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mations of his gracious Designs for recovering them from their fallen State,
The Knowledge of these Things, as well as of God's Creation of the World, and of his Formation of the first human Pair, might be easily transmitted and preserved fresh and uncorrupted in those early Agès of the World, and tended to furnish great Advantages for Religion, additional to the common Light of Nature and Reason. To which were added, the setting apart the seventh Day to facred Purposes; the Institution of Sacrifices, both in Acknowledgment of the divine Dominion, and as a Rite of Atonement, for keeping alive upon the Minds of Men à Sense of God's Justice, and of their own Guilt, and of his Reconcileableness to penitent Sinners ; the open Declaration God was pleased to make of his Acceptance of righteous Abel and his Offering, and his rejecting Cain and his Oblation ; the distinguished Piety of Enoch, and the rewarding him by translating him from Earth to Heaven, which exhibited an illustrious Proof of a future State ; and finally, the raising up eminent Perfons to be Preachers of Righteousness : All these Things, which are plainly intimated in the short Account given us in Scripture of the divine Administrations during that first Period of the World, had a manifest Ten
dency dency to maintain a Sense of God and his Providence, and of the Importance of religious and moral Obligations on the Minds of Men.
When, notwithstanding these Advantages, all Flesh had corrupted his Way, and Mankind in general were funk into an amazing Degree of Vice and Wickedness, beyond any Hope of being reclaimed by ordinary Methods, it pleased God to fend a destructive universal Deluge to sweep away that whole wicked Race from off the Face of the Earth; which signal Act of Vengeance made a most awful Display of God's righteous Providence, and his Detestation against Vice and Wickedness, and was designed for the Benefit of Mankind in all succeeding Generations to the End of the World. And at the same Time he gave a most remarkable Proof of his distinguishing Regard to Piety and Virtue in the Preservation of Noah and his Family, to be the Seed of a new Generation of Men. The Remembrance of this great Event, some Traditions of which have spread almost universally among the Nations, the renewed Revelations of the divine Will, and the Publication of the Law of God in its main Principles, which was then made to this second Father of Mankind, and in him to the whole huK 4
man Race; together with the former Traditions concerning the Creation, the Fall, the original Promise, &c. all which Noah was well acquainted with ; and the farther Alterations made in the Face of the Earth by the Deluge, and the shortening the Lives of Men, the Length of which had through their Abuse of it probably contributed to that great Corruption of Manners in the old World ; all these Things manifestly tended to revive and maintain a religious Sense of the Deity, and a just Regard to his wife and holy Providence. And in this State of Things, it cannot be denied, that enough was done on God's Part in his Dispensations towards Men, to keep up the Knowledge and Practice of Religion and Virtue in the World. And if he had done no more in an ordinary Way for Mankind, but had after this left them wholly to the Light of Nature and Reason, strengthened with these traditional Helps, none could reasonably have found fault. It is probable, that when Mankind came to be scattered abroad, fome Time after the Flood, all over the Face of the Earth, the Heads of the Families carried the main principles of the patriarchal Religion, which they had received by Tradition, and which were also highly agreeable to Reafon, with them into the several Places of
their Dispersion. And there is Reason to think that considerable Remains of it were for a long Time preserved among the Nations. This may be gathered from the best Accounts that are given us of the ancient Perhans and Arabians, and other People of the East. And the same would probably appear concerning many other Nations, if we were better acquainted with the ancient History of Mankind. Even among the Greeks there had been old Traditions relating to the Providence of God, the Immortality of the Soul, and other Things probably derived from the first Ages, as appeareth from the Testimony of some of their own most celebrated Writers. It was in Chaldea, Canaan, Egypt, and the neighbouring Countries. And accordingly it pleased God in his wife and good Providence to take
Methods for putting an early Check to the growing Corruption, even in those Parts of the World where it chiefly prevailed. For this Purpose he called Abraham, and made extraordinary Discoveries of his Will to him, who was à Person of great Eminence, and an illustrious Example of Faith, of Piety, and Goodness. He sojourned in Chaldea, in Egypt, and above all in Canaan, where at that Time also was Melchifedek and others, among whom the primitive patriarchal Religion was still preserved. About the fame Time, the extraordinary Judgment inflicted upon Sodom and Gomorrah for their great Wickedness had a manifest Tendency to awaken in Men, and particularly in the Inhabitants of Canaan, and the neighbouring Countries, a just and affecting Sense of God's holy and righteous Providence, and of his Detestation against Vice and Wickedness. From Abraham by Hagar and Keturah proceeded several great Nations ; among whom the Knowledge and Practice of Religion derived from their great Ancestor, who was very careful to instruct his Children and his Houshold after him, Gen. xviii. 19. was probably continued for a considerable Time; of which there are noble Specimens in the Book of Job. But especially particular Care was taken to preserve the true Religion in the Line by Ifaac, who was the Heir of Abraham's Faith, from whom came Efau and Jacob, and their numerous Descendents.
The Advancement of Jofeph in Egypt, and the settling Jacob and his Family there, who foon were remarkably blessed,
grew up into a Nation, and among whom, though many of them degenerated, the true ancient Religion was in a great Measure preserved, ought to have had a good Effect upon the Egyptians, to recover