The Antediluvian World
The history of this world begins, according to the chronology of
Archbishop Ussher, which is generally received as convenient rather than
probable, in the year 4004 before Christ. In six days God created light
and darkness, day and night, the firmament and the continents in the midst
of the waters, fruits, grain, and herbs, moon and stars, fowl and fish,
living creatures upon the face of the earth, and finally man, with
dominion "over the fish of the sea, and the fowls of the air, and cattle,
and all the earth, and every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth."
He created man in his own image, and blessed him with universal dominion.
He formed him from the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils
the breath of life. On the seventh day, God rested from this vast work of
creation, and blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, as we suppose,
for a day of solemn observance for all generations.
He there planted a garden eastward in Eden, with every tree pleasant
to the sight and good for food, and there placed man to dress and keep it.
The original occupation of man, and his destined happiness, were thus
centered in agricultural labor.
But man was alone; so God caused a deep sleep to fall upon him, and
took one of his ribs and made a woman. And Adam said, "this woman," which
the Lord had brought unto him, "is bone of my bone, and flesh of my flesh;
therefore shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall cleave unto
his wife: and they shall be one flesh." Thus marriage was instituted. We
observe three divine institutions while man yet remained in a state of
innocence and bliss--the Sabbath; agricultural employment; and marriage.
Adam and his wife lived, we know not how long, in the garden of Eden,
with perfect innocence, bliss, and dominion. They did not even know what
sin was. There were no other conditions imposed upon them than they were
not to eat of the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, which
was in the midst of the garden--a preeminently goodly tree, "pleasant to
the eyes, and one to be desired."
Where was this garden--this paradise--located? This is a mooted
question--difficult to be answered. It lay, thus far as we know, at the
head waters of four rivers, two of which were the Euphrates and the
Tigris. We infer thence, that it was situated among the mountains of
Armenia, south of the Caucasus, subsequently the cradle of the noblest
races of men,--a temperate region, in the latitude of Greece and Italy.
We suppose that the garden was beautiful and fruitful, beyond all
subsequent experience--watered by mists from the earth, and not by rains
from the clouds, ever fresh and green, while its two noble occupants lived
upon its produce, directly communing with God, in whose image they were
made, moral and spiritual--free from all sin and misery, and, as we may
conjecture, conversant with truth in its loftiest forms.
But sin entered into the beautiful world that was made, and death by sin.
This is the first recorded fact in human history, next to primeval
innocence and happiness.
The progenitors of the race were tempted, and did not resist the
temptation. The form of it may have been allegorical and symbolic; but, as
recorded by Moses, was yet a stupendous reality, especially in view of its
The tempter was the devil--the antagonist of God--the evil power of the
world--the principle of evil--a Satanic agency which Scripture, and all
nations, in some form, have recognized. When rebellion against God began,
we do not know; but it certainly existed when Adam was placed in Eden.
The form which Satanic power assumed was a serpent--then the most
subtle of the beasts of the field, and we may reasonably suppose, not
merely subtle, but attractive, graceful, beautiful, bewitching.
The first to feel its evil fascination was the woman, and she was
induced to disobey what she knew to be a direct command, by the desire of
knowledge as well as enjoyment of the appetite. She put trust in the
serpent. She believed a lie. She was beguiled.
The man was not directly beguiled by the serpent. Why the serpent
assailed woman rather than man, the Scriptures do not say. The man yielded
to his wife. "She gave him the fruit, and he did eat."
Immediately a great change came over both. Their eyes were opened.
They felt shame and remorse, for they had sinned. They hid themselves from
the presence of the Lord, and were afraid.
God pronounced the penalty--unto the woman, the pains and sorrows
attending childbirth, and subserviency to her husband; unto the man labor,
toil, sorrow--the curse of the ground which he was to till--thorns and
thistles--no rest, and food obtained only by the sweat of the brow; and all
these pains and labors were inflicted upon both until they should return
to the dust from whence they were taken--an eternal decree, never
abrogated, to last as long as man should till the earth, or woman bring
Thus came sin into the world, through the temptations of
introduction Satan and the weakness of man, with the penalty of labour,
pain, sorrow, and death.
Man was expelled from Paradise, and precluded from re-entering it by
the flaming sword of cherubim, until the locality of Eden, by thorns and
briars, and the deluge, was obliterated forever. And man and woman were
sent out into the world to reap the fruit of their folly and sin, and to
gain their subsistence in severe toil, and amid, the accumulated evils
which sin introduced.
The only mitigation of the sentence was the eternal enmity between
the seed of the woman and the seed of the Serpent, in which the final
victory should be given to the former. The rite of sacrifice was
introduced as a type of the satisfaction for sin by the death of a
substitute for the sinner; and thus a hope of final forgiveness held out
for sin, Meanwhile the miseries of life were alleviated by the fruits of
labor, by industry.
Industry, then, became, on the expulsion from Eden, one of the final
laws of human happiness on earth, while the sacrifice held out hopes of
eternal life by the substitution which the sacrifice typified--the Saviour
who was in due time to appear.
With the expulsion from Eden came the sad conflicts of the race--conflicts
with external wickedness--conflicts with the earth--conflicts with evil
passions in a man's own soul.
The first conflict was between Cain, the husbandman, and Abel, the
shepherd; the representatives of two great divisions of the human family
in the early ages. Cain killed Abel because the offering of the latter was
preferred to that of the former. The virtue of Abel was faith: the sin of
Cain was jealousy, pride, resentment, and despair. The punishment of Cain
was expulsion from his father's house, the further curse of the land for
him, and the hatred of the human family. He relinquished his occupation,
became a wanderer, and gained a precarious support, while his descendants
invented arts and built cities.
Eve bear another son--Seth, among whose descendants the worship of
God was preserved for a long time; but the descendants of Seth
intermarried finally with the descendants of Cain, from whom sprung a race
of lawless men, so that the earth was filled with violence. The material
civilization which the descendants of Cain introduced did not preserve
them from moral degeneracy. So great was the increasing wickedness, with
the growth of the race, that "it repented the Lord that he had made man,"
and he resolved to destroy the whole race, with the exception of one
religious family, and change the whole surface of the earth by a mighty
flood, which should involve in destruction all animals and fowls of the
air--all the antediluvian works of man.
It is of no consequence to inquire whether the Deluge was universal
or partial--whether it covered the whole earth or the existing habitations
of men. All were destroyed by it, except Noah, and his wife, and his three
sons, with their wives. The authenticity of the fact rests with Moses, and
with him we are willing to leave it.
This dreadful catastrophe took place in the 600th year of Noah's
life, and 2349 years before Christ, when world was 1655 years old,
according to Usshur, but much older according to Hale and other
authorities--when more time had elapsed than from the Deluge to the reign
of Solomon. And hence there were more people destroyed, in all
probability, than existed on the earth in the time of Solomon. And as men
lived longer in those primeval times than subsequently, and were larger
and stronger, "for there were giants in those days," and early invented
tents, the harp, the organ, and were artificers in brass and iron, and
built cities--as they were full of inventions as well as imaginations, it
is not unreasonable to infer, though we can not know with certainty, that
the antediluvian world was more splendid and luxurious than the world in
the time of Solomon and Homer--the era of the Pyramids of Egypt.
The art of building was certainly then carried to considerable
perfection, for the ark, which Noah built, was four hundred and fifty feet
long, seventy-five wide, and forty-five deep; and was constructed so
curiously as to hold specimens of all known animals and birds, with
provisions for them for more than ten months.
This sacred ark or ship, built of gopher wood, floated on the
world's waves, until, in the seventh month, it rested upon the mountains
of Ararat. It was nearly a year before Noah ventured from the ark. His
first act, after he issued forth, was to build an altar and offer
sacrifice to the God who had preserved him and his family alone, of the
human race. And the Lord was well pleased, and made a covenant with him
that he would never again send a like destruction upon the earth, and as a
sign and seal of the covenant which he made with all flesh, he set his bow
in the cloud. We hence infer that the primeval world was watered by mists
from the earth, like the garden of Eden, and not by rains.
"The memory of the Deluge is preserved in the traditions of nearly
all nations, as well as in the narrative of Moses; and most heathen
mythologies have some kind of sacred ark." Moreover, there are various
geological phenomena in all parts of the world, which can not be accounted
for on any other ground than some violent disruption produced by a
universal Deluge. The Deluge itself can not be explained, although there
are many ingenious theories to show it might be in accordance with natural
causes. The Scriptures allude to it as a supernatural event, for an
express end. When the supernatural power of God can be disproved, then it
will be time to explain the Deluge by natural causes, or deny it
altogether. The Christian world now accepts it as Moses narrates it.