NOAH, OR REGENERATION
Chapters 6 - 11
"The world that then was being overflowed with water perished." -- 2 Pet. 3:6.
"The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us." -- 1 Pet. 3:21.
THE line of Seth has several generations before Noah comes, in whom, through the judgment of the first creation, man is taken out of the sphere of fallen Adam, into a world beyond the flood, where he is set in new blessedness. So the spiritual mind goes through successive steps or forms, before that form of life appears which passes the waters, and thus knows regeneration. For souls may be quickened, and know that life in which the flesh lusteth against the spirit: and in spirit, like Abel, offer spiritual sacrifices, as many offered under the Jewish dispensation; and as many yet offer, who in spirit are no further advanced than those righteous souls, "who through fear of death were all their life-time subject to bondage" (Heb. 2:15); and yet not know that way through the flood, which is fellowship in Christ's death and resurrection; a stage in which the Word not only comes into our lot, and in union with us here quickens and sanctifies us as in the first creation; but in which by that same Word we come into His lot, and by Him find ourselves delivered out of this present world, as baptism typifies; through the travail pains and groans of this first creation, brought forth into another sphere, where we are not begotten or quickened only, but truly born. Such a stage arrives in its season, and of it Noah is the divinely appointed figure, in whom the whole course of regeneration is set forth, every secret of this great mystery being here drawn for us as God alone could draw it (1 Pet. 3:20, 21).
The subject is immense, whatever view we take of it, whether inward, outward, or dispensational. Its length, and depth, and breadth cannot be told. It has "wheels within wheels, full of eyes, and looking every way." Any attempt therefore to know it must be "in part," and even of that part still less can be expressed. But if the excess of light here dazzles as yet, let us rejoice that we may possess these things with little or no knowledge of them. To be born, it is not needful to know how we are born. We must grow to manhood, or even age, ere we can think on such things. So with the new birth, we must be born again, and grow up in Christ, ere these things open to us. To apprehend therefore is well: but far better is it to be apprehended for these things in Christ Jesus (Phil. 3:12). Yet let him that hath anointed eyes behold the wonders of the work of God here shadowed forth for our learning.
We have then here Regeneration; the way by which man, already quickened and possessing spiritual life, is borne, through the waters, to a world of light beyond. The work is wrought within, as well as without us. Yet it is the self-same work and Worker everywhere, who, like some musician in solo or in chorus repeating the same sweet strain, repeats His work in a soul, or church, or age, making each to echo back the same melody.
Noah then is the spiritual mind, -- for he is only the continuation of Seth's line, and figures the form of life which the spiritual mind takes at this stage in its development, when it has come so far as to know the judgment of the old creation, and the way through that judgment to a cleansed and better world. This stage, if we regard it closely, will be seen to embrace several distinct parts; for we may see Noah as in the world to be judged, still in the midst of its sins, though undefiled by them; or as going through the waters, and tossed by them, separated from the old world, and yet not come to the cleansed world; or, as on resurrection ground, coming out of the ark into that sphere where judgment is past, and he in joyful liberty. Each of these are stages of regeneration. There is, first, the discovery of the sin which is working in the first creation, upon the ground of the old man; then the experience of the judgment of that old man, during which we are tossed about, and the waves and billows of God's judgments are inwardly passed through; and lastly, the rest in resurrection life, when we feel and know ourselves in liberty and redemption beyond those dark waters. And each of these stages has its own parts, for in grace as in nature each general truth comprises many others. The outline may first be seen, then the particulars: first the dark cloud, then the countless rain-drops, full of beauties, if the sun shines. So is the truth, that heavenly rain, which, like its Maker, challenges our wonder the more we contemplate it.
I. -- NOAH ON THE GROUND OF THE OLD MAN
NOAH first is seen as still in the old world, in the midst of the sins of Adam's sons, yet separate from them. Evil springing out of Adam had now become monstrous. "God looked upon the earth, and behold, it was corrupt, for all flesh had corrupted his way upon the earth." But in the midst of this, "Noah was a just man, and perfect in his generations, and Noah walked with God" (Gen. 6:9, 12). So while the flesh or carnal mind in us goes on from step to step bringing to light its own corruption, the spiritual mind within like Noah is true to God, and bears witness against the evil of the carnal mind, which is continually more and more displaying its enormity. The fruit and corruption of the carnal mind in man, like the seed of Cain, must shew itself before we fully know regeneration; for regeneration is not the improvement but the judgment of the old man, out of which the spirit is saved by a mystic death and resurrection. As an introduction therefore to this form of life we are first shewn the state into which both the lines of Cain and Seth are now fallen. Both flesh and spirit fail. But these very sins are through God's grace the occasion for lifting man, in Noah, into another world. For Noah, as I have said, is the spiritual mind, at the stage when it has come to know the utter corruption of the old creation, and that its deliverance must be through the death and judgment of the whole ground and works of the old man. Through sin and its judgment is man advanced. Noah is not brought out of the Adam world into the world of the rainbow beyond the deep waters, until Adam's seed are proved to be so corrupt, that they and their world must be condemned together. And just as Noah was not taken to a world of blessing through the waters, until the evil of man had fully shewn itself; and just as the doctrine of regeneration was not preached to men, till by their rejection of God's Son they had proved their utter fall and perversity; so within, regeneration is not reached but through the discovery of the awful evil which is the legitimate fruit and development of the old man. Regeneration cannot be truly known till we have proved the corruptness and helplessness of all that springs from old Adam. For regeneration is no improvement of the old man, but a new birth out of its death and dissolution.
And indeed we shall find this law throughout, that the failure of one thing through grace brings in a better thing. Where sin abounds, grace yet more abounds. Thus that short-sighted wisdom which would prevent falling, would by so doing prevent all progress to higher things; for each advancing form of life, which God takes up, springs out of the failure of that which has preceded it. The seed falls into the ground, and dies, and becomes rotten; but the result is the resurrection of many seeds. So the juice of grapes or corn is put into the still; and thence, by decomposition and fermentation, (both forms of corruption,) is evolved a higher purity and spirituality. So is it here. The evil fruit of Adam becomes the occasion for God to lift the race in Noah to higher privileges. Now therefore is felt, what may have seemed like exaggeration till we reach this stage, that "every imagination of the thoughts of man's heart is only evil continually" (Gen. 6:5). But the spiritual mind by all this is being led, it knows not how, to liberties and glories, which as yet it has not dreamt of. Meanwhile, like Noah in the world of old, it is a witness against all the evil which has sprung out of old Adam. Great are the confusions amongst which it dwells. Little may it be able to correct the evil. It seems, and is, part of the same creature. It may be tempted to think it will be destroyed with that sin which riots round it. But the Lord sees how different this mind is from that in which it dwells, and in His time surely will deliver it.
The details in this view are most striking, as they are yet fulfilled in each regenerate soul, though, from our blindness as to the workings of our inward man, and our want of words to describe the processes of the inward life, it is difficult to express the spiritual reality; for the spiritual can only be uttered through the natural; and from the imperfection of the medium some darkness will come in. But the figure here is divinely complete, little as the mind of man as yet may be able to interpret it. The state of the creature is thus described: -- "Men multiplied on the earth, and daughters were born to them" (Gen. 6:1, 2). "Men," as we have seen, are certain minds or thoughts; and a host of thoughts are now discerned to be alive within us; their "daughters" are the affections springing from them, which, by the words, "daughters of men," are shewn to be corrupt and carnal. (Note: See what is said of the "man" and the "woman," above, under the sixth and seventh days; and of Cain and Abel. Ambrose, who in his book De Noe et Arca, has gone at great length into the inward sense of all this history, makes the "sons," "viriles quaedam et fortiores disceptationes," and the "daughters," "molliores cogitationes," c. 21, § 77. Augustine is more exact in the passage cited above.) Then the "sons of God," that is, thoughts which are not of the earth, mix with "daughters of men," that is, impure affections. (Note: It is generally assumed now that by the "sons of God" here, the children of Seth are meant. I doubt it, as the Old Testament usage of the words seems to point to angels. See Job 1:6; 2:1; 38:7; and compare Luke 20:36. I am sure that in the inward fulfilment, the state described here is not only the corruption of the human spirit, but something worse, through fallen spirits. Justin M., Apol. i. § 21, ii. § 6; Irenaeus, Adv. Hoer. l. iv. c. 36, § 4; Clement of Alexandria, Strom. l. iii. § 7; Cyprian, De Hab. Virg. c. 9; Ambrose, De Noe, c. 4, § 8; Tertullian, De Hab. Mul. c. 2; and others, take the "sons of God" here to be angels. The words, ton homoion toutois tropon, in Jude 6, 7, declaring the similarity between the sin of Sodom and that of the angels who fell, are very remarkable.) If the world within could be seen, and the workings of spirit laid open, this is what would appear before regeneration. There is awful inward confusion, the result of the mixture of the flesh and of the spirit; the affections of the flesh seducing the higher thoughts of the spirit, and so producing "giants," that is, earthborn thoughts, which are full of crime and violence. Those who by grace have reached regeneration, know perhaps as little of the exact working of the evil in them, which they have groaned over, as Noah knew of the sin and corruption of the carnal seed; but they will remember the awful sense of inward confusion which preceded their deliverance, and how their spirit, though it sought to walk with God, was constantly grieved by the dreadful workings of the fleshly mind within them. Such as know most of this stage will best see the figure, as it is drawn for us in this history.
Meanwhile, in the midst of these confusions, which are the ripe and rotting fruits of old Adam, Noah, the spiritual mind, remains incorrupt, like the remnants which survive each fallen dispensation, not only bearing witness that judgment must come, but in act and deed passing sentence upon the old creation, laying the axe to the root of the trees (Matt. 3:10), in a work of faith, which is the divinely appointed way of safety. The ark, by which he goes through the judgment, formed by cutting down and judging the pride and strength of that soil in which the curse works, figures the cross by which we are severed from the world, by which it is crucified to us, and we unto the world. As that ark was made up of many beams, so is the cross which delivers us from the world composed of many parts; smaller crosses, all of which we need, add to its length and breadth, nor may we cut off any of them. A time will come, if we reach the risen life, when we may go forth free; but while in the old world, or amid the waves, the cross, like the ark, is our safety: we dare not shorten it. In it is light, a "window" and a "door" (Gen. 6:16). (Note: Some have supposed that this "window," tsohar [H6671], a word only occurring here, was an inward lamp or light; connecting the word with yitshar [H3323] or "oil," and that again with the chrisma [G5545] mentioned in 1 John 2:27, "the anointing," which makes the light or instruction of this world unnecessary. But the spiritual sense will be substantially the same, whichever view we take of this zohar or "window.") In it is food, "all food that may be eaten" (Gen. 6:21). In it are "heights and depths" (Gen. 6:15, 16). By it alone can the flood be passed. Let us bear it, for it will bear us. (Note: Augustine, In Johan. tract. ix. c. 11; De Civitat. l. xv. c. 26. Justin Martyr, Dial. c. Tryph. c. 138.)
In or by this ark the man is saved, and with him a remnant of all the beasts, both clean and unclean. This is a great mystery. Some speak as though in regeneration all the evil of the old nature were entirely left behind, so that nothing should remain of it. Hence they are surprised to see evil passions in regenerate souls. But a remnant of beasts goes through the flood of waters. These beasts, as we have seen, figure certain animal faculties or powers in the creature. Some are gentle and clean, as lambs and doves; some unclean and fierce, as wolves, or swine, or foxes. Yet even of the unclean a remnant lives. Regeneration does not wholly take away or abolish bad tempers. While man is conscious of the judgment, tossed with its waves, and so dying daily to the old nature, these evil powers or desires are so far checked as to cease for awhile to be hurtful to him. By providence and grace they are so stilled, and by circumstances so modified and weakened in us, that for a season at least they are subject to the man; the Lord thus repairing in regeneration the loss which human nature had sustained in Adam's fall; for in Noah man recovers power over beasts: but they are not annihilated. And, indeed, just in measure as the man obeys God, are the beasts or lower powers subject to him; bears and lions and wolves, fierce and devilish spirits in us, being subject when our inward man is subject to the Lord. (Note: Origen goes at some length into this inward fulfilment. He then goes into the dimensions, and says that this inward ark is formed of truths of the cross, trees cut down, which are built together; not the truths of heathen authors, which are like leafy trees, uncut and unpruned, and under which Israel have often committed fornication, as the prophets say, and which are of no use to build this ark. He then speaks of the animals. -- Hom. ii. in Gen.. See also Cyril of Jerusalem, Catech. xvii. § 10; and Ambrose, De Noe, c. 15, § 57.)
Such is the stage which issues in regeneration; first, a discovery of the monstrous evil which is working in the creature, in the midst of which the spiritual mind by the cross is prepared for deliverance out of the sphere of the old man, the beast-like powers meanwhile being by grace restrained. At this point comes the second stage, in which, though we have not reached the cleansed world, we are yet by the waves of judgment separated from the former world. After which comes the perfect deliverance into rest and liberty beyond the waters. To these later stages we will come in order. But first I would note the outward fulfilment of the scene, which we have already traced inwardly.
In this outward view, the world that then was, on which the threatened flood of waters was hastening, figures the world around, the home of the old man, on which judgment must come for men's wickedness. In this world two families of men are seen, both of which in different ways have shewn their own weakness. Everything is out of course. The sons of God and the daughters of men are mingled. The wickedness of man is great upon the earth, and the thoughts of his heart are proved to be evil continually. The crowning sin is the mixture of seeds. "The sons of God" contract ungodly alliances. If the "sons of God" here spoken of were angels, the fact foreshadowed is, that fallen spirits are allowed in some mysterious way to mix with mankind; whose monstrous fruit necessitates that flood of judgment which is threatened upon the last great form of evil, when the Antichrist shall be revealed, and men will be possessed by "him, whose coming is after the working of Satan, with all power and signs and lying wonders" (2 Thess. 2:9). In a lower sense, this mixture of seeds is to be seen in that confusion between the carnal and spiritual which is so common everywhere. God's children mingle with the world. Oh, how different are the thoughts of God to the thoughts of His sons, except they walk with Him! "God saw the wickedness of men, that it was great:" -- "the sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were fair." So "they took of all that they chose" (Gen. 6:2). The world cannot always reach God's sons to entangle and defile them. But the sons of God can always reach the world, and sink down to act on worldly principles. We read, "They saw," and "they chose;" that is, men walked by sight and not by faith, and by self-will, not by God's will. And the result was, "giants, men of renown," and through them gigantic wickedness. Increased power brought increased crime: "the earth was corrupt, and full of violence." So is it now. The power and sin of Christendom are but the necessary result of this same mixture of the flesh and spirit; with just so much of truth as to enable men to trust each other, and just so much of worldly principles as to please and win the world; just so much of God's Spirit as to bring in power, and so much of the flesh as to abuse that power to maintain carnal principles. And yet there is a remnant witnessing against the corruption, whom God through this very confusion is leading to a full deliverance out of it -- such souls at first, though quickened in spirit, like the believers in the Jewish dispensation, and though they "follow Christ in the regeneration" (Matt. 19:28), do not yet fully know that perfect deliverance out of the sphere and judgment of the old man, to which they are called by "the washing of regeneration" (Titus 3:5), which is indeed participation in Christ's death and resurrection. But spite of their conflicts, God will bring them to this rest, and even the confusions amongst which they dwell serve God's saints, driving them from the ground of the old man into a purer and better world.
To this end the ark is the appointed means, figuring, in the outward as in the inward kingdom, the self-same cross of Jesus Christ, or more vaguely, the Church, whose strength is the cross; which, safe in the covering of atonement, (Note: The word here translated "pitch," Gen. 6:14, Heb. kopher [H3724], is the same word which is commonly used to express atonement, as in Exod. 29:36; 30:10; Lev. 23:27, 28, &c. It means, primarily and simply, a covering. The word kapporeth [H3727], mercy-seat, where the blood was sprinkled on the day of atonement, is from the same root. Our English word cover evidently comes from kopher.) bears those who trust it, through the waters. The elect are delivered, first mystically by baptism, that passage through the waters, which figures death and resurrection (1 Pet. 3:20, 21); and then actually, through that dying to the world and nature, which is both the judgment of the old, and the way for God's children to the new, creation. In this ark are lower, second, and third stories (Gen. 6:16); (Note: Compare with this the three stories of the Temple, 1 Kings 6:4-8, which is but another view of the same mystery.) for within the one same faith of the cross of Christ, very different is the attainment in the knowledge of that cross, even among those who by it pass through the one baptism. Few can enter into all the heights and depths opened to them; for few even of the saved here bear the image of their Head. Few are the sons of the Man of Rest, knowing the joys of sonship with Him, and with capacities to share all His experiences. For one such son are many who are as beasts, animal natures, rough, irrational creatures; who yet are saved, both the clean and the unclean, the Jew and Gentile, the fearful and the violent; and who are served and ruled by those in whom is seen more of the image of Him who is their Head and Lord. For it is not the spiritual only who are saved. In the one ark are found many carnal souls, living far more as beasts than as men, who yet being cleansed of God may not be cast off as common or unclean (Acts 10:15, 28). These cannot know the heights of the cross, (Note: Greg. M. in Expos. sup Evang. Hom. xxxviii. § 8.) yet are they saved by grace, even as the spiritual; their evil natures being checked by that cross which is for them and for all the common deliverance. In one body are they saved together, all the members more or less comely (1 Cor. 12:22-25); and though with unequal, yet each with perfect joy, they shall, whether beasts, or creeping things, or flying fowls, whether young men or maidens, or old men or children, whether fathers or babes and sucklings in Christ, yea and the dragons also, all praise the Lord, in that cleansed earth which is beyond the waters (Psalm 148:7-13). (Note: The Fathers are full of references to this outward application of this history. Augustine, Contr. Faust. Manich. l. xii. c. 14-21, goes into it at great length. So too Ambrose, De Noe et Arca; Gregory the Great, In Ezek. Hom. xvi.; and In Expos. Evang. Hom. xxxviii. § 8; Origen, Hom. ii. in Gen.; Jerome, Contr. Jovin. l. i.; Cyprian, Epist. 69, and many others. Indeed, St. Peter's direct reference to this type (1 Pet. 3:20-21), gives the clue to the whole of it.)
II. -- NOAH IN THE WATERS
Chapter 7 and 8:1-14
LET us now pass on to that stage in Noah's life, to that point in regeneration, when by the cross our inner man is separated from the old world, and yet not come experimentally to the better world. This is a well-known stage, and as safe, if not as blissful, as that which follows it.
Seven distinct steps are marked in it, the order of which, like all the rest, is wonderful.
(i.) First (I trace it within) man is "shut in" by the Lord: he enters the ark, but "the Lord shuts him in" (Gen. 7:16), that is, secures him. So the soul which has embraced the cross, and has long waited by it to be saved and lifted up from Adam's world, comes to a point when that cross holds him as with nails, "shut in," so that now he could not, even if he would, turn from it. Thus "shut in," prisoners of hope, are we preserved; and dark and narrow as this lot appears, we would not change it for the freedom of those without, who may mock at our straitness, but who, if not so "shut in," must all perish. Thanks be unto Him who shuts us in, -- who will not let us leave the narrow cross, which, to some a stumbling-block and to others foolishness, to them that are called is both the power and the wisdom of God; cutting us off from communication with what is without, restraining what is within, and yet saving us. Blessed are they who are thus "shut in."
(ii.) Then comes the flood: -- "The flood was upon the earth; and the waters increased, and bare up the ark, and it was lifted up above the earth" (Gen. 7:17). So is it within. The day arrives when the inward deep is moved mightily. The unquiet element in us is loosed. Now the floods of temptation and lust seem to break out everywhere, Oh, what fluctuations, tossings, and swellings are there! Such a flood has arisen within as Jonah passed, when he cried, "The waters compass me" (Jonah 2:5); or such as David knew, when he said, "Deep calleth unto deep, at the noise of thy waterspouts; all thy waves and thy billows are gone over me." (Psalm 42:7. See also Psalm 69:1, 2, 15.) Now the fountains of the great deep seem broken up, and the windows of the heavens only pour down judgment. We are, as we say, "overwhelmed within us." A flood is out, destroying and changing the life of man, crushing the life of nature out of us. But this, too, painful and awful as it is, and itself the judgment of the sin of the old man, and certain destruction if we do not know the cross, leads the spirit to greater joys and greater liberty. Thus is self and selfhood destroyed in us. We tremble and are astonished and cry out for fear, and yet by such a death the Lord frees us. (Note: The experience of every age supplies illustrations of this stage; but the following letter of Terstegen is so beautiful and apposite, that I insert it here. It may comfort some: "My dear sister, -- Notwithstanding the wretched state in which you describe yourself to be, I am still quite at ease regarding it, and am under no apprehension of evil consequences. Were I concerned for you after the manner of men, and were I glad to see your own life, the life of self, preserved, I might have reason to fear, because our Lord attacks it so forcibly and severely, and pursues it so warmly, that it must soon give up the ghost, which takes place and is accomplished by the complete and eternal resignation of yourself into the free hands of God. You see and feel nothing but sin and corruption within you. Whithersoever the mind turns and directs its view, everything is misery, grief and sin; and the way to escape from it is closed, and appears as if it were always to continue so. Ah! thinks subtle self-love, could I only find a little nook to which I might retire, and take a little rest. Listen, O soul! cease thy turning: the more thou seekest to make matters the better, the worse thou makest them. Therefore as long as it pleases God to leave you miserable, corrupt, and without strength, let it also please you. You behold your real self at present, as you are in yourself. Thank God for having thus disclosed your inward wound to your view. Previously, when the dealings of grace with you were so gentle, nature and sense occasionally participated in it; but in the way in which you are at present, they are deprived of all support. It is impossible that nature and sense should acquiesce in this total destruction. But they must die. Commit yourself, therefore, wholly to God; trust Him, and you shall be healed." -- Letter xx.)
There remains indeed another baptism. The creature cleansed by water must one day be purged by fire also. The old Adam world, the ground of the old man, being overflowed with water, perishes. But the heavens and the earth which are now beyond the water shall be baptised with fire, and that fire shall purge the floor, and crystallise the earth into transparent gold (See 2 Pet. 3:6, 7). So within, there is first water, then fire; and by fire the heavens as well as the earth are purified. In both the Lord appoints the flood for good; and as when we pass through the waters, because He is with us they do not overflow us, so He says, "When thou walkest through the fire thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee" (Isa. 43:2).
(iii.) So the ark goes through the flood: we read, "The ark went upon the face of the waters" (Gen. 7:18). It goes through them. We are not saved from death and judgment, but through it, and out of it. God does not save us from temptation. He Himself may loose the doors of the great deep within us. Even yet He leads His sons to be tempted (Matt. 4:1); for temptation is a necessary step to regeneration; that we, thus knowing how helpless we are in self, how lost on the ground and home of the old man, may resign all hope in self, and, knowing the worst, may yet triumph in deliverance out of it. The regenerate soul has known the worst, and through grace has come safe out of it. And just as the Lord uses our "clay," our very faults, when touched by virtue from His lips, to open blind eyes (John 9:6), so does He use the great deep within us, which He has loosed in judgment because of abounding sin, to drive us from all hopes of creature help. Thus are we saved, not from, but through, the waters; and by death is he destroyed who has the power of death (Heb. 2:14).
(iv.) Then comes the wind from the Lord: -- "God remembered Noah, and caused a wind to pass over the earth, and the waters assuaged" (Gen. 8:1). Here is a wondrous change. "Shut in," "lifted up," or "passing through the waters," the spiritual mind is safe. But now come gentle gales, the breathings of that Spirit which stills the floods and refreshes the weary voyager. The Spirit breathes, and the waters assuage. In other judgments a wind from the Lord was the agent of deliverance. The locusts of Egypt were thus destroyed: -- "The Lord turned a strong east wind, which took away the locusts" (Exod. 10:19). So the way through the Red Sea was made by the wind: -- "The Lord caused the sea to go back by a strong east wind" (Exod. 14:21). So again shall it be in the day "when the Lord with His mighty wind shall smite the tongue of the Egyptian sea, and make men go over dryshod" (Isa. 11:15). And so within. God remembers His servant, and the breath of the Lord works for his deliverance. From this time forth the tossings decrease. The rest now is very nigh.
(v.) For the next step is the grounding of the ark. Now it rests firmly on the unseen world, though the waste of waters is still abroad, and no portion of that better land is yet visible (Gen. 8:4). The cross has brought us to another sphere. The fact is not cognisable by sight, nevertheless it is felt, for settledness is attained to. The future home is not yet seen. A veil of waters yet covers it. But the ark has brought us to "the everlasting hills;" and God, after that we have suffered awhile, now stablishes, strengthens, settles us (1 Pet. 5:10). (Note: The day of the ark's resting, if I err not, was the day of Christ's resurrection, viz., "the seventeenth day of the seventh month," which, after the redemption from Egypt, was called the first month. Here, as in all the allusions to time, are, I am assured, many mysteries; but I do not attempt to touch the subject. The Fathers, however, boldly enter on it. See Augustine, Contr. Faust. Manich. l. xii. c. 15-18, for his views on the times and numbers here; and for some very suggestive thoughts on the subject of numbers generally, see his work, De Lib. Arbitr. l. ii. c. 11. Surely if all creation be a type, numbers and time must be significant.)
(vi.) Soon more is reached. After the tossings cease, "the window is opened," and a new world appears. "The tops of the mountains are seen." Its light shines in (Gen. 8:5, 6). What is seen at first appears isolated. The connexion is not seen between the points which we do see. The waters still only permit us glimpses, unconnected glimpses, of the coming world. Yet there it is -- faith is turned to sight. These hill-tops are pledges of untold and unknown scenes of future joy. For many a day we have been shut up, and our way has been simply a path of faith; but now the floods assuage, and light breaks in, and we can cry, "As we have heard, so have we seen" (Psalm 48:8). For now we belong to the new creation, now that the old man and his monstrous progeny are destroyed and dead.
(vii.) After this, and just before the going forth to enjoy the better world in full liberty, "the dove and raven are sent forth" (Gen. 8:7, 8), figuring (for they are birds of heaven, and the heaven is the understanding,) certain powers or emotions of the understanding, both pure and impure. (Note: See on the work of the fifth day.) In the actions of these is shewn the working of the good and evil which to the last remains with us. For of the impure a remnant still exists. The raven, finding its food in carrion, figures those inclinations which feed on dead things. The dove is that spirit of gentleness and peace, which, though with us before, appears more boldly now as heaven opens to us, to witness, like the dove which came down on Christ, that though the cross may yet remain, there is promise of better things. The ark does not change the raven. The cross may restrain, but does not alter impure desires. To the end the dead things of the world are attractive to certain inclinations in each of us. If, therefore, this raven can be free, it will not return. But the inward man will not trust to such guidance. He wants better proof, and this the dove supplies; when the time is come for the olive to bud she brings a token. And the man understands, for now the risen world is near. Then, but not till God plainly directs it, the cross which has saved us is exchanged for the enjoyment of that resurrection rest to which it has carried us. (Note: Ambrose, throughout his whole comment, De Noe et Arca, gives the inward sense of all this history: c. 13, § 46; c. 9, § 30; c. 14, § 49; c. 17, § 59, 62, 64; c. 18, § 64)
Such is this stage within. Without, its accomplishment is only the same workings on a larger scale. Shut up, safe in the cross, the elect of God by judgments on the world are lifted heavenward. Death buries one and then another earthly hope. The highest hills, to which the world look for succour, all are overflowed. But the Church by the cross goes safe, though containing some, who, like the unclean raven, if they might, would leave it. Such shew their nature ere the rest is reached. (Note: Aug. in Johan. Tractat. vi. § 2.) After this the elect also have another, larger, freer, fairer, dwelling-place. But this leads us to another stage, when Noah emerges into the world beyond the waters.
III. -- NOAH ON THE EARTH BEYOND THE FLOOD
Chapter 8:15-22, and 9:1-17
THE scene here changes as from earth to heaven; from sin and floods to joy, and rest, and liberty. Blessed had been the transition from the old world of sin to the safe but dark and narrow ark; for, with all its straitness, blessed is the cross: we are shut up indeed and tossed, yet safe and not forgotten. But now comes a further wondrous change, from straitness to freedom, and from floods to quietness. We have felt what it is to be in the old world, grieved by its confusions and corruptions, which we cannot remedy. We have known the stage when we are separated thence by the cross, and yet have not reached the better world. Now we reach that land of rest, and stand, as Noah here, on a new and purged creation, brought forth from that earth on which we were born, to a new world where death and judgment are behind us. Man in Christ has long since reached this. Baptism is our profession of faith, that as Christ is risen, and we are in Him, we too are risen with Him (Col. 2:12). (Note: In baptism "we are buried and risen with Christ through faith;" but this is very different from "the power of Christ's resurrection," which Paul longed for, Phil. 3:10. This latter is experience rather than faith.) But now in experience our spirit comes there, from the things of the old man to a sphere where Adam and his carnal seed cannot enter. In one aspect, as in Adam, we are still in the old world, still on this side death, shut out from Paradise. In another, as Noah, as the spiritual mind which has experienced the judgment of the old creation, we are risen with Christ, consciously brought with Him into another world.
The blessings and responsibilities of this high calling are shewn in seven distinct particulars recorded here of Noah.
(i.) First, "They went forth" (Gen. 8:18). This is true liberty, known in word perhaps, but not in power, save by the fellowship of Christ's sufferings and the power of His resurrection. Up to this point the elect is more or less in bondage, a "prisoner of hope," secure, yet still a prisoner. But when through grace we have so passed the judgment of the first creation, and have felt the tossings cease, and then have seen the hill-tops, and received the olive-leaf, the earnest of the inheritance, from the mouth of the gentle dove, which thus assures us of a world beyond the water-floods, then our freedom is near; all things are lawful, if all things are not expedient, for us. Many a conscientious doubt as to rules, or times, or places, now is resolved for us. To the pure all is pure. Henceforth we are free; we may "go in and out and find pasture" (John 10:9).
(ii.) But there is more than freedom here; for now "Noah builded an altar to the Lord, and offered burnt-offerings" (Gen. 8:20). This is worship, in the main like that of Abel, though the burnt-offering testifies rather of obedience and acceptance than of sin and trespasses; in answer to which God opens all His heart, with secrets of love never fully told in Adam's world. Now beside the altar, those who have passed the flood understand God's heart, saying, "I will not curse again." Yea, "though man's heart is still evil," God's heart speaks out, "I will not curse or smite again" (Gen. 8:21). The risen man cannot say that in selfhood his imaginations even now are other than evil continually. But he knows that, spite of this, God is saving and has saved him. Here, too, he learns how the changes in the earth are all divinely regulated: -- "While earth remains, seed-time and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, and day and night, shall not cease" (Gen. 8:22). Before this, as darkness fell, he may have feared that the light was for ever leaving him, and that his fits of coldness would have no limit. Now he learns that these things are part of a divine plan. Darkness brings into light heavenly things unseen before. By the cold many a weed is nipped and withered, and many a hurtful worm perishes. "While earth remains" such changes are well. When earth is passed, we may be fit for changeless things. All this in its depth is learnt at this place, by the holy altar of burnt offering. Oh, how many things are only cleared up here! The same man who said, "Thy way is in the sea, and thy path in the great waters, and thy footsteps are unknown," says again, "Thy way is in the sanctuary: who is so great a God as our God?" (Psalm 77:13, 19).
(iii.) Fruitfulness is another special blessing of this stage: -- "God said, Be fruitful and multiply" (Gen. 9:1). Just as in creation, when the third day rose, and the waters were restrained, the earth was made fruitful; so now in Noah, the third great stage in man, the flood being passed, man increases wonderfully. "Except the corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone; but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit" (John 12:24). Now having died to the world by the cross, and the evil fruits which grow out of old Adam being judged by the overflowing waters, the new man within increases yet more. Being purged, he brings forth much fruit (John 15:2). (Note: Ambros. de Noe, c. 21, § 77, and c. 24, § 87.)(iv.) But the blessing goes further. Power is given over beasts: -- "The fear and dread of you shall be upon every beast, and upon every fowl, and upon all the fishes of the sea: into thy hand are they delivered" (Gen. 9:2). Animal faculties now are not only restrained by the ark or cross, but reduced to submission: the man or reason governs them. The ox strong to labour, the strength in us formed to serve, is not henceforth to spend its energies without direction. The lion and the bear, fierce thoughts, must be still. And if, when night comes down, these beasts will yet creep forth, and the young lions roar against their prey, -- for in hours of darkness these beasts at times will still be heard, -- when the sun ariseth they must lay them down in their dens, for then man goeth forth to his work and labour until the evening (Psalm 104:20-23). (Note: Ambros. de Noe et Arca, c. 24, § 87.) I know indeed that even after this, after man has passed the flood and is regenerate, lions may be loosed in judgment by the Lord: the man in us may be slain, and the beast may be seen standing by the carcase (1 Kings 13:24, 25); or, as in another case, the man may be blind, and the beast, which should be guided by the man, may see more than that inward man which was formed to govern it (Numbers 22:23-31). All this may be through sin. Yet our calling as regenerate is to rule the beasts, not to be ruled by them. If the animal in us is not subject to the mind, it is because the mind or man is not subject to the Lord.
(v.) Further, on this ground flesh is given to man for food. Before the flood man's food is "the green herb." He has "for meat every herb bearing seed, and every tree, in which is the fruit of a tree" (Gen. 1:29). Now it is said, "Every moving thing that liveth shall be meat for you: even as the green herb have I given you all things" (Gen. 9:3). Before the flood the bodies of beasts had been consumed by the fire of God: they had been His meat: their death had satisfied Him. Now, on resurrection ground, man too can eat, that is, find satisfaction in the same sacrifice. Before we know resurrection life, while we are yet in the world before the flood, in the home or sphere of the old man, we feed on the fruits of the earth, those fruits of righteousness, which, whether in Christ or in ourselves, naturally afford man some satisfaction. As yet the death of the creature is no satisfaction to the elect, though God is satisfied and we are clothed thereby. God's fire may fall and consume the offering: we give it up, but we do not really eat with Him. It is otherwise when this stage is reached. Then the death of what is animal is not only a witness, but it affords us food. We, too, can now be satisfied in the giving up of life, and great is the strength which the spiritual man derives from the meat which is thus given to him. (Note: Ambrose De Noe c. 25, § 91. See also Augustine, Contr. Faust. l. xii. c. 22, respecting the pouring out of the blood, which is commanded here, Gen. 9:4.)
(vi.) At this stage God gives authority to man to judge that which quenches the life which "was formed in God's image;" for God, having now by regeneration restored that image in man, would not have it again mutilated. At the hand of every man, therefore, He now requires the life of man, for in the image of God made He man (Gen. 9:5, 6). Before the flood it was not so; on the ground of the old man, Seth's line do not avenge the blood of Abel; just as before regeneration, while we yet abide in the sphere of the old man, the spiritual mind bears witness against the sins which in us grow out of old Adam, but has not power to correct or judge them; for on that ground the evil cannot be remedied. The old man is corrupt, with his works. God's image cannot be seen in him. God will not therefore prune his branches; for He is resolved to cut him down. But after the washing of regeneration, when the image of God is again brought forth through the judgment of the old man, when the spiritual mind has reached the risen life, and looks on Adam and his works as judged of God, with Him it judges any reviving remnant of them; for, being regenerate, it has power to correct wickedness. All murder therefore now is judged; and since "he that hateth his brother is a murderer" (1 John 3:15), for hate destroys the inward man, all such workings of the flesh must be sharply judged by the regenerate. Woe to us, if we use not the power committed to us, if the hateful works of the old man are suffered in us without self-condemnation.
(vii.) And now, to crown all the gifts peculiar to this stage, the covenant is re-made, and a heavenly token given of it: -- "And I, behold, I, establish my covenant with you, and with your seed after you, and with every living creature that is with you. And this is the token of the covenant: I do set my bow in the cloud; and it shall come to pass, when I bring a cloud over the earth, that the bow shall be seen in the cloud. And I will remember my covenant which is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh; and the waters shall no more be a flood to destroy all flesh." This is the "new and better covenant," not "of law," with "Thou shalt," but "of grace," saying, "I will." "I will establish my covenant with you ... and I will remember my covenant ... and I will look on the bow in the cloud, and the waters shall no more destroy." For now man has learnt that all is of grace, resting not upon his own, but upon the Lord's, will.
Oh, that the force of this "new covenant," and all the difference between "Thou shalt" and "I will," were fully known by God's children; and that in every soul the "Thou shalt" of the old, had given place to the "I will" of the new and better, covenant! Let this be understood. The covenant of law, as given to the old man, first and last, is all "Thou shalt." So God to Adam said, "Thou shalt not eat of it; in the day thou eatest, thou shalt surely die:" and by Moses repeating the same covenant of law, each command reiterates the same, "Thou shalt:" -- "Thou shalt love the Lord with all thy heart;" "Thou shalt not steal;" "Thou shalt not covet." Such a covenant is all "of works." There is a command to be fulfilled by man, and therefore its validity depends on man's part as well as God's being performed perfectly. Such a covenant cannot stand, for man is always sure to fail in his part. Thus the covenant of law or works to man is and must be only condemnation. But, finding fault with this, the Lord will make "a new covenant;" and this new covenant or gospel says throughout, not "Thou shalt," but "I will." It is "the promise," as St. Paul says to the Galatians (Gal. 3:16-18, 21, 22, 29). All that it requires is simple faith. "This is the covenant I will make in those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws in their hearts; and I will write them in their minds; and I will be merciful to their transgressions; and I will remember their sins no more; I will dwell in them; and I will walk in them; and I will be unto them a God, and they shall be unto me a people." It is this "I will" which Noah now hears, and to which at this stage God adds "a token" set in heaven.
This token is "the bow set in the cloud." Before the flood, the elect, though not so fully instructed, yet had "the covenant" (Gen. 6:18). But of its "token" nothing had been heard: for this is only learnt experimentally, when we have known and in spirit passed the deep waters. This token now appears "in the cloud." The cloud, brought over the earth, was not only a remembrance, but something like a remnant, of the judgment. We therefore sometimes "fear to enter the cloud" (Luke 9:34). If it might be so, we would have "tokens" of the covenant without the dark waters. But it cannot be. Only in dark and cloudy days can the bow of heaven be seen spanning the lower earth. Then, mid dark waters, when the sun breaks out, though the cloud may be dark, a bow appears amid the darkness; half a ring -- half that ring with which the regenerate soul is now married to the Lord, and assured of endless rest with Him. The lower world yet hides the rest of the ring; but on high "a rainbow" shall be seen "in a circle round the throne." (Note: So we read, iris kuklothen, Rev. 4:3. See Ambrose, De Noe, c. 27.)
Such are the joys to which we are called by the power of Christ's resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings.
And this, too, is fulfilled without. In this more outward view, Noah's blessings here are the joys of the Church as dead and risen with Christ. The Man of Rest and His sons are brought by the washing of regeneration to things which fallen Adam never heard of. Here freedom, and worship, and increase, and power, -- power over those who are as beasts, -- is freely given to them. Here the death of the flesh, in ourselves or others, is found to be, even as good fruits, the means of strengthening life. Here, too, sin is judged. In the world saints judge not: -- "What have I to do to judge them that are without?" (1 Cor. 5:12). In that sphere our work is to set forth grace, even while we witness that God's judgment is hastening. But in that Church which stands on risen ground, we must "put away from ourselves the wicked person" (1 Cor. 5:13). Would to God that this were laid to heart. But too often judgment is exercised in the world, where grace should be manifested; while excuses are offered for want of discipline in that redeemed body, where all evil should be rooted out. Labour enough is spent to correct a ruined world: nothing is done to purge a failing Church. But this leads us to another stage, where the failure of the regenerate is fully revealed to us.
IV. -- NOAH'S SONS
Chapter 9:18-29, and 10
WE are now to see what man brings forth, when grace has brought him through the judgment of the first creation into another sphere. Spite of all his gifts, nay by his gifts, Noah, that is, regenerate man, fails even as the unregenerate. His blessings ensnare him. Here we are shewn the agents and stages of this tragedy, from Noah's first error, and his children's crimes, down to all the confusions of Great Babylon. For Babylon the Great, with all her abominations, cannot precede, but follows regeneration.
First, we are shewn what springs out of Noah, that is all the forms of life which grow out of the regenerate. We may for a moment look at this, after which the different phases of failure will be manifest.
To speak then of these seeds as seen within. Noah is the spiritual mind, brought forth from the ground of the old man into a purer world. His sons represent those forms of life, which, produced by the spiritual mind in us before regeneration, -- as Shem, Ham, and Japhet, were born before the flood, -- develope themselves in us after we have known the judgment of the first creation. For regeneration bears in us more than one mind or form of life; and whichever of these is the master-life within, stamps us either as Shems, or Hams, or Japhets; just as he who lives in the animal or beast-like life may be designated as a fox, or wolf, or serpent, according to the form of life which most predominates. For there are in us many forms of life. Even the animal life (and in its place it is subservient to our blessedness) is full of variety. And no less does the higher life of the man or mind within, take, as we have seen in Adam's sons, many different forms at different stages of its development. In Adam's sons we saw the different forms of life which grow out of old Adam, that is the natural man. Now in Noah and his sons we are shewn all the forms which the regenerate mind may produce in each of us.
Now the forms of life which regeneration produces are as different as Shem, Ham, and Japhet; for man is composed of body, soul, and spirit, a wondrous compound of very different worlds; and of each a germ or seed buds out within, produced in man, as Noah's three sons, before regeneration, which after the flood shew whence and what they are, and their respective natures, whether of the body, or of the soul, or of the spirit; whether Ham, Japhet, or Shem, whose very names tell what they are, very different, yet all fruits of one common regeneration. There is, first and highest, the contemplative life, which delights in things unseen, in adoring love and holiness. There is again the active life, which is good, and does good, but deals more with external things. Besides these there is the doctrinal life, a mind occupied with truth, without the savour and power of it; a form of life, which, though growing out of the regenerate mind, is nigh to evil, and must be subdued and fought against. Shem is the first of these; Japhet, the second; the third is Ham, the father of Canaan, whom Israel have to overcome. For Shem, meaning name, represents that mind, which, knowing the Name which is above every name, -- that God is a Spirit, and they who worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth, -- is set, as names are set for things, to witness for His Name, and so reflect something of Him. (Note: The word Shem [H8035], or name, is derived from the verb soom [H7760], to place or put, apparently for this reason, that a name is placed or substituted for a thing, as its sensible sign. The word is also closely connected with the shamayim [H8064] or heavens. Indeed the latter word is but a masculine plural of the same word, Shem. These "heavens" are they who "declare the glory of God," and "in whom (as in Shem's family) God hath set a tabernacle for His sun." -- Psalm 19:1, 4.) Japhet, that is, enlargement, goes forth, in the sense of the freedom which is the portion of the regenerate soul, to spread abroad on the face of the earth something of that large blessing which God has given it. (Note: I may note how unchangeably to the present day the sons of Shem, even in the letter, that is the Asiatics, are men who love the contemplative life; while Japhet's sons, that is the European family, as much prefer the active life.) Ham, signifying burnt or black, is the mind which is "seared as with a hot iron" (1 Tim. 4:2): knowing but not living in the truth; and thus producing Canaan, that accursed form of life, which is the inevitable fruit of a life of doctrine without love or communion. In point of honour Shem stands first, but in their development Japhet's and Ham's sons are given before Shem's; shewing, what indeed is proved by all experience, that the highest life in us is the last to develop itself. (Compare the order in Gen. 9:18; 10:1 with that in Gen. 10:2, 6, 22.) "Of these was the whole earth overspread." And hence spring all the forms of regenerate life, good, bad, or indifferent (Gen. 9:19). (Note: Ambrose, as usual, gives the inward sense. -- De Noe, c. 15, § 55; c. 2, § 3 and 5; c. 32, § 121.)
But this may be more plain to some in its outward fulfilment as seen in the professing Church. Only, when we look at evil without, let us not forget that the germ of it all is within our own heart; and that evil men around are only what they are by crushing in their souls the seed of the divine life, and by sinking into some one or other of those lower forms of life, which though working in us are not elect, that is, not our true life. This is our trial, whether we will be beasts, or Cains, or Shems, or Hams, or Japhets. Blessed are they, who, dying to that in them which is opposed to God, forsaking self and the fruits of that self, which stage after stage so perseveringly revives in us, step by step come back out of self to God, to the life which is not of self, but of Him, and to His glory.
To look then at this scene without. Noah and his sons figure the regenerate Church, who with differing forms of life have one root, brought through the one baptism from the world of Adam, to new gifts and higher responsibilities. Noah represents the Church generally: his sons, its component parts and varieties; differing from one another as Peter, Paul, and John, (Note: The thought, that Peter and John are types of different forms of Christian life, is very common in the old writers; John being taken as the type of the life which is by vision of Christ; Peter, of that which is by faith and conflict. See Augustine, Tractat. in Johan. cxxiv. Popery and Protestantism shew for themselves that they are respectively Peter's and Paul's children. John's line of things is less capable of being systematised and less corruptible, and "will tarry till the Lord come." John 21:22, 23.) and to differ yet more in their development, but all part and fruit of one same tree, whose produce shews its soil as well as its own distinct vegetable life and constitution. As in the case of Jacob and his sons, each son or tribe figures the distinctive character of some part of the spiritual Israel, who are either Levis, addicted to service, or Naphtalis, satisfied with favour, or Judahs, possessing the gift of rule; so is it with Noah's sons: each presents one class of the regenerate: Shem, those who love the inner life; Japhet, the men of action; Ham, the men of mere doctrine; and Canaan, those unhappy souls, who, from being hearers only, have come, still self-deceived, to be deceivers also. These three, or if we count Canaan, (and he is named,) these four, represent the great distinguishing classes into which the Church may be divided. For as in the fourfold results of the Sower's work (Matt. 13:18-23), so here, we have three classes springing from the original seed, and a fourth class, which, though not actually from it, is yet mentioned in connection with it. There is true inward religion, and true outward religion; these are Shem and Japhet. There is also false inward religion, and false outward religion: these are Ham and Canaan. Every possible form of Christian life is the development sooner or later of one or other of these four great classes.
Let this solemn truth sink into our hearts. There is a form of life which grows out of the regenerate, which is accursed. For regeneration not only spares the beasts, though it gives us power to subdue and govern them, but it leaves in us a mind like Ham, which revives the ways of the old man in the regenerate soul. Hence the Church has had its Hams, and from them has grown up Great Babylon. (Note: Babel is the work of the seed of Ham, Gen. 10:6-10.) All history shews, not that it is likely, but certain, that in the Church's own bosom will be nursed its worst enemies. Heresy cannot exist without the truth; and "there must be heresies, that they which are approved may be made manifest" (1 Cor. 11:19). Then, and after the division in the days of Peleg, Eber's son, -- for Great Babylon has then been built up, -- the elect Hebrew is as distinct from the rest of Noah's sons, as Noah himself had been from the world before the judgment. Then the word is, "Get thee out from thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father's house, into a land which I will shew thee" (Gen. 12:1).
It would be full of deepest interest to trace the course of these different families through their successive generations. For in them is prefigured the parentage and birth of every sect and heresy which has sprung out of and troubled the bosom of the regenerate Church. Here, had we opened eyes, we might see how from the Apostolic Church has sprung, as from a common source, all that endless train of error which is around us in the different forms of Popery and Protestantism. Here we might trace the lineage of faith and love, and not less of false spirituality, fanaticism, ignorance, rationalism, and religious formalism. These neglected genealogies give it all. Here we have the true "Theory of Development," given by One who cannot lie, and given "for our learning and instruction in righteousness" (Rom. 15:4; 2 Tim. 3:16). Few, however, care to think on these things, or consider how surely certain forms of life gradually produce other forms most dissimilar; how the true spiritual seed, the men of holy contemplation, may beget a seed, as Shem begat Asshur, in whom the contemplative life is changed to one of mere reasoning, whence grows Assyria, with all its cities and its crimes. (Note: Asshur, the father of the Assyrians, was Shem's son: Gen. 10:22.) Few think how the Japhets, that is the men of active life, may produce sons who sink ere long into what is merely outward, and become as the nations; or how surely the men of mere doctrine, like Ham, will produce families in which their evil will increase, until Egypt, and Babel, and cursed Canaan are manifested; these last as truly sons of Noah as Shem, but like the chaff, though springing from the same root as the wheat, destined to be one day awfully separated.
Without pretending to go into details, a few general points in this development of the regenerate may be for profit here.
And first let us mark the respective proportions of the three great families which grew out of Noah. Seventy-two names in all are given us (Gen. 10:1-32). (Note: The numbers here, I am assured, are all full of divine mysteries; as some of old have marked. Our version gives only twenty-six names here from Shem. The LXX. add one more, Cainan, between Arphaxad and Salah. St. Luke follows the LXX., Luke 3:36.) Of these, thirty-one are of Ham's, twenty-seven of Shem's, and fourteen of Japhet's line; so much more prolific is evil than good, even in regenerate man: reminding us of the lists of sins, so greatly outnumbering the catalogue of graces, enumerated by the Apostle (Rom. 1:25-31; 2 Tim. 3:2-5); and of the number of "the works of the flesh," as compared with "the fruits of the spirit" (Gal. 5:19-23). (Note: Seventeen "works of the flesh" are recorded, besides the comprehensive word, "and suchlike;" nine "fruits of the spirit.") So is it without, even as within. The evil seed, whose life is one of doctrine rather than of love to God and man, is that which under a variety of forms, for the present at least, most spreads and multiplies. "Broad is the way that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat" (Matt. 7:13).
Of these three lines, all whose outcome is shewn here, it may suffice to note a few particulars. I have not a doubt that every name recorded describes some distinct character. And though to a mere English reader any comment on names may seem fanciful, if not hazardous, yet to a thoughtful mind the names simply translated would, I believe, suggest many things. In reading Bunyan, when we meet with "Faithful," and "By-ends," and "Evangelist," and "Giant Despair," and others; or when we hear of places, such as "Slough of Despond," or "Vanity Fair," or "Mansoul," with its "Eyegate," and "Eargate," and "Mouthgate," the name suggests some mystery. But Bunyan, in writing thus, was only copying the style of Genesis, in which the names always express character; for I think no one can imagine that such names, as some here, would be given or recorded without some deep reason.
But I shall not attempt to trace all the line. This, however, I would repeat, that from Ham, that is the life of mere doctrine, -- of truth without love, -- proceeds a seed, which, being called Nimrod or the rebel, "becomes a mighty one;" in whom first the patriarchal life is changed into "a kingdom at Babel," a kingdom over brethren (Gen. 10:8-10); while another branch of the same stock of Ham is the renowned Mizraim or Egypt (Gen. 10:6), (Note: It is scarcely necessary, I suppose, to add, that Mizraim is the Hebrew name for Egypt.) which as much as Babel, though in other ways, becomes a snare to God's elect. What these represent we may hereafter see; suffice it now to mark that Babel and Egypt both grow out of Ham; the greater number of whose sons bear names which are connected with, or descriptive of, war and strife and bloodshedding. (Note: To trace only the names of the sons of Cush, Ham's firstborn (Gen. 10:7): "Seba" is taking, or being taken in battle: "Havilah," labouring or bringing forth: "Sabtah," a word connected with besieging strong places, means going round or compassing: "Raamah" is a voice of thunder, as of an army shouting for the battle: "Sabtecha," the cause of slaughter: "Dedan," solitary, or perhaps, who judgeth: names all akin to strife and misery. -- Cf. Hieron. Nom. Heb.) Shem's line tell out yet more solemn truths. From him springs the Assyrian, as well as the true Israelite. Asshur no less than Eber is his son (Gen. 10:21, 22); so surely does the contemplative life, which produces true holiness, tend also to beget that spirit of mere reasoning, of which Asshur, or Assyria, is the appointed type. So near is the false to the true; so quick the descent from that which is, to that which is not, acceptable. I need not repeat what I have said of Japhet. Let us not forget how soon his seed, that is the fruit of active life, degenerates into that which God counts as the world, into a mere Gentile life which knows not God (Gen. 10:2-5). (Note: "By these (i.e. Japhet's sons) were the isles of the Gentiles divided," &c.)
Such are the seeds, whose fate is foretold in that prophecy of their father Noah, with the literal fulfilment of which we are so familiar; the spiritual sense of which no less reveals the course and end of those different forms of life which have been developed in the regenerate.
The fate of Ham comes first. In his seed Noah foresaw one who would be "cursed Canaan;" who though called, as a son of this house, to liberty, would become "a servant of servants to his brethren" (Gen. 9:25). These are they who, knowing much of the truth, "walk after the flesh in the lust of uncleanness, and despise government; presumptuous are they, self-willed; they are not afraid to speak evil of dignities" (2 Pet. 2:10, 11). Such, though they appear to have escaped the pollutions of the world, through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, again entangled therein and overcome, find their latter end worse than the beginning. But it is happened unto them according to the true proverb, -- The dog is turned to his own vomit again, and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire. That the Church has such a seed needs no proof: but that it "serves brethren," -- that it subserves a good end, -- is not always seen sufficiently. Yet it must be so; for the Lord has said, "A servant of servants shall he be unto his brethren." Surely this is true within and without. And when we reach this stage of regeneration, like Noah, we see, that as dung upon the earth, or as the bitter bile which is secreted in the natural body, even so does the evil in the Church work for good, and the ungracious acts of false brethren serve to polish and bring out the grace in truer souls. "All things are ours, if we are Christ's" (1 Cor. 3:22, 23). Even sin and false brethren shall be our Gibeonites, "hewing wood" at least for us (Joshua 9:27), (Note: These Gibeonites were Canaanites. Aug. de Civit. l. xvi. c. 2.) preparing to our hand something which we may use in self-sacrifice.
I need not dwell on Shem or Japhet's lot: each gets the blessing which is best suited to it; Shem to have "Jehovah for his God;" Japhet to be "enlarged by God, and to dwell in Shem's tabernacles" (Gen. 9:26, 27). But why of Shem is this alone pronounced? Is not Jehovah the God of all Noah's progeny? Is not the Name of the Lord known to all who are born and grow up in the house of the regenerate? Look for answer at the Church. Is God known there? Might not many, even true souls, almost as well be without God? Are they not doing all for Him, leaving Him nothing to do? Are they not thus like Japhet, with all their blessings tending to Gentilism? They may, indeed, load altars with gifts, but are not their altars inscribed, "To the Unknown God?" Is not this their thought: -- There is a God -- all we know of Him is, that we must offer to Him. "To Him," not "From Him," is their motto; and this, though He is shewing out on every hand, that He is not to be worshipped as though He needed anything, seeing He giveth to all life and breath and all things; and has not left Himself without witness, in that He does good, and gives us rain from heaven, and fruitful seasons, filling our hearts with food and gladness (Acts 17:23-25; 14:17). Shem has learnt the Name which tells all this. What God is in Himself is Shem's security. The Lord is what He is, and this is enough. He is Love, and because He is Love, He must go out of Himself in endless, countless kindnesses. Hence Shem's motto is, "From the Lord, the known God." Shem has an altar "whereof he may eat" (Heb. 13:10), by grace spread for him. Shem can sing: -- "He prepareth a table for me even in the presence of my enemies" (Psalm 23:5). Whatever else Shem lacks, he has a God; and, having Him, in Him possesses all things. Japhet's blessing is the gift; Shem's is the Giver. Japhet rejoices in the blessing; Shem in Him who is the Blesser. If Japhet is blessed himself, it is enough for him; he knows not what it is to "thirst for God, even for the living God:" while Shem cannot rest in gifts short of God, sighing, "When shall I come and appear before God?" (Psalm 42:2). But Japhet one day shall be "enlarged," and then "he too shall dwell in Shem's tents." Then, wide as the sphere of the active life may seem, it shall find yet greater lengths and breadths in the realms of contemplation: when the name of the Lord, and what He is, appears; and "according to His Name, so is His praise in all the earth" (Psalm 48:10).
"These are the families of the sons of Noah, and by these were the nations divided in the earth after the flood" (Gen. 10:32). These are the developments of regenerate man, and by these come the divisions in that Church which professes "one baptism." The field here is one in which much gold lies hid. Blessed are they, who, finding it in humble prayer, use it in a still humbler walk on earth to God's glory.
V. -- NOAH'S FAILURE
Chapter 9:18-29; 10; 11:1-9
IT remains to note the peculiar forms of failure which are manifested in Noah and his sons, that is, in man regenerate. Sad is the contrast between Noah going forth with joy, and Noah drunken and exposing his nakedness; between "the whole earth of one lip and of one speech," and Great Babylon, with "tongues confounded," and its sons separated; between the first full joy of the regenerate soul, and the experience which follows of gifts misused and curses treasured up; or, to trace it without, between the Church as it was, when "the multitude which believed was of one heart and of one soul, neither said any that ought that he possessed was his own, and they had all things common" (Acts 2:42-47; 4:32-34), and the Church as it is now, with "departures from the faith, men giving heed to seducing spirits and doctrines of devils, speaking lies in hypocrisy, with conscience seared, lovers of themselves, covetous boasters, proud, blasphemers, having withal a form of godliness without power" (1 Tim. 4:1, 2; 2 Tim. 3:1-5). But such is the fruit and fall even of regenerate man.
Three chief forms of failure are described; first Noah's, then Nimrod's, then Great Babylon. Each differs in form, with a gradual advance in crime. In the first two, good things are misapplied. In Noah, we have blessings external to him misused, to his own hurt. In Nimrod, personal gifts are perverted to injure others. In Babel we have more open apostasy, and a systematic departure from the right position, with untrue and creature things substituted for true, and self-exaltation instead of God's glory.
In each regenerate soul all this may be. First, misuse of privileges leads to spiritual intoxication. The vine -- some precious grace of Christ in us -- tends, if misused, to make us forget ourselves, and to expose our nakedness; the failure of the ruling mind within giving an occasion to the other thoughts in us to shew themselves. Thus do our failings help to discover to us what different minds, after regeneration, yet remain in us, some of which we learn now must be judged, as being only subtle forms of the condemned old man. Shem, the mind which loves contemplation, and Japhet, that which purposes and performs true outward service, are each recognised; but Ham is cursed in his seed; the fruits of knowing and not doing are foreseen and reprobated. Nevertheless out of Ham the evil grows. Nimrod, a form of life the fruit of mere intellect, aspires to rule and be the master-mind; gifts of knowledge claim a place in us, which God cannot approve; the result of which is a "kingdom at Babel," that is, some rule or rules which cannot sanctify. After which Babel itself grows up; some form, which, though great and approved in man's eyes, in God's is simply confusion. We build up likenesses of truths within: we strengthen and fortify some opinion or imagination; and we may call it edification; but self is at work, usurping the Lord's place, and self-love, and thoughts of self-exaltation, "to make us a name," are indeed perverting everything. Thus a tower of pride springs up within, which we may hope will be a means to reach to heaven, (for in building this Babel we are self-deceived, and may be seeking right things in a wrong and self-invented way,) but which will only draw us from the true high ground of light, and leave us inwardly distracted and full of confusion. All this may be, and is, within, after we are through grace truly regenerate; for no evil is without, the seed of which is not within: it may be hid, as the night is hid in the day, if the light of heaven rules us; yet the root of self remains, and in it lies the germ of a Babel, a beast, an Antichrist, ready to make the temple of God his seat, if we depart from the cross of Jesus Christ. But the inward kingdom is not seen by all; the outward manifestation of it, therefore, may be more useful here.
To trace it then without. Noah's fall comes first. This is the failure of the true elect through the abuse of good gifts. Noah's care in the cleansed earth is the vine (Gen. 9:20). In the sphere of old Adam, and before the flood, that is, before regeneration, Noah was no planter. There his work was the ark: there, day and night, instead of planting the vine, he was cutting down the high trees; as the work of the elect in the world is to lay the axe to the root of men's pride; to lay them low, that by the experience of death they may reach a better life. But in the Church, regenerate man has other work. There the vine is to be trained, and pruned, and cultivated; there its precious juice, which gladdens God and man, is to be drunk with thankfulness and joy to God's glory. Yet this may be misused. Has the "cup of blessing" never been taken and perverted to men's own condemnation? Alas! not a few, like Noah, have profaned that wine which was given in love to "make us forget our poverty" (Prov. 31:6-7). (Note: Augustine, De Civit. l. xvi. c. 2, and Cyprian, Epist. 63, both refer this cup of Noah to Christ's blood and the Lord's Supper. But neither Augustine, nor any of the early Fathers, so far as I am aware, speak distinctly of the failure of Noah's sons, in its bearing upon the failure of the regenerate. The reason is clear; because in their days the evil, of which Nimrod and Babel were the figure, had not developed itself in the Church, as it has since then.) The truth of Christ's sufferings for us, carnally received, used as a reprieve to the flesh, has come back as a curse to those who have so regarded it; for, "the grace of God being turned into lasciviousness" (Jude 4), men have but "eaten and drunk their own damnation:" while even Christ's sufferings in us may be perverted if they minister to our pride or vain self-satisfaction. If, instead of walking in watchfulness and prayer, men put some gift in the place of meekness and humbleness, if they do not "watch and keep their garments," the result is always this, -- "they have walked naked, and men have seen their shame."
Two things are brought out by this fall; sin in some, and grace in others, of the Church's children. Ham not only sees, but tells the shame abroad, without an attempt to place so much as a rag on that nakedness, which, as the sin of one so near to him, should have been his own shame. Shem and Japhet will not look upon it, but "walking backward," -- a path not taught by nature, but grace, -- cover their father's nakedness (Gen. 9:22, 23). So is it yet. We see what is akin to us. The evil have an eye for evil, while the good and loving are engaged in acts of charity. Thus He, whose work it is to bring to light the hidden things of darkness, by the failure of one, often reveals another's heart. The Church's fall, the misuse of gift in some, is made the occasion for stripping the self-deceiver bare. Men sit in judgment on the evil in the Church, full of impatience and self, laying all iniquity bare, not waiting for the righteous Judge; little thinking that, whilst they are judging evil, God by the evil may be trying and judging them; or that the spirit, which exposes others' sin, may be far more hateful to Him than some misuse of privileges. For Noah's fall was a misuse of blessings: Ham's exposure of it was want of love. God may, indeed, convince of sin, but never without ministering better things. We too, at times, must strip deceivers bare; but to see evil and accuse it, without a helping hand or pitying eye, is devilish. Shem and Japhet cannot do so. With such souls, the Church's failure only brings to view graces, which, were there no failure, could not be manifested. We mourn because the Church is fallen. But does not the Church's fall give larger opportunities for love and self-sacrifice? Every trying thing -- every humbling and shameful thing -- is but the occasion of shewing grace, if grace be there. Circumstances do but prove us. And that same trial, which shews the carnality of the carnal, only elicits grace in gracious souls; and that very infirmity, which is an occasion of falling to us, if we walk by nature, is an occasion of victory, if we walk by grace.
But a worse form of evil soon appears (Gen. 10:8-10). Noah misused blessings to injure and expose himself: Nimrod exalts himself to lord it over brethren; for of those over whom he ruled all had sprung, and this within a few generations, from one common father. Little is told us of this second form of apostasy; but that little is enough. And indeed the steps by which lordship over brethren is reached are not many.
The author of it is Nimrod, the son of Cush. Sprung from that seed, who, having been scorched by the truth, have "seared consciences," his very name, Nimrod or rebel, (Note: Heb. nimrod [H5248], from marad [H4775], to rebel; reminding us of ho anomos, "the lawless one," 2 Thess. 2:8.) points out the character of those actings, by which the family and patriarchal government instituted by God was changed into a kingdom ruled by violence.
The stages are these: "He began to be a mighty one;" this is the first step in the transition from "ensamples to the flock" to "lords over God's heritage" (1 Pet. 5:3); after which "a mighty hunter" follows, one who can first slay for us the wild beasts which threaten us; but who, having hunted them, will then hunt his brethren, till they too are ensnared and captivated. And all this shall be "before the Lord;" "even as Nimrod, the mighty hunter before the Lord." It was so in Israel, when faith in God and communion failed; a king was sought under whose shadow they might dwell safely, who might "fight their battles and go before them" (1 Sam. 8:20), and do for them what God had covenanted to do. In a word, a gift of God was sought for more than God; and the result, in Saul's case, as in Nimrod's, was that the "mighty one" became a "mighty hunter," pursuing those, who, like David, because they walked with God, could not be taken by all this mightiness.
It is well known how that which first was shewn in Nimrod again reappeared on resurrection ground, and was again enacted in that redeemed family, of which the Lord said, "Ye all are brethren." As it was foretold Antichrist should come, so did he come, and the success of the "rebel," or "lawless one," is but too well known. Men arose, with mighty gifts, used first to slay the lion and the bear, but soon to bring the congregation of the Lord into bondage. They stood in the Church for God and His Christ, as though God and His Christ were absent, rather than as witnesses that "the Lord God yet dwelt among them" (Psalm 68:18; Eph. 4:8). (Note: The connection is most noteworthy between God's "giving gifts to men," and the aim or end of this, "that the Lord God might dwell among them;" not that they should take His place. Augustine recognises the same truth in the Lord's words respecting Babel. -- De Civit. l. xvi. c. 5.) Thus did the best gifts become curses. Nimrod's course became a proverb: -- "Wherefore it is said, Even as Nimrod, the mighty hunter before the Lord." Is it not a proverb, that spiritual dominion, or rather that which has claimed to be such, is too often a "mighty hunter," a spirit of domination, ever seeking to enslave, and to impose a yoke, not on the bodies only, but upon the minds of brethren? Christ's true rule aims to make all free: false rule to make all slaves, under the pretence of serving them. The Church of Rome, where "the rebel's" rule has been most seen, is proof enough; but it is not there alone that the works of the "mighty hunter" may be seen.
So Nimrod makes a "kingdom in the land of Shinar, whose beginning was Babel," that is, confusion. This leads to another form of evil: men's tongues are confounded, and then the one family splits and separates. But ere this is described, a fact is named, shewing the effect of Nimrod's course on Shem's purer seed.
We read: -- "Out of that land went forth Asshur, and builded Nineveh, and the city Rehoboth and Calah" (Gen. 10:11). Asshur is the son of Shem (Gen. 10:22), and here we have Asshur going forth from Nimrod's kingdom, to imitate him in building, if not a Babel, at least a Nineveh or a Calah. Nimrod's invention cannot be confined to Great Babylon. Other cities, "the cities of the nations," soon arise. Cities in type are systems or polities, very unlike those primitive pilgrim dwellings, "the tents of Shem." Here we have foreshewn the rise of those "cities of the nations," those national systems of religion, seen by the Apostle John, whose fate is connected, even as their birth, with Babylon the Great, and who, when she falls, fall with her (Rev. 16:19). Nor does the fact that these cities are the work of Asshur, the son of Shem, save them from the destruction that will one day overtake the works of Nimrod. What avails it for national churches to point to the elect seed who built them? The question is not, What seed were they? -- but, What has been the building? Whence got they their pattern? Out of what land came they? Have they built "cities," or were they content, like Paul, to be "tentmakers"? (Note: Origen, in commenting on the Tabernacle in the wilderness, that movable tent, which, until Canaan was reached, was their place of assembly and worship and sacrifice, connects that tent with Paul's vocation. -- Hom. xvii. in Num.) Alas, even Asshur finds pilgrimage hard travail: hence Asshur builds cities, and becomes almost as Babel. Asshur it is who carries Israel captive (Ezra 4:2); Asshur it is who joins with Israel's foes (Psalm 83:8); Asshur upholds the mart of nations (Ezek. 27:3-27); therefore Asshur and his company go down into the pit" (Ezek. 32:22, 23). Wherefore let Israel say, "Asshur shall not save us" (Hosea 14:3), though he is strong and buildeth mighty cities; "for ships shall come from the coast of Chittim, and shall afflict Asshur, and he also shall perish for ever" (Numb. 24:24).
The third form of failure among Noah's seed is the building of Babel, with the consequent scattering and confusion of the hitherto united family (Gen. 11:1-9). This form of evil, though allied to Nimrod's, is worse; for it is no good gift misapplied, but rather a systematic departure from the original position, with imitations of the true instead of truth, and self-exaltation instead of God's glory.
The course of this apostasy is soon traced; and nothing can be more striking than the contrast here drawn between the primitive state of the redeemed family, and that which their sin brought upon them. Their original state is thus described: -- "And the whole earth was of one language and of one speech." Difference of age we know there was; difference, too, in character; some were Shems, some Hams, some Japhets. But, spite of this, as yet "they all spoke the same thing;" as yet "there were no divisions among them." As in the early Church, where "the multitude of them that believed were of one heart" (Acts 4:32), there was but "one lip and one speech" among them. Love enabled them, though not of one stature, to be of one mind. As yet they could understand one another and walk together.
Not long did this continue: soon apostasy begins. The first step is, "They journeyed from the east." The dayspring is in the east. There, to them that love the light, "the Sun of Righteousness ariseth with healing on His wings" (Mal. 4:2; Luke 1:78). But now the company of resurrection pilgrims are seen with their backs toward the east: their faces see not this light; they are turned away from it. (Note: Gloss Ordin. in loco.) Then "they found a plain:" they leave their first high ground. This plain, doubtless, like the plain of Sodom to Lot, had its attractions; so "they dwelt there." And now, their pilgrim character being at an end, their thoughts turn to their own glory and establishment. Great Babel is the result. "And they said one to another, Go to; let us make brick, and burn them thoroughly. And they had brick for stone, and slime for mortar. And they said, Go to; let us build us a city, and a tower, whose top may reach to heaven; and let us make us a name, lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of all the earth." Thus arose Great Babylon. Let us not pass from this scene till we understand it, for even yet Babylon is "mystery" -- a thing unintelligible to not a few.
Its preparatory stages we have noticed. Men journey from the east; then they settle down; then they begin to build. At this stage, the scene presented is man taking counsel of man, and not of God. "They spake one to another;" and the result of the deliberation is an attempt to imitate God; first in His words, then in His works. They said, "Let us make." God once had said "Let us make" (Gen. 1:26). Here man takes upon him to speak as God. Then comes out their work: "They had brick for stone, and slime for mortar." Brick is stone artificially made, -- man's imitation and substitute for God's creative work. Babylon is built of brick; so, too, Nineveh is built of brick. The prophet who foretells her downfall notes this, bidding her to "tread the clay, and make strong her brick-kilns; yet shall the fire devour them all" (Nahum 3:14, 15). In Egypt, too, brick-making is common. Egyptians like nothing better than to see captive Israelites toil in making brick (Exod. 5:7, 8). Great Babel is built of brick, and for cement they have slime, as it is written, "And slime had they for mortar." This slime was that sulphureous compound, of which the region of the Dead Sea, and the plain of Babylon, are even now so full -- a compound formed, as it is supposed, from the corruption of animal and vegetable substances. Well does it represent that dangerous cement -- so ready to burst out into a blaze -- that cement of self-love and lust of power, by which mystic Babylon is now held together. It is a "daubing of untempered mortar." Jerusalem is not so built, nor of her does man say, "Let us make;" but the Lord Himself says, "I will." "Thus saith the Lord, Behold, I will lay thy stones with fair colours, and I will lay thy foundations with sapphires; and I will make thy windows of agates, and thy gates carbuncles, and all thy borders pleasant stones" (Isa. 54:11, 12). So another saith, "Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house" (1 Pet. 2:5): and again, "Ye are God's building" (1 Cor. 3:9).
Babel is built by other hands, and with other aims. Here man is working to ascend up to heaven. Self-elevation is the aim; self-energy the means: it is but consistent that self-glory, "to make us a name," should be the motive. And withal, (let not this be forgotten,) the reason assigned seemed good; -- they wished for unity: their fear was, "lest they should be scattered;" therefore they built their high tower. We know too well how others also have builded, with the self-same aim, professing and perhaps really seeking catholic unity; and the result has only been greater scattering among those who were to be united. But when man builds for self-glory, and with imitations of the true instead of the true, the end may surely be foretold. When will men learn that catholic unity is not to be so attained? On such ground we may build, "lest we be scattered;" but the labour is in vain, and will only produce more scattering. The present state of Christendom, only more and more divided, the more carnal union is sought, should at last teach us by sight, even if we cannot walk by faith. The one remedy is Pentecostal grace, -- that Spirit which can yet change carnal disciples into spiritual, and give them a message which their carnal brethren, dwellers in Mesopotamia, in Egypt, and in the parts of Libya about Cyrene, Parthians, Medes, and Elamites, Cretes and Arabians, who understand not each other, will yet all understand (Acts 2:7-11); because it is not in the letter which divides, but in the One Spirit of Christ, which melts, and unites, and reconciles. Nothing else will heal the confusion: no outward form, however good, can ever accomplish it. Men at last will learn this in self-despair: till they learn it, each fresh effort can only produce confusion worse confounded.
It would exceed my limits to give examples of the "brick for stone," as it is to be seen this day in Great Babylon; but this I may say, the city is not only built up, but filled also with images of all God's truths and ordinances; yea, real vessels of the sanctuary may be there; true gold carried away with captive Israelites. On her outside is the likeness of a heavenly church, the likeness of priesthood and ministry, the likeness of the ordinances, duties, and ways of holiness. On her inside is the likeness of good knowledge, the likeness of repentance and conversion, the likeness of faith, the likeness of zeal for God, the likeness of love to God and His saints, the likeness of the Lamb's meekness and innocency, the likeness of justification, the likeness of sanctification, the likeness of mortification, the likeness of peace, joy, rest, and satisfaction; for as a fallen world is full of shadows of truth, so is the fallen Church rich in forms, which to the opened eye witness of a life which should be there; but the substance, the truth, the virtue of all these is wanting to her, and she herself is found persecuting that very thing, where it is found in truth, the image of which she cries up so boastfully. This is the woman that hath bewitched the whole earth, even as Jannes and Jambres withstood Moses, by imitating the works of God's elect. And of what truth shall we not find the likeness in Great Babel? She has priesthood, and altars, and fine linen, and the cross, and incense, and chrism, and rule, and discipline. She has the form of every truth, to meet and seduce those who ask for the reality. Do we "look for a city which hath foundations?" Then Babel will forestall it, and be a city too. As the Father of Lights will have His city, so has the prince of darkness his, to tempt souls to rest short of the city of the mystery of life, in the city of the mystery of deceit and imitation.
Such are the failures on resurrection ground. Regeneration, so far from ending all man's wickedness, discovers in man new forms of evil. So in the Revelation which was manifested to the beloved John, he saw that red horses, and earthquakes, and blood, and hail, and fire, and beasts, and Great Babylon, were all part of the "Revelation of Jesus Christ" (Rev. 1:1; 6:4, 12; 8:7; 13:1; 17:4, 5), -- a necessary result of such a seed falling into such a soil. If He is to be revealed in the earth, it must be thus. The revelation cannot, and in love may not, at once be perfected. In my soul, too, I know that red horses, and beasts, and earthquakes, and Babel, with her filthiness, must come in me after regeneration, and after Christ's first coming to my soul in grace has quickened it, before heaven opens, and He comes the second time to rule all the creature, and to make all things new. Then, when He who has come in grace comes again in great power, the revelation of Jesus Christ shall be perfected; but ere that is done, much will intervene, and the very beasts are stages in the way. The evil destroys and punishes itself throughout. In its very nature it carries the seeds of its own dissolution; while grace, out of every fall, brings forth fresh blessings, proving that, if sin abound through man's weakness, grace shall yet much more abound. Thus it was with the fall of Noah's sons. The confusion of tongues issues in the call and life of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; in each of whom the development of man proceeds, with fresh discoveries of the riches of the God of all grace.
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