The Second Proposition is laid down, viz. That the face of the Earth before the Deluge was smooth, regular and uniform; without Mountains, and without a Sea. The Chaos out of which the World rise is fully examin’d, and all its motions observ’d, and by what steps it wrought it self into an habitable World. Some things in Antiquity relating to the first state of the Earth are interpreted, and some things in the Sacred Writings. The Divine Art and Geometry in the construction of the first Earth is observ’d and celebrated.
WE have seen it prov’d, in the foregoing Chapter, That the form of the first or Ante-diluvian Earth, was not the same, nor like the form of the present Earth; this is our first discovery at a distance, but ’tis only general and negative, tells us what the form of that Earth was not, but tells us not expressly what it was; that must be our next enquiry, and advancing one step further in our Theory, we lay down this Second Proposition: That the face of the Earth before the Deluge was smooth, regular, and uniform; without Mountains, and without a Sea. This is a bold step, and carries us into another World, which we have never seen nor ever yet heard any relation of; and a World, it seems, of very different scenes and prospects from ours, or from any thing we have yet known. An Earth without a Sea, and plain as the Elysian fields; if you travel it all over, you will not meet with a Mountain or a Rock, yet well provided of all things requisite for an habitable World; and the same indeed with the Earth we still inhabit, only under another form. And this is the great thing that now comes into debate, the great Paradox which we offer to be examin’d, and which we affirm, That the Earth in its first rise and formation from a Chaos, was of the form here describ’d, and so continu’d for many hundreds of years.
To examine and prove this, we must return to the beginning of the World, and to that Chaos out of which the Earth and all Sublunary things arose: ’Tis
the motions and progress of this which we must now consider, and what form it setled into when it first became an habitable World.
Neither is it perhaps such an intricate thing as we imagine at first sight, to trace a Chaos into an habitable World; at least there is a particular pleasure to see things in their Origin, and by what degrees and successive changes they rise into that order and state we see them in afterwards, when compleated. I am sure, if ever we would view the paths of Divine Wisdom, in the works and in the conduct of Nature, we must not only consider how things are, but how they came to be so. ’Tis pleasant to look upon a Tree in the Summer, cover’d with its green Leaves, deckt with Blossoms, or laden with Fruit, and casting a pleasing shade under its spreading Boughs; but to consider how this Tree with all its furniture, sprang from a little Seed; how Nature shap’d it, and fed it, in its infancy and growth; added new parts, and still advanc’d it by little and little, till it came to this greatness and perfection, this, methinks, is another sort of pleasure, more rational, less common, and which is properly the contemplation of Divine Wisdom in the works of Nature. So to view this Earth, and this Sublunary World, as it is now compleat, distinguisht into the several orders of bodies of which it consists, every one perfect and admirable in its kind; this is truly delightful, and a very good entertainment of the mind; But to see all these in their first Seeds, as I may so say; to take in pieces this frame of Nature, and melt it down into its first principles; and then to observe how the Divine Wisdom wrought all these things out of confusion into order, and out of simplicity into that beautiful composition we now see them in; this, methinks, is another kind of joy, which pierceth the mind more deep, and is more satisfactory. And to give out selves and others this satisfaction, we will first make a short representation of the Chaos, and then shew, how, according to Laws establisht in Nature by the Divine Power and Wisdom, it was wrought by degrees from one form into another, till it setled at length into an habitable Earth; and that of such a frame and structure, as we have describ’d in this second Proposition.
By the Chaos I understand the matter of the Earth and Heavens, without form or order; reduc’d into a fluid mass, wherein are the materials and ingredients of all bodies, but mingled in confusion one with another. As if you should suppose all sorts of Metals, Gold, Silver, Lead &c. melted down together in a common mass, and so mingled, that the parts of no one Metal could be discern’d as distinct from the rest, this would be a little metallick Chaos: Suppose then the Elements thus mingled, Air, Water and Earth, which are the principles of all Terrestrial bodies; mingled, I say, without any order of higher or lower, heavier or lighter, solid or volatile, in such a kind of confus’d mass as is here represented in this first Scheme.
Let this then represent to us the Chaos; in which the first change that we should imagine to happen would be this, that the heaviest and grossest parts would sink down towards the middle of it, (for there we suppose the center of its gravity) and the rest would float above. These grosser parts thus sunk down and compress’d more and more, would harden by degrees, and constitute the interiour parts of the Earth. The rest of the mass, which swims above, would be also
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divided by the same principle of gravity into two orders of Bodies, the one Liquid like Water, the other Volatile like Air. For the more fine and active parts disentangling themselves by degrees from the rest, would mount above them; and having motion enough to keep them upon the wing, would play in those open places where they constitute that body we call AIR. The other parts being grosser than these, and having a more languid motion could not fly up and down separate from one another, as these did, but setled in a mass together, under the Air, upon the body of the Earth, composing not only Water strictly so call’d, but the whole mass of liquors, or liquid bodies, belonging to the Earth. And these first separations being thus made, the body of the Chaos would stand in that form which it is here represented in by the second Scheme.
The liquid mass which encircled the Earth, was not, as I noted before, the meer Element of Water, but a collection of all Liquors that belong to the Earth.
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[paragraph continues] I mean of all that do originally belong to it. Now seeing there are two chief kinds of Terrestrial liquors, those that are fat, oily, and light; and those that are lean and more Earthy, like common Water; which two are generally found in compound liquors; we cannot doubt but there were of both sorts in this common mass of liquids. And it being well known, that these two kinds mixt together, if left to themselves and the general action of Nature, separate one from another when they come to settle, as in Cream and thin Milk, Oil and Water, and such like; we cannot but conclude, that the same Effect would follow here, and the more oily and light part of this mass would get above the other, and swim upon it. The whole mass being divided into two lesser masses, and so the Globe would stand as we see it in this third Figure.
Hitherto the changes of the Chaos are easie and unquestionable, and would be dispatcht in a short time; we must now look over again these two great masses
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of the Air and Water, and consider how their impurities or grosser parts would be dispos’d of; for we cannot imagine but they were both at first very muddy and impure: And as the Water would have its sediment, which we are not here concern’d to look after, so the great Regions of the Air would certainly have their sediment too; for the Air was as yet thick, gross, and dark; there being an abundance of little Terrestrial particles swimming in it still, after the grossest were sunk down; which, by their heaviness and lumpish figure, made their way more easily and speedily. The lesser and lighter which remain’d, would sink too, but more slowly, and in a longer time: so as in their descent they would meet with that oily liquor upon the face of the Deep, or upon the watery mass, which would entangle and stop them from passing any further; whereupon mixing there with that unctious substance, they compos’d a certain slime, or fat, soft, and light Earth, spread upon the face of the Waters; as ’tis represented in this fourth Figure.
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This thin and tender Orb of Earth increas’d still more and more, as the little Earthy parts that were detain’d in the Air could make their way to it. Some having a long journey from the upper Regions, and others being very light would float up and down a good while, before they could wholly disengage themselves and descend. But this was the general rendezvous, which sooner or later they all got to, and mingling more and more with that oily liquor, they suckt it all up at length, and where wholly incorporate together, and so began to grow more stiff and firm, making both but one substance, which was the first concretion, or firm and consistent substance that rise upon the face of the Chaos. And the whole Globe stood in this posture, as in Fig. the fifth.
It may be, you will say, we take our liberty, and our own time for the separation of these two liquors, the Oily and the Earthy, the lighter and the heavier; and suppose that done before the Air was clear’d of Earthy particles, that so they
might be catcht and stopt there in their descent. Whereas if all these particles were fallen out of the Air before that separation was made in the liquid mass, they would fall down through the Water, as the first did, and so no concretion would be made, nor any Earthy crust form’d upon the face of the Waters, as we here suppose there was. ’Tis true, there could be no such Orb of Earth form’d there, if the Air was wholly purg’d of all its Earthy parts before the Mass of liquids began to purifie it self, and to separate the Oily parts from the more heavy: But this is an unreasonable and incredible supposition, if we consider,
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that the mass of the Air was many thousand times greater than the Water, and would in proportion require a greater time to be purified; The particles that were in the Regions of the Air having a long way to come before they reacht the Watery mass, and far longer than the Oily particles had to rise from any part of that mass to the surface of it. Besides, we may suppose a great many degrees of littleness and lightness in these Earthy particles, so as many of them might float in the Air a good while, like Exhalations, before they fell down. And lastly, we do not suppose the separation of these two liquors wholly made and finisht before the purgation of the Air began, though we represent them so for distinction sake; Let them begin to purifie at the same time, if you please, these parts rising up-wards, and those falling downwards, they will meet in the middle, and unite and grow into one body, as we have describ’d. And this body or new concretion would be increas’d daily, being fed and suppli’d both from above and below; and having done growing, it would become more dry by degrees, and of a temper of greater consistency and firmness, so as truly to resemble and be fit to make an habitable Earth, such as Nature intended it for.
But you will further object, it may be, that such an effect as this would indeed be necessary in some degree and proportion, but not in such a proportion, and in such quantity as would be sufficient to make this crust or concrete Orb an
habitable Earth. This I confess appear’d to me at first a real difficulty, till I consider’d better the great disproportion there is betwixt the Regions of the Air and the Circumference of the Earth, or of that exteriour Orb of the Earth, we are now a making; which being many thousand times less in depth and extent than the Regions of the Air, taken as high as the Moon, though these Earthy particles, we speak of, were very thinly dispers’d through those vast tracts of the Air, when they came to be collected and amass’d together upon the surface of a far lesser Sphere, they would constitute a body of a very considerable thickness and solidity. We see the Earth sometimes cover’d with Snow two or three feet deep, made up only of little flakes or pieces of Ice, which falling from the middle Region of the Air, and meeting with the Earth in their descent, are there stopt and heapt up one upon another. But if we should suppose little particles of Earth to shower down, not only from the middle Region, but from the whole capacity and extent of those vast spaces that are betwixt us and the Moon, we could not imagine but these would constitute an Orb of Earth some thousands of times deeper than the greatest Snow; which being increas’d and swoln by that oily liquor it fell into, and incorporated with, it would be thick, strong, and great enough in all respects to render it an habitable Earth.
We cannot doubt therefore but such a body as this would be form’d, and would be sufficient in quantity for an habitable Earth. Then for the quality of it, it will answer all the purposes of a Rising World. What can be a more proper Seminary for Plants and Animals, than a soil of this temper and composition? A finer and lighter sort of Earth mixt with a benign Juice, easie and obedient to the action of the Sun, or of what other causes were imploy’d by the Author of Nature, for the production of things in the new-made Earth. What sort or disposition of matter could be more fit and ready to catch life from Heaven, and to be drawn into all forms that the rudiments of life, or the bodies of living Creatures would require? What soil more proper for Vegetation than this warm moisture, which could have no fault, unless it was too fertile and luxuriant? and that is no fault neither at the beginning of a World. This I am sure of, that the learned amongst the Ancients, 1 both Greeks, Egyptians, Phœnicians, and others, have describ’d the primigenial soil, or the temper of the Earth, that was the first subject for the Generation and Origin of Plants and Animals, after such a manner, as is truly express’d, and I think with advantage, by this draught of the primigenial Earth.
Thus much concerning the matter of the first Earth. Let us reflect a little upon the form of it also, whether External or Internal; whereof both do manifestly shew themselves from the manner of its production or formation. As to the External form, you see it is according to the Proposition we were to prove, smooth, regular and uniform, without Mountains, and without a Sea. And the proof we have given of it is very easie; The Globe of the Earth could not possibly rise immediately from a Chaos into the irregular form in which it is at present. The Chaos being a fluid mass, which we know doth necessarily fall into a Spherical surface, whose parts are equi-distant from the Center, and consequently in an equal and even convexity one with another. And seeing upon the distinction of a Chaos and separation into several Elementary masses, the Water would naturally
have a superiour place to the Earth, ’tis manifest, that there could be no habitable Earth form’d out of the Chaos, unless by some concretion upon the face of the Water. Then lastly, seeing this concrete Orb of Earth upon the face of the Water would be of the same form with the surface of the Water it was spread upon, there being no causes, that we know of, to make any inequality in it, we must conclude it equal and uniform, and without Mountains; as also without a Sea; for the Sea and all the mass of Waters was enclos’d within this exteriour Earth, which had no other basis or foundation to rest upon.
The contemplation of these things, and of this posture of the Earth upon the Waters, doth so strongly bring to mind certain passages of Scripture, that we cannot, without injury to truth, pass them by in silence. Passages that have such a manifest resemblance and agreement to this form and situation of the Earth, that it is not possible to believe, but that they allude to it, or rather literally express it; such are those expressions of the Psalmist, God hath founded the Earth upon the Seas. And in another Psalm, speaking of the wisdom and power of God in the Creation, he saith, To him who alone doth great wonders; to him that by wisdom made the Heavens; to him that extended or stretched out the Earth above the Waters. What can be more plain and positive to denote that form of the Earth that we have describ’d, and to express particularly the inclosure of the Waters within the Earth, as we have represented them? He saith in another place; By the Word of the Lord were the Heavens made;he shut up the Waters of the Sea as in Bags, (for so the word is to be render’d, and is render’d by all, except the English) and laid up the Abysse as in store-houses. We cannot easily imagine any thing more express, or more conformable to that System of the Earth and Sea, which we have propos’d here. Yet there is something more express than all this in that remarkable place in the Proverbs of Solomon, where Wisdom declaring her Antiquity and Existence before the foundation of the Earth, amongst other things, saith;Prov. 8. 27. When he prepared the Heavens, I was there: When he drew an Orb over the surface of the Abysse; or when he set an Orb upon the face of the Abysse. We render it in the English a Compass, or Circle, but ’tis more truly rendred an Orb or Sphere; and what Orb or Spherical body was this, which at the formation of the Earth was built and plac’d round about the Abysse; but that wonderful Arch, whose form and production we have describ’d, encompassing the mass of Waters, which in Scripture is often call’d the Abysse or Deep?Vid. Fig. 5, p. 59 This Orb is represented by the Circle 1, and the Abysse by the Region 2. Lastly, this Scheme of the first Earth gives light to that place we mention’d before of St. Peter's, where the first Earth is said to consist of Water and by Water: and by reason thereof was obnoxious to a Deluge. The first part of this character is plain from the description now given: and the second will appear in the following Chapter. In the mean time, concerning these passages of Scripture, which we have cited, we may truly and modestly say, that though they would not, it may be, without a Theory premis’d, have been taken or interpreted in this sence, yet this Theory being premis’d, I dare appeal to any unprejudic’d person, if they have not a fairer and easier, a more full and more emphatical sence, when appli’d to that form of the Earth and Sea, we are now speaking of, than to their present form, or to any other we can imagine.
Thus much concerning the external form of the first Earth. Let us now reflect a little upon the Internal form of it, which consists of several Regions, involving one another like Orbs about the same Center, or of the several Elements cast circularly about each other; as it appears in the Fourth and Fifth Figure. And as we have noted the External form of this primæval Earth, to have been markt and celebrated in the Sacred Writings; so likewise in the Philosophy and Learning of the Ancients, there are several remains and indications of this Internal form and composition of it. For ’tis observable, that the Ancients in treating of the Chaos, and in raising the World out of it, rang’d it into several Regions or Masses, as we have done; and in that order successively, rising one from another, as if it was a Pedigree or Genealogy. And those Parts and Regions of Nature, into which the Chaos was by degrees divided, they signifi’d commonly by dark and obscure names, as the Night, Tartarus, Oceanus, and such like, which we have express’d in their plain and proper terms. And whereas the Chaos, when it was first set on work, ran all into divisions, and separations of one Element from another, which afterwards were all in some measure united and associated in this primigenial Earth; the Ancients accordingly made Contention the principle that reign’d in the Chaos at first, and then Love: The one to express the divisions, and the other the union of all parties in this middle and common bond. These, and such like notions which we find in the writings of the Ancients figuratively and darkly deliver’d, receive a clearer light, when compar’d with this Theory of the Chaos; which representing every thing plainly, and in its natural colours, is a Key to their thoughts, and in allustration of their obscurer Philosophy, concerning the Original of the World; as we have shewn at large in the Latin Treatise. Lib. 2. Chap. 7.
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There is another thing in Antiquity, relating to the form and construction of the Earth, which is very remarkable, and hath obtain’d throughout all learned Nations and Ages. And that is the comparison or resemblance of the Earth to an Egg. And this is not so much for its External Figure, though that be true
too: as for the inward composition of it; consisting of several Orbs, one including another, and in that order, as to answer the several Elementary Regions of which the new-made Earth was constituted. For if we admit for the Yolk a Central fire (which, though very reasonable, we had no occasion to take notice of in our Theory of the Chaos) and suppose the Figure of the Earth Oval, and a little extended towards the Poles, as probably it was; those two bodies do very naturally represent one another; as in this Scheme, which represents the Interiour faces of both, a divided Egg, or Earth. Where, as the two inmost Regions A. B. represent the Yolk and the Membrane that lies next about it; so the Exteriour Region of the Earth (D) is as the Shell of the Egg, and the Abysse (C) under it as the White that lies under the Shell. And considering that this notion of the Mundane Egg, or that the World was Oviform, hath been the sence and Language of all Antiquity, Latins, Greeks, Persians, Egyptians, and others, as we have shew’d elsewhere; Tell. Theor. Sac. lib. 2, c. 10.I thought it worthy our notice in this place; seeing it receives such a clear and easie explication from that Origin and Fabrick we have given to the first Earth, and also reflects light upon the Theory it self, and confirms it to be no fiction: This notion, which is a kind of Epitome or Image of it, having been conserv’d in the most ancient Learning.
Thus much concerning the first Earth, its production and form; and concerning our Second Proposition relating to it: Which being prov’d by Reason, the laws of Nature, and the motions of the Chaos; then attested by Antiquity, both as to the matter and form of it; and confirm’d by Sacred Writers, we may take it now for a well establish’d truth, and proceed upon this supposition, That the Ante-diluvian Earth was smooth and uniform, without Mountains or Sea, to the explication of the universal Deluge.
Give me leave only before we proceed any further, to annex here a short Advertisement, concerning the causes of this wonderful structure of the first Earth. ’Tis true, we have propos’d the Natural Causes of it, and I do not know wherein our Explication is false or defective; but in things of this kind we may easily be too credulous. And this structure is so marvellous, that it ought rather to be consider’d as a particular effect of the Divine Art, than as the work of Nature. The whole Globe of the Water vaulted over, and the Exteriour Earth hanging above the Deep, sustain’d by nothing but its own measures and manner of construction: A Building without foundation or corner-stone. This seems to be a piece of Divine Geometry or Architecture; and to this, I think, is to be refer’d that magnificent challenge which God Almighty made to Job 38. 4, 5, 6, 7, &c.Job; Where vast thou when I laid the foundations of the Earth? declare if thou hast understanding; Who hath laid the measures thereof, if thou knowest; or who hath stretched the line upon it? Whereupon are the foundations thereof fastned, or who laid the corner-stone thereof? When the morning Stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy. Moses also when he had describ’d the Chaos, saith, The spirit of God mov’d upon, or sat brooding upon, the face of the waters; without all doubt to produce some effects there. And S. Peter, when he speaks of the form of the Ante-diluvian Earth, how it stood in reference to the Waters, 1 adds, By the Word of God, or by the Wisdom of God it was made so. And this same Wisdom of God,
in the Proverbs, as we observed before, takes notice of this very piece of work in the formation of the Earth. When he set an Orb over the face of the Deep I was there. And lastly, the Ancient Philosophers, or at least the best of them, to give them their due, always brought in 1 Mens or Amor, as a Supernatural principle to unite and consociate the parts of the Chaos; which was first done in the composition of this wonderful Arch of the Earth. Wherefore to the great Architect, who made the boundless Universe out of nothing, and form’d the Earth out of a Chaos, let the praise of the whole Work, and particularly of this Master-piece, for ever with all honour be given.
60:1 Ἰλὺς ωροτος γενής.
63:1 Τῷ λόγῳ τοῦ Θεοῦ.
64:1 Λόγος & Ἕρως