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the prosecution of it, God was pleased to baffle their design, by confounding their language'. They no longer understood each other, and were constrained to yield to God's determination, who “scattered them abroad
upon the face of all the earth.” By this ultimate accomplishment of the division of the nations, which took place“ in the days “ of Pelego,” all the knowledge of truth, divine and human, which they possessed, was disseminated in the different countries where they settleda.
The improvement of mankind under the influence of this knowledge was, however, retarded in many places, and in others ar
b Delany's Rev. Exam. &c. vol. ii. Dissert. 3. Winder's Hist. chap. vi. sect. 5, 6. vol. i. Goguet's Orig. of Laws, vol. i. Introd. p. 2, 3. It must not be concealed, that writers of established reputation have endeavoured to prove it was a confusion in their councils which took place at this time. Vitring. Obser. Sacr. tom. 1. b. 1. chap. ix.
c Gen. x. 25. He was born 101 years after the flood, and lived 239 years. The text does not require any more parti. cular time for this division, than during Peleg's life-time.
d The names of these countries are given in Genesis x. Whoever wishes information on this subject, will find it in Cumberland's First Planting of Nations, Tract 4. Winder's Hist. of Knowl. vol. i. Calmet's Dict. under the article Peleg.
rested. The very fact of their dispersion, by removing the greater part from under the eye and instruction of Noah; the increase of numbers in the different families, and the liability of traditional knowledge becoming more and more corrupted, by passing through so many hands: but chiefly the confusion of language, that great medium of conveying knowledge; all contributed to produce this effect. The progress of improvement being once impeded, from the constitution of human nature in its fallen state, a deterioration in religion, morals, and useful knowledge, necessarily succeeded. Idolatry was introduced, at what
precise time is not known, and soon spread its deleterious effects far and wide. Its rise, we have every reason to suppose, was in Babylon or Chaldea, in which country the plains of Shinar were situated'. From hence that awful corruption of the worship of God was
a Young's Idol. of Religion, vol. i. chap. i. The first corruption of the worship of God, appears to have been the worship of the heavenly bodies. Leland's Adv. and Necess. of the Christian Revelation, vol. i. p. 1. chap. iji. Riccaltoun's Attempt, p. 3.
communicated to the Egyptians and Phenicians, who again in their turn transmitted it to other people. These nations, living nearer to the centre of original revelation, retained more traces of that revelation than others, which had a corresponding effect upon their conduct.
conduct. Of this we have a remarkable instance in the treatment of Abram by Pharaoh, when he found that Sarai was his wife”.
Irreligion, immorality and idolatry combined, however, began to produce a state of things in society at large, which threatened to issue in universal barbarity. To this, profane historians with one voice attest, in the descriptions which they give of the ancient state of mankind'. And from Scripture we learn, that even the ancestors of Abraham were not exempt from the general corruption. There were, it is true, persons still to be found, who exhibited the noble spectacle of firm and pre-eminent piety. Among these, mention is made especially of Melchizedec, king of Salem,
a Gen. xii. 14-20,
and priest of the most high God". As far as the authority and influence of such men extended, so far we may well suppose
God was acknowledged, and his truth obeyed. But the shades of night were descending, and rapidly spreading over the world, when it pleased God to cause light to shine anew in the midst of the darkness.
2. With the call of Abraham commenced a new period, which terminated when Messiah appeared in the flesh. The review of it must necessarily be more brief than that of the preceding one, for it embraces a greater number of years and variety of particulars.
During this period the canon of the Old Testament was completed. Full and circumstantial information was communicated to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and their posterity, from time to time, concerning Christ the promised seed. God informed them that he should descend from Abraham'; afterward from Isaacd; then from Jacobo; then
a Gen. xiv. 18-20. An excellent article on Melchizedec will be found in Scrip. Illust. p. 203.
b 1921 years.
from Judah"; then from the family of David"; then from a virgin of that family: The time of his birth was designated to be before the sceptre should depart from Judah, and the Lawgiver from between his feet'; when the family of David, though still known, was in a low estate'; in the days of the fourth kingdom of Daniel'; within seventy weeks “ from the going forth of the “ commandinent to restore and to build Je“ rusalems;” and whilst the second temple was standing. The very place where he was to be born, was also particularly named in prophecy'; so minutely did God specify every fact connected with Messiah. His ministry was to be ushered in by “ the “ voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Prepare ye
way of the Lord";" who, acting the part of Elijah the prophet, should " turn the heart of the fathers to the chil
dren, and the heart of the children to the
a Gen. xlix. 8-10. b Jer. xxiii. 5. c Isai. vii. 14. d Gen. xlix. 10. c Isai. xi. 1. f Dan. ii. 44, 45.
g Dan. ix. 24–26. On this subject full information will be found in Prideaux's Connex. vol. i. ch. v. p. 1. and Calmet's Dict. under the word Week.
h Hag. ii. 8—10. i Mic. v, 1. k Is. xl. 3.