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C H A P. VI.
OF THE APPOINTMENT OF THE
SEASONS, CONSEQUENT UPON
HE design of this, and the following chapter, is to consider some
particulars consequent upon the deluge, which are matter of pure revelation, that otherwife we could have no knowledge, or idea of: But which, when considered, may tend to confirm and illustrate what hath been advanced in the foregoing chapter.
And first, in this chapter, of the appointment of the seasons, recorded in Gen.
God, THE SCRIPTURE THEORY, &c.
245 God, having satisfied his justice, and fulfilled the ends of his wisdom, in the
pu. nishment and destruction of the old world, discovered early marks of his grace and favour to the new, and to the surviving persons, whom he had faved to replenish it with inhabitants.
Noah's first care was, in a deep sense of the mercy of his deliverance, to express the gratitude of his heart, by building an altar, and offering burnt facrifices upon it; which were propitiatory on the one hand, as well as eucharistical on the other. And this act of religious homage proved to be highly acceptable to God. The odour of the offerings was grateful to him, and he smelled a sweet savour from them: And in farther token of his kind. ness and benignity, he made the following most merciful and gracious determination
-The Lord said in his heart, I will not again curse the ground any more for man's fake ; though the imagination of man's heart is evil from his youth: Neither will I again
smite any more every thing living, as I have done *.
Some have thought, that they saw here a final end of the curse on the ground; which having subsisted in its full rigour, during the continuance of the old world, had its period with it, and was finished with the flood f. But I cannot find any warrant for such an interpretation, which is contrary likewise to fact and experience; from which we may be sufficiently convinced, that the curse hath not entirely ceased, as yet.
What seems to be the meaning of the words, is, that God would on no account revive or renew the curse in its former severity, be the provocations of men ever fo great, as he foresaw they would be; notwithstanding the warning they had from the late dreadful judgment, which he had inflicted upon a world of finners: But that he would from hence forward suffer the curse to wear away by degrees: Much less would he destroy every thing living again, in the manner he had now done *.
As a yet farther mark of his gracious and favourable intentions, he adds-While the earth remaineth, feed-time and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease t.
As the incliuation, which had been given to the earth, from its former position, at the flood, if not then felt, would not fail, in its future consequences, to be observed by Noah; and probably would be apprehended by him to be productive of fome yet farther bad effects : To remove his fears, God assures him, that this alteration would be no ways detrimental; so far otherwise, that it would indeed be greatly advantageous—That from henceforward, the year would be divided into
* See Essay on Redemption, ch. iv. p. 68. + Gen. viii. 22.
more distinct, and certain periods; which would be marked with fo
dif ferent feasons; of which there would be a regular fucceffion, attended with a grateful vicissitude: A provision and process wisely adapted to all the different purposes of human life; And quite of another nature from that which men in the old world had been accustomed to. For if they had never been under any other constitution of nature than the present; if there had been no alteration in this re. spect, but all things had continued as they were from the beginning of the creation; what occasion had there been for taking any notice of what had nothing uncommon, or remarkable in it! Hence therefore, I think, it
be fairly inferred, that this regular alternation of seasons was a new.grant, which they had not enjoyed before the flood; and that it was made for the encouragement of industry, in the cultivation of the earth, now that it was