Verse 21. And God smelled a sweet savour - Or a savour of rest from it, as it is in the Hebrew. He was well pleased with Noah's pious zeal, and these hopeful beginnings of the new world, as men are with fragrant and agreeable smells. I will not again curse the ground, Hebrew. I will not add to curse the ground any more - God had cursed the ground upon the first entrance of sin, chap. iii, 17, when he drowned it he added to that curse: but now he determines not to add to it any more. Neither will I again smite any more every living thing - That is, it was determined that whatever ruin God might bring upon particular persons, families or countries, he would never again destroy the whole world, 'till the day when time shall be no more. But the reason of this resolve is surprising; for it seems the same with the reason given for the destruction of the world, chap. vi, 5. Because the imagination of man's heart is evil from his youth. But there is this difference: there it is said, the imagination of man's heart is evil continually, that is, his actual transgressions continually cry against him; here it is said, that it is evil from his youth or childhood; he brought it into the world with him, he was shapen and conceived in it. Now one would think it should follow, therefore that guilty race shall be wholly extinguished: No; therefore I will no more take this severe method; for he is rather to be pitied: and it is but what might be expected from such a degenerate race. So that if he be dealt with according to his deserts, one flood must succeed another 'till all be destroyed. God also promises, that the course of nature should never be discontinued. While the earth remaineth, and man upon it, there shall be summer and winter, not all winter, as had been this last year; day and night, not all night, as probably it was while the rain was descending. Here it is plainly intimated that this earth is not to remain always; it and all the works therein must shortly be burnt up. But as long as it doth remain, God's providence will carefully preserve the regular succession of times and seasons. To this we owe it, that the world stands, and the wheel of nature keeps its tack. See here how changeable the times are, and yet how unchangeable!
1. The course of nature always changing. As it is with the times, so it is with the events of time, they are subject to vicissitudes, day and night, summer and winter counterchanged. In heaven and hell it is not so; but on earth God hath set the one over against the other.
2. Yet never changed; it is constant in this inconstancy; these seasons have never ceased, nor shall cease while the sun continues such a steady measurer of time, and the moon such a faithful witness in heaven. This is God's covenant of the day and of the night, the stability of which is mentioned for the confirming our faith in the covenant of grace, which is no less inviolable, Jer. xxxiii, 20. We see God's promises to the creatures made good, and thence may infer that his promises to believers shall be so.