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God “brought the flood upon the world of the ungodly," and destroyed them all from the face of the earth.

· Let us examine the most distinguishing features in this draught. Not barely the works of their hands, or the words of their tongue, but “every imagination of the thoughts of their heart was evil." The contagion had spread itself through the inner man; had tainted the seat of their principles, and the source of their actions. But was there not some mixture of good ? No; they were only evil. Not so much as a little leaven of piety, unless in one single family. But were there no lucid intervals? No happy moments wherein virtue gained the ascendancy? None : Every imagination, every thought was only evil continually.'*

2. Such was the state of mankind for at least sixteen hundred years. Men were corrupting themselves and each other, and proceeding from one degree of wickedness to another, till they were all (save eight persons) ripe for destruction. So deplorable was the state of the moral world, while the natural was in its highest perfection. And yet it is highly probable, that the inhabitants of the earth were then abundantly more numerous than ever they have been since, considering the length of their lives, falling little short of a thousand years, and the strength and vigour of their bodies, which we may easily gather from the time they were to continue : to say nothing of the fertility of the earth, probably far greater than it is at present. Consequently it was then capable of sustaining such a number of inhabitants, as could not now subsist on the produce of it.

3. Let us next take a view of the families of the sons of Noah, the inhabitants of the earth after the Flood. The first remarkable incident we read concerning them is, that while “ they were all of one language, they said one to another, Let us build a city and a tower, whose top may reach unto heaven, lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the earth.” It is not easy to determine, what were the peculiar aggravations which attended this attempt. But it is certain, there was daring wickedness therein, which brought upon them the very thing they feared. For “the Lord by confounding their language,” (not their religious worship : Can we suppose God would confound this ?) “scattered them abroad upon the face of all the carth.” (Gen. xi. 4-9.) Now whatever particulars in this account may be variously interpreted, thus much is clear and undeniable, That all these, that is, all the inhabitants of the earth bad again s corrupted their way;" the universal wickedness being legible in the universal punishment.

4. We have no account of their reforming their ways, of any universal or general repentance, before God separated Abraham to himself, to be the father of his chosen people. (Gen. xii. 1, 2.) Nor is there any reason to believe, that the rest of mankind were improved, either in wisdom or virtue, when “Lot and Abraham sepa

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rated themselves, and Lot pitched his tent toward Sodom.” (ibid.) Of those among whom he dwelt, it is particularly remarked, « The men of Sodom” (and of all “ the cities of the plain) were wicked, and sinners before the Lord exceedingly,” (xiii

. 13,) so that not even “ten righteous persons” could be found among them: the consequence of which was, that “The Lord rained upon them brimstone and fire from the Lord out of heaven.” (xix. 24.)

5. We have no ground to suppose, that the other inhabitants of the earth, (Abraham with his family and descendants excepted,) had either the knowledge or the fear of God, from that time till Jacob went into Egypt. This was then, as well as for several ages after, the great seat of learning: insomuch that “the wisdom of the Egyptians” was celebrated even to a proverb. And indeed for this end, as well as “to save much people alive,”. (Gen. 1. 20,) did “God send Joseph into Egypt, even to inform their princes after his will, and to teach their senators wisdom.” (Psalm cv. 22.) And yet not long after his death, as their king knew not Joseph, so his people knew not God. Yea, they set him at defiance; they and their king provoked him more and more, and “hardened their hearts” against him: even after they had “ seen his wonders in Egypt,” after they had groaned under his repeated vengeance. They still added sin to sin, till they constrained the Lord to destroy them with an utter destruction; till the divided “waters returned and covered the chariots and horsemen, and all the host of Pharaoh."

6. Nor were the other nations who then inhabited the earth, any better than the Egyptians : the true knowledge and spiritual worship of God being confined to the descendants of Abraham. • He had not dealt so with other nations, neither had the Heathens knowledge of his laws.” (Psalm cxlvii. 20.) And in what state were the Israelites themselves! How did they worship the God of their fathers? Why even these were “a stubborn and rebellious generation, a generation that set not their heart aright.” (Psalm kxxviii. 8.) “ They • kept not the covenant of God, and refused 10 walk in his law.” (ver.

10. Psalm cvi 7. Ex. xiv, 11, 12.) “They provoked him at the sea, even at the Red Sea ;" the very place where he had so signally delivered them. They made a calf in Horeb, and worshipped the molten image,” (Psalm cvi. 19,) where they had heard the Lord, but a little before, saying out of the midst of the fire, “ Thou shalt not make unto thyself any graven image: thou shalt not bow down to them, nor worship them.” And how amazing was their behaviour during those whole forty years that they sojourned in the wilderness. Even while he “led them in the day time with a cloud, and all the night with a light of fire ?” (Psalm lxxviii. 14.) Such were the knowledge and virtue of God's peculiar people, (certainly the most knowing and virtuous nation which was then to be found upon the face of the earth,) till God brought them into the land of Canaan : considerably more than two thousand years from the creation of the world.

None, I presume, will say, There was any other nation at that time more knowing and more virtuous than the Israelites. None can say this while he professes to believe, according to the scriptural account, That Israel was then under a theocracy, under the immediate government of Gód: 'That he conversed with their subordinate governor “ face to face, as a man talketh with his friend ;” and that God was daily through him conveying such instructions to them, as they were capable of receiving.

7. Shall we turn our eyes for a moment from the scriptural, to the profane account of mankind from the earliest ages? What was the general sentiment of the most polite and knowing nation, the Romans, when their learning was in its utmost perfection ? Let one, who certainly' was no bigot or enthusiast, speak for the rest. And he speaks home to the point.

Fuit ante Helenam mulier leterrima Belli
Causa : sed ignotis perierunt mortibus omnes
Quos venerem incerlam rapientes, more ferarum,
Viribus editior cædebat, w in grege laurus.
Full many a war has been for women wag'd
E’er wall the world in Helen's cause cngag'd ;
But unrecorded in bistoric versc
Obscurely died those savage ravishers :
Who like brute beasts the female bore away,
Till some superior brute re-seiz'd ihe prey.
As a wild bull, his rival bull o'er thrown,

Claims the whole subject herd, and reigns alone. I doubt he who gives this, not as his peculiar opinion, but as what was then a generally received notion, would scarce have allowed even so much as Juvenal,

Pudicitiam Salitrno rege moral aum
In lerris.
Chastity did once, I grant, remain

On earth, and lourish'd in old Saturn's reigu.
Unless one should suppose the reign of Saturn to have expired, when
Adam was driven out of paradise.

I cannot forbear adding another picture of the ancient dignity of buman nature, drawn by the samé masterly hand. Before men dwelt in cities, he says, this

Therpe pecus, glandem alqué cubilia propter,
Certabant pugnis, dein fustibus, atque ita porro
Pugnabant armis, quæ post fabricaveral usus.
The human herd, unbroken and untaught,
For acoras first, and grassy couches fought;
With fists, and then with elubs, maintain'd the fray,
Till urg'd by bate they found a quicker way,

And forg'd pernicious arms, and learnt the art to slay. What a difference is there between this, and the gay, florid accounts, which many moderns give of their own species.

8. But to return to more authentic accounts. At the time when God brought the Israelites into Canaan, in what state were the rest of mankind ? Doubtless in nearly the same, with the Canaanites; with the Amorites, Hittites, Perrizzites, and the rest of the seven nations. But the wickedness of these, we know, was full: they were corrupt in the highest degree. All manner of vice, all ungodliness and unrighteousness reigned among them without control. And therefore the wise and just Governor of the world gave them up to a swift and total destruction.

9. Of Israel indeed we read, that they served the Lord all the days of Joshua, and all the days of the elders that overlived Joshua." (Jos. xxiv. 31.) And yet even at that time, they did not serve him alone; they were not free from gross idolatry: Otherwise there had been no need of his giving them that exhortation a little before his death. “Now, therefore, put away the strange gods which are among you, the gods which your fathers served on the other side of the river,” (Jordan.) (ibid. ver. 23.) What gods these were, we learn by the words of Amos, cited by St. Stephen, “ye house of Israel, have ye offered sacrifices to me, by the space of forty years? Yea, ye took up the tabernacle of Moloch, and the star of your god Remphan, figures which ye made to worship them.” (Acts vii. 42, 43.)

10. The sacred history of what occurred within a short space after the death of Joshua, for some hundreds of years, even till the time that Samuel judged Israel, gives us a large account of their astonishing wickedness, during almost that whole period. It is true, just “when God smote them, then they sought him ; they returned and inquired after God. Yet their heart was not right with him, neither were they steadfast in his covenant.” (Psm. lxxviii. 34. 37.) And we find little alteration among them for the better, in the succeeding ages: insomuch that in the reign of Ahab, about nine hundred years before Christ, there were only seven thousand left in Israel who had not bowed the knce to Baal.” (1 Kings xix. 18.) What manner of men they were for the next three hundred years, we may learn from the books of the kings and from the prophets : whence it fully appears that except a few short intervals, they were given up to all manner of abominations; by reason of which the name of the Most High was the more abundantly blasphemed among the Heathens. And this continued till their open rebellion against God, brought upon the whole nation of the Jews, (an hundred and thirty-four years after the captivity of the ten tribes, and about six hundred before Christ,) those terrible and long deserved calamities, which made them a spectacle to all that were round about them. The writings of Ezekiel, Daniel, and Jeremiah, leave ris no room to think, that they were reformed by those calamities. Nor was there any lasting reformation in the time of Ezra, or of Nehemiah and Malachi : but they were still, as their forefathers had been, “a faithless and stubborn generation.” Such were they likewise, as we may gather from the books of Maccabees and Josephus, to the very time when Christ came into the world.

11. Our blessed Lord has given us a large description of those who were then the most eminent for religion. “ Ye devour,” says he,

widows' houses, and for a pretence make long prayers. Ye make

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your proselytes two-fold more the children of hell than yourselves, Ye neglect the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith. Ye make clean the outside of the cup, but within are full of extortion and excess. Ye are like whited sepulchres, outwardly beautiful, but within full of dead men's bones, and of all uncleanness. Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell ?" (Matt. xxiii. 14, &c.) And to these very men, after they had murdered that Just One, his faithful follower declared, “ Ye stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost; as your fathers.did, so do ye.” (Acts vii. 51.) And so they continued to do, till the wrath of God did indeed “ comé upon them to the uttermost;" till eleven hundred thousand of them were destroyed, their city and temple levelled with the dust, and above ninety thousand, sold for slaves and scattered into all lands.

12. Such in all generations were the lineal children of Abraham, who had so unspeakable advantages over the rest of mankind; “ To whom pertained the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the service of God, and the promises :" among whom therefore we may reasonably expect to find the greatest eminence of knowledge and virtue. If these then were so stupidly, brutishly ignorant, so desperately wicked; what can we expect from the Heathen world, from them who had not the knowledge either of his law or promises ? Certainly we cannot expect to find more goodness among them. But let us make a fair and impartial inquiry : and that not among wild and barbarous nations, but the most civil. ized and refined. What then were the ancient Romans? The people. whose virtue is so highly extolled, and so warmly commended to our imitation ? We have their character given by one who cannot deceive or be deceived, the unerring Spirit of God. And what account does he give of these best of men, these heroes of antiquity ? “When they knew God,” says he, at least as to his eternity and power, (both implied in that appellation, which occurs more than once in their own poet, Pater omnipotens, Almighty Father) they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful.” (Rom. i. 21,&c.) So far from it that. one of their oracles of wisdom, (though once he stumbled on that great truth, Nemo unquam vir magnus sine afflatu divino fuit; there never was any great man, without the afflatus or inspiration of God; yet almost in the same breath) does not scruple to ask, Quis pro virtuta aut sapientia gratias diis dedit unquam? Who ever thanked God for virtue or wisdom ? No, why should he; since these are “ his own ac.. quisition, the pure result of his own industry ?”. Accordingly another: virtuous Roman has left it on record, as an unquestioned maxim.

Hæc saties est orare Jovem quæ donat et aufert :
Det vitam; det opes : æquum mi animum ipse parabo.

Enough for common benefits to pray,
Which Jove can either give, or take away:
Long lise or wealth his bounty may bestow ;
Wisdom and virtue to myself I owe.

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