by Thomas Burnet
The Second Edition,
Printed by R. Norton, for Walter Kettilby, at the Biƒhops-Head in St. Paul‘s Church-Yard
Thomas Burnet, born 1635? deceased 1715
NOTICE OF ATTRIBUTION
Scanned at sacred-texts.com, July 2005. Proofed and formatted by John Bruno Hare. This text is in the public domain worldwide. These files may be used for any non-commercial purpose provided this notice of attribution accompanies all copies.
These are personal research notes resources and reads for this body of work.
*** Three Astrix @ the beginning and end within the works are for my own reflections later.***
( Most are light purple in color.)
Included here are great places for you to read this work in its original form.
Dedication: To the King’s Most Excellent Majesty
Preface to the Reader
Contents of the Chapters
This dedication “below” says so more every time you read it.
NEW-found Lands and Countries accrew to the Prince, whose Subject makes the first Discovery; And having retriev’d a World that had been lost, for some thousands of Years, out of the Memory of Man, and the Records of Time, I thought it my Duty to lay it at Your Majesty’s Feet. ’Twill not enlarge Your Dominions, ’tis past and gone; nor dare I say it will enlarge Your Thoughts; But I hope it may gratifie Your Princely curiosity to read the Description of it, and see the Fate that attended it.
We have still the broken Materials of that first World, and walk upon its Ruines; while it stood, there was the Seat of Paradise, and the Scenes of the Golden Age; when it fell, it made the Deluge; And this unshapen Earth we now inhabit, is the Form it was found in when the Waters had retir’d, and the dry Land appear’d. These things, Sir, I propose and presume to prove in the following Treatise, which I willingly submit to Your Majesty’s judgment and Censure; being very well satisfied, that if I had sought a Patron in all the List of Kings, Your Contemporaries: Or in the Roll of Your Nobles, of either Order: I could not have found a more competent judge in a Speculation of this Nature. Your Majesty’s Sagacity, and happy Genius for Natural History, for Observations and Remarks upon the Earth, the Heavens, and the Sea, is a better preparation for Inquiries of this kind, than all the dead Learning of the Schools.
Sir, This Theory, in the full extent of it, is to reach to the last Period of the Earth, and the End of all things; But this first Volume takes in only so much as is already past, from the Origin of the Earth, to this present time and state of Nature. To describe in like manner the Changes and Revolutions of Nature that are to come, and see thorough all succeeding Ages, will require a steddy and attentive Eye, and a retreat from the noise of the World; Especially so to connect the parts, and present them all under one view, that we may see, as in a Mirrour, the several faces of Nature, from First to Last, throughout all the Circle of Successions.
Your Majesty having been pleas’d to give encouragement to this Translation, I humbly present it to Your Gracious Acceptance. And ’tis our Interest, as well as Duty, in Disquisitions of this Nature, to Address our selves to Your Majesty, as the Defender of our Philosophick Liberties; against those that would usurp upon the
[paragraph continues] Fundamental priviledge and Birth-right of Mankind, The Free use of Reason. Your Majesty hath always appear’d the Royal Patron of Learning and the Sciences, and ’tis suitable to the Greatness of a Princely Spirit, to favour and promote whatsoever tends to the enlargement of Humane Knowledge, and the improvement of Humane Nature. To be Good and Gracious, and a Lover of Knowledge, are, methinks, two of the most amiable things in this World; And that Your Majesty may always bear that Character, in present and future Ages, and after a long and prosperous Reign, enjoy a blessed Immortality, is the constant Prayer of
Most Humble and most
HAVING given an account of this whole Work in the first Chapter, and of the method of either Book, whereof this Volume consists, in their proper places, there remains not much to be said here to the Reader. This Theory of the Earth may be call’d Sacred, because it is not the common Physiology of the Earth, or of the Bodies that compose it, but respects only the great Turns of Fate, and the Revolutions of our Natural World; such as are taken notice of in the Sacred Writings, and are truly the Hinges upon which the Providence of this Earth moves; or whereby it opens and shuts the several successive Scenes whereof it is made up. This English Edition is the same in substance with the Latin, though, I confess, ’tis not so properly a Translation, as a new Composition upon the same ground, there being several additional Chapters in it, and several new-moulded.
As every Science requires a peculiar Genius, so likewise there is a Genius peculiarly improper for every one; and as to Philosophy, which is the Contemplation of the works of Nature, and the Providence that governs them, there is no temper or Genius, in my mind, so improper for it, as that which we call a mean and narrow Spirit; and which the Greeks call Littleness of Soul. This is a defect in the first make of some Men’s minds, which can scarce ever be corrected afterwards, either by Learning or Age. And as Souls that are made little and incapacious cannot enlarge their thoughts to take in any great compass of Times or Things; so what is beyond their compass, or above their reach, they are apt to look upon as Fantastical, or at least would willingly have it pass for such in the World. Now as there is nothing so great, so large, so immense, as the works of Nature, and the methods of Providence, men of this complexion must needs be very unfit for the contemplation of them. Who would set a purblind man at the top of the Mast to discover Land? or upon an high Tower to draw a Landskip of the Country round about? for the same reason, short-sighted minds are unfit to make Philosophers, whose proper business it is to discover and describe in comprehensive Theories the Phænomena of the World, and the Causes of them.
This original disease of the Mind is seldom cur’d by Learning, which cures many others; ’Tis like a fault in the first Stamina of the Body, which cannot easily be rectified afterwards. ’Tis a great mistake to think that every sort of Learning makes a Man a competent Judge of Natural Speculations; We see unhappy examples to the contrary amongst the Christian Fathers, and particularly in St. Austin, who was unquestionably a Man of Parts and Learning, but interposing in a controversie where his Talent did not lie, show’d his zeal against the
[paragraph continues] Antipodes to very ill purpose, though he drew his Reasons partly from Scripture. And if within a few Years, or in the next Generation, it should prove as certain and demonstrable, that the Earth is mov’d, as it is now, that there are Antipodes; those that have been zealous against it, and ingag’d the Scripture in the Controversie, would have the same reason to repent of their forwardness, that St. Austin would have now, if he was alive. ’Tis a dangerous thing to ingage the authority of Scripture in disputes about the Natural World, in opposition to Reason; lest Time, which brings all things to light, should discover that to be evidently false which we had made Scripture to assert: And I remember St. Austin in his Exposition upon Genesis, hath laid down a rule to this very purpose, though he had the unhappiness, it seems, not to follow it always himself. The reason also, which he gives there for his rule, is very good and substantial: 1For, saith He, if the Unbelievers or Philosophers shall certainly know us to be mistaken, and to erre in those things that concern the Natural World, and see that we alledge our (Sacred) Books for such vain opinions, how shall they believe those same Books when they tell them of the RESURRECTION of the Dead, and the World to come, if they find them to be fallaciously writ in such things as lie within their certain knowledge?
We are not to suppose that any truth concerning the Natural World can be an Enemy to Religion; for Truth cannot be an Enemy to Truth, God is not divided against himself; and therefore we ought not upon that account to condemn or censure what we have not examin’d or cannot disprove; as those that are of this narrow Spirit we are speaking of, are very apt to do. Let every thing be tri’d and examin’d in the first place, whether it be True or False; and if it be found false, ’tis then to be consider’d, whether it be such a falsity as is prejudicial to Religion or no. But for every new Theory that is propos’d, to be alarum’d, as if all Religion was falling about our Ears, is to make the World suspect that we are very ill assur’d of the foundation it stands upon. Besides, do not all Men complain, even These as well as others, of the great ignorance of Mankind? how little we know, and how much is still unknown? and can we ever know more, unless something new be Discover’d? It cannot be old when it comes first to light, when first invented, and first propos’d. If a Prince should complain of the poorness of his Exchequer, and the scarcity of Money in his Kingdom, would he be angry with his Merchants, if they brought him home a Cargo of good Bullion, or a Mass of Gold out of a foreign Countrey? and give this reason only for it, He would have no new Silver; neither should any be Currant in his Dominions but what had his own Stamp and Image upon it: How should this Prince or his People grow rich? To complain of want, and yet refuse all offers of a supply, looks very sullen, or very fantastical.
I might mention also upon this occasion another Genius and disposition in Men, which often makes them improper for Philosophical Contemplations; not so
much, it may be, from the narrowness of their Spirit and Understanding, as because they will not take time to extend them. I mean Men of Wit and Parts, but of short Thoughts, and little Meditation, and that are apt to distrust every thing for a Fancy or Fiction that is not the dictate of Sense, or made out immediately to their Senses. Men of this Humour and Character call such Theories as these, Philosophick Romances, and think themselves witty in the expression; They allow them to be pretty amusements of the Mind, but without Truth or reality. I am afraid if an Angel should write the Theory of the Earth, they would pass the same judgment upon it; Where there is variety of Parts in a due Contexture, with something of surprising aptness in the harmony and correspondency of them, this they call a Romance; but such Romances must all Theories of Nature, and of Providence be, and must have every part of that Character with advantage, if they be well represented. There is in them, as I may so say, a Plot or Mystery pursued through the whole Work, and certain Grand Issues or Events upon which the rest depend, or to which they are subordinate; but these things we do not make or contrive our selves, but find and discover them, being made already by the Great Author and Governour of the Universe: And when they are clearly discover’d, well digested, and well reason’d in every part, there is, me-thinks, more of beauty in such a Theory, at least a more masculine beauty, than in any Poem or Romance; And that solid truth that is at the bottom, gives a satisfaction to the Mind, that it can never have from any Fiction, how artificial soever it be.
To enter no farther upon this matter, ’tis enough to observe, that when we make Judgments and Censures upon general presumptions and prejudices, they are made rather from the temper and model of our own Spirits, than from Reason; And therefore, if we would neither impose upon ourselves, nor others, we must lay aside that lazy and fallacious method of Censuring by the Lump, and must bring things close to the test of True or False, to explicit proof and evidence; And whosoever makes such Objections against an Hypothesis, hath a right to be heard, let his Temper and Genius be what it will. Neither do we intend that any thing we have said here, should be understood in another sence.
To conclude, This Theory being writ with a sincere intention to justifie the Doctrines of the Universal Deluge, and of a Paradisiacal state, and protect them from the Cavils of those that are no well-wishers to Sacred History, upon that account it may reasonably expect fair usage and acceptance with all that are well-dispos’d; And it will also be, I think, a great satisfaction to them to see those pieces of most ancient History, which have been chiefly preserv’d in Scripture, confirm’d anew, and by another Light, that of Nature and Philosophy; and also freed from those misconceptions or misrepresentations which made them sit uneasie upon the Spirits even of the best Men, that took time to think. Lastly, In things purely Speculative, as these are, and no ingredients of our Faith, it is free to differ from one another in our Opinions and Sentiments; and so I remember St. Austin hath observ’d upon this very subject of Paradise; Wherefore as we desire to give no offence our selves, so neither shall we take any at the difference of Judgment in others; provided this liberty be mutual, and that we all agree to study Peace, Truth, and a good Life.
Chapter I. The Introduction
Concerning the Deluge, and the Dissolution of the Earth.
An Account of the whole Work; of the Extent and general Order of it.
SINCE I was first inclin’d to the Contemplation of Nature, and took pleasure to trace out the Causes of Effects, and the dependance of one thing upon another in the visible Creation, I had always, methought, a particular curiosity to look back into the first Sources and ORIGINAL of Things; and to view in my mind, so far as I was able, the Beginning and Progress of a RISING WORLD.
And after some Essays of this Nature, and, as I thought, not unsuccessful, I carried on my enquiries further, to try whether this Rising World, when form’d and finisht, would continue always the same; in the same form, structure, and consistency; or what changes it would successively undergo, by the continued action of the same Causes that first produc’d it; And, lastly, what would be its final Period and Consummation. This whole Series and compass of things taken together, I call’d a COURSE OF NATURE, or a SYSTEM OF NATURAL PROVIDENCE; and thought there was nothing belonging to the External World more fit or more worthy our study and meditation, nor any thing that would conduce more to discover the ways of Divine Providence, and to show us the grounds of all true knowledge concerning Nature. And therefore to clear up the several parts of this Theory, I was willing to lay aside a great many other Speculations, and all those dry subtleties with which the Schools, and the Books of Philosophers, are usually fill’d.
But when we speak of a Rising World, and the Contemplation of it, we do not mean this of the Great Universe; for who can describe the Original of that? But we speak of the Sublunary World, This Earth and its dependencies, which rose out of a Chaos about six thousand years ago; And seeing it hath fain to our lot to act upon this Stage, to have our present home and residence here, it seems most reasonable, and the place design’d by Providence, where we should. first imploy our thoughts to understand the works of God and Nature. We have accordingly therefore design’d in this Work to give an account of the Original of the Earth, and of all the great and general changes that it hath already undergone, or is hence forwards to undergo, till the Consummation of all things. For if
from those Principles we have here taken, and that Theory we have begun in these two first Books, we can deduce with success and clearness the Origin of the Earth, and those States of it that are already past; Following the same Thred, and by the conduct of the same Theory, we will pursue its Fate and History through future Ages, and mark all the great Changes and Conversions that attend it while Day and Night shall last; that is, so long as it continues an Earth.
By the States of the Earth that are already past, we understand chiefly Paradise and the Deluge; Names well known, and as little known in their Nature. By the Future States we understand the Conflagration, and what new Order of Nature may follow upon that, till the whole Circle of Time and Providence be compleated. As to the first and past States of the Earth, we shall have little help from the Ancients, or from any of the Philosophers, for the discovery or description of them; We must often tread unbeaten paths, and make a way where we do not find one; but it shall be always with a Light in our hand, that we may see our steps, and that those that follow us may not follow us blindly. There is no Sect of Philosophers that I know of that ever gave an account of the Universal Deluge, or discover’d, from the contemplation of the Earth, that there had been such a thing already in Nature. ’Tis true, they often talk of an alternation of Deluges and Conflagrations in this Earth, but they speak of them as things to come; at least they give no proof or argument of any that hath already destroyed the World. As to Paradise, it seems to be represented to us by the Golden Age; whereof the Ancients tell many stories, sometimes very luxuriant, and sometimes very defective: For they did not so well understand the difference betwixt the New-made Earth and the Present, as to see what were the just grounds of the Golden Age, or of Paradise: Tho’ they had many broken Notions concerning those things. As to the Conflagration in particular, This hath always been reckon’d One amongst the Opinions or Dogmata of the Stoicks, That the World was to be destroy’d by Fire, and their Books are full of this Notion; but yet they do not tell us the Causes of the Conflagration, nor what preparations there are in Nature, or will be, towards that great Change. And we may generally observe this of the Ancients, that their Learning or Philosophy consisted more in Conclusions, than in Demonstrations; They had many truths among them, whereof they did not know themselves the premisses or the proofs: Which is an argument to me, that the knowledge they had, was not a thing of their own invention, or which they came to by fair reasoning and observations upon Nature, but was delivered to them from others by Tradition and Ancient fame, sometimes more publick, sometimes more secret: These Conclusions they kept in mind, and communicated to those of their School, or Sect, or Posterity, without knowing, for the most part, the just grounds and reasons of them.
’Tis the Sacred writings of Scripture that are the best monuments of Antiquity, and to those we are chiefly beholden for the History of the first Ages, whether Natural History or Civil. ’Tis true, the Poets, who were the most ancient Writers amongst the Greeks, and serv’d them both for Historians, Divines, and Philosophers, have deliver’d some things concerning the first Ages of the World, that have a fair resemblance of truth, and some affinity with those accounts that are
given of the same things by sacred Authors, and these may be of use in due time and place; but yet, lest any thing fabulous should be mixt with them, as commonly there is, we will never depend wholly upon their credit, nor assert any thing upon the authority of the Ancients which is not first prov’d by natural Reason, or warranted by Scripture.
It seems to me very reasonable to believe, that besides the precepts of Religion, which are the principal subject and design of the Books of holy Scripture, there may be providentially conserv’d in them the memory of things and times so remote, as could not be retriev’d, either by History, or by the light of Nature; and yet were of great importance to be known, both for their own excellency, and also to rectifie the knowledge of men in other things consequential to them: Such points may be, Our great Epocha or the Age of the Earth, The Origination of mankind, The first and Paradisiacal state, The destruction of the Old World by an universal Deluge,
The longevity of its inhabitants, The manner of their preservation, and of their peopling the Second Earth; and lastly, The Fate and Changes it is to undergo. These I always lookt upon as the Seeds of great knowledge, or heads of Theories fixt on purpose to give us aim and direction how to pursue the rest that depend upon them. But these heads, you see, are of a mixt order, and we propose to our selves in this Work only such as belong to the Natural World; upon which I believe the trains of Providence are generally laid; And we must first consider how God hath order’d Nature, and then now the Oeconomy of the Intellectual World is adapted to it; for of these two parts consists the full System of Providence. In the mean time, what subject can be more worthy the thoughts of any serious person, than to view and consider the Rise and Fall, and all the Revolutions, not of a Monarchy or an Empire, of the Grecian or Roman State, but of an intire World.
The obscurity of these things, and their remoteness from common knowledge will be made an argument by some, why we should not undertake them; And by others, it may be, the very same thing will be made an argument why we should; for my part I think There is nothing so secret that shall not be brought to Light, within the compass of Our World; for we are not to understand that of the whole Universe, nor of all Eternity, our capacities do not extend so far;
***But whatsoever concerns this Sublunary World in the whole extent of its duration, from the Chaos to the last period, this I believe Providence hath made us capable to understand, and will in its due time make it known. ***
All I say, betwixt the first Chaos and the last Completion of Time and all things temporary, This was given to the disquisitions of men; On either hand is Eternity, before the World and after, which is without our reach: But that little spot of ground that lies betwixt those two great Oceans, this we are to cultivate, this we are Masters of, herein we are to exercise our thoughts, to understand and lay open the treasures of the Divine Wisdom and Goodness hid in this part of Nature and of Providence.
As for the difficulty or obscurity of an argument, that does but add to the pleasure of contesting with it, when there are hopes of victory; and success does more than recompence all the pains. For there is no sort of joy more grateful to the mind of man, than that which ariseth from the invention of Truth; especially
when ’tis hard to come by.
*Every man hath a delight suited to his Genius, and as there is pleasure in the right exercise of any faculty, so especially in that of Right-reasoning; which is still the greater, by how much the consequences are more clear, and the chains of them more long: There is no Chase so pleasant, methinks, as to drive a Thought, by good conduct, from one end of the World to the other; and never to lose sight of it till it fall into Eternity, where all things are lost as to our knowledge.
This Theory being chiefly Philosophical, Reason is to be our first Guide; and where that falls short, or any other just occasion offers itself, we may receive further light and confirmation from the Sacred writings. Both these are to be lookt upon as of Divine Original, God is the Author of both; He that made the Scripture made also our Faculties, and ’twere a reflection upon the Divine Veracity, for the one or the other to be false when rightly us’d. We must therefore be careful and tender of opposing these to one another, because that is, in effect, to oppose God to himself. As for Antiquity and the Testimonies of the Ancients, we only make general reflections upon them, for illustration rather than proof of what we propose; not thinking it proper for an English Treatise to multiply citations out of Greek or Latin Authors.
I am very sensible it will be much our interest, that the Reader of this Theory should be of an ingenuous and unprejudic’d temper; neither does it so much require Book-learning and Scholarship, as good natural sence to distinguish True and False, and to discern what is well prov’d, and what is not. It often happens that Scholastick Education, like a Trade, does so fix a man in a particular way, that he is not fit to judge of any thing that lies out of that way; and so his Learning becomes a clog to his natural parts, and makes him more indocile, and more incapable of new thoughts and new improvements, than those that have only the Talents of Nature. As Masters of exercise had rather take a Scholar that never learn’d before, than one that hath had a bad Master; so generally one would rather chuse a Reader without art, than one ill-instructed; with learning, but opinionative and without judgment: yet it is not necessary they should want either, and Learning well plac’d strengthens all the powers of the mind. To conclude, just reasoning and a generous love of Truth, whether with or without Erudition, is that which makes us most competent Judges what is true; and further than this, in the perusal and examination of this Work, as to the Author as much candor as you please, but as to the Theory we require nothing but attention and impartiality.
A general account of Noah’s Flood; A computation what quantity of Water would be necessary for the making of it; that the common Opinion and Explication of that Flood is not intelligible.
’TIS now more than Five Thousand years since our World was made, and though it would be a great pleasure to the mind, to recollect and view at this distance those first Scenes of Nature: what the face of the Earth was when
fresh and new, and how things differ’d from the state we now find them in, the speculation is so remote, that it seems to be hopeless, and beyond the reach of Humane Wit. We are almost the last Posterity of the first Men, and fain into the dying Age of the World; by what footsteps, or by what guide, can we trace back our way to those first Ages, and the first order of things? And yet, methinks, it is reasonable to believe, that Divine Providence, which sees at once throughout all the Ages of the World, should not be willing to keep Mankind finally and fatally ignorant of that part of Nature, and of the Universe, which is properly their Task and Province to manage and understand. We are the Inhabitants of the Earth, the Lords and Masters of it; and we are endow’d with Reason and Understanding; doth it not then properly belong to us to examine and unfold the works of God in this part of the Universe, which is fain to our lot, which is our heritage and habitation? And it will be found, it may be, upon a stricter Enquiry, that in the present form and constitution of the Earth, there are certain marks and Indications of its first State; with which if we compare those things that are recorded in Sacred History, concerning the first Chaos, Paradise, and an universal Deluge, we may discover, by the help of those Lights, what the Earth was in its first Original, and what Changes have since succeeded in it.
And though we shall give a full account of the Origin of the Earth in this Treatise, yet that which we have propos’d particularly for the
***Title and Subject of it, is to give an account of the primæval PARADISE, and of the universal DELUGE: Those being the two most important things that are explain’d by the Theory we propose.***
And I must beg leave in treating of these two, to change the order, and treat first of the Deluge, and then of Paradise: For though the State of Paradise doth precede that of the Flood in Sacred History, and in the nature of the thing, yet the explication of both will be more sensible, and more effectual, if we begin with the Deluge; there being more Observations and Effects, and those better known to us, that may be refer’d to this, than to the other; and the Deluge being once truly explain’d, we shall from thence know the form and Quality of the Ante-diluvian Earth. Let us then proceed to the explication of that great and fatal Inundation, whose History is well known; and according to Moses, the best of Historians, in a few words is this–
***Sixteen Hundred*** and odd years after the Earth was made, and inhabited, it was overflow’d, and destroy’d in a Deluge of water. Not a Deluge that was National only, or over-run some particular Country or Region, as Judea or Greece, or any other, but it overspread the face of the whole Earth, from Pole to Pole, and from East to West, and that in such excess, that the Floods over-reacht the Tops of the highest Mountains; the Rains descending after an unusual manner, and the fountains of the Great Deep being broke open; so as a general destruction and devastation was brought upon the Earth, and all things in it, Mankind and other living Creatures; excepting only Noah and his Family, who by a special Providence of God were preserv’d in a certain Ark, or Vessel made like a Ship, and such kinds of living Creatures as he took in to him. After these waters had rag’d for some time on the Earth, they began to lessen and shrink, and the great waves and fluctuations of this Deep or Abysse, being quieted by degrees, the***
waters retied into their Chanels and Caverns within the Earth; and the Mountains and Fields began to appear, and the whole habitable Earth in that form and shape wherein we now see it. Then the World began again, and from that little Remnant preserv’d in the Ark, the present race of Mankind, and of Animals, in the known parts of the Earth, were propagated. Thus perisht the old World, and the present arose from the ruines and remains of it.
This is a short story of the greatest thing that ever yet hapned in the world, the greatest revolution and the greatest change in Nature; and if we come to reflect seriously upon it, we shall find it extremely difficult, if not impossible, to give an account of the waters that compos’d this Deluge, whence they came or whither they went. If it had been only the Inundation of a Country, or of a Province, or of the greatest part of a Continent, some proportionable causes perhaps might have been found out; but a Deluge overflowing the whole Earth, the whole Circuit and whole Extent of it, burying all in water, even the greatest Mountains, in any known parts of the Universe, to find water sufficient for this Effect, as it is generally explained and understood, I think is impossible. And what we may the better judge of the whole matter, let us first compute how much water would be requisite for such a Deluge, or to lay the Earth, consider’d in its present form, and the highest Mountains, under water. Then let’s consider whether such a quantity of water can be had out of all the stores that we know in Nature: And from these two we will take our Ground and Rise, and begin to reflect, whether the World hath not been hitherto mistaken in the common opinion and explication of the general Deluge.
To discover how much water would be requisite to make this Deluge, we must first suppose enough to cover the plain surface of the Earth, the Fields and lower Grounds; then we must heap up so much more upon this as will reach above the tops of the highest Mountains; so as drawing a Circle over the tops of the highest Mountains quite round the Earth, suppose from Pole to Pole, and another to meet it about the middle of the Earth, all that space or capacity contain’d within these Circles is to be fill’d up with water. This I confess will make a prodigious mass of water, and it looks frightfully to the imagination; ’tis huge and great, but ’tis extravagantly so, as a great Monster: It doth not look like the work of God or Nature: However let’s compute a little more particularly how much this will amount to, or how many Oceans of water would be necessary to compose this great Ocean rowling in the Air, without bounds or banks.
If all the Mountains were par’d off the Earth, and so the surface of it lay even, or in an equal convexity every where with the surface of the Sea, from this surface of the Sea let us suppose that the height of the Mountains may be a mile and an half; or that we may not seem at all to favour our own opinion or calculation, let us take a mile only for the perpendicular height of the Mountains. Let us on the other side suppose the Sea to cover half the Earth, as ’tis generally believ’d to do; and the common depth of it, taking one place with another, to be about a quarter of a mile or 250 paces. I say, taking one place with another, for though the middle Chanel of the great Ocean be far deeper, we may observe, that there is commonly a descent or declivity from the shore to the middle part of the Chanel,
so that one comes by degrees into the depth of it; and those shory parts are generally but some fathoms deep. Besides, in arms of the Sea, in Straits and among Islands, there is commonly no great depth, and some places are plain shallows. So as upon a moderate computation, one place compar’d with another, we may take a quarter of a mile, or about an hundred fathoms, for the common measure of the depth of the Sea, if it were cast into a Chanel of an equal depth every where. This being suppos’d, there would need four Oceans to lie upon this Ocean, to raise it up to the top of the Mountains, or so high as the waters of the Deluge rise; then four Oceans more to lie upon the Land, that the water there might swell to the same height; which together make eight Oceans for the proportion of the water requir’d in the Deluge.
’Tis true, there would not be altogether so much water requir’d for the Land as for the Sea, to raise them to an equal height; because Mountains and Hills would fill up part of that space upon the Land, and so make less water requisite. But to compensate this, and confirm our computation, we must consider in the first place, that we have taken a much less height of the Mountains than is requisite, if we respect the Mediterraneous Mountains, or those that are at a great distance from the Sea; For their height above the surface of the Sea, computing the declivity of the Land all along from the Mountains to the Sea-side (and that there is such a declivity is manifest from the course and descent of the Rivers) is far greater than the proportion we have taken: For the height of Mountains is usually taken from the foot of them, or from the next plain, which if it be far from the Sea, we may reasonably allow as much for the declension of the Land from that place to the Sea, as for the immediate height of the Mountain; So, for instance, the Mountains of the Moon in Africa, whence the Nile flows, and after a long course falls into the Mediterranean Sea by Egypt, are so much higher than the surface of that Sea, first, as the Ascent of the Land is from the Sea to the foot of the Mountains, and then as the height of the Mountains is from the bottom to the top: For both these are to be computed when you measure the height of a Mountain, or of a mountainous Land, in respect of the Sea: And the height of Mountains to the Sea being thus computed, there would be need of six or eight Oceans to raise the Sea alone as high as the highest In-land Mountains; And this is more than enough to compensate the less quantity of water that would be requisite upon the Land. Besides, we must consider the Regions of the Air upwards to be more capacious than a Region of the same thickness in or near the Earth, so as if an Ocean pour’d upon the surface of the dry Land, supposing it were all smooth, would rise to the height of half a quarter of a mile every where; the like quantity of water pour’d again at the height of the Mountains, would not have altogether the same effect, or would not there raise the mass half a quarter of a mile higher; for the surfaces of a Globe, the farther they are from their Center, are the greater; and so accordingly the Regions that belong to them. And, lastly, we must consider that there are some Countries or Valleys very low, and also many Caverns or Cavities within the Earth, all which in this case were to be first fill’d with water. These things being compar’d and estimated, we shall find that notwithstanding the room that Hills and Mountains take up on
the dry Land, there would be at least eight Oceans requir’d, or a quantity of water eight times as great as the Ocean, to bring an universal Deluge upon the Earth, as that Deluge is ordinarily understood and explained.
The proportion of water for the Deluge being thus stated, the next thing to be done, is to enquire where this water is to be found; if any part of the Sublunary World will afford us so much: Eight Oceans floating in the Air, make a great bulk of water, I do not know what possible Sources to draw it from. There are the Clouds above, and the Deeps below, and in the bowels of the Earth; and these are all the stores we have for water; and Moses directs us to no other for the causes of the Deluge. The Fountains (he saith) of the great Abysse were broken up, or burst asunder, and the Rain descended for forty days, the Cataracts or Floodgates of Heaven being open’d. And in these two, no doubt, are contain’d the causes of the great Deluge, as according to Moses, so also according to reason and necessity; for our World affords no other treasures of water. Let us therefore consider how much this Rain of forty days might amount to, and how much might flow out of the Abysse, that so we may judge whether these two in conjunction would make up the Eight Oceans which we want.
As for the Rains, they would not afford us one Ocean, nor half an Ocean, nor the tenth part of an Ocean, if we may trust to the Observations made by others concerning the quantity of water that falls in Rain. Cog. Phys. Mech., p. 221.Mersennus gives us this account of it. “It appears by our Observations, that a Cubical Vessel of Brass, whereof we made use, is fill’d an inch and an half in half an hours time; but because that sucks up nothing of the moisture as the Earth doth, let us take an inch for half an hours Rain; whence it follows, that in the space of 40 days and nights Rain, At 4 feet in 24 hours.the waters in the Deluge would rise 160 feet, if the Rains were constant and equal to ours, and that it rain’d at once throughout the face of the whole Earth.” But the Rain of the Deluge, saith he, should have been 90 times greater than this, to cover, for instance, the Mountains of Armenia, or to reach 15 Cubits above them. So that according to his computation, the 40 days Rain would supply little more than the hundredth part of the water requisite to make the Deluge. ’Tis true, he takes the heighth of the Mountains higher than we do; but, however, if you temper the Calculation on all sides as much as you please, the water that came by this Rain would be a very inconsiderable part of what was necessary for a Deluge. If it rain’d 40 days and 40 nights throughout the face of the whole Earth, in the Northern and Southern Hemisphere all at once, it might be sufficient to lay all the lower grounds under water, but it would signifie very little as to the overflowing of the Mountains. Auct. cat. in Gen. 7. 3.Whence another Author upon the same occasion hath this passage. “If the Deluge had been made by Rains only, there would not have needed 40 days, but 40 years Rain to have brought it to pass.” And if we should suppose the whole middle Region condens’d into water, it would not at all have been sufficient for this effect, according to that proportion some make betwixt Air and Water; for they say, Air turn’d into Water takes up a hundred times less room than it did before. The truth is, we may reasonably suppose, that all the vapours of the middle Region were turn’d into water in this 40 days and 40 nights Rain, if we admit, that this Rain was throughout the whole
[paragraph continues] Earth at once, in either Hemisphere, in every Zone, in every Climate, in every Country, in every Province, in every Field; and yet we see what a small proportion all this would amount to.
Having done then with these Superiour Regions, we are next to examine the Inferiour, and the treasures of water that may be had there. Moses tells us, that the Fountains of the great Abysse were broke open, or clove asunder, as the word there us’d doth imply; and no doubt in this lay the great mystery of the Deluge, as will appear when it comes to be rightly understood and explain’d; but we are here to consider what is generally understood by the great Abysse, in the common explication of the Deluge; and ’tis commonly interpreted either to be the Sea, or Subterraneous waters hid in the bowels of the Earth: These, they say, broke forth and rais’d the waters, caus’d by the Rain, to such an height, that together they overflowed the highest Mountains. But whether or how this could be, deserves to be a little examin’d.
And in the first place; the Sea is not higher than the Land, as some have formerly imagin’d; fansying the Sea stood, as it were, upon a heap, higher than the shore; and at the Deluge a relaxation being made, it overflow’d the Land. But this conceit is so gross, and so much against reason and experience, that none I think of late have ventur’d to make use of it. And yet on the other hand, if the Sea lie in an equal convexity with the Land, or lower generally than the shore, and much more than the mid-land, as it is certainly known to do, what could the Sea contribute to the Deluge? It would keep its Chanel, as it doth now, and take up the same place. And so also the Subterraneous waters would lie quiet in their Cells; whatsoever Fountains or passages you suppose, these would not issue out upon the Earth, for water doth not ascend, unless by force. But let’s imagine then that force us’d and appli’d, and the waters both of the Sea and Caverns under ground drawn out upon the surface of the Earth, we shall not be any whit the nearer for this; for if you take these waters out of their places, those places must be fill’d again with other waters in the Deluge; so as this turns to no account upon the whole. If you have two Vessels to fill, and you empty one to fill the other, you gain nothing by that, there still remains one Vessel empty; you cannot have these waters both in the Sea and on the Land, both above ground and under; nor can you suppose the Chanel of the Sea would stand gaping without water, when all the Earth was overflow’d, and the tops of the Mountains cover’d. And so for Subterraneous Cavities, if you suppose the water pumpt out, they would suck it in again when the Earth came to be laid under water; so that upon the whole, if you thus understand the Abysse or great Deep, and the breaking open its Fountains in this manner, it doth us no service as to the Deluge, and where we expected the greatest supply, there we find none at all.
What shall we do then? whither shall we go to find more than seven Oceans of water that we still want? We have been above and below; we have drain’d the whole middle Region, and we have examin’d the Deeps of the Earth; they must want for themselves, they say, if they give us any; And, besides, if the Earth should disgorge all the water that it hath in its bowels, it would not amount to above half an Ocean, which would not at all answer our occasions. Must we
not then conclude, that the common explication of the Deluge makes it impossible? there being no such quantity of water in Nature as they make requisite for an universal Deluge. Yet to give them all fair play, having examin’d the waters above the Earth, or in the Air, the waters upon the Earth, and the waters under the Earth; let us also consider if there be not waters above the Heavens, and if those might not be drawn down for the Deluge. Moses speaks of waters above the firmament, which though it be generally understood of the middle Region of the Air, especially as it was constituted before the Deluge, yet some have thought those to be waters plac’d above the highest Heavens, or Super-celestial waters: and have been willing to make use of them for a supply, when they could not find materials enough under the Heavens to make up the great mass of the Deluge. But the Heavens above, where these waters lay, are either solid, or fluid; if solid, as Glass or Crystal, how could the waters get through ’em to descend upon the Earth? If fluid, as the Air or Æther, how could the waters rest upon them? For Water is heavier than Air or Æther; So that I am afraid those pure Regions will prove no fit place for that Element, upon any account. But supposing these waters there, how imaginary soever, and that they were brought down to drown the World in that vast quantity that would be necessary, what became of them when the Deluge ceas’d? Seven or eight Oceans of water, with the Earth wrapt up in the middle of them, how did it ever get quit of them? how could they be dispos’d of when the Earth was to be dri’d, and the World renew’d? It would be a hard task to lift them up again among the Spheres, and we have no room for them here below. The truth is, I mention this opinion of the Heavenly waters, because I would omit none that had ever been made use of to make good the common explication of the Deluge; but otherwise, I think, since the System of the World hath been better known, and the Nature of the Heavens, there are none that would seriously assert these Super-celestial waters, or, at least, make use of them so extravagantly, as to bring them down hither for causes of the Deluge.
We have now employ’d our last and utmost endeavours to find out waters for the vulgar Deluge, or for the Deluge as commonly understood; and you see with how little success; we have left no corner unsought, where there was any appearance or report of water to be found, and yet we have not been able to collect the eighth part of what was necessary upon a moderate account. May we not then with assurance conclude, that the World hath taken wrong measures hitherto in their notion and explication of the general Deluge? They make it impossible and unintelligible upon a double account, both in requiring more water than can be found, and more than can be dispos’d of, if it was found: or could any way be withdrawn from the Earth when the Deluge should cease. For if the Earth was encompass’d with eight Oceans of water heapt one upon another, how these should retire into any Chanels, or be drain’d off, or the Earth any way disengag’d from them, is not intelligible; and that in so short a time as some months: For the violence of the Deluge lasted but four or five months, and in as many months after the Earth was dry and habitable. So as upon the whole enquiry, we can neither find source nor issue, beginning nor ending, for such an excessive mass
of waters as the Vulgar Deluge requir’d; neither where to have them, nor if we had them, how to get quit of them. And I think men cannot do a greater injury or injustice to Sacred History, than to give such representations of things recorded there, as to make them unintelligible and incredible; As on the other hand, we cannot deserve better of Religion and Providence, than by giving such fair accounts of all things propos’d by them, or belonging to them, as may silence the Cavils of Atheists, satisfie the inquisitive, and recommend them to the belief and acceptance of all reasonable persons.
All Evasions answered; That there was no new Creation of waters at the Deluge: And that it was not particular or National, but extended throughout the whole Earth. A prelude and preparation to the true Account and Explication of it: The method of the first Book.
THOUGH in the preceeding Chapter we may seem to have given a fair trial 1 to the common opinion concerning the state of the Deluge, and might now proceed to sentence of condemnation; yet having heard of another plea, which some have us’d in its behalf, and another way found out by recourse to the Supream Power, to supply all defects, and to make the whole matter intelligible, we will proceed no further till that be consider’d; being very willing to examine whatsoever may be offer’d, in that or any other way, for resolving that great difficulty which we have propos’d, concerning the quantity of water requisite for such a Deluge. And to this they say in short, that God Almighty created waters on purpose to make the Deluge, and then annihilated them again when the Deluge was to cease; And this, in a few words, is the whole account of the business. This is to cut the knot when we cannot loose it; They show us the naked arm of Omni-potency; such Arguments as these come like lightning, one doth not know what Armour to put on against them, for they pierce the more, the more they are resisted: We will not therefore oppose any thing to them that is hard and stubborn, but by a soft answer deaden their force by degrees.
And I desire to mind those persons in the first place of what St. Austin hath said upon a like occasion, speaking concerning those that disprov’d the opinion of waters above the Heavens (which we mentioned before) by natural Reasons. “We are not, saith he, to refute those persons, by saying, that according to the Omnipotence of God, to whom all things are possible, we ought to believe there are waters there as heavy as we know and feel them here below; for our business is now to enquire according to his Scripture, how God hath constituted the Nature of things, and not what he could do or work in these things by a miracle of Omnipotency.” I desire them to apply this to the present argument for the first answer.
Secondly, let them consider, that Moses hath assign’d causes of the Deluge; Forty days Rain, and the disruption of the Abysse; and speaks nothing of a new
creation of water upon that occasion. Those were causes in Nature which Providence had then dispos’d for this extraordinary effect, and those the Divine Historian refers us to, and not to any productions out of nothing. Besides, Moses makes the Deluge increase by degrees with the Rain, and accordingly makes it cease by degrees, and that the waters going and returning, as the waves and great commotions of the Sea use to do, retied leisurely from the face of the Earth, and setled at length in their Chanels. Now this manner of the beginning or ceasing of the Deluge doth not at all agree with the instantaneous actions of Creation and Annihilation.
Thirdly, let them consider, that2 Pet. 3. 6. St. Peter hath also assign’d Causes of the Deluge; namely the particular constitution of the Earth and Heavens before the Flood; “by reason whereof, he saith, the World that was then, perisht in a Deluge of water.” And not by reason of a new creation of water. His words are these, “The Heavens and the Earth were of old, consisting of water, and by water; whereby, or by reason whereof, the World that then was, being overflowed with water, perished.”
Fourthly, they are to consider, that as we are not rashly to have recourse to the Divine Omnipotence upon any account, so especially not for new Creations; and least of all for the creation of new matter. The matter of the Universe was created many Ages before the Flood, and the Universe being full, if any more was created, then there must be as much annihilated at the same time to make room for it; for Bodies cannot penetrate one anothers dimensions, nor be two or more within one and the same space. Then on the other hand, when the Deluge ceas’d, and these waters were annihilated, so much other matter must be created again to take up their places: And methinks they make very bold with the Deity, when they make him do and undo, go forward and backwards by such countermarches and retractions, as we do not willingly impute to the wisdom of God Almighty.
Lastly, I shall not think my labour lost, if it be but acknowledg’d, that we have so far clear’d the way in this controversie, as to have brought it to this issue; That either there must be new waters created on purpose to make a Deluge, or there could be no Deluge, as ’tis vulgarly explain’d; there not being water sufficient in Nature to make a Deluge of that kind. This, I say, is a great step, and, I think, will satisfie all parties, at least all that are considerable; for those that have recourse to a new Creation of waters, are of two sorts, either such as do it out of laziness and ignorance, or such as do it out of necessity, seeing they cannot be had otherwise; as for the first, they are not to be valu’d or gratifi’d; and as for the second, I shall do a thing very acceptable to them, if I free them and the argument from that necessity, and show a way of making the Deluge fairly intelligible, and accountable without the creation of new waters; which is the design of this Treatise. For we do not tye this knot with an Intention to puzzle and perplex the Argument finally with it, but the harder it is ty’d, we shall feel the pleasure more sensibly when we come to loose it.
It may be when they are beaten from this new Creation of water, they will say the Element of Air was chang’d into water, and that was the great storehouse for the Deluge. Forty days Rain we allow, as Moses does, but if they suppose any
other transelementation, it neither agrees with Moses‘s Philosophy, nor St. Peter‘s; for then the opening of the Abysse was needless, and the form and constitution of the Ante-diluvian Heavens and Earth, which St. Peter refers the Deluge to, bore no part in the work; it might have been made, in that way, indifferently under any Heavens or Earth. Besides, they offend against St. Austin‘s rule in this method too; for I look upon it as no less a miracle to turn Air into Water, than to turn Water into Wine. Air, I say, for Vapours indeed are but water made volatile, but pure Air is a body of another Species, and cannot by any compression or condensation, so far as is yet known, be chang’d into water. And lastly, if the whole Atmosphere was turn’d into water, ’tis very probable it would make no more than 34 foot or thereabouts; for so much Air or Vapours as is of the same weight with any certain quantity of water, ’tis likely, if it was chang’d into water, would also be of the same bulk with it, or not much more: Now according to the doctrine of the Gravitation of the Atmosphere, ’tis found that 34 foot of water does counterbalance a proportionable Cylinder of Air reaching to the top of the Atmosphere; and consequently, if the whole Atmosphere was converted into water, it would make no more than eleven or twelve yards water about the Earth; Which the cavities of the Earth would be able in a good measure to suck up, at least this is very inconsiderable as to our eight Oceans. And if you would change the higher Regions into water too, what must supply the place of that Air which you transform into water, and bring down upon the Earth? There would be little but Fire and Æther betwixt us and the Moon, and I am afraid it would endanger to suck down the Moon too after it. In a word, such an explication as this, is both purely imaginary, and also very operose, and would affect a great part of the Universe; and after all, they would be as hard put to’t to get rid of this water, when the Deluge was to cease, as they were at first to procure it.
Having now examin’d and answered all the pleas, from first to last, for the vulgar Deluge, or the old way of explaining it, we should proceed immediately to propose another method, and another ground for an universal Deluge, were it not that an opinion hath been started by some of late, that would in effect supplant both these methods, old and new, and take away in a great measure the subject of the question. Some modern Authors observing what straits they have been put to in all Ages, to find out water enough for Noah‘s Flood, have ventur’d upon an expedient more brisk and bold, than any of the Ancients durst venture upon: They say, Noah‘s Flood was not Universal, but a National Inundation, confin’d to Judæa, and those Countries thereabouts; and consequently, there would not be so much water necessary for the cause of it, as we have prov’d to be necessary for an Universal Deluge of that kind. Their inference is very true, they have avoided that rock, but they run upon another no less dangerous; to avoid an objection from reason, they deny matter of fact, and such matter of fact as is well attested by History, both Sacred and prophane. I believe the Authors that set up this opinion, were not themselves satisfied with it: but seeing insuperable difficulties in the old way, they are the more excusable in chusing, as they thought, of two evils the less.
But the choice, methinks, is as bad on this hand, if all things be considered; Moses represents the Flood of Noah as an overthrow and destruction of the whole Earth; and who can imagine, that in sixteen or seventeen hundred years time (taking the lower Chronology) that the Earth had then stood, mankind should be propagated no further than Judæa, or some neighbouring Countries thereabouts. After the Flood, when the World was renew’d again by eight persons, they had made a far greater progress in Asia, Europe and Africa, within the same space of years, and yet ’tis likely they were more fruitful in the first Ages of the World, than after the Flood; and they liv’d six, seven, eight, nine hundred years a piece, getting Sons and Daughters. Which longevity of the first Inhabitants of the Earth seems to have been providentially design’d for the quicker multiplication and propagation of mankind; and mankind thereby would become so numerous within sixteen hundred years, that there seems to me to be a greater difficulty from the multitude of the people that would be before the Flood, than from the want of people. For if we allow the first couple at the end of one hundred years, or of the first Century, to have left ten pair of Breeders, which is no hard supposition, there would arise from these, in fifteen hundred years, a greater number than the Earth was capable of; allowing every pair to multiply in the same decuple proportion the first pair did. But because this would rise far beyond the capacities of this Earth, let us suppose them to increase, in the following Centuries, in a quintuple proportion only, or, if you will, only in a quadruple; and then the Table of the multiplication of mankind from the Creation to the Flood, would stand thus;
[paragraph continues] This product is too excessive high, if compar’d with the present number of men upon the face of the Earth, which I think is commonly estimated to be betwixt three and four hundred millions; and yet this proportion of their increase seems to be low enough, if we take one proportion for all the Centuries; for, in reality, the same measure cannot run equally through all the Ages, but we have taken this as moderate and reasonable betwixt the highest and the lowest; but if we had taken only a triple proportion, it would have been sufficient (all things consider’d) for our purpose. There are several other ways of computing this number, and some more particular and exact than this is, but which way soever you try, you will find the product great enough for the extent of this Earth; and if you follow the Septuagint Chronology it will still be far higher. I have met with three or four different Calculations, in several Authors, of the number of mankind before the Flood, and never met with any yet, but what exceeded the number of the people that are at present upon the face of the Earth. So as it seems to
me a very groundless and forc’d conceit to imagine, that Judæa only, and some parts about it in Asia, were stor’d with people when the Deluge was brought upon the old World. Besides, if the Deluge was confin’d to those Countries, I do not see but the Borderers might have escap’d, shifting a little into the adjoining places where the Deluge did not reach. But especially what needed so much a-do to build an Ark to save Noah and his family, if he might have sav’d himself, and them, only by retiring into some neighbouring Countrey; as Lot and his family sav’d themselves, by withdrawing from Sodom, when the City was to be destroyed? Had not this been a far easier thing, and more compendious, than the great preparations he made of a large Vessel, with Rooms for the reception and accommodation of Beasts and Birds? And now I mention Birds, why could not they at least have flown into the next dry Country; they might have pearch’d upon the Trees and the tops of the Mountains by the way to have rested themselves if they were weary, for the waters did not all of a sudden rise to the Mountains tops.
I cannot but look upon the Deluge as a much more considerable thing than these Authors would represent it, and as a kind of dissolution of Nature.
***Moses calls it a destroying of the Earth, as well as of mankind, Gen. 6. 13. And the Bow was set in the Cloud to seal the Covenant, that he would destroy the Earth no more, Gen. 9. 11. or that there should be no more a Flood to destroy the Earth. And ’tis said, verse 13. that the Covenant was made between God and the Earth, or this frame of Nature, that it should perish no more by water. And the Rain-bow, which was a token and pledge of this Covenant, appears not only in Judæa, or some other Asiatick Provinces, but to all the Regions of the Earth, who had an equal concern in it. Moses saith also the Fountains of the great Abysse were burst asunder to make the Deluge, and what means this Abysse and the bursting of it, if restrain’d to Judæa, or some adjacent Countries? What appearance is there of this disruption there more than in other places? Furthermore, 2 Epist. c. 5. 6.St. Peter plainly implies, that the Antediluvian Heavens and Earth perisht in the Deluge; and opposeth the present Earth and Heavens to them, as different and of another constitution: and saith, that these shall perish by Fire, as the other perisht by water. So he compares the Conflagration with the Deluge, as two general dissolutions of Nature, and one may as well say, that the Conflagration shall be only National, and but two or three Countries burnt in that last Fire, as to say that the Deluge was so. I confess that discourse of St. Peter, concerning the several States of the World, would sufficiently convince me, if there was nothing else, that the Deluge was not a particular or National Inundation, but a mundane change, that extended to the whole Earth, and both to the Heavens and the Earth.***
All Antiquity, we know, hath spoke of these mundane Revolutions or Periods, that the World should be successively destroy’d by Water and Fire; and I do not doubt but that this Deluge of Noah‘s, which Moses describes, was the first and leading instance of this kind: And accordingly we see that after this Period, and after the Flood, the blessing for multiplication, and for replenishing the Earth with Inhabitants, was as solemnly pronounc’d by God Almighty, as at the first Creation of man, Gen. 9. 1. with Gen. 1. 28. These considerations, I think, might
be sufficient to give us assurance from Divine Writ of the universality of the Deluge, and yet Moses affords us another argument as demonstrative as any, when in the History of the Deluge, he saith, Gen. 7. 19. The waters exceedingly prevailed upon the Earth, and all the high Hills that were under the whole Heavens were covered. All the high Hills, he saith, under the whole Heavens, then quite round the Earth; and if the Mountains were cover’d quite round the Earth, sure the Plains could not scape. But to argue with them upon their own grounds; Let us suppose only the Asiatick and Armenian Mountains covered with these waters, this they cannot deny; then unless there was a miracle to keep these waters upon heaps, they would flow throughout the Earth; for these Mountains are high enough to make them fall every way, and make them joyn with our Seas that environ the Continent. We cannot imagine Hills and Mountains of water to have hung about Judæa, as if they were congeal’d, or a mass of water to have stood upon the middle of the Earth like one great drop, or a trembling jelly, and all the places about it dry and untouch’d. All liquid bodies are diffusive; for their parts being in motion have no tye or connexion one with another, but glide and fall off any way, as gravity and the Air presseth them; so the surface of water doth always conform into a Spherical convexity with the rest of the Globe of the Earth, and every part of it falls as near to the Center as it can; wherefore when these waters began to rise at first, long before they could swell to the heighth of the Mountains, they would diffuse themselves every way, and thereupon all the Valleys and Plains, and lower parts of the Earth would be filled throughout the whole Earth, before they could rise to the tops of the Mountains in any part of it: And the Sea would be all raised to a considerable heighth before the Mountains could be covered. For let’s suppose, as they do, that this water fell not throughout the whole Earth, but in some particular Country, and there made first a great Lake; this Lake when it begun to swell would every way discharge it self by any descents or declivities of the ground, and these issues and derivations being once made, and supplied with new waters pushing them forwards, would continue their course till they arriv’d at the Sea; just as other Rivers do, for these would be but so many Rivers rising out of this Lake, and would not be considerably deeper and higher at the Fountain than in their progress or at the Sea. We may as well then expect that the Leman-Lake, for instance, out of which the Rhone runs, should swell to the tops of the Alpes on the one hand, and the Mountains of Switzerland and Burgundy on the other, and then stop, without overflowing the plainer Countries that lie beyond them; as to suppose that this Diluvian Lake should rise to the Mountains tops in one place, and not diffuse it self equally into all Countries about, and upon the surface of the Sea: in proportion to its heighth and depth in the place where it first fell or stood.
Thus much for Sacred History. The universality of the Deluge is also attested by profane History; for the fame of it is gone through the Earth, and there are Records or Traditions concerning it, in all parts of this and the new-found World. Mart.
Mart.The Americans do acknowledge and speak of it in their Continent, as Acosta witnesseth, and Laet in their Histories of them. The Chineses have the Tradition of it, which is the farthest part of our Continent; and the nearer and Western
parts of Asia is acknowledg’d the proper seat of it. Not to mention Deucalion‘s Deluge in the European parts, which no question is the same under a disguise: So as you may trace the Deluge quite round the Globe in profane History; and which is remarkable, every one of these people have a tale to tell, some one way, some another, concerning the restauration of mankind; which is an argument that they thought all mankind destroy’d by that Deluge. In the old dispute between the Scythians and the Ægyptians for Antiquity, which Justin mentions, they refer to a former destruction of the World by Water or Fire, and argue whether Nation first rise again, and was original to the other. So the Babylonians, Assyrians, Phœnicians and others, mention the Deluge in their stories. And we cannot without offering violence to all Records and Authority, Divine and Humane, deny that there hath been an universal Deluge upon the Earth; and if there was an universal Deluge, no question it was that of Noah‘s, and that which Moses describ’d, and that which we treat of at present.
These considerations I think are abundantly sufficient to silence that opinion, concerning the limitation and restriction of the Deluge to a particular Country or Countries. It ought rather to be lookt upon as an Evasion indeed than Opinion, seeing the Authors do not offer any positive argument for the proof of it, but depend only upon that negative argument, that an universal Deluge is a thing unintelligible. This stumbling-stone we hope to take away for the future, and that men shall not be put to that unhappy choice, either to deny matter of fact well attested, or admit an effect, whereof they cannot see any possible causes. And so having stated and propos’d the whole difficulty, and try’d all ways offer’d by others, and found them ineffectual, let us now apply our selves by degrees to unty the knot.
The excessive quantity of water is the great difficulty, and the removal of it afterwards. Those eight Oceans lay heavy upon my thoughts, and I cast about every way to find an expedient, or to find some way whereby the same effect might be brought to pass with less water, and in such a manner, that that water might afterwards conveniently be discharg’d. The first thought that came into my mind upon that occasion, was concerning the form of the Earth, which I thought might possibly at that time be different from what it is at present, and might come nearer to plainness and equality in the surface of it, and so might the more easily be overflow’d, and the Deluge perform’d with less water. This opinion concerning the plainness of the first Earth, I also found in Antiquity, mention’d and refer’d to by several Interpreters in their Commentaries upon Genesis, either upon occasion of the Deluge, or of that Fountain which is said, Gen. 2. 6. to have watered the face of the whole Earth: And a late eminent person, the honour of this profession for Integrity and Learning, in his discourse concerning the Origination of mankind, hath made a like judgment of the State of the Earth before the Deluge, that the face of it was more smooth and regular than it is now. But yet upon second thoughts, I easily see that this alone would not be sufficient to explain the Deluge, nor to give an account of the present form of the Earth, unequal and Mountainous as it is. ’Tis true this would give a great advantage to the waters, and the Rains that fell for forty days together would
have a great power over the Earth, being plain and smooth; but how would these waters be dispos’d of when the Deluge ceas’d? or how could it ever cease? Besides, what means the disruption of the great Deep, or the great Abysse, or what answers to it upon this supposition? This was assuredly of no less consideration than the Rains, nay I believe the Rains were but preparatory in some measure, and that the violence and consummation of the Deluge depended upon the disruption of the great Abysse. Therefore I saw it necessary, to my first thought, concerning the smoothness and plainness of the Ante-diluvian Earth, to add a second, concerning the disruption and dissolution of it; for as it often happens in Earthquakes, when the exteriour Earth is burst asunder, and a great Flood of waters issues out, according to the quantity and force of them, an Inundation is made in those parts, more or less; so I thought, if that Abysse lay under ground and round the Earth, and we should suppose the Earth in this manner to be broken, in several places at once, and as it were a general dissolution made, we might suppose that to make a general Deluge, as well as a particular dissolution often makes a particular. But I will not anticipate here the explication we intend to give of the universal Deluge in the following Chapters, only by this previous intimation we may gather some hopes, it may be, that the matter is not so desperate as the former representation might possibly make us fancy it.
Give me leave to add farther in this place, that it hath been observ’d by several, from the contemplation of Mountains and Rocks and Precipices, of the Chanel of the Sea, and of Islands, and of Subterraneous Caverns, that the surface of the Earth, or the exteriour Region which we inhabit, hath been broke, and the parts of it dislocated: And one might instance more particularly in several parcels of Nature, that retain still the evident marks of fraction and ruine; and by their present form and posture show, that they have been once in another state and situation one to another. We shall have occasion hereafter to give an account of these Phænomena, from which several have rightly argu’d and concluded some general rupture or ruine in the superficial parts of the Earth. But this ruine, it is true, they have imagin’d and explain’d several ways, some thinking that it was made the third day after the foundation of the Earth; when they suppose the Chanel of the Sea to have been form’d, and Mountains and Caverns at the same time; by a violent depression of some parts of the Earth, and an extrusion and elevation of others to make them room. Others suppose it to have come not all at once, but by degrees, at several times, and in several Ages, from particular and accidental causes, as the Earth falling in upon Fires under ground, or water eating away the lower parts, or Vapours and Exhalations breaking out, and tearing the Earth. ’Tis true, I am not of their opinion in either of these Explications; and we shall show at large hereafter, when we have propos’d and stated our own Theory, how incompetent such causes are to bring the Earth into that form and condition we now find it in. But in the mean time, we may so far make use of these Opinions in general, as not to be startled at this Doctrine, concerning the breaking or dissolution of the exteriour Earth; for in all Ages the face of Nature hath provok’d men to think of and observe such a thing. And who can do otherwise, to see the Elements displac’d and disordered, as they seem to lie
at present; the heaviest and grossest bodies in the highest places, and the liquid and volatile kept below; an huge mass of Stone or Rock rear’d into the Air, and the water creeping at its feet; whereas this is the more light and active body, and by the law of Nature should take place of Rocks and Stones? So we see, by the like disorder, the Air thrown down into Dungeons of the Earth, and the Earth got up among the Clouds; for there are the tops of the Mountains, and under their roots in holes and Caverns the Air is often detain’d. By what regular action of Nature can we suppose things first produc’d in this posture and form? not to mention how broke and torn the inward substance of the Earth is, which of it self is an uniform mass, close and compact: but in the condition we see it, it lies hollow in many places, with great vacuities intercepted betwixt the portions of it; a thing which we see happens in all ruines more or less, especially when the parts of the ruines are great and inflexible. Then what can have more the figure and mien of a ruine, than Crags and Rocks and Cliffs, whether upon the Sea shore, or upon the sides of Mountains; what can be more apparently broke, than they are; and those lesser Rocks, or great bulky Stones that lie often scatter’d near the feet of the other, whether in the Sea, or upon the Land, are they not manifest fragments, and pieces of those greater masses? Besides, the posture of these Rocks, which is often leaning or recumbent, or prostrate, shows to the eye, that they have had a fall, or some kind of dislocation from their Natural site. And the same thing may be observed in the Tracts and Regions of the Earth, which very seldom for ten miles together have any regular surface or continuity one with another, but lie high and low, and are variously inclin’d sometimes one way, sometimes another, without any rule or order. Whereas I see no reason but the surface of the Land should be as regular as that of the water, in the first production of it. This I am sure of, that this disposition of the Elements, and the parts of the Earth, outward and inward, hath something irregular and unnatural in it, and manifestly shews us the marks or footsteps of some kind of ruine and dissolution; which we shall shew you, in its due place, happen’d in such a way, that at the same time a general Flood of waters would necessarily over-run the face of the whole Earth. And by the same fatal blow, the Earth fell out of that regular form, wherein it was produc’d at first, into all these irregularities which we see in its present form and composition; so that we shall give thereby a double satisfaction to the mind, both to shew it a fair and intelligible account of the general Deluge, how the waters came upon the Earth, and how they return’d into their Chanels again, and left the Earth habitable; and likewise to shew it how the Mountains were brought forth, and the Chanel of the Sea discover’d: Flow all those inequalities came in the body or face of the Earth, and those empty Vaults and Caverns in its bowels; which things are no less matter of admiration than the Flood it self.
But I must beg leave to draw a Curtain before the work for a while, and to keep your patience a little in suspence, till materials are prepar’d, and all things ready to represent and explain what we have propos’d. Yet I hope in the mean time to entertain the mind with scenes no less pleasing, though of quite another face and order: for we must now return to the beginning of the World, and look
upon the first rudiments of Nature, and that dark, but fruitful womb, out of which all things sprang, I mean the Chaos: For this is the matter which we must now work upon, and it will be no unpleasing thing to observe, how that rude mass will shoot it self into several forms, one after another, till it comes at length to make an habitable World. The steddy hand of Providence, which keeps all things in weight and measure, being the invisible guide of all its motions. These motions we must examine from first to last, to find out what was the form of the Earth, and what was the place or situation of the Ocean, or the great Abysse, in that first state of Nature: Which two things being determin’d, we shall be able to make a certain judgment, what kind of dissolution that Earth was capable of, and whether from that dissolution an Universal Deluge would follow, with all the consequences of it.
In the mean time, for the ease and satisfaction of the Reader, we will here mark the order and distribution of the first Book, which we divide into three Sections; whereof the first is these three Chapters past: In the second Section we will shew, that the Earth before the Deluge was of a different frame and form from the present Earth; and particularly of such a form as made it subject to a dissolution: And to such a dissolution, as did necessarily expose it to an universal Deluge. And in this place we shall apply our discourse particularly to the explication of Noah’s Flood, and that under all its conditions, of the height of the waters, of their universality, of the destruction of the World by them, and of their retiring afterwards from the Earth; and this Section will consist of the Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, Seventh and Eighth Chapters. In the third Section we prove the same dissolution from the effects and consequences of it, or from the contemplation of the present face of the Earth: And here an account is given of the Origin of Mountains, of subterraneous Waters and Caverns, of the great Chanel of the Sea, and of the first production of Islands; and those things are the Contents of the Ninth, Tenth and Eleventh Chapters. Then, in the last Chapter, we make a general review of the whole Work, and a general review of Nature; that, by comparing them together, their full agreement and correspondency may appear. Here several collateral arguments are given for confirmation of the preceeding Theory, and some reflections are made upon the state of the other Planets compar’d with the Earth. And lastly, what accounts soever have been given by others of the present form and irregularities of the Earth, are examin’d and shew’d insufficient. And this seemeth to be all that is requisite upon this subject.
Chapter XI. Concerning NATURAL PROVIDENCE
Title Page (Book III and IV)
Dedication (Books 3 and 4)
Preface to the Reader
Contents of the Chapters (Books 3 and 4)
Chapter I. The Introduction
Chapter II. The true state of the Question is propos’d
Chapter VI. Concerning the Causes of the Conflagration
Preface to the Reader
Chapter I. The Introduction
A Review of the Theory of the Earth
Books printed for Walter Kettilby