ページの画像
PDF
ePub

the produce would amount to, a tleast, 421,164 persons.” It is unnecessary to contend for the whole of this calculation : remitting much of it as conjectural, enough remains to justify the fear of Cain, especially in respect of the descendants of Abel, and to prove that the world could not be at that time very thinly peopled.

Driven from his home, he went out, and his first settlement was his first said to be in the land of Nod-on the east of Eden. Now as the settlement. word Nod signifies a wanderer, we are inclined to render the passage, “ he went out from the presence of the Lord,” (that is, from the spot where he had been judged and sentenced,) “and dwelt,” or sojourned, a vagabond, on the east of Eden." Without naming the place, the historian will then be understood only to state, that he first pitched his tent in the direction specified. After some years' wandering from place to place, a state not unfavourable to population, as he would have, probably, issue in various stations where he had fixed for a season, he became so multiplied, that he “built a city,” and called it “after the name of his son Enoch.” His immediate posterity are slightly sketched by the historian: and the manner and time of his death unrecorded. Josephus affirms, that his punishment wrought no repentance; but that he became more hardened in sin as he advanced in years. This, Moses has not said ; and we will not load the wicked with guilt, not imputed to them by Infinite Truth. It is certain, that he was the first who built a city -a fortified place: that his descendant, Lamech, whose inexplicable history we cannot undertake to unravel, was the first who set the example of polygamy: and to these indications of a depraved state of society-man obliged to fence himself against man, and giving scope to unbridled passions, which, in every instance, led to domestic contention and calamity—the useful and enchanting arts; “ the artificer in brass and in iron ;' and the inventor “ of the harp and the organ,” do not form a counter-balance.

On the illustrious list of antediluvian patriarchs, the name of Enoch's Enoch stands pre-eminent, on account of his translation. Although translation. Moses expresses himself with a brevity according with the conciseness of his history, we can have no difficulty in understanding the expression>" he was not, for God took him ;” since the writer of the epistle to the Hebrews assures us, “ he was translated, that he should not see death.” As easy of interpretation is the beautiful figure employed to describe a holy life— 5 he walked with God;” explained by the same inspired commentator, with the like force and propriety, for before his translation, he had “this testimony, that he pleased God.” We may easily conceive of what importance such a triumph over mortality would be, in that early age, when death had but just commenced his ravages. It afforded, at one and the same time, an evidence of the immortality of the soul, and of

3 Dissert. Chronol. &c. I. in the Journal de Paris, Jan. 1712, Tom. LI.p.6. Petavius, Doct. Temp. Tom. II. Cap. 14. Stillingfleet, Orig. Sac. Lib. I. Cap. 4. Saurin Diss. V.

Death of
Adam and

Eve.

Antediluvian longevity.

the resurrection of the body. Almost the same reasons obtained for the translation of Elijah, in an age of darkness and apostacy, A singular chain of circumstances is afforded, by regarding each of the heads of the several dispensations of God's will, as affording similar evidence. Enoch, as standing at the head of the patriarchal dispensation, - Moses, of the law,-Elijah, of the prophets, – Jesus, of the gospel. In each of these cases is furnished a distinguished pledge of victory over death. Enoch is translated, -Moses is removed by a death, considered in all its circumstances, not inferior to translation,-Elijah is taken into heaven without dying,

-Jesus dies, and rises the third day, “the first-fruits of those that sleep.”

The father of mankind died at the advanced age of nine hundred and thirty years. When the partner of his bliss and fall reaped the bitter fruit of her transgression, or where they were buried, is not recorded.

One thing only requires, at this stage of the history, to be noted: and that is, the extraordinary age of the antediluvian patriarchs. Admitting the fact, physiologists have endeavoured to account for it in various ways. By some, it has been supposed to arise from temperance and simplicity of diet: by others, from the salubrity of the vegetable food of those days: others, again, have imputed it to the constitutional stamina and organization of these men, Yet Shem, who was born before the flood, and had these advantages, fell short of the life of his ancestors 300 years. To original strength of constitution, we may add, a temperature which was probably destroyed at the deluge—and we must refer all to His sovereignty, who willed that human life should be shortened. Feeling these difficulties, some writers have conjectured, that the years ascribed to these first men, were lunar and not solar. It is a sufficient answer to this theory, to observe, that on this calculation, their lives are reduced to a shorter period than our own; and some of them must have been fathers under, or about six years of age. The fact. affirmed in the Mosaic history is, however, not without powerful traditional support. Josephus enumerates the testimonies of Manetho, Berosus, Mochus, Hestæus, Jerome the Egyptian, the writers of the Phænician antiquities, Hesiod, Hecatæus, Hellanicus, Acusilaus, Ephorus, and Nicholas, who generally agreed that “the ancients lived a thousand years. 4

We now come to an union between the wicked descendants of Cain, who retained the evil qualities of their evil progenitor, and the children of Seth, who began early “ to call upon the name of the Lord," and who preserved the worship of the true God in their families. These are called “ the sons of God,” the former, “ the daughters of men,” by the strong figures usual in eastern composi

Giants.

4 Joseph. Antiq. Jud. Lib. I. Cap. 3.

tion. The holy seed were seduced by the beauty of the degenerate stock. From this fatal commerce, sprang “mighty men,” and “ men of renown”_" there were” also “ giants in those days” — and the whole “ earth was” quickly “ filled with violence.”

We understand by the term “giants,” not merely men of violence, but of extraordinary bulk and stature. It is not necessary to suppose that all were such: but that there were giants in those days, and probably many of them. Tradition again corresponds with the Mosaic record. Pausanias, Philostratus, and Pliny, speak decidedly on this subject.

As the result of the inauspicious union between the descendants of Seth and of Cain, fraud, and rapine, and all possible evils predominated. And with the narrative of Moses, all antiquity agrees. Catullus and Ovid give a frightful picture of this early depravity; and in terms which seem borrowed from the Scriptures.

This universal depravation opens the way for the tremendous The Flood. scenery of the deluge: an epoch in history of the first importance; as all the authenticated records of profane history fall within the period at which it is said to have taken place :-—an event traditionally preserved among all nations, and corroborated by geological facts: a judgment the most awful and sublime in its character, and corresponding with the purity of that Infinite Being whose dignity and holiness had been outraged and insulted. Patience and pity were manifested amidst rising indignation; and the writers of revelation, in conformity with the testimony of Jesus himself, have corroborated the fearful page of history now to pass before us; and have appealed to it as a striking example of the justice and longsuffering of God.

When God determined to extirpate from the earth, the wicked and abominable generation who had polluted it, and whose crimes cried to heaven for vengeance, he resolved to save Noah and his family, as the progenitors of a new race of men, and that the righteous should not perish with the wicked. For this purpose he announced his intention, and instructed him to prepare an ark for the saving of himself and of his family. In the sentence pronounced, an universal deluge is affirmed; and no partial inundation, Universal. of whatever extent, could justify, we think, the terms employed by the historian, and ascribed to the Deity. “Behold, I bring a flood of waters upon the earth, to destroy all flesh wherein is the breath. of life, from under heaven; and every thing that is in the earth shall die!To Noah and his family, led by an instinctive impulse, and disarmed for a season of their natural ferocity, all animals were to

5 Grotius, de Ver. Christ. Relig. Sect. XVI.

supra.-Hom. Il. Lib. I. v. 255—270, Nestor complains that he shall never see such heroes, for strength and courage, as he had been accustomed in his youth to associate with.

6 Catullus, Epithal. Pel. et Thet. Ovid, Metam. Lib. I. - Grotius, ut

resort; that the ark might contain within itself the means of

replenishing the earth, when it should be restored. Warning to In the meanwhile, the patriarch foretold this event, and preached the world.

righteousness and repentance : but the world believed him not, and continued their crimes and indulgences until a common and inevitable ruin overtook them. It has been commonly supposed, that this interval was 120 years: but this conclusion does not receive any countenance from Scripture, which only says, that “the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was preparing;? without specifying the time which it occupied. The general misapprehension seems to have arisen from the declaration, “ vet his days shall be 120 years;” 8 which alludes, not to the space between the sentence and its execution, but to the contraction of human life. To suppose such a length of time to be consumed in the building, without the intervention of a miraculous preservation, one part of the structure must have perished before the other had been completed. Besides, the calculation of the order of facts recorded by Moses, destroys this opinion. “Noah was 500 years old when he begat Shem, Ham, and Japheth."! It is evident, that when he received the command to build the ark, those sons were married ; since it is said, “ thou shalt come into the ark; thou, and thy sons, and thy wife, and thy sons' wives with thee.” 10 And, “in the six hundredth year of Noah,”ll the flood came. While, therefore, it is not stated precisely when the command was given; nor, of course, what time the building of the ark occupied; it manifestly

could not be so long as 120 years. The ark. The singular structure which was to contain the remnant of the

creation, must have been of vast dimensions. Accordingly, the
patriarch was instructed to “make it of gopher-wood:” a term
used in no other place in the Bible, which has been supposed to
signify cypress. It was to consist of three stories, and to be divided
into various apartments. The length of it was prescribed as 300
cubits, the breadth 50, and the height 30. The common cubit,
originally imagined to be 18 inches, is now allowed to have con-
tained 22. According to this measurement, it was 547% English
feet long, 91,4 broad, 547% high; and its solid contents amount
to 2,730,782 cubic feet. It was in shape an oblong square, with a
flat bottom, and a sloped roof, raised a cubit in the middle; each of
the three stories must have been about 18 feet high. It had
windows, and one door; and seems to have had a covering, which
might be removed, probably made of skins drawn over the roof,
and adapted to defend the apertures called windows. Upon this
estimate, the ark appears to be sufficiently large and commodious
for the purposes for which it was constructed.
Every thing being thus prepared, “ in the 600th year of Noah's
71 Pet. iii. 20.

8 Gen. vi. 3.

9 Gen. v. 32. 10 Gen. vi. 18.

W ii Gen. vii. 11.

life, on the 17th day of the 2d month, were all the fountains of the A.m. 1656. great deep broken up, and the windows of heaven were opened ; B.C. 2348. and it rained 40 days and 40 nights;” Noah, with his family, and the pairs of all living creatures, having entered into the ark. And such was the increase of the waters, that not only the ark floated, but the face of the whole earth was covered, the waters rising 15 cubits above the highest mountains—every thing died: “and the waters prevailed upon the earth 150 days.”12 They gradually abated after that period; but the earth was not dry until a year had expired from the commencement of this destruction. In the meanwhile, as the waters assuaged, Noah put out a raven, which finding supply of food from the carcases, returned not again. Afterwards he sent forth a dove, which, neither living on carrion, nor finding a suitable resting place, came back to the ark. A second time he sent her out, and she returned with an olive-leaf in her mouth; a signal of the abatement of the waters, so far as that the trees were visible. A third time he dismissed this messenger, and she returned no more. These circumstances are noted, because they are not forgotten in the traditions which relate to this event.

Various hypotheses have been proposed, to account for the accom- Means of plishment of this great work, which we need not enumerate. Instead accomplishof so doing, we shall present a solution of the difficulty suggested by Sir Henry Englefield, and published by Dr. Geddes, in his Critical Remarks upon the Deluge. “The diameter of the earth being taken at 8000 miles, and the highest mountain being supposed four miles high above the level of the sea, (which is a height greater than that of the Andes,) the quantity of water requisite to cover them will be an hollow sphere of 8008 miles diameter, and four miles thick; the contents of which, in round numbers, are 800,000,000 cubic miles. Let us now suppose the globe of the earth to consist of a crust of solid matter 1000 miles thick, enclosing a sea, or body of water, 2000 miles deep; within which is a central nucleus of 2000 miles in diameter: the contents of that body of water will be 109,200,000,000 cubic miles; or about 137 times the quantity of water required to cover the surface of the earth as above stated. Now water, by experiment, expands to about one 25th of its whole magnitude, from freezing to boiling; or 100th of its magnitude for 45 degrees of Fahrenheit's thermometer. Suppose, then, that the heat of the globe previously to the deluge, was about 50 degrees of Fahrenheit's, a temperature very near that of this climate; and that a sudden change took place in the interior of the globe, which raised its height to 83 degrees; a heat no greater than the marine animals live in, in the shallow seas between the tropics: those 23 degrees of augmented heat, would so expand the internal sea, as to cause it to more than cover the surface of the globe,

ment.

12 Gen. vii. 11–24.

« 前へ次へ »