In the second chapter of Common Grace, Kuyper makes an interesting move: he anchors common grace in the Noahic Covenant. He does not deny the existence of common grace prior to Noah (he explicitly states that it “began in paradise”); however, he posits the current structure and distribution of that grace in the covenant God made with Noah. Prior to Noah, “all of human life appears to have degenerated”. The picture of the world in Genesis 6 is quite terrifying:
6 When man began to multiply on the face of the land and daughters were born to them, 2 the sons of God saw that the daughters of man were attractive. And they took as their wives any they chose. 3 Then the Lordsaid, “My Spirit shall not abide in man forever, for he is flesh: his days shall be 120 years.” 4 The Nephilim were on the earth in those days, and also afterward, when the sons of God came in to the daughters of man and they bore children to them. These were the mighty men who were of old, the men of renown.
5 The Lordsaw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. 6 And the Lord regretted that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart. 7 So the Lordsaid, “I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the land, man and animals and creeping things and birds of the heavens, for I am sorry that I have made them.” 8 But Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord.
11 Now the earth was corrupt in God’s sight, and the earth was filled with violence.
Of this circumstance, Kuyper writes:
You can see clearly that if the One who created us had not intervened and had not called into being a new order of things, that is, a new living situation, the church would have ceased to exist, and our entire race would have perished in its own pitiful ungodliness.
Abraham Kuyper, Common Grace: God’s Gifts for a Fallen World: The Historical Section, ed. Jordan J. Ballor, Melvin Flikkema, and Stephen J. Grabill, trans. Nelson D. Kloosterman and Ed M. van der Maas, vol. 1, Abraham Kuyper Collected Works in Public Theology (Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press; Acton Institute, 2015), 14.
The flood then sweeps away the old world:
2 Peter 3:5–6 (ESV)
5 For they deliberately overlook this fact, that the heavens existed long ago, and the earth was formed out of water and through water by the word of God, 6 and that by means of these the world that then existed was deluged with water and perished.
With the destruction of the Old World, God then set in order temporal world into its current configuration and upholds it in its current state in accordance with the Noahic Covenant.