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FIRST SU DAY I LE T.
" THE BUILDI G OF THE ARK/' "THE REPEOACH OF THE CROSS."
"Make thee an ark of. wood^ Genesis vi. 14. Wb are to think on the Sunday mornings during this Lent on the story of oah's ark. We will by the help of God learn some lessons from that story profitable for this season. Let us then think of the building of the ark to-day, that we may be able to build such a haven of refuge for ourselves. " Make thee an ark of wood." What was the meaning of that command to oah? It was a call to escape from the destruction coming upon the earth. God had " looked upon the earth, and behold it was corrupt, for all flesh had corrupted his way upon the earth. And God said unto oah, The end of all flesh is come before me ; for the earth is filled with violence through them, and behold I will destroy them with the earth." Yes ! God, we are told earlier in the chapter, "repented that He had
made man upon tHe eartH." Man had so marred the work of God's creation which had once been pronounced " very good." Man had made it all so to " groan and travail in pain," that God could bear
the sad sight, could listen to the mournful sound no longer. Man would show no sorrow for what he had done, so God must be sorry for him. — God must wash out the stain of man's sin which was dyeing the earth deeper every year. — God, I say, must wash that darkening blot by the tears of His own repentance. " Behold I, even I, do bring a flood of waters upon the earth." It was on this account, my friends, that oah was bidden "Make thee an ark of wood." It was to be a harbour of safety from the storm, provided for that "one man" and his family whose "works were found righteous before God." " Make thee an ark of wood." It was a strange command to the world around, this order to begin ship-building in the midst of a green field. Many of God's commands are strange, "very strange" in the opinion of the world. The eye of faith alone can see their meaning, and so it was a command which did not stagger oah. But we can imagine the trials he had to endure, the taunts cast at him by the world around. It has always been so, as we shall see more clearly soon. " The offence of the Cross " hath never ceased. They came, no doi^bt, and looked on as oah began to work at the ark with his children. Perhaps they
tried to hinder tHem as they dragged the heavy timber along ; or they sneered at him, " What art thou doing, old man? Why art thou laying such a grievous burden on thy family ? " oah made no reply, but to work harder at his building, knowing that their taunts were only bringing their destruction nearer. " He held his peace," save only to pray for them, and, " preacher of righteousness " as he was in word as well as deed, to warn them of their danger. They, fools as they were, " counted his life madness
and his end fco be without honour." He knew he was " numbered with the children of God," and his " lot was with His saints." "Make thee an ark of wood." Why of wood? Because, " biassed is the wood whereby righteousness Cometh." Though it might seem to the world around "a piece of wood of small value," yet " divine wisdom directed its course." God had given the very material the j)ower of supporting itself and those it carried in safety over the troubled surface of the waters. But this is not the only reason why it was so suitable. There is in the counsels of God a marvellous action and reaction as between sin and its pxmishment, so between sin and the cure. Shakespere has written, and there is a fund of practical wisdom in the words, "The best of men are fashioned out of faults." Why then was the ark of safety to be made of wood? Because it was under a tree that man first sinned, so was it with the leaves of a tree that he first clothed himself ; aye,
8 under the foliage of tHe trees of the garden that he hid himself, when a guilty conscience told him that he was no longer like God, and so could not " see Him as He is." And so it was here too, now that the first act of disobedience had gone on bearing its deadly fruit-c-the command went forth to the " one righteous man," " Make thee an ark of wood." oah, no doubt, with that keen spiritual insight which God had given him, saw the significance of the material of which he was building his Ark as regards the past. Perhaps he saw a deeper significance stiU which it had as regards the then future. That future is now the past to us, and yet in another
sense it is present with us. For as you well know, the meaning of the seasons of the Christian year is, that they may bring the facts which they commemorate as living realities, — acted dramas at any rate — before our minds. And surely the words of the text do this very well, as regards that season which we entered upon once more last Wednesday. " Make thee an Ark of wood." The call to keep Lent is a call like that of God to oah, to escape from the wrath threatened upon a world lying in wickedness, and ever ready to fall upon it. It is a call to prayer for ourselves, to intercession for others. It is a call to take up the cross and bear its reproach, and lay it upon us — ^upon our sins first, then upon our lawful pleasures, that we may become more and more conformed to the image of the Crucified. He is our true oah who " shall comfort us concerning
our toil.*' His Cross is our true Ark whicH we must make our own; the only real "wood whereby righteousness cometh." As we sing later on in Lent in one of those grand old hymns for Passiontide : — " Thou alone wert counted worthy This world's fabric to uphold, For the ship- wrecked world preparing Harbour like the ark of old, With the sacred blood anointed From the smitten Lamb that rolled." See how minutely He fulfilled the story of the buildimg of the Ark; literally as well as mystically fulfilled it. See Him even in childhood, as we saw Him during the Epiphany, carrying the planks of timber about the wood-yard at azareth, handling the workman's hammer there. Surely the " shadow of the Cross " He bore to Calvary must have fallen " ten degrees backward*' then. Aye, and afterwards,
when they reproached Him, " Is not this the carpenter ? " Verily all His life He was making Him an Ark of wood. See Him again this first Sunday in Lent, taken up into the wilderness to be tempted ; the one .righteous man working out the mysterious plan by which the sinful nature suffered hunger to cure the sins of unholy appetite. " For the work of our salvation eeds would have His order so, And the multiform deceiver Art by art would overthrow. And from thence would bring the medicine Whence the insult of the foe." bS
10 See Him overcoming the very same temptation under whicli the first man fell. The fruit of the tree was good for food. — " Man shall not live by bread alone." The fruit of the tree was pleasant to the sight. — *• Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and Him only shalt thou serve.*' The fruit of the tree was to be desired to « make one wise. — " Thou sbalt not tempt the Lord thy God." Verily He took that tree, He cut it down, " Why cumbereth it the ground anylonger?" And, " Carpenter" as He was reproached with being, He made it into " an ark of wood." He taught us thereby, my friends, that our only safety is in resisting temptation — that we must pluck out the offending eye, and cut off the offending hand.
Yes, but this was only to prepare Him and us for greater reproach and offence still ; the offence, the reproach of the Cross itself. " Ah ! thou that destroyest the temple, save thyself." "He saved others. Himself He cannot save." He had borne that Cross, they had nailed Him thereon, and this is what they said to Him as He hung there, and like oah He was silent under it all — He opened not His mouth save to pray for His enemies, " Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do." Verily He had planned, and builded, and finished His Ark of wood; windows had He made in it, unclean and clean might go by the door which He had set in the side thereof. He had pitched it within and without with pitch. . Pilate wrote a title of universal application which could not be reversed ; what
11 lie had written lie had written, in letters of Greek, and Latin, and Hebrew. " Make thee an Ark of wood." Mj dear "friends, let us take some practical lessons away with us from thinking on the actual, the mystical significance of the building of the Ark. The Ark of oah is the Cross of Jesus. O make that Cross thine own this Lent, as thou hast never done before. " Make thee an Ark of wood." Ah ! thou hast made to thyself many graven images ere this, thou hast fallen down to them and worshipped them. Thy wealth, or thine high position, or thy talents, or alas, even thy sins possibly. For you know while king Ahab was remarkable for "the ivory house which he made, and for all the cities which he built," yet "there was
none like Ahab, which did sell himself to work wickedness in the sight of the Lord." O then, j&rst drown thy sins in the deep tears of penitence, of God's love. ext make thee an Ark of rough wood this Lent, lay it upon thy tastes, upon thy wealth, nail thy social rank thereto. Crucify thy talents, make them subserve, not hinder, the work which God has given thee to do here, the work of thine eternal salvation. " Make thee an ark of wood," literally if thou wilt. Go to some clever workman, tell him to make a cross of ebony, and fasten thereon a crucified figure of ivory. Tell him to represent the drops of
12 blood with rubies, and the tears with pearls, and the nails and the crown of thorns with iron and with brass. Hang it up in that comer of thy chamber where thou sayest thy prayers; nay, build and prepare an oratory to contain so precious a symbol, and if I know anything of your heart and mine,, thy devotion will be assisted when thou kneelest there. But withal make thee an Ark of the wood of the True Cross. S. Helen, your patron Saint, it was, who found it ; like her, gain a deeper love and devotion to the Crucified. Once more, " Make thee an Ark of wood." Your friends will wonder what you are doing. Perhaps they will try and stop you and taimt you. Going to keep a strict Lent ! Saul also among the prophets ! But you are not going to be laughed out of your religion; never mind their sneers, work at thine Ark; bear thy cross, pray for them before thy crucifix ; set a better example to them, say an encouraging word where thou hast opportunity;
be silent when thou hast not. But " Make thee aii Ark of wood."
SECO D SU DAY I LE T,
"THE COJSTSTEAII^T OP THE ABK." " THE DESOLATIOIS' OP THE CEOSS."
"J» the selfsame day entered oah into the ark. — And the Lord shut him, in" — Genesis vii. 13. 1ft. The bnilding of the Ark was complete. The last plank had been fitted. The last nail had been driven in. It had been *' pitched within and without with pitch." oah had in the most minute detail obeyed the command. " Make thee an Ark of wood." ** Thus did oah ; according to all that the Lord commanded him, so did he." The Ark, I say, was finished. See, oah and his sons have laid down their tools, the hammer and the nails, and are preparing to enter the ark. Perhaps they say farewell to the lookers-on at the completed Ark, which now stands out in *'the length, and depth, and breadth, and height" of its divinely appointed pro* portions against the already darkening sky. Their taunts and mockery have ceased now. They find that oah really meant what he undertook when he began
the Ark, and he is now going to enter it with his children. Already the flocks and herds, the beasts, both clean and unclean, are ordered and arranged round about the door not yet closed against them. The raven, too, with his hoarse note, prophetic of the coming storm, hovers near, and the gentle doves ''fly as a cloud" through the still open windows. Verily then at length 'Hhe tribes of the earth" who had *' despised the longsuff'ering of God, which waited while the ark was preparing," began to mourn at all these signs of their approaching destruction, at the flood which was coming upon the earth. Many learned men have believed that they had never seen rain before. ''The Lord God had not caused it to rain, but there went up a mist from the earth and watered the whole face of the ground" in the Garden of Eden; and some think that this state of things continued as it does, indeed, in some countries to this day. Perhaps, not even a cloud ''as large as a man's hand" had ever darkened their horizon. But now there are sounds of " abundance of rain." The whole sky grows black with clouds ; the sun is hidden, the wind is howling ; and while they watch these unwonted signs, the storm has burst with all its fury upon them. '' All the fountains of the great deep were broken up, and the windows of heaven were opened." "And in the selfsame day entered ^ 'oah, and Shem, and Ham, and Japhet, the sons of oah, and I^oah's wife, and the three wives of his sons with them, into the Ark. They and every beast after his kind, and all the cattle after
15 * theii' kind, and every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth after his kind, and every fowl after his
kind, every bird of every sort. They went in male and female of all flesh, as God had commanded him.** And now he is in perfect safety, for **the Lord shut him in." Yes ! but think what is going on outside. The storm increases ; for six weeks does it continue to rage in its fury. **The flood was forty days upon the earth." God is keeping his Lent. Think with ** what indignation,** yea, with "what revenge** He is working out His repentance. He is vexing those who have caused it ** with all his storms.** Their taunts of oah had long ceased ; they had been awe struck with his determination to finish the work God had given him to do. They had been convinced, alas, too late, of its meaning, of its power, of their own necessity. Perhaps they had begged of him to let them go in with him at the last minute. But it was too late then. ** The Lord shut him in ** and shut them out. **The doors were shut.**- ''Too late ! too late ! Ye cannot enter now.** And now, perchance, as the waters prevail and increase around them, they cling to the sides of the ark. Their voices, which but lately were lifted up in blasphemy, now sue for mercy. *' To-day, Hosanna! to-morrow, *Crucify! *' But the raging storm di'owns their voices. The huge ark, smeared so thickly with pitch, gives them no firm hold. While it is for the salvation of those within, it tends to the destruction of those without. It does but increase their condemnation. They sink back exhausted into the
16 tide. Or, perchance, others again collect on the rising ground not yet covered by the flood; whole families meet together for the last time — K)ne or two absent members though, already. The survivors cling to one another in the agony of despair. The beasts of the earth and the creeping things crawl up after them. So terrified
are they all in the presence of a common judgment that by a very paradox was fulfilled the prophecy — '* The wolf shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid, and the calf, and the young lion and the fatling together, and a little child shall lead them " ; while the actual type of its fulfilment was being exhibited inside the ark, where all were living in harmony and peace together. " The Lord shut him in," but those others were shut out, and soon every cry was hushed. They who but lately were clinging in a last embrace as the waters went over their heads helped to drown each other in their struggles. '* And all in whose nostrils was the breath of life of all that was in the dry land died." And now turn we again to oah, and away from that sight, and from those cries for help, and **help which could never come." And think we upon the Ark borne safely over the billows of destruction. **The waters thereof rage and swell, and the mountains shake at the tempest of the same." ** The rivers of the flood thereof" only serve to ** make glad the city of God; the holy place of the tabernacle of the Most Highest." " The waters increased and bore up the Ark, and it was lift up above the earth." For the *<Lord had shut him
17 in." And Koali had then time for reflection, for meditation. It was for this purpose, amongst others, that the active man, ** preacher of righteousness " as he had been, was shut in to keep his Lent of forty days. But first of oah'a typical character, for he is throughout his course and he must be throughout our course this Lent, the Saviour, the Comforter of his people, and his Ark must be ever the cross of salvation. Let us think of it thus again to-day. " The Lord shut
him in." It is a time of retreat; and perhaps his reflections have a tinge of bitterness. Some of his friends had been drowned in the flood, and human nature could not but feel sorry for them ; even as Jesus, the true oah, when he beheld the city doomed to destruction, ** wept over it ;" even as when He bore the cross to Calvary He bade the *' daughters of Jerusalem weep not for Him but for themselves and their children," in anticipation of that same doom. Koah surely must have felt a blank at his heart at the loss of his friends. He could not help liking them with all their faults. For let us believe there is something Godlike in the most depraved — ^it is our only hope of reclaiming them; even as there is much humanity about God — it is our only hope of seeing Him as He is. Perhaps that thought was with oah then as it is with us now, which found its fulfilment when Jesus, hanging upon the cross, commended His Elessed Mother and His beloved disciple to each other's care, and that disciple from that hour took her unto His own home. — " My lovers and my neighbours hast thou put away from me, and hid mine
18 acquaintance out of my sight." Yes, surely oah's being shut in the ark by God has its counterpart in the desolation of the Cross, — ^its counterpart, only the type pales before the anti-type, even as the sun was darkened during the three hours' agony, and every voice, but His who bore it, was hushed in awe. The Lord shut him in. '* My God, my God ! why hast Thou forsaken me ? " '' The Lord shut him in." And then other reflections came to oah. More designed His feeling grew. It was with him as was prophesied of and fulfilled in the Person of the true
oah. *'Mine ear hast Thou opened. In the volume of the book it is written of me — Lo ! I come to do Thy will, God." '*I am content to do it; yea. Thy law is within my heart." In the words of the Epistle for Tuesday in Holy "Week, ** I was not rebellious, neither turned away back. I gave my back to the smiters, and my cheeks to them that plucked off the hair. I hid not my face from shame and spitting." **He was led as a lamb to the slaughter." '* oah entered into the Ark and the Lord shut him in." And, my friends, this is the call of God to you this Lent. By the memory of oah shut in the Ark while the waters increased for forty days. By the memory of the Lent of Jesus, the true oah, for forty days in the wilderness ; by the memory of that moral wilderness of Tyre and Sidon, which He entered as on this day, and found a poor creature, as the Holy Gospel has just told us, sorely vexed with a devil —
19 '* fast bound in misery and iron ; " by the memory of his nailing to the Cross, so well expressed in another verse of that old Passiontide hymn we thought of last Sunday** Bend thy boughs, tree of beauty. Thy relaxing sinews bend ; And awhile the ancient ligour That thy birth bestowed, suspend, And the King of heavenly beauty On thy bosom gently tend. By all these sad, solemn, sacred moments, God is saying to you to-day, *' Come, my people, enter into thy chambers and shut thy doors about thee."
Oh ! my dear friend, shut thyself in this Ldnt. Take the ark which thou hast made — the crucifix, and place it before thee. Commune therewith in your heart and in your chamber and be still. Be still, and know that He who hangs thereon is thy God, "exalted in the earth." " The Lord shut him in." Oh ! shut out all jarring sounds. "Withdraw thyself as thou canst from thy ordinary occupation. Cut thyself off from the pleasures of society ; keep more at home, attend more to thy family, make it a happier one — more like the family that was shut in the ark ; that dwelt in the carpenter's house at azareth. '* The Lord shut him in." Bend thy will more to God ; seek to know more of Him ; let the love of Christ constrain thee more; be led more by his Spirit.
20 He is brooding upon the face of the troubled waters. ay, He is abiding in the form of a dove within the ark. He is shut in with thee. " The Lord shut him in." Oh ! come to church oftener on week days. The doors are open throughout the day. Come and shut thyself in here. *' The Lord shut him in." be shut in by Him now, that thou be not shut out hereafter. Trim thy lamp now and make it bright with oil, that when the Bridegroom comes thou mayest be ready to go in with Him to the marriage-— to " enter into the joy of thy Lord."
THIRD SU DAY I LE T
"LIFE I THE AEK." " SALVATIO BY THE CROSS."
" oah only remained alive and they tluxt were with him in the arJc,^* — Genesis vii. 23. We saw oah enter the Ark last Sunday. We saw the rest of the world drowned. We imagined the horror of that scene. We turned again to the Ark, and we saw in its silent moving over the troubled waters under the murky sky a type of the desolation of the Cross. We thought of the constraint, which characterized both the type and the antitype. They were both so fast in prison that they could not get forth. oah must have found that constraint increase as the weeks went on. That imprisonment became more irksome every day. Let us think literally of this life in the Ark. The rain came down in torrents for six weeks. either sun, moon, or stars, those many days appeared. oah was in safety, certainly,
22 and there was a briglit light within his soul which shone forth to cheer his companions. But still that incessant rain must have become very irksome to them. We can form some idea of it, can we not, from our own experience last year ? We believe it was necessary in the coimsels of Providence. ay, we know dt was so. People tell us that it was washing out all the dirty comers of our towns, and streets, and narrow alleys. My friends, that is just
what God was doing during His Lent of forty days. He was washing the earth clean from the stain of man's sin. And oah believed this and knew this, and thanked God for his mercies to himself and his family. But, still, when those forty days were over and the waters still prevailed upon the earth after the fury of the storm was abated — prevailed for a hundred and fifty days, the time must have hung very heavily upon him. He must have begun to get very weary of the monotony of his long sea voyage. Perhaps his companions gave him some anxiety too one of them did, you know, afterwards. Put yourself in such a position, my friend. Perhaps you have done so literally, perhaps you have put a zone round the j?lobe in a sailing vessel, perhaps you have been a hundred days at sea without a sight of land, and a hundred days is a very long voyage even to the Antipodes, or, at any rate, you have heard such a voyage described by those who have. They tell us, you know, that the time hangs very heavily, that the vast expanse of water increases in
23 monotony, that tlie Atlantic or the Pacific is a rery " melancholy ocean." Ah ! they tell ns that. a storm is almost welcome to break the monotony; when the good ship heaves and strains in her battle with the waves, now mounting on their crest, now almost engulphed at their base, while they follow in quick succession as if to annihilate her, and cast their foam all around in defiance. They teU you how the passengers will talk to the shipmates for days of an iceberg they have seen, which, if they had struck, would have sent them to the bottom — ^yet it has to them that interest which attaches to mere variety. Yes, and when the storm is over, and all dangers
from icebergs past, still the waste of water prevails, and then, perchance, there is a great calm, and the sun shines down with tropical heat, and the weariness and monotony are increased tenfold, and the companionship of your fellows begins to pall. Perhaps, something like this was the case with oah and his family during his so far five months' voyage, when he " only remained alive and they that were with him in the ark." And there were other elements of discomfort too, which are obviated in these days when victualling is so well understood and navigation has become si, practical science. It puzzles a landsman still to think how the vessel's course is kept in a voyage of sixteen thousand miles without seeing land, and how, if the way is lost, they are to provide him with food ; and this, literally, was the case with oah, He did
24 not know where he was going all the time; and, then, what was he to eat, and what was he to give all his animals to eat ? How were he and his sons to tend so many of such varied natures too ? My Mends, God's word is silent on these points, and we need not speculate upon them. We may be well assured that He who gave the command to oah — *' make thee an ark of wood," and when he had made it, " shut him therein " — ^made ample provision for his sustenance during his sojourn there; or we may even imagine that a scarcity of food may have been a part of the discipline of the ark. Sure it is that same Word says that oah and "all that were with him in the ark remained alive, while the waters prevailed on the earth a hundred and fifty days." Yet, on the other hand, may the uncertainty of his destination,
and the monotony of his life, and palling of the companionship of his fellows, as well as his huii^er and thirst, well point some profitable Lent lessons for ns, as it hath also a mystical significance regarding our true oah, who, by the ark of His Cross, hath gained everlasting life for the souls and bodies of men. " oah only remained alive, and they that were with him in the ark," and so it is said of E[im too, you know, " neither is there salvation by any other, for there is none other name given among men whereby we must be saved." Think we of Him, then, again to-day, as our real oah, and mark we once more how truly He fulfilled this part too of the story of the ark :
25 " Thirty days among us dwelling, His appointed time fulfilled, Born for this He meets His passion, For tliat tHs He freely willed. On the cross the Lamb is lifted, Where His life-blood shall be spilled." Yes, my friends, it was not merely by His fast of forty days, when he was tempted by Satan in the wilderness, not merely by the sad events of the Holy Week — tbe contradiction of the Jews, the agony in the garden, the forsaking of His disciples, the trial, the denial by S. Peter, the spitting, the buffetting and tbe scourging, the nailing to the cross, the lifting up of the cross, the vinegar and the derision, the finished sacrifice — that He gained the title which they set above His head. His whole life was a passion ; " He came unto His own, and His own received Him
not," while " foxes had holes and the birds of the air had nests ;" even as room was found in the ark for unclean beasts as well as clean, and the raven and the dove alike found shelter there, yet was He bom in a stable, and, later on, "had not where to lay His Head." He was often hungry and thirsty too, and once from very exhaustion He sank down by a well of water and had nothing to draw withal; and His disciples asked one another, when they returned from the town, whither they had gone to buy food, which He refused when they offered it to Him, " Hath any man brought Him ought to eat ?" even as the woman had asked about the water which He could give ; or as they
26 asked in the wilderness, when He would feed the multitude, " Whence shall we buy bread, that these may eat." The water which He could give, the meat which He ate, they knew not of. B[is companions must have palled on Him sometimes ; they did not understand Him, and some went back from Him when He spoke of that meat and drink, and one, like Ham, later on, betrayed Him to be stripped of his clothes, and then He had to tread " the wine-press of Grod's wrath alone." Compare with these facts, if you will, what has been said about the monotony and the weariness and the scarcity of food within the ark, and you will see how truly He fulfilled it all. But go deeper still, and contrast with oah's ignorance and the uncertainty of his destination, this awful truth concerning Jesus — that all His life long He knew where He was going. He constantly alludes to the Cross in His discourses, and once, you know. He prophesied, " Behold we go up to Jerusalem, and all things that are written by the prophets concerning the Son of Man shall be
accomplished." Oh, by the bitter experience, if you have it, of constantly dwelling on the same subject, and that subject a painful one, which will force itself forward, think of what is meant by our Lord's foreknowledge of His passion. " oah only remained alive, and they that were with him in the ark." And now what lessons shall we draw to-day from this chapter in the story of the ark ? ow that the novelty of another Lent is
27 over — the first tears of the season of penitence ceased — has it become a burthen to you ? Are you saying, " Lo ! what a weariness it is ?" Does the society of your narrow home circle pall upon you ? Do you long to get forth again ? Do you want to return to your old bad habits ? If so, think of oah in the ark; "he only and they that were with him remained alive ;" stay with him, and share with him the monotony and the scarcity of food. Think of oah, did I say? ay, think of a greater than oah ; think of God, who not content with raining tears of repentance for forty days, to wash the earth clean, which He had once made so fair and beautiful and man had made so
foul, but must let those waters prevail a hundred and fifty days longer ; think of God, I say, and by "revenge and indignation" against yourself try and undo some of the evil you have done. ay, more, think of God and Man — God and oah, in the person of Jesus, the Builder and Maker of the ark, the Author and Finisher of our salvation. Look unto Him who endured the burden, the constraint, the anxiety, the monotony, the bitterness, the hunger, the thirst, and the weariness of the Cross all His Life, that you might be saved thereby. Think of Him to-day, and learn by fashioning your life in some measure after His life — learn experimentally — how true it is that " He that hath the Son hath life, and he that hath not the Son hath not life." "Only oah remained alive, and they that were with him in the Ark." c2
FOURTH SU DAY I LE T.
*'THE ARK AT REST." '^CO SOLATIO BY THE CROSS."
" The ark rested . . . upon the motmtains of Ararat" — Genesis viii. 4. We read earlier in the chapter that the waters had abated after the end of the hundred and fifty days during which the actual voyage of the ark was going on. 'Tor God remembered oah and every living thing, and all the cattle that was with him in the ark ; and God made a wind to pass over the earth, and the waters assuaged And the ark rested on the mountains of Ararat." There was great gladness of heart inside thq ark no doubt then, great thankfulness on the part of oah and his family to be at anchor, so to speak, after all their tossing and buffeting for five months. The animals, too, would probably try to join in the general paean of thanksgiving, as they did by compulsion afterwards in the sacrifices of oah's festival. You know when a
29 ship draws near the land at the end of a voyage, the horses always neigh and the cows always low. They smell the land breeze and perhaps scent the fresh grass. At such times, too, it often is that, if any one is dangerously ill on board, he dies — just in sight of land. It is a well-known fact amongst sailors, even as there
is a belief, which may also be founded on fact, that those who live near the sea always — as has been well expressed in the words of a favourite author — *' Always go out with the tide." There was nothing, however, on this occasion so far to mar the happiness of reaching land. ** The ark rested," and they were very happy. Yes ; for *' They who go down to the sea in ships and occupy their business in great waters, these men see the works of the Lord, and His wonders in the deep. For at His word the stormy wind ariseth, which lifteth up the waves thereof. They are carried up to the heavens, and down again to the deep ; their soul melteth awky because of the trouble. So when they cry unto the Lord in their trouble He delivereth them out of their distress. For He maketh the stoim to cease, so that the waves thereof are still. Then are they glad because they are at rest, and so He bringeth them unto the haven where they would be." '* The ark rested on the mountains of Ararat." They did not go out of the Ark, though, as yet. They were still in quarantine, so to speak. They had not finished their Lent yet ; nay, oah did not even open the window of the ai'k for foi-ty days longer. Still
80 they were at rest, and that was something to be thankful for. They had felt the grating sensation of the ark scraping against the points of the sharp rocks as of an anchor being cast out of the foreship, and now she had finally settled down, not to move again. " The ark rested on the mountains of Ararat." They had got as it were to Kefreshment Sunday, — ^perhaps some of them were disappointed that they had got no further. Ah! perhaps the raven, who had uttered his harsh note
again as he scented the carrion when they drew near the shore, cawed now in disappointment that he could not at once get out to his feast on the dead bodies which had at length come to the surface, and were burned, even as we thought of the raven last Sunday, to tbeir old bad habits ; as they had crucified Jesus, to persecute His disciples, to stone Stephen. — " Tbe dog returned to bis own vomit again, and tbe sow, tbat was
41 washed, to her walloiriiig in the mire." Yes, but some returned too like the dove, the beloved S. John, the Blessed Mother, the conscious-stricken multitude, to wait for the gift of Pentecost, when they should find their olive-branch and God's Spirit should not seek in vain an abiding place within them. Yes, and as it was then, so, alas ! it is now. Many come to the sight which Good Friday reveals, to the open window of the ark, and go away no better: nay, perchance, the profanity of their gaze has made their case worse. Oh ! it was a sad sight to I^oah to see the raven he had taken such care of go away and leave him for the putrid carcases. My friends,* may the true oah never have to see the like in us. May our keeping of Passion-tide and Holy-week be a reality. May our Easter Festival find us risen with Christ and entering into His joy. To do this let me ask you to open the window of your ark once more to-day. Probe your conscience more deeply at the thought of the Passion. Measure your great sinfulness and your little love by " the length and breadth and depth and height" of the Cross of Jesus ; let the fresh air of God's spirit blow in upon
your soul. Send out your raven, your bad passions, your worldly desires. Send out your dove too, your kind acts, your gentle words; you will find them come back to you a hundredfold, for " the quality of mercy is not strained, it droppeth as the gentle dew from heaven: it blesseth him that gives and him
42 that takes." Oh ! don't leave the Ark, the Cross of Jesus, till once more on Good Friday afternoon you see His side pierced and the precious stream let flow, — the raven and the dove sent forth, — "the promise of your eternal inheritance," the earnest of your own release that you should arise and go to the Father.
PALM SU DAY.
" THE EXODUS FEOM THE AEK." " THE TEIUMPH OF THE CEOSS."
" Go forth of the ark,,, and oah went forth," -^ Genesis viii. 16 — 18. The waters were at length abated — the olive branch brought back by the dove had proved it. oah had kept her yet seven days and then sent her forth again, but this time even she returned not. Then it was, after he and his family and all his animals had been in the ark, as nearly as possible,
one year, that " oah removed the covering of the ark, and, behold, the face of the ground was dry." And in "the second month, on the seven and twentieth day of the month, was the earth dry," and God spake unto oah saying, "Go forth of the ark,. . . and oah went forth, and his sons, and his wife, and
Ids sons' wives with liiin, every beast, every creeping thing, and every fowl, and whatsoever creepeth upon the earth after their kinds, went forth out of the ark." It was a happy time to them after their long imprisonment, for such they must have considered it, notwithstanding that it was so necessary for their safety. The last few weeks must have been terribly irksome to them all. Even oah, one would think, began to lose his patience when the dove at last deserted him, but he knew it was all for the best, and he waited yet another week, and at last the command came, ** Go forth of the ark, and oah went forth." And then it was, perhaps — such is the fickleness of poor humanity — ^that regret began to succeed to joy at being released. They had been very happy there after all. It had been a very solemn qui^t time even if it had dragged on rather heavily. They had all got so used to each other under the constraint and confinement of the ark. They had had to put up with one another's tempers, and that had softened and sobered them, and somehow had united them more, for fellowship in suffering has often a more powerful influence than fellowship in joy. Then, you know again, they must have learnt so much of the habits of all the animals, even in their constrained and unnatural state ; they must have made great pets of some of them surely. And now they were all going to be separated, and there were the regrets of parting, even as when your favourite horse or your favourite dog dies. Oh! believe me, there
45 were some wistful looks exchanged when the Lord said unto oah, "Go forth of the ark, and oah went forth." It is the same thing now when you come to an end of your long voyage. You have been very imcomfortable sometimes, the weather has been rather wretched, the food rather unpalatable, your fellow passengers not always so accommodating as you would have liked; but, somehow, when the time comes to go ashore you are sorry to leave them. You were great friends with some of them — and very firm and lasting friendships are made on board ship sometimes — and you have got to know the officers and the seamen very well, you have listened to their long yarns and their quaint songs, and the memory of them will cling to you through life, and make your pulse beat and your eye moisten when you think of them, as perchance they did when you took a last look round your little cabin, and gave a parting grasp to the homy hand of the weatherbeaten old captain. Yes, and there is another experience you had which bears very forcibly on our subject of to-day. When you get to land after a long voyage, you find there has been nothing to break your last impressions of the country from which you have come. It is very marvellous how the contrast or the comparison between it and your own then strikes you. Though you have been three months, perhaps, at sea, and suffered from all its elements of discomfort, it really seems then as but yesterday that the pilot
46 left you outside Port Pldlip Bay, and, lo! to-day lie is coming on board off Dungeness lighthouse. So, no doubt, too, oah felt with regard to the time which had elapsed between God*s shutting him in the ark, and His saying to him, "Go forth of the ark," and oah went forth. It is, my friends, only the history of human nature. See Jacob brought before Pharaoh and demanded of his age. And " Jacob said unto Pharaoh, The days of the years of my pilgrimage are an hundred and thirty years ; few and evil have the days of the years of my life been." So was it, too, in the history of the descendants of Jacob, the Children of Israel ; a command came with regard to them as it came to oah, "Let my people go that they may serve me." It spoke of deliverance from bondage, from captivity. They went forth, but their hearts, you know, soon turned back into Egypt, and they regretted the cucumbers, and the melons, and the leeks, and the onions, and the garlic which flourished there. They forgot their constraint and their slavery there, they forgot, too, the passage of the Red Sea. And the Lord spake unto oah saying, "Go forth of the ark, and oah went forth." Howbeit, a greater than oah, and a greater than Jacob is here, and we begin to think to-day of a greater exodus than that of oah from the constraint of the ark, or of Israel from the bondage of Egypt, clearly and distinctly as it is nevertheless prefigured by them.
47 " Go forth of the ark, and oah went forth." " Let my people go that they may hold a feast unto me."
Yes, for Palm Sunday, while it opens out before us by way of introduction all the sad events of the Holy Week, while it shows us each day marked by a separate suffering of the Man of sorrows, while it leads us on to see Him contradicted by the Jews, betrayed by Judas, enduring agony in the Garden of Gethsemane, led thence before His judges, condemned, scourged, and crucified, yet hath it, too, a promise of His final victory. It brings before us the exodus from the ark, the Eed Sea passed, — the triumph of the Holy Cross. In the words of the epistle, " because He being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God " — was, that is, in accordance with that greathearted charity " which seeketh not her own,*' not too jealous even of His Godhead — "but made himself of no reputation, and took upon Him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of man, and being found in fashion as a man, humbled Himself and became obedient unto death, even the death of the Cross ; wherefore God a,lso hath highly exalted Him, and given Him a name which is above every name " — " the name of Jesus." Once more then to-day in the words of one of those grand old Hymns which have been sung by the Church of God at this season for centuries, which have kindled and cultivated the devotion of myriads of her children, and made them as only
48 Hymns can make tliem, " glory in tlie Cross of Christ Jesus": — " Sing my tongue the glorious battle,
With completed victory rife, And above the Cross's trophy, Tell the triumph of the strife ; How the King of Glory conquered ! By surrendering of His life," Yes, my friends, while He was being despised and rejected of men, while He was being scourged and buffeted and spat upon, while He was being crucified and hanging as a slave between two thieves and railed upon, He was really triumphing. He was reigning from the tree. Listen to His own prophecy, which we thought of earlier this Lent, as indicating His dread foreknowledge of the Passion : " Behold we go up to Jerusalem, and all things that are written concerning the Son of Man shall be accomplished;" for "He shall be delivered unto the Gentiles, and shall be mocked, and spiteftiUy treated, and spitted on, and they shall scourge Him, and put Him to death," but there is something more, "the third day He shall rise again." "Go forth of the ark, and oah went forth." And see, too, how minutely the true oah fulfilled it all. He, too, though when the time came that He should be received up had — as during last week — " set His face steadfastly to go to Jerusalem," insomuch that the Samaritans would not receive B[im, " because His face was as though He would go to Jerusalem ; "
- • , 49 yet WM He very sorry when the time came to part tntli His friends. See how He lingered with th^m in the large* upper-room on the last .evening. The raven had long left the ark you will remember, " he having received the sop went out, and it was night." And
then our Lord seems to have drawn all the rest who were fidthfiil close aroimd Him, " having loved His own He loved them unto the end." " And supper being being now ended, He took a towel and girded Himself, and washed their feet." It was, you see, His last parting act of kindness to them collectively ; as when on the Cross next day He saw how dreadfully His sufferings were breaking the hearts of the high-souled sensitive S. John and the Blessed Mother, He individually committed them to each other's charge, in the words "Woman, behold thy Son. Behold thy Mother." "Go forth of the ark, and oah went forth." " He bearing His cross went forth " along the way of sorrows, knowing that it must lead to victory, that through the red sea of His Blood He should deliver His Israel from the bondage of sin and death ; And verily He proclaimed His triumph when with a loud voice — the voice of G-od which no sufferings could break — He commended His soul into His Father's hands and gave up the Ghost. " With His own right hand, and with His holy arm, hath He gotten Himself the victory." And here let us pause to-day and gather some lesson for ourselves. Some day you know a comD
50 mand will be uttered with regard to you, " Go forth of the ark." You will like your exodus to be triumphant, will you not? Your friends will be around your bed, and you will be sorry to part with them, and they with you. You will be thinking over your short evil life, you would be glad then to
"depart and be with Christ, which is far better." Remember that you can only do this by bearing your Cross now; by taking up your Cross and following Him who was crucified for (you. Strive, then, by real observance of this Holy Week — especially of Good Friday — to gain a deep personal devotion to Him who is to be once more " manifestly set forth, crucified among you." Try and take from the contemplation of that scene strength to bear your Cross through life, knowing that it must conquer, that God shall, "after you have suffered awhile, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you." Sooner or later the Cross must triumph, and only the Cross can triumph; it may be here that you shall have "joy and peace in believing," it may not be till then, when, even as our Lord commended His own soul into His Father's hands, and at His command went forth from the ark of wood — the tabernacle of His flesh, — so your parish Priest shall stand by your bedside, and as you just, perhaps, catch the first booming of the passing bell which is tolling for you, say ; " Go forth Christian soul in the name of God the Father who made you, of God the Son who redeemed you, of God the Holy Ghost who hath sanctified you, from death to life ; from sorrow to joy ; from a vale of misery to a paradise of mercy." — " Qt) forth of the ark."
" OAH'S THA KSGIVI G." " BASTEE GLAD ESS."
" While the earth remaineth, §eed time and harvest, and cold and heat, and stmimer and winter, and day and night, shall not cease** — Genesis viii. 22. Since we thouglit of oah's exodus from tlie ark last Sunday, that of which the whole story of the ark was typical has been enacted as in a drama before us. The Cross has been made, has. been laid on the green hill of Calvary, the true oah has been fastened thereon, has been reproached, has borne it patiently, has rested there. His side has been pierced, He has been taken down from the Cross, He has been laid in Joseph's new tomb with spices and with ointments. ay, more, He has risen again, for to-day is Easter Day, "And worthy is the Lamb that was slain ! Alleluia I"
52 But, first, what of oah since he went forth in triumph from the ark? For there is, I think, very much in this chapter of his story which speaks to us of the Resurrection. "Why his exodus, to begin with, was something like that which happened very early this morning, when an angel came and rolled away the stone from the door of the sepulchre, and showed the loving women, and the sympathising friends, "the place where the Lord lay." But there is something more about Easter in oah's history than this, and neither must we forget that the Ark of oah is the Cross of Jesus, and not the Tomb of Joseph. Though Ark and Cross and Tomb are untenanted now, and the first is still resting on the mountains of Ararat, and the second has not yet been taken down from the hill of Calvary, and tThie third — ah! the third has some occupants— there are two angels in shining garments, '^ one at the head, and the other at the feet, where the body of Jesus had lain."
But first of oah. What did he do when he came forth of the ark ?- My dear friends, he did what every grateful heart must do, after deliverance from constraint, from uncertainty, from scarcity, from anxiety. He gave thanks^-he kept a festival. " oah builded an altar imto the Lord, and took of every clean beast and of every clean fowl and offered bttmt offerings upon the altar." He did what the Church of Qod is doing to-day, upon the ten thousand altars of Christendom — offering the Eucharist, "the sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving." Yes, for "Chrht our
53 passover is sacrificed for \is ; therefore, lei us keep the feast." And doubt not that this service of ours is accepted as it was then ; that when in union with the sacrifice offered upon the Cross we "do this," and therein present ourselves, our souls and bodies as a reasonable holy lively sacrifice unto G-od, accompanied, too, with all that music and reverent posture can render worthy, the Lord still "smells a sweet savour," even as of the fragrant incense in the tabernacle. Ah ! doubt not that God says something in His heart about the Church He purchased with His blood, something which re-echoes in our hearts, does it not, at Easter ? " I will no* curse the ground any more for man's sake, neither will I again smite any more every living thing as I havdf done." God's heart was very full that day, and its goodness overflowed towards man ; aye, beyond man to the beasts ; aye, further still, to the " green things upon the earth." He "considers" them all from the " Cedar of Lebanon to the hyssop that springeth out of the wall." And so an English poet has taught us you know —
" He prayeth well who loveth well, Both man and bird and beast; He prayeth best who loveth best. All things both great and small ; For the dear God who loveth us, He made and loveth all." Yes, surely, they were all included in the final promise of the text, with its still further teaching of d2
54 the Itesurrection. " While the earth remaineth, seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease." You have often heard these words before, they have often been used as a text for a Harvest Festival sermon, but there is a meaning, too, that they have at Easter, seeing that we keep our Passover at the seed time of the natural year ; and surely there is a marvellous suitability in the feast of the Eesurrection coming at such a time, is there not ? Does it not seem very appropriate that we should keep it just at the time when we cannot help thanking God for making the "grrfbs to grow upon the mountains and herbs for the use of men." Oh, yes, surely every little plant which is just bursting forth from the earth in our gardens, while it is a picture of our dear Lord's Resurrection, who when He rose
again was at His first appearance supposed to have been the gardener, is likewise a promise of our own, " For if we have been planted in the likeness of His death, we shall be, in the likeness of His resurrection." " That which thou sowest, is not quickened except it die; and that which thou sowest, thou sowest not that body which sliall be, but bare grain, it may chance of wheat, or some other grain ; but God giveth it a body as it hath pleased Him, and to every seed His own body." And did not oah, with his faithful, trusting heart, realise the analogy of nature P oah of whom at his birth you know it was said, " This same shall
55 comfort us concerning our work and toil of our liands because of the ground which the Lord hath cursed," and who afterwards " began to be an husbandman and planted a vineyard," Yes, surely, the promise of the text and the " token of the covenant," " the bow in the cloud," when he saw it for the first time, and the teeming earth from which the curse had been taken — for had it not been baptised in the flood ? while it gladdened his and his children's hearts then, told him, as it tells us, of something farther, of which it along with the previous sojourn of the ark was the type and the figure, told of the Eesurrection of Jesus, as the Ark told of His Cross. Oh, my friends, picture to yourselves oah and his family that day after he had offered his sacrifice, after God had made the promise of the text, and had i>lessed him and had given him the token of the covenant. There was a feeling of subdued joy and thankfulness in their hearts, so like the joy of the Christian's Easter, the joy that "cometh in the
morning," the joy for sin once more forgfiven. They had eaten their first meal on the animals sacrificed, for then was the first command given to eat flesh, consequent possibly on the change of climate, owing to the flood and the subsequent rainfall, which rendered a more stimulating diet necessary ; thence they go, perchance, and work in their garden, and now they are pausing to take repose during the heat of the noon-day sun. The ark still rests on Ararat, but they can see in the distance the
56 green grass and the shrubs springing up around it already. Perhaps they can see some of the animals there too, for the " high hills are a refuge for the wild goats, and so are the stony rocks for the conies." Perhaps some of the birds are building in the empty storeys of the ark, for " the sparrow hath found her an house and the swallow a nest, where she may lay her young, even thy altars, O Lord of Hosts, my King and my God!" Suddenly the sky grows darker, and heavy drops of rain begin to fall. Koah starts, and begins to think again of his old harbour of refuge — the ark resting yonder — but stop, what is that spanning the opposite valley? A beautiful arch of many colours — a rainbow — the first rainbow they had ever seen. And oah remembers Q-od's promise, and God is remembering it too, and Koah realises the truth that that curse has been '^ turned into a blessing " ; that God is sending now not a deluge but a " gracious rain upon His inheritance, and is refreshing it when it was weary." " While the earth remaineth, seed time and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night, yes, and rain and sunshine, too, shall not cease."
Oh yes, there is the ark resting still on Ararat ; there is the Cross, with its painful memories — its desolation — its awful silence — its bitter thirst. But there is the earth refreshed by the drops which have watered it, the drops which fell from the true oah in the garden of Gethsemane, on the hill of Calvary ;
67 there are the lovely flowers, and plants, and shrubs springing up around ; there is the beautiful bow in the cloud ; there is the stone rolled away from the sepulchre in Joseph's garden ; and there is the angel in shining garments, all alike, saying, "Why seek ye the living among the dead. He is not here ; He is risen, as He said.'* And now, my friends, to draw some practical lesson from this last chapter of the story of the ark, let me remind you that you, like the earth after the flood, have been baptised; aye, as oah and his family were saved so as by water, so you, too, at the font have been received into the ark of Christ's Church. Oh, remember what that pledged you to;, remember that it was the token of the covenant betwixt you and God. Think how S. Paul in all his epistles, notably in the epistle for to-day, pleads with his converts by the remembrance of their baptism. " K ye be risen with Christ " — from those waters of baptism in which ye were buried with Him — " seek those things which are abovej where Christ sitteth at the r^ht hand of God." Oh, do not seek the living God among the dead things of this world any longer. Ah, more, not only have you been baptised into the ark of Christ's Church, but in a special way you have been shut into the Ark by the discipline of Lent :
you have followed along the way of the Cross this Passion-tide. It has saddened and subdued you, has it not? The constraint, the desolation, the scarcity of food have disciplined you, have they not P
58 And now you are released and are keeping jonr festival. Oh, don't let the memory of Calvary quite fade away in the exultant joy of Easter. Look up at the ark resting on Ararat, even when you thank God for your first rainbow.- Poor oah, you know, is our warning as well as our example. *^ oah planted a vineyard, and he drank wine and was di*unken ! " Oh! my friends, let us never forget the deep spiritual truth contained in the text, the biography which it records of a Christian soul. It was, you know, because the imagination of man's heart is evil from his youth that God said, "While the earth remaineth, seed time and harvest, and cold and heat, and winter and summer, and day and night shall not cease." Oh ! believe me that the mingling of joy and sorrow in the heart, like the blending of Passion-tide into Easter, like the merging of winter into spring, is the source of our truest happiness here. Howbeit, we are looking beyond this world, are we not? for a " new heaven and a new earth " ** wherein dwelleth righteousness." There shall be no night there ; there " God shall wipe away tears from off all feces," and there shall be "a rainbow round about the throne like unto an emerald." Oh, then, this Easter, and throughout our lives, let us never forget our true oah's solemn warning — " As the days of oe were, so shall also the coming of the Son of Man be." " For, as in the days that were before the flood, they were eating and drinking,
marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that
59 oe entered the ark and knew not until the flood came and took them all away, so shall also the coming of the Son of Man be." " Then shall appear the sign of the Son of Man in the Heaven" — "the bow in the cloud " — " the Ark on Ararat," " and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of Man coming in the clouds of Heaven with power and great glory."
LOW SU DAY.
"THE BLESSI G OF OAH." ''THE Jkll ISTERIAL COMMISSIO ."
''After the JF7ood"— Genesis ix. 28 ; x. 1—32. We ttouglit last Sunday of some of the things which happened after the flood. We thought of oah's sacrifice and we thought of the fresh grass and the bright flowers springing up from the grateful earth, from which the curse had been taken away by the waters of the flood. But we did not think directly of oah, as we had done on previous Sundays, as a type of our Lord Himself. We could not do so then, because, you know, the first idea we have of the morning of the Eesurrection is an open sepulchre, with the angels in shining garments pointing out the " linen clothes," and " the napkin that
was about His head" " laid in a place by itself." The antiphon of our Easter Communion is, " Come, see the place where the Lord lay." It was not till later in the day that He made His first appearance after
61 His Eesurrection, when He showed Himself to Mar j Magdalene, who supposed him to have been the gardener. It was not till the evening, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled for fear of the Jews, that Jesus came into the midst of them and said, " Peace be unto you." And yet oah was a very true type of our Lord, even in His Eesurrection Body. Let us take up his story again then this morning, and trace it to the point at which the text leaves it and him, and in doing so let us think of all the circumstances in connection vrith which the words of the text are, in the passages in which they occur, found. In the first it is, " oah lived after the flood three himdred and fifty years" ; in the second, " These are the generations of the sons of oah, Shem, Ham, and Japhet, and unto them were sons bom after the flood" ; and in the third, " These axe families of the sons of oah, after their generation, in their nations, and by these were the nations divided in the earth after the flood," You will remember that God had " blessed oah and his sons and had told him to be fruitful, and multiply and replenish the earth." " And of them was the whole earth overspread." Yes, and oah himself must have begun to see the fulfilment of God's blessing, though, alas, he saw too the curse of Babel — but this, again, was a curse which was turned into a blessing at Pentecost, by the descent of those cloven tongues like as of fire, giving the Apostles the gifts of divers languages by which they might make all
62 " people one and all speak the same language." Tes, we miglit imagine the words of the American poet to he true of him, even if they were not suggested by his life of nine hundred and fifty years. " More than a thousand children's children sat on his knee." At any rate, we have given us in the tenth chapter the generations of the sons of Koah; their names are there — the heads of the families, at any rate, and "by these were the nations divided aft6r the flood." And here, in passing on to think of the typical character of oah as the second founder of the human race, we might notice how " the flood " was the date from which he and his descendants reckoned. Three times you see it is alluded to in the three verses in which the words of the text occur. "After the flood " was to them, in short, what " Anno domini " is to Christians. For as we have seen all along our Lord is the true oah. His cross borne throughout His life was the true Ark ; and the stream which flowed from Him in the Circumcision ; at the tomb of Lazarus ; as He looked at the city ; amongst the olives of Gethsemane, when the Husbandman knelt there ; under the blows of the scourge ; through the crowning of the thorns ; at the fastening with the nails ; in the piercing with the spear — " For He came not by water only but by water and blood," as to-day's Epistle teaches us — was the true Flood to wash away the sins of the whole world. "After the flood" — that flood from which we date the world's redemption, to which we turn with
63 such sacred, such awfiil memories. — " After the flood," what happened ? We have thought of one or two things that happened, but there is another event related in the Gospel for to-day which was clearly prefigured by the circumstances under which we find the words of the text recorded. Yes, as God blessed oah after the flood, and oah lived to see that blessing fulfilled, so the true oah came and stood in the midst of those whom He [called His children, and said, " Peace be unto you " ; and when He had so said He showed them His hands and His side, and though the wounds £rom which the flood had flowed were healed up, the remembrance of them was there still, by which He pleads on high, even as there were marks on the earth and remembrances in the hearts of oah and his sons of the waters of the flood and the sojourn in the ark. " Then were the disciples glad when they saw the Lord," even as were the sons of oah " after the flood," and God had blessed them. ** Then said Jesus again, Peace be unto you. As my Father hath sent me, even so send I you." "These be the sons of oah, and by them was the whole earth overspread ; " " By these were the nations divided upon the earth after the flood." Then was fulfilled the prophecy — "Instead of thy fathers thou shalt have children whom thou mayest make princes in all lands." Yes, my friends, we cannot fail to see in oah living on " after the flood," and blessing his sons and his sons' sons, " Him who was dead and is alive
again/' and now "liveth for evermore/' showing Himself to His disciples after His Resurrection, and delegating to them that ministerial anthoritj and commission which He Himself had received as man fro^ Heaven. " As my Father hath sent me, even so send I^ou." " Be fruitful, and multiply and replenish the earth/' Yes, He sent them all forth with the same power, to be handed on in regular succession to the end of time. S. Peter to the Jews; S. Paul to the Gentiles — and men have traced the origin of the English Church to him, even as we trace our natural origin to one of the sons of the first oah — S. Thomas to India; Judas, like Ham, " to his own place" — an example even to the lost angels with the curse upon him ; a curse with which the descendants of the second son of oah are branded to the present day — yet to them also is preached the Gospel of salvation. The ministerial authority and commission is universally exercised and acknowledged. " Whosoever sins ye remit they are remitted to them, and whosoever sins ye retain they are retained," even as the waters of the flood first "prevailed," then were "assuaged," finally were "dried up," and men spoke of "After the flood." And here, my friends, let us pause a^ain, and draw some practical lesson from these after-thoughts on the story of oah's ark. I reminded you last Sunday of your baptism. I drew to your notice again the striking way in which the story of the ark in its constraint, its reproach, its scarcity, its exodus, sets forth the Church's Lent, objectively as applied to the
65 eyents in our Lord's life — subjectively as applied to ourselves in the penitential discipline which that season lays upon us. I asked you in your Easter rejoicing not to forget either the one or the other. Their memories have not faded from you this past
week, have they P Surely these fine spring mornings which have succeeded to the cold of the Holy Week have told us something fresh every day about Him, Who, when He rose again from the dead was " supposed to have been the gardener." Prom the story of her life who thought so, and who was bedewing that garden glade with such floods of tears, when He found her there, and asked her, " Woman, why weepest thou ?" let me remind you of something else — I mean your conversion — "After the flood." It was she, you know, out of .whom He had cast seven devils, who had earlier washed His feet with tears of the deepest penitence, and whose sins had therefore been remitted her — " Much had been forgiven her, because she loved much." She it was who first saw bur dear Lord, because she had kept such a good Lent — and you know only those who do keep Lent well can keep Easter well. Thinking, then, of her, coupled with the facts recorded in to-day's Gospel, let me remind you of your own conversion — of the time when Jesus found you weeping for sins committed since your Baptism — " The waters had almost drowned thee, and the stream had gone over thy soul" — and came and said, "Peace be unto thee; thy sins be forgiven thee." Mind, I do not say that
66 it all happened in one day, it may have been so — it may have been that in the exercise of that delegated authority committed to His Church, " some discreet and learned minister of God's word gave thee the benefit of absolution" — if so, how you remember that day, " It i& as the waters of oah unto thee ; " or it may have been like the seasons of the year we thought of last Sunday — ^the gradual unconscious blending of sorrow into joy. It may have been with your soul now as it will be with your body at last — " In a
moment, in the twinkling of an eye we shall all be changed;" or it may have been "first the blade, then the ear, then the full corn in the ear." But it has come to you somehow, or is coming, is it not ? — a greater shrinking from sin, a deeper desire for holiness. Oh, let me ask you to think of it to-day — to catch the echo of His message of peace in your soul to-day— as you have kept Lent, so to keep Easter — to be fruitful in good works — to be perfect in your generation — ^to influence others for good. Many, alas, even if they do not go back to their old sins as soon as Easter comes — and some do this, — ^yet do not try to be with their Bisen Lord during these " great forty days." Oh, constrain Him to alnde with you. Let Him be known to you more frequently in the " breaking of bread " — remember the chastened joy and the missionary enterprise — the true " marks of the Lord Jesus " — which succeeded " after the flood."
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