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INTRODUCTION.

SECT. I.

The Origin of the People of God.

H E Nation or People,- about whose Affairs the Bible is chiefly conversant, being mentioned therein under several Denominations; in order to give some Account of this, and to find out the Times when and Reasons why they aflum'd each of them, we may observe that the Descent of Man- . kind, from the Beginning of the World, is divided into four Sets or Ages, successively, by the Scripture, term'd Generations: The Jirjl of which was, from Adam to Noah; the second, from Noah to Abra~ B ham;

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ham; the third, from Abraham to David; and the fourth, from David to C H R I S T. In the second of these, this People came to be distinguisti'd and known by the Name of Hebrews; in the third, they obtain'd that of Israelites; and, in the fourth, were eall'd Jews.

They are the most ancient of any People upon Record. For, in the second Age, or Generation of the World, we find them settled in Assyria; 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 false Worship; These, obeying the Law of Nature and the Dictates of right Reason, and probably retaining some Sparks of that Revelation which had been dispens'd, upon certain Occasions and to certain Persons, from the very Beginning of the World, were such 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 constant in their Devotion. The natural

rural Consequence of which was/that they became the peculiar Favourites of Heaven; that God vouchsafe! to reveal Himself to them, in an extraordinary manner; and to ordain that of them should be born, according to the Flesh, his Son Jesus Christ, for the Salvation and Redemption of degenerate, lost Man-* kind.

For the first Man Adam, though form'd in full Maturity of Human Perfection^ with all Powers and Capacities suitable to the Nature of his Condition, and moreover expresiy and fully instructed in his Duty to God his Creator, yet unhappily prov'd the first Example of Disobedience; and, by breaking the Divine Precept, entail'd Sin and Misery upon his wretched Posterity* Of his three Sons, Cain, Abel, and Setb, 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 lost themselves in the Mazes of Error and false Worship. Of them therefore the Scripture takes no Account; pursuing the Descent of that B 2 Line

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