Page images


through which the moist vapours have a free and open CHAP. passage; and thence there are not only more frequent springs there, but clouds and rains too. Now if this account of the origin of springs in the earth be as rational as it is ingenious and handsome, (and there is not much can be said against it, but only that then all fountains should be salt as the water is from whence they come,) then we easily understand how the earth might be overflowed in the universal deluge; for then the fountains of the deep were broken up, or there was an universal opening of the veins of the earth, whereby all the water contained in them would presently run upon the surface of the earth, and must needs, according to its proportion, advance itself to a considerable height. But because the salving the difference of the water in springs from what it is in the sea is so considerable a phenomenon in our present case, I therefore rather take this following as the most rational account of the origin of fountains, viz. that there are great cavities in the earth, which are capable of receiving a considerable quantity of water, which continually runs into them from the sea, (which as it continually receives fresh supplies from the rivers which empty themselves into it, so it dispatcheth away a like quantity through those spongy parts of the earth under the ocean, which are most apt to suck in and convey away the surplusage of water;) so that by this means the sea never swells by the water conveyed into it by the rivers, there being as continual a circulation in the body of the earth of the water which passeth out of the ocean into the subterraneous caverns, and from thence to the mountains, and thence into the sea again, as there is a circulation of blood in man's body from the heart by the arteries into the exterior parts, and returning back again by the veins into the heart. Ac


BOOK cording to which we may imagine such a place in the

heart of the earth like Plato's Baratrum, Iliad. 0. 14. Τηλε μάλ', ήχι βαθιστον υπό χθονός έστι βέρεθρον.

As Plato in his Phædrus describes it out of Homer, a long and deep subterraneous cavity, eis ydp TOŪTO χάσμα συρρέουσί τε πάντες οι ποταμοί, και εκ τούτου πάλιν πάνTes éxpéovor. Into which cavity all the rivers at last flow, and from which they again disperse themselves abroad. Now this cavity of the earth, thus filled with water, supplies the place of the heart in the body of the earth, from which all those several aqueducts which are in the earth have their continual supply; but that which makes those passages of water, which we call springs and fountains properly, I suppose, is thus generated : from those cavities filled with water in the earth, by reason of the hot steams which are in the body of the earth, there are continually rising some vapours, or little particles of water, which are disjoined from each other by the heat, by reason of which they attain a greater celerity of motion, and so pass through the inner pores of the earth, till they come near the superficies of it; which when they have approached to, they are beat back again by the cold, which environs the surface of the earth, or at least are so arrested by the cold, and condensed by it, that they lose the form of vapours, and become perfect water again: which water, being now more gross than while it was a mere vapour, cannot descend again through the same pores through which it ascended before, because these are not now capable of receiving it; and therefore it seeks out some wider passages near the surface of the earth, by which means it moves in an oblique manner, and is ready to embrace any other vapours which are arrested in the same manner. Now when these are grown to a considerable body in the surface of a mountain or a


plain, and find a vent fit for them, there appears a CHAP. proper fountain, whose streams are still maintained by the same condensation of vapours; which, when they are once come abroad, are in continual motion, whereby rivers are made, which are still finding a passage through the declivity of the surface of the earth, whereby they may return to the ocean again. Now according to this account, that grand phenomenon of the freshness of fountain-water, when the water of the sea is salt, whence it originally comes, is sufficiently resolved. For mere transcolation may by degrees take away that which the chemists call the fixed salt; and for the volatile salt of it, (which being a more spirituous thing, is not removable by distillation, and so neither can it be by transcolation ;) yet such an evaporation as that mentioned may serve to do it, because it is evident that fresh water will fall from the clouds, which hath risen from those vapours which have come out of the sea; and besides, these vapours, or small particles of water, in their passage through the earth, (especially when they come near the surface of it,) do incorporate with other sweet vapours, as those which coine from rain and others, by which means they insensibly lose their former acidity and sharpness. But those fountains which do retain their former saltness, as there are many such in the world, may very probably be supposed not to have come from those vapours condensed, but to be a kind of breaking of a vein, in which the salt water was conveyed up and down the body of the earth. Now then, considering that mass of waters, and multitude of vapours arising thence which are in the earth, how easy is it for us to understand what the breaking open the fountains of the deep means in Scripture, and how by that means, together with the falling down of the cataracts of the



BOOK clouds, and the letting loose of the ocean, the whole

earth might be overspread with an universal deluge! The possibility of which was the thing to be shewed.

The next thing we come to concerning the flood, is the capacity of the ark for receiving the several animals which were to propagate the world afterwards. Concerning which, two things are necessary to be understood; what the measure of the ark was, and what the number of animals contained in it.

The measure of the ark must be determined by the proportion of the cubit; which there is no reason at all to suppose, either with Origen and others, to have been the geometrical cubit, which contains six ordinary cubits, or nine feet; both because we find no mention at all of any such cubit in Scripture, and because the fabric of the ark would have been of too vast a proportion. Neither yet is it probable, what sir W. Raleigh supposeth, that this cubit must be of a proportion as much exceeding ours as the stature of a giant doth ours, both because there is no certain evidence, either from Scripture or reason, that the proportion of men then did generally exceed what is now; and, besides, this tends not in the least to make the thing more plain. For according to that proportion, we must then have imagined beasts to have been as well as men; for the horse must have been proportionably as great to have been serviceable to men of that stature, and so the animals would have taken up as much more room in the ark as the cubit is supposed to be bigger. I suppose, then, that Moses speaks of the cubit most in use in his own time, (for he wrote so that they for whose use he wrote might be easily able to understand him). Now this cubit, by the consent of writers, contained a

foot and a half in length; according to which proporGen. vi. 15. tion, supposing the ark, by Moses's description, to have



300 cubits in length, 50 in breadth, and 30 in height, CHAP. the whole capacity of the ark, according to the computation of Joh. Buteo, comes to 450,000' solid cubits. Buteo de

Arca Noe, For the length of 300 cubits being multiplied into the p. 93. breadth of 50 cubits, and the product by the height of 30 cubits, makes the whole concavity 450,000. Which Mattheus Hostus reducing to the German measure, Hostus de makes the longitude of the ark to be 31 perches, 4 cu- Arcæ Noah, bits, 5 fingers; the latitude 5 perches, 2 cubits, and th. 66. 11 fingers; the altitude 3 perches, 1 cubit, 9 fingers, allowing to every perch 15 Roman feet. So that if we take a perch to contain 10 Hebrew cubits, which exceeds the former 11 fingers, the whole capacity of the ark will be 450 cubical perches. And as he saith, Hujusmodi sane ædificii amplitudo capacissima est, et quamlibet magno animantium numero haud dubie sufficere potuit, the ark of so large a capacity might easily contain the several kinds of animals in it. Which will be easily understood, if, according to our former supposition, only the animals of the inhabited part of the world were preserved in the ark; but admitting that all kinds of animals were there, there would be room enough for them, and for provision for them. For which sir W. Raleigh gives a prudent caution, that men ought not to take animals of a mixed nature, as mules and hyænas, nor such as differ in size and shape from each other, as the cat of Europe, and ounce of India, into the several species of animals. Sir W. Raleigh, following Buteo, reckons eighty-nine, or, lest any be omitted, one hundred several kinds of beasts; and undertakes to demonstrate, from a triple proportion of all beasts to the ox, wolf, and sheep, that there was sufficient capacity for them in the ark. Hostus allows one hundred and fifty several kinds of animals, yet questions not the capacity of the ark:

« PreviousContinue »