William Nicholls.

A Conference with a Theist : containing an answer to all the most usual objections of the infidels against the Christian religion ... (Volume 1) online

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hving in a red hot Oven for an hour or twoj as in fuch a
fultry Armofphere as this. And it is hard to think, that
this Comet fhould give no more Difturbance in this Part
of the Univerfe, but only to turn the Earth's ^-^wW Or-
^/>, from a Circle to an Ellipfis ; for according to Mr*
Newton % Principles, if the Comet had been bigger than
the Earth, it had carried it away to Rights in its ParaboUy
through the vaft extra-faturnine Spaces ; and 'i£ it had
been lefs, it had been ftopt by the Earth, and fo we had
been troubled with its fmoky Tail about us ever fince*
Or if it had been of the fame Bignefs with the Earthy
and if it had well nigh the fame Celerity with the Earthy
we fhould have had the fame troublefome Companion
neveithelefs ; or however, it is ten thoufand to one, but
it would have run away with our Moony if it had happen-
ed to have come nigher to That than the Earth does. Nor
does it lie eafy upon my Mind, how fuch a prodigious
Qtiantity of Water, that he fuppofes to have come from
the Comet, could be difpofed of; it is impoffible ic could
be one quarter of it fufpended in the Air, or lodged in
the Chanels of the Seas ; for the Chanels could bear no
proportion to it. Nor can I think the Seas were fo much
as inlarged by the Deluge^ but that they both, before
and (ince, have been growing lefs, and lefs, by the pro-
digious Qiiantities of Water eroploy'd in the Produd"ion
of Trees and Plants, which are reduced afterv/ard into
Moldy and always retain the Species of Earth, or lie
buried in the Ground, and never return to the Sea again»
To fay nothing of how much more is employed iti the
Concretion of Stories and conchous Subftances, how
much is licked up by the 'L/Ether out of the Atmofphere
as the Earth is fwimming through it, how much more
flies over in Vapours to the Poles, notv/ithftanding the
barricado of the Hills, is frozen there, arid never returns
^gain, unlefs fome few Particles, it may be, of them ac

^ % foras

A Conference

fome Seafons of the Year in Winds : And to pafs ovef
the Obfervations of the Ghanels of great Rivers near the
Sea, which fcem formerly to have been far broader than
they are now, and the many great Countries which the
iSea has deferred. And befides, laftly, in my Mind it
is impofflble that the fwelling of the Abyfs fhould alter
the Figure of the Earth's CrufI, from a Circle or Oval
to a Sphagroide ; that the Water had force enough to do
it ; or that this Effed could happen without fhattering
the Compages, being of a brittle faxeous Subftance^ into
Pieces. Thefe are my Reafons:, why I cannot acquiefce
in the Hypothefis of that ingenious and learned Gentle-
man, as exaclly true ', yet I think it a curious EfTay to
iliew the Infidels not only the Poffibility of the mofaick
Hillory, but hov/ finely it may be made to correfpond
v/ith Philofopliy ; and after all, that 'tis eafier to fmd
Faults with this Theory, than to compofe another fo


PhiL Well ! Now you fee how thefe great Wits are-
miferably at a Lofs to explain this unaccountable Hiflory;
and therefore it is in vain to try any further to explain
that, wliich will admit of no Solution. So that you
had better ingenuouily give up the Caufe, and own, that
it is an impoilible Relation, calculated only for the Illite-
latcnefs of thofe I'imes, to make the Jews (land in Fear
of the Deity, when they were told that fuch a tragical
Punifiinicnt was inilided by him upon Mankind for
their Sins.

Cred. If God v/as the Caufe of the Deluge, as our
Religion fuppofes, and not natural and mechanical Caufcs
of their o\\n proper Tendency ; then God might bring
it to pafs a thoufand Ways, that w^e know-nothing of;
for his Omnipotence will be able to bear up againft all the
pretended Impoflibiliries that you are able to raife againft
the Hiiiory of the Deluge.

I. But if this Hiiiory of the Deluge be fuch an im-
poilible unacCvOuntable HiRory, how come all the Nations
of the World to have fjch an im.poifible Notion got into
th'u'ir Heads I Hicu^h fevcral Men might have the fame

Part II. "with ^ T h e i s t.

unaccountable Fancies, yet it is hard to think that all
Men fhould be troubled with the fame Dreams. And
it feems to me to have more Impoflibility, that all Nati-
ons fhould have Traditions of a Deluge, if there had
been no fuch Thing as a Deluge ; than any you can fhew
me in the Deluge it felf. The Babylonians^ Phoemciansy
u4jfjriansy in their Hi (lories make mention of a Deluge,
as you may fee in Etifebms^ and Jofephm, Deucalion $
Flood was fo famous in all the Greek and Latin -IVIytho-
logifts and Poets, that nothing more need be faid of it.
Martinim in his Hiflory of China relates the fime of the
Chinefe-, and fo does Jofephm Acofla^ Herera, and De
Laet of the Americans, And Lucian * relates the ancient
Tradition they had of the Deluge at Hierapolis in Syria ;
which is almoft as Exad as the mofaick Relation of it.
The Account, though it be fomething long, is not un-
pleafant, and deferves Confideration. This Race of Meny
7vhich now ^, wa^ not the firfl ; but that Race uhts quite de-r
flroyed. But theje are of afecond Generation, and from their
firfl Progenitor Deucalion have increafed to Jo great a Multi^
tude as we fee. Now of thofe former Men they tell this
Story : They being contentious^ did very unrighteous Thinqs^
they neither kept their Oaths^ nor were hojpitable to Strangers ;
for which thi^ great Misfortune befel them : All of afudden
the Earth gofve out of her felf a great Quantity of Water,
there were mighty Showers, the Rivers overflowed, the Sea
was much hi^er, by which all Thmgs became Water, and all
Men perifljed. Only Deucalion 7vas left unto the fecond
Generation, f upon Account of hi6 good Counfel and Piety,.
Now he was faved after this manner. He had a great
^apv'j^ (i. eO an Ark^or Chefl, into which he came ivith
the Children and Women, of hts Houfe ,• and then entered
Hogs, md Horfes, and Lions, and Serpents, and all other
Animals, which live upon the Earth, yt^?v7ce. (iCyicty all of
them with their Mates, And he received them all, and they ■
did him no foarm ; for by Ajfiftance from Heaven, there was

* De Dea Syri.i f 'Ey^«X/fl6( \vVA,a.> This is a-^rceaWe to what
the Scripture fays of N^^.^'s being a Vreachn cf liighteoufnefs to tlic
lingodly Antediluvians.

A Conference

apreat jimity between them^ So dl [ailed in this one Chefl^
as long as the Wetter did predominate. But theje Things are
told in the Greef^ Hijlories of Deucalion. ^//? of thofi
iThinqs which happened after ^ one Thing worthy of great Ad"
miration ts told hj the Inhabitants of Hierapolis , that in their
Country i there ivas a great Gap into which all this Water
funkj' Vpon which) Deucalion built Altars and a Temple
over the Gap^ and confecrated it r^ Juno. Imj [elf fmv the
Gap, It 16 very little at the bottom of the Temple^ as I told
you. Whether it 7^06 fonnerly bigger or no-, and grown nar^
roiver by A^e^ I cannot tell ; but this I can telly that That
which Ifaw was but little. Now they mak^ this the Sign of
the Hiftory, Twice in a Tear Water is brought into the Tem^
pk : And not only the Priefts bring it, but all Syria and Ara-
bia. Nay, Men come even from Euphrates to the Sea, all
carrying Water', which they firft pour into the Temple, Then
the Water defends into the Gap ; and though the Gap be fmall^
yet it receives a prodigious Quantity of Water, And when
they do this they tell, that'DQxacsXioi'i firfi inflituted this Cufiom^
to be a A^lemorial of the Calmfnty, and his Deliverance from
it. This is the ancient Tradition which thofe about the Tem-
ple tell.

From which Relation it is remarkable, that it was the
Opinion of the People of Syria, that there had been an
imiverfal Deluge, that a certain Man and his Family were
fived in an Ark, and a Male and Female of every kind of
Animals, to rcftoie again the drowned Creation ; an4
that all this vaft Quantity of Water funk into an Hiatus;
o^ the Earth, and made the World habitable again. Now,
I hope, that Mofcss Relation is not fo incredible, when
it has the joint Teitimony of fo many Nations, and par-
ticularly the rieathen Sjria^is fo exadly correfponding
with it* Indeed this Story in Lucian is told after his
Way drollingly, as if he did not believe it ; but yet there
is no queftion to be m.ade but that it was the Relation of
thofe People, though he has a Mind to expofe it.

But I need pot trouble my felf to prove the Being of
a Deluge by Tradition of Nations, when late Obfervati-
©ns have given Denaonflration of ito The Beds of Shell$


Part IL isoith i:^ T H E I s T. 065

which are often found on the Tops of the highefl Moun*
tains, and petrified Bones and Teeth of Fifhes, which
are dug up hundreds of Miles from the Sea, Trees and
Shrubs buried many Fathom under ground, are the clear-
eft Evidence in the World, that the Waters have fomc
Time or other overflowed the higheft Parts of the Earth ;
which was the Deluge which we contend for. The
Truth of thefe Matters is not to be contefted now, by
any that have but the leaf!: Infight in experimental Phi-
lofophy. Nor can it be with any Degree of Probability
faid, that all thefe fubterraneous Bodies, are but only the
mimical and mock Produdions of Nature, for that thefe
are real Shells, the niceft Examination both of the Eye
and the Microfcope do atteft ; and that they are true
Bones, may be experimented by burning them ; and then
they will firft turn into a Cole, and afterwards into a Calx,
as other Bones do. How far Nature may fport her felf
in the fubterraneous World, in the Impreflion of the
Images of terreftrial Plants upon Slate and Coles, I will
not difpute ; but that it ihould produce true Bones and
Shells, which anfwer in all Refpeds to thofe of the
genuine Animals, is incredible, and n?xt to the Bold-
nefs of an epicurean Concourfe, for the Frame of the

2. I fhall therefore only fet my fclf to prove, that Uat the
there is Water enough in or about the Earth to drown it, J^eluge
and to rife up to that height which Mofes did report it ?/^^ ^°-^'

I confefs, I do not think, that the Waters of the Sea
are one quarter enough for fuch a Deluge, and therefore
it muft be fought for elfewhere. That there is a vafl
Quantity of Waters under gi-ound, and an * Abyfs with-
in the outward Crufl of the Earth, is I think evident to
any who confiders, that in many Places the Sea difgorges
it felf into the Bowels of the Earth, and does not pafs off
by any Out-current. The fingle Mediterranean Sea is a
fuficient Inilance of this ; for confidering how many,

t Vid, Dr. Burnet's Thcor. />. t ,

§6^1^ A Conference

Online LibraryWilliam NichollsA Conference with a Theist : containing an answer to all the most usual objections of the infidels against the Christian religion ... (Volume 1) → online text (page 24 of 47)