Page images
PDF
EPUB

which we call miraculous. Under the former, death steals with silent steps, and as it were weeds the decayed plants from the garden of creation, and that at such intervals that they are scarcely missed: under the latter, he was sent forth armed with terror, to destroy at once every living thing from off the face of the earth.

How far the impression made by this awful instance of divine wrath operated upon the descendants of Noah, or how long it had any influence upon their conduct, makes no part of our present inquiry. We confine ourselves to the account given us in scripture, of the particular interpositions of Providence for the instruction and salvation of the race of man.

The next event after the deluge, in which God is represented as inter

fering in a miraculous manner, is that which occasioned the dispersion of mankind, upon which many ingenious hypotheses have been built. It is for you and I sufficient to know, that the human race were early dispersed, and that different languages were spoken by the inhabitants of different countries; and as we may be assured that neither of these circumstances would naturally have taken place, we can have no difficulty in believing that he who gave to man the use of speech, and who designed him to cultivate the world, might so controul the faculty he had bestowed, as to facilitate his purpose.

From the time that our first parents were driven out of Paradise till the calling of Abraham, we hear no mention made of the promised Messiah. When, after the deluge, God made a covenant with Noah, the promise D 2' which' which it contained extended only to temporal blessings. It was promised, that "while the earth remainetb, "seed-time and harvest, and cold and "and heat, and summer and winter, "and day and night, shall not cease:" and that neither should there be any more flood to destroy the earth: it was promised that the inhabitants of the world should never again be all at once destroyed by a deluge of waters; but concerning him who was to destroy the power of death, the voice of God was silent. As the treasurers of that promise of hope, God raised up a peculiar race, declared from the beginning to be ordained and chosen for that particular purpose.

Abraham, appointed to be the father of this race, is represented as a man of extraordinary piety and virtue; for such alone have ever been the favoured of heaven. To him the promise of salvation, made to our first parents, was renewed by a special revelation; and to give him a greater degree of interest in the event, he received an assurance, that from him the promised Messiah should descend. The terms were neither figurative nor obscure, for it was expressly declared, ?' that in his seed all the families of "the earth should be blessed." And to ascertain the truth and certainty that the promise thus made to him was no delusion practised on the imagination, it was accompanied by the notice of an unhoped-for event speedily to be accomplished.

the

Abraham had then no child; for his wife Sarah, now a very aged person, never had brought him any offspring. God promised that they should have a son. The promise was fulfilled; and in the birth of this son Abraham received an assurance {hat all which God had said should come to pass.

son

That the faith of Abraham might descend as an inheritance to his posterity, the events which should befal his family after his decease were forer told with the utmost clearness and precision. The country which he then inhabited was promised by God to the descendants of Abraham, who were there to live a distinct and chosen race, appropriated to the service of God, and destined to preserve the knowledge of him from becoming extinct, or corrupted by the absurd inventions of human pride and ignorance. And, lest they should forget that the land promised as a possession was the gift of God, the fulfilment of the promise was referred to a distant period, and not to take place till the fourth generation.

We

« PreviousContinue »