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ligion was still preserved. About the fame Time, the extraordinary Judgment inflicted upon Sodom and Gomorrah for their great Wickedness had a manifeft Tendency to awaken in Men, and particularly in the Inhabitants of Canaan, and the neighbouring Countries, a juft and affecting Senfe of God's holy and righteous Providence, and of his Detestation against Vice and Wickedness. From Abraham by Hagar and Keturah proceeded feveral great Nations; among whom the Knowledge and Practice of Religion derived from their great Anceftor, who was very careful to instruct his Children and his Houfhold after him, Gen. xviii. 19. was probably continued for a confiderable Time; of which there are noble Specimens in the Book of Job. But especially particular Care was taken to preferve 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 Defcendents.
The Advancement of Jofeph in Egypt, and the fettling Jacob and his Family there, who soon were remarkably blessed, and 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 them
them from their growing Corruption and Idolatry. And when all this proved ineffectual, the bringing the Ifraelites out of Egypt with such amazing Displays of the divine Power, and the dreadful Plagues and Judgments inflicted upon the Egyptians, and their Gods, which was a visible Triumph over Idolatry in the principal Seat of it; thefe Things had certainly a great Tendency, where-ever the Knowledge of them reached (and no Country seems then to have been better known than Egypt) to awaken Mankind, and reclaim them from the Prevalence of Vice and Idolatry, to the true Fear and Worship and Obedience of the Deity. This alfo was one principal Defign of Providence, in the erecting the Ifraelites into a peculiar Polity, the fundamental Principle of which was the Acknowledgment and pure Adoration of the only true God, and in the giving them a Body of fuch holy and excellent Laws, in which the main Duties of Religion and Morality, which, through the Corruption of Mankind had been very much defaced, were plainly laid down in clear and exprefs Precepts. All this was defigned, not merely for the Benefit of that particular Nation, to whom thefe Laws were immediately delivered, but to be of extenfive Advantage, And it is very probable, that,
as fome learned Men have obferved, they were the Original of several of the Laws that were afterwards published in other Nations. The fettling the Ifraelites in the Land of Canaan in fuch an extraordinary Manner, the awful Punishments inflicted upon the Canaanites, and which were exprefly declared to be upon the Account of their abominable Wickedness and Vices of all Kinds, as well as Idolatry; and God's whole fubfequent Proceedings towards the People of Ifrael; the Profperity and Happiness they enjoyed according to the Promises that were made them, whilst they adhered to the true Worship of God, and obferved his holy Laws; and the great Calamities inflicted upon them, when they relapsed into Idolatry and Wickedness: all thefe Things were vifible amazing Proofs of a moft wife and righteous Providence, and should have had a great Effect, not only upon the Ifraelites, but upon all the Nations around them, to bring them to the Knowledge and Worship of the only true God, and to the Practice of Righteoufnefs. Their Captivities and Difperfions, which had been foretold in their Law, all tended to the fame End; and their being fcattered abroad in the latter Times of their State in fuch vaft Numbers in Babylonia, Perfia, and throughout the Eaft, as well as in
the feveral Parts of the wide extended Roman Empire, contributed to fpread the Knowledge of Religion, which had been in a great Measure loft among, the Nations. And finally, the whole Frame of the Jewish Oeconomy was defigned to prepare the Way for the Chriftian Difpenfation, which was the most admirable Scheme of Divine Providence for recovering Mankind from the amazing Corruption into which they were fallen, to the Knowledge, Obedience, and pure Adoration of the Deity, and to the Love and Practice of Holinefs and Virtue. God, in his great Love to Mankind, fent his own Son into the World, a Person of unparalleled Dignity and Excellence, to bring a more clear and full Discovery of his divine Will and Counfels for our Salvation, and a more perfect Syftem of pure Morals than ever had been made known to Mankind before; to exhibit a bright Example of universal Goodness and Purity for our Imitation; to make Atonement for our Sins by his Sufferings and Death; and to give the fulleft Affurances of a bleffed Immortality, and a vifible Pledge of it by his own Resurrection from the Dead. This whole Dispensation exhibiteth the most glorious Displays of God's marvellous Grace and Goodness towards Mankind, and at the fame Time of his perfect Holiness and
rity, and is most excellently fitted to pros mote real Piety, and the Practice of univerfal Righteoufnefs. We have there the moft admirable Directions, the most powerful Motives, the most effectual Helps and Encouragements to a holy Life. This was made known to the World at a Time when it was most wanted, and when Idolatry and Corruption of all Kinds had arrived to the greatest Height; and in Circumstances that feemed best fitted for the univerfal Diffufion and Propagation of it. For it made its first Appearance in the Roman Empire, which had brought a great Part of the then known World under its Dominion. And it was introduced in a Manner that was very proper for engaging the Attention and Admiration of Mankind, as being attended with the most illuftrious Proofs and Evidences of a divine Power, Prefence, and Glory. This Religion hath spread very far, and if Chriftians had been as careful both to preferve it in its Purity, and to propagate and recommend it by their Inftructions and Example, as they are bound by the strongest Obligations to be, it would have been probably before now diffused through the Earth. And from the Jewish and Chriftian Revelation is derived whatever of Good there is in Mohometanifm, which hath been over-ruled