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in the temples of Esneh and Dendera, which time and a closer examination have shewn to be miserably incorrect and fanciful astrological pictures, were exalted into minute and carefully constructed diagrams illustrative of the actual appearance of the heavens many thousands of years before the creation of Adam! It was only necessary, therefore, to add another assumption to the many which had preceded it, and lay it down as an indisputable fact, that these diagrams were cotemporary with the celestial aspects which they exhibited, or in other words, that they were painted long before the period fixed by the Bible for the Mosaic creation!
Again, when the sceptic first became acquainted with the traditions of India and China, he at once assumed, and insisted on our allowing, the extreme antiquity of their miscalled-sacred books; and where he found this position disputed, attempted to silence all opposition by the assertion, that they contained similar astronomical allusions to the zodiacs of Egypt. The world generally, unwilling to enter upon the computations necessary to prove them in error, received their testimony without foreseeing the consequences, though they had no sooner done this, than the inference was forced upon them, that these Eastern fictions were the true scriptures, and our own Bible, nothing but a spurious and comparatively recent copy!
No class of men are more ready to ask our proofs, than those who will give none themselves. This is especially the case with the infidel astronomer, who tells us, that "seeing is believing," whilst the very data upon which he proceeds, are little better than mere optical illusions. Who by the mere use of the eye could form any reasonable idea of the dimensions or distance, actual or comparative, of the sun, moon, planets, and fixed stars; or conjecture that any of the latter assumed a particular colour, simply because they happened to be near some brighter star of a different hue? It matters nothing, to say that mathematics may be called in to correct these illusions, for even that science itself, much less the implements and apparatus by which it operates, is far from infallible. The mind, indeed, whilst inhabiting this fallen and corrupt body, must act through an imperfect medium. Nothing comes in contact with the naked mind, but revelation from the Eterna Mind Himself; and therefore, God alone can speak infallibly to us by his Holy Spirit. If mind only can tell upon
mind, and this is unquestionably the fact, the only evidence amounting to demonstration is to be looked for in the witness of that Spirit with our own.
Let us now proceed to the more immediate subject of this lecture, and consider a few of the facts of geology.
I have used the word "facts," because I am aware that few studies are characterized by more theory and speculation than geology. And it will be found that it is only in these speculations that its testimony clashes with that of the Scriptures. There are two principal causes for this disagreement-the first arising from unsound deductions in geology; the second, from erroneous interpretations of Scripture.
Unsound deductions in geology are rife in all the systems now abroad in the world. Principles and conclusions are deduced from very scanty and unsatisfactory data; great minds would always rather fly than walk; and very few are willing scrupulously to observe, and accurately or simply to record facts. It has been well remarked, that man very seldom gives, even in common conversation, a fact without an inference. Few common minds study geology: they will tell you that they do; but if you examine them, it will be found that they have studied system instead.
Erroneous interpretations of Scripture arise very frequently from our following what is called the popular view of certain texts. Now we cannot fix this, because, in the first place, words are constantly changing their meanings. Take as examples, the words "prevent," and "let," which are now understood to convey a sense very different from that which belonged to them when the Bible was translated into English. When Paul, writing to the Thessalonians, says, "We who are alive and remain, shall not prevent them who are asleep;” (1 Thes. iv. 15.) he uses the term as the equivalent of "precede," and not as the parallel of "hinder," which is now its usual acceptation. Again, when he tells the Romans that he purposed to come unto them, "but was let hitherto;" he by no means intends them to understand that he was "permitted," which would imply a contradiction, but that he had been "hindered" from fulfilling his intention; a sense in which the word is now never employed, excepting as a legal technicality. Another thing which unsettles "popular" interpretation, is the fact, that ideas are coloured by circumstances. We always look at things through the medium
of our present knowledge. Those persons, for example, who believe our earth, sun, moon, and planets to be the only important bodies in the universe, make no critical distinction between the terms system, universe, world, heaven and earth; whilst the astronomer, who regards them as a part only of the magnificent panorama of creation, affixes a much more definite and restricted meaning to each of the terms employed. So is it also in zöology, and its kindred sciences. Those names and characters which were originally employed to designate a particular species, are presently discovered to be common to a whole genus, and are consequently changed from time to time.
A singular illustration of these remarks may be found in Medhurst's "China." A poet of that country had written the following distich, which, it must be confessed, is not very intelligible to the English reader :
"The clear moon sings in the middle of the fir-tree,
The royal hound sleeps in the bosom of the flower."
A later critic, following the popular interpretation of the words "clear moon," and "royal hound," ventured to put forth an improved version to this effect
"The clear moon, shines through the midst of the fir-tree,
But this, like many of the improved readings of Scripture, served only to mislead, as it turned out upon enquiry, that the "clear moon," was a bird, and the "royal hound," a chrysalis !
In the same spirit many have tampered with the Bible, attempting to modify that which was written for all time, to their own limited views and narrow understandings. Thus, the present system of astronomy, on its original publication, was objected to by those who had made their own preconceived notions a key, to the interpretation of Scripture; and in this way, the magnificent discoveries of Herschell are, by many, still disputed.
But if we look at the Bible only without bending it to our own ideas, so far from its offering any contradiction to these discoveries, it will be found to give its sanction to them.
The Scriptures, for example, do not repudiate the doctrine of a plurality of worlds. "The worlds," in fact, as contradistinguished from the world, are distinctly spoken of, twice in the New Testament. And not only is there good reason to believe that other parts
of the universe are peopled, but reference is more than once made to their inhabitants, as interested in the common salvation. Nor is the Bible unfavorable to the modern idea based upon natural discoveries, that all the nebulous specks and patches of light with which the heavens are diversified, may be resolved into distinct and independent bodies-the centres possibly of innumerable systems. For the sacred writers always speak of the number of the stars as beyond computation; they are in fact compared in this respect to the sands upon the sea-shore, which every one must readily allow, defy calculation. "If thou be able to number them"is God's challenge to Abraham. But the stars actually visible to the patriarch were by no means innumerous. They have been numbered, and maps of them constructed centuries ago. The posterity of Abraham at the Exode amounted to six hundred thousand fighting men, besides women and children, so that their numbers could not with any propriety at all be compared to that of the stars, if we exclude those which are invisible without the aid of the telescope, and of which the patriarch could have known nothing but by inspiration. It is also evident that David entertained the same enlarged and magnificent ideas with reference to the visible universe; for he could not have been so overwhelmed as he was by the contemplation of the heavenly host if he had regarded "the stars" as mere twinkling specks upon the firmament, than which he must have supposed himself of more account. It thus appears evident that the Bible recognises the existence of myriads of worlds, of magnitude and importance in the scale of creation, and is not opposed to the supposition-for at present we can can call it little more-that some of them are peopled by intelligences destined in the dispensation of the fulness of time, to swell the triumphs of the Blessed and Only Potentate, who is declared to have reconciled unto Himself all things that are in heaven and in earth.
We are now to consider
I.-The facts of geology.
II. The inferences fairly deducible therefrom. III.-The sanction which Scripture gives to both.
1. What are THE FACTS OF GEOLOGY? The earth's diameter is about 8000 miles; the height of its loftiest mountain about five, or the sixteen-hundredth part of that diameter. This is perhaps fairly represented by the thickness of the varnish on a moderately sized
globe. In turning this globe, it may have grazed the brass meridian, and lost some of its varnish, and these denuded places will answer tolerably well to the portions of our own earth, which have been explored by geologists. But even allowing that all its surface has been examined, we cannot admit this to bear a greater proportion to its whole bulk, than the paper with which the globe is covered does to that globe itself. From this, moreover, we ought, at all events, to deduct for so much of it as is covered by the sea, if the enthusiast and theorist will not permit us to strike out from our calculation those countries which have never been visited by geologists. And what, indeed, is known respecting the geology of the vast continents of Asia, Africa, and South America? We know little concerning that of Europe, and still less respecting North America. And even in our own island, we have not done so much ás has been usually supposed. But still we are not without our facts; let us see what these are.
1. The crust, or shell of our earth is composed of shapeless unstratified rocks, and of different layers such as stone, chalk, clay, sand, gravel, &c. The shapeless, unstratified rocks present every appearance of having been formed by the action of fire; the others seem to have been deposited by water. The different varieties of granite composing these shapeless rocks, occur in huge mountainous masses without any division into strata or layers, whilst many kinds of stone and chalk are split horizontally into distinct slabs or slages.
2. These rocks and layers preserve a relative order of position. For example, the unstratified or shapeless rocks lie lowest of all. Upon these are deposited the slate and coal formations; then come the fossiliferous or fossil-bearing rocks; and lastly the marl, sand, chalk, clay, and gravel deposits. It happens very often that many of these rocks are missing, but none of them are ever misplaced. We do not for instance find granite above coal; or coal above chalk; or chalk above London clay, though we often meet with granite or other old formations on the surface, without any stratum whatever above them.
3. These layers appear to have been partially disturbed and dislocated- apparently by some internal force. In the chalk, so easily accessible in pits where it is worked, large fissures or faults, as they are called, filled with gravel, may be oftentimes discovered; and many sections of the older rocks where they are exposed by en