« הקודםהמשך »
who feel either dislike or alarm, when the torch of science or the torch of history is held up to the Bible. For ourselves, we are not afraid, when the eye
of an intrepid, if it be only of a sound philosophy, scrutinizes however jealously all its pages. We have no dread of any apprehended conflict between the doctrines of scripture and the discoveries of science-persuaded as we are, that whatever story the geologists of our day shall find to be engraven on the volume of nature, it will only the more accredit that story which is graven on the volume of revelation.
21. “And God said, Let the waters bring forth abundantly the moving creature that hath life, and fowl that may fly above the earth in the open firmament of heaven. And God created great whales, and every living creature that moveth, which the waters brought forth abundantly after their kind, and every winged fowl after his kind : and God said that it was good. And God blessed them, saying, Be fruitful, and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas, and let fowl multiply in the earth. And the evening and the morning were the fifth day. And God said, Let the earth bring forth the living creature after his kind, cattle, and creeping thing, and the beast of the earth after his kind : and it was so. And God made the beast of the earth after his kind, and the cattle after their kind, and every thing that creepeth upon the earth after his kind; and God saw that it was good. And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over
the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. So God created man in his own image; in the image of God created He him : male and female created He them.”
22. We have again to repeat that our reasoning is applicable not to one only but to all the Ante-Mosaic theories. To have place for it indeed, we have only to assume that the world has undergone such revolutions or been the subject of such violent operations as have been destructive of entire species that formerly existed upon its surface. Of this it is admitted by all that there are undoubted vestiges -giving us therefore sound reason to believe, that on the supposition of an eternal world, all the species by which it was peopled at some highly remote period must, by the continuance and repetition of the causes which destroyed several of them, have at length been swept away. The question would thus meet us whence arose the species now in actual being ? seeing that they have not subsisted from eternity. All nature and experience reclaim against the spontaneous generation of them-thus leaving us no other inference, than that organic structures of collocation so manifold and exquisite could only have sprung from the hands of a designer, from the fiat of a God.
23. There are many who, in expounding the science of natural theology, would shrink from all recognition of scripture—as if this were a mixing together of things altogether disparate or incongruous. There is a want, we shall not say of good feeling, but of good philosophy in this unless we confine ourselves to the express object, of ascertaining how much of evidence for a God is furnished by the light of nature alone. The strength of the argument, upon the whole, on the side of religion, is often weakened by this jealous or studied disunion of the truth in one department from the truth in another; but believing as we do that, instead of a conflict, there is a corroborative harmony between them—we shall advert once more to the Mosaic account of the Creation; and, more especially as the reconciliation of this history with the indefinite antiquity of the globe seems not impossible; and that without the infliction of any violence on any of the literalities of the record.
24. The following are the two first verses in the book of Genesis. “ In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep: and the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.” Now let it be supposed that the work of the first day in the Mosaic account of the creation, begins with the Spirit of God moving upon the face of the waters. The detailed history of creation in the first chapter of Genesis begins at the middle of the second verse; and what precedes might be understood as an introductory sentence, by which we are most appositely told both that God created all things at the first; and that afterwards, by what interval of time it is not specified, the earth lapsed into a chaos, from the darkness and disorder of which the present system or economy of things was made
to arise. By this hypothesis neither the first verse, nor the first half of the second verse forms any part of the narrative of the first day's operations,—the whole forming a preparatory sentence disclosing to us the initial act of creation at some remote and undefined period; and the chaotic state of the world, at the commencement of those successive acts of creative power, by which out of rude and undigested materials the present harmony of nature was ushered into being. Between the initial act and the details of Genesis, the world for aught we know might have been the theatre of many revolutions, the traces of which geology may still investigate, and to which she in fact has confidently appealed as the vestiges of so many successive continents that have now passed away. The whole speculation has ministered a vain triumph to infidelity—seeing first that the Historical Evidence of Scripture is quite untouched by those pretended discoveries of natural science; and that, even should they turn out to be substantial discoveries, they do not come into collision with the narrative of Moses. Should, in particular, the explanation that we now offer be sustained, this would permit an indefinite scope to the conjectures of geology—and without any undue liberty with the first chapter of Genesis. We
here state that there is no argument, saving that grounded on the usages of popular language, which would tempt us to meddle with the literalities of that ancient, and as appears to us authoritative record.
Its main difficulty lies in the work of the fourth day, upon which God is said to have made two great
lights, the greater to rule the day and the lesser to rule the night, and the stars also.
Yet even this could be got over, if we adopt a principle which even Granville Penn has found necessary for the adjustment of his views-though himself a violent and we think an unnecessary alarmist upon this question. He supposes the Mosaic description to proceed not in the order of creation actually, but in its order optically—or in other words, that the sun and moon were not first made, but first made visible on the fourth day. We earnestly recommend, however, the perusal of his mineral and Mosaical geologies—not because of our great confidence in his skill or science as a naturalist, but because of a certain admirable soundness in many of those views that are purely theological., If he have erred in the one science, there is a redeeming force in the worth and stability of certain weighty aphorisms that he has given forth in relation to the other science. He does not respect enough the indications of nature and experience and certain it is, that these might be so far disregarded as to invalidate some of our best arguments on the side of theism. If, for example, fossil remains are not to be looked upon as the vestiges of living creatures, it would follow, that what we have been in the habit of considering as forms of nice and excellent adaptation may have been produced without an object, and so after all be perfectly meaningless. We may assume with all safety that real shells were never formed by nature without the design of covering an animal and hence, if we ever meet in any situation, how