Page images

naturally as a spirit: for as the works of God become visible by the manifestation of his power, so is it with man, whose soul gives the impulse to the body, and is the sen sitive and discerning faculty within him. Secondly, intellectually by the exercise of his memory, imagination, and judgment. The two first he holds in common with the superior animals; the latter is his distinguishing characteristic from all other creatures, and connects him with futurity. Thirdly, Man was created politically in the image of the divine nature, by his power over all creatures, and his knowledge of their properties and dispositions. And, lastly, he was the moral image of God, by the possession of knowledge, love, and holiness; in the exercise of which consisted his happiness, as well as in the freedom of his will, which led him only to do good, and to adore the Great Author of his being.

By his disobedience to the divine command, the first man, as we have already seen, brought death into the world. Adam, as the fœderal head of the human race, parted with happiness and Eden,

-'till one greater man

Restore us, and regain the blissful seat.

Nor was this gracious design hid from our first parents, but made known to them in Paradise, as a cheering consolation amid the gloomy apprehensions which surrounded their minds, that in the day they sinned they should surely die. "The seed of the woman shall bruise the 66 serpent's head."

Death had indeed already begun to reign in the soul of man. Instead of loving, he began to fear his offended Maker. "I heard thy voice in the garden and was "afraid." The guilty passions began to exercise their tyranny upon the mind; the disposition to do good was gone, and a will to do evil usurped its place. The divine image, like the Sun shorn of its beams, was darkened and eclipsed, and man could now say to corruption, "Thou art my parent; and to the worm, thou art my bro"ther and my sister."

Sin soon established its dominion in the world, and the first born of mankind stained his guilty hands with a brother's blood. The world was filled with violence, and all flesh had corrupted itself before God. Amidst this universal degeneracy, which none could have felt and deplored so strongly as Adam, God had still a Church of his own, and a people to himself, among whom he preserved a seed for future generations. By the righteousness of Enoch, who was not suffered to see death, and the faith of Noah, who with his family was saved in the Ark, God condemned the antediluvian world, and held out to all succeeding ages a fearful admonition in the destruction of all flesh by water.

Among the various revolutions which the globe we inhabit has undergone, none have left such numerous and unequivocal proofs, as the universal deluge. Infidelity argues in vain against positive evidence, for we have lived to see it demonstrated in the researches of modern science, that even the atmosphere which we breathe, contains, and is resolvable into a vast ocean of water, capable of burying the highest mountains beneath its waves, and of sinking the whole human race, with all the boasted monuments of art, once more in the gulph of ruin.

Noah was six hundred years old when the deluge took place; and Lamech his father had seen and conversed with the first man and his children; both Lamech and Methuselah could have informed Noah of the fall of man, and the promise of the Messiah; for Methuselah, Noah's grandfather, was three hundred and forty-three years old when Adam died, and he himself only died the year before the flood. Hence it is plain that the creation and fall were well known to Noah, and his sons, the latter being an hundred years old when they entered into the Ark. Noah was born only one hundred and twenty-six years after the death of Adam, and fourteen after the death of Seth the son of Adam, so that the great progenitor of the human race must have been seen and known by many thousands who were contemporaries both with Noah and his sons. Hence it is plain, that the creation, fall of man, and promise of a Messiah, were subjects with

[blocks in formation]

which they, as well as all their immediate descendants, were well acquainted. If letters, and the art of writing were not known in those first ages of the world, the great longevity of the human race became subservient to the designs of Providence in treasuring up the knowledge of past events, and recording facts which would otherwise have been soon forgotten.

We have seen the world lost and restored, and man as from a new creation spring up from those in the Ark. But the imagination of his heart is still set in him to do evil. Sin exhibits fresh proofs of its extensive power and pernicious influence, even in the family of the second founder of the human race. The unnatural depravity of Ham excites anger in the Patriarch's breast, and the awful prediction, a servant of servants shall he be to his bre"thren" seems fearfully verified in his posterity. Africa appears still to mourn the turpitude of Noah's youngest son, while ignorance and slavery are to this day the sad lot of his unhappy offspring.

Three great consequences arise out of the proneness to sin, so visible in the human heart immediately after the deluge. The establishment of idolatry; the foundation of absolute monarchy; and the dispersion of mankind by the confusion of tongues. Almost every vestige of the knowledge of God appears totally extinguished in the earth, when Abram is called out of Ur of the Chaldees, and his faith in the Divine promises rewarded by his seed becoming a blessing to all nations.

In the preceding volume we have also witnessed the severe trials of Jacob, and his pious resignation to the divine will, crowned with a peaceful termination; and his beloved Joseph, the object of peculiar care to that good providence which raised him from the furnace of affliction and the depths of a dungeon, to become a father to kings, and lord over all Egypt.

In Moses, the greatest of legislators, the best of historians, the most sublime of poets, we behold the meekest of men; the benevolent prophet, priest, and king of his afflicted people; the magnanimous leader, who suffers

adversity from choice; and the zealous servant of the most high God.

The history of Job, one of the most sublime compositions (in the original) ever produced in any age or country, is purposely placed immediately after the events. recorded in the Book of Genesis, as well from its strong claims to antiquity, as the numerous proofs it affords of having been written by the great Jewish lawgiver himself. It is the history of a real sufferer, delivered in the grandest style of Eastern poetry, and exhibits the most exalted pattern of virtue and integrity under every accumulated affliction. This great man, whose piety was still greater than his temporal grandeur, was the patron of the poor, a father to the fatherless, the scourge of injustice and oppression; honoured and esteemed by the good, and dreaded by the vicious and profane. By the Divine permission, and the malice of the devil, he is at once reduced to the most indigent and deplorable circumstances, stripped of all his substance, bereaved of his children, and seized with a noisome and painful disease; a spectacle of sorrow and wretchedness, of misery and horror, even to his dearest friends. But, sustained by the hand of the Almighty, and becoming resignation to the Divine will, he rises superior to all his afflictions, holds out the brightest example of true fortitude to the church of God in every succeeding age, has his family restored, his fortunes doubled, and ends a long life in the joyful assurance, that his Redeemer, in whom alone was all his hope, would raise him up at the last day. From this great example, we learn, that even the darkest dispensations of Providence are made subservient to the benefit of good men, and that the Lord will amply recompense all their sufferings in a future world. The doctrines of the resurrection, and the separate state of departed spirits, are clearly pointed out, while the sacrifice offered by Job for his three friends, plainly shews, it was well understood that by such means the way was open to the divine favour and acceptance.

In this, as well as in the whole of the writings of Moses, we perceive clear indications that the ancient Patriarchs

and Sages, in every age expected the Messiah (and hence may be distinctly traced their anxious desire for children) many of whom were fully satisfied of the insufficiency of the first covenant to take away sin. For though it is observed upon the solemn occasion of Noah's sacrifice immediately after the deluge, the Lord said, "I will not again curse the ground any more for man's sake," yet it is plain from St. Paul, as well as from David, that it was faith alone in the promised Redeemer, which rendered the sacrifice acceptable to God.


Pharaoh, the proud tyrant and blasphemous oppressor of Israel, unhumbled by ten plagues, the loss of his firstborn, and the desolation of his country, pursues his rescued captives, and sinks deservedly under the hand of Omnipotence beneath the waves of the Red Sea.

In the subsequent conduct of the Israelites we see an exact portrait of the human heart: prone to rebellion, fond of every idol set up by the vain imagination, forgetful of recent mercies, and slavishly devoted to the good things of the present life. Their travels in the Wilderness, are a lively emblem of the Christian's course toward the heavenly Canaan through the wilderness of this world, and too often both are seen unraindful of the hand that gives them angels' food, and rains down bread from heaThe solemn institution of the passover, the sprinkling of blood, and the daily sacrifice, point out the coming of that one, great, full and perfect oblation, which was to be offered for the sins of the whole world.


War, now become through the prevalence of sin, a profession, approaches the nations of Canaan. Sunk in the deepest idolatry, the grossest superstitions, and a corruption of manners scarcely to be conceived, we see the Canaanites fall before the stroke of Israel; and they imbibing the proffigy of the conquered, for which, deserted of God, their heads were often made to bow low in battle, and sink before the spear of despicable foes,

The book of Joshua serves as a foundation for the history of the Jews for four hundred and thirty years, when the common wealth under Judges was changed into a monarchy almost absolute.

« PreviousContinue »