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ERRATA. Page 31, 14th line from the top, for evil read moral. P. 49, 15th line from top, erase of Sarah the mother of. P. 87, 5th line from bottom, for right read rite. P. 121, 5th line from top, for made read mode. P. 196, 4th line from bottom, for constanlly read completely. P. 229, 13th and 15th line from top, for complaisance read complacence. P. 237, 10th line from top, insert almost before disobey. P. 267, 15th line from top, erase . after themselves. P. 283, 16th line from bottom, for preferred read preserved.
A number of smaller errors and mistakes it is thought unnecessary to notice,
THE DISPERSION AT BABEL.
GENESIS, XI. 8.-So the Lord scattered them abroad from thence upon the face of all the earth.
Since the greatest part of the bible is properly historical, we may justly conclude, that history is not only entertaining, but useful. The scripture history of the world is the most ancient, as well as the most authentic. Profane history is altogether fabulous, which pretends to give an account of the world from Adam to Noah, and from Noah to Alexander. From that time downwards, the history of nations becomes more clear, just and authentic ; but from that time upwards, the bible is the only source of authentic information. This book, indeed, gives us a history of the world from Adam to Noah, and then from Noah to Abraham and his descendants. The bible history from Noah to Abraham is very concise, but extremely interesting. The flood was an astonishing and important event. duced a world full of people to one single family of eight persons. From these, all mankind since that memorable catastrophe, have descended. The history of Noah's family, is the history of all mankind in miniature. Could we know how they increased, when and where they spread over the face of the earth, we should have a general and comprehensive knowledge of all antiquity. And so far as the bible will conduct us, in
searching for this useful knowledge, we may safely proceed. The words I have read, relate to the interesting event of the building of Babel, and the dispersion of those, who were concerned in that impious design.--“ So the Lord scattered them abroad from thence upon the face of all the earth.” I shall first inquire, who those persons were ; and then inquire, what were the most remarkable consequences of their dispersion.
I. Let us inquire, who were dispersed over the face of the earth, at the destruction of Babel. This is a more difficult and important point to ascertain than some may imagine. It is generally supposed, that they were the whole of mankind at that day ; but, perhaps, in the course of our inquiry, we shall find this to be a mistake. We are told in the ninth chapter of this book of Genesis, that Noah lived after the flood three hundred and fifty years. He was probably a very great, as well as good man. Of his goodness God himself testified, when he told him, he had found him perfect in his generation. But mere goodness would not have qualified him for the great and extensive service, which God aşsigned him. He was to be the preserver of the old, and father of the new world. He was to erect a stupendous building to preserve the human race in the deluge. This was a work of art, as well as of time ; and when he had preserved the world, he was also to be the guide and governor of it. It is therefore, to be presumed, that he was a man of extensive knowledge, as well as of eminent piety. Such a man must have had a great and powerful influence over all his posterity as long as he lived, and kept them in order, peace and harmony. And this is, probably, what the heathen poets allude to, when they celebrate the once golden age, as a time of univer
sal justice, peace and prosperity. But if during Noah's life, mankind lived in peace and prosperity, then it is reasonable to suppose they increased very fast. It is computed that a people, at this day, double in number, once in twenty five years. And according to this ratio of increase, the eight persons in Noah's family must have increased to above one hundred and thirty thousand, before he died. This number was too large to live comfortably together on the plains of Shinar, all the while he lived. This leads us to inquire when his family first began to disperse. It is natural to conclude, that they would wish to live together as long as they could, or as long as Noah would permit them to do it.
If we now look back into the chapter preceding our text, we shall there find an account of a regular and general dispersion of Noah's family. The sacred historian first gives the genealogy of Japheth ; and then says, “ By these were the isles of the Gentiles divided in their lands, every one after his tongue, after their families in their nations.” He next gives the genealogy of Ham ; and “these are the sons of Ham, after their families, after their tongues, in their countries, and in their nations.” In the last place, he gives the genealogy of Shem; and among his posterity he mentions Peleg, in whose days the earth was divided ; and concludes by saying “ These are the families of the sons of Noah, after their generations, in their nations; and by these were the nations divided in the earth after the flood.” This was certainly a general dispersion of mankind into the various parts of the world. And from the account here given of it, as well as from other accounts, it appears to have been a regular and peaceable