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mind an unbelief in the threatening as the word of God.Failing in this, he made her a promise of an understanding like that of the gods; excited her curiosity; tempted her appetite, until, impatient of divine restraint, and renouncing her confidence in God, for confidence in the Serpent:
"She pluck’d; she ate;
Adam soon ventured on the same ground of infidelity, and with his wife, apostatized from God. Their moral character was now wholly changed. They no longer appeared before God in prayer and praise as dear children, but hid themselves from his presence in conscious guilt. And when called to account for their conduct, instead of confessing their sin and imploring pardon, they had the effrontery to charge their sin upon others; yea, indirectly, upon God himself.
This was the moment when angels looked for their immediate destruction. But said God, “Stay them from going down into the pit, for I have found a ransom.” A Savior was promised. A tremendous sentence was pronounced upon the serpent, the animal in which the father of lies approached the innocent pair, that mankind might ever have before their eyes something that would powerfully remind them of this event; but reaching beyond that, even to Satan, the old serpent, the deceiver, insuring his destruction and the destruction of his cause by Jesus Christ, the seed of the woman, the Savior of sinners. “And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head and thou shalt bruise his heel.”
This promise was the light and hope of a ruined world. To lead mankind to rest upon it, sacrifices were immediately instituted. Over the blood of beasts, they were to be brought to feel their sinfulness; that there was no access to the Father without an atonement; and to look forward in faith and hope to the Lamb of God that should take away the sin of the world.
The first transgressors were the first fruits of the Spirit. Convinced of sin, terrors took hold on them, and they fled from the presence of the Lord. The voice of mercy melted their hearts. God gave them life. Adam, who had before called his wife Woman, now called her Eve, because she was the mother of all living; of all, who, according to the gracious promise, were to be raised to immortal life: and Eve, at the birth of her first born, (evidently rejoicing in the promise respecting her seed which should bruise the serpent's head,) exclaimed, “I have gotten a man, the Lord” the promised deliverer. With the coats of animals which they no doubt offered in sacrifice to God, they made themselves garments and were clothed.
Thus early did Christ gain a victory over Satan, redeem to himself a peculiar people, and
ESTABLISH A CHURCH IN THE WORLD. But the race had become rebellious; and because of the apostacy, God cursed the ground, and drove the transgressors from the beautiful garden, lest, by being suffered to remain there in the enjoyment of their former privileges, they should partake of the tree of life;—i. e. be insensible to the evil of sin, and fancy that they could gain heaven by their own obedience. They went forth to a world of thorns and briers; there to beget a race from their own fallen nature;-a race corrupt; enemies to God; who, through voluntary transgression, would bring upon themselves innumerable evils in this life, and become exposed to eternal death.
How many of their offspring were trained up for heaven by their daily sacrifices and instructions, we know not. One interesting, lovely youth in this family, stands on record, “an heir of the righteousness which is by faith.” Abel believed in God. In hope of eternal life through the promised seed, he offered a lamb from his flock. The doctrine of the cross was foolishness to Cain. He scorned the thoughts of receiving salvation through the merits of another, and, trusting to his own righteousness, he brought only an offering of the fruit of the ground. The Lord rejected it, but had respect unto that of Abel. Cain's anger rose. He fell upon his brother and slew him.-Awful fruit of the apostacy! Solemn stroke! The first of unnumbered, that should fall from the hands of wicked men upon the followers of the Lamb. Abel perished; the first martyr to truth. Heaven's portals opened wide to admit the first of the ransomed of the Lord, who should come to Mount Zion, washed, sanctified and justified in the pame of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of God. Him, angels welcomed with joy, as a spectacle never before witnessed in their happy regions; while he, being dead, by his faith yet speaketh to all the children of men, assuring them that a sacrifice, offered with an honest and true heart, a deep sense of the guilt of sin, and a firm reliance on the atonement of Christ, will render sinners acceptable to God, and fit them for glory.
Having laid his body in the grave, his parents returned to their dwelling, cast down, yet not destroyed. They trusted the promise of God, for a righteous seed, and the Lord remembered them in mercy, and sent them another son, whom they called Seth;manifestly a pious man, for said his mother in holy faith, God hath appointed me another seed instead of Abel.
In their posterity, of the third generation, in the days of Enos, they witnessed a general out-pouring of the Spirit. " Then,” says the inspired historian, “men began to call upon the name of the Lord.” Whether we consider these words as denoting that then prayer became a duty of common observance, or that in that age men first erected houses of worship, and assembled for prayer and praise, or entered into covenant with God and professed themselves his people, it is manifest there was a general and great revival of religion; for nothing else could have induced men to do either of these things. This was in about the 235th year of the world, when the church was probably large and many were prepared for heaven.
Of the state of religion in the three succeeding generations we have no account. Probably there was no other out-pouring of the Spirit, and the love of many, who had turned to the Lord, had waxed cold. In the seventh generation from Adam, we find Enoch, a man eminently elevated above this world and devoted to God. He was a prophet of the Lord, and uttered a remarkable prophecy of the coming of Christ to take to himself the kingdom and the dominion, and to judge the world." And Enoch also, the seventh from Adam,” says Jude, “prophesied of these, saying, behold the Lord cometh with ten thousand of his saints. to execute judgment upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them, of all their ungodly deeds, which they have ungodly committed; and of all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against him.” What a view does this give us of the wickedness of man at that period! How solemn was that voice echoing through that world of sin and transgression-like the last trump in the morning of the resurrection! If many mocked, with what anguish must they have remembered it in a future age, when the fountains of the great deep were broken up, and the floods came and swept them all away.
Enoch lived a life of faith, maintained holy fellowship and sweet communion with God; and God testified his delight in him by translating him, soul and body, to heaven, not suffering him to taste death. By this great event also, God gave his church a lively assurance of a future world, and the resurrection of the dead. All who had died were sleeping in their graves. No specific promise had been given that the body should be delivered from the ruins of the fall. Here the saints witnessed a rescue of Enoch from death and the grave, and had a precious intimation of the future entire deliverance of the whole man from the bondage of corruption. One instance God gave to the antediluvian church. One to the church, by Elijah, in succeeding periods, that her faith might be in God; until Christ should burst the bands of death and ascend a triumphant conqueror _" the resurrection and the life.”
Long lives and numbers of the Antediluvians. Preservation of the Church. Her ene
mies. Their great wickedness. God's care of his people. Deluge.
God was pleased to continue the inhabitants of the old world upon earth to an astonishing period. Enoch was taken to heaven in the 365th year of his age; but the rest of Seth's descendants, of whom we have any account, all lived more than seven centuries. Methuselah attained to the age of 969 years. Many, “not knowing the power of God” have supposed that their years were lunar months; but a' moment's consideration will show the absurdity of such a conjecture; for it would make them parents when mere infants, and reduce the duration of the old world to less than 130 years. By suffering man to remain long upon the earth, God gave him an opportunity to act out the wickedness of his heart, and to show to the universe the malignity and bitterness of sin.
Living as they did, through many centuries, the antediluvians must have been very numerous. When Cain destroyed his brother, they had greatly multiplied, so that he was fearful to go forth, lest any one that met him should kill him. The first generations lived through several successive periods, until the mass of men had accumulated to millions.
Among this vast population we behold the Church, small but distinct. Indeed it was the only thing of any worth in
the sight of God—the only thing deserving sacred record. He has suffered every thing else-mighty kingdoms, flourishing cities, vast achievements, powerful warriors, and renowned statesmen—all to perish in oblivion; and has told us only of the holy seed, the generation of the righteous, who maintained religion, and who, especially from Enoch to Noah, were doubtless hated of all men. The following is their record:
The enemies of the Church were mighty. Cain was a hardened wretch. He despised the sacrifice which prefigured the atonement, and attempted to please God by his own devices. Angry with Jehovah for exposing the hollowness of his heart, he wreaked his vengeance on his brother Abel. God called him to account, and inquired for Abel; but, in hardened impudence, he said, “ Am I my brother's keeper?” The Lord pronounced him cursed, and drove him out, a fugitive and a vagabond on the earth. At hearing his sentence, remorse seized his soul; and he exclaimed, “My punishment is greater than I can bear!” What a picture of impenitent misery! God determined he should live, a 'monument of the divine abhorrence of his crime; and he set a mark upon him, lest any finding him should kill him. Cain went forth and forsook the presence and ordinances of God-intrenched himself in a city, and