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it is mentioned as an appendage to his name, a kind of title of honour that was to go along with it, that he was father of all the children of Eber, and brother of Japheth the elder. Shem had other sons as well as these, and another brother as well as Japheth ; but no such special mention is made of them. When Moses would describe the line of the curse, he calls Ham the father of Canaan; and when the line of Promise, he calls Shem the father of all the children of Eber. And as Japheth had been the brother of Shem in an act of filial duty, his posterity shall be grafted in among them, and become fellow-heirs of the same promise ; yet, as in divers other instances, the younger goes before the elder.

Among Shem's other descendants we find the names of Elam and Ashur, fathers of the Persians and Assyrians, two great Asiatic nations. But these, not being of the church of God, are but little noticed in the sacred history, except as they come in contact with it.

Eber is said to have had two sons, one of whom is called Peleg, division ; because in his days the earth was divided. This event took place subsequently to the confusion of tongues, which is yet to be related. It seems to refer to an allotment of different coun. tries to different families, as Canaan was divided among the Israel. ites by Joshua. This division of the earth is elsewhere ascribed to the Most High.* Probably it was by lot, which was of his disposing; or if by the fathers of the different families, all was subject to the direction of His providence who fixes and bounds our habitation. It is intimated in the same passage, that at the time of this division, God marked out the holy land as Israel's lot; so that the Canaanites were to possess it only during his minority, and that by sufferance. It was rather lent than given to them, from the first.

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* Deut. xxxii. 8.

DISCOURSE XVII.

THE CONFUSION OF TONGUES.

Gen. xi. 1-9.

It has been before noticed, that this story is thrown farther on, on account of finishing the former. The event took place before the division of the earth in the time of Peleg ; for every family is there repeatedly said to be divided after their tongues ; which implies that at that time they spake various languages, and that this was one of the rules by which they were distinguished as nations.

Prior to the flood, and down to this period, the whole earth wns of one language. We are not told what this was. Whether it was the same which continued in the family of Eber, or whether from this time it was lost, is a matter of small account to us. But it seemed good in the sight of God, from hence to divide mankind into different nations, and to this end to give them each a different tongue. The occasion of this great event will appear from the following story.

The posterity of Noah, beginning to increase, found it necessary to extend their habitations. A company of them, journeying from the east, pitched upon a certain plain in the land of Shinar, by the river Euphrates. Judging it to be an eligible spot, they consulted, and determined here to build a city. There was no stone, it seems, pear at hand; but there was a kind of earth very suitable

l for bricks, and a bituminous substance which is said to ooze from certain springs in that plain, like tar or pitch, and this they used for cement. Of these materials were afterwards built the famous walls of Babylon.

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Having found a good material, they proposed to build a city and a tower of great eminence, by which they should obtain a name, and avoid the evil of which they thought themselves in danger, of being scattered upon the face of the whole earth. But here they were interrupted by a divine interposition : the Lord came down and confounded their language, so that they could not understand one another's speech.

To perceive the reason of this extraordinary proceeding, it is necessary to inquire into the object, or design, of the builders. If this can be ascertained, the whole passage may be easily understood. It could not be, as some bave supposed to provide against a future flood; for this would bave needed no divine interposition to prevent its having effect. God knew his own intention never to drown the world any more: and if it had been otherwise, or if they, from a disbelief of his promise, had been disposed to provide against it, they would not have been so foolish as to build for this purpose a tower upon a plain, which, when raised to the greatest possible height, would be far below the tops of the mountains. It could not have been said of such a scheme, This they have begun to do : and now nothing will be restrained from them which they have imagined to do : for it would have defeated itself.

Neither does it appear to bave been designed, as others have supposed, for an idol's temple. At least, there is nothing in the story which leads to such a conclusion. It was not for the name of a god, but for their own name, that they proposed to build; and that not the tower only, but a city and a tower. Nor was the corfounding of their language any way adapted, that I can perceive, to defeat such a design as this. Idolatry prevailed in the world, for aught appears, as much under a variety of languages as it would under one.

Some have imagined that it was intended merely as a monument of architectural ambition, like the pyramids of Egypt. This supposition might in a measure agree with the idea of doing it for a name : but it is far from harmonizing with other parts of the history. It contains no such deep-laid scheme as is intimated in the 6th verse, and given as the reason of the divine interference: nor is it supposable that God should interpose in so extraordinary

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a manner, by working a miracle which should remain throughout every age of the world, or which at least has remained to this day, merely for the purpose of counteracting a momentary freak of human vanity.

Their are four characters by which this design, whatever it was, is described. (1.) It was founded in ambition ; for they said, Let us make us A NAME. (2.) It required union ; for which purpose they proposed to build a city, that they might live together, and concentrate their strength and counsels. This is noticed by the Lord himself: Behold, the people, saith he, ARE ONE, and have all one language: and his confounding their language was for the express purpose of destroying this oneness, by scattering them abroad upon the face of the earth. (3.) It required that they should be furnished with the means of defence ; for which they proposed to add a tower to the city, to which the citi Zens might repair in times of danger; and of such a height as to bid defiance to any who should attempt to annoy them with arrows,. or other missive weapons. (4.) The scheme was wisely laid ; so much so, that if God had not interposed to frustrate it, it would have succeeded : And this they have begun to do; and now nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do.

The only object which appears to accord with all these general characters, and with the whole account taken together, is that of A UNIVERSAL MONARCHY by which all the families of the earth, in all future ages, might be held in subjection. A very little reflection will convince us that such a scheme must of necessity be founded in ambition; that it required union, and of course a city, to

carry it into execution; that a tower, or citadel, was also necessary to repel those who might be disposed to dispute their claims; and that if these measures were once carried into effect, there was nothing in the nature of things to prevent the accomplishment of their design.

If there were no other reasons in favour of the supposition in question, its agreement with all these circumstances of the history might be sufficient to establish it: but to this, other things may be added, by way of corroboration.

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The time when the confusion of tongues took place, renders it highly probable that the scheme which it was intended to subvert was of Nimrod's forming, or that he had a principal concern in it. It must have been a little before the division of the earth among the sons of Shem, Ham, and Japheth, after their TONGUES in their countries, and in their nations; being that which rendered such division necessary. Now this was about the time of the birth of Peleg, who was named from that event: and this, by reckoning the genealogies mentioned in Chap. xi. 10-16, will appear to have been about a hundred years after the flood. At this time, Nimrod, who was the grandson of Ham, must have been alive and in his prime. And as he was the first person who aspired to dominion over his brethren, and as it is expressly said of him, that the beginning of his kingdom was Babel, nothing is more natural than to suppose that he was the leader in this famous enterprise, and that the whole was a scheme of his, by which to make himself master of the world.

It was also natural for an ambitious people, headed by an ambitious leader, to set up for universal monarchy. Such has been the object of almost all the great nations and conquerors of the earth in later periods. Babylon, though checked for the present, by this divine interference, yet afterwards resumed the pursuit of her favourite object; and in the time of Nebuchadnezzar, seemed almost to have gained it. The style used by that monarch in his proclamations, comported with the spirit of this idea : To you it is commanded, Opeople, nations, and tongues ! Now if such has been the ambition of all Nimrod's successors, in every age, it is nothing surprising that it should have struck the mind of Nimrod himself, and his adherents. They would also have a sort of claim to which their successors could not pretend ; namely, that of being the first, or parent kingdom ; and the weight which men are apt to attach to this claim, may be seen by the later pretensions of papal Rome, another Babylon) which, under the character of a mother church, headed by a pope, or pretended holy father, has subjected all Christendom to her dominion.

To this may be added, that the means used to counteract these builders, were exactly suited to defeat the above design; namely,

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