“Many have argued that the Scriptures favoured the idea that the earth is a globe suspended in space, from the following language of Job (xxvi., 7):–
“He stretched out the north over the empty place, and hangeth the earth upon nothing.”
Dr. Adam Clark, although himself a Newtonian philosopher, says, in his commentary on this passage, the literal translation is, “on the hollow or empty waste;” and he quotes a Chaldee version of the passage, which runs as follows:–
“He layeth the earth upon the waters, nothing sustaining it.”
It is not that he “hangeth the earth upon nothing,” an obviously meaningless expression, but “layeth it upon the waters,” which were previously empty or waste or unoccupied by the earth–in fact, on and in which there was nothing visible before the dry land appeared.
This is in strict accordance with the other expressions of Scripture that the earth was stretched out above the waters, and founded upon the seas–where nothing had before existed.
If the earth is a globe, it is evident that everywhere the water of its surface–the seas, lakes, oceans, and rivers–must be sustained or upheld by the land, which must be underneath the water; but being a plane “founded upon the seas,” and the land and waters distinct and independent of each other, then the waters of the “great deep” must sustain the land as it does a ship, an ice-island, or any other flowing mass, and there must, of necessity, be waters below the earth. In this particular, as in all others, the Scriptures are beautifully sequential and consistent.
“The Almighty shall bless thee with the blessing of Heaven above, and blessings of the deep that lieth under.”–Genesis xliv., 25.
“Thou shalt not make unto thee any likeness of anything in heaven above, or in the earth beneath, or in the waters under the earth.”–Exodus xx., 4.
“Take ye, therefore, good heed unto yourselves, and make no similitude of anything on the earth, or the likeness of anything that is in the waters beneath the earth.”–Deuteronomy iv., 18.
“Blessed be his land, for the precious things of heaven, for the dew, and for the deep which croucheth beneath.”–Deuteronomy xxxiii., 13.
The same fact was acknowledged by the ancient philosophers. In “Ovid’s Metamorphoses” Jupiter, in an “assembly of the gods,” is made to say:–
“I swear by the infernal waves which glide under the earth.”
As the earth is a distinct structure, standing in and upheld by the waters of the “great deep,” it follows, unless it can be proved that something solid and substantial sustains the waters, that “the depths” are fathomless. As there is no evidence whatever of anything existing except the fire consequent upon the rapid combination and decomposition of numerous well-known elements, we are compelled to admit that the depth is boundless–that beneath the waters which glide under the lowest parts of the earth there is nothing of a resisting nature. This is again confirmed by the Scriptures:–
“Thus saith the Lord, which giveth the sun for a light by day, and the ordinances of the moon and stars for a light by
night, which divideth the sea when the waves thereof roar, the Lord of Hosts is His name. If these ordinances depart from before me, saith the Lord, then the seed of Israel also shall cease from being a nation before me for ever. Thus saith the Lord: if heaven above can be measured and the foundations of the earth searched out beneath, I will also cast off all the seed of Israel.”–Jeremiah xxxi., 37.
From the above it is certain that God’s promises to His people can no more be broken than can the height of heaven be measured, or the depths of the mighty waters–the earth’s foundations–searched out or determined. The fathomless character of the deep beneath, upon which the earth is founded, and the infinitude of heaven above, are here given as emblems of the boundlessness of God’s power, and of the certainty that all His ordinances will be fulfilled. When God’s power can be limited, heaven above will be no longer infinite; and the “mighty waters,” the “great deep,” the “foundations of the earth,” may be fathomed. But the Scriptures plainly teach us that the power and wisdom of God, the heights of heaven, and the depth of the “waters under the earth,” are alike boundless and unfathomable.
That the earth is stationary, except the fluctuating motion referred to in the chapter on the cause of tides, has been more than sufficiently demonstrated; and the Scriptures in no instance affirm the contrary.”