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But if we consider that the Oeconomy of our Redemption as set forth in the New Testament, was prefigured and foretold by Types, by Miracles, and by Prophecies in the Old; it gives us a quite different Idea of the Power and Mercy of God to Mankind, as exhibited by Jesus Christ, when he sees him exerting his Power in the Flood, in the Destruction of Sodom, in the turning of Lot's Wife into a Pillar of Salt, in the Plagues of Ægypt, in the leading of the Israelites through the Red-Sea, in the Prefervation of them by a Course of Miracles for forty Years together in the Wilderness, in the wonderful Overthrow of the Walls of Jericho, in the preternatural Lengthening of the Day when Joshua fought with the Canaanites, in the astonishing Strength of Samson, in the constant prophetic Virtue that resided in the Urim and Thummim during the Theocracy, in the Miracles that were wrought by Elijah, and Elisa, in the Preservation of the three Children in the Fiery Furnace, and of Daniel in the Lion's Den, and in very many other wonderful Transactions recorded in the Old Testament, than if we could reduce all these to the common Force and Energy of natural Causes. And though we ought not to multiply Miracles, where Things can be solved without them; vet on the other Hand where the Letter of the Text implies something miraculqus to have been done, I think those Interpreters wonderfully to blame that stretch the Text,
and use all the Arts with it they poslibly can, rather than confess frankly, as the ÆÆgyptian Magicians did
another Occasion, that this was the Finger of God. The History that we now examine, plainly supposes that new Languages were then made; how they were made it says not, nor was it needful; especially to us who know not how any one of the Operations of God came originally out of the Creator's Hand. I have endeavoured to demonstrate a priori that this Miracle must, upon Supposition that the Mosaic History is true, which both Christians and Jews do all firmly believe it to be, have been wrought by God himself, (whose own Act it is represented to be) within a few Ages after the Flood. Your noble Collection of Lord's Prayers, which you did me the Honour to communicate to me feveral Years ago, led me first to these Meditations, and by them a Man wholly unacquainted with any Language but his own, if he can but distinguish a Noun from a Pronoun, a Substantive from an Adjective, and a Verb from an Adverb, may be able to judge of the Weakness or Strength of my Arguments.
I do indeed willingly allow that it was equally the Finger of God, whether the Minds or the Tongues of the Workmen were confounded. But then in that Case the Miracle does not so plainly and flagrantly appear, nor would it have had so thorough an Effect upon the Builders themselves, as according to my
Supposition it would certainly have ; because Men may quarrel and break off Society without a Miracle, whereas they cannot speak with new Tongues by their own natural Strength. And Nothing contributed so much to the wonderful Effect which S. Peter's first Sermon, after the Resurrection at the great Pentecost, (Acts ii.) had upon the Minds of so many Thousands of his Auditors, as that People, then assembled from so many diftant Regions, hearing the Apostles speak in their Tongues the wonderful Works of God. The more Miracles therefore are incontestably proved to have been once wrought, the more Evidences we have of the Power of God, whom we not only believe to be, but also to be able to reward those that diligently seek him. But I must go on.
Some have upon this Occasion been very inquisitive to know wherein the Crime of these Builders consisted, and what Design we may reasonably suppose God to have had in inflicting this particular Punishment upon these Men. What the Text says is only this: The LORD said, Behold the People is one, and they have all, ONE LANGUAGE; and this they begin to do; and now Nothing will be restrained from them, that they have imagined to do. Go to, let go down, and there CONFOUND their LANGUAGE, that they may not UNDERSTAND one another's SPEECH. Gen. xi. 6, 7
It is plain by this that their Pride and Vanity was chiefly displeasing to
God. But give me Leave to add another Reason. God had promised Noah, and confirmed that Promise by a sign from Heaven, that a Flood of Waters should no more destroy the Earth. That therefore they were not afraid of. But then, seeing that Race of Mankind was to last till the general Day of Judgment, it was for the Interest of Mankind, and of Religion, in the State the World was then
Fosephus assigns another Crime. He says that God commanded the Children of Noah, after they had ventured to go down into the Plains out of the Hill-Countrey where the Ark rested at first, to divide themselves into several Colonies and so people the World; that so they might be kept from quarrelling among themselves, and have more Ground to cultivate, and consequently have greater Plenty. He fancies that this Command of God's was in their Opinion insidious, and that they fondly imagined that God could more easily destroy them if they were dispersed, than if they kept all together. And that accordingly at the Instigation of Nimrod they attempted to erect such a Tower as should be higher than any Waters could reach. Jof. Antiqg. Jud. i. 5. This Account had it been given by a less Writer than Fosephus, would be judged impertinent. God had actually promised never to drown the World again. He had confirmed that Promise by producing a Rainbow in the Sky (Gen. ix. 8,-17.) which Meteor either they had never seen before; or else it appeared when there were no Clouds in the Air that could possibly cause it. That Fear therefore could not poffefs them, nor is it alligned or so much as hinted at by Mofes, when he relates this whole Transaction. They were unwilling to dirperse themselves till they had done something which might perpetuate their Name to future Ages. This is all we know of that Matter.
in, that its Inhabitants who then began to be very numerous, and who were no longer afraid of a Flood, should be in such a Manner difpersed, that some Nations might not for a long Time have any possible Intercourse with others. By that Means, if one Nation was wicked, another might escape the Contagion, and might punish them for their Wickedness; and besides, they could not when they were thus parted, corrupt one another so easily as they did before. For there is great Reason to think that the Antediluvians had more Commerce with one another, than has been ever among Mankind, since this Accident divided the Descendents of Noah from one another. The Posterity of Japhet were then parted at one Stroke from the Children of Shem, and forced to seek new Habitations wherefoever they could find them, and they again were separated and subdivided from one another. This would naturally lead. them to reflect seriously upon what God had newly done. And this Effect seems to have followed in Fact from the Dispersion. The Worship of the true God was far from being extinct in Abraham's Time in the Land of Canaan, where Melchizedec was the King of Salem, and Abimelech King of Gerar P. Nor do I see any fufficient Cause to suppose that it was extinct in Chaldæa, or that Abraham was an Idolater; though Idolatry began then to creep
P See Gen. xiv. 18. and G611. XX. 4.