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Jusion cannot be suspected: an investigation of the two lists convinces us, from their natural appearance, of their authenticity; and the result, while it confirms the Mosaic account, should teach men to be cautious how they stigmatize these annals as fabulous on account of what has been called “the extravagant length of the reigns."
It is further stated that Hoang-tee, who lived in China about seven hundred and thirty years after the flood, remarked the gradual diminution of the term of human life, and inquired, “How it came to pass that the lives of the ancients were so long, and the life of man so short, in the age in which he lived." (See Jackson's Chron. Ant., vol. ii, p. 411.) The Institutes of Menu also state that, in the first age, men lived four hundred years. There is, therefore, the fullest confirmation afforded to this remarkable feature of the Mosaic history.
It may be expected that we should make some further observations on the giants, who are spoken of in the Scripture narrative, and referred to in almost all the profane records.
“Our translators have rendered seven Hebrew words by the one term 'giants;' namely, NEPHILIM, GIBBORIM, EN ACHIM, REPHAIM, EMIM, and ZAN-ZUMMIM; by which appellatives are probably meant in general persons of great knowledge, piety, courage, wickedness, &c., and not men of enormous stature, as is generally conjectured."- Dr. A. Clarke, on Gen. vi, 4.
The word used in Gen. vi, 4, the only passage of Scripture which speaks of giants during this period, is nephilim, a term only applied to the persons spoken of here and in Num. xiii, 33. Referring to the latter text, we find it applied to persons of gigantic stature who had distinguished themselves as warriors. This word nephilim comes from nephal, “ he fell;" although Dr. Lee appears inclined to regard it as equivalent to gib-böhi, the term used in the fourth verse, and translated "mighty men.” In either case, or if, as is most likely, both these opinions respecting the term be true, it will be understood to refer to persons who, possessing great strength of body and daring of mind, boldly and recklessly exercised both in flagrant rebellion against the laws of God, and the liberties and rights of their fellow-creatures. Hence they gratified their ambition and their lust, and obtained a name as great and mighty men. But the words of Moses clearly teach that there were two races, or generations, of these mighty men: first, they who are spoken of in the first verse; and, secondly,
their descendants, noticed in the fourth verse. Now it is a remarkable fact, that ancient history, and every part of pagan mythology, bear evidence of the existence and warlike prowess of the giants: in some cases they are fabled to war against heaven, and in others to wage fierce rebellion on earth. Yet, although these accounts pervade all ancient history and mythology, nothing appears to be more difficult than to give any rational exposition of their scope and meaning.
Our limits forbid any extended examination of the subject. It will, however, we may presume, be considered a settled fact, that in the postdiluvian world there did exist men of great bulk and strength, who, by violent means, invaded the prerogative of God, and the prescribed order of his government, and labored to subject the world to their absolute and imperious dominion. The Sibylline oracles speak plainly on this subject. Alluding to the life of Noah, they say,
“No feuds as yet, no deadly fray, arose;
They never prospered.”—Bryant's Analysis, vol. iv, p. 103.
told of the mutilation of Saturn by his son Jupiter, and a furious rebellion of the son against the father. All these are mixed up with giant tales, and bear, in their wide variety, the common stamp of their superhuman size and ferocity. We know it will be concluded that they refer to postdiluvian times. We are ready to admit this: Moses also was well aware of the real events which called forth these fables; and his language appears to allude to those subsequent circumstances. “There were," he says, “giants in the earth in those days”-those antediluvian days; and, lest his readers should confound this description with what took place long afterward of an analogous kind, he proceeds to observe, “And also after that, when the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men, and they bare children to them, the same became mighty men which were of old, men of renown.” Gen. vi, 4. Three distinct periods of time are alluded to in these words: first, the time in which Moses wrote; secondly, a period which, in respect of this time of Moses, is called times “of old;" and, lastly, the antediluvian period of which Moses was treating, and which he calls “ those days.” His intention, then, appears to have been to point out distinctly the existence of nephilim in the early ages of the world, and their resemblance in character and conduct to those giants which were long afterward notorious for their rebellion against heaven, and the violence and bloodshed which they introduced into the world.
We now proceed to give a rapid sketch of the history of this period, as elicited by the preceding observations.
The earliest generations of our race can afford but few materials for history. The murder of Abel, and banishment of Cain, although events of deep and melancholy interest, could only affect the family of the first man. Yet, even in this early period, we are told that a city was built, and called Enoch, after the name of the son of Cain.
We are not informed of the number of Adam's children, or of his descendants in any of the antediluvian generations.
It will have been observed that, in two particulars, the account of Sanchoniatho differs from the other records to which we have referred. It describes the early generations as in a very low and destitute condition; making, after the existence of entire generations, a discovery of the most simple and necessary arts, such as the use of fire. The entire account is of this character, and
is pre-eminently atheistic: it contains no references to God. Creation results from the laboring operations of nature, and man is consequently cast naked and unprotected on the earth, to find, as best he can, the way to sustenance and improvement. We notice this fact here, that we may call attention to a connection which will always be found to exist. When God is acknowledged, and his revealed truth sought out and used, the origin and early condition of man will always appear dignified and intellectual; while, on the contrary, when God is forgotten, man is represented as rising from brutal ignorance, and slowly and painfully wending his way through a life of barbarism. So inseparably do just views of God stand connected with a correct knowledge of the early history of man! We may further observe, in passing, that history and experience unite to prove that the Scriptural account alone is true. The savage never improves until he comes in contact with civilized man. Left to himself, his race always sinks to deeper degradation and final extinction. This is a rule without exception. If the first race of mankind had been found in this savage condition, without intellectual or cultivated compeers to enlighten or instruct them, how could they rise ?
We have stated, in the Introduction, our reasons for believing that man, who, in his primitive state, was taught to speak, was also, by the same divine power, taught to write. Without this art, man has never maintained a truly civilized character; and this, without doubt, was the position which his Creator intended him to sustain.
We see, then, notwithstanding the fall and the murder of Abel, the rising families of mankind starting on a career of existence intended to be elevated and honorable. Clothing is prepared, houses are built, agricultural operations are carried on. Some persons confined their attention to the keeping of cattle, and were herdsmen; others studied various handicraft arts; while the great father still lived to aid and instruct his children. He who had walked with God in Eden, who had held intimate converse with heaven, whose mind as well as body had come forth perfect from the hand of God;-he, although fallen into sin, still possessed knowledge, the result of divine teaching, and, with all his experience, was calculated and designed to promote the interests of his posterity, and to carry out the purposes of divine Providence in their existence.
This was a most peculiar era in the history of the world. Generation after generation increased the aggregate of human life. We cannot, of course, pretend to speak with confidence on so obscure a point; but, putting out of the question cases of violence or accident, it would be reasonable to suppose that the most aged would die first. And, if this were the case, then upward of nine hundred years passed away before a natural death took place. How much like immortality must human life then have appeared ! How few, and far between, the evidences of mortality! How rapid the consequent increase of population! Thus the youthful world rose up into maturity, and families and tribes multiplied on the earth.
We have but few fragments of information respecting these early times. Old traditions attest the cultivation of astronomy, for which pursuit the extreme longevity of man.must have afforded immense facilities. But the history of the intellectual efforts of the first generations has perished.
Following the onward roll of time, we reach the seventh and eighth generations, which appear to have been the Augustan age of the antediluvian world. Indian traditions unite with those preserved in the most authentic manner in Chaldea, to attest the truth of the opinions prevalent among the Jews, that Enoch was remarkable for his astronomical knowledge. And not only this, architecture and jurisprudence, mathematics and natural history, had reached such a pitch of excellence, that Berosus, with the Babel records under his eye, and living in no dark age, asserts, “ From that time nothing material has been added by way of improvement.”—(See Cory's Fragments, p. 23.) In addition to these scientific attainments, corresponding literary efforts were put forth. Josephus and Berosus both testify that history was studiously cultivated, records and annals diligently compiled, and the teaching of science and philosophy carefully preserved.
The fine arts were not unknown. Of painting we hear nothing; but we are assured that outline representations were preserved, in the sacred temple at Babylon, of antediluvian figures. Poetry had kindled her fires, and shed her inspiring influence over the hearts of mankind. Music was cultivated, musical instruments made and improved : in short, every kind of evidence which the state of the case admits is afforded in proof of the cultivated, intellectual, and polished character of this age.
But, as we have seen, licentiousness and wickedness subsequently