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VIII. The Priests) bio (TÁ I f269
The Origin of the People of God.
HE Nation or People; about whofe Affairs the Bible is chiefly converfant, being mention'd therein under feveral Denominations; in order to give fome Account of this, and to find out the Times when and Reasons why they affum'd each of them, we may obferve that the Descent of Mankind, from the Beginning of the World, is divided into four Sets or Ages, fucceffively, by the Scripture, term'd Generations: The first of which was, from Adam to Noah; the fecond, from Noah to Abra
ham; the third, from Abraham to David; and the fourth, from David to CHRIST. In the fecond of these, this People came to be distinguish'd and known by the Name of Hebrews; in the third, they obtain'd that of Ifraelites; and, in the fourth, were call'd Jews.
They are the most ancient of any People upon Record. For, in the fecond Age, or Generation of the World, we find them fettled in Affyria; a Country of the first Account with the most early of the Heathen Writers. And whereas, upon the great and speedy Increase of Mankind, many. Families blindly ran into Idolatry, and wholly gave themselves up to all kinds of falfe Worship; These, obeying the Law of Nature and the Dictates of right Reason, and probably retaining fome Sparks of that Revelation which had been difpens'd, upon certain Occafions and to certain Perfons, from the very Beginning of the World, were fuch as, in a great measure, knew what Regard was proper to be had to the Supreme Being; and accordingly, adoring the One True God, were regular and conftant in their Devotion. The natural
tural Consequence of which was," that they became the peculiar Favourites of Hea0 ven; that God vouchfaf'd to reveal Himfelf to them, in an extraordinary manner; and to ordain that of them fhould be born, according to the Flesh, his Son JESUS CHRIST, for the Salvation. and Redemption of degenerate, loft Mankind.
For the first Man Adam, though form'd in full Maturity of Human Perfection, with all Powers and Capacities fuitable to the Nature of his Condition, and moreover exprefly and fully inftructed in his Duty to God his Creator, yet unhappily prov'd the first Example of Difobedience; and, by breaking the Divine Precept, entail'd Sin and Misery upon his wretched Pofterity. Of his three Sons, Cain, Abel, and Seth, the First flew his Brother Abel, revolted from God, and propagated an impious Race of Mortals, who, treading in his Steps, deviated from the Paths of true Religion and Virtue, and loft themselves in the Mazes of Error and falfe Worship. Of them therefore the Scripture takes no Account; pursuing the Defcent of that B 2