« 前へ次へ »
most unequivocal proof, however, of the state of antediluvian science, Building of is found in the celebrated work of Noah, the building of the ark. the Ark. This vessel, reckoning 18 inches only to the cubit, by which it is described, (it has been conjectured by some authors, as we have seen, page 30, to have been equal to 22 inches,) would be of the enormous burden of 42,413 tons, equal to about the burden of 18 of our first-rate men-of-war. Now, though the command to construct such a vessel in the heart of a continent might well be, as it was, divine, and some directions were appended to the command respecting its size and structure, we apprehend that no person who has not been professionally accustomed to shipbuilding, in our own times, would very successfully engage in the task of the patriarch, upon his instructions; and we have no reason to suppose there was any thing supernatural in his skill. In this vessel, as well as the “ vast and minute” of the mechanism, several other sciences would naturally be called for, to ventilate, enlighten, and render it manageable. Whether the term ns translated “window," do not refer to some luminous or transparent substance, the learned are by no means agreed. The ark, it must be remembered, rode the most awful storm the world ever knew, and though divinely guarded, it is perfectly analogous to the ways of God to suppose that the builder was left to develop all his own judgment and resources by way of foresight and prudent care.
Of the manners of the antediluvians we have various pictures in Manners. Scripture, and in the traditions of the east; concurring only in the original and universal happiness of the early period of their history, and in the general licentiousness that ultimately prevailed. We have seen, however, the awful instance of human depravity exhibited at a very early period of antediluvian history, in the murder of Abel by his brother Cain; after which, a sense of what was right amongst men, seems to have been feared by him equally, perhaps more, than his malediction from God. “Every one that findeth me,” says he bitterly, “shall slay me.” The same mixed scene continues to be exhibited to us in Scripture. Lamech, the fifth in descent from him, introduces polygamy; and his whole character is, at least, as questionable as that extensive ancient and modern custom has been pernicious to human happiness. But his grandson dwelling in tents, and surrounded by a class of successful shepherds or agriculturists, devoted to those pursuits that Cain at first abandoned, and cheered by the musical inventions of their family, is at least a relieving picture; the progress of the useful arts would extract many a thorn from their lot, and in their direct application to the implements of husbandry, peculiarly relieve their circumstances as connected both with the curse of Cain's and Adam's sin. We find the posterity of Seth remembering the latter at a much later period, Gen. v. 29, and anticipating the talents of Noah, with a view perhaps to similar objects.
The greatest moral fact in the history of antediluvian manners, has excited much controversy among biblical critics. It is that recorded, Gen. vi. 1, 2. After tracing the posterity of Cain to Lamech, (Gen. iv.) the historian abandons that line of the family of Adam, and details in the next chapter the children of his third son Seth to Noah. Thus completing as much of the literal history of this period, as God thought proper to perpetuate, he enters at once upon the moral history of the later ages, in the circumstance alluded to. “ The sons of God,” mentioned in this text, were thought by the fathers, almost unanimously, to intend either angels or the demons of the heathen world, who were represented by Socrates as the fathers of the heroes (apud Platon. Cratyl.) and as "all of them born from love either of a god with a mortal woman, or of mortal men with goddesses.” What the priests had thus introduced into the grossest parts of the pagan system, and the philosophers were prepared to support and justify, the Jews, in later ages, it is well known, endeavoured to prove consistent with the Mosaic account; and the fathers rather exceeded than came behind them in this disposition. Later writers, among whom is the learned Dr.: Wall, have imagined, that when men began to multiply on the earth, the chief men took wives of all the handsome poor women that they chose,” and “powerful men,” having “unlawful intercourse with inferior women,” the children of this illicit commerce were the heroes and gods of antiquity! Most modern critics concur in understanding the passage in question to describe a gradual degeneracy of the pious race of Seth arising from their matrimonial connections with the family of Cain, or with the profane part of mankind, and thus derive a useful but neglected lesson to the church and the world. From this period, the decline of religion and virtue was awfully accelerated—the corruption was universal as it was individual and almost without exception: it appears to us to have been peculiarly of a sensual character, “they were eating and drinking, marrying, and giving in marriage, to the day that Noah entered into the ark.” And the principal cause of this degeneracy was the wrong exercise of their own choice. "They took them wives, of all which they chose.” Idolatry and more refined rebellion against God seem to have been the offspring of the greater maturity of the world. Eutychius perpetuates several traditions of the grossness of antediluvian licentiousness.
The longevity of the antediluvians has excited some attention of late years, in connection with the question of the population and chronology of the world at this period. We have before noticed an absurd attempt to consider the scriptural years to have been lunar and not solar-whatever they were, and we see no reason to doubt their being of the ordinary length,'8 they were prolonged to our feeble
18 This is well ascertained by Dr. Hales, and others, to have been reckoned at 360 days in all parts of the ancient world.
race throughout the antediluvian history in undecaying and remarkable vigour; for while Adam, who introduces this period of human history, died at 930, Noah, who closes it, reached 950 years ! There can be no question that this great peculiarity of those times bore materially on the first benediction of mankind, (Gen. i. 28,) on the transmission of knowledge of every kind, and on the strength of the social union.
That the transmission of knowledge would be materially aided by Transmissuch extraordinary longevity, may be made to appear very distinctly sinn ofados in considering the probable channels of sacred knowledge thoughout the antediluvian period, and to the times of Moses, the first sacred historian. Taking the ordinary calculation of the Bible chronology, Adam, who died in the year of the world 930, would be contemporary with Lamech, the father of Noah, fifty-six years; and Shem, the son of Noah, would be contemporary with Isaac fifty years. Isaac was contemporary with Levi fifty-three years, (dying at 188, in the year of the world 2288,) and Levi, probably the longest-lived of Jacob's A.M. 2288. sons, was the great grandfather of Moses. Thus, through the whole period of antediluvian history, whatever knowledge was communicated to our first parents, would have to travel but through one single person, Lamech, to Noah.
Burnet, in his “ Theory of the Earth,'has supposed that the first Population. human pair might have “left, at the end of 100 years, or of the first century, ten pair of breeders, (which is no hard supposition, he says,) and there would arise from these, in 150 years, a greater number than the earth was capable of; allowing every pair to multiply in the same decuple proportion that the first pair did.” He finally, therefore, suggests a quadruple multiplication only, and then exhibits the following table of increase during the sixteen centuries which, acccording to Archbishop Usher’s Chronology, preceded the flood.
This is one of the most moderate calculations that has ever been made on the subject of the population of the world at the period of the deluge, and yet is far above the highest calculation of the present number of mankind, which has never, we believe, been supposed to exceed from 800 to 1,000 millions. But what could the learned author mean by the first pair having “ left” only ten pair of marriageable persons at the end of the first century; and by omitting all their other children? Adam lived, as we have seen, nearly a thousand years; and other of the antediluvian patriarchs had children, at regular intervals, after the age of 500; we can hardly, therefore, suppose the first parents of mankind to have had children only during so short a period of their lives. This consideration alone alters the whole basis of his reckoning. Wharton and Cockburn have entered into similar calculations, widely differing in their result: but with so many essential data wholly wanting, as 1. A settled epoch at which the deluge took place. 2. A knowledge of the periods of puberty, gestation, and nursing among the antediluvians. 4. The proportion of habitable land to water on the globe, and the general condition of the earth's surface before the deluge, we apprehend that all such estimates must be too vague for any scientific or useful purpose. We particularly observe, that all the calculators in question are continually adjusting their results by a comparison with the present condition and resources of the globe; and abandon the most characteristic parts of their theory to arrive at
some probable number. Chronology. It may be worth remarking, that the accuracy of the common
epoch of the deluge, upon which every calculation of the final number of the antediluvian world must first be formed, has been thrown of late into at least still greater doubt than ever, by the laborious work of Dr. HALES, on Chronology. Having produced 120 different opinions respecting the epoch of the Mosaic cosmogony, and reviewed the most celebrated systems of chronology, ancient and modern, this author finally suggests the year B.C. 5411, as the period of the formation of the world; and that of B.c. 3155, as the epoch of the deluge. The authors of the Universal History had previously rejected the Usherian period, and preferred that of the Samaritan Hebrew text, which adds 650 years to the common date; but the principal opinions brought together by Dr. Hales, in the following table, will be seen to differ in their extremes almost to the amount of the entire æra of the antediluvian world according to that date.
Epochs of the Deluge.
. . . .
. . . . . .
. . .
. . Vulgar Jewish
. . .
2998 . 2698 . 2352
2348 . 2314 . 2329
2293 . 2288
Dr. Hales, it will be seen, approaches much nearer to the Septuagint than the Hebrew calculation, which latter, is the foundation of the Usherian chronology. But he founds the basis of his chronological system on the harmonized chronology of Josephus and Theophilus, bishop of Antioch, A. D. 168; finding his punctum stans in the birth of Cyrus, B. c. 599, which led to his accession to the Persian throne, B. c. 559; of Media, B. c. 551; and of Babylonia, B. c. 536; “For from these several dates,” he adds, “ carefully and critically ascertained and verified, the several and respective chronologies of these kingdoms branched off; and from the last especially, the destruction of Solomon's temple by Nebuchadnezzar, B. c. 586, its correcter date, which led to its foundation, B. c. 1627; thence to the Exode, B. c. 1648; thence to Abraham's birth, B. c. 2153; thence to the reign of Nimrod, B. c. 2554; thence to the DELUGE, B. c. 3155; thence to the Creation, B. c. 5411.”
The line of the Antediluvian patriarchs,