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(God exercised forbearance towards them one hundred and twenty years. But they "received his grace in vain." And the means used for their salvation only ripened them for destruction.]
When the appointed time was come, he ordered Noah and his family to go into the ark
[The symptoms of the flood did not yet appear; but these favourites of heaven were to condemn the world, not in word only, but in deed. By manifesting their faith, their fear, and their obedience, they were practically to condemn the world's unbelief, security, and disobedience. And, upon their entrance into the ark, “ God shut them in” with his own hand, that the door might be secure against the violence of the wind and waves.]
Then the waters, that destroyed all the world besides, bore up them in perfect safety
[Every other refuge now proved vain. The unbelievers found to their cost the truth of God's threatenings. Their numbers did not screen them from his judgments. Nor was the fewness of the elect any bar to their acceptance and salvation. They rose, while others sank in the mighty waters. Nor, if any cleaved to the ark, did that avail them. The very builders of the ark perished. They, and they only, who were in the ark, were made the monuments of saving mercy.]
This history being altogether typical, we shall consider, II. The correspondent salvation which we enjoy
Baptism is spoken of in the text as the antitype", of which Noah's flood was the type. But we apprehend the Apostle's meaning to be, that Noah's salvation in the ark was typical of our salvation under the Christian dispensation. This subject will be best understood, not by drawing the parallel between the flood and baptism, or between the ark and Christ, but by exhibiting the fact of our salvation as corresponding with that of Noah.
a Heb. xi. 7.
6 'Aντίτυπον. . • The relative « cannot agree with kiBwroū, which is feminine, but must agree with včaroc, or rather perhaps with the whole sentence ; this last construction renders the sense of the passage incomparably more clear ; on which account it is here preferred.
God has determined to punish the world with an everlasting destruction
[His word bears frequent and most undeniable testimony to this solemn truthd — -]
But he has prepared a Saviour for those who repent and turn unto him—
[Human sagacity never could have devised a way of saving sinners consistently with the honour of God's perfections. But God has sent and qualified his only-begotten Son, that, through him, all who believe might be justified from all things. And though salvation through the death of Christ be " to the Jews a stumbling-block, and to the Greeks foolishness," yet to them that are called to partake of it, it has invariably proved the power of God and the wisdom of Godo]
Ever since the method of salvation has been announced to the world, God has been inviting sinners to embrace it
[The first plank of this ark was laid, if we may so speak, when God promised to Adam a" Seed, who should bruise the serpent's head." From that day, it has been erecting visibly in the world, in order that, while men were warned of their danger, they might see their remedy: and now, for nearly six thousand years, has God exercised forbearance towards an impenitent and unbelieving world.]
By “ baptism” we embark, as it were, on board this divinely-constructed vessel
[When we are baptized into the faith of Christ, we profess our persuasion that “there is salvation in no other," and our desire to be found in him," not having our own righteousness, but that which is of God by faith in him?. Thus we come to be in him, as a branch in the vine, as a man-slayer in a city of refuge, as Noah in the ark. Not that this benefit is annexed to the mere outward form of baptism, but to that baptism which is accompanied with “ the answer of a good conscience towards Gods."]
Being then in Christ, we are saved “ by his resur
[It should seem, that Noah's enclosure in the ark for so long a period was a kind of sepulture; and his elevation on the
d Matt. xxiv. 37–39. 2 Pet. ii. 5, 9. Ps. xi. 6. and ix. 17. e 1 Cor. i. 23, 24.
f Acts iv. 12. Phil. iï. 9 & See the words following the text.
waters, till he afterwards came forth from the ark, was a kind of resurrection, when he took possession of a new world. Thus, according to St. Paul, "we are buried with Christ by baptism into death, that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life: for if we have been planted in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection'.” This appears to be intended by St. Peter in the text, and to be, on the whole, the most natural, as well as most beautiful, construction of it: as Noah entered into the ark, and was saved by its elevation above the water-floods, so we, by baptism, enter into Christ, and are, by his resurrection, saved from sin and Satan, death and hell; yea, like Noah too, we are brought safely to the possession of a new and heavenly world.] INFER
1. How deeply should we reverence the ordinances of God!
[What is said of baptism is true, in a measure, of every other ordinance : yet how shamefully is both that, and every other ordinance, profaned amongst us! Let us remember, that all the institutions of God are intended to help forward our salvation: but, if trifled with, they will fearfully aggravate our condemnation.]
2. How careful should we be to obtain “the answer of a good conscience !”
[In the Apostles' days, as well as in ours, they, who applied for baptism, were interrogated with respect to their faith and practice; nor could the mere ablution of the body profit them, if they had not a correspondent purity of soul. Thus it is with us: we shall in vain receive the rite of baptism, or partake of the Lord's supper, if we cannot declare, as in the
presence of God, that it is our desire and endeavour to be holy as God is holy. Let us then not lay an undue stress upon outward observances of any kind; but rather seek a conformity to the Divine image ; for it will surely be found true at the last, that “the pure in heart shall see God," but that " without holiness no man shall see the Lord.”]
i Rom. vi. 4, 5.
* If the opposition between διεσώθησαν δι' ύδατος and σωζει δι' åvaorácewç be marked, the sense of this difficult passage will be more apparent.
A WORLDLY LIFE TO BE RELINQUISHED.
1 Pet. iv. 3. The time past of our life may suffice us to have
wrought the will of the Gentiles. THE end of all God's dispensations towards his people is to promote their advancement in righteousness and true holiness. The Lord Jesus Christ himself“ was made perfect through sufferings ;” and the afflictions which his people suffer, from whatsoever quarter they arise, are intended “for their profit, to make them partakers of God's holiness.” The Lord's people are “ordained to suffer,” in conformity to their Divine Master: and their great concern should be, not so much to get rid of their trials, as to make a due improvement of them, by “ ceasing from sin,” and living more entirely to God, and for God. To this purpose the Apostle speaks in the verses before my text; and then adds, that the time past might well suffice to have lived after the manner of the Gentile world, whose ways it became them henceforth determinately to renounce,
From the words before us I shall take occasion to
I. In what respects we also have wrought the will of
the GentilesThe unconverted man, whether Jew or Gentile, is cast into the same mould, and, in the main, walks in the same paths. The nominal Christian also has the same views, the same desires, the same pursuits. In some external matters he may differ from the heathen: but in the most essential parts of his conduct he accords with them. He resembles them, 1. In an utter disregard of God
[The heathen, of course, cannot regard God, because they know him not, nor are at all acquainted with his will. The nominal Christian has in some little degree the knowledge of his will; but he regards it no more than if he were utterly unacquainted with it. “He professes to know God; but in works he denies him."
On this subject let me appeal to yourselves. It is, I confess, a heavy charge, to say that you have hitherto “ lived like heathens.” But I would put it to your own consciences, and ask, What regard have you shewn for God's authority ? and, What desire have you manifested to obtain his favour? You have had in your very hands the means of knowing his will: you profess to believe that the Scriptures have been given you by him, on purpose to instruct you in the knowledge of him. Have you been thankful for this revelation of his will? Have you studied it with care, for the express purpose of learning how you might please and serve him acceptably? Have you turned away from every thing which his word forbids? Have you followed after every thing which his word enjoins? Have you embraced the whole of it as an infallible record, believing all that it reveals, and expecting with hope and fear the accomplishment of all his promises and all his threats? Have you, in short, “ trembled at his word,” as it became you to do? I must further ask, Have you humbled yourselves before him for all your past transgressions? Have you fled for refuge to the hope set before you? Have you washed your souls daily in the blood of the Lamb, even in that fountain which was opened for sin and for uncleanness? Have you cried mightily to God for the gift of his Holy Spirit to sanctify you, and to transform you into the Divine image ? Have you surrendered up your souls to God as living sacrifices, and accounted an entire dedication of yourselves to him your reasonable service ? If you have not done this, wherein have you differed from the heathen ; except indeed, that you have sinned against greater light and knowledge than they, and therefore involved yourselves in deeper guilt and heavier condemnation ?] 2. In a determined prosecution of your own will
[The character given of the Gentiles is, that “they lived to the lusts of men, and not to the will of God a.” And what have you done? By what standard have you regulated your conduct? and whose will have you consulted? A decent heathen regulates himself according to the standard which the society in which he lives has established. Whatever they approve, he follows: and whatever would degrade him in their estimation, he avoids. And has it not been thus with you also ? In whatever line of life you move, have you not conformed to the habits of your associates, accounting every thing innocent which they deemed innocent; and satisfied with yourselves, if you only satisfied them ? Amongst the particular habits of the
a ver. 2.