Page images





RIGHT HONOURABLE ; I DURST appeal to the judgment of a carnal reader (let him not be prejudicate) that there is no History so pleasant as the Sacred. Set aside the majesty of the inditer; none can compare with it for magnificence and antiquity of the matter, the sweetness of compiling, the strange variety of memorable occurrences : and if the delight be such, what shall the profit be esteemed of that which was written by GOD for the salvation of Men!. I confess, no thoughts did ever more sweetly steal me and time away, than those which I have employed in this subject, and I hope, none can equally benefit others : for, if the mere relation of these holy things be profitable, how much more when it is reduced to use! This second part of the World repaired, I dedicate to your Lordship; wherein you shall see Noah as weak in his tent, as strong in the ark; an ungracious son reserved from the deluge to his father's curse; modest piety rewarded with blessings; the building of Babel, begun in pride, ended in confusion; Abraham's fuith, fear, obedience ; Isaac bound upon the altar under the hand of a father, that hath forgotten both nature and all his hopes; Šodom burning with a double fire, from hell, and from heaven; Lot rescued from that impure city, yet after finding Sodom in his cave: Every one of these passages is not more full of wonder than of edification. That Spirit, which hath penned all these things for our learning, teach us their right use; and sanctify these my unworthy meditations to the good of his church! To whose abundant grace I humbly commend your Lordship.

Your Lordship's unfeignedly devoted
in all due observance,


NOAH. No sooner is Noah come out of the ark, but he builds an altar : not a house for himself, but an altar to the Lord : our faith will ever teach us to prefer God to ourselves, Delayed thankfulness is not worthy of acceptation. Of those few creatures that are left, God must have some; they are all his; yet his goodness will have man know that it was he, for whose sake they were preserved. It was a privilege to those very brute creatures, that they were saved from the waters, to be offered up in fire unto God : what a favour is it to men, to be reserved from common destructions, to be sacri. ficed to their Maker and Redeemer !

Lo this little fire of Noah, through the virtue of his faith, purged the world, and ascended up into those heavens, from which the waters fell, and caused a glorious rainbow to appear therein for his security : all the sins of the former world were not so unsavoury unto God, as this smoke was pleasant. No perfume can be so sweet, as the holy obedience of the faithful. Now God, that was before annoyed with the ill-savour of sin, smells a sweet savour of rest : behold here a new and second rest: first, God rested from making the world, now he rests from destroying it: even while we cease not to offend, he ceases from a public revenge. His word was enough, yet withal he gives a sign, which may speak the truth of his promise to the very eyes of men : thus he doth still in his blessed sacraments, which are as real words to the soul. The rainbow is the pledge of our safety, which even naturally signifies the end of a shower : all the signs of God's institution are proper and significant.

But who would look after all this, to have found righteous Noah, the father of the new world, lying drunken in his tent? Who would think that wine should overthrow him, that was preserved from the waters? That he, who could not be tainted with the sinful examples of the former world, should begin the example of a new sin of his own? What are we men, if we be but ourselves! While God upholds us, no temptation can move us: when he leaves us, no temptation is too weak to overthrow us. What living man ever had so noble proofs of the mercy, of the justice of God! Mercy upon himself, justice upon others. What man had so gracious. approbation from his Maker! Behold, he, of whom in an unclean world God said, Thee only have I found righteous, proves now un. clean when the world was purged. The preacher of righteousness unto the former age, the king, priest, and prophet of the world renewed, is the first that renews the sins of that world which he had reproved, and which he saw condemned for sin: God's best children have no fence for sins of infirmity : which of the saints have not once done that, whereof they are ashamed? God, that lets us fall, knows how to make as good use of the sins of his holy ones, as of their obedience: If we had not such patterns, who could choose but despair at the sight of his sins?

Yet we find Noah drunken but once. One act can no more make a good heart unrighteous, than a trade of sin can stand with regeneration : but when I look to the effect of this sin, I cannot but blush and wonder: Lo, this sin is worse than sin; other sins move shame, but bide it ; this displays it to the world. Adam had

no sooner sinned, but he saw and abhorred his own nakedness, seeking to hide it even with bushes.

Noah had no sooner sinned, but he discovers his nakedness, and hath not so much rule of himself, as to be ashamed: one hour's drunkenness bewrays that, which more than six hundred years sobriety had modestly concealed; he, that gives himself to wine, is not his own : what shall we think of this vice, which robs a man of himself, and lays a beast in his room? Noah's nakedness is seen in wine : it is no unusual quality, in this excess to disclose secrets ; drunkenness doth both make imperfections, and shew those we have to others' eyes; so would God have it, that we might be doubly ashamed, both of those weaknesses which we discover, and of that weakness which moved us to discover.

Noah is uncovered; but in the midst of his own tent: it had been sinful, though no man had seen it : unknown sins have their guilt and shame, and are justly attended with known punishments. Ungracious Cham saw it and laughed; his father's shame should have been his; the deformity of those parts from which he had his being, should have begotten in him a secret horror, and dejection : how many graceless men make sport at the causes of their humiliation! Twice had Noah given him life : yet neither the name of a father, and preserver, nor age, nor virtue, could shield him from the contempt of his own. I see that even God's ark may nourish monsters: some filthy toads may lie under the stones of the temple. God preserves some men in judgment; better had it been for Cham to have perished in the waters, than to live unto his father's curse,

Not content to be a witness of this filthy sight, he goes on to be a proclaimer of it. Sın doth ill in the eye, but worse in the tongue: as all sin is a work of darkness, so it should be buried in darkness. The report of sin is oft-times as ill, as the commission; for it can never be blazoned without uncharitableness; seldom, without infection : Oh the unnatural and more than Chammish impiety of those sons, which rejoice to publish the nakedness of their spiritual parents even to their enemies!

Yet it was well for Noah that Cham could tell it to none but his own; and those, gracious and dutiful sons. Our shame is the less, if none know our faults but our friends. Behold, how love covereth sins; these good sons are so far from going forward to see their father's shame, that they go backward to hide it. The cloke is laid on both their shoulders, they both go back with equal paces, and dare not so much as look back, lest they should unwillingly see the cause of their shame; and will rather adventure to stumble at their father's body, than to see his nakedness : how did it grieve them to think, that they, which had so oft come to their holy father with reverence, must now in reverence turn their backs upon him; and that they must now clothe him in pity, which had so often clothed them in love! And, which adds more to their duty, they covered him, and said nothing. This modest sorrow is their praise, and our example: the sins of those we love and honour, we must hear of with indignation, fearfully and unwillingly believe, acknowledge with grief and shame, hide with honest excuses, and bury in silence.

How equal a régard is this both of piety and disobedience! because Cham sinned against his father, therefore he shall be plagued in his children; Japheth is dutiful to his father, and finds it in his posterity. Because Cham was an iļl son to his father, there. fore his sons shall be servants to his brethren; because Japheth set his shoulder to Shem's, to bear the cloke of shame, therefore shall Japheth dwell in the tents of Shem, partaking with him in blessings as in duty. When we do but what we ought, yet God is thankful to us; and rewards that, which we should sin if we did not: who could ever yet shew me a man rebelliously undutiful to his parents, that hath prospered in himself, and his seed?

Gen. vii, ix.

OF BABEL. How soon are men and sins multiplied! within one hundred years the world is as full of both, as if there had been no deluge, Though men could not but see the fearful monuments of the ruin of their ancestors, yet how quickly had they forgotten a flood ! Good Noah lived to see the world both populous and wicked again; and doubtless oft-times repented to have been preserver of some, whom he saw to traduce the vices of the former world, to the renewed. It could not but grieve him, to see the destroyed giants revive out of his own loins, and to see them of his flesh and blood tyrannize over themselves. In his sight Nimrod, casting off the awe of his holy grandfather, grew imperious and cruel, and made his own kinsmen servants. How easy a thing it is for a great spirit to be the head of a faction, when even brethren will stoop to servitude! And now when men are combined together, evil and presumptuous motions find encouragement in multitudes; and each man takes a pride in seeming forwardest : we are the cheerfuller in good when we have the assistance of company; much more in sinning, by how much we are more prone to evil than good. It was a proud word, Come, let us build us a city and a tower, whose top may reach to heaven. • They were newly come down from the hills unto the plains, and now think of raising up a hill, of building in the plain : when their tents were pitched upon the mountains of Armenia, they were as near to heaven as their tower could make them; but their ambition must needs aspire to a height of their own raising. Pride is ever discontented, and still seeks matter of boasting in her own works.

How fondly do men reckon without God! Come, let us build; as If there had been no stop but in their own will; as if both carth and time had been theirs. Still do all natural men build Babel; · forecasting their own plots so resolutely, as if there were no power

to countermand them. It is just with God that peremptory deter: minations seldom prosper ; whereas those things, which are fearfully and modestly undertaken, commonly succeed.

Let us build us a city. If they had taken God with them, it had been commendable ; establishing of societics is pleasing to him that is the God of order : but a tower whose top may reach to hea. ven, was a shameful arrogance, an impious presumption. Who would think that we little ants that creep upon the earth, should think of climbing up to heaven, by multiplying of earth?

Pride ever looks at the highest : the first man would know as God, these would dwell as God; covetousness and ambition know no limits. And what if they had reached up to heaven? some hills are as high as they could hope to be, and yet are no whit the better ; no place alters the condition of nature : an angel is glorious, though he be upon earth; and man is but earth, though he be aboðe the clouds. The nearer they had been to heaven, the more subject should they have been to the violences of heaven; to thunders, lightnings, and those other higher inflammations; what had this been, but to thrust themselves into the hands of the revenger of all wicked insolencies ? God loves that heaven should be looked at, and affected with all humble desires, with the holy ambitions of faith, not with the proud imaginations of our own achievements.

But wherefore was all this? Not that they loved so much to be neighbours to heaven, as to be famous upon earth; it was not commodity that was here sought, not safety, but glory ; whither doth not thirst of fame carry men, whether in good or evil! It makes them seek to climb to heaven; it makes them not fear to run down headlong to hell. Even in the best things, desire of praise stands in competition with conscience, and brags to have the more clients. One builds a temple to Diana, in hope of glory, intending it for one of the great wonders of the world ; another, in hope of fame, burns it. He is a rare man that hath not some Babel of his own, whereon he bestows pains and cost, only to be talked of. If they had done better things in a vain glorious purpose, their act had been accursed; if they had built houses to God, if they had sacrificed, prayed, lived well; the intent poisons the action : but now, both the act and the purpose are equally vain, and the issue is as vain as either.

God hath a special indignation at pride, above all sins; and will cross our endeavours, not for that they are evil, (what hurt could be in laying one brick upon another :) but for that they are proudly undertaken.' He could have hindered the laying of the first stone; and might as easily have made a trench for the foundation, the grave of the builders; but he loves to see what wicked men would do, and to let fools run themselves out of breath : what monument should they have had of their own madness, and his powerful interruption, 'if the walls had risen to no height?

To stop them then in the midst of their course, he meddles not with either their hands, or their feet, but their tongues; not by

« PreviousContinue »