That the Explication we have given of an Universal Deluge is not an Idea only, but an account of what really came to pass in this Earth, and the true Explication of Noah's Flood; as is prov’d by Argument and from History. An Examination of Tehom-Rabba, or the great Abysse, and that by it the Sea cannot be understood, nor the Subterraneous Waters, as they are at present. What the true Notion and Form of it was, collected from Moses and other Sacred Writers; The frequent allusions in Scripture to the opening and shutting the Abysse, and the particular stile of Scripture in its reflections on the Origin, and the Formation of the Earth. Observations on Deucalion's Deluge.
WE have now given an account of the first great revolution of Nature, and of the Universal Deluge, in a way that is intelligible, and from causes that answer the greatness of the effect; We have suppos’d nothing but what is also prov’d, both as to the first form of the Earth, and as to the manner of its Dissolution: and how far from that would evidently and necessarily arise a general Deluge; which was that, which put a period to the old World, and the first state of things. And though all this hath been deduc’d in due order, and with connexion and consequence of one thing upon another, so far as I know, which is the true evidence of a Theory; yet it may not be sufficient to command the Assent and Belief of some persons, who will allow, it may be, and acknowledge, that this is a fair Idea of a possible Deluge in general, and of the destruction of a World by it; but this may be only an Idea, they'll say; we desire it may be prov’d from some collateral arguments, taken either from Sacred History, or from observation, that this hath really been exemplified upon the Earth, and that Noah's Flood came to pass this way. And seeing we have design’d this first Book chiefly for the Explication of Noah's Deluge, I am willing to add here a Chapter or two extraordinary upon this occasion; to shew, that what we have deliver’d is more than an Idea, and that it was in this very way that Noah's Deluge came to pass. But they who have not this doubt, and have a mind to see the issue of the Theory, may skip these two Chapters, if they please, and proceed to the following.
To satisfie then the doubtful in this particular, let us lay down in the first place that conclusion which they seem to admit, viz. That this is a possible and consistent Explication of an Universal Deluge; and let's see how far this would go, if well consider’d, towards the proof of what they desire, or towards the demonstration of Noah's Deluge in particular. It is granted on both hands, that
there hath been an Universal Deluge upon the Earth, which was Noah's Deluge; and it is also granted, that we have given a possible and consistent Idea of an Universal Deluge; Now we have prov’d Chap. II. and III. that all other ways assign’d for the Explication of Noah's Flood are false or impossible; therefore it came to pass in that possible way which we have propos’d. And if we have truly prov’d, in the foremention’d Chapters, the impossibility of it in all other ways, this argumentation is undeniable. Besides, we may argue thus, As it is granted that there hath been an Universal Deluge upon the Earth; so I suppose it will be granted that there hath been but one: Now the dissolution of the Earth, whensoever it happen’d, would make one universal Deluge, and therefore the only one, and the same with Noah's. That such a Dissolution as we have describ'd, would make an universal Deluge, I think, cannot be question’d; and that there hath been such a dissolution, besides what we have already alledg’d, shall be prov’d at large from natural Observations upon the Form and Figure of the present Earth, in the Third Section and last Chap. of this Book; In the mean time we will proceed to History, both Sacred and Profane, and by comparing our Explication with those, give further assurance of its truth and reality.
In the first place, it agrees, which is most considerable, with Moses's Narration of the Deluge; both as to the matter and manner of it. The matter of the Deluge Moses Gen. 7. II.makes to be the Waters from above, and the Waters from below; or he distinguishes the causes of the Deluge, as we do, into Superiour and Inferiour; and the Inferiour causes he makes to be the disruption of the Abysse, which is the principal part, and the great hinge of our Explication. Then as to the manner of the Deluge, the beginning and the ending, the increase and decrease, he saith it increas’d gradually, and decreast gradually, by going and coming; Vers. 17, 18, 19, 20. Chap. 8. 3, 5.that is after many repeated fluctuations and reciprocations of the waves, the waters of the Abysse began to be more compos’d, and to retire into their Chanels, whence they shall never return to cover the Earth again. This agrees wholly with our Theory; we suppose the Abysse to have been under an extream commotion and agitation by the fall of the Earth into it, and this at first encreast more and more, till the whole Earth was fain; Then continuing for some time at the height of its rage, overwhelming the greatest Mountains, it afterwards decreast by the like degrees, leaving first the tops of the Mountains, then the Hills and the Fields, till the Waters came to be wholly drawn off the Earth into their Chanels.
It was no doubt a great oversight in the Ancients, to fancy the Deluge like a great standing Pool of water, reaching from the bottom of the Valleys to the tops of the Mountains, every where alike, with a level and uniform surface; by reason of which mistaken notion of the Deluge, they made more water necessary to it than was possible to be had, or being had, than it was possible to get quit of again; for there are no Chanels in the Earth that could hold so much water, vid. St. Austin in loc.either to give it, or to receive it. And the Psalmist speaking of the Deluge, as it seems to me, notes this violent commotion of the Abysse. The Waters went up by the Mountains, came down by the Valleys unto the place which thou hast founded for them. Psal. 104. vers. 8, 9. I know some interpret that passage of the state of the waters in the beginning, when they cover’d the face of the whole Earth, Gen. 1. 2. but that
cannot be, because of what follows in the next Verse; Thou hast set a bound that they may not pass over; that they turn not again to cover the Earth. Which is not true, if the preceding words be understood of the state of the waters at the beginning of the World; for they did pass those bounds, and did return since that time to cover the Earth, namely at the Deluge: But if these words be refer’d to the time of the Deluge, and the state of the waters then, ’tis both a just description of the motion of the Abysse, and certainly true, that the waters since that time are so setled in their Chanels, that they shall never overflow the Earth again. As we are assured by the promise made to Noah, and that illustrious pledge and confirmation of it, the Rainbow, that the Heavens also shall never pour out so much waters again; their state being chang’d as well as that of the Earth, or Sea, from what they were before the Deluge.
But before we leave Moses's Narration of the Deluge, we must examine further, what is, or can be understood by his Gen. 7. ii.TEHOM-RABBA, or great Abysse, which he saith was broken up at the Deluge; for this will help us to discover, whether our Explication be the same with his, and of the same Flood. And first we must consider, whether by the Tehom-Rabba, or Mosaical Abysse can be understood the Sea or Ocean, under that form we see it in at present; and ’tis plain, methinks, that the Sea cannot be understood by this great Abysse, both because the Sea is not capable upon any disruption to make such an universal Deluge; and because the Narration of Moses, and his expressions concerning this Abysse, do not agree to the Sea. Some of the Ancients indeed did imagine, that the waters of the Sea were much higher than the Land, and stood, as it were, on an heap; so as when these waters were let loose, they overflow’d the Earth, and made a Deluge. But this is known to be a gross mistake; the Sea and the Land make one Globe, and the Waters couch themselves, as close as may be, to the Center of this Globe in a Spherical convexity; so that if all the Mountains and Hills were scal’d, and the Earth made even, the Waters would not overflow its smooth surface; much less could they overflow it in the form that it is now in, where the Shores are higher than the Sea, the Inland parts than the Shores, and the Mountains still far above all: So as no disruption of the Sea could make an universal Deluge, by reason of its situation. But besides that, the quantity of Water contain’d in the Sea is no way sufficient to make a Deluge in the present form of the Earth; for we have shewn before, Chap. 2. that Eight such Oceans as ours would be little enough for that purpose. Then as to the expressions of Moses concerning this Abysse, if he had meant the Sea by it, and that the Deluge was made by the disruption of the Sea, why did he not say so? There is no mention of the Sea in all the History of the Deluge: Moses had mention’d the Sea before, Gen. 1. 10. and us’d a word that was common and known to signifie the Sea; And if he had a mind to express the same thing here, why should he not use the same word and the same term? In an Historical relation we use terms that are most proper and best known; but instead of that he useth the same term here that he did, Gen. 1. 2. when he saith, Darkness was upon the face of the Abysse, or of the Deep, as we render it; there the Abysse was open, or cover’d with darkness only, namely before the exteriour Earth was form’d; Here the same Abysse is mention’d again,
but cover’d, by the formation of the Earth upon it; and the covering of this Abysse was broken or cloven asunder, and the Waters gusht out that made the Deluge. This I am sure is the most natural interpretation or signification of this word, according as it is us’d in Moses's writings. Furthermore, we must observe what Moses saith concerning this Abysse, and whether that will agree with the Sea or no; he saith the Fountains of the great Abysse were broken open; now if by the great Abysse you understand the Sea, how are its Fountains broken open? To break open a Fountain, is to break open the ground that covers it, and what ground covers the Sea? So that upon all considerations, either of the word that Moses here useth, Tehom-Rabba, or of the thing affirmed concerning it, breaking open its Fountains; or of the effect following the breaking open its Fountains, drowning of the Earth; from all these heads it is manifest, that the Sea cannot be understood by the great Abysse, whose disruption was the cause of the Deluge.
And as the Mosaical Abysse cannot be the Sea, so neither can it be those Subterraneous waters that are disperst in the Cells and Caverns of the Earth; for as they are now lodg’d within the Earth, they are not one Abysse, but several Cisterns and Receptacles of water, in several places, especially under the roots of Mountains and Hills; separate one from another, sometimes by whole Regions and Countries interpos’d. Besides what Fountains, if they were broken up, could let out this water, or bring it upon the face of the Earth? When we sink a Mine, or dig a Well, the waters, when uncover’d, do not leap out of their places, or out of those Cavities, and flow upon the Earth; ’Tis not as if you open’d a Vein, where the Bloud spirts out, and riseth higher than its Source; but as when you take off the cover of a Vessel, the water doth not fly out for that: So if we should imagine all the Subterraneous Caverns of the Earth uncover’d, and the waters laid bare, there they would lie unmov’d in their beds, if the Earth did not fall into them to force them up. Furthermore, if these waters were any way extracted and laid upon the surface of the ground, nothing would be gain’d as to the Deluge by that, for as much water would run into these holes again when the Deluge begun to rise; so that this would be but an useless labour, and turn to no account. And lastly, these waters are no way sufficient for quantity to answer to the Mosaical Abysse, or to be the principal cause of the Deluge, as that was.
Now seeing neither the Sea, as it is at present, nor the Subterraneous waters, as they are at present, can answer to the Mosaical Abysse, we are sure there is nothing in this present Earth that can answer to it. Let us then on the other hand compare it with that Subterraneous Abysse, which we have found in the Ante-diluvian Earth, represented 2 Fig. 5p. 59, and examine their characters and correspondency: First, Moses's Abysse was cover’d, and Subterraneous, for the Fountains of it are said to have been cloven or burst open; then it was vast and capacious; and thirdly, it was so dispos’d, as to be capable of a disruption, that would cause an universal Deluge to the Earth. Our Ante-diluvian Abysse answers truly to all these characters; ’twas in the womb of the Earth; the Earth was founded upon those Waters, as the Psalmist saith; or they were enclos’d within the Earth as in a Bag. Then for the capacity of it, it contained both all the waters now in the Ocean, and all those that are dispers’d in the Caverns of the Earth: And
lastly, it is manifest its situation was such, that upon a disruption or dissolution of the Earth which cover’d it, an universal Deluge would arise. Seeing then this answers the description, and all the properties of the Mosaical Abysse, and nothing else will, how can we in reason judge it otherwise than the same, and the very thing intended and propos’d in the History of Noah's Deluge under the name of Tehom-Rabba, or the great Abysse, at whose disruption the World was overflow’d. And as we do not think it an unhappy discovery to have found out (with a moral certainty) the seat of the Mosaical Abysse, which hath been almost as much sought for, and as much in vain, as the seat of Paradise; so this gives us a great assurance, that the Theory we have given of a general Deluge, is not a meer Idea, but is to be appropriated to the Deluge of Noah, as a true explication of it.
And to proceed now from Moses to other Divine writers; That our Description is a reality, both as to the Ante-diluvian Earth, and as to the Deluge, we may further be convinc’d from 2 Epist. 3. 6.St. Peter's discourse concerning those two things. St. Peter saith, that the constitution of the Ante-diluvian Earth was such, in reference to the Waters, that by reason of that it was obnoxious to a Deluge; we say these Waters were the great Abysse it stood upon, by reason whereof that World was really expos’d to a Deluge, and overwhelm’d in it upon the disruption of this Abysse, as Moses witnesses. ’Tis true, St. Peter doth not specifie what those waters were, nor mention either the Sea, or the Abysse; but seeing Moses tells us, that it was by the waters of the Abysse that the Earth was overwhelm’d, St. Peter's waters must be understood of the same Abysse, because he supposeth them the cause of the same Deluge. And, I think, the Apostle's discourse there cannot receive a better illustration, than from Moses's History of the Deluge. Moses distinguishes the causes of the Flood into those that belong to the Heavens, and those that belong to the Earth; the Rains and the Abysse: St. Peter also distinguisheth the causes of the Deluge into the constitution of the Heavens, in reference to its waters; and the constitution of the Earth, in reference to its waters; and no doubt they both aim at the same causes, as they refer to the same effect; only Moses mentions the immediate causes, the Rains and the Waters of the Abysse; and St. Peter mentions the more remote and fundamental causes, that constitution of the Heavens, and that constitution of the Earth, in reference to their respective waters, which made that world obnoxious to a Deluge: And these two speaking of Noah's Deluge, and agreeing thus with one another, and both with us, or with the Theory which we have given of a General Deluge, we may safely conclude, that it is no imaginary Idea, but a true account of that Ancient Flood, whereof Moses hath left us the History.
And seeing the right understanding of the Mosaical Abysse is sufficient alone to prove all we have deliver’d concerning the Deluge, as also concerning the frame of the Ante-diluvian Earth, give me leave to take notice here of some other places of Scripture that seem manifestly to describe this same form of the Abysse with the Earth above it, Psal. 24. 2. He founded the Earth upon the Seas, and establish’d it upon the Floods; and Psal. 136. 6. 4 Esdr. 16. 58. He stretched out the Earth above the Waters. Now this Foundation of the Earth upon the Waters, or extension of
it above the Waters, doth most aptly agree to that structure and situation of the Chap. 6Abysse and the Ante-diluvian Earth, which we have assign’d them, and which we have before describ’d; but very improperly and forc’dly to the present form of the Earth and the Waters. In that second place of the Psalmist, the word may be render’d either, he stretch’d, as we read it, or he fixt and consolidated the Earth above the Waters, as the Vulgate and Septuagint translate it: For ’tis from the same word with that which is used for the Firmament, Gen. 1. So that as the Firmament was extended over and around the Earth, so was the Earth extended over and about the Waters, in that first constitution of things; and I remember some of the Ancients use this very comparison of the Firmament and Earth, to express the situation of the Paradisiacal Earth in reference to the Sea or Abysse.
There is another remarkable place in the Psalms, to shew the disposition of the Waters in the first Earth; Psal. 33. 7. He gathereth the Waters of the Sea as in a Bag, he layeth up the Abysses in storehouses. This answers very fitly and naturally to the place and disposition of the Abysse which it had before the Deluge, inclos’d within the vault of the Earth, as in a Bag or in a Storehouse. I know very well what I render here in a Bag, is render’d in the English, as an heap; but that translation of the word seems to be grounded on the old Error, that the Sea is higher than the Land, and so doth not make a true sence. Neither are the two parts of the Verse so well suited and consequent one to another, if the first express an high situation of the Waters, and the second a low one. And accordingly the Vulgate, Septuagint, and Oriental Versions and Paraphrase, as also Symmachus, St. Jerome, and Basil, render it as we do here, in a Bag, or by terms equivalent.
To these passages of the Psalmist, concerning the form of the Abysse and the first Earth, give me leave to add this general remark, that they are commonly ushered in, or followed, with something of Admiration in the Prophet. We observ’d before, that the formation of the first Earth, after such a wonderful manner, being a piece of Divine Architecture, when it was spoken of in Scripture, it was usually ascrib’d to a particular Providence, and accordingly we see in these places now mention’d, that it is still made the object of praise and admiration: In that 136 Psalm ’tis reckon’d among the wonders of God, Vers. 4, 5, 6. Give praise to him who alone doth great wonders; To him that by wisdom made the Heavens: To him that stretched out the Earth above the Waters. And in like manner, in that 33 Psalm, ’tis joyn’d with the forming of the Heavens, and made the subject of the Divine Power and Wisdom: Vers. 6, 7, 8, 9. By the word of the Lord were the Heavens made, and all the Host of them by the breath of his mouth; He gathereth the Waters of the Sea together, as in a Bag, he layeth up the Abysse in Storehouses. Let all the Earth fear the Lord; Let all the Inhabitants of the World stand in awe of him; For he spake, and it was; he commanded, and it stood fast. Namely, all things stood in that wonderful posture in which the Word of his Power and Wisdom had establisht them. David often made the works of Nature, and the External World, the matter of his Meditations, and of his praises and Philosophical Devotions; reflecting sometimes upon the present form of the World, and sometimes upon the primitive form of it: And though Poetical expressions, as the Psalms are, seldom are so determinate and distinct, but that they may be
interpreted more than one way, yet, I think, it cannot but be acknowledg’d, that those expressions and passages that we have instanc’d in, are more fairly and aptly understood of the Ancient form of the Sea, or the Abysse, as it was enclos’d within the Earth, than of the present form of it in an open Chanel.
There are also in the book of Job many noble reflections upon the works of Nature, and upon the formation of the Earth and the Abysse; whereof that in Chap. 26. 7. He stretcheth out the North over the Empty places, and hangeth the Earth upon nothing, seems to parallel the expression of David; He stretched out the Earth upon the Waters; for the word we render the empty place is TOHU, which is appli’d to the Chaos and the first Abysse, Gen. 1. 2. and the hanging the Earth upon nothing is much more wonderful, if it be understood of the first habitable Earth, that hung over the Waters, sustain’d by nothing but its own peculiar form, and the libration of its parts, than if it be understood of the present Earth, and the whole body of it; for if it be in its Center or proper place, whither should it sink further, or whither should it go? But this passage, together with the foregoing and following Verses, requires a more critical examination than this Discourse will easily bear.
There is another remarkable discourse in Job, that contains many things to our present purpose, ’tis Chap. 38. where God reproaches Job with his ignorance of what pass’d at the beginning of the World, and the formation of the Earth, Vers. 4, 5, 6. Where was thou when I laid the foundations of the Earth? Declare if thou hast understanding: Who hath laid the measures thereof, if thou knowest; or who hath stretched the line upon it? Whereupon are the foundations thereof fastned, or who laid the corner-stone? All these questions have far more force and Emphasis, more propriety and elegancy, if they be understood of the first and Ante-diluvian form of the Earth, than if they be understood of the present; for in the present form of the Earth there is no Architecture, no structure, no more than in a ruine; or at least none comparatively to what was in the first form of it. And that the exteriour and superficial part of the Earth is here spoken of, appears by the rule and line appli’d to it; but what rule or regularity is there in the surface of the present Earth? what line was us’d to level its parts? But in its original construction when it lay smooth and regular in its surface, as if it had been drawn by rule and line in every part; and when it hung pois’d upon the Deep, without pillar or foundation stone, then just proportions were taken, and every thing plac’d by weight and measure: And this, I doubt not, was that artificial structure here alluded to, and when this work was finisht, then the morning Stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy. Vers. 7.
Thus far the questions proceed upon the form and construction of the first Earth; in the following verses (8, 9, 10, II.) they proceed upon the demolition of that Earth, the opening the Abysse, and the present state of both. Or who shut up the Sea with doors when it brake forth, as if it had issu’d out of a womb? Who can doubt but this was at the breaking open of the Fountains of the Abysse, Gen. 7. II. when the waters gusht out, as out of the great womb of Nature; and by reason of that confusion and perturbation of Air and Water that rise upon it, a thick mist and darkness was round the Earth, and all things as in a second Chaos,
[paragraph continues] When I made the cloud the garment thereof, and thick darkness a swadling band for it, and brake up for it my decreed place, and made bars and doors. Namely, (taking the words as thus usually render’d) the present Chanel of the Sea was made when the Abysse was broke up, and at the same time were made the shory Rocks and Mountains which are the bars and boundaries of the Sea. And said hitherto shalt thou come and no further, and here shall thy proud waves be stay’d. Which last sentence shows, that this cannot be understood of the first disposition of the waters as they were before the Flood, for their proud waves broke those bounds, whatsoever they were, when they overflow’d the Earth in the Deluge. And that the womb which they broke out of was the great Abysse, The Chaldee Paraphrase 1 in this place doth expressly mention; and what can be understood by the womb of the Earth, but that Subterraneous capacity in which the Abysse lay? Then that which followeth, is a description or representation of the great Deluge that ensu’d, and of that disorder in Nature, that was then, and how the Waters were setled and Bounded afterwards. Not unlike the description in the 104 Psalm, vers. 6, 7, 8, 9. and thus much for these places in the book of Job.
There remains a remarkable discourse in the Proverbs of Solomon, relating to the Mosaical Abysse, and not only to that, but to the Origin of the Earth in general; where Wisdom declares her antiquity and pre-existence to all the works of this Earth, Chap. 8. vers. 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28. I was set up from everlasting, from the beginning, ere the Earth was. When there were no Deeps or Abysses, I was brought forth; when no fountains abounding with water. Then in the 27. verse, When he prepared the Heavens, I was there; when he set a Compass upon the face of the Deep or Abysse. When he established the Clouds above, when he strengthned the fountains of the Abysse. Here is mention made of the Abysse, and of the Fountains of the Abysse, and who can question, but that the Fountains of the Abysse here, are the same with the fountains of the Abysse which Moses mentions, and were broken open, as he tells us, at the Deluge? Let us observe therefore what form Wisdom gives to this Abysse, and consequently to the Mosaical: And here seem to be two expressions that determine the form of it, verse 28. He strengthned the fountains of the Abysse, that is, the cover of those Fountains, for the Fountains could be strengthned no other way than by making a strong cover or Arch over them. And that Arch is exprest more fully and distinctly in the foregoing verse, When he prepar’d the Heavens, I was there; when he set a Compass on the face of the Abysse; we render it Compass, the word signifies a Circle or Circumference, or an Orb or Sphere. So there was in the beginning of the World a Sphere, Orb or Arch set round the Abysse, according to the testimony of Wisdom, who was then present. And this skews us both the form of the Mosaical Abysse, which was included within this Vault: and the form of the habitable Earth, which was the outward surface of this Vault, or the cover of the Abysse that was broke up at the Deluge.
And thus much, I think, is sufficient to have noted out of Scripture, concerning the Mosaical Abysse, to discover the form, place, and situation of it; which I have done the more largely, because that being determin’d, it will draw in easily all the rest of our Theory concerning the Deluge. I will now only add one or two
general Observations, and so conclude this discourse; The first Observation is concerning the Abysse; Namely, that the opening and shutting of the Abysse, is the great hinge upon which Nature turns in this Earth: This brings another face of things, other Scenes and a new World upon the stage: And accordingly it is a thing often mention’d and alluded to in Scripture, sometimes in a Natural, sometimes in a Moral or Theological sence; and in both sences, our Saviour shuts and opens as he pleaseth. Our Saviour, who is both Lord of Nature and of Grace, whose Dominion is both in Heaven and in Earth, hath a double Key; that of the Abysse, whereby Death and Hell are in his power, and all the revolutionsJob. 11. 10, 12, 14.
Apoc. 1. 18. 20. 1, 2, 3. 21. 1.
Apoc. 3. 7. Isa. 22. 22. of Nature are under his Conduct and Providence; And the Key of David, whereby he admits or excludes from the City of God and the Kingdom of Heaven whom he pleaseth. Of those places that refer to the shutting and opening the Abysse in a natural sence, I cannot but particularly take notice of that in Job. Chap. 12. vers. 14, 15& Chap. 11. 10.. God breaketh down, and it cannot be built again: he shutteth up 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. Though these things be true of God in lesser and common instances, yet to me it is plain, that they principally refer to the Deluge, the opening and shutting the Abysse, with the dissolution or subversion of the Earth thereupon; and accordingly they are made the great effects of the Divine Power and Wisdom in the foregoing VerseVers. 13., With God is wisdom and strength, he hath counsel and understanding; Behold, he breaketh down, &c. And also in the conclusion ’tis repeated again, With him is strength and wisdom;Vers. 6. which solemnity would scarce have been us’d for common instances of his power. When God is said to build or pull down, and no body can build again, ’tis not to be understood of an House or a Town, God builds and unbuilds Worlds; and who shall build up that Arch that was broke down at the Deluge? Where shall they lay the Foundation, or how shall the Mountains be rear’d up again to make part of the Roof? This is the Fabrick, which when God breaketh down, none can build up again. He withholdeth the waters and they dry up: As we shew’d the Earth to have been immoderately chapt and parcht before its dissolution. He sendeth them forth and they overturn the Earth. What can more properly express the breaking out of the waters at the disruption of the Abysse? and the subversion or dissolution of the Earth in consequence of it? ’Tis true this last passage may be applied to the breaking out of waters in an ordinary Earthquake, and the subversion of some part of the Earth, which often follows upon it; but it must be acknowledg’d, that the sence is more weighty, if it be refer’d to the great Deluge, and the great Earthquake which laid the World in ruines and in water. And Philosophical descriptions in Sacred writings, like Prophecies, have often a lesser and a greater accomplishment and interpretation.
I could not pass by this place without giving this short Explication of it. We proceed now to the second Observation, which is concerning the stile of Scripture, in most of those places we have cited, and others upon the same subject. The reflections that are made in several parts of the Divine writings, upon the Origin of the World, and the formation of the Earth, seem to me to be writ in a stile something approaching to the nature of a Prophetical stile, and to have more of
a Divine Enthusiasm and Elocution in them, than the ordinary text of Scripture; the expressions are lofty, and sometimes abrupt, and often figurative and disguis’d, as may be observ’d in most of those places we have made use of, and particularly in that speech of Wisdom, Prov. 8. where the 26. verse is so obscure, that no two Versions that I have yet met with, whether Ancient or Modern, agree in the Translation of that Verse. And therefore though I fully believe that the construction of the first Earth is really intended in those words, yet seeing it could not be made out clear without a long and critical discussion of them, I did not think it proper to be insisted upon here. We may also observe, that whereas there is a double form or composition of the Earth, that which it had at first, or till the Deluge, and that which it hath since; sometimes the one, and sometimes the other may be glanc’d upon in these Scripture phrases and descriptions; and so there may be in the same discourse an intermixture of both. And it commonly happens so in an Enthusiastick or Prophetick stile, that by reason of the eagerness and trembling of the Fancy, it doth not always regularly follow the same even thread of discourse, but strikes many times upon some other thing that hath relation to it, or lies under or near the same view. Of this we have frequent examples in the Apocalypse, and in that Prophecy of our Saviour's, Matth. 24. concerning the destruction of Jerusalem, and of the World. But notwithstanding any such unevenness or indistinctness in the stile of those places which we have cited concerning the Origin and form of the Earth, we may at least make this remark, that if there never was any other form of the Earth but the present, nor any other state of the Abysse, than what it is in now, ’tis not imaginable what should give occasion to all those expressions and passages that we have cited; which being so strange in themselves and paradoxical, should yet so much favour, and so fairly comply with our suppositions. What I have observ’d in another placeTell. Theor. lib. 2. c. 6., in treating of Paradise, that the expressions of the Ancient Fathers were very extravagant, if Paradise was nothing but a little plot of ground in Mesopotamia, as many of late have fansied; may in like manner be observ’d concerning the ancient Earth and Abysse, if they were in no other form, nor other state than what they are under now, the expressions of the Sacred Writers concerning them are very strange and inaccountable, without any sufficient ground, or any just occasion for such uncouth representations. If there was nothing intended or refer’d to in those descriptions, but the present form and state of the Earth, that is so well known, that in describing of it there would be nothing dark or mysterious, nor any occasion for obscurity in the stile or expression, whereof we find so much in those. So as, all things consider’d, what might otherwise be made an exception to some of these Texts alledg’d by us, viz. that they are too obscure, becomes an argument for us: as implying that there is something more intended by them, than the present and known form of the Earth. And we having propos’d another form and structure of the Earth, to which those characters suit and answer more easily, as this opens and gives light to those difficult places, so it may be reasonably concluded to be the very sence and notion intended by the holy Writers.
And thus much, I think, is sufficient to have observ’d out of Scripture, to verifie our Explication of the Deluge, and our Application of it to Noah's Flood,
both according to the Mosaical History of the Flood, and according to many occasional reflections and discourses dispers’d in other places of Scripture, concerning the same Flood, or concerning the Abysse and the first form of the Earth. And though there may be some other passages of a different aspect, they will be of no force to disprove our conclusions, because they respect the present form of the Earth and Sea; and also because expressions that deviate more from the common opinion, are more remarkable and more proving; in that there is nothing could give occasion to such, but an intention to express the very truth. So, for instance, if there was one place of Scripture that said the Earth was mov’d, and several that seem’d to imply, that the Sun was mov’d, we should have more regard to that one place for the motion of the Earth, than to all the other that made against it; because those others might be spoken and understood according to common opinion and common belief, but that which affirm’d the motion of the Earth, could not be spoke upon any other ground, but only for truth and instruction sake. I leave this to be appli’d to the present subject.
Thus much for the Sacred writings. As to the History of the ancient Heathens, we cannot expect an account or Narration of Noah's Flood, under that name and notion; but it may be of use to observe two things out of that History. First, that the Inundations recorded there came generally to pass in the manner we have describ’d the Universal Deluge; namely, by Earthquakes and an eruption of Subterraneous waters, the Earth being broken and falling in: and of this we shall elsewhere give a full account out of their Authors. Secondly, that Deucalion's Deluge in particular, which is suppos’d by most of the Ancient Fathers to represent Noah's Flood, is said to have been accompanied with a gaping or disruption of the Earth; Apollodorus saithBibl. lib. 1., that the Mountains of Thessaly were divided asunder, or separate one from another at that time: And Lucian (de deâ Syriâ) tells a very remarkable story to this purpose, concerning Deucalion's Deluge, and a ceremony observ’d in the Temple of Hieropolis, in commemoration of it; which ceremony seems to have been of that nature, as impli’d that there was an opening of the Earth at the time of the Deluge, and that the waters subsided into that again when the Deluge ceast. He saith, that this Temple at Hieropolis was built upon a kind of Abysse, or has a bottomless pit, or gaping of the Earth in one part of it, and the people of Arabia and Syria, and the Countries thereabouts twice a year repair’d to this Temple, and brought with them every one a vessel of water, which they pour’d out upon the floor of the Temple, and made a kind of an Inundation there in memory of Deucalion's Deluge; and this water sunk by degrees into a Chasm or opening of a Rock, which the Temple stood upon, and so left the floor dry again. And this was a rite solemnly and religiously perform’d both by the Priests and by the People. If Moses had left such a Religious rite among the Jews, I should not have doubted to have interpreted it concerning his Abysse, and the retiring of the waters into it; but the actual disruption of the Abysse could not well be represented by any ceremony. And thus much concerning the present question, and the true application of our Theory to Noah's Flood.
78:1 תהומָה מן