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death into the world. During all this period Providence had blessed the multiplying and extending families of the. earth with salubrious air and fruitful seasons; so that a period of nearly 1000 years rolled round, before bodies destined at first for an immortality of being, sunk down be. neath the complicated influence of laborious exertion and ill-regulated passion. Calculations founded on the ordinary laws of population, have demonstrated that even so early as the 1200th year of the world mankind must have been much more numerous on the earth than they have ever been since the times of the deluge. But they did not make progress merely in numbers. Wickedness too increased; and it would appear to have been in a ratio fully commensurate with the increase of population.
We noticed on a former occasion one great cause that must have contributed powerfully to the production of such a result. The prodigious space on which men were privileged to found their calculations for futurity, would not only have a tendency to weaken their apprehensions of a future judgment, but would add almost inconceivable force to all those motives which shape the courses of mere earthly minds. To every exertion, to every act of fraud and violence, the impulse would be strong in proportion to the period through wbich it might be possible to enjoy the recompense of toil or danger. And when we combine the effects of these considerations, when we reflect bow a being wouid be disposed to act, over whose feelings the ideas of future judgment would bear such feeble sway, and whose soul would be fired by the prospect of advantage for such a protracted season; we can scarcely think it strange that no authority human or divine, could compete with his warm wishes. Add to these, the progressive pro
fure of the human mind, indeed of all that God has made. Habits, passions, appetites, every thing bad as well as good increases by degrees. You know the softness and pliancy of childhood. You know the comparative uprightness and purity of hearts, yet unpractised in the ways of sin. You know that the veriest monster who ever cursed the world or disbonored our common nature; once saw the time wheo ' he would have turned pale at sights which afterwards wrought in him extacy, such as infernals feel, and would have shrunk with horror from suggestions which in process of time, he could revolve deliberately and put in practice with promptitude and even pleasure. God's law is written on every human heart. It is a law of kindness, of purity and uprightness. No man becomes unjust, unfeeling or unprincipled, but by successive and generally very gradual steps. But all the records of the earth will tell you whạt ten, or twenty, or thirty years will do. Let but the course of sin and shame commence; let act make way for act, and effort brace for effort; and in a very little while that modest, that retiring countenance, that betrayed the slightest variant feeling of the heart, that countenance on which were pictured, the simplicity, the ingenuousness, the purity of childhood, that countenance will present a person of far other port; it will become the index of a mind resolute, unfeeling, unprincipled, unabashed;—the port, say, of arch-angel, but of arch-angel fallen. No science can develope the history of a mind thus forming through a period of 1000 years. No arith matic can calculate the force of habits, and passions, growing unresisted through so long a term. No heart can di. vine the depth of the abasement in which vice and meanDess would sink a spirit impure. One thousand years of
progressive wickedness, fortified by the example, and stim.. ulated by the inventions of thousand's old in crime, must make a monster of no common mould. Now, then, need any be surprised that all the world were monsters. And when we read that “the wickedness of man was great upon the earth, and that every imagination of his heart was only evil continually"--when we read that “the earth was corrupt before God, and the earth was filled with violence;** we need no comment on the fact just now repeated, in order to put us in possession of the cause. Nor do we need an able apologist for that strong expression, “it repented the Lord that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him to the heart.” An expression which in attributing to him human feelings and passions, varies in nothing. from those so usual in the scriptures which ascribe to bim eyes, and ears, and hands; but which serves without any danger of mistake, to convey in language predicated on human sense and feeling; ideas which have nothing in common but the results to which they point. God changed his dispensations toward the sons of men, and appeared in other character than they had ever witnessed. And it was high time to do 80:"the wickedness of man was great upon the earth.”
But where meanwhile were all those faithful patriarchs! Where were the favored seed of them who had born aloft the standard of Messiah? Translated Enoch, had many sons and daughters. And many were the patriarchs who in later times had assembled their young offspring around God's blazing altars, and taught them to fall prostrate like Ahram in after times, before the vision as it passed. Had the lineage of all those disappeared from among men? Or had the descendents of parents so faithful and so honored
1. pursued a different course. Their lineage had not perish.
ed. The progeny of the patriarchs was renowned upon the earth; but it was in the annals of dissoluteness and blood. The cause of this defection is marked in this short history with a prominence that well deserves your notice.
“The sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were El fair; and they took them wives of all which they chose.”'
The expression "sons of God” is well known to the scrip. tural reader. It is a usual and highly proper appellation for professors of the true religion, the members of the church of God. These it would seem, regardless of their better and enduring interests, or unsuspicious of the consequences, or inattentive to them, entered into the most intimate alliance with families careless, and hardened, and vicious, to the excess which marked the general character of men before the flood. The consequence was natural.
The human heart at best, is sufficiently prone of itself to i recede from God and from all the offices of piety; the feet
of the most cautious stand on slippery places; and when
persons thus circumstanced unite their destinies with those ET whose whole hearts and habits are moulded into forms most · 1 adverse to piety, it requires no prophetic spirit to foretel'
the natural consequence. If your heart already have strong propensities to evil, and the heart and habits of your bosom friend be wholly thus inclined; it is likely,
much more likely, that the victory will be his, than that mit your feeble purposes will bring him over to virtue. If his
arms twine round you, while you stand an slippery places, it is much more likely that he will drag you down with bim, than that your feeble powers should serve to keep
you upright, and raise your fellow from his prostrate state. are it is the law of being, a universal law, that our tastes, and
feelings, and principles, and conduct, derive much of their character from those with whom we associate. This principle will operate with ten-fold vigour when affection se. conds the strong influence of society; and when the dispositions of our associate are backed by strong propensities originally within our bosoms, it will be wonderful indeed if the tastes and character of those with whom we stand 1 united, do not become our own. The law thus operated in the days beyond the flood. It operated on the sons and daughters of the patriarchs; with unerring certainty and with prodigious power. The arm of the Most High interposed. He not only taught succeeding generations to be ware, by illustrating the consequences in many a fearful de instance, but by monstrous productions, giants and fearful births, he taught the nations that they were marriages most unblest. It is useless to inquire who were the progenitors of those fair but dangerous females whose blandishments brought ruin on so many sons of promise. Many te have supposed them the descendants of Cain, in whose family originated many of the fine arts. The daughter, for instance of Jubal, the father of all such as handle the par harp and organ: and they suppose that the allurements of pa music and of dress were brought in aid of their native charms. But the cause would appear too remote and par. tial for so general an effect. Nor is there any need for such a supposition. In a world where almost every thing was leagued with impiety and dissoluteness; there would be many a form as faultless as any of Cain's daughters, mas ny a shrine of hearts as destitute of piety,
Let us rather bring home the lesson to these latter days. *Your own social principles and moral sense obey the very law that wrought such ruịn to the children of the patri