« PreviousContinue »
THE GENERATIONS OF ADAM.
Gen. iv. 25, 26. v.
We have of late met with little else than the operations of sin and misery : here I hope we shall find something that will afford us pleasure. Adam had lived to see grievous things in his family. At length, about one hundred and thirty years after the creation, Eve bare him another son. Him his mother called Seth; that is, set, or appointed; for God, said she, hath appointed me another seed instead of Abel, whom Cain slew. The manner in which the mother of mankind speaks on this occasion is much in favour of her personal religion. The language implies, that though at first she had doted upon Cain, yet as they grew up, and discovered their dispositions, Abel was preferred. He was the child in whom all the hopes of the family seem to have concentrated; and, therefore, when he fell a sacrifice to his brother's cruelty, it was considered as a very heavy loss. She was not without a son before Seth was born, for Cain was yet alive: but he was considered as none, or as worse than none; and therefore when Seth was born, she hoped to find in him a suecessor to Abel : and so it proyed; for this appears to have been the family in which the true religion was preserved in those times. At the birth of Enos, which was one hundred and five years after that of his father Seth, it is remarked with emphasis by the sacred historian—THEN BEGAN MEN TO CALL UPON THE NAME OF THE LORD. This cheering infor. mation doubtless refers to the families in connexion with which it is spoken, and denotes, not that there had been no calling upon the Lord till that time, but that from thence true religion assumed a
more visible form; the seed of the woman, afterwards called the sons of God, assembling together to worship him, while the seed of the serpent might very probably be employed in deriding them.
From the genealogy in Chap. v. I shall barely offer the follow ing remarks:
1. It is a very honourable one. Not only did patriarchs and prophets, and the church of God for many ages, descend from it, but the Son of God himself according to the flesh; and to show the fulfilment of the promises and prophecies concerning him, is the principal reason of the genealogy having been recorded.
2. Neither Cain nor Abel have any place in it. Abel was slain before he had any children, and therefore could not; and Cain by his sin had covered his name with infamy, and therefore should not. Adam's posterity therefore, after a lapse of one hundred and thirty years, must begin anew. 3. The honour done to Seth and his posterity was of grace
; for he is said to have been born in Adam's likeness, and after his image; a phrase which, 1 believe, is always used to express the qualities of the mind, rather than the shape of the body. Man was made after the image of God; but this being lost, they are born corrupt, the children of a corrupt father. What is true of all mankind is here noted of Seth, because he was reckoned as Adam's first-born. He therefore, like all others, was by nature a child of wrath ; and what he, or any of his posterity were different from this, they were by grace.
4. The extraordinary length of buman life at that period was wisely ordered ; not only for the peopling of the world, but for the supplying of the defect of a written revelation. From the death of Adam to the call of Abram, a period of about eleven hundred years, there were living either Enoch, Lamech, Noah, or Shem; besides other godly persons, who were their cotemporaries, and who would feelingly relate to those about them the great events of the creation, the fall, and recovery of
5. Notwithstanding the longevity of the antediluvians, it is recorded of them all, in their turn, that they died. Though the stroke
of death was slow in its approach, yet it was sure. If Man could live to a thousand years, yet he must die; and if he die in sin, he will be accursed.
6. Though many of the names in this genealogy are passed over without any thing being said of their piety, yet we are not from hence to infer that they were impious. Many might be included among them who called upon the name of the Lord, and who are denominated the sons of God, though nothing is personally related of them.
7. Two of them are distinguished for eminent godliness ; or, as it is here called, walking with God; namely, Enoch and Noah. Both these holy men are enrolled in the list of worthies in the eleventh chapter of the Epistle to the Hebrews.
Let us look a little intensely at the life of the first of these worthies, the shortest of all the lives, but surely the sweetest : Enoch walked with God after he begat Methuselah, three hundred years. He walked with God, and was not ; for God took him. This was one of those brief, impressive descriptions of true religion with which the scriptures abound. Its holy and progressive nature is here most admirably marked. Enoch walked with God-He must then have been in a state of reconciliation with God; for two cannot walk together except they be agreed. He was what Paul infers from another consideration, a believer. Where this is not the case, whatever may be bis outward conduct, the sinner walks contrary to God, and God to him. What an idea does it convey also, of his setting God always before him, seeking to glorify him in every duty, and studying to show himself approved of him, whatever might be thought of his conduct by sinful men. Finally: What an idea does it convey of the communion which he habitually enjoyed with God! His conversation was in heaven, while dwelling on the earth. God dwelt in him, and he in God!
Enoch walked with God, after he begat Methuselah, three hundred years, and perhaps sometime before that event. Religion with him, then, was not a transient feeling, but an habitual and abiding principle. In reviewing such a character, what Christian can forbear exclaiming, in the words of our Christian poet :*
Just so much as we have of this, so much we possess of true religion, and no more.
Enoch walked with God, and he was not, for God took him; that is, as Paul explains it, He was translated that he should not see death. This singular favour conferred on Enoch, like the resurrection of Christ, might be designed to afford a sensible proof of a blessed immortality, which for the want of a written revelation, might then be peculiarly necessary. He had warned the wicked of his day, that the Lord would come with ten thousand of his holy ones, to execute judgment : and now, however offensive his doctrine might have been to them, God, by exempting him from the common lot of men, will bear testimony that he bath pleased him, not only to the mind of Enoch, but to the world. It is possible also, that the translation of this holy man might be conferred in order to show what should have been common to all, had man persisted in his obedience-a translation from the earthly to the heavenly paradise.
With respect to Noah, we shall have an account of his righteous life in the following chapters : at present, we are only told of the ciscumstances of his birth. (ver. 28-32.) His father Lamech speaks on this occasion, like a good man and a prophet. He called bis son Noah, which signifies rest ; for this same, saith he, shall comfort us concerning our work, and the toil of our hands, because of the ground which the Lord hath cursed. Noah, by building the ark, saved a remnant from the flood ; and by offering an acceptable sacrifice, obtained the promises that the ground should no more be cursed for man's sake. (Chap. viii. 21.) As Lamech could have known this only by revelation, we may infer from thence, the sweet rest which divine truth affords to the believing mind from the toils and troubles of the present life; and if the birth of this child afforded comfort in that he would save the world, and remove the curse : how much more His who would be a greater Saviour, and remove a greater curse, by being HIMSELF an ark of salvation, and by offering HIMSELF a sacrifice to God for a sweet smelling savour !