« AnteriorContinuar »
tions of heaven ; from that instant the seeds of mortality were to be infused into his frame; man
“should surely die," and his posterity feel the shock of their progenitor's disobedience to the Almighty. But this assurance seems to have been “like an idle tale, which they believed not.” In all this arrangement we can see nothing but wondrous condescension. The test was simple, and the task was easy.—Only one tree of Eden's glorious variety was forbidden: the principle of Evil, however, under the insidious form of a serpent, seduced the credulous pair from their allegiance to their CREATOR. They were not ignorant of the consequences which an act of disobedience to the mandate of their Maker would entail ; and God had, in his heavenly conduct to these his creatures, given them no cause for distrust, no plea for doubt. The colloquy betwen the tempter and the tempted is full of sophistry ; and the consequence in the tempted forcibly displays “an evil heart of unbelief.” “The serpent said unto the woman, ye shall not surely die.” -“ For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened; and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.” The fatal chord was touched; and man, by an act of treason and rebellion, forfeited his allegiance, and “fell in the first transgression."
We are perfectly aware that this fearful transaction has been considered metaphorical or figurative-a flourish of orientalism ; but the Bible no where deceives us, and the event detailed is perspicuous and palpable. It would be curious to know by what mental process these kind of reveries have been acquired, or by what special act of revelation such important knowledge has been communicated. The Jews understood it as a literal event, and do now receive it as such ; it was so understood in the apostolic age. Nothing but a bold inversion of the principles of reasoning, and a vain conceit founded on the rash assumption, that we are wiser than He who made us, could have dared to go such lengths : and why stop here, and not apply the same unwarrantable dogmatism to the entire fabric of
revelation ? the Creation,-the Deluge ;-in a word, the Exode and Pilgrimage of the Jews through the wilderness of the peninsula of Sinai, to Palestine, together with their whole history. Metaphorical, indeed! A new edition of Berkeley's Idealism! We may well demand from these new illuminati the test of discrimination between the palpable figure and the shadow :-some safety-clue to guide us through the woven web of the reality of circumstances, and the metaphor of imagery. In one of the MS. papyri, discovered in Herculaneum, the author sports some speculations of this kind in respect to the heroes of Homer, whom he considers allegorical. Agamemnon was ether; Achilles, the sun ; Helen, the earth; Paris, the air; Hector, the moon ; and so on. Of a similar nature were the arabesque notions of Père Hardouin in the last century; who, after a profound study of antiquity, made the notable discovery, that the whole world was the dupe of extravagant imposture. According to him, Homer and Virgil, Cicero and Demosthenes, never existed but in fancy; Rome and Greece had never conquered or enlightened the world; the chefs-d'ouvres of the genius of antiquity, were only decoys to deceive posterity; and so we were desired to believe that all these things were the work of some clever monks of the middle ages. Apparently following in the footsteps of this eccentricity, Sir William Drummond wrote a work entitled EDIPUS JUDAICUS, in which we were gravely assured, that the entire structure of the Old Testament was metaphorical, and astronomically emblematic. According to Sir William Drummond's views, the twelve children of Jacob (Israel) were merely the TWELVE SIGNS OF THE ZODIAC; and the Israelites fleeing before the men of Ai, the sun CUTTING the PLANE OF THE ECLIPTIC. These were, indeed, notable discoveries, that might well excite “our special wonder.” The truth of the matter is, that on the petitio principii assumed by Sir William Drummond, we might come to any conclusion however ridiculous or absurd ; and, accordingly the author of the CEDIPUS Romanus shews as clearly, that
the TWELVE CÆSARS were the twelve signs of the zodiac, and consequently must have been the twelve children of Jacob, on Sir William Drummond's principles; and, that CÆSAK PASSING THE Rubicon is only another version of the children of Israel fleeing before the men of Ai. But, waving the consideration of such trash, what, we may well ask in astonishment, are we to think of Sir William Drummond's pretensions to astronomical science, on which he founds such sweeping and monstrous absurdities, when we PERSONALLY KNOW that Sir William Drummond, after smarting under the severe and just censures of the “Quarterly Review,” submitted a copy of that work, full of MS. marginal notes, to a celebrated astronomer on the continent of Europe, in order to have his errors rectified, and his blunders adjusted. In the possession of this astronomer, (as distinguished as any that the science can boast of) we saw this copy;
were at the same time assured, that he had found it to be a tissue of astronomical errors from beginning to end.
The Westminster Review, not long ago, in its advocacy of a sceptical geology, made the following absurd and preposterous remark: “ whether there are any unquestionable physical proofs of the Mosaic deluge, or not, is a question far from settled ; but even should there be none, we cannot see how that is to affect our belief in the record of the historian. It is a moral and not a physical fact which is here meant to be inculcated
—the destruction of a sinful race !” This is quoted to shew the counterfeit which some men will venture to promulgate as genuine currency. It would, however, be too much to expect common sense to believe, that a deluge could destroy a sinful race by the operation of moral causes, without constituting a physical fact. Well, indeed, might it be said of this proposition reviewer, that “it wears to the understanding as rich à livery of solemn nonsense as any that have fallen under his lash.” Happily, for all these flights of fable and romance, inductive philosophy propounds a test :-of this description was that proposed for the idealism of
Bishop Berkeley; namely, to cast himself headlong from one of the arches of London Bridge, and trust to his idol to save him. We should have made short work with Père Hardouin, by simply leading him to the house once tenanted by Salust, in Pompéi, exhumed after a lapse of seventeen centuries; and having pointed to the name C. SALVSTIVS, inscribed on the door post, there left him to ruminate. This would have been a simple argumentum ad hominem ; and, where the question is susceptible of this kind of argument, it is generally convincing. Our readers will remember, in illustration, the solution of the notable problem touching motion, “a body cannot move where it is, and it cannot move where it is not, ergo there can be no such thing as motion :” Q. E. D. In order to demonstrate the fallacy of this proposition, an individual rose from his chair, walked across the room, and thus afforded palpable proof, that a body could move from one place to another ; ergo, there was such a thing as motion. Absurd as these things, abstractedly considered, appear to us; yet, of such materials are composed many of the opinions that have made the world stare and wonder; -such is HUME's ESSAY ON MIRACLES.
Hitherto Eden's happy pair had known only GOOD; they had surely ample evidence that their CREATOR was a genuine benefactor, since not one ingredient of happiness had been withheld.-“What could he have done more to his vineyard?" Amid all this latitude of happiness, it was a natural inference that no “good would have been withheld ;" but man would know Evil, though the knowledge might be purchased at the expense of immortal life, and the friendship of heaven. Had it been a hard task, something might have been put in on the part of sophistry, by way of plea : but man is left without excuse. “The gold has become dim, and the most fine gold changed." The act of criminality was much aggravated by the very simplicity of the test of obedience. Let those who delight to harp on the string of the “ dignity of man,” remember Eden. We consider it is not “a light thing” to sin with a high
hand, and transgress the commandments of God. Some there are who think that the crime was slight, and the punishment too severe. It will be perceived, we think, very differently. The sophistry, by which they endeavour to support their views, proves too much for them. Since the test of obedience involved no severity, and was in itself easy of fulfilment, the crime of apostasy was thereby enhanced. The magnitude of the crime is not to be measured by the nature of the test, but by the fact, that it involved a direct act of disobedience to the commands of God; and, we presume, none will contend that the CREATOR has not full right to the allegiance and obedience of his creatures. The CREATOR was no hard task-master, and he had surely a right to expect obedience from the creature of his power and his providence. No sophistry can evade the conclusion, that he was justly chargeable with treason and rebellion against his God. The temptation was not long continued, but it was too successful ;—the pearl of his happiness was dissolved in the perilous experiment, and the link which united him to God, dissevered. Besides these considerations, there was a motive of another kind superadded to the act of obedience. His posterity should enjoy the benefits which obedience to the law of God secured; or should suffer in the act of rebellion, if his allegiance were forfeited. Now a good man's benevolence is not entirely absorbed in self; the interests,—the immortal interests of those dependant on him, would be a powerful plea with him, and might produce a pause in his conduct, which might guarantee their safety, even though he put his own in jeopardy. The history of the event seems, in our humble view, compatible with what an inductive science would teach, right reason approve, and altogether consistent with the conduct and
government of a just and good Being—infinite in purposes of mercy, and fraught with the attributes of holiness. It was meet that a test should be propounded to try the allegiance of the creature to the CREATOR. Man was a FREE AGENT, and therefore became accountable; for the freedom of his will was not interfered with. It was,