Page images

and dismay. And to this we must add the loss of Eden, and, with it, of perfect outward happiness, and exposure to pain and want, to sickness, sorrow, and death.

Here, then, are exhibited to our eye the fatal results of transgression. Man, guilty, depraved, and wretched, lies in ruin! It might have astonished us, if, after God had finished his glorious creation of universal nature, some malignant and mighty power had been permitted to darken the sun, or to spread ruin and desolation over the earth; yet these foul exploits would have been as nothing in comparison with that which we have contemplated. Here the lord of creation is stripped of his glory, and prostrated in the dust, exposed to all evil, covered with guilt and shame; and this is his degraded condition, while immortality of being is written upon his nature, and moral responsibility still attaches to every volition of his mind, and to every action of his life.

If the divine goodness and compassion toward man had terminated here, the history of our race would never have been written; the first pair would have been consigned to destruction, and a dark veil drawn over all the features of their case. But it was not so. The tempter had triumphed, man had fallen; but God, in the boundless riches of his wisdom and mercy, had resources sufficient to meet his case; and from that moment a scheme of redemption was gradually unfolded, the object of which was to show mercy triumphing over judgment, and to raise man from the ruins of the fall to more than his original glory and happiness.

Nothing can present this merciful intervention in a more striking manner than the simple announcement of it in the Mosaic narrative. The sin is committed, the Almighty descends; he calls upon the man, who equivocates and impeaches the woman, and obliquely impugns the arrangements of God. The woman is questioned, and she blames the serpent; when the Almighty pronounces judgment on the offending parties.

On the serpent a curse is pronounced, and the animal form under which the temptation had been so speciously put forth is condemned to degradation, and is, therefore, presented to all future generations as a living monument of this great transgression; the connection between this debased creature and the original transgression being still more strongly marked by the existence of a perpetual antipathy between the serpent and mankind. The woman is doomed to subjection to her husband, and to sorrowful

[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][merged small]

and painful conception; the man is destined to obtain his daily bread by painful labor, from a soil burdened with the divine malediction.

But the most remarkable feature in this whole procedure, is the gracious announcement of mercy to fallen man. Of the Seed of the woman it was said to the serpent, “ It shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel." Gen. iii, 15. We find it necessary again to remark that we do not pretend to confine our inquiries on this subject to these words: they were not written as a part of Holy Scripture until about two thousand five hundred years afterward, when a rich amount of revealed truth was at the same time communicated to the world. Taking these words, then, as illustrated and unfolded by the stupendous scheme of redemption, in which sense, as explained by simultaneous revelations, they were undoubtedly understood by our first parents, thev teach us some important facts.

In the first place, we are distinctly told that the artifices and energies of Satan, which had been thus far successful, should be ultimately foiled and defeated. No figure can more clearly point out entire subjection and defeat than the bruising of the head; and the application of this language to the serpent gives it the greatest possible force: to that creature, which possesses no limbs, or other means of offense or defense, the bruising of the head is utter ruin. No language can more efficiently represent the entire prostration of his power, the complete defeat of his designs.

Again: it is predicted that this defeat shall take place through means which magnify the wisdom and mercy of God, and in the most striking way cover the foul seducer with shame as well as ruin. He had not assailed the man; shrinking from the bright intuition of his enlightened mind, he had assailed “the weaker vessel,” and, through her, had triumphed. But, “O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and the knowledge of God!” From her, who had thus been the instrument of the ruin, is to come forth the Redeemer of man. The Seed of the woman is to bruise the head of the serpent.

It is both interesting and desirable to have some distinct idea of the meaning which the fallen pair attached to this primitive promise. There are two means by which this information may be obtained. Under the same dispensation, and guided in their religious views and feelings mainly by the revelations made to

[merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small]

the first man, the patriarchs lived from the fall to the flood. Then, long before the people of God possessed a written revelation, the various tribes of the human family were scattered over the earth. They carried with them everywhere the elements of the primitive faith; and, although these were afterward corrupted and depraved by the most abominable doctrines, and stained with the foulest idolatries, they, nevertheless, generally bore testimony, as we have already seen, to the important fact of a promised Redeemer. In those mythologic traditions, all the external circumstances of the subject of this promise stand out in bold relief: a son of a God is born of a woman, and is therefore mortal; he is engaged in some desperate warfare with a malignant spiritual power, which generally assumes the form of a serpent; the god. man suffers, sometimes dies; yet is finally victorious, and great good accrues to others through his triumph.

And it is remarkable that, while the heathen records warrant the belief that the first pair and their descendants had clear and correct views of the leading circumstances of mediatorial redemption, Holy Scripture assures us that they apprehended its saving character, and understood its spiritual efficacy. “By faith,” we are told, “Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, by which he obtained witness that he was righteous.” Heb. xi, 4. We do not stay here to investigate all the parts of this interesting narrative ; a more favorable opportunity for this will occur hereafter: but we may observe that the faith here spoken of must have had an object. What was it? The entire scope of Scripture teaching replies, The promised Saviour. Let this be taken in connection with the fact of the appointment of sacrifice, the residence of the cherubim, and the way of the tree of life; and it will appear sufficiently evident that the promise of a Redeemer was made so distinctly and intelligibly to fallen man, as to exhibit to his mind an object of faith and hope, and point out to his guilty spirit a way of access unto God. If Adam had not clear views of redemption, when did Abel acquire them ? or Enoch? or Noah ? Following the guidance of Holy Scripture, we are directly led to the opinion that the first pair who had transgressed the divine command, and introduced guilt and sin into the world, were first made acquainted with the merciful interposition in their behalf, and invited to approach his mercy-seat, to obtain reconciliation and life.

How deeply interesting, how truly sublime, is the view here

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

presented to our consideration ! A creature so wonderfully formed, yet so deeply fallen; possessing such high intellectual powers, yet spiritually prostrated in consequence of sin ; a being who had held intimate communion with his Maker, subjected to punishment on account of sin; and yet again restored by a divine plan of redemption into covenant relation to his God!

[ocr errors][ocr errors]
[merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][merged small]
[ocr errors]

How instructive, how pregnant with important teaching, must the history of a race of such beings be, when composed of the most authentic materials which have come down to our time, arranged and illustrated in the clearer light which the Holy Scriptures afford! This is the task we have undertaken ; and we shall endeavor to prosecute it in the following pages.

[ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][ocr errors]



Introductory remarks--Genealogical table-Adam-His intellectual endowments,

einployments, and clothing-Second GENERATION-Division of labor-Rights of property-Phenician and Hindoo accounts-Cultivated state of societyTHIRD GENERATION—Fourth Ditto-General dissoluteness of manners" Sons of God"-Profaneness-Fifth GENERATION-Phenician Traditions Sixtı GENERATION-SEVENTH DITTo—Polygamy-Speech of Lamech-Infi. delity--- Enoch-Antediluvian kings-Fable of Oannes-Eighth GENERATION - Nomadic life adopted—Poetry and music-Working of metals—Identity of Tubal-Cain with Vulcan-NINTH GENERATION_Texth Ditto-Noah-Probable population of the antediluvian world-Longevity of the antediluvian patri.

archs–Giants-History of the period. In applying the term “history” to the account which we may be enabled to furnish of the generations from Adam to Noah, we are aware that we are using language in an accommodated sense. No sufficient materials remain for the composition of that which, in the strict acceptation of terms, would be called a history. Our purpose, however, is to supply, from various sources of information, as consecutive, intelligible, and accurate an account of these early times as possible.

It may also be remarked, that, although we place in juxtaposition the various records of profane authors with that of Holy Scripture, we have no intention of breaking down, or in any degree weakening, the distinction which exists between the rela. tive truth and authority of these several means of information.

We are deeply convinced, and fully prepared to avow our conviction, that the Bible alone can be regarded as furnishing an account which, so far as it extends, is perfectly true. If, then, we are asked why we place by its side, and incorporate with its teaching, the imperfect and doubtful fragments which have been handed down to us by profane authors, our reply is twofold :First, as much perverted ingenuity has been employed for the purpose of producing an impression that the Mosaic records are opposed to the historical remains of the most celebrated nations of antiquity, it is important to expose this fallacy, and to show that all which is worthy of being regarded as authentic in these remains tends rather to confirm and to illustrate, than to contravene, the Scriptural narrative. And, further, although we do most implicitly rely on the authority of Moses, and do not fully

« PreviousContinue »