By the Bcr. EDWARD OBAIG, A. H.^
Minister of St. James' Chapel, Edinburgh.
Matthew xxiv. 37.
As the days of oah were, so shall also the coming of the Son of Man be.
There is something very tremendous in this announcement;
and something deeply interesting to us all. On that solemn
occasion, we must all be present to take our part; and if it be
tnie that (hat day shall hunt unexpectedly upon a large portion
¦m IL— 2
of mankind, it becomes us to look diligently to ourselves, that we
may be found ready, watching unto prayer, with all seriousness
and perseverance, redeeming the time*
With a view, then, to impress our minds more powerfully, let
us consider the similarity which is thus declared to exist between
the two cases, — the coming of the Flood, and the coming of the
Son of man; between the destruction of the old world, and of
that which is now present.
I. And Jirst^ we will speak of the awful event which the early
Scriptures record, as happening in the days of oah. " The
flood came and took them all away," or as St. Luke says, ^ De-
stroyed them all." The whole surface of the earth was covered
with an extraordinary flood of waters; and "all flesh died."
There are several points in the case which it will be well to
notice successively; but previously I would observe, that the evi-
dence of facts is now considered as having abundantly established
the truth of such an universal deluge, as the book of Genesis re-
cords. It was at one time the fashion with modern infidels to
deny this. But as the face of the earth lias become better known,
and the researches of men into the phenomena of its surface have
become more abundant, accurate, and well arranged; the proofs
have so extensively accumulated, that every fair and candid mind
has been compelled to admit the fact. The geological proofs are
now ample, that at some time not very remote, the waters of the
ocean have flowed over the tops of the highest mountains; and
from this point of the argument, which has so long been made
one of the strong-holds of Satan, and in which the question was
carried only by the presumptuous assertions of a few, against the
admitted ignorance of many, the abettors of a base, dishonorable,
and carping infidelity have been compelled for ever lo retire.
The presumption against such a penal visitation has been silen-
ced by facts. But whatever are the proofs which the surface of
the earth exhibits of the deluge, we receive it not on that ground,
though we are thankful for the confirmatory evidence; wc receive
it on the strength of the Scripture testimony, and we proceed to
notice from the account of it there given, several interesting par-
ticulars. And,
1st. This fearful judgment was for sometime threatened. It
hung for a long time over that devoted race which peopled the
old world. " God said to oah, The end of all flesh is come
before me; for the earth is filled with violence through them;
and behold 1 will destroy them with the earth. — And, behold 1,
even 1, do bring a flood of waters upon the earth, to destroy all
flesh, wherein is the breath of life, from under heaven; and every
thing that is in the earth shall die." And there can be no ques-
tion that this threatened judgment was proclaimed to the men of
those days. oah is spoken of by Peter as '• a preacher of right-
eousness," at the time of the bringing in the flood upon the world
of the ungodly. And from a passage in 1st Peter, chap 3, it
appears what his preaching was; viz. that by the influence of the
Spirit of Christ, he preached to the disobedient who are now in
the eternal prison, during those days of long-suficring, in which
God waited while the ark was preparing; that is, in fact, during
the whole period in which the erection of the ark was going on,
he warned them of the coming danger, and of his own plan of
escape. And this appears also from the 11th chapter of the He-
brews, where it is stated, that by oah's obedience in preparing
an ark, "he condemned the world." He listened and obeyed;
they might have done the same: and since they did not, his obe-
dience to the injunction marked and reproved their sin, and
sealed their doom. They were condemned because they did not
believe the warning, and seek (he appointed way of escape, as
he did. It is quite evident, then, that they knew of the threat-
ened evil.
2d, This judgment was for a time delayed. When God saw
the wickedness of man on the earth, he said, " My Spirit shall not
always strive with man, for that he also is flesh; yet his days shall
be an hundred and twenty years." It seem probable, then, that
for one hundred and twenty years, the visitation was delayed, and
that during the whole of that time, the Spirit of God strove with
men, by the preaching of oah and by the testimony of con-
science; and that the ark gradually rising, bore witness to the
expected judgment. These hundred and twenty years were " the
days of long-sufiering, in which God waited;" days in which he
'* bore with much long-suflcring, the vessels of wrath fitted for
3d, This judgment was deserved. The deluge of a whole
world, and the destruction of all flesh except eight persons is
awful. We start from the near contemplation of the idea with
horror; but our better judgement is convinced, that fearful as
was this punishmcDt, it was fully merited. It was the due and
legitimate consequcDce of sin. ^^ The soul that sinneth, it shall
die." And **all flesh had corrupted its way upon the earth;" so
that ^^God saw that the wickedness of man was great upon the
earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was
evil only continually." At any moment, therefore, Gpd might
Tindicatc his own honor, and satisfy his offended justice, by the
infliction of the deserved penalty on the whole race. Multitudes,
innumerable as the sands on the sea-shore, do not alter the ques-
tion. Had the whole universe of worlds been in the same moral
circumstances, the case would still have been clear and simple.
But the evil was still more manifestly deserved than as the
direct punishment of sin. It came at last in consequence of men^s
persistency in evil, and in disregard of the warning and the way
of escape. They are surely condemned ten-fold who equally
disregard the threat of vengeance and the offer of mercy, and
who till up the period of long-sufibring witli willful rebellion.
4tlu This judgment was at the last unexpected. The habit of
unbelief cherished against sufficient and credible testimony, is of
the most debasing and slupifying kind. It proceeds in an in-
crc;i$in^ nitio; so that the hour immediately preceding the im-
pending oviK is Uie most unbelieving^ hardened^ and atheistical
of all.
It appears tliat when the ark was finished^ and the hundred and
twontv vears were nearlv run out« oali and his familv at the
command of God went into the nrk« and remained there waiting
seven days; during which period tlio judgment yet delayed. It
was a period of much long<>su tiering, for Uien the provision for the
safety of Xoah and his family was completed. The righteous
w^rv secure. All this delav could liave no other objecU but com-
pa$$^Q to that race who %> ore now near the crisis of their fate.
So that if any one had rvpon:cd even on the last of that seven
da^s^ and s^-wch: the ark a> a rofuce: sunch ihe lA'»nl« who had
shut iu oalu would ha%e opened that ark for his pnotectioD. But
wt' know how unbelief ox^^n:es* Kver\' dav of the seven would
jidd :o the confidence and impiety of the wicked. They would
AiwcUy nusftnierprv'^: the pe rxs: o:* monry* and turn it a^nst their
own ^^)s« Ti>c£r in.p^>o> ^^^-iri: voald rise jus: in pT\>portioii as
the cHdinc avo^ears ofk*ai><i5Vr:T3': increased in v^lue: and this
pc\>oc» iv tsriVLcf TTocsVi >r sr har.:cninc* tha: ^hvi: at last the
clouds began to gather blackness, and obscure the day, the last
misgiving would be silenced by an intidel laugh, that a mere
passing shower should make a faint heart tremble. And in this
way, tlien, notwithstanding the solemn respite of those seven days,
the waters of judgment found them unprepared. "They were
eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage,'' — that is,
carelessly absorbed in the sensualities of this life, " till the flood
came and destroyed them all." Till then, probably, the face of
nature was calm and unruffled; on the previous evening, the
flowers closed, and the animal creation lay down to rest as usual,
with the set of the sun; and man only, the enemy of God, remain-
ed awake at his lengthened revel ; till at last exbaused, sleep stole
over him also, without the faintest consciousness that he had ful-
dlled the measure of his iniquities, and that on the coming morn-
ing he should be waked from his last slumber, by the raging of
Almighty wrath.
And when the morning came, and all the fountains of the
great deep were broken up, and the windows of heaven were
opened, and the mighty torrent began to fall, — how strange must
have been the conflict in every breast, between unbelief and un-
willing conviction; between unbending pride and rising despair!
Many would yet with philosophic calmness watch for the subsiding
of this remarkable shower, — speculate upon its causes, and record
its phenomena; many, as it increased, would try to brave it with
a forced and heartless laugh ; and the rising fear would never
be suffered to amount to conviction, till the way to the ark was
cut off* by the swelling current; and whilst it floated peacefully
in the ofling, there remained nothing for them, but the bitter
howling of despair. So that with such minds, to the very last,
it would be unexpected.
Then again, this visitation vrns fatal. The progress of the tide
as described in Scripture, involves some awful details. — "The
flood was forty days upon the earth, and the waters increased,
and bare up the ark, and it was lifl up above the earth. And the
waters prevailed, and increased greatly upon the earth; and the
ark went upon the face of the waters. And the waters prevailed
exceedingly upon the earth, and all the high hills that were
under the whole heavens were covered ; fifteen cubits above them
did the waters prevail." From this it appears that the ark was
built in some low valley ; and that the earliest waters raised it
from the earth, and separated it from the approach of men*
This was an important precaution. Had it been placed upon a
hill, then when ;he floods began to rise sufficiently to produce
xronviction, it might have been easily assailed, and made the tri-
umphant refuge of rebels, instead of the exclusive shelter and
salvation of the righteous. But how dreadful must have been this
gradual but steady rise of the waters! How sad the scenes of
inevitable misery ! How sad to see helpless, despairing, but still
rebellious men, shrinking step by step from the mighty tide, rising,
by the convulsive struggle that terror gives, to Alpine solitudes
that they had never scaled before; and to see numbers weak and
exhausted dropping gradually down, till the last few resolute spi-
rits, gathered upon the loftiest and only remaining height, waited
as the representatives of universal man, the crisis of their fate.
I remember to have seen in a picture of this scene by a great
master, one inimitable stroke of eloquence. Raised above the
heads of the last perishing family, himself the last surviving rem-
nant of the reptile race, coiling himself round the last branch that
remained uuingulfed, the serpent, the emblem of him who caused
the whole mischief, stretched his scaly form into the air, and, in
the convulsive wreathing of his last agony, spits forth his venom
in the face of avenging heaven.
But the vengeance of God must be complete. Whatever were
these scenes of horror, still the flood rose. All flesh must die;
the highest hill was covered, and the last cry of hopelessness, —
the last shout of violence, — the last throb of the corrupted heart
of man, — the last curse of concentrated bitterness and atheism,
were lost in the resistless sweep of the prevailing waters. " Every
living substance was destroyed which was upon the face of the
ground; both man and cattle, and the creeping things, and the
foul of heaven ; and they were destroyed from the earth." The
curse of avenging holiness was fatal.
But 6th and lastly. We must observe that this destruction was
not universaL The waters rose, but they bare up the ark. They
covered the highest mountains; but the ark of divine mercy still
floated triumphantly upon the buoyant wave. All flesh died on
the earth. But oah remained alive, and they that were with
him in the ark I One wide waste of tossing waters rolled round
the ruined world, and silence and darkness brooded again over
the deep. It was the silence of death. It was the gloom of
Jehovah's frown. It was the completion of the threatened curse.
It was the close of the hundred and twenty years. It was wrath
unto the uttermost. It was the judicial removal into everlasting
misery, of the inhabitants of a world. But still in the midst of
wrath, God remembered mercy. In the very bosom of that tre-
mendous ocean, the ark bore its solitary but sufficient testimony
to the grace and faithfulness of God; and as the bright messen-
gers of Jehovah's power sped through the abyss, to say to him
who sent them forth, '^ It is done as thou hast commanded"; they
would hear from within the ark the voice of thanksgiving and
praise, vibrating along the deep, and ascending to the throne of
the Eternal. ^ Great and marvellous are thy works, Lord God
Almighty, just and true are Ihy ways, thou king of saints."
II. But leaving thus taken a hasty view of the destruction that
came upon the old world, let us now direct our attention to some
of the points of resemblance between it and that still more fearful
evil spoken of in the text ^ as the coming of the Son of man."
^ As the days of oah were, so shall the commg of the Son of
man be." The Son of man, the once crucified Jesus, who is now
exalted to the throne in heaven, shall come in his glory to judge
the quick and the dead, — to bring the last dispensation of this
world to a close by a judgment yet more awful than that which
opened the windows of heaven upon mankind. ^ The Lord Jesus
shall be revealed from heaven in flaming fire, to take vengeance
on those who know not God, and who obey not the gospel of our
Lord Jesus Christ." And the circumstances of that visitation
shall be in many respects similar to the evil which we have pre-
viously considered. Let us trace them through the same partic-
ulars, which in the former instance we have already noticed.
1st, The evil has been long threatened. The Scriptures state
distinctly, that a fearful vengeance awaits an unbelieving world.
" At the end of the world," said the Saviour, " the Son of man
shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his king-
dom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity, and shall
cast them into a furnace of fire." And St. Peter says that ** the
heavens and the earth which are now, are reserved unto fire at
the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men." And the
book of the revelation plainly intimates an awful contest at the
last, between the Saviour and the abettors of iniquity, which shall
end in the messengers of his power casting them, and all, both
dead and living, whose names are not found written in the book
of Kfe, into the lake of fire. So plainly is the awful evil of the
Saviour's second coming declared to the world. But,
2d, This evil has been long delayed. Eighteen hundred years
have passed since these declarations were uttered, and still things
remain as they were. The heaven is still bright and peaceful
over our heads. 'The sun still rises and sets, and brings on sum^
mer and winter, and the appointed weeks of harvest: and the
sign of the Son of man is not yet seen in heaven. The trumpet of
judgment docs not yet begin to sound; and though '^ Tophet has
been ordained of old, and the pile thereof is fire and much wood,
and the breath of the Lord, as a stream of brimstone, doth kindle
it;" its gates are not yet thrown manifestly open to execute con-
clusive vengeance upon mankind. And this delay is, as in the
former case, in mercy. It is to give men more abundantly the
opportunity of repentance. It is that the offer of salvation may
be faithfiiUy and fuHy made. It is that the godly among men
may send the tidings of salvation round the world; and that a
multitude may be redeemed out of every tribe, and nation, and
people; and then the end shall come.
It is an awful view of this world, but it is a true one, that its
existence is only prolonged, with a deadly curse impending over
it, till all the redeemed shall be gathered from the four winds of
heaven; and that the interests of the mighty, and the fates of
empires, great as they may seem, are nothing in the scale, when
weighed against the interests of the church of God. The final
judgment of the wicked is only delayed, as the Saviour said, " for
the elect's sake." While the spiritual temple of God is building,
while believers are seeking shelter in the ark, the storm will sleep;
but once let the last redeemed soul be safely housed; once let
this? world be exclusively a scene of rebellion and resolute impeni-
tence; and then, ^^as the lightening cometh from the east, and
shineth even to the west," so shall the flaming sword of a Sa-
viour's vengeance leave its mysterious scabbard, and bathe that
world in flames.
3d, Whenever this dreadful judgment shaH come, it will be
amply deserved. It is merited at any moment. The state of
society, if it be judged by the laws of God, by the revealed rule
of godliness, is fearfully wicked. The great evil lies in the native
corruption of the beartr ^ In every man bom into the world, it
deserveth God^s wrath and damnation;'' and in every individual
in whom the power of sin has not been subdued by divine grace,
it calls for vengeance. But as the world goes forward, the actual
evil of depravity and alienation from God increases. It is not
the tale of old age, nor the unfounded fable of an alarmist, to
say that the wickedness of the wicked is assuming a deadlier dye.
They who have watched society closely, know that some years
back, before the revival of religion, there was a large neutral mass
of persons, who were without lively influential religion, but who
did little active mischief; but since that day, this neutral body
has been rapidly diminishing in two ways: while true religion has
had its triumphs in many who are saved — many also have de-
clined to more ungodliness; have worn a less equivocal character
of open irreligion; and vice has assumed among them a degree
of inveteracy and concentrated virulence before unknown. Per-
haps the corruption of the juvenile population, the practiced vil-
lainy and hardihood of mere infant delinquents, is one of the
worst features of the times, and one of the strongest indications
of the approach of this dispensation towards its close.
ow, though at all times the wickedness of man deserves its
doom, yet we conceive that by this progress in wickedness, this
gradual secession from God and goodness, there will be in the
last days presented for the endurance of divine wrath, a people
wrought to the very acme of ungodliness, prepared for any act of
impious desperation, and fit only for the burning.
4th. Whenever this event shall come, it will be unexpected.
" The day of the Lord shall so come as a thief in the night." —
** When they shall say peace and safety, then sudden destruction
shall come upon them, and they shtill not escape." " As it was in
the days of oah, so shall it he in the days of the Son of man."
They shall be immersed in Ihc occupations of this present life,
and utterly heedless of the life to come.
There is at first an instinctive revolting from this, as a thing
impossible. And yet if we look fairly at the case, how much of
probability there is in it. We have seen it happen at the deluge,
and there is every reason to conclude from facts, that it will hap-
pen again. If the day of the Lord were to dawn to-morrow, and
with the morning light the sigp of the Son of man were seen in
the heavens, would it not find the great mass of mankind totally
indifferent and reckless? Are there not multitudes of nominal
Vol. II.— 3
Christians, even in this enlighted land, who have not a single
serious thought of preparation for such a day? Thej buy, they
sell, they plant, they speculate, they eat and drink, and marry
and are given in marriage; but for any thing they feel or care
to feel respecting the coming of the Son of man, there might
have been no promise, no warning, no revelation, no future state,
and no God. They have no practical reference to these things,
but to make sport of them. Any thing is interesting to them, but
the will of God and the promise of the Saviour^s coming.
Wc may easily see, then, how the day of final vengeance shall
be as unexpected by the world, as the day of the flood. It has
only to come upon us as the last day of this year gradually steals
upon us; and excepting the comparative few, who arc in earnest
about their salvation, it will find the mass of society just what the
last day of this year will most probably find them, *^ minding
earthly things," and regardless of eternity, and " without hope and
without God in the world ;^' and in the face of a faithful record
and a faithful ministry, utterly unconscious and unbelieving of
any threatened danger. And then,
5th. This judgment will be fatal. It will be fatal indeed.
We are informed that many will be alive on the earth at the
day of EmanucFs coming; but at his call, also, the sea, and
death, and hell, will deliver up their dead. ^ All nations shall
be gathered before him," and a final decinon will then take
place on every individal case. And on that day, all who are not
found in Christ will be precisely in the same cicumstanccs as those
who were not in the ark. They will be without a refuge. They
may " say to the rocks, fall on us, and to the mountains cover us,
and hide us from the wrath of the Lamb; for the great day of his
wrath is come, and who shall be able to stand;" but it will be in
vain. They can no more escape the overwhelming terrors of the
lake of fire, than the rising waters of the deluge. The convic-
tions of conscience will then be too late; the pang of regret will
then be unavailing. " The earth and all the works that are there-
in, shall be burnt up." And how vainly will the condemned
multitude strive to fly from the devouring element, when it pours
its flood of flame around the world; and as they shrink from spot
to spot, to the cold caverns of dark primeval night, how sad will
it be when those searching fires enter the last recesses of their
shelter, and ingulf them all!
Bat how still more inconceivably horrible will it be, when in-
stead of finding this a temporary pang, the mere agony of a nat-
ural dissolution, that ushers them into another existence of peace;
they shall find those very flames with all their scorching torture,
to be their appointed and eternal dwelling place; and that the
pang of dying in tormenting fire is to be the perpetual experience
of everlasting years.
But let us turn to the last point of resemblance. Thanks be to
God, this is not the destiny of universal man. The day that
judicially appoints the wicked and the unbelieving to their doom,
makes manifest the complete salvation of the righteous. In the
midst of the horrors of the flood, the ark of salvation rode peace-
fully upon the waters. And so in the crisis of this world's desti-
ny, " the holy city, the ew Jerusalem, having the glory of God,"
shall come down from God out of heaven, "prepared as a bride
adorned for her husband;" and then the righteous, the redeemed
of the Lord, they " who have washed their robes and made them
white in the blood of the Lamb," shall "shine forth as the sun in
the kingdom of their Father." They are ever safe, be the threat-
ened and deserved vengeance what it may. Their safety is not
in themselves, it is in the grace, and protection, and presence of
their God, who has said, " When thou passest through the waters,
I will be with thee; when thou walkcst though the fire, thou shalt
not be burned, neither shall the flame kindle upon thee."
It is a glorious thought to dwell upon, that in that day an innu-
merable company, redeemed out of every kindred, and people,
and tongue, and nation, and language, shall be recognized as the
children of God, as having been delivered from the wrath to
come. It will be indeed a blessed experience for them to look
back upon a world lying in wickedness; to recall the recollec-
tion of the day when they were individually the children of wrath
even as others, walking in the course of this world, and serving
the prince of darkness; and then to trace the opening of their
minds to religious truth, the effectual striving of the Spirit of Christ
with their consciences, — to remember all the way that they have
been led, and the faithful and unfailing care which still sustained
and sanctified them, and kept them from falling, till they were
presented faultless before the presence of the glory of God. How
blessed will be ^he recollection of all this experience, heightened
by the final c<alamity of the unbelieving recently passing before
their eyes: and then to cast the golden crown of their victory and
their glory at the feet of their Redeemer, and to sing ^ Salvation
to our God, which sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb,
for ever and ever."
We have now, then, seen the close analogy or resemblance
which exists between the wrath of God executed upon the old
world, and the wrath to come, which the Son of man shall inflict
at his second coming. However long the threatened vengeance
may be delayed, it will come in all its merited fullness; but it will
be sudden and unexpected, and it will be fatally destructive.
Here, then, is a most solemn call on us, for seriousness and dili-
gence. We may as well disbelieve the past as the future; but
we must reject neither. My friends, that day must not so come
upon u:? as a thief. " Seeing that we look for such things, let us
be diligent that we may be found in peace, without spot and
blameless." You sec how easy it is, and how consistent with our
fallen nature, to let time slide away amidst the cares and comforts
of this world, and to loose sight of the future judgment. A whole
world except eight persons did it. But you see the fatal conse-
quence of such a habit. You may slumber away the intermediate
period; but you cannot slumber over the day of judgment, or in
the fires of retribution. The days in which the Spirit of Christ
shall strive with men arc running rapidly out; and then there
remains nothing but "a fearful looking for of judgment, and of
that fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversary."
It behooves us, then, to use diligently all the means, to listen to
all the warnings, and to avail ourselves of all the helps, granted
us, for fixing our attention upon the one great subject. Let us
think as we ought of the rapid wast of life. We spend our years
as it were a tale that is told. They fly like a dream or a watch
in the night. Let us look then to the days of oah, and on the
Saviour'^s testimony, take it as a pattern of the coming of the Son
of man. It were dreadful indeed, for the remaining sands of life
to run out, and the day of our dissolution to fix our perpetual lot,
and then the day of account to find us with an enlightened under-
standing and an awakened conscience, but ^dth an unsanctified
heart. Oh! if we felt this risk as we ought, and if we judged of
the risk of the future by the negligences with which we have suf-
fered the past to slip away, how deeply earnest would we feel!
IIow vain would the trifles or the solemnities of time appear!
They would shrink into a point compared with eternity; and all
that we have ever thought interesting would appear insignificant,
compared with the offered salvation of the gospel of Christ. This
would call out our energies. This would cheer our spirits. This
only, and at all times would, like the ark to oah, rise up before
us, with all the interest of a prepared and appointed shelter, from
an otherwise inevitable destruction.
And you, my Christian friends, be comforted. It is awful to
think that the vengeance of God, which slumbereth not, will come
suddenly, terribly, unexpectedly, and fatally upon the world: that
the portion of creation in which we dwell, shall be involved in
annihilating flames; and that if we have not something that can
outlive the destructive power of almighty vengeance, that doom,
sudden and unlocked for, must be ours. This is awful. But you
have a sure word of prophecy — a sure foundation of hope. In
that day that shall burn as an oven, God will spare his redeemed
children, "as a father sparcth his own son that servcth him."
Your shield against all evil, is everlasting love, omnipotent mercy
— the eternal covenant of peace in Christ Jesus. The blood of
Jesus speaketh better things than the blood of Abel. This cries
for mercy with a louder voice than that for vengeance. And
your garments washed and made white in the blood of the Lamb,
shall pass harmlessly through the fire of judgment, so that their
lustre shall not be changed, nor the smell of fire pass upon them*
In looking forward, my friends, to that awful day, we have no
other confidence but the righteousness of him who was slain, and
who is, now at the right hand of God. But rest assured, that they
who by his grace have really found refuge in his mercy, shall
never perish. Whatever are the horrors of that last conflagra-
tion, they shall float innocently by the true servant of Christ;
they shall bear him subserviently and peacefully to the eternal
palaces of light.

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