THE THEORY OF THE EARTH.
BOOK II. Concerning the Primaeval Earth, and concern∣ing Paradise.
CHAP. I. The Introduction and Contents of the Second Book. The ge∣neral state of the Primaeval Earth, and of Paradise.
WE have already seen a World begin and perish; An Earth rais'd from the rudiments of a Chaos, and dissolv'd and destroy'd in an Universal De∣luge. We have given also an imperfect descrip∣tion of that primaeval Earth, so far as was necessa∣ry to shew the Causes and manner of its dissolu∣tion. But we must not content our selves with this; Seeing that Earth was the first Theater upon which Mortals appear'd and acted, and continued so for above Sixteen Hundred Years; and that with Scenes, as both Reason and History tell us, very extraordinary and very different from these of our present Earth, 'tis reasonable we should endeavour to make a more full discovery and description of it; Especially seeing Paradise was there; that seat of pleasure which our first Parents lost, and which all their posterity have much ado to find again.
In the First Book we so far describ'd This New-found World, as to shew it very different in form and fabrick from the present Earth; there was no Sea there, no Mountains, nor Rocks, nor broken Caves, 'twas all one continued and regular mass, smooth, simple and compleat, as the first works of Nature use to be. But to know thus much only, doth rather excite our curiosity than Page 120 satisfie it; what were the other properties of this World? how were the Heavens, how the Elements? what accommodation for humane life? why was it more proper to be the seat of Paradise than the present Earth? Unless we know these things, you will say, it will seem but an aëry Idea to us; and 'tis certain that the more properties and particular•ties that we know concerning any thing, the more real it appears to be.
As it was our chief design therefore in the precedent Book, to give an account of the Universal Deluge, by way of a Theory; so we propose to our selves chiefly in this Book, from the same Theory to give an account of Paradise; and in performing of this, we shall be led into a more full examination and display of that first Earth, and of its qualities. And if we be so happy, as by the conduct of the same principles and the same method, to give as fair an ac∣count, and as intelligible of the state of Paradise in that Original Earth, as we have done of the Deluge by the dissolution of it, and of the form of this Earth which succeeded, one must be very mo∣rose or melancholy to imagine that the grounds we go upon, all this while, are wholly false or •ictitious. A foundation which will bear the weight of two Worlds without sinking, must surely stand upon a firm Rock. And I am apt to promise my self that this Theory of the Earth will find acceptance and credit, more or less, with all but those, that think it a sufficient answer to all arguments, to say it is a Novelty.
But to proceed in our disquisition concerning Paradise, we may note, in the first place, two opinions to be avoided, being both ex∣treams; one that placeth Paradise in the extra-mundane Regions, or in the Air, or in the Moon, and the other that makes it so in∣considerable, as to be confin'd to a little spot of ground in Mesopo∣tamia, or some other Country of Asia, the Earth being now as it was then. This offends as much in the defect, as the other in the excess. For it is not any single Region of the Earth that can be Paradisiacal, unless all Nature conspire, and a certain Order of things proper and peculiar for that state. Nor is it of less importance to find out this peculiar Order of things, than to find out the par∣ticular, seat of Paradise, but rather pre-requisite to it: We will en∣deavour therefore to discover and determine both, so far as a Theory can go, beginning with that which is more general.
'Tis certain there were some qualities and conditions of Paradise that were not meerly Topical, but common to all the rest of the Earth at that time; and these we must consider in the first place, examine what they were, and upon what they depended. History, both Sacred and Profane, must tell us what they were, and our Theory must shew us upon what causes they depended. I had once, I confess, propos'd to my self another method, independent upon History or Effects; I thought to have continued the description of the Primitive or Ante-diluvian Earth from the contemplation of its causes only, and then left it to the judgment of others to determine, whether that was not the Earth where the Golden Age was past, and where Paradise stood. For I had observ'd three conditions or characters of it, which I thought were sufficient to answer all that Page 121 we knew concerning that first state of things, viz. The regularity of its surface; The situation or posture of its Body to the Sun; and the Fi∣gure of it: From these three general causes, I thought might be de∣duc•d all the chief differences of that Earth from the present, and particularly those that made it more capable of being Paradisiacal.
But upon second thoughts I judg'd it more useful and expedi∣ent to lay aside the Causes at present, and begin with the Effects, that we might have some sensible matter to work upon. Bare Idea's of things are lookt upon as Romantick till Effects be propos'd, whereof they are to give an account; 'Tis that makes us value the Causes when necessity puts us upon enquiry after them; and the reasons of things are very acceptable, when they ease the mind, anxious, and at a loss, how to understand Nature without their help. We will therefore, without more ado, premise those things that have been taken notice of as extraordinary and peculiar to the first Ages of the World, and to Paradise, and which neither do, nor can, obtain in the present Earth; whereof the first is a perpetual Spring or Equinox; The second, the Long aevity of Animals, and the third Their production out of the Earth, and the great ferti∣lity of the soil in all other things.
These difficulties guard the way to Paradise like the flaming Sword, and must be remov'd before we can enter; these are general Preliminaries which we must explain before we proceed to enquire after the particular place of this Garden of Pleasure. The Ancients have taken notice of all these in the first Ages of the World, or in their Golden Age, as they call it; and I do not doubt but what they ascrib'd to the Golden Age, was more remarkably true of Paradise; yet was not so peculiar to it, but that it did in a good measure extend to other parts of the Earth at that time. And 'tis mani∣fest that their Golden Age was contemporary with our Paradise; for they make it begin immediately after the production and in∣habitation of the Earth (which They, as well as Moses, raise from the Chaos) and to degenerate by degrees till the Deluge; when the World ended and begun again.
That this parallel may the better appear, we may observe, that as we say that the whole Earth was, in some sence, Paradisiacal in the first Ages of the World, and that there was besides, one Re∣gion or Portion of it that was peculiarly so, and bore the deno∣mination of Paradise; So the Ancients besides their Golden Age; which was common to all the Earth, noted some parts of it that were more Golden, if I may so say, than the rest, and which did more particularly answer to Paradise; as their Elysian Fields, For∣tunate Islands, Gardens of Hesperides, Alcinous, &c. these had a double portion of pleasantness, and besides the advantages which they had common with the rest of the Earth at that time, had some∣thing proper and singular, which gave them a distinct consideration and character from the rest.
Having made this observation, let us proceed, and see what An∣tiquity saith concerning that first and Paradisiacal state of things, upon those three Heads forementioned; First, That there was a perpetual Spring, and constant serenity of the Air; This is often Page 122 repeated by the Ancient Poets, in their description of the Golden Age:
The Ancients suppos'd, that in the reign of Saturn, who was an Ante-diluvian God, as I may so call him, Time flow'd with a more even motion, and there was no diversity of Seasons in the Year; but Iupiter, they say, first introduc'd that, when he came to ma∣nage affairs. This is exprest after their way, who seldom give any severe and Philosophical accounts of the changes of Nature. And as they suppos'd this perpetual Spring in the Golden Age, so they did also in their particular Elysiums; as I could shew largely from their Authors, if it would not multiply Citations too much. 'Tis true, their Elysiums respected the New Heavens, and New Earth to come, rather than the past, but they are both fram'd upon the same model, and have common properties.
The Christian Authors have no less celebrated the perpetual Spring and Serenity of the Heavens in Paradise; such expressions or descriptions you will find in Iustin Martyr, S. Basil, Damascen, Isi∣dore Hispalensis,* and others; insomuch that Bellarmine, I remember, reflecting upon those Characters of Paradise, which many of the Fathers have given in these respects, saith, Such things could not be, unless the Sun had then another course from what he hath now; or which is more easie, the Earth another situation. Which con∣jecture will hereafter appear to have been well-grounded. In the mean time, let us see the Christian Poetry upon this subject, as we Page 123 have seen the Roman upon the other. Alcimus Avitus hath thus de∣scrib'd Paradise in his Notes upon Genesis:
And as the Christian Authors, so likewise the Iewish have spoken of Paradise in the same manner; they tell us also that the days there were always of the same length throughout the whole Year; and that made them fancy Paradise to lie under the Aequinoctial; as we shall see in its due place. 'Tis true, we do not find these things mention'd expresly in the Sacred Writings, but the Effects that flow'd from them are recorded there, and we may reasonably suppose providence to have foreseen, that when those Effects came to be scan'd and narrowly lookt into, they would lead us to a di•∣covery of the Causes, and particularly of this great and general Cause, that perpetual Aequinox and unity of seasons in the Year, till the Deluge. The Longaevity of the Ante-diluvians cannot be explain'd upon any other supposition, as we shall have occasion to show hereafter; and that you know is recorded carefully in Scri∣pture: As also that there was no Rainbow before the Flood; which goes upon the same ground, that there was no variety of Seasons, nor any Rain: And this by many is thought to be understood by Moses his words, Gen. 2. 5, 6. which he speaks of the first and Para∣disiacal Earth. Lastly, Seeing the Earth then brought forth the principles of life and all living Creatures (Man excepted) according to Moses, Gen. 1. 24. we must suppose that the state of the Heavens was such as favour'd these Conceptions and Births, which could not possibly be brought to perfection, as the Seasons of the Year are at present. The first time that we have mention made in Scripture of Summer and Winter, and the differences of Seasons, is at the ending of the Deluge. Gen. 8. 22. Hence forward all the days of the Earth, Seed-time and Harvest, Heat and Cold, Summer and Winter, Page 124 Day and Night shall not cease. 'Tis true these words are so lax, that they may be understood either of a new course of Nature then insti∣tuted, or of an old one restor'd; but seeing it doth appear from other arguments and considerations, that there was at that time a new course of Nature constituted, it is more reasonable to inter∣pret the words in that sence; which, as it is agreeable to truth, ac∣cording to Reason and Antiquity; so it renders that remark of Moses of far greater importance, if it be understood as an indica∣tion of a new order then setled in Nature, which should continue thenceforwards so long as the Earth endur'd. Nor do I at all won∣der that such things should not be expresly and positively declar'd in Scripture, for Natural Mysteries in the Holy Writings, as well as Prophetical, are many times, on set purpose, incompleatly de∣liver'd, so as to awaken and excite our thoughts rather than fully resolve them: This being often more suitable to the designs of Pro∣vidence in the government of the World. But thus much for this first common or general Character of the Golden Age, and of Para∣dise, a perpetual Serenity and perpetual Aequinox.
The second Character is the Longaevity of Men, and, as is pro∣bable, of all other Animals in proportion. This, methinks, is as strange and surprising as the other; and I know no difference be∣twixt the Ante-diluvian World and the present, so apt to affect us, if we reflect upon it, as this wonderful disproportion in the Ages of Men; Our fore-fathers and their Posterity; They liv'd seven, eight, nine hundred Years and upwards, and 'tis a wonder now if a Man live to one hundred. Our Oakes do not last so long as their Bodies did; Stone and Iron would scarce out-wear them. And this property of the first Ages, or their Inhabitants, how strange soever, is well attested, and beyond all exception, having the joynt consent of Sacred and Profane History. The Scripture sets down the precise Age of a s•ries of Ante diluvian Patriarchs, and by that measures the time from the beginning of the World to the Deluge; so as all Sacred Chronology stand upon that bot∣tom. Yet I know some have thought this so improbable and in∣congruous a thing, that to save the credit of Moses and the Sacred History, they interpret these years of Lunar years or months; and so the Ages of these Patriarchs are reduc'd to much what the same measure with the common life of man at this time. It may be ob∣serv'd in this, as in many other instances, that for want of a Theo∣ry to make things credible and intelligibile, men of wit and parts have often deprest the sence of Scripture; and that not out of any ill will to Scripture or Religion, but because they could not other∣wise, upon the stock of their notions, give themselves a rational account of things recorded there. But I hope when we come to explain the Causes of this Longaevity, we shall shew that it is al∣togeth•r us strange a thing that Men should have such short lives as they have now, as that they had such long lives in the first Ages of the World. In the mean time, there are a great many collate∣ral reasons to assure us that Lunar years cannot be here understood by Moses, for all Antiquity gives the same account of those first Ages of the World, and of the first Men, that they were extremely Page 125 long-liv'd. We meet with it generally in the description of the Golden Age; and not only so, but in their Topical Paradises also they always suppos'd a great vivacity or longaevity in those that enjoy'd them.* And Iosephus speaking upon this subject, saith, the Authors of all the learned Nations, Greeks or Barbarians, bear witness to Moses's doctrine in this particular. And in the Mosaical History it self, there are several circumstances and marks that dis∣cover plainly, that the years of the Patriarchs cannot be under∣stood of Lunar years;* as we shall have occasion to show in another place. We proceed in the mean time to the third and last Cha∣racter, The extraordinary fertility of the Soil, and the production of Animals out of the new-made Earth.
The first part of this Character is unquestionable; All Antiquity speaks of the plenty of the Golden Age, and of their Paradises, whe∣ther Christian or Heathen. The fruits of the Earth at first were spontaneous, and the ground without being torn and tormented, satisfied the wants or desires of Man. When Nature was fresh and full, all things flow'd from her more easily and more pure, like the first running of the Grape, or the Hony-comb; but now she must be prest and squeez'd, and her productions taste more of the Earth and of bitterness. The Ancient Poets have often pleas'd themselves in making descriptions of this happy state, and in ad∣miring the riches and liberality of Nature at that time, but we need not transcribe their Poetry here, seeing this point is not, I think, contested by any. The second part of this Character, concerning the spontaneous Origin of living Creatures out of that first Earth, is not so unquestionable, and as to Man, Moses plainly implies that there was a particular action or ministery of Providence in the for∣mation of his Body, but as to other Animals He seems to suppose that the Earth brought them forth as it did Herbs and Plants. (Gen. 1. 24. compar'd with the 11. Vers.) And the truth is, there is no such great difference betwixt Vegetable and Animal Eggs, or betwixt the Seeds out of which Plants rise, and the Eggs out of which all Animals rise, but that we may conceive, the one as well as the other, in the first Earth: And as some warmth and influence from the Sun is requir'd for the Vegetation of Seeds, so that in∣fluence or impregnation which is necessary to make Animal Eggs fruitful, was imputed by the Ancients to the Aether, or to an active and pure Element which had the same effect upon our great Mother the Earth, as the irradiation of the Male hath upon the Females Eggs.
'Tis true, this opinion of the spontaneous Origin of Animals in the first Earth, hath lain under some Odium, because it was common∣ly reckon'd to be Epicuru•'s opinion peculiarly; and he extended Page 126 it not only to all brute Creatures, but to Mankind also, whom he suppos'd to grow out of the Earth in great numbers, in several Parts and Countries, like other Animals; which is a notion contrary to the Sacred Writings; for they declare, that all Mankind, though diffus'd now through the several parts and Regions of the Earth, rise at first from one Head or single Man and Woman; which is a Conclusion of great importance, and that could not, I think, by the Light of Nature, have ever been discover'd. And this makes the Epicurean opinion the more improbable, for why should two rise only, if they sprung from the Earth? or how could they rise in their full growth and perfection, as Adam and Eve did? But as for the opinion of Animals rising out of the Earth at first, that was not at all peculiar to Epicurus; The Stoicks were of the same mind, and the Pythagoreans, and the Aegyptians, and, I think, all that sup∣pos'd the Earth to rise from a Chaos. Neither do I know any harm in that opinion, if duly limited and stated; for what inconvenience is it, or what diminution of Providence, that there should be the principles of Life, as well as the principles of Vegetation, in the new Earth? And unless you suppose all the first Animals, as well as the first Man, to have been made at one stroke, in their full growth and perfection, which we have neither reason nor authority suffici∣ent to believe; if they were made young, little and weak, as they come now into the World, there seems to be no way for their pro∣duction more proper, and decorous, than that they should spring from their great Mother the Earth. Lastly, considering the innumerable little Creatures that are upon the Earth, Insects and Creeping things: and that these were not created out of nothing, but form'd out of the ground: I think that an office most proper for Nature, that can set so many hands to work at once; and that hath hands fit for all those little operations or manufactures, how small soever, that would less become the dignity of Superiour Agents.
Thus much for the Preliminaries, or three general Characters of Paradise, which were common to it with the rest of the Primae∣val Earth; and were the chief ingredients of the Golden Age, so much celebrated by the Ancients. I know there were several other differences betwixt that Earth and this, but these are the original; and such as are not necessary to be premis'd for the general Ex∣plication of Paradise, we reserve for another place. We may, in the mean time observe, how preposterously they go to work, that set themselves immediately to find out some pleasant place of the Earth to six Paradise in, before they have consider'd, or laid any grounds, to explain the general conditions of it, wheresoever it was. These must be first known and determin'd, and we must take our aim and directions from these, how to proceed further in our en∣quiries after it; otherwise we fail without a Compass, or seek a Port and know not which way it lies. And as we should think him a very unskilful Pilot that sought a place in the New World, or Ame∣rica, that really was in the Old; so they commit no less an error, that seek Paradise in the present Earth, as now constituted, which could only belong to the former, and to the state of the first World: As will appear more plainly in the following Chapter.
CHAP. II. The great Change of the World since the Flood, from what it was in the first Ages. The Earth under its present form could not be Paradisiacal, nor any part of it.
THE Scheme of this World passeth away, saith an holy Author: The mode and form, both of the Natural and Civil World, changeth continually more or less, but most remarkably at certain Periods, when all Nature puts on another face; as it will do at the Conflagration, and hath done already from the time of the Deluge. We may imagine how different a prospect the first World would make from what we see now in the present state of things, if we consider only those generals by which we have describ'd it in the foregoing Chapter, and what their influence would be upon Man∣kind and the rest of Nature. For every new state of Nature doth introduce a new Civil Order, and a new face and Oeconomy of Humane affairs: And I am apt to think that some two Planets, that are under the same state or Period, do not so much differ from one another, as the same Planet doth from it self, in different pe∣riods of its duration. We do not seem to inhabit the same World that our first fore-fathers did, nor scarce to be the same race of Men. Our life now is so short and vain, as if we came into the World only to see it and leave it; by that time we begin to under∣stand our selves a little, and to know where we are, and how to act our part, we must leave the stage, and give place to others as meer Novices as we were our selves at our first entrance. And this short life is imploy'd, in a great measure, to preserve our selves from necessity, or diseases, or injuries of the Air, or other incon∣veniencies; to make one Man easie, ten must work and do drud∣gery; The Body takes up so much time, we have little leisure for Contemplation, or to cultivate the mind. The Earth doth not yield us food, but with much labour and industry, and what was her free-will offering before, or an easie liberality can scarce now be extorted from her. Neither are the Heavens more favourable, sometimes in one extreme, sometimes in another; The Air often impure or infectious, and, for a great part of the year, Nature her self seems to be sick or dead. To this vanity the external Creation is made subject as well as Mankind, and so must continue till the restitution of all things.
Can we imagine, in those happy Times and Places we are treat∣ing of, that things stood in this same posture? are these the fruits of the Golden Age and of Paradise, or consistent with their happi∣ness? And the remedies of these evils must be so universal, you cannot give them to one place or Region of the Earth, but all must participate: For these are things that flow from the course of the Heavens, or such general Causes as extend at once to all Nature. If there was a perpetual Spring and perpetual Aequinox in Para∣dise,Page 128 there was at the same time a perpetual Aequinox all the Earth over; unless you place Paradise in the middle of the Torrid Zone. So also the long-lives of the Ante-diluvians was an universal Effect, and must have had an universal Cause. 'Tis true, in some single parts or Regions of the present Earth, the Inhabitants live generally longer than in others, but do not approach in any measure the Age of their Ante-diluvian fore-fathers; and that degree of longae∣vity which they have above the rest, they owe to the calmness and tranquility of their Heavens and Air; which is but an imperfect participation of that cause which was once Universal, and had its effect throughout the whole Earth. And as to the fertility of this Earth, though in some spots it be eminently more fruitful than in others, and more delicious, yet that of the first Earth was a ferti∣lity of another kind, being spontaneous, and extending to the pro∣duction of Animals, which cannot be without a favourable con∣course from the Heavens also.
Thus much in general; We will now go over those three fore∣mentioned Characters more distinctly, to show by their unsuitable∣ness to the present state of Nature, that neither the whole Earth, as it is now, nor any part of it, could be Paradisiacal. The perpe∣tual Spring, which belong'd to the Golden Age, and to Paradise, is an happiness this present Earth cannot pretend to, nor is capable of, unless we could transfer the Sun from the Ecliptick to the Ae∣quator, or, which is as easie, perswade the Earth to change its posture to the Sun. If Archimedes had found a place to plant his Machines in for removing of the Earth, all that I should have de∣sir'd of him, would have been only to have given it an heave at one end, and set it a little to rights again with the Sun, that we might have enjoy'd the comfort of a perpetual Spring, which we have lost by its dislocation ever since the Deluge. And there being nothing more indispensably necessary to a Paradisiacal state than this unity and equality of Seasons, where that cannot be, 'tis in vain to seek for the rest of Paradise.
The spontaneous fruitfulness of the ground was a thing peculiar to the primigenial soil, which was so temper'd, as made it more luxuriant at that time than it could ever be afterwards; and as that rich temperament was spent, so by degrees it grew less fertile. The Origin or production of Animals out of the Earth, depended not only upon this vital constitution of the soil at first, but also upon such a posture and aspect of the Heavens, as favour'd, or at least permitted, Na∣ture, to make her best works out of this prepar'd matter, and better than could be made in that manner, after the Flood. Noah, we see, had orders given him to preserve the Races of living Creatures in his Ark, when the Old World was destroy'd; which is an argument to me, that Providence foresaw that the Earth would not be capable to produce them under its new form; and that, not only for want of fitness in the soil, but because of the diversity of Seasons, which were then to take place, whereby Nature would be disturb'd in her work, and the subject to be wrought upon would not continue long enough in the same due temper. But this part of the second Character con∣cerning the Original of Animals, deserves to be further examin'd and explain'd.
Page 129 The first principles of Life must be tender and ductile, that they may yield to all the motions and gentle touches of Nature; other∣wise it is not possible that they should be wrought with that curi∣osity, and drawn into all those little fine threds and textures, that we see and admire in some parts of the Bodies of Animals▪ And as the matter must be so constituted at first, so it must be kept in a due temper till the work be finisht, without any excess of heat or cold; and accordingly we see that Nature hath made provision in all sorts of Creatures, whether Oviparous or Viviparous, that the first ru∣diments of Life should be preserv'd from all injuries of the Air, and kept in a moderate warmth. Eggs are enclos'd in a Shell, or Film, and must be cherish'd with an equal gentle heat, to begin formation and continue it, otherwise the work miscarries: And in Viviparous Creatures, the materials of life are safely lodg'd in the Females womb, and conserv'd in a fit temperature 'twixt heat and cold, while the Causes that Providence hath imploy'd, are busie at work, fashioning and placing and joyning the parts, in that due order which so wonderful a Fabrick requires.
Let us now compare these things with the birth of Animals in the new-made World, when they first rose out of the Earth, to see what provision could be made there for their safety▪ and nourish∣ment, while they were a making, and when newly made; And though we take all advantages we can, and suppose both the Hea∣vens and the Earth favourable, a fit soil and a warm and constant temper of the Air, all will be little enough to make this way of production feasible or probable. But if we suppose there was then the same inconstancy of the Heavens that is now, the same vicissi∣tude of seasons, and the same inequality of heat and cold, I do not think it at all possible that they could be so form'd, or being new∣form'd, preserv'd and nourish'd. 'Tis true, some little Creatures that are of short dispatch in their formation, and find nourishment enough wheresoever they are br•d, might be produc'd and brought to perfection in this way, notwithstanding any inequality of Sea∣sons; because they are made all at a heat, as I may so say, be∣gun and ended within the compass of one Season; But the great question is concerning the more perfect kinds of Animals, that re∣quire a long stay in the womb, to make them capable to sustain and nourish themselves when they first come into the World. Such Ani∣mals being big and strong, must have a pretty hardness in their bones, and force and firmness in their Muscles and Joynts, before they can bear their own weight, and exercise the common motions of their body: And accordingly we see Nature hath ordain'd for these a longer time of gestation, that their limbs and members might have time to acquire strength and solidity. Besides the young ones of these Animals have commonly the milk of the Dam to nourish them after they are brought forth, which is a very proper nourish∣ment, and like to that which they had before in the womb; and by this means their stomachs are prepar'd by degrees for courser food: Whereas our Terrigenous Animals must have been wean'd as soon as they were born, or as soon as they were separated from their Mo∣ther the Earth, and therefore must be allow'd a longer time of con∣tinuing there.
Page 130 These things being consider'd, we cannot in reason but suppose, that these Terrigenous Animals were as long, or longer, a perfect∣ing, than our Viviparous, and were not separated from the body of the Earth for ten, twelve, eighteen or more months, according as their Nature was; and seeing in this space of time they must have suffer•d, upon the common Hypothesis, all vicissitudes and va∣riety of seasons, and great excesses of heat and cold, which are things incompatible with the tender principles of life and the for∣mation of living Creatures, as we have shown before; we may rea∣sonably and safely conclude, that Nature had not, when the World began, the same course she hath now, or that the Earth was not then in its present posture and constitution: Seeing, I say, these first spontaneous Births, which both the Holy Writ, Reason, and Antiquity seem to allow, could not be finish'd and brought to maturity, nor afterwards preserv'd and nourisht, upon any other supposition.
Longaevi•y is the last Character to be consider'd, and as incon∣sistent with the present state of the Earth as any other. There are many things in the story of the first Ages that seem strange, but no∣thing so prodigy-like as the long lives of those Men; that their houses of Clay should stand eight or nine hundred years and up∣wards, and those we build of the hardest Stone or Marble will not now last so long. This hath excited the curiosity of ingenious and learned men in all Ages to enquire after the possible Causes of that longaveity; and if it had been always in conjunction with innocency of life and manners, and expir'd when that expir'd, we might have thought it some peculiar blessing or reward attending that; but 'twas common to good and bad, and lasted till the Deluge, where∣as mankind was degenerate long before. Amongst Natural Causes, some have imputed it to the sobriety and simplicity of their diet and manner of living in those days, that they eat no flesh, and had not all those provocations to gluttony which Wit and Vice have since invented. This might have some effect, but not possibly to that degree and measure that we speak of. There are many Mo∣nastical persons now that live abstemiously all their lives, and yet they think an hundred years a very great age amongst them. Others have imputed it to the excellency of their Fruits and some unknown vertue in their Herbs and Plants in those days; But they may as well say nothing, as say that which can neither be prov'd nor un∣derstood. It could not be either the quantity or quality of their food that was the cause of their long lives, for the Earth was said to be curst long before the Deluge, and probably by that time was more barren and juiceless (for the generality) than ours is now; yet we do not see that their longaevity decreast at all, from the beginning of the World to the Flood. Methusalah was Noah's Grandfather, but one intire remove from the Deluge, and he liv'd longer than any of his Fore-fathers. That food that will nourish the parts and keep us in health, is also capable to keep us in long life, if there be no impediments otherwise; for to continue health is to continue life; as that fewel that is fit to raise and nourish a flame, will preserve it as long as you please, if you add fresh fewel, and Page 131 no external causes hinder: Neither do we observe that in those parts of the present Earth where people live longer than in others, that there is any thing extraordinary in their food, but that the diffe∣rence is chiefly from the Air and the temperateness of the Heavens; And if the Ante-diluvians had not enjoy'd that advantage in a pe∣culiar manner, and differently from what any parts of the Earth do now, they would never have seen, seven, eight, or nine hundred years go over their heads, though they had been nourish'd with Nectar and Ambrosia.
Others have thought that the long lives of those Men of the old World proceeded from the strength of their Stamina, or first prin∣ciples of their bodies; which if they were now as strong in us; they think we should still live as long as they did. This could not be the sole and adaequate cause of their longaevity, as will ap∣pear both from History and Reason. Shem, who was born before the Flood, and had in his body all the vertue of the Ante-diluvian Stamina and constitution, fell three hundred years short of the age of his fore-fathers, because the greatest part of his life was past af∣ter the Flood. That their Stamina were stronger than ours are, I am very ready to believe, and that their bodies were greater; and any race of strong Men, living long in health, would have children of a proportionably strong constitution with themselves; but then the question is, How was this interrupted? We that are their po∣sterity, why do not we inherit their long lives? how was this con∣stitution broken at the Deluge, and how did the Stamina fail so fast when that came? why was there so great a Crisis then and turn of life, or why was that the period of their strength?
We see this longaevity sunk half in half immediately after the Flood, and after that it sunk by gentler degrees, but was still in motion and declension till it was •ixt at length,* before David's time, in that which hath been the common standard of Man's Age ever since: As when some excellent fruit is transplanted into a worse Climate and Soil, it degenerates continually till it comes to such a degree of meanness as suits that Air and Soil, and then it stands. That the Age of Man did not fall all on a sudden from the Ante∣diluvian measure to the present, I impute it to the remaining Sta∣mina of those first Ages, and the strength of that pristine constitu∣tion which could not wear off but by degrees. We see the Blacks do not quit their complexion immediately by removing into another Climate, but their posterity changeth by little and little, and after some generations they become altogether like the people of the Country where they are. Thus by the change of Nature that hap∣pened at the Flood, the unhappy influence of the Air and unequal Seasons weaken'd by degrees the innate strength of their bodies and the vigour of their parts, which would have been capable to have lasted several more hundreds of years, if the Heavens had con∣tinued their course as formerly, or the Earth its position. To con∣clude this particular, If any think that the Ante-diluvian longaevity proceeded only from the Stamina, or the meer strength of their bodies, and would have been so under any constitution of the Heavens, let them resolve themselves these Questions; first, Why Page 132 these Stamina, or this strength of constitution fail'd? Secondly, Why did it fail so much and so remarkably at the Deluge? Thirdly, Why in such proportions as it hath done since the Deluge? And lastly, Why it hath stood so long immovable, and without any fur∣ther diminution? Within the compass of five hundred years they sunk from nine hundred to ninety; and in the compass of more than three thousand years since they have not sunk ten years, or scarce any thing at all. Who considers the reasons of these things, and the true resolution of these questions, will be satisfi'd, that to understand the causes of that longaevity something more must be consider'd than the make and strength of their bodies; which, though they had been made as strong as the Behemoth or Leviathan, could not have lasted so many Ages, if there had not been a par∣ticular concurrence of external causes, such as the present state of Nature doth not admit of.
By this short review of the three general Characters of Paradise and the Golden Age, we may conclude how little consistent they are with the present from and order of the Earth. Who can pre∣tend to assign any place or Region in this Terraqueous Globe, Island or Continent, that is capable of these conditions, or that agrees either with the descriptions given by the ancient Heathens of their Paradise, or by the Christian Fathers of Scripture Paradise. But where then, will you say, must we look for it, if not upon this Earth? This puts us more into despair of finding it than ever; 'tis not above nor below, in the Air or in the subterraneous Re∣gions: no, doubtless 'twas upon the surface of the Earth, but of the Primitive Earth, whose form and properties as they were dif∣ferent from this, so they were such as made it capable of being truly Paradisiacal, both according to the forementioned Characters, and all other qualities and privileges reasonably ascrib'd to Paradise.
CHAP. III. The Original differences of the Primitive Earth from the present or Post-diluvian. The three Characters of Para∣dise and the Golden Age found in the Primitive Earth. A particular Explication of each Character.
WE have hitherto only perplext the Argument and our selves, by showing how inexplicable the state of Paradise is ac∣cording to the present order of things, and the present condition of the Earth. We must now therefore bring into view that Ori∣ginal and Ante-diluvian Earth where we pretend its seat was, and show it capable of all those privileges which we have deny'd to the present; in vertue of which privileges, and of the order of Nature establisht there, that primitive Earth might be truly Para∣disiacal, as in the Golden Age; and some Region of it might be Page 133 peculiarly so, according to the receiv'd Idea of Paradise. And this, I think, is all the knowledge and satisfaction that we can expect, or that Providence hath allow'd us in this Argument.
The Primigenial Earth, which in the first Book (Chap. 5.) we rais'd from a Chaos, and set up in an habitable form, we must now survey again with more care, to observe its principal differen∣ces from the present Earth, and what influence they will have upon the question in hand. These differences, as we have said before, were chiefly three; The form of it, which was smooth, even and regular. The posture and situation of it to the Sun, which was di∣rect, and not, as it is at present, inclin'd and oblique; And the Fi∣gure of it, which was more apparently and regularly Oval than it is now. From these three differences flow'd a great many more, inferiour and subordinate; and which had a considerable influence upon the moral World at that time, as well as the natural. But we will only observe here their more immediate effects, and that in reference to those general Characters or properties of the Golden Age and of Paradise, which we have instanc'd in, and whereof we are bound to give an account by our Hypothesis.
And in this respect the most fundamental of those three differen∣ces we mention'd, was, that of the right posture and situation of the Earth to the Sun; for from this immediately follow'd a perpe∣tual Aequinox all the Earth over, or, if you will, a perpetual Spring: and that was the great thing we found a wanting in the present Earth to make it Paradisiacal, or capable of being so. Where∣fore this being now found and establisht in the Primitive Earth, the other two properties, of Longaevity and of Spontaneous and Vital fertility, will be of more easie explication. In the mean time let us view a little the reasons and causes of that regular situation in the first Earth.
The truth is, one cannot so well require a reason of the regular situation the Earth had then, for that was most simple and natural; as of the irregular situation it hath now, standing oblique and inclin'd to the Sun or the Ecliptick: Whereby the course of the year is become unequal, and we are cast into a great diversity of Seasons. But however, stating the first aright with its circumstan∣ces, we shall have a better prospect upon the second, and see from what causes, and in what manner, it came to pass. Let us there∣fore suppose the Earth, with the rest of its fellow Planets, to be carried about the Sun in the Ecliptick by the motion of the liquid Heavens; and being at that time perfectly uniform and regular, having the same Center of its magnitude and gravity, it would by the equality of its libration necessarily have its Axis parallel to the Axis of the same Ecliptick, both its Poles being equally inclin'd to the Sun. And this posture I call a right situation, as oppos'd to ob∣lique or inclin'd: or a parallel situation, if you please. Now this is a thing that needs no proof besides its own evidence; for 'tis the immediate result and common effect of gravity or libration, that a Body freely left to it self in a fluid medium, should settle in such a posture as best answers to its gravitation; and this first Earth where∣of we speak, being uniform and every way equally balanc'd, there Page 134 was no reason why it should incline at one end, more than at the other, towards the Sun. As if you should suppose a Ship to stand North and South under the Aequator, if it was equally built and equally ballasted, it would not incline to one Pole or other, but keep its Axis parallel to the Axis of the Earth; but if the ballast lay more at one end, it would dip towards that Pole, and rise pro∣portionably higher towards the other. So those great Ships that fail about the Sun once a year, or once in so many years, whilst they are uniformly built and equally pois'd, they keep steddy and even with the Axis of their Orbit; but if they lose that equality, and the Center of their gravity change, the heavier end will incline more towards the common Center of their motion, and the other end will recede from it. So particularly the Earth, which makes one in that aëry Fleet, when it scap'd so narrowly from being ship∣wrackt in the great Deluge, was however so broken and disorder'd, that it lost its equal poise, and thereupon the Center of its gravity changing, one Pole became more inclin'd towards the Sun, and the other more remov'd from it, and so its right and parallel situation which it had before to the Axis of the Ecliptick, was chang'd into an oblique; in which skew posture it hath stood ever since, and is likely so to do for some Ages to come. I instance in this, as the most obvious cause of the change of the situation of the Earth, tho' it may be, upon this, followed a change in its Magnetism, and that might also contribute to the same effect.
However, This change and obliquity of the Earth's posture had a long train of consequences depending upon it; whereof that was the most immediate, that it alter'd the form of the year, and brought in that inequality of Seasons which hath since obtain'd: As, on the contrary, while the Earth was in its first and natural posture, in a more easie and regular disposition to the Sun, That had also another respective train of consequences, whereof one of the first, and that which we are most concern'd in at present, was, that it made a perpetual Aequinox or Spring to all the World, all the parts of the year had one and the same tenour, face and temper; there was no Winter or Summer, Seed-time or Harvest, but a continual temperature of the Air and Verdure of the Earth. And this fully answers the first and fundamental character of the Golden Age and of Paradise; And what Antiquity, whether Heathen or Chri∣stian, hath spoken concerning that perpetual serenity and constant Spring that reign'd there, which in the one was accounted fabu∣lous, and in the other hyperbolical, we see to have been really and Philosophically true. Nor is there any wonder in the thing, the wonder is rather on our side, that the Earth should stand and con∣tinue in that forc'd posture wherein it is now, spinning yearly about an Axis, I mean that of the Aequator, that doth not belong to the Orbit of its motion; This, I say, is more strange than that it once stood in a posture that was streight and regular; As we more justly ad∣mire the Tower at Pisa, that stands crook'd, than twenty other streight Towers that are much higher.
Having got this foundation to stand upon, the rest of our work will go on more easily; and the two other Characters which we Page 135 mention'd, will not be of very difficult explication. The spontane∣ous fertility of the Earth, and its production of Animals at that time, we have in some measure explain'd before; supposing it to proceed partly from the richness of the Primigenial soil, and partly from this constant Spring and benignity of the Heavens, which we have now establisht; These were always ready to excite Nature, and put her upon action, and never to interrupt her in any of her motions or attempts. We have show'd in the Fifth Chapter of the First Book, how this primigenial soil was made, and of what in∣gredients; which were such as compose the richest and fattest soil, being a light Earth mixt with unctuous juices, and then afterwards refresh'd and diluted with the dews of Heaven all the year long, and cherisht with a continual warmth from the Sun. What more hope∣ful beginning of a World than this? You will grant, I believe, that whatsoever degree or whatsoever kind of fruitfulness could be expected from a Soil and a Sun, might be reasonably expected there. We see great Woods and Forests of Trees rise spontaneously, and that since the Flood (for who can imagine that the ancient Fo∣rests, whereof some were so vastly great were planted by the hand of Man?) why should we not then believe that Fruit-trees and Corn rose as spontaneously in that first Earth? That which makes Husban∣dry and Humane Arts so necessary now for the Fruits and pro∣ductions of the Earth, is partly indeed the decay of the Soil, but chiefly the diversity of Seasons, whereby they perish, if care be not taken of them; but when there was neither Heat nor cold, Win∣ter nor Summer, every Season was a Seed-time to Nature, and every Season an• Harvest.
This, it may be you will allow as to the Fruits of the Earth, but that the same Earth should produce Animals also will not be thought so intelligible. Since it hath been discover'd, that the first mate∣rials of all Animals are Eggs, as Seeds are of Plants, it doth not seem so hard to conceive that these Eggs might be in the first Earth, as well as those Seeds; for there is a great analogy and similitude betwixt them; Especially if you compare these Seeds first with the Eggs of Insects or Fishes, and then with the Eggs of Viviparous Animals. And as for those juices which the Eggs of Viviparous Animals imbibe thorough their coats from the womb, they might as well imbibe them, or something analogous to them, from a con∣veniently temper'd Earth, as Plant-Eggs do; And these things be∣ing admitted, the progress is much-what the same in Seeds as Eggs, and in one sort of Eggs as in another.
'Tis true, Animal-Eggs do not seem to be fruitful of themselves, without the influence of the Male; and this is not necessary in Plant-Eggs or Vegetable Seeds. But neither doth it seem necessary in all Animal Eggs, if there be any Animals sponte orta, as they call them, or bred without copulation. And, as we observ'd before, according to the best knowledge that we have of this Male influence, it is reasonable to believe, that it may be supplied by the Heavens or Aether. The Ancients, both the Stoicks and Aristotle, have sup∣pos'd that there was something of an Aethereal Element in the Male-geniture, from whence the vertue of it chiefly proceeded; and if so, Page 136 why may we not suppose, at that time, some general impression or irradiation of that purer Element to fructifie the new-made Earth? Moses saith there was an incubation of the Spirit of God upon the mass; and without all doubt that was either to form or fructifie it, and by the mediation of this active principle; but the Ancients speak more plainly with express mention of this Aether, and of the impregnation of the Earth by it, as betwixt Male and Female. As in the place before-cited;
Now▪ this Principle, howsoever convey'd to those rudiments of life which we call Eggs, is that which gives the first stroke towards Animation; and this seems to be by exciting a ferment in those little masses whereby the parts are loosen'd, and dispos'd for that formation which is to follow afterwards. And I see nothing that hinders but that we may reasonably suppose that these Animal pro∣ductions might proceed thus far in the Primigenial Earth; And as to their progress and the formation of the Body, by what Agents or Principles soever that great work is carried on in the womb of the Female, it might by the same be carried on there. Neither would there be any danger of miscarrying by excess of Heat or Cold, for the Air was always of an equal temper and moderate warmth; And all other impediments were remov'd, and all principles ready, whether active or passive; so as we may justly conclude, that as Eve was the Mother of all living as to Mankind, so was the Earth the Great Mother of all living Creatures besides.
The Third Character to be explain'd, and the most extraordinary in appearance, is that of LONGAEVITY. This sprung from the same root, in my opinion, with the other; though the con∣nexion, it may be, is not so visible. We show'd in the forego∣ing Chapter, that no advantage of Diet, or of strong Constitutions, could have carried their lives, before the Flood, to that wonderful length, if they had been expos'd to the same changes of Air and of Seasons that our Bodies are: But taking a perpetual Aequinox, and fixing the Heavens, you fix the life of Man too; which was not then in such a rapid flux as it is now, but seem'd to stand still, as the Sun did once, without declension. There is no question but Page 137 every thing upon Earth, and especially the Animate World, would be much more permanent, if the general course of Nature was more steddy and uniform; A stabi•ity in the Heavens makes a stability in all things below; and that change and contrariety of qualities that we have in these Regions, is the fountain of corruption, and suffers nothing to be long in quiet: Either by intestine motions and fermentations excited within, or by outward impressions, Bodies are no sooner well constituted, but they are tending again to disso∣lution. The Aether in their little pores and chinks is unequally agitated, and differently mov'd at different times, and so is the Air in their greater, and the Vapours and Atmosphere round about them: All these shake and unsettle both the texture and continuity of Bodies. Whereas in a fixt state of Nature, where these prin∣ciples have always the same constant and uniform motion, when they are once suited to the forms and compositions of Bodies, they give them no further disturbance; they enjoy a long and lasting peace without any commotions or violence, within or without.
We find our selves, sensible changes in our Bodies upon the turn of the Year, and the change of Seasons; new fermentations in the Bloud and resolutions of the Humours; which if they do not amount to diseases, at least they disturb Nature, and have a bad effect not only upon the fluid parts, but also upon the more solid; upon the Springs and Fibres in the Organs of the Body; to weaken them and unfit them by degrees for their respective functions. For though the change is not sensible immediately in these parts, yet after many repeated impressions every year, by unequal heat and cold, driness and moisture, contracting and relaxing the Fibres, their tone at length is in a great measure destroy'd, and brought to a manifest debility; and the great Springs failing, the lesser that depend upon them, fall in proportion, and all the symptoms of decay and old age follow. We see by daily experience, that Bodies are kept better in the same medium, as we call it, than if they often change their medium, as sometimes in Air, sometimes in Water, moisten'd and dry'd, heated and cool'd; these different states weak∣en the contexture of the parts: But our Bodies, in the present state of Nature, are put into an hundred different mediums in the course of a Year; sometimes we are steept in Water, or in a misty fog∣gy Air for several days together, sometimes we are almost frozen with cold, then fainting with heat at another time of the Year; and the Winds are of a different nature, and the Air of a different weight and pressure, according to the Weather and the Seasons: These things would wear our Bodies, though they were built of Oak, and that in a very short time in comparison of what they would last, if they were always incompast with one and the same medium, under one and the same temper, as it was in the Primitive Earth.
The Ancients seem to have been sensible of this, and of the true causes of those long periods of life; for wheresoever they as∣sign'd a great longaevity, as they did not only to their Golden Age, but also to their particular and topical Paradises, they also assign'd there a constant serenity and equality of the Heavens, and some∣times expresly a constant Aequinox; as might be made appear from Page 138 their Authors. And some of our Christian Authors have gone farther, and connected these two together, as Cause and Effect; for they say that the Longaevity of the Ante-diluvian Patriarchs proceeded from a favourable Aspect and influence of the Heavens at that time; which Aspect of the Heavens being rightly interpreted, is the same thing that we call the Position of the Heavens, or the right situation of the Sun and the Earth, from whence came a per∣petual Aequinox. And if we consider the present Earth, I know no place where they live longer than in that little Island of the Bermudas, where, according to the proportion of time they hold out there, after they are arriv'd from other parts, one may reason∣ably suppose, that the Natives would live two hundred Years. And there's nothing appears in that Island that should give long life above other places, but the extraordinary steddiness of the Weather, and of the temper of the Air throughout the whole Year, so as there is scarce any considerable difference of Seasons.
But because it would take up too much time to show in this place the full and just reasons why, and how these long periods of life depend upon the stability of the Heavens: and how on the con∣trary, from their inconstancy and mutability these periods are shorten'd, as in the present order of Nature; we will set apart the next Chapter to treat upon that subject; yet by way of digres∣sion only, so as those that have a mind may pass to the following, where the thred of this discourse is continued. In the mean time, you see, we have prepar'd an Earth for Paradise, and given a fair and intelligible account of those three general Characters, which, according to the rules of method, must be determin'd before any further progress can be made in this Argument. For in the do∣ctrine of Paradise there are two things to be consider'd, the state of it, and the place of it; And as it is first in order of Nature, so it is much more material, to find out the state of it, than the Re∣gion where it stood. We need not follow the Windings of Ri∣vers, and the interpretation of hard names, to discover this, we take more faithful Guides, The unanimous reports of Antiquity, Sa∣cred and Profane, supported by a regular Theory. Upon these grounds we go, and have thus far proceeded on our way; which we hope will grow more easie and pleasant, the nearer we come to our journeys end.
CHAP. IV. A digression, concerning the Natural Causes of Longaevity. That the Machine of an Animal consists of Springs, and which are the two principal. The Age of the Ante-di∣luvians to be computed by Solar not Lunar Years.
TO confirm our opinion concerning the reasons of Longaevity in the first Inhabitants of the World, it will not be amiss to de∣duce more at large the Natural Causes of long or short periods of life. And when we speak of long or short periods of life, we do not mean those little differences of ten, twenty or forty Years which we see amongst Men now adays, according as they are of stronger or weaker constitutions, and govern themselves better or worse, but those grand and famous differences of several hundreds of Years, which we have examples of in the different Ages of the World, and particularly in those that liv'd before and since the Flood. Neither do we think it peculiar to this Earth to have such an inequality in the lives of Men, but the other Planets, if they be inhabited, have the same property, and the same difference in their different periods; All Planets that are in their Ante-diluvian state, and in their first and regular situation to the Sun, have long-liv'd Inhabitants; and those that are in an oblique situation, have short∣liv'd; unless there be some counter-causes that hinder this general rule of Nature from taking place.
We are now so us'd to a short life, and to drop away after three∣score or fourscore years, that when we compare our lives with those of the Ante-diluvians, we think the wonder lies wholly on their side, why they liv'd so long; and so it doth, popularly speaking; but if we speak Philosophically, the wonder lies rather on our side, why we live so little, or so short a time: For seeing our Bodies are such Machines as have a faculty of nourishing themselves, that is, of repairing their lost or decay'd parts, so long as they have good nourishment to make use of, why should they not continue in good plight, and always the same? as a flame does, so long as it is sup∣plied with fewel? And that we may the better see on whether side the wonder lies, and from what causes it proceeds, we will propose this Problem to be examin'd, Why the frame or Machine of an humane Body, or of another Animal, having that construction of parts and those faculties which it hath, lasts so short a time? And though it fall into no disease, nor have any unnatural accident, within the space of eighty years, more or less, fatally and inevitably decays, dies and perisheth?
That the state and difficulty of this question may the better ap∣pear, let us consider a Man in the prime and vigour of his life, at the age of twenty or twenty four years, of an healthful constitution, and all his Vitals sound; let him be nourish'd with good food, Page 140 use due exercise, and govern himself with moderation in all other things; The Question is, Why this Body should not continue in the same plight, and in the same strength, for some Ages? or at least why it should decay so soon, and so fast as we see it does? We do not wonder at things that happen daily, though the causes of them be never so hard to find out; We contract a certain fami∣l•arity with common events, and fancy we know as much of them as can be known, though in reality we know nothing of them but matter of fact; which the vulgar knows as well as the Wise or the Learned. We see daily instances of the shortness of man's life, how soon his race is run, and we do not wonder at it, because 'tis common, yet if we examine the composition of the Body, it will be very hard to find any good reasons why the frame of it should de∣cay so soon.
I know 'tis easie to give general and superficial answers and ac∣counts of these things, but they are such, as being strictly examin'd, give no satisfaction to an inquisitive mind: You would say, it may be, that the Interiour parts and Organs of the Body wear and de∣cay by degrees, so as not performing so well their several offices and functions, for the digestion and distribution of the food and its juices, all the other parts suffer by it, and draws on insensibly a decay upon the whole frame of the Body. This is all true; but why, and how comes this to pass? from what causes? where is the first failure, and what are the consequences of it? The inward parts do not destroy themselves, and we suppose that there is no want of good food, nor any disease, and we take the Body in its full strength and vigour, why doth it not continue thus, as a Lamp does, if you supply it with Oil? The causes being the same, why doth not the same effect still follow? why should not the flame of life, as well as any other flame, if you give it fewel, continue in its force without languishing or decay▪
You will say, it may be, The case is not the same in a simple Body, such as a Lamp or a Fire, and in an Organical Body; which being variously compounded of multiplicity of parts, and all those parts put in connexion and dependance one upon another, if any one fail, it will disorder the whole frame; and therefore it must needs be more difficult for such a body to continue long in the same state, than for a simple Body that hath no variety of parts or ope∣rations. I acknowledge such a Body is much more subject to dis∣eases and accidents than a more simple, but barring all diseases and accidents, as we do, it might be of as long a duration as any other, if it was suppli'd with nourishment adequately to all its parts: As this Lamp we speak of, if it consisted of twenty branches, and each of these branches was to be fed with a different Oil, and these Oils could be all mix'd together in some common Cistern, whence they were to be distributed into the several branches, either accor∣ding to their different degrees of lightness, one rising higher than another; or according to the capacity and figure of the little pipes they were to pass thorough; such a compounded Lamp, made up of such artifices, would indeed be more subject to accidents, and to be out of order, by the obstruction of some of the little pipes, or Page 141 some unfit qualities in the Oils, but all these casualties and disorders excepted, as they are in our case, if it was suppli'd with conveni∣ent liquors, it would burn as long as any other, though more plain and simple.
To instance yet, for more plainness, in another sort of Machine, supppose a Mill, where the Water may represent the nourishment and humours in our Body, and the frame of Wood and Stone, the solid parts; if we could suppose this Mill to have a power of nou∣rishing it self by the Water it receiv'd, and of repairing all the parts that were worn away, whether of the Wood work or of the Stone, feed it but with a constant stream, and it would subsist and grind for ever. And 'tis the same thing for all other Artificial Machines of this nature, if they had a faculty of nourishig themselves, and repairing their parts. And seeing those natural Machines we are speaking of, the Body of Man, and of other Animals, have and enjoy this faculty, why should they not be able to preserve them∣selves beyond that short period of time which is now the measure of their life?
Thus much we have said to shew the difficulty propos'd and in∣force it; We must now consider the true answer and resolution of it; and to that purpose bring into view again those causes which we have assign'd, both of the long periods of life before the Flood, and of the short ones since. That there was a perpetual Aequinox and stability of the Heavens before the Flood, we have show'd both from History and Reason; neither was there then any thing of Clouds, Rains, Winds, Storms or unequal weather, as will appear in the following Chapter; And to this steddiness of Nature and uni∣versal calmness of the External World, we have imputed those long periods of life which Men enjoy'd at that time: As on the contrary▪ when that great change and revolution happen'd to Nature at the Deluge, and the Heavens and the Earth were cast in another mould, then was brought in, besides many other new Scenes, that shortness and vanity in the life of Man, and a general instability in all sublu∣nary things, but especially in the Animate World.
It is not necessary to show, more than we have done already, how that Primitive state of Nature contributed to long life; neither is it requir'd that it should actively contribute, but only be permissive, and suffer our Bodies to act their parts; for if they be not disturb'd, nor any harm done them by External Nature, they are built with art and strength enough to last many hundreds of years. And as we ob∣serv'd before concerning the posture of the Earth, that that which it had at first, being simple and regular, was not so much to be ac∣counted for, as its present posture, which is irregular; so likewise for the life of Man, the difficulty is not why they liv'd so long in the old World; that was their due and proper course; but why our Bodies being made after the same manner, should endure so short a time now. This is it therefore which we must now make our business to give an account of, namely, how that vicissitude of Sea∣sons, inconstancy of the Air, and unequal course of Nature which came in at the Deluge, do shorten Life; and indeed hasten the dis∣solution of all Bodies, Animate or Inanimate▪
Page 142 In our Bodies we may consider three several qualities on dispo∣sitions, and according to each whereof they suffer decay; First, Their continuity; Secondly, That disposition whereby the are capable of receiving nourishment, which we may call Nutribility; and Third∣ly, The Tone or Tonick disposition of the Organs whereby they per∣form their several functions. In all these three respects they would decay in any state of Nature, but far sooner, and faster in the pre∣sent state than in the Primaeval. As for their Continuity, we have noted before that all consistent Bodies must be less durable now, than under that first order of the World, because of the unequal and contrary motions of the Elements, or of the Air and Aether that penetrato and pervade them; and 'tis part of that vanity which all things now are subject to, to be more perishable than in their first Constitution. If we should consider our Bodies only as breathing Statues, consisting of those parts they do, and of that tenderness, the Air which we breath, and wherewith we are continually incom∣past, changing so often 'twixt moist and dry, hot and cold, a slew and eager motion, these different actions and restless changes would sooner weaken and destroy the union of the parts, than if they were always in a calm and quiet medium.
But it is not the gross and visible Continuity of the parts of our Body that frist dacays, there are finer Textures that are spoil'd insen∣sibly, and draw on the decay of the rest; such are those other two we mention'd, That disposition and temper of the parts whereby they are fit to receive their full nourishment; and especially that con∣struction and texture of the Organs that are preparatory to this Nutrition. The Nutribility of the Body depends upon a certain tem∣perament in the parts, soft and yielding, which makes them open to the Blood and Juices in their Circulation and passage through them, and mixing intimately, and universally, hold fast and retain many of their Particles; as muddy Earth doth the parts of the Wa∣ter that runs into it and mixeth with it: And when these Nutri∣tious Particles retain'd are more than the Body spends, that Body is in its growth; as when they are fewer, 'tis in its decay. And as we compar'd the flesh and tender parts when they are young and in a growing disposition, to a muddy soil, that opens to the Water, swells and incorporates with it? so when they become hard and dry, they are like a sandy Earth, that suffers the Water to glide through it, without incorporating or retaining many of its parts; and the sooner they come to this temper, the sooner follows their decay: For the same Causes that set limits to our Growth, set also limits to our Life; and he that can resolve that Question, why the time of our Growth is so short, will also be able to resolve the other in a good measure, why the time of our Life is so short. In both cases, that which stops our progress is external Nature, whose course, while it was even and steddy, and the ambient Air mild and balmy, pre∣serv'd the Body much longer in a fresh and fit temper to receive its full nourishment, and consequently gave larger bounds both to our Growth and Life.
But the Third thing we mention'd is the most considerable, The decay of the Organick parts; and especially of the Organs prepara∣tory Page 143 to Nutrition. This is the point chiefly to be examin'd and ex∣plain'd, and therefore we will endeavour to state it fully and di∣stinctly. There are several functions in the Body of an Animal, and several Organs for the conduct of them; and I am of opinion, that all the Organs of the Body are in the nature of Springs, and that their action is Tonical. The action of the Muscles is apparently so, and so is that of the Heart and the Stomach; and as for those parts that make secretions only, as the Glandules and Parenchymata, if they be any more than merely passive, as Strainers, 'tis the Tone of the parts, when distended, that performs the separation: And accordingly in all other active Organs, the action proceeds from a Tone in the parts. And this seems to be easily prov'd, both as to our Bodies and all other Bodies: for no matter that is not fluid▪ hath any motion or action in it, but in vertue of some Tone; If matter be fluid, its parts are actually in motion, and consequently may impel or give motion to other Bodies; but if it be solid or con∣sistent, the parts are not separate or separately mov'd from one an∣other, and therefore cannot impel or give motion to any other, but in vertue of their Tone; they having no other motion themselves. Accordingly we see in Artificial Machines there are but two ge∣neral sorts, those that move by some fluid or volatile matter, as Wa∣ter, Wind, Air, or some active Spirit; And those which move by Springs, or by the Tonick disposition of some part that gives mo∣tion to the rest: For as for such Machines as act by weights, 'tis not the weight that is the active principle, but the Air or Aether that impels it. 'Tis true, the Body of an Animal is a kind of mixt Ma∣chine, and those Organs that are the Primary parts of it, partake of both these principles; for there are Spirits and Liquors that do assist in the motions of the Muscles, of the Heart and of the Stomach; but we have no occasion to consider them at present, but only the Tone of the solid Organs.
This being observ'd in the first place, Wherein the force of our Organs consists, we might here immediately subjoyn, how this force is weaken'd and destroy'd by the unequal course of Nature which now obtains, and consequently our Life shorten'd; for the whole state and Oeconomy of the Body depends upon the force and acti∣on of these Organs. But to understand the business more distinctly, it will be worth our time to examine, upon which of the Organs of the Body Life depends more immediately, and the prolongation of it; that so reducing our Inquiries into a narrower compass, we may manage them with more ease and more certainty.
In the Body of Man there are several Compages, or setts of parts; some whereof need not be consider'd in this question; There is that Systeme that serves for sence and local-motion, which is commonly call'd the ANIMAL Compages; and that which serves for ge∣neration, which is call'd the GENITAL. These have no influ∣ence upon long Life, being parts nourished, not nourishing, and that are fed from others as Rivers from their Fountain: Where∣fore having laid these aside, there remain two Compages more, the NATURAL and VITAL, which consist of the Heart and Stomach, with their appendages. These are the Sources of Life, Page 144 and these are all that is absolutely necessary to the constitution of a Living Creature; what parts we find more, few or many, of one sort or other, according to the several kinds of Creatures, is acci∣dental to our purpose; The form of an Animal, as we are to con∣sider it here, lies in this little compass, and what is superadded is for some new purposes, besides that of meer Life, as for Sense, Motion, Generation, and such like. As in a Watch, besides the Movement, which is made to tell you the hour of the day, which constitutes a Watch, you may have a fancy to have an Alarum ad∣ded, or a Minute-motion, or that it should tell you the day of the Month; and this sometimes will require a new Spring, sometimes only new Wheels; however if you would examine the Nature of a Watch, and upon what its motion, or, if I may so say, its Life depends, you must lay aside those secondary Movements, and ob∣serve the main Spring, and the Wheels that immediately depend upon that, for all the ret is accidental. So for the Life of an Ani∣mal, which is a piece of Nature's Clockwork, if we would exa∣mine upon what the duration of it depends, we must lay aside those additional parts or Systems of parts, which are for other pur∣poses, and consider only the first principles and fountains of Life, and the causes of their natural and necessary decay.
Having thus reduc'd our Inquiries to these two Organs, The Sto∣mach and the Heart, as the two Master-Springs in the Mechanism of an Animal, upon which all the rest depend, let us now see what their action is, and how it will be more or less durable and con∣stant, according to the different states of External Nature. We de∣termin'd before, that the force and action of all Organs in the Body was Tonical, and of none more remarkably than of these two, the Heart and Stomach; for though it be not clearly deter∣min'd what the particular structure of these Organs, or of their Fibres is, that makes them Tonical, yet 'tis manifest by their actions that they are so. In the Stomach, besides a peculiar ferment that opens and dissolves the parts of the Meat, and melts them into a fluor or pulp, the coats of it, or Fibres whereof they consist, have a motion proper to them, proceeding from their Tone, whereby they close the Stomach, and compress the Meat when it is receiv'd, and when turn'd into Chyle, press it forwards, and squeeze it into the Intestines; and the Intestines also partaking of the same motion, push and work it still forwards into those little Veins that convey it towards the Heart. The Heart hath the same general motions with the Stomach, of opening and shutting, and hath also a pecu∣liar ferment which rarifies the Bloud that enters into it; and that Bloud by the Spring of the Heart, and the particular Texture of its Fibres, is thrown out again to make its Circulation through the Body. This is, in short, the action of both these Organs; and in∣deed the mystery of the Body of an Animal, and of its operations and Oeconomy, consists chiefly in Springs and Ferments; The one for the solid parts, the other in the fluid.
But to apply this Fabrick of the organick parts to our purpose, we may observe and conclude, that whatsoever weakens the Tone or Spring of these two Organs, which are the Bases of all Vitality, Page 145 weaken the principle of Life, and shorten the natural duration of it; And if of two Orders or Courses of Nature, the one be favour∣able and easie to these Tonick principles in the Body, and the other uneasie and prejudicial, that course of Nature will be attended with long periods of Life, and this with short. And we have shewn, that in the Primitive Earth the course of Nature was even, steddy and unchangeable, without either different qualities of the Air, or unequal Seasons of the Year, which must needs be more easie to these principles we speak of, and permit them to continue longer in their strength and vigour, than they can possibly do under all those changes of the Air, of the Atmosphere, and of the Heavens, which we now suffer yearly, monthly, and daily. And though Sacred History had not acquainted us with the Longaevity of the Ante-diluvian Patriarchs, nor profane History with those of the Golden Age, I should have concluded, from the Theory alone, and the contemplation of that state of Nature, that the forms of all things were much more permanent in that World than in ours, and that the lives of Men and all other Animals had longer pe∣riods.
I confess, I am of opinion, that 'tis this that makes not only these living Springs or Tonick Organs of the Body, but all Artificial Springs also, though made of the hardest Metal, decay so fast. The different pressure of the Atmosphere, sometimes heavier, sometimes lighter, more rare or more dense, moist or dry, and agitated with different degrees of motion, and in different manners; this must needs operate upon that nicer contexture of Bodies, which makes them Tonical or Elastick; altering the figure or minuteness of the pores, and the strength and order of the Fibres upon which that propriety depends: bending and unbending, closing and opening the parts. There is a subtle and Aethereal Element that traverseth the pores of all Bodies, and when 'tis straiten'd and pent up there, or stopt in its usual course and passage, its motion is more quick and eager, as a Current of Water, when 'tis obstructed or runs through a narrower Chanel; and that strife and those attempts which these little active Particles make to get free, and follow the same tracts they did before▪ do still press upon the parts of the Body that are chang'd, to redress and reduce them to their first and Natu∣ral posture, and in this consists the force of a Spring. Accordingly we may observe, that there is no Body that is or will be Tonical or Elastick, if it be left to it self, and to that posture it would take naturally; for then all the parts are at ease, and the subtle matter moves freely and uninterruptedly within its pores; but if by di∣stention, or by compression, or by flexion, or any other way, the situation of the parts and pores be so alter'd, that the Air sometimes, but for the most part that subtiler Element, is uneasie and comprest too much, it causeth that renitency or tendency to restitution, which we call the Tone or Spring of a Body. Now as this dispo∣sition of Bodies doth far more easily perish than their Continuity, so I think there is nothing that contributes more to its perishing (whether in Natural or Artificial Springs) than the unequal action and different qualities of the Aether, Air, and Atmosphere.
Page 146 It will be objected to us, it may be, that in the beginning of the Chapter we instanc'd in Artificial things, that would continue for ever, if they had but the power of nourishing themselves, as Lamps, Mills, and such like; why then may not Natural Machines that have that power, last for ever? The case is not the same as to the Bodies of Animals, and the things there instanc'd in, for those were springless Machines, that act only by some external cause, and not in vertue of any Tone or interiour temper of the parts, as our Bodies do; and when that Tone or temper is destroy'd, no nourishment can repair it. There is something, I say, irreparable in the Tonical disposition of matter, which when wholly lost, can∣not be restor'd by Nutrition; Nutrition may answer to a bare con∣sumption of parts, but where the parts are to be preserv'd in such a temperament, or in such a degree of humidity and driness, warmth, rarity or density, to make them capable of that nourishment, as well as of their other operations, as Organs, (which is the case of our Bodies) there the Heavens, the Air, and external Causes will change the qualities of the matter in spite of all Nutrition; and the qualities of the matter being chang'd (in a course of Nature, where the Cause cannot be taken away) that is a fault incorrigible, and irreparable by the nourishment that follows, being hinder'd of its effect by the indisposition or incapacity of the Recipient. And as they say, a fault in the first concoction cannot be corrected in the second; so neither can a fault in the Prerequisites to all the con∣coctions be corrected by any of them.
I know the Ancients made the decay and term of Life to de∣pend rather upon the humours of the Body, than the solid parts, and suppos'd an Humidum radicale and a Calidum innatum, as they call them, a Radical Moisture and Congenit heat to be in every Body from its birth and first formation; and as these decay'd, life decay'd. But who's wiser for this account, what doth this instruct us in? We know there is heat and moisture in the Body, and you may call the one Radical, and the other Innate if you please; this is but a sort of Cant, for we know no more of the real Physical Causes of that effect we enquir'd into, than we did before. What makes this heat and moisture fail, if the nourishment be good, and all the Organs in their due strength and temper? The first and original failure is not in the fluid, but in the solid parts, which if they con∣tinued the same, the humours would do so too. Besides, What be∣fel this Radical moisture and heat at the Deluge, that it should de∣cay so fast afterwards, and last so long before? There is a certain temper, no doubt, of the juices and humours of the Body, which is more fit than any other to conserve the parts from driness and decay; but the cause of that driness and decay, or other inhability in the solid parts, whence is that, if not from external Nature? 'Tis thither we must come at length in our search of the reasons of the Natural decay of our Bodies, we follow the fate and Laws of that: and, I think, by those Causes, and in that order, that we have already describ'd and explain'd.
To conclude this Discourse, we may collect from it what judg∣ment is to be made of those Projectors of Immortality, or under∣takers Page 147 to make Men live to the Age of Methusalah, if they will use their methods and medicines; There is but one method for this, To put the Sun into his old course, or the Earth into its first posture; there is no other secret to prolong life; Our Bodies will sympathize with the general course of Nature, nothing can guard us from it, no Elixir, no Specifick, no Philosopher's-stone. But there are En∣thusiasts in Philosophy, as well as in Religion; Men that go by no principles, but their own conceit and fancy, and by a Light with∣in, which shines very uncertainly, and, for the most part, leads them out of the way of truth. And so much for this disquisition, concerning the Causes of Longaevity, or of the long and short periods of Life in the different periods of the World.
That the Age of the Ante-diluvian Patriarchs is to be computed by Solar or common Years, not by Lunar or Months.
Having made this discourse of the unequal periods of life, only in reference to the Ante diluvians and their fam'd Longaevity, lest we should seem to have proceeded upon an ill-grounded and mista∣ken supposition, we are bound to take notice of, and confute, That Opinion which makes the Years of the Ante-diluvian Patriarchs to have been Lunar, not Solar, and so would bear us in hand, that they liv'd only so many Months, as Scripture saith they liv'd Years. Seeing there is nothing could drive Men to this bold interpreta∣tion, but the incredibility of the thing, as they fansied; They having no Notions or Hypothesis whereby it could appear intelligible or possible to them; and seeing we have taken away that stumbling∣stone, and shew'd it not only possible but necessary, according to the constitution of that World, that the periods of Life should be far longer than in this; by removing the ground or occasion of their misinterpretation, we hope we have undeceiv'd them, and let them see that there is no need of that subterfuge, either to prevent an in∣congruity, or save the credit of the Sacred Historian.
But as this opinion is inconsistent with Nature truly understood, so is it also with common History; for besides what I have already mention'd in the first Chapter of this Book, Iosephus tells us, that the Historians of all Nations,* both Greeks and Barbarians, give the same account of the first Inhabitants of the Earth; Manetho, who writ the story of the Aegyptians, Berosus, who writ the Chaldaean Hi∣story, and those Authors that have given us an account of the Phoenician Antiquities; besides Molus and Hestiaeus, and Hieronymus the Aegyp∣tian; and amongst the Greeks Hesiodus, Hecateus, Hellanicus, Acu∣silaus, Ephorus and Nicolaus: We have the Suffrages of all these, and their common consent, that in the first Ages of the World Men liv'd a thou∣sand Years. Now we cannot well suppose, that all these Historians meant Lunar Years, or that they all conspir'd together to make and pro∣pagate a Fable.
Lastly, as Nature and Profane History do disown and confute this opinion, so much more doth Sacred History; not indeed in profess'd terms, for Moses doth not say that he useth Solar Years, Page 148 but by several marks and observations, or collateral Arguments, it may be clearly collected, that he doth not use Lunar. As first, be∣cause He distinguisheth Months and Years in the History of the De∣luge, and of the life of Noah; for Gen. 7. 11. he saith in the six hundredth year of Noah's life, in the second month, &c. It cannot be imagin'd that in the same verse and sentence these two terms of Year and Month should be so confounded as to signifie the same thing; and therefore Noah's Years were not the same with Months, nor con∣sequently those of the other Patriarchs, for we have no reason to make any difference. Besides, what ground was there, or how was it proper or pertinent to reckon, as Moses does there, first, second, third Month, as so many going to a Year, if every one of them was a Year? And seeing the Deluge begun in the six hundredth year of Noah's life, and in the second Month, and ended in the six hundredth and first Year (Chap. 8. 13.) the first or second Month, all that was betwixt these two terms, or all the duration of the Deluge, made but one year in Noah's life, or it may be not so much; and we know Moses reckons a great many Months in the duration of the Deluge; so as this is a demonstration that Noah's years are not to be under∣stood of Lunar. And to imagine that his Years are to be under∣stood one way, and those of his fellow-Patriarchs another, would be an inaccountable fiction. This Argument therefore extends to all the Ante-diluvians; And Noah's life will take in the Post-diluvians too, for you see part of it runs amongst them, and ties together the two Worlds: so that if we exclude Lunar years from his life, we exclude them from all, those of his Fathers, and those of his Children.
Secondly, If Lunar years were understood in the Ages of the Ante-diluvian Patriarchs, the interval betwixt the Creation and the Deluge would be too short, and in many respects incongruous. There would be but 1656 months from the beginning of the World to the Flood; which converted into common years, make but 127 years, and five months, for that interval. This perverts all Chronology, and besides, makes the number of people so small and inconsiderable at the time of the Deluge, that destroying of the World then was not so much as destroying of a Country Town would be now: For from one couple you cannot well imagine there could arise above five hundred persons in so short a time; but if there was a thousa•d, 'tis not so many as we have sometimes in a good Country Village. And were the Flood-gates of Heaven open'd, and the great Abyss broken up to destroy such an handful of people? and the Waters rais'd fifteen Cubits above the highest Mountains throughout the face of the Earth, to drown a Parish or two? is not this more incredible than our Age of the Patriarchs? Besides, This short interval doth not leave room for Ten Generations, which we find from Adam to the Flood, nor al∣lows the Patriarchs age enough at the time when they are said to have got Children. One hundred twenty seven years for Ten Ge∣nerations is very strait; and of these you must take off forty six years for one Generation only, or for Noah, for he liv'd six hundred years before the Flood, and if they were Lunar, they would come how∣ever to forty six of our years; so that for the other Nine Genera∣tions you would have but eighty one years, that is, nine years a-piece; Page 149 at which Age they must all be suppos'd to have begun to get Chil∣dren; which you cannot but think a very absurd supposition. Thus it would be, if you divide the whole time equally amongst the Nine. Generations, but if you consider some single instances, as they are set down by Moses, 'tis still worse; for Mahaleel and his Grandchild Enoch are said to have got Children at sixty five years of Age, which if you suppose months, they were but five years old at that time; now I appeal to any one, Whether it is more incredible that men should live to the age of nine hundred years, or that they should beget Chil∣dren at the age of five years.
You will say, it may be, 'tis true these inconveniences follow, if our Hebrew Copies of the Old Testament be Authentick; but if the Greek Translation by the Septuagint be of better Authority, as some would have it to be, that gives a little relief in this case; for the Sep∣tuagint make the distance from the Creation to the Flood six hun∣dred years more than the Hebrew Text does, and so give us a little more room for our Ten Generations: And not only so, but they have so conveniently dispos'd those additional years, as to salve the other inconvenience too, of the Patriarchs having Children so young; for what Patriarchs are found to have got Children sooner than the rest, and so soon, that upon a computation by Lunar years, they would be but meer Children themselves at that time, to these, more years are added and plac'd opportunely, before the time of their getting Children; so as one can scarce forbear to think that it was done on purpose to cure that inconvenience, and to favour and pro∣tect the computation by Lunar years. The thing looks so like an artifice, and as done to serve a turn, that one cannot but have a less opinion of that Chronology for it.
But not to enter upon that dispute at present, methinks they have not wrought the cure effectually enough; for with these six hundred Lunar years added, the summ will be only one hundred seventy three common years and odd months; and from these deducting, as we did before, for Noah, forty six years, and for Adam, or the first Generation, about eighteen, (for he was two hundred and thirty years old, according to the Septuagint, when he begot Seth) there will remain but one hundred and nine years for eight Gene∣rations; which will be thirteen years a-piece and odd months; a low age to get children in, and to hold for eight Generations toge∣ther. Neither is the other inconvenience we mention'd, well cur'd by the Septuagint account, namely, the small number of people that would be in the World at the Deluge; for the Septuagint account, if understood of Lunar years, adds but forty six common years to the Hebrew account, and to the age of the World at the Deluge, in which time there could be but a very small accession to the num∣ber of Mankind. So as both these incongruities continue, though not in the same degree, and stand good in either account, if it be understood of Lunar years.
Thirdly, 'Tis manifest from other Texts of Scripture, and from other considerations, that our first Fathers liv'd very long, and con∣siderably longer than men have done since; whereas if their years be interpreted Lunar, there is not one of them that liv'd to the age Page 150 that Men do now; Methusalah himself did not reach threescore and fifteen years, upon that interpretation; Which doth depress them not only below those that liv'd next to the Flood, but below all fol∣lowing Generations to this day; and those first Ages of the World, which were always celebrated for strength and vivacity, are made as weak and feeble as the last dregs of Nature. We may observe, that after the Flood for some time, till the pristine Crasis of the Body was broken by the new course of Nature, they liv'd five, four, three, two hundred years, and the Life of Men shortn'd by degrees; but before the Flood, when they liv'd longer, there was no such decrease or gradual declension in their lives. For Noah, who was the last, liv'd longer than Adam; and Methusalah who was last but two, liv'd the longest of all: So that it was not simply their di∣stance from the beginning of the World that made them live a shorter time, but some change which happen'd in Nature after such a period of time; namely at the Deluge, when the declension begun. Let's set down the Table of both states.
From these Tables we see that Mens Lives were much longer be∣fore the Flood, and next after it, than they are now; which also is confirm'd undeniably by Iacob's complaint of the shortness of his life, in comparison of his Fore-fathers, when he had liv'd one hun∣dred and thirty years, Gen. 47. 9. The days of the years of my pilgri∣mage are an hundred and thirty years; few and evil have the days of the years of my life been, and have not attained unto the days of the years of the life of my Fathers. There was then, 'tis certain, long-liv'd men in the World before Iacob's time; when were they, before the Flood or after? We say both, according as the Tables shew it? But if you count by Lunar years, there never were any, either before or after, and Iacob's complaint was unjust and false; for he was the oldest Man in the World himself, or at least there was none of his Fore-fathers that liv'd so long as he.
Page 151 The Patrons of this opinion must needs find themselves at a loss, how or where to break off the account of Lunar years in Sacred History, if they once admit it. If they say, that way of counting must only be extended to the Flood, then they make the Post-diluvian Fathers longer liv'd than the Ante-diluvian; did the Flood bring in Longaevity? how could that be the cause of such an effect? Besides, if they allow the Post-diluvians to have liv'd six hundred (common) years, that being clearly beyond the standard of our lives, I should never stick at two or three hundred years more for the first Ages of the World. If they extend their Lunar account to the Post-diluvians too, they will still be intangled in worse ab∣surdities; for they must make their lives miserably short, and their Age of getting Children altogether incongruous and impossible. Nahor, for example, when he was but two years and three months old must have begot Terah, Abraham's Father: And all the rest be∣twixt him and Shem must have had Children before they were three years old: A pretty race of Pigmies. Then their lives were pro∣portionably short, for this Nahor liv'd but eleven years and six months at this rate; and his Grandchild Abraham, who is said to have died in a good old age, and full of years, (Gen. 25. 8.) was not four∣teen years old. What a ridiculous account this gives of Scripture-Chronology and Genealogies? But you'll say, it may be, these Lunar years are not to be carried so far as Abraham neither; tell us then where you'll stop, and why you stop in such a place rather than another. If you once take in Lunar years, what ground is there in the Text, or in the History, that you should change your way of computing, at such a time, or in such a place? All our Ancient Chro∣nology is founded upon the Books of Moses, where the terms and periods of times are exprest by years, and often by Genealogies, and the Lives of Men; now if these years are sometimes to be interpre∣ted Lunar, and sometimes Solar, without any distinction made in the Text, what light or certain rule have we to go by? let these Authors name to us the parts and places where, and only where, the Lunar years are to be understood, and I dare undertake to show, that their method is not only arbitrary, but absurd and incoherent.
To conclude this Discourse, we cannot but repeat what we have partly observ'd before, How necessary it is to understand Nature, if we would rightly understand those things in holy Writ that re∣late to the Natural World. For without this knowledge, as we are apt to think some things consistent and credible that are really impossible in Nature; so on the other hand, we are apt to look upon other things as incredible and impossible that are really founded in Nature. And seeing every one is willing so to expound Scrip∣ture, as it may be to them good sence, and consistent with their Notions in other things, they are forc'd many times to go against the easie and natural importance of the words, and to invent other interpretations more compliant with their principles, and, as they think, with the nature of things. We have, I say, a great instance of this before us in the Scripture-History of the long lives of the Ante-diluvians, where without any ground or shadow of ground in the Narration, only to comply with a mistaken Philosophy, Page 152 and their ignorance of the Primitive World, many men would beat down the Scripture account of years into months, and sink the lives of those first Fathers below the rate of the worst of Ages. Whereby that great Monument, which Providence hath left us of the first World, and of its difference from the Second, would not only be defac'd, but wholly demolish'd. And all this sprung only from the seeming incredibility of the thing; for they cannot show in any part of Scripture, New or Old, that these Lunar years are made use of, or that any computation, literal or Prophetical, pro∣ceeds upon them: Nor that there is any thing in the Text or Con∣text of that place, that argues or intimates any such account. We have endeavour'd, upon this occasion, effectually to prevent this misconstruction of Sacred History, for the future; both by showing the incongruities that follow upon it, and also that there is no ne∣cessity from Nature of any such shift or evasion, as that is: But ra∣ther on the contrary, that we have just and necessary reasons to con∣clude, That as the Forms of all things would be far more permanent and lasting in that Primitive state of the Heavens and the Earth; so particularly the Lives of Men, and of other Animals.
CHAP. V. Concerning the Waters of the Primitive Earth: What the state of the Regions of the Air was then, and how all Waters proceeded from them; how the Rivers arose, what was their course, and how they ended. Some things in Sacred Writ that confirm this Hydrography of the first Earth; especially the Origin of the Rainbow.
HAving thus far clear'd our way to Paradise, and given a ra∣tional account of its general properties; before we proceed to discourse of the place of it, there is one affair of moment, con∣cerning this Primitive Earth, that must first be stated and explain'd; and that is, How it was water'd; from what causes, and in what manner. How could Fountains rise, or Rivers flow in an Earth of that Form and Nature? We have shut up the Sea with thick walls on every side, and taken away all communication that could be 'twixt it and the External Earth; and we have remov'd all the Hills and the Mountains where the Springs use to rise, and whence the Rivers descend to water the face of the ground: And lastly, we have left no issue for these Rivers, no Ocean to receive them, nor any other place to disburthen themselves into: So that our New∣found World is like to be a dry and barren Wilderness, and so far from being Paradisiacal, that it would scarce be habitable.
I confess there was nothing in this whole Theory that gave such a stop to my thoughts, as this part of it, concerning the Rivers of Page 153 the first Earth; how they rise, how they flow'd, and how they ended: It seem•d at first, that we had wip'd away at once the No∣tion and whole Doctrine of Rivers, we had turn'd the Earth so smooth, that there was not an Hill or rising for the head of a Spring, nor any fall or descent for the course of a River: Besides, I had suckt in the common opinion of Philosophers, That all Rivers rise from the Sea, and return to it again; and both those passages, I see, were stopt up in that Earth. This gave me occasion to reflect upon the modern and more solid opinion, concerning the Origin of Fountains and Rivers, That they rise chiefly from Rains and mel∣ted Snows, and not from the Sea alone; and as soon as I had de∣murr'd in that particular, I see it was necessary to consider, and ex∣amine, how the Rains fell in that first Earth, to understand what the state of their Waters and Rivers would be.
And I had no sooner appli'd my self to that Inquiry, but I easily discover'd, that the Order of Nature in the Regions of the Air, would be then very different from what it is now, and the Meteoro∣logy of that World was of another sort from that of the present. The Air was always calm and equal, there could be no violent Me∣teors there, nor any that proceeded from extremity of Cold; as Ice, Snow or Hail; nor Thunder neither; for the Clouds could not be of a quality and consistency fit for such an effect, either by falling one upon another, or by their disruption. And as for Winds, they could not be either impetuous or irregular in that Earth; seeing there were neither Mountains nor any other inequalities to obstruct the course of the Vapours; nor any unequal Seasons, or unequal action of the Sun, nor any contrary and strugling motions of the Air: Na∣ture was then a stranger to all those disorders. But as for watery Meteors, or those that rise from watery Vapours more immediately, as Dews, and Rains, there could not but be plenty of these, in some part or other of that Earth; for the action of the Sun in raising Va∣pours, was very strong and very constant, and the Earth was at first moist and soft, and according as it grew more dry, the Rays of the Sun would pierce more deep into it, and reach at length the great Abyss which lay underneath, and was an unexhausted storehouse of new Vapours. But, 'tis true, the same heat which extracted these Vapours so copiously would also hinder them from condensing into Clouds or Rain, in the warmer parts of the Earth; and there being no Mountains at that time, nor contrary Winds, nor any such causes to stop them or compress them, we must consider which way they would tend, and what their course would be, and whether they would any where meet with causes capable to change or condense them; for upon this, 'tis manifest, would depend the Meteors of that Air, and the Waters of that Earth.
And as the heat of the Sun was chiefly towards the middle parts of the Earth, so the copious Vapours rais'd there were most rarified and agitated; and being once in the open Air, their course would be that way, where they found least resistance to their motion; and that would certainly be towards the Poles, and the colder Regions of the Earth. For East and West they would meet with as warm an Air, and Vapours as much agitated as themselves, which therefore would Page 154 not yield to their progress that way; but towards the North and the South, they would find a more easie passage, the Cold of those parts attracting them, as we call it, that is, making way to their motion and dilatation without much resistance, as Mountains and Cold places usually draw Vapours from the warmer. So as the regular and con∣stant course of the Vapours of that Earth, which were rais'd chiefly about the Aequinoctial and middle parts of it, would be towards the extream parts of it, or towards the Poles.
And in consequence of this, when these Vapours were arriv'd in those cooler Climats, and cooler parts of the Air, they would be condens'd into Rain; for wanting there the cause of their agita∣tion, namely, the heat of the Sun, their motion would soon begin to languish, and they would fall closer to one another in the form of Water. For the difference betwixt Vapours and Water is only gradual, and consists in this, that Vapours are in a flying motion, separate and distant each from another; but the parts of Water are in a creeping motion, close to one another; like a swarm of Bees, when they are setled; as Vapours resemble the same Bees in the Air before they settle together. Now there is nothing puts these Vapours upon the wing, or keeps them so, but a strong agi∣tation by Heat; and when that fails, as it must do in all colder places and Regions, they necessarily return to Water again. Accordingly therefore we must suppose they would soon, after they reacht these cold Regions, be condens'd, and fall down in a continual Rain or Dew upon those parts of the Earth. I say a continual Rain; for see∣ing the action of the Sun, which rais'd the Vapours, was (at that time) always the same, and the state of the Air always alike, nor any cross Winds, nor any thing else that could hinder the course of the Vapours towards the Poles, nor their condensation when ar∣riv'd there; 'tis manifest there would be a constant Source or store∣house of Waters in those parts of the Air, and in those parts of the Earth.
And this, I think, was the establisht order of Nature in that World, this was the state of the Ante-diluvian Heavens and Earth; all their Waters came from above, and that with a constant supply and circulation; for when the croud of Vapours, rais'd about the middle parts of the Earth, found vent and issue this way towards the Poles, the passage being once open'd, and the Chanel made, the Current would be still continued without intermission; and as they were dissolv'd and spent there, they would suck in more and more of those which followed, and came in fresh streams from the hot∣ter Climates. Aristotle, I remember, in his Meteors, speaking of the course of the Vapours, saith, there is a River in the Air, con∣stantly slowing betwixt the Heavens and the Earth, made by the ascending and descending Vapours; This was more remarkably true in the Primitive Earth, where the state of Nature was more constant and regular; there was indeed an uninterrupted flood of Vapours rising in one Region of the Earth, and flowing to another, and there continually distilling in Dews and Rain, which made this Aereal River. As may be easily apprehended from this Scheme of the Earth and Air.
Book. 2d. fig. 1st. p. 155.
Thus we have found a Source for Waters in the first Earth, which had no communication with the Sea; and a Source that would never fail, neither diminish or overflow, but feed the Earth with an equal supply throughout all the parts of the year. But there is a second difficulty that appears at the end of this, How these Waters would flow upon the even surface of the Earth, or form themselves into Rivers; there being no descent or declivity for their course. There were no Hills, nor Mountains, not high Lands in the first Earth, and if these Rains fell in the frigid Zones, or towards the Poles, there they would stand, in Lakes and Pools, having no descent one way more than another; and so the rest of the Earth would be no better for them. This, I confess, appear'd as great a difficulty as the former, and would be unanswerable, for ought I know, if that first Earth was not water'd by Dews only (as I be∣lieve some Worlds are) or had been exactly Spherical; but we noted before, that it was Oval or Oblong; and in such a Figure, 'tis manifest, the Polar parts are higher than the Aequinoctial, that is, more remote from the Center, as appears to the eye in this Page 156 Scheme. This affords us a present remedy, and sets us free of the second difficulty; for by this means the Waters which fell about the extreme parts of the Earth, would have a continual descent to∣wards the middle parts of it; this Figure gives them motion and distribution; and many Rivers and Rivulets would flow from those Mother-Lakes to refresh the face of the Earth, bending their course still towards the middle parts of it.
Booke 2d. fig. 2d. p. 156.
'Tis true, These derivations of the Waters at first would be very irregular and diffuse, till the Chanels were a little worn and hol∣lowed; and though that Earth was smooth and uniform, yet 'tis impossible, upon an inclining surface, but that Waters should find a way of creeping downwards, as we see upon a smooth Table, or a flagg'd Pavement, if there be the least inclination, Water will flow from the higher to the lower parts of it, either directly, or winding to and fro: So the smoothness of that Earth would be no hindrance to the course of the Rivers, provided there was a ge∣neral declivity in the site and libration of it, as 'tis plain there was from the Poles towards the Aequator. The Current indeed would be easie and gentle all along, and if it chanc'd in some places to Page 157 rest or be stopt, it would spread it self into a pleasant Lake, till by fresh supplies it had rais'd its Waters so high, as to overflow and break loose again; then it would pursue its way, with many other Rivers its companions, through all the temperate Climates, as far as the Torrid Zone.
But you'll say, When they were got thither, what would be∣come of them then? How would they end or finish their course? This is the third difficulty, concerning the ending of the Rivers in that Earth; what issue could they have when they were come to the middle parts of it, whether it seems, they all tended. There was no Sea to lose themselves in, as our Rivers do; nor any Subterra∣neous passages to throw themselves into; how would they die, what would be their fate at last? I answer, The greater Rivers, when they were come towards those parts of the Earth, would be divided into many branches, or a multitude of Rivulets; and those would be partly exhal'd by the heat of the Sun, and partly drunk up by the dry and sandy Earth. But how and in what manner this came to pass, requires a little further Explication.
We must therefore observe in the first place, that those Rivers as they drew nearer to the Aequinoctial parts, would find a less decli∣vity or descent of ground than in the beginning or former part of their course; that is evident from the Oval Figure of the Earth, for near the middle parts of an Oval, the Semidiameters, as I may call them, are very little shorter one than another; and for this reason the Rivers, when they were advanc'd towards the middle parts of the Earth, would begin to flow more slowly, and by that weakness of their Current, suffer themselves easily to be divided and distracted into several lesser streams and Rivulets; or else, having no force to wear a Chanel, would lie shallow upon the ground like a plash of Wa∣ter; and in both cases their Waters would be much more expos'd to the action of the Sun, than if they had kept together in a deeper Chanel, as they were before.
Secondly, We must observe, that seeing these Waters could not reach to the middle of the Torrid Zone, for want of descent; that part of the Earth having the Sun always perpendicular over it, and being refresht by no Rivers, would become extremely dry and parch'd, and be converted at length into a kind of sandy Desart; so as all the Waters that were carried thus far, and were not exhal'd and con∣sum'd by the Sun, would be suckt up▪ as in a Spunge▪ by these Sands of the Torrid Zone. This was the common Grave wherein the Rivers of the first Earth were buried; and this is nothing but what happens still in several parts of the present Earth, especially in Africk, where many Rivers never flow into the Sea, but expire after the same manner as these did, drunk up by the Sun and the Sands. And one arm of Euphrates dies, as I remember, amongst the Sands of Arabia, after the manner of the Rivers of the first Earth.
Thus we have conquer'd the greatest difficulty, in my apprehen∣sion, in this whole Theory, To find out the state of the Rivers in the Primitive and Ante-diluvian Earth, their origin, course, and period. We have been forc'd to win our ground by Inches, and have divided the difficulty into parts, that we might encounter them single with Page 158 more ease. The Rivers of that Earth, you see, were in most respects different, and in some contrary to ours; and if you could turn our Rivers backwards, to run from the Sea towards their Fountain-heads, they would more resemble the course of those Ante-diluvian Rivers; for they were greatest at their first setting out, and the Current after∣wards, when it was more weak, and the Chanel more shallow, was divided into many branches, and little Rivers; like the Arteries in our Body, that carry the Blood, they are greatest at first, and the further they go from the Heart, their Source, the less they grow and divide into a multitude of little branches, which lose themselves in∣sensibly in the habit of the flesh, as these little Floods did in the Sands of the Earth.
Book. 2d. fig. 3. p. 158.
Because it pleaseth more, and makes a greater impression upon us, to see things represented to the Eye, than to read their description in words, we have ventur'd to give a model of the Primaeval Earth, with its Zones or greater Climates, and the general order and tracts of its Rivers: Not that we believe things to have been in the very same form as here exhibited, but this may serve as a general Idea of that Earth, which may be wrought into more exactness, according as we are able to enlarge or correct our thoughts hereafter. And as the Page 159 Zones here represented resemble the Belts or Eusciae of Iupiter, so we suppose them to proceed from like causes, if that Planet be in an Ante-diluvian state, as the Earth we here represent. As for the Polar parts in that first Earth, I can say very little of them, they would make a Scene by themselves, and a very particular one; The Sun would be perpetually in their Horizon, which makes me think the Rains would not fall so much there as in the other parts of the Frigid Zones, where accordingly we have made their chief seat and receptacle. That they flow'd from thence in such a like manner as is hero represented, we have already prov'd; And sometimes in their passage swelling into Lakes, and towards the end of their course parting into several streams and branches, they would water those parts of the Earth like a Garden.
We have before compar'd the branchings of these Rivers towards the end of their course to the ramifications of the Arteries in the Body, when they are far from the Heart near the extream parts; and some, it may be, looking upon this Scheme, would carry the comparison further, and suppose, that as in the Body the Bloud is not lost in the habit of the flesh, but strain'd thorough it, and taken up again by the little branches of the Veins; so in that Earth the Waters were not lost in those Sands of the Torrid Zone, but strain'd or percola∣ted thorough them, and receiv'd into the Chanels of the other Hemi∣sphere. This indeed would in some measure answer the Notion which several of the Ancient Fathers make use of, that the Rivers of Paradise were trajected out of the other Hemisphere into this, by Sub∣terraneous passages. But, I confess, I could never see it possible, how such a trajection could be made, nor how they could have any motion, being arriv'd in another Hemisphere; and therefore I am apt to believe, that doctrine amongst the Ancients arose from an in∣tanglement in their principles; They suppos'd generally, that Para∣dise was in the other Hemisphere, as we shall have occasion to show hereafter; and yet they believ'd that Tigris, Euphrates, Nile, and Gunges were the Rivers of Paradise, or came out of it; and these two opinions they could not reconcile, or make out, but by supposing that these four Rivers had their Fountain-heads in the other Hemi∣sphere, and by some wonderful trajection broke out again here. This was the expedient they found out to make their opinions consistent one with another; but this is a method to me altogether uncon∣ceivable; and, for my part, I do not love to be led our of my depth, leaning only upon Antiquity. How there could be any such com∣munication, either above ground, or under-ground; betwixt the two Hemispheres does not appear, and therefore we must still suppose the Torrid Zone to have been the Barrier betwixt them, which nothing could pass either way.
We have now examin'd and determin'd the state of the Air, and of the Waters in the Primitive Earth, by the light and consequences of reason; and we must not wonder to find them different from the present order of Nature; what things are said of them, or relating to them in Holy Writ do testifie or imply as much; and it will be worth our time to make some reflection upon those passages for our further confirmation. Moses tells us, that the Rainbow was set in the Page 160 Clouds after the Deluge; those Heavens then that never had a Rain-bow before, were certainly of a constitution very different from ours. And S. Peter doth formally and expresly tell us,* that the Old Heavens, or the Ante-diluvian Heavens had a different constitution from ours, and particularly, that they were compos'd or constituted of Water; which Philosophy of the Apostle's may be easily understood, if we attend to two things, first, that the Heavens he speaks of, were not the Starry Heavens, but the Aereal Heavens, or the Regions of our Air, where the Meteors are; Secondly, That there were no Meteors in those Regions, or in those Heavens, till the Deluge, but watery Meteors, and therefore, he says, they consisted of Water. And this shows the foundation upon which that description is made, how co∣herently the Apostle argues, and answers the objection there propos'd: how justly also he distinguisheth the first Heavens from the present Heavens, or rather opposeth them one to another; because as those were constituted of Water and watery Meteors only, so the present Heavens, he saith, have treasures of Fire, fiery Exhalations and Me∣teors, and a disposition to become the Executioners of the Divine wrath and decrees in the final Conflagration of the Earth.
This minds me also of the Celestial Waters, or the Waters above the Firmaments, which Scripture sometimes mentions, and which, methinks, cannot be explain'd so fitly and emphatically upon any supposition as this of ours. Those who place them above the Starry Heavens, seem neither to understand Astronomy nor Philosophy; and, on the other hand, if nothing be understood by them, but the Clouds and the middle Region of the Air, as it is at present, me∣thinks that was no such eminent and remarkable thing, as to deserve a particular commemoration by Moses in his six days work; but if we understand them, not as they are now, but as they were then, the only Source of Waters, or the only Source of Waters upon that Earth, (for they had not one drop of Water but what was Celestial,) this gives it a new force and Emphasis: Besides, the whole middle Region having no other sort of Meteors but them, That made it still the greater singularity, and more worthy commemoration. As for the Rivers of Paradise, there is nothing said concerning their Source, or their issue, that is either contrary to this, or that is not agreeable to the general account we have given of the Waters and Rivers of the first Earth. They are not said to rise from any Mountain, but from a great River, or a kind of Lake in Eden, according to the custom of the Rivers of that Earth: And as for their end and issue, Moses doth not say, that they disburthen'd themselves into this or that Sea, as they usually do in the description of great Rivers, but rather im∣plies that they spent themselves in compassing and watering certain Countries, which falls in again very easily with our Hypothesis. But I say this rather to comply with the opinions of others than of my own judgment. For I think that suggestion about the Supercoelestial Waters made by Moses, was not so much according to the strict na∣ture and speciality of Causes, as for the ease and profit of the People, in their belief and acknowledgment of Providence for so great a be∣nefit, by what Causes soever it was brought to pass.
Page 161 But to return to the Rainbow, which we mention'd before, and is not to be past over so slightly. This we say, is a Creature of the modern World, and was not seen nor known before the Flood. Moses (Gen. 9. 12, 13.) plainly intimates as much, or rather direct∣ly affirms it; for he says. The Bow was set in the Clouds after the Deluge, as a confirmation of the promise or Covenant which God made with Noah, that he would drown the World no more with Water. And how could it be a sign of this, or given as a pledge and confirmation of such a promise, if it was in the Clouds before, and with no regard to this promise? and stood there, it may be, when the World was going to be drown'd. This would have been but cold comfort to Noah, to have had such a pledge of the Divine Ve∣racity. You'll say, it may be, that it was not a sign or pledge that signified naturally, but voluntarily only, and by Divine Institution; I am of opinion, I confess, that it signifi'd naturally, and by con∣nexion with the effect, importing thus much, that the state of Na∣ture was chang'd from what it was before, and so chang'd, that the Earth was no more in a condition to perish by Water. But however, let us grant that it signified only by institution; to make it significant in this sence, it must be something new, otherwise it could not signifie any new thing, or be the confirmation of a new promise. If God Almighty had said to Noah, I make a promise to you, and to all living Creatures, that the World shall never be de∣stroy'd by Water again, and for confirmation of this, Behold, I set the Sun in the firmament: Would this have been any strengthning of Noah's faith, or any satisfaction to his mind? Why, says Noah, the Sun was in the Firmament when the Deluge came, and was a spectator of that sad Tragedy; why may it not be so again? what sign or assurance is this against a second Deluge? when God gives a sign in the Heavens, or on the Earth, of any Prophecy or Promise to be fulfill'd, it must be by something new, or by some change wrought in Nature; whereby God doth testifie to us, that he is able and willing to stand to his promise.* God says to Ahaz, Ask a sign of the Lord; Ask it either in the depth, or in the height above: And when Ahaz would ask no sign, God gives one unaskt, Behold, a Virgin shall conceive and bear a Son. So when Zachary was promis'd a Son, he asketh for a sign,*Whereby shall I know this? for I am old, and my Wife well stricken in years; and the sign given him was, that he be∣came dumb, and continued so till the promise was fulfill'd. Accord∣ingly, when Abraham askt a sign whereby he might be assur'd of God's promise that his seed shou'd inherit the Land of Canaan, Gen. 15. 8. 'Tis said (ver. 17.) When the Sun went down and it was dark, behold a smoaking furnace and a burning Lamp passed betwixt the pieces of the beasts that he had cut asunder. So in other instances of signs given in external Nature,* as the sign given to King Hezekiah for his recovery, and to Gideon for his victory; to confirm the promise made to Hezekiah,* the shadow went back ten degrees in Ahaz. Dial: And for Gideon, his Fleece was wet, and all the ground about it dry; and then to change the trial, it was dry and all the ground about it wet. These were all signs very proper, significant, and satisfactory, having something surprising and extraordinary, yet these were signs Page 162 by institution only; and to be such they must have something new and strange, as a mark of the hand of God, otherwise they can have no force or significancy. Accordingly we see Moses himself in another place speaks this very sence, when in the Mutiny or Rebel∣lion of Corah and Dathan, he speaks thus to the People, If these men die the common death of men, then the Lord hath not sent me. But if the Lord make a new thing, and the Earth open her moath and swallow them up, &c. then you shall understand that these men have provoked the Lord, Nunr. 26. 29, 30. So in the case of Noah, if God created a new crea∣ture (when are Moses's words in the forecited place) the sign ws effectual. But where every thing continues to be as it was before, and the face of Nature, in all its parts, the very same, it cannot signifie any thing new, nor any new intention in the Author of Na∣ture; and consequently, cannot be a sign or pledge, a token or as∣surance of the accomplishment of any new Covenant or promise made by him.
This, methinks, is plain to common Sense, and to every Man's Reason; but because it is a thing of importance, to prove that there was no Rainbow before the Flood, and will confirm a considerable part of this Theory, by discovering what the state of the Air was in the Old World, give me leave to argue it a little further, and to remove some prejudices that may keep others from assenting to clear Reason. I know tis usually said, that signs, like words, sig∣nifie any thing by institution, or may be appl••d to any thing by the will of the Imposer; as hanging out a white Flag is calling for mercy, a Bush at the door, a sign of Wine to be fold, and such like. But these are instances nothing to our purpose, these are signs of something present, and that signifie only by use and repeated ex∣perience; we are speaking of signs of another nature, given in con∣firmation of a promise, or threatning, or prophecy, and given with design to cure our unbelief, or to excite and beget in us Faith in God, in the Prophet, or in the Promiser, such signs, I say, when they are wrought in external Nature, must be some new Appearance, and must thereby induce us to believe the effect, or more to believe it, than if there had been no sign, but only the affirmation of the Promiser; for other∣wise the pretended sign is a meer Cypher and superfluity. But a thing that obtain'd before, and in the same manner (even when that came to pass, which we are now promis'd shall not come to pass again) signifies no more, than if there had been no sign at all: it can neither signifie another course in Nature, nor another purpose in God; and therefore is perfectly insignificant. Some instance in the Sacraments, Jewish or Christian, and make them signs in such a sence as the Rainbow is: But those are rather Symbolical repre∣sentations or commemorations; and some of them, marks of di∣stinction and consecration of our selves to God in such a Religion; They were also new, and very particular when first instituted; but all such instances fall short and do not reach the case before us; we are speaking of signs confirmatory of a promise; when there is something affirm'd de futuro, and to give us a further argument of the certainty of it, and of the power and veracity of the Promiser, a sign is given: This we say, must indispensably be something new, Page 163 otherwise it cannot have the nature, vertue, and influence of a sign.
We have seen how incongruous it would be to admit that the Rainbow appear'd before the Deluge, and how dead a sign that would make it, how forc•d, fruitless and ineffectual, as to the promise it was to confirm; Let us now on the other hand suppose, that it first appear'd to the Inhabitants of the Earth after the Deluge, How proper, and how apposite a sign would this be for Provi∣dence to pitch upon, to confirm the Promise made to Noah and his posterity, That the World should be no more destroy'd by Water? It had a secret connexion with the effect it self, and was so far a natural sign; but however appearing first after the Deluge, and in a watery Cloud, there was, methinks, a great easiness, and pro∣priety of application for such a purpose. And if we suppose, that while God Almighty was declaring his promise to Noah, and the sign of it, there appear'd at the same time in the Clouds a fair Rainbow, that marvellous and beautiful Meteor, which Noah had never seen before; it could not but make a most lively impression upon him, quickning his Faith, and giving him comfort and assu∣rance, that God would be stedfast to his promise.
Nor ought we to wonder, that Interpreters have commonly gone the other way, and suppos'd that the Rainbow was before the Flood; This, I say, was no wonder in them, for they had no Hy∣pothesis that could answer to any other interpretation; And in the interpretation of the Texts of Scripture that concern natural things, they commonly bring them down to their own Philosophy and Notions:* As we have a great instance in that discourse of S. Peter's, concerning the Deluge, and the Ante-diluvian Heavens, and Earth, which, for want of a Theory, they have been scarce able to make sence of; for they have forc'dly appli'd to the present Earth, or the present form of the Earth, what plainly respected another. A like instance we have in the Mosaical Abyss, or Tehom-Rabba, by whose disruption the Deluge was made; this they knew not well what to make of, and so have generally interpreted it of the Sea, or of our Subterraneous Waters; without any propriety, either as to the word, or as to the sence. A third instance is this of the Rainbow, where their Philosophy hath misguided them again; for to give them their due, they do not alledge, nor pretend to alledge, any thing from the Text, that should make them interpret thus, or think the Rainbow was before the Flood; but they pretend to go by certain reasons, as that the Clouds were before the Flood, there∣fore the Rainbow; and if the Rainbow was not before the Flood, then all things were not made within the six days Creation: To whom these reasons are convictive, they must be led into the same belief with them, but not by any thing in the Text, nor in the true Theory, at least if ours be so; for by that you see that the Vapours were never condens'd into drops, nor into Rain in the temperate and inhabited Climates of that Earth, and consequently there could never be the production or appearance of this Bow in the Clouds. Thus much concerning the Rainbow.
Page 164 To recollect our selves, and conclude this Chapter, and the whole disquisition concerning the Waters of the Primitive Earth; we seem to have so well satisfied the difficulties propos'd in the beginning of the Chapter, that they have rather given us an advantage; a better discovery, and such a new prospect of that Earth, as makes it not only habitable, but more fit to be Paradisical. The pleasant∣ness of the site of Paradise is made to consist chiefly in two things, its Waters, and its Trees, (Gen. 2. and Chap. 13. 10. Ezek. 31. 8.) and considering the richness of that first soil in the Primitive Earth, it could not but abound in Trees, as it did in Rivers and Rivulets; and be wooded like a Grove, uss it was water'd like a Garden, in the temperate Climates of it; so as it would not be, methinks, so diffi∣cult to find one Paradise there, as not to find more than one.
CHAP. VI. A Recollection and Review of what hath been said concern∣ing 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, finish'd our description of the first and Ante-diluvian Earth; And as Travellers, when they see strange Countries, make it part of their pleasure and im∣provement, to compare them with their own, to observe the diffe∣rences, and wherein they excel, or come short of one another: So it will not be unpleasant, nor unuseful, it may be, having made a dis∣covery, not of a new Countrey, 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 dif∣ferences 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 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 them∣selves.
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 Page 165 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 con∣sequences of them, and drive them down into particulars, which will shew 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 Aequinox. 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 Eclip∣tick, 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 Aequator, 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 Phae∣nomena of the Heavens would be more simple and regular, and much of that intangledness and perplexity, which we find now in Astrono∣my, would be taken away. Whether the Sun and Moon would suf∣fer 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. Be∣sides, 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.
The Earth was divided into two Hemispheres, separated by the Torrid Zone, which at that time was uninhabitable, and utterly un∣passable; so as the two Hemispheres made two distinct Worlds, which, so far as we can judge, had no manner of commerce or com∣munication one with another. The Southern Hemisphere the An∣cients call'd Antichthon, the Opposite Earth, or the Other World. And this name and notion remain'd long after the reason of it had c•ast. Just as the Torrid Zone was generally accounted uninhabitable by the Page 166 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 Primaval 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 ••ve Zones, I think, did properly belong to that Original Earth, and Pri∣mitive Geography, and improperly, and by translation only, to the present. For all the Zones of our Earth are habitable, and their di∣stinctions are in a manner but imaginary, not fixt by Nature; where∣as in that Earth where the Rivers fail'd, and the Regions became un∣inhabitable, 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 deter∣min'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 re∣main'd as much to be inhabited as we have now; for the Sea, since the breaking up of the Abyss, 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 Aequator; 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 in∣to 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 in that age? 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 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 mo∣ther 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, Page 167 and had a soil so fruitful;* A new unlabour'd soil, replenistht 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 〈◊〉 a wild luxuriancy at first, which hu∣mane industry by degrees gave form and order to; The Waters flow'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 most 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 hereaf∣ter, 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 Mi∣nerals, are Factitious, not Original bodies, coaeval with the Earth, but are made in process of time, after long preparations and con∣coctions,* by the action of the Sun within the bowels of the Earth. And if the Stamina or principles of them ris•e from the lower Re∣gions that lie under the Abyss, as I am apt to think they do, 〈◊〉 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 exteriour 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 ob∣serv'd, and sufficiently spoken to that difference betwixt the Men of the old World, and those of the present, in point of Longaevity, 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; 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 of God, might be standing when the Deluge came, and see, from first to last, the entire course and period of a World.
Page 168 We might add here,* with S. Austin, another observation, both concerning Men and other living Creatures in the first World, that They were greater, as well as longer-liv'd, than they are at pre∣sent. 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 pro∣portions, 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 Ae•yptian 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* and Moderns‖, 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 par∣ticularly 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 seve∣ral 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 Or∣der 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 Gol∣den 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 Na∣ture; then what new forms and modifications were superadded by the invention of Arts, what by Religion, what by Superstition. This would be a view of things more instructive, and more satis∣factory, Page 169 factory, 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 under plots in the Tragi comedy of the World; the main design is of another na∣ture, 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 su∣perstructure that will be always proportion'd to it. Therefore 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 Aequinox, 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 iniuries 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 •s 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 Merchan∣dizing 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; Anti∣quity doth generally suppose that Men were not Carnivo•us 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. Be∣hold, 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 Page 170 great measure constituted and compounded: These make the busi∣ness of life, the several occupations of Men, the noise and hurry of the World; 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, de∣duc'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 Specula∣tions of this Nature.
As for Laws, Government, natural Religion, Military and Judi∣cial affai••, 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; nei∣ther 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 judg∣ment of those Traditional accounts which the Ancients have left us concerning these things, in the early Ages of the World, and the Pri∣mitive state of Nature. No doubt in these, as in all other particu∣lars, 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 Vani∣ties 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 Primaeval 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 de∣generacy, both Natural and Moral, by degrees, and especially to∣wards 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 ima∣ginary, 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 Page 171 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 tenacicus of their petty opinions, than they are; nor more censo∣rious, even to bitterness and malice. And 'tis generally so, that those that have the least evidence for the truth of their beloved opi∣nions, 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.
CHAP. VII. The place of Paradise cannot be determin'd from the Theory only, nor from Scripture only. What the sence of Anti∣quity was concerning it, both as to the Iews and Hea∣thens, and especially as to the Christian Fathers. That they generally plac'd it out of this Continent, in the Southern Hemisphere.
WE have now prepar'd our work for the last finishing stroaks; describ'd the first Earth, and compar'd it with the present; and not only the two Earths, but in a good measure the whole State and Oeconomy of those two Worlds. It remains only to determine the place of Paradise in that Primaeval Earth; I say, in that Primaeval Earth, for we have driven the point so far al∣ready, that the seat of it could not be in the present Earth, whose Form, Site, and Air are so dispos'd, as could not consist with the first and most indispensable properties of Paradise: And according∣ly, we see with what ill success our modern Authors have rang'd over the Earth, to find a fit spot of ground to plant Paradise in; some would set it on the top of an high Mountain, that it might have good Air and fair weather, as being above the Clouds, and the middle Region; but then they were at a loss for Water, which made a great part of the pleasure and beauty of that place. Others therefore would seat it in a Plain, or in a River-Island, that they might have Water enough, but then it would be subject to the in∣juries of the Air, and foul weather at the seasons of the Year, from which, both Reason and all Authority have exempted Paradise. 'Tis like seeking a perfect beauty in a mortal Body, there are so many things requir'd to it, as to complexion, Features, Proportions and Air, that they never meet all together in one person; neither can all the properties of a Terrestrial Paradise ever meet together in one place, though never so well chosen, in this present Earth.
Page 172 But in the Primaeval Earth, which we have describ'd, 'tis easie to find a Seat that had all those beauties and conveniences. We have every where through the temperate Climates, a clear and constant Air, a fruitful Soil, pleasant Waters, and all the general characters of Paradise; so that the trouble will be rather in that competition, what part of Region to pitch upon in particular. But to come as near it as we can, we must remember in the first place, how that Earth was divided into two Hemispheres, distant and separated from one ano∣ther, not by an imaginary line, but by a real boundary that could not be past; so as the first inquiry will be, in whether of these Hemi∣spheres was the Seat of Paradise. To answer this only according to our Theory, I confess, I see no natural reason or occasion to place it in one Hemisphere more than in another; I see no ground of diffe∣rence or pre-eminence, that one had above the other; and I am apt to think, that depended rather upon the will of God, and the Series of Providence that was to follow in this Earth, than upon any na∣tural incapacity in one of these two Regions more than in the other, for planting in it the Garden of God. Neither doth Scripture determine, with any certainty, either Hemisphere for the place of it; for when 'tis said to be in Eden, or to be the Garden of Eden, 'tis no more than the Garden of pleasure or delight, as the word signi∣fies: And even the Septuagint, who render this word Eden, as a pro∣per name twice, (Gen. 2. ver. 8, & 10.) do in the same story render it twice as a common name, signifying 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, pleasure, (Chap. 2. 15. and Chap. 3. 24.) and so they do accordingly render it in Ezekiel (Chap. 31. 9. 16, 18.) where this Garden of Eden is spoken of again. Some have thought that the word Mekiddim (Gen. 2. 8.) was to be render'd in the East, or Eastward, as we read it, and therefore deter∣min'd the site of Paradise; but 'tis only the Septuagint Translate it so, all the other Greek Versions, and S. Ierome, the Vulgate, the Chal∣dee Paraphrase, and the Syriack render it from the beginning, or in the be∣ginning, or to that effect. And we that do not believe the Septuagint to have been infallible, or inspir'd, have no reason to prefer their single authority above all the rest. Some also think the place of Paradise may be determin'd by the four Rivers that are named as belonging to it, and the Countries they ran thorough; but the names of those Rivers are to me uncertain, and two of them altogether unintelligible. Where are there four Rivers in our Continent that come from one Head, as these are said to have done, either at the entrance or issue of the Garden? 'Tis true, if you admit our Hypothesis, concerning the fraction and disruption of the Earth at the Deluge, then we can∣not expect to find Rivers now as they were before, the general Source is chang'd, and their Chanels are all broke up; but if you do not admit such a dissolution of the Earth, but suppose the Deluge to have been only like a standing Pool, after it had once cover'd the sur∣face of the Earth, I do not see why it should make any great haveck or confusion in it; and they that go that way, are therefore the more oblig'd to show us still the Rivers of Paradise. Several of the Anci∣ents, as we shall show hereafter, suppos'd these four Rivers to have their Heads in the other Hemisphere, and if so, the Seat of Paradise might be there too. But let them first agree amongst themselves, Page 173 concerning these Rivers, and the Countries they run thorough, and we will undertake to show, that there cannot be any such in this Continent.
Seeing then neither the Theory doth determine, nor Scripture, where the place of Paradise was, nor in whether Hemisphere, we must appeal to Antiquity, or the opinions of the Ancients; for I know no other Guide, but one of these three, Scripture, Reason, and An∣cient Tradition; and where the two former are silent, it seems very reasonable to consult the third. And that our Inquiries may be com∣prehensive enough, we will consider what the Iews, what the Hea∣thens, and what the Christian Fathers have said or determin'd con∣cerning the Seat of Paradise. The Iews and Hebrew Doctors place it in neither Hemisphere, but betwixt both, under the Aequinoctial, as you may see plainly in Abravanel, Manasses Ben-Israel, Maimoni∣des, Aben Ezra, and others But the reason why they carried it no fur∣ther than the Line, is because they suppos'd it certain, as Aben Ezra tells us, that the days and nights were always equal in Paradise, and they did not know how that could be, unless it stood under the Aequi∣noctial. But we have shown another method, wherein that perpe∣tual Aequinox came to pass, and how it was common to all the parts and Climates of that Earth, which if they had been aware of, and that the Torrid Zone at that time was utterly uninhabitable, having remov'd their Paradise thus far from home, they would probably have remov'd it a little further, into the temperate Climates of the other Hemisphere.
The Ancient Heathens, Poets and Philosophers, had the notion of Paradise, or rather of several Paradises in the Earth; and 'tis re∣markable, that they plac'd them generally, if not all of them, out of this Continent; in the Ocean, or beyond it, or in another Orb or Hemisphere. The Garden of the Hesperides, the Fortunate Islands, the Elysian Fields, Ogygia and Toprabane, as it is describ'd by Diodo∣rus Siculus, with others such like; which as they were all characte∣riz'd like so many Paradises, so they were all feared out of our Continent by their Geography and descriptions of them.
Thus far Antiquity seems to incline to the other Hemisphere, or to some place beyond the bounds of our Continent for the Seat of Paradise: But that which we are most to depend upon in this affair, is Christian Antiquity, the Judgment and Tradition of the Fathers upon this Argument. And we may safely say in the first place, negatively, that none of the Christian Fathers, Latin or Greek, ever plac'd Paradise in Mesopotamia; that is a conceit and invention of some Modern Authors, which hath been much encouraged of late, be∣cause it gave Men ease and rest as to further inquiries, in an argu∣ment they could not well manage. Secondly, We may affirm, that none of the Christian Fathers have plac'd Paradise in any determi∣nate Region of our Continent, Asia, Africk or Europe. I have read of one or two Authors, I think, that fansied Paradise to have been at Ierusalem, but 'twas a meer fansie, that no body regarded or pursu'd. The controversie amongst the Fathers concerning Paradise, was quite another thing from what it is now of late: They disputed and controverted, whether Paradise was Corporeal or Intellectual Page 174 only, and Allegorical; This was the grand point amongst them. Then of those that thought it Corporeal, some plac'd it high in the Air, some inaccessible by Desarts or Mountains, and many beyond the Ocean, or in another World; And in these chiefly con∣sisted the differences and diversity of opinions amongst them; nor do we find that they nam'd any particular place or Country in the known parts of the Earth for the Seat of Paradise, or that one con∣tested for one spot of ground, and another for another, which is the vain temerity of modern Authors; as if they could tell to an Acre of Land where Paradise stood, or could set their foot upon the Centre of the Garden. These have corrupted and misrepresen∣ted the notion of our Paradise, just as some modern Poets have the notion of the Elysian fields, which Homer and the Ancients plac'd re∣mote on the extremities of the Earth, and these would make a little green Meadow in Campania Felix to be the fam'd Elysium.
Thus much concerning the Fathers, negatively; but to discover as far as we can, what their positive Assertions were in this Argu∣ment, we may observe, that though their opinions be differently exprest, they generally concenter in this, that the Southern Hemi∣sphere was the Seat of Paradise. This, I say, seems manifestly to be the sence of Christian Antiquity and Tradition, so far as there is any thing definitive in the remains we have upon that subject. Some of the Fathers did not believe Paradise to be Corporeal and Local, and those are to be laid aside in the first place, as to this point; Others that thought it Local, did not determine any thing (as most of them indeed did not) concerning the particular place of it; But the rest that did, though they have exprest themselves in various ways, and under various forms, yet, upon a due interpretation, they all meet in one common and general conclusion, That Para∣dise was seated beyond the Aequinoctial, or in the other Hemisphere.
And to understand this aright, we must reflect, in the first place, upon the form of the Primaeval Earth, and of the two Hemispheres of which it consisted, altogether incommunicable one with another, by reason of the Torrid Zone betwixt them; so as those two He∣mispheres were then as two distinct Worlds, or distinct Earths, that had no commerce with one another. And this Notion or Tradition we find among Heathen Authors, as well as Christian, this Opposite Earth being call'd by them Antichthon, and its Inha∣bitants Antichthones: For those words comprehend both the Anti∣podes and Antoeci, or all beyond the Line, as is manifest from their best Authors, as Achilles Tatius, and Caesar Germanicus upon Aratus, Probus Grammaticus, Censorinus, Pomponius Mela, and Pliny. And these were call'd another World, and lookt upon as another stock and race of Mankind,* as appears from Cicero and Macrobius: But as the latter part was their mistake, so the former is acknowledg'd by Christian Authors, as well as others; and particularly S. Clement, in his Epistle to the Corinthians, mentions a World, or Worlds beyond the Ocean, subject to Divine Providence, and the great Lord of Nature, as well as ours. This passage of S. Clement is also cited by S. Ierom, in his Commentary upon Ephes. 2. 2. and by Origen Periarchon, where the Inhabitants of that other World are call'd Antichthones.*
Page 175 I make this remark in the first place, that we may understand the true sence and importance of those phrases and expressions amongst the Ancients, when they say Paradise was in another World. Which are not to be so understood, as if they thought Paradise was in the Moon, or in Iupiter, or hung above like a Cloud or a Meteor, they were not so extravagant; but that Paradise was in another Hemisphere, which was call'd Antichthon, another Earth, or another World from Ours; and justly reputed so, because of an impossibility of commerce or intercourse betwixt their respective Inhabitants. And this remark being premis'd, we will now distribute the Christi∣an Authors and Fathers that have deliver'd their opinion concerning the place of Paradise, into three or four ranks or orders; and though they express themselves differently, you will see, when duly examin'd and expounded, they all conspire and concur in the fore∣mentioned conclusion, That the Seat of Paradise was in the other Hemisphere.
In the first rank then we will place and reckon those that have set Paradise in another World, or in another Earth; seeing, accord∣ing to the foregoing Explication, that is the same thing, as to af∣firm it seated beyond the Torrid Zone in the other Hemisphere. In this number are Ephrem Syrus, Moses Bar Cepha, Tatianus, and of later date Iacobus de Valentia. To these are to be added again such Authors as say, that Adam, when he was turn'd out of Paradise, was brought into our Earth, or into our Region of the Earth; for this is tantamount with the former; And this seems to be the sence of S. Ierom in several places against Iovinian, as also of Constantine, in his Oration in Eusebius, and is positively asserted by Sulpitius Se∣verus. And lastly, Those Authors that represent Paradise as re∣mote from our World, and inaccessible, so S. Austin, Procopius Ga∣zeus, Beda, Strabus Fuldensis, Historia Scholiastica, and others, these I say, pursue the same notion of Antiquity; for what is remote from our World (that is, from our Continent, as we before ex∣plain'd it) is to be understood to be that Antichthon,* or Anti-hemi∣sphere which the Ancients oppos'd to ours.
Another sett of Authors that interpret the Flaming Sword that guarded Paradise to be the Torrid Zone, do plainly intimate, that Pa∣radise in their opinion lay beyond the Torrid Zone, or in the Anti∣hemisphere; And thus Tertullian interprets the Flaming Sword, and in such words as fully confirm our sence: Paradise, He says, by the Torrid Zone, as by a wall of Fire, was sever'd from the communication and knowledge of our World. It lay then on the other side of this Zone. And S. Cyprian, or the ancient Author that passeth under his name, in his Comment upon Genesis, expresseth himself to the same effect; so also S. Austin and Isidore Hispalensis are thought to interpret it: And Aquinas who makes Paradise inaccessible, gives this reason for it, Propter vehementiam aestûs in locis intermediis ex propinquitate Solis, & hoc significatur per Flammeum Gladium: Because of that vehement heat in the parts betwixt us and that, arising from the nearness of the Sun, and this is signified by the Flaming Sword. And this interpreta∣tion of the Flaming Sword receives a remarkable force and Emphasis from our Theory and description of the Primaeval Earth, for there Page 176 the Torrid Zone was as a wall of Fire indeed, or a Region of flame which none could pass or subsist in, no more than in a Furnace.
There is another form of expression amongst the Ancients con∣cerning Paradise, which, if decyphered, is of the same force and sig∣nification with this we have already instanc'd in; They say some∣times Paradise was beyond the Ocean, or that the Rivers of Paradise came from beyond the Ocean. This is of the same import with the former Head, and points still at the other Hemisphere; for, as we noted before, some of them fixt their Antichthon and Antichth•nes beyond the Ocean; that is, since there was an Ocean, Since the form of the Earth was chang'd, and the Torrid Zone become habi∣table, and cosequently could not be a boundary or separation be∣twixt the two Worlds. Wherefore, as some run still upon the old division by the Torrid Zone, others took the new division by the Ocean. Which Ocean they suppos'd to lie from East to West betwixt the Tropicks; as may be seen in Ancient Authors, Gemi∣nus, Herodotus, Cicero de republicâ, and Clemens Romanus, whom we cited before.* S. Austin also speaks upon the same supposition, when he would confute the doctrine of the Antipodes, or Antichth•nes; and Macrobius, I remember, makes it an argument of Providence, that the Sun and the Planets, in what part of their course soever they are betwixt the two Tropicks, have still the Ocean under them, that they may be cool'd and nourisht by its moisture. They thought the Sea like a Girdle, went round the Earth, and the tem∣perate Zones on either side were the habitable Regions, whereof this was call'd the Oicouméne, and the other Antichthon.
This being observ'd, 'tis not material, whether their Notion was true or false, it shews us what their meaning was, and what part of the Earth they design'd, when they spoke of any thing beyond the Ocean; namely, that they meant beyond the Line, in the other Hemisphere, or in the Antichthon; and accordingly, when they say Paradise, or the Fountains of its Rivers were beyond the Ocean, they say the same thing in other terms with the rest of those Au∣thors we have cited. In Moses Bar Cepha above mention'd, we find a Chapter upon this subject, Qucmodo trajecerint Mortales inde ex Paradisi terrâ in hanc Terram? How Mankind past out of that Earth or Co•tinent where Paradise was, into that where we are? Namely, how they past the Ocean, that lay betwixt them, as the answer there given explains it. And so Ephrem Syrus is cited often in that Trea∣tise, placing Paradise beyond the Ocean. The Essenes also, who were the most Philosophick Sect of the Iews, plac'd Paradise, ac∣cording to Iosephus, beyond the Ocean, under a perfect tempera∣ture of Air. And that passage in Eusebius, in the Oration of Con∣stantine, being corrected and restor'd to the true reading, represents Paradise, in like manner, as in another Continent, from whence Adam was brought, after his transgression, into this. And lastly, there are some Authors, whose testimony and authority may de∣serve to be consider'd, not for their own Antiquity, but because they are profess'dly transcribers of Antiquity and Traditions, such as Strabus, Comestor, and the like, who are known to give this ac∣count or report of Paradise from the Ancients, that it was interpo∣sito Page 177 Oceano ab Orbe nostro vel à Zonâ nostrâ habitabili secretus, Separa∣ted from our Orb or Hemisphere by the interposition of the Ocean.
It is also observable, that many of the Ancients that took Tigris, Euphrates, Nile and Ganges for the Rivers of Paradise, said that those Heads or Fountains of them which we have in our Conti∣nent, are but their Capita secunda, their second Sources, and that their first Sources were in another Orb where Paradise was; and thus Hugo de Sancto Victore says, Sanctos communiter sensisse, That the Holy Men of old were generally of that opinion. To this sence also Moses Bar Cepha often expresseth himself; as also Epiphanius, Procopius Gazaeus, and Severianus in Catenâ. Which notion amongst the Ancients, concerning the trajection or passage of the Paradisia∣cal Rivers under-ground, or under-Sea, from one Continent into an∣other, is to me, I confess, unintelligible, either in the first or second Earth; but however it discovers their sence and opinion of the Seat of Paradise, that it was not to be sought for in Asia or in Africk, where those Rivers rise to us, but in some remoter parts of the World, where they suppos'd their first Sources to be.
This is a short account of what the Christian Fathers have left us, concerning the Seat of Paradise; and the truth is, 'tis but a short and broken account; yet 'tis no wonder it should be so, if we consider, as we noted before, that several of them did not be∣lieve Paradise to be Local and Corporeal; Others that did believe it so, yet did not offer to determine the place of it, but left that mat∣ter wholly untoucht and undecided; and the rest that did speak to that point, did it commonly both in general terms, and in expressions that were disguis'd, and needed interpretation; but all these diffe∣rences and obscurities of expression, you see, when duly stated and expounded, may signifie one and the same thing, and terminate all in this common Conclusion, That Paradise was without our Conti∣nent, accord•ng to the general opinion and Tradition of Antiquity. And I do not doubt but the Tradition would have been both more express and more universal, if the Ancients had understood Geo∣graphy better; for those of the Ancients that did not admit or believe, that there were Antipodes or Antichthones, as Lactantius, S. Austin, and some others, these could not joyn in the common opinion about the place of Paradise, because they thought there was no Land, nor any thing habitable 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, or besides this Continent. And yet S. Austin was so cautious, that as he was bound∣ed on the one hand by his false Idea of the Earth, that he could not joyn with Antiquity as to the place of Paradise; so on the other hand he had that respect for it, that he would not say any thing to the contrary; therefore being to give his opinion, he says only, Terrestrem esse Paradisum, & locum ejus ab hominum cognitione esse remotissimum: That it is somewhere upon the Earth, but the place of it very remote from the knowledge of Men.
And as their ignorance of the Globe of the Earth was one rea∣son, why, the doctrine of Paradise was so broken and obscure, so another reason why it is much more so at present is, because the chief ancient Books writ upon that subiect, are lost; Ephrem Syrus, who liv'd in the Fourth Century, writ a Commentary in Genesin Page 178 five de Ortu rerum, concerning the Origin of the Earth; and by those remains that are cited from it, we have reason to believe, that it contain'd many things remarkable concerning the first Earth, and concerning Paradise. Tertullian also writ a Book de Paradiso, which is wholly lost; and we see to what effect it would have been, by his making the Torrid Zone to be the Flaming Sword, and the partition betwixt this Earth and Paradise; which two Earths he more than once distinguisheth as very different from one another.* The most ancient Author that I know upon this subject, at least of those that writ of it literally, is Moses Bar Cepha, a Syrian Bishop, who liv'd about seven hundred years since, and his Book is translated into La∣tin, by that Learned and Judicious Man, Andreas Masius. Bar Cepha writes upon the same Views of Paradise that we have here presen∣ted, that it was beyond the Ocean, in another tract of Land, or ano∣ther Continent from that which we inhabit: As appears from the very Titles of his Eighth, Tenth, and Fourteenth Chapters. But we must allow him for his mistaken Notions about the form of the Earth; for he seems to have sansied the Earth plain, (not only as oppos'd to rough and Mountainous, for so it was plain; but as op∣pos'd to Spherical) and the Ocean to have divided it in two parts, an Interiour, and an Exteriour, and in that Exteriour part was Pa∣radise. Such allowances must often be made for Geographical mi∣stakes, in examining and understanding the writings of the Ancients. The rest of the Syrian Fathers, as well as Ephrem and Bar Cepha, in∣cline to the same doctrine of Paradise, and seem to have retain'd more of the ancient notions concerning it, than the Greek and Latin Fa∣thers have; and yet there is in all some fragments of this doctrine, and but fragments in the best.
We might add in the last place, that as the most ancient Treati∣ses concerning Paradise are lost, so also the ancient Glosses and Catenae upon Scripture, where we might have found the Traditions and Opinions of the Ancients upon this subject, are many of them ei∣ther lost or unpublisht; And upon this consideration we did not think it improper to cite some Authors of small Antiquity, but such as have transcrib'd several things out of ancient Manuscript-glosses into their Commentaries. They living however before Printing was in∣vented, or Learning well restor'd, and before the Reformation. I add that also before the Reformation, for since that time the Protestant Authors having lessen'd the Authority of Traditions, the Pontificial Doctors content themselves to insist only upon such as they thought were useful or necessary, lest by multiplying others that were but matter of curiosity, they should bring the first into question, and ren∣der the whole doctrine of Traditions more dubious and exceptionable; And upon this account, there are some Authors that writ an Age or two before the Reformation, that have with more freedom told us the Tenets and Traditions of the Ancients in these Speculations, that are but collateral to Religion, than any have done since. And I must confess, I am apt to think that what remains concerning the doctrine of Paradise, and the Primaeval Earth, is in a good measure Traditional; for one may observe, that those that treat upon these subjects, quote the true Opinions, and tell you some of the Ancients Page 179 held so and so, as That Paradise was in another Earth, or higher than this Earth, That there were no Mountains before the Flood, nor any Rain, and such like: yet they do not name those ancient Authors that held these Opinions; which makes me apt to believe, either that they were convey'd by a Traditional communication from one to another, or that there were other Books extant upon those subjects, or other Glosses, than what are now known.
Finally, To conclude this Discourse concerning the Seat of Para∣dise, we must mind you again upon what Basis it stands. We de∣clar'd freely, that we could not by our Theory alone determine the particular place of it, only by that we are assur'd that it was in the Primaeval Earth, and not in the present; but in what Region, or in whether Hemisphere of that Earth it was seated, we cannot de∣fine from Speculation only. 'Tis true, if we hold fast to that Scri∣pture-conclusion, That all Mankind rise from one Head, and from one and the same Stock and Lineage, (which doth not seem to be according to the sentiments of the Heathens) we must suppose they were born in one Hemisphere, and after some time translated into the other, or a Colony of them: But this still doth not determine, in whether of the two they begun, and were first seated before their translation; and I am apt to think that depended rather, as we noted before, upon the Divine Pleasure, and the train of affairs that was to succeed, than upon Natural causes and differences. Some of the Ancients, I know, made both the Soil and the Stars more noble in the Southern Hemisphere, than in ours, but I do not see any proof or warrant for it; wherefore laying aside all natural To∣picks, we are willing, in this particular, to refer our selves wholly to the report and majority of Votes amongst the Ancients; who yet do not seem to me to lay much stress upon the notion of a parti∣cular and Topical Paradise, and therefore use general and remote expressions concerning it. And finding no place for it in this Con∣tinent, they are willing to quit their hands of it, by placing it in a Region some-where far off, and inaccessible. This, together with the old Tradition, that Paradise was in another Earth, seems to me to give an account of most of their Opinions concerning the Seat of Paradise: and that they were generally very uncertain where to fix it.
CHAP. VIII. The uses of this Theory for the illustration of Antiquity; The ancient Chaos explain'd; The inhabitability of the Torrid Zone; The change of the Poles of the World; The doctrine of the Mundane Egg; How America was first peopled; How Paradise within the Circle of the Moon.
WE have now dispatch'd the Theory of the Primaeval Earth, and reviv'd a forgotten World. 'Tis pity the first and fair∣est works of Nature should be lost out of the memory of Man, and that we should so much dote upon the Ruines, as never to think upon the Original Structure. As the modern Artists from some broken pieces of an ancient Statue, make out all the other parts and proportions; so from the broken and scatter'd limbs of the first World we have shown you how to raise the whole Fabrick again; and renew the prospect of those pleasant Scenes that first see the light, and first entertain'd Man, when he came to act upon this new-erected Stage.
We have drawn this Theory chiefly to give an account of the Universal Deluge, and of Paradise; but as when one lights a Candle to look for one or two things which they want, the light will not confine it self to those two objects, but shows all the other in the room; so, methinks, we have unexpectedly cast a light upon all Antiquity, in seeking after these two things, or in retrieving the Notion and Doctrine of the Primaeval Earth, upon which they de∣pended. For in ancient Learning there are many Discourses, and many Conclusions deliver'd to us, that are so obscure and confus'd, and so remote from the present state of things, that one cannot well distinguish, whether they are fictions or realities: and there is no way to distinguish with certainty, but by a clear Theory upon the same subjects; which showing us the truth directly, and inde∣pendently upon them, shows us also by reflection, how far they are true or false, and in what sence they are to be interpreted and un∣derstood. And the present Theory being of great extent, we shall find it serviceable in many things, for the illustration of such du∣bious and obscure doctrines in Antiquity.
To begin with their Ancient CHAOS, what a dark story have they made of it, both their Philosophers and Poets; and how fabulous in appearance? 'Tis deliver'd as confus'dly as the Mass it self could be, and hath not been reduc'd to order, nor indeed made intelli∣gible by any. They tell us of moral principles in the Chaos instead of natural, of strife, and discord, and division on the one hand, and Love, Friendship, and Venus on the other; and, after a long contest, Love got the better of Discord, and united the disagreeing principles: Page 181 This is one part of their story. Then they make the forming of the World out of the Chaos a kind of Genealogie or Pedigree; Chaos was the common Parent of all, and from Chaos sprung, first, Night, and Tartarus, or Oceanus; Night was a teeming Mother, and of her were born Aether and the Earth; The Earth conceiv'd by the influences of Aether, and brought forth Man and all Animals.
This seems to be a Poetical fiction rather than Philosophy; yet when 'tis set in a true light, and compar'd with our Theory of the Chaos, 'twill appear a pretty regular account, how the World was form'd at first, or how the Chaos divided it self successively into several Regions, rising one after another, and propagated one from another, as Children and Posterity from a common Parent. We show'd in the first Book, Chap. 5. how the Chaos, from an uniform mass, wrought it self into several Regions or Elements; the grossest part sinking to the Center, upon this lay the mass of Water, and over the Water was a Region of dark, impure, caliginous Air; This impure, caliginous Air is that which the Ancients call Night, and the mass of Water Oceanus or Tartarus, for those two terms with them are often of the like force, Tartarus being Oceanus inclos'd and lock'd up: Thus we have the first off-spring of the Chaos, or its first-born twins, Nox and Oceanus. Now this turbid Air puri∣fying it self by degrees, as the more subtle parts flew upwards, and compos'd the Aether; so the earthy parts that were mixt with it dropt down upon the surface of the Water, or the liquid mass; and that mass on the other hand sending up its lighter and more oily parts towards its surface, these two incorporate there, and by their mixture and union compose a body of Earth quite round the mass of Waters: And this was the first habitable Earth, which as it was, you see, the Daughter of Nox and Oceanus, so it was the Mother of all other things, and all living Creatures, which at the beginning of the World sprung out of its fruitful womb.
This doctrine of the Chaos, for the greater pomp of the business, the Ancients call'd their Theogonia, or the Genealogy of the Gods; for they gave their Gods, at least their Terrestrial Gods, an origi∣nal and beginning; and all the Elements and greater portions of Nature they made Gods and Goddesses, or their Deities presided over them in such a manner, that the names were us'd promiscu∣ously for one another. We also mention'd before some moral prin∣ciples, which they plac'd in the Chaos, Eris and Eros; Strife, discord, and disaffection which prevail'd at first, and afterward Love, kind∣ness and union got the upper hand, and in spite of those factious and dividing principles gather'd together the separated Elements, and united them into an habitable World. This is all easily under∣stood, if we do but look upon the Schemes of the rising World, as we have set them down in that fifth Chapter; for in the first com∣motion of the Chaos, after an intestine struggle of all the parts, the Elements separated from one another into so many distinct bodies or masses; and in this state and posture things continued a good while, which the Ancients, after their Poetick or Moral way, call'd the Reign of Eris or Contention, of hatred, flight and disaffection; and if things had always continued in that System, we should never Page 182 have had an habitable World. But Love and good Nature con∣quer'd at length, Venus rise out of the Sea, and receiv'd into her bosom, and intangled into her imbraces the falling Aether, viz. The parts of lighter earth, which were mixt with the Air in that first separation, and gave it the name of Night; These, I say, fell down upon the oily parts of the Sea-mass, which lay floating upon the sur∣face of it, and by that union and conjunction, a new Body, and a new World was produc'd, which was the first habitable Earth. This is the interpretation of their mystical Philosophy of the Chaos, and the resolution of it into plain natural History: Which you may see more fully discuss'd in the Latin Treatise.*
In consequence of this, We have already explain'd, in several places the Golden Age of the Ancients, and laid down such grounds as will enable us to discern what is real, and what Poetical, in the reports and characters that Antiquity hath given of those first Ages of the World. And if there be any thing amongst the Ancients that refers to another Earth, as Plato's Atlantis, which he says, was absorpt by an Earthquake, and an inundation, as the primaeval Earth was; or his Aethereal Earth mention'd in his Phaedo, which he opposeth to this broken hollow Earth; makes it to have long∣liv'd inhabitants, and to be without Rains and Storms, as that first Earth was also; or the pendulous Gardens of Alcinous, or such like, to which nothing answers in present Nature, by reflecting upon the state of the first Earth, we find an easie explication of them. We have also explain'd what the Antichthon and Antichthones of the An∣cients were, and what the true ground of that distinction was. But nothing seems more remarkable than the inhabitability of the Torrid Zone, if we consider what a general fame and belief it had amongst the Ancients, and yet in the present form of the Earth we find no such thing, nor any foundation for it. I cannot believe that this was so universally receiv'd upon a slight presumption only, because it lay under the course of the Sun, if the Sun had then the same la∣titude from the Aequator in his course and motion that he hath now, and made the same variety of seasons; whereby even the hottest parts of the Earth have a Winter, or something equivalent to it. But if we apply this to the Primaeval Earth, whose posture was di∣rect to the Sun, standing always fixt in its Equinoctial, we shall easily believe that the Torrid Zone was then uninhabitable by ex∣tremity of heat, there being no difference of seasons, nor any change of weather, the Sun hanging always over head at the same distance, and in the same direction. Besides this, the descent of the Rivers in that first Earth was such, that they could never reach the Equi∣noctial parts, as we have shown before; by which means, and the want of Rain, that Region must necessarily be turn'd into a dry Desart. Now this being really the state of the first Earth, the fame and general belief that the Torrid Zone was uninhabitable had this true Original, and continued still with posterity after the Deluge, though the causes then were taken away; for they being ignorant of the change that was made in Nature at that time, kept up still the same Tradition and opinion currant, till observation and expe∣rience taught later Ages to correct it. As the true miracles that were Page 183 in the Christian Church at first, occasion'd a fame and belief of their continuance long after they had really ceast.
This gives an easie account, and, I think, the true cause, of that opinion, amongst the Ancients generally receiv'd, That the Torrid Zone was uninhabitable. I say, generally receiv'd, for not only the Poets, both Greek and Latin, but their Philosophers, Astsonomers and Geographers, had the same notion, and deliver'd the same do∣ctrine; as Aristotle, Cleomedes, Achilles Tatius, Ptolomy, Cicero, Strabo, Mela, Pliny, Macrobius, &c. And to speak truth, the whole doctrine of the Zones is calculated more properly for the first Earth, than for the present; for the divisions and bounds of them now, are but arbitrary, being habitable all over, and having no visible distinction; whereas they were then determin'd by Nature, and the Globe of the Earth was really divided into so many Regions of a very different aspect and quality; which would have appear'd at a di∣stance, if they had been lookt upon from the Clouds, or from the Moon, as Iupiter's Belts, or as so many Girdles or Swathing-bands about the body of the Earth: And so the word imports, and so the Ancients use to call them Cinguli and Fasciae. But in the present form of the Earth, if it was seen at a distance, no such distinction would appear in the parts of it, nor scarce any other but that of Land and Water, and of Mountains and Valleys, which are no∣thing to the purpose of Zones. And to add this note further, When the Earth lay in this regular form, divided into Regions or Walks, if I may so call them, as this gave occasion of its distinction, by Zones, so if we might consider all that Earth as a Paradise, and Pa∣radise as a Garden; (for it is always call'd so in Scripture, and in Iewish Authors) And as this Torrid Zone, bare of Grass and Trees, made a kind of Gravel-walk in the middle: so there was a green Walk on either hand of it, made by the temperate Zones; and be∣yond those lay a Canal,* which water'd the Garden from either side.
But to return to Antiquity; We may add under this Head ano∣ther observation or doctrine amongst the Ancients, strange enough in appearance, which yet receives an easie explication from the pre∣ceding Theory; They say, The Poles of the World did once change their situation, and were at first in another posture from what they are in now, till that inclination happen'd; This the ancient Philo∣sophers often make mention of,* as Anaxagoras, Empedocles, Dioge∣nes, Leucippus, Democritus; as may be seen in Laertius, and in Plu∣tarch; and the Stars, they say, at first were carried about the Earth in a more uniform manner. This is no more than what we have observ'd and told you in other words, namely, That the Earth chang'd its posture at the Deluge, and thereby made these seeming changes in the Heavens; its Poles before pointed to the Poles of the Ecliptick, which now point to the Poles of the Aequator, and its Axis is become parallel with that Axis; and this is the mystery and interpretation of what they say in other terms; this makes the different aspect of the Heavens, and of its Poles: And I am apt to think, that those changes in the course of the Stars, which the An∣cients sometimes speak of, and especially the Aegyptians, if they did not proceed from defects in their Calendar, had no other Physical account than this.
Page 184 And as they say the Poles of the World were in another situa∣tion at first, so at first they say, there was no variety of seasons in the Year, as in their Golden Age. Which is very coherent with all the rest, and still runs along with the Theory. And you may ob∣serve, that all these things we have instanc'd in hitherto, are but links of the same chain, in connexion and dependance upon one an∣other. When the Primaeval Earth was made out of the Chaos, its form and posture was such, as, of course, brought on all those Scenes which Antiquity hath kept the remembrance of: though now in another state of Nature they seem very strange; especially being disguis'd, as some of them are, by their odd manner of represen∣ting them. That the Poles of the World stood once in another posture; That the Year had no diversity of Seasons; That the Tor∣rid Zone was uninhabitable; That the two Hemispheres had no possibility of intercourse, and such like; These all hang upon the same string; or lean one upon another as Stones in the same Build∣ing; whereof we have, by this Theory, laid the very foundation bare, that you may see what they all stand upon, and in what order.
There is still one remarkable Notion or Doctrine amongst the An∣cients which we have not spoken to; 'tis partly Symbolical, and the propriety of the Symbol, or of the Application of it, hath been little understood; 'Tis their doctrine of the Mundane Egg, or their comparing the World to an Egg, and especially in the Original composition of it. This seems to be a mean comparison, the World and an Egg, what proportion, or what resemblance betwixt these two things? And yet I do not know any Symbolical doctrine, or conclusion, that hath been so universally entertain'd by the Mystae, or Wise and Learned, of all Nations; as hath been noted before in the fifth Chapter of the First Book,* and at large in the Latin Treatise. 'Tis certain, that by the World in this similitude, they do not mean the Great Universe, for that hath neither Figure, nor any determinate form of composition, and it would be a great va∣nity and rashness in any one to compare this to an Egg; The works of God are immense, as his rature is infinite, and we cannot make any image or resemblance of either of them; but this comparison is to be understood of the Sublunary World, or of the Earth; And for a general key to Antiquity upon this Argument, we may lay this down as a Maxim or Canon, That what the Ancients have said concerning the form and figure of the World, or concerning the Original of it from a Chaos, or about its periods and dissolution are never to be understood of the Great Universe, but of our Earth, or of this Sublunary and Terr•strial World. And this observation being made, do but reflect upon our Theory of the Earth, the manner of its composition at first, and the figure of it, being compleated, and you will need no other interpreter to understand this mystery. We have show'd there, that the figure of it,* when finisht, was Oval, and the inward form of it was a frame of four Regions encompassing one another, where that of Fire lay in the middle like the Yolk▪ and a shell of Earth inclos'd them all. This gives a solution so easie and natural, and shows such an aptness and elegancy in the representation, that one cannot doubt, Page 185 upon a view and compare of circumstances, but that we have truly found out the Riddle of the Mundane Egg.
Amongst other difficulties arising from the Form of this present Earth, That is one, How America could be peopled: or any other Continent, or Island remote from all Continents the Sea interpo∣sing. This difficulty does not hold in our Theory of the First Earth, where there was no Sea. And after the Flood, when the Earth was broken and the S•a laid open, the same race of Men might con∣tinue there, if setled there before. For I do not see any necessity of deducing all Mankind from Noah after the Flood: If America was peopled before, it might continue so; not but that the Flood was universal. But when the great frame of the Earth broke at the Deluge, Providence fore-saw into how many Continents it would be divided after the ceasing of the Flood, and accordingly, as we may reasonably suppose, made provision to save a remnant in every Con∣tinent, that the race of Mankind might not be quite extinct in any of them. What provision he made in our Continent we know from Sacred History, but as that takes notice of no other Continent but ours, so neither could it take notice of any method that was us'd there for saving of a remnant of Men; but 'twere great presumption, methinks, to imagine that Providence had a care of none but us, or could not find out ways of preservation in other places, as well as in that where our habitations were to be. Asia, Africk and Eu∣rope were repeopled by the Sons of Noah, Shem, Ham, and Iaphet, but we read nothing of their going over into America, or sending any Colonies thither; and that World which is near as big as ours, must have stood long without people, or any thing of Humane race in it, after the Flood, if it stood so till this was full, or till men Navigated the Ocean, and by chance discover'd it: it seems more reasonable to suppose, that there was a stock providentially reserv'd there, as well as here, out of which they sprung again▪ but we do not pretend in an Argument of this nature to define or determine any thing positively. To conclude, As this is but a secondary diffi∣culty, and of no great force, so neither is it any thing peculiar to us, or to our Hypothesis, but alike common to both; and if they can propose any reasonable way, whereby the Sons of Noah might be transplanted into America, with all my heart; but all the ways that I have met with hitherto, have seem'd to me meer fictions, or meer presumptions. Besides, finding Birds and Beasts there, which are no where upon our Continent, nor would live in our Countries if brought hither, 'tis a fair conjecture that they were not carried from us, but originally bred and preserv'd there.
Thus much for the illustration of Antiquity in some points of Hu∣mane literature, by our Theory of the Primaeval Earth; There is also in Christian Antiquity a Tradition or Doctrine, that appears as obscure and as much a Paradox as any of these, and better deserves an illustration, because it relates more closely and expresly to our present subject: 'Tis that Notion or Opinion amongst the Ancients concerning Paradise, that it was seated as high as the Sphere of the Moon, or within the Lunar Circle. This looks very strange, and in∣deed extravagantly, at first sight, but the wonder will cease, if we Page 186 understand this not of Paradise taken apart from the rest of the Earth, but of the whole Primaeval Earth, wherein the Seat of Paradise was; That was really seated much higher than the present Earth, and may be reasonably suppos'd to have been as much elevated as the tops of ou• Mountains are now. And that phrase of reaching to the Sphere of the Moon, signifies no more than those other expressions of reaching to Heaven, or reaching above the Clouds, which are phrases commonly us'd to express the height of Buildings, or of Mountains, and such like things: So the Builders of Babel said, they would make a Tower should reach to Heaven; Olympus and Parnassus are said by the Poets to reach to Heaven, or to rise above the Clouds; And Pliny and Solinus use this very expression of the Lunar Circle, when they describe the height of Mount Atlas, Eductus in viciniam Luna∣ris Circuli.* The Ancients, I believe, aim'd particularly by this phrase, to express an height above the middle Region, or above our Atmo∣sphere, that Paradise might be serene; and where our Atmosphere ended, they reckon'd the Sphere of the Moon begun, and therefore said it reacht to the Sphere of the Moon. Many of the Christian Fa∣thers exprest their opinion concerning the high situation of Paradise in plain and formal terms, as S. Basil, Damascen, Moses Bar Cepha, &c. but this phrase of reaching to the Lunar Circle is repeated by seve∣ral of them, and said to be of great Antiquity. Aquinas, Albertus, and others, ascribe it to Bede, but many to S. Austin; and therefore Ambrosius Catharinus is angry with their great Schoolman,* that he should derive it from Bede, seeing S. Austin writing to Orosius, de∣liver'd this doctrine, which surely, says he, S. Austin neither feign'd nor dream'd only▪ but had receiv'd it from Antiquity: And from so great Antiquity, that it was no less than Apostolical, if we credit Albertus Magnus,* and the ancient Books he appeals to; for He says this Tradition was deriv'd as high as from S. Thomas the Apostle. His words are these, after he had deliver'd his own opinion, Hoc tamen di•o, &c. But this I say, without prejudice to the better opinion, for I have found it in some most ancient Books, that Thomas the Apostle was the Author of that opinion, which is usually attributed to Bede and Stra∣bus, namely, That Paradise was so high as to reach to the Lunar Circle. But this much concerning this Opinion, and concerning Antiquity.
To conclude all, we see this Theory, which was drawn only by a thred of Reason, and the Laws of Nature, abstractly from all An∣tiquity, notwithstanding casts a light upon many passages there, which were otherwise accounted fictions, or unintelligible truths; and though we do not alledge these as proofs of the Theory, for it carries its own light and proof with it, yet whether we will or no, they do mutually confirm, as well as illustrate, one another; And 'tis a pleasure also, when one hath wrought out truth by meer dint of thinking, and examination of causes, and propos'd it plainly and openly, to meet with it again amongst the Ancients, disguis'd, and in an old fashion'd dress: scarce to be known or discover'd, but by those that before-hand knew it very well. And it would be a further pleasure and satisfaction, to have render'd those Doctrines and No∣tions, for the future, intelligible and useful to others, as well as de∣lightful to our selves.
CHAP. IX. A general objection against this Theory, viz. That if there had been such a Primitive Earth, as we pretend, the fame of it would have sounded throughout all Antiquity. The Eastern and Western Learning consider'd. The most con∣siderable Records of both are lost. What footsteps remain relating to this subject. The Jewish and Christian Learn∣ing consider'd; how far lost as to this Argument, and what Notes or Traditions remain. Lastly, How far the Sacred Writings bear witness to it. The Providential conduct of Knowledge in the World. A recapitulation and state of the Theory.
HAving gone through the two First Parts, and the two First Books of this Theory, that concern the Primitive World, the Universal Deluge, and the state of Paradise, We have leisure now to reflect a little, and consider what may probably be objected against a Theory of this nature. I do not mean single objections against single parts, for those may be many, and such as I cannot fore-see; but what may be said against the body and substance of the Theory, and the credibility of it, appearing new and surpri∣sing, and yet of great extent and importance. This, I fancy, will induce many to say, surely this cannot be a reality; for if there had been such a Primitive Earth, and such a Primitive World as is here represented, and so remarkably different from the present, it could not have been so utterly forgotten, or lain hid for so many Ages; all Antiquity would have rung of it; the memory of it would have been kept fresh by Books or Traditions. Can we imagine, that it should lie buried for some thousands of years in deep silence and oblivion? and now only when the second World is drawing to an end, we begin to discover that there was a first, and that of another make and order from this.
To satisfie this obiection, or surmise rather, it will be convenient to take a good large scope and compass in our Discourse; We must not suppose, that this Primitive World hath been wholly lost out of the memory of Man, or out of History, for we have some Histo∣ry and Chronology of it preserv'd by Moses, and likewise in the Monuments of the Ancients, more or less; for they all suppos'd a World before the Deluge. But 'tis the Philosophy of this Primitive World that hath been lost in a great measure; what the state of Nature was then, and wherein it differ'd from the present or Post∣diluvian order of things. This, I confess, hath been little taken notice of; it hath been generally thought or presum'd, that the World before the Flood was of the same form and constitution Page 188 with the present World: This we do not deny, but rather think it design'd and Providential, that there should not remain a clear and full knowledge of that first state of things; and we may easily sup∣pose how it might decay and perish, if we consider how little of the remote Antiquities of the World have ever been brought down to our knowledge.
The Greeks and Romans divided the Ages of the World into three periods or intervals, whereof they call'd the first the Obscure Period, the second the Fabulous, and the third Historical. The dark and obscure Period was from the beginning of the World to the Deluge; what pass'd then, either in Nature or amongst Men, they have no Records, no account, by their own confession; all that space of time was cover'd with darkness and oblivion; so that we ought rather to wonder at those remains they have, and those broken notions of the Golden Age, and the conditions of it, how they were sav'd out of the common shipwrack, than to expect from them the Philoso∣phy of that World, and all its differences from the present. And as for the other Nations that pretend to greater Antiquities, to more ancient History and Chronology, from what is left of their Monu∣ments, many will allow only this difference, that their fabulous Age begun more high, or that they had more ancient Fables.
But besides that our expectations cannot be great from the learn∣ing of the Gentiles, we have not the means or opportunity to in∣form our selves well what Notions they did leave us concerning the Primitive World; for their Books and Monuments are gene∣rally lost, or lie hid unknown to us. The Learning of the World may be divided into the Eastern Learning and the Western; and I look upon the Eastern as far more considerable for Philosophical Antiquities, and Philosophical Conclusions; I say Conclusions, for I do not believe either of them had any considerable Theory, or Con∣texture of Principles and Conclusions together: But 'tis certain, that in the East, from what Source soever it came, Humane or Di∣vine, they had some extraordinary Doctrines and Notions disperst amongst them. Now as by the Western Learning we understand that of the Greeks and Romans; so by the Eastern, that which was amongst the Aegyptians, Phoenicians, Chaldaeans, Assyrians, Indians, Aethiopians, and Persians; and of the Learning of these Nations, how little have we now left? except some Fragments and Citations in Greek Authors, what do we know of them? The modern Brac∣mans, and the Persees or Pagan Persians, have some broken remains of Traditions relating to the Origin and Changes of the World: But if we had, not only those Books intire, whereof we have now the gleanings and reversions only, but all that have perisht besides, especially in that famous Library at Alexandria; if these, I say, were all restor'd to the World again, we might promise our selves the satisfaction of seeing more of the Antiquities, and Natural Hi∣story of the first World, than we have now left, or can reasonably expect. That Library we speak of, at Alexandria, was a Collection, besides Greek Books, of Aegyptian, Chaldaean, and all the •astern Learning; and Cedrenus makes it to consist of an hundred thousand Volumes: But Iosephus saith, when the Translation of the Bible by Page 189 the Septuagint was to be added to it, Demetrius Phalerius (who was Keeper or Governour of it) told the King then, that he had already two hundred thousand Volumes, and that he hop'd to make them five hundred thousand; and he was better than his word, or his Successors for him, for Ammianus Marcellinus, and other Authors, report them to have increas'd to seven hundred thousand. This Li•brary was unfortunately burnt in the sacking of Alexandria by Caesar, and considering that all these were ancient Books, and generally of the Eastern Wisdom, 'twas an inestimable and irreparable loss to the Commonwealth of Learning. In like manner we are told of a vast Library of Books of all Arts and Sciences, in China, burnt by the command or caprice of one of their Kings. Wherein, the Chineses, according to their vanity, were us'd to say, greater riches were lost, than will be in the last Conflagration.
We are told also of the Abyssine or Aethiopick Library as something very extraordinary. 'Twas formerly in great reputation, but is now, I suppose, embezil'd and lost. But I was extremely surpriz'd by a Treatise brought to me some few months since, wherein are men∣tion'd some Aethiopick Antiquities relating to the Primaeval Earth and the Deluge: To both which they give such characters and pro∣perties, as are in effect the very same with those assign'd them in this Theory. They say the First Earth was much greater than the pre∣sent, higher and more advanc'd into the Air: That it was smooth and regular in its surface, without Mountains or Valleys, but hol∣low within: and was spontaneously fruitful, without plowing or sowing. This was its first state, but when Mankind became de∣generate and outragious with Pride and Violence, The angry Gods, as they say, by Earthquakes and Concussions broke the habitable Orb of the Earth, and thereupon the Subterraneous Waters gushing out, drown'd it in a Deluge, and destroy'd Mankind. Upon this fraction, it came into another Form, with a Sea, Lakes and Rivers, as we now have. And those parts of the broken Earth, that stood above the Waters, became Mountains, Rocks, Islands, and so much of the Land as we now inhabit. This account is given us by Bar∣nardinus Ramazzinus, (in his Treatise De Fontium Mutinensium Sea∣turigine*.) Taken from a Book Writ by Francisco Patricio, to whom this wonderful Tradition was deliver'd by persons of credit, from an Aethi∣opian Philosopher then in Spain. I have not yet had the good fortune to see that Book of Francisco Patricio, 'tis writ in Italian▪ with this Title, Della Retori∣ca degli Antichi: Printed at Venice, 1562. This story indeed, deserves to be enqui∣red after, for we do not any where, a∣mongst the Ancients, meet with such a full and explicit narration of the state of the First and Second Earth. That which comes nearest to it are those ac∣counts we find in Plato, from the Aegyp∣tianPage 190 Antiquities, in his Timaeus, Politicus, and Phoedo, of another Earth and ano∣ther state of Nature and Mankind. But none of them are so full and distinct as this Aethiopian Doctrine.
As for the Western Learning, we may remember what the Ae∣gyptian Priest says to Solon in Plato's Timaeus, You Greeks are always Children, and know nothing of Antiquity; And if the Greeks were so, much more the Romans, who came after them in time, and for so great a People, and so much civiliz'd, never any had less Philo∣sophy, and less of the Sciences amongst them than the Romans had; They studied only the Art of Speaking, of Governing, and of Fight∣ing: and left the rest to the Greeks and Eastern Nations, as unprofi∣table. Yet we have reason to believe, that the best Philosophical Antiquities that the Romans had,* perisht with the Books of Varro, of Numa Pompilius, and of the ancient Sibyls. Varro writ, as S. Austin tells us a multitude of Volumes, and of various sorts, and I had rather retrieve his works, than the works of any other Roman Author; not his Etymologies and Criticisms, where we see nothing admi∣rable, but his Theologia Physica, and his Antiquitates; which in all probability would have given us more light into remote times, and the Natural History of the past World, than all the Latin Au∣thors besides have done. He has left the foremention'd distinction of three Periods of time; He had the doctrine of the Mundane Egg, as we see in Probus Grammaticus; and he gave us that observa∣tion of the Star Venus, concerning the great change she suffer'd about the time of our Deluge.
Numa Pompilius was doubtless a contemplative Man, and 'tis thought that he understood the true System of the World, and re∣presented the Sun by his Vestal Fire; though, methinks, Vesta does not so properly refer to the Sun, as to the Earth, which hath a Sa∣cred fire too, that is not to be extinguisht. He order'd his Books to be buried with him, which were found in a Stone Chest by him, four hundred years after his death; They were in all Twenty-four, whereof Twelve contain'd Sacred Rites and Ceremonies, and the other Twelve the Philosophy and Wisdom of the Greeks; The Ro∣mans gave them to the Praetor Petilius to peruse; and to make his report to the Senate, whether they were fit to be publisht or no: The Praetor made a wise politick report, that the Contents of them might be of dangerous consequence to the establisht Laws and Reli∣gion; and thereupon they were condemn'd to be burnt, and Poste∣rity was depriv'd of that ancient Treasure, whatsoever it was. What the Nine Books of the Sibyl contain'd, that were offer'd to King Tar∣quin, we little know; She valued them high, and the higher still, the more they seem'd to slight or neglect them; which is a piece of very natural indignation or contempt, when one is satisfied of the worth of what they offer. 'Tis likely they respected, besides the fate of Rome, the fate and several periods of the World, both past and to come, and the most mystical passages of them. And in these Authors and Monuments are lost the greatest hopes of Natural and Philosophick Antiquities, that we could have had from the Romans.
Page 191 And as to the Greeks, their best and Sacred Learning was not originally their own; they enricht themselves with the spoils of the East, and the remains we have of that Eastern Learning, is what we pick out of the Greeks; whose works, I believe, if they were intirely extant, we should not need to go any further for witnesses to confirm all the principal parts of this Theory. With what regret does one read in Laertius, Suidas, and others, the promising titles of Books writ by the Greek Philosophers, hundreds or thousands, whereof there is not one now extant; and those that are extant are generally but fragments: Those Authors also that have writ their Lives, or collected their Opinions, have done it confus'dly and injudiciously. I should hope for as much light and instruction, as to the Original of the World, from Orpheus alone, if his Works had been preserv'd, as from all that is extant now of the other Greek Philosophers. We may see from what remains of him, that he un∣derstood in a good measure, how the Earth rise from a Chaos, what was its external Figure, and what the form of its inward structure; The opinion of the Oval Figure of the Earth is ascrib'd to Orpheus and his Disciples; and the doctrine of the Mundane Egg is so pecu∣liarly his, that 'tis call'd by Proclus, The Orphick Egg; not that he was the first Author of that doctrine, but the first that brought it into Greece.
Thus much concerning the Heathen Learning, Eastern and We∣stern, and the small remains of it in things Philosophical; 'tis no wonder then if the account we have left us from them of the Pri∣mitive Earth; and the Antiquities of the Natural World be very imperfect. And yet we have trac'd (in the precedent Chapter, and more largely in our Latin Treatise) the foot-steps of several parts of this Theory amongst the Writings and Traditions of the An∣cients: and even of those parts that seem the most strange and singular, and that are the Basis upon which the rest stand. We have shown there, that their account of the Chaos, though it seem'd to many but a Poetical Rhapsody, contain'd the true mystery of the formation of the Primitive Earth.* We have also shown upon the same occasion, that both the External Figure and Internal Form of that Earth was compriz'd and signified in their ancient doctrine of the Mundane Egg,* which hath been propagated through all the Learned Nations. And lastly, As to the situation of that Earth, and the change of its posture since, that the memory of that has been kept up, we have brought several testimonies and indications from the Greek Philosophers.* And these were the three great and fundamental properties of the Primitive Earth, upon which all the other depend, and all its differences from the present Order of Nature. You see then, though Providence hath suffer'd the ancient Heathen Learning and their Monuments, in a great part, to perish, yet we are not left wholly without witnesses amongst them, in a spe∣culation of this great importance.
You will say, it may be, though this account, as to the Books and Learning of the Heathen, may be lookt upon as reasonable, yet we might expect however, from the Iewish and Christian Authors, a more full and satisfactory account of that Primitive Earth, and of Page 192 the Old World. First, as to the Iews, 'tis well known that they have no ancient Learning, unless by way of Tradition, amongst them. There is not a Book extant in their Language, excepting the Canon of the Old Testament, that hath not been writ since our Saviour's time. They are very bad Masters of Antiquity, and they may in some measure be excus'd, because of their several captivities, dispersions, and desolations. In the Babylonish captivity their Temple was ransack'd, and they did not preserve, as is thought, so much as the Autograph or original Manuscript of the Law, nor the Books of those of their Prophets that were then extant, and kept in the Temple; And at their return from the Captivity after seventy years, they seem to have had forgot their Native Language so much, that the Law was to be interpreted to them in Chaldee, after it was read in Hebrew; for so I understand that interpretation in Neh•miah.* 'Twas a great Providence, methinks, that they should any way preserve their Law, and other Books of Scripture, in the Captivity, for so long a time; for 'tis likely they had not the li∣berty of using them in any publick worship, seeing they return'd so ignorant of their own Language, and, as 'tis thought, of their Al∣phabet and Character too. And if their Sacred Books were hardly preserv'd, we may easily Believe all others perisht in that publick desolation.
Yet there was another destruction of that Nation, and their Temple, greater than this, by the Romans; and if there were any remains of Learning preserv'd in the former ruine, or any recruits made since that time, this second desolation would sweep them all away. And accordingly we see they have nothing left in their Tongue, besides the Bible, so ancient as the destruction of Ierusa∣lem. These, and other publick calamities of the Iewish Nation, may reasonably be thought to have wasted their Records of ancient Learning, if they had any; for, to speak truth, the Iews are a people of little curiosity, as to Sciences and Philosophical enquiries: They were very tenacious of their own customs, and careful of those Traditions that did respect them, but were not remarkable, that I know of, or thought great Proficients in any other sort of Learn∣ing. There has been a great fame, 'tis true, of the Iewish Gabala, and of great mysteries contain'd in it; and, I believe, there was once a Traditional doctrine amongst some of them, that had extraordi∣nary Notions and Conclusions: But where is this now to be found? The Essenes were the likeliest Sect, one would think, to re∣tain such doctrines, but 'tis probable they are now so mixt with things fabulous and fantastical, that what one should alledge from thence would be of little or no authority. One Head in this Cabala was the doctrine of the Sephiroth, and though the explication of them be uncertain,* the Inferiour Sephiroth in the Corporeal World cannot so well be appli'd to any thing, as to those several Orbs and Regions, infolding one another, whereof the Primigenial Earth was compos'd. Yet such conjectures and applications, I know, are of no validity, but in consort with better Arguments. I have often thought also, that their first and second Temple represented the first and second Earth or World; and that of Ezekiel's, which is the Page 193 third, is still to be erected, the most beautiful of all, when this se∣cond Temple of the World shall be burnt down. If the Prophe∣cies of Enoch had been preserv'd, and taken into the Canon by E•ra, after their return from Babylon, when the Collection of their Sacred Books is suppos'd to have been made, we might probably have had a considerable account there, both of times past and to come, of Antiquities and futuritions; for those Prophecies are generally sup∣pos•d to have contain•d both the first and second fate of this Earth, and all the periods of it. But as this Book is lost to us, so I look upon all others that pretend to be Ante-Mosaical or Patriarchal, as Spurious and Fabulous.
Thus much concerning the Iews. As for Christian Authors, their knowledge must be from some of these foremention'd, Iews or Hea∣thens; or else by Apostolical Tradition: For the Christian Fathers were not very speculative, so as to raise a Theory from their own thoughts and contemplations, concerning the Origin of the Earth. We have instanc'd, in the last Chapter, in a Christian Tradition con∣cerning Paradise, and the high situation of it, which is fully conso∣nant to the site of the Primitive Earth, where Paradise stood, and doth seem plainly to refer to it, being unintelligible upon any other supposition. And 'twas, I believe, this elevation of Paradise, and the pensile structure of that Paradisiacal Earth, that gave occasion to Celsus, as we see by Origen's answer, to say, that the Christian Para∣dise was taken from the pensile Gardens of Alcinous: But we may see now what was the ground of such expressions or Traditions a∣mongst the Ancients, which Providence left to keep mens minds a∣wake; not fully to instruct them, but to confirm them in the truth, when it should come to be made known in other methods. We have noted also above, that the ancient Books and Authors amongst the Christians, that were most likely to inform us in this Argument, have perisht, and are lost out of the World, such as Ephrem Syrus de ortu rerum, and Tertul•ian de Paradiso; and that piece which is ex∣tant, of Moses Bar Cepha's upon this subject, receives more light from our Hypothesis, than from any other I know; for, correcting some mistakes about the Figure of the Earth, which the Ancients were often guilty of, the obscurity or confusion of that Discourse in other things, may be easily rectifi'd, if compar'd with this The∣ory.
Of this nature also is that Tradition that is common both to Iews and Christians, and which we have often mention'd before, that there was a perpetual serenity, and perpetual Equinox in Paradise; which cannot be upon this Earth, not so much as under the Equi∣noctial; for they have a sort of Winter and Summer there, a course of Rains at certain times of the Year, and great inequalities of the Air, as to heat and cold, moisture and drought. They had also Traditions amongst them,*That there was no Rain from the beginning of the World till the Deluge, and that there were no Mountains till the Flood, and such like; These, you see, point directly at such an Earth, as we have describ'd. And I call these Traditions, because we cannot find the Original Authors of them; The ancient ordinary Gloss (upon Genesis) which some make Eight hundred years old, Page 194 mentions both these Opinions; so does Historia Scholastica, Alcuinus, Rabanus, Maurus, Lyranus, and such Collectors of Antiquity. Bede also relates that of the plainness or smoothness of the Antediluvian Earth. Yet these are reported Traditionally, as it were, naming no Authors or Books from whence they were taken; Nor can it be imagin'd that they feign'd them themselves; to what end or pur∣pose? it serv'd no interest; or upon what ground? Seeing they had no Theory that could lead them to such Notions as these, or that could be strengthen'd and confirm'd by them. Those opinions also of the Fathers which we recited in the seventh Chapter, placing Paradise beyond the Torrid Zone, and making it therefore inacces∣sible, suit very well to the form, qualities, and bipartition of the Primaeval Earth, and seem to be grounded upon them.
Thus much may serve for a short Survey of the ancient Learning, to give us a reasonable account, why the memory and knowledge of the Primitive Earth should be so much lost out of the World; and what we retain of it still; which would be far more, I do not doubt, if all Manuscripts were brought to light, that are yet extant in publick or private Libraries. The Truth is, one cannot judge with certainty, neither what things have been recorded and preserv'd in the monuments of Learning, nor what are still; not what have been, because so many of those Monuments are lost: The Alexandrian Library, which we spoke of before, seems to have been the greatest Collection that ever was made before Christianity, and the Constantinopolitan (begun by Constantine, and destroy'd in the Fifth Century, when it was rais'd to the number, as is said, of one hundred twenty thousand Volumes) the most valuable that was ever since, and both these have been permitted by Providence to perish in the merciless Flames. Besides those devastations of Books and Libraries that have been made in Christendom, by the Northern barbarous Nations overflowing Europe, and the Saracens and Turks great parts of Asia and Africk. It is hard therefore to pronounce what knowledge hath been in the World, or what accounts of An∣tiquity; Neither can we well judge what remain, or of what things the memory may be still latently conserv'd; for besides those Ma∣nuscripts that are yet unexamin'd in these parts of Christendom, there are many, doubtless, of good value in other parts; Besides those that lie hid in the unchristianiz'd dominions. The Library of Fez is said to contain thirty two thousand Volumes in Arabick; and though the Arabick Learning was mostwhat Western, and therefore of less account, yet they did deal in Eastern Learning too; for Avicenna writ a Book with that Title, Philosophia Orientalis. There may be also in the East thousands of Manuscripts unknown to us, of greater value than most Books we have: And as to those sub∣jects we are treating of, I should promise my self more light and confirmation from the Syriack Authors than from any others. These things being consider'd, we can make but a very imperfect estimate, what evidences are left us, and what accounts of the Primitive Earth, and if these deductions and defalcations be made, both for what Books are wholly lost, and for what lie asleep or dead in Li∣braries, we have reason to be satisfied in a Theory of this nature▪ Page 195 to •nd so good attestations as we have produc'd for the several parts of it; which we purpose to enlarge upon considerably at another time and occasion.
But to carry this Objection as far as may be, let us suppose it to be urg•d still in the last place, that though these Humane Writings have perisht, or be imperfect, yet in the Divine Writings at least, we might expect, that the memory of the Old World, and of the Primitive Earth should have been preserv'd. To this I answer in short, That we could not expect in the Scriptures any Natural The∣ory of that Earth, nor any account of it, but what was general; and this we have, both by the Tehom-Rabba of Moses, and the de∣scription of the same Abyss in other places of Scripture, as we have shown at large in the First Book, Chap. 7. And also by the descri∣ption which S. Peter hath given of the Ante-diluvian Heavens and Earth, and their different constitution from the present: which is also prov'd by the Rainbow, not seen in the first World. You will say,* it may be, that that place of S. Peter is capable of another inter∣pretation; so are most places of Scripture, if you speak of a bare capa∣city; they are capable of more than one interpretation; but that which is most natural, proper and congruous, and suitable to the words, suitable to the Argument, and suitable to the Context, where∣in is nothing superfluous or impertinent, That we prefer and accept of as the most reasonable interpretation. Besides, in such Texts as re∣late to the Natural World, if of two interpretations propos'd, one agrees better with the Theory of Nature than the other, caeteris paribus, that ought to be prefer'd. And by these two rules we are willing to be try'd, in the exposition of that remarkable Discourse of S. Peter's, and to stand to that sence which is found most agreeable to them.
Give me leave to conclude the whole Discourse with this general Consideration; 'Tis reasonable to suppose, that there is a Provi∣dence in the conduct of Knowledge, as well as of other affairs on the Earth; and that it was not design'd that all the mysteries of Nature and Providence should be plainly and clearly understood throughout all the Ages of the World; but that there is an Order establisht for this, as for other things, and certain Periods and Seasons; And what was made known to the Ancients only by broken Conclusions and Traditions, will be known (in the latter Ages of the World) in a more perfect way, by Principles and Theories. The increase of Knowledge being that which changeth so much the face of the World, and the state of Humane affairs, I do not doubt but there is a par∣ticular care and superintendency for the conduct of it; by what steps and degrees it should come to light, at what Seasons and in what Ages; what evidence should be left, either in Scripture, Reason, or Tradition, for the grounds of it; how clear or obscure, how disperst or united; all these things were weigh'd and consider'd, and such measures taken as best suit the designs of Providence, and the general project and method propos'd in the government of the World. And I make no question but the state both of the Old World, and of that which is to come, is exhibited to us in Scripture in such a measure and proportion, as is fit for this fore-mentioned purpose; not as the Page 196 Articles of our Faith, or the precepts of a good Life, which he that runs may read: but to the attentive and reflexive, to those that are unprejudic'd, and to those that are inquisitive, and have their minds open and prepar'd for the discernment of mysteries of such a nature.
Thus much in answer to that general Objection which might be made against this Theory, That it is not founded in Antiquity. I do not doubt but there may be many particular Objections against Parts and Sections of it, and the exposing it thus in our own Tongue may excite some or other, it may be, to make them; but if any be so minded, I desire (if they be Scholars) that it may ra∣ther be in Latin, as being more proper for a subject of this nature; and also that they would keep themselves close to the substance of the Theory, and wound that as much as they can; but to make excursions upon things accidental or collateral, that do not destory the Hypothesis, is but to trouble the World with impertinencies. Now the substance of the Theory is this, THAT there was a Pri∣mitive Earth of another form from the present, and inhabited by Mankind till the Deluge; That it had those properties and condi∣tions that we have ascrib'd to it, namely, a perpetual Equinox or Spring, by reason of its right situation to the Sun; Was of an Oval Figure, and the exteriour face of it smooth and uniform, without Mountains or a Sea. That in this Earth stood Paradise; the do∣ctrine whereof cannot be understood but upon supposition of this Primitive Earth, and its properties. Then that the disruption and fall of this Earth into the Abyss, which lay under it, was that which made the Universal Deluge, and the destruction of the Old World; And that neither Noah's Flood, nor the present form of the Earth can be explain'd in any other method that is rational, nor by any other Causes that are intelligible: at least that have been hitherto propos'd to the World. These are the Vitals of the Theory, and the primary Assertions, whereof I do freely profess my full belief: and whosoever by solid reasons will show me in an Errour, and undeceive me, I shall be very much oblig'd to him. There are other lesser Conclusions which flow from these, and may be call'd Secondary, as that the Longaevity of the Ante-diluvians depended upon their perpetual Equinox, and the perpetual equality and sere∣nity of the Air; That the Torrid Zone in the Primitive Earth was uninhabitable; And that all their Rivers flow'd from the extreme parts of the Earth towards the Equinoctial; there being neither Rain, nor Rainbow, in the temperate and habitable Regions of it; And lastly, That the place of Paradise, according to the opinion of Antiquity, (for I determine no place by the Theory) was in the Southern Hemisphere. These, I think, are all truly deduc'd and prov'd in their several ways, though they be not such essential parts of the Theory, as the former. There are also besides, many par∣ticular Explications that are to be consider'd with more liberty and latitude, and may be perhaps upon better thoughts, or better observa∣tions, corrected, without any prejudice to the General Theory. Those places of Scripture, which we have cited, I think, are all truly ap∣ply'd; and I have not mention'd Moses's C•smopoeia, because I thought Page 197 it deliver'd by him as a Lawgiver, not as a Philosopher; which I intend to show at large in another Treatise, not thinking that dis∣cussion proper for the Vulgar Tongue. Upon the whole, we are to remember, that some allowances are to be made for every Hypo∣thesis that is new propos'd and untry'd: and that we ought not out of levity of wit, or any private design, discountenance free and fair Essays: nor from any other motive, but the only love and concern of Truth.
CHAP. X. Concerning the Author of Nature.
SEeing the Theory which we have propos'd in this Work is of that extent and comprehension, that it begins with the first foun∣dation of this World, and is to reach to the last Period of it, in one continued Series or chain of Nature; It will not be improper, before we conclude, to make some reflections and remarks what Nature is, and upon what superiour Causes she depends in all her Motions and Operations: And this will lead us to the discovery of the Author of Nature, and to the true Notion and state of Natural Providence, which seems to have been hitherto very much neglected, or little understood in the World. And 'tis the more reasonable and fitting, that we should explain these Notions before we shut up this Treatise, lest those Natural Explications which we have given of the Deluge, and other things, should be mistaken or mis∣apply'd; Seeing some are apt to run away with pieces of a Dis∣course, which they think applicable to their purpose, or which they can maliciously represent, without attending to the scope or just limitations of what is spoken.
By Nature in general is understood All the Powers of Finite Beings, with the Laws establisht for their action and conduct according to the ordinary course of things. And this extends both to Intellectual Beings and Corporeal; but seeing 'tis only the Material World that hath been the subject of our Discourse, Nature, as to that, may be defin'd, the Powers of Matter, with the Laws establisht for their action and conduct. Seeing also Matter hath no action, whether from it self, or imprest upon it, but Motion, as to the Corporeal World Nature is no more than the powers and capacities of Mat∣ter, with the Laws that govern the Motions of it. And this defini∣tion is so plain and easie, that, I believe, all parties will agree in it; There will also be no great controversie what these Laws are, As that one part of Matter cannot penetrate another, nor be in several places at once; That the greater Body overcomes the less, and the swifter the flower; That all motion is in a right line, till something obstruct it or divert it; which are points little disputed as to the matter of fact; but the points concerning which the contro∣versie Page 198 ariseth, and which are to lead us to the Author of Nature, are these, Who or what is the Author of these Laws? of this Mo∣tion) and even of Matter it self; and of all those modes and forms of it which we see in Nature?
The Question useth chiefly to be put concerning Motion, how it came into the World; what the first Source of it is, or how Mat∣ter came at first to be mov'd? For the simple notion of Matter, not divided into parts, nor diversified, doth not imply Motion, but Extension only; 'Tis true, from Extension there necessarily follows mobility, or a capacity of being mov'd by an External Power, but not actual or necessary Motion springing from it self. For dimensi∣ons, or length, breadth, and depth, which is the Idea of Matter, or of a Body, do no way include local Motion, or translation of parts; on the contrary, we do more easily and naturally conceive simple Ex∣tension as a thing steddy and fixt, and if we conceive Motion in it, or in its parts, we must superadd something to our first thought, and something that does not flow from Extension. As when we conceive a Figure, a Triangle, Square, or any other, we naturally conceive it fixt or quiescent, and if afterwards we imagine it in Mo∣tion, that is purely accidental to the Figure; in like manner it is ac∣cidental to Matter, that there should be Motion in it, it hath no in∣ward principle from whence that can flow, and its Nature is com∣pleat without it; Wherefore if we find Motion and Action in Mat∣ter, which is of it self a dead in-active Mass, this should lead us im∣mediately to the Author of Nature, or to some External Power di∣stinct from Matter, which is the Cause of all Motion in the World.
In single Bodies, and single parts of Matter, we readily believe and conclude, that they do not move, unless something move them, and why should we not conclude the same thing of the whole mass? If a Rock or Mountain cannot move it self, nor divide it self, either into great gobbets, or into small powder, why should it not be as impos∣sible for the whole mass of Matter to do so? 'Tis true, Matter is capable both of motion and rest, yet to conceive it undivided, un∣diversified and unmov'd, is certainly a more simple Notion, than to conceive it divided and mov'd; and this being first in order of Nature, and an adequate conception too, we ought to enquire and give our selves an account how it came out of this state, and by what Causes, or, as we said before, how Motion came first into the World.
In the second place, That diversity which we see in Nature, both as to the qualities of Matter, and the compositions of it, being one step further than bare Motion, ought also to be a further indication of the Author of Nature, and to put us upon enquiry into the Causes of this diversity. There is nothing more uniform than simple Exten∣sion, nothing more the same throughout, all of a piece, and all of a sort, similar, and like to it self every where, yet we find the matter of the Universe diversified a thousand ways, into Heavens and Earth, Air and Water, Stars, Meteors, Light, Darkness, Stones, Wood, Animals, and all Terrestrial Bodies; These diversifications are still fur∣ther removes from the natural unity and identity of Matter, and a further argument of some external and superiour power that hath given these different forms •o the several portions of Matter by the Page 199 intervention of Motion. For if you exclude the Author of Na∣ture, and suppose nothing but Matter in the World, take whether Hypothesis you will, either that Matter is without Motion of it self, or that it is of it self in Motion, there could not arise this diversity, and these compositions in it. If it was without Motion, then the case is plain, for it would be nothing but an hard inflexible lump of impenetrable extension, without any diversity at all. And if you suppose it mov'd of it self, or to have an innate Motion, that would certainly hinder all sort of natural concretions and compositions, and in effect destroy all Continuity. For Motion, if it be essential to Matter, it is essential to every Atome of it, and equally diffus'd throughout all its parts; and all those parts or Atomes would be equal to one another, and as little as possible; for if Matter was divided into parts by its own innate Motion, that would melt it down into parts as little as possible, and consequently all equal to one another, there being no reason why you should stop those di∣visions, or the effect of this innate impetus in any one part sooner than in another, or in any part indeed till it was divided as much as was possible; Wherefore upon this principle, or in this method, all the Matter of the Universe would be one liquid or volatile mass, smaller than pin dust, nay, than Air or Aether: And there would be no diversity of forms, only another sort of identity from the former, when we suppos'd it wholly without motion. And so, upon the whole, you see, that Matter, whether we allow it Moti∣on, or no Motion, could not come into that variety of tempers and compositions in which we find it in the World, without the influ∣ence and direction of a Superiour External Cause, which we call the Author of Nature.
But there is still a further and stronger Argument from this Head, if we consider not only the diversity of Bodies, that the mass of Matter is cut into, but also that that diversity is regular, and in some parts of it admirably artful and ingenious. This will not only lead us to an Author of Nature, but to such an Author as hath Wisdom as well as Power. Matter is a brute Being, stupid and senseless, and though we should suppose it to have a force to move it self, yet that it should be able to meditate and consult, and take its measures how to frame a World, a regular and beautiful structure, consisting of such and such parts and Regions, and adapt∣ed to such and such purposes, this would be too extravagant to imagine; to allow it not only Motion from it self, but Wit and Judgment too; and that before it came into any Organical or Ani∣mate composition.
You'll say, it may be, The Frame of the World was not the re∣sult of counsel and consultation, but of necessity; Matter being once in Motion under the conduct of those Laws that are essential to it, it wrought it self by degrees from one state into another, till at length it came into the present form which we call the World. These are words thrown out at random, without any pretence of ground, only to see if they can be confuted; And so they may easily be, for we have shown already, that if Matter had innate Mo∣tion, it would be so far from running into the orderly and well Page 200 dispos'd frame of the World, that it would run into no frame at all, into no forms, or compositions, or diversity of Bodies; but would either be all fluid, or all solid; either every single particle in a separate Motion, or all in one continued mass with an univer∣sal tremor, or inclination to move without actual separation; and either of these two states is far from the form of a World. Second∣ly, As to the Laws of Motion, as some of them are essential to Matter, so others are not demonstrable, but upon supposition of an Author of Nature. And thirdly, Though all the Laws of Mo∣tion be admitted, they cannot bring Matter into the form of a World, unless some measures be taken at first by an intelligent Be∣ing; I say some measures be taken to determine the primary Mo∣tions upon which the rest depend, and to put them in a way that leads to the formation of a World. The mass must be divided in∣to Regions, and Centers fixt, and Motions appropriated to them; and it must be consider'd of what magnitude the first Bodies, or the first divisions of Matter should be, and how mov'd: Besides, there must be a determinate proportion, and certain degree of moti∣on imprest upon the Universal Matter, to qualifie it for the pro∣duction of a World; if the dose was either too strong or too weak, the work would miscarry; and nothing but infinite Wisdom could see thorough the effects of every proportion, or every new degree of Motion, and discern which was best for the beginning, progress, and perfection of a World. So you see the Author of Nature is no way excluded, or made useless by the Laws of Motion; nor if Matter was promiscuously mov'd would these be sufficient causes of themselves to produce a World, or that regular diversity of Bodies that compose it.
But 'tis hard to satisfie Men against their inclinations, or their interest: And as the regularity of the Universe was always a great stumbling-stone to the Epicuraeans; so they have endeavour'd to make shifts of all sorts to give an account and answer to it, with∣out recourse to an Intelligent Principle; and for their last refuge, they say, That Chance might bring that to pass, which Nature and Necessity could not do; The Atoms might hit upon a lucky sett of Motions, which though it were casual and fortuitous, might happily lead them to the forming of a World. A lucky hit indeed, for Chance to frame a World: But this is a meer shuffle and col∣lusion; for if there was nothing in Nature but Matter, there could be no such thing as Chance, all would be pure Mechanical Ne∣cessity; and so this answer, though it seem very different, is the same in effect with the former, and Epicurus with his Atomists are oblig'd to give a just mechanical account, how all the parts of Nature, the most compound and elaborate parts not excepted, rise from their Atoms by pure necessity: There could be no acci∣dental concourse or coalition of them, every step, every motion, every composition was fatal and necessary, and therefore 'tis non∣sence for an Epicuraean to talk of Chance, as Chance is oppos'd to Necessity; and if they oppose it to Counsel and Wisdom, 'tis little bet∣ter than non-sence, to say the World and all its furniture rise by Chance, in that notion of it. But it will deserve our patience a Page 201 little to give a more full and distinct answer to this, seeing it reach∣eth all their pleas and evasions at once.
What proof or demonstration of Wisdom and Counsel can be given, or can be desir'd, that is not found in some part of the World, Animate or Inanimate? We know but a little portion of the Universe, a meer point in comparison, and a broken point too, and yet in this broken point, or some small parcels of it, there is more of Art, Counsel and Wisdom shown, than in all the works of Men taken together, or than in all our Artificial World. In the construction of the Body of an Animal, there is more of thought and contrivance, more of exquisite invention, and fit disposition of parts, than is in all the Temples, Palaces, Ships, Theaters, or any other pieces of Architecture the World ever yet see: And not Ar∣chitecture only, but all other Mechanism whatsoever, Engines, Clock-work, or any other, is not comparable to the Body of a living Creature. Seeing then we acknowledge these artificial works, wheresoever we meet with them, to be the effects of Wit, Under∣standing and Reason, is it not manifest partiality, or stupidity rather, to deny the Works of Nature, which excel these in all degrees, to proceed from an Intelligent Principle? Let them take any piece of Humane Art, or any Machine fram'd by the Wit of Man, and com∣pare it with the Body of an Animal, either for diversity and mul∣tiplicity of Workmanship, or curiosity in the minute parts, or just connexion and dependance of one thing upon another, or fit sub∣serviency to the ends propos'd, of life, motion, use and ornament to the Creature, and if in all these respects they find it superiour to any work of Humane production, (as they certainly must do,) why should it be thought to proceed from inferiour and senceless Causes; ought we not in this, as well as in other things, to proportion the Causes to the Effect? and to speak truth, and bring in an honest Verdict for Nature as well as Art?
In the composition of a perfect Animal, there are four several frames or compages joyn'd together, The Natural, Vital, Animal, and Genital; Let them examine any one of these apart, and try if they can find any thing defective or superfluous, or any way inept, for matter or form. Let them view the whole Compages of the Bones, and especially the admirable construction, texture, and disposition of the Muscles, which are joyn'd with them for moving the Body, or its parts. Let them take an account of the little Pipes and Conduits for the Juices and the Liquors, of their form and distribution; Or let them take any single Organ to exa∣mine, as the Eye, or the Ear, the Hand or the Heart; In each of these they may discover such arguments of Wisdom, and of Art, as will either convince them, or confound them; though still they must leave greater undiscover'd. We know little the insensible form and contexture of the parts of the Body, nor the just method of their Action; We know not yet the manner, order and causes of the Motion of the Heart, which is the chief Spring of the whole Machine: and with how little exactness do we understand the Brain, and the parts belonging to it? Why of that temper and of that Page 202 form? How Motions are propagated there, and how conserv'd? How they answer the several operations of the Mind? Why such little discomposures of it disturb our Senses, and upon what little differences in this the great differences of Wits and Genius's de∣pend. Yet seeing in all these Organs, whose make and manner of action we cannot discover, we see however by the Effects, that they are truly fitted for those offices to which Nature hath design'd them, we ought in reason to admire that Art which we cannot penetrate. At least we cannot but judge it a thing absurd, that what we have not wit enough to find out or comprehend, we should not allow to be an argument of wit and understanding in the Author, or Inventor of it. This would be against all Logick, common Sense, and common Decorum. Neither do I think it possible to the mind of Man, while we attend to evidence, to believe that these, and such like works of Nature came by Chance, as they call it, or with∣out Providence, forecast and Wisdom, either in the first Causes, or in the proximate; in the design, or in the execution; in the pre∣paration to them, or in the finishing of them.
Wherefore, in my judgment, if any be of this perswasion, it cannot be so much the effect of their understanding, as of their disposition and inclination; and in moral things, mens opinions do as often spring from the one, as from the other. For my part, I do generally distinguish of two sorts of opinions in all men, Inclina∣tion-opinions, and Reason'd-opinions; Opinions that grow upon Mens Complexions, and Opinions that are the results of their Reason; and I meet with very few that are of a temperament so equal, or a constitution so even pois'd, but that they incline to one sett of Opinions rather than another, antecedently to all proofs of Reason: And when they have espous'd their opinions from that secret sym∣pathy, then they find out as good Reasons as they can to maintain them, and say, nay think sometimes, that 'twas for the sake of those Reasons that they first imbrac'd them. We may commonly distinguish these Inclination-opinions from the Rational, because we find them accompanied with more Heat than Light, a great deal of eagerness and impatience in defending of them, and but slen∣der arguments. One might give instances of this, both in Sects of Religion and Philosophy, in Platonists, Stoicks, and Epicureans, that are so by their temper more than their reason, but to our pur∣pose it will be sufficient to instance in one hearty Epicurean, Lu∣cretius, who is manifestly such, more from his inclination, and the bent of his Spirit, than from the force of Argument. For though his suppositions be very precarious, and his reasonings all along very slight, he will many times strut and triumph, as if he had wrested the Thunder out of Iove's right hand; and a Mathematician is not more confident of his demonstration, than he seems to be of the truth of his shallow Philosophy. From such a principle of natu∣ral Complexion as this, I allow a man may be Atheistical, but never from the calm dictate of his Reason; yet he may be as con∣fident, and as tenacious of his Conclusion, as if he had a clear and distinct evidence for it. For I take it to be a true Maxim in Hu∣mane Page 203 Nature, that A strong inclination, with a little evidence is equi∣valent to a strong evidence. And therefore we are not to be surpris•d if we find Men confident in their opinions many times far beyond the degree of their evidence, seeing there are other things, besides evidence, that incline the Will to one Conclusion rather than ano∣ther. And as I have instanc'd in Natural Complexion, so Interest hath the same effect upon Humane Nature, because it always be∣gets an inclination to those opinions that favour our interest, and a disinclination to the contrary; And this principle may be another ingredient, and secret perswasive to Atheism; for when men have run themselves so deep into Vice and Immorality, that they ex∣pect no benefit from a God, 'tis in a manner necessary to their quiet, and the ease of their mind, that they should fansie there is none; for they are afraid, if there be a God, that he will not stand neuter, and let them alone in another World. This, I say, is ne∣cessary to the quiet of their mind, unless they can attain that great Art, which many labour after, of non-reflection, or an unthinking faculty, as to God and a World to come, but to return to our Ar∣gument, after this short digression—
And as that regular diversity which we see in the forms of Na∣ture, and especially in the Bodies of Animals, could not be from any blind principle, either of Necessity or of Chance; So, in the last place, that Subordination which we see in the parts of Nature, and subserviency to one another, the less Noble to the more Noble, the Inanimate to the Animate, and all things upon Earth unto Man, must needs have been the effect of some Being higher than Matter; that did wisely dispose all things so at first, and doth still con∣serve them in the same order. If Man had been born into the World, and a numerous host of Creatures, without any provision or accommodation made for their subsistence and conveniences, we might have suspected that they had come by Chance, and there∣fore were so ill provided for: but which of them can complain? through their various Kinds and Orders, what is there awant∣ing? They are all fitted to their several Elements, and their ways of living, Birds, Beasts, and Fishes, both by the form and shape of their Bodies the manner of their covering, and the quality of their food. Besides, They are instructed in little Arts and Instincts for their con∣servation; and not only for their proper conservation, but also to find a way to make and bring up young ones, and leave behind them a Posterity; And all this in so fit a method, and by such a pretty train of actions, as is really admirable.
Man is the Master of all, and of him a double care is taken; that he should neither want what Nature can afford, nor what Art can supply. He could not be provided of all conveniences by Nature only, especially to secure him against the in•uries of the Air; but in recompence, Nature hath provided materials for all those Arts which she see would be needful in Humane Life, as Building, Cloathing, Navigation, Agriculture, &c. That so Mankind might have both wherewithal to answer their occasions, and also to im∣ploy their time, and exercise their ingenuity. This Oeconomy of Page 204 Nature, as I may call it, or well ordering of the great Family of living Creatures, is an argument both of Goodness and of Wis∣dom, and is every way far above the powers of brute Matter. All regular administration we ascribe to conduct and judgment; If an Army of Men be well provided for in things necessary both for Food, Cloaths, Arms, Lodging, Security and Defence, so as no∣thing is awanting in so great a multitude, we suppose it the effect of care and forecast in those persons that had the charge of it; they took their measures at first, computed and proportion'd one thing to another, made good regulations, and gave orders for con∣venient supplies. And can we suppose the great Army of Crea∣tures upon Earth manag'd and provided for with less fore-thought and Providence, nay, with none at all, by meer Chance? This is to recede from all rules and analogy of Reason, only to serve a turn, and gratifie an unreasonable humour.
To conclude this Argument; There are two general Heads of things, if I recollect aright, which we make the marks and cha∣racters of Wisdom and Reason, Works of Art, and the Conduct of affairs or direction of means to an end; and wheresoever we meet, either with regular material works, or a regular ordination of affairs, we think we have a good title and warrant to derive them from an intelligent Author; Now these two being found in the Natural World, and that in an eminent degree, the one in the Frame of it, and the other in the Oeconomy of it, we have all the evidence and ground that can be in arguing from things visible to things invisible, that there is an Author of Nature, Superiour both to Humane Power and Humane Wisdom.
Before we proceed to give any further proofs or discoveries of the Author of Nature, let us reflect a little upon those we have al∣ready insisted upon; which have been taken wholly from the Ma∣terial World, and from the common course of Nature. The very existence of Matter is a proof of a Deity, for the Idea of it hath no connexion with existence, as we shall show hereafter; however we will take leave now to set it down with the rest, in order as they follow one another.
- 1. The existence of Matter.
- 2. The Motion of Matter.
- 3. The just quantity and degree of that Motion.
- 4. The first form of the Universe upon Motion imprest; both as to the Divisions of Matter, and the Leading Motions.
- 5. The Laws for communication and regulation of that Motion.
- 6. The regular effects of it, espe∣cially in the Animate World.
- 7. The Oeconomy of Nature, and fit Subordination of one part of the World to another.
The five first of these Heads are prerequisites, and preparatives to the formation of a World, and the two last are as the image and character of its Maker, of his Power, Goodness and Wisdom, im∣prest upon it. Every one of them might well deserve a Chapter to it self, if the subject was to be treated on at large; but this is only Page 205 an occasional dissertation, to state the Powers of Matter, lest they should be thought boundless, and the Author of Nature unnecessa∣ry, as the Epicuraeans pretend; but notwithstanding their vain con∣fidence and credulity, I defie them, or any man else, to make sence of the Material World, without placing a God at the Center of it.
To these considerations taken wholly from the Corporeal World, give me leave to add one of a mixt nature, concerning the Uni∣on of our Soul and Body. This strange effect, if rightly understood, doth as truly discover the Author of Nature, as many Effects that are accounted more Supernatural. The Incarnation, as I may so say, of a Spiritual Substance, is to me a kind of standing miracle; That there should be such an union and connexion reciprocally betwixt the motions of the Body, and the actions and passions of the Soul: betwixt a substance Intellectual, and a parcel of orga∣niz'd Matter: can be no effect of either of those substances; be∣ing wholly distinct in themselves, and remote in their natures from one another. For instance, When my Finger is cut, or when 'tis burnt, that my Soul thereupon should feel such a smart and violent pain, is no consequence of Nature, or does not follow from any connexion there is betwixt the Motion or Division of that piece of Matter, I call my Finger, and the passion of that Spirit I call my Soul; for these are two distinct Essences, and in themselves inde∣pendent upon one another, as much as the Sun and my Body are independent; and there is no more reason in strict Nature, or in the essential chain of Causes and Effects, that my Soul should suffer, or be affected with this Motion in the Finger, than that the Sun should be affected with it; nay, there is less reason, if less can be, for the Sun being Corporeal, as the finger is, there is some remote possibility that there might be communication of Motion betwixt them; but Motion cannot beget a thought, or a passion, by its own force; Motion can beget nothing but Motion, and if it should pro∣duce a thought, the Effect would be more noble than the Cause. Wherefore this Union is not by any necessity of Nature, but only from a positive Institution, or Decree establisht by the Author of Na∣ture, that there should be such a communication betwixt these two substances for a time, viz. during the Vitality of the Body.
'Tis true indeed, if Thought, Apprehension, and Reason, was nothing but Corporeal Motion, this Argument would be of no force; but to suppose this, is to admit an absurdity to cure a diffi∣culty; to make a Thought out of a local Motion; is like making a God out of a Stock, or a Stone; for these two are as remote in their Nature, and have as different Idea's in the Mind, as any two disparate things we can propose or conceive; Number and Colour, a Triangle and Vertue, Free-will and a Pyramid are not more unlike, more distant, or of more different forms, than Thought and local Motion. Motion is nothing but a Bodies changing its place and situation amongst other Bodies, and what affinity or re∣semblance hath that to a Thought? How is that like to Pain, or to a Page 206 doubt of the Mind? to Hope or to Desire? to the Idea of God? to any act of the Will or Understanding, as judging, consenting, reasoning, remembring, or any other? These are things of seve∣ral orders that have no similitude, nor any mixture of one another. And as this is the nature of Motion, so, on the other hand, in a Thought there are two things, Consciousness, and a •epresentation; Consciousness is in all Thoughts indifferently, whether distinct or confus'd, for no Man thinks but he is conscious that he thinks, nor perceives any thing but he is conscious that he perceives it; there is also in a Thought, especially if it be distinct, a representation; 'tis the image of that we think upon, and makes its Object present to the Mind. Now what hath local Motion to do with either of these two, Consciousness, or Representativeness? How doth it in∣clude either of them, or hold them any way affixt to its Nature? I think one may with as good sence and reason ask of what colour a Thought is, green or scarlet, as what sort of Motion it is; for Motion of what sort soever, can never be conscious, not represent things as our Thoughts do. I have noted thus much in general, only to show the different nature of Motion and Cogitation, that we may be the more sensible that they have no mutual connexion in us, nor in any other Creature, from their essence or essential properties, but by a supervenient power from the Author of Na∣ture, who hath thus united the Soul and the Body in their ope∣rations.
We have hitherto only consider'd the ordinary course of Na∣ture, and what indications and proofs of its Author, that affords us; There is another remarkable Head of Arguments from effects extraordinary and supernatural, such as Miracles, Prophecies, In∣spirations, Prodigies, Apparitions, Witchcraft, Sorceries, &c. These, at one step, lead us to something above Nature, and this is the shortest way, and the most popular; several Arguments are suited to several tempers, and God hath not left himself without a proper witness to every temper that is not wilfully blind. Of these witnesses we now speak of, the most considerable are Miracles, and the most considerable Records of them are the Books of Scripture; which if we consider only as an History, and as having nothing Sacred in them more than other good Histories, that is, truth in matter of fact, we cannot doubt but there have been Miracles in the World; That Moses and the Prophets, our Saviour and his Apostles, wrought Miracles, I can no more question, than that Caesar and Alexander fought Battles, and took Cities. So also that there were true Prophecies and Inspirations, we know from Scri∣pture, only consider'd as a true History. But as for other superna∣tural effects that are not recorded there, we have reason to examine them more strictly before we receive them, at least as to particular instances; for I am apt to think they are like Lotteries, where there are ten or twenty Blanks for one Prize; but yet if there were no Prizes at all, the Lottery would not have credit to sub∣sist, and would be cry'd down as a perfect Cheat; So if amongst Page 207 those many stories of Prodigies, Apparitions, and Witchcrafts, there were not some true, the very fame and thought of them would die from amongst Men, and the first broachers of them would be hooted at as Cheats. As a false Religion that hath no∣thing true and solid mixt with it, can scarce be fixt upon Mankind; but where there is a mixture of true and false, the strength of the one supports the weakness of the other. As for Sorcery, the instances and examples of it are undeniable; not so much those few scatter'd instances that happen now and then amongst us, but such as are more constant, and in a manner National, in some Coun∣tries, and amongst barbarous people. Besides, the Oracles, and the Magick that was so frequent amongst the Ancients, show us that there have been always some Powers more than Humane tampering with the affairs of Mankind. But this Topick from effects Extra∣ordinary and Supernatural, being in a great measure Historical, and respecting evil Spirits as well as the Author of Nature, is not so proper for this place.
There is a third Sett or Head of Arguments, that to some tem∣pers are more cogent and convictive than any of these, namely, Arguments abstract and Metaphysical; And these do not only lead us to an Author of Nature in general, but show us more of his properties and perfections; represent him to us as a supream Deity, infinitely perfect, the fountain of all Being, and the steddy Center of all things. But reasons of this order, being of a finer thred, require more attention, and some preparation of Mind to make us discern them well, and be duly sensible of them. When a Man hath withdrawn himself from the noise of this busie World, lock'd up his Senses and his Passions, and every thing that would unite him with it: commanded a general silence in the Soul, and suf∣fers not a Thought to stir, but what looks inwards; Let him then reflect seriously, and ask himself, What am I, and How came I into Being? If I was Author and Original to my self, surely I ought to feel that mighty Power, and enjoy the pleasure of it; but, alas, I am conscious of no such force or Vertue, nor of any thing in my Nature, that should give me necessary existence; It hath no con∣nexion with any part of me, nor any faculty in me, that I can dis∣cern. And now that I do exist, from what Causes soever, Can I se∣cure my self in Being? now that I am in possession, am I sure to keep it? am I certain that three minutes hence I shall still exist? I may or I may not, for ought I see; Either seems possible in it self, and either is contingent as to me; I find nothing in my Nature that can warrant my subsistence for one day, for one hour, for one moment longer. I am nothing but Thoughts, fleeting Thoughts, that chase and extinguish one another; and my Being, for ought I know, is successive, and as dying as they are, and renew'd to me every moment. This I am sure of, that so far as I know my self, and am conscious what I am, there is no principle of immutability, or of necessary and inde∣fectible existence in my Nature; and therefore I ought in reason to be∣lieve, that I stand or fall at the mercy of other Causes, and not by my own will, or my own sufficiency.
Page 208 Besides, I am very sensible and in this I cannot be mistaken, that my Nature is in several respects, weak and imperfect; both as to Will and Understanding. I Will many things in vain, and without effect, and I Wish often what I have no ability to execute or ob∣tain. And as to my Understanding, how defective is it? how little or nothing do I know in comparison of what I am ignorant of? Almost all the Intellectual World is shut up to me, and the far great∣est part of the Corporeal; And in those things that fall under my cognizance, how often am I mistaken? I am confin'd to a nar∣row sphere, and yet within that sphere I often erre; my conceptions of things are obscure and confus'd, my reason short-sighted; I am forc'd often to correct my self, to acknowledge that I have judg'd false, and consented to an errour. In summ, all my powers I find are limited, and I can easily conceive the same kind of perfections in higher degrees than I possess them, and consequently there are Beings,* or may be, greater and more excellent than my self, and more able to subsist by their own power. Why should I not there∣fore believe that my Original is from those Beings rather than from my self? For every Nature, the more great and perfect it is, the nearer it approacheth to necessity of existence, and to a pow∣er of producing other things. Yet, the truth is, it must be acknow∣ledg'd, that so long as the perfections of those other Beings are li∣mited and finite, though they be far superiour to us, there is no ne∣cessity ariseth from their Nature that they should exist; and the same Arguments that we have us'd against our selves, they may, in proportion, use against themselves; and therefore we must still ad∣vance higher to find a self originated Being, whose existence must fl•w immediately from his essence, or have a necessary connextion with it.
And indeed all these different degrees of higher and higher per∣fections lead us directly to an highest, or Supream degree, which is infinite and unlimited Perfection. As subordinate causes lead to the first, so Natures more perfect one than another lead us to a Nature infinitely perfect, which is the Fountain of them all. Thi∣ther we must go, if we will follow the course of Reason, which cannot stop at one more than another, till it arrive there; And being arriv'd there, at that Soveraign and Original Perfection, it finds a firm and immoveable ground to stand upon; the steddy Cen∣ter of all Being, wherein the Mind rests and is satisfied. All the scruples or objections that we mov'd against our selves, or other Creatures, take no place here; This Being is conscious of an All-sufficiency in it self, and of immutability as to any thing else, including in it all the causes of existence, or, to speak more proper∣ly, all necessity of existence. Besides, that we exist our selves, not∣withstanding the imperfection and insufficiency of our Nature, is a just, collateral proof of the existence of this Supream Being; for such an effect as this cannot be without its Cause, and it can have no other competent Cause but that we mention. And as this Be∣ing is its own Origin, so it must needs be capable of producing all Page 209 Creatures; for whatsoever is possible, must be possible to it; and that Creatures or finite Beings are possible, we both see by experi∣ence, and may also discern by Reason; for those several degrees of perfection, or limitations of it, which we mention'd before, are all consistent Notions, and consequently make consistent Natures, and such as may exist; but contingently indeed, and in dependance up∣on the first Cause.
Thus we are come at length to a fair resolution of that great Question, Whence we are, and how we continue in Being? And this hath led us by an easie ascent to the Supreme Author of Nature, and the •irst Cause of all things; and presents us also with such a Scheme and Draught of the Universe, as is clear and rational; every thing in its order, and in its place, according to the dignity of its Nature, and the strength of its principles. When the Mind hath rais'd it self into this view of a Being infinitely perfect, 'tis in a Region of Light, hath a free prospect every way, and sees all things from top to bottom, as pervious and transparent. Whereas without God and a First Cause, there is nothing but darkness and confusion in the Mind, and in Nature; broken views of things, short interrupted glimpses of Light, nothing certain or demonstrative, no Basis of Truth, no extent of Thought, no Science, no Contemplation.
You will say, it may be, 'Tis true, something must be Eternal, and of necessary existence, but why may not Matter be this Eternal necessary Being? Then our Souls and all other Intellectual things must be parts and parcels of Matter; and what pretensions can Mat∣ter have to those properties and perfections that we find in our Souls, how limited soever? much less to necessary existence, and those perfections that are the foundation of it? What exists Eternal∣ly, and from it self, its existence must flow immediately from its es∣sence, as its cause, reason or ground; for as Existence hath always something antecedent to it in order of Nature, so that which is ante∣cedent to it must infer it by a necessary connexion, and so may be call'd the cause, ground, or reason of it. And nothing can be such a ground, but what is a perfection; nor every perfection neither, it must be Sovereign and Infinite perfection; for from what else can necessary existence flow, or be inferr'd? Besides, if that Being was not infinitely perfect, there might be another Being more power∣ful than it, and consequently able to oppose and hinder its Exi∣stence; and what may be hinder'd is contingent and arbitrary. Now Matter is so far from being a Nature infinitely perfect, that it hath no perfection at all, but that of bare substance; neither Life, Sense, Will or Understanding; nor so much as Motion, from it self; as we have show'd before. And therefore this brute inactive mass, which is but, as it were, the Drudge of Nature, can have no right or title to that Sovereign prerogative of Self existence.
We noted before, as a thing agreed upon, That something or other must needs be Eternal. For if ever there was a time or state, when Page 210 there was no Being, there never could be any. Seeing Nothing could not produce Something. Therefore 'tis undeniably true on all hands, That there was some Being from Eternity. Now, ac∣cording to our understandings, Truth is Eternal: therefore, say we, some intellect or Intelligent Being. So also the reasons of Goodness and Iustice appear to us Eternal, and therefore some Good and Just Being is Eternal. Thus much is plain, that these perfections which bear the signatures of Eternity upon them, are things that have no relation to Matter, but relate immediately to an Intellectu∣al Being: therefore some such Being, to whom they originally belong, must be that Eternal. Besides, We cannot possibly but judge such a Being more perfect than Matter; Now every Nature, the more perfect it is, the more remote it is from Nothing: and the more remote it is from Nothing, the more it approaches to necessity of existence, and consequently to Eternal Existence.
Thus we have made a short Survey, so far as the bounds of a Chapter would permit, of those evidences and assurances which we have, from abstract Reason, and the External World, that there is an Author of Nature; and That, a Being infinitely perfect, which we call God. We may add to these, in the last place, that uni∣versal consent of Mankind, or natural instinct of Religion, which we see, more or less, throughout all Nations, Barbarous or Ci∣vil. For though this Argument, 'tis true, be more disputable than the rest, yet having set down just grounds already from whence this Natural Judgment or perswasion might spring, we have more reason to impute it to some of those, and their insensible influ∣ence upon the Mind, than to the artifices of Men, or to make it a weakness, prejudice, or errour of our Nature. That there is such a propension in Humane Nature, seems to be very plain; at least so far as to move us to implore, and have recourse to invi∣sible Powers in our extremities. Prayer is natural in certain cases, and we do at the meer motion of our natural Spirit, and inde∣liberately, invoke God and Heaven, either in case of extreme dan∣ger, to help and assist us; or in case of injustice and oppression, to relieve or avenge us; or in case of false accusation, to vindicate our innocency; and generally in all cases desperate and remediless as to Humane Power, we seem to appeal, and address our selves to something higher. And this we do by a sudden impulse of Nature, without reflexion or deliberation. Besides, as witnesses of our Faith and Veracity, we use to invoke the Gods, or Superiour Powers, by way of imprecation upon our selves, if we be false and perjur'd; and this hath been us'd in most Nations and Ages, if not in all. These things also argue, that there is a Natural Conscience in Man, and a distinction of moral Good and Evil; and that we look upon those invisible Powers as the Guardians of Vertue and Honesty. There are also few or no People upon the Earth but have some∣thing of External Religion, true or false; and either of them is an argument of this natural anticipation, or that they have an opinion that there is something above them, and above visible Nature; Page 211 though what that something was, they seldom were able to make a good judgment. But to pursue this Argument particularly, would require an Historical deduction of Times and Places, which is not suitable to our present design.
To conclude this Chapter and this Subject; If we set Religion apart, and consider the Deist and Atheist only as two Sects in Phi∣losophy, or their doctrine as two different Hypotheses propos'd for the explication of Nature, and in competition with one another, whether should give the more rational account of the Universe, of its Origin and Phaenomena; I say, if we consider them only thus, and make an impartial estimate, whether System is more reason∣able, more clear, and more satisfactory, to me there seems to be no more comparison, than betwixt light and darkness. The Hypo∣thesis of the Deist reacheth from top to bottom, both thorough the Intellectual and Material World, with a clear and distinct light every where, is genuine, comprehensive, and satisfactory; hath nothing forc'd, nothing confus'd, nothing precarious; whereas the Hypothesis of the Atheist is strain'd and broken, dark and uneasie to the Mind, commonly precarious, often incongruous and irra∣tional, and sometimes plainly ridiculous. And this judgment I should make of them abstractly from the interest of Religion, con∣sidering them only as matter of Reason and Philosophy; And I dare affirm with assurance, if the faculties of our Souls be true, that no Man can have a System of Thoughts reaching thorough Nature, coherent and consistent in every part, without a Deity for the Basis of it.
CHAP. XI. Concerning NATURAL PROVIDENCE. Several incroachments upon Natural Providence, or misre∣presentations of it, and false methods of Contemplation; A true method propos'd, and a true representation of the Vniverse. The Mundane Idea, and the Vniversal Sy∣stem of Providence; Several subordinate Systems, That of our Earth and Sublunary World; The Course and Periods of it; How much of this is already treated of, and what remains. The Conclusion.
WE have set bounds to Nature in the foregoing Chapter, and plac'd her Author and Governour upon his Throne, to give Laws to her Motions, and to direct and limit her Power in such ways and methods as are most for his honour. Let us now consider Nature under the conduct of Providence, or consider Na∣tural Providence, and the extent of it; And as we were cautious before not to give too much power or greatness to Nature, consi∣der'd apart from Providence, so we must be careful now, under this second consideration, not to contract her bounds too much; lest we should by too mean and narrow thoughts of the Creation, Eclipse the glory of its Author, whom we have so lately own'd as a Being infinitely perfect.
And to use no further Introduction, In the first place, we must not by any means admit or imagine, that all Nature, and this great Universe, was made only for the sake of Man, the meanest of all Intelligent Creatures that we know of; Nor that this little Pla∣net where we sojourn for a few days, is the only habitable part of the Universe; These are Thoughts so groundless and unreason∣able in themselves, and also so derogatory to the Infinite Power, Wisdom, and Goodness of the First Cause, that as they are absurd in Reason, so they deserve far better to be mark'd and censur'd for Heresies in Religion, than many Opinions that have been censur'd for such, in former Ages. How is it possible that it should enter into the thoughts of vain Man, to believe himself the principal part of God's Creation: or that all the rest was ordain'd for him, for his service or pleasure? Man, whose follies we laugh at every day, or else complain of them; whose pleasures are vanity, and his Passions stronger than his Reason; Who sees himself every way weak and impotent, hath no power over external Nature, Page 213 little over himself; cannot execute so much as his own good reso∣lutions; mutable, irregular, prone to evil. Surely, if we made the least reflection upon our selves with impartiality, we should be asham'd of such an arrogant Thought. How few of these Sons of Men, for whom, they say, all things were made, are the Sons of Wisdom? How few find the paths of Life? They spend a few days in folly and sin, and then go down to the Regions of death and misery. And is it possible to believe, that all Nature, and all Pro∣vidence, are only, or principally for their sake? Is it not a more reasonable character or conclusion which the Prophet hath made, Surely every Man is vanity? Man that comes into the World at the pleasure of another, and goes out by an hundred accidents; His Birth and Education generally determine his fate here, and neither of those are in his own power; His wit also is as uncertain as his for∣tune; He hath not the moulding of his own Brain, however a knock on the Head makes him a Fool, stupid as the Beasts of the Field; and a little excess of passion or melancholy makes him worse, Mad and Frantick. In his best Senses, he is shallow, and of little understanding: and in nothing more blind and ignorant than in things Sacred and Divine; He falls down before a stock or a stone, and says, Thou art my God; He can believe non-sence and con∣tradictions, and make it his Religion to do so. And is this the great Creature which God hath made by the might of his Power, and for the honour of his Majesty? Upon whom all things must wait, to whom all things must be subservient? Methinks we have noted weaknesses and sollies enough in the Nature of Man, this need not be added as the top and accomplishment, That with all these he is so Vain, as to think that all the rest of the World was made for his sake.
And as due humility and the consideration of our own meanness, ought to secure us from any such vain opinion of our selves, so the perfection of other Beings ought to give us more respect and ho∣nour for them. With what face can we pretend, that Creatures far superiour to us, and more excellent both in Nature and condi∣tion, should be made for our sake and service? How preposterous would it be to ascribe such a thing to our Maker, and how into∣lerable a vanity in us to affect it? We that are next to the Brutes that perish by a sacrilegious attempt, would make our selves more considerable than the highest Dignities. It is thought to have been the crime of Lucifer, who was thrown down from Heaven to Hell, that he affected an equality with the Almighty; and to affect to be next to the Almighty is a crime next to that. We have no rea∣son to believe, but that there are, at least, as many orders of Beings above us, as there are ranks of Creatures below us; there is a grea∣ter distance sure betwixt us and God Almighty, than there is be∣twixt us and the meanest Worm: and yet we should take it very ill, if the Worms of the Earth should pretend that we were made for them. But to pass from the invisible World to the visible and Corporeal,— Page 214 Was that made only for our sake? King David was more wise, and more just both to God and Man, in his 8th Psalm; where he says, He wonders, when he considers the Heavens, that the Maker of them could think on Man. He truly supposes the Celestial Bodies and the Inhabitants of them, much more considerable than we are, and reckons up only Terrestrial things as put in subjection to Man. Can we then be so fond as to imagine all the Corporeal Universe made for our use? 'Tis not the Millioneth part of it that is known to us, much less useful; We can neither reach with our Eye, nor our imagination, those Armies of Stars that lie far and deep in the boundless Heavens. If we take a good Glass, we discover in∣numerably more Stars in the Firmament than we can with our single Eye; and yet if you take a second Glass, better than the first, that carries the sight to a greater distance, you see more still lying beyond the other; and a third Glass that pierceth further, still makes new discoveries of Stars; and so forwards, indefinitely and inexhaustedly for any thing we know, according to the immensity of the Divine Nature and Power. Who can reckon up the Stars of the Galaxy, or direct us in the use of them? And can we believe that those and all the rest were made for us? Of those few Stars that we enjoy, or that are visible to the Eye, there is not a tenth part that is really useful to Man; and no doubt if the principal end of them had been our pleasure or conveniency, they would have been put in some better order in respect of the Earth? They lie carelesly scatter'd, as if they had been sown in the Heaven, like Seed, by handfuls; and not by a skilful hand neither. What a beautiful Hemisphere they would have made, if they had been plac'd in rank and order, if they had been all dispos'd into regular figures and the little ones set with due regard to the greater, then all finisht and made up into one fair piece or great Composition; according to the rules of Art and Symmetry. What a surprizing beauty this would have been to the Inhabitants of the Earth? What a lovely Roof to our little World? This indeed might have given one some Temptation to have thought that they had been all made for us; but lest any such vain imagination should now enter into our thoughts, Providence (besides more important Reasons) seems on purpose to have left them under that negligence or disorder which they appear in to us.
The second part of this opinion supposeth this Planet, where we live, to be the only habitable part of the Universe; and this is a natural consequence of the former; If all things were made to serve us, why should any more be made than what is useful to us. But 'tis only our ignorance of the System of the World, and of the grandeur of the Works of God, that betrays us to such narrow thoughts.* If we do but consider what this Earth is, both for little∣ness and deformity, and what its Inhabitants are, we shall not be apt to think that this miserable Atome hath ingross'd and exhausted all the Divine Favours, and all the riches of his goodness, and of his Providence. But we will not inlarge upon this part of the opinion, lest it should carry us too far from the subject, and it will fall, of its own Page 215 accord, with the former. Upon the whole we may conclude, that it was only the Sublunary World that was made for the sake of Man, and not the Great Creation, either Material or Intellectual; and we cannot admit or affirm any more, without manifest in∣jury, depression, and misrepresentation of Providence, as we may be easily convinc'd from these four Heads; The Meanness of Man and of this Earth, The Excellency of other Beings, The Immensity of the Universe, and The infinite perfection of the first Cause. Which I leave to your further Meditation, and pass on to the second rule, concerning Natural Providence.
In the second place then, if we would have a fair view and right apprehensions of Natural Providence, we must not cut the chains of it too short, by having recourse, without necessity, either to the First Cause, in explaining the Origins of things: or to Miracles, in explaining particular effects. This, I say, breaks the chains of Natural Providence, when it is done without necessity, that is, when things are otherwise ntelligible from Second Causes. Neither is any thing gain'd by it to God Almighty; for 'tis but, as the Proverb says, to rob Peter to pay Paul, to take so much from his ordinary Providence, and place it to his extraordinary. When a new Religion is brought into the World, 'tis very reasonable and decorous that it should be usher'd in with Miracles, as both the Iewish and Christian were; but afterwards things return into their Chanel, and do not change or overflow again, but upon extraor∣dinary occasions or revolutions. The power Extraordinary of God is to be accounted very Sacred, not to be touch'd or expos'd for our pleasure or conveniency; but I am afraid we often make use of it only to conceal our own ignorance, or to save us the trouble of inquiring into Natural Causes. Men are generally unwilling to appear ignorant, especially those that make profession of know∣ledge, and when they have not skill enough to explain some par∣ticular effect in a way of Reason, they throw it upon the First Cause, as able to bear all; and so placing it to that account, they excuse themselves, and save their credit; for all Men are equally wise, if you take away Second Causes; as we are all of the same co∣lour, if you take away the Light.
But to state this matter,* and see the ground of this rule more distinctly, we must observe and consider, that The Course of Nature is truly the Will of God; and, as I may so say, his first Will; from which we are not to recede, but upon clear evidence and necessity. And as in matter of Religion, we are to follow the known reveal'd Will of God, and not to trust to every impulse or motion of En∣thusiasm, as coming from the Divine Spirit, unless there be evi∣dent marks that it is Supernatural, and cannot come from our own; So neither are we, without necessity, to quit the known and or∣dinary Will and Power of God establisht in the course of Nature, and fly to Supernatural Causes, or his extraordinary Will; for this is a kind of Enthusiasm or Fanaticism, as well as the other: And no doubt that great prodigality and waste of Miracles which some make, is no way to the honour of God or Religion. 'Tis true, the Page 216 other extream is worse than this, for to deny all Miracles, is in effect to deny all reveal'd Religion; therefore due measures are to be taken betwixt these two, so as neither to make the Divine Power too mean and cheap, nor the Power of Nature illimited and all-sufficient.
In the Third place, To make the Scenes of Natural Providence considerable, and the knowledge of them satisfactory to the Mind; we must take a true Philosophy, or the true principles that govern Nature, which are Geometrical and Mechanical. By these you dis∣cover the footsteps of the Divine Art and Wisdom, and trace the progress of Nature step by step, as distinctly as in Artificial things, where we see how the Motions depend upon one another, in what order and by what necessity. God made all things in Number, Wei•ht and Measure, which are Geometrical and Mechanical Prin∣ciples; He is not said to have made things by Forms and Quali∣ties, or any combination of Qualities, but by these three prin∣ciples, which may be conceiv'd to express the subject of three Ma∣thematical Sciences, Number, of Arithmetick; Weight, of Staticks; and Measure and Proportion, of Geometry; If then all things were made according to these principles, to understand the manner of their construction and composition, we must proceed in the search of them by the same principles, and resolve them into these again. Besides, The nature of the subject does direct us sufficiently; for when we contemplate or treat of Bodies, and the Material World, we must proceed by the modes of Bodies, and their real proper∣ties, such as can be represented, either to Sense or Imagination, for these faculties are made for Corporeal Things; but Logical No∣tions, when appli'd to particular Bodies, are meer shadows of them, without light or substance. No Man can raise a Theory upon such grounds, nor calculate any revolutions of Nature; nor render any service, or invent any thing useful in Humane Life: And accordingly we see, that for these many Ages, that this dry Philosophy hath govern'd Christendom, it hath brought forth no fruit, produc'd nothing good, to God or Man, to Religion or Humane Society.
To these True Principles of Philosophy, we must joyn also the True System of the World. That gives scope to our thoughts, and rational grounds to work upon; but the Vulgar System, or that which Aristotle and others have propos'd, affords no matter of con∣templation. All above the Moon, according to him, is firm as Ada∣mant, and as immutable; no change or variation in the Universe, but in those little removes that happen here below, one quality or form shifting into another; there would therefore be no great ex∣ercise of Reason or Meditation in such a World; no long Series's of Providence; The Regions above being made of a kind of immu∣table Matter, they would always remain in the same form, stru∣cture, and qualities: So as we might lock up that part of the Universe as to any further Inquiries, and we should find it ten thousand years hence in the same form and state wherein we left it. Then in this Sublunary World there would be but very small Page 217 doings neither, things would lie in a narrow compass, no great re∣volution of Nature, no new Form of the Earth, but a few anni∣versary Corruptions and Generations, and that would be the short and the long of Nature, and of Providence, according to Aristotle. But if we consider the Earth, as one of those many Planets that move about the Sun, and the Sun as one of those innumerable fixt Stars that adorn the Universe, and are the Centers of its greatest Motions; and all this subject to fate and change, to corruptions and renovations; This opens a large Field for our Thoughts; and gives a large subject for the exercise and expansion of the Divine Wisdom and Power, and for the glory of his Providence.
In the last place, Having thus prepar'd your Mind, and the sub∣ject, for the Contemplation of Natural Providence, do not content your self to consider only the present face of Nature, but look back into the first Sources of things, into their more simple and origi∣nal states; and observe the progress of Nature from one form to another, through various modes and compositions. For there is no single Effect, nor any single state of Nature, how perfect soever, that can be such an argument and demonstration of Providence, as a Period of Nature, or a revolution of several states consequen∣tial to one another; and in such an order and dependance, that as they flow and succeed, they shall still be adjusted to the periods of the Moral World; so as to be ready always to be Ministers of the Divine Justice or beneficence to Mankind. This shows the mani∣fold riches of the Wisdom and Power of God in Nature. And this may give us just occasion to reflect again upon Aristotle's System and method, which destroys Natural Providence in this respect also; for he takes the World as it is now, both for Matter and Form, and supposeth it to have been in this posture from all Eternity, and that it will continue to Eternity in the same; so as all the great turns of Nature, and the principal scenes of Providence in the Na∣tural World are quite struck out; and we have but this one Scene for all, and a pitiful one too, if compar'd with the Infinite Wis∣dom of God, and the depths of Providence. We must take things in their full extent, and from their Origins, to comprehend them well, and to discover the Mysteries of Providence, both in the Causes and in the Conduct of them. That method which David followed in the Contemplation of the Little World, or in the Body of Man, we should also follow in the Great; take it in its first mass, in its tender principles and rudiments, and observe the pro∣gress of it to a compleat form; In these first stroaks of Nature are the secrets of her Art; The Eye must be plac'd in this point to have a right prospect, and see her works in a true light. David admires the Wisdom of God in the Origin and formation of his Body;*My Body, says He, was not hid from thee, when I was made in secret, curiously wrought in the lower parts of the Earth; Thine eyes did see my substance being yet unperfect, and in thy Book all my members were written; which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them, or being at first in no form. How precious are thy Thoughts to me, O God, &c. This was the subject of David's Meditations, how his Body was wrought from a shapeless mass into Page 218 that marvellous composition which it had when fully fram'd; and this, he says, was under the Eye of God all along, and the model of it, as it were, was design'd and delineated in the Book of Provi∣dence, according to which it was by degrees fashion'd and wrought to perfection. Thine eyes did see my substance yet being imperfect, in thy Book all my members were drawn, &c. Iob also hath aptly ex∣prest those first rudiments of the Body, or that little Chaos out of which it riseth,*Hast thou not poured me out as Milk, and crudled me like Cheese? Thou hast cloathed me with Skin and Flesh, and fenced me with Bones and Sinews. Where he notes the first Matter and the last Form of his Body, its compleat and most incompleat state. Ac∣cording to those examples we must likewise consider the Greater Bodies of Nature, The Earth and the Sublunary World; we must go to the Origin of them, the Seminal Mass, the Chaos out of which they rise; Look upon the World first as an Embryo world, without form or shape, and then consider how its Members were fashion'd, how by degrees it was brought into that diversity of Parts and Regions, which it consists of, with all their furniture, and with all their ornaments. The Idea of all which was before hand, according to David's expression, written in the Divine Mind; and we partake of that wisdom, according to our capacity, in seeing and admiring the methods of it.
These seem to be necessary preparatives or directions to those that would contemplate, with profit, Natural Providence, and the great Works of God in the Visible Creation. We consider'd Nature in the precedent Chapter abstractly, and in her self, and now we con∣sider her under the Conduct of Providence, which we therefore call Natural Providence; And as we have endeavour'd to remove those false Notions and Suppositions that lay as Clouds upon her face, so we must now endeavour to represent her in a better light, and in a fuller beauty. By Natural Providence therefore we un∣derstand, The Form or Course of Universal Nature, as actuated by the Divine Power: with all the Changes, Periods, and Vicissitudes that at∣tend it, according to the method and establishment made at first, by the Author of it. I said of Universal Nature, through all the Orders of Beings in the Intellectual World, and all the Regions and Systems of Matter in the Corporeal. For, having prov'd in the foregoing Chapter, that there is an Author of Nature, a Being Infinitely Per∣fect, by whose power and influence alone all finite Natures exist and act, we have an assured ground to conclude, that nothing can come to pass, throughout the whole Creation, without the pre∣science and permission of its Author; and as it is necessary to sup∣pose that there is an Idea in the Divine Understanding of all the mass of Beings produc'd or Created, according to the several ranks and orders wherein they stand; so there is also an Idea there, ac∣cording to which this great Frame moves, and all the parts of it, in beauty and harmony.
And these two things, The Essences of all Beings, and the Series of their Motions, compose the MUNDANE IDEA, as I may so call it; or that great All-comprehensive Thought in the Di∣vine Understanding, which contains the System of Universal Pro∣vidence, Page 219 and the state of all things, past, present, or to come. This glorious Idea is the express Image of the whole Creation, of all the Works of God, and the disposition of them; here lie the mysteries of Providence, as in their Original; The successive Forms of all Nature; and herein as in a Glass, may be view'd all the Scenes of Time or Eternity. This is an Abyss of Sacred Wisdom, The in∣exhausted Treasure of all Science, The Root of Truth, and Foun∣tain of Intellectual Light; and in the clear and full contemplation of this is perfect happiness, and a truly Beatifick Vision.
But what concerns the Intellectual World in this Idea, and the Orders or Natures that compose it, is not our present business to pursue; We are to speak of the Corporeal Universe, whereof we will make now a short and general Survey, as it lies under Pro∣vidence. The Corporeal Universe, how immense soever it be, and divided into innumerable Regions, may be consider'd all as one System, made up of several subordinate Systems. And there is also one immense design of Providence co-extended with it, that contains all the fate, and all the revolutions of this great Mass. This, I say, is made up of several subordinate Systems, involving one another, and comprehending one another, in greater and greater Orbs and Compositions; and the Aggregate of all these is that which we call the Universe. But what the form of these Compositions is, and what the Design of Providence that runs thorough them all, and compre∣hends them all, this is unsearchable, not only to Humane Under∣standing, but even to Angels and Archangels.
Wherefore leaving those greater Systems and Compositions of the Universe, as matter of our admiration, rather than of our knowledge, There are two or three kinds of lesser Systems that are visible to us, and bring us nearer to our subject, and nearer home. That of a Fixt Star, single; That of a Fixt Star with its Planets, and That of a single Planet, Primary or Secondary. These three Systems we see and enjoy more or less. No doubt there are Fixt Stars single, or that have no Planets about them, as our Sun hath; nay, 'tis probable, that at first the whole Universe consisted only of such; Globes of liquid Fire, with Spheres about them of pure Light and Aether: Earths are but the dirt and skum of the Crea∣tion, and all things were pure as they came at first out of the hands of God. But because we have nothing particular taught us, either by the light of Nature or Revelation, concerning the Provi∣dence that governs these single Stars, of what use they are to Intel∣lectual Beings, how animated by them, what diversity there is a∣mongst those Aethereal Worlds, what Periods they have, what Changes or Vicissitudes they are capable to undergo; because such Inquiries would seem too remote, and carry us too far from our subject, we leave these Heavenly Systems to the enjoyment and con∣templation of higher and more noble Creatures.
The Sun, with all the Planets that move about him, and de∣pend upon him, make a good sort of System; not considerable in∣deed, if compar'd with the whole Universe, or some of the greater Compositions in it, but in respect of us, the System of the Sun is of vast extent; We cannot measure the greatness of his Kingdom, Page 220 and his Dominion is without end. The distance from the highest Planet to the nearest Fixt Star in the Firmament is unmeasurable, and all this belongs to the Empire of the Sun; besides the several Planets and their Orbs, which cast themselves closer about his Body, that they may receive a warmer and stronger influence from him; for by him they may be said to live and move. But those vast spaces that lie beyond these Opake Bodies, are Regions of perpetual light; One Planet may Eclipse the Sun to another, and one Hemisphere of a Planet to the other Hemisphere makes night and darkness, but nothing can Eclipse the Sun, or intercept the course of his light to these remote Aethereal Regions; They are always luminous, and always pure and serene. And if the worst and Planetary parts of his Dominions be replenisht with Inhabitants, we cannot suppose the better to lie as Desarts, uninjoy'd and uninhabited; his Subjects then must be numerous, as well as his Dominions large; and in both respects, this System of a Fixt Star, with its Planets (of which kind we may imagine innumerable in the Universe, besides this of the Sun, which is near and visible to us) is of a noble Character and Order, being the habitation of Angels and glorified Spirits, as well as of Mortal Men.
A Planetary System is the last and lowest; and of these, no doubt, there is great variety, and great differences; not only of Primary and Secondary, or of the principal Planet, and its Moons or Attendants, but also amongst Planets of the same rank; for they may differ both in their original constitution, and according to the from and state they are under at present; of which sort of diffe∣rences we have noted* some amongst our Planets, though they seem to be all of much-what the same original constitution. Besides, according to external circumstances, their distance, manner of mo∣tion, and posture to the Sun, which is the Heart of the whole Sy∣stem, they become different in many things. And we may ob∣serve, that those leading differences, though they seem little, draw after them innumerable others, and so make a distinct face of Na∣ture, and a distinct World; which still shows the riches and fe∣cundity of Divine Providence, and gives new matter of contem∣plation to those that take pleasure in studying the works and ways of God. But leaving all other Planets or Planetary Systems to our meditations only, we must particularly consider our own.
Having therefore made this general Survey of the great Universe, run thorough the boundless Regions of it, and with much ado found our way home to that little Planet where our concerns lie, This Earth or Sublunary World, we must rest here as at the end of our course. And having undertaken to give the general Theory of this Earth, to conclude the present Treatise, we'll reflect upon the whole work, and observe what progress we have hitherto made in this Theory, and what remains to be treated of hereaf∣ter. This Earth, though it be a small part or particle of the Uni∣verse, hath a distinct System of Providence belonging to it, or an Order establisht by the Author of Nature for all its Phaenomena (Natural or Moral) throughout the whole Period of its duration, and every interval of it; for as there is nothing so great as to be Page 221 above the Divine care, so neither is there any thing so little as to be below it. All the Changes of our World are fixt, How, or how often to be destroy'd, and how renew'd; What different faces of Nature, and what of Mankind, in every part of its Course; What new Scenes to adorn the Stage, and what new parts to be acted; What the Entrance, and what the Consummation of all. Neither is there any sort of knowledge more proper, or of more importance to us that are the Inhabitants of this Earth, than to understand this its Natural and Sacred History, as I may so call it, both as to what is past, and what is to come. And as those greater Volumes and Compositions of the Universe are proportion'd to the under∣standing of Angels and Superiour Beings, so these little Systems are Compendium's of the Divine Wisdom, more fitted to our capacity and comprehension.
The Providence of the Earth, as of all other Systems consists of two parts, Natural, and Sacred or Theological. I call that Sacred or Theological that respects Religion, and the dispensations of it; the government of the Rational World, or of Mankind whether under the Light of Nature only, or of a Revelation; the method and terms of their happiness and unhappiness in a Future Life; The State, Oeconomy, and Conduct of this, with all the Mysteries contain'd in it, we call Theological Providence; in the head where∣of stands the Soul of the Blessed Messiah, who is Lord of both Worlds, Intellectual and Material. When we call the other part of Providence Natural, we use that word in a restrain'd sence, as respecting only the Material World; and accordingly this part of Providence others and superintends the state of the Earth, the great Vicissitudes and Mutations of it; for we must not imagine, but that these are under the Eye of Providence, as well as Humane Affairs, or any revolutions of States and Empires. Now seeing both in the Intellectual and Corporeal World there are certain Pe∣riods, Fulnesses of Time, and fixt Seasons, either for some great Catastrophe, or some great Instauration, 'Tis Providence that makes a due harmony or Synchronism betwixt these two, and measures out the concurrent fates of both Worlds, so as Nature may be always a faithful minister of the Divine Pleasure, whether for rewards or pu∣nishments, according as the state of Mankind may require. But The∣ological Providence not being the subject of this work, we shall only observe, as we said before, what account we have hitherto given of the Natural state of the Earth, and what remains to be handled in another Treatise, and so conclude.
I did not think it necessary to carry the story and original of the Earth, higher than the Chaos, as Zoroaster and Orpheus seem to have done; but taking that for our Foundation, which Antiquity Sacred and Profane doth suppose, and Natural Reason approve and confirm, we have form'd the Earth from it. But when we say the Earth rise from a Fluid Mass, it is not to be so crudely understood, as if a rock of Marble, suppose, was fluid immediately before it be∣came Marble; no, Things had a gradual progression from one form to another, and came at length to those more permanent forms they are now setled in: Stone was once Earth, and Earth was once Mud, Page 222 and Mud was once sluid. And so other things may have another kind of progression from fluidity; but all was once fluid, at least all the exteriour Regions of this Earth. And even those Stones and Rocks of Marble which we speak of, seem to confess they were once soft or liquid, by those mixtures we find in them of Heterogeneous Bodies, and those spots and Veins disperst thorough their substance; for these things could not happen to them after they were hard and impenetrable, in the form of Stone or Marble. And if we can soften Rocks and Stones, and run them down into their first Liquors, as these observations seem to do, we may easily believe that other Bodies also that compose the Earth, were once in a Fluid Mass, which is that we call a Chaos.
We therefore watch'd the motions of that Chaos, and the several transformations of it, while it continued Fluid; and we found at length what its first Concretion would be, and how it setled into the form of an habitable Earth. But that form was very different from the present form of the Earth, which is not immediately deducible from a Chaos, by any known Laws of Nature, or by any Wit of Man; as every one, that will have patience to examine it, may easily be satisfied. That First Earth was of a smooth regular surface, as the Concretions of Liquors are, before they are disturb'd or broken; under that surface lay the Great Abyss, which was ready to swallow up the World that hung over it, and about it, whensoever God should give the command, and the Vault should break; and this constitution of the Primaeval Earth gave occasion to the first Cata∣strophe of this World, when it perisht in a Deluge of Water. For that Vault did break, as we have shown at large, and by the dissolu∣tion and fall of it, the Great Deep was thrown out of its bed, forc'd upwards into the Air, and overflow'd, in that impetuous Commotion, the highest tops of the Fragments of the ruin'd Earth, which now we call its Mountains. And as this was the first great and fatal Period of Nature; so upon the issue of this, and the return of the Waters into their Chanels, the second face of Nature appear'd, or the present broken form of the Earth, as it is Terraqueous, Mountainous, and Cavernous. These things we have explain'd fully in the First Book, and have thereby setled two great Points, given a rational account of the Universal Deluge, and shown the Causes of the irregular form of the present or Post-diluvian Earth. This being done, we have ap∣ply'd our selves, in the Second Book, to the description of the Pri∣maeval Earth, and the examination of its properties; and this hath led us by an easie tract to the discovery of Paradise, and of the true Notion and Mystery of it; which is not so much a spot of ground where a fine Garden stood, as a course of Nature, or a peculiar state of the Earth; Paradisiacal in many parts, but especially in one Region of it; which place or Region we have also endeavour'd to determine, though not so much from the Theory, as from the suf∣frages of Antiquity, if you will take their judgment.
THUS much is finisht, and this contains the Natural Theory of the Earth till this present time; for since the Deluge all things have continued in the same state, or without any remarkable change. Page 223 We are next to enter upon new Matter and new Thoughts, and not only so, but upon a Series of Things and Times to come, which is to make the Second Part of this Theory. Dividing the duration of the World into two parts, Past and Future, we have dispatch'd the first and far greater part, and come better half of our way; And if we make a stand here, and look both ways, backwards to the Chaos, and the beginning of the World, and forwards to the End and Consummation of all Things, though the first be a longer prospect, yet there are as many general Changes and Revolutions of Nature in the remaining part as have already happen'd; and in the Evening of this long Day the Scenes will change faster, and be more bright and illustrious. From the Creation to this Age the Earth hath undergone but one Catastrophe, and Nature hath had two different faces. The next Catastrophe is the CONFLA∣GRATION, to which a new face of Nature will accordingly succeed,*New Heavens and a New Earth, Paradise renew'd, and so it is call'd the Restitution of things, or Regeneration of the World. And that Period of Nature and Providence being expir'd, then fol∣lows the Consummation of all things, or the General Apotheosts; when Death and Hell shall be swallowed up in victory; When the great Circle of Time and Fate is run; or according to the language of Scripture, When the Heavens and the Earth shall pass away, and Time shall be no more.
MAY we, in the mean time, by a true Love of God above all things, and a contempt of this Vain World which passeth away; By a careful use of the Gifts of God and Nature, the Light of Reason and Revelation, prepare our selves, and the state of things, for the great Coming of our Saviour. To whom be Praise and Honour for evermore.