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OF THE HISTORY OF
THE BRITISH CHURCH;
A VIEW OF THE PATRIARCHAL CHURCHES—THE ORIGIN AND EXTEN
SION OF IDOLATRY—THE FOUNDATION OF THE BRITISH CHURCH,
FROM THB ANTEDILUVIAN CHURCH TO THE REVELATION OF THE
I. The Antediluvian Church.-II. The Patriarchal Church.—III. On
the idolatrous Descendants of Noah. IV. The Church renewed under Abraham.-V. The Levitical Church.–VI. On the Origin and Extension of Idolatry.–VII. Revelation of the Gospel.
• I. The Antediluvian Church. While the divine image
of God existed in man, and his faculties were unimpaired by sin,-while his understanding directed, and his passions were obedient, he was capable of offering a sacrifice of righteousness, and performing the duties of a holy worship; but through the machinations of the evil one,“ the Old Serpent,”—Rev.xii.9,the enemy of the Church from its foundation, he fell from his allegiance, and lost with his innocence the favour of his
God. Notwithstanding the greatness of the provocation, and the fatal consequences that inevitably attended the crime, an exhibition of sovereign mercy anticipated the sentence of banishment and death. Before labour and sorrow were denounced against our unhappy first parents, and a curse inflicted on the ground for their sake, the degradation of their subtle foe was declared, and an avenger promised who should bruise the serpent's head, and redeem the future generations from his power.
The Church of God was then developed as the Church of Christ—the necessity, and the efficacious influence of a mediator between sinful man and his offended Creator was disclosed, and the sacrificial mode of worship appointed—typical of the great and divine victim through whom alone pardon and reconciliation could be obtained—“the Lamb of God slain from “the foundation of the world,” since “ without shedding of “ blood is no remission" of sins.—Heb.ix. 22.—That even Adam and Eve offered beasts in sacrifice is surmised from their being cloathed with their skins, as in those days they would scarcely be slain for any other purpose. Thus was it revealed that the Church of Christ on earth should accomplish her warfare, and her faithful worshippers having finally overcome their enemy, should at length “eat of the tree of life which is in the “ midst of the Paradise of God.”—Rev. ii. 7.
With the terms of the revelation thus made, Abel, as the result proved, complied, but Cain was rebellious. The former offered to God, through a perfect faith in the means disclosed to him, a lamb of the firstlings of his flock, " a more excellent “sacrifice than that of Cain:" who with a spirit of self-wisdom, and in opposition to the means disclosed, “ brought of the fruit of the ground an offering unto the Lord,” trusting in his own righteousness, and adopting a natural mode of expressing his gratitude, but suitable only to the state of primæval innocence. By this, as we may gather from the result, he “ did not well;" “ sin lay at his door," and his offering was not " accepted ;" while Abel “ obtained witness that he was " righteous,"
Gen. iv. 3, 7. Heb. xi. 4.–From this time Cain departed from the true worship (“ from the presence) of the “ Lord,” and no more came before the Schechinah in the place where God may have been pleased to dwell; as we read that Rebekah " went to inquire of the Lord.”—Gen, xxv. 22—but became a wanderer from the right way, dwelling, as it is expressed in the figurative language of Scripture, “ in the land of Nod” (see Parkhurst 73), which word may either signify his own defection, or his rejection by God. Thus even to Adam's family may be traced the “ gathering of two or three together," where Christ would be " in the midst.”_" there am I;" —and Abel's place being empty, God said to Cain, the murderer, “ where is Abel thy brother?”—Gen. iv.9.– and thus early also began a falling off from the Church of Christ. The sons of men, the descendants of Cain, abandoned themselves to every wicked imagination, and soon lost the image of the true God from their minds.
The fundamental doctrines of this original Church were evidently the same as were published in after times by the Prophets, and confirmed by our Lord himself,—the love of God exemplified by faith both in his promises and his threatenings, and the love of man, declared by St. John, and fully to be understood from the now complicated guilt of Cain in the murder of his brother. “ For this is the message that ye heard from the “ BEGINNING that we should love one another, not as Cain, who "was of that wicked one, and slew his brother: and wherefore 6 slew he him? because his own works were evil, and his brother's "righteous.”—1 John iji, 11, 12.--It seems, too, sufficiently clear, from the passage in Job, xix. 25—and other places, that the doctrine of a future state was then known and professed.
The righteous Abel, the first martyr, dying childless, the true worship was transmitted through Seth, the third son of Adam, to whom his father gave a name in reference to the state of the Church;—the word (Seth) meaning to settle, or reduce to order-much disorder having naturally arisen from the conduct of Cain. It is only by the significant names given by the Patriarchs to their respective descendants that we can Judge of the state of the Church at this early period. (See Bellamy's “ History of all Religions,” in which this is very ingeniously treated,--and Bedford's Scripture Chronology).
In this particular the Hebrew-the supposed primitive language-differs from all others—the names of things being all significant. Thus the first created man and woman were named DTX (Adam, or earth). 12 DY 0787-880758 17179737 79787.-Gen. ii. 7,-“ And the Lord God made Earth (ground),”—[0787, he-adam, earth, or red earth, not y787, he-arets, as the heavens and the earth] “ from the dust of the “ Earth" (ground)-[10787 he-adamah], " and called their “ name Earth,” (878, Adam).-Gen. v. 2.—So “ Adam " called his wife's name LIFE-GIVING,” (1717 havah, Eve)“ be" cause she was the mother of ALL LIVING.”—Gen. iii. 20.;-he also said, " she shall be called 70X,” (Isha, woman,)“ because “ she was taken out of wx (Ish,) man.”—Gen. ii. 23.-In like manner Eve called her son's name "p (Cain), GOTTEN, and said “ I have GOTTEN a man from the Lord.”—Gen. iv. 1.
At the birth of his first son, Seth gave him the name of Enos, ora mortal state by sin; as referring to the loss of immortality by the fall of Adam. In his time men“ began to call on the name of the Lord;" or, according to the marginal translation, “ to call " themselves by the name of the Lord,” keeping themselves separate from their wicked brethren, the seed of the devil. Gen. iii. 15,--and assuming the title of children or “ sons of God," as true worshippers; which title was also used after the flood.—Job, i. 6, ii. 1.-The name of Cainan the son of Enos, means to lament, or to be in a depressed state of mind; well indicating the sorrow still naturally felt at the loss of Eden, and its happiness. Mahalaleel succeeded, called, according to the same custom, a departing from the praise or worship of the true God! and the defection continued through the government of Jared, his son, whose name means to decline ; indicating the unhappy progress of affairs towards a general departure from the doctrines of the true Church.
The name of his son and succcessor Enoch, signifies to train up or dedicate; and the expression that he “ walked with " God," implies both that he attempted the restoration of the true worship, and that the great mass of the people were given to idolatry; and however ineffectaal his efforts may have been, he was, in reward of his own conduct, because by his faith he pleased God, miraculously translated, so that he did not 6 see death,” or die the common death of others. His translation was probably a visible one like that of Elijah, and afforded evidence of a future resurrection.
In the days of Methuselah his son, a still more ruinous state of things seems to be indicated by his name, he sent forth death, a state of universal idolatry-a spiritual death. According to Ainsworth the name is compounded of two words he dieth and a sending forth, i.e. of waters--thus predicting that the deluge should happen in the year of his death, as in fact it did. Indeed St. Jude (verses 14. 15.) speaks of Enoch's prophesying in terms that may very well apply to this great event. During the time of his son and successor Lamech, whose name means a total decay, or falling off, the form of the true religion was probably almost lost ;“ the sons of God," the posterity of Shem,-bearing a title given in Holy Scripture to Adam,-Luke ii. xxxviii.—had joined themselves to the daughters of men," the progeny of the wicked Cain; one of whose descendants, Lamech (another of that name), commenced the custom of polygamy, and, not improbably, was guilty of murder,-Gen. iv. 19-24. - and from these irregular marriages, so contrary to the pure custom established in the first pair-Mat. xix. 4–6.arose probably the greatest disorder. In the time of the sons of this Lamech, the useful arts began to flourish-men constructed tents—worked in brass and iron, and even understood playing on the organ and harp—but in the midst of these blessings they forgat God.
It is said “ there were giants in the earth in those days.”Gen. vi. 4—but the word translated giants, means rather men of violence, or apostates, who becoming " mighty,” and “ men of