The place of Paradise cannot be determin’d from the Theory only, nor from Scripture only; what the sence of Antiquity was concerning it, both as to the Jews and Heathens, and especially as to the Christian Fathers; That they generally plac’d it out of this Continent, in the Southern Hemisphere.
WE have now prepar’d our work for the last finishing stroaks; describ’d the first Earth, and compar’d it with the Present; and not only the two Earths, but in a good measure the whole State and Oeconomy of those two Worlds. It remains only to determine the place of Paradise in that Primæval Earth; I say, in that Primæval Earth, for we have driven the point so far already, that the seat of it could not be in the present Earth, whose Form, Site, and Air are so dispos’d, as could not consist with the first and most indispensable properties of Paradise: And accordingly, we see with what ill success our modern Authors have rang’d over the Earth, to find a fit spot of ground to plant Paradise in; some would set it on the top of an high Mountain, that it might have good Air and fair weather, as being above the Clouds, and the middle Region; but then they were at a loss for Water, which made a great part of the pleasure and beauty of that place; Others therefore would seat it in a Plain, or in a River-Island, that they might have Water enough, but then it would be subject to the injuries of the Air, and foul weather at the seasons of the Year, from which, both Reason and all Authority have exempted Paradise. ’Tis like seeking a perfect beauty in a mortal Body, there are so many things requir’d to it, as to complexion, Features, Proportions and Air, that they never meet altogether in one person; neither can all the properties of a Terrestrial Paradise ever meet together in one place, though never so well chosen, in this present Earth.
But in the Primæval Earth, which we have describ’d, ’tis easie to find a Seat that had all those beauties and conveniences; we have every where, through the temperate Climates, a clear and constant Air, a fruitful Soil, pleasant Waters, and all the general characters of Paradise; so that the trouble will be rather, in that competition, what part or Region to pitch upon in particular. But to come as near it as we can, we must remember in the first place, how that Earth was divided into two Hemispheres, distant and separated from one another, not by an imaginary line, but by a real boundary that could not be past; so as the first inquiry will be, in whether of these Hemispheres was the Seat of Paradise. To answer this only according to our Theory, I confess, I see no natural reason or occasion to place it in one Hemisphere more than in another, I see no ground of difference
or pre-eminence, that one had above the other; and I am apt to think, that depended rather upon the will of God, and the Series of Providence that was to follow in this Earth, than upon any natural incapacity in one of these two Regions more than in the other, for planting in it the Garden of God. Neither doth Scripture determine, with any certainty, either Hemisphere for the place of it; for when ’tis said to be in Eden, or to be the Garden of Eden, ’tis no more than the Garden of pleasure or delight, as the word signifies: And even the Septuagint, who render this word Eden, as a proper name twice, (Gen. 2. ver. 8 & 10) do in the same story render it twice as a common name, signifying τρυῳὴ, pleasure, (Chap. 2. 15 and Chap. 3. 24) and so they do accordingly render it in Ezekiel (Chap. 31. 9, 16, 18) where this Garden of Eden is spoken of again. Some have thought that the word Mekiddim (Geb. 2. 8) was to be render’d in the East, or Eastward, as we read it, and therefore determin’d the site of Paradise; but ’tis only the Septuagint Translate it so, all the other Greek Versions, and St. Jerom, the Vulgate, the Chaldee Paraphrase, and the Syriack render it from the beginning, or in the beginning, or to that effect. And we that do not believe the Septuagint to have been infallible, or inspir’d, have no reason to prefer their single authority above all the rest. Some also think the place of Paradise may be determin’d by the four Rivers that are named as belonging to it, and the Countries they ran thorough; but the names of those Rivers are to me uncertain, and two of them altogether unintelligible. Where are there four Rivers in our Continent that come from one Head, as these are said to have done, either at the entrance or issue of the Garden. ’Tis true, if you admit our Hypothesis, concerning the fraction and disruption of the Earth at the Deluge, then we cannot expect to find Rivers now as they were before, the general Source is chang’d, and their Chanels are all broke up; but if you do not admit such a dissolution of the Earth, but suppose the Deluge to have been only like a standing Pool, after it had once cover’d the surface of the Earth, I do not see why it should make any great havock or confusion in it; and they that go that way, are therefore the more oblig’d to show us still the Rivers of Paradise. Several of the Ancients, as we shall show hereafter, suppos’d these four Rivers to have their Heads in the other Hemisphere, and if so, the Seat of Paradise might be there too. But let them first agree amongst themselves, concerning these Rivers, and the Countries they run thorough, and we will undertake to show, that there cannot be any such in this Continent.
Seeing then neither the Theory doth determine, nor Scripture, where the place of Paradise was, nor in whether Hemisphere, we must appeal to Antiquity, or the opinions of the Ancients; for I know no other Guide, but one of these three, Scripture, Reason, and ancient Tradition; and where the two former are silent, it seems very reasonable to consult the third. And that our Inquiries may be comprehensive enough, we will consider what the Jews, what the Heathens, and what the Christian Fathers have said or determin’d concerning the Seat of Paradise. The Jews and Hebrew Doctors place it in neither Hemisphere, but betwixt both, under the Æquinoctial, as you may see plainly in Abravanel, Manasses Ben-Israel, Maimonides, Aben Ezra, and others. But the reason why they carried it no further than the Line, is because they suppos’d it certain, as Aben Ezra tells us, that the
days and nights were always equal in Paradise, and they did not know how that could be, unless it stood under the Æquinoctial. But we have shown another method, wherein that perpetual Æquinox came to pass, and how it was common to all the parts and Climates of that Earth, which if they had been aware of, and that the Torrid Zone at that time was utterly uninhabitable, having remov’d their Paradise thus far from home, they would probably have remov’d it a little further, into the temperate Climates of the other Hemisphere.
The Ancient Heathens, Poets and Philosophers, had the notion of Paradise, or rather of several Paradises in the Earth; and ’tis remarkable, that they plac’d them generally, if not all of them, out of this Continent; in the Ocean, or beyond it, or in another Orb or Hemisphere. The Garden of the Hesperides, the Fortunate Islands, the Elysian Fields, Ogygia and Toprabane, as it is describ’d by Diodorus Siculus, with others such like; which as they were all characteriz’d like so many Paradises, so they were all seated out of our Continent by their Geography and descriptions of them.
Thus far Antiquity seems to incline to the other Hemisphere, or to some place beyond the bounds of our Continent for the Seat of Paradise; But that which we are most to depend upon in this affair, is Christian Antiquity, the Judgment and Tradition of the Fathers upon this Argument. And we may safely say in the first place, negatively, that none of the Christian Fathers, Latin or Greek, ever plac’d Paradise in Mesopotamia; that is a conceit and invention of some modern Authors, which hath been much incouraged of late, because it gave men ease and rest as to further inquiries, in an argument they could not well manage. Secondly, we may affirm, that none of the Christian Fathers have plac’d Paradise in any determinate Region of our Continent, Asia Africk or Europe. I have read of one or two Authors, I think, that fansied Paradise to have been at Jerusalem, but ’twas a meer fancy, that no body regarded or pursu’d. The controversie amongst the Fathers concerning Paradise, was quite another thing from what it is now of late: They disputed and controverted, whether Paradise was Corporeal, or Intellectual only, and Allegorical; This was the grand point amongst them. Then of those that thought it Corporeal, some plac’d it high in the Air, some inaccessible by Desarts or Mountains, and many beyond the Ocean, or in another World; And in these chiefly consisted the differences and diversity of opinions amongst them; nor do we find that they nam’d any particular place or Country in the known parts of the Earth for the Seat of Paradise, or that one contested for one spot of ground, and another for another, which is the vain temerity of modern Authors; as if they could tell to an Acre of Land where Paradise stood, or could set their foot upon the Center of the Garden. These have corrupted and misrepresented the notion of our Paradise, just as some modern Poets have the notion of the Elysian Fields, which Homer and the Ancients plac’d remote on the extremities of the Earth, and these would make a little green Meadow in Campania Felix to be the fam’d Elysium.
Thus much concerning the Fathers, negatively; but to discover as far as we can, what their positive Assertions were in this Argument, we may observe, that though their opinions be differently exprest, they generally concenter in this, that
the Southern Hemisphere was the Seat of Paradise. This, I say, seems manifestly to be the sence of Christian Antiquity and Tradition, so far as there is any thing definitive in the remains we have upon that subject. Some of the Fathers did not believe Paradise to be Corporeal and Local, and those are to be laid aside in the first place, as to this point; Others that thought it Local, did not determine any thing (as most of them indeed did not) concerning the particular place of it; But the rest that did, though they have exprest themselves in various ways, and under various forms, yet, upon a due interpretation, they all meet in one common and general conclusion, That Paradise was seated beyond the Æquinoctial, or in the other Hemisphere.
And to understand this aright, we must reflect, in the first place, upon the form of the Primæval Earth, and of the two Hemispheres of which it consisted, altogether incommunicable one with another, by reason of the Torrid Zone betwixt them; so as those two Hemispheres were then as two distinct Worlds, or distinct Earths, that had no commerce with one another. And this Notion or Tradition we find amongst Heathen Authors, as well as Christian, this Opposite Earth being call’d by them Antichthon, and its Inhabitants Antichthones: For those words comprehend both the Antipodes and Antœci, or all beyond the Line, as is manifest from their best Authors, as Achilles Tatius, and Cæsar Germanicus upon Aratus, Probus Grammaticus, Censorinus, Pomponius Mela, and Pliny. And these were call’d another World, and lookt upon as another stock and race of Mankind, as appears from Cicero and Macrobius;Somn. Scip. But as the latter part was their mistake, so the former is acknowledg’d by Christian Authors, as well as others; and particularly St. Clement, in his Epistle to the Corinthians, mentions a World, or Worlds beyond the Ocean, subject to Divine Providence, and the great Lord of Nature, as well as ours. This passage of St. Clement is also cited by St. JeromLib. 2. c. 3., in his Commentary upon Ephes. 2. 2 and by Origen Periarchon, where the Inhabittants of that other World are call’d Antichthones.
I make this remark in the first place, that we may understand the true sence and importance of those phrases and expressions amongst the Ancients, when they say Paradise was in another World. Which are not to be so understood, as if they thought Paradise was in the Moon, or in Jupiter, or hung above like a Cloud or a Meteor, they were not so extravagant; but that Paradise was in another Hemisphere, which was call’d Antichthon, another Earth, or another World from Ours; and justly reputed so, because of an impossibility of commerce or intercourse betwixt their respective Inhabitants. And this remark being premis’d, we will now distribute the Christian Authors and Fathers that have deliver’d their opinion concerning the place of Paradise, into three or four ranks or orders; and though they express themselves differently, you will see, when duly examin’d and expounded, they all conspire and concur in the forementioned conclusion, That the Seat of Paradise was in the other Hemisphere.
In the first rank then we will place and reckon those that have set Paradise in another World, or in another Earth; seeing, according to the foregoing Explication, that is the same thing, as to affirm it seated beyond the Torrid Zone in the other Hemisphere. In this number are Ephrem Syrus, Moses Bar Cepha, Tatianus, and
of later date Jacobus de Valentia. To these are to be added again such Authors as say, that Adam, when he was turn’d out of Paradise, was brought into our Earth, or into our Region of the Earth; for this is tantamount with the former; And this seems to be the sence of St. Jerom in several places against Jovinian, as also of Constantine, in his Oration in Eusebius, and is positively asserted by Sulpitius Severus. And lastly, those Authors that represent Paradise as remote from our World, and inaccessible, so St. Austin, Procopius Gazeus, Beda, Strabus Fuldensis, Historia Scholiastica, and others, these, I say, pursue the same notion of Antiquity; for what is remote from our World (that is, from our Continent, as 1 we before explain’d it) is to be understood to be that Antichthon, or Anti-hemisphere which the Ancients oppos’d to ours.
Another sett of Authors, that interpret the Flaming Sword that guarded Paradise to be the Torrid Zone, do plainly intimate, that Paradise in their opinion lay beyond the Torrid Zone, or in the Anti-hemisphere; And thus Tertullian interprets the Flaming Sword, and in such words as fully confirm our sence: Paradise, He says, by the Torrid Zone, as by a wall of Fire, was sever’d from the communication and knowledge of our World. It lay then on the other side of this Zone. And St. Cyprian, or the ancient Author that passeth under his name, in his Comment upon Genesis, expresseth himself to the same effect; so also St. Austin and Isidore Hispalensis are thought to interpret it: And Aquinas, who makes Paradise inaccessible, gives this reason for it, Propter vehementiam æstûs in locis intermediis ex propinquitate Solis, & hoc significatur per Flammeum Gladium: Because of that vehement heat in the parts betwixt us and that, arising from the nearness of the Sun, and this is signified by the Flaming Sword. And this interpretation of the Flaming Sword receives a remarkable force and Emphasis from our Theory and description of the Primæval Earth, for there the Torrid Zone was as a wall of Fire indeed, or a Region of flame which none could pass or subsist in, no more than in a Furnace.
There is another form of expression amongst the Ancients concerning Paradise, which, if deciphered, is of the same force and signification with this we have already instanc’d in; They say sometimes, Paradise was beyond the Ocean, or that the Rivers of Paradise came from beyond the Ocean. This is of the same import with the former Head, and points still at the other Hemisphere; for, as we noted before, some of them fixt their Antichthon and Antichthones beyond the Ocean; that is, since there was an Ocean, Since the form of the Earth was chang’d, and the Torrid Zone become habitable, and consequently could not be a boundary or separation betwixt the two Worlds. Wherefore, as some run still upon the old division by the Torrid Zone, others took the new division by the Ocean. Which Ocean they suppos’d to lie from East to West betwixt the Tropicks; as may be seen in ancient Authors, Geminus, Herodotus, Cicero de Republicâ, and Clemens Romanus, whom we cited before. St. AustinDe Civ. Dei lib. 16. c. 9. also speaks upon the same supposition, when he would confute the doctrine of the Antipodes, or Antichthones; and Macrobius, I remember, makes it an Argument of Providence, that the Sun and the Planets, in what part of their course soever they are betwixt the two Tropicks, have still the Ocean under them, that they may be cool’d and nourisht by its
moisture. They thought the Sea, like a Girdle, went round the Earth, and the temperate Zones on either side were the habitable Regions, whereof this was call’d the Oicouméne, and the other Antichthon.
This being observ’d, ’tis not material, whether their Notion was true or false, it shows us what their meaning was, and what part of the Earth they design’d, when they spoke of any thing beyond the Ocean; namely, that they meant beyond the Line, in the other Hemisphere, or in the Antichthon; and accordingly, when they say Paradise, or the Fountains of its Rivers were beyond the Ocean, they say the same thing in other terms with the rest of those Authors we have cited. In Moses Bar Cepha above mention’d, we find a Chapter upon this subject, Quomodo trajecerint Mortales inde ex Paradisi terrâ in hanc Terram? How Mankind past out of that Earth or Continent where Paradise was, into that where we are? Namely, how they past the Ocean, that lay betwixt them, as the answer there given explains it. And so Ephrem Syrus is cited often in that Treatise, placing Paradise beyond the Ocean. The Essenes also, who were the most Philosophick Sect of the Jews, plac’d Paradise, according to Josephus, beyond the Ocean, under a perfect temperature of Air. And that passage in Eusebius, in the Oration of Constantine, being corrected and restor’d to the true reading, represents Paradise, in like manner, as in another Continent, from whence Adam was brought, after his transgression, into this. And lastly, there are some Authors, whose testimony and authority may deserve to be consider’d, not for their own Antiquity, but because they are profess’dly transcribers of Antiquity and Traditions, such as Strabus, Comestor, and the like, who are known to give this account or report of Paradise from the Ancients, that it was interposito Oceano ab Orbe nostro vel à Zonâ nostrâ habitabili secretus, Separated from our Orb or Hemisphere by the interposition of the Ocean.
It is also observable, that many of the Ancients that took Tigris, Euphrates, Nile and Ganges for the Rivers of Paradise, said that those Heads or Fountains of them which we have in our Continent, are but their Capita secunda, their second Sources, and that their first Sources were in another Orb where Paradise was; and thus Hugo de Sancto Victore says, Sanctos communiter sensisse, that the Holy men of old were generally of that opinion. To this sence also Moses Bar Cepha often expresseth himself; as also Epiphanius, Procopius Gazeus, and Severianus in Catenâ. Which notion amongst the Ancients, concerning the trajection or passage of the Paradisiacal Rivers under-ground, or under-Sea, from one Continent into another, is to me, I confess, unintelligible, either in the first or second Earth; but however it discovers their sence and opinion of the Seat of Paradise, that it was not to be sought for in Asia or in Africk, where those Rivers rise to us, but in some remoter parts of the World, where they suppos’d their first Sources to be.
This is a short account of what the Christian Fathers have left us, concerning the Seat of Paradise; and the truth is, ’tis but a short and broken account; yet ’tis no wonder it should be so, if we consider, as we noted before, that several of them did not believe Paradise to be Local and Corporeal; Others that did believe it so, yet did not offer to determine the place of it, but left that matter wholly untoucht and undecided; And the rest that did speak to that point, did
it commonly both in general terms, and in expressions that were disguis’d, and needed interpretation; but all these differences and obscurities of expression, you see, when duly stated and expounded, may signifie one and the same thing, and terminate all in this common Conclusion, That Paradise was without our Continent, according to the general opinion and Tradition of Antiquity. And I do not doubt but the Tradition would have been both more express and more universal, if the Ancients had understood Geography better; for those of the Ancients that did not admit or believe, that there were Antipodes or Antichthones, as Lactantius, St. Austin, and some others, these could not joyn in the common opinion about the place of Paradise, because they thought there was no Land, nor any thing habitable ἔξω τ῾ οἰκουμγύης, or besides this Continent. And yet St. Austin was so cautious, that as he was bounded on the one hand by his false Idea of the Earth, that he could not joyn with Antiquity as to the place of Paradise; so on the other hand he had that respect for it, that he would not say any thing to the contrary; therefore being to give his opinion, he says only, Terrestrem esse Paradisum, & locum ejus ab hominum cognitione esse remotissimum: That it is somewhere upon the Earth, but the place of it very remote from the knowledge of Men.
And as their ignorance of the Globe of the Earth was one reason, why the doctrine of Paradise was so broken and obscure, so another reason why it is much more so at present is, because the chief ancient Books writ upon that subject, are lost; Ephrem Syrus, who liv’d in the Fourth Century, writ a Commentary in Genesin sive de Ortu rerum, concerning the Origin of the Earth; and by those remains that are cited from it, we have reason to believe, that it contain’d many things remarkable concerning the first Earth, and concerning Paradise, Tertullian also writ a Book de Paradiso, which is wholly lost; and we see to what effect it would have been, by his making the Torrid Zone to be the Flaming Sword, and the partition betwixt this Earth and Paradise; which two Earths he more than once distinguisheth as very different from one another. The mostCont. Marc. lib. 2. c. 2. c. 5. ancient Author that I know upon this subject, at least of those that writ of it literally, is Moses Bar Cepha, a Syrian Bishop, who liv’d about seven hundred years since, and his Book is translated into Latin, by that Learned and Judicious man, Andreas Masius. Bar Cepha writes upon the same Views of Paradise that we have here presented, that it was beyond the Ocean, in another tract of Land, or another Continent from that which we inhabit: As appears from the very Titles of his Eighth, Tenth, and Fourteenth Chapters. But we must allow him for his mistaken Notions about the form of the Earth; for he seems to have fansied the Earth plain, (not only as oppos’d to rough and Mountainous, for so it was plain; but as oppos’d to Spherical) and the Ocean to have divided it in two parts, an Interiour, and an Exteriour, and in that Exteriour part was Paradise. Such allowances must often be made for Geographical mistakes, in examining and understanding the writings of the Ancients. The rest of the Syrian Fathers, as well as Ephrem and Bar Cepha, incline to the same doctrine of Paradise, and seem to have retain’d more of the ancient Notions concerning it, than the Greek and Latin Fathers have; and yet there is in all some fragments of this doctrine, and but fragments in the best.
We might add in that last place, that as the most ancient Treatises concerning Paradise are lost, so also the ancient Glosses and Catenæ upon Scripture, where we might have found the Traditions and Opinions of the Ancients upon this subject, are many of them either lost or unpublisht; And upon this consideration we did not think it improper to cite some Authors of small Antiquity, but such as have transcrib’d several things out of ancient Manuscript-glosses into their Commentaries: They living however before Printing was invented, or Learning well restor’d, and before the Reformation. I add that also before the Reformation, for since that time the Protestant Authors having lessen’d the authority of Traditions, the Pontificial Doctors content themselves to insist only upon such as they thought were useful or necessary, left by multiplying others that were but matter of curiosity, they should bring the first into question, and render the whole doctrine of Traditions more dubious and exceptionable; And upon this account, there are some Authors that writ an Age or two before the Reformation, that have with more freedom told us the Tenets and Traditions of the Ancients in these Speculations, that are but collateral to Religion, than any have done since. And I must confess, I am apt to think that what remains concerning the doctrine of Paradise, and the Primæval Earth, is in a good measure Traditional; for one may observe, that those that treat upon these subjects, quote the true Opinions, and tell you some of the Ancients held so and so, as That Paradise was in another Earth, or higher than this Earth, That there were no Mountains before the Flood, nor any Rain, and such like: yet they do not name those ancient Authors that held these Opinions; which makes me apt to believe, either that they were convey’d by a Traditional communication from one to another, or that there were other Books extant upon those subjects, or other Glosses, than what are now known.
Finally, to conclude this Discourse concerning the Seat of Paradise, we must mind you again upon what Basis it stands. We declar’d freely, that we could not by our Theory alone determine the particular place of it, only by that we are assur’d that it was in the Primæval Earth, and not in the present; but in what Region, or in whether Hemisphere of that Earth it was seated, we cannot define from Speculation only. ’Tis true, if we hold fast to that Scripture-conclusion, That all Mankind rise from one Head, and from one and the same Stock and Lineage, (which doth not seem to be according to the sentiments of the Heathens) we must suppose they were born in one Hemisphere, and after some time translated into the other, or a Colony of them; But this still doth not determine, in whether of the two they begun, and were first seated before their translation; and I am apt to think that depended rather, as we noted before, upon the Divine pleasure, and the train of affairs that was to succeed, than upon Natural causes and differences. Some of the Ancients, I know, made both the Soil and the Stars more noble in the Southern Hemisphere, than in ours, but I do not see any proof or warrant for it; wherefore laying aside all natural Topicks, we are willing, in this particular, to refer our selves wholly to the report and majority of Votes amongst the Ancients; who yet do not seem to me to lay much stress upon the notion of a particular and topical Paradise, and therefore use general and
remote expressions concerning it. And finding no place for it in this Continent, they are willing to quit their hands of it, by placing it in a Region some-where far off, and inaccessible. This, together with the old Tradition, that Paradise was in another Earth, seems to me to give an account of most of their Opinions concerning the Seat of Paradise.