Hebrews 11:7

By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, etc. Very exalted was the character of Noah as briefly described in Genesis 6:8, 9. And his purity and piety are the more conspicuous and commendable by reason of the terrible corruption and violence which were universal in his age (Genesis 6:5-7, 11-13). Our text leads us to look at the faith of Noah in three aspects.

I. IN ITS BASIS. Noah was "warned of God of things not seen as yet." His faith rested upon a Divine communication (Genesis 6:13-21).

1. This basis was exclusive. Noah had nothing else upon which to ground his faith - nothing which could serve as an auxiliary support to it. On the other hand, matters were not lacking which were calculated sorely to test his confidence; e.g.:

(1) The entire absence of any precedent of an event corresponding to that which had been announced to him. The world had existed long, but no such devastating flood had ever occurred.

(2) The uniformity of the courses and operations of nature. It surely would not have been strange if he had reasoned thus with himself -

"Not but by a miracle
Can this thing be.
The fashion of the world
We heretofore have never known to change;
And will God change it now?"

(3) His own soul might have suggested serious doubts. Would God destroy all his human creatures - the creatures whom he had created in his own likeness? True, the race had become terribly depraved, men were great sinners; but could he not save them? Would he destroy the innocent child as well as the hardened rebel? And would he wreck the beautiful and fertile earth which he had made and embellished? Or the question may have arisen - Why should he and his family alone be spared in the universal destruction? He was conscious of imperfections and sins, his family too were sinners; then why should the Almighty bestow his mercy upon them, and upon them only? To meet doubts and questionings of this or any other kind, Noah had simply the word of God which had been made known unto him, and his faith rested upon that word.

2. This basis was sufficient for Noah. He founded his faith upon the communication which he had received from God, as upon a rock; and his faith remained firm and steadfast throughout its protracted and severe trials. God had spoken to him, and that was enough for him.

II. IN ITS EXPRESSION. Noah, "moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house." He manifested his belief in the Divine communication by his obedience to the directions therein conveyed (Genesis 6:14-16). His faith was expressed in an appropriate and very remarkable course of action. That we may the more fully realize the strength of his conviction, let us notice that the work in which it found expression was:

1. A work of great magnitude. The dimensions of the ark are stated in Genesis 6:15. If we take the cubit to be twenty-one inches, "the ark would be five hundred and twenty-five feet in length, eighty-seven feet six inches in breadth, and fifty-two feet six inches in height. This is very considerably larger than the largest British man-of-war. The Great Eastern, however, is both longer and deeper than the ark, being six hundred and eighty feet in length (six hundred and ninety-one on deck), eighty-three in breadth, and fifty-eight in depth."

2. A work of long duration. From Genesis 6:3, some have concluded that one hundred and twenty years intervened between the commencement of the ark and the coming of the Deluge. But the interpretation of that verse on which this conclusion is based is doubtful. Yet the work of preparing the materials for and constructing the ark must have been a very long one - a work of many years. And through all those years he was nerved and sustained by faith, and faith alone.

3. A work involving very great expenditure. The building of such an ark in any age and in any circumstances would have been utterly impossible apart from great expense of time and toil and wealth. But to these demands also the faith of Noah was equal.

4. A work prosecuted despite of derision. There were probably men of science and philosophy who pronounced the predicted deluge an impossibility, and pitied the prophet as a deluded fanatic. And there were men of a lower type who would greet him with scoffs and jeers, and make him the butt of their scornful laughter and contemptuous sarcasm. Yet the faith of the man of God failed not. The great work was steadily prosecuted, and in due time was fully accomplished.

III. IN ITS RESULT. "By which he condemned the world, and became heir of the righteousness which is by faith."

1. The condemnation of the unbelieving world. "His holy fear condemned their security and vain confidence; his faith condemned their unbelief; his obedience condemned their contempt and rebellion. Good examples will either convert sinners or condemn them."

2. The acquisition of a character eminent for righteousness. "Became heir of the righteousness which is according to faith." "Noah was a just man and upright" before he was commanded to build the ark; but in that work his faith was splendidly exemplified and his righteousness greatly increased. His righteousness was great as his faith. It is important to observe that the faith of Noah which was manifested in such an extraordinary and exemplary manner, and by reason of which and in the measure of which he was regarded as righteous, was not fixed upon the coming Messiah as its special object, but upon the communication which he had received from God concerning the Flood. He fully accepted the Divine testimony and nobly acted upon it, and as a consequence God accepted him as righteous. "Even as Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned unto him for righteousness." And he who believes in God now will accept his Son whom he hath sent. "This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent."

3. The salvation of himself and his family. While all other human beings were destroyed by the flood, he and his wife, his three sons and their wives, were saved in the ark which he had built. Many are the lessons which our subject suggests. We mention a few of them.

1. That there is justice as well as mercy, severity as well as kindness, in God.

2. That it is foolish, and it may be ruinous, to refuse to believe a thing because it seems to us improbable, or is to us incomprehensible.

3. The sacred Scriptures announce the coming of events of stupendous importance and solemnity - the destruction of the world, the judgment of mankind, etc. Let us believe the announcement.

4. A secure Refuge is provided for man in view of these coming trials, and it is adequate for all, open to all, and free for all - even Jesus Christ. Let us enter in by faith, and eternal security and blessedness will be ours. - W.J.









IX. THAT ALL THESE THINGS TEND TO THE COMMENDATION OF THE FAITH OF NOAH. Neither the difficulty nor length of the work itself, nor his want of success in preaching, nor the scorn which was cast upon him by the whole world, did discourage him in the least from going on with the work whereunto he was divinely called. A great example it was to all that may be called to bear testimony for God in times of difficulty.


1. When their sins are coming to the height, He gives them a peculiar space for repentance, with sufficient evidence that it is a season granted for that end.

2. Dining this space, the long-suffering of God waits for their conversion, and He makes it known that it doth so.

3. He allows them the outward means of conversion,, as He did to the old world in the preaching of Noah.

4. He warns them in particular of the judgments that are approaching them, which they cannot escape, as He did by the building of the ark. And such are the dealings of God with impenitent sinners in some measure in all ages. They, on the other side, in such a season —(1) Continue disobedient under the most effectual means of conversion.(2) They are secure as unto any fear or expectation of judgments, and shall be so until they are overwhelmed in them (Revelation 18:7, 8).(3) There are always amongst them scoffers, that deride all that are moved with fear at the threatenings of God, and behave themselves accordingly, which is an exact portraiture of the present condition of the world.




(John Owen, D. D.)

When we look around us on the world, there seems to be in it a great deal of disorder; and yet it is all under the direction of Him who does everything with the most perfect wisdom. Study, for instance, the science of botany, and you will perceive how correctly He has classified the boundless variety of plants and flowers and trees that spring out of the earth. Read over the pages of natural history, and you will observe the same order existing amongst the equally astonishing diversity of birds and beasts and creeping things. And as it is in the natural so it is also in the moral world. To a mere superficial observer there seems to be a great deal of confusion — a promiscuous mingling of truth and error, of virtue and vice, of pious and wicked people; and yet they are all classified by God. "The Lord knoweth them that are His," and the Lord knoweth them that are not His; for "His eyes go to and fro in the earth, beholding the evil and the good"; and all the attributes and perfections of His nature have been employed from generation to generation, in rewarding the righteous and in punishing the wicked. Perhaps one of the most extraordinary judgments of this kind which ever was inflicted upon the earth, was that universal deluge by which it was once visited.

I. THE ANNOUNCEMENT THAT WAS MADE OF THIS THREATENED CALAMITY. "Noah" was "warned of God"; whether by a dream or by a vision, or by an audible voice, is not stated. He was " warned of God of things not seen as yet" — quite different from anything which had previously transpired in the world. Prior to his receiving this intimation, rain had descended in genial showers, fructifying the earth and causing it to bring forth and bud, and give seed to the sower and bread to the eater; and every stream and every rill and every river had flowed back again to the great ocean from whence they had proceeded, and yet it kept within the limits assigned it, when God said, "Hitherto shall thou go, but no farther." But, at length, this regularity was to suffer interruption. The cause was this: .... The sons of God had intermarried with the daughters of men" — the professors of the true religion had united themselves with those who made no pretension to religion; the consequence was a speedy and universal degeneracy of morals — and hence God determined that He would sweep them away with the rod of extermination. What is this intended to typify to us? There seems to be something of a similarity between our circumstances and those in which Noah was placed. We also have been " warned of God of things not seen as yet." Since we have known the world, it has continued much the same as it was at the beginning of our existence. That sun has regularly risen in the morning and set in the evening, and risen in the eastern and set in the western sky; these heavens have continued to present much the same serene or cloudy aspect, according to the state of the weather; and every hill and mountain and valley present the same appearance to-day as when we first saw them. It is true that other things have been more fragile; that tree has been withered and stripped of its luxuriant foliage; death, too, has made a vast change in our family circles, and amongst our friends and acquaintances. This, however, is only as it has been always. No interruption has been given by all this to the general course of the world; that still goes on as if nothing of the kind had occurred. But a period is coming when you will see, in those heavens and upon this earth, an entirely different spectacle — when you will see these mountains and hills and valleys becoming victims of fire. Now, when Noah was "warned of God of things not seen as yet," he believed; he gave credence to it immediately; and so ought we, when we look for these still more solemn events which are shortly to come to pass. And yet, alas! how many are there over whom these truths have no practical influence whatever? If an astronomer tells them, as the result of his calculations, that a comet will appear, they mount their observatories, and get ready their telescopic instruments, and they anxiously wait for the extraordinary luminary; and yet, when we tell them of " signs in heaven and signs on earth," the sign of the Son of Man coming to judge the world in righteousness, they regard it as "a cunningly-devised fable." Noah's faith influenced his passions — he was " moved with fear," his mind was solemnly impressed with awe while contemplating the approaching judgments of the Almighty. And yet there are many in our days who are neither moved by fear nor charmed by love. Noah's faith influenced his actions; he " prepared an ark," God having given him directions how it was to be made. Now, this would require considerable expense and considerable labour; and it would expose him to the ridicule of his surrounding neighbours; but he commenced, and he carried on until it was completed. We are not required, it is true, to build an ark; but we are required to repair to one — to "fly for refuge, and lay hold on the hope set before us." And in order to this, we must cherish a lively apprehension of our danger. We observe, further, that Noah, by his conduct, "condemned the world." How did he do this? He was a preacher of righteousness; and he gave them line upon line, precept upon precept, and expostulation upon expostulation. He condemned them, too, by preparing the ark; for every time they saw it rise from one stage to another, and every time they heard the sound of his implements they were warned. Precisely in the same way is the world condemned now. Thank God! there are preachers of righteousness still; and there is no blessing which you ought more highly to appreciate. And then there are righteous people still; and whenever you come into contact with a believer in Jesus Christ, you hear a warning addressed to you; and if you continue in a state of impenitence, this will be one ground of your condemnation — that you saw people living in the same world, living in the same neighbourhood, living to God and getting ready for heaven, when you were walking on in your trespasses. Oh, there is something irresistibly convincing in an holy life!

II. THE BLESSEDNESS WHICH RESULTED FROM NOAH'S BELIEVING GOD. Upwards of a century — nearly a hundred and twenty years — had elapsed, and no interruption whatever had been given to their sensual delights, and they ate and they drank, and they married wives and they were given in marriage. But though the deluge came slowly, it came surely; AND at length the hour arrived when God said to Noah, "Come, thou and all thy house, into the ark; and the Lord shut him in" — He who openeth and no man shutteth, and shutteth and no man openeth. And then the ancient landmarks of the sea were taken away, and then the windows of heaven were opened and the rain came down, not in gentle and genial showers, but in appalling torrents. Oh, what a scene was this! Parents weeping for their children, and children weeping for their parents; husbands lamenting for their wives, and wives lamenting for their husbands; and the sound of music, and the voice of social converse, and all the delights of companionship subsiding in a moment into the dismal howlings of death! And still the waters continue to prevail, until the summits of the everlasting hills were overtopped; but the ark arose majestically above. Still the beautiful vessel floated on the surface of the great deep, till at length it had landed all its inhabitants in safety upon Mount Ararat. And thus you see, by believing God, Noah and his house were preserved safe from the deluge, and he became heir of righteousness which is by faith — entitled to all the blessedness and privileges of a true believer. Thank God there is no difference in religion now! Noah was saved by faith then, and we are saved by faith now. What, then, are we to learn from this? You have heard that a day of judgment is to come. There is no appearance of it at present. The destruction of the old world by water, was a specimen or emblem of the destruction that now is, by fire. There are not; only reservoirs of water beneath the earth, but there are also magazines of flame. What mean those subterraneous fires that issue from Mounts Etna and Vesuvius? They bear testimony to this fact. And then there are fires in these heavens as well as water. What mean those vivid flashes of lightning which you sometimes see gleaming through the vast expanse, and menacing you with ruin? They bear testimony to this fact. And hence the apostle Peter very properly argues " The heavens and the earth that are now, by the same word" that announced the destruction of the antediluvian world, "are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men." Oh, what a day will that be to the wicked! Parents will again be seen weeping for their children, and children weeping for their parents. Oh, what a day it will be to the righteous! You will see them in the ark completely safe!

(John Watson.)

The creed of these Old Testament saints was a very short one, and very different from ours. Their faith was the very same. And that is a principle well worth getting into our minds, that the scope of the creed has nothing to do with the essence of the faith.

I. Look FIRST AT NOAH'S FAITH IN REGARD TO ITS OBJECT. His faith grasped the invisible things to come, only because it grasped the Invisible Person, who was, is, and is to come, and who lifted for him the curtain and showed him the things that should be. So is it with our faith, whether it lays hold upon a past sacrifice on Calvary, or upon a present Christ dwelling in our hearts, or whether it becomes telescopic, and stretches forward into the future, and brings the distant near, all its various aspects are but aspects of one thing, and that is personal trust in the personal Christ that speaks to us. What he says is a matter of secondary importance in this respect. The contents of God's revelations vary; the act by which man accepts them is always the same. So the great question for us all is — do we trust God? Do we believe Him, and therefore accept His words, not only with the assent of the understanding, which of all idle things is the idlest, but do we believe Him, revealing, commanding, promising, threatening, with the affiance of our whole hearts? Then, and then only, can we look with quiet certainty into the dim future, which else is all full of rolling clouds, that sometimes shape themselves to our imaginations into the likeness of stable things, but alas! change and melt while we gaze. Only then can we front the solemn future, and say: "I do not expect only, I know what is there."

II. Still further, notice NOAH'S FAITH IN ITS PRACTICAL EFFECTS. If faith has any reality in us at all, it works. If real and strong, it will first effect emotion. By " fear" here we are not merely to understand, though possibly it is not to be excluded, a dread of personal consequences, but much rather the sweet and lofty emotion which is described in another part of this same book by the same word: "Let us serve Him with reverence and with godly fear." Such holy and blessed emotion, which has no torment, is the sure result of real faith. Unless a man's faith is warm enough to melt his heart, it is worth very little. A faith unaccompanied by emotion is, I was going to say worse, at any rate it is quite as bad, as a faith which is all wasted in emotion. It is not a good thing when all the steam roars out through an escape pipe; it is perhaps a worse thing when there is no steam in the boiler to escape. I am very sure that there is no road between a man's faith and his practice except through his heart, and that, as the apostle has it in a somewhat different form of speech, meaning, however, the same thing that I am now insisting upon, "faith worketh by love." Love is the path through which creed travels outward to conduct. So we come to the second and more remote effect of faith. Emotion will lead to action. "Moved with fear, he prepared and ark." If emotion be the child of faith, conduct is the child of emotion.

III. AND SO, LASTLY, LET ME POINT TO NOAH'S FAITH, IN REGARD TO ITS VINDICATION. "He condemned the world." And so the faith of the poor, ignorant, old woman that up in her garret lives to serve Jesus Christ, and to win an eternal crown, will get its vindication some day, and it will be found out then which was the " practical" man and the wise man. And all the witty speeches and smart sayings will seem very foolish even to their authors, when the light of that future shines on them. And the old word will come true once more, that the man who lives for the present, and for anything bounded by Time, will have to "leave it in the midst of his days," and " at his latter end shall be a fool." Whilst the "foolish " man that lived for the future; when the future has come to be the present, and the present has dwindled away into the past, and sunk beneath the horizon, shall be proved to be the wise, and shall shine as the brightness of the firmament, and as the stars for ever and ever.

(A Maclaren, D. D.)

I. First, notice that in Noah's case FAITH WAS THE FIRST PRINCIPLE. The text begins, "By faith Noah." We shall have to speak about his being " moved by fear"; we shall also remember his obedience, for he " prepared an ark to the saving of his house." But you must take distinct note that at the back of everything was his faith in God. His faith begat his fear: his faith and his fear produced his obedience. Nothing in Noah is held up before us as an example, but that which grew out of his faith. To begin with, we must look well to our faith.

1. Notice, first, that Noah believed in God in his ordinary life. Before the great test came, before he heard the oracle from the secret place, Noah believed in God. We know that he did, for we read that he walked with God, and in his common conduct he is described as being "a just man, and perfect in his generations." To be just in the sight of God is never possible apart from faith; for "the just shall live by faith." It is a great thing to have faith in the presence of a terrible trial; but the first essential is to have faith for ordinary every-day consumption.

2. Note, next, that Noah had faith in the warning and threatening of God. Faith is to be exercised about the commandments; for David says, "I have believed Thy commandments." Faith is to be exercised upon the promises; for there its sweetest business lies. But, believe me, you cannot have faith in the promise unless you are prepared to have faith in the threatening also. If you truly believe a man, you believe all that he says.

3. Furthermore, Noah believed what seemed highly improbable, if not absolutely impossible. There was no sea where Noah laid the keel of his ark: I do not even know that there was a river there. He was to prepare a sea-going vessel, and construct it on dry land. How could water be brought there to float it? That faith which believes in the probable is anybody's faith: publicans and sinners can so believe. The faith which believes that which is barely possible is in better form; but that faith which cares nothing for probability or possibility, but rests alone in the word of the Lord, is the faith of God's elect. God deserves such faith, "for with God all things are possible."

4. Noah believed alone, and preached on, though none followed him.

5. Noah believed through a hundred and twenty solitary years.

6. Noah believed even to separation from the world.


1. A loyal reverence of God.

2. A holy fear of judgment.

3. A very humble distrust of himself.

III. OBEDIENCE WAS THE GRACIOUS FRUIT. Faith and fear together led Noah to do as God commanded him. When fear is grafted upon faith, it brings forth good fruit, as in this case.

1. Noah obeyed the Lord exactly.

2. Noah obeyed the Lord very carefully.

3. Noah obeyed at all costs.

4. Noah went on obeying under daily scorn.

5. Noah's obedience followed the command as he learned it.


1. He was saved and his house.

2. He condemned the world. His preaching condemned them: they knew the way, and wickedly refused to run in it. His warning condemned them: they would not regard it and escape. His life condemned them, for he walked with the God whom they despised. Most of all, the ark condemned them.

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

This description of the faith of Noah involves several distinct parts —

1. The warning of God.

2. The motive of Noah — fear.

3. The preparing the ark — the result of fear.

4. The consequence of this — the saving of his house.

5. The work this did for others around — condemned them.

I. THE WARNING OF GOD. The men whom God had made had all rebelled against Him; the world was turned against its Maker. As men grew older and more experienced they increased in arts and sciences, but they decreased in religion and the fear of God. These men lived by sight, not by faith. God determined to punish the godless world, and looking around, He saw only one man worth saving. Only one family worth saving! I doubt not many then would have said it was uncharitable to say there are few who would be saved; uncharitable to say that among many professors there were few who from the heart feared God. But "God seeth not as man seeth." Such, then, was the warning of God. Now is not this account like that of our day? "As it was in the days of Noah," so is it now. Is not the advance of trade, and science, and agriculture, and knowledge, thought of before the advance of religion? Now see the part of Noah. He obeyed the warning, and prepared the ark, and saved his family. God ordered an ark to save Noah, and Noah made it; he did not trust to the invention of his own brain as to what would be the best thing in all probability to save him from the water, but he made the ark. God had ordered an ark, and the ark of gopher wood, and Noah made it; the ark — only the ark, could save Noah from death. Why? Not because it was the most scientific mode of salvation, not because it was the most learned way of safety, not because it was the most likely means of salvation; no, it was not on this account that Noah made the ark; he made it because it was the appointed means of safety, because God had ordered it.

2. Noah was active in his work, and while he worked he preached. Why was Noah active? Because he feared God and loved his family.Now some men invent one way of escaping the last deluge of fire, and some another.

1. Some say God's mercy shall be our ark, which we will hope for without seeking.

2. Some say, our own works shall be our ark, an ark we will provide by our own labour, but not after the fashion God has ordered, an ark not made of gopher wood.

3. Some say, we will make an ark with our works like what God orders, but we will mot begin it yet, we will wait till the clouds begin to darken for the storm, that will be soon enough; we will repent on a death-bed.

4. Some say, we will make something like an ark, but we will not take much trouble about it; we will make it after the material God orders, but we will be satisfied with a mere framework, we will trust to our general religious character to bear us safely through the dreadful fire; we will not concern ourselves about individual acts.

5. Some say, we will have none; no flood will come. Such are all the schemes we have to provide against the last flood. But what shall happen to them?(1) Those who make no ark will find no ark. Those who trust to God's mercy without seeking God's mercy, shall find no mercy.(2) Those who make their own ark shall enter it, but it will dash to pieces against the first obstacle, and sink its terrified crew against the rocks of everlasting despair. Those who trust to their own works will find they stand them in no stead.(3) Those who put off making the ark till the clouds darken the sky shall have scarce struck a nail in it before they shall be arrested by the flood.(4) Those who are satisfied with the outward framework, will find the fire pierce through every open crevice of the ark, and they shall be burnt up in the ark which they have made.(5) Those who made no ark at all shall be swallowed up quickly.(6) And then, who shall be saved? Only he who shelters in the true ark, that only rides upon the waters safe and secure; the ark made according to God's direction.

II. But again, THE MOTIVE which induced Noah to build the ark — fear, produced by faith, and love, inducing fear. "By faith in things not seen as yet, Noah moved with fear, prepared an ark, wherein eight souls were saved." He believed God's word. Faith, then, was the spring of all. If he had not believed, he would have been idle, as the idle world. His faith produced works. And again, it awakened him as to the real interest of his family; he was not concerned about their present pleasure, but about their future safety.

(E. Monro.)

I. The things not seen as yet are THE GREATEST THINGS IN HUMAN HISTORY.

1. The greatness of human nature.

2. The solemnity of human life.

II. Some of the things not seen as yet are DIVINELY REVEALED TO MAN AS ARTICLES OF FAITH.

1. The universal triumph of the gospel in the world.

2. The termination of that mediatorial system of things under which the human race has been living ever since the fall.

3. The separation of the righteous from the wicked.

III. Man's faith in the things not seen as yet is CAPABLE OF EXERTING A MIGHTY INFLUENCE UPON HIS LIFE.

1. Noah's faith in the unseen impelled him to the most trying work. It was trying to his —


(2)social nature;


2. His faith impelled him to the most serviceable work. In carrying out God's idea, he saved the world.

3. Sin-condemning work.

4. Self-rectifying work.



1. Information of the approach of coming evil.

2. Instructions to prepare for the coming evil.

(1)Man cannot do without Divine guidance.

(2)Man will not do without human effort. Work tests and develops character.

3. Assurance of safety from the coming evil. God condescended to bind Himself by an agreement that was comprehensive and everlasting.

(1)It contains reward for excellence of character, and is the basis of all honours to come.

(2)It is eternal.


1. He was actuated by the sublimest motive. Profound regard for the truthfulness of the Divine admonitions, and implicit trust in the power of God to carry out His threatenings. He was extraordinarily subservient to the Divine plan.

(1)He did precisely according to the Divine plan.

(2)He did precisely at the Divine time.

(3)He did precisely according to the Divine expectation.In spite of cost, labour, care, ridicule, long delay, other engagements, his faith triumphed over all. There was no arguing, no murmuring, no relapsing, no desponding, but daily work, and daily progress, and daily trusting, until at last the huge ship was ready for its cargo, voyage, and destination.

III. A GOOD MAN IS THE EFFICIENT MEDIUM OF THE DIVINE PURPOSE. By faith and works Noah influenced the whole of the world. He fixed universal destiny.

1. He was the efficient medium in preserving his family.

2. He was the efficient medium in punishing his contemporaries.

3. He was the efficient medium promoting himself.

(B. D. Johns.)


1. The Divine word predicted what seemed unlikely to happen.

2. The fulfilment of this prediction was long delayed.

3. The belief of the prediction was opposed by the ungodly atmosphere in which he lived.


1. The discharge of arduous duties. Building, peopling, stocking the Ark.

2. The endurance of severe trials. Scorn and mockery from his contemporaries.

3. The rebuke of a wicked world. "Preacher of righteousness."


1. Faith in the grace of God. That is, in your acceptance by Him through Christ. The love in that is the sufficient motive for right-doing.

2. Faith in the character of God. God is good, wise, faithful, loving. He cannot, therefore, call us to any duty or experience which is not in harmony with what He is.

3. Faith in the word of God. That what He has promised (of help, &c.) He will certainly perform. That is encouragement and support in right-doing. Conclusion. Where did Noah get this victorious faith? Faith comes from knowing God; the more we know Him the better we trust Him; we know Him the more the more we are with Him.

(C. New.)


1. It is characterised as a warning.

2. It was a warning from God.

3. It was a warning from God which concerned " things not seen as yet."


1. He believed it.

2. He was "moved with fear."In the affairs of this life a prudential, stimulating fear is not only permitted, but applauded. Hence the child who so fears his parents as always to obey, is beloved; the scholar who so fears his master as always to excel, is admired; the merchant who, through fear, lingers in the port because he knows that a powerful pirate scours the neighbouring seas, is commended; the tradesman who, through fear, refuses to trust his property in doubtful hands, is accounted wise; and the traveller who, through fear, takes a circuitous route because he knows that the nearest road is infested with robbers, is deemed prudent. Since this is the case in the affairs of this life, how comes it to pass that the fear of the Lord is so generally despised? And why are those who live under its influence so generally regarded as men of mean and melancholy minds? Is it because the rod of a mortal is more to be dreaded than the wrath of God? Is it because the loss of earthly property is a greater evil than the loss of the soul?

3. He prepared the ark.(1) The building of such a vessel must have consumed a great deal of time. Let those who neglect the whole round of religious duty, pleading as their excuse that they have no time to perform it, consider this trait in Noah's piety, and stand reproved. What! no time to serve God, and save your souls? The rebel might just as well say to his insulted sovereign, "Sire, I had no time to be loyal."(2) It must have occasioned him great expense. It is a striking peculiarity in the economy of God to His people, that before He gives them all that He has, He requires them to consecrate to Him everything which they possess. He acted thus towards Abraham, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, and the apostles. And before He gave Noah his life, and the lives of his household for a prey, He set him upon constructing a vessel, which, considering its magnitude, must have abridged his portion, not only of the superfluities, but even of the necessaries, of life. Judging from the Divine conduct in other cases, we think it not at all extravagant to suppose that the last nail was driven as the last item of his estate was gone. But Noah believed God; and therefore the greatness of the cost was no obstruction to the completion of the work. By the light of faith he discerned that riches and worldly goods are means of honour and of happiness only so far as they are consecrated to God, and employed for Him.(3) It must have subjected him to much reproach. It is exceedingly probable that the king and the peasant, the philosopher and the fool, the rich and the poor, the hoary headed father and the lisping boy, would all unite in making him and his ark a proverb of reproach and scorn. They would blame him for rendering religion offensive to rational and intelligent men; and they would charge him with cruelty to his family, in spending his substance upon such an extravagant undertaking.


1. He saved his house. Let all heads of families aim at the same thing. See that your domestic arrangements and private conduct be such as shall entail the blessing, and not the curse, of God upon your offspring.

2. "He condemned the world."(1) In the same sense as a witness may be said to condemn a criminal, when he furnishes incontestable evidence of his guilt. His faith, in this sense, condemned their unbelief; for it demonstrated the sufficiency of the revelation given, and was, moreover, a pattern for their imitation, and a motive stimulating them to action.(2) Inasmuch as he deprived them of all ground of excuse. He was a " preacher of righteousness"; and, as such, he no doubt instructed them in the nature of righteousness; its necessity and advantages; together with the means of acquiring it.

3. He "became heir of the righteousness which is by faith." The righteousness of which Noah is said to have become "heir," or possessor, is in other places called "the righteousness of God"; "the righteousness which is of God by faith"; "the gift of righteousness which is by Christ"; and sometimes simply, "the righteousness of faith"; by all which expressions is meant, that free justification from all past guilt which we obtain when we believe on Him that justifieth the ungodly. That Noah not only believed all that was revealed concerning the flood; but also all that was made known respecting the perfections of God, the fall of man, and the scheme of redemption by Jesus Christ, is evident from the sacrifice which he offered on quitting the ark, and the gracious acceptance which it obtained from God.

(P. McOwan.)

What entertainment did Noah give to this warning? Did he contemn it or set light by it in his heart? No verily; he reverenced it. We must reverence the judgments of God. When Daniel pondered in himself the fearful fall of Nebuchadnezzar, that such a fair arid beautiful tree which reached to heaven should be cut down, he held his peace by the space of one hour, and his thoughts troubled him. When the angels were to blow their trumpets, there was silence in heaven, they were stricken with a kind of astonishment, and could not speak. When the book of the law was read before Isaiah, his heart melted at it, he reverenced the judgment denounced in it. When this proclamation was made in Nineveh, yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be destroyed, they all reverenced it, from the king to the beggar, &c., they put on sackcloth, fasted, and prayed to God. Noah hearing of a flood to come, fears it after a godly manner, and provides against the coming of it. But some there be that are no more moved with them than the stones in the church wall (Jeremiah 36:24). Let the preacher thunder out God's judgments against abominable swearing, lying, flattering, and dissembling, and other sins that reign among the people. Some laugh at it in their sleeves; tell them of the day of judgment, when as all nations shall appear before the Son of Man; they set not a straw by it, they are worse than Felix: he trembled when St. Paul discoursed of righteousness and the judgment to come. They are worse than the devils, for they believe that there is a God, and tremble at it. There is great difference between trembling and reverencing.

(W. Jones, D. D.)

God never brought a judgment upon any nation without previous, distinct, and intelligible warnings. This is a principle of the Divine government, illustrated by the whole history of the Church and the world. Lot warned Sodom; the Israelites, Egypt; their prophets, the Israelites; Jonah, Nineveh; Jesus and His apostles, Jerusalem and Judaea. And thus Noah, both by his actual declaration of the " word of the Lord "and his building in the view of the people the vessel of safety, testified the Divine intentions, and warned the world of the " coming wrath."

(T. Binney.)

Faith, in the simple and practical view we are attempting to take, consists in a regard to the whole of the Divine testimony, to whatever that testimony relates. If, for example, the truth specifically contemplated be a simple intellectual announcement, faith is the acquiescence of the understanding in its absolute certainty. If it be a promise of good, faith is confidence in its fulfilment. If it be a threatening of evil, combined as all threatenings are with the merciful provision of a method of escape, faith is apprehension concurring with flight to the appointed refuge. It was thus that it first operated in the mind of Noah.

(T. Binney.)

Not far from the place of St. Paul's shipwreck in the Mediterranean, a noble frigate once set sail. A gallant admiral, Sir Cloudesley Shovel, was her commander, and thought himself fully competent to guide her course. But there was an experienced seaman on board who knew better than he the dangers which surrounded them. However, on his venturing to say so, he was immediately hanged at the yard-arm for his impertinence. Not long did the cruel commodore survive him. In the darkness of the night the ship struck on the fatal rock concerning which the seaman had uttered his warning voice, and soon became a total wreck. A few escaped a watery grave, but the greater part, with the headstrong Sir Cloudesley himself, were drowned.

(J. Lange.)

Moved with fear.
Here is an instance of a man, in his relations to God, acting under the impulse of fear, and good came of it. Of course this is not one and the same thing as saying that in the moral sphere fear is the highest motive. A thing may be good, without being the best. Men start from different levels, and they live upon different levels. Some "there are who never know what it is to turn unto God from the low plane of immorality. Others, again, take their first step heavenward from the very mouth of the pit. And this varied inception of the Christian life is proof enough that fear cannot be held up as the general or even the best motive. There may be those who never felt it, who have never needed to feel it. There may be those who run in the paths of obedience and righteousness, urged only by a higher and nobler impulse. Neither is it necessary to hold here, when looking upon an example of its beneficent operation, that fear must remain a permanent moral motive even in such a case. An apostle speaks of a "love" which "casteth out fear." So the one who commences in fear may rise unto this love. The one ascending from the earth in a balloon, gradually but surely rises above the smoke and mist which lie in low clouds over the earth's surface. Soon he moves, he sails in the clear abyss of the heavens. So with the human life, as it rises unto truth and virtue and God. It may rise above the murky atmosphere of its first motives and earlier days. But let us turn to the direct consideration of the subject in the text.

I. Let me say, first of all, THAT THERE IS FOUNDATION LAID IN THE HUMAN CONSTITUTION FOR THE OPERATION OF THE MOTIVE WHICH WE ARE CONSIDERING. Fear is a universal attribute of human nature. It is as natural for a man to fear as to hope, or trust, or love. And this susceptibility, like all other natural capacities of human life, must have been conferred upon man for beneficent ends. She holds as good a title to her place as does hope; both are patents issued by the hand of the Creator; and not only are they of equally high origin, they are also co-ordinate in dignity, mutually dependent and helpful. If it were not for hope, man would hold back from attainable good. If fear were wanting, he would rush headlong upon invincible danger. Hope cries unto man: "Dare it, dare it!" But some risks are foolhardy, and fear points these out. Man is saved by hope, being swept forward; he is saved by fear, being held back. And now, from the survey of this great law upon the lower levels, I ask: Why scout at fear in the moral realm? Why attempt to scourge her from the temple of religion? Has God bestowed upon your soul a useless or misleading sense, a susceptibility to be devoted unto inactivity and death? Why, He has not done such a thing in the body; and surely the Creator has shown as much wisdom in the adaptation of your spirit to its surroundings as in the adaptation of your body to the material world. Why not, then, grant unto these intimations in these two different spheres equally solemn audience? When in this world Fear cries out: "There is the danger of poverty ahead; there is the possibility of suffering ahead; there is the loss of reputation ahead" — you are not unmindful of her warnings. But again this same Fear, through the voice of Concience, cries out: "Wrath is coming; judgment lies ahead, and the great eternity." In this case also, why not listen to her signal notes? Unmanly to fear! You say so, with the great cyclones of the awful forces of the universe, boiling, sweeping around you! Unmanly to fear! Then God made you an unmanly man. Irrational to be influenced by fear! Then are you showing yourself a fool every day.

II. THE RELATION OF DEITY TO MAN LEGITIMATISES THE MOTIVE OF FEAR. TWO revelations of God have been given — one in the moral constitution of man, and one in the Bible. These two revelations agree in this, that they present God in the act and attitude of one warning men of possible danger. First, the Bible does this. "Flee to this voice; give it your fullest confidence.'" But shall men love the God who loves, trust the God who promises, and not fear the same God when He warns?

III. THE PUBLIC TEACHING AND LIFE OF JESUS OF NAZARETH BEARS IN THE MOST EMPHATIC MANNER UPON THIS SUBJECT. We notice two things. First, Jesus was no fanatic. On the contrary, never was character so well balanced as His. From such a character would you expect an exaggerated statement of an uncertain dogma, of an unessential partialism? Then, again, consider His great sympathy with men, His measureless benevolence. Yet concerning future punishment and suffering He spake some of the most awful words which this world has ever heard. "It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.'" And the revelation of Nature does the same. It shows physical law relentlessly pursuing the transgressor. If lifts up the picture of human suffering before the eye. It stirs the conscience of the individual and the race with the apprehension of possible evil and suffering beyond the present world. And now, what will you do? Mind, I do not ask you to ignore any other attribute of Deity which has been revealed to man. There is love shining forth in most beautiful characters. Answer this, as you ought, by hope and trust and gratitude. There are words of sweetest invitation written upon the pages of the Bible. Sweetly let your heart respond.

IV. IN A SUBJECT SO INDEFINITE AS THIS, DEMONSTRATION IS, OF COURSE, IMPOSSIBLE. It seems to me, however, that the suggestions which have been made are so many grave intimations to every thoughtful mind. But comes there up in reply from any human life the voice: "I cannot fear, I see the flashing danger-signal — I mark its lurid light. I hear those awful words as they drop from the lips of Jesus. I see it all, I hear it all; and yet no apprehension of danger is awakened within me"? In reply let me say, perhaps you do not need to fear. The Divine Father has many ways of drawing men unto Himself. Possibly in your case love is doing its work. If this be so, all is well. But the spectacle of a human life unto which the mandatory word of God has come in vain, which is consciously moving forward in disobedience, consciously out of harmony with itself and moral law — for any such life as this to lift up the words, "I cannot fear" — this is a very different matter, and this, it seems to me, is passing strange. What shall I say to you? Exhort you to fear? Stand up here and cry: "Be afraid, be afraid"? This were absurd. Emotions cannot" be manufactured to order in the laboratory of the will. This let me say: Perhaps your fear is artificially, unnaturally repressed. Perhaps it is, by the hand of a moral thoughtlessness, or a moral bravado, battened down in the hatchways of your being. The ship had crashed into an iceberg, and immediate death seemed inevitable to every one on board. A gentleman from out that scene said to me: "Very few were calm in that hour; there were very few who did not fear then." But, possibly, had these same terror-stricken ones spoken on the subject an hour before the collision, many of them would have said: "As a moral being I am incapable of fear." Nevertheless fear was in them. So it may be with you. Again, let me say that inability to fear may be due to moral hurt. The hand may become so callous that a living coal of fire can beheld within the palm, and no pain felt. Through paralysis the arm may die, so that the heaviest blow gives no sensation. So the Bible declares that the moral nature may be so seared as to be past feeling. Perhaps this is the case with some who say they cannot fear. Perhaps a false and unworthy life has smitten you with moral paralysis. In either case, whether it is due to unnatural repression or moral paralysis, this inability to fear is not something to be satisfied with, much less to boast of. The paralytic does not run about with his dangling arm, crying out: "Pinch it; I do not feel! Hit it; your blow hurts me not! Ha, ha, I cannot feel!" Neither should the moral paralytic so boast. Rather let him betake himself to the electric battery of moral law, and see if he cannot quicken the insensate nerves, irrigate with new life the callous tissues of his moral being. Closely connected with this subject is an insinuating delusion which is exercising the most pernicious influence upon thousands. Human voices cry out: "The spirit of the age is against this whole matter of fear, indeed forbids it." I cannot appreciate the force of this retort, or see what the spirit of the day has to do with the great matter of a man's relation to his Creator and Judge. The age of Louis XIV. had its spirit; so had the age of Charles II. and of Frederick the Great. What were these spirits? Thin, vaporous films, blown from the mouths of men, curling for a brief moment around the everlasting mountain of Bible truth. And the spirit of our day, if it is contradictory of the living Word, shall prove as evanescent. The spirit of the age is the atmosphere through which walks the creature of a day. It extends upward from earth — say, as high as a man's heart; say, as high as his head; while all above this, all around this, are the awful depths of the moral ether, unchanged since the days of Noah — ay, unchangeable, as is the God whose breath they are. The spirit of the age to be called in to modify the eternal conditions of the moral universe! The six-foot atmosphere of this our little world to beat over, to pour itself through, to reprortion the shoreless, soundless ocean of the eternal nature of things! The very thought is enough to awaken laughter throughout the universe of God! The spirit of the age, forsooth! A few hours' cholera, a few days' fever, a falling brick, a runaway horse, a passing locomotive may sweep away a human life out of it, and for ever. Let us not make fools of ourselves. We are not too big to be warned of God, and we shall not belittle ourselves by giving thoughtful heed to His warning.

(S. S. Mitchell, D. D.)

The Houourable Robert Boyle, distinguished alike as a philosopher and as a Christian, acknowledged (though "he blushed it was so")that his fear, during a tremendous thunderstorm in the night, while he resided in Geneva, "was the occasion of his resolution of amendment" — a resolution to which he faithfully adhered through life.

(J. F. B. Tinling, B. A.)

The testimony of one of the most genial and successful of preachers is that "of all the persons to whom his ministry had been efficacious only one had received the first effectual impressions from the gentle and attractive aspect of religion; all the rest from the awful and alarming ones — the appeal to fear." Take again the testimony of one of the wisest and most successful of our schoolmasters. "I can't rule my boys," he says, "by the law of love. If they were angels or professors I might; but as they are only boys, I find it necessary to make them fear me first, and then take my chance of their love afterwards. By this plan I find that I generally get both; by reversing the process I should in most cases get neither." And God does not deal with us now as He will do when perfect love has cast out its preparative fear.

(Marcus Dods, D. D.)

The tragic event that led to Peter Waldo's conversion reminds us of the similar circumstance that awakened in Luther's mind the conviction of sin. On a certain day he was sitting at a banquet of distinguished citizens when one of the guests at his side suddenly became a corpse. The solemn emotion that seized all present became a life-long force in the heart of Peter Waldo. He gazed forward in fear to the account he must himself give at the bar of God. His sins rose in remembrance before him. How shall I appease an awakened conscience? was the question that filled his soul. The Romish Church had its answer ready: "By almsgiving"; and Waldo from that day devoted part of his wealth to the relief of poverty. Every quarter of the town felt his beneficence: but his heart was not at peace: his alms-deeds could not assure him of the forgiveness of sins.

(C. A. Davis.)

That Luther was not an angel in his youth we may know, for he tells of himself that he was whipped fifteen times in one day in his first school. But all this did not beat grace into his heart, though it may have beaten letters into his head. He made brilliant progress in study, and at twenty years of age received his degree at the university as a Bachelor of Arts. Up to this time his heart was in the world. His father designed him for the law, and his own ambition no doubt aspired to the honours within easy reach in that line of life. God designed otherwise. Just at that critical time, when the very next step would be the first in a life-long profession, one of his fellow-students, dear to him as a brother beloved, one Alexis, was assassinated. The report of this tragic affair coming to Luther's ear, he hurried to the spot and found it even so. Often before, conscience, and the Spirit in his heart, had urged him to a religious life, in preparation for death and the judgment. And now, as he stood gazing upon the bloody corpse of his dear friend Alexis, and thought how in a moment, prepared or unprepared, he had been summoned from earth, he asked himself the question, "What would become of me if I were thus suddenly called away?" This was in A.D. 1505, in summer. Taking advantage of the summer's vacation, Luther, now in his twenty-first year, paid a visit to Mansfeldt, the home of his infancy. Even then the purpose of a life of devotion was forming in his heart, but not yet ripened into full and final decision. On his way back to the university, however, he was overtaken by a terrific storm. "The thunder roared," says D'Aubigne; "a thunderbolt sank into the ground by his side; Luther threw himself on his knees; his hour is perhaps come. Death, judgment, eternity, are before him in all their terrors, and speak with a voice which he can no longer resist. ' Encompassed with the anguish and terror of death,' as he says of himself ' he makes a vow, if God will deliver him from this danger, to forsake the world, and devote himself to His service.' Risen from the earth, having still before his eyes that death must one day overtake him, he examines himself seriously, and inquires what he must do. The thoughts that formerly troubled him return with redoubled power. He has endeavoured, it is true, to fulfil all his duties. But what is the state of his soul? Can he, with a polluted soul, appear before the tribunal of so terrible a God? He must become holy" — for this he will go into the cloister, he will enter a convent, he will become a monk and a priest in the Augustinean order. He will there become holy and be saved.

(W. E. Boardman, D. D.)

One dear old man, who at the ripe age of seventy-eight, became a humble childlike Christian, and who twice in the week used to walk eight miles to hear me, had one favourite version of the words which caused his conversion, to which he adhered with frightful fixity and retailed to every one he met. "There were three of us old men a-settin' together, and you turned and you shook your little finger at us, and you said, 'You old men there, you are going to hell as fast as your old legs can carry you!' I never felt so afeared in my life, and I have been a changed man ever since."

(Ellice Hopkins.)

Fear and faith do not at first sound very likely companions. It is just because we think this, because we fancy ourselves a little wiser than God's Word, that our fear and our faith fail to act as they ought. Let us try to learn a better lesson now; and it will help us to do this if we set about studying what Noah did a little more closely than perhaps we have done before. We will take his fear first, for I suppose it would come first. He heard the tremendous words of wrath from the God whom he walked with, and he knew He would not speak without acting. He said to himself "Is not God's word gone forth, 'I will destroy all flesh'? I cannot rest easy; what shall I do? what can I do?" I think Noah must have had a longer or a shorter time when fear was overwhelming — but it was not allowed to go long uncorrected. Almost in the same breath with the threat, we hear the voice which called out the faith. Imagine him told to make an ark. He may have said to himself, It is strange — it is what man never did before — but I know that my God would not tell it me and mean me to be a mere laughing-stock to the world. The triumph shall be on my side in the end. So we see his fear made ready for his faith, and his faith told his fear how far it was to go and what it was to do. They showed him his own helpless state — they took him to God for help. And now see what his action was. It was simply doing his little part in God's great plan. And what was the result? A specimen of that great Divine plan — God's strength and our weakness hand in hand; the saving of his house; the keeping at bay of all the terrific onsets of those torrents of rain and buffetings of waves. That is how faith and fear do work together. In the first place the sense of fear is a most necessary thing, and a thing we are not often left to go without. Does it come home to us — the truth of an offended Father who will by no means clear the guilty, and whom it is absurd to think we can satisfy. Faith then comes in and applies this very helplessness, this very sinfulness, this very fear. Faith bids us look within and see the things which are unseen — put present likings, strong temptations, selfish instincts, stifling voices aside, and see that there are joys to come, and there is a wrath to come — that there has been a marvellous work done, which eye never saw the like of, and which mind cannot take in — a work of love whereby God came down from heaven and took upon Him man's lowly likeness and suffered for sin, in order to help the helpless, in order to provide an ark which shall float over the very waves of God's justice and be lifted up by them out of harm's reach. But what will be the working of the fear and the faith? Noah built the ark and entered into it. We have but to do a very little thing, but that we must do — not even to build an ark at God's bidding — but in the first place simply to enter in and be on the safe side of the door which God will close upon us. That entering in is not quite nothing; it means feeling very helpless: but only seek you to be taught your own unsatisfactory self, and can you find it so hard to win safety by casting off all refuges but the only safe one. Now I think we see how faith and fear go together. Fear is not dismay — and faith is not self-security. Safe within the ark of Christ's Church — safe in the love of Christ Himself, you yet "work out your own salvation with fear and trembling." That very fear ought to strengthen our faith, to drive us out of any holdfast but the one only one, and make us unite ourselves with Him under whose leadership we are the surer to conquer, the surer we are of our weakness.

(John Kempthorne, M. A.)

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