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portant to us, than the possession of eminent spirituality and holiness. Let us look for divine aid, and not lose sight of the appropriate means, nor of the necessity for immediate and persevering effort. Verily we are recommending a high and invaluable attainment. Whoever of us has his thoughts in spiritual subjection, has gained the entire mastery of them. Not only so, he has fought the grand battle, has performed the most difficult task in life. His is the blessed liberty of the gospel the liberty of thought. His mind is no longer the slave of circumstances; it is dependent on nothing without. At the command of the will, it moves in any direction and to any object. Above all, it can soar upward with angel-flight towards the glorious Sun of Righteousness, and gaze without distraction upon his ineffable effulgence. This is the man to be "filled with the knowledge of God's will, in all wisdom and spiritual understanding." This is the man. to be "fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God." This is the man to be "strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power, unto all patience and long suffering with joyfulness."
Let us seriously reflect on the importance of the subject we have been contemplating. Think not that the heart can be kept, while the thoughts are uncontrollable. It cannot be. Our hearts will never be brought into full captivity to the obedience of Christ, unless our thoughts are. Both must be subdued, or neither will be.
May God, in infinite mercy, bring all our thoughts into this captivity, and draw our souls continually, effectually, and forever towards Himself. Amen.
BY REV. GEORGE B. CHEEVER,
PASTOR OF THE ALLEN STREET PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH, NEW YORK.
A NEW YEAR'S SERMON.
"And all the days of Methusaleh were nine hundred sixty and nine years: and he died." Genesis v: 26.
NINE HUNDRED YEARS! It almost covers the duration of the antediluvian world. We speak of the age of Bacon, the age of Plato, the age of Burke, characterizing ages by the great men that have marked them. Of Methusaleh there is nothing of greatness recorded, besides the begetting of sons and daughters, some of whom were pious, but the roll of nine whole centuries for his mortal life. You may perhaps call him a great man as being the son of Enoch; and inasmuch as he fills up the whole space between the first and the last inhabitant of the antediluvian world, we may fitly speak of that world's duration as the age of Methusaleh. When Noah began to build the ark Methusaleh was living and was 849 years old; Lamech also was living and was 662 years old. Doubtless they were both pious, and probably some of their descendants also. Some of Methusaleh's brethren and sisters likewise, whom Enoch bore after him, and educated as such a man must have educated his children, were in all probability the subjects of divine grace. Noah was not, therefore, entirely alone, not entirely destitute of christian sympathy and succor. His own father Lamech was alive until five years before the deluge, and his grandfather, Methusaleh, was living up to the very year that the deluge came. Nay, if he died a natural death, it could not have been more than a month, if so much, before the deluge. We do not know, indeed, that he did not perish in the deluge, but if not, then the funeral of Methusaleh must have been the very last thing that Noah attended. We go upon the supposition that Lamech and Methusaleh were both pious; and we do it principally because they had such pious sons. The thought is too dreadful for a moment to suppose that Methusaleh, that old, old man, remained among the ungodly scoffers of his grandson. We cling to the belief that he was a child of God, that he supported Noah by his counsels and his example; perhaps he assisted with his own hands in building
the ark; perhaps he lived to the very day when Noah entered into the ark, and blessed him, and took a solemn farewell of him, and then awaited, in holy resignation, his own end, giving himself up to God, even amidst the descending torrents, and seeking, to the last moment, to persuade others to repentance. I conceive that this is not at all improbable;—that he, and what few others of God's people may have been living to the last, would solemnly gather together in prayer and supplication, on the day when the foundations of the great deep were broken up, and the windows of heaven were opened, awaiting in that posture, the consummation of the will of Jehovah. And if so, they doubtless prayed for Noah and his family, and thus the breath of prayer from the antediluviar world, even on the eve of its destruction, may have mingled with Noah's own supplications to bear the ark in safety over the waste of waters.
It was a solemn night for Noah and the world. It was a solemn night for the aged Methusaleh and other believing relatives; but how much more so for the unbelieving and ungodly; their last night before the storm of vengeance.
In dwelling upon this interesting text, I shall first take a simple survey of the age and manners of the antediluvian world; and second, I shall draw some important lessons from such a survey.
I. As to the age and manners of the antediluvian world. The youth of the world was the season of man's greatest age; perhaps also it was the season of man's greatest wickedness. Three things we know with certainty, amidst all the darkness that hangs over the life of the antediluvians; they lived to a great age, they rose to a great height of depravity, and except Enoch, they all died. The assurance of a very long life would be to any man either a great temptation to sin, or a great means of holiness; most likely the former. Because sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil. The character written for our instruction of the race of man in the world before the flood, that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually, corresponds unerringly with the inspired declaration by the mouth of Solomon. The sentence of death deferred for so many ages, was almost unknown, and came at length to be utterly discredited; they thought not of it; nay, so hardy and secure had long centuries of vigorous existence made them, that, as long as Adam lived, they might have dreamed of indefinite centuries yet to come, the limit of man's life, in all probability, not having been made the subject of precise revelation. For more than seven antideluvian generations no death is recorded in the scriptures. There may have been mortal diseases, and even the crime of Cain may have been not unfrequently repeated, for the earth was filled with violence.
But, for aught we know, the funeral of Adam was the first which his posterity attended for nearly a thousand years. There was, indeed, another funeral; the murdered Abel was buried; but the parents were the only mourners. With his own hands Adam dug the grave of his
youngest, best beloved son; with his own hands he buried him; and Eve planted the sacred inclosure with flowers, and watered it with her tears. The simplest things were then matters of revelation; death' and its consequences were so little known, that the angels would have to show Adam what he must do with the bleeding corpse of Abel; the language of Abraham, bury my dead out of my sight, could only spring from experience; for if death left the bodies of those we love as uncorrupted and as beautiful as life, we should wish to keep them by us, though inanimate and lifeless. The ancient Egyptians had a strange custom of doing this, as it was. They sometimes kept the dead bodies of their friends standing upright in their houses, embalmed so carefully, that every feature remained as it was in life; they kept them, Diodorus tells us, "in costly habitations, for the pleasure of beholding them for ever."
When Methusaleh was born, Adam was six hundred and eighty seven years of age. When Adam died Methusaleh was two hundred and eighty two. The oldest man lived in the society of the first man 282 years. Methusaleh was the grandfather of Noah; and when Noah was born, Methusaleh was 369 years old. Methusaleh and Noah were therefore contemporaries during the long space of 600 years. Noah had never seen Adam; the father of the second race of mortals had never seen the father of the first. But Lamech, Noah's father, and the first born of Methusaleh, had lived while Adam was yet alive, 95 years; and he, as well as Methusaleh, could describe to Noah, from personal knowledge and recollection, the teachings and the venerable grandeur of the Father of them all.
We cannot tell how many of the posterity of Seth were men of piety; we may hope that at least this was the case with the first born, whose names are recorded in the scriptures. The generations so recorded are the first born of the first born: in that line came Enoch and Noah, the first translated without seeing death, and the second preserved amidst the universal deluge to be the second father of the world. Enoch was the father of Methusaleh, and was translated when his first born son was 300 years of age. Before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God; and the period for Methusaleh's education was sufficiently long for both himself and his own son Lamech to be moulded by the piety of their translated progenitor. The character of Enoch is sufficient pledge that the education of Methusaleh would be that of a child of God. Perhaps it was to make up for the taking away of Enoch from the world so early that the son of Enoch was permitted to live in the world so long. As the father was translated that he should not see death, the son was left to a longer life than that of any other mortal; and the example of the father's piety was probably transmitted and continued in the piety of the son.
As to that numerous progeny of the antediluvians undistinguished by name in the scriptures, but embraced in the general appellation of sons and daughters (as it is stated of each successive patriarch that he lived after he had begotten his first born, some hundreds of years, and
begat sons and daughters) it seems probable that but too many of them from the earliest period had corrupted their way before God. They would naturally leave the parental roof, and go forth to make progress in the world, somewhat as in after time Esau did, while the first born remained in the house of his ancestors. Removed from the care and example of pious parents, they gradually became more and more degenerate, and, together with the posterity of Cain, filled the world with such wickedness, that it repented God that he had made man upon the earth. Perhaps by the communion of the sons of God with the daughters of men is represented the mixture of the pious race of Adam through Seth with the lovely race of females springing from the loins of Cain. Be this as it may, the world increased in depravity as it grew in population and in age; and when the Patriarch Noah commenced building the ark, it is probable there were few men living on the earth who feared God. His father Lamech, at the age of 777 years, was taken from the evil to come; and for a while Noah was left, perhaps, the only pious parent, and almost the only pious individual, in the world. Some of his sons at that period may have been converted in answer to the prayers of Noah, but we have reason to believe that the race of the people of God was limited to a very few persons; and except these, Noah had none to commune with, and had to rest for consolation and support, amidst the scoffs of an ungodly age, solely upon God.
The death of Adam took place just eighty-seven years before Noah's birth. Of the death of Eve no mention is made in the Scriptures. How long she remained on earth with our great father, by what angelic messengers or revelations from the Almighty they were both prepared for their departure, or what blessings and prophetic warnings they left with their posterity on leaving the world, we know not. Of all possible circumstances we have but one, and that the universal record of man, he died. Nor is the name of any woman of the posterity of Adam, from Seth to Noah, handed down to us, nor any glimpse of information as to the part which the wives of the antediluvian patriarchs might have played in the education of their children. Who was the mother of Methusaleh? and what the lessons taught him in his infancy? Was the help-meet of Enoch chosen for her piety? and did she walk, like him, with God? are questions which curiosity, pausing upon the life of the world before the flood, would be glad to have answered. But not a ray of information comes down to us, nor is even a loop-hole left for conjecture, save that the character of men like Enoch and Noah is sufficient ground for the supposition, that so far as their minds were left to be moulded by their mothers, the example set before them, and the influence exerted upon them, must have been holy.
And now, could we call up the shades of Methusaleh, and converse with the oldest man, what would be the lessons of his experience? Would they be greatly different from ours? Would the thoughts and feelings, the events and circumstances, of men whose life was of a