An Exposition on the
By J O H N.B U N Y A N.
First published in 1691, by Charles Doe.
An unfinished commentary on the Bible, found among John
Bunyan's papers after his death, in his own handwriting.
er. 1. "This is the book of the generations of Adam. In the day that God created man, in the likeness of God made he him." The Holy Ghost having thus largely treated of Cain and his offspring, and of the head made against him by Seth and Enos, and of the good success that followed, he now comes to treat of the church in particular, and of the flourishing state of the same.
"This is the book." The Holy Ghost cuts off the genealogy of Cain, accounting him none of the race of the church, although before he was within the pale thereof. John observing this, calls him, "a child of that wicked one" (1 John 3:12), as our Lord also accounted Judas. Wherefore, he here begins his book again, that this wicked race might be quite excluded. "Let them be blotted out of the book of the living, and not be written with the righteous" (Psa 69:28).
"In the day that God created man, in the likeness of God made he him." Although by this new beginning the Holy Ghost excludeth Cain, yet he fetcheth the genealogy of the church from the day that man was created; intimating that God, in the very act of creation, had a special intention to plant him a church in the world; and therefore, even before sin was in the world, the image of God was upon man, as a token of his special respect, and of the great delight that he intended to take in that creature above all that he had made (Pro 8:30,31).
Ver. 2. "Male and female created he them; and blessed them, and called their name Adam, in the day when they were created."
When Adam was created, the Lord created two in one: So when Christ, the head of the church, was chosen, the church was also chosen in him.
"And blessed them." With the blessing of generation: A type of the blessing of regeneration that was to be by Christ in the church, according to that which is written, "So shall thy seed be" (Eph 1:4).
"And called their name Adam, in the day when they were created." So that in the man the woman is included: "Neither is the man without the woman, neither the woman without the man, in the Lord" (1 Cor 11:11). For the Holy Ghost, in the work of the new creation, of which this creation was a type, counteth not by male and female, but "ye are all one in Christ Jesus" (Gal 3:28). Wherefore, women are not to be excluded out of the means of salvation; nay, they have, if they believe, a special right to all the promises of grace that God hath made to his saints in all ages: Yea, "she shall be saved in childbearing, [though she bear children,] if she continue in faith, and charity, and holiness with sobriety" (1 Tim 2:15).
Ver. 3. "And Adam lived an hundred and thirty years, and begat a son in his own likeness, after his image; and called his name Seth."
Here also by the book of Chronicles, the Holy Ghost carrieth away the genealogy, because Abel had no children, saying Adam, Seth, &c. (1 Chron 1:1).
"An hundred and thirty years." Behold the rage of hell! For until Seth stood in Abel's place, religion was greatly hindered, and that was after the world had stood an hundred and thirty years. Indeed, Abel, while he had his breath, did hold it up in the world; but Cain, who was of that wicked one, smote him and religion both to the ground.
"And begat a son in his own likeness." Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean? not one" (Job 14:4). If the father be polluted with the inward filth of sin, the son must needs be like him: "I was shapen in iniquity; [said David] and in sin did my mother conceive me" (Psa 51:5). Seth then was no better than we by nature, but came into the world in the blood of his mother's filth: "What is man, that he should be clean? and he which is born of a woman, that he should be righteous?" (Job 15:14).
This therefore should teach us not to count of our election, and of our effectual calling but by the word of God. Seth by nature was a sinful man, and yet the chosen servant of God; the first that took up God's quarrel after the death of blessed Abel.
This should also help us to hold up the bucklers against the kingdom of the devil and hell. Seth was subject to like infirmities with us, and yet he got ground of the children of iniquity. I know a sense of our own infirmities is apt to weaken our hand in so mighty an undertaking, but it should not: Although we be like old Adam by nature, yet God is able to make us stand.
Ver. 4. "And the days of Adam, after he had begotten Seth, were eight hundred years: and he begat sons and daughters."
Adam therefore, as a type of Christ, reigned in the church almost a thousand years. The world therefore beginning thus, doth shew us how it will end; namely, by the reign of the second Adam, as it began with the reign of the first.
These long-lived men therefore shew us the glory that the church shall have in the latter day, even in the seventh thousand years of the world, that sabbath when Christ shall set up his kingdom on earth, according to that which is written, "They lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years" (Rev 20:1-4). They:—Who? The church of God, according also as it was with Adam. Therefore they are said by John to be holy, as well as blessed: "Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God, and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years" (v 6). In all which time the wicked in the world shall forbear to persecute, as did also the brood of wicked Cain in the days of Adam, Seth, &c. Hence therefore we find in the first place the dragon chained for these thousand years.
Ver. 5. "And all the days that Adam lived were nine hundred and thirty years: and he died."
Adam therefore lived to see the translation of Enoch: In whose translation a conquest was got over all the enemies of his soul and body: So Christ shall reign in and among his saints till all his enemies be destroyed. "The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death" (1 Cor 15:26); which shall be swallowed up when the members of that glorious head have put on incorruption, and their "mortal shall have put on immortality." Adam's reigning therefore until Enoch's translation, looks like a prophecy of the perfection of Christ's kingdom: For he shall reign till he hath "delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father" (v 24): As Adam, till his Enoch was translated and took up to God.
Ver. 6. "And Seth lived an hundred and five years, and begat Enos."
Seth therefore stood by the truth of God, a long time, without much help or encouragement from man; which was a great trial to his spirit, and proof of the truth of his faith, and tended much to the perfection of his patience. Somewhat like this was that of Paul, who had no man stood with him when he stood before Nero.
Seth was set in the stead of Abel, to keep the gap against the children of hell; which, by the grace of God, he faithfully did, even till Enos was sent to his aid and assistance.
Seth therefore was the forlorn hope of the church in those days. So set of God to put check to the enemy, until the church was increased, and more able to defend herself from the outrage.
This therefore should teach the saints of God, especially those that are sent before, against the offspring of Cain, to stand their ground, and not to shrink like Saul, till God shall send others to take part with them (1 Sam 10:8; 13:8-14).
Thus David stood, as it were, by himself, against the wicked that was in his day; which made him cry, "Who will rise up for me against the evil doers," or who will stand up for me against the workers of iniquity? (Psa 94:16).
Ver. 7. "And Seth lived after he begat Enos eight hundred and seven years, and begat sons and daughters."
Hence also we may gather great encouragement who are set in the front of the army of the Lamb, against the army and regiment of Cain. Seth, saith the Spirit, was set in the stead of Abel, there as forlorn, to defend religion: Must he not now be swallowed up? Will the blood-hounds let him escape? Behold, therefore his life must be accounted a wonder! As was also that of Paul (1 Cor 6:9). But for Seth to stand eight hundred years against such a murderous crew, and yet to have his breath in his nostrils! Our times are in thy hands, and thou, Lord, "holdeth our soul in life" (Psa 66:9).
"And all the days of Seth were nine hundred and twelve years, and he died" (v 8).
His life was therefore eighteen years shorter than that of Adam; he lived fifty-five years after Enoch, and died six hundred and fourteen years before the flood.
Ver. 9. "And Enos lived ninety years, and begat Cainan." Cainan signifieth a buyer, or owner. Let it be with respect to religion, and then the sense may be, that he had this privilege in religion by the hazard of his father and grandfather's life; they bought it for him, and made him the owner of it: As Paul saith, He gave not place to the false Apostles, "that the truth of the gospel might continue with the Galatians" (2:5). As Jotham also said to Shechem, "My Father fought for you, and adventured his life far, and delivered you out of the hand of Midian" (Jude 9:17). Namely, that they might still be owners of the inheritance that the Lord had given them. This shews us then, that the fruit of a constant standing to the word of God, is, That the generations yet unborn shall be made the possessors and owners of it.
Ver. 10. "And Enos lived after he begat Cainan eight hundred and fifteen years, and begat sons and daughters."
He lived then to see his son enjoy the fruits of his own constancy to the truth, so long a time as eight hundred years, &c. as we hope God's people now may do. 'Tis true, they now do own the truth with hazard, and do hold it up by enduring much misery, according to the rage of wicked men; but, I say, 'tis hoped others will reap the fruits of our travails, and that some of us shall live to see it, as Enos lived to see his Cainan possess religion eight hundred years.
Ver. 11. "And all the days of Enos were nine hundred and five years: and he died."
He lived then one hundred fifty-three years after Enoch, and died five hundred and sixteen years before the flood.
Ver. 12. "And Cainan lived seventy years, and begat Mahalaleel."
Mahalaleel, signifieth praising God. Wherefore he was born in settled times, wherein religion met with little or no molestation. It began to be as hereditary in the days of blessed Cainan; wherefore it was requisite that the very next that should possess the truth, should spend their days in praising God (Rev 11:15). And thus it will be at the downfall of Antichrist: "After this [saith John] I heard a great voice of much people in heaven, saying Allelujah; Salvation, and glory, and honour, and power unto the Lord our God...And a voice came out of the throne saying, Praise our God, all ye his servants; and ye that fear him, both small and great" (Rev 19:1-6).
"The whole earth [saith the Prophet] is at rest and is quiet, they break forth into singing. Yea, the fir-trees rejoice at thee, [O thou brood of the blood-thirsty Cain,] and the cedars of Lebanon, saying, Since thou art laid down, no feller is come up against us" (Isa 14:7,8).
Ver. 13. "And Cainan lived after he begat Mahalaleel eight hundred and forty years, and begat sons and daughters."
God gave him a long possession and enjoyment of the fruits of his father's labours. They sowed (as Christ said) and he was entered into their labours: They sowed in tears, and he reaped in joy. Mahalaleel, or praise our God, was the language of those times.
Ver. 14. "And all the days of Cainan were nine hundred and ten years: and he died."
He lived then two hundred and forty-eight years after Enoch, and died four hundred twenty-one years before the flood.
Ver. 15. "And Mahalaleel lived sixty and five years, and begat Jared."
Jared signifies ruling, and sheweth us what is the holy fruits of peace and thanksgiving in the church; to wit, government according to the testament of Christ (Acts 9:31). It is hard to have all things according to rule, in the day of the church's affliction; because of the weakness and fearfulness of some; and because possibly those who have most skill in that matter, may for a time be laid up in chains: but now when the church hath rest and quietness, then as she praiseth God, so she conceiveth and bringeth forth governors, and good government and rule among her members. David, a man of blood, could not build that house to the Lord, which peaceable Solomon, that man of rest, afterwards did (1 Chron 28:3,6). When armies are engaged, and hot in battle, 'tis harder to keep them in rank and file, than when they have rest, and time for discipline. Jared therefore is the fruits of thanksgiving, as thanksgiving is the fruits of peace and possession.
Ver. 16. "And Mahalaleel lived after he begat Jared eight hundred and thirty years, and begat sons and daughters."
He lived not only to give thanks unto God, but to shew to all that he gave thanks in truth, by submitting his neck the rest of the hundred of years that he lived, to the holy law and word of God.
A good rule to prove people by; for all that pretend to give thanks for liberty, put not their neck under the yoke, but rather use their liberty as an occasion for the flesh, than by love to serve and advantage one another in the things of the kingdom of Christ (Gal 5:13; 1 Peter 2:16). But as "the bramble said to the [rest of the] trees," so saith Christ to such feigned thanksgivers, "If in truth ye anoint me king over you, then come and put your trust in my shadow" (Judg 9:15). Submit to my law, and be governed by my testament. Let your thanksgiving bring forth Jared, and walk with God in the days of Jared.
Ver. 17. "And all the days of Mahalaleel were eight hundred ninety and five years: and he died." He lived then three hundred and three years after Enoch, and died three hundred and sixty-six years before the flood.
Ver. 18. "And Jared lived an hundred sixty and two years, and he begat Enoch."
Enoch, is taught, or dedicate: The true effect of rule or government, be it good or bad: in Cain's posterity it was bad; "for an evil tree cannot bring forth good fruit." By Enoch here, we are to understand, one taught in, and dedicated unto, God. This Enoch therefore was a son that would hear the rules, and submit to the government of his father Jared. "As an ear-ring of gold, and an ornament of fine gold, so is a wise reprover upon an obedient ear" (Pro 25:12).
Ver. 19. "And Jared lived after he begat Enoch eight hundred years, and begat sons and daughters."
He lived therefore to see the fruit of his good rule and government in the church, even to see his teachable and dedicated son caught up to God, and to his throne. A good encouragement to all rulers in the house of God, and also to all godly parents to teach and rule in the fear of God; for that is the way to part with church members, and children with comfort; yea, that is the way, if we shall out-live them, to send them to heaven, and to God before us.
Ver. 20. "And all the days of Jared were nine hundred sixty and two years: and he died."
He lived then three hundred thirty-five years after Enoch, and died two hundred thirty-four before the flood.
Ver. 21. "And Enoch lived sixty and five years, and begat Methuselah."
Methuselah signifieth, Spoiling his death: this therefore is the true fruits of one that is truly taught in, and dedicate to the service of God, as Enoch was; by this means he spoileth his death: wherefore he adds, "And Enoch walked with God." Walking with God, spoileth death, or overcomes it, or it shall be prevented, he shall not be hurt therewith: As Christ saith, "If a man keep my saying, he shall never taste death" (John 8:52).
Ver. 22. "And Enoch walked with God, after he begat Methuselah three hundred years, and begat sons and daughters."
These words [after he begat Methuselah] may have respect either to his beginning to walk with God, or to the number of the years that he lived after the birth of Methuselah, or both.
If it respect the fist, then it sheweth that the only encouragement that a sinner hath to walk with God, it is to see Methuselah, or his death spoiled: for when a man seeth death, and all evils, conquered and overcome, then his soul is encouraged in holiness (1 Cor 15:55-58). No encouragement to walking with God like this: "Enoch walked with God after he begat Methuselah." As Paul saith, "Now being made free from sin, - [which indeed is the sting of death] ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life" (Rom 6:22).
If it respect the second, then it shews us the invincible nature of true faith, (for by faith Enoch walked with God:) I say, it sheweth us the invincible nature of true faith, in that it would hold up a man in close communion with God for the space of three hundred years.
"He walked with God three hundred years." How will the conversation of Enoch rise up in judgment with this generation, that walk not with God at all! Or if they do, do it so by fits, as if walking with God was but a work by the by.
"He walked with God and begat sons and daughters." And kept house, and lived with his wife, according to knowledge. This shews then, that it is sin, not our lawful and honest employment, that hindreth one's walking with God.
Ver. 23, 24. "And all the days of Enoch were three hundred and sixty and five years: And Enoch walked with God: And he was not; for God took him" (vv 23,24).
The New Testament saith, "By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death; and was not found, because God had translated him: for before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God."
"And all the days of Enoch were three hundred and sixty and five years." Enoch therefore lived here but a while; he was too good to live long in this world, the world was not worthy of him; neither would he be spared so long out of heaven, "for God took him." The end of walking with God or the path-way thereof, it leads men to heaven, to the enjoyment of the glory of God. Thus also it was with blessed Elijah, he followed God from place to place, till at length he was caught up into heaven (2 Kings 2:1-11).
A word or two more of Enoch. Jude observes, That he was the seventh from Adam: Closely intimating (as I conceive) that by him God prefigured the resurrection and end of the world: And intimated, That in the seventh great day of the world this resurrection should be, each generation from Adam being a type of a thousand years: So that Enoch, the seventh from Adam, was a type of the seventh thousand, in which the Lord will reign with his church a thousand years.
There are two things in Enoch that incline me to this opinion. First, he crieth out, "Behold the Lord comes!" and then is translated that he should not see death. The right posture and end of those that shall live at the day of God Almighty; and that shall, like Enoch, be found "walking with God," when the Lord shall come from heaven (Jude 14,15).
Ver. 25. "And Methuselah lived an hundred eighty and seven years, and begat Lamech."
Lamech signifieth poor, or smitten; wherefore I doubt that the apostacy that you read of in the next chapter, began either in the days of, or by, this man: he being, as it seems, more dry and void of grace than those that went before him; poor, or smitten.
Hence note, That faith and godliness, though often it goeth from the father to the son, as from Seth to Enos, and from him to Cainan, yet it is not tied here, but runs according to electing love, as also do the fruits thereof.
Ver. 26, 27. "And Methuselah lived after he begat Lamech seven hundred eighty and two years, and begat sons and daughters. And all the days of Methuselah were nine hundred sixty and nine years, and he died."
Methuselah, the spoiling of death, is the longest liver in the world; yet he died in the year that the flood was upon the earth; not by the flood, but by the course of nature, as also did Lamech his son, for the wicked reprobate only was swept away by that, according to the apostle Peter. Ver. 28, 29. "And Lamech lived an hundred eighty and two years, and begat a son: and he called his name Noah, saying, This same shall comfort us concerning our work and toil of our hands, because of the ground which the Lord hath cursed."
"And he called his name Noah." Noah signifieth rest; his name was therefore according to his work, for he was a preacher of righteousness, which giveth rest to all that embraceth it. Besides, it was he that prepared the ark, the place of rest to the church of God.
"This same shall comfort us concerning our work and toil of our hands, because of the ground which the Lord hath cursed."
These words seem to carry in them, repentance for the apostacy that before was mentioned. "This same shall comfort us," by restoring the church to her former rest, and by delivering us from the "toil of our hands"; for sin once admitted of in the church, is not without much toil extirpated, and driven forth of the same; yea sometimes it getteth such footing and root, that it cannot again be purged and destroyed, but by breaking the very being of the church where it is. Thus it was as to the case in hand, and is signified also by pulling down the house in which the leprosy was (Lev 14:43- 45). Yea Ephesus itself was almost thus far infected, had not a threatening prevented (Rev 2:1-3).
"Because of the ground which the Lord hath cursed." The Lord did curse it for the sin of Adam: He also renewed the curse to Cain, because he was guilty of the blood of his brother. I incline also to think, that the curse here mentioned, is the first, reiterated for the grievous apostacy of this congregation; according to that which is written, "If ye walk contrary unto me," "I will punish you seven times more": "I will bring seven times more plagues upon you, according to your sins" (Lev 26:18-21).
Ver. 30. "And Lamech lived after he begat Noah, five hundred ninety and five years, and begat sons and daughters." Wherefore Lamech heard the preaching of Noah, who was the only minister of God in those days, to recover the church to repentance from their apostacy, which also he did in some good measure effect, while he condemned, the world for their unbelief (Heb 11:7).
Ver. 31. "And all the days of Lamech were seven hundred seventy and seven years: and he died." He died five years before the flood. Methuselah therefore was the longest liver of those godly that fell on the other side the flood, for he died not before the very year the flood came, not by the water, but before. The righteous is taken away from the evil to come; though, as the prophet saith, no man of the wicked laid it to heart.
Ver. 31. "And Noah was five hundred years old: and Noah begat Shem, Ham, and Japhet."