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For these purposes it hath had the benefit of regular feafons, which if they have not all the advantages of the first ftate of the earth, have others, that in a good measure compenfate them; and give it a preference to that state, which was introduced by the curfe, and continued till the flood.

In proportion to the progrefs, which, age after age, is made in improvements of this kind; and in this age efpecially, which exceeds all that have gone before it in this refpect-In proportion hereto, I say, the curse of the ground is removed and overcome. In a word, "The fall was the corruption of the natural and moral world, and the ruin of all the glory and happiness of the creation*.* It is the plan of Providence, to bring about the recovery of the creation in both refpects, by the concurrence and inftrumentality of the creature man; through whom the

Bp. Sherlock's Ufe and Intent of Prophecy, Difc. iii.

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corruption and ruin of it was effected: And in fuch measure and degree, as man co-operates, this end is obtained; and the creation is delivered from the bondage of corruption *; and enabled to recover its first flourishing and happy state.

To close this chapter, I fhall only observe farther, That the drying up of the earth, by the feveral caufes before mentioned, will, by degrees, render it more combustible; and difpofe it for the next catastrophe, which it is to undergo.

* Rom. viii. 21. Kries is tranflated creation, in the next verfe; and it ought to be fo tranflated here and every where, to render the paffage uniform through

Out.

CHAP.

1

CHA P. XII.

OF THE GENERAL CONFLA

GRATION.

TH

HAT the great Creator, and wife Governor of the univerfe, whose tender mercies are over all his works, should destroy those the works of his own hands, might appear to us incredible; had we not known, that he hath once destroyed the world already; and had it not been revealed to us in his holy word, that it is his fixt purpose and decree to destroy it again.

As it was not without just cause that he was moved to deluge the old world;

in which he confulted the good of his creation in general; fo he undoubtedly hath wife and gracious purposes to ferve in the dreadful vifitation with which he threa tens the prefent world. The old world was drowned, not only for the wickedness of them that dwelt therein; but the waters of the deluge, as obferved, Chap. V. served by way of luftration, to wash it from the pollutions which it had contracted by the impurities of its inhabitants.

But though the earth was thus purged and luftrated, and its face was renewed and cleanfed, for the better reception of its future inhabitants-Though it hath been acquiring improvements of various kinds ever fince, as we have seen in the preceding chapter; and will be yet farther improved and meliorated, beyond what we can at prefent conceive; yet in so long a fèries of ages, and from the iniquity which in all ages hath abounded, and will too much abound to the end; it will, like the

the old world, contract corruption like. wife; which will obftruct its coming up to its primitive model: And how much foever it shall be enriched and beautified, it will not be without its defects and blemishes. There will be something still wanting in it of that perfection, in which it came out of the hands of its Creator. The deep ftain, which entered into it at the fall, was not entirely washed away by the flood; nor hath it been worn out ever fince: And the diforder and confufion, it was thrown into, will not be all rectified ; nor its diflocated members reduced to their proper fituation, by all the amendments and restoratives, which it fhall have had the benefit of. At leaft, this we may be pofitive of This we know, fays the apostle, that the whole creation groaneth, and travaileth in pain together until now* : Notwithstanding all the advantages it hath received, in order to a recovery. Some

*Rom. viii. 22.

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