Imágenes de página
PDF
ePub

tures were written, is proof positive of their doctrine ! This might be probable, if we could think of no alternative much more rational, adapted to accountable agency, and like the known and common administration of the reigning Jehovah. But suppose that generation had all been cotemporary with Adam, Seth, Enoch, and perhaps thousands of others, who were truly pious, benevolent, and enlightened in the ways of God; was there any necessity that the inward light should then, more than now, be afforded to make them completely accountable, and vindicate the moral empire of God, whose Spirit strove with them by these instruments ? But their common longevity made them almost all cotemporary with each other, and facilitated the traditional progress of knowledge to a degree of which we can scarcely form an adequate conception! The fifth chapter of Genesis warrants me in saying the following things, according to the strict calculations of simple arithmetic. Noah was 480 years old when the period of awful probation commenced. He was born only 126 years after the death of Adam. He was cotemporary with Enos, the third from Adam, 84 years; and with all his other ancestors, after Seth, till their exit from the world : Seth only and Adam had he not seen, and Seth died only 14 years previous to his birth. Enoch however, who was translated at the early age of 365, is an exception to the above, as he is to almost every other statement. The venerable Methuselah survived his son Lamech about five years; and was cotemporary with Adam 243 years and with his

grandson, Noah, 600 : as he died the very year of the deluge; and most probably many other, possibly thousands, of pious persons, shortly before the terrible desolation of the flood. Let us remember that these were all our ancestors, as well as of Noah and of Christ; let us consider that they were men like ourselves, only that their prodigious vigor of body and mind made them all giants in those days, of whose prowess we can scarcely form a fitting conception : let us recollect that God has always had a church on the earth, “ a seed to serve him” that is “ accounted to the Lord for a generation;" Psalm 22:30, and then let us inquire, is it probable that their need of the Bible was as great as is ours ? had they not traditional helps and facilities altogether peculiar and wonderful for the preservation of the oral word of God? and if any special want or waning of knowledge existed, could not God inspire a prophet, as Enoch, Noah, or others, to speak to them and communicate his will ? Is there no solution in reason or probability, without that wild one of Friends ? Must we suppose internal objective manifestations in every man-a universal inward light, in order to understand their case? Is there no way in which the Spirit could strive with man, unless he strove in man, and in every man of that age? How then does the passage in question so “excellently and evidently hold forth” the doctrine of Friends ? I solemnly declare that I cannot see, and do not at all believe, that is teaches or favors in the least any such doctrine as that which Barclay's sanguine assertion declares it

so excellently and evidently to inculcate! The Holy Ghost is said to be resisted or striven against when a prophet of God delivers his message to a rebellious auditory or nation. They rebelled, and vexed his Holy Spirit : therefore he was turned to be their enemy, and he fought against them." Is. 63 : 10. “ Since the day that your fathers came forth out of the land of Egypt unto this day I have even sent unto you all my servants the prophets, daily rising up early and sending them : yet they hearkened not unto me, nor inclined their ear, but hardened their neck: they did worse than their fathers.” Jer. 7: 25, 26. This same principle is proved in the concluding words of Stephen before the council. After a long sermon, made up almost wholly of scripture references, in which he proved that Jesus was the Messiah and confounded and even exasperated (he did it innocently) his auditors ; he perceived their perturbation and their malice, and thus in the conclusion of his discourse applied the subject : “ Ye stiff-necked, and uncircumcised in heart and ears, YE DO ALWAYS RESIST THE HOLY GHOST: AS YOUR FATHERS DID, SO DO YE. Which of the prophets have not your fathers persecuted ? and they have slain them that showed before of the coming of the Just One; of whom ye have been now the betrayers and murderers ; who have received the law by the disposition of angels, and have not kept it.” Acts, 7: 51-53. On this excellent and evident passage, I remark, (1) that the hearers of Stephen resisted the Holy Ghost, not as inserted IN THEM, but as

striving from without ; they resisted him in his truth, quoted from “ the lively oracles," as Stephen calls them, (not the dead letter, as Friends alone call them,) and ministered by a living preacher to their rebellious" heart and ears." (2) Stephen says that this was just the way of their fathers! Hence we conclude that their fåthers resisted the Holy Ghost speaking in his prophets or in his written lively oracles. He adds in proof, which of the prophets have not your fathers persecuted ?" This is "evidently and excellently” apparent as the way of the Spirit's striving, and the way of resisting his influences, in all ages of the world. But where now is the mystical, interior, materializing thing, called universal inward light ?

Let us return to “the years beyond the flood.” If it be demanded, why were not alphabetical writing and the scriptures introduced sooner in the ages of the world? I answer, THE RELATIONS OF TRUTH WERE FEWER AND SIMPLER, in those early periods of time; the facts that make up the substrate (if I may so speak) of scripture history had not many of them then occurred; it was suitable to the known wisdom of the divine economy gradually to increase revelation's light, and multiply its relations, to the times of MESSIAH ; as well as to converge its radiations to their focus on Mount Calvary, and to perpetuate its reflections thence, through the medium of the written oracles, the ministry of the word, and the christian sacraments, to the end of time : while the singular facility of communicating knowledge, by the common longevity of those ancient patriarchs, completes the solution.

The building of the ark was a slow, prodigious, and portentous operation. First and last, we have reason to think, it filled the awful interval of the period, 120 years, in which the world was plainly and externally warned of the approaching inundation. The matter was doubtless understood, and most probably derided and scorned by them to the last. “ They did eat, they drank, they married wives, they were given in marriage, until the day that Noah entered into the ark ; and the flood came and destroyed them all.” Luke, 17 : 27. While it evinces, among other proofs, the advance of those “awful fathers of mankind,” in civilization and the arts, that such a structure as the ark could be reared and completed at all, as it would have been in any age a wonder greater than the tomb of Mausolus ; the number of men directly and indirectly engaged in its fabrication must have been prodigious! The difficulty stated in Calmet, (see article Ark,) against this view of the long period of its building, is imaginary ; and will vanish (though you admit, as I do not, his premises) simply by reading Gen. 6: 18 prospectively with respect to his sons, as the sense and the words plainly require : so that it neither concludes nor militates against the general idea of expositors, that the probationary interval of 120 years was occupied in the monitory preparation of the ark. And what was the intelligible motto of this enterprise? What the meaning of Noah's conduct in its prosecution ?

What the speaking portent of it all? The answer is at hand.

« AnteriorContinuar »