neither the skill of power to walk with God. Ile is found of them that seek Him out.
- He walked with God 300 years, so as long as he remained in the world, he persevered in this good way. He was not weary, but endured to the end. Of too many it may be said that according to outward appearances in the judgment of men they walked with God, some a month, some a year, some several years, but sooner or later they gave it up and have outlived their profession. This is a mournful state. May the Lord revive, restore and reseal such wanderers or their end will be dreadful.
- Each maintained his course of walking with God, in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation - this I think can be gathered from the fallen state of mankind and from Jude 14 and 15. Enoch was a prophet and like other prophets surrounded by those who hated him because he testified of their evil deeds.
- The natural course of Enoch's abode upon the earth was manifestly shortened. He lived upon earth not half of the time the rest of the Patriarchs did before the flood.
So the best of men are frequently cut short. His removal was:
- A mercy to himself. His eyes and ears and heart had been pained enough, the world was growing worse and worse and he was taken from the evil to come.
- In judgment to others, they had had abused and resisted his testimony, Therefore, they shall hear no more. It is a dark sign upon a place or people when the Lord takes away His servants and ministers from them. But He often deals so when His Word is accounted a burden.
Enoch was dismissed from his warfare - he was not - no more seen upon the earth, but God took him to walk with Him in glory. Hebrews 11:5.
- He saw not death - felt not the painful separation between soul and body. Some think his enemies were about to kill him and the Lord interposed to deliver him. It is probable. Thus it was with Elijah - the only instance afforded amongst the many millions of Adam's posterity. In them God was pleased to give new evidence of an invisible state and they were in that circumstance types of the ascension of the Lord Jesus.
- Yet he was translated - flesh and blood cannot see the kingdom of God. Therefore, says the Apostle speaking of those who shall be on earth when the Saviour returns and shall be caught up to meet Him in the air. We shall not die, but all be changed. The vile mortal body made conformable to Christ's glorious body.
- God took him - took him for His own - took him to dwell with Him in heaven, to fill him with happiness and glory. A happy end of a life spent in walking with God. Then his desires were answered, his sorrows removed, his labours and trials rewarded. Application -Life is compared to a journey. Each one of you is walking, but are you walking with God. If not where are you going, John 12:35.
As it is said of Enoch - he was not - so soon of us - he is not - death is at hand and when it comes in that very day all your thoughts will perish. The place that knew you will know you no more, and though now you may perhaps think yourself of some importance, you will quickly be forgot. Why then cleave so close to what must be torn from you. Oh that you might by the example of others be made wise to consider your latter end.
Think if your history or epitaph was wrote by an inspired pen. Would it be said of you, as of Enoch ? God took you - if not who do you think will have you ? We often hear a wicked thoughtless speech - the Devil take him - Oh you cannot think what horror and misery there is in that expression. If the Lord does not take you in mercy, Satan will have you as his prey. Amen.
LESSON 14. GENESIS 6:5-6
What a mournful change had the entrance and progress of sin brought upon the earth and how different this review from the first when God saw all that He had made and behold all was very good. What is mentioned in the beginning of the Chapter had no doubt considerable influence to the speedy and universal corruption and, therefore, I would take some notice of it. The sons of God seem to mean the posterity of Seth, the worshippers of God. The daughters of men - in distinction from them - are generally supposed of the race of Cain. If this is the sense it gives an early and striking instance of the danger of professors intermarrying with those who fear not God. It is the contrary to the express direction of the Word 2 Corinthians 6:14. All believing man or woman should avoid this, for it is:
- Many that seemed inclined to set out well have been turned aside and quickly given up on their profession.
- It is at least highly inconvenient. When both man and wife walk in the fear of the Lord they are helpful to each other by mutual prayer, example and advise. They can communicate their comforts and their cares. Thus Manoah was encouraged by his wife. On the contrary when it is otherwise, however agreeable they may be to each other in other respects there must be a coldness and constraint about spiritual things. How was David cut tot he heart by the behaviour of Michal.
- When people determine they will please themselves against the light and conviction, it is sinful, and a child of God who presumptuously offends the rule usually gives them their desire. How frequently does He send leanness in to their souls, but to proceed to the test - We have:
The unerring judgment of God concerning His fallen creature man.
- His wickedness was great. God saw it - though they might say - "tush" - He seeth not. The eyes of the Lord are in every place. Indeed we can see it now, by the the outward behaviour of many, but how many deeds of darkness daily committed are hidden from our view. Surely the Lord sees that the wickedness of man in this nation, in this town, is great.
- The heart was corrupt. This is seen by the Lord alone. All the outward sin committed by men is but as a scanty stream in comparison to the fountain that is in the hearts. Fear, want of opportunity, etc., prevent the most daring sinner upon earth committing a thousandth part of the evil that his heart is conceiving every day.
The corruptness of the heart is:
- Universal. Every imagination and thought is evil without exception. Every thought tainted with pride or passion or envy or discontent or uncleaness or covetousness, which is idolatry.
- Unmixed. Only evil - nothing good to abate or control the evil imaginations. There are many restraints upon the outward conduct, but none upon the heart till it is changed by: grace. When the love and fear of God have no place, there can be nothing that He accounts or accepts as truly good.
- Perpetual. without ceasing - evil that is to continue - as the stream of a great river always runs - so the heart is continuously poring out its abominations.
The result is one of God's judgment and examination.
- It repented and grieved Him that He had made man. The expressions are very strong to our capacity. He is not capable of grief and repentance, as the words are applied to men, but it intimates His displeasure and how totally His creatures had fallen from the end and design of His creating them.
- His purpose of destroying them - verse 7 - sin will sooner or later draw down the severity of His wrath.
- The exercise and limit of His patience - verse 3 - My Spirit shall not always strive, yet there shall be a respite for 120 years - In this time the ark was to be prepared for Noah and he as a preacher of righteousness to warn them of their danger - and then if they continued obstinate He would withdraw His Spirit and pour down His wrath.
- The patience of God is wonderful. Why would Ile wait 120 years with such a people? He waited till those who feared Him were all removed by death and to leave the others without excuse.
- Though His mercy is infinite to believing sinners yet His patience is bounded. He may forbear long, but not always.
- As it is with the old world so it is with this, only the Lord has a remnant for whose sake He says, destroy it not.
- Therefore, while His patience is prolonged OH BE PERSUADED TO SEEK JESUS.
LESSON 15. GENESIS 6:9
When the earth was filled with violence and the abounding of sin cried loud for vengeance so that the Lord was about to destroy mankind with a flood. We are told of a single exception. Noah found grace and in that we have his character. One part of it we have already considered when speaking of Enoch (walking with God) He was a just man and perfect in his generation, We may notice (i) His character, (ii) His preservation.
He was a just or righteous man. This we must understand in an evangelical sense - so the Apostle tells us, that he was heir of the righteousness which is by faith. There is no other way, by which a sinner can be accounted righteous or find grace in the eyes of the Lord - but by being made heir through grace of that righteousness which he had not in himself. He was a sinner in himself even as others, but he was enlightened to know and to approve God's salvation by a Redeemer, which has always been the same. In this Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever. It is the Apostles set purpose (Hebrews 11) to prove that the people of God, before and since the Law have been all saved - the same way - by believing in Him that justifieth the. ungodly. For in a strict and legal sense there is not a just person upon the earth - that is, who does: good and sinneth not, and nothing less than this can render a person righteous in himself, in the eye of the Holy Law. This is a fundamental point, which we are bound to inculcate again and again, for if you mistake in this, you can neither understand the Law and the Gospel. If you consider what it prevents - communion between God and man - your conscience will inform you it is sin. If so, it must be sin - as sin, not such a particular kind or degree of sin, but sin of any kind and in any degree. If we should allow that, God could, consistent with. His holiness and justice pass by one sin without satisfaction - and then, why not many? If, therefore, you would be just, you must be justified.
He was perfect in his generation, that is, in his relation in his calling in that evil time in which he lived, when the heart and practices of many - of all - were set against the ways of God. Now this word likewise needs explaining. A sinless perfection is impossible, while we retain a defiled mental nature, yet there is perfection in a spiritual sense, which will be found in all who are truly justified. The world blasphemes the doctrine of free grace and supposes it gives a liberty to sin and too many "half professors" afford Satan no small advantage to confirm them in their error. But it will appear at last to the praise of God's free grace that they whom He accounts righteous in Christ and they only are perfect in their generations. There is:
A perfection in Christ Colossians 2:10, but this respects our state, acceptance and security and is not in the inherent work: of His grace in us. We are to speak of it as - wrought in us by His Spirit - therefore, to be perfect respects:
- The object: it is the WHOLE will of God and stands opposed to PARTIALITY in obedience. It is to have respect to ALL His commandments.
- The person and means sincerity and integrity as opposed to hypocritical and selfish views - when both there are formed, they will be evidenced by:
- Constantly - not by fits or starts - halting between two opinions, but it may be said - shall be the state and character of all questioned - who are note perfect in these senses -May we not hope that some are believers, though there are too many things that need excuse in their walk.
To which I answer:
- Due allowance must be made for sudden occasions and the violence of temptations. When we speak of the strength of man we mean, man in health - a sick man may be as weak as a child.
- If their slips are a matter of grief and humiliation and the tenor of their conduct in general is a stirring against sin, this is no impeachment of that integrity which is their proper character. The world sometimes sees their failing - but the Lord sees their shame and grief when in bitterness of spirit they mourn over their own weakness and folly and seek healing by the blood of Jesus only, but,
- If any professor who speaks highly of the blood and righteousness lives habitually and constantly in the practice of any known evil or in neglect of any known precept - we can not, we dare not bend the Word of God to please them. At the best, I am sure their profession will be lifeless and uncomfortable. If such persons complain of doubts and fears, I would not say a word to encourage them to a better hope till I see them humbled and made evidently willing to walk in all God's commandments. I would not take upon me to determine their state, but I think they will do well to question it themselves. Scripture speaks sharp things to such - Matthew 6:16, James 1:26, 1 John 3:17 and 2:15.
But I fear I am speaking to many who cannot easily decide either themselves or others, who live directly contrary to the perfect way of God in the practice, not of one sin, but of many. Who have their conversation habitually in the spirit of the world and have hardly the form of religion except when under observation. Oh think what it is to be without Christ and without hope and now at once cry for mercy. A more dreadful flood than that which Noah saw, a flood of wrath, is even at the door. JESUS IS THE ONLY SAVIOUR - ask as yet there is room. The Gospel trumpet sounds - if you hear it in vain, your ruin will LIE AT YOUR OWN DOORS.
LESSON 16. GENESIS 6:16
We have spoken of Noah's character and we may now take notice of the difference between the righteous and the wicked. When the rest perished, he was preserved. From this verse and the context we may observe:
- God acquainted his servant with what He was about to do, and so Abraham afterwards in the case of Sodom. The secret of the Lord is with them that fear Him. It may seem indeed that now the Bible is in everybody's hand His purpose is known to all - that He will bring judgment upon a wicked world. But unbelief deprives the greatest part of those who enjoy this revelation of the benefit they might otherwise receive from it. Notwithstanding all that is declared in the Word of God against sin and sinners it is in the general with us as it was in the days of Noah.
- God provided the means of safety. Had He told Noah of the danger and left him to secure himself, he must have perished with the rest. He would not have thought of an ark, or known how to make one, or the attempt would have been foolish and vain if not encouraged by God's word. Thus the method of salvation from the flood of wrath is wholly from the Lord. Those who think to shift for themselves without the warrant of His Word, will assuredly perish. If Noah had built a tower when God commanded an ark, he had perished.
- The Lord did not create an ark, but commanded Noah to build one according to His directions. _Here indeed the type fails if we speak of Christ as the ark for His people. For in His appointment, understanding and success no creature has any, share. His own arm brought salvation and He said "it is finished". Yet with respect to the use of the means and for the manifestation of obedience we are to work out our own salvation with fear and trembling, and our encouragement to this is that God worketh in us to will and to do of His good pleasure.
To build the ark of such dimensions was a great work:
- A work of time - probably the whole 120 years between the threatening and the, execution. All this which Noah, both by his words and as a preacher of righteousness, and by his work in building the ark, was as a light shining in a dark place and gave sinners plain and faithful warning, but alas in vain. Though often reproved they hardened their necks.
- A work of labour, he could hardly build it without more help' than his own three sons probably many who perished in the flood had helped in building the ark. An affecting thought, suited to keep professors and ministers from being high minded. People may have gifts for the edification of the Church and be many ways useful to the Lord's people and yet prove castaways in the end Matthew 7:22
- It was a strange work. What did the unbelieving world think of it as they did not desire a place in the ark, most probably they despised Noah as a dreamer or thought him out of his wits. Especially when after a long course of years they saw no more signs of a flood than when he first began. Thus they abused the Lord's patience and hardened their hearts into security, saying peace to themselves, till at last sudden destruction came upon them unawares. So we are told that in the last days there shall be scoffers saying - where is the promise of His coming, for all things continue as they were 2 Peter 3:4.
- The deliverance of Noah - extended to his family, sons and son's wives - thus it is a mercy to be nearly related: to a believer - many a blessing is bestowed upon and continued to careless sinners because they have a parent or child, husband or wife, that prays for them, for whose sake the Lord is pleased to spare them a little longer. But they were not all believers in the ark.. There was at least one wicked - Ham - who though saved from the flood brought a heavier curse upon himself. Think not to say, we have Abraham for our father for the greater your privileges, the greater will be your condemnation if you abuse them.
LESSON 17. GENESIS 7:16
Though the mercy Noah obtained in a time of wrath when strictly confined to the letter, if the history relates only to a temporal deliverance, we may well say it was a gracious deliverance. That he was forewarned of the danger, that he was directed to the means of escape, that his endeavours to preserve himself in the way God had appointed were completed in a season and crowned with success, was ALL of grace and by an act of the same grace? He and all that were with him were secured and safely shut in. We may readily suppose he would not have quitted such an ark at such a time if he could, however, it was not left wholly to his will, for the Lord SHUT HIM IN. Think of the security in which Noah was placed when destruction and terror were everywhere around him and you have an emblem of the state of Christ's Church while upon earth. Those who are in the Church are in an ark of God's providing and though they so far partake of the state of things around them as to be tossed about and in an unsettled condition, yet they are as safe as if already before the throne of glory.
By shutting him in all others were effectively shut out, the Lord's long-suffering and patience had had its course and now there was no farther room or place for repentance. Thus it will be with all who are found out of Christ at death - they must then remain without shelter, exposed to a deluge of wrath for ever. The Lord grant that it may not be so with any of us. Noah had his family with him and likewise a store of living creatures of every kind to replenish the earth afterwards. All the rest were destroyed. Think of the mischief sin brought upon the old world and O that we may learn to fear the great God who has power to save and to destroy. As yet it is with us, as in the days of Noah - men promise themselves peace though desruction is at the door and will soon break forth. In the meanwhile the ark is prepared and who ever enters it is infallibly safe, but this ark is not visible to our natural eyes, THE ARK IS CHRIST. Who can only be seen and apprehended by those to whom He is revealed by the Father. But the difference between them and others is as real and important as between Noah in the ark, and the ungodly who were left to perish by the flood.
(A) Who are in the ark? and how is entrance obtained? The entrance is by faith and those who are in are therefore entitled believers.
- They have a due sense of the danger to which they, in common with all others, are exposed by sin. They perhaps appear easy and are at peace in their minds, but why? - because they are in the ark if you could take away this they would be seen at their wits end, for they have not forgot that the wages of sin is death. Oh what distress and terror have some of them felt before it was given them to enter the ark of faith.
- They are well satisfied with the ark provided - so that they have done seeking after any other refuge. And when they knew their right and interest in the ark, they are free from fear - this is not the case for all of them because of unbelief, but it is the will of God that they should have strong consolation on this behalf. I know not if Noah was distressed with any apprehensions lest his ark might sink or be dashed to pieces in the general ruin - if he had - I am sure he had reason to argue, as David, why art thou cast down, Oh my soul? The ark was God's appointment, and for this very end, therefore, His powers and promise were engaged for its security. But still men reason, if possible, have we to be satisfied with the way of salvation in Christ? His glorious person, His precious blood, His perfect righteousness are infallible pledges of security. (Margin note on original text - "a third head to be added - separation from the world - but it is not recorded in the note book").
(B) All who are in this ark are shut in by God Himself, and secured from all possible danger of miscarriage. Consider what doors must be broken open before any who are in the ark shall perish:
- The eternal purpose of God. Isaiah 54:9-10
- His almighty power. 1 Peter 1:5
- The promise of Christ. John 10:28
- His intercession - on this the Apostle grounds the perseverance of his people.
In a word if they should be lost after they have entered the ark, it must be either:
- Through a change on the Lord's part, BUT THIS IS IMPOSSIBLE. Romans 8:38-39, or
- A change on their part - which indeed would be the case if they were left to themselves, but the Lord has provided against this likewise Jeremiah 32:40. Only let me observe - that these are the sure truths of God, they are no encouragement to carelessness in the use of means. His foundation standeth sure, but am I built upon it ? is the main question. The perseverance of the saints is certain, but many who approve the doctrine, contend for it and even preach it, may notwithstanding fall away. Would you be helped to judge yourselves?
I would mention two things:
- Those who have the best warrant from God's Word to be assured of their standing are zealous of their own hearts, afraid of being mistaken and willing to be searched.
- They expect the fulfilling of the promises in a sense of obedience to the precepts - and do not wish to separate what God has joined together - Faith and Holiness - the end and the means.
The Lord make us all serious in this great concern - the day of trial is at hand - the time is short - a few years at the most, perhaps a few months, perhaps a few weeks, or days may fix us in an eternal state, and the end of everyone's present will be either to rejoice with God in glory, or to be shut out where the worm dieth not and the fire is not quenched.
LESSON 18. GENESIS 8:11
Awful has been the effects of sin in every age and country, but never had death such a triumph over sinners as in the days of Noah. When he and his family were safely shut up on the very day the sentence long before denounced was executed and all mankind having corrupted their ways before God were swept away with the flood. What heart can conceive the horror and dismay when destruction presented itself in every quarter and the ark, which before they had slighted, and which was the only possible way of escape was shut against them. This is an emblem of a still severer day of vengeance when the wicked shall be destroyed not by water, but by a deluge of wrath and fire. Oh think of it in time and flee to Jesus the stronghold, as prisoners of hope.
This affecting history would furnish a subject for many discourses it I was to consider every part, but that I may hasten forward I only fix upon principal texts. Yet it may be needful to take notice of some circumstances between the time when the Lord shut Noah into the ark and his sending forth the dove the second and third time.
- The increase and extent of the flood, Chapter 7:17-20. It continued rising 40 days, covered the whole earth and the tops of the highest mountains, so in that way every creature that could not live in the waters was destroyed. Learn the impossibility of escaping the wrath of God except by the means of His own appointment - no place so distant, no hill so high as to afford a refuge.
- The safety of the ark - the waters lift it up and the Lord's providence watched over it. It was not like a ship that could be steered and managed by the art of man - Note, however stormy and dangerous the times may be the ark, the Church, shall be safe. So likewise every single believer Isaiah 54:10. This is mentioned as a type of full security of the Lord's people in the midst of danger.
- An act of God's grace - He remembered Noah - He remembered His covenant and sent a wind. The flood seems to have been at its height a considerable time and the waters not sensibly abated till near six months. This was probably a trial of Noah's faith and patience.
- The resting of the ark upon a mountain, guided thither by God, and not steered by Noah's prudence. The Lord has a time of rest for His people. A convinced sinner is like the ark, tossed upon the waves, but in due time guided to the Rock that is higher than his.
- When the ark had rested some time Noah was desirous of intelligence. He saw the tops of the hills from the window in the ark, but was solicitous to know when the earth should be dry and fit to receive him. God had told him the day when the flood should come, but not when it should subside. The knowledge of the one was necessary, the other not so. The one he could not have known but by revelation, but he might in due course discover the other in the use of ordinary means. The knowledge the Lord affords His people is not to indulge their curiosity, or to make them indolent, but to graciously manage that which truly profitable is held from them, their own diligence and application is still needful. He sent forth first the raven which returned no more, then a dove which not finding rest returned to the ark, but the second time brought an olive leaf. It was probably from an imperfect tradition of this circumstance that an olive branch has been considered as an emblem of peace among all nations.
- The raven is an unclean bird, a bird of prey, it was confined in the ark and glad of its liberty for it could find subsistence abroad, but the dove could not live upon raven's food and therefore returned till the earth was fully dried. Thus the carnal heart can find satisfaction in the world - but the believer can find no rest but in the ark. As Noah put forth his hand to receive her, so Jesus graciously receives the weary soul into His rest.
- The dove though it came back unsuccessful, is sent forth again and at last brings the token.. The peace of God is revealed to persevering prayer and when the heart has been humbled by the Word and brought into a meek and gentle spirit, the peace of God is made known, not to ravens, but to doves.
- At last the dove likewise took its flight and returned no more. The earth was dried and the fruits ready for its food. Believers go forth upon the wing of faith and prayer, they receive token of good and are witnesses and messengers of the Lord's mercy, but in time their hope is exchanged for possession and they take their flight from the are witnesses and messengers of the Lord's mercy, but in time their hope is exchanged for possession and they take their flight from the Church below to the land eternal rest from whence they shall come back no more.
- In the intervals of 7 days which Noah observed we have a strong intimation that he kept the Sabbath day in the ark.
- Some make the raven and dove typical of the Law and the Gospel. The Law brings no message of hope to sinful man, but the Gospel under the influence of the Holy Spirit, whose symbol is a dove, -makes a gracious and comfortable report - that the waters are assuaged, that God is reconciled, that peace is again restored upon earth and goodwill proclaimed to men.
Upon the whole - Noah in the ark represents a believer in a waiting posture - safe at present - but exercising faith and patience in hopes of better days and longing for God's full salvation. The desire of the righteous shall be granted, but if you are OUT OF the ark, NOT IN CHRIST and His Church by living faith and a profession of the Truth, YOU HAVE NOTHING TO WAIT FOR BUT A FEARFUL EXPECTATION OF WRATH WHICH SHALL DEVOUR THE ADVERSARIES. Amen.
LESSON 19. GENESIS 8:21
The context informs us that Noah's expectations were at length answered, he removed the covering of the ark and behold the ground was dry, yet he did not quit it immediately but waited for a command, and when God said, go, forth he and all that were with him went forth and took a new possession of the earth. This is one branch of that walking with God for which the example of Noah is commended to us as a pattern. He did nothing in his own spirit, but went into the ark, stayed there, and then came forth according to the Lord's direction. The Lord still intimates His will to those who fear Him by His Word and by the openings of His providence. Happy are they who consult and acknowledge Him in all their ways for He will surely direct their paths.
In the passage before us we have an account of Noah's sacrifice and of the Lord's acceptance and the answer of peace He gave to His servant.
The sacrifice of Noah. This may be considered it two respects:
- As an act of duty and gratitude. The first thing he attempted was worship and thanks - giving to God of his life, who had preserved him and his in a season of general destruction. This is the property of a gracious heart. How many of you have the comfortable witness of your conscience in this respect. Man is born to trouble - every one has had his peculiar dangers and deliverances. Did you with the first opportunity worship and praise the Lord for His goodness to you or have you been equally insensible of His hand, both in wounding and in healing.
- We may consider Noah in this instance as in several other parts of his character, as a type of Jesus when He ascended on high to make intercession after He had finished the great work of Salvation and to present His blood and righteousness before the throne on His people's behalf. It was by faith in this sacrifice and mediation of Jesus that Noah offered and was accepted, and upon the same account He is graciously pleased to receive our poor offerings of prayer and praise, because He put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself and now appears in the presence of God for us.
Say not then poor soul - How should prayers as mine be accepted ? How little was Noah's sacrifice suited to the majesty of God, how little suited to take away sin or deserve blessings. Might not the Lord have said as He did in Psalm 50:9-13, but because he offered in faith he was accepted, so shall every one be who comes in the name of Jesus. For;
It is said - The Lord smelled a sweet savour - compare this with Ephesians 3:2. A savour of rest, His anger was passed away and how after a long season of trial and suffering, after an awful proof of His displeasure against sin, He returns to bless, to build up and to comfort His servant. Yet the sweet savour was in the sacrifice, though the benefit was all to Noah. Thus when a soul has been in a storm of affliction and in a flood of temptation, when after a long season of desertion it is once more brought near to the throne of grace, to the blood of Jesus, and can by faith plead, present and offer His death - the Lord is well pleased - and the soul is comfortable after all it has gone through. Oh who can express what wounds are healed, what sins are pardoned, what breaches are made up as it were in a moment. Mourning is turned into joy, and the wilderness rejoices and blossoms as a rose.
Here is a gracious promise - I will not again curse the ground -no more flood to destroy the earth - but the seasons shall return in their stated course till the consummation of all things - then indeed it shall be destroyed, though not by water, but by fire - Observe:
- Though the earth shall be no more cut off with a stroke, till the end of time, yet it has been full of the desolating effects of sin. Perhaps many men have perished by war, pestilence, famine and other immediate judgments of God than ever were living upon the face of earth at one time. Besides that, every one who escapes these calamities must give way to death at last. Oh the countless millions that have been mixed with the dust and the innumerable calamities that fill the lives of men with bitterness and bring them down sooner or later with sorrow to the grave. All these are the fruits of sin, and yet, alas, how little is sin laid to the heart.The main reason assigned for the imagination of man's heart, is evil, from his youth up. This seems a reason of the same kind as that before assigned, for the destruction of the earth. The point may be rendered - though;
- Sin is so deeply rooted that judgments cannot remove it. It the abundance of sin were to be always followed with a deluge, there must be a new flood at least in every generation. God having once shown His displeasure - but this we owe to the sweet savour of Jesus. The Lord saw and knew that the new race of mankind would be no better than the old.
- The evil of man cannot frustrate the grace of the Lord. Vile as they are He will have a people out of them that should show forth His praise.
The continuance of the seasons is an earnest and pledge of the Lord's faithfulness to every part of His Word. We expect harvests and we obtain them, because He was pleased to engage Himself to Noah. So shall all that His people hope for from His word shall be surely fulfilled and so likewise the weight of all His threatenings shall fall heavy upon the heads of the wicked for HE IS NOT A MAN THAT SHOULD LIE, OR THE SON OF MAN THAT HE SHOULD REPENT. Amen.
LESSON 20. GENESIS 9:14
The Lord smelled a savour of rest in the sacrifice of Noah offered by faith. He blessed Noah and re-established to him and in him to all mankind his covenant that the earth should again be fruitful and that He would no more destroy it with a flood. This was not what we mean by the covenant of grace, the benefits of which are limited to believers, yet it is founded in that covenant for the general blessings of God's providence being continued to a sinful world is because He has a people to gather from amongst mankind. When these are all collected together the earth and all its works shall be destroyed.
Though a promise, a single promise, from God is worthy of our unshakeable belief, yet He has upon all occasions graciously condescended to our weakness. He knows how deeply rooted unbelief is in the heart of man and is, therefore, pleased to repeat His promises and to confirm them to us by signs and these are generally suited by His wisdom to afford us seasonable relief in the time when we most especially need it. The Lord appointed the Rainbow for this purpose. It was not to be constant in its appearance like the sun, every day, but as and when clouds should return. The apprehensions of a second deluge were most likely to return with them so the Lord appointed that in the clouds which might serve as a sense of danger, the rainbow might be seen as a token that His covenant and promise should stand firm.
It is of no great importance to conjecture whether the rainbow was known before the flood, and we cannot go beyond conjecture when the Scripture is silent. If it had been seen before, the Lord's choosing it to be a seal of His promise would be sufficient to give it a new significancy. But, to me, it seems probable that a considerable alternative took place at the deluge in the general state of the earth and atmosphere and that the rainbow was quite a new appearance 2 Peter 3:5-7, and, therefore, peculiarly adopted to be a sign that the earth should no more be destroyed by water. Now though as I said the rainbow was not immediately a seal of the covenant of grace, yet as the continuance of the earth and all earthly blessings, it is for the sake of His covenant people, so the rainbow is taken into the emblems of the covenant of gospel grace, Revelation 3:10 and we are thereby warranted to expand it in a gospel sense - as an emblem of His mercy to all who fear His name. A bow is an instrument of war - but the sight of this bow confirms to us that there is now peace on earth, good will towards men. It is a bow without string or arrow - not bent against us, but the bended part turned upwards, and the points towards the ground. To illustrate the subject we may observe:
- That the great God who was justly angry with us is through the great peace offering of Jesus, received to all who believe in His name and is become a God in covenant to them. Therefore, when He is represented upon His throne, it is said to be encompassed with a rainbow to assure as it is a throne of grace and mercy. And, when Jesus appears in His glory and power, the rainbow is upon His head then we may not be confounded, but remember that all His goings forth are in demonstration of covenant everlasting love to those who have fled to Him for refuge. Remember this, poor soul, thou art afraid to venture near the Lord, if it was indeed a throne of strict justice only, and you might well tremble, for you could not answer Him, one of a thousand - But Oh behold, the rainbow.
- Though the Lord is fully reconciled to His people, yet His dispensations have often a threatening appearance, the clouds return after rain and through a consciousness of guilt and the remains of unbelief, they are ready to fear a second deluge. He brings a cloud over the earth though He means not to destroy.
- The state of conviction is a time when the clouds seem to gather fast. He loves them and is about to bring them home to Himself, but as yet they know it not. On the contrary they think He is writing bitter things against them and coming upon them as an enemy. Yea, I suppose the sinners in the days of Noah were not more alarmed and terrified when they saw the windows of heaven opened, than many of His dear people have been under the power of His convicting Spirit. It may be read in their countenance - they forget their food, their rest, their friends and every comfortable thought is swallowed up in fearful expectation of wrath.
- Temptation is a black and threatening cloud which though immediately from Satan may be said of the Lord's bringing in as much as, without His permission and appointment, Satan could not touch them - and how great have the fears of some been at such a time. How hard then to maintain their hold of His promise, to hope in darkness and expect better days, when their corruptions are let loose, stirred up and inflamed. When they are filled with blasphemous thoughts, when their experience of His past goodness is blotted out and the very foundations of their faith are attacked.
- When He chastises them for their back-slidings and they are brought into a state of desertion. Then they have a great cloud in view which fills them with fear, They can get no comfort from what they have formerly known and tasted of His goodness. On the contrary the remembrance of these things aggravates their case -while they can feel no present life, no power to pray, or, if through cry or shout He seems to give them no answer, but things grow worse and worse.
- Often-times His providence appears to them as a dark cloud, black with the tokens of His anger. He crosses their designs, strips them of their comforts, brings upon them the very thing they feared, and if then, as sometimes is the case the enemy is likewise near and the Lord stands at a distance. They are ready to say - another deluge is coming and these things are but the beginnings of sorrows.
But there is still a reserve. The rainbow is promised in the cloud and in due time it shall appear. This may signify:
- That there troubles shall be moderated. I will correct thee in measure, but will not make a full end of thee. The degree and the duration of their trials are limited and have bound beyond which they cannot pass. He remembers their frame and considers they are but dust.
- They are surprised. They wonder how it is possible, but they find they do hold out. Had they been told what they were to go through they would have sunk at the thought, but they are brought through the storm, because though His face may be hid His arm is underneath them.
- They are at last comforted. The rainbow does not usually appear in the cloud at first, but rather when the rain is going off and as the brightest rainbow is painted upon the darkest cloud, so their greatest distresses are often accompanied or succeeded by their highest and sweetest consolations.
Remember, therefore, when you see the rainbow that it is a witness for the truth of God's promise that He will not contend for ever. That all shall be worked together for good, that the weeping may endure for a night, but joy shall come in the morning.
But to sinners out of Christ - the rainbow gives you but small comfort as a pledge that you shall not be destroyed by a deluge - YOU MUST DIE notwithstanding, and are exposed to the wrath of God. Yet the rainbow signifies to you that the day of God's grace and patience is not yet ended and encourage you to SEEK HIM FOR PARDON AND SALVATION. Amen.
CHAPTER 22. NOTEBOOK IMAGES