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Books as treat of them: And till, by the Method proposed, I have proved the Bible to be of Divine Authority, I shall alledge it only ais an Historical Relation of Things past ; in which respect, it would be unreasonable to'deny it that credit which is allowed to other Books of that nature. And this is all that is now desired, in order to the clearing of what I am at present upon; which is to shew, That nothing requisite to a true Revelation is wanting to the Scriptures i and therefore, that they have been sufficiently promulged and made known to the World.
In the Beginning of the World, God was pleased to create but one Man, and one Woman, and to people the Earth from them j which must exceedingly tend both to the preservation of Order and Obedience amongst Men, and to the retaining of the Knowledge of God, and of his Ways and Dealings with the first Parents of Mankind. But if Multitudes had been created, and the Earth had been peopled at o.ice, the natural effect of this had been Ambition and Strife , Confusion and Ignorance: For as the Inhabitants of the World multiplied, so did all Sin and Wickedness encrease •, though all descended from the fame Parents, and these Parents lived to fee many Generations of their Off-spring, and to instruct and admonish them; which, if any thing could have done it, must have kept up a sense of God and Religion amongst Men. Adam himself performed the Office of a Father, a ~ Priest, and a King, to his Children} and the Office and Authority of these three descended upon the Heads of Families, in the several Generations and Successions of Kingdoms amongst his Posterity: For that the fame Person was both King and Priest in the earlier Ages of the World, we learn from the best Antiquities of other Nations ■■, and it was so likewise amongst theb Hebrews, till God had appointed an Or
b 1 ■ Ormtefq; primogenitot Noe, donee facerdotio futrgeretur Aaron fuiffe Pontifices (Hebrsi tradunt.J Hieronym. Question, seu Tradit. Hebraic, in Genes. * dcr der and Succession of the Priesthood in one Tribe: and therefore Esau is stiled a profane Person, for selling his Birth-right, because the Priesthood went along with it, Heb. xii. 16.
By all the Accounts we have of the World before the Flood, we are assured, that God was pleased, at first, to afford frequent Communications of himself to Mankind; and even to the Wicked, as to Cain, whose Punishment it afterwards was, to be hid from the face of the Lord, and driven out from his presence. Gen. iv. 14, 16. And when the Wickedness of Men had provoked God to drown the World, he revealed this to Noah, and respited the execution of this Judgment an Hundred Years ; and Noah, in the mean time, both by his Preaching, and by preparing an Ark, warned them of it, and exhorted them to Repentance: by preparing of an ark to the saving of his house, he con' demned the world, Heb. xi. 7. and he was a preacher of righteousness to the old world, 2 Pet. ii. 5. He made it his business, for above an Hundred Years together, to forewarn the wicked World of their approaching Ruine; which he did by all the Ways and Means that a Wife and Great Man could contrive, proper for that End.
Noah lived, after the Flood, Three hundred and fifty Years, Gen. ix. 28. and it was between One and Two hundred Years before the Division of Tongues, and the Dispersion of the Sons of Noah. And when all the Inhabitants of the Earth were of one Language, and lived not far asunder, Noah himself living amongst them •, the Judgment of God upon the wicked World, in overwhelming them with the Flood j his Mercies to Noah and his Family, in their preservation, when all the rest of the World perished , and the Commandments which God gave to Noah at his coming out of the Ark, with his Promises and Threatnings respectively to the performance or transgression of
them,must be well known: and the sin in building the Tower of Babel, for which the Universal Language was confounded, and the Race of Mankind dispersed, could proceed from nothing but the heighth of Presumption and Peryerseness. After the Confufion of Languages, and the Dispersion of Mankind, they could not on the sudden remove to very distant and remote Places, by reason of the unpayable Woods, and Desarts, and Marshes, which, after so vast an Inundation, must be every where to be met with, to obstruct their passage, in those hot and fruitful Countries, when they had lain uninhabited for so many Years. This we may the better understand, from the flow progress which was made in the Discoveries of the Weft-Indies. For the Spaniards, in those places where they found neither Guide nor Path, 'did not enter the Country ten Miles c in ten Years. And in those Ages they could not but be ill provided, either by their own Skill, or by convenient Tools and Instruments, with fit means to clear the Country which they were to pass j and they were likewise unprovided of Vessels to transport any great numbers of Men, with their Families, and Herds of Cattel, which were for many Ages their only Riches, and absolutely necessary for their Sustenance: for Navigation had never had so flow an Improvement in the World, if it had so soon been in that Perfection as to enable them for such Transportations.
And as for these Reasons, the Dispersion of Noah's Posterity over the Earth must be gradual, and many Generations must pass, before the remoter Parts of it could be inhabited •, so the several Plantations must be supposed to hold Correspondence with those to whom they were nearest allyed, and from whom they went out ■-, they must be supposed to own some sort of Dependence upon them, and pay them such Ac
knowledgments as Colonies have ever done to their Mother-Cities. It is natural to suppose that they first spread themselves into the neighbouring Countries; and (as Sir Walter Ravleigh has observed) the first Plantations were generally by the Banks of Rivers, whereby they might-hold Intelligence one with another; which they could not do by Land, that being overspread with Woods, and altogether unfit for travelling. And the great affinity which is observable between the Eastern Languages, proves that there was a continual Correspondence and Commerce maintained between the several Nations, after the Dispersion.
All which, considering the great Age that Men lived to in those times, must, without a very gross Neglect and Contempt of God, preserve a true Notion of Religion in the several Parts of the World: For Noah himself lived Three Hundred and Fifty Years after the Flood , his Sons were not soon dispersed j their Dispersion was gradual, and they heid Correspondence after their Separation, and lived long to educate and train up their Children in that Knowledge of God, which they had received and been instructed in themselves j and besides, they had little else to discourse upon, but such things as would necessarily lead them to it: The History of their own Nation and Family is that which Men are naturally most fond of \ and in these Ages the Particulars could be but few, and those very remarkable, and almost within the memory of some yet living j and every Occurrence must bring to their remembrance what they had heard and had been taught concerning God, and his Dealings with them and their Forefathers.
Moreover, there was the special Hand of God, and a particular Over-ruling Providence, in the Dispersion and Division of Nations: For, when the most High divided to the nations their inheritance, when he
separated the sons of Adam , he set the bounds of the people according to the number of the children of Israel, Deut. xxxii. 8. He determined the bounds of their habitation, that they fiottld seek the Lord, if haply, they might feel after him, and find him, Acts XVli. 26, 27. This was the reason of the Division of the Nations , according to the number of the children osIsrael, who are stiled a Peculiar Treasure, a Kingdom of Priests, and a Holy Nation, Exod. xix. 5, 6. There was a particular regard had to the Number .of the Chosen Seed, that they might bear a fit proportion to the reft of Mankind, and might be as so much Leaven to the whole Mass, as a quickning and enlivening Principle to excite and maiataindue Apprehensions of God, and his Worship and Service in the World: And this is the Reason given, why Polygamy was permitted them *, That they who were the peculiar People of God, and were to teach his Commandments to the rest of the World, might sufficiently encrease and multiply. For though it appears by our Regi* lifers d that here more Males are born than Females, to a considerable disproportion, and that therefore Polygamy amongst us, would not tend to the multiplication of Mankind, but rather to the contrary; yet in Judxa it might be otherwise 5 or the Captive Women, whom they were permitted to marry, might raise the number of Females above that of the Males', or their perpetual Wars lesTen'd the number of Males to a degree beneath the Females. However, this is the reason alledged by learned Men, why Polygamy, which was not permitted from the Beginning, should be allowed the Israelites: for, indeed, it was of great consequence that they should multiply so as to have. a due proportion to the rest of the World •, and for the fame reason, the surviving Brother was to raise up Seed to the deceased. Barrenness was a Reproach \
-, .' * Sec-, GfWrf on rbe Bills of Mortality.
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