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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 the d Hebrew's, till God had appointed an Or
der and Succession of the Priesthood in one Tribe : and therefore Esau is stiled a profane Perfon; 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 pleafed, at first, to afford frequent Communications of himself to Mankind; and even to the Wicked, as to gain, 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 condemned the world, Heb. xi. 7. and he was a preacher of righteousness to the old world, 2 Pet. ii. 5:
In our Translation we read, the eighth Person, a Preacher of Righteousness. But it is rendered by some, and perhaps more exaâly, the eighth Preacher of Righteontness, implying that there were seven before him. However 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
domnéfque primogenitos Noe, donec facerdotio fungeretur Aaron fuisse Pontifices (Hebræi traduns.) Hicronym. Quæftion. seu Tradit. Hebraic. in Genes.
• "Όγδοον Νώε δικαιοσμύης κήρυκα εφύλαξε, otarum Juftititis Præconem Noe. Erafm.
and Means that a Wife and Great Man could contrive, proper for that End.
Neah 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 afunder, Noah himself living amongst them; the Judgment of God upon the wicked World, in overwhelming them with the Flood; 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 fin 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 Perverseness. After the Confufion of Languages, and the Dispersion of Mankind they could not on the fudden remove to very distant and remote Places, by reafon of the unpaffable Woods, and Defarts, and Marfhes, which, after so vaft an Inundation, must be every where to be met with, to obstruct their passage, in thofe hot and fruitful Countries, when they had lain uninhabited for fo 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 fin ten Years. And in thofe Ages they could not but be ill provided, either by their own Skill
, or by convenient Tools and Inftruments, with fit means to clear the Country which they were to pass; and they were likewise unprovi
c See Sir W. Rawleigh, -1. Iver 8. Su 3
ded of Vessels to transport any great numbers of Men, with their Families, and Flocks and Herds of Cattle, which were for many Ages their only Riches, and absolutely necessary for their Sustenance! for Navigation had never had so fow an Improvement in the World, if it had fo foon been in that Perfection as to enable them for such Transportations.
And as for these Reasons, the Dispersion of Noal'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 fort of Dependence upon them, and pay them such Acknowledgments as Colonies have ever done to their Mother-Cities. It is natural to fuppose that they first spread themselves into the neighbouring Countries ; and as Sir Walter Rawleigh 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 Difpersion.
All which, considering the great Age that Men lived to in those times, muft, without a very gross Negle& 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 disperfed; their Dispersion was gradual, and they held a 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 in
structed in themselves; and besides, they had little else to discourse upon, but such things as would necessarily lead them to it: The History of the r 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 remarkáble, and almost within the memory of some yet living; 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 Difperlion and Division of Nations : For, when the most High divided to the Nations their Inheritance, when he Jeparated the Sons of Adam, he set the bounds of the people, according to the number of the children of Ifrael, Deut. xxxii. 8. He determined the bounds of their habitation, that they should seek the Lord, if hapa ty they might feel after him, and find him, A&s xvii. 26,27. This was the reason of the Division of the Natións, according to the number of the children of Ifrael, who are stiled, a Peculiar Treasure, a Kingdom of Priests, and a Holy Nation, Exod. xix. 5,0. There was a particular regard had to the Number of the Chosen Seed, that they might bear a fit proportion to the rest of Mankind, and might be as so much Leaven to the whole Mass, as a quickening and enlivening Principle to excite and maintain due 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 Registers, 8 that here more Males are born than Females,
& See Graunt on the Bills of Mortality,
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 Judea it might be otherwise ; or the Captive Wo men, whom they were permitted to marry, might raise the number of Females above that of the Males; or their perpetual Wars might lessen the number of Males to a degree beneath the Females. However, this is the Reason alledgʻd 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; and to die Childless, a Curse; and a numerous Offspring, a Blessing, so often promised, that it is evident that many Dispensations of the Divine Providence depended upon it.
And the better to revive and keep up a Sense of Religion amongst Men, those who were most eminent for Piety were employed to be God's Heralds and Embassadors to the rest of the World, as the whole People of Israet are appealed to as his Witnesses, Ifai. xlüi. 12. and xliv. 8. The Jews have a Tradition, h That Abraham refusing to worship the Fire, the God of the Chaldeans, was thrown by them into it, and was deliver'd out of it by Miracle : And therefore they understand it, not that he went forth from Ur of the Chaldees, as it signifies a Place, but from the Fire of the Chaldees ; Ur in the Hebrew Tongue fignifying Fire. But we have no need of recourse to fuch Tradi tions : This is certain, Abraham was sent, by God's Command, out of Chaldea into Canaan ; and there he had no fix'd or settled Habitation, but journiedig going
h S. Hierom. Quælt. in Genef. S. August. Quæst. in Genes. 1. v. qu. 25 •