That the Earth and Mankind had an Original, and were not from Eternity: Prov’d against Aristotle. The first proposition of our Theory laid down, viz. That the Ante-diluvian Earth was of a different form and construction from the present. This is prov’d by Divine Authority, and from the nature and form of the Chaos, out of which the Earth was made.
WE are now to enquire into the Original of the Earth, and in what form it was built at first, that we may lay our foundation for the following Theory, deep and sure. It hath been the general opinion and consent of the Learned of
all Nations, that the Earth arose from a Chaos. This is attested by History, both Sacred and Profane; only Aristotle, whom so great a part of the Christian world have made their Oracle or Idol, hath maintain’d the Eternity of the Earth, and the Eternity of mankind; that the Earth and the World were from Everlasting, and in that very form they are in now, with Men and Women and all living Creatures. Trees and Fruit, Metals and Minerals, and whatsoever is of Natural production. We say all these things arose and had their first existence or production not six thousand years ago; He saith, they have subsisted thus for ever, through an infinite Series of past Generations, and shall continue as long, without first or last: And if so, there was neither Chaos, nor any other beginning to the Earth. This takes away the subject of our discourse, and therefore we must first remove this stone out of the way, and prove that the Earth had an Original, and that from a Chaos, before we show how it arose from a Chaos, and what was the first habitable form that it setled into.
We are assur’d by Divine Authority, that the Earth and Mankind had a beginning; Moses saith, In the beginning God made the Heavens and the Earth. Speaking it as of a certain Period or Term from whence he counts the Age of the World. And the same Moses tells us, that Adam was the first Man, and Eve the first Woman, from whom sprung the race of Mankind; and this within the compass of six thousand years. We are also assured from the Prophets, and our Christian Records, that the world shall have an end, and that by a general Conflagration, when all Mankind shall be destroy’d, with the form and all the furniture of the Earth. And as this proves the second part of Aristotle's Doctrine to be false immediately, so doth it the first, by a true consequence: for what hath an end had a beginning, what is not immortal, was not Eternal; for what exists by the strength of its own Nature at first, the same Nature will enable it to exist for ever; and indeed what exists of it self, exists necessarily; and what exists necessarily, exists eternally.
Having this infallible assurance of the Origin of the Earth and of Mankind, from Scripture, we proceed to refute the same Doctrine of Aristotle's by natural Reason. And we will first consider the form of the Earth, and then Mankind; and shew from plain evidence and observation, neither of them to have been Eternal. ’Tis natural to the mind of man to consider that which is compound, as having been once more simple; whether that composition be a mixture of many ingredients, as most Terrestrial bodies are, or whether it be Organical; but especially if it be Organical; For a thing that consists of a multitude of pieces aptly joyn’d, we cannot but conceive to have had those pieces, at one time or another, put together. 'Twere hard to conceive an eternal Watch, whose pieces were never separate one from another, nor ever in any other form than that of a Watch. Or an eternal House, whose materials were never a-sunder, but always in the form of an House. And ’tis as hard to conceive an eternal Earth, or an eternal World: These are made up of more various substances, more ingredients, and a far greater composition; and the living part of the World, Plants and Animals, have far more variety of parts and multifarious construction, than any House, or any other artificial thing: So that we are led as much by Nature and
necessity to conceive this great machine of the World, or of the Earth, to have been once in a state of greater simplicity than now it is, as to conceive a Watch, an House, or any other structure, to have been once in its first and simple materials. This I speak without reference to immediate Creation, for Aristotle did not own any such thing, and therefore the argument stands good against him, upon those grounds and notions that he goes. Yet I guess what answer would be made by him or his followers to this argumentation; They would say there is not the same reason for Natural things, as for Artificial, though equally compounded. Artificial things could not be from Eternity, because they suppose Man, by whose Art they were made, pre-existent to them; the workman must be before the work, and whatsoever hath any thing before it, is not Eternal. But may not the same thing be said of Natural things? do not most of them require the action of the Sun, and the influence of the Heavens for their production, and longer preparations than any Artificial things do? Some Years or Ages would be necessary for the concoction and maturation of Metals and Minerals; Stones themselves, at least some sorts of them, were once liquors or fluid masses; and all Vegetable productions require the heat of the Sun, to pre-dispose and excite the Earth, and the Seeds. Nay, according to Aristotle, ’tis not Man by himself that begets a Man, but the Sun is his Coadjutor. You see then ’twas as necessary that the Sun, that great workman of Nature, should pre-exist to Natural things, produc’d in or upon the Earth, as that Man should pre-exist to Artificial. So that the Earth under that form and constitution it now hath, could no more be Eternal, than a Statue or Temple, or any work of Art.
Besides, that form, which the Earth is under at present, is in some sort preternatural, like a Statue made and broken again; and so hath still the less appearance or pretence of being Eternal. If the Elements had lain in that order to one another, as Aristotle hath dispos’d them, and as seems to be their first disposition, the Earth altogether in a mass in the middle, or towards the Center; then the Water in a Spherical mass about that; the Air above the Water, and then a Sphere of Fire, as he fansied, in the highest Circle of the Air: If they had lain, I say, in this posture, there might have been some pretence that they had been Eternally so; because that might seem to be their Original posture, in which Nature had first plac’d them. But the form and posture we find them in at present is very different, and according to his Doctrine must be lookt upon as unnatural and violent; and no violent state by his own Maxim, can be perpetual, or can have been so.
But there is still a more pressing consideration against this Opinion. If this present state and form of the Earth had been from Eternity, it would have long ere this destroy’d it self, and chang’d it self: the Mountains sinking by degrees into the Valleys, and into the Sea, and the Waters rising above the Earth; which form it would certainly have come into sooner or later, and in it continu’d drown’d and uninhabitable, for all succeeding Generations. For ’tis certain, that the Mountains and higher parts of the Earth grow lesser and lesser from Age to Age; and that from many causes, sometimes the roots of them are weaken’d and eaten by Subterraneous Fires, and sometimes they are torn and tumbled down by
[paragraph continues] Earthquakes, and fall into those Caverns that are under them; and though those violent causes are not constant, or universal, yet if the Earth had stood from Eternity, there is not a Mountain would have escap’d this fate in one Age or other. The course of these exhalations or Fires would have reach’d them all sooner or later, if through infinite Ages they had stood expos’d to them. But there are also other causes that consume them insensibly, and make them sink by degrees; and those are chiefly the Winds, Rains, and Storms, and heat of the Sun without; and within, the soaking of Water and Springs, with streams and Currents in their veins and crannies. These two sorts of causes would certainly reduce all the Mountains of the Earth, in tract of time, to equality; or rather lay them all under Water: For whatsoever moulders or is washt away from them, is carried down into the lower grounds, and into the Sea, and nothing is ever brought back again by any circulation: Their losses are not repair’d, nor any proportionable recruits made from any other parts of Nature. So as the higher parts of the Earth being continually spending, and the lower continually gaining, they must of necessity at length come to an equality; and the Waters that lie in the lower parts and in the Chanels, those Chanels and Valleys being fill’d up with Earth, would be thrust out and rise every where upon the surface of the Earth; Which new post when they had once seiz’d on, they would never quit it, nor would any thing be able to dispossess them; for ’tis their natural place and situation which they always tend to, and from which there is no progress nor regress in a course of Nature. So that the Earth would have been, both now, and from innumerable Generations before this, all under water and uninhabitable; if it had stood from everlasting, and this form of it had been its first original form.
Nor can he doubt of this argumentation, that considers the coherence of it, and will allow time enough for the effect. I do not say the Earth would be reduc’d to this uninhabitable form in ten thousand years time, though I believe it would: but take twenty, if you please, take an hundred thousand, take a million, ’tis all one, for you may take the one as easily as the other out of Eternity; and they make both equally against their supposition. Nor is it any matter how little you suppose the Mountains to decrease, ’tis but taking more time, and the same effect still follows. Let them but waste as much as a grain of Mustardseed every day, or a foot in an Age, this would be more than enough in ten thousand Ages to consume the tallest Mountain upon Earth. The Air alone, and the little drops of Rain have defac’d the strongest and the proudest monuments of the Greeks and Romans; and allow them but time enough, and they will of themselves beat down the Rocks into the Sea, and the Hills into the Valleys. But if we add to these all those other foremention’d causes that work with more violence, and the weight of the Mountains themselves, which upon any occasion offer’d, is ready to sink them lower, we shall shorten the time, and make the effect more sure.
We need add no more here in particular, against this Aristotelian Doctrine, that makes the present form of the Earth to have been from Eternity, for the truth is, this whole Book is one continued argument against that Opinion; shewing that it hath de facto chang’d its form; both in that we have prov’d that it was not capable of an universal Deluge in this form, and consequently was once under
another; and also in that we shall prove at large hereafter, throughout the Third and Fourth Sections, that it hath been broken and dissolv’d. We might also add one consideration more, that if it had stood always under this form, it would have been under Fire, if it had not been under Water; and the Conflagration, which it is to undergo, would have overtaken it long ere this. For St. Peter saith, the Heavens and the Earth that are now, as oppos’d to the Ante-diluvian, and considered in their present form and constitution, are fitted to be consum’d by Fire. And whosoever understands the progress and revolutions of Nature, will see that neither the present form of the Earth, nor its first form, were permanent and immutable forms, but transient and temporary by their own frame and constitution; which the Author of Nature, after certain periods of time, had design’d for change and for destruction.
Thus much for the body of the Earth, that it could not have been from Eternity, as Aristotle pretended, in the form it hath. Now let's consider the Origination of Mankind; and that we shall find could much less be Eternal than the other; for whatsoever destroy’d the form of the Earth, would also destroy Mankind; and besides, there are many particular marks and arguments, that the Generations of Men have not been from Everlasting. All History, and all monuments of Antiquity of what kind soever, are but of a few thousand of years date; we have still the memory of the golden Age, of the first state of Nature, and how mortals liv’d then in innocency and simplicity. The invention of Arts, even those that are necessary or useful to humane life, hath been within the knowledge of Men: How imperfect was the Geography of the Ancients, how imperfect their knowledge of the Earth, how imperfect their Navigation? Can we imagine, if there had been Men from Everlasting, a Sea as now, and all materials for Shipping as much as we have, that men could have been so ignorant, both of the Land and of the Sea, as ’tis manifest they have been till of late Ages? They had very different fansies concerning the figure of the Earth? They knew no Land beyond our Continent, and that very imperfectly too; and the Torrid Zone they thought utterly uninhabitable. We think it strange, taking that short date of the World, which we give it, that Men should not have made more progress in the knowledge of these things; But how impossible is it then, if you suppose them to have been from Everlasting? They had the same wit and passions that we have, the same motives that we have, can we then imagine, that neither the ambition of Princes, nor Interest or gain in private persons, nor curiosity and the desire of Knowledge, nor the glory of discoveries, nor any other passion or consideration could ever move them in that endless time, to try their fortunes upon the Sea, and know something more of the World they inhabited? Though you should suppose them generally stupid, which there is no reason to do, yet in a course of infinite Generations, there would be some great Genio's, some extraordinary persons that would attempt things above the rest. We have done more within the compass of our little World, which we can but count, as to this, from the general Deluge, than those Eternal Men had done in their innumerable Ages foregoing.
You will say, it may be, they had not the advantages and opportunities for Navigation as we have, and for discoveries; because the use of the Loadstone,
and the Mariners Needle was not then known. But that's the wonder, that either that invention, or any other should not be brought to light till t’other day, if the World had stood from Eternity. I say this or any other practical invention; for such things when they are once found out and known, are not easily lost again, because they are of daily use. And ’tis in most other practical Arts as in Navigation, we generally know their Original and History: who the Inventors, and by what degrees improv’d, and how few of them brought to any perfection till of late Ages. All the Artificial and Mechanical World is, in a manner, new; and what you may call the Civil World too is in a great measure so. What relates to Government, and Laws; to Wars and Discipline; we can trace these things to their Origin, or very near it. The use of Money and of Coins, nay the use of the very Elements; for they tell us of the first invention of Fire by Prometheus, and the imploying of Wind or Water to turn the Mills and grind their Corn was scarce known before the Romans; Plin. l. 7. c. 56.and that we may think nothing Eternal here, they tell us the Ages and Genealogies of their very Gods. The measures of Time for the common uses of life, the dividing it into Hours, with the Instruments for those purposes, are not of an unknown date: Even the Arts for preparing Food and Clothing, Medicines and medicaments, Building, Civil and Military, Letters and Writing, which are the foundations of the World Civil: These, with all their retinue of lesser Arts and Trades that belong to them, History and Tradition tell us, when they had their beginning, or were very imperfect; and how many of their Inventors and Inventresses were deifi’d. The World hath not stood so long but we can still run it up to those Artless Ages, when mortals liv’d by plain Nature; when there was but one Trade in the World, one Calling, to look to their Flocks; and afterwards to Till the Ground, when Nature grew less liberal: And may we not reasonably think this the beginning of Mankind, or very near it? If Man be a creature both naturally sagacious to find out its own conveniencies, and naturally sociable and inclin’d to live in a Community, a little time would make them find out and furnish themselves with what was necessary in these two kinds, for the conveniencies of single life, and the conveniencies of Societies; they would not have liv’d infinite Ages unprovided of them. If you say Necessity is the Mother of Arts and Inventions, and there was no necessity before, and therefore these things were so slowly invented. This is a good answer upon our supposition, that the World began but some Ages before these were found out, and was abundant with all things at first; and Men not very numerous, and therefore were not put so much to the use of their wits for living commodiously. But this is no answer upon their supposition; for if the World was Eternal and Men too, there were no first Ages, no new and fresh Earth; Men were never less numerous, nor the Earth more fruitful; and consequently there was never less necessity at any time than is now. This also brings to mind another argument against this opinion (viz.) from the gradual increase of Mankind. ’Tis certain the World was not so populous one or two thousand years since, as it is now, seeing ’tis observ’d, in particular Nations, that within the space of two or three hundred years, notwithstanding all casualties, the number of Men doubles. If then the Earth had stood from Everlasting, it had been over-stockt long ere this,
and would not have been capable to contain its Inhabitants many Ages and Millions of Ages ago. Whereas we find the Earth is not yet sufficiently Inhabited, and there is still room for some Millions. And we must not flie to universal Deluges and Conflagrations to destroy Mankind; for besides that the Earth was not capable of a Deluge in this present form, nor would have been in this form after a Conflagration, Aristotle doth not admit of these universal changes, nor any that hold the form of the Earth to be Eternal. But to return to our Arts and Inventions.
We have spoken of practical Arts and Inventions useful in humane life; then for Theoretical Learning and Sciences, there is nothing yet finish’d or compleat in these; and what is known hath been chiefly the production of latter Ages. How little hath been discover’d till of late, either of our own Bodies, or of the body of the Earth, and of the functions or motions of Nature in either? What more obvious, one would think, than the Circulation of the Bloud? What can more excite our curiosity than the flowing and ebbing of the Sea? Than the nature of Metals and Minerals? These are either yet unknown, or were so at least till this last Age; which seems to me to have made a greater progress than all Ages before put together, since the beginning of the World. How unlikely is it then that these Ages were Eternal? That the Eternal studies of our Forefathers could not effect so much as a few years have done of late? And the whole mass of knowledge in this Earth doth not seem to be so great, but that a few Ages more, with two or three happy Genius's in them, may bring to light all that we are capable to understand in this state of mortality.
To these arguments concerning the novelty of the Earth, and the Origin of Mankind, I know there are some shuffling excuses made, but they can have little effect upon those instances we have chosen. And I would ask those Eternalists one fair question, What mark is there that they could expect or desire of the novelty of a World, that is not found in this? Or what mark is there of Eternity that is found in this? If then their opinion be without any positive argument, and against all appearances in Nature, it may be justly rejected as unreasonable upon all accounts. ’Tis not the bold asserting of a thing that makes it true, or that makes it credible against evidence. If one should assert that such an one had liv’d from all Eternity, and I could bring witnesses that knew him a sucking Child, and others that remembred him a School-boy, I think it would be a fair proof, that the Man was not Eternal. So if there be evidence, either in Reason or History, that it is not very many Ages since Nature was in her minority, as appears by all those instances we have given above; some whereof trace her down to her very infancy: This, I think, may be taken for a good proof that she is not Eternal. And I do not doubt, but if the History of the World was writ Philosophically, giving an account of the several states of Mankind in several Ages, and by what steps or degrees they came from their first rudeness or simplicity to that order of things, both Intellectual and Civil, which the World is advanc’d to at present, that alone would be a full conviction, that the Earth and Mankind had a beginning. As the story of Rome, how it rise from a mean Original, by what degrees it increas’d, and how it chang’d its form and government till it
came to its greatness, doth satisfie us very well, that the Roman Empire was not Eternal.
Thus much concerning the Temporal Original of the Earth. We are now to consider the manner of it, and to shew how it rise from a Chaos. I do not remember that any of the Ancients that acknowledge the Earth to have had an Original, did deny that Original to have been from a Chaos. We are assur’d of both from the authority of Moses, who saith, that in the beginning the Earth was Tohu Bohu, without form and void; a fluid, dark, confus’d mass, without distinction of Elements; made up of all variety of parts, but without Order, or any determinate Form; which is the true description of a Chaos: And so it is understood by the general consent of Interpreters, both Hebrew and Christian. We need not therefore spend any time here to prove, that the Origin of the Earth was from a Chaos, seeing that is agreed on by all that give it any Origin. But we will proceed immediately to examine into what form it first rise when it came out of that Chaos; or what was the primæval form of the Earth, that continued till the Deluge, and how the Deluge depended upon it, and upon its dissolution.
And that we may proceed in this enquiry by such easie steps as any one may readily follow, we will divide it into three Propositions, whereof the first is this in general; That the Form of the Ante-diluvian Earth, or of the Earth that rise first from the Chaos, was different from the Form of the present Earth. I say different in general, without specifying yet what its particular form was, which shall be exprest in the following Proposition.
The first Proposition we have in effect prov’d in the Second Chapter; where we have shewn, that if the Earth had been always in this form, it would not have been capable of a Deluge; seeing that could not have been effected without such an infinite mass of water as could neither be brought upon the Earth, nor afterwards any way removed from it. But we will not content our selves with that proof only, but will prove it also from the nature of the Chaos, and the manifest consequences of it. And because this is a leading Proposition, we think it not improper to prove it also from Divine authority, there being a pregnant passage to this purpose in the writings of St. Peter. Where treating of this very subject, the Deluge, He manifestly puts a difference between the Ante-diluvian Earth and present Earth, as to their form and constitution. The Discourse is in the Second Epistle of St. Peter, the Third Chapter, where certain Deists, as they seem to have been, laught at the prophecy of the day of judgment, and of the Conflagration of the World, using this argument against it, That since the Fathers fell asleep, all things have continued as they were from the beginning. All external Nature hath continued the same without any remarkable change or alteration, and why should we believe (say they) there will be any? what appearance or what foundation is there of such a revolution, that all Nature will be dissolv’d, and the Heavens and the Earth consum’d with Fire, as your prophecies pretend? So from the permanency and immutability of Nature hitherto, they argu’d its permanency and immutability for the future. To this the Apostle answers, that they are willing to forget that the Heavens and the Earth of old had a particular form and constitution as to Water, by reason whereof the World that then was, perisht by a
Deluge. And the Heavens and the Earth that are now, or since the Deluge, have a particular constitution in reference to Fire, by reason whereof they are expos’d to another sort of destruction or dissolution, namely by Fire, or by an universal Conflagration. Chap. 3. vers. 5, 6, 7.The words of the Apostle are these; For this they are willingly ignorant of, that by the Word of God the Heavens were of old, and the Earth, consisting of Water, and by Water; or (as we render it) standing out of the Water, and in the Water; whereby the World that then was, being overflow’d with Water, perisht. But the Heavens and the Earth that are now, by the same Word are kept in store, reserv’d unto Fire against the day of Judgment. We shall have occasion, it may be, hereafter to give a full illustration of these words; but at present we shall only take notice of this in general, that the Apostle here doth plainly intimate some difference that was between the Old World and the present World, in their form and constitution; or betwixt the Ante-diluvian and the present Earth, by reason of which difference, that was subject to perish by a Deluge, as this is subject to perish by Conflagration. And as this is the general Air and importance of this discourse of the Apostles, which every one at first sight would discover; so we may in several particular ways prove from it our first Proposition, which now we must return to; (viz.) That the form and constitution of the Ante-diluvian Earth was different from that of the present Earth. This may be infer’d from the Apostle's discourse, first, because he makes an opposition betwixt these two Earths, or these two natural Worlds; and that not only in respect of their fate, the one perishing by Water, as the other will perish by Fire, but also in respect of their different disposition and constitution leading to this different fate, for otherwise his fifth verse is superfluous, and his Inference in the sixth ungrounded; you see he premiseth in the fifth verse as the ground of his discourse, what the constitution of the Ante-diluvian Heavens and Earth was, and then infers from it in the sixth verse, that they therefore perisht in a Deluge of water. Now if they had been the same with ours, there had neither been any ground for making an opposition betwixt them, nor any ground of making a contrary inference as to their fate. Besides, in that he implies, that the constitution of the Ante-diluvian Earth was such, as made it subject to a Deluge; he shews, that it was different from the constitution of the present Earth; for the form of that is such, as makes it rather incapable of a Deluge, as we have shewn in the second Chapter. Then we are to observe further, that when he saith (verse 6.) that the first World perish’d in a Deluge, or was destroy’d by it; this is not to be understood of the Animate world only, Men and living Creatures, but of the Natural world, and the frame of it; for he had describ’d it before by the Heavens and the Earth, which make the Natural world. And the objection of the Atheists, or Deists rather, which he was to answer, proceeded upon the Natural world. And lastly, this perishing of the World in a Deluge, is set against, or compar’d with the perishing of the world in the Conflagration, when the frame of Nature will be dissolv’d. We must therefore, according to the tenor of the Apostle's arguing, suppose, that the Natural world was destroy’d or perisht in the Deluge; and seeing it did not perish as to matter and substance, it must be as to the form, frame, and composition of it, that it perisht; and consequently, the present Earth is of another form and
frame from what it had before the Deluge; which was the thing to be proved.
Lastly, let us consider what it is the Apostle tells these Scoffers that they were ignorant of: not that there was a Deluge, they could not be ignorant of that; nor doth he tell them that they were; But he tells them that they were ignorant that the Heavens and the Earth of old were so and so constituted, after a different manner than they are now, and that the state of Nature was chang’d at the Deluge. If they had known or attended to this, they had made no such objection, nor us’d any such argument as they did against the future Conflagration of the world. They pretended that there had been no change in Nature since the beginning, and the Apostle in answer tells them, that they are willingly ignorant of the first constitution of the Heavens, and the Earth, and of that change and dissolution that happen’d to them in the Deluge; and how the present Heavens and Earth have another constitution, whereby in like manner they are expos’d, in God's due time, to be consum’d or dissolv’d by Fire. This is the plain, easie and natural import of the Apostles discourse; thus all the parts of it are coherent, and the sence genuine and apposite, and this is a full confirmation of our first and general assertion, That the Ante-diluvian Earth was of another form from the present Earth. This hath been observ’d formerly by some of the Ancients from this Text, but that it hath not been generally observ’d, was, partly because they had no Theory to back such an interpretation, and make it intelligible; and partly because they did not observe, that the Apostle's discourse here was an argumentation, and not a bare affirmation, or simple contradiction to those that rais’d the scruple; ’tis an answer upon a ground taken, he premiseth and then infers; in the fifth and sixth Verses, concerning the Deluge; and in the seventh, concerning the Conflagration. And when I had discover’d in my thoughts from the consideration of the Deluge, and other natural reasons, that the Earth was certainly once in another form, it was a great assurance and confirmation to me, when I reflected on this place of St. Peter's; which seems to be so much directed and intended for the same purpose, or to teach us the same conclusion, that though I design’d chiefly a Philosophical Theory of these things, yet I should not have thought we had been just to Providence, if we had neglected to take notice of this passage and Sacred evidence; which seems to have been left us on purpose, to excite our enquiries, and strengthen our reasonings, concerning the first state of things. Thus much from Divine Authority: We proceed now to prove the same Proposition from Reason and Philosophy, and the contemplation of the Chaos, from whence the first Earth arose.
We need not upon this occasion make a particular description of the Chaos, but only consider it as a Fluid Mass, or a Mass of all sorts of little parts and particles of matter, mixt together, and floating in confusion, one with another. ’Tis impossible that the surface of this mass should be of such a form and figure, as the surface of our present Earth is. Or that any concretion or consistent state which this mass could flow into immediately, or first settle in, could be of such a form and figure as our present Earth. The first of these Assertions is of easie proof; for a fluid body, we know, whether it be water or any other liquor, always casts it self into a smooth and spherical surface; and if any parts, by chance, or
by some agitation, become higher than the rest, they do not continue so, but glide down again every way into the lower places, till they all come to make a surface of the same height, and of the same distance every where from the center of their gravity. A mountain of water is a thing impossible in Nature, and where there are no Mountains, there are no Valleys. So also a Den or Cave within the water, that hath no walls but the liquid Element, is a structure unknown to Art or Nature; all things there must be full within, and even and level without, unless some External force keep them by violence in another posture. But is this the form of our Earth, which is neither regularly made within nor without? The surface and exteriour parts are broken into all sorts of inequalities, Hills and Dales, Mountains and Valleys; and the plainer tracts of it lie generally inclin’d or bending one way or other, sometimes upon an easie descent, and other times with a more sensible and uneasie steepiness; and though the great Mountains of the Earth were taken all away, the remaining parts would be more unequal than the roughest Sea; whereas the face of the Earth should resemble the face of the calmest Sea, if it was still in the form of its first mass. But what shall we say then to the huge Mountains of the Earth, which lie sometimes in lumps or clusters heapt up by one another, sometimes extended in long ridges or chains for many hundred miles in length? And ’tis remarkable, that in every Continent, and in every ancient and original Island, there is either such a cluster, or such a chain of Mountains. And can there be any more palpable demonstrations than these are, that the surface of the Earth is not in the same form that the surface of the Chaos was, or that any fluid mass can stand or hold it self in?
Then for the form of the Earth within or under its surface, ’tis no less impossible for the Chaos to imitate that; for ’tis full of cavities and empty places, of dens and broken holes, whereof some are open to the Air, and others cover’d and enclosed wholly within the ground. These are both of them unimitable in any liquid substance, whose parts will necessarily flow together into one continued mass, and cannot be divided into apartments and separate rooms, nor have vaults or caverns made within it; the walls would sink, and the roof fall in: For liquid bodies have nothing to sustain their parts, nor any thing to cement them; they are all loose and incoherent, and in a perpetual flux: Even an heap of Sand, or fine Powder will suffer no hollowness within them, though they be dry substances, and though the parts of them being rough, will hang together a little, and stand a little upon an heap; but the parts of liquors being glib, and continually in motion, they fall off from one another, which way soever gravity inclines them, and can neither have any hills or eminencies on their surface, nor any hollowness within their substance.
You will acknowledge, it may be, that this is true, and that a liquid mass or Chaos, while it was liquid, was incapable of either the outward or inward form of the Earth; but when it came to a concretion, to a state of consistency and firmness, then it might go, you'll say, into any form. No, not in its first concretion, nor in its first state of consistence; for that would be of the same form that the surface of it was when it was liquid; as water, when it congeals, the surface of the Ice is smooth and level, as the surface of the water was before; so
[paragraph continues] Metals, or any other substances melted, or Liquors that of themselves grow stiff and harden, always settle into the same form which they had when they were last liquid, and are always solid within, and smooth without, unless they be cast in a mould, that hinders the motion and flux of the parts. So that the first concrete state or consistent surface of the Chaos, must be of the same form or figure with the last liquid state it was in; for that is the mould, as it were, upon which it is cast; as the shell of an Egg is of the like form with the surface of the liquor it lies upon. And therefore by analogy with all other liquors and concretions, the form of the Chaos, whether liquid or concrete, could not be the same with that of the present Earth, or like it: And consequently, that form of the first or primigenial Earth which rise immediately out of the Chaos, was not the same, nor like to that of the present Earth. Which was the first and preparatory Proposition we laid down to be prov’d. And this being prov’d by the authority both of our Reason and our Religion, we will now proceed to the Second which is more particular.