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nate. What a noise, then, did the blood of my Saviour make in heaven, who was himself the shepherd and the sacrifice, the man that was offered, and the God to whom it was offered! The Spirit that heard both, says, "It spake better things than the blood of Abel." Abel's blood called for revenge-his for mercy: Abel's pleaded his own innocencyhis the satisfaction for all the believing world: Abel's procured Cain's punishment-his freed all repentant souls from punishment; better things indeed than the blood of Abel; better, and therefore that which Abel's blood said was good. It is good that God should be avenged of sinners. Execution of justice upon offenders is no less good than rewards of goodness.
No sooner doth Abel's blood speak unto God, than God speaks to Cain. There is no wicked man to whom God speaks not, if not to his ear, yet to his heart. What speech was this? Not an accusation, but an inquiry; yet such an inquiry as would infer an accusation. God loves to have a sinner accuse himself; and therefore hath he set his deputy in the breast of man: neither doth God love this more than nature abhors it. Cain answers stubbornly: the very name
of Abel wounds hiin no less than his hand had wounded Abel: consciences that are without remorse, are not without horror: wickedness makes men desperate. The murderer is angry with God, as of late, for accepting his brother's oblation; so now, for listening to his blood.
And now he dares answer God with a question, "Am I iny brother's keeper?" where he should have said, Am not I my brother's murderer? Behold, he scorneth to keep whom he feared not to kill. Good duties are base and troublesome to wicked minds, while even violences of evil are pleasant. Yet this miscreant, which neither had grace to avoid his sin nor to confess it, now that he is convinced of sin, and cursed for it, how he howleth, how he exclaimeth! He that cares not for the act of his sin, shall care for the smart of his punishment. The damned are weary of their torments, but in vain. How great a madness is it to complain too late! He that would not keep his brother, is cast out from the protection of God; he that feared not to kill his brother, fears now that whosoever meets him will kill him. The troubled conscience projecteth fearful things, and sin makes even cruel men cowardly. God saw it was too much favour for him
to die; he therefore wills that which Cain wills. Cain would live; it is yielded him, but for a curse. How often doth God hear sinners in anger! He shall live, banished from God, carrying his hell in his bosom, and the brand of God's vengeance in his forehead. God objects him, the earth repines at him, men abhor him; himself now wishes that death which he feared, and no man dare pleasure him with a murder. How bitter is the end of sin, yea, without end! Still Cain finds that he killed himself more than his brother. We should never sin if our foresight were but as good as our sense; the issue of sin would appear a thousand times more horrible than the act is pleasant.
THE world was grown so foul with sin, that God saw it was time to wash it with a flood: and so close did wickedness cleave to the authors of it, that when they were washed to nothing, yet it would not off; yea, so deep did it stick in the very grain of the earth, that God saw it meet to let it soak long under the waters. So, under the law, the very vessels that had touched unclean water, must either be rinsed or broken. Mankind began but with one; and yet he that saw the first man, lived to see the earth peopled with a world of men; yet man grew not so fast as wickedness. One man could soon and easily multiply a thousand sins—never man had so many children: so that when there were men enough to store the earth, there were as many sins as would reach up to heaven; whereupon the waters came down from heaven, and swelled up to heaven again. If there had not been so deep a deluge of sin, there had been none of the waters; from whence, then, was this superfluity of iniquity? Whence but from the unequal yoke with infidels? These marriages did not beget men so much as wickedness; from hence religious husbands both lost their piety, and gained a rebellious and godless generation.
That which was the first occasion of sin, was the occasion of the increase of sin: A woman seduced Adam-women betray the sons of God: the beauty of the apple betrayed the woman-the beauty of these women betrayed this holy
seed Eve saw, and lusted-so did they; this also was a forbidden fruit-they lusted, tasted, sinned, died. The most sins begin at the eyes; by them commonly Satan creeps into the heart that soul can never be in safety that hath not covenanted with his eyes.
God needed not have given these men any warning of his judgment; they gave him no warning of their sins, no respite; yet that God might approve his mercies to the very wicked, he gives them an hundred and twenty years respite of repenting. How loath is God to strike, that threats so long! He that delights in revenge, surprises his adversary; whereas he that gives long warnings desires to be prevented. If we were not wilful we should never sinart.
Neither doth he give them time only, but a faithful teacher. It is an happy thing when he that teacheth others is righteous. Noah's hand taught them as much as his tongue. His business in building the ark was a real sermon to the world, wherein at once were taught mercy and life to the believer, and to the rebellious, destruction.
Methinks I see those monstrous sons of Lamech coming to Noah, and asking him what he means by that strange work? whether he meant to sail upon the dry land? To whom when he reports God's purpose and his, they go away laughing at his idleness, and tell one another in sport, that too much holiness hath made him mad: yet cannot they all flout Noah out of his faith; he preaches, and builds, and finishes. Doubtless more hands went to this work than his. Many a one wrought upon the ark, which yet was not saved in the ark. Our outward works cannot save us without our faith we may help to save others, and perish ourselves. What a wonder of mercy is this that I here see! One poor family called out of a world, and, as it were, eight grains of corn fanned from a whole barnful of chaff. One hypocrite was saved with the rest, for Noah's sake; not one righteous man was swept away for company: for these few was the earth preserved still under the waters, and all kinds of creatures upon the waters; which else had been all destroyed. Still the world stands for their sakes for whom it was preserved, else fire should consume that which could not be cleansed by
This difference is strange; I see the savagest of all creatures, lions, tigers, bears, by an instinct from God, come to
seek the ark, (as we see swine, foreseeing a storm, run home crying for shelter)-men I see not: reason once debauched is worse than brutishness. God hath use even of these fierce and cruel beasts, and glory by them; even they, being created for man, must live by him, though to his punishment. How gently do they offer and submit themselves to their preserver; renewing that obeisance to this repairer of the world, which they, before sin, yielded to him that first stored the world. He that shut them into the ark when they were entered, shut their mouths also while they did enter. The lions fawn upon Noah and Daniel. What heart cannot the Maker of them mollify!
The unclean beasts God would have to live, the clean to multiply; and therefore he sends to Noah seven of the clean, of the unclean two. He knew the one would annoy man with their multitude, the other would enrich him. Those things are worthy of most respect, which are of most use.
But why seven? Surely that God, that created seven days in the week, and made one for himself, did here preserve, of seven clean beasts, one for himself for sacrifice. He gives us six for one in earthly things, that in spiritual we should be all for him.
Now the day is come, all the guests are entered, the ark is shut, and the windows of heaven opened. I doubt not but many of those scoffers, when they saw the violence of the waves descending and ascending, according to Noah's prediction, came wading middle-deep unto the ark, and importunately craved that admittance which they once denied ; but now, as they formerly rejected God, so are they justly rejected of God. Ere vengeance begin, repentance is seasonable; but if judgment be once gone out, we cry too late. While the gospel solicits us, the doors of the ark are open; if we neglect the time of grace, in vain shall we seek it with tears. God holds it no mercy to pity the obstinate. Others, more bold than they, hope to overrun the judgment; and, climbing up to the high mountains, look down upon the waters with more hope than fear. And now when they see their hills become islands, they climb up into the tallest trees; there with paleness and horror at once look for death, and study to avoid it, whom the waves overtake at last, half dead with famine and half with fear. Lo! now from the tops of the mountains they descry the ark floating upon the waters, and behold with envy that which before they beheld with scorn.
In vain doth he fly whom God pursues. There is no way to fly from his judgments, but to fly to his mercy by repenting. The faith of the righteous cannot be so much derided, as their success is magnified. How securely doth Noah ride out this uproar of heaven, earth, and waters! He hears the pouring down of the rain above his head; the shrieking of men, and roaring and bellowing of beasts on both sides of him; the raging and threats of the waves under him; he saw the miserable shifts of the distressed unbelievers; and, in the mean time, sits quietly in his dry cabin, neither feeling nor fearing evil. He knew that he which owned the waters would steer him; that he who shut him in would preserve him. How happy a thing is faith! what a quiet safety, what an heavenly peace doth it work in the soul, in the midst of all the inundation of evil!
Now, when God hath fetched again all the life which he had given to his unworthy creatures, and reduced the world. unto his first form, wherein waters were over the face of the earth, it was time for a renovation of all things to succeed this destruction. To have continued this deluge long, had been to punish Noah that was righteous. After forty days, therefore, the heavens clear up; after an hundred and fifty, the waters sink down. How soon is God weary of punishing, which is never weary of blessing! Yet may not the ark rest suddenly? If we did not stay some while under God's hand, we should not know how sweet his mercy is, and how great our thankfulness should be. The ark, though it was Noah's fort against the waters, yet it was his prison; he was safe in it, but pent up: he that gave him life by it, now thinks time to give him liberty out of it.
God doth not reveal all things to his best servants. Behold, he that told Noah an hundred and twenty years before what day he should go into the ark, yet foretells him not now in the ark what day the ark should rest upon the hills, and he should go forth. Noah, therefore, sends out his intelligencers, the raven and the dove, whose wings in that vaporous air might easily descry further than his sight. The raven, of quick scent, of gross feed, of tough constitution; no fowl was so fit for discovery: the likeliest things always succeed not. He neither will venture far into that solitary world for fear of want, nor yet come into the ark for love of liberty, but hovers about in uncertainties. How many