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doubt, the effect of their being perfwaded of the truth of the creation, and first promise.
The fin of Cain in killing his brother, fhews the fame perfwafion : the Divine oracle, the feed of the woman, fhall bruife the ferpent's head, being exprefs'd in very general terms, was applicable, either to the first fon of Eve, or to his pofterity; or elfe, to fome other who might be called her feed, because born from one of her pofterity.
It is natural for us, to pass from one meaning to another, when we are in search for the true fense of such general propofitions as these. Now it appears from the name which Eve gave to Cain, that fhe took the words of this oracle in the firft fenfe, that is, fhe looked upon Cain to be the fon that had been promis'd her, as appears from her own words. I have (faith fhe) gotten a anan from the Lord (k). And it cannot be doubted, that being in this opinion her felf, fhe was not wanting to cherish and flatter this hope in her fon, that he was to fulfil the first prophecy or Divine oracle neither is it any whit ftranger to fuppofe this, than to imagine, that Mandane did inftil into her fon Cyrus afpiring thoughts for the empire of Afia, from the dream of his father Aftyages, which the look'd upon as a divine foreboding.
When we read therefore, that Cain flew his brother, seeing him preferr'd of God by a very diftinguishing mark in the act of their facrificing, through the jealoufie and hatred he had conceived against him: may we not very naturally conclude from thence, that as he had never doubted of the truth of the promise, so he could not endure to fee another come to difpute his pretenfions of being the fulfiller of that firft oracle.
A like reflexion we may make upon the name which Eve gave to Seth, and indeed, the Jews in their antient commentaries on Genefis, lead us to it: She called his name Seth, for God (faid fhe) has appointed me another feed (1). R. Tanchuma following the notion of R. Samuel, faith, That fhe had regard to that feed which was to proceed from another, or a ftrange place; and what feed is that? faith he. 'Tis the King, the Meffiah.
I pretend not to maintain the folidity of the reflexions they make upon the words, another feed. They feem rather to have pleas'd themselves in fporting with a word which admits of both fignifications, other and Strange, than to give us an exact and diftinct notion of the importance of that word. Thus much at leaft, we cannot deny, but that Eve confidering her fon Seth, as him whom God had given her instead of Abel fhe could do no less than acquaint him with her hopes; and indeed, this information was that which not only difpofed Seth and his pofterity for piety and the spirit of religion, but did also in a particular manner incline them to separate from the race of Cain, as from thofe whom God had bereft of the right of fulfilling the first oracle, to which naturally they might pretend.
It appears from the example of Enoch, that the children of Adam lived in the exercise of religious worship: and we know that the faid worship fuppofeth the creation of the world, and promise of the Meffiah, and that all the acts of religion are employ'd either in commemorating these truths
(k) Gen. iv. I.
(1) Rabboth fol. 27. col. 2. par. 23. & alibią
every feventh day, or in unfolding the wonders therein contain❜d, or in teftifying our thankfulness to God for the fame.
We may add here, that the inftance of Lamech's polygamy does in fome fort make out to us the force of this perfwafion.
Cain being rejected by God, and diftinguish'd by an exemplary punifhment, for killing his brother Abel, it is evident, that no man could any longer interpret that promise in the firft fenfe, by applying it to Adam's first fon, or his pofterity. This being fo plain, as none could be ignorant of it, it was therefore natural to feek for another meaning of that promife, and to place the fulfilling of it in a posterity at a greater distance, or more numerous.
And indeed fo it happen'd; for the exemplary punishment which God inflicted on Cain during the seven firft generations, according to those words, That he should be punished Sevenfold, made his pofterity apprehend, that God (for the fin he had committed) had juftly debarr'd him of the right he might otherwise have had of fulfilling the promife.
But yet at the fame time they conceived alfo, that this right, which belong'd more properly to the eldest or first-born, than to the younger brothers, was now to return to his pofterity after the feventh generation. And in this view it feems, that Lamech affected polygamy, as if by multiplying his pofterity, he had hoped to fee that promife fulfill'd by fome one or other of them.
It cannot be deny'd, but that he imitated the crimes of Cain, and therefore may well be fuppos'd to have been leven'd also with his false maxims. But how greatly foever he was corrupted, yet forafmuch as he had been educated in the hopes of his father, and in converfe with the family of Seth, who many ages before had formed public affemblies for religious exercises, we can't well imagine, but that he must have had the fame pretenfions.
It appears therefore, that the polygamy of Lamech may juftly be efteemed an effect of his mifapprehenfions concerning the fence of the first promife; those means which he conceived most likely, he made choife of, to give him a fhare in the fulfilling of that promife, which pointed at a fon to be born. So that the irregularity he was guilty of in marrying two wives at the fame time, may pafs for a proof of his being perfwaded not only of the promife, That the feed of the woman fhould break the ferpent's head, but alfo of the creation of the world.
It feems, that according to these principles, we may give a very plaufible account, as well of those violences which were exercised in the old world, and of their strong inclinations to fenfuality, as of those alliances between the family of Seth, and that of Cain; which did not happen till feven generations after Cain; that is to fay, at a time when the family of Cain pretended to be reftored again to his antient right, from which he had been fufpended during feven generations: the family of Seth by these alliances with the family of Cain, feeming defirous to fecure their hopes and pretenfions. It will not be thought ftrange, that I look upon the jealoufie of Cain towards his brother (as thinking himself supplanted by him of his right to accomplish the promise) and the polygamy of Lamech, as an effect of this perfwafion; if it be confider'd, that in all likelyhood
this belief was more ftrong at the beginning of the world, the idea of the promise being more fresh and lively in the minds of men, as a thing at no great distance from those times and that we find in the holy family in general, manifold inftances of this spirit of jealousic, and burning defire of a pofterity.
We find alfo, much about the fame time, another Lamech, the father of Noah (m), declaring by the name he gave his fon, the hopes he had that he might probably be the person who was to comfort mankind concerning all the mifery fin had brought into the world.
Thus it appears clearly, that for above fixteen ages from the creation of the world to the deluge, we find in all the actions of the children of Adam a ftrong impreffion of the belief of the creation of the world, and the promise of the Meffiah. And till this time we find not the leaft inftance which might feem to convince the relation of Moses of the least abfurdity. We fee men acting from the perfwafion of these two matters of fact; we must conclude therefore, that they were diftinctly inform'd of them; yea, we see all men in general, acting according to this perfwafion it is evident therefore, they were known to all, and the weekly obfervance of the fabbath day continually representing those truths to the eyes and minds of all, takes away all poffibility of forgery in these
Let us now enquire whether after the deluge thefe ideas were effaced; or, whether they have not exerted the fame efficacy in the fpirit of Noah, and the actions of all his pofterity.
С НА Р. XII.
That NOAH was fully perfwaded of the Creation of the World, and the Promife of the MESSIAH.
F we find that the children of Adam, and their pofterity, could I be exactly informed of the creation and the promise of the Mefxfiah, and that indeed they were so, it will follow that Noah could not be unacquainted with the fame truths.
Noah was fix hundred years old when the deluge came: he had converfed with Lamech his father, who had feen Adam and his children, as being fifty fix years of age when Adam died; he had conversed with Methufalem his grandfather, who died that very year the flood came, and who being three hundred and forty three years old when Adam died, had without doubt inftructed Noah, during fo vaft an interval of time, in like manner as himself had been initructed by Adam for many
And as Methufalem had lived a long time with Seth, who died in the year of the world 1042, fo it is evident, that Noah who was born in the
year 1056, had not only feen Lamech and Methufalem, but many also of their ancestors, whofe difcourfes he heard, examin'd their traditions, and imitated their way of worship.
Moreover, Noah faw that there were no men in his time, who did not deduce their genealogy from Adam. All his contemporaries could convince him of it. Every one of them having as exact a knowledge of their ancestors as he could have of his.
Now, that this was a matter which they might be eafily affur'd of, appears on these two accounts: the one is the long life which the men of that age enjoyed; and the other, the fhort interval of time which was between the creation and the deluge, the whole amounting only to 1656 years. Adam died in the year 930, and the deluge happened in the 600 year of Noab's life. Adam died 126 years before the birth of Noah, fo as Adam must have been seen and known by Methufalem, Lamech, and thousands of others who were contemporarys with Noah.
To thefe we may add a third remark, and that is the jealoufie and hatred which was between the two families of Cain and Seth: Cain's pofterity were altogether corrupted, and the greatest part of Seth's also: Noah being of the pofterity of Seth, had no reason to call those matters in question, which he faw generally own'd and received of those to whom their wickedness and crimes fuggefted objections against them. And I do not know, whether I might not fuppofe that Noah had before his eyes Paradife, with the cherubims who guarded the entrance thereof, and made it inacceffible, which if fo, was an authentick proof of the truths in queftion: that garden, as far as we can judge, being not deftroy'd, nor the guardian angel difcharged till the time of the flood.
Be it as it will, yet Noah being a man fearing God, was honoured with an extraordinary call to exhort men to repentance, he was commanded to build an ark; he faw the deluge happening, according to what God had foretold, he saw the beafts, of their own accord, gather themfelves together, to enter into the ark, in like manner as he had been told that they came to Adam. He saw the deluge ceafe according to the Divine declaration, he faw fire from heaven confuming the facrifice he offer'd in acknowledgment to God, in like manner, as the words of Mofes feem to imply, that it happened at the facrifice of Abel. He faw himself chofen in a peculiar manner, to be the depofitary of the promise which Adam had left to his pofterity, tho' he never had the fatisfaction of feeing it fulfilled himself, God having reserved the accomplishment of it for another time, and to one of his posterity at a great distance.
It is very evident, that all thefe particulars could not but conduce to preferve the memory of these firft most important matters of fact of the creation and the promife of the Meffiah, and therefore, that Noah muft of neceffity be convinced of the certainty and truth of them. Let us now fee whether Noah's offspring had the fame perfwafion concerning these things.
С НА Р. XIII.
That the Children of NOAH were convinced of the Truth of thefe Matters.
**HE children of Noah were an hundred years old when the deT luge happened, and confequently had converfed a long space of xx time with Methufalem, and many other of their ancestors and relations of the old world, and had frequented the religious affemblies, obferved every fabbath day in the family of Seth, whence they were defcended; and had been inftructed there by thofe who had feen Adam and his pofterity; it is evident therefore, beyond all conteft, that they could not be ignorant of the creation, and promife of the Meffiah.
Now, that they had a diftinct knowledge of thofe matters, we may evidently conclude, not only because they had feen God, when he bleffed them, and a fecond time faid to them, as after a new creation, increafe and multiply (n): nor only upon the account of his giving them a pofitive law, forbidding them to eat the blood of living creatures (0), whose flesh they were permitted to feed on, as he had forbid Adam, to eat of the fruit of the tree in the midst of the garden, when he left the reft to their free ufe: not only, for that he had given the rainbow, as a new fign of his covenant with mankind; nor only because they had practis'd thofe acts of religion, to which they had been educated by their parents and ancestors before the deluge: but because the fame may be in. ferred from that action which drew upon Cham his father's curse.
What is the meaning of Cham's deriding the nakedness of his father, and of his father's taking occafion from thence to curfe him fo folemnly, and that in the perfon of Canaan his firft-born? If it were only a piece of irreverence in the father, what reason had Noah to curfe the fon on that account? Or, was it (as some have suppos'd) that Canaan had given occafion first to his fathers irreverence, by acquainting him with the diforder in which he had found his grandfather Noah? Without doubt, there is fomething more than ordinary in this hiftory. Sure it is, that the account given us of Cham, represents him as a prophane perfon, and deeply tinctured with the maxims of Cain and his pofterity, and seems to hint to us, that he fuppofing the promise of the Meffiah either fruftrated by the death of Abel, or altogether false, he made his father's nakednefs the subject of his mockery; who feem'd to be incapable of begetting any more children, and therefore incapable of contributing to the accomplishment of the promise of the Meftah, in hopes of which, he accounted himself so happy, that he had efcaped the deluge.
What means it alfo, that Noah pronounceth fo terrible a curfe, against the pofterity of Cham by Canaan, who were fo far from giving an accomplishment to that promife, that they were in a manner wholly extirminated by Jofbuah, when God put the pofterity of Shem by Abraham in poffeffion of the land of Canaan? It is very natural for us to conceive, (0) Gen. ix. 5.
(n) Gen. ix. I,