תמונות בעמוד
PDF
ePub

probable from the thick fir of the elephant, found imbedded in Ice, and from the provision made for the comfort of the dogs lately brought home by Captain Parry from the frozen regions of the north, that animals of the same species in different climates acquire a clothing suited to their location.

I can therefore easily conceive that even if the climates of the earth were the same at the time of the deposit of bones in the Kirkdale cave, as they are now; the hyenas, &c. whose bones have been found there, might have lived comfortably in the climate of England, having gradually migrated from a warmer to a colder region, acquiring as they advanced northward a clothing suited to the climate, and becoming by degrees habituated to it, in successive generations of the species. Can we not suppose that Capt. Parry's recently imported dogs, which panted for breath through the heat of an English winter, might have become, by a gradual change of climate, during a course of successive generations, as well able to bear even our summer heat as our own animals of the same species?

There seems to be the same difficulty with respect to the quadrupeds which are found in America, in answer to the inquiry how, after the deluge, they got thither, as there is in accounting for the exuviæ found in Great Britain or more northern countries. If, for instance, the congar of America be the tiger of the old Continents, deteriorated in size and strength, how did the first tiger migrate thither? If by any northern passage, how did it bear the cold in its migration ? Or, if the communication was by Plato's Atlantic Island, how could some other animals, such as the white bear of the icy regions, endure the heat of the torrid zone, through which they must have passed?

Though it is certain that every distinct species of terrestrial animals was preserved in the ark, Gen. vi. 19. there is no difficulty in admitting that many have become extinct since that event. Indeed, it is to be expected that they have. For when it is considered in how many countries the residence of man has annihilated the obnoxious tribes that once abounded in them, and how greatly the tyrants of the forest have been thinned in other countries where they are still found in diminished numbers, it cannot appear surprising that many species have disappeared from view. But it is difficult to determine what species have actually become extinct. For it will be recollected that the unicorn, long supposed to be a creature of mere fable, and to have had no existence but in the imagination of man, has lately been discovered in the plains of Thibet. And if the dominion of man had been as long and as fully established throughout the countries of Asia and America, many a tribe of quadrupeds might have disappeared from the whole of those regions, as they have done from some of them, and as the indigenous wolf of Britain has disappeared from our own Island. And if the disappearance of any species be supposed to have taken place, anterior to the existence of written records, the names as well as the animals would be unknown.

To the mode of accounting for the fassil exuviæ which has been here adopted, it may be objected that it leaves a remarkable fact in the deposits of vegetable, marine, and animal reliquiæ unexplained, viz. the marked distinction, not only between the vegetable and animal kingdoms, but also between different species of each of those genera. For instance, in the lowest strata, it is said, are to be found vegetables of the lowest order, and above them,

or

other vegetables which form the link betwecn themselves and the animal kingdom: and the same order, it is asserted, is observable in the strata of animal remains, till they terminate in what modern geology supposes to have been the only remains of the Mosaic creation. On this statement I must ask, does

any

such classification of different species, either of vegetables or of animals, actually and uniformly exist? I must call in question the accuracy of the Geologist's optics rather than renounce the inspiration of the sacred historian : if one or the other seem inevitable—for,

1. Let us consider the declared end for which the sun, moon, and stars, were placed in the firmament of heaven. They were placed there for signs and for seasons and for days and years. This surely implies the actual proximate existence of intelligent creatures who should derive benefit from these divisions of time. But according to the new hypothesis, 30,000 years were to elapse before any rational being tenanted our globe.

2. If the day in which successively the heavens and the earth, and the plant and herb of the field, were formed, differ in duration from the seventh day which the Lord sanctified; (Gen. ii. 3, 4, 5.) what confusion is introduced into the language of Moses !

3. If there be a graduation in the species of vegetables and animals, and if these grades, first of vegetables and then of animals, have been submerged at different periods, what a number of deluges must be supposed in order to account for all the different strata. One in each day's work, whether the day be natural or metaphorical, will not be sufficient to answer the end. There must have been as many distinct submersions as there are distinct strata.

But may not these graduations be accounted for by the single deluge of Moses. The fern and other herbs of the field found on the surface of the ground would naturally be first affected by the mighty rains. They would be covered before the forest fell, or even the shrubs became immersed in the liquefied mass, and would therefore occupy the lowest strata. The less perfect animal productions which occupy the middle strata were, I conceive, of greater specific gravity than those which are found in the uppermost strata; besides which, their very imperfections would disable them from avoiding their submersion by the flood in the spots where it overtook them, while the more perfect species would naturally seek refuge in the higher elevations of the earth, perish there, and afterwards sink or be washed into the vallies by the subsisting waters.

But, after all, it seems very questionable, whether the regular succession of fossil remains, for which some Geologists have contended, be verified by matter of fact; since some of those strata which have been supposed to be primary and aboriginal have been found to “abound in organic remains ;” and “ the remains of animals concluded to be characteristic of the newest formations have been found in some of the earlier; and vice versa.”*

[merged small][ocr errors]

LETTER VIII.

THE GARDEN OF EDEN.

MY DEAR FRIEND, In calling your attention to the abode prepared for the highly distinguished tenant of this lower world, in his state of innocency, I have no intention of engaging you in a discussion of the several opinions which have been proposed on the site of this earthly Paradise. It is probable that the deluge has produced so great a change in the surface of the earth, that a geographical search after it must be altogether fruitless. And could we ascertain exactly where it was situated, we should only have gratified our curiosity without obtaining any degree of profitable information. My object in troubling you with this letter is of a different kind; it is to consider the purposes for which the Garden of Eden was Divinely planted. God does nothing without an object worthy of Himself. This is to be maintained as an axiom in Divinity in all cases, even in those in which we feel our own incompetency to fathom his secret purposes. And in all the conjectures we form on such mysterious points,

« הקודםהמשך »