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distinguished itself by its faith and piety, was saved' from the general wreck; and this was constituted the medium of recovering the human race, by introducing a new æra in the divine government of the world.
After the Deluge, a distinction of moral character in the sons of Noah, soon became manifest in the conduct of Ham, towards their aged father, surprised into ebriety, contrasted with that of his brethren Shem and Japheth. These distinctions of character were also conspicuous in their posterity. Canaan, and the other descendants of Ham, being abandoned to idolatrous practices, much earlier than those either of Shem or Japheth.
THE SELECTION OF A PARTICULAR FAMILY IN
ORDER TO PREVENT AN UNIVERSAL APOS-
A STATE OF BONDAGE.
FROM the line of Shem was Abraham descended, whom the Governor of the Universe selected to commence the grand process, in favour of future generations. We are told that he and his family were settled in Chaldea ; but by divine appointment they removed into the land inhabited by the Canaanites, under the promise that they should “become a great nation, and that unto his seed should the land be given." It is obvious that one cause of their residence in this country, was on account of its being nearer to the land of Egypt, by which the subsequent removal of their descendants into Egypt was facilitated , an event productive of the most important purposes:
Isaac, the son of Abraham, was also destined to be an instrument of carrying forward the plans of Providence. That he might not be contaminated, by the manners of the inhabitants among whom he dwelt, a wife was chosen for him out of the house of his ancestors, whose conduct was more exemplary. Isaac used a similar precaution respecting his son Jacob; commanding that he should not take a wise of the daughters of Canaan, whose characters were so profligate that Esau, his elder son, in his first marriages, “ was a grief of mind unto Isaac and Rebekah,” by taking the daughters of Hittites, and afterwards“ seeing that the daughters of Canaan pleased not Isaac his father,
then went Esau unto Ishmael, and took unto the wives which he had, Mahalath, the daughter of Ishmael, Abraham's son."
Although Jacob was thus preserved from plunging into the sins of a perverse and idolatrouş nation, yet-it appears that the family of Laban, his father-in-law, was not perfectly free from the spreading infection. They began to worship household deities. Among other complaints against Jacob; he was accused by Laban of having stolen his Gods.' Jacob himself was innocent of the theft, but his beloved wife Rachael was found guilty. The strength of the propensity to the worshipping of idols, in the family of this chosen instrument, is farther obvious froin the narrative that " when Jacob fled to Bethel from the wrath of his brother Esau," he was obliged to make a close inspection into his household, and enjoin them to put away their strange gods that were among them. It was probably, for the purpose of eradicating a disposition to idolatry, that he erected an altar at Bethel, for the worship of the true God.
From among the children of Jacob, no further selection was deemed necessary. They were all admitted to the honour of being progenitors of a race that was to be separated from an idolatrous world, and to promote the important plans of Providence ; although the very immòral characters of some of them, manifested that they were undeserving of thie honour.
The subsequent history of Jacob's family is replete with the most interesting information; and the concurrence of numerous events, some of which appear
of a most discordant nature, to the promotion of one grand object, forcibly inipress the mind with a conviction, that they were under the Divine direction. Consequences wonderful and momentous proceeded from incidents apparently frivolous. To the separation of the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, from an idolatrous world, that they might be a peculiar people who should profess a pure religion, be governed by wise and equitable laws, and preserved from the impious seductions of the nations around them, every thing was rendered subservient. The vices, the virtues of men, their good and bad dispositions, their prevailing customs and prejudices, co-operated with similar effect. It was the dream of a Child which became the occasional cause of a total change in the plans of this family; and prepared the way for their relinquishing a country where their principles would soon have been corrupted; as became too apparent from
the dissolute characters of several of Jacob's sons. The murderous designs of some of Joseph's bre. thren, which, if accomplished, must have destroyed the whole train of subsequent events, were overruled by the more humane, and the more profitable counsel of Reuben, which was most favourable to the grand object. A famine conipelled the sons of Jacob to apply to the Egyptians for sustenance. In the eventful history of the injured, virtuous, and pious Joseph, we admire the extreme facility with which a path was opened, for the establishment of the whole family in the land of Egypt. This foreign country, which was the chief seat of polytheism, and in which, it was natural to imagine, that the Israelites would be peculiarly exposed to seduction, became the guardian of their religious principles. The strong prejudices of the Egyptians against the occupation of a shepherd, was the occasion of their having the Land of Goshen allotted to them. It was by the beneficial operation of these prejudices, that the descendants of Jacob were kept, for ages, totally distinct from the Egyptians; and they were thus preserved free from the contagion of Paganism, which they would never have been able to resist, had they experienced an harmonious intercourse. In this Land of Goshen, they prospered, multiplied, and