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"...The church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth."
I Timothy 3:15

Different Families, But One Blood

Joseph Angus

From Christ Our Life, 1853

A thousand years before the Vedas were written, (B. C. 1400) and at least 1800 before the laws of Menu, which form the basis of Hindoo jurisprudence, were composed, (B. C. 600) the descendants of the second father of the human family (who had been miraculously saved from a fearful flood) began to multiply on the earth. As they multiplied, they removed from the mountain districts of Armenia to the well-watered plains of Shinaar, between the rivers Hiddekel (Tigris) and Euphrates, "the swift-flowing" and "the fruitful." Here, in very early times, men were formed into families, and established in towns and villages. Here also they followed agriculture, built cities, and practised many of the arts of civilized life.

As they grew in numbers they grew in wickedness, till at length, partly as a punishment of their sins, and partly as a consequence of failing pasture and deficient produce, they became scattered. Each band retained the civilization and the fragments of religious truth which the better men among them had preserved. From a book of demonstrable antiquity, containing records that can be traced to within a comparatively short period of the time when these events took place, we gather that, even then and for ages later, there was a general belief in the unity of God, in the creation and preservation of all things by Divine power, in a general and particular Providence, in a Divine law fixing distinctions between right and wrong, in the fall and corruption of man, in the doctrine of atonement through vicarious suffering, in direct Divine spiritual influence, in human responsibility, and in the necessity for practical holiness.

True religion, in fact, has ever been faith and obedience; a humble, submissive repose of the heart on Divine truth, and appropriate holiness. Whether it be regarded as a system of truth—objective religion, or as a system of holy affection—subjective religion, it has never changed. Nor is it difficult to account for either the completeness or the diffusion of this knowledge. The flood of waters occurred in the life-time of the third generation from Adam, our first parent. He had been created by God in his own image, but yielding to temptation he fell, and involved us all in his rain. For many years Lamech was his contemporary. Lamech again was the father of Noah, and the contemporary for many years of Shem, as Shem was of Abraham, the father of the people "of whom, according to the flesh, Christ came." (Rom. 1:3)

Methuselah, again, was for more than two hundred years a contemporary of Adam, and for six hundred years of Noah, and through him, or other similar channels, might the knowledge of the true God have been transmitted and preserved. During the whole of this interval, too, many eminently holy men appeared—Abel, Seth, Enoch, and Noah, all of them preachers of righteousness, and valiant for the truth upon the earth.

In spite of these influences, however, human nature soon showed its true character, and its lamentable tendency to deterioration. Before the flood, “God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually (Gen. 6:5), and the flood left them unchanged. As early as the days of Shem, the son of Noah, idolatry was openly practised in Chaldea, the country of Abraham, and not more than a hundred years after the death of Noah, the whole district of Sodom and Gomorrah was destroyed in consequence of the guilt of its inhabitants. Fire from heaven, combined with the bitumen and sulphur of that region, consumed them. The plain is now filled with the Dead Sea, whose waters exhibit in their saltness, and slimy bituminous qualities, evidences of the fearful catastrophe with which it was visited.

As the first settlers in Shinaar were dispersed, they went in different directions, and according to the families to which they belonged. The sons of JAPHET, the eldest-born, travelled northward, Madai and his descendants settling on the borders of the Caspian, and Gomer and his descendants on the borders of the Black Sea. Here their numbers increased; till at length, many of the descendants of Madai moved down into Hindustan, while many of the descendants of Gomer moved westward (with other branches of the same great family) into Europe.

The primeval inhabitants, therefore, of India, those who first spoke the Sanskrit tongue, and nearly all who afterwards migrated among them from the north, were, ethnographically, Caucasians (So called from the range of mountains near which they had originally settled), and belonged to the same division of the human family which have since made the inhabitants of the western world, and of Britain especially, the moving spirits of the earth. India and Europe are allied, therefore, not only through a common interest, but through the close connection of the races that first peopled them.

From SHEM, whose descendants remained at Shinaar, and ultimately occupied Arabia and Syria, were descended the Chaldeans, the Persians (The Shemitish Persians, however, were early overcome by tribes descended from Japhet. Modern Persians, therefore, belong chiefly to the Caucasian race, some to the family of Ham), the Assyrians, the Jews and the Mohammedan nations, who have since modified the character of the population of the east, either by migration or conquest. Through this branch of the great family of man, India has closer ethnographical connection with the natives of Palestine than Europeans, and it is clear that if Europe has received the Messiah of the Jews, it is not because He is of her race, but because she is convinced of the divinity of His claims.

The descendants of HAM settled in Egypt and in other parts of Africa, and have had frequent intercourse by sea with India. From that country, indeed, it is generally thought, they imported their arts and learning.

If we seek for further evidence of this connection between Europe and "utmost Ind" it is found in the affinities which subsist between Mythology and the languages and the mythologies of the two regions. The polluted streams of Greek, Slavonic, and Hindoo mythology have, evidently, a common source, their myths a common basis, and their rites and ceremonies a common authority. Many of the gods which crowd the Pantheon of the East were known, under appropriate names, to Homer and Hesiod, and to our Saxon forefathers. The Indra and Yama of the East are the Pluvius and Pluto of Rome. The god of the waters (Peruna), and the goddess of love (Rembha) are the Neptune and Venus of the West.

The very names of the days of the week are called, in India, by names taken from the same deities as preside in Western calculations over those portions of time. This general conclusion is not affected by the fact, that the religion of each of these nations was influenced by peculiarities of position and of climate. The German and the Briton kindled their devotion beside their blood-stained altars, in the depth of the forest; the Roman blended his religion with luxury or war; the Greek with poetry, philosophy, or art.

But these differences refer rather to the forms of devotion most popular among these various tribes, than to the objects of their worship. The people had really the same gods, though the services offered to them changed with the national character and circumstances of the worshippers. To complete this evidence, it must be added, that nearly all the branches of the Shemitish nations were monotheistic, and, instead of supplying Europe and Asia with idols, borrowed them when guilty of idolatry, from the descendants of Japhet or of Ham.

Further, it is notorious that the Sanskrit language, with its numerous derivatives, is closely connected, both in matter and in form, with the Greek, Latin, German, and Slavonic tongues. There are in Sanskrit no less than nine hundred words having the same root as corresponding words in the languages of the West, while affinities of form supply evidence of a common origin no less striking and decisive ; indeed it is indisputable, that the ancestors of those who now speak the Sanskrit and the Gothic, (including, under the former, most of the derivative dialects of the East, and, under the latter, the Slavonic, the German, high and low, and the classic languages of ancient Europe,) had once a common tongue, and interchanged their thoughts by similar elements of speech.

So true is the Scripture declarations that men were divided "according to their families," though made of one blood, and possessing, first in Adam, and then in Noah, a common progenitor. This truth,—the identity of India and Europe,—is completed when we add to it the fact, that both have fallen through a common calamity, and are, in Christ, invited to an interest in what is emphatically a "common salvation." (Jude 3)