Upon the gathering together of the waters. 

    1. THERE are towns where the inhabitants, from dawn to eve, feast their 
eyes on the tricks of innumerable conjurors. They are never tired of hearing 
dissolute songs which cause much impurity to spring up in their souls, and 
they are often called happy, because they neglect the cares of business and 
trades useful to life, and pass the time, which is assigned to them on this 
earth, in idleness and pleasure. They do not know that a theatre full of 
impure sights is, for those who sit there, a common school of vice; that these 
melodious and meretricious songs insinuate themselves into men's souls, and 
all who hear them, eager to imitate the notes  of harpers and pipers, are 
filled with  filthiness.  Some others, who are wild after horses, think they 
are backing their horses in their dreams; they harness their chariots change 
their drivers, and even in sleep are not free from the folly of the day.  
And shall we, whom the Lord, the great worker of marvels, calls to the 
contemplation of His own works, tire of looking at them, or be slow to hear 
the words of the Holy Spirit? Shall we not rather stand around the vast and 
varied workshop of divine creation and, carried back in mind to the times of 
old, shall we not view all the order of creation? Heaven, poised like a dome, 
to quote the words of the prophet;  earth, this immense mass which rests 
upon itself; the air around it, of a soft and fluid nature, a true and 
continual nourishment for all who breathe it, of such tenuity that it yields 
and opens at the least movement of the body, opposing no resistance to our 
motions, while, in a moment, it streams back to its place, behind those who 
cleave it; water, finally, that supplies drink for man, or may be designed for 
our other needs, and the marvellous gathering together of it into definite 
places which have been assigned to it: such is the spectacle which the words 
which I have just read will show you. 

    2. "And God said, Let the waters under the heaven be gathered together 
unto one place, and let the dry land appear, and it was so." And the water 
which was under the heaven gathered together unto one place; " And God called 
the dry land earth and the gathering together of the waters called He 
seas."  What trouble you have given me in my previous discourses by asking 
me why the earth was invisible, why all bodies are naturally endued with 
colour, and why all colour comes under the sense of sight. And, perhaps, my 
reason did not appear sufficient to you, when I said that the earth, without 
being naturally invisible, was so to us, because of the mass of water that 
entirely covered it. Hear then how Scripture explains itself. "Let the waters 
be gathered together, and let the dry land appear." The veil is lifted and 
allows the earth, hitherto invisible, to be seen. Perhaps you will ask me new 
questions. And first, is it not a law of nature that water flows downwards?  
Why, then, does Scripture refer this to the fiat of the Creator? As long as 
water is spread over a level surface, it does not flow; it is immovable. But 
when it finds any slope, immediately the foremost portion falls, then the one 
that follows takes its place, and that one is itself replaced by a third. Thus 
incessantly they flow, pressing the one on the other, and the rapidity of 
their course is in proportion to the mass of water that is being carried, and 
the declivity down which it is borne. If such is the nature of water, it was 
supererogatory to command it to gather into one place. It was bound, on 
account of its natural instability, to fall into the most hollow part of the 
earth and not to stop until the levelling of its surface. We see how there is 
nothing so level as the surface of water. Besides, they add, how did the 
waters receive an order to gather into one place, when we see several seas, 
separated from each other by the greatest distances? To the first question I 
reply: Since God's command, you know perfectly well the motion of water; you 
know that it is unsteady and unstable and fails naturally  over declivities 
and into hollow places. But what was its nature before this command made it 
take its course? You do not know yourself, an I you have heard from no 
eye-witness. Think, in reality, that a word of God makes the nature, and that 
this order is for the creature a direction for its future course. There was 
only one creation of day and night, and since that moment they have 
incessantly succeeded each other and divided time into equal parts. 

3. "Let the waters be gathered together."
It was ordered that it should be the natural property of water to 
flow, and in obedience to this order, the waters are never weary in their 
course. In speaking thus, I have only in view the flowing property of waters. 
Some flow of their own accord like springs and rivers, others are collected 
and stationary. But I speak now of flowing waters. "Let the waters be gathered 
together unto one place." Have you never thought, when standing nears spring 
which is sending forth water abundantly, Who makes this water spring from the 
bowels of the earth? Who forced it up? Where are the store-houses which send 
it forth? To what place is it hastening? How is it that it is never exhausted 
here, and never overflows there? All this comes from that first command; it 
was for the waters a signal for their course. 

    In all the story of the waters remember this first order, "let the waters 
be gathered together." To take their assigned places they were obliged to 
flow, and, once arrived there, to remain in their place and not to go farther. 
Thus in the language of Ecclesiastes, "All the waters run into the sea; yet 
the sea is notful."  Waters flow in virtue of God's order, and the sea is 
enclosed in limits according to this first law, "Let the waters be gathered 
together unto one place." For fear the water should spread beyond its bed, and 
in its successive invasions cover one by one all countries, and end by 
flooding the whole earth, it received the order to gather unto one place. Thus 
we often see the furious sea raising mighty waves to the heaven, and, when 
once it has touched the shore, break its impetuosity in foam and retire. "Fear 
ye not me, saith the Lord. ... which have placed the sand for the bound of the 
sea."  A grain of sand, the weakest tiring possible, curbs the violence of 
the ocean. For what would prevent the Red Sea from invading the whole of 
Egypt, which lies lower, and uniting itself to the other sea which bathes its 
shores, were it not lettered by the fiat of the Creator? And if I say that 
Egypt is lower than the Red Sea, it is because experience has convinced us of 
it every time that an attempt  has been made to join the sea of Egypt  to 
the Indian Ocean, of which the Red Sea is a 
part.  Thus we have renounced this enterprise, as also have the Egyptian 
Sesostris, who conceived the idea, and Darius the Mede   who afterwards wished 
to carry it out.  

    I report this fact to make you understand the full force of the command, 
"Let the waters be gathered unto one place"; that is to say, let there be no 
other gathering, and, once gathered, let them not disperse. 

    4. To say that the waters were gathered in one place indicates that 
previously they were scattered in many places. The mountains, intersected by 
deep ravines, accumulated water in their valleys, when from every direction 
the waters betook themselves to the one gathering place. What vast plains, in 
their extent resembling wide seas, what valleys, what cavities hollowed in 
many different ways, at that time full of water, must have been emptied by the 
command of God! But we must not therefore say, that if the water covered the 
face of the earth, all the basins which have since received the sea were 
originally full. Where can the gathering of the waters have come from if the 
basins were already full? These basins, we reply, were only prepared at the 
moment when the water had to unite in a single mass. At that time the sea 
which is beyond Gadeira  and the vast ocean, so dreaded by navigators, which 
surrounds the isle of Britain and western Spain, did not exist. But, all of a 
sudden, God created this vast space, and the mass of waters flowed in. 

    Now if our explanation of the creation of the world may appear contrary to 
experience, (because it is evident that all the waters did not flow together 
in one place,) many answers may be made, all obvious as soon as they are 
stated. Perhaps it is even ridiculous to reply to such objections. Ought they 
to bring forward in opposition ponds and accumulations of rain water, and 
think that this is enough to upset our reasonings? Evidently the chief and 
most complete affluence of the waters was what received the name of gathering 
unto one place. For wells are also gathering places for water, made by the 
hand of man to receive the moisture diffused in the hollow of the earth. This 
name of gathering does not mean any chance massing of water, but the greatest 
and most important one, wherein the element
is shewn collected together. In the same way that fire, in spite of its 
being divided into minute particles which are sufficient for our needs here, 
is spread in a mass in the rather; in the same way that air, in spite of a 
like minute division, has occupied the region round the earth; so also water, 
in spite of the small amount spread abroad everywhere, only forms one 
gathering together, that which separates the whole element from the rest. 
Without doubt the lakes as well those of the northern regions and those that 
are to be found in Greece, in Macedonia, in Bithynia and in Palestine, are 
gatherings together of waters; but here it means the greatest of all, that 
gathering the extent of which equals that of the earth. The first contain a 
great quantity of water; no one will deny this. Nevertheless no one could 
reasonably give them the name of seas 
not even if they are like the great sea, charged with salt and sand. They 
instance for example, the Lacus Asphaltitis in Judaea, and the Serbonian lake 
which extends between Egypt and Palestine in the Arabian desert. These are 
lakes, and there is only one sea, as those affirm who have travelled round the 
earth. Although some authorities think the Hyrcanian and Caspian Seas are 
enclosed in their own boundaries, if we are to believe the geographers, they 
communicate with each other and together discharge themselves into the Great 
Sea.  It is thus that, according to their account, the Red Sea and that 
beyond Gadeira only form one. Then why did God call the different masses of 
water seas? This is the reason; the waters flowed into one place, and their 
different accumulations, that is to say, the gulfs that the earth embraced in 
her folds, received from the Lord the name of seas: North Sea, South Sea, 
Eastern Sea, and Western Sea. The seas have even their own names, the Euxine, 
the Propontis, the Hellespont, the AEgean, the Ionian, the Sardinian, the 
Sicilian, the Tyrrhene, and many other names of which an exact enumeration 
would now be too long, and quite out of place. See why God calls the gathering 
together of waters seas. But let us return to the point from which the course 
of my argument has diverted me. 

    5. And God said: "Let the waters be gathered together unto one place and 
let the dry land appear." He did not say let the earth appear, so as not to 
show itself again without form, mud-like, and in combination with the water, 
nor yet endued with proper form and virtue. At the same time, lest we should 
attribute the drying of the earth to the sun, the Creator shows it to us dried 
before the creation of the sun. Let us follow the thought Scripture gives us. 
Not only the water which was covering the earth flowed off from it, but all 
that which had filtered into its depths withdrew in obedience to the 
irresistible order of the sovereign Master. And it was so. This is quite  
enough to show that the Creator's voice had   effect: however, in several 
editions, there is added "And the water which was under   the heavens gathered 
itself unto one place and the dry land was seen;" words that other 
interpreters have not given, and which do not appear conformable to Hebrew 
usage. In fact, after the assertion, "and it was so," it is superfluous to 
repeat exactly the same thing. In accurate copies these words are marked with 
an obelus,  which is the sign of rejection. 

    "And God called the dry land earth; and the gathering together of the 
waters called He seas."  Why does Scripture say above that the waters were 
gathered together unto one place, and that the dry earth 
appeared? Why does it add here the dry land appeared, and God gave it the name 
of earth? It is that dryness is the property which appears to characterize the 
nature of the subject, whilst the word earth is only its simple name. Just as 
reason is the distinctive faculty of man, and the word man serves to designate 
the being gifted with this faculty, so dryness is the special and peculiar 
quality of the earth. The element essentially dry receives therefore the name 
of earth, as the animal who has a neigh for a characteristic cry is called a 
horse. The other elements, like the earth, have received some peculiar 
property which distinguishes them from the rest, and makes them known for what 
they are. Thus water has cold for its distinguishing property; air, moisture; 
fire, heat. But this theory really applies only to the primitive elements of 
the world. The elements which contribute to the formation of bodies, and come 
under our senses, show us these qualities in combination, and in the whole of 
nature our eyes and senses can find nothing which is completely singular, 
simple and pure. Earth is at the same time dry and cold; 
water, cold and moist; air, moist and warm; fire, warm and dry. It is by the 
combination of their qualities that the different elements can mingle. Thanks 
to a common quality each of them mixes with a neighbouring element, and this 
natural alliance attaches it to the contrary element. For example, earth, 
which is at the same time dry and cold, finds in cold a relationship which 
unites it to water, and by the means of water unites itself to air. Water 
placed between the two, appears to give each a hand, and, on account of its 
double quality, allies itself to earth by cold and to air by moisture. Air, in 
its turn, takes the middle place and plays the part of a mediator between the 
inimical natures of water and fire, united to the first by moisture, and to 
the second by heat. Finally tire, of a nature at the same time warm and dry, 
is linked to air by warmth, and by its dryness reunites itself to the earth. 
And from this accord and from this mutual mixture of elements, results a 
circle and an harmonious choir whence each of the elements deserves its name. 
I have said this in order to explain why God has given to the dry land the 
name of earth, without however calling the earth dry. It is because dryness is 
not one of those qualities which the earth acquired afterwards, but one of 
those which constituted its essence from the beginning. Now that which causes 
a body to exist, is naturally antecedent to its posterior qualities and has a 
pre-eminence over them. It is then with reason that God chose the most ancient 
characteristic of the earth whereby to designate it. 

    6. "And God saw that it was good."  Scripture does not merely wish to 
say that a pleasing aspect of the sea presented itself to God. It is not with 
eyes that the Creator views the beauty of His works. He contemplates them in 
His ineffable wisdom. A fair sight is the sea all bright in a settled calm; 
fair too, when, ruffled by a light breeze of wind, its surface shows tints of 
purple and azure,--when, instead of lashing with violence the neighbouring 
shores, it seems to kiss them with peaceful caresses. However, it is not in 
this that Scripture makes God find the goodness and charm of the sea. Here it 
is the purpose of the work which makes the goodness. 

    In the first place sea water is the source of all the moisture of the 
earth. It filters through imperceptible conduits, as is proved by the 
subterranean openings and caves whither its waves penetrate; it is received in 
oblique and sinuous canals; then, driven out by the wind, it rises to the 
surface of the earth, and breaks it, having become drinkable and free from its 
bitterness by this long percolation. Often, moved by the same cause, it 
springs even from mines that it has crossed, deriving warmth from them, and 
rises boiling, and bursts forth of a burning heat, as may be seen in islands 
and on the sea coast; even inland in certain places, in the neighbourhood of 
rivers, to compare little things with great, almost the same phenomena occur. 
To what do these words tend? To prove that the earth is all undermined with 
invisible conduits, where the water travels everywhere underground from the 
sources of the sea. 

     7. Thus, in the eyes of God, the sea is good, because it makes the under 
current of moisture in the depths of the earth. It is good again, because from 
all sides it receives the rivers without exceeding its limits. It is good, 
because it is the origin and source of the waters in the air. Warmed by the 
rays of the sun, it escapes in vapour, is attracted into the high regions of 
the air, and is there cooled on account of its rising high above the 
refraction of the rays from the ground, and, the shade of the clouds adding to 
this refrigeration, it is changed into rain and fattens the earth. If people 
are incredulous, let them look at caldrons on the fire, which, though full of 
water, are often left empty because all the water is boiled and resolved into 
vapour. Sailors, too, boil even sea water, collecting the vapour in sponges, 
to quench their thirst in pressing need. 

    Finally the sea is good in the eyes of God, because it girdles the isles, 
of which it forms at the same time the rampart and the beauty, because it 
brings together the most distant parts of the earth, and facilitates the 
inter-communication of mariners. By this means it gives us the boon of general 
information, supplies the merchant with his wealth, and easily provides for 
the necessities of life, allowing the rich to export their superfluities, and 
blessing the poor with the supply of what they lack. 

    But whence do I perceive the goodness of the Ocean, as it appeared in the 
eyes of the Creator? If the Ocean is good and worthy of praise before God, how 
much more beautiful is the assembly of a Church like this, where the voices of 
men, of children, and of women, arise in our prayers to God mingling and 
resounding like the waves which beat upon the shore. This Church also enjoys a 
profound calm, and malicious spirits cannot trouble it with the breath of 
heresy. Deserve, then, the approbation of the Lord by remaining
faithful to such good guidance, in our Lord Jesus Christ, to whom be glory 
and power for ever and ever. Amen.