(15) What is the meaning of the expression, “I will destroy every living substance that I have made form off the face of the earth?” (#Ge 7:4). Do you not all shrink back in astonishment when you hear these words, by reason of the beauty of the sentence? for he has not said, “destroy from the earth,” but “from the face of the earth,” that is to say from its surface; in order, that is, that in the lowest depth of the earth the vital efficacy of all seeds might be preserved unhurt, and free from all injury which could possibly bring damage to it; since the Creator was not forgetful of his original design, but destroys those only who come in his way, and who move only on the surface of the earth, but leaves the roots in the depth, in order to produce the generation of other causes. Moreover, that expression, “I will destroy,” was also written by divine inspiration; for it happens that if we remove the letters which require to be removed, the whole table for the reception of letters remains the same. By which he proves that he will destroy the fickle generation on account of their impiety, but the conversation and essence of the human race he will preserve for ever and ever to be the seed of future generations. And what follows agrees with this, since to the expression, “I will destroy,” this other is also added, all natural existence, every thing which exists, or rises upon the earth; but existence is the destruction of the opposite characteristics; and that which is dissolved loses quality, but retains body and materiality. This is the letter of what is said. But in the inward meaning, the flood is symbolically representative of spiritual dissolution. When therefore by the grace of the Father we desire to throw away and to wash off all sensible and corporeal qualities by which the intellect was infected as by swelling sores, then the muddy slime is got rid of as by a deluge, sweet waters and wholesome fountains supervening.