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A digression, concerning the Natural Causes of Longævity. That the Machine of an Animal consists of Springs, and which are the two principal. The Age of the Ante-diluvians to be computed by Solar not Lunar Years.

TO confirm our opinion concerning the reasons of Longævity in the first Inhabitants of the World, it will not be amiss to deduce more at large the Natural Causes of long or short periods of life. And when we speak of long or short periods of life, we do not mean those little difference of ten, twenty or forty Years which we see amongst men now adays, according as they are of stronger or weaker constitutions, and govern themselves better or worse, but those grand and famous differences of several hundreds of Years, which we have examples of in the different Ages of the World, and particularly in those that liv’d before and since the Flood. Neither do we think it peculiar to this Earth to have such an inequality in the lives of men, but the other Planets, if they be inhabited, have the same property, and the same difference in their different periods; All Planets that are in their Ante-diluvian state, and in their first and regular situation to the Sun, have long-liv’d Inhabitants; and those that are in an oblique situation, have short-liv’d; unless there be some counter-causes that hinder this general rule of Nature from taking place.

We are now so us’d to a short life, and to drop away after threescore or four-score years, that when we compare our lives with those of the Ante-diluvians, we think the wonder lies wholly on their side, why they liv’d so long; and so it doth, popularly speaking; but if we speak Philosophically, the wonder lies rather on our side, why we live so little, or so short a time: For seeing our Bodies are such Machines as have a faculty of nourishing themselves, that is, of repairing their lost or decay’d parts, so long as they have good nourishment to make use of, why should they not continue in good plight, and always the same? as a flame does, so long as it is supplied with fewel? And that we may the better see on whether side the wonder lies, and from what causes it proceeds, we will propose this Problem to be examin’d, Why the frame or Machine of an humane Body, or of another Animal, having that construction of parts and those faculties which it 

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hath, lasts so short a time? And though it fall into no disease, nor have any unnatural accident, within the space of eighty years, more or less, fatally and inevitably decays, dies and perisheth?

That the state and difficulty of this question may the better appear, let us consider a man in the prime and vigour of his life, at the age of twenty or twenty four years, of an healthful constitution, and all his Vitals sound; let him be nourisht with good food, use due exercise, and govern himself with moderation in all other things; The Question is, why this Body should not continue in the same plight, and in the same strength, for some Ages? or at least why it should decay so soon, and so fast as we see it does? We do not wonder at things that happen daily, though the causes of them be never so hard to find out; We contract a certain familiarity with common events, and fancy we know as much of them as can be known, though in reality we know nothing of them but matter of fact; which the vulgar knows as well as the Wise or the Learned. We see daily instances of the shortness of mans life, how soon his race is run, and we do not wonder at it, because ’tis common, yet if we examine the composition of the Body, it will be very hard to find any good reasons why the frame of it should decay so soon.

I know ’tis easie to give general and superficial answers and accounts of these things, but they are such, as being strictly examin’d, give no satisfaction to an inquisitive mind: You would say, it may be, that the Interiour parts and Organs of the Body wear and decay by degrees, so as not performing so well their several offices and functions, for the digestion and distribution of the food and its juices, all the other parts suffer by it, and that draws on insensibly a decay upon the whole frame of the Body. This is all true; but why, and how comes this to pass? from what causes? where is the first failure, and what are the consequences of it? The inward parts do not destroy themselves, and we suppose that there is no want of good food, nor any disease, and we take the Body in its full strength and vigour, why doth it not continue thus, as a Lamp does, if you supply it with Oil? The causes being the same, why doth not the same effect still follow? why should not the flame of life, as well as any other flame, if you give it fewel, continue in its force without languishing or decay?

You will say, it may be, The case is not the same in a simple Body, such as a Lamp or a Fire, and in an Organical Body; which being variously compounded of multiplicity of parts, and all those parts put in connexion and dependance one upon another, if any one fail, it will disorder the whole frame; and therefore it must needs be more difficult for such a body to continue long in the same state, than for a simple Body that hath no variety of parts or operations. I acknowledge such a Body is much more subject to diseases and accidents than a more simple, but barring all diseases and accidents, as we do, it might be of as long a duration as any other, if it was suppli’d with nourishment adequately to all its parts: As this Lamp we speak of, if it consisted of twenty branches, and each of these branches was to be fed with a different Oil, and these Oils should be all mixt together in some common Cistern, whence they were to be distributed into the several branches, either according to their different degrees of lightness, one rising higher than another; or according to the capacity and figure of the little

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pipes they were to pass thorough; such a compounded Lamp, made up of such artifices, would indeed be more subject to accidents, and to be out of order, by the obstruction of some of the little pipes, or some unfit qualities in the Oils, but all these casualties and disorders excepted, as they are in our case, if it was suppli’d with convenient liquors, it would burn as long as any other, though more plain and simple.

To instance yet, for more plainness, in another sort of Machine, suppose a Mill, where the Water may represent the nourishment and humours in our Body, and the frame of Wood and Stone, the solid parts; If we could suppose this Mill to have a power of nourishing it self by the Water it receiv’d, and of repairing all the parts that were worn away, whether of the Wood-work or of the Stone, feed it but with a constant stream, and it would subsist and grind for ever. And ’tis the same thing for all other Artificial Machines of this nature, if they had a faculty of nourishing themselves, and repairing their parts. And seeing those natural Machines we are speaking of, the Body of Man, and of other Animals, have and enjoy this faculty, why should they not be able to preserve themselves beyond that short period of time which is now the measure of their life?

Thus much we have said to shew the difficulty propos’d and inforce it; We must now consider the true answer and resolution of it; and to that purpose bring into view again those causes which we have assign’d, both of the long periods of life before the Flood, and of the short ones since. That there was a perpetual Æquinox and stability of the Heavens before the Flood, we have show’d both from History and reason; neither was there then any thing of Clouds, Rains, Winds, Storms or unequal weather, as will appear in the following Chapter; And to this steddiness of Nature and universal calmness of the external World we have imputed those long periods of life which men enjoy’d at that time: As on the contrary, when that great change and revolution happen’d to Nature at the Deluge, and the Heavens and the Earth were cast in another mould, then was brought in, besides many other new Scenes, that shortness and vanity in the life of Man, and a general instability in all sublunary things, but especially in the Animate World.

It is not necessary to show, more than we have done already, how that Primitive state of Nature contributed to long life; neither is it requir’d that it should actively contribute, but only be permissive, and suffer our Bodies to act their parts; for if they be not disturb’d, nor any harm done them by external Nature, they are built with art and strength enough to last many hundreds of years. And as we observ’d before concerning the posture of the Earth, that that which it had at first, being simple and regular, was not so much to be accounted for, as its present posture, which is irregular; so likewise for the life of Man, the difficulty is not why they liv’d so long in the old World; that was their due and proper course; but why our Bodies being made after the same manner, should endure. so short a time now. This is it therefore which we must now make our business to give an account of, namely, how that vissitude of Seasons, inconstancy of the Air, and unequal course of nature which came in at the Deluge, do shorten Life; and indeed hasten the dissolution of all Bodies, Animate or Inanimate.

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In our Bodies we may consider three several qualities or dispositions, according to each whereof they suffer decay; First, their continuity; Secondly, that disposition whereby they are capable of receiving nourishment, which we may call Nutribility; and Thirdly, the Tone or Tonick disposition of the Organs whereby they perform their several functions. In all these three respects they would decay in any state of Nature, but far sooner and faster in the present state than in the Primæval. As for their Continuity, we have noted before that all consistent Bodies must be less durable now, than under that first order of the World, because of the unequal and contrary motions of the Elements, or of the Air and Æther that penetrate and pervade them; and ’tis part of that vanity which all things now are subject to, to be more perishable than in their first Constitution. If we should consider our Bodies only as breathing Statues, consisting of those parts they do, and of that tenderness, the Air which we breath, and wherewith we are continually incompast, changing so often ’twixt moist and dry, hot and cold, a slow and eager motion, these different actions and restless changes would sooner weaken and destroy the union of the parts, than if they were always in a calm and quiet medium.

But it is not the gross and visible Continuity of the parts of our Body that first decays, there are finer Textures that are spoil’d insensibly, and draw on the decay of the rest; such are those other two we mention’d, That disposition and temper of the parts whereby they are fit to receive their full nourishment; and especially that construction and texture of the Organs that are preparatory to this Nutrition. The Nutribility of the Body depends upon a certain temperament in the parts, soft and yielding, which makes them open to the Bloud and Juices in their Circulation and passage through them, and mixing intimately, and universally, hold fast and retain many of their Particles; as muddy Earth doth of the Water that runs into it and mixeth with it: And when these Nutritious Particles retain’d are more than the Body spends, that Body is in its growth; as when they are fewer, ’tis in its decay. And as we compar’d the flesh and tender parts when they are young and in a growing disposition, to a muddy soil, that opens to the Water, swells and incorporates with it; so when they become hard and dry, they are like a sandy Earth, that suffers the Water to glide through it, without incorporating or retaining many of its parts; and the sooner they come to this temper, the sooner follows their decay: For the same Causes that set limits to our Growth, set also limits to our Life; and he that can resolve that Question, why the time of our Growth is so short, will also be able to resolve the other in a good measure, why the time of our Life is so short. In both cases, that which stops our progress is external Nature, whose course, while it was even and steddy, and the ambient Air mild and balmy, preserv’d the Body much longer in a fresh and fit temper to receive its full nourishment, and consequently gave larger bounds both to our growth and Life.

But the third thing we mention’d is the most considerable, The decay of the Organick parts; and especially of the Organs preparatory to Nutrition. This is the point chiefly to be examin’d and explain’d, and therefore we will endeavour to state it fully and distinctly. There are several functions in the Body of an

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[paragraph continues] Animal, and several Organs for the conduct of them; and I am of opinion, that all the Organs of the Body are in the nature of Springs, and that their action is Tonical. The action of the Muscles is apparently so, and so is that of the Heart and the Stomach; and as for those parts that make secretions only, as the Glandules and Parenchymata, if they be any more than meerly passive, as Strainers, ’tis the Tone of the parts, when distended, that performs the separation: And accordingly in all other active Organs, the action proceeds from a Tone in the parts. And this seems to be easily prov’d, both as to our Bodies and all other Bodies, for no matter that is not fluid, hath any motion or action in it, but in vertue of some Tone; If matter be fluid, its parts are actually in motion, and consequently may impel or give motion to other Bodies; but if it be solid or consistent, the parts are not separate or separately mov’d from one another, and therefore cannot impel or give motion to any other, but in vertue of their Tone; they having no other motion themselves. Accordingly we see in Artificial Machines there are but two general sorts, those that move by some fluid or volatile matter, as Water, Wind, Air, or some active Spirit; And those which move by Springs, or by the Tonick disposition of some part that gives motion to the rest: For as for such Machines as act by weights, ’tis not the weight that is the active principle, but the Air or Æther that impels. it ’Tis true, the Body of an Animal is a kind of mixt Machine, and those Organs that are the Primary parts of it, partake of both these principles; for there are Spirits and Liquors that do assist in the motions of the Muscles, of the Heart and of the Stomach; but we have no occasion to consider them at present, but only the Tone of the solid Organs.

This being observ’d in the first place, Wherein the force of our Organs consists, we might here immediately subjoyn, how this force is weaken’d and destroy’d by the unequal course of Nature which now obtains, and consequently our Life shorten’d; for the whole state and Oeconomy of the Body depends upon the force and action of these Organs. But to understand the business more distinctly, it will be worth our time to examine, upon which of the Organs of the Body Life depends more immediately, and the prolongation of it; that so reducing our Inquiries into a narrower compass, we may manage them with more ease and more certainty.

In the Body of Man there are several Compages, or setts of parts, some whereof need not be consider’d in this question; There is that Systeme that serves for sence and local-motion, which is commonly call’d the ANIMAL Compages; and that which serves for generation, which is call’d the GENITAL. These have no influence upon long Life, being parts nourished, not nourishing, and that are fed from others as Rivers from their Fountain: Wherefore having laid these aside, there remain two Compages more, the NATURAL and VITAL, which consist of the Heart and Stomach, with their appendages. These are the Sources of Life, and all that is absolutely necessary to the constitution of a Living Creature; what parts we find more, few or many, of one sort or other, according to the several kinds of Creatures, is accidental to our purpose; The form of an Animal, as we are to consider it here, lies in this little compass, and what is superadded is for some new purposes, besides that of meer Life, as for Sense, Motion, Generation, and such like. As in a Watch, besides the Movement, which is made to tell

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you the hour of the day, which constitutes a Watch, you may have a fancy to have an Alarum added, or a Minute-motion, or that it should tell you the day of the month; and this sometimes will require a new Spring, sometimes only new Wheels; however if you would examine the Nature of a Watch, and upon what its motion, or, if I may so say, its Life depends, you must lay aside those secondary Movements, and observe the main Spring, and the Wheels that immediately depend upon that, for all the rest is accidental. So for the Life of an Animal, which is a piece of Nature's Clockwork, if we would examine upon what the duration of it depends, we must lay aside those additional parts or Systems of parts, which are for other purposes, and consider only the first principles and fountains of Life, and the causes of their natural and necessary decay.

Having thus reduc’d our Inquiries to these two Organs, The Stomach and the Heart, as the two Master-Springs in the Mechanism of an Animal, upon which all the rest depend, let us now see what their action is, and how it will be more or less durable and constant, according to the different states of external Nature. We determin’d before, that the force and action of all Organs in the Body was Tonical, and of none more remarkable than of these two, the Heart and Stomach; for though it be not clearly determin’d what the particular structure of these Organs, or of their Fibres is, that makes them Tonical, yet ’tis manifest by their actions that they are so. In the Stomach, besides a peculiar ferment that opens and dissolves the parts of the Meat, and melts them into a fluor or pulp, the coats of it, or Fibres whereof they consist, have a motion proper to them, proceeding from their Tone, whereby they close the Stomach, and compress the Meat when it is receiv’d, and when turn’d into Chyle, press it forwards, and squeese it into the Intestines; And the Intestines also partaking of the same motion, push and work it still forwards into those little Veins that convey it towards the Heart. The Heart hath the same general motions with the Stomach, of opening and shutting, and hath also a peculiar ferment which rarifies the Bloud that enters into it; and that bloud by the Spring of the Heart, and the particular Texture of its Fibres, is thrown out again to make its Circulation through the Body. This is, in short, the action of both these Organs; and indeed the mystery of the Body of an Animal, and of its operations and Oeconomy, consists chiefly in Springs and Ferments; The one for the solid parts, the other in the fluid.

But to apply this Fabrick of the Organick parts to our purpose, we may observe and conclude, that whatsoever weakens the Tone or Spring of these two Organs, which are the Bases of all Vitality, weaken the principle of Life, and shorten the Natural duration of it; And if of two Orders or Courses of Nature, the one be favourable and easie to these Tonick principles in the Body, and the other uneasie and prejudicial, that course of Nature will be attended with long periods of Life, and this with short. And we have shewn, that in the Primitive Earth the course of Nature was even, steddy and unchangeable, without either different qualities of the Air, or unequal Seasons of the Year, which must needs be more easie to these principles we speak of, and permit them to continue longer in their strength and vigour, than they can possibly do under all those changes of the Air, of the

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[paragraph continues] Atmosphere, and of the Heavens, which we now suffer yearly, monthly, and daily. And though Sacred History had not acquainted us with the Longævity of the Ante-diluvian Patriarchs, nor profane History with those of the Golden Age, I should have concluded, from the Theory alone, and the contemplation of that state of Nature, that the forms of all things were much more permanent in that World than in ours, and that the lives of Men and all other Animals had longer periods.

I confess, I am of opinion, that ’tis this that makes, not only these living Springs or Tonick Organs of the Body, but all Artificial Springs also, though made of the hardest Metal, decay so fast. The different pressure of the Atmosphere, sometimes heavier, sometimes lighter, more rare or more dense, moist or dry, and agitated with different degrees of motion, and in different manners; this must needs operate upon that nicer contexture of Bodies, which makes them Tonical or Elastick; altering the figure or minuteness of the pores, and the strength and order of the Fibres upon which that propriety depends: bending and unbending, closing and opening the parts. There is a subtle and Æthereal Element that traverseth the pores of all Bodies, and when ’tis straiten’d and pent up there, or stopt in its usual course and passage, its motion is more quick and eager, as a Current of Water, when ’tis obstructed or runs through a narrower Chanel; and that strife and those attempts which these little active Particles make to get free, and follow the same tracts they did before, do still press upon the parts of the Body that are chang’d, to redress and reduce them to their first and Natural posture, and in this consists the force of a Spring. Accordingly we may observe, that there is no Body that is Tonical or Elastick, if it be left to it self, and to that posture it would take naturally; for then all the parts are at ease, and the subtle matter moves freely and uninterruptedly within its pores; but if by distention, or by compression, or by flexion, or any other way, the situation of the parts and pores be so alter’d, that the Air sometimes, but for the most part that subtiler Element, is uneasie and comprest too much, if causeth that renitency or tendency to restitution, which we call the Tone or Spring of a Body. Now as this disposition of Bodies doth far more easily perish than their Continuity, so I think there is nothing that contributes more to its perishing (whether in Natural or Artificial Springs) than the unequal action and different qualities of the Æther, Air, and Atmosphere.

It will be objected to us, it may be, that in the beginning of the Chapter we instanc’d in Artificial things, that would continue for ever, if they had but the power of nourishing themselves, as Lamps, Mills, and such like; why then may not Natural Machines that have that power, last for ever? The case is not the same as to the Bodies of Animals, and the things there instanc’d in, for those were springless Machines, that act only by some external cause, and not in vertue of any Tone or interiour temper of the parts, as our Bodies do; and when that Tone or temper is destroy’d, no nourishment can repair it. There is something, I say, irreparable in the Tonical disposition of matter, which, when lost, cannot be restor’d by Nutrition; Nutrition may answer to a bare consumption of parts, but where the parts are to be preserv’d in such a temperament, or in such a degree of humidity and driness, warmth, rarity or density, to make them capable

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of that nourishment, as well as of their other operations, as Organs; (which is the case of our Bodies) there the Heavens, the Air, and external Causes will change the qualities of the matter in spite of all Nutrition; and the qualities of the matter being chang’d (in a course of Nature, where the Cause cannot be taken away) that is a fault incorrigible, and irreparable by the nourishment that follows, being hinder’d of its effect by the indisposition or incapacity of the Recipient. And as they say, a fault in the first concoction cannot be corrected in the second; so neither can a fault in the Prerequisites to all the concoctions be corrected by any of them.

I know the Ancients made the decay and term of Life to depend rather upon the humours of the Body, than the solid parts, and suppos’d an Humidum radicale and a Calidum innatum, as they call them, a Radical moisture and Congenit heat to be in every Body from its birth and first formation; and as these decay’d, life decay’d. But who's wiser for this account, what doth this instruct us in? We know there is heat and moisture in the Body, and you may call the one Radical, and the other Innate if you please; this is but a sort of Cant, for we know no more of the real Physical Causes of that effect we enquir’d into, than we did before. What makes this heat and moisture fail, if the nourishment be good, and all the Organs in their due strength and temper? The first and original failure is not in the fluid, but in the solid parts, which if they continued the same, the humours would do so too. Besides, what befel this Radical moisture and heat at the Deluge, that it should decay so fast afterwards, and last so long before? There is a certain temper, no doubt, of the juices and humours of the Body, which is more fit than any other to conserve the parts from driness and decay; but the cause of that driness and decay, or other inhability in the solid parts, whence is that, if not from external Nature? ’Tis thither we must come at length in our search of the reasons of the Natural decay of our Bodies, we follow the fate and Laws of that: and, I think, by those Causes, and in that order, that we have already describ’d and explain’d.

To conclude this Discourse, we may collect from it what judgment is to be made of those Projectors of Immortality, or undertakes to make Men live to the Age of Methusalah, if they will use their methods and medicines; There is but one method for this, To put the Sun into his old course, or the Earth into its first posture; there is no other secret to prolong life; Our Bodies will sympathize with the general course of Nature, nothing can guard us from it, no Elixir, no Specifick, no Philosophers-stone. But there are Enthusiasts in Philosophy, as well as in Religion; men that go by no principles, but their own conceit and fancy, and by a Light within, which shines very uncertainly, and, for the most part, leads them out of the way of truth. And so much for this disquisition, concerning the Causes of Longævity, or of the long and short periods of Life in the different periods of the World.

That the Age of the Ante-diluvian Patriarchs is to be computed by Solar or common Years, not by Lunar or Months.

Having made this discourse of the unequal periods of life, only in reference to the Ante-diluvians and their fam’d Longævity, lest we should seem to have proceeded upon an ill-grounded and mistaken supposition, we are bound to take

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notice of, and confute, that opinion which makes the Years of the Ante-diluvian Patriarchs to have been Lunar, not Solar, and so would bear us in hand, that they liv’d only so many Months, as Scripture saith they liv’d Years. Seeing there is nothing could drive men to this bold interpretation, but the incredibility of the thing, as they fansied; They having no Notions or Hypothesis whereby it could appear intelligible or possible to them; and seeing we have taken away that stumbling-stone, and show’d it not only possible but necessary, according to the constitution of that World, that the periods of Life should be far longer than in this; by removing the ground or occasion of their misinterpretation, we hope we have undeceiv’d them, and let them see that there is no need of that subterfuge, either to prevent an incongruity, or save the credit of the Sacred Historian.

But as this opinion is inconsistent with Nature truly understood, so is it also with common History; for besides what I have already mention’d in the first Chapter of this Book, Josephus tells us,Lib. 1, Jew. Ant. Chap. 4. that the Historians of all Nations, both Greeks and Barbarians, give the same account of the first Inhabitants of the Earth; Manetho, who writ the story of the Ægyptians, Berosus, who writ the Chaldæan History, and those Authors that have given us an account of the Phœnician Antiquities; besides Molus and Hestiæus, and Hieronymus the Ægyptian; and amongst the Greeks Hesiodus, Hecateus, Hellanicus, Acusilaus, Ephorus and Nicolaus. We have the Suffrages of all these, and their common consent, that in the first Ages of the World Men liv’d a thousand Years. Now we cannot well suppose, that all these Historians meant Lunar Years, or that they all conspir’d together to make and propagate a Fable.

Lastly, as Nature and Profane History do disown and confute this opinion, so much more doth Sacred History; not indeed in profess’d terms, for Moses doth not say that he useth Solar Years, but by several marks and observations, or collateral Arguments, it may be clearly collected, that he doth not use Lunar. As first, because He distinguisheth Months and Years in the History of the Deluge, and of the life of Noah; for Gen. 7. 11 he saith in the six hundredth year of Noah's life, in the second month, &c. It cannot be imagin’d that in the same verse and sentence these two terms of Year and Month should be so confounded as to signifie the same thing; and therefore Noah's Years were not the same with Months, nor consequently those of the other Patriarchs, for we have no reason to make any difference. Besides, what ground was there, or how was it proper or pertinent to reckon, as Moses does there, first, second, third Month, as so many going to a Year, if every one of them was a Year? And seeing the Deluge begun in the six hundredth year of Noah's life, and in the second Month, and ended in the six hundredth and first Year (Chap. 8. 13) the first or second Month, all that was betwixt these two terms, or all the duration of the Deluge, made but one year in Noah's life, or it may be not so much; and we know Moses reckons a great many months in the duration of the Deluge; so as this is a demonstration that Noah's years are not to be understood of Lunar. And to imagine that his years are to be understood one way, and those of his fellow-Patriarchs another, would be an inaccountable fiction. This Argument therefore extends to all the Ante-diluvians; And Noah's life will take in the Post-diluvians too, for you see

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part of it runs amongst them, and ties together the two Worlds; so that if we exclude Lunar years from his life, we exclude them from all, those of his Fathers, and those of his Children.

Secondly, If Lunar years were understood in the Ages of the Ante-diluvian Patriarchs, the interval betwixt the Creation and the Deluge would be too short, and in many respects incongruous. There would be but 1656 months from the beginning of the World to the Flood; which converted into common years, make but 127 years, and five months, for that interval. This perverts all Chronology, and besides, makes the number of people so small and inconsiderable at the time of the Deluge, that destroying of the World was not so much as destroying of a Country Town would be now: For from one couple you cannot well imagine there could arise above five hundred persons in so short a time; but if there was a thousand, ’tis not so many as we have sometimes in a good Country Village. And were the Flood-gates of Heaven open’d, and the great Abysse broken up to destroy such an handful of people? and the Waters rais’d fifteen Cubits above the highest Mountains throughout the face of the Earth, to drown a Parish or two? is not this more incredible than our Age of the Patriarchs? Besides, this short interval doth not leave room for Ten generations, which we find from Adam to the Flood, nor allows the Patriarchs age enough at the time when they are said to have got Children. One hundred twenty seven years for Ten generations is very strait; and of these you must take off forty six years for one Generation only, or for Noah, for he liv’d six hundred years before the Flood, and if they were Lunar, they would come however to forty six of our years; so that for the other nine Generations you would have but eighty one years, that is, nine years a-piece; at which Age they must all be suppos’d to have begun to get Children; which you cannot but think a very absurd supposition. Thus it would be, if you divide the whole time equally amongst the nine Generations, but if you consider some single instances, as they are set down by Moses, ’tis still worse; for Mahaleel and his Grandchild Enoch are said to have got Children at sixty five years of Age, which if you suppose months, they were but five years old at that time; now I appeal to any one, Whether it is more incredible that men should live to the age of nine hundred years, or that they should beget Children at the age of five years.

You will say, it may be, ’tis true these inconveniences follow, if our Hebrew Copies of the Old Testament be Authentick; but if the Greek Translation by the Septuagint be of better Authority, as some would have it to be, that gives a little relief in this case; for the Septuagint make the distance from the Creation to the Flood six hundred years more than the Hebrew Text does, and so give us a little more room for our Ten Generations: And not only so, but they have so conveniently dispos’d those additional years, as to salve the other inconvenience too, of the Patriarchs having Children so young: for what Patriarchs are found to

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have got Children sooner than the rest, and so soon, that upon a computation by Lunar years, they would be but meer Children themselves at that time, to these, more years are added and plac’d opportunely, before the time of their getting Children; so as one can scarce forbear to think that it was done on purpose to cure that inconvenience, and to favour and protect the computation by Lunar years. The thing looks so like an artifice, and as done to serve a turn, that one cannot but have a less opinion of that Chronology for it.

But not to enter upon that dispute at present, methinks they have not wrought the cure effectually enough; for with these six hundred Lunar years added, the summ will be only one hundred seventy three common years and odd months; and from these deducting, as we did before, for Noah, forty six years, and for Adam, or the first Generation, about eighteen, (for he was two hundred and thirty years old, according to the Septuagint, when he begot Seth) there will remain but one hundred and nine years for eight Generations; which will be thirteen years a-piece and odd months; a low age to get Children in, and to hold for eight Generations together. Neither is the other inconvenience we mention’d, well cur’d by the Septuagint account, namely, the small number of people that would be in the World at the Deluge; for the Septuagint account, if understood of Lunar years, adds but forty six common years to the Hebrew account, and to the age of the World at the Deluge, in which time there could be but a very small accession to the number of Mankind. So as both these incongruities continue, though not in the same degree, and stand good in either account, if it be understood of Lunar years.

Thirdly, ’tis manifest from other Texts of Scripture, and from other considerations, that our first Fathers liv’d very long, and considerably longer than men have done since; whereas if their years be interpreted Lunar, there is not one of them that liv’d to the age that men do now; Methusalah himself did not reach threescore and fifteen years, upon that interpretation: Which doth depress them not only below those that liv’d next to the Flood, but below all following Generations to this day; and those first Ages of the World, which were always celebrated for strength and vivacity, are made as weak and feeble as the last dregs of Nature. We may observe, that after the Flood for some time, till the pristine Crasis of the Body was broken by the new course of Nature, they liv’d five, four, three, two hundred years, and the Life of Men shortn’d by degrees; but before the Flood, when the liv’d longer, there was no such decrease or gradual declension in their lives. For Noah, who was the last, liv’d longer than Adam; and Methusalah who was last but two, liv’d the longest of all: So that it was not simply, their distance from the beginning of the World that made them live a shorter time, but some change which happen’d in Nature after such a period of time; namely, at the Deluge, when the declension begun. Let's set down the Table of both states.

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A Table of the Ages of the Ante-diluvian Fathers.























A Table of the Ages of the Post-diluvian Fathers, from Shem to Joseph






























From these Tables we see that Mens Lives were much longer before the Flood, and next after it, than they are now; which also is confirm’d undiniably by Jacob's complaint of the shortness of his life, in comparison of his Fore-fathers, when he had liv’d one hundred and thirty years, Gen. 47. 9. The days of the years of my pilgrimage are an hundred and thirty years; few and evil have the days of the years of my life been, and have not attained unto the days of the years of the life of my Fathers. There was then, ’tis certain, long-liv’d men in the World before Jacob's time; when were they, before the Flood or after? We say both, according as the Tables shew it: But if you count by Lunar years, there never were any, either before or after, and Jacob's complaint was unjust and false; for he was the oldest Man in the World himself, or at least there was none of his Fore-fathers that liv’d so long as he.

The Patrons of this opinion must needs find themselves at a loss, how or where to break off the account of Lunar years in Sacred History, if they once admit it. If they say, that way of counting must only be extended to the Flood, then they make the Post-diluvian Fathers longer liv’d than the Ante-diluvian; did the Flood bring in Longævity? how could that be the cause of such an effect? Besides, if they allow the Post-diluvians to have liv’d six hundred (common) years, that being clearly beyond the standard of our lives, I should never stick at two or three hundred years more for the first Ages of the World. If they extend their Lunar account to the Post-diluvians too, they will still be intangled in worse absurdities; for they must make their lives miserably short, and their Age of getting Children altogether incongruous and impossible. Nahor, for example, when he was but two years and three months old must have begot Terah, Abraham's Father: And all the rest betwixt him and Shem must have had Children before they were three years old: A pretty race of Pigmies. Then their lives were proportionably short, for this Nahor liv’d but eleven years and six months at this

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rate; and his Grandchild Abraham, who is said to have died in a good old age, and full of years, (Gen. 25. 8) was not fourteen years old. What a ridiculous account this gives of Scripture-Chronology and Genealogies? But you'll say, it may be, these Lunar years are not to be carried so far as Abraham neither; tell us then where you'll stop, and why you stop in such a place rather than another. If you once take in Lunar years, what ground is there in the Text, or in the History, that you should change your way of computing, at such a time, or in such a place? All our Ancient Chronology is founded upon the Books of Moses, where the terms and periods of time are exprest by years, and often by Genealogies, and the Lives of Men; now if these years are sometimes to be interpreted Lunar, and sometimes Solar, without any distinction made in the Text, what light or certain rule have we to go by? let these Authors name to us the parts and places where, and only where, the Lunar years are to be understood, and I dare undertake to show, that their method is not only arbitrary, but absurd and incoherent.

To conclude this Discourse, we cannot but repeat what we have partly observ’d before, How necessary it is to understand Nature, if we would rightly understand those things in holy Writ that relate to the Natural World. For without this knowledge, as we are apt to think some things consistent and credible that are really impossible in Nature; so on the other hand, we are apt to look upon other things as incredible and impossible that are really founded in Nature. And seeing every one is willing so to expound Scripture, as it may be to them good sence, and consistent with their Notions in other things, they are forc’d many times to go against the easie and natural importance of the words, and to invent other interpretations more compliant with their principles, and, as they think, with the nature of things. We have, I say, a great instance of this before us in the Scripture-History of the long lives of the Ante-diluvians, where without any ground or shadow of ground in the Narration, only to comply with a mistaken Philosophy, and their ignorance of the Primitive World, many men would beat down the Scripture account of years into months, and sink the lives of those first Fathers below the rate of the worst of Ages. Whereby that great Monument, which Providence hath left us of the first World, and of its difference from the Second, would not only be defac’d, but wholly demolisht. And all this sprung only from the seeming incredibility of the thing; for they cannot show in any part of Scripture, New or Old, that these Lunar years are made use of, or that any computation, literal or Prophetical, proceeds upon them: Nor that there is any thing in the Text or Context of that place, that argues or intimates any such account. We have endeavour’d, upon this occasion, effectually to prevent this misconstruction of Sacred History, for the future; both by showing the incongruities that follow upon it, and also that there is no necessity from Nature of any such shift or evasion, as that is: But rather on the contrary, that we have just and necessary reasons to conclude, That as the Forms of all things would be far more permanent and lasting in that Primitive state of the Heavens and the Earth; so particularly the Lives of Men, and of other Animals.

Next: Chapter V