Verse 5. “For this they willingly are ignorant of, that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water.”
That is to say, the earth was, as in Ovid and Ragnarok, and the legends generally, an island, “standing out of the water and in the water.”
Verse 6. “Whereby the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished.”
This seems to refer to the island Atlantis, “overflowed with water,” and destroyed, as told by Plato; thereby forming a very distinct connection between the Island of Poseidon and the Deluge of Noah.
We read on:
Verse 7. “But the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men.”
Verse 10. “But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up.”
The Gothic mythology tells us that Surt, with his flaming sword, “shall come at the end of the world; he shall vanquish all the gods; he shall give up the universe a prey to the flames.”
This belief in the ultimate destruction of the world and all its inhabitants by fire was found among the American races as well as those of the Old World:
“The same terror inspired the Peruvians at every eclipse; for some day—taught the Amantas—the shadow will veil the sun for ever, and land, moon, and stars will be wrapped in a devouring conflagration, to know no regeneration."
The Algonquin races believed that some day Michabo “will stamp his foot on the ground, flames will burst forth to consume the habitable land; only a pair, or only, at most, those who have maintained inviolate the institutions he ordained, will he protect and preserve to inhabit the new world he will then fabricate."
Nearly all the American tribes had similar presentiments. The Chickasaws, the Mandans of the Missouri, the Pueblo Indians of New Mexico, the Muyscas of Bogota, the Botocudos of Brazil, the Araucanians of Chili, the Winnebagoes, all have possessed such a belief from time immemorial. The Mayas of Yucatan had a prediction which Father Lizana, curé of Itzamal, preserved in the Spanish language:
“At the close
of the ages, it hath been decreed,
Shall perish and vanish each weak god of men,
And the world shall be purged with ravening fire.”
We know that among our own people, the European races, this looking forward to a conflagration which is to end all things is found everywhere; and that everywhere a comet is regarded with terror. It is a messenger of
[1. Brinton’s “Myths,” p. 235.
woe and disaster; it is a dreadful threat shining in the heavens; it is “God’s rod,” even as it was in Job’s day.