Page images
PDF
EPUB

from the tenor of his preaching. The substance of what he foretold to the impenitent must have been preserved from the earliest ages, in the successive Patriarchal and Levitical Churches.; for St. Jude could not cite a non-entity: and, that it was accurately preserved, notwithstanding it might have given birth to many spurious imitations, is certain; because, otherwise, it would not have received the stamp of inspired apostolic authority'.

Now St. Jude assures us, that Enoch prophesied respecting the final punishment of those antichristian apostates of the last ages.; who, in the nature of their wickedness, are compared, by the apostle to Cain, and to Balaam, and to the sacerdotal messengers of the house of Seth that are reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgment of the great day.

Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying: Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousand of his saints, to execute judgment upon all; and to convince all that are ungodly among them, of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against him?. ; $ :?

When this divine oracle was made public in

*For an arple collection of the spurious prophecies of Enoch, see Fabric. Pseudepig. vol. i. p. 161–223.

* Jude 14, 15...

the times of the antediluvian world, it would doubtless be variously received. The pious would hear it with deep veneration and with humble faith: the impious, like the antichristian apostates of our own days, would scoff and disbelieve. But still no one could be ignorant, through any want of authoritative information, that an awful punishment awaited the ungodly in a state of existence subsequent to the present state. Whether men would hear, or whether they would forbear; at all events, the doctrine of a future retribution was revealed to them in terms, which they could not misunderstand, though they might not be aware of the full extent of the misery reserved for the impious. Knowing the purport of Enoch's prophecy, and having witnessed his own translation to heaven, the subjects of the Patriarchal Dispensation before the flood could not be ignorant, that a future state of rewards and punishments, with whatever indistinctness the subordinate particulars might be set forth, was proposed as the sanction of thát Dispensation. Nor is this all: I may further remark, though somewhat prematurely that, since the prophecy of Enoch was carefully preserved in the successive Patriarchal and Levitical Churches down to the very time of St. Jude who has finally recorded it in an inspired document of the Christian Church ; the persons, through whose hands this ancient oracle was transmitted, must themselves also have been

acquainted with the doctrine of a future retributory state'.

3. Respecting the knowledge however of a future state, as possessed by the early patriarchs whether antediluvian or postdiluvian, the author of the Epistle to the Hebrews has been so explicit, that no doubt on the subject can remain in the minds of those who admit his divine inspiration. . . . . . .

... After successively specifying by name Abel and Enoch and Noah and Abraham and Sarah and Isaac and Jacob, the apostle hesitates not to bear the following remarkable and decisive attestation to their sentiments..

,' The learned Walton argues, from the prophecy of Enoch as recorded by St. Jude, that the art of writing must have been well known from the most remote antiquity: for, without letters, it were scarcely possible, that such a fragment could have been so long preserved. Walton. Proleg. in Bibl. ï7. Whether the antediluvians possessed an alphabetic character, is another question : certain it is, that all antiquity both Hebrew and Gentile is full of certain books having been preserved in the ark during the prevalence of the deluge, which were afterward handed down to posterity. Hence, with reference to these books, we find, that a very ancient city in Palestine was originally called Kirjath-Sepher or the city of the book, ere the Israelites changed its primitive appellation to the nearly synonymous name of Debir, We read likewise of a mount Sepher far to the east of Palestine, of a city in Babylonia denominated Sippara or Sephera, and of a whole people who called themselves Sepharim or Bookmen. See on this curious subject my Origin of Pagan Idol. book iï. chap. 5....

NO

THEY D

i These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off : and they were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and. confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. For they that say such things declare plainly, that they seek a country. And truly, if they had been mindful of that country from whence they came out, they might have had an opportunity to have returned., BUT NOW THEY DESIRE A BETTER COUNTRY, THAT IS, AN HEAVENLY'. :III. With so direct a. testimony before him, we may reasonably wonder, how Bishop Warburton could maintain the extraordinary position that the doctrine of a future retributory state was alike unknown before the Law and under the Law. The mode, in which his lordship encounters the difficulty, is this. · Though it appears, says he, that a future state of rewards and punishments made no part of the Mosaic Dispensation, yet the Law had certainly a spiritual meaning, to be understood when the fulness of time should come: and hence it received the nature, and afforded the efficacy, of prophecy. In the interim, the MYSTERY OF THE GOSPEL was occasionally revealed by God to his chosen servants, the fathers and leaders of the Jewish nation: and the dawning of it was gradually opened by the prophets, to the people. - Commenting immediately afterward on the

Heb. xi. 13-16.

? Div. Leg. book vi. sect. 5. p. 1.

E.

ATI

seventh Article of the English Church, in which it is taught that they are not to be heard who feign that THE OLD FATHERS did look only for transitory promises, the bishop draws a broad line of distinction between THESE FÀTHERS and ALL THE ISRAELİTES; or, as he ought rather to have done and as the whole of his argument plainly requires, between THESE FATHERS and THE GREAT BODY OFITHE PEOPLE WHETHER LIVİNG BEFORE THE LAW OR UNDER THE LAW!. On this principle, while he allows the Mystery of the Gospel to have been occasionally revealed to a few CHOSEN SERVANTS OF GOD; he maintains, that the BULK OF THE PEOPLE, both before the Law and under the Law, were plunged in the most complete ignorance respecting the doctrine of a future retributory state: still however he acknowledges, with whatever consistency, that the later Jews gradually beheld the dawning of it through the ministration of the prophets.

These concessions, so far as I can judge, like the fabled teeth of the classical dragon, serve only to give birth to a new host of difficulties. :

1. If, by a revelation from heaven, the old fathers were instructed in the doctrine of a future state; the question forthwith presents itself, How came they not to make it generally known?

To this sufficiently obvious question, I cannot

'Div. Leg. book vi, sect. 5. p. 2..

« PreviousContinue »