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thrust out, God promised that the seed of the woman jould break the serpent's head; by which words the body of the Christian, and most of the Jewish ancientest interpreters understand Jesus Christ, or the promised Messiah, to be foretold. Accordingly, since (as St. Paul says, 2 Tim. iii. 16.) all scripture is given us by inspiration of God, it follows, that the holy men of God design’d to let us see in holy writ the feveral changes and alterations which befel his Church, till at last it should receive its utmost perfection thro' Christ.
In the book of Genesis we have the history of the world from the creation to the birth of Moses, which comes to near 2000 years ; of this time, 1656 years were spent before the flood, as you will fee by summing up the years of the ante-diluvian Patriarchs, Gen. v. Of this time we have a very short account, and the reason is evident ; when Mofes was to draw up an abItract of that earliest part of history for the use of the Jews, he only took care, i. That they might plainly see that Jehovah the great God was the Creator of heaven and earth, and he alone; that so thereby they might neither be tempted to think the world to have been eternal, nor made by any of those Gods of the heathens whom their neighbours worship’d on every side of them. And, 2. That this God wou'd punish those that should offend him.
Accordingly, when we have Adam's sin, we have his Punishment, Gen. iii. when we have Cain's crime in killing his brother Abel, we have also his punishment; when the posterity of Seth, (who are called the children of God, Gen vi. 2.) fell in love with the daughters of Cain, that profligate race, (who are there called the daugh
ters of Men) and by their pollutions fo corrupto ed themselves, that the whole race of mankind became universally wicked, then a flood came and swept them all away, except one family which kept it self free from their stains. These things were recorded that the Jews might learn to fear that God who had made the world, and could destroy it again with a word of his mouth.
After a short account of the repeopling the world by the children of Noah, Gen. x. Moses haftens to Abraham, who was the father of the Jewish race, taking particular care to record the succession of the intermediate generations which pass’d between the flood and Abraham's birth in 350 years ; this was to put the Jews in mind from whom they were all immediately descended, and so it led them to the worship of the true God.
What the religion of these ancientest People was, is not known: That Adam and Seth, and the rest of the Patriarchs of Seth's line till Noah, worship’d the true God is certain : Their mighty ages gave them opportunities of remembring traditions of a very long standing. Methuselah who dy'd in the year of the flood, might have seen Adam, as his age did very well allow. We have no one religious rite left upon record older than the flood, but that of keeping holy one day in seven, and that in memory of the creation, as the fourth commandment expresly inti
We find there were offerings by the story of Cain and Abel, whether in the nature of facrifices is not certain, tho' it is probable they were, and instituted by an express command of God.
When the flood was gone off the earth, and Noah landed out of the Ark, God then commanded, or rather permitted him to eat fleíh, the ground being then too unwholsome to bear any thing else proper for food. Till then the world probably had only lived upon roots, and fruits, and herbs ; [compare Gen. i. 29. with Gen. ix. 3.] then the eating of blood was forbidden, and manslaughter was punish'd with death.
Since eating of blood was forbidden to Noah, when the world had first leave to eat flesh; and since the Apostles forbad it in the first council of Jerusalem, Acts xv. 20, 29. it is no improper question, how come Christians generally now to eat it ? For the prohibition of eating is not a command peculiar to the Mofaical law, since the fons of Noab, and the Christians of Antioch were equally forbidden to eat it so many ages before and after the Mofaical law was given.
Why it should be forbidden to Noah, these reasons are probable ; i. Flesh being then first introduced as food amongst mankind, the obliging them to separate the blood, wou'd prcvent that favageness to creep amongst them, which the imitating beasts of prey, lions, tygers, &c. might have introduced. All carnivorous animals are fiercer than those which live upon herbs and roots: Those that keep lions tame, always give them boiled meat for that reason, its nourishment being weaker than of that which is raw. 2. Sacrifices were then in use in the world: Now in all Sacrifices the atonement is made with blood alone, fee Levit. xvii. 11. this wou'd keep up due reverence to the validity of facrifices, to make an atonement for sins with God,
when blood was forbidden to be eaten as common food. Now it is plain that neither of these two reasons are now of force.
Why it was forbidden Acts xv, the reason is plain; the Gentiles then believed that their Gods were peculiarly delighted with the blood of their facrifices; and all the commonest meats before they were killed, or just at that very time, were confecrated to some of their heathen Gods; whilst then the common people believed that in eating blood, they eat the food of their dæmons, wherein a more than ordinary degree of holiness was (as they thought) inherent, 'twas fit the Christians should then be forbidden the use of it, left that with the other things things there prohibited, Tould be a means of their relapsing to their old Idolatry. But ro return.
After Noah's time, the world in some few ages grew idolatrous ; the history of Genesis furnithes us with several instances : Abrabam was called out of his own country by God, and sent into the land of Canaan, there with his kinsman Lot to be a preacher of righteousness: Then that country was promised to his feed after 430 years, when (as the event shew'd) they shou'd come with Mofes and drive out the Amorites and possess their land.
But till that 430 years the Seed of Abraham never possess’d the land of Canaan, but he, L'aac his son, Jacob his grandfon, and his twelve fons, lived as strangers in that land till a famine drove them into Egypt, where when they multiply'd, and so grew formidable to the Kings of the country (who by one common name were called Pharaoh's, a word that signifies excellency of power in their language) who then fell upon them and enslaved them, till God, by his fer
vant Mofes, with a mighty hand and amazing miracles led them out, and kept wandering in the Arabian deserts for 40 years.
Whilst the Jews were in the deserts the law was given to Moses by God himself, to the understanding the general tenor of which, several things must be carry'd along with us. I. That the whole world at that time, at least all those nations amongst whom the Jews conversed, were funk into idolatry. 2. That the Jews were by this law to be taught, that a nobler dispenfation in God's due time to be revealed, was to be expected. 3. That in order to make this nobler dispensation the more conspicuous whenever it should appear, the Jews were, by their laws, kept at a distance from the rest of the world, that so all men might take notice of every thing that should befal them.
Accordingly, to the first of these propositions we may observe, that many of their laws were directly levelled at the idolatries of other nati
Circumcifion was an outward mark or seal upon their bodies, signifying that they were actually in covenant with Jehovah, which was the peculiar name of God in the Old Testament. This God they believed made the world, fun, moon, and stars, the Gods whom the Gentiles worship'd : In memory of his creation of this world they observed the fabbath. The distincti. on of clean and unclean animals, some of which they might eat, others not so much as touch, served to the fame purpose. God gives this reason himself, Levit. xx. 22-26. This led them to think that they were to be purer than the rest of their neighbours, with whofe pollutions they were not to defile themselves. Sometimes particular laws were instituted in opposi