How the Sea will be diminish’d and consum’d. How the Rocks and Mountains will be thrown down and melted, and the whole exteriour frame of the Earth dissolv’d into a Deluge of Fire.
WE have now taken a view of the Causes of the Conflagration, both ordinary and extraordinary: It remains to consider the manner of it; How these Causes will operate, and bring to pass an effect so great and so prodigious. We took notice before that the grand obstruction would be from the Sea, and from the Mountains; we must therefore take these to task in the first place; and if we can remove them out of our way, or overcome what resistance and opposition they are capable to make, the rest of the work will not be uneasie to us.
The Ocean indeed is a vast Body of Waters; and we must use all our art and skill to dry it up, or consume it in a good measure, before we can compass our design. I remember the advice a Philosopher gave Amasis King of Egypt, when he had a command sent him from the King of Æthiopia, That he should drink up the Sea. Amasis being very anxious and solicitous what answer he should make to this strange command, the Philosopher Bias advis’d him to make this round answer to the King; That he was ready to perform his command and to drink up the Sea, provided he would stop the rivers from flowing into his cup while he was drinking. This answer baffled the King, for he could not stop the rivers; but this we must do, or we shall never be able to drink up the Sea, or burn up the Earth.
Neither will this be so impossible as it seems at first sight, if we reflect upon those preparations we have made towards it, by a general drought all over the Earth. This we suppose will precede the Conflagration, and by drying up the Fountains and Rivers, which daily feed the Sea, will by degrees starve that Monster, or reduce it to such a degree of weakness, that it shall not be able to make any great resistance. More than half an Ocean of Water flows into the Sea every day, from the Rivers of the Earth, if you take them all together. This
[paragraph continues] I speak upon a moderate computation. Aristotle says the Rivers carry more water into the Sea, in the space of a year, than would equal in bulk the whole Globe of the Earth. Nay some have ventur’d to affirm this of one single River, The Volga, that runs into the Caspian Sea. ’Tis a great River indeed, and hath seventy mouths; and so it had need have, to disgorge a mass of Water equal to the Body of the Earth, in a years time. But we need not take such high measures; There are at least an hundred great Rivers that flow into the Sea, from several parts of the Earth, Islands and Continents, besides several thousands of lesser ones; Let us suppose these, all together, to pour as much water into the Sea-chanel, every day, as is equal to half the Ocean. And we shall be easily convinc’d of the reasonableness of this supposition, if we do but examine the daily expence of one River, and by that make an estimate of the rest. This we find calculated to our hands in the River Po in Italy; a River of much what the same bigness with our Thames, and disburthens it self into the Gulph of Venice. Baptista Riccioli, hath computed how much water this River discharges in an hour, viz. 18 000 000 cubical paces of Water, and consequently 432 000 000 in a day; which is scarce credible to those that do not distinctly compute it. Suppose then an hundred Rivers as great as this or greater, to fall into the Sea from the land; besides thousands of lesser, that pay their tribute at the same time into the great Receit of the Ocean; These all taken together, are capable to renew the Sea every twice four and twenty hours. Which suppositions being admitted, if by a great and lasting drought these Rivers were dryed up, or the Fountains from whence they flow, what would then become of that vast Ocean, that before was so formidable to us?
’Tis likely you will say, These great Rivers cannot be dry’d up, tho’ the little ones may; and therefore we must not suppose such an Universal stop of waters, or that they will all fail, by any drought whatsoever. But great Rivers being made up of little ones, if these fail, those must be diminish’d, if not quite drain’d and exhausted. It may be all Fountains and Springs do not proceed from the same causes, or the same original; and some are much more copious than others; for such differences we will allow what is due; but still the driness of the Air and of the Earth continuing, and all the sources and supplies of moisture, both from above and from below, being lessen’d or wholly discontinued, a general decay of all Fountains and Rivers must necessarily follow, and consequently of the Sea, and of its fulness that depends upon them. And that's enough for our present purpose.
The first step therefore towards the Consumption of the Ocean will be the diminution or suspension of the Rivers that run into it. The next will be an Evacuation by Subterraneous passages; And the last, by Eruptions of fires in the very Chanel of it, and in the midst of the waters. As for Subterraneous evacuations, we cannot doubt but that the Sea hath out-lets (sic.) at the bottom of it; whereby it discharges that vast quantity of water that flows into it every day, and that could not be discharg’d so fast as it comes from the wide mouths of the Rivers, by percolation or straining thorough the Sands. Seas also communicate with one another by these internal passages; as is manifest from those particular
[paragraph continues] Seas that have no external outlet or issue, tho’ they receive into them many great Rivers, and sometimes the influx of other Seas. So the Caspian Sea receives not onely Volga, which we mention’d before, but several other Rivers, and yet hath no visible issue for its waters. The Mediterranean Sea, besides all the Rivers it receives, hath a current flowing into it, at either end, from other Seas; from the Atlantick Ocean at the streights of Gibraltar, and from the Black Sea, above Constantinople: and yet there is no passage above-ground, or visible derivation of the Mediterranean waters out of their Chanel; which seeing they do not over-fill, nor overflow the Banks, ’tis certain they must have some secret conveyances into the bowels of the Earth, or subterraneous communication with other Seas. Lastly, from the Whirl-pools of the Sea, that suck in Bodies that come within their reach, it seems plainly to appear, by that attraction and absorption, that there is a descent of waters in those places.
Wherefore when the current of the Rivers into the Sea is stopt, or in a great measure diminish’d; The Sea continuing to empty it self by these subterraneous passages, and having little or none of those supplies that it us’d to have from the Land, it must needs be sensibly lessen’d; and both contract its Chanel into a narrower compass, and also have less depth in the waters that remain. And in this last place, we must expect fiery eruptions in several parts of the Sea-chanel, which will help to suck up or evaporate the remaining waters. In the present state of Nature there have been several instances of such eruptions of fire from the bottom of the Sea; and in that last state of Nature, when Earthquakes and Eruptions will be more frequent every where, we must expect them also more frequently by Sea, as well as by Land. ’Tis true, neither Earthquakes nor Eruptions can happen in the middle of the Great Ocean, or in the deepest Abyss, because there are no cavities, or mines below it, for the vapours and exhalations to lodge in; But ’tis not much of the Sea-chanel that is so deep, and in other parts, especially in streights and near Islands, such Eruptions, like Sea-Volcano's, have frequently happen’d, and new Islands have been made by such fiery matter thrown up from the bottom of the Sea. Thus, they say, those Islands in the Mediterranean call’d the Vulcanian Islands, had their original; being matter cast up from the bottom of the Sea, by the force of fire; as new Mountains sometimes are rais’d upon the Earth. Another Island in the Archipelago had the same original, whereof Strabo gives an account.li. 1. The flames, he says, sprung up thorough the waters, four days together, so as the whole Sea was hot and burning; and they rais’d by degrees, as with Engines, a mass of Earth, which made a new Island, twelve furlongs in compass. And in the same Archipelago, flames and smoak have several times (particularly in the year 1650) rise out of the Sea, and fill’d the Air with sulphureous scents and vapours. In like manner, in the Island of St. Michel, one of the Tercera's, there have been, of later years, such eructations of fire and flames; so strong and violent, that, at the depth of an hundred and sixty fathoms, they forc’d their way through the midst of the waters, from the bottom of the Sea into the open Air. As has been related by those that were eye-witnesses.
In these three ways, I conceive, the great force of the Sea will be broken, and the mighty Ocean reduc’d to a standing Pool of putrid waters, without vent and
without recruits. But there will still remain in the midst of the Chanel a great mass of troubled liquors, like dregs in the bottom of the vessel; which will not be drunk up till the Earth be all on fire, and torrents of melted and sulphureous matter flow from the Land, and mingle with this Dead Sea. But let us now leave the Sea in this humble posture, and go on to attack the Rocks and Mountains which stand next in our way.
See how scornfully they look down upon us, and bid defiance to all the Elements. They have born the thunder and lightning of Heaven, and all the artillery of the Skies, for innumerable Ages; and do not fear the crackling of thorns and of shrubs that burn at their feet. Let the Towns and Cities of the Earth, say they, be laid in ashes; Let the Woods and Forests blaze away; and the fat Soyl of the Earth fry in its own grease; These things will not affect us; We can stand naked in the midst of a Sea of fire, with our roots as deep as the foundations of the Earth, and our heads above the Clouds of the Air. Thus they proudly defie Nature; and it must be confect, that these, being, as it were, the Bones of the Earth, when the Body is burning, will be the last consum’d; And I am apt to think, if they could keep in the same posture they stand in now, and preserve themselves from falling, the fire could never get an entire power over them. But Mountains are generally hollow, and that makes them subject to a double casualty; first, of Earth-quakes, secondly, of having their roots eaten away by water or by fire; but by fire especially in this case: for we suppose there will be innumerable subterraneous fires smothering under ground, before the general fire breaks out; and these by corroding the bowels of the Earth, will make it more hollow and more ruinous; And when the Earth is so far dissolv’d, that the cavities within the Mountains are fill’d with Lakes of fire, then the Mountains will sink, and fall into those boyling Caldrons; which, in time, will dissolve them, tho’ they were as hard as Adamant.
To conclude this point, the Mountains will all be brought low, in that state of nature, either by Earthquakes or subterraneous fires; Isa. 40. 4.Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low. Which will be literally true at the second coming of our Saviour,Luk. 3. 5. as it was figuratively apply’d to his first coming. Now, being once level’d with the rest of the Earth, the question will onely be, how they shall be dissolv’d. But there is no Terrestrial Body indissolvable to Fire, if it have a due strength and continuance; and this last fire will have both, in the highest degrees; So that it cannot but be capable of dissolving all Elementary compositions, how hard or solid soever they be.
’Tis true, these Mountains and Rocks, as I said before, will have the priviledge to be the last destroy’d. These, with the deep parts of the Sea, and the Polar regions of the Earth, will undergo a slower fate, and be consum’d more leisurely. The action of the last Fire may be distinguish’d into two Times, or two assaults; The first assault will carry off all Mankind, and all the works of the Earth that are easily combustible, and this will be done with a quick and sudden motion. But the second assault, being employ’d about the consumption of such Bodies or such Materials as are not so easily subjected to fire, will be of long continuance, and the work of some years. And ’tis fit it should be so; that
this Flaming World may be view’d and consider’d by the neighbouring Worlds about it, as a dreadful spectacle, and monument of God's wrath against disloyal and disobedient Creatures. That by this example, now before their eyes, they may think of their own fate, and what may befal them, as well as another Planet of the same Elements and composition.
Thus much for the Rocks and Mountains; which, you see, according to our Hypothesis, will be level’d, and the whole face of the Earth reduc’d to plainness and equality; nay, which is more, melted and dissolved into a Sea of liquid Fire. And because this may seem a Paradox, being more than is usually supposed, or taken notice of, in the doctrine of the Conflagration, it will not be improper in this place to give an account, wherein our Idea of the Conflagration and its effects, differs from the common opinion and the usual representation of it. ’Tis commonly suppos’d, that the Conflagration of the World is like the burning of a City, where the Walls and materials of the Houses are not melted down, but scorch’d, inflam’d, demolish’d, and made unhabitable. So they think in the Burning of the World; such Bodies, or such parts of Nature, as are fit Fewel for the Fire, will be inflam’d, and, it may be, consum’d, or reduc’d to smoak and ashes; But other Bodies that are not capable of Inflammation, will only be scorch’d and defac’d, the beauty and furniture of the Earth spoil’d, and by that means, say they, it will be laid wast and become unhabitable. This seems to me a very short and imperfect Idea of the Conflagration; neither agreeable to Scripture, nor to the deductions that may be made from Scripture. We therefore suppose that this is but half the work, this destroying of the outward garniture of the Earth is but the first onset, and that the Conflagration will end in a Dissolution and liquefaction of the Elements and all the exteriour region of the Earth; so as to become a true Deluge of Fire, or a Sea of Fire overspreading the whole Globe of the Earth. This state of the Conflagration I think may be plainly prov’d, partly by the expressions of Scripture concerning it, and partly from the Renovation of the Earth that is to follow upon it. St. Peter, who is our chief Guide in the doctrine of the Conflagration, says2 Pet. 3. 10, 11., The Elements will be melted with fervent heat; besides burning up the works of the Earth. Then adds, Seeing all these things shall be dissolv’d, &c. These terms of Liquefaction and Dissolution cannot, without violence, be restrained to simple devastation and superficial scorching. Such expressions carry the work a great deal further, even to that full sence which we propose. Besides, the ProphetsIsa. 34. 3, 4 & 44. 1, 2.
Nah. 1. 5.
Ps. 97. 5. often speak of the melting of the Earth, or of the hills and mountains, at the presence of the Lord, in the day of his wrath. And St. John (Apoc. is. 2.) tells us of a Sea of Glass, mingled with Fire; where the Saints stood, singing the song of Moses, and triumphing over their enemies, the Spiritual Pharaoh and his host, that were swallowed up in it. That Sea of Glass must be a Sea of molten glass; it must be fluid, not solid, if a Sea; neither can a solid substance be said to be mingled with Fire, as this was. And to this answers the Lake of fire and brimstone, which the Beast and false Prophet were thrown into alive, Apoc. 19. 20. These all refer to the end of the World and the last Fire, and also plainly imply, or express rather, that state of Liquefaction which we suppose and assert.
Furthermore, The Renovation of the World, or The New Heavens and New Earth, which St. Peter, out of the Prophets, tells us shall spring out of these that are burnt and dissolved, do suppose this Earth reduc’d into a fluid Chaos, that it may lay a foundation for a second World. If you take such a Skeleton of an Earth, as your scorching Fire would leave behind it; where the flesh is torn from the bones, and the Rocks and Mountains stand naked and staring upon you; the Sea, half empty, gaping at the Sun, and the Cities all in ruines and in rubbish; How would you raise a New World from this? and a World fit to be an habitation for the Righteous; for so St. Peter2 Pet. 3. 13. makes that to be, which is to succeed after the Conflagration. And a World also without a Sea, so St. JohnApoc. 21. 1. describes the New Earth he saw. As these characters do not agree to the present Earth, so neither would they agree to your Future one; for if that dead lump could revive and become habitable again, it would however retain all the imperfections of the former Earth, besides some scars and deformities of its own. Wherefore if you would cast the Earth into a new and better mould, you must first melt it down; and the last Fire, being as a Refiner's fire, will make an improvement in it, both as to matter and form. To conclude, it must be reduc’d into a fluid Mass, in the nature of a Chaos, as it was at first; but this last will be a Fiery Chaos, as that was Watery; and from this state it will emerge again into a Paradisiacal World. But this being the Subject of the following Book, we will discourse no more of it in this place.