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that of dividing and scattering them, by confounding their language. And it is worthy of notice, that though several empires have extended their territories over people of different languages, yet language has been a very common boundary of nations ever since. There is scarcely a great nation in the world, but what has its own language. The dividing of languages was therefore, in effect, the dividing of nations; and so a bar to the whole world being ruled by one government. Thus a perpetual miracle was wrought, to be an antidote to a perpetual disease.
But why, it may be asked, should it be the will of God to prevent a universal monarchy; and to divide the inbabitants of the world into a number of independent nations ; This question opens
a a wide field for investigation. Suffice it to say at present, such a state of things contains much mercy, both to the world and to the church.
With respect to the world, if the whole earth had continued under one government, that government would of course, considering what human nature is, have been exceedingly despotic and oppressive. We know that in every state of society, where power, or wealth, or commerce, is monopolized by an individual, or confined to a few whose interests may unite them to one another, there is the greatest possible scope for injustice and oppression; and where there is the greatest scope for these evils, human nature being what it is, there they will most abound. Different na. tions and interests in the world serve as a balance one to the other. They are that to the world which a number of rival merchants, or lesser tradesmen, are to society; serving as a check upon each other's rapacity. Union, when cemented by good will to men, is exceedingly desirable : but when self-interest and ambition are at the bottom, it is exceedingly dangerous. Union, in such cases, is nothing better than a combination against the general good.
It might be thought, that if the whole world were under one government, a great number of wars might be prevented, which, as things now are, would be certain to take place. And it is true, that one stable government, to a certain extent, is on this account preferable to a great number of lesser ones, which are always at variance. But this principle, if carried beyond certain limits,
becomes inimical to human happiness. So far as different nations can really become one, and drop all local distinctions and interests, it is well : but if the good of the country governed be lost sight of, and every thing be done to aggrandize the city, or country governing, it is otherwise. And where power is thus exercised, which it certainly would be in case of a universal monarchy, it would produce as many wars as now exist, with only this difference, that instead of their being carried on between independent nations, they would consist of the risings of different parts of the empire against the government, in a way of rebellion : and by how much wars of this kind are accompanied with less mutual respect, less quarter given and taken, and consequently more cruelty than the other, by so much would the state of the world have been more miserable than it is at present.
The division of the world into independent nations has also been a great check on persecution, and so has operated in a way of mercy towards the church. If the whole world had been one despotic government, Israel, the people of God, must in all ages have been in the condition to which they were reduced from the times of the captivity as a punishment for their sins, a mere province of another power, which might have crushed them and bindered them, as was the case from the times of Cyrus to those of Darius. And since the coming of Christ, the only way in which he permits his followers to avoid the malice of the world wbich rages against them for his sake, is this : If they persecute you in one city, flee to another. Of this liberty millions have availed themselves, from the earliest to the latest periods of the Christian church : but if the whole world had been under one government, and that government inimical to the gospel, there had been no place of refuge left upon earth for the faithful.
The necessary watch also that governments which have been the most disposed to persecute have been obliged to keep on each other, has filled their hands, so as to leave them but little time to think of religious people. Saul, when pursuing David, was withdrawn from his purpose by intelligence being brought him, that the Philistines had invaded the land: and, innumerable instances, the quarrels of bad men have been advantageous to the righteous.
The division of power serves likewise to check the spirit of persecution, not only as finding employment for persecutors to watch their rivals, but as causing them to be watched and their conduct exposed. While the power of papal Rome extended over Christendom, persecution raged abundantly more than it has done since the Reformation, even in popish countries. Since that period, the popish powers, both ecclesiastical and civil, have felt them. selves narrowly watched by protestants, and have been almost shamed out of their former cruelties. What has been done of late years has been principally confined to the secret recesses of the Inquisition. It is by communities as it is by individuals : they are restrained from innumerable excesses by the consideration of being under the
eye of each other. Thus it is, that liberty of conscience, being granted in one or two nations and becoming honourable, has insensibly made its way into the councils of many others.
From the whole, we may infer two things. (1.) The harmony of divine revelation with all that we know of fact. If any object to the probability of the foregoing account, and imagine that the vari. ous languages spoken in the world must have been of human contrivance, let them point us to a page in any history, ancient or mod. ern, which gives an account of the first making of a language, dead or living. If all that man can be proved to bave done towards the formation of any language, be confined to changing, combining, improving, and reducing it to grammatical form, there is the greatest probability, independent of the authority of revelation, that languages themselves were originally the work of God, as was that of the first man and woman. (2.) The desirableness of the universal spread of Christ's kingdom. We may see, in the reasons which render a universal government among men incom. patible with the liberty and safety of the world, abundant cause to pray for this, and for the union of all his subjects under him. Here there is no danger of tyranny or oppression, nor any need of those low reotives of rivalship to induce him to seek the well. being of his subjects. A union with Christ and one another embraces the best interests of mankind. VOL. V.
THE GENERATIONS OF SHEM, AND THE CALL OF ABRAM.
Gen. xi. 10-32. xii. 1-4.
The sacred historian, having given an account of the re-peopling of the earth, here takes leave of the children of mea, and codfioes himself to the history of the sons of God. We shall find him all along adhering to this principle. When any of the posterity of the righteous turn their backs on God, he presently takes leave of them, and follows the true church and true religion where ever they go.
Ver. 10—26. The principal use of the genealogy of Shem to Terah, the father of Abram, may be to prove the fulfilment of all the promises in the Messiah. To this purpose it is applied in the New Testament. Ver. 27-29. Terah, after he was seventy years of
had three sons ; Abram, Nahor, and Haran. But the order in which they here stand, does not appear to be that of seniority, any more than that of Shem and Ham and Japheth : for if Abram had been born when Terah was seventy years old, he must have been a hundred and thirty-five at the time of his father's death; whereas he is said to have been but seventy-five, when, after that event, he set out for Canaan. Haran, therefore, appears to have been the eldest of the three sons. He died in Ur of the Chaldees; but lett behind bim a son and two daughters ; Lot, and Milcah and Iscah. The two surviving sons, Abram and Nabor, took them wives : The pame of Abram's wife was Sarai, of whose descent we are not here told ; but by what he said of her in Chap. xx. 12, it would seem that she was his half-sister, or his father's daughter by