SO much for the form of the Ante-diluvian Earth and Abyss; which as they aptly correspond to one another, so you see, our Theory answers and is adjusted to both; and, I think, so fitly, that we have no reason hitherto to be
displeas’d with the success we have had in the examination of it, according to Scripture. We have dispatch’d the two main points in question, first, to prove a diversity in general betwixt the two natural Worlds, or betwixt the Heavens and the Earth before and after the Flood. Secondly, to prove wherein this diversity consisted; or that the particular form of the Ante-diluvian Heavens and Earth was such according to Scripture, as we have describ’d it in the Theory. You’l say, then the work is done, what needs more, all the rest follows of course; for if the Ante-diluvian Earth had such a form as we have propos’d and prov’d it to have had, there could be no Deluge in it but by a dissolution of its parts and exteriour frame: And a Deluge so made, would not be in the nature of a standing Pool, but of a violent agitation and commotion of the waters. This is true; These parts of the Theory are so cemented, that you must grant all, if you grant any. However we will try if even these two particulars also may be prov’d out of Scripture; That is, if there be any marks or memorandums left there by the Spirit of God, of such a fraction or dissolution of the Earth at the Deluge. And also such characters of the Deluge it self, as show it to have been by a fluctuation and impetuous commotion of the waters.
To proceed then; That there was a Fraction or Dissolution of the Earth at the Deluge, the history of it by Moses gives us the first account, seeing he tells us, as the principal cause of the Flood, that the Fountains of the Great Abyss were cloven or burst asunder; and upon this disruption the waters gush’d out from the bowels of the Earth, as from the widen’d mouths of so many Fountains. I do not take Fountains there to signifie any more than Sources or Stores of Water; noting also this manner of their eruption from below, or out of the ground, as Fountains do. Accordingly in the Proverbs, (chap. 3. 20.) 1 ’tis onely said, the Abysses were broken open. I do not doubt but this refers to the Deluge, as Bede, and others understand it; the very word being us’d here, both in the Hebrew and Septuagint, the express’d the disruption of the Abyss at the Deluge.
And this breaking up of the Earth at that time, is elegantly exprest in Job, by the bursting of the Womb of Nature, when the Sea was first brought to light; when after many pangs and throes and dilacerations of her body, Nature was deliver’d of a burthen which she had born in her Womb Sixteen Hundred Years.
These three places I take to be memorials and proofs of the disruption of the Earth, or of the Abyss, at the universal Deluge. And to these we may add more out of the Prophets, Job, and the Psalms, by way of allusion (commonly) to the state of Nature at that time. The Prophet Isaiah in describing the future destruction of the World, chap. 24. 18, 19. seems plainly to allude and have respect to the past destruction of it at the Deluge; as appears by that leading expression, the windows from on high are open, ;אֲ;רֻבות סִמָּרוֹס נִפְתָה, θυρίδες ὀκ τοῦ οὐρανοῦ ἠνεώχθησαν taken manifestly from Gen. 7. 11. Then see how the description goes on, the windows from on high are open, and the foundations of the Earth do shake. The Earth is utterly broken down, the Earth is quite dissolv’d, the Earth is exceedingly moved. Here are Concussions, and Fractions, and Dissolutions, as there were in the Mundane Earthquake and Deluge; which we had exprest before only by breaking open the Abyss. By the Foundations of the Earth here
and elsewhere, I perceive many understand the Centre; so by moving or shaking the foundations, or putting them out of course, must be understood a displacing of the Centre; which was really done at the Deluge, as we have shewn in its proper place. Theor. book 2. p. 194, 195. If we therefore remember that there was both a dislocation, as I may so say; and a fraction in the body of the Earth, by that great fall; a dislocation as to the centre, and a fraction as to the surface and exterior region, it will truly answer to all those expressions in the Prophet, that seem so strange and extraordinary. ’Tis true, this place of the Prophet respects also and foretells the future destruction of the World; but that being by Fire, when the Elements shall melt with fervent heat, and the Earth with the works therein shall be burnt up, these expressions of fractions and concussions, seem to be taken originally from the manner of the World's first destruction, and to be transferr’d, by way of application, to represent and signifie the second destruction of it, though, it may be, not with the same exactness and propriety.
There are several other places that refer to the dissolution and subversion of the Earth at the Deluge: Amos 9. 5, 6. The Lord of Hosts is he that toucheth the Earth, and it shall melt, or be dissolv'd. . . . . and it shall rise up wholly like a Flood, and shall be drowned as by the Flood of Ægypt. By this and by the next Verse the Prophet seems to allude to the Deluge, and to the dissolution of the Earth that was then. This in Job seems to be call’d breaking down the Earth, and overturning the Earth, Chap. 12. 14, 15. Behold he breaketh down and it cannot be built again, He shutteth upon man, and there can be no opening. Behold, he withholdeth the waters, and they dry up; also he sendeth them out, and they overturn the Earth: Which place you may see paraphras’d, Theor. Book 1. pp. 91, 92. We have already cited, and shall hereafter cite, other places out of Job; And as that Ancient Author (who is thought to have liv’d before the Judaical Oeconomy, and nearer to Noah than Moses) seems to have had the Præcepta Noachidarum, so also he seems to have had the Dogmata Noachidarum; which were deliver’d by Noah to his Children and Posterity, concerning the mysteries of natural Providence, the origine and fate of the World, the Deluge and Ante-diluvian state, &c. and accordingly we find many strictures of these doctrines in the Book of Job. Lastly, in the Psalms there are Texts that mention the shaking of the Earth, and the foundations of the World, in reference to the Flood, if we judge aright; whereof we will speak under the next Head, concerning the raging of the Waters in the Deluge.
These places of Scripture may be noted, as left us to be remembrancers of that general ruine and disruption of the Earth at the time of the Deluge. But I know it will be said of them, that they are not strict proofs, but allusions onely. Be it so; yet what is the ground of those allusions? something must be alluded to, and something that hath past in nature, and that is recorded in Sacred History; And what is that, unless it be the universal Deluge, and that change and disturbance that was then in all nature. If others say, that these and such like places are to be understood morally and allegorically, I do not envy them their interpretation; but when nature and reason will bear a literal sence, the rule is, that we should not recede from the letter. But I leave these things to every one's thoughts; which the more calm they are, and the more impartial, the more easily they will
feel the impressions of truth. In the mean time, I proceed to the last particular mention’d, The form of the Deluge it self.
This we suppose to have been not in the way of a standing Pool, the Waters making an equal Surface, and an equal heighth every where; but that the extreme heighth of the Waters was made by the extreme agitation of them; caus’d by the weight and force of great Masses or Regions of Earth falling at once into the Abyss; by which means, as the waters in some places were prest out, and thrown at an excessive height into the air, so they would also in certain places gape, and lay bare even the bottom of the Abyss; which would look as an open Grave ready to swallow up the Earth, and all it bore. Whilst the Ark, in the mean time, falling and rising by these gulphs and precipices, sometimes above water, and sometimes under, was a true Type of the state of the Church in this World; And to this time and state David alludes in the name of the Church, Psal. 42. 7. Abyss calls unto Abyss at the noise of thy Cataracts or Water-spouts; All thy waves and billows have gone over me. And again, Psal. 46. 2, 3. in the name of the Church. Therefore will not we fear, tho’ the Earth be removed, and tho’ the mountains be carried into the midst of the Seas. The waters thereof roar and are troubled, the mountains shake with the swelling thereof.
But there is no description more remarkable or more eloquent, than of that Scene of things represented, Psal. 18. 7, 8, 9, &c. which still alludes, in my opinion, to the Deluge-scene, and in the name of the Church. We will set down the words at large.
Ver. 6. In my distress I called upon the Lord, and cried unto my God; He heard my voice out of his Temple, and my cry came before him into his ears.
7. Then the Earth shook and trembled, the foundations also of the hills moved and were shaken, because he was wroth.
8. There went up a smoke from his nostrils, and fire out of his mouth devoured; Coals were kindled by it.
9. He bowed the Heavens also and came down, and darkness was under his feet.
10. And he rode upon a Cherub and did flie, he did flie upon the wings of the wind.
11. He made darkness his secret place; his pavilion round about him was dark waters and thick clouds of the skie.
12. At the brightness before him the thick clouds passed, hail and coals of fire.
13. The Lord also thunder’d in the Heavens, and the Highest gave his voice, hail and coals of fire.
14. Yea, he sent out his arrows, and scatter’d them: and he shot out lightnings and discomfited them.
15. Then the Chanels of waters were seen, and the foundations of the World were discovered; at thy rebuke, O Lord, at the blast of the breath of thy nostrils. He sent from above, he took me; he drew me out of great waters. 1
This I think is a rough 2 draught of the face of the Heavens and the Earth at the Deluge, as the last Verses do intimate; and ’tis apply’d to express the dangers and deliverances of the Church: The Expressions are far too high to be apply'd
to David in his Person, and to his deliverance from Saul; no such agonies or disorders of nature as are here instanc’d in, were made in David's time, or upon his account; but ’tis a scheme of the Church, and of her fate, particularly, as represented by the Ark, in that dismal distress, when all nature was in confusion. And though there may be some things here intermixt to make up the Scene, that are not so close to the subject as the rest, or that may be referr’d to the future destruction of the world: yet that is not unusual, nor amiss, in such descriptions, if the great strokes be fit and rightly plac’d. That there was smoke, and fire, and water, and thunder, and darkness, and winds, and Earthquakes at the Deluge, we cannot doubt, if we consider the circumstances of it; Waters dash’d and broken make a smoke and darkness, and no Hurricano could be so violent as the motions of the Air at that time; Then the Earth was torn in pieces, and its Foundations shaken; And as to thunder and lightning, the encounters and collisions of the mighty Waves, and the cracks of a falling World, would make flashes and noises, far greater and more terrible, than any that can come from vapors and clouds. There was an universal Tempest, a conflict and clashing of all the Elements; and David seems to have represented it so; with God allmighty in the midst of it, ruling them all.
But I am apt to think some will say, all this is Poetical in the Prophet, and these are hyperbolical and figurate expressions, from which we cannot make any inference, as to the Deluge and the natural World. ’Tis true, those that have no Idea of the Deluge, that will answer to such a Scene of things, as is here represented, must give such a slight account of this Psalm. But on the other hand, if we have already an Idea of the Deluge that is rational, and also consonant to Scripture upon other proofs, and the description here made by the Prophet answer to that Idea, whether then is it not more reasonable to think that it stands upon that ground, than to think it a meer fancy and Poetical Scene of things: This is the true state of the case, and that which we must judge of. Methinks ’tis very harsh to suppose all this a bare fiction, grounded upon no matter of fact, upon no Sacred story, upon no appearance of God in nature. If you say it hath a moral signification, so let it have, we do not destroy that; it hath reference, no doubt, to the dangers and deliverances of the Church; but the question is, whether the words and natural sence be a fancy onely, a bundle of randome hyperboles: or whether they relate to the history of the Deluge, and the state of the Ark there representing the Church. This makes the sence doubly rich, historically and morally; and grounds it upon Scripture and reason, as well as upon fancy.
That violent eruption of the Sea out of the Womb of the Earth, which Job speaks of, is, in my judgment, another description of the Deluge; ’tis Chap. 38. 8, 9, 10, 11. Who shut up the Sea with doors, when it broke forth, as if it had issued out of a Womb; When I made the cloud the garment thereof, and thick darkness a swadling band for it. And broke up for it my decreed place . . . . hitherto shalt thou come, &c. Here you see the birth and nativity of the Sea, or of Oceanus, describ'd; 1 how he broke out of the Womb, and what his first garment and
swadling cloaths were; namely clouds and thick darkness. This cannot refer to any thing, that I know of, but to the face of Nature at the Deluge; when the Sea was born, and wrapt up in clouds and broken waves, and a dark impenetrable mist round the body of the Earth. And this seems to be the very same that David had exprest in his description of the Deluge, Psal. 18. II. He made darkness his secret place, his pavilion round about him were dark waters and thick clouds of the skies. For this was truly the face of the World in the time of the Flood, tho’ we little reflect upon it. And this dark confusion every where, above and below, arose from the violent and confus’d motion of the Abyss;See Theor. Book 1, p. 99. which was dasht in pieces by the falling Earth, and flew into the air in misty drops, as dust flies up in a great ruine.
But I am afraid, we have stayed too long upon this particular, the form of the Deluge; seeing ’tis but a Corollary from the precedent article about the dissolution of the Earth. However time is not ill spent about any thing that relates to natural Providence, whereof the two most signal instances in our Sacred Writings, are, the Deluge and the Conflagration. And seeing Job and David do often reflect upon the works of God in the external creation, and upon the administrations of Providence, it cannot be imagin’d that they should never reflect upon the Deluge; the most remarkable change of Nature that ever hath been, and the most remarkable judgment upon mankind. And if they have reflected upon it any where, ’tis, I think, in those places and those instances which I have noted; and if those places do relate to the Deluge, they are not capable, in my judgment, of any fairer or more natural interpretation than that which we have given them; which, you see, how much it favours and confirms our Theory.
I have now finisht the heads I undertook to prove, that I might shew our Theory to agree with Scripture in these three principal points; first, in that it supposeth a diversity and difference betwixt the Ante-diluvian Heavens and Earth, and the present Heavens and Earth. Secondly, in assigning the particular form of the Ante-diluvian Earth and Abyss. Thirdly, in explaining the Deluge by a dissolution of that Earth, and an eruption of the Abyss. How far I have succeeded in this attempt, as to others, I cannot tell; but I am sure I have convinc’d my self, and am satisfied that my thoughts, in that Theory, have run in the same tract with the holy writings: with the true intent and spirit of them. There are some persons that are wilfully ignorant in certain things, and others that are willing to be ignorant as the Apostle phraseth it; speaking of those Eternalists that denyed the doctrine of the change and revolutions of the Natural World: And ’tis not to be expected but there are many still of the same humour; and therefore may be called willingly ignorant, that is, they will not use that pains and attention that is necessary for the examination of such a doctrine, nor impartiality in judging after examination; they greedily lay hold on all evidence on one side, and willingly forget, or slightly pass over, all evidence for the other; this I think is the character of those that are willingly ignorant; for I do not take it to be so deep as a down-right wilful ignorance, where they are plainly conscious to themselves of that wilfulness; but where an insensible mixture of humane passions inclines them one way, and makes them averse to the other; and in that method draws on all the consequences of a willing ignorance.
There remains still, as I remember, one Proposition that I am bound to make good; I said at first, that our Hypothesis concerning the Deluge was more agreeable not only to Scripture in general, but also to the particular History of the Flood left us by Moses; I say, more agreeable to it than any other Hypothesis that hath yet been propos’d. This may be made good in a few words. For in Moses's history of the Deluge there are two principal points, The extent of the Deluge, and the Causes of it; and in both these we do fully agree with that sacred Author. As to the extent of it, He makes the Deluge universal; All the high hills under the whole heaven were cover’d, fifteen cubits upwards; We also make it universal, over the face of the whole Earth; and in such a manner as must needs raise the waters above the top of the highest hills every where. As to the causes of it, Moses makes them to be the disruption of the Abyss, and the Rains; and no more; and in this also we exactly agree with him; we know no other causes, nor pretend to any other but those two. Distinguishing therefore Moses his narration as to the substance and circumstances of it, it must be allowed that these two points make the substance of it, and that an Hypothesis that differs from it in either of these two, differs from it more than Ours; which, at the worst, can but differ in matter of circumstance. Now seeing the great difficulty about the Deluge is the quantity of Water required for it, there have been two explications proposed, besides ours, to remove or satisfie this difficulty; One whereof makes the Deluge not to have been universal, or to have reacht only Judea and some neighbouring Countreys; and therefore less water would suffice; The other owning the Deluge to be universal, supplies it self with Water from the Divine Omnipotency, and says new Waters were created then for the nonce, and again annihilated when the Deluge was to cease. Both these explications you see, (and I know no more of note that are not obnoxious to the same exceptions) differ from Moses in the substance, or in one of the two substantial points, and consequently more than ours doth. The first changeth the Flood into a kind of national inundation, and the second assigns other causes of it than Moses had assigned. And as they both differ apparently from the Mosaical history, so you may see them refuted upon other grounds also, in the third Chapter of the First Book of the Theory.
This may be sufficient as to the History of the Flood by Moses. But possibly it may be said the principal objection will arise from Moses his Six-days Creation in the first Chapter of Genesis: where another sort of Earth, than what we have form’d from the Chaos, is represented to us; namely, a Terraqueous Globe, such as our Earth is at present. ’Tis indeed very apparent, that Moses hath accommodated his Six-days Creation to the present form of the Earth, or to that which was before the eyes of the people when he writ. But it is a great question whether that was ever intended for a true Physical account of the origine of the Earth: or whether Moses did either Philosophize or Astronomize in that description. The ancient Fathers, when they answer the Heathens, and the adversaries of Christianity, do generally deny it; as I am ready to make good upon another occasion. And the thing it self bears in it evident marks of an accommodation and condescention to the vulgar notions concerning the form of the World. Those that think otherwise, and would make it literally and physically true in all the parts
of it, I desire them, without entring upon the strict merits of the cause, to determine these Preliminaries. First, whether the whole universe rise from a Terrestrial Chaos. Secondly, what Systeme of the World this Six-days Creation proceeds upon: whether it supposes the Earth, or the Sun, for the Center. Thirdly, Whether the Sun and Fixt Stars are of a later date, and a later birth, than this Globe of Earth. And lastly, Where is the Region of the Super-celestial Waters. When they have determin’d these Fundamentals, we will proceed to other observations upon the Six-days work, which will further assure us, that ’tis a narration suited to the capacity of the people, and not to the strict and physical nature of things. Besides, we are to remember, that Moses must be so interpreted in the first Chapter of Genesis, as not to interfere with himself in other parts of his History; nor to interfere with St. Peter, or the Prophet David, or any other Sacred Authors, when they treat of the same matter. Nor lastly, so, as to be repugnant to clear and uncontested Science. For, in things that concern the natural World, that must always be consulted.
With these precautions, let them try if they can reduce that narrative of the Origine of the World, to physical truth; so as to be consistent, both with Nature, and with Divine Revelation every where. It is easily reconcileable to both, if we suppose it writ in a Vulgar style, and to the conceptions of the People: And we cannot deny that a Vulgar style is often made use of in the holy Writings. How freely and unconcernedly does Scripture speak of God Allmighty, according to the opinions of the vulgar? of his passions, local motions, parts and members of his body. Which all are things that do not belong, or are not compatible with the Divine nature, according to truth and Science. And if this liberty be taken, as to God himself, much more may it be taken as to his works. And accordingly we see, what motion the Scripture gives to the Sun: what figure to the Earth: what figure to the Heavens: All according to the appearance of sence and popular credulity; without any remorse for having transgressed the rules of intellectual truth.
This vulgar style of Scripture in describing the natures of things, hath been often mistaken for the real sence, and so become a stumbling block in the way of truth. Thus the Anthropomorphites of old contended for the humane shape of God, from the Letter of Scripture; and brought many express Texts for their purpose: but sound reason, at length, got the upper hand of Literal authority. Then, several of the Christian Fathers contended, that there were no Antipodes: and made that doctrine irreconcileable to Scripture. But this also, after a while, went off, and yielded to reason and experience. Then, the Motion of the Earth must by no means be allow’d, as being contrary to Scripture: for so it is indeed, according to the Letter and Vulgar style. But all intelligent Persons see thorough this argument, and depend upon it no more in this case, than in the former. Lastly, The original of the Earth from a Chaos, drawn according to the rules of Physiology, will not be admitted: because it does not agree with the Scheme of the Six-days Creation. But why may not this be writ in a Vulgar style, as well as the rest? Certainly there can be nothing more like a Vulgar style, than to set God to work by the day, and in Six-days to finish his task: as he is there represented. We may therefore probably hope that all these disguises of truth will at
length fall off, and that we shall see God and his Works in a pure and naked Light.
Thus I have finish’d what I had to say in confirmation of this Theory from Scripture. I mean of the former part of it, which depends chiefly upon the Deluge, and the Ante-diluvian Earth. When you have collated the places of Scripture, on either side, and laid them in the balance, to be weigh’d one against another; If you do but find them equal, or near to an equal poise, you know in whether Scale the Natural Reasons are to be laid: and of what weight they ought to be in an argument of this kind. There is a great difference betwixt Scripture with Philosophy on its side, and Scripture with Philosophy against it: when the question is concerning the Natural World. And this is our Case: which I leave now to the consideration of the unprejudic’d Reader: and proceed to the Proof of the Second Part of the Theory.
402:1 נבקעו ἐῤῤάγησάν c. 38.
404:1 מַֹיִֹמ רַבּיִמ
404:2 See Philo Judæus his description of the Deluge, both as to the commotions of the Heavens, and the fractions of the Earth. In his first Treatise de Abrahamo, mihi pa. 279.
405:1 Uti comparatio præcedens || de ortu Telluris, sumitur ab ædificio, ita bæc altera de ortu maris, sumitur à partu; & exhibetur Oceanus, primùm, ut fœtus inclusus in utero, dein ut erumpens & prodeuns, denique ut fasciis & primis suis pannis involutus. Atque ex aperto Terræ utero prorupit aquarum moles, ut proluvies illa, quam simul cum fœtu profundere solet puerpera. || Ver. 4, 5, 6.