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cording to most Chronologers, happened in the year of the world 4004, when Augustus Cæsar was Emperor of Rome, and Herod, under the Roman state, had governed the kingdom of Judea about twenty-four years.








The Prophecy of Noah, relative to the Descendants of his

three Sons.

HAVING, in the preceding sheets, given an accu. rate account of every material occurrence related in the Sacred Scriptures, from the creation of the world to the death of the prophet Nehemiah, and from thence to the rebuilding of the Temple of Jerusalem by Herod, we shall, before we proceed to relate the life and transactions of our Blessed Redeemer, give a circumspect account of those remarkable prophecies contained in the Old Testament. The predictions of the different pro. phets have, indeed, been already noticed in the course of the work, but in so concise a manner (to prevent interrupting the history) as not to be fully displayed. It shall, therefore, be our business to make these the subject of the present book, in which we shall point out, first, in what a particular manner the most important events have been foretold, and, secondly, with what punctuality each has been fulfilled.

The first prophecy we meet with in the sacred writings is that of Noah relative to his three sons, namely, Shem, Ham and Japheth. Noah had indiscreetly given a loose to indulgence by drinking too much wine, and, in consequence thereof, was found in a very indecent posture by his sons. Ham, who first saw him, ridiculed him on that account, and suffered him to continue in the unseemly situation he found him, but on calling his brothers, they, instead of approving of his conduct, covered the nakedness of their aged parent, and lamented that he should have been so indiscreet as to require their assistance on such an occasion.

Noah, in consequence of the different behavior of his three sons, was, as a patriarch, enlightened, and, as the father of a family who is to reward or punish his chil. dren, empowered to foretel the different fortunes of their descendants; this prophecy relating not so much to themselves as to their posterity. Noah was not tempted to do this either from the power of wine or the natural consequences of resenting an injury received; for neither of these could infuse into him the knowledge of events which were to happen many hundred years after. But the Almighty, being pleased to manifest his superintendence and government over the world, endued Noah with the

disclose the purposes of his Providence towards the future race of mankind.

As soon, therefore, as Noah found himself thus prophetically inspired, after being informed of the behavior of his sons, he called them into his presence, and immediately pronounced the following curse on Canaan the descendant of Ham: Cursed (said he) be Canaan; a servant of servants shall he be unto his brethren. Then turning himself to the other two, he said, Blessed be the Lord God of Shem; and Canaan shall be his servant. God shall enlarge Japheth, and he shall dwell in the tents of Shem, and Canaan shall be his servant.

At the same time that the latter part of this prophecy must afford great comfort and satisfaction to Shem and

so it must naturally have been a great punishment and mortification to Ham (for his indiscreet and wicked behavior) to hear of the malediction and servitude of some of his children, and that, as he was abandoned himself, so a wicked race should descend from him.

But the curse thus pronounced upon Canaan (who was the fourth son of Ham according to the order in which his children are mentioned, Gen. x. 6.) is not to be understood as absolutely fixed on him, but on his descend

to it, and it must be understood not of a single person, but of whole nations, by means of which a more noble prospect will be opened to us of the wise dispensations of Providence. Neither the curse of servitude pronounced upon Canaan, nor the promise of blessing and enlargement made to Shem and Japheth, are to be confined to their own persons, but to extend to their whole race, and thither we must direct our attention for the full and perfect completion of the prophecy.

The curse upon Canaan was properly a curse upon his descendants, who were afterwards distinguished by the pame of Canaanites. From the crime committed by Ham, the Almighty was pleased to commission Noah to pronounce a curse upon them, and to devote them to that service and misery which their more than common vices and iniquities would deserve. And this account was evidently written by Moses for the encouragement of the Israelites, to support and animate them in their expe. dition against a people, who, by their sins, had forfeited the divine proteciion, and, from the days of Noah, were destined to slavery.

From what has been already said, may be easily seen the purport and meaning of this prophecy: it therefore now remains that we proceed to point out the manner in which it was fully completed.

The Canaanites were certainly a most wicked and abandoned people, and for their great sins it was that the Almighty was pleased to inflict the punishment he did on the inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrah, as also those of the adjoining cities and plain. (See p. 62. vol. i.) They

were not only addicted to idolatry, (which was then the case with the greater part of the world) but were guilty of the worst kinds of idolatry. Their religion was bad, and their morals worse; for corrupt religion, and corrupt morals usually generate each other. Was not, therefore, a curse, in the nature of things, as well as in the just judgment of God, deservedly entailed on such a people and nation as this! It was not for the righteousness of the Israelites that the Lord was pleased to give them the possession of the land of Canaan, but for the wickedness of the people did he drive them out of the country, and he would have driven out the Israelites in like manner had they been guilty of the like abominations. See Levit. xviii. 24, &c.

But the curse itself particularly implies servitude and subjection. Cursed be Canaan ; a servant of servants shall he be unto his brethren. The descendants, therefore, of Canaan were to be subject to the descendants both of Shem and Japheth; and the natural consequence of vice, in communities, as well as in single persons, is subjection, slavery and death.

This part of the prophecy, however, was not fulfilled till several centuries after it was delivered by Noah, when the Israelites, who were the descendants of Shem, under the command of Joshua, invaded the country of the Canaanites, smote above thirty of their kings, took possession of their land, and made the Gibeonites and others, servants and tributaries; and the rest were afterwards subdued by Solomon. The Greeks and Romans, who were the descendants of Japheth, not only subdued Syria and Palestine, but also pursued and conquered such of the Canaanites as were any where remaining; as for instance the Tyrians and Carthaginians, the former of whom were ruined by Alexander and the Grecians, and the latter by Scipio and the Romans. From that period the miserable remainder of these people have been slaves, first to the Saracens, who descended from Shem, and afterwards to the Turks, who descended from Japheth; and under whose denomination great numbers of them remain to this day.

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