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And so, also, in the first epistle to the Corinthians, where Adam is named the first man, the langnage is figurative and has its counterpart in the designation of Christ as "the second man.
Adam and Christ are here set as landmarks in the judicial history of the race—opposite termini of imputationand as, by the one, sin, which is the transgression of the law, entered into the world, and through sin death ; so, by the other, deliverance from sin came into the world, and by that deliverance life. As Christ was not the last man in time, so Adam was not the first man, but each stands in a definite relation to all men who have existed, or are yet to be.
Such is a brief outline of Peyrere’s exegetical argument for the proposition of his book. A more whimsical medley has probably never been composed on this passage of the Scriptures ; so that one is inclined to give credit to the story, that he conceived the idea one day while reading the fifth chapter of Romans, and at first wrote upon the subject, not so much to express a conviction, as to see what might be said in favor of an hypothesis. Probably, that which was originally a mere exegetical fancy, became to his mind sober truth, when brought into connection with the results of history, the condition of the globe, and the apparent necessity for more time than is allowed by the Biblical chronology. The support which his theory derives from this source, merely alluded to in the exegetical essay, occupied a large place in the second part of the book Systema Theologicum ex Prae-Adamitarum Hypothesi. We do not propose to give a synopsis of the contents of this treatise, which is any thing but systematic, and only less fanciful than the Excercitatio. But the essay has considerable importance in the history of opinions; for Peyrere seems really to have originated (though his claim is scarcely ever recognized) certain views which since his day have had considerable prev. alence.
He was the first to make a strong attack upon the inherited opinion that Moses wrote the Pentateuch. * After speaking of the brevity and obscurity of the early history of the race, hé says: “I have always held the opinions that the Bible contains whatever God has allowed men to know about the origin of the universe, the sacred history, the prophecies, the divine mysteries and our salvation. Whatever is necessary for our salvation is contained in few words; and the Holy Spirit has employed upon these all the care, diligence and illumination, which were needed in order to bring them to human apprehension. But other topics are more loosely handled; and I will say what all think, but most hesitate to express, that these matters have been committed to writing so carelessly and obscurely, that in many instances nothing can be found more perplexed and enigmatical.” He goes on to show that many things in the books of Joshua, Kings and Chronicles are taken from older writings, such as the book of Jashar, the books of Nathan, Gad, etc. ; and in like manner many reasons conspire to prove that the Pentateuch was not the autograph of Moses, but was in part at least compiled and edited by another person. Peyrere cites a number of passages, which are at this day adduced as evidences that Moses did not write the books attributed to him. Many things also, he urges, are confused or mutilated, repeated in another form, or inserted out of place, and hence are, obviously, a collection of traditions, or of extracts from various authors. Thus the story of Lamech is only half told. The twentieth chapter of Genesis is inserted in the wrong place, for Sarah was already old and could be no object of desire to Abimelech, while nearly the same story is told of Rebecca in the twenty-sixth chapter. After mentioning other instances of seeming contradiction, Peyrere concludes with these words : “Ye who busy yourselves in harmonistics, and in trying all manner of expedients to solve such difficulties, will labor in vain, if ye do not cut the knot by observing that these matters are described in various ways, because they were extracted and translated from divers authors."
* Hobbes in his “Leviathan," written in Paris, but published in London in the year 1651, had indeed asserted that Moses did not write the entire Pentateuch ; but he made but little show of argument, and it is doubtful whether Peyrere had ever seen the book, though he may have known the author. Spinoza, also a contemporary of Peyrere, attacked the Mosaic authorship of the Pentateuch, in his Tractatus Theologico-Politicus, but this was not published until 1670.
Peyrere maintained also the opinion (now generally accepted) that the deluge did not extend over the entire globe. The flood, he says, overwhelmed the descendants of Adam but did not destroy all mankind. This is proved : 1. By the olive branch brought to Noah in the Ark, which the dove conld not have taken from a tree covered with the slime of a year's deluge, but from a region not visited by the flood. 2. By a passage of Josephus, which says : “Berosus wrote about the Ark in which the first of our race was preserved.” For if Josephus had meant all mankind, he would have said the human race, and not our race, i. e. the Jews. 3. The descendants of Noah are described as peopling that portion only of the earth, which reaches from Egypt to the Euphrates, and from the mountains of Armenia to the Arabian Gulf. 4. It is inconsistent with the history and chronology of Egypt to suppose that the deluge extended over that country.
It is interesting to note how Peyrere has anticipated arguments which have been ably maintained by modern scholars. The difference between the first and second account of the creation contributed to the support of his theory. The terror of Cain, who dreads lest his finder should slay him, affords a Scriptual proof that men are not all descended from Adam, which has been repeated in our own day. He appeals, also, to the civilization of the ancient nations, to their progress in art and science, to the Astrology and Astronomy of the Egyptians and Chaldeans, implying the knowledge of cycles of time that reach far beyond Adam—an argument which has been adorned and enforced by the learning and genius of Bunsen.
Peyrere's book was the occasion of his renouncing the Protestant faith and submitting to the Church. What is the judgment we are to pass upon his sincerity in this action? Was he an earnest man, who had heartily believed in the crudities of his own book and sought refuge from them in the authority of the Church? Did he in an hour of misgiving about his own theory resolve to plant himself on the faith of the Fathers? Or, on the other hand, was his conversion the act of one ready to profess or renounce any thing in order to get himself out of a difficulty? These questions have not always been answered to the credit of Peyrere. Bayle, in his Dictionary, would give the impression, that the conversion was no better than a sham. He quotes the following extract, from a private letter of a gentleman, who professed to know Peyrere, and to be acquainted with the circumstances of the case :
“I think that I am able to give you an exact account of what you
desire of me, because Mr. de la Peyrere was my very good friend. He was arrested at Brussels at the time mentioned by your author. But the secret history of it is, that the late prince concerned himself in that business by means of his confessor, who was a Jesuit and loved Mr. de la Peyrere, bating his religion, which he would have him to change. The machine of the Pre-Adamite was therefore set a-going;* he was arrested and made afraid of the consequences of his book, unless he changed his religion. The good man, who was not obstinate about what is called religion, changed it very soon, and his master gave him wherewith to go and fetch his absolution at Rome, which he did not much value. He returned to his master, who loved him to the last, and maintained him, since his return into France, in the house of the Fathers of the Oratory of Paris. I have often seen him there and found that he was far from being a true Papist; but he was very fond of his notion concerning the Pre-Adamites, about which he writ and spoke secretly to his friends to his dying day. The Procurator General of that Order, who is a friend of mine and who loved him, invited me to dine with him, and made him confess that he writ books still, which he told me softly would be burnt after the death of the good man. La Peyrere was an extraordinary good-natured man, and calmly believed but a little.”
The letter was obviously penned by one who had no great faith in the religion of other people besides Peyrere. Yet Peyrere's Apology and Petition to the Pope attest the essential
* In his Deprecatio addressed to the Pope, Peyrere says that when he followed his master to Belgium, he intrusted his manuscript to a friend, with a strict charge to keep it safe until his return, and to give a copy to no one. Some time afterwards, quite unexpectedly, and in an unexplained way, the manuscript was sent to him at Brussels. He was then called to Amsterdam, and, being unwilling to let the manuscript go out of his hands again, he carried it with him. In that bookmaking city, he says: “I found myself surrounded by a throng of printers, who importuned me to let them print my book. What was I to do? I could not carry the manuscript with me every where I went. I had no one to leave it with, and I feared lest it might be lost. I yielded, therefore, to the urgency of the printers, and gave them the manuscript, on condition of receiving one hundred printed copies." This seems to confirm the statement of Bayle's correspondent, and to show that Peyrere was cajoled into printing his book by the contrivance of his friends.
truth of the statement. His reasons are trivial, and his whole manner is that of a man who is going through a necessary form. Having described the circumstances of his arrest by the order of the Grand Vicar of the Archbishop of Mechlin, and the sudden death of that officer, he says:
“ After the death of the Vicar, letters came from your holiness, which intimated that your holy mind was greatly disturbed by what had been written about me, how that I was an abominable heretic. This grieved my master the Prince, to whose strong and faithful protection I had committed all my interests. But, on the other hand, so great was bis reverence for the Apostolic chair and his pious awe of your holiness, that he was unwilling to do anything which might offend you. And so to relieve his mind, harassed by all manner of anxiety respecting me, and under the promptings of divine grace to consult for my own safety, I earnestly besought his serene highness to obtain permission from your holiness to cast myself at your feet, and to submit myself, my book, and my all to your decision."
A truly remarkable conversion! To relieve his master from embarrassment and to get himself ont of prison, he was, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, willing to disown his heresies and bow down to the Pope. But the honest simplicity of the man, in this narrative of his experience, must shield him from the charge of gross hypocrisy. In truth, it was not in his power to be a thorough hypocrite. He could never have taken an assumed part, and carried it out for a long period of years. But he was equally removed from the serious, thoughtful mind which clings to its strong convictions even at great cost. We are to regard him, rather, as a man of average honesty but of no deep earnestness; and his submission to the Catholic Church was probably, in his own mind, not so much a change of principles as of ecclesiastical position. He doubtless tells the truth in his Apology, when he says, that the idea of the one Universal Church had always been attractive to him, that he regarded schism as in itself an evil, and regretted the separation which Luther had made from the Catholic communion. He complains that, when his book was published, the Calvinists attacked him with uncommon virulence. Such conduct in those whom he had regarded as his brethren, piqued and offended him ; especially, since they sought not so much to con