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A Recollection and Review of what hath been said concerning the Primitive Earth; with a more full Survey of the State of the first World, Natural and Civil, and the comparison of it with the present World.

WE have now, in a good measure, finisht our description of the first and Ante-diluvian Earth; And as Travellers, when they see strange Countries, make it part of their pleasure and improvement, to compare them with their own, to observe the differences, and wherein they excel, or come short of one another: So it will not be unpleasant, nor unuseful, it may be, having made a discovery, not of a new Country, but of a new World, and travell’d it over in our thoughts and fancy, now to sit down and compare it with our own: And ’twill be no hard task, from the general differences which we have taken notice of already, to observe what lesser would arise, and what the whole face of Nature would be.

’Tis also one fruit of travelling, that by seeing variety of places and people, of humours, fashions, and forms of living, it frees us, by degrees, from that pedantry and littleness of Spirit, whereby we are apt to censure every thing for absurd and ridiculous, that is not according to our own way, and the mode of our own

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[paragraph continues] Country; But if instead of crossing the Seas, we could waft our selves over to our neighbouring Planets, we should meet with such varieties there, both in Nature and Mankind, as would very much enlarge our thoughts and Souls, and help to cure those diseases of little minds, that make them troublesome to others, as well as uneasie to themselves.

But seeing our heavy Bodies are not made for such Voyages, the best and greatest thing we can do in this kind, is to make a Survey and reflection upon the Ante-diluvian Earth, which in some sence was another World from this, and it may be, as different as some two Planets are from one another. We have declar’d already the general grounds upon which we must proceed, and must now trace the consequences of them, and drive them down into particulars, which will show us in most things, wherein that Earth, or that World, differ’d from the present. The form of that Earth, and its situation to the Sun, were two of its most fundamental differences from ours; As to the form of it, ’twas all one smooth Continent, one continued surface of earth, without any Sea, any Mountains, or Rocks; any Holes, Dens or Caverns: And the situation of it to the Sun was such as made a perpetual Æquinox. These two joyn’d together, lay the foundation of a new Astronomy, Meteorology, Hydrography and Geography; such as were proper and peculiar to that World. The Earth by this means having its Axis parallel to the Axis of the Ecliptick, the Heavens would appear in another posture: And their diurnal motion, which is imputed to the Primum Mobile, and suppos’d to be upon the Poles of the Æquator, would then be upon the same Poles with the second and Periodical motions of the Orbs and Planets, namely, upon the Poles of the Ecliptick; by which means the Phænomena of the Heavens would be more simple and regular, and much of that intangledness and perplexity, which we find now in Astronomy, would be taken away. Whether the Sun and the Moon would suffer any Eclipses then, cannot well be determin’d, unless one knew what the course of the Moon was at that time, or whether she was then come into our neighbourhood: Her presence seems to have been less needful when there were no long Winter-nights, nor the great Pool of the Sea to move or govern.

As for the Regions of the Air and the Meteors, we have in the preceding Chapter set down what the state of them would be, and in how much a better order, and more peaceable, that Kingdom was, till the Earth was broken and displac’d, and the course of Nature chang'd: Nothing violent, nothing frightful, nothing troublesome or incommodious to Mankind, came from above, but the countenance of the Heavens was always smooth and serene. I have often thought it a very desirable piece of power, if a man could but command a fair day, when he had occasion for it, for himself, or for his friends; ’tis more than the greatest Prince or Potentate upon Earth can do; yet they never wanted one in that World, nor ever see a foul one. Besides, they had constant breezes from the motion of the Earth, and the course of the Vapours, which cool’d the open Plains, and made the weather temperate, as well as fair. But we have spoken enough in other places upon this subject of the Air and the Heavens, Let us now descend to the Earth.

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The Earth was divided into two Hemispheres, separated by the Torrid Zone, which at that time was uninhabitable, and utterly unpassable; so as the two Hemispheres made two distinct Worlds, which, so far as we can judge, had no manner of commerce or communication one with another. The Southern Hemisphere the Ancients call’d Antichthon, the Opposite Earth, or the Other World. And this name and notion remain’d long after the reason of it had ceast. Just as the Torrid Zone was generally accounted uninhabitable by the Ancients, even in their time, because it really had been so once, and the Tradition remain’d uncorrected, when the causes were taken away; namely, when the Earth had chang’d its posture to the Sun after the Deluge.

This may be lookt upon as the first division of that Primæval Earth, into two Hemispheres, naturally sever’d and disunited: But it was also divided into five Zones, two Frigid, two Temperate, and the Torrid betwixt them. And this distinction of the Globe into five Zones, I think, did properly belong to that Original Earth, and Primitive Geography, and improperly, and by translation only, to the present. For all the Zones of our Earth are habitable, and their distinctions are in a manner but imaginary, not fixt by Nature; whereas in that Earth where the Rivers fail’d, and the Regions became uninhabitable, by reason of driness and heat, there begun the Torrid Zone; and where the Regions became uninhabitable, by reason of cold and moisture, there begun the Frigid Zone; and these being determin’d, they became bounds on either side to the Temperate. But all this was alter’d when the posture of the Earth was chang’d; and chang’d for that very purpose, as some of the Ancients have said, That the uninhabitable parts of the Earth might become habitable. Yet though there was so much of the first Earth uninhabitable, there remain’d as much to be inhabited as we have now; for the Sea, since the breaking up of the Abysse, hath taken away half of the Earth from us, a great part whereof was to them good Land. Besides, we are not to suppose, that the Torrid Zone was of that extent we make it now, twenty three degrees and more on either side of the Æquator; these bounds are set only by the Tropicks, and the Tropicks by the obliquity of the course of the Sun, or of the posture of the Earth, which was not in that World. Where the Rivers stopt, there the Torrid Zone would begin, but the Sun was directly perpendicular to no part of it, but the middle.

How the Rivers flow’d in the first Earth we have before explain’d sufficiently, and what parts the Rivers did not reach, were turn’d into Sands and Desarts by the heat of the Sun; for I cannot easily imagine, that the Sandy Desarts of the Earth were made so at first, immediately and from the beginning of the World; from what causes should that be, and to what purpose? But in those Tracts of the Earth that were not refresht with Rivers and moisture, which cement the parts, the ground would moulder and crumble into little pieces, and then those pieces by the heat of the Sun were bak’d into Stone. And this would come to pass chiefly in the hot and scorch’d Regions of the Earth, though it might happen sometimes where there was not that extremity of heat, if by any chance a place wanted Rivers and Water to keep the Earth in due temper; but those Sands would not be so early or ancient as the other. As for greater loose Stones, and

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rough Pebbles, there were none in that Earth; Deucalion and Pyrrha, when the Deluge was over, found new-made Stones to cast behind their backs; the bones of their mother Earth, which then were broken in pieces, in that great ruine.

As for Plants and Trees, we cannot imagine but that they must needs abound in the Primitive Earth, seeing it was so well water’d, and had a soil so fruitful; A new unlabour’d soil, replenisht with the Seeds of all Vegetables; and a warm Sun that would call upon Nature early for her First-fruits, to be offer’d up at the beginning of her course. Nature had a wild luxuriancy at first, which humane industry by degrees gave form and order to; The Waters How’d with a constant and gentle Current, and were easily led which way the Inhabitants had a mind, for their use, or for their pleasure; and shady Trees, which grow best in moist and warm Countries, grac’d the Banks of their Rivers or Canals. But that which was the beauty and crown of all, was their perpetual Spring, the Fields always green, the Flowers always fresh, and the Trees always cover’d with Leaves and Fruit: But we have occasionally spoken of these things in several places, and may do again hereafter, and therefore need not inlarge upon them here.

As for Subterraneous things, Metals and Minerals, I believe they had none in the first Earth; and the happier they; no Gold, nor Silver, nor courser Metals. The use of these is either imaginary, or in such works, as, by the constitution of their World, they had little occasion for. And Minerals are either for Medicine, which they had no need of further than Herbs; or for Materials to certain Arts, which were not then in use, or were suppli’d by other ways. These Subterraneous things, Metals and metallick Minerals, are Factitious, not Original bodies, coeval with the Earth; but are made in process of time, after long preparations and concoctions, by the action of the Sun within the bowels of the Earth. And if the Stamina or principles of them rise from the lower Regions that lie under the Abysse, as I am apt to think they do, it doth not seem probable, that they could be drawn through such a mass of Waters, or that the heat of the Sun could on a sudden penetrate so deep, and be able to loosen them, and raise them into the exterior Earth. And as the first Age of the World was call’d Golden, though it knew not what Gold was; so the following Ages had their names from several Metals, which lay then asleep in the dark and deep womb of Nature, and see not the Sun till many Years and Ages afterwards.

Having run through the several Regions of Nature, from top to bottom, from the Heavens to the lower parts of the Earth, and made some observations upon their order in the Ante-diluvian World; Let us now look upon Man and other living Creatures, that make the Superiour and Animate part of Nature. We have observ’d, and sufficiently spoken to that difference betwixt the men of the old World, and those of the present, in point of Longævity, and given the reasons of it; but we must not imagine, that this long life was peculiar to Man, all other Animals had their share of it, and were in their proportion longer-liv’d than they are now. Nay, not only Animals, but also Vegetables, and the forms of all living things were far more permanent; Ezek. 31. 8.The Trees of the Field and of the Forest, in all probability, out-lasted the lives of Men; and I do not know but the first Groves of Pines and Cedars that grew out of the Earth, or that were planted in the Garden

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of God, might be standing when the Deluge came, and see, from first to last, the entire course and period of a World.

We might add here, with St. Austin, Civ. Dei lib. 15. c. 9 another observation, both concerning Men and other lying Creatures in the first World, that They were greater, as well as longer-liv’d, than they are at present. This seems to be a very reasonable conjecture, for the state of every thing that hath life, is divided into the time of its growth, its consistency, and its decay; and when the whole duration is longer, every one of these parts, though not always in like proportions, will be longer. We must suppose then, that the growth both in Men and other Animals lasted longer in that World than it doth now, and consequently carried their Bodies both to a greater height and bulk. And in like manner, their Trees would be both taller, and every way bigger than ours; neither were they in any danger there to be blown down by Winds and Storms, or struck with Thunder, though they had been as high as the Ægyptian Pyramids; and whatsoever their height was, if they had Roots and Trunks proportionable, and were streight and well pois’d, they would stand firm, and with a greater majesty. The Fowls of Heaven making their Nests in their Boughs, and under their shadow the Beasts of the Field bringing forth their Young. When things are fairly possible in their causes, and possible in several degrees, higher or lower, ’tis weakness of Spirit in us, to think there is nothing in Nature, but in that one way, or in that one degree, that we are us’d to. And whosoever believes those accounts given us, both by the Ancients 1 and Moderns, 2 of the Indian Trees, will not think it strange that those of the first Earth, should much exceed any that we now see in this World. That Allegorical description of the glory of Assyria in Ezekiel (Chap. 31) by allusion to Trees, and particularly to the Trees of Paradise, was chiefly for the greatness and stateliness of them; and there is all fairness of reason to believe, that in that first Earth, both the Birds of the Air, and the Beasts of the Field, and the Trees, and their Fruit, were all, in their several kinds, more large and goodly than Nature produces any now.

So much in short concerning the Natural World, Inanimate or Animate; We should now take a prospect of the Moral World of that time, or of the Civil and Artificial World; what the order and Oeconomy of these was, what the manner of living, and how the Scenes of humane life were different from ours at present. The Ancients, especially the Poets, in their description of the Golden Age, exhibit to us an Order of things, and a Form of life, very remote from any thing we see in our days; but they are not to be trusted in all particulars, many times they exaggerate matters on purpose, that they may seem more strange, or more great, and by that means move and please us more. A Moral or Philosophick History of the World well writ, would certainly be a very useful work, to observe and relate how the Scenes of Humane life have chang’d in several Ages, the Modes and Forms of living, in what simplicity Men begun at first, and by what degrees they came out of that way, by luxury, ambition, improvement, or changes in Nature; then what new forms and modifications were superadded by the invention of Arts, what by Religion, what by Superstition. This would be a view

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of things more instructive, and more satisfactory, than to know what Kings Reign’d in such an Age, and what Battles were fought; which common History teacheth, and teacheth little more. Such affairs are but the little underplots in the Tragi-comedy of the World; the main design is of another nature, and of far greater extent and consequence. But to return to the subject;

As the Animate World depends upon the Inanimate, so the Civil World depends upon them both, and takes its measures from them: Nature is the foundation still, and the affairs of Mankind are a superstructure that will be always proportion’d to it. There fore we must look back upon the model or picture of their natural World, which we have drawn before, to make our conjectures or judgment of the Civil and Artificial that were to accompany it. We observ’d from their perpetual Æquinox, and the smoothness of the Earth, that the Air would be always calm, and the Heavens fair, no cold or violent Winds, Rains, or Storms, no extremity of weather in any kind, and therefore they would need little protection from the injuries of the Air in that state; whereas now one great part of the affairs of life, is to preserve our selves from those inconveniences, by building and cloathing. How many Hands, and how many Trades are imploy’d about these two things, which then were in a manner needless, or at least in such plainness and simplicity, that every man might be his own workman. Tents and Bowers would keep them from all incommodities of the Air and weather, better than Stone-walls, and strong Roofs defend us now; and men are apt to take the easiest ways of living, till necessity or vice put them upon others that are more laborious, and more artificial. We also observ’d and prov’d, that they had no Sea in the Primitive and Ante-diluvian World, which makes a vast difference ’twixt us and them; This takes up half of our Globe, and a good part of Mankind is busied with Sea-affairs and Navigation. They had little need of Merchandizing then, Nature suppli’d them at home with all necessaries, which were few, and they were not so greedy of superfluities as we are. We may add to these what concern’d their Food and Diet; Antiquity doth generally suppose that men were not Carnivorous in those Ages of the World, or did not feed upon Flesh, but only upon Fruit and Herbs. And this seems to be plainly confirm’d by Scripture; for after the Deluge God Almighty gives Noah and his Posterity a Licence to eat Flesh, (Gen. 9. 2, 3.) Every moving thing that liveth shall be meat for you. Whereas before in the new-made Earth God had prescrib’d them Herbs and Fruit for their Diet, Gen. 1. 29. Behold, I have given you every Herb bearing Seed, which is upon the face of all the Earth; and every Tree, in the which is the Fruit of a Tree yielding Seed, to you it shall be for meat. And of this Natural Diet they would be provided to their hands, without further preparation, as the Birds and the Beasts are.

Upon these general grounds we may infer and conclude, that the Civil World then, as well as the Natural, had a very different face and aspect from what it hath now; for of these Heads, Food and Cloathing, Building and Traffick, with that train of Arts, Trades and Manufactures that attend them, the Civil order of things is in a great measure constituted and compounded: These make the business of life, the several occupations of Men, the noise and hurry of the World;

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[paragraph continues] These fill our Cities, and our Fairs, and our Havens and Ports; Yet all these fine things are but the effects of indigency and necessitousness, and were, for the most part, needless and unknown in that first state of Nature. The Ancients have told us the same things in effect, but telling us them without their grounds, which they themselves did not know, they lookt like Poetical stories, and pleasant fictions, and with most men past for no better. We have shewn them in another light, with their Reasons and Causes, deduc’d from the state of the natural World, which is the Basis upon which they stand; and this doth not only give them a just and full credibility, but also lays a foundation for after-thoughts, and further deductions, when they meet with minds dispos’d to pursue Speculations of this Nature.

As for Laws, Government, natural Religion, Military and Judicial affairs, with all their Equipage, which make an higher order of things in the Civil and Moral World, to calculate these upon the grounds given, would be more difficult, and more uncertain; neither do they at all belong to the present Theory. But from what we have already observ’d, we may be able to make a better judgment of those Traditional accounts which the Ancients have left us concerning these things, in the early Ages of the World, and the Primitive state of Nature. No doubt in these, as in all other particulars, there was a great easiness and simplicity in comparison of what is now, we are in a more pompous, forc’d, and artificial method, which partly the change of Nature, and partly the Vices and Vanities of men have introduc’d and establisht. But these things, with many more, ought to be the subject of a Philosophick History of the World, which we mention’d before.

This is a short and general Scheme of the Primæval World, compar’d with the Modern; yet these things did not equally run through all the Parts and Ages of it, there was a declension and degeneracy, both Natural and Moral, by degrees, and especially towards the latter end; but the principal form of Nature remaining till the Deluge and the dissolution of that Heavens and Earth, till then also this Civil frame of things would stand in a great measure. And though such a state of Nature, and of Mankind, when ’tis propos’d crudely, and without its grounds, appear fabulous or imaginary, yet ’tis really in it self a state, not only possible, but more easie and natural, than what the World is in at present. And if one of the old Ante-diluvian Patriarchs should rise from the dead, he would be more surpris’d to see our World in that posture it is, than we can be by the story and description of his. As an Indian hath more reason to wonder at the European modes, than we have to wonder at their plain manner of living. ’Tis we that have left the tract of Nature, that are wrought and screw’d up into artifices, that have disguis’d our selves; and ’tis in our World that the Scenes are chang’d, and become more strange and Fantastical.

I will conclude this Discourse with an easie remark, and without any particular Application of it. ’Tis a strange power that custom hath upon weak and little Spirits; whose thoughts reach no further than their Senses; and what they have seen and been us’d to, they make the standard and measure of Nature, of Reason, and of all Decorum. Neither are there any sort of men more positive and tenacious

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of their petty opinions, than they are; nor more censorious, even to bitterness and malice. And ’tis generally so, that those that have the least evidence for the truth of their beloved opinions, are most peevish and impatient in the defence of them. This sort of men are the last that will be made wise men, if ever they be; for they have the worst of diseases that accompany ignorance, and do not so much as know themselves to be sick.


178:1 Plin. li. 7, c. 2. Strab. l. 17.

178:2 Hort. Malabr. vol. 3.

Next: Chapter VII