« AnteriorContinuar »
to him as others did on this occasion. This contemptuous conduct might naturally have excited his keen resentment; armed as he now was, with the supreme power ; but Saul, with equal meekness and policy, passed by* the offence, and “ held his peace.”
• Passed by. The Hebrew says he was deaf, that is, seemed or pretended not to hear. In which he was very politic, being unwilling to begin his reign with any tumult, which his just resentment of such an affront might have occasioned. If he had taken any notice of the affront, and not revenged it, he had shewn himself mean-spirited, and if he had resented it, the people might have charged him with severity and cruelty.
END OF VOL. I.
TO THE FIRST VOLUME OF THE LONDON EDITION.
AVING proceeded thus far with the History, and con
cluded the First Volume, we shall take a retrospect of the events which it contains, and glance at the causes which produced them.
Of the formation of the world out of nothing, and the creation of a moral agent in the person of the first man, we have in the Scriptures the earliest and only rational account. Without the aid of divine revelation, we at. tempt with a trembling hand to lift the veil that hides the arcana of those primeval and momentous scenes. No. thing presents itself to the unassisted eye of human reason but
." A dark
With this divine light, we have seen in the events narrated in the preceding volume, that man was actually created in the image of God. This strong expression has given rise to much conjecture, and to some argument ; but a small degree of attention to the fall of man, and his subsequent expulsion from Paradise, will place it in a clear and perspicuous light. For though it is certain, that man could not resemble God in his incommunicable attributes of self-existence, omniscience, omnipresence, and omnipotence, yet did he bear a resemblance to the divine nature in four different particulars, which though darkened and obscured, are still discernible amidst the gloom of sin, and the ruins of his apostacy and fall. First, 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 sensitive 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 læderal 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
“ The seed of the woman shall bruise the “ 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 beains, 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 guiity 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 preseryed 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 fearsul 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 food. 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 Noal and his sons. Hence it is plain, that the creation, fall of man, and promise of a Messiah, were subjects with VOL. I.
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