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the falsehood and absurdity of all the divine declarations by his servant. “ What! might they not say :-Is not God's mercy and goodness infinite? Do not all his works proclaim it? Are not his goodness and benevolence as evident as his existence? But where is his goodness or bis mercy, upon the doctrine of this romantic fellow, this upstart preacher? Is not this strange divinity grossly unreasonable? Such things cannot come from God that are plainly contradi&ory to his known and essential perfe&ions.” Noah, of consequence, must have been deemed an old fanatic; mad with new notions, and zealous to propagate the infection, and make others as mad as him. self; or an artful knave, who endeavoured to dupe mankind to his private purposes, under the pretence of a divine commission.
With these principles, with this perversion of reason, it was plainly impossible, that divine threatnings could have their proper effect upon them, or that any means which were judged proper bý infinite wisdom should prevail. Hence they quickly fell sacrifices to the false. hood of their strong and plausible reasonings. Vain were all attempts to undeceive their minds, and discover the uncertainty of their elaborate arguments. But the event convinced them by an awful experiment of what their reason could never reconcile with the perfections of God, or admit as worthy of their attention and credit, Their arguments drawn from the nature and perfections of God, mightily comforted their hardened hearts, and supported their blind minds, until the day in which the fountains of the great deep were broken up, and then their refuge of lies was swept away, and the conviction of the truth of Divine revelation was forced in upon their minds, with all the horrors of despair.—Thus many, even at this day, pretendedly argue from the Divine
perfections perfe&ions against Divine revelation ; and like these unhappy antediluvians, will receive convi&tion when it is too late, from the deluge of Jehovah's wrath, which they would not believe.
III. We observe, that the vengeance of heaven, executed by a general flood, was to them extremely sudden and surprising. They had, for a long course of years, the loudest calls to repentance, and the most express warnings of universal ruin in case of disobedience. Noah, it is probable, was a preacher of righteousness an hundred years, and endeavoured to stem the current of general wickedness, by the application of Divine threatnings, and exhortations to repentance. In this view, therefore, their destruction was not at all sudden nor unexpected. But they did not believe the truths of God; the Divine threatnings were to them as idle dreams.
They ate, they drank, they married, and were giving in marriage, until the day Noah entered into the Ark, and the food came and destroyed them all. They were sure in themselves no such event would happen ;-they were sure God was merciful, and in this confidence they blessed themselves, and bid defiance to such shocking and barbarous declarations. They could not, in any shape, believe them, until the fatal event administered demonftration, with confupon to their senses ;-until they found themselves overwhelmed, and strangling in the flood, and the fame vengeance pursuing them down to hell. How awful was the security and confidence in which they were surprised! While all were chearful, gay, easy, and happy, sacrificing to pleasure, indulging their natural, and as they imagined, innocent desires, looking for no such thing; they lift up their eyes, and behold the awful torrent from afar, rolling irresistibly along ! O dreadful
consternation! shocking change! In a moinent, from inirth, music, tranquillity and joy, to horror, amazement, and despair! Hear how they fhriek and howl! but God laughs at their calamity! See how they run hither and thither, mingling without distinction; in distraction, looking for places of refuge and security! See some ascending to the tops of houses and aspiring domes! Vain expedient! for the impetuous surge overturns their strong places, and confounds their hopes! See millions fleeing to the lofty mountains, before the increasing flood ! But Oh! how fruitless is their attempt! Thousands link in the vale.—Thousands are overtaken upon the brows of the steep hills, and dashed to pieces by the lashing waves among the craggy rocks.—The residue are swept from the deceitful summit, down the long precipice, to deeper ruin ! Hark, how they cry for mercy! But alas, it is now too late! These cries might have succeeded, had they been made in time ; but then they judged them unnecessary, and that it was too soon, as many, even at this day, put off seeking God, and crying for mercy until they are surprised in death.
IV. We observe, that the circumstances and state of mankind at those feasons in which Jesus Christ will come lo punish and judge them, will greatly resemble those at the time of the flood. They will be times of great se. curity, of eminent inconsideration and carelessness, with respect to the matters of religion and eternity : Seasons in which both wise and foolish virgins will be sleeping; in which prophaneness and wickedness will prevail; the love of pleasure, and the love of the world will be remarkably great and general.
1. This is often the case when Jesus Christ comes to remove particular fippers by death. It frequently hap
peas, that careless and impenitent finners, who have had many warnings of their danger, and made light of them, are taken away when they least expected such an event. Innumerable are the instances of this fort. How often are men checked in the career of their madness, folly and security, with that awful language, Thou fool! this night Jhall thy soul be required of thee. Oh! my brethren, a state of security is a dangerous state! When finners cry Peace, peace, then sudden destruction cometh ; when they imagine themselves most distant from death, judgment, and eternity, then those events are nearest. How tremendous is it to be arrested by the grim messenger in the midst of scenes of pleasure or worldly projects, and not one day more allowed to prepare for another state !
2. This is the case when Jesus Christ comes to punish and destroy guilty and impenitent nations and churches. -Nothing is more certain than that in all past ages, seasons of Divine judgments on communities, either civil or sacred, have ever been seasons of great security, and reigning impiety.-The truth of this observation is evident with respect to the Jewish nation, in all the public judgments God poured out upon them. And the conduct of providence towards this nation ought particularly to be observed; for it is designed as a specimen of the ordinary methods in which God will deal with communities that he has distinguished with the honourable relation to himself, as his church and people. It is evident God never visited them with any public remarkable calamity, but some remarkable public defection is mentioned as the immediate reason and ground of it. They indeed often disowned the imputation ; they denied their guilt; were insensible of any such remarkable degeneracy, for which they should be so severely visited; they refused to accept those judgments as the punishment of their fins, and had the common disease of an unhumbled heart to exculpate themselves. But from them we learn, that public judgments on a professing people are always the ordinary effect and designed punishment of public declensions from their duty, and regard to the covenant and oaths of God they are under. And their not seeing themselves in this light, nor being affected with them, is no argument at all that this is not the case.
3. This will be the case when Jesus Christ shall be revealed from heaven to hold the general judgment.Awful fecurity and awful wickedness will then prevail ; for scarcely will faith be found upon the earth.
There is a day, a dreadful day, fixed by Divine decree, when Jesus Christ shall be revealed from heaven, with his mighty angels in flaming fire, to take vengeance on them that know not God, and obey not the gospel ; to call all nations, tongues and languages; all the kindreds of the earth, and every individual that ever existed to his bar ;-to lay open the secrets of every heart ;to disclose the hidden springs of action, and determine the real characters of men, and fix their eternal destiny! One would imagine, that the certainty of an event of such high consequence, and everlasting importance, would have an irresistible effect; that it would interest and penetrate every heart, and determine all universally to the most studious and incessant attention to those things, whereby they might be prepared to stand in the awful day! And yet we are assured, notwithstanding, that it will be a time of great and general security. Jesus Christ's coming will be as a thief in the night, when men are in a profound sleep, altogether inapprehensive of danger. As in the days that were before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered into ibe ark, and knew not until the