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THE ORIGIN OF
And hath made of one blood all nations of men, for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the time before appointed, and
the bounds of their habitation. - ACTs xvii. 26.
It is the design of this discourse to trace the origin of mankind, and exhibit the evidences there are of their having sprung from but one stock. This is the subject introduced by the text. The truth of the declaration which it contains will appear, if we consider,
1. The great similarity which is visible among the various nations of the earth. Here many points of resemblance deserve particular notice.
The first is, that they all have the same exterior form. The nations of Europe, Asia, Africa, and America, bear a very great resemblance to each other in this respect. They have the same number of eyes and ears, the same number of hands and feet, and nearly the same shape, size, features and countenance. This similarity among all nations plainly indicates that they have sprung from one blood; for if they had originated from different sources, there is no doubt but they would have discovered it, by a greater diversity in their forms, features, and limbs.
All nations resemble each other in their mode of moving. They all walk erect. This is owing to nature, and not to habit or custom; for no nation has ever been discovered, however barbarous and uncivilized, who have walked in any other than an erect posture; which is a mode of walking peculiar to the human species, and which seems to point out their dignity and superiority above all other creatures that move upon the earth. Ovid, a heathen poet, takes notice of this peculiarity in his description of the creation of man. He
66 When other
animals look down towards the earth, man only is endowed with a countenance erected towards heaven, that he may contemplate on God, and behold the heaven from whence he originated."
All nations resemble each other in the use of speech, or power of articulation. Although every nation has a distinct language of their own, yet they all agree in this, that they have a language which can be written, spelt, and articulately pronounced. But none of the lower species have the power of speech or articulation. The sounds they make, by which they express their feelings, cannot be written, spelt, or articulately pronounced. Speech is a prerogative that all nations possess, by which they are able to express that brotherhood which subsists between them, by virtue of deriving their origin from one blood, or the same common stock. Indeed, naturalists tell us that no animals have organs fitted for speech or articulation, and that mankind resemble each other in this important respect, by the mere gift of nature.
All nations resemble one another in their intellectual powers and faculties. The most savage and uncultivated nations appear to possess the same native powers of the mind, that the most civilized and polished nations possess. The natives of Africa and America have discovered such ingenuity, taste, and learning in those branches of knowledge, which individuals among them have had opportunity to cultivate, that the natives of Europe and Asia have no reason to deny or be ashamed of their blood-relation to them. Nothing is wanting to raise the most stupid and ignorant people to a level with the most refined, but a proper culture of their minds. All nations are by nature very nearly equal, at least as equal as brethren of the same family commonly are; which is a strong evidence of their originating froin the same common stock.
One nation resembles another in their moral dispositions, as well as their intellectual powers. They are all equally involved in the same corruption and depravity of heart. It is as true of nations as of individuals, that “they have all gone out of the way, there is none that doeth good, no, not one." It is true, indeed, that the same moral corruptions do not equally prevail among all nations. But there is no greater difference in their national vices, than what naturally results from their laws, education, employments and circumstances. And as these have varied from age to age, so the same nations have varied in their national criminality and guilt; which proves that the same native propensity to sin, equally possesses all nations at all times. This is not strange, if all nations have originated from the same corrupt fountain; but it is very