The Lord then said to Noah, "Go into the ark, you
and your whole family." Genesis 7:1
The story of the ark has been familiar to us from
memory's birth. It gave interest to our earliest lessons. Its very name
revives the instructions by a tender mother's side, or from some anxious
teacher's lips. It brings us back to the first pages of our first Bible, and
to our seats as children in our childhood's class. In a land of Christian
teaching, most in their youth thus pondered the record of a wretched
world's most wretched end. In thought they trace and retrace each
particular, until the whole is vivid, as a witnessed scene. But they who go
no deeper, only trifle as with a nursery-toy. Their feet reach the
threshold of truth's palace, but they enter not into the wide chamber, in
which God dispenses light. They do not break the box of precious ointment.
They are like Hagar—a well of water is near—she thirsts, but sees it not.
Reader! do not be deceived. The Bible is a mirror in your
hands for this grand end—that you may see therein a loving Savior's loving
heart, and a mighty Savior's mighty deeds. Jesus is the treasure of the
field of Scripture. If you win Him, you are rich and wise forever. If you
win Him not, all other wealth is poverty—all other knowledge is a
brilliant folly. Act on this soul-saving principle; and never close the
sacred pages until you are cheered by the smile of Him, who is the smile of
Come, then, and with holy longing after the light of
life, let us contemplate the Ark. Jesus is there in all the glories of
redeeming love. "Make an ark of gopher wood." Here is no human forethought.
It is a voice from heaven. But for what purpose? The reply pencils the dark
background, on which the bright features of God's grace appear most
prominent in beauty. "God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the
earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil
continually," or every day. Sin enormous—sin all-prevailing—sin without
ceasing, was the vapor which went up from earth. But can sin thus
rear its head, and wrath lie still? Impossible! Sin is the abominable
thing, which God hates. It cannot move onward without dragging vengeance in
the rear. Behold the proof. God the holy and the just proclaims, "The end of
all flesh is come before Me." But would any plead that the threat was vague,
and gave no definite alarm? Judgment draws not the glittering sword, until
the clearest trumpets sound the clearest sound.
Mark the next thrilling note, "Behold I, even I, will
bring a flood of waters upon the earth." Thus all might know what terrors
were gathering around. Thus all heard the tolling of execution's bell. God
is righteous. He strikes not without cause. He strikes not without warning.
The notice, though thus distinct, seems to have been uttered only by one
preacher's voice. But who can count the messages upon messages, throughout
all ages, which have clustered around our earth, each testifying that the
day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men draws near? Reader! you have
been often told that everlasting burnings are the bed of sin.
The threatened vengeance moved with reluctant step.
Patience suffered long. Years dawned and closed, and still the sun was
bright, the skies were clear. Surely if space for repentance brought the
grace of repentance, the world would have been clad in sackcloth of
penitence and shame. But something far mightier than external opportunity
must work before a soul can feel, and confess, and forsake its sins. Man,
not arrested from on high, is man going downward in guilt. A lengthened
respite is often nothing but a lengthened iniquity. I beg you, apply this.
It is not mine to know your years, your warnings, or your calls. But years
you have; and warnings you have had; and every moment is a call. Say, then,
has the goodness of God led you to repentance? Let conscience answer.
Believe me, reprieves are not pardons. Execution delayed is not execution
escaped. Agag is spared today, to die more signally tomorrow. If you are
still a wanderer from God, let this hour see your tears, and hear your
prayers; or soon you may never cease to weep, where prayer is never made.
Amid this spreading flood of evil the ark continues to
rise. Noah had heard the word, "Make an Ark." The command was startling. He
was to provide against a judgment, new and unknown. Reason would question,
how can it be? Experience—which knew not the like—would darken doubts.
Prejudice, with many ready cavils, would hint that it was improbable, if not
impossible. But God has spoken—The man of God was persuaded. He acted, and
prepared, and was saved. It could scarcely be, but that ridicule and sneer
would embitter his days of trustful toil. Many who saw him work, would mock
his unabating labor. He would stand a very by-word for brain-sick delusion.
This is faith's constant trial. The natural man
understands not its motives, its hopes, its expectations, its doings. But it
is quick of ear to hear, and quick of eye to see a guiding God. It well
knows whom it believes. It has an assurance far more assured than all
conclusions of reason or testimonies of sense. Thus nothing moves it. It
tramples down hindrances. It embraces the cross, and wins the crown. The
last hour strikes at last. The cup of iniquity overflows. Who now can stay
the right hand of the Lord? The clouds gather—the ceaseless torrents fall.
Where now is the jest—the taunt—the bravery of unbelief? The truth of
God is a truth discovered too late. Destruction is found to be a reality,
when the victim feels the grasp. Refuge has ceased. The loftiest buildings,
the tops of the highest rocks, are only a watery grave. Earth is a whirlpool
of despair, and then the silence of departed life.
Such is the solemn fact. Wrath denounced, and wrath
not feared, is wrath without escape! But hearken! for every drop of
this huge deluge has a voice, which sighs; as surely as the ungodly of
the old world once lived, so surely did they sink in anguish. The word of
God responds with as many tongues; as surely as men tread the same earth, so
surely will the final flames burst forth. What! though the hour is not
expected. Unheeded slumber is one sign that it is near. Decreasing moments
will soon decrease no more. A worn out thread scarcely restrains the sluices
of a fiery flood. The end rolls forward. Soon, and it will be here. Soon,
and it will be past. Soon, and we shall have had our part in it.
Reader! will it find you in the Ark of salvation, or
writhing in the billows of the lost? Pause, and reflect. The world decrepit
and blind in sin, is tottering to the gulf of ruin. Are you, then, secure in
an all-sufficient haven; or are you unsheltered, as a tiny bark in the midst
of a wild ocean's roar? Why do I thus ask? Because I would have you safe,
and happy, and peaceful, and blessed forever. But safety there is
none—happiness there is none—peace there is none—and blessedness there is
none, except in the Gospel-ark, who is Christ Jesus. Behold Him! Behold Him!
What is the Ark of old to us, but an emblem of His full
redemption? He is the one deliverance from all peril. He is the heaven-high
refuge. He is the all-protecting safety. He is the building of enduring
life; the foundation of which was laid in the counsels of eternity; which
was reared in the fullness of time on the plains of earth; and the head of
which towers above the skies. He is that lofty fabric of shelter, which God
decreed, appointed, provided, and sets before the sons of men. He is that
sure covert, which is so fortified, that all the thunderbolts of the
almightiness of divine judgment play harmless around it; and all the raging
storms of vengeance, and all the fury of the waves of wrath, only
consolidate its strength. It must be so. For our hiding place is the mighty
God. Our salvation is Jehovah's fellow. Our glorious sanctuary is the
This Ark is brought very near—even to your feet. Its
portals are widely open. All things call you, no, command you
to come in. God's finger writes above the door, "whoever enters is forever
safe." No powers of earth or hell can injure or affright the rescued
inmates. Do you pause? Alas! too many a brow proclaims in letters of
worldly-mindedness, frivolity, indifference, profaneness, and sin—"as our
fathers were, so are we." But will you be self-slain? Would that I
could pierce the windings of your heart, and detect the fatal hesitation,
which administers its opiate there! I would drag the monster into light. I
would give you no rest, until you had trampled it to death.
Think, do any of the following marks betray the foes
which lodge as murderers within you? Convictions are sometimes hushed by the
silly smile—"we are only as the mass around us. If we are in peril, who is
not? Can these crowds all perish? Surely there is mercy in God, which will
hold back such an ocean of unfathomable woe." This thought is an old
deceiver. Numbers change not the truth of God, or the character of sin;
neither can they frame a bark to float on waves of fire.
Youth, if it thinks at all, may think that coming
years will bring some refuge. This is an idle dream. When did hardened
hardness melt into softness? Will unbelief, by growing old, ripen into
faith? The morning of life was no barrier against the flood. Who can
count the cradles which it devoured? If you are young, be wise, and
laugh not through a speck of time, and then wail through an immeasurable
Others are at ease, because they have been taught the
truths of Jesus. The Ark was well studied of old. Day after day it was the
gaze and discourse of thousands. But this did not save them. They who
trust to the mere head knowledge, will find their memory a keen edge to the
gnawings of the undying worm. It may be that in forms, and ordinances,
and services, you draw very near, and seem to place your hands on saving
grace. Thus many touched the Ark, and did no more. As the water rose,
they would cling to it with agonized grasp—in vain! They are outside. And
all outside is death.
Others hope, sometime before they die, to cry and pray.
How many sank in fruitless shriekings for some help! Perchance you are high
in gifts, in talents, in position, in influence, in diligence, in
self-esteem, in man's applause. But as the peaks, which soared above the
clouds, dwindled before the flood; so the loftiest pretensions are very dust
before the great white throne. Is it so, that you have a shadowy hope, that
at last something self-framed, will be a plank of escape? Many
devices were devised, when the deluge began its unsparing work. But all were
as a mocking straw.
Reader! do not be cheated of your soul's life-blood by
impostors in such thin disguise. Turn to the truth of God. Seek the one
real, solid, substantial provision, to which our Bibles point with extended
arm. There is but one name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be
saved. There is but one security. We are only safe when enclosed and
wrapped up in Christ. We are above peril only, when dwelling within Him, the
Ark. We are covered only, when we nestle in His wounded side. We are hid
only, when gathered under His widely-spread wings. Never rest until you have
passed the threshold of this heaven-wrought Ark. Then you may rejoice with
the people of God. "Therefore let everyone who is godly pray to You while
You may be found; surely when the mighty waters rise, they will not reach
him." Psalm 32:6