William Balfour Winning.

Essays on the antediluvian age : in which are pointed out its relative position and close connexion with the general scheme of providence online

. (page 1 of 12)
Online LibraryWilliam Balfour WinningEssays on the antediluvian age : in which are pointed out its relative position and close connexion with the general scheme of providence → online text (page 1 of 12)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

tihvaxy of €he theological ^emmarjo



N , Murray
BS 1235 .W56 1834
Winning, William Balfour.
Essays on the antediluvian










To him that overcoineth will I give to eat of the Tree of Life, which is in
the midst of the Paradise of God. — Rev. ii. 7-





ST. John's square.


This attempt to illustrate the very brief notices
which the Bible affords concerning the period
from the Fall to the Deluge, is founded on the
following principles : that mankind, from the
beginning, have been actuated by the same mo-
tives ; and that the Almighty has followed out
one uniform plan of moral government.

The inspired narrative of Moses presents to our
view the institution of the primeval Church ; the
entrance of infidelity which gradually increased
until it became an overwhelming apostasy ; and
the judgment of God upon a totally corrupt
Church in the destruction of a world. This is
our direct evidence towards a history of the Ante-
diluvian Church. Some indirect evidence comes
reflected to us from our more intimate acquaint-



ance with the Jewish Church. In the Old Testa-
ment, we have a full account of its institution, its
wayward course, and continual declining from
the truth ; and in the New, we see the judgment
of God denounced upon this licentious and
apostate Church in the utter subversion of its
polity and the dispersion of its members. But
w^e not only have a more particular histor}^ of the
Jewish Church ; we have the farther advantage
of inspired commentators to explain the Mosaic
dispensation ; the Apostles continually speak of
God's covenant with Abraham in the language
and with the enlarged views of Christianity.
Their object, indeed, was to unfold to their Jewish
brethren the nature and object of the Gospel
scheme by means of analogies taken from their
own economy ; but in so doing, they have enabled
us to see more clearly the nature and object of
Judaism ; and we are hereby authorised in apply-
ing analogies taken from the Christian and Jewish
dispensations to the illustration of the antediluvian
period. The apostles, following the example of
our Saviour, have done so in part themselves ;
but they have only pointed out, in a general w^ay,


the path which we must ourselves explore to come
to a knowledge of particulars.

In this investigation, we may also derive great
assistance from the nature of prophecy (vid.
Essay III.), which having different fulfilments of
the same prediction (each fulfilment being more
clear than the preceding) we are enabled not
only to look forward with more distinct views to
the final completion, but also backward with a
better understanding of the circumstances which
first gave rise to it. The most important instance
of this method is to be found in the prophecy of
Enoch. There can be no doubt that it was
addressed to the Antediluvians to warn them of
God's intended judgment at the flood ; but it is
also applied by St. Jude to that judgment on the
Jews which is foretold by our Saviour in his pro-
phecy concerning the subversion of the Jewish
polity (Matt, xxiv.) If, then, from the nature of
prophecy, the prediction of Enoch may be applied
to the subversion of the Jewish polity ; conversely,
the prophecy of our Lord may be applied to the
destruction of mankind at the flood : "As the
days of Noah were (at the coming of the Lord


foretold by Enoch), so shall also the coming of
the Son of Man be (at the end of the Jewish
age.)" Vid. Essays VI. and VII. Various
analogies and applications of prophecy will be
found throughout this work, but it is the retro-
spective application of our Lord's prophecy which
has thrown most light upon the early history ;
and it was Jude's application of Enoch's prophecy
to the last days of the Jewish age, that suggested
this mode of treating the subject.

As Enoch's prophecy is the only prediction of
that kind remaining to us from those early ages,
we must consider it merely as the representative
of the antediluvian prophecies ; for, doubtless,
there were many others of a kindred nature.
Thus John the Baptist's prophecy (Matt. iii. 12.)
may be looked on as the representative of the
numerous and varied prophecies that ushered in
the end of the Jewish dispensation : "He that
cometh after me is mightier than I ; his fan is in
his hand, and he will thoroughly purge his floor,
and gather his wheat into the garner ; but he
will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire."
If this prediction of the Baptist's were the only


one preserved from the Christian Scriptures to
the subjects of a more glorious dispensation, they
would form a very erroneous judgment if they
supposed this prediction to have been the only
warning to the contemporaries of John. For my
own part, I suppose that Jude has quoted only the
concluding sentence of some one of Enoch's pro-
phecies, as the above text is the conclusion of
one of the many exhortations of John which he
delivered during his '' preaching in the wilder-
ness of Judea." I therefore infer that the later
generations of the antediluvians had advantages
of a similar kind to those which the Jews possessed
afterwards ; and, I suppose, as the result was the
same in both cases, that the winding up of the
early religious history would disclose events very
similar to those which occurred before the de-
struction of Jerusalem.

Of the importance of my subject I need to
speak but very briefly. The scheme of man's
redemption has come down to us unfolded in
three distinct, but closely connected dispensations.
The foundation of the Church was laid at the
commencement of the first period ; so that, be-


sides the natural curiosity which would lead us
to the beginning of things, an adequate know-
ledge of the opening dispensation would seem
necessary to a thorough understanding of those
which follow. The Book of Genesis relates the
triumph of the serpent over the woman : the
Book of Revelations sets forth the defeat of the
serpent by the seed of the woman. In the begin-
ning of the Bible, we read of man's forfeiture of
the tree of life in the Garden of Eden ; at the
close, we see his right thereto restored: " To him
that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of
life, which is in the midst of the Paradise of
God," Rev. ii. 7. "I use the Scripture," says the
Christian philosopher Boyle, ''not as an arsenal
to be resorted to only for arms and weapons to
defend this party, or defeat its enemies ; but as a
matchless temple where I delight to be, to con-
template the beauty, the symmetry, and the mag-
nificence of the structure, and to increase my awe,
and excite my devotion to the Deity there preached
and adored." Like this pious author, every Chris-
tian must contemplate, with an awful delight, the
beauty and magnificence of this structure ; but



he cannot perceive aright the symmetry of all its
parts, until he have a clear understanding of the
relative bearing and use of those more obscure
portions that were raised in the remotest ages. A
correct knowledge of the Antediluvian period is
necessary to a full understanding of the whole
scheme of Providence.

Several of these Essays, such as the first and
last, which form in themselves a complete subject,
have already appeared in the British Magazine ;
they are now arranged, with some alterations, and
combined into one whole.




General Remarks on the Book of Genesis 1


The Patriarchal Sabbath 9


The Nature and Object of Prophecy 21


The Garden of Eden 35

On Sacrifice ^'^


The Translation and Prophecy of Enoch -^7


On the Expectation of the Lord's Coming 70




Antichrist Past and To Come 81


Enoch, Elias, and John the Baptist 91


The Fallen Angels and the Spirits in Prison 103

The Primeval Church 115

The Rainbow a Prophetic Sign 128

Notes 145





A HISTORY of past events can never be received
as credentials of a commission from God. We
might altogether question the truth of the account;
and, even if we did not, there could be no cer-
tainty as to the extent of human means within the
author's reach. If Levi, the publican, (Luke v. 27.)
on leaving the receipt of custom, had offered to
the world a history of the period from Malachi to
his ow^n times in evidence of his being sent by
God, he would certainly have wrought no con-
viction ; but when once he had established, on
proper grounds, his claim to be an apostle, his
history would have been immediately received as
a true account. Neither would its authenticity
be at all affected by the question, wiiether it was


written under a direct revelation, or in the ordi-
nary way of recording past events. In any wise
it would be esteemed a true and authentic history,
as coming from St. Matthew, the apostle of the
Lord. In the case of St. Matthew, this is a mere
supposition ; but it is a true representation with
respect to Moses ; and these remarks have been
made entirely with a view to illustrate that part of
his writings which gives a summary of the events
previous to his own time.

The Book of Genesis could never afford to the
Israelites a proof that the God of their fathers
had indeed appeared unto the writer of it ; but
when Moses by miracles established his claim to
a divine commission, they readily received it
as a true history. Hence it appears that the
credentials of Moses, as an ambassador from God,
are quite independent of the Book of Genesis ; on
the contrary, the Book of Genesis depends entirely
for its authenticity on the previously established
character of Moses ; and whether it were written
under a direct revelation, or in the use of ordinary
means, we are equally sure that it is a true his-
tory, as proceeding from Moses, under the direc-
tion of God. Without, therefore, in the least
degree affecting either the character of Moses, or
that of Genesis, by the result arrived at, we are
at full liberty to consider the extent of the mere
human resources which Moses might command


for such a work. It is generally (a) supposed
that he had the means of writing it without a
direct revelation ; although, as acting under a
divine commission, he must have been under the
constant guidance of inspiration, as to the choice
of materials and security from error.

If ordinary sources of information were open to
Moses, these results would immediately follow : —

(1.) We should have good grounds for believing
that there has ever been extant, in some nation or
family, a series of traditions by which a know-
ledge of the promise was uninterruptedly pre-
served, and consolation afforded to the righteous
in every age.

(2.) We could explain the origin of other ac-
counts not given by him, but preserved by tradi-
tion down to the apostles' times ; such as the
fallen angels, the prophecy of Enoch, &c. Most
of these had degenerated into such idle tales, and
gave rise to such unmeaning disputations among
the Rabbis, that St. Paul strictly forbade the be-
lieving Jewish teachers to give any heed to their
*' endless fabulous traditions," (1 Tim. i. 4.)

(3.) We could satisfactorily account for the
similarity observable in the earliest traditions of
all nations, however distant and unconnected, not
only the Phenicians, Egyptians, Greeks, and

(a) For these notes see the end.
B 2


Romans, but the Goths, Hmdoos, Chinese, and
Americans ; creation, paradise, the fall, and the
deluge, are clearly discernible. Vid. Faber's
Horse Mosaicse.

I shall now endeavour to show the probability
that such information was open to him, and to
point out the sources from which it might be

It is only natural to suppose that the Israelites,
in the time of Moses, were not unacquainted with
their origin, and had not to learn from him their
national genealogy ; but we have better authority
to rest on than mere supposition, that some ac-
counts of their early history were already current
amongst them. When the Lord appeared unto
Moses in Horeb, he said unto him, " Thus shalt
thou say unto the children of Israel, The Lord
God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the
God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, hath sent me
unto you," (Exod. iii. 15.) A mode of address
which clearly implies in the persons spoken to, a
familiar acquaintance with the history of those
patriarchs. And when, without farther explana-
tion, God intimated unto Moses his design through
him, " to bring them up out of that land, unto a
good land, and a large, unto a land flowing with
milk and honey," (iii. 8. xxxii. 13.) he doubt-
less understood at once that it was in fulfilment of
the covenant which God had made with Abraham,


with Isaac, and with Jacob. We have, therefore,
no reason to think that Moses was the first to
compose '^ the generations of Terah, the father
of Abram," (Gen. xi. 27.) " the generations of
Isaac," (xxv, 19.) *' the generations of Jacob,"
(xxxvii. 2.) ; on the contrary, there is every rea-
son to suppose that he took the substance of them
from some authentic source. It was by natural
means that he wrote " the generations of Aaron
and Moses," (Numb. iii. 1.) and no one, I beheve,
ever conceived that St. Matthew learnt by inspira-
tion '' the book of the generations of Jesus Christ,"
with which he opens his Gospel, (i. 1 — 17.) when
he had within his reach such ample means of
information in the ordinary way. Now all the
passages of this kind are headed by one and the
same title, and I cannot but suspect that they are
of the same nature throughout the Bible ; when-
ever, therefore, in the earlier parts of Genesis, I
meet with a passage introduced by, what in our
translation is rendered, " these are the gene-
rations," I should consider it as taken by Moses
from some authentic account, either oral or writ-
ten, (b)

It could not be matter of surprise to us if we
should discover, in any of these primitive tradi-
tions, an artificial structure of sentences, as we
know that the earliest records of other nations
were reduced to some kind of measure to fix them


more deeply in the memory. The passage, *^ these
are the generations of Noah," (Gen. vi. 9.) when
correctly translated and broken into its proper
lines, is as follows : —

" This is the record of Noah :
Noah was a just man,
Perfect was he in his ways ;
With God walked Noah."

This was, indeed, to let his light shine before
men ! What brighter character was it possible
to leave than that, in the midst of that violent
and corrupt generation which the flood cut oflP,
he had been strictly observant of all his duties
towards God, his neighbour, and himself. In
strange discordance with this memorial of holi-
ness, is the reckless declaration of impunity by
the sensual and presumptuous Lamech. His
speech (iv. 23.) so naturally falls into the mea-
sured lines of Hebrew parallelism, that our
authorized version readily admits of the poetical
arrangement, (c) " And Lamech said unto his
wives, Adah and Zillah : —

" Hear my voice, ye wives of Lamech,
Hearken unto my speech :
For I have slain a man to my wounding,

And a young man to my hurt.
If Cain shall be avenged sevenfold,
Truly, Lamech, seventy and sevenfoldc"


It is more than probable that this speech was
taken by Moses from some of the ancient '^ gene-
rations," or other primitive traditions ; there is
certainly no necessity for supposing him to have
learnt it by inspiration, rather than by the ordi-
nary way in wdiich knowledge is acquired. To
us it indirectly affords a proof, that accurate in-
formation concerning the primeval times not only
might be, but actually was, preserved among the
ante-diluvians ; for we incidentally learn from it,
that the murder of Abel was well known in the
days of Lamech, who lived in tlie fifth generation
from Cain. Now, in all, there were but ten
generations before the flood ; if, then, Lamech,
in the seventh generation, was well acquainted
with Cain's guilt, we can hardly suppose that the
history of Adam was unknown to Noah in the

Amidst a great variety of feature, there is yet
such a family resemblance in the earliest tradi-
tions of all nations, however distant and uncon-
nected, as to leave no doubt of their having
sprung from this common parentage. The chil-
dren of Ham soon fell into idolatry ; and, toge-
ther with the religion, they corrupted the true
accounts which they had received from Noah.
The descendants of Shem, taking a deeper interest
in the doctrine of the atonement as shadowed out
to them in the ordinance of sacrifice, were more


careful in preserving all the traditions relating to
the promised seed. But even among them, the
light became obscured as the distance increased,
and man's life was shortened ; and although the
lamp, at various times, was trimmed at the hand
of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob, yet was it in
danger of expiring in the darkness of Egyptian
bondage. But God, in his goodness, provided
otherwise ; he chose Moses his servant, and
guided him to select and commit to an imperish-
able record so much of the early history of the
world as related to the scheme of redemption
generally, or more immediately to the origin of
his chosen people, '^ of whom, as concerning the
flesh, Christ came."

The conclusion of the whole is this— that the
protracted length of life in the first ages was
sufficient to preserve, by tradition, the original
revelation to Adam, and the most important of
the events to which time gave birth ; that certain
accounts, memorials of the most remote antiquity,
were sources of information open to Moses ; that
he incorporated into his narrative only such of
these as were suitable and necessary to a parti-
cular design ; and that, in the use of them, he
followed the practice of all writers, sometimes
directly quoting, but more generally expressing,
the substance of them in his own words.



The Book of Genesis contains the history of the
six days of creation, and the sanctifying of the
seventh day to rest. These particulars concerning
the creation were revealed, not merely to gratify
a laudable curiosity, but to produce a specific
moral effect on the heart. God foresaw, and we
may learn from the records of our race, that crude
conceptions concerning the creative power give
rise to absurdity of worship and shamelessness of
living. In the words of Scripture, which attri-
bute natural effects to the immediate agency of
God, — '' Men worshipped and served the creature
more than the Creator ; for this cause ^ God gave
them up to vile affections," (Rom. i. 25.) It
was therefore worthy of the moral Governor of the
world to reveal himself distinctly as the Almighty
Creator, and to institute a memorial of the order
and process of creation. Reason, then, yields a
ready assent to the announcement of revelation,
that God, in the beginning, did appoint a solemn
ordinance for a continual remembrance of his


power and goodness : '^ God blessed the seventh
day, and sanctified it, because that in it he had
rested from all his work which God created and
made." Days, months, and years, are visibly
marked out by the Creator as natural divisions of
time for our physical wants ; a week is no such
natural division, but a positive ordinance of the
Lord for the moral well-being of man. Let us
now see what traces we can discover of this weekly
division under the patriarchal dispensation.

Concerning Noah we read, " Come thou and
all thy house into the ark ... for yet seven days
and I will cause it to rain, &c. ; and it came to
pass after seven days, that the waters of the flood
were upon the earth." Again : ^' Noah sent forth
a dove . . . And he staid yet other seven days, and
again he sent forth the dove out of the ark . . . And
he staid yet other seven days, and sent forth the
dove which returned not again unto him any
more." With this transaction I would compare
another in the New Testament, accompanied with
the remarks of Paley — " ' The same day at even-
ing, being the first day of the week, when the
doors were shut where the disciples were assem-
bled for fear of the Jews, came Jesus and stood in
the midst of them,' (John xx. 19.) This, for any
thing that appears in the account, might, as to the
day, have been accidental ; but, in the 26th verse
of the same chapter, we read, that * after eight


days, (that is, on the first day of the week follow-
ing) again, the disciples were within,' which
second meeting upon the same day of the w^eek
looks like an appointment and design to meet on
that particular day."— (Mor. Phil. Book V. ch. 7.)
This inference of Paley's, no one, I think, will
feel inclined to controvert ; but his reasoning
appears to be equally, if not more, applicable to
the case of Noah. Both incidents prove the
existence of weeks, and render probable a re-
ligious observance of the respective days. In-
deed, it has been thought that all the principal
divine communications were made to the patri-
archs during their religious services on the seventh
day ; and Noah, in the case of the dove, seems
to have expected a particular blessing on that

We come now to the time of Abraham. Cir-
cumcision, as the sign of God's covenant with
him, was appointed in these words — '^ He that is
eight days old shall be circumcised among you;"
that is, when a man-child is born, he shall be
circumcised that day week. This inference is
sufficiently probable in itself, but it rises into
certainty when it is viewed in connexion with the
Levitical rites, which were added to the original
command : — '' If a woman have born a man-child,
then she shall be unclean seven days, and in the
eighth day the flesh of his foreskin shall be cir-



cumcised ; but if she bear a maid-child, then she
shall be unclean two weeks," (Lev. xii. 2. ; see
also xxii. 27.) Afterwards, when the aged patri-
arch sent the eldest servant of his house to take a
wife of his own kindred for his son Isaac, and
God prospered the commission, ^' the servant
rose up in the morning, and he said. Send me
away unto my master ; and Rebekah's mother
and brother said. Let the damsel abide with us a
week or ten days, after that she shall go," (Gen.
xxiv. 55.) When Jacob had fraudulently ob-
tained his brother's blessing, his mother's advice
was — " Arise, flee thou to Laban, my brother, to
Haran, and tarry with him a week, until thy
brother's fury turn away," (xxvii. 43.) '^ And
Jacob served seven years for Rachel, and they
seemed unto him as a single se'nnight, for the
love he had to her;" or the week of years ap-
peared unto him as a week of days, (xxix. 20.)
And afterwards, when he was imposed upon by
the substitution of Leah, Laban said unto him,
" Fulfil her week," which was the customary
period of a marriage feast, as appears from the
instance of Samson, (Judges xiv. 12.) I add
the case of a death in a family — ** Joseph made
a mourning for his father seven days," (Gen.
1. 10.) " And they mourned for Saul seven days,"
(1 Sam. xxxi. 13.) In both instances, the weekly
division of time determined the length of the


mourning, as may be inferred from the common
custom mentioned in Ecclus. xxii. 12. " Seven
days do men mourn for him that is dead ; but for
a fool and an ungodly man, all the days of his
life." (a)

The passover was instituted during the de-
parture of the Israelites from Egypt — " Ye shall
keep it a feast by an ordinance for ever ; seven
days shall ye eat unleavened bread/' (Exod.
xii. 15.) If a Jew were asked, at the present
day, how long that feast was observed, he would
probably answer, that it was meant to continue a

1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12

Online LibraryWilliam Balfour WinningEssays on the antediluvian age : in which are pointed out its relative position and close connexion with the general scheme of providence → online text (page 1 of 12)