God’s Grace in the Noahic Covenant

Gods Grace in the Noahic Covenant

Francis Roberts (1609-1675)
Mysterium & Medulla Bibliorum
The Mystery and Marrow of the Bible
Book 3, Chapter 2.

Of the Discovery and Administration of the Covenants of Promise in the Second Period of Time—From Noah till Abraham.


These two Covenants of God, established with Noah, before and after the Flood—for saving Noah and his family in the Ark by water from perishing with the wicked world, and for preserving the world from future destruction by a General Flood—were a renewed discovery and administration of the Covenant of Faith, touching sinners’ salvation by Jesus Christ.

The two former aphorisms I have briefly opened, for the better clearing of this. In them God’s Covenant with Noah hath been explained in reference to the temporal benefits therein expressed. In this God’s Covenant with Noah is to be unfolded in reference to spiritual benefits and mysteries under those temporals implied. In the two former aphorisms we have seen the outside of these Covenants. In this we shall behold the inside also. For more full satisfaction herein, Consider:

1. That these Covenants of God with Noah, were a renewed discovery and administration of the Covenant of Faith touching sinners’ recovery and salvation by Jesus Christ.

2. What was the spiritualness, or spiritual meaning of this Covenant.

3. What additionals are annexed to this federal administration, more than to the first from Adam till Noah. And consequently what differences and agreements there were betwixt these two dispensations.

4. Corollaries or inferences from the whole.

I. The Noahic Covenant is an administration of the Covenant of Faith.

I. That these two Covenants of God with Noah, before and after the General Flood were a renewed administration of the Covenant of Faith, touching sinners’ recovery and salvation by Jesus Christ, may be evinced by these ensuing arguments:

1. All of God’s Covenants since the Fall were in Christ.

1. All God’s Covenants and Promises since man’s Fall were founded, stablished, and principally accomplished in Jesus Christ the sinners’ Saviour. “For all the Promises of God in him (that is, in Jesus Christ) are yea, and in him amen, unto the glory of God” (2 Cor. 1:20), as hath been formerly explained. The same Christ for substance being tendered in them all, in several ages, severally. Why then shall Jesus Christ, and the mystery of sinners’ salvation by him, be excluded from these covenants and promises to Noah?

It is granted that Christ was revealed in these covenants with Noah, very dimly, obscurely, and but implicitly and it cannot be denied, but that in all the several administrations of the Covenants of Promise before Christ’s coming in the flesh, Christ was represented very obscurely, especially in the first administrations when divine grace in him began but to dawn and break forth to the world. Yet in the First Promise, which is darkest of all, we have found Christ and sinners’ recovery by him intended and implied; 1. In the Seed of the woman. 2. In the enmity betwixt the Seed of the woman and the Serpent. 3. In the bruising of the Serpent’s head by the woman’s Seed, And 4. In the Serpent’s bruising of his heel.

Why then should it seem a thing incredible or impossible to find out Christ, and sinners’ salvation by him: 1. In Noah’s and his family’s salvation in the Ark by water from destruction. 2. In his sacrifices offered. 3. In God’s promises of his and the world’s preservation from all such floods for future. And, 4. In the rainbow confirming the same? Surely there were some glimmerings of Christ in Noah, the Ark, the waters, salvation thereby, the altar, sacrifices, rainbow, etc. as after may more distinctly appear.

2. Noah’s Faith.

2. Noah by his faith, being moved with fear at God’s warning and making his Ark, became heir of the righteousness which is by faith. By faith Noah being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an Ark, to the saving of his house, by the which he condemned the world, and became heir of the righteousness which is by faith. In which words note:

I. The foundation of Noah’s faith, namely, God’s warning him of things unseen as yet. God’s will and warning by his Word is the ground of our Faith.

II. The commendation of Noah’s faith by the excellent effects, fruits, or advantages thereof, notably flowing from one another. Namely:

1. A reverential awe, and respect to God, and to his warning revealed; being moved with fear.

2. Hereupon an obediential preparation of an Ark. (1) Primarily, for the saving of his own house. (2) Secondarily, for the condemning of the world. In his building of which Ark he condemned the world two ways. Partly, by his faith and obedience in building it—hereby he condemned the unbelieving and disobedient world. Partly, by his preaching to the Old World whilst he did build it. Every knock upon the Ark for 120 years together, being as a penitential sermon to the world of the ungodly. Hereby he condemned the obstinate and impenitent world.

3. Consequently from both, a true title to, and heirship of the righteousness which is by faith, even as an heir hath right and title to his inheritance. This righteousness by faith is that perfect righteousness of Jesus Christ, which God of his mere grace imputeth to them that by faith accept and receive the same, having renounced all self-righteousness, and all other ways of sinners’ justification whatsoever. It is called “God’s righteousness” because it is a righteousness whereof God is author, which alone God will accept, and which consists in the perfect obedience of him who is God as well as man. It’s styled “the righteousness by faith,” or “of faith” because it is instrumentally apprehended and applied only by faith. It is opposed to the righteousness of the Law, called our own righteousness, which consists in our own perfect and perpetual personal fulfilling of the Law. This being not our own, but Christ’s righteousness, perfectly fulfilling the Law, and undergoing the curse thereof for us, and making his righteousness ours by faith. Of this righteousness of Christ, Noah became heir, whilst by faith he reverenced God’s warning touching the Flood, and prepared an Ark according to God’s Covenant with him, for his family’s salvation.

Hence therefore it is evident, that Noah, in all this federal transaction betwixt God & him, had a special eye to Christ by faith. And that beyond the temporal salvation of his house in the Ark by waters from the General Deluge, he beheld and apprehended the spiritual salvation of Christ’s House the Church, and peculiarly of himself from the wrath of God by Jesus Christ and his blood. Otherwise how could this act of his faith have made him heir of Christ’s righteousness? None can inherit Christ’s righteousness but by faith in Christ. Consequently this Covenant of God with Noah, touching his salvation in the Ark by water, principally intended the great salvation by Christ, and so was an administration of the Covenant of Faith.

3. The Typology of the Noahic Covenant.

3. Noah, was a singular type of Christ, the Ark, a figure of the Church, and the temporal saving of his house with himself in the Ark by water, a special type of the salvation of Christs elect in the Church by Jesus Christ. Consequently God’s Covenant with Noah touching the saving of him and his family in the Ark by water from the common destruction upon the wicked world, intended herein to signify the elect’s salvation by Christ through faith. And so this Covenant was the Covenant of Faith renewed with Noah touching sinners’ recovery and salvation by Christ. The consequence is clear. The antecedent, consisting of three distinct branches, may be thus evidenced also in order.

(1) Noah was a Type of Christ.

(1) Noah was a singular type of Christ. The Scriptures not obscurely intimate this, and learned writers both ancient and modern affirm it. Parallel them a little, and then see how notably Noah adumbrated and resembled Jesus Christ.

I. Of Noah it was foretold that he should comfort his family concerning their work and toil, and the curse of the ground. Whereupon he was named Noah, that is, resting, comforting, or restoring, as before was noted. Of Christ also it was foretold that he should save his people from their sins, whereupon he was called Jesus, a Saviour, that he should preach good tidings unto the meek; should bind up the broken-hearted; should proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound; should proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord; should comfort all that mourn; should give unto the mourners in Zion beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness. And how sweetly doth Christ allure distressed souls to himself! “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Mat. 11:28).

II. When all flesh had corrupted his ways, and the whole world was overflowed with extreme wickedness, yet Noah was a just and upright man, walking with God, and found grace in the eyes of the Lord. So Jesus Christ, in the corruptest times wherein he lived, was perfectly just, did nothing amiss; had no guile in his mouth; was holy, harmless, undefiled, and separate from sinners. Increased in favour with God and man. And was the Son of his Father’s love.

III. Noah was a Priest, a Prophet, and a King. 1. A Priest; for he builded an Altar unto the Lord; and took of every clean beast, and of every clean fowl, and offered burnt offerings upon the Altar. 2. A Prophet, for he was a Preacher of righteousness to the old world. And 3. A King; for the Flood having drowned the whole world except himself, and his family, Noah was the sole monarch of the whole Earth: and by his three sons, Shem, Ham, and Japheth was the whole earth overspread; and all creatures subdued under them.

So Christ was, 1. A Priest, yea our great High Priest. Both making satisfaction to God’s justice for our sins by offering up his manhood once upon the Altar of his Godhead; And by making continual intercession in Heaven for us. 2. A Prophet, revealing unto sinners God’s will touching their salvation: and opening their understandings to discern the same. 3. A King. Conquering and subduing us to himself; applying his benefits to us purchased and revealed; governing, and guarding us; and crushing all his and our enemies under his foot.

IV. Noah builded a material Ark, for the saving of his natural posterity therein from the general deluge of waters, according to God’s Covenant. So Jesus Christ builds a spiritual Ark, his Church, for the saving of all his elect, his supernatural posterity therein, from the deluge of God’s wrath.

V. Noah sacrificing burnt offerings to God, God smelled a savour of rest, and took occasion hereby to Promise and Covenant with Noah never to destroy the world with a Flood of waters, making his bow in the cloud a sign or token of the Covenant. So Jesus Christ by the eternal Spirit offering up himself without spot to God, and giving himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet smelling savour. The Lord hereupon hath established a New and Everlasting Covenant with them that are Christ’s, never to destroy them for their sins by the deluge of his wrath, but to be merciful to their iniquities, and remember their sins no more;. Yea to be their God, and that they shall be his people. Adding Baptism and the Lord’s Supper, as tokens and seals of this Covenant.

VI. The dreadful storm of the Flood being over, Noah sent forth out of the Ark a dove, which returned to them into the Ark with an olive branch (an emblem of peace and comfort) in her mouth, signifying that the waters were abated. So Jesus Christ, the terrible storm and tempest of his Passion and death for our sin being over, sends forth his Holy Spirit (sometimes appearing in the form of a dove) the Author of comfort, peace, and joy in the hearts of his people, witnessing with their spirits that they are God’s children, that their sins are pardoned, their peace with God is concluded, and the Flood of his wrath is for ever turned away.

VII. Finally, Noah was a restorer of the world ruined by the Flood of waters. His sons overspread the whole Earth, and the creatures, which he preserved and provided for in the Ark, replenished the world. So, and much more eminently, Jesus Christ is the restorer of the whole world, dissipated, scattered, broken, cursed, and ruined for man’s sin by the Flood of God’s wrath. Redeeming, preserving, and propagating his Church throughout the whole world. Restoring and ordering all creatures for the good of his Church. In the dispensation of the fullness of times, God hath gathered together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are in earth, even in him. And hath put all things under his feet: and gave him to be head over all things to the Church. And of Christ it is said, He is before all things, and by him all things consist. And He is the Head of the body, the Church: who is the beginning, the first-born from the dead, that in all things he might have the preeminence. For it pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell. And (having made peace through the blood of his Cross) by him to reconcile all things unto himself by him, I say, whether they be things in Earth, or things in Heaven. Thus Noah, in reference to this federal transaction of God with him, notably resembled Jesus Christ. And therefore how can we but conclude, that God’s Covenants with Noah were intended for an administration of the Covenant of Faith, touching sinners’ recovery by Jesus Christ?

(2) The Ark was a Type of the Church.

(2) The Ark of Noah was a notable type of the Church of Christ. The Apostle Peter intimates so much, in the judgment of Jerome. Both Augustine, Jerome, Cyprian, and other later writers hold that Noah’s Ark was a type of Christ’s Church. Yet in the accommodation of the resemblance, they run out into some niceties and curiosities which will hardly abide a strict examination. Pitch we upon those things which seem more solid herein.

Now the Ark of Noah did notably adumbrate and resemble the Church of Christ, (especially the Church visible) in these particular respects.

I. The Ark was built by Noah as the master builder, ordering all things therein according to God’s Covenant and command, having inferior workmen under him. The Church, the House of the living God, was builded by Jesus Christ. Hence it is called his own House. And particular churches are styled the Churches of Christ. And Jesus Christ hath his inferior master builders under him, viz. “Apostles, Prophets, Evangelists, Pastors, and Teachers, for the perfecting of the Saints, for the work of the Ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ” (Eph. 4:11-12). Some of these Christ constituted as master builders to lay the foundation, as the extraordinary officers, Apostles, etc. Others as under builders to build upon their foundation laid, Jesus Christ himself being the chief cornerstone.

II. The material Ark was a long time in building by Noah. From God’s first establishing his Covenant with Noah, till the end of the old world, which was 120 years. The spiritual Ark, the Church, is a longer time in building by Christ, even from God’s First Promise established on the Seed of the Woman, till the end of the world that now is, and Christ’s second coming. For till then the Gospel ordinances, and officers, are to continue for the gathering and building of his Church. And the received opinion of the Jews is, as it was created in six days, so it will continue 6000 years.

III. The Ark was builded of gopher wood, a wood well senting and lasting. The planks thereof closed fast together, and pitched within and without with pitch, that neither rain from above, nor floods from below might enter, or sink the same. The Church also is builded of lasting and well senting gopher wood, that is, trees of righteousness, saints by calling, really or apparently such, a knit and joined together in love. With this (as Augustine hath it) they are pitched within and without, maintaining the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace, whereby they are kept from sinking under temptations or tribulations. Jerusalem is as a city that is compact together. In Christ all the building fitly framed (or compacted) together, groweth unto an holy Temple in the Lord.

IV. The material Ark had a window to let in light to them that were therein. The spiritual Ark the Church hath her window, her spiritual light—even Jesus Christ the light of the world, who by his Word and Spirit illuminates all his House. Jesus said, “I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life” (John 8:12).

V. The Ark had but one door to go in and out at. The Church also hath but one door for the elect sheep of Christ to enter in at for salvation. This door is Christ alone. I am the door of the sheep, (saith Christ) by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved; and shall go in and out and find pasture. No man cometh unto the Father but by Christ. Neither is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men whereby we can be saved. Yea there is a door unto this door Christ. For (as Augustine noteth) the side and heart of Christ pierced and opened by the spear, the wound in Christ’s side, is the way into Christ, for hence the sacraments did flow, whereby believers are initiated.

VI. The Ark was made with lower, second, and third stories, for the variety of creatures. So in the Church there are several stories and degrees. All not in a level of equality. Some are Governours, Rulers, Officers. Some are governed, ruled, and without special office. Again, among officers, some were extraordinary, and to continue but for a time, as Apostles, Prophets, Evangelists. Are all Apostles, are all Prophets? etc. Some ordinary, and to continue to the end, as Pastors, and Teachers, Elders, Deacons. As the natural body hath several members, and several offices for all these members. And amongst the community of the faithful, some are babes in Christ, some are grown men, having their senses exercised to discern between good and evil. Some are weak in the faith, some are strong, and comparatively perfect in regard of others. And as the God of order hath thus ranked his people in the Church, in their several places, functions and stories as it were, so they should know and keep their places respectively. Yea in Heaven itself, wherein the Church shall be triumphant, there are many mansions. And as here degrees of grace, so there degrees of glory. Some shall shine as the brightness of the firmament, some as the stars for ever and ever. For, the Lord will render to every one according to his works, both for kind and degree.

VII. The Ark had in it all variety of creatures, both clean and unclean: wolf and lamb, sheep and goats, etc. Yea in it was a cursed Ham, as well as an holy Noah and a blessed Shem. So the visible Church, the spiritual Ark hath in it people of all nations, tongues, and languages, of all sexes, ages, conditions, and degrees: Jews and Gentiles; noble and ignoble; rich and poor; wise and foolish; bond and free; male and female; young and old. In this field, also are tares as well as wheat; in this net, bad, as well as good fish; in this House, foolish, as well as wise virgins; in this Ark, hypocrites and reprobates, as well as the sincere and elect. Hereupon said Jerome, “As in the Ark were kinds of all creatures: so in the Church are men of all nations and manners. As there the leopard and the kids, the wolf and the lambs: so here the righteous and sinners, that is, golden and silver vessels remain with wooden and earthen vessels.” In the visible Church, God’s House, are as well vessels to dishonour, as vessels to honour; as well vessels of wrath, as vessels of mercy.

VIII. Finally, the Ark with them that were therein, was exposed to storms and tempests, winds and waves, rain and floods, such as the world never saw since nor before. By which it was extremely endangered to be split in a thousand pieces upon rocks or mountains, or to be overturned and overwhelmed in the deep, all the world being nothing but one entire sea. Thus the Church on earth with all the people of God therein are liable to the most rugged tempests of afflictions and persecutions of all sorts and degrees. Time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God.—In this world (saith Christ to his disciples) ye shall have tribulation—Many are the afflictions of the righteous, saith David.—Yea and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus, shall suffer persecution.—And, through much tribulation we must enter into the kingdom of God. Hereupon said Jerome, “The Ark was endangered in the Flood: The Church is endangered in the world.” And before him Cyprian said, “The Ark did bear a figure of the Church; and the tossing of the Ark to and fro with winds and billows, a figure of persecution.” The Ark could have no rest, till it came to Mount Ararat, nor shall the Church and people of God have any perfect rest, till they come to the celestial Ararat, those mountains of spices.

Thus the Ark (to mention no more particulars) did notably resemble the visible Church of Christ. And therefore in God’s Covenant with Noah touching this Ark, explicitly, why may we not understand God’s Covenant of Faith in Christ touching his Church implicitly?

(3) Salvation from the Flood was a Type of Salvation from God’s Wrath.

(3) Finally, the saving of Noah, his family and the living Creatures in the Ark by waters, from perishing by the Flood, was a remarkable type or figure of the salvation of the Household of God in the Ark of his Church by Jesus Christ from perishing by the deluge of Divine wrath. The words of Peter are most clear for this: “the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water. The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 3:20-21). Thus parallel and accommodate the type to the anti-type. The figure to the thing prefigured.

I. They only that were in the Ark with Noah, were saved from the flood of waters, when all the world besides, without the Ark, were drowned. So, they only that are within the Church with Jesus Christ are saved from the wrath of God, when all the world without the Church are swallowed up by Divine vengeance for their sins. The known maxim is, “Without the Church is no Salvation” [cf. WCF 25:2]. Ordinarily it is so. I dispute not what God may do extraordinarily. But the Apostle informs us that such as are “aliens to the Commonwealth of Israel, are without Christ, strangers from the Covenants of Promise, having no hope, and without God in the world” (Eph. 2:12). And therefore as such, they are in a sad incapacity of salvation. Hereupon said Augustine, “Whosoever he be, and what manner of person soever he is, a Christian he is not, that is not in the Church.” And again elsewhere he saith, “Firmly hold, and nothing doubt, that not only all Pagans, but also all Jews, heretics, and schismatics, who finish this present life without the Catholic Church, shall go into everlasting fire prepared for the Devil and his angels.

II. They that were saved in the Ark were saved by water. They were saved by water, from water. By the Flood, from the Flood. For the water lifted up the Ark and them therein above the peril of drowning. So the Church is saved: 1. Sacramentally by water, viz. by the water of Baptism, which in regard of its signification and end, is salvific. He that believes and is baptized, shall be saved. 2. Spiritually by the blood of Christ justifying, and by the Spirit of Christ sanctifying, both signified by water. Christ’s blood washeth away the guilt, Christ’s Spirit washeth off the filth of sin. Thus we are saved by the flood of Christ’s blood and water, from the flood of God’s wrath. Yea as Augustine noteth, They in the Ark were saved by wood and water: So we in a sort in Christ are saved by wood and water, viz. by his death, who himself bare our sins in his own body on the tree, and out of whose side, pierced with the spear, gushed both blood and water for the cleansing away of our sins. What doth it signify that Noah was delivered by water and wood? Water signifies Baptism, wood the cross. As Noah was delivered by water & wood, so also the Church is delivered by Baptism and the signal of his Passion.

III. They that were saved in the Ark by water and wood, were saved by being lifted up above the Earth. So they that are saved by Christ’s blood, are saved by being lifted up above the earth by his Resurrection and Ascension also.—The like figure whereunto, even Baptism doth also now save us, by the resurrection of Jesus Christ: who is gone into Heaven, and is on the right hand of God. When Christ meritoriously and effectually wrought our salvation, he by his Resurrection came out of the earth, and by his Ascension went far above the earth, even into Heaven. When Christ actually applies his salvation to us, Christ risen makes us rise with him; Christ ascended, makes us ascend after him; Christ sitting in Heaven, makes us set our affections above, not on things on the earth, and our conversations are in Heaven also.

IV. They that were saved in the Ark were saved therein with Noah, who forsook his own habitation to dwell with them in the Ark and with them to be tossed up and down with winds and waves that they might be saved with him. So they that are saved in the Ark of the Church, are saved by Christ’s gracious and powerful presence, therefore Christ himself left his Heavenly Throne for a while, and entered solemnly into the Church by Baptism—and therein dwelt with us, exposing himself to all storms and tempests, waves and billows, rocks and dangers of affliction and persecution to save us from them. He carried our griefs and bare our sorrows, that our griefs and sorrows might be turned into joy. He was content to undergo our storms with us, that we might enjoy his calms with him. He was tossed with us on our sea, that we might anchor with him in his Haven. He was afflicted with us in all our afflictions, that we might be affected with him in all his consolations. He was involved in our curse, that he might impart to us his blessedness. He was wounded and bruised for our iniquities, that we might be healed by his stripes. He was condemned for our crimes that we might be cleared by his condemnations. He was imprisoned in our chains and fetters that we might be set at liberty by his imprisonment. He was crowned with our thorns that we might be crowned with his triumphs. He died with us that we might live with him. He was buried with us that we might rise with him. He became sin with us that we might be the righteousness of God in him. Thus Christ endangers himself with us, for our safety. While Christ is in the ship, in the Ark, all is safe, though (as once the Apostles) in greatest storms and hazards. The ship of the Church had long ere this day been split, sunk, wrecked, and broken in pieces, had not Christ been in the ship to rebuke the waves and tempests.

V. They that were saved in the Ark from the Flood, were saved by God’s special providence, guiding and ordering the Ark. For it was heavy laden, yet had neither anchor nor cable, mast, helm, sails, nor tackling, neither pilot, mariner nor skillful steersman. Yet at last it landed safe on Mountains of Ararat, which signifies, “take away fear.” So they that are saved in the Church by Christ from Divine wrath, are saved by God’s singular providence, most eminently acting in providing Christ for them. In tendering and applying Christ to them, and in preserving them in Christ unto the end.

VI. They that were saved in the Ark, were saved according to God’s Covenant. So they that are saved by Christ, are saved according to God’s Covenant and promises in him, both under Old and New Testament. God’s truth & faithfulness herein, is their shield and buckler, and their Tower of Salvation.

VII. They that were saved in the Ark were but few, eight souls, when the whole world besides was drowned. So they that are saved by Christ (though in themselves a multitude, which none can number, yet) in comparison of them that perish, are exceeding few. Christ’s flock is but a little flock. Many are called, few are chosen.

VIII. Finally, they that were saved from the Flood of waters, were assured from God after their deliverance was completed, that there should be never more any such flood to drown the earth. So they that are saved by Christ, after the accomplishment and completing of their salvation, are assured there shall be no more sea, no more sea of affliction. But that God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes: and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain.

Thus the saving of Noah and his family in the Ark by water from the Flood, was an observable type of our salvation by Christ from Divine wrath. Therefore God’s Covenant with Noah thus to save him and his, in the Ark, by water, was for substance the Covenant of Faith for saving sinners by Jesus Christ. And under that temporal and typical, this spiritual and eternal salvation was intended.

Seeing then, Noah was a type of Christ herein; the Ark a type of the Church; and the saving of his house, etc. with Noah in the Ark by waters from perishing in the Flood, a type of the saving of God’s people in the Church by Christ from perishing by God’s wrath: It is clear that God’s Covenant with Noah was a renewed administration of the Covenant of Faith. Thus of this third argument.

4. Christ is the Substance of the Noahic Covenant.

4. God’s Covenant with Noah and his family, not to curse the ground any more for man’s sake, by destroying the earth with a general Flood of waters, notwithstanding the imagination of man’s heart remained evil from his youth, doth notably point out God’s Covenant of Faith in Christ, by whom alone the curse due for sin is removed, though sin in his people be not wholly extinguished and obliterated. “Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the Law, being made a curse for us; for it is written, cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree” (Gal. 3:13).

To this effect saith one [Ainsworth] very appositely, touching this place of Genesis [8:21]:

“This taking away of the curse (notwithstanding man’s corrupt heart remaining) is a notable testimony of God’s rich mercy in Christ, by whom we are freed from the curse. Gal. 3.13; Rev. 22:3; Zech. 14:11. For the Covenant now made concerning the waters with Noe, was a figure of that spiritual and eternal Covenant of Peace with us in Christ, as is shewed in Isa. 54:8-10.”

So he. And I add that God’s covenanting to curse the ground no more with a general Flood forever, though man’s heart remained corrupt, the more clearly signifies to us God’s Covenant of Faith in Christ, touching sinners’ recovery and salvation because God took occasion to make this Covenant, upon Noah’s sacrificing of burnt offerings upon an Altar to him, whereupon God smelled a sweet savour of rest, and said in his heart, I will not again curse the ground anymore, etc. God made this Covenant, being pacified with Noah’s burnt offerings.

How could Noah’s burnt offerings pacify God, or afford any sweet savour to God? Not in and of themselves, for the bodies of beasts burnt of themselves send forth an offensive savour. Not from any merit of Noah, for though he was righteous, yet his righteousness was of faith, not of works, and he was subject to sinful frailties. How then? Only as types of Christ’s death for our sins, that sacrifice of sacrifices which was the Substance, End, and Scope of all the sacrifices under the Old Testament. This was the Sacrifice to God for a sweet smelling savour. This was the true cause of appeasing God’s wrath, of removing the curse, and of God’s gracious covenanting with Noah no more to drown the world with a flood. Consequently this Covenant in the secret and spiritual intendments of it, was a renewed discovery of the Covenant of Faith touching sinners’ recovery in Christ Jesus.

5. The Symbolism of the Rainbow.

5. As the Rainbow is made a token of this Covenant of God with Noah, a sign and pledge of Divine favour, mercy, and peace: So Jesus Christ our Lord is represented in Scripture, sometimes as sitting upon a throne, there being a Rainbow round about the throne, in sight like to an emerald (Rev. 4:3). Sometimes as a Mighty Angel descending from Heaven, clothed with a cloud, and a Rainbow upon his head (Rev. 10:1), etc. In both which places (as that learned Rivet well notes):

“There is mention of a Rainbow (which God hath made a token of mercy & peace) that we may acknowledge Christs throne to be compassed about with mercy, and that he shows this mercy in his countenance, when he manifests himself unto his people. But especially, we have that Rainbow in his face, whereby we are certain, not only that the waters shall no more universally overflow the earth; but also and chiefly that we are not to fear the flood of God’s wrath, since Christ hath pacified the Father, whom whilst God beholds, he remembers his mercy and promises, which in him are Yea, and Amen. Therefore Christ appears crowned with a Rainbow, as the Messenger of Grace and Peace. For he is the Prince of Peace, and our Peace (Isa. 9:6; Eph. 2:14).”

So he. The Rainbow then, which as a token of mercy was annexed to Noah’s Covenant, is thence used to signify divine mercy to sinners in Christ Jesus. Whereby we are given to understand that the Rainbow was not only given as a confirmatory token against an universal Flood of waters, but also as a consolatory token in Christ against the Flood of God’s wrath. And so the Rainbow leads us even to Christ himself, and to the Covenant of Faith in him. Hence saith another, “As the Covenant made with Noah concerning the waters is applied to the spiritual Covenant made with us in Christ (Isa. 54:9-10), so the Rainbow (the sign of that Covenant) is also applied for the sign of grace from God to his Church (Rev. 4:3, 10:1; Ezek. 1:28).” And Augustine saith, “What is signified by this Rainbow but the reconciliation of the world, which is known to be done by the dispensation of the incarnate Word?etc.

6. Several Reformed Theologians have taught that the Noahic Covenant is an Administration of the Covenant of Grace.

6. Finally, diverse judicious writers account this Covenant of God with Noah before and after the Flood, the Covenant of Grace and Faith in Christ, and think, that under this temporal salvation from the Flood expressed, the spiritual and eternal salvation of God’s elect from the deluge of God’s wrath is implied. This therefore is no new or singular opinion, though those that purposely treat of God’s Covenant, do omit this gradual discovery and distinct administration of the Covenant of Faith to Noah.

Learned and judicious Rivet saith of this Covenant:

“And though that Covenant seem only to respect this present life, yet we must ascend higher to the thing signified. For it is the Covenant of Grace which looks at some other thing than the use of temporal life for a few years.” (On Gen. 6. Exercitation 53, p. 271, (1633)).

That learned and laborious Pareus saith thus:

“A question here ariseth, whether this Covenant be the same with that which we have now with God, or another different from it? I answer, it is the same, and diverse.

“It is the same in respect of eternal grace by Christ, and in respect of the obligation of moral obedience. For, this Substance of the Covenant, that is, of the mutual stipulation of God and the elect, is the same and perpetual in both Testaments. Promulgated in Paradise, the Seed of the woman, etc. (Gen. 3). Repeated to Noah here, and in chapter 9. Tied to the family of Abraham (Gen. 15:18, 17:2). Repeated to Moses and the Israelites (Ex. 24). At last most fully declared and confirmed by the ministry and blood of Christ. Therefore Christ is Mediator of the Everlasting Covenant (Heb. 13:20). The same both now and of old is the way of salvation by Christ (Heb. 13:18; Acts 15:11).

“But this Covenant differs in circumstances and manner of administration. God propounded this gratuitous Covenant in one sort to the Fathers, in another to us. 1. To the Fathers he added certain external promises: As, of preservation in the Flood, to Noah; of giving the Land of Canaan to Abraham; Not so to us. 2. To them he gave other signs and burdens: Before the Flood, sacrifices; After the Flood, the Rainbow to Noah; Circumcision to Abraham; The Passover to Moses and the Israelites; yea, sacrifices, ceremonies, festivals, and innumerable other laws, wherein as in a cloud or dark garment the Promise of Grace was involved. For all the Legal shadows did shew Christ: but more obscurely, as when the Sun is seen through the clouds. To us he hath given other signs, clearer and fewer, the shadows disappearing at Christ’s coming.

“By reason of this diversity, the Covenant, which is but one in Substance, is said to be twofold, Old and New. And the Old is abolished, because the Promise of Grace hath put off its legal robe, wherewith it was covered of old as with a cloud. But the New is everlasting, both in Substance and Administration, because another change of rites and sacraments is not to be expected before the Last Day. For as much as we are commanded to break the Lord’s bread, and shew forth the Lord’s death until he come.” (D. Parel Comment. in Gen. 6:18 and in Gen. 9:11).

How fully and clearly hath he expressed himself in this matter!

That learned and accurate textual, Mr. Ainsworth, thus expresseth himself:

“And thou shalt enter, etc. This explaineth the Covenant made on God’s part, that he would save Noah and his household from death by the Ark. And on Noah’s part, that he should through faith and obedience make and enter into the Ark, so committing himself to God’s preservation (Heb. 11:7). And under this, the Covenant or Testament of Eternal Salvation by Christ, was also implied. The Apostle testifying that the (anti-type, or) like figure hereunto, even Baptism, doth now also save us (1 Pet. 3:21), which Baptism is a seal of our salvation (Mark 16:16).” (Annotations, on Gen. 6:18).

That pious, judicious and industrious Perkins (who did more good service to the Church of God with his left hand, than many do with both; like a spiritual Ehud stabbing the Romish Eglon with his left-handed pen) saith:

“And thus we have seen in some sort how the “ark saved Noah and his household,” and what this “household” of his was.

“Now besides this end and use of the ark, we are further to know that whereas this saving of them was but a corporal deliverance from a temporal death, this ark has also a spiritual use, which we may not omit. For as many of Noah’s family as were true believers, it was a means to save them another way, even to save their souls, for it taught them many things.

“First, it was an assurance of God’s love unto their souls. For if He was so careful to save their bodies from the flood, they thereby assured themselves He would be as good unto their souls, which they knew to be far more precious and excellent.

“Secondly, it showed them how to be saved. For as they saw no safety, nothing but present death out of the ark, so it taught them that out of God’s church and out of God’s favor no salvation could be expected. And so it taught them to labor to be in God’s favor and members of His true church.

“Thirdly, they saw they were saved from the flood by faith and obedience. For, first, Noah believed God’s word that the flood should come. Then he obeyed God’s commandment and made the ark, as he was commanded. And thus he and his, by believing and obeying, were saved through the ark. And without these, the ark could not have saved them. This taught them more particularly how to be saved—namely, by believing God and obeying God, and else no salvation. For when they saw their bodies could not be saved without them, it assured them much less could their souls be saved without faith and obedience.

“Lastly, this deliverance by the ark was a pawn unto them from God, assuring them of salvation if they believed in the Messiah. For seeing God so fully performed His promise unto them for their bodily deliverance upon their believing, they thereby might assure themselves He would perform His promise of salvation unto them upon their faith and true obedience.” (Com. on Heb. 11:7, Works, vol. 3, p. 100).

So he. In his judgment therefore, the temporal salvation of their bodies in the Ark by water, did instruct them touching the spiritual and eternal salvation of their souls in the Church by Christ. Whence it is clear that God’s Covenant with Noah in the temporal salvation expressed, intended the spiritual and eternal salvation implied.

Thus, In Noah, we have found Christ. In the Ark, the Family or Church of Christ. In the saving of Noah’s family in the Ark by waters from perishing in the Flood, the saving of the Church and elect of God by Jesus Christ, and his death, from perishing in the deluge of God’s wrath. In Noah’s altar and burnt offerings affording a savour of rest to God, the true Altar and Sacrifice Jesus Christ, who offered up himself for our sins, an odour of a sweet smell to God. In the Rainbow, the token of mercy and peace, The mercy favour love and peace of God towards us in the face of Christ. And consequently in that Covenant of God with Noah for corporal preservation, we have found the Covenant of Faith dispensed to him in Christ touching sinners’ spiritual recovery and eternal salvation.

And so the first thing is cleared, that God’s Covenants with Noah before and after the Flood, were a renewed discovery and administration of the Covenant of Faith touching sinners’ salvation by Jesus Christ.

The next thing to be inquired into, is the Spiritualness of these Covenants of God with Noah, as they are a renewed administration of the Covenant of Faith touching sinners’ eternal salvation by Jesus Christ. For it is already cleared by sundry arguments, that under temporals explicitly Covenanted, spirituals were implicitly intended and comprised.


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