COME INTO THE ARK.
•And the Lord uld unto Noah, Com • thou anil all thy bouse Into the Ark." QcnMls, 7:1.
This word "come" you will find in all parts of the Bible; but this a the first time if occurs. One hundred and twenty years before this invitation was given, Noah had received the most awful tidings that ever came from Heaven to earth. No tidings like that had ever come to this earth. God told Noah he was going to destroy man on account of his wickedness. Some skeptics will say: "I wonrler if that man believes there ever was a flood. I thought we in this ajre of the world had got beyond that." A great many people say: "I don't believe there ever was a flood upon the earth. There are some things in the Bible I believe, and some things I do not believe." Some people say: "I believe the New Testament, but not the Old Testament. There are a great many things in the Old Testament which I can not believe." Well, if you throw out some things you most throw out the whole. Take the narrative of the flood out of the Old Testament, and you must cut the New Testament to pieces; because the Son of God said: "As it was in the days of Noe, so shall it be at the coming of the Son of Man." He put his divine seal upon it. If you can make it appear that God did tell a lie and misrepresent one thing, then all his teaching goes for naught. I believe there was a flood, just as much as I believe I exist. I do not see how any man can read the Bible and doubt it. Some of the scientific men try to get over it; but they have to believe it. Heathen nations tell us they found the skeleton of a whale in Asia; and there are other indications of a flood having at one time covered the earth. Skeptics try to make out these things were not caused by the flood recorded in Scripture. They do it because they know if the Bible is true it condemns them. Now, good men could not have written the Bible unless it is true; and what would be the object of bad men writing such a book, condemning themselves?
I will now call your attention to the message: "Come thou and all thy house into the ark." Noah was one hundred and twenty years building that ark; and in all those years it was a warning to the people. It was Noah's testimony. Every time he drove a nail, it was a warning to them. Every sound of the hammer said. "I believe God." Noah said, " I believe God." All the rest of the world did not believe. There was not another family in the world that believed God. Men turned away, and reasoned in this way: "Why, if it was true, others would know it besides Noah." In our day people say: "Because a great many people don't believe God, God cannot be true." They think in consequence of sin, God is a failure. Are the decrees of heaven changed because men do not believe them?
God told Noah to build the ark. It was to be five hundred feet long; it was to be eighty feet wide and fifty feet high; it was to have three stories. If the floors were put on one level, it would be fifteen hundred feet long, two hundred and forty feet wide, and sixteen or seventeen feet high. This building we are in would be nothing to it. You could put five or six such buildings as this into it. That was no small undertaking in those days. I can imagine the people said: "How are you going to get the animals into the ark?" A great many men are ready to ridicule. No man stands up for God but he has to suffer ridicule, scorn, and contempt. I have no doubt that when Noah walked down to his home the people called him, "the lunatic;" they called him, "the old dreamer." They said he was a fanatic, and was spending all his means in that ark; that he was wasting his time, energies, and strength in a foolish undertaking. Men caviled and laughed at him. If there had been any preachers m those days, they would have preached about him and warned the people against him. If there had been any theatres, they would have had him represented on the floors of those theatres building the ark; and if there had been asylums for the insane, no doubt they would have put him in one, if God had not protected him. Jf we are true to God, we must be true in heart. All classes of the people were opposed to Noah. The great men of that time, the scientific men, the statesmen, the princes, kings, and rulers,—the whole world were all against him. But thanks be to God, Noah lived and walked close to God, and his children had confidence in him. And when the word came from God for them to move into the ark, they all went in with him.
Now, let as imagine we are looking at that scene. There is Noah building that ark, and as he went on building and it increased in size, and drew nearer and nearer completion, undoubtedly the number of visitors to that ark kept increasing. As they saw the old man, they would punch one another and say, "That is Noah; don't you we he looks a little out of his mind?" A mad man thinks every one else mad but himself. A drunkard does not call himself mad when he is drinking up all his means. Those men who stand and deal out death and damnation to men are not called mad; but a man is called mad when he gets into the ark, and is saved for time and eternity. I can imagine one hundred years have rolled away, and the work on the ark ceases. Men say, "What has he stopped work for?" He has gone on a preaching tour, to tell the people of the coming stormthat God is going to sweep every man from the face of the earth, unless he is in that ark. But he cannot get a man to come into that ark except his own family. Now, his contracts are drawing to a close. He believes the word of God, that in one hundred and twenty years the world would be destroyed; and everything must be done at a certain day. The work must be finished. I imagine it is the spring of the year. Noah didn't plant anything, and the people say: "Noah believes this year that the world is going to be destroyed. See, now, if he will not come to want." There is a rumor that he is going to live in the ark. He is going to leave his house that he has lived in for four hundred years. The ark is finished, and he leaves his home. Some of his relatives might have said, "What are you going to do with the old homestead?" Noah says, "I don't want it, the storm is coming." He tells them the day of grace is closing, that worldly wealth is of no value, and that the ark is the only place of safety. We must bear in mind that these railroads that we think so much of, will soon go down; they only run for time, not for eternity. The heavens will be on fire, and then what will your property, honor, and position in society be worth?
The word comes to Noah, "Come thou and all thy house into the ark." Now you see all Noah's neighbors and friends ridiculing him as he moves in. They say, he certainly is mad. After he has moved in, the first thing that alarms them is, they rise one morning, and lo and behold! the heavens are filled with the fowls of the air. They are flying into the ark, two by two. They come from the desert; they come from its niouritairv. they come from all parts of the world.
They are going into the ark. It must have been a curious sight. I can hear tne people cry, "Great God! what is the meaning of this?" And they look down on the earth; and, with great alarm and surprise, they see little insects creeping up two by two, coming from all parts of the world. Then behold 1 there come the tiger and the elephant, two by two. The neighbors cry out, "What does this mean?" They run to their statesmen and wise men, who have told them there was no sign of a coming storm, and ask them why it is that those birds, animals, and creeping things go toward the ark, as if guided by some unseen hand. "Well," the statesmen and wise men say, "we cannot explain it; but give yourselves no trouble; God is not going to destroy the world. Business was never better than it is now. Do you think if God was going to destroy the world, he would let us go on so prosperous as he has? There is no sign of a coming storm. What has made these creeping insects and these wild beasts of the forest go into the ark, we do not know. We cannot understand it; it is very strange. But there is no sign of anything going to happen. The stars are bright, and the sun shines as bright as ever it did. The lambs are skipping upon the hillside, and everything moves on as it has been moving for all time past. You can hear the children playing in the street. You can hear the voice of the bride and bridegroom in the land, and all is merry as ever." I imagine the alarm passed away,'and they fell into their regular courses. Noah comes out and says: "The door is going to be shut. Come in. God 'is going to destroy the world. See the animals, how they have come up; the communication has come to them direct from Heaven." But the people only mocked on.
One morning they are startled. They see that the great door of the ark is shut. The door of that ark must have been a large one. We are told God shut it. Perhaps it was so large no one could shut it. The same God that shut Noah in, shut the world out. It was a door of mercy and grace to those inside, but a warning to those outside. God shut that door, and shut them in. Matthew tells us that when the master of the house has risen up and shut the door, there will be no hope. Thank God the door of grace and mercy is open to-night. When that door is shut, there will be no hope for those outside of the ark of safety. "In a day that ye think not, the Son of Man shall come." That door of mercy and grace may be shut at any moment. While that door is open, and God calls you, oh, be wise, and step into the ark!
The door of the ark was shut, and none could enter then; but yet the people worked on, and the world went on scoffing. They said: "We see no sign of a coming storm. The lambs are skipping upon the hillsides." God gave them seven days' grace. If those antediluvians had cried for mercy in those seven days, they might have been saved. You cannot find a passage in the Bible where men have cried for mercy but they have always got it. The seven days have passed, and the last day has come. It is a very solemn period, these last days of the old year; and especially of the year 1875. For the last few days I have been praying to God that these last days of this year might be the best of all the days that have gone before them. I have been praying that this last Sabbath night may be the best Sabbath night we have ever spent. The last day came; those seven days of grace had expired, and the sun had gone down. Little did the people think as it went down that night, that it was the last time they should ever see it; and that the next morning when they arose, the heavens should be black with clouds. Did you ever stop and think that the last week is coming to you, that the last day is coming, and the last hour? It was coming to them. That night I can see the mothers putting their children to bed as usual. Perhaps some of them were mocking and laughing at the thought that Noah was •hut up in that old ark.
But at midnight, as we read in the New Testament, the cry was heard, "Behold, the Bridegroom cometh." That night the children were playing in the streets; there was marrying and giving in marriage that night. Perhaps at midnight, when they were all asleep, it began to thunder; and by and by it thundered so none of them could sleep. And the earth was rolling like a drunken man. The windows of heaven were open, and the fountains of the deep were broken up. The water came bubbling up, and the great sea burst its bounds and leaps over its walls. The rivers begin to swell. The people living in the lowlands begin to flee to the mountains and highlands. They flee up the hillsides. And there is a wail going •p: "Noah! Noah! Noah! Let us in." They leave their homes and come to the ark now. They pound* on the ark. Hear them cry: "Noah! Let us in. Noah! Have mercy on me." "I am your nephew," "I am your niece," "I am your uncle." Ah, there is a voice inside, saying: "I would like to let you in; but God has shut the door, and I cannot open it!" Ah, God shut that door! When the door is shut, there is no hope. Their cry was too late; their cry for mercy was too late; their day of grace was closed. Their last hour had come. God had plead with them; God had invited them to come in; but they had mocked at the invitation. They scoffed and ridiculed the idea of a deluge. Now it is too late. Now they would enter, but they cannot. Dear sinner, did you ever stop and think that the last year is coming? This year may be the last year for •ome in this assembly. The last month is coming—the last week is coming—the last day is coming—Yes, the last hour is coming, as it came to those antediluvians! Their day of grace was over; their day of mercy was ended, and now there was a wail going up from them. God did not permit any one to toll us how they perished. When Job lost his family, there was a messenger came to him; but there was no messenger came from the antediluvians; not even Noah co-ill I see the world perish. If he could, he would have seen men and women and children dashing against that ark; the waves rising higher and higher, while those outside were perishing, dying in unbelief. Some think to escape by climbing the trees, and think the storm will soon go down; but it rains on, day and night, for forty days and forty nights, and they are swept away as the waves dash against them. The statesmen, and astronomers and great men call for mercy; but it is too late. They had disobeyed the God of mercy. He had called, and they refused. He had plead with them, but they had laughed and mocked. But now the tune is come for judgment instead of mercy.
The time is coming again when God is going to deal in judgment with the world. It is but a little while; we know not when, but it is sure to come. God's word has gone forth that this world shall be rolled together like a scroll, and shall be on fire. What then will become of your soul? It is a loving call, "Now come, thou and all thy house, into the ark." Twenty-four hours before that rain began to fall, Noah's ark, if it had been sold at auction, would not have b'rought as much as it would be worth for kindling wood. But twenty-four hours after the rain began to fall, Noah's ark was worth more than all the world. There was not then a man living but would have given all his living for a seat in Noah's ark. You mayturn away from this hall to-night, and laugh. "I believe in Christ!" you say. "I would rather be without him than to have him." But bear in mind the time is coming that Christ will be worth more to you than ten thousand worlds like this. Bear in mind that he is offered to you to-night. It is a day of grace; it is a day of mercy. Do you know if you read your Bible carefully, that God always precedes judgment with grace? Grace is a forerunner of judgment. Now he called these men in the days of Noah in love. They would have been saved in those one hundred and twenty years. We find that when Christ came to plead with the people, and came to Jerusalem, it was their day of grace; but they mocked and laughed at him. He said: "Oh, how I would have gathered them up, as a hen doth gather her brood under her wings, but ye would not. They laughed and mocked. Forty years afterward, thousands of the people begged that their lives might be spared; and eleven hundred million of persons perished in that city.
In 1857 there was a revival that swept over this country—some people took up the pen and tried to write it down; it swept over the east and on to the western cities, clear over to the Pacific coast. This was God calling the nation to himself. There were half a million people united with the church at that time. Then the war broke out. We'were baptized with the Holy Ghost in 1857, and in 1861 we were baptized in blood. It was a call of mercy, precediiur judgment. I have a strange kind of feeling that we are living on the eve of some great crisis. You had better be wise and come into the ark. You had better be saved while God is calling you. I know how men were saved by that revival. I was with the army and I heard a shout in that army of "Glory to God in the highest!" You need not tell me that was not God breathing upon the nation, when dead souls were brought to life. We are now on the eve of a mighty revival. Make haste and make up your mind while it is a day of grace and mercy. A young lady tried this afternoon. She came in unconcerned; but she made up her mind not to go out until she got into the ark, and she soon got in.
God seeks to be merciful, and he wants to have you and your children saved. God said to Noah, "Come thou and all thy house into the ark." Father, are you in? Then you should not rest until your children are in. The burden of my prayer is that God may save my children. What would have been Noah's feelings if he had left one son out of the ark, when those judgment waves came against it? He would have said: "There is my poor boy on some mountain. Poor boy. Would to God I had died in his place. I would rather have perished on the mountain than had him perish." David cried over his son: "Oh, my son Absalom, my son, my son Absalom, would to God I had died for thee!" Noah loved his children, and they had confidence in him. A week ago there was a mother came here with her daughter. During the meeting the Spirit of God touched that daughter's heart. The daughter turned to the mother and said she wanted to go into the inquiry-room, and asked her mother to go in with her. The mother was not a Christian and she would not go with her daughter. She said, "Go in alone." The daughter said, * I will not go in without you go with me." The mother thought •he -would like to have her daughter go in, and she consented to go in with her, for she did not wish to stand in the way of her child. The next day she came to me. I was talking with her and she told me how she was brought under conviction. She said the sermon made no impression; she had no feeling about the matter until her daughter asked her to go into the inquiry-room with her. She was now very anxious about her salvation. I explained to her the way to become a Christian, and I have every reason to believe that she found Christ then and there. It is a glorious sight to see a whole family goinjr into the ark. God said to Noah: "Come thou and all thy family into the ark." Hear the voice of God calling you into the *re, and set your face like a flint and say, "I will press into the kingdom of God/'
When I was in Edinburgh on the last night of 1873, I was pleadfflg with the people to come to Christ. A voung lady made up her mind she would press into the ark of God. The Spirit of God had touched her heart, and she entered the kingdom of God. The next day ehe went to one of the ministers and said, "Cannot you give me something to do?" She had finished her education and was going home. He gave her some tracts to distribute. She went to work and distributed the tracts, and the next day she came to the meeting for the last time. She got all her things packed the next morning, and she took the train from Edinburgh to Aberdeen, to go home to her widowed mother. She took her hymn-book with her, and aa she waa on her way home she was singing from this book. There was another lady in the carriage that had come to the meeting the night before, and had heard about Christ, and was convicted and converted. There was a collision, and the young convert that waa converted the night before was killed instantly, and this girl was mortally wounded. She had her hymn-book open and it was stained with blood. As she was dying she was heard to sing: "The gate's ajar for me." The message came to that widowed mother that her daughter had gone to her long home. I would to God I could say tomething that would induce you to come into the ark. The gate's ajar for you and you can enter if you will. You can all enter if you will. I do not know when these gates will be closed; I do not know when the day of grace will end, but I know you can be saved tonight if you will. Come into the ark now. Accept salvation as a gift. My prayer is that God may bring many souls into the ark tonight.