« IndietroContinua »
received, that it seems almost needless to insist any farther on the proof thereof. The very heathen, that knew not who the first man was, nor where, or when he was created, did, notwithstanding, allow, in general, that there was one, from whom all descended ; therefore, when the apostle Paul argued with them, that God had made of one blood all nations of men, for to dwell on all the face of the earth, Acts xvii. 26. none of them pretended to deny it. And, none who own the divine authority of scripture, ever questioned the account which Moses gives hereof, till a bold writer, about the middle of the last century, published a book, in which he advanced a new and fabulous notion ; that there was a world of men who lived before Adam was created *, and that these were all heathen ; and that Moses speaks of their creation, as what was many ages before Adam, in Gen. i. and of Adam's in chap. ii. whom he supposes to have been created in some part of the world, which was then uninhabited, where he was designed to live, and to be the father of the church, which was to descend from him ; and, being so far remote from the rest of mankind, he knew not that there was any other men besides himself, till his family increased, and some of them apostatized from the faith; and, in particular, Cain, and his descendents went out from the presence of the Lord, and dwelt among them. And whereas Adam is called, by the apostle Paul, the first man, he supposes that he is styled so only as contra-distinguished from Christ, who is called the second man, designing thereby to compare the person, whom he supposes to have been the head of the Jewish church, with him who is the head of the Christian church. And he insists largely on, and perverts that scripture, in Rom. v. 13. where it is said, Until the law, sin was in the world; as though the sense of it were, that there was a sinful generation of men in the world, before God erected his church, and gave laws to it, when he created Adam, as the head and father thereof; whereas the apostle there speaks of sin’s prevailing in the world before the law was given by Moses ; and as for the historical account of the creation of man in scripture, it is plain that Moses speaks of the creation of man in general, male and female, Gen. i. 27. and, in chap. ii. gives a particular account of the same thing, and speaks of the manner of the formation of Adam and Eve. Besides, when God had created Adam, it is expressly said, in Gen. ii. 5. that there was not a man to till the ground, therefore there was no other man living, which is directly contrary to this chimerical opinion. And, if there had been a world of men before Adam, what occasion was there for him to be created out of the dust of the ground ? He might have been the father of the church, and yet descended from one that was then in being, in a natural way; or, if God designed that he should live at a distance from the rest of the world, he might have called him from the place of his abode, as he afterwards did Abraham, without exerting power in creating him; and he might have ordered him to have taken a wife out of the world, without creating a woman for that purpose,
* This book, which is called, Systema Theologicum, in which this matter is pretended to be defended, was published by one Peirerius, about the middle of the lass century; and, being written in Latin, was read by a great many of the learned world: Andl, inasmuch as the sense of many scriptures is strained by him to defend it, and hereby contempt was cast upon scripture in general, and occasion given to many, who are so disposed, to reproach and burlesque it ; therefore some have thought it worth their while to take notice of, and confute this new doctrine ; afier which, the author thereof, either being convinced of his error thereby, as some suppose, or being afraid met he should suffer persecution for it, recanted his opinion, and turned Papist.
It would be too great a digression, nor would it answer any valuable end, for me to take notice of every particular argument brought in defence of this notion : but though the book we speak of, be not much known in the world, yet the notion is defended and propagated by many Atheists and Deists, who design hereby to bring the scripture-history and religion in general into contempt; therefore I am obliged, in opposition to them, to answer an objection or two,
Object. 1. If Adam was the first man, and his employment was tilling the ground, where had he those instruments of husbandry, that were necessary, in order thereto, and other things, to subserve the various occasions of life?
Answ. This may easily be answered, by supposing that he had a sufficiency of wisdom to find out every thing that was needful for his use and service, whatever improvement might be made in manual arts, by future ages; but this objection, though mentioned amongst the rest, is not much insisted on Therefore,
Object. 2. There is another objection, which some think a little more plausible, taken from what is contained in Gen. iv. where we read of Cain's killing his brother Abel, which was a little before the hundred and thirtieth year of the world, as appears, by comparing chap. v. 3. with chap. iv. 25, in which it is said, Adam lived an hundred and thirty years, and begat Seth; upon which occasion, his wife acknowledges it as a mercy, that God had appointed her another seed, instead of Abel, whom Cain slew. Now, if we observe the consequence of this murder; how Cain, as it is said, in chap. iv. 16. went out from the presence of the Lord, and dwelt in the land of Nod; and, in ver. 17. that he built a city, and called the name of it after the name of his son, Enoch; from whence they infer, that, in a little above an hundred and thirty years after the world was created, there were several colonies settled in places remote from the land of Eden, where Adam, and his posterity, dwelt; and the inhabitants of those countries were of a different relis VOL. II.
gion from him, otherwise Cain's living among them would not be styled, his going out from the presence of the Lord. And it is not said, that Cain peopled that land, but he went there, that is, dwelt, amongst the inhabitants thereof; and it must be by their assistance that he built this city, inasmuch as it is probable that the art of building, at this time, was hardly known by our first parents, and their descendants; but they lived, separate from the world, in tents, and worshipped God in that way, which they received by divine revelation, being but few in number, while other parts of the world might be as much peopled as they are, at this day.
Answ. But to this it may be answered that as this chimerical opinion sets aside; or perverts the scripture-account of things, so the absurdity of it may be easily manifested. And,
1. If they suppose that the bumber of Adam's posterity were small, and inconsiderable, when Cain slew his brother, and built the city before-mentioned, this will appear to be an ungrounded conjecture, if the blessing, which God conferred on man in his first creation, of increasing, multiplying, and replenishing the earth, Gen. i. 28. took place, as it doubtless did, and that in an uncommon degree, the necessity of things requiring it; therefore it is not absurd to suppose, that, at least, as many children were generally born at a birth, and in as early an age of the mother's life, as have been, or are, in any uncommon instances in latter ages. It is also very probable, that the time of child-bearing
continued many years longer than it now doth, in proportion to the number of years, in which the life of man exceeded the present standard thereof; and if the age of man was extended to eight or nine hundred years, we may
conclude that there were but few that died young. If these things be taken for granted, which seem not, in the least, improbable, any one, who is curious in his enquiries about this matter, and desires to know what a number of people might be born in one hundred and thirty years, will find it will be so great, that they might spread themselves through many countries, far distant from the place where Adam dwelt; and therefore there is no need to suppose, that those, with whom Cain dwelt in the land of Nod, were persons that lived before Adam was created. But, that this may more abundantly appear, let it be farther considered,
2. That though we read of Cain's going out from the presence of the Lord, and his dwelling in the land of Nod, and building a city, immediately after the account of Abel's death, and therefore it is taken for granted, that this was done soon after, that is, about the hundred and thirtieth year of the world; yet there is no account that this was done immediately, or some few years after, in scripture, which contains the history of the life of Cain, in a few verses, without any chronological account of the time, when these things were said to be done by him, and therefore it seems probable, that this was done some hundreds of years after Cain slew Abel; so that we need not enquire what a number of persons might be in the world in one hundred and thirty years, but in seven or eight hundred years, and then the world might be almost as full of people, as it is now at present, and then the greatest part of the world might be also degenerate, and strangers to the true religion; so that Cain might easily be said to go out of the presence of the Lord, and choose to live with those that were apostates from him, and served other gods; therefore no advantage is gained against the scripture-history by those, who in contempt of it, defend this ill-grounded opinion.
Thus we have considered man, as created male and female, and our first parents, as the common stock, or root, from whence all descended; we shall now take a view of the constitution, or frame of the human nature, and consider,
IV. The two constituent parts of man, namely, the soul and body. With respect to the former of these, he is, as it were allied to angels, or, to use the scripture-expression, made a little lower than them, Psal. viii. 5. As to the other, which is his inferior part, to wit, the body, he is of the earth, earthy, and set upon a level with the lower parts of the creation. And here we shall,
1. Consider the body of man, inasmuch as it was first forméd before the soul; and according to the course and laws of nature, it is first fashioned in the womb, and then the soul is united to it, when it is organized, and fitted for its reception : There are many things very wonderful in the structure of human bodies, which might well give occasion to the inspired vriter to say, I am fearfully and wonderfully made, Psal. exxxix. 14. This is a subject that would afford us much matter to enlarge on, and from thence, to take occasion to admire the wisdom and goodness of God in this part of his work.
Many things might be observed from the shape, and erect posture thereof, and the several conveniences that arise from thence, and how we are hereby instructed that we were not born to look downwards to the earth, but up to heaven, from whence our chief happiness is derived. We might here consider the various parts of the body, whereof none are superfluous or redundant, and their convenient situation for their respective uses; the harmony and contexture thereof, and the subserviency of one part to another; and particularly, how it is so ordered by the wisdom of the Creator, that those
parts, which are most necessary for the preservation of life, which, if hurt, would occasion immediate death, are placed most insvard, tliat they might be sufficiently defended from all external injuries that might befal them; and also the disposition of those parts, that are the organs of sense, and their contexture, whereby they are fitted to exert themselves, in such a way, as is most proper to answer the ends thereof. We might also consider the temperature of the body, whereby its health and vigour is maintained; and that vast variety that there is in the countenances, and voices of men, in which there is hardly an exact similitude in any two persons in the world; and the wise end designed by God herein, for the advantage of mankind in general ; these things might have been particularly insisted on, and have afforded many useful observations; but to enlarge on this head, as it deserves, would be to divert too much from our present design; and it will be very difficult for any one to treat on this subject with more advantage than it has been done by several learned and judicious writers, being set in a much clearer light than it has been in former ages, by those improvements, which have been lately made in anatomy; and it is insisted on so particularly, and with such demonstrative evidence, by them, that I shall rather choose to refer the reader to those writings, in which it is contained, than insist on it *
All that I shall farther observe is, that there is something wonderful in that natural heat that is continued in the bodies of men, for so many years together, and in the motion of the heart, the circulation of the blood and juices, the continual supply of animal spirits, and their subserviency to muscular motion : these things, and many other of the like nature, are all wonderful in the bodies of men.
If it be objected, that there are other creatures, who, in some respects, excel men, as to what concern their bodies, and the powers thereof; as the vulture, and many other creatures, ir quickness of sight and hearing; the dog in the sense of smelling, and many others excel them in strength and swiftness ; and some inanimate creatures, as the sun, and other heavenly bodies, in beauty.
To this it may be answered: That the bodies of men must be allowed to have a superior excellency, if considered as united to their souls, and rendered more capable of glorifying God, and enjoying that happiness, which no creatures, below them, are capable of It is true, man is not endowed with such quickness of sense, strength of body, and swiftness of motion, as many other creatures are; some of which endowments tend to the preservation of their own lives: others are conducive to the advantage of man, who has every thing, in
• Sec Ray's wisdom of God, in the work of creation, Part. II, and Derhar's Physico. Theology, Bool.