Page images

quences of the fall was, in some degree, demonstrated by his offering itself. For it is evident that the destruction of animal life was made or directed by God for the very purpose of obviating

that sense of shame and nakedness which was one of the first and most melancholy effects of transgression. To hide their shame our first parents had already resorted to an expedient of their own invention. But no sooner had God denounced upon them the sentence of certain, and relieved them, by the promise of some final and remarkable triumph over their adversary, from the dreadfulness of eternal death, than he superseded their own imperfect efforts to obviate the consequences of their sin, by shedding immediately the blood of the animal creation, in order to supply them with a different and a better mode of effecting the same end. It is by no means unnatural, therefore, to imagine that Abel, in bringing " of the firstlings of his flock," had a reference to these several considerations; and that the gratitude which he expressed by his offering for the raiment with which he had been clothed, was more especially a gratitude for the means of removing that sense of moral shame he experienced in his nakedness, together with a reliance upon the contempora'neous promise of a future and more complete eman

cipation from the evils of the fall. And if this

should be once allowed it is easy to perceive how

[ocr errors]

his faith was signified by his offering, and, consequently, in what sense the Apostle more peculiarly intended to declare that "by faith Abel offered a more excellent sacrifice than Cain."

But whatever be the opinion we form with respect to the sentiments of Abel himself, we can scarce doubt that God in this action, and Moses in introducing his account of the mode in which raiment was thus provided for man, had a peculiar view to the manner of our redemption, through the death of Christ. For nothing is more remarkable than the frequency of those passages in scripture, by which the pardon of transgression is represented under the metaphor of hiding or of covering sin. Nor can it escape the recollection of any that the skin of the victim was reserved, in the Mosaic ritual, for the priest who was the medium of atonement. It cannot, therefore, be considered as a position altogether unreasonable to maintain, that the method of obviating the natural consequences of the fall, by the shedding of blood, was intended to be viewed by us, who live when the scheme of redemption has been completed, as having some connection with that more effectual shedding of blood by which God had, as we know, from the very foundation of the world, determined to cover also all our spiritual nakedness and shame. For in both instances it is the Lord

God who himself interposes for our good, and in the latter, as in the former, a raiment of righteousness is appointed for our acceptance and use, more excellent than any we had provided for ourselves. It is not necessary, indeed, to view the subject in this light: for the introduction of the fact that the Lord made coats of skins, and clothed them," may be defended even in its ordinary and more unimportant sense. But when we regard it in combination with the other cir cumstances I have noticed, it seems to assume a more definite character, and there appears to be a reason for its introduction which makes it not unworthy of being thus pressed upon our





GEN. IX. 22, 24, 25.

Ham, the father of Canaan, saw the nakedness of his father, and told his two brethren without... And Noah awoke from his wine, and knew what his younger son had done unto him.... And he said, Cursed be Canaan, a servant of servants shall he be unto his brethren."

FROM the acceptance of the offering of Abel, and the rejection of that of Cain, the grounds and reasons of which have been discussed in the preceding Lectures, I pass immediately to the history of the post-diluvian world. Not but that there are several other individuals and incidents in the ante-diluvian world, both important and obscure enough to excite curiosity and demand explanation; but the extreme brevity of this portion of the Mosaic records, comprehending in the limited space of little more than seven Chapters the events of above sixteen hundred years, and the great difference which probably subsisted between the religious and political state of mankind before and after the deluge, must ever prevent our forming any precise objections or giving

them any distinct and certain answer. There are, however, some things of great consequence which preceded the flood, recorded at full length by Moses, and upon which, therefore, a more intelligible opinion might be produced. Such are the creation, the fall, and the flood. But the difficulties attending the creation and the flood, are principally of a physical nature, whilst the fall of man, though intimately connected with the attributes of the Deity, yet seems more naturally to be united with the redemption and sacrifice of Christ, and, consequently, to belong more properly to the department of doctrinal difficulties.

Proceeding, therefore, to the history of the postdiluvian world, the first account we meet with, is that of the patriarchal periods and individuals, when the governors of men were rather the heads of families than the rulers of nations. This portion of history extends from the deluge to the death of Joseph; for the anomalous interval during which the children of Israel were in bondage to the kings of Egypt, who knew not Joseph, and which terminated in their being placed under the dispensation of the Mosaic law, can scarce be regarded as belonging either to the age of the Patriarchs, or that of the Theocracy. It is rather a link between the two.

« PreviousContinue »