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treads; if he will first employ the means of bringing it to a state, possessing the least degree of fluidity, which may come within the means at his command: And he may thus arrive at an experimental knowledge of the possibility of a general deluge, without renouncing a single fundamental principle which philosophy has laid down.
In accounting for the immediate and physical causes of the deluge, I shall not wander from the plain dictates of revelation and philosophy :-For I consider them in perfect harmony, so far as philosophy is capable of extending her discoveries. I shall not, therefore, be under the necessity of departing from the plain and simple narrative which Moses gives of the causes of that tremendous event to the world.
According to his representation, it was not from the moisture diffused through the earth, only; nor from the vast caverns of the abyss alone; nor exclusively from the inconceivable magazines of that element suspended in the atmosphere; that the astonishing effect which he describes was produced. But he tells us that "the windows. of heaven were opened, and the fountains of the great deep were broken up."
This language contains a sublime description of the means by which the universal deluge was produced : Nor have deep reflecting Theists and philosophers ever been at a loss to understand its import. For the language which he employs, clearly conveys the sentiment, that the waters of the flood, were not only liberated from the atmosphere, but were also derived from the bowels of the earth.
By the expression, "the windows of heaven were opened," it is plainly signified, that the waters, which were held in suspension in atmospheric air, were discharged upon the earth: Not, indeed, instantaneously, for the historian informs us that it rained forty days and forty nights: And by the phrase, "the fountains of the great deep were broken up," has been understood the forcing or issuing out of vast quantities of water from the secret recesses of the earth, where it had remained before in undisturbed repose.
One and the same cause will rationally account for the
double effect here described: And it is a cause to which we may appeal with confidence, since its effects are now generally known and acknowledged throughout the enlightened and civilized world. It is not, indeed, as some have imagined, that the air was so charged with water, that it could no longer be held in suspension, but, by reason of its specific gravity, was precipitated to the earth: For it is not to be supposed that all the aqueous particles which the atmosphere ever contained at any one period, could be sufficient to raise the water so as to overflow the mountains, or that they would be likely to produce a much greater effect than merely to overflow the low grounds, were it all discharged upon the earth at one and the same time.
It has been clearly proved by experiments with the barometer, that during a long drought in summer, the mer cury will be found to range at about thirty inches. Such being its mean height at the commencement of the drought, it would be natural to expect that it would constantly continue to rise, as the atmosphere continued to receive immense exhalations of water from the surface of the globe. But this is not the case; for the mercury continues nearly stationary until about the close of the drought; and when the air contains the whole quantity of water which it has been for a long time absorbing, it suddenly becomes lighter, and the mercury is seen to sink about one inch, before any rain begins to fall. And what must appear still more surprising, is, that after the water, which is 800 times heavier than the atmosphere, has been profusely discharged for several days in succession, and the face of nature has been drenched with rain, the atmosphere becomes heavier, and the mercury immediately rises; which proves that the driest atmosphere is the heaviest, if it be not heated to any great extent I have appealed to these facts, for two reasons, first, to show that it is impossible to calculate with any probability of correctness, what quantities of water are contained in the air, by any experiments to ascertain the extent of atmospheric pressure; and secondly, to demonstrate with clearness, that there is an agent in nature which effectually counteracts the gravity of water, which otherwise could
not be suspended in the air, but must instantly be precipitated to the earth by the force of its own gravity.To this agent we shall appeal, as the instrument by which the general deluge might have been produced.
As we have before hinted, we shall adopt the language of Moses, in its plain and obvious sense, which asserts that "the windows of heaven were opened, and the fountains of the great deep were broken up.' By opening the windows of heaven, we have already remarked, was obviously intended, the liberating and pouring out of the waters which were held suspended in the atmosphere; and the breaking up of the fountains of the great deep, we have been led to conclude was the opening of all those passages through which the subterranean waters might find their way to the surface of the globe. Now as both these sources are said to have been opened in producing the deluge, it is by no means unreasonable to suppose that the same natural agent was employed to produce the whole effect which Moses has described, both upon the air and the earth.
The agent of which we are speaking is of modern discovery, though its existence is as ancient as the creation of the world for it cannot be supposed that so important an agent as electricity, was overlooked by the Deity, in bringing into existence the constitution of nature.
"It is certain, (says the editor of the Encyclopedia,) that by means of it, immense quantities of water can be raised to a great height in the air. This is proved by the phenomena of water-spouts. Mr Foster relates, that he hap pened to see one break very near him, and observed a flash of lightning proceed from it at the moment of its breaking. The conclusion from this is obvious. When the electric matter was discharged from the water, it could no longer be supported by the atmosphere, but immediately fell down.
Though water-spouts do not often appear in this country, yet every one must have made an observation somewhat similar to Mr. Foster's. In a violent storm of thunder and rain, after every flash of lightning or discharge of electricity from the clouds, the rain pours down with increased violence: thus showing, that the cloud, having parted with so much of its electricity, cannot longer be
supported in the form of vapour, but must descend in rain. It is certain, (for it has been proved by experiments,) that evaporation is promoted by electrifying the fluid to be evaporated." The theory, therefore, deduced from these plain and undeniable facts, "that the electric fluid contained in the air is the agent by which it is enabled to suspend the water which rises in vapour,' 22 will not be rejected as a groundless chimera, nor pronounced an impossibility, by men of reflection and science.
"Again, (says this same author,) we are assured from the most undeniable observations, that electricity is able to swell up water on the surface of the earth. This we can make it do even in our trifling experiments; and much more must the whole force of the fluid be supposed capable of doing it, if applied to the ocean, or any other large bodies of water. The agitation of the sea in earthquakes is sufficient proof of this. It is certain, that at these times there is a discharge of a vast quantity of electric matter from the earth into the air; and as soon as this happens, all becomes quiet on the surface of the earth.”
From the facts which have now been stated, it must clearly follow, that whenever the atmosphere is deprived of a due proportion of the electric fluid, rain will, of course, fall in prodigious quantities.
A multitude of observations have long since rendered it apparent, that there is a constant passage of electric matter from the air into the earth, and from the earth into the air. We will now apply this theory to the Mosaic history of the flood, in the language of the ingenious author before quoted.
"There is therefore no absurdity in supposing the Deity to have influenced the action of the natural powers in such a manner that for forty days and nights the electric matter contained in the atmosphere should descend into the bowels of the earth.-But by whatever cause the descent was occasioned, the consequence would be, the breaking up of the fountains of the deep, and the opening of the windows of heaven. The water contained in the atmosphere being left without support, would descend in impetuous rains; while the waters of the ocean, those from which fountains originate, and those contained in the solid
earth itself, would rise from the very centre, and meet the waters that descended from above. Thus the breaking up of the fountains of the deep, and the opening the windows of heaven, would accompany each other, as Moses tells us they did; for, according to him, both happened on the same day."
By the cause which is here assigned, it is easy to see, that the flood would come on and advance gradually, without that violence to the globe which the admission of other theories must involve. And it is equally easy to discover, that an abatement of the waters would be the natural consequence of a return of the electric fluid to the atmosphere, which would enable it again to absorb its original quantity of water. And the discharge of the electric fluid from the deep recesses of the globe, would again give place for the return of its original waters, and the flood would be stayed and removed from the face of the earth, and nature would resume its pristine appearance.
I have now attended to the principal, and indeed, to the only objection, of any force, that has ever been urged against the fact of a general deluge; and shown that the only important reason which skeptics urge to justify their unbelief, is totally destitute of any foundation in truth: For the quantity of water has been shown to be abundantly more than sufficient to deluge the globe to a much greater depth than the history of Moses has described. Having before proved by the united and universal voice of history and tradition, besides the undeniable indications of such an event, scattered throughout the globe, the validity of the sacred history; I must again appeal to your reason, and demand-What evidence have unbelievers produced to disprove this faithful record of the flood? Can they appeal to the voice of history-to the voice of tradition, or to the undeniable evidences of nature? No-they will never make the attempt, for they know it would be hopeless. They may indeed, scoff at religion; deny the truth of holy writ, and dispose of the whole in gross; curse its authors, and anathematize the ministers of religion-nay, even exhaust upon them the ebullitions of unmanly invective: But they will never offer you an equiv