(96) Why it is afterwards said, that Noah found grace in the sight of the Lord? (#Ge 6:8). In the first place, the time calls for a comparison; since all the rest of mankind has been rejected for their ingratitude, he places the just man in the place of them all, asserting that he had found favour with God, not because he alone was deserving of favour, when the whole universal body of the human race had had benefits and mercies heaped on them, but because he alone had seemed to be mindful of the kindnesses which he had received. In the second place, when the whole generation had been given over to destruction, with the exception of one single family, it followed inevitably that that remaining household should be asserted to have shown itself worthy of the divine grace, that it might be, as it were, a seed and a spark of a new race of mankind. And what could be a greater grace and mercy than that the man, of whom this is said, should be at the same time the end and beginning of the family of mankind?
(97) Why does Moses enumerate the generations of Noah with reference not to his ancestors but to his virtues? (#Ge 6:9). He does this in the first place, because all the men of that age were wicked: secondly, he is here imposing a law upon the will, because, to an anxious follower of virtue, virtue itself stands in the place of a real generation, if indeed men are the means of the generation of men, but the virtues of minds. And on this account it is that he says, he was a just man, perfect, and one who pleased God; but justice, and perfection, and grace before God, are the greatest of virtues.
(98) What was the meaning of Moses when he says, “And all the earth was corrupt in the sight of God, and the earth was filled with iniquity?” (#Ge 6:11). Moses himself has given us the reason why he speaks thus, in the sentence in which he asserts that iniquity had arisen by reason of the corruption of the earth; for deliverance from iniquity is righteousness, both in all the parts of the world, in heaven, that is, and earth, and among men.