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in their knowledge. But why should men not like to retain the knowledge of God? I can think of no sufficient answer to this question, suitable to the circunstances of these ages, unless I may offer what follows: God had given exceeding great promises to Abraham and his posterity ; that he would make of him a great nation; make his name great, and that in him, or in his seed all the families of the earth should be blessed ;' that he would give him northward and southward, eastward and westward all the land, which he then saw in the length and in the breadth of it, from the river Euphrates unto the river of Egypt;' that he would make him a father of many nations, that he would raise nations from him, and that kings should come out of him.". God protected him, wherever he lived, in so signal a manner, that whenever he was in danger of suffering injury, his adversaries were prevented from hurting him.' His son Ishmael was to be made a nation, because he was his seed ; k nay, twelve princes were to descend from him,' and the seed of Abraham was to possess the gate of his enemies. Most of these promises were repeated to Isaac," and afterwards to Jacob;' and the remarkable favours designed for this family, were not bestowed upon them
• Rom. i. 28.
f Gen. xii.
Chap. xx. 3.
1 Chap: xvii. 20.
* Chap. xxvi. 4. & 24; • Chap. xxviii. 13, 14, 15.
in private, so as to be little known to the world ; but when they were but a few, even a few, and strangers in the land where they sojourned, they went from nation to nation, and from one kingdom to another people, and God suffered no man to do them wrong, but reproved even kings for their sakes. The name of Abraham was eminently famous in most nations of the then inhabited world ; and I cannot but think it probable, that the kings of many countries might greatly mistake the design of God toward him and his descendants, as the Jews themselves afterwards did, when they came to have a nearer expectation of their Messiah, and imagined that he was to be a mighty temporal prince to subdue all their enemies. In this manner the early kings might misinterpret the promises to Abraham, and think that in time his descendants were to cover the face of the earth, and to be the governors of all nations. I cannot say whether the Hittites might not in some measure be of this opinion, when they styled Abraham (Nesi Elohim), Bæoikeus Taça des say the Lxx, i. e. a prince from or appointed by God; and perhaps Abimelech might apprehend that Abraham's posterity would in time become the possessors of his country ; and being willing to put off the evil for at least three generations, he made a league with him, and obtained a promise, that he would not afflict his people, during his time, nor in the days of his son, or his son's son.' Thus the promises, and
. Gen. xxii. 6.
p Psalm cv. 12, 13, 14. Gen. xxi. 23.
the prophesies to Abraham and his children, might be thought to run contrary to the views and interests of the kings and heads of nations; and they miglit there's fore think it good policy to divert their people from attending too much to them. And for tliis end, they being in their kingdoms the chief directors in religion, they might, upon the foundation of literature, and human science, form such schemes of augury, astro. logy, vaticination, omens, prodigies and enchantments, as the magicians of Egypt became famous for, in order to make religion more subservient to their interests; and in these they proceeded from one step to another, in what they undoubtedly thought to be the result of rational enquiry ; until in Moses' time the rulers of the Egyptian nation, who were then the most learned hody in the world, beguiled by the deceit of vain philosophy, and too politically engaged to attend duly to any arguments which might convince thiem of their errors, were arrived at so intrepid an infidelity, that the greatest miracles had no effect upon them.
I am sensible that these points have been set in a different light by some writers ; but perhaps there may be reason to re-examine them. The Pagan divinations, 'arts of prophesy, and all their sorceries and enchantments, as well as their idolatry and worship of false gods were founded, not upon superstition, but upon learning and philosophical study; not upon too great a belief of and adherence to revelation, but upon a pretended knowledge of the powers of nature. Their great and learned men erred in these points, not for want of free-thinking, such as they called it; but their opi.
nions upon these subjects were in direct opposition to the true revelations which had been made to the world
, and might be called the deism of these ages; for such certainly was the religion of the governing and learned part of the heathen world in these times. The unlearned populace indeed in all kingdoms adhered, as they thought, to revelation ; but they were imposed upon, and received the political institutions of their rulers, invented by the assistance of art and learning, instead of the dictatos of true revelation. In this manner I could account for the beginning of the heathen idolatries in many nations. They took their first rise from the governors of kingdoms having too greata dependance upon human learning; and entertaining a conceit, that what they thought to be the religion which nature dictated, would free them from some imaginary subjections, which they apprehended revealed religion was calculated to bring them under. Length of time, advance of science falsely so called, and political views, had carried on these errors to a great height, when God was pleased in a most mira. culous manner to deliver his people from the Egyptian hondage ; to re-establish true religion among them, and to put the priesthood into different hands, from those who had hitherto been appointed to exercise the offices of it. But the pursuing these subjects, must belong to the subsequent parts of this undertaking.
END OF VOL. IJ,
Page. ABRAHAM goes to Egypt..
101 Separates from Lot.....
103 Rescues Lot from captivity
106 Received the promise of a son
107 Went to Philistia
112 Tempted to offer Isaac
118 Married Keturah ..
128 The accounts which profane writers give of him . ibid His contemporaries in the heathen nations....... 133 He, and his descendants, worshipped two distinct Divine persons
443 Before his time, no appearances of God or Angels 460
He knew the LORD, by his name JEHOVAH 462 Actæus, king of Attica...
327 Adrichomius, his mistake about the situation of Seir . 248 Alcmena, the Inscription and Antiquities found in her tomb...
317 Amphictyon, king of Attica
312 Amphictyones, their rise, constitution, and council.. 338 Animals, sacred ones, of Egypt, consecrated to 5348 their gods....
7361 Areopagus, the rise and constitution of that court ... 334 Argos, the rise of that kingdom ..
325 Astronomy, its use in the ancient agriculture
154 Athlius, first king of Eles ...
327 Atlas, lived where, and when
326 BELUS, son of Neptune, went to Babylon..... 291
Not the same as Belus, the successor of Nimrod. 297 Birthright, Esau's, what...
..213, 219 CADMUS built Thebes
313 Mistakes about his ting
ibid. When he lived
314 Whether he was a Phænician or an Egyptian.... 316 Canaan, its first kingdoms erected upon principles of liberty ....
175 Cat, why consecrated by the Egyptians.
349 Cecrops came to Attica (Sig. U).
299 The time of his reign settled..
ibid. His people at first not numerous