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He walked with God, when the rest of mankind about him were walking, as it is subsequently recorded, after the imaginations of the thoughts of their own hearts, which were only evil continually. We learn from this allusion to Enoch, that God never yet in the history of mankind was without a witness to himself. There never has been an age when the corruption has been so dark, universal, and unrelieved, that there was not one single witness to protest and testify against it. In the darkest eclipse of the heaven, some bright stars have caught the eye of some spectator; and in the bleakest deserts, wilds, and solitudes of the earth, there blooms often the most beautiful and fragrant flower; unseen by man, yet as beautiful as if meant for universal inspection. And in the mediaeval ages, when the whole visible Christian framework had become degenerate and corrupt, there were links of a true succession invisible to man, but visible to God, connecting the apostles of the first century with the Reformers of the sixteenth, and indicating that God never in the worst of times was without a witness to proclaim his praise, or bid the nations look and live and be happy. We learn also that the time never was when there was no church in the world. The church is not a thing of the New Testament as distinguished from the Old. There was a church when Adam and Eve and Abel were the three who met first in the name of Jesus, and realized then as truly, if not so fully, as we do now the fulfilment of the promise, “I am in the midst of them.” And there was a chunch, wherever Enoch found one or two, as surely he did, to join with him in worshipping God. And wherever now, under whatever form, or longitude, or latitude, two or three shall meet together in Christ's name, there will be a true church of the Lord Jesus Christ. The church has been from the beginning; and if we are to listen to that church, let us listen to Enoch, to Noah, to Abraham, to Job, to Isaiah, to the prophets, evangelists, and apostles, its choicest members, for all these were members, teachers, and ministers of it. The church never yet was without teachers. The name Enoch means “teaching,” although some have thought it means rather “educated.” He was a public teacher of the truth. He taught it by what he was, as well as by what he said. He walked with God, and that walk was an eloquent homily: God took him, or translated him to himself, and that translation was an impressive peroration to it. When Enoch therefore walked with God, he was, and thus showed he was, a teacher sent from God. The fact that Enoch prophesied, is evidence that he had an official character as well as a personal relationship to God, and was a teacher of the church in which he lived, a prophet who spake as he was moved by the Holy Ghost, a light in the surrounding darkness, an oracle in the midst of abounding error. The holiest man was selected by God to denounce the most awful judgment, not only upon that age, but upon all mankind at the close of this dispensation. Who was selected to prophesy, “Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands 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?” It was the holiest man. So awful and solemn a duty, it was fit to devolve upon one who walked with God, and lived nearest to him. He was the prophet of the judgment to come, whose life was the most beautiful instance and specimen of Christian consistency and conduct. Holy lips alone should enunciate awful judgments. It was a holy man who was selected to be God's first prophet of the coming woe. The burden of a prophet's woe should lie upon a heart that is the habitation of God himself. And therefore, Enoch, the holy man, was selected to give utterance to the prophecy, so very solemn in its character, “The Lord cometh to execute judgment.” Having offered these prefatory remarks upon the prophet, let us look at his prophecy. The first question that has been asked is, Where is this prophecy recorded? Where did Jude find it? Nothing is said in the 5th chapter of Genesis about Enoch prophesying the descent of judgment upon the nations of the earth. Some have supposed that he refers to an apocryphal book called the Book of Enoch, which contains a statement something like this; and that Jude, therefore, assumes the inspiration of a book not registered in the sacred canon; but this cannot be proved. In the first place, it can be proved that the Book of Enoch, which some scholars have discovered, and which, I believe, one has published, was not written till the 4th or 5th century after the Christian era; and that Jude, therefore, could not refer to a book which did not exist at the time when he wrote his Epistle. Nor is there any necessity for supposing that he at all refers to any book. He states a fact; and the same inspiration that prompted Jude to write his Epistle, revealed to Jude the prophecy; and the truth of the prophecy, like the truth of the Epistle, rests upon the immediate and unquestioned inspiration of God. We therefore conclude that Jude knew the fact to be so, and the prophecy to be truth; and inspired and guided by the Holy Spirit of God, he enunciated it for the information of the church in all ages. We find in Jude the true use to be made of good men. Jude records simply the prophecy, but does not propose the worship of Enoch; and our practice ought to be, not to canonize the saints that are gone, but to collect the lessons they have left behind them, to learn those lessons as far as they were the echoes of God's truth, and to imitate their conduct as far as they followed and imitated the Lord Jesus Christ. The only relic of Enoch that Jude recognized, is the prophecy he left behind him, and the only images that we should regard of those who have gone before us, should be the truths they taught, and the examples they set. It is not the adoration of their names, but the imitation of their examples, that becomes us. In no part of the word of God are we told to collect the relics, or to ask the intercession, or to apply for the merits of those who have preceded us to glory; but in every part of it we are told to learn the pure lessons that they taught, to imitate the holy example they developed, and to be guided by that learning and that imitation only so far as they taught the truth of God, and imitated the Lord Jesus Christ. We learn, from this allusion of Jude, that Enoch was the first and most ancient prophet after God himself. The first prophecy was in the form of a promise, “The woman's seed shall bruise the serpent's head.” The next catholic or universal prophecy was that enunciated by Enoch, when he said, “Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints, to execute judgment upon all.” And yet, we believe this prophecy to be true, not because it is old. Mere age does not make falsehood truth, and seeming novelty does not make truth false. Antiquity without truth is simply the inveteracy of error. We do not look to the antiquity of a dogma, in order to assert our reception of it, but to the truth of that dogma. Some ancient things are false, some apparently recent things are true; and God's inspired truth is like himself; it was, is, and ever shall be, the same yesterday, today, and for ever. But we accept the prophecy, not because it is a relic floated down from an ancient and a distant age, but because it is a truth bearing the image and the superscription of inspiration itself.
Now this prophecy of Enoch was strongly applicable to the antediluvian age. Men lived long, and because they lived to a great age and were vigorous in health, as they were gigantic, some of them, in stature, their sins and their crimes were corresponding to their age, their strength, and their position. Hence our Lord, when alluding to the days before the Flood, describes them in such terms as these, “In the days that were before the Flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, and knew not until the Flood came,” a picture that implies the utter absence of any thing like real religion, from the hearts and the cares and the amxieties of the antediluvian population; and no doubt they were saying then, as men say now, “All things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation.” How startling to their atheistic hopes must have been this voice, clear and piercing, ringing amid a thoughtless population, “Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints, to execute judgment upon all !” This voice of Enoch must have sounded to the antediluvian sinners exactly as the warning of our Lord in the parable sounded to the fool while he was saying, “I have much goods laid up for many years,”—“Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee.” In an age when dishonesty was promising gain, when vanity was promising distinction, when ambition was promising place and power, when unbelief was promising safety, God’s word, louder and stronger than them all, proclaimed, “The Lord cometh to execute judgment upon all the ungodly.”
Now such a warning voice as this is no less needed now. It is literally, if I may use the expression, more true now than it was then. Every day that shuts down upon the earth brings us one notch nearer that epoch, when the Lord shall come with ten thousands of his saints; and every year