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surprizing Scenes of Providence, and displays such a multifarious Wisdom in the Government of Mankind, as is much more wonderful than the Creation of a New World would be. But had God destroyed the whole Race of Men, and created a New Man, to inhabit the New World, this would have argued some Defect in the first Creation : For there can be no Pretence for destroying Man, to make him again, but a Design to make him better ; to corred that in a second Trial, which Experience had discover'd to be faulty in the first. But tho'the Wisdom of Government will admit of various Trials and Experiments, the Wisdom of Creation will not. The Government of Free A. gents, must be accommodated to their Natures and Dispositions, not only to what God made them, but to what they make themselves; and therefore the Methods of Government must change, as Men change themselves : But the Natures of all Things are made only by God; and if there be any Fault in them, it is chargeable upon the Divine Wisdom ; and to make Man, and destroy him, and make him again, would argue a great Fault somewhere.
2dly, I observed also before, That to make the Destruction of the Old World of any Use to propagate Religion and Piety in the New, it was necessary, that some Inhabitants of the Old World should survive the Deluge, to be Witnesses of that Terrible Destruction.
Had no Man survived, tho'God should have created Man a-new, that New Generation of Men could have known nothing of the Deluge, but by Revelation ; whereas God intended a
sensible Proof of his Power and Providence, which Mankind wanted.
Besides that Revelation, which we may suppose God made to Adam, of the Creation of the World ; and his own Sense, that he himself was but just then made, and was the first and the only Man upon Earth ; there are such visible Marks of a Divine Wisdom and Power, in the Frame of the World, as (one would think) should be sufficient to convince Men, that the World was made, and is preserved, and governed by God; and yet because no Man law the World made, neither Reason nor Revelation can persuade some Men, that God made the World. And is it reasonable then to think, that when there are no remaining Signs of a Deluge left, the Belief of a Deluge should for any long Time have prevailed in the World, without any living Witnesses, who saw the Dea luge, tho' we should suppose God to have revealed it to New-created Man? No Man could see the Creation of the World ; because the World must be made, before Man was made to live in it. But tho'no Man saw the World made, there were some who saw the Destruction which the Deluge made, which was as visible a Proof of the Divine Power, and a much greater Proof of a Just and Righteous Providence. No Man, who believes that God destroyed the Old World with a Deluge of Water, can doubt whether God made the World, and governs it ; and for this the New World had the Testimony of Eye-witnesses, which is as sensible a Proof of a God, and a Providence, as we can poflibly have.
3dly, The Preservation of Noab and his son's in the Ark, was an evident Proof, that this Deluge was sent by God. God forewarned Noab of it an Hundred Years before it came, and commanded him to prepare an Ark, and
him Directions how to make it. Thus much is certain , That Noab did know of it before-hand, and prepared an Ark, which remained as a visible Testimony of the Flood to future Generations. Now there being no Natural Causes of the Flood, there could be no Natural Prognosticks of it. Our Saviour himself observes, That there were not the least Symptoms of any such Thing, till Noab entred into the Ark ; and therefore Noab had no 0ther way of knowing this, but by Revelation: And it was so incredible a Thing in it felf, that the rest of Mankind would not believe him, tho' he warned them of it, and they saw that he believed it himself, by his preparing an Ark for his own Safety. And if we believe the Account that Moses gives of it, that some of all Sorts of Living Creatures, both the Beasts of the Field, and the Fowls of the Air, were preserved with Noab in the Ark, ( as we must believe, if we believe the Universal Deluge; unless we will say, that God new-made all Living Creatures after the Flood ;) what Account can be given of this, that some of all Sorts, in such Numbers as God had appointed, and had prepared Reception for, should come of their own Accord to Noab, when he was ready to enter into the Ark, had they not been led thither by a Divine Hand ?
4tbly, The preservation of Noah and his Sons in the Ark did not only prove that the Deluge was sent by God, but was a plain Evidence for what Reason God sent such a Terrible Judgment; viz. To put an end to that wicked Generation of Men, and to New-people the World with a Righteous Seed. This Reason God gave to Noab; and the Nature of the thing speaks it. For when all the wicked Inhabitants of the World were destroyed, and not one escaped the Deluge, but only that one Righteous Family, which had escaped the Corruptions of the Age too, and that preserved by the peculiar Order and Direction of God, this is a visible Judgment upon all the wicked of the Earth, and makes a visible distinction between Good and Bad Men. When such Evils and Calamities befal the World, as may be resolved into Natural or Moral Causes; as Plagues, and Famines, and Wars, Fires, and Earthquakes; and it may be Good and Bad Meri Thare pretty equally in the publick Misfortunes ; Atheists and Infidels will not allow these Evils to be inflicted by God, much less to be the Punishment of Sin, when they make no visible diftinction between the good and the bad; but the Universal Deluge was both a Supernatural and a distinguishing Judgment; none but God could thus destroy the Earth, and none but the wicked were destroyed; and therefore this is an undeniable Demonstration of the Justice and Righteousness of God, that he hares Wickedness, and will punish wicked Men.
There are some other Marks of Excellent Wisdom in the Universal Deluge, which I shall only name, because, though they are worth observing, yet they are of less moment as to my present Design.
As the Deluge was to be a lasting Proof of a Just Providence to the New World, and as you have heard, was upon all accounts admirably fitted to that purpose; so we may reasonably suppose, that when it came, it convinced that wicked Generation of Men, and brought them to Repentance, which it gave them some time for; and though it could not save them in this World, who knows, but that a sudden Repentance upon such a sudden Conviction, might obtain Mercy for them in the next? Noab was a Preacher of Righteousness; he had often reproved them for their Sins, and threatned them with a Deluge, but they would not believe him, though they saw him preparing the Ark; buc when they saw the Flood come, they knew then the meaning of it, from what Noab had often told them; and this must needs convince them of the terrible Justice and Vengeance of God: And the gradual increase of the Flood gave them some time to Repent in, and to beg God's Pardon; and I'm sure this makes a glorious representation both of the Goodness and Wisdom of God in the most terrible Judgment that ever was executed upon the World, if we had sufficient reason to believe, as there want not some fair appearances of it, that God intended the Deluge as well to convince and save all that could be brought to Repentance in the Old World, as to reform the New.
Thus fince God had determined to destroy that wicked Generation of Men, and to preserve only Noah and his three Sons; to destroy the Earth by a Deluge, and to shut up Noab in the Ark, was as great, or a greater Mercy to Noah, than his Preservation was: Let us suppose, that instead of drowning the World, God had