An Exposition on the
By J O H N.B U N Y A N.
First published in 1691, by Charles Doe.
An unfinished commentary on the Bible, found among John
Bunyan's papers after his death, in his own handwriting.
er. 1. "And it came to pass, when men began to multiply on the face of the earth, and daughters were born unto them."
Moses now leaveth the genealogy for a while, and searcheth into the state and condition of the church now after so long a time as its standing upwards of, or above, a thousand years: where he presently findeth two things. 1. The church declined. 2. And God provoked. Wherefore he maketh inquiry into the nature of the church's sin; which he relateth in this following chapter.
"And it came to pass, when men began to multiply." The men here I understand to be the children of Cain, the church and synagogue of Satan, because they are mentioned by way of antithesis to the church and sons of God.
"And daughters were born unto them." A snare that was often used in the hand of the devil, to intangle withal the church of God; yea, and doth so usually speed, that it hath often been counted by him as infallible; so that this is the doctrine of his prophet Balaam, and it prevailed, when all the engines of hell beside were prevented. "The people began to commit whoredom with the daughters of Moab" (Num 25:1,2). It may be this child of hell, in this his advice to Balak looked back to the daughters of Cain, and calling to remembrance how of old they intangled the church, advertised him to put the same into practice again (Rev 2:14).
Ver. 2. "That the sons of God saw the daughters of men, that they were fair; and they took them wives of all which they chose."
This was the way then of the sons of Cain, to let their fair daughters be shewed to the sons of God (Pro 22:14). For it seems all other their wiles and devices were not able to bring the church and the world together, and to make them live as in one communion. These to the church were such, whose hearts were snares and nets, and whose hands were bands to intangle and hold them from observing the laws and judgments of God (Eccl 7:26).
"And they took them wives." First their eye saw them, and then their heart lusted after them. Thus the devil deceived the woman, and by this means perished cursed Achan. "And Achan answered Joshua, and said, Indeed I have sinned against the Lord, and thus and thus have I done: When I saw among the spoils a goodly Babylonish garment," &c., "then I coveted them" (Josh 7:20,21).
Note therefore, that it is not good to behold with the eye that which God hath forbid us to touch with our hand. "I made a covenant with mine eyes," saith Job (Job 30:1). And again, if at unawares a thing was cast before him, the beholding of which was of an intangling nature, he forthwith would hold back his heart as with a bridle, lest the design of hell should be effected upon him (v 7).
Crush sin then in the conception, lest it bring forth death in thy soul.
Ver. 3. "And the Lord 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."
By these words is aggravated the sin of the church, that she would attempt to close with, and hold a sinful communion, against the dissuasions of the Spirit of God.
"My Spirit shall not always strive." To wit, my Spirit in Noah, for he was the only preacher of righteousness to the church in those backsliding times.
By this then, I find, that the doctrine of Noah, was, To declare against a sinful communion, or to command the church, in the name of God, that she still maintain a separation from the cursed children of Cain: As he said to the prophet Jeremiah, If thou separate the precious from the vile, "thou shalt be as my mouth" (15:19).
Noah therefore had a hard task, when he preached this doctrine among them: for this above all is hard to be borne, for by this he condemned the world.
The first great quarrel therefore that God had with his church, it was for their holding unwarrantable communion with others. The church should always "dwell alone, and not be reckoned among the nations" (Num 23:9). The church is "a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people" (1 Peter 2:9). Therefore the work of the church of God, is not to fall in with any sinful fellowship, or receive into their communion the ungodly world, but to shew forth the praises and virtues of him who hath called them out from among such communicants into his marvellous light.
"My Spirit shall not always strive." Hence note, that the people that shall continue to grieve the Spirit of God, and to resist the doctrine of Noah, they are appointed for heavy judgments. "Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues" (Rev 18:4). This because those (finally impenitent) in Noah's time refused to do, therefore the wrath of God overtook them, and swept them off the face of the earth.
"Yet his days shall be an hundred and twenty years." Noah therefore began his preaching about the four hundred and fourscore year of his life, which continuing the space of sixscore more, it reached to the day that the flood came.
In which time doubtless his faith was sufficiently tried, both by the hard censures of the hypocrites of the church, and the open profane of the world, against whom he daily pronounced the judgments of God for maintaining their forbidden communion (Gen 3:15).
"Yet his days shall be an hundred and twenty years." God also would yet have patience with these people, if peradventure they would repent that his hand might not be upon them.
Ver. 4. "There were giants in the earth in those days; and also after that, when the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men, and they bare children to them, the same became mighty men, which were of old, men of renown."
"There were giants in the earth in those days." These words seem to be spoken, to shew us the hazards that Noah ran, while he preached the truth of God: He incurred the displeasure of the giants, which doubtless made all men tremble, and kept the whole world in awe. But Noah must engage the giants, he must not fear the face of a giant. This way God took also with Moses, and with his people of Israel, they must go to possess the land of the giants, a people high and tall as the cedars, a people of whom went that proverb, "Who can stand before the children of Anak?" (Deu 9:2). They must not be afraid of Og the king of Bashan, though his head be as high as the ridge of a house, and his bedstead a bedstead of iron (Deu 3:11).
This should teach us then not to fear the faces of men: no, not the faces of the mighty; not to fear them, I say, in the matters of God, though they should run upon us like a giant.
These giants I suppose were the children of Cain, because mentioned as another sort than those that were the fruit of their forbidden and ungodly communion: For he adds, "And also after that," or besides them, "when the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men, and they bare children to them, the same, [or they also] became mighty men which were of old, men of renown."
Then Noah found giants every where: Giants in the world, and giants in this confused communion. And thus it is at this day; we do not only meet with giants abroad, among the most ungodly and uncircumcised in heart, but even among those that seem to be of the religious, among them we also meet with giants; men mighty to oppose the truth, and very profound to make slaughter: But mark the advice of the Lord, "Fear not their fear, nor be afraid. Sanctify the Lord of hosts himself, [who is stronger than all the giants that are upon the face of the earth] and let him be your fear, and let him be your dread" (Isa 8:12,13).
"And when the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men, and they bare children to them, the same became mighty men"; much like to the giants. The fruit therefore of ungodly communion is monstrous, and of a very strange complexion. They are like unto them that worshipped the Lord, and served their own gods also (2 Kings 17:24,41); or like to those of the church, of whom Nehemiah speaks, that had mixed themselves with the children of Ashdod, Ammon and Moab, whose children were a monstrous brood, that spake half the language of Ashdod, and could not speak the Jews' language (Neh 13:23,24).
By both these sorts of giants was faithful Noah despised, and his work for God condemned. In David's time also Goliath defied Israel,and so did his brethren also (1 Sam 17:10). Giants, the sons of the giant; but David and his servants must engage them, and fight them, though they were giants (1 Chron 20:4-8).
"Mighty men which were of old." Persecution therefore, or the appearance of the giants against the servants of God, is no new business; not a thing of yesterday, but of old, even when Noah did minister for God in the world. "There were giants in the earth in those days," to oppose him.
"Men of renown." Not for faith and holiness, but for some other high achievements, may be, mighty to fight, and to shed man's blood; or to find out arts, and the nature of things; both which did render them famous, and men to be noted in their place. Such kind of men might be Corah, Dathan, and their company also; yet they opposed Moses and Aaron, yea, God, his way and worship, and perished after an unheard of manner (Num 16:1,2). As also did the opposers of righteous Noah, in the day of the flood.
Ver. 5. "And 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." The margin saith, "not only the imagination, but also the purposes and desires."
These words are to be understood, as still respecting the apostacy that we read of in the first and second verses, and are (in my thoughts) to be taken as the effect of their degeneracy. For though it be true, that the best of men, in their most holy and godly behaviour, have wicked and sinful hearts; yet so long as they walk sincerely according to the rules prescribed of God, there is no such character upon them; especially as it stands related to the words that immediately follow; to wit, "that it repented the Lord that he made them."
These evil and wicked purposes then were in special the fruit of their apostacy: for indeed, when men are once fallen from God, they then, as the judgment of God upon them, are given up to all unrighteousness. Again, apostatizing persons are counted abhorrers of God (Zech 11:8). Yet persons in this condition will seek their own justification, turning things upside down, traversing their ways like the dromedaries; bearing us still in hand, that they stand not guilty of sin, but that what they do is allowable, or winked at of God. Besides, they say their hearts are still upright with God, and that they have not forsaken the simplicity of his way, of a wicked and ungodly design, with an hundred more the like pretences; all which are condemned of God, and held by him as abominable and vile (Jer 2:31-37).
And God saw, &c. They covered their shame from men, like the adulterous woman in the Proverbs, and would speak with oily mouths, thereby to cozen the world (Pro 30:20); but God knew their hearts, and had revealed their sin to his servant Noah; he therefore in the Spirit of God, as one alone, cried out against their wickedness.
Hence learn to judge of apostates, not by their words, nor pretences, nor ungodly coverings, whereby they may seek to hide themselves from the stroke of a convincing argument, but judge them by the words of God; for however they think of themselves, or would be accounted of others, God sees their wickedness is great.
"And that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart, was only evil continually." If they think they have not sinned; if they think they promote religion; if they think to find out a medium to make peace between the seed of the woman, and the wicked seed of Cain; all is alike ungodly, they have forsaken the right way, they have dissembled the known truth, they have rejected the word of the Lord: And what wisdom or goodness is in them?
Ver. 6. "And it repented the Lord that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart."
Repentance is in us a change of the mind; but in God, a change of his dispensations; for otherwise he repenteth not, neither can he; because it standeth not with the perfection of his nature: In him "is no variableness, neither shadow of turning" (James 1:17).
Wherefore, it is man, not God, that turns. When men therefore reject the mercy and ways of God, they cast themselves under his wrath and displeasure; which because it is executed according to the nature of his justice, and the severity of his law, they miss of the mercy promised before (Num 23:19). Which that we may know, those shall one day feel that shall continue in final impenitency. Therefore, God speaking to their capacity, he tells them, he hath repented of doing them good. "The Lord repented that he had made Saul king" (1 Sam 15:35). And yet this repentance was only a change of the dispensation, which Saul by his wickedness had put himself under; otherwise the strength, the eternity of Israel, "will not lie nor repent" (v 29).
The sum is therefore, that men had now by their wickedness put themselves under the justice and law of God; which justice by reason of its perfection, could not endure they should abide on the earth any longer; and therefore now, as a just reward of their deed, they must be swept from the face thereof.
"And it grieved him at his heart." This is spoken to show, that he did not feign, but was simple and sincere in his promise of remission and forgiveness of sins, had they kept close to his word, according as he had commanded. Wherefore God's heart went not with them in their backsliding, but left them, and was offended with them.
Ver. 7. "And the Lord said, I will destroy man whom I have created, from the face of the earth, both man, and beast, [or from man to beast,] and the creeping thing, and the fowls of the air; for it repenteth me that I have made them."
This may be either understood as a threatening, or a determination: if as a threatening then it admitted of time for repentance; but if it was spoken as a determination, then they had stood out the day of grace, and had laid themselves under unavoidable judgment. If it respected the first, then it was in order to the ministry of Noah, or in order to the effecting the ends of its sending; which were either to soften or harden, or bring to repentance, or to leave them utterly and altogether inexcusable. But if it respected the second, as it might, then it was pronounced as an effect of God's displeasure, for their abuse of his patience, his minister, and word. As it also was with Israel of old; "They mocked the messengers of God, and despised his words, and misused his prophets, until the wrath of the Lord arose against his people, till there was no remedy" (2 Chron 36:16).
"And the Lord said, I will destroy man whom I have created." This word created, is added, on purpose to show that the world is under the power of his hand; for who can destroy, but he that can create? Or who can save alive, when the maker of the world is set against them? "There is one lawgiver, who is able to save and to destroy" (James 4:12). And again, "Fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell" (Matt 10:28). In both which places power to destroy is insinuated from his power and Godhead: As he saith in another place, "All souls are mine; - the soul that sinneth, it shall die" (Eze 18:4).
"Both man and beast, and the creeping thing, and the fowls," &c. Thus it was at first the sin of a man brought a curse and judgment upon other the creatures whom God had made: As Paul says, "The whole creation groaneth" (Rom 8:22).
But again, This threatening upon the beasts, the fowls, and creeping thing, might arise from a double consideration: First, To show, that when God intends the destruction of man, he will also destroy the means of his preservation (Josh 6:20). Or, secondly, To shew, that when he is determined to execute his judgments, he will cut off all that stands in his way (2 Chron 35:21). He could not destroy the earth without a flood, and preserve the beast, &c., alive; therefore he destroys them also.
"For it repenteth me that I have made them." This seems to fall under the first consideration, to wit, That God repented that he made the beasts and fowls; because now they were used to sustain his implacable enemies.
Ver. 8. "But Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD."
This word GRACE, must in special be observed; for grace is it which delivereth from all deserved judgments and destruction.
Noah, by nature was no better than other men: therefore the reason why he perished not with others, it was because he "found grace in the eyes of the Lord." Ye are saved by grace (Eph 2:8). And thus was Noah, as is evident, because he was saved by faith (Heb 11:7). For faith respecteth not works, but grace: Ye are saved by grace through faith. As Paul says again, "Therefore it is of faith that it might be by grace," &c. (Rom 4:16). We must therefore, in our deliverance from all the judgments of God, sing grace, grace, unto it.
Ver. 9. "These are the generations of Noah: Noah was a just man, and perfect in his generations; and Noah walked with God."
The Holy Ghost here makes a short digression from his progress, in his relation of the wickedness of the world; and yet not impertinently; for seeing Noah was the man that escaped the judgment, his escape must be for some reason; which was, because God was gracious to him, and because God had justified him. Besides Noah being now made righteous, faithfully walketh with God.
"He was just and perfect in his generations." But why it is said, Generations? It might be, because he was faithful to God and man, having the armour of righteousness on the right hand, and on the left. It is said in Isaiah, That Christ "made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death" (53:9). To import, That they only have benefit by him to eternal life, that die by his example, as well as live by his blood; for in his death was both merit and example; and they are like to miss in the first, that are not concerned in the second (Phil 8:16).
"Perfect in his generations." In his carriage, doctrines and life, before both God and man. And thus ought every preacher to be; he ought to do in the sight of God, what he commands to men; by this means he saveth both himself, and them that hear him (1 Tim 4:16).
Besides, Noah was a man, as well as a saint, and in either sense had a generation: to both of which grace made him faithful; and he that shall not serve his generation as a man, will hardly serve his generation as a Christian. But Noah was perfect in both, he was "perfect in his generations."
"And Noah walked with God." This shews he was sincere in his work; for a hypocrite may, as to outward shew, do as the saint of God: but he doth it with respect to men, not God, and therefore he is a hypocrite. To walk with God then, is not only to do the duty commanded, but to do it as God requireth it; that is, to do it with faith, and son-like fear, as in God's sight, "with singleness of heart."
Ver. 10. "And Noah begat three sons, Shem, Ham, and Japheth."
These are the offspring of Noah, and by these was the earth replenished after the flood, as will be further seen hereafter.
Ver. 11. "The earth also was corrupt before God, and the earth was filled with violence."
He has now returned to the matter in hand before; to wit, the causes of the flood.
"The earth also was corrupt." By earth, he may here mean, those that are without the church: and if so, then by corrupt here, we must understand, wicked after a most high manner; for albeit the world and generation of Cain be always sinners before God, yet the Lord cutteth not off the world in general, nor a nation in particular, but because of the commission of eminent outrage and wickedness. Thus it was with those of Sodom, a little before the Lord with fire devoured them. "The men of Sodom [saith the text] were wicked, and sinners before the Lord exceedingly" (Gen 13:13).
Again: As by corrupt, we may understand, corrupt by way of eminency; so again, they were corrupt incurably. This is evident, because they were not brought off from sin by the ministry of Noah, the only appointed means of their conversion.
Hence note, That when men are sinners exceedingly, and when the means of grace appointed of God for their recovery, prove ineffectual, then they are near some signal judgment (2 Chron 36). Thus back-sliding Jerusalem, because she was wicked with an high hand (Eze 24:13,14), and could not be cured by the ministry of the prophets, therefore her sons must go forth of her into captivity, and the city burned to the ground with fire (Jer 15:1-3).
"And the earth was filled with violence." First, they had violated the law of God, in making and maintaining ungodly and wicked communion; according to that of the prophet, "Her priests have violated my law, and have profaned mine holy things." But how? "They have put no difference between the holy and profane, neither have they shewed difference between the unclean and the clean" (Eze 22:26).
They also perverted judgment between a man and his neighbour: adhering to their own party, in disaffection to the religious. This is supposed, because of the exceeding latitude of the expression, "The earth was filled with violence"; that is, all manner of violence, outrage and cruelty was committed by this sort of people. This takes in that saying of Solomon, the oppression of the poor, especially God's poor, is included, in a "violent perverting of judgment and justice" (Eccl 5:8).
They also shewed violence to the lives of good men, as may be gathered by the act of Lamech, one of the sons of Cain. In a word, "The earth was filled with violence"; violence of every kind; lust and wickedness was outrageous, there was a world of ungodliness among these ungodly men.
Ver. 12. "And God looked upon the earth, and, behold, it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted his way upon the earth."
By these words therefore is confirmed the sense of the former verse, "The earth was corrupt"; for God saw it was so: "The earth was full of violence," for they had corrupted God's way.
"And God looked upon the earth." This shews us, That the Lord doth not with haste, or in a rash inconsiderate way, pour his judgments upon the world; but that with judgment and knowledge, the wickedness first being certain, and of merit deserving the same. This is seen in his way of dealing with Sodom. "And the Lord said, Because the cry of Sodom and Gomorrah is great, and because their sin is very grievous, I will go down now, and see whether they have done altogether according to the cry of it, which is come unto me; and if not, I will know" (Gen 18:21).
"And, behold, it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted his way upon the earth." It proved, as that of Sodom did, according to the cry thereof; for "all flesh had corrupted his way." God's WAY, by violating his law, and perverting of judgment, as was hinted before. All flesh had corrupted it, therefore the evil needed not to be long in searching out: As God saith by the prophet Jeremiah, "I have not found it by diligent search, but upon all these" (2:34). Here upon the whole earth, none exempted but righteous Noah.
Ver. 13. "And God said unto Noah, 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."
"And God said unto Noah," or told Noah his purpose: The same way he went with Abraham: "Shall I hide from Abraham that thing which I do?" (Gen 18:17). "Surely the Lord will do nothing, but he revealeth his secrets unto his servants the prophets" (Amos 3:7).
"The end of all flesh is come." The time or expiration of the world is at hand. God speaks before he smites. Thus he did also by the prophet Ezekiel, saying, "An end" is come, "the end is come": And again, "An end is come, the end is come: it watcheth for thee; behold, it is come" (7:1-6).
"The end of all flesh is come before me." Sin and wickedness doth not put an end to the ungodly before their own face, yet it brings their end before the face of God. It is said of these very people, "they knew not" of their destruction, "until" the day "the flood came, and took them all away" (Matt 24:37-39). Indeed, the nature of sin is to blind the mind, that the person concerned may neither see mercy nor judgment; but God sees their end: "The end of all flesh is come before me."
"The end of all flesh." By these words, the souls are left to, and reserved for another judgment: Wherefore, though here we find the flesh consumed; yet Peter saith, their spirits are still in prison, even the souls that Christ once preached to in the days, and by the ministry of Noah: Even the souls "which sometime were disobedient when once the long-suffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing," &c. (1 Peter 3:19,20).
Ver. 14. "Make thee an ark of gopher wood; rooms shalt thou make in the ark, and shalt pitch it within and without with pitch."
This is the fruits of the grace of God: He said before, That Noah "found grace in the eyes of the Lord": Which grace appoints to him the means of his preservation.
"Make THEE an ark." He saith not, Make one; or, Make one for me: But, Make one; make one for thee: "Make THEE an ark of gopher wood."
Noah therefore, from this word THEE, did gather, That God did intend to preserve him from the judgment which he had appointed in this his work: Therein lay his own profit and comfort; not a thought which he had, not a blow that he struck, about the preparing the ark, but he preached, as to others their ruin, to himself, his safeguard and deliverance: He "prepared an ark, to the saving of his house" (Heb 11:7).
This therefore must needs administer much peace and content to his mind, while he preached to others their overthrow. As the prophet saith, "The work of righteousness shall be peace; and the effect of righteousness quietness and assurance for ever. And my people shall dwell in a peaceable habitation" (Isa 32:17,18). Thus did Noah when he dwelt in the ark, and in sure dwellings, and in quiet resting-places.
"Make thee an ark." The ark was a figure of several things. 1. Of Christ, in whom the church is preserved from the wrath of God. 2. It was a figure of the works of the faith of the godly: "By faith he prepared an ark"; by which the followers of Christ are preserved from the rage and tyranny of the world (for the rage of the water was a type of that, as I shall shew you hereafter). So then Noah, by preparing an ark, or by being bid so to do of God, was thereby admonished, First, To live by the faith of Christ, of whom the ark was a type: and hence it is said, that in preparing the ark, he "became heir of the righteousness which is by faith"; because he understood the mind of God therein, and throughout his figure acted faith upon Christ. But, Secondly, His faith was not to be idle, and therefore he was bid to work. This begat in him an obediential fear of doing ought which God had forbidden: "By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark, to the saving of his house; by the which he condemned the world, and became heir of the righteousness which is by faith" (Heb 11:7).
"Rooms [nests] shalt thou make in the ark." To wit, for himself, and the beasts, and birds of the field, &c. Implying, that in the Lord Jesus there is room for Jews and Gentiles. Yea, forasmuch as these rooms were prepared for beasts of every sort, and for fowls of every wing: it informs us, that for all sorts, ranks and qualities of men, there is preservation in Jesus Christ: "Compel them to come in"; drive them (in a gospel sense as Noah did the beasts of old into the ark), that my house may be full, "and yet there is room"  (Luke 14:22,23).
"And thou shalt pitch it within and without with pitch." This was to secure all from the flood, or to keep them that were in the ark from perishing in the waters.
Ver. 15. "And this is the fashion which thou shalt make it of: the length of the ark shall be three hundred cubits, the breadth of it fifty cubits, and the height of it thirty cubits."
A vessel fit to swim upon the waters.
"And this is the fashion," &c. God's ordinances must be according to God's order and appointment, not according to our fancies, "This is the fashion," to wit, according to what is after expressed.
By these words therefore Noah was limited and bound up, as to a direction from which he must not vary; according to that of the angel to the prophet, "Son of man [saith he] behold with thine eyes, and hear with thine ears, and set thine heart upon all that I shall shew thee: for to the intent that I might shew them unto thee, art thou brought hither" (Eze 40:4). As the Lord said also to his servant Moses, "In all things that I have said unto you, be circumspect" (Exo 23:13). And so again, about making the tabernacle in the wilderness, which the apostle also takes special notice of, saying, "See, saith he, that thou make all things according to the pattern shewed to thee in the mount" (Heb 8:5).
Hence note, That God's command must be the rule whereby we order all our actions, especially when we pretend to worship that is divine and religious. If our works, orders, and observances, have not this inscription upon them, "This is the fashion," or "This is according to the pattern," such works and orders will profit us nothing: neither have we any promise when all is done, it wanting the order of God, that we should escape those judgments which those shall assuredly escape, that have their eye in their work to the "pattern" revealed in the word.
Ver. 16. "A window shalt thou make to the ark, and in a cubit shalt thou finish it above; and the door of the ark shalt thou set in the side thereof: with lower, second, and third stories shalt thou make it."
I told you before, That the ark was a type of Christ, and also of the works of the faith of the godly. And now he seems to bring in more, and to make it a type of the church of Christ: as indeed the prophet also does, when he calls the church, one afflicted, and tossed with tempests; and compareth her troublers to the waters of Noah, saying, "This is as the waters of Noah" (Isa 54:9).
Now as the ark was a type of the church, so according to the description of this verse she hath three most excellent things attending her. 1. Light. 2. A door. 3. Stories of a lower and higher rank.
1. She hath a window for light, and that when she was to be tossed upon the waters. Hence note, That the church of Christ wanteth not light, no, not in the worst of times. This light is the Word and Spirit of God which Christ hath given to them that obey him (John 17).
2. She hath a door. This door was a type of Christ; so was also the door of the tabernacle. And hence it is that you read, That Moses, when he went to talk with God, would stand to talk in the door of the tabernacle; also that the cloudy pillar stood at the door (Exo 33:9,10). "I [saith Christ] am the door": Again, "I am the door of the sheep" (John 10). By this door then, entered all that went into the ark, as by Christ all must enter that enter aright into the church.
3. She had stories in her, of first, second, and third degree: To shew that also in the church of Christ there are some higher than some, both as to persons and states: 1. apostles; 2. evangelists; 3. pastors and teachers. And again, there are in the church degrees of states, as also there are in heaven.
Ver. 17. "And, behold, I, even I, 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."
This is the reason of the former commandment, of making an ark: But some time was yet to intervene: the flood was hereafter to overflow the world: wherefore, from this it is that those words are inserted, of things not seen as yet: And that the ark was a work, or the fruit of Noah's faith: "by faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet," &c. (Heb 11).
"And, behold, I, even I," &c. These words excuse Noah of treason or rebellion, forasmuch as his preparation for himself, and his warning and threatening the whole world with death and judgment for their transgression, was solely grounded upon the word of God: God bid him prepare, God said he would punish the world for their iniquity.
Hence note, That a man is not to be counted an offender, how contrary soever he lieth, either in doctrine or practice, to men, &c. if both have the command of God, and are surely grounded upon the words of his mouth. This made Jeremiah, though he preached, That the city of Jerusalem should be burnt with fire, the king and people should go into captivity; yet stand upon his own vindication before his enemies, and plead his innocency against them that persecuted him (Jer 26:10-15). Daniel also, though he did openly break the king's decree, and refused to stoop to his idolatrous and devilish demand; yet purged himself of both treason and sedition, and justifies his act as innocent and harmless, even in the sight of God. "My God [saith he] hath sent his angel, and hath shut the lions' mouths, that they have not hurt me: forasmuch as before him innocency was found in me; and also before thee, O king, have I done no hurt" (Dan 6:22).
Further, Paul also, although by his doctrine he did cry down the ceremonies of the Jews, and the idolatry of the heathen emperor, yet he quits himself of blame from either side: "Neither against the law of the Jews, [saith he], neither against the temple, nor yet against Caesar, have I offended anything at all" (Acts 25:8). The reason is, because the words of God, how severely soever they threaten sinners, and how sharply soever (the preacher keeping within the bowels of the word) this doctrine be urged on the world, if it destroy, it destroyeth but sin and impenitent sinners, even as the waters of Noah must do.
This then affords us another note worth remarking, to wit, That what God hath said in his word, how offensive soever it be to ungodly men, THAT we that are Christians ought to observe: whether it direct us to declare against others' enormities, or to provide for ourselves against the judgment to come.
"And, behold, I, even I, do bring a flood," &c. Hence note again, Let us preach and practise well, and let God alone the execute his judgments. It is said of Samuel, That not one of his words did fall to the ground (1 Sam 3:19). He preached, and God, according to his blessing or cursing, did either spare and forgive, or execute his judgments.
"And, behold, I, even I." Note again, That when sinners have with the utmost contempt slighted and despised the judgment threatened, yet forasmuch as the execution thereof is in the hand of an omnipotent majesty, it must fall with violence upon the head of the wicked. "I, even I," therefore, were words of a strong encouragement to Noah, and the godly with him; but black, and like claps of thunder to the pestilent unbelieving world: as the prophet says, "He is strong that executes his word": And again, "Not one of his judgments fail."
"And, behold, I, even I, do bring a flood." The flood was a type of three things.
1. A type of the enemies of the church (Isa 54:9-14).
2. A type of the water baptism under the new testament (1 Peter 3:20,21).
3. A type of the last and general overthrow of the world by fire and brimstone (2 Peter 3:6,7).
But here, as it simply respecteth the cause, which (as is afore related) was the sin that before you read of; so it precisely was a type of the last of these, and to that end put an end to the world that then was. The world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished, to signify, That the heavens and the earth which are now, are reserved unto fire, against the day of judgment, and perdition of ungodly men.
"I 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." By these latter words, as the cause, so the extension of this curse is expressed; and that under a threefold denotation.
1. Every thing that is in the earth.
2. All flesh wherein is the breath of life.
3. Every thing that is under heaven. So then, this deluge was universal, and extended itself not only to those parts of the world where Noah and that generation lived, which we find repeated before, but even over the face of all the earth; and it took hold of the life of every living thing that was either on all the earth, or in
the air, excepting only those in the ark, as will the general judgment do: "And Noah only remained alive, and they that were with him in the ark" (Gen 7:23).
Ver. 18. "But with thee will I establish my covenant; and thou shalt come into the ark, thou, and thy sons, and thy wife, and thy sons' wives with thee."
"But with thee," &c. This concerns what was said before concerning the universality of the flood: As he also said above, "But Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD." This Peter also notes, He "saved Noah the eighth person, a preacher of righteousness, bringing in the flood upon the world of the ungodly" (1 Peter 2:5).
"With thee will I establish my covenant." My covenant of mercy, or my promise to save thee when I drown the whole world for their iniquity: And therefore he adds, "And thou shalt come into the ark."
"I will establish." Making and establishing of promises are not always the same: He made his promise to Abraham, he seconded it with an oath unto Isaac, and he confirmed, or established it to Jacob; for by him he multiplied the seed of Abraham as the stars of heaven for multitude (Psa 105:8-10).
"With thee will I establish." Or, unto thee will I perform my promise, "Thou shalt come into the ark."
Hence note again, That we ought to look upon signal and great deliverances from sore and imminent dangers, to be confirmations of the promise or covenant of God. Or thus, When God finds means of deliverance, and instateth our souls in a special share of that means, this we should take as a sign, That with us God hath confirmed, or established, his covenant (Luke 1:68-78).
"Thou, and thy sons, and thy wife, and thy sons' wives with thee." Because in that family did now reside the whole of the visibility of the church upon the earth; all the rest were lost, as Peter also intimates, when he calleth Noah the eighth person, or one, and the chief of the eight that made up the visible church, or that maintained the purity of the worship of God upon the face of the whole earth: As he explains it a little after: "For thee have I seen righteous before me in this generation" (7:1).
Ver. 19. "And of every living thing of all flesh, two of every sort shalt thou bring into the ark, to keep them alive with thee; they shall be male and female."
By these words, Noah should seem to be, in this action, a figure or semblance of Christ; who before the Lord shall rain fire and brimstone from heaven, shall gather into his ark, the church, of all kindreds, and tongues, and people, and nations (Luke 13:29; 14:21). Even as Noah was to gather of all, of everything, of all flesh, of every sort, with him into the ark.
"Two of every sort." This two, in special, respecteth the unclean (7:2), which were a type of the Gentiles, and so further confirms the point.
They shall be male and female. He would not make a full end, he would in judgment remember mercy (Acts 10:11,12,17,28).
Ver. 20. "Of fowls after their kind, and of cattle after their kind, of every creeping thing of the earth after his kind: two of every sort shall come unto thee, to keep them alive."
"Of fowls after their kind, and of cattle after their kind." This, still respecting the antitype, may shew us also, how that God, for proof of the prophecy of the spreading of the gospel, doth not only tell us, that the Gentiles were gathered into his ark, but as here the beasts and birds, according to their kind, are specified: so the Gentiles are also denominated according to their several countries, Galatians, Corinthians, Ephesians, Colossians, Thessalonians, Bereans, &c., these, after their country and nation, were gathered unto Jesus to be preserved from the flood of wrath that at last shall fall from God who dwells in heaven, to the burning up of the sinner and ungodly.
"Two of every sort shall come unto thee, to keep them alive." If the emphasis lieth in Come, as I am apt to think, and as the eighth verse of the next chapter fairly allows me to judge; then we must observe still, That Noah was not only first in the ark, as our Lord and Christ is the first from the dead; but that the cattle, the fowls, and the creeping things, did come to him into the ark, by a special instinct from heaven of the fruits of a divine election. Noah therefore, as a man, did not make choice which of every kind; but he went first into the ark, and then of clean beasts by sevens, and of unclean beasts by twos, went in unto Noah into the ark, as the Lord commanded Noah.
And thus it is in the antitype: "Unto thee shall all flesh come," saith the prophet (Psa 65:2). And again, "To him shall the gathering of the people be" (Gen 49:10). But how? Why, by an instinct from heaven, the fruit of a divine election: "All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; but no man can come to me [saith Christ] except the Father which hath sent me draw him" (John 6:37,44). The beasts therefore which came into the ark, were neither chosen by men, neither came they in by any instinct of nature which was common to them all, but as being by a divine hand singled out and guided thither, so they entered in: the rest were left to the fury of the flood. Like to this also is the antitype, sinners come not to Jesus by any work or choice of flesh and blood, nor yet by any instinct of nature that is common to all the world; but they come, as being by a divine hand singled out from others; and as guided of the Father, so they come to Christ into the ark: The rest are left to the fury of the wrath of God, which, in the day of judgment, shall swallow them up for ever.
"They shall come unto thee to keep them alive." Indeed, they lived not for their own sakes, they being not better than them that perished; but "they shall come unto thee to save them": for, for the sake of Noah they were preserved, when many millions were drowned in the waters. Bring this also to the antitype, and you find them look like one another: for the reason why some are saved from the wrath to come, it is not for that they are better in themselves, for both Jews and Gentiles are all under sin: But it is Christ that saveth by his righteousness, as Noah saved the beasts and fowls, &c. Let us therefore, as the beasts did , go to Jesus Christ, that he may keep us alive from perishing in the day of judgment.
Ver. 21. "And take thou unto thee of all food that is eaten, and thou shalt gather it to thee, and it shall be for food for thee, and for them."
This therefore was for the preservation of the life of those that were in the ark; by which action there is, as in the former, inclosed a gospel-mystery.
"Take thou unto thee of all food." This food was not to be at the will and dispose of unruly beasts; but Noah was, as the lord of all that was in the ark, to take it into his own custody: and therefore he doubleth the command, "Take it unto thee"; Gather it unto thee; to wit, to dispose of after thy discretion and faithfulness. In this therefore he was a type of Christ, whom God hath set as Lord and King in the church, and "to feed his flock as a shepherd"; for the "bread of God" is in the hand of Christ, for him to communicate unto his spouses, saints, and children; as Joseph did to Egypt, according to the power committed to him, and trust reposed in him. And hence it is said, as concerning the bread that endureth to everlasting life, "the Son of man shall give it you; for Him hath God the Father sealed," or appointed thereunto (John 6:27): and therefore, that he giveth, we receive, and no more of the bread of God: That thou givest them, they gather: thou openest thine hand, they are filled with good (Psa 104:28).
"Take unto thee all food." That is, to be eaten by man and beast; the fowl also, and the creeping thing. This still followed, and brought in to the gospel, it shews us, that, even then, when the church is driven up into a hole, and tossed upon the waves of the rage and fury of the world, as the ark was upon the face of the waters, that even then her Noah hath all food for her, or food of all sorts for her support and refreshment: "Bread shall be given him; his waters shall be sure" (Isa 33:16).
"Take unto thee." How blessedly was this answered, when the Lion of the tribe of Judah took the book out of the hand of him that sat upon the throne (Rev 5:7); for in the book is contained the words of everlasting life; and the words of God are the food of his church, which this Noah hath received to nourish them withal: Man "liveth not by bread only," but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of the Lord, doth man live (Matt 4:4; Deu 8:3).
"And it shall be for food for thee, and for them." That is, each according to their kind. The same is true also under our present consideration; Christ is the shepherd, we are the sheep, yet He feedeth with us in the ark: "I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me" (Rev 3:20). Again, here Christ transcends this action of Noah; for he was to have his food of his own, but Christ feedeth on the same with us, even on the words of God: Yet herein again we differ; he feedeth as a Lord, we as servants; he as a Saviour, we as the saved; but in general, respecting the words of God, we feed all but of one dish, but at one table; the bread therefore that he hath provided, gathered and taken to him, it was food for him, as well as for us.
Ver. 22. "Thus did Noah; according to all that God commanded him, so did he."
These words therefore present us with a description of the sincerity and simplicity of the faith of Noah; who received the word at the mouth of God; not to hear only, but to do and live in the same.
"Thus did Noah." As it is also said of his servant Moses, "As the Lord commanded Moses, so did he": As the Lord commanded Moses, so did he, Yea, to shew us how pleasant a thing the Holy Ghost accounteth this holy obedience of faith, he is not weary with repeating, and repeating again not less than eight times in one chapter, the punctuality of Moses's conformity with the word of God, in this manner, "Thus did Moses"; "according to all that the Lord commanded Moses, so did he" (Exo
"Thus did Noah," This note therefore is, as it were, a character or mark by which the Lord's people are known from the world: They have special regard to the word. "All his saints are in thy hand: they sat down at thy feet; every one shall receive of thy words" (Deu 33:3). As Christ said, "I have given them thy words and they have received them" (John 17:5,6): Yea, "and they have kept thy word."
"Thus did Noah." Let this then be the discriminating character of the saints from the men of this world. It was so in the days of Noah, when all the world went a whoring from their God, and said, "We desire not the knowledge of thy ways" (Job 21:14). Then Noah kept the words of God. "Thus did Noah; according to all that God commanded him, so did he."