THE CHILDREN FOR CHRIST.
The Family as Grace restores it.
'And the Lord said unto Noah, Come thou, and all thy house, into the ark : for thee have I seen righteous before me in this generation.'—gen. vii. 1.
'T)Y faith Noah prepared an ark for the saving -U of his house, ' and was made a witness to future ages that the faith of a believing, righteous parent obtains a blessing, not for himself only, but for his children too. The New Testament teaching, 'By faith he saved his house, ' is in perfect accordance with what is recorded in the Old Testament history: 'I have seen thee righteous before me: come thou, and all thy house, into the ark.' Even Ham, who, as far as his personal character was concerned, manifestly deserved to perish with the ungodly world, was saved from the flood for his father's sake and by his father's faith. It is the proof that in God's sight the family is regarded
as a unity, with the father as head and representative; that parents and children are one, and that in the dispensation of grace, even as in the ministration of condemnation, it is on this principle that God will deal with the families of His people.
We know how it was this fact, of parents and children being one, that had given sin its terrible power in the world. Or was it not in virtue of this that, when Adam had sinned, his whole posterity had been made subject at one blow, as it were, to sin and death? Was not the flood, as well as the fall, a proof of it? We see the children of Seth sunk as deep as the children of Cain, because Seth too was a son whom Adam had begotten in his likeness, with a sinful nature to be handed to his children too. Was it not this that gave sin such universal empire to thousand generations? The family was sin's greatest stronghold; children inherited the evil from their parents. The unity of parents and children was the strength of sin.
Noah's deliverance from the flood was to be the introduction of a new dispensation,—the first great act of God's redeeming grace on behalf of a sinful world. In it God manifested what the great principles of the economy of grace were to be. These were: mercy in the midst of judgment; life through death; faith as the means of deliverance, the one channel through which the blessing comes. And further, it was now to be revealed whether the family was to be one of the means of grace. There was every reason to expect it would be. It had been sin's mightiest ally, the chief instrument through which it had acquired such universal dominion. This principle was now to be rescued from the power of sin, to be adopted into the covenant of grace, to be consecrated and made subservient to the establishment of God's kingdom. How otherwise could the declaration be verified, 'Where sin abounded, there did grace much more abound,' if sin alone had the power through the parents to secure dominion over the children? Nay, in this very thing we are to have one of the brightest displays of redeeming grace,—that the relation of parents and children, which had become the great means for the transmission and establishing the power of sin, was much more to become the vehicle for the extension of the kingdom of God's grace. And though many ages would have to pass ere the promised Seed of the woman should be born, yet in anticipation of that holy birth the seed of God's people were to share in the blessing of their parents. It was on the strength of this hope that the children of righteous Noah were blessed with their father.
Let believing parents understand and remember this. The man who is righteous in God's sight is not dealt with only as an individual, but in his. relation as parent. When God blesses He loves to bless abundantly; the blessing must overflow the house of His servant. It is not only for this temporal life, and the supply of its many needs, that the father must regard himself as the appointed channel through whom the blessings of nature and providence must reach the child, and that he may count upon God's help. The parental relation has a nobler destiny: for the eternal life, too, with its blessings, the believing father is to regard himself as the appointed channel and steward of the grace of God.
When once we understand this blessed truth, and in its fulness of promise by faith accept God's word, 'Thee have I seen righteous before me in this generation,' we shall know to value the word that follows: 'Go thou, and thy whole house, into the ark.' The seed of the righteous shall be blessed ; the house of His servant God will bless. God gives the assurance that the ark in which the parent is to be saved is meant for his children too ; for his sake, it is for them as much as for him; the ark is to be the house of the family.
And as the blessing is to come for his sake, so through his instrumentality too. It is not only a promise, but a command: 'Go thou, and thy house, into the ark.' It is to him the charge is given to see to it that just as, and when, he enters in, they too. God will not deal with the house separate and apart from him; the parent has to bring the children into the ark.
And if the question comes up as to the power of a parent thus to lead his children into the ark as certainly as he himself goes in, the answer is simple and clear: 'By faith Noah prepared an ark for the saving of his house.' Let us believe that God always gives grace proportioned to the duty He imposes. Let the believing parent live, and act, and pray with and for his children, as one to whom the ark and its salvation is indeed the one aim and joy of life, and who is assured that his children are meant of God to be there with him. Let him confidently trust God for the salvation of every child. Let him in that spirit instruct and inspire his children. Let them grow up under the consciousness that to be with the father is to be with one who is in the ark—the blessing cannot be missed. This it is that baptism—the figure of the ark with its resurrection out of the waters of the deluge—seals to us in the blood of Jesus.
Beloved parents ! listen to the blessed tidings of which Noah is God's messenger to you: there is room for your child in the ark; the God who saves you expects you to bring your child with you. Oh, let it no longer be enough to pray and hope that your child may be saved, but accept in faith the assurance that he can be, and act out in obedience the command that you are to bring him in! And to each question as to how, let the answer be taken deeper to heart,' Go thou, and thy house.' Go in and live in the ark; bring up andtrain thy little children there, as one wholly separated from the world and dwelling there; God's blessing will use thy training for their salvation. Abide in Christ, and let the child feel that to be near thee is to be near Christ; live in the power of the love and the redemption and the life of Christ; thy house will be to the child the ark where Christ is known and found. Oh, if thou hast indeed heard that most blessed word, 'I have seen thee righteous,' let it teach thee in the obedience of a joyous faith to fulfil the precept,' 'Come thou, and all thy house, into the ark.'
'Thou, and all thy house'—may the word live in the heart of each believing parent!
0 Lord my God! I have heard Thy message, telling me that, since Thou hast accepted me as righteous in Thy Son, Thou wouldst have my children saved too. I have heard Thy voice of grace, 'Come thou into the ark, and thy house.' Blessed be Thy name for the assurance of the salvation of his children it offers a parent's heart!
Lord! do Thou Thyself open my eyes to see what Thy Word sets before me. Let me see in Noah the picture of a believing parent,—walking with Thee, believing Thy word, obedient to Thy command. Let me see in the ark the type of my blessed Lord Jesus, a sure and a safe hiding-place for me and my child. Let me see in the saving of Noah's house the sure pledge of what will be given to every parent who trusts Thee for his children, and obeys Thy voice to bring them in.
O my God! give me grace, like Thy servant Noah, so to walk with Thee that Thou mayest see me righteous before Thy face, so to believe the promise of Thy grace, so to obey Thy command and perform the work entrusted to me, that Thy blessing may abide on me and my children. And may it all be to the glory of Thy Holy Name. Amen.