« PreviousContinue »
at önce destroyed all Mankind by Plague, or Thunder from Heaven, or some other sudden stroke, excepting Noab and his Sons, who should be Eye-witnesses of this Terrible Execua tion, and live to see the Earth covered with dead Bodies, and none left to bury them; and their Cities lye waste and desolate without Inhabitants ; who can conceive what the horror of such a light would have been? who would have been contented to live in such a World, to converse only with the Images of Death, and with noisome Carkasses ? But God in great mercy shut up Noab in the Ark, that he should not see the Terror and Confternation of Sinners when the Flood came; and he washed away all their dead Bodies into the Caverns of the Earth, with all the Marks and Signs of their Old Habitations, that when Noab came out of the Ark, he saw nothing but a new and beautiful World ; nothing to disturb his Imagination, no Marks or Remains of that Terrible Vengeance.
This indeed destroyed all other living Creatures, as well as Sinners, excepting those that were in the Ark with Noab: but this, I supposey is no great Objection againft Providence, that the Creatures, which were made for Man's use, were destroyed with Man, lince God preserved some of each Kind for a new Increase; and yet the Wisdom of God was very visible in this; for had the World been full of Beasts, when there were but four Men in it, the whole Earth would quickly have been poffeffed by Wild and Savage Creatures, which would have made it a very unsafe Habitation for Men.
To conclude this Argument, the Sum of it in fort is this; When the Wickedness of Mankind
was grown universal and incurable, it became the Wisdom of God to put an end to that Corrupt State, and to propagate a new Race of Men from a Righteous Stock; and to take the most effe&tual course to possess them with a lasting Belief of his Being and Providence, and with a religious Awe of his Justice and Power: To this end he destroyed the Old World with a Deluge of Water, and preserved Noab and his Sons in the Ark; which had all the Advantages imaginable to deter Men from Sin, which brought a Deluge upon the Old World; and to encourage the Practice of true Piety and Vertue, which preserved Noab from the Common Ruin.
We see in this Example, that Numbers are no defence against the Divine Justice, and therefore no fecurity to Sinners; when all flesha bad corrupted bis ways, God destroyed them all; nay we see, that the more wickedness prevails in the World, the nearer it is to Destruction; that the great multitude of Sinners is so far from being a reasonable temptation and encouragement to Sin, that it is a fair warning to considering Men, to separate and distinguish themselves from a wicked World by an exemplary Vercue, that God may distinguish them allo, when he comes to Judgment, which an universal corruption of Manners shews to be very near; and it is a dangerous thing to sin with a multitude, when the multitude of Sinners will hasten Vengeance.
Here we see, that though Sinners may be rery secure, they are never safe ; as our Saviour obferves, it was in the days of Noab, they were eating and drinking ; marrying and giving in marriages, until the day that Noah went into the Ark, and knew
not until the flood came, and took them all away, 24. Matth. 37, 38, 39. God may delay Punishment a great while, and seem to take no notice of what is done below, till Sinners begin to think, that he is such a one as themselves; but their Judgment all this while neither Numbers, nor Sleeps; there may be the greatest Calm, and the serenest days, before the most terrible Earthquakes ; and the longer God has kept silence, the more reason have we to expect a severe and surprizing Vengeance; which makes the Psal mist's Advice in such Cases very seasonable ; Now consider this ye that forget God, left I tear you in pieces, and there be none to deliver.
And who would be afraid, or be ashamed of Noah's fingularity, to be good alone, and to be the single Example of Piety and Virtue, that remembers, that he alone with his three Sons, were faved from the Deluge? And he that would be a Noah in the Ark, must be a Noab in a wicked World.
But this is sufficient to justify the Wisdom of Providence as to Noah's Flood, which put an end to the Old World; and now let us take a view of the New.
Notwithstanding that late terrible Example of God's Power and Justice in the Destruction of the Old World, that new Generation of Men began to grow very corrupt ; as God forefaw they would, but resolved to try some new methods, and not to drown the World any more: When Noab had offered a Burnt-offering to the Lord, of every clean beast, and of every clean fowl, after his coming out of the Ark, The Lord smela led a Sweet Savour ; and the Lord said in his heart, I will not again curse the ground any more for man's Sake ; for the imagination of Man's heart is evil from
bis youth: Neither will I again smite any more every living thing, as I have done, 8. Gen. 20, 21.,
The first Exploits we hear of them, was their building the Tower of Babel ; which Story is so briefly related by Moses, that we cannot give a perfect account of the Reasons and Circumftances of it. The most probable Account seems to be this; that Nimrod the Son of Cush, and Grandson of Ham, in which Line true Religion and Piery first decayed, affecting an Universal Empire, to prevent the dispersion of the People, persuaded them to build a magnificent Seat for his Empire, which should be a Center of Union for them, at what distance soever they should be forced to remove: That the whole Earth Nould be but one Kingdom, and Babel the Royal Palace. Had this Design succeeded, the whole World would have been but one People, and the Universal Monarchy in the Line of Ham, which would quickly have endangered as general a corruption of Mankind, as there was before the Flood.
Let us then consider what Course God took to prevent this, and the excellent Wisdom of it; which we have an account of, 11. Genef. 7,8. That God confounded their language, so that they could not understand one another's Speech; and by this means, scattered them abroad from thence upon the face of all the earth, and they left off to build the City. Now not to take notice, that this was the most ready way to people the whole Earth, even the remoteft Corners of it, which was for the great Good of Mankind; found them work to do, forced them upon the invention of Ingenious Arts, and by the Benefit of Trade and Commerce, made every Country, which was not wanting to it self, a little World, and every parç
to enjoy all the pleasures and Advantages of the whole : I say, besides this, it was the most likely way that could be used at that time, to prevent the Universal Corruption of Mankind. For,
1. This separated the Families of Sem and Fapbet from the Family of Ham, where the Infection was already begun; and would have spread apace by the advantage of Power and Empire. When Cain had sain his Brother Abel, God sent him away out of Adam's Family, that his Presence and Example might do no hurt; and if by the daughters of Men in 6. Genef. we understand, as some good Expositors do, those who descended of Cain ; and by the Sons of God, the Posterity of Seth, in whose Family the Worship of the true God was preserved, we may observe, that Moses dates the general Corruption of Mankind from the Union of these two Families; When the Sons of God saw the daughters of Men, that they were fair, and took them Wives of all which they chose. And had the Universal Empire been established in the Family of Ham, and the Posterity of Sem and Japhet been brought into subjection to them, as they must in a short time have been, what less could have been expected from such a Union and Government, but another Antediluvian Corruption of all Flesh?
This dispersion then was necessary to prevent a general Corruption; but we see in the Example of Cain, that a meer local separation is no Security, for they may come together again, as the Sons of God and the Daughters of Men in process of time did. And therefore,
2dly. The most lafting dispersion and separation is by a confusion of Languages, which hin. ders all intercourse and communication; at leaft. till there be a Remedy found against it by learn