or vegetablelife it bore upon its surface—what upheavings and revolutions passed over it, during the remoter periods of its history, we are not informed. The geologist has space enough here, for his deepest, his widest researches. He has scope enough for any conclusions which he may be led to adopt, without the remotest danger of trenching on any of the annunciations of revealed truth.

That a very long period-how long no being but God can tell-intervened between the creation of the world, and the commencement of the six days' work recorded in the following verses of the first chapter of Genesis, there can be I think no reasonable doubt. It was during this period that the earth assumed a solid form. Its heated masses began to cool and conglomerate. The primary rocks were chrystalized. The transition, the secondary, and the deeper portion of the tertiary rocks were deposited and petrified. The lower forms of animal and vegetable life appeared. Vast multitudes of marine and amphibious animals-some of them of huge and terrific forms-lived and died, and their remains became imbedded in the solid rocks. Vast quantities of vegetable matter also accumulated on the earth, and was treasured up in its deep foundations, in the form of coal, for the future use and benefit of man.

It is evident that the earth, during this period, underwent frequent and terrible revolutions. Its internal fires were raging in their prisonhouse, and often bursting through the crust which confined them. The mountains were upheaved from their deeper than ocean-beds; trap dykes were formed; and the stratified rocks were tilted from their horizontal positions in every direction.

It was subsequent to one of these terrible revolutions, which had torn the earth from its very centre, merged the greater part of it beneath the ocean, and destroyed nearly every trace of animal and vegetable existence, that we have mention made of it in the second verse of our Bible. It was then 1779 inn confused and desolate, and darkness was upon the face of the vast abyss. The earth was dark at this period, not because there was no sun, but because caliginous gases


vapours had utterly obscured the light of the sun, and shut it out from the desolate world.

But God had not abandoned the work of his own hands. He had nobler purposes to answer by this seemingly ruined world, than any which had yet been manifested. It was no longer to be the abode only of saurians and mastodons, and otller huge and terrific monsters, but was to be fitted up and adorned for a new and nobler race of beings. Accordingly the Spirit of God began to move upon the troubled waters, and order and harmony were gradually restored.

At length,“ God said, Let there be light, and there was light.” The dense clouds and vapours which had enveloped the earth, and shut out entirely the light of heaven, were dissipated, so that it was easy to distinguish between night and day. “ And God saw the light, that it was good; and God divided the light from the darkness. And God called the light day, and the darkness he called night: and the evening and the morning were the first day."

“ And God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters. And God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament, from the waters which were above the firmament; and it was so. And God called the firmament heaven. And the evening and the morning were the second day.” The work here denoted, was the elevation of the clouds, and the separation of the aerial waters, by the visible firmament—the seeming expanse of heaven, from those which rested on the surface of the earth.

“And God said, Let the waters under the heaven be gathered together unto one place, and let the dry land appear; and it was so, And God called the dry land earth; and the gathering together of the waters called he seas. And God saw that it was good. And God said, Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb yielding seed, and the fruittree yielding fruit after his kind, whose seed is in itself, upon the earth ; and it was so.

And the earth brought forth grass, and herb yielding seed after his kind, and the tree yielding fruit after his kind, whose seed is in itself; and God saw that it was good. And the evening and the morning were the third day.” In the course of this day, vast portions of the earth's surface were elevated, and other portions were depressed. Continents were raised, and the oceans were made to know their bounds. As soon as the dry land appeared, it began to be clothed with vegetation. The forming hand of the Creator covered it, in many instances, with new species of trees and vegetables, in place of such as had been finally destroyed.

“ And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and for years. And let them be for lights in the firmament of heaven to give light upon the earth; and it was so. And God made two great lights; the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night. He made the stars also. And God set them in the firmament of heaven to give light upon the earth, and to rule over the day and over the night, and to divide the light from the darkness. And God saw that it was good. And the evening and the morning were the fourth day.The language here used does not import, that the sun, moon, and stars were now first created, but only that they were first made to shine out upon the renovated earth. They now became visible lights to the earth. The clouds had before been so far dissipated, that it was easy to distinguish between day and night; but now they were entirely dispersed, and the lights of heaven shone down upon the earth “ in full orbed splendour.

In all this chapter, as God is speaking to man, so he speaks after the manner of men ; and represents the progression of things, not with philosophical precision, but as they would have appeared to a human spectator. For instance, when it is said that God made the firmament, we are not to understand that the seeming canopy above us is a literal thing or substance, called a firmament, but only that such is the appearance to a spectator on the earth. And when it is said, that God made two great lights, and set them in the firmament, we are not to

suppose that the sun and moon were now first created, and fixed in the blue expanse, but that such would have been the appearance to man, had he been in existence on the fourth day, when the clouds and vapors were dispersed, and the sun and moon commenced their shining.

On the fifth day, God peopled the waters with fishes, and the air with birds and flying fowls.

On the sixth day, he brought forth “the beast of the earth after his kind, and cattle after their kind, and every thing that creepeth upon the earth after his kind; and God saw that it was good.' In the course of this day, God created man also, in his own image :-"male and female created he them. And God blessed them,” and gave them dominion over all the creatures that he had made.

« On the seventh day, God ended his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made. And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it, because that in it he had rested from all his work which God created and made." Here we have the institution of the Sabbath—that statedly recurring season of holy rest, which commenced with the renovation of the world, and is to continue to the end of it.

It appears, therefore, that in the six days' work which has been considered, we have an account, not of the original creation of the world —this had been created long before—but of its renovation ;-of its being remodeled and refitted, after one of those terrible revolutions by which it had been desolated, and its being prepared for the residence of innocent and happy man.

If any are disposed here to enquire,--on supposition the earth existed for a long period after its creation, before it was fitted up for the use of man—why we have no particular account of this period in the Scriptures ? it would be enough to answer, that we do not know. Obviously, however, it was no part of the object of the Divine Author of Scripture to gratify the mere curiosity of man. Why have we no particular account of the life of our Saviour, between the period of his childhood, and that of his public ministry? Why does the writer of the Acts of the Apostles leave Paul in his own hired house at Rome, and not follow him through to the end of his eventful history? It was enough for the inspired writer to make us acquainted with the original creation of the world, and of its being prepared for the use of

This is all in which we have a direct personal interest. Το have proceeded further in the narrative, would have been to enter a field of scientific inquiry and curiosity, from which the pen of inspiration is uniformly and wisely kept aloof.

In view of what has been said, it is evident, to my own mind, that there is no discrepancy certainly, between the teachings of geology and those of the Bible respecting the date of the world's creation. Geology assures us, that this earth must have existed for a very long period—one remotely anterior to the creation of man; and we find nothing in the first chapter of Genesis, or in any other part of Scripture, which is at all inconsistent with such a supposition.

[To be continued.]




[Extracted from “The Sea," by Mudie.)

“ It is in its animal productions, however, that we receive the most lively impression of the vast, the almost boundless fertility of the sea,a fertility, compared with which the whole of the land and all its inhabitants, numerous and varied as they are, sink into absolute insigniticance. We might arrive at some such conclusion as this before hand, by reflecting on the peculiar structure of the sea, and on the vast extent of the earth's surface which it occupies ; and when we come to consider this great question of the productiveness of the waters, we must include the lakes and the rivers, and every body of water which contains a living inhabitant,-whether that water is salt or fresh, or whether it is stagnant or in motion. This is not the place for enumerating, far less describing, the animals of the deep, and of its tributary waters; but it is impossible to overlook one or two of the leading facts, or to have anything like a correct notion of the inducements which we have to the study of the sea, without taking them, however briefly, into consideration.

“ In the first place, excepting a certain limited space around each pole, and probably there only for a limited depth below the surface, the sea knows no winter which can be considered as a provisionless season, to some part at least of its living inhabitants ; and as we descend in latitude, its action throughout the year becomes more and more uniform,—until there is, in the tropical sea, a much more perennial abundance, than there is in those favoured isles of the east, which are rendered at once so fertile and so salubrious by the continual play of the sea winds over their surfaces.

“ In the second place, and independently altogether of its greater extent in breadth, there is a depth of inhabitableness and production in the sea, to which, in the nature of things, there can be nothing corresponding upon the land. Say that, over the whole extent, the average depth to which the sea can be inhabited, is only thirty fathoms. Fishes have been taken at, at least, double this depth ; but as the case needs no overstraining, we shall take it thus much within the limit, in order to make allowance for the banks and shallows. The whole of this depth, throughout every inch, is equally inhabitable by fishes; and as their specific gravity is beautifully adapted to that of the water, they can breathe with perfect ease, or without any effort, at every

inch throughout this depth. If nearer the surface, they are, no doubt, subjected to a smaller pressure,-and if deeper, to a greater ; but the

pressure, so long as the whole body of the fish is covered with water, is very nearly the same on every part of it; and we know, from our own experience, that we feel much more energetic under an increase of atmospheric pressure, and languid as that pressure is removed, unless there is a bracing influence of cold which shall make up the difference. When we ascend to a mountain-top, we have the advantage of this cold,—though even there the small vessels in the lips, nostrils, and other places which are kept warm by the act of breathing, are apt to burst and bleed, in consequence of the removal of pressure. And if we remain at the same elevation, and at the same temperature, or a higher one, the diminished atmospheric pressure produces languour ; and we feel heavy, because the atmosphere around us is light. Thus, there is a far more extensive range for the inhabitants of the sea than there is for those of the land,

“ It may, however, appear to such as have not reflected on the subject, that there may be a want of subsistence; for we are so much accustomed, from what we observe around us, to connect subsistence with the mere surface of the earth, or that which immediately grows out of this surface, or is attached to it, that we may not be able very readily to bring ourselves to understand how there can be countless millions of living creatures, faring sumptuously every day,' over those unfathomable depths of the ocean, where probably not one of them ever approaches within several miles of the bottom. This difficulty instantly vanishes, however, when we consider

Thirdly, the extraordinary productive powers of the inhabitants of the sea, and especially of many of the fishes,-indeed of all of them, as compared with any animals upon land, except such as are of diminutive size, and remarkable for the short period of their lives. The produce of one codfish, in a single season, is nearer four millions than three; and though we have no evidence of the fact, and such analogies as we are able to draw from land animals are rather against it, it is not improbable that this immense production may be repeated every year. The year is the general cycle of production among most of the tribes of nature; and among the mammalia on land, though we know many instances in which it is much shorter than this, we believe that the elephant is the only well authenticated one in which it is longer. This productiveness is not confined to the fishes, but extends to the smaller inhabitants of the sea; and, during the proper season, a pin's point can hardly be put down on the rocks, favourable to production, without touching some little shell or other living creature in a rudimental state ; every bit of sea-weed, too, whether fixed or floating, has its numerous colonies, all in progress towards maturity; and even the water, when it presents nothing to the naked eye, and is merely a little turbid to the microscope, if the power of that instrument is not all the greater, is full of life, of some sort or other; and if we boil it, it gives out that peculiar odour, which is common to almost every animal of the sea, when in a recent state, and which cannot be mistaken for



[ocr errors]
« VorigeDoorgaan »