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With respect to the fourth commandment, the seventh day, the particular day, may be accidental, circumstantial, ceremonial. But what then? I think the principle is moral, and adapted to universality. The principle is just this—that there should be the regular recurrence of a season of rest in a world of toil, and of a season of worship in a world where the religious principle needs reinforcement from its contact with danger. I do not go into the other parts of the Bible, I do not go into the New Testament, to show how beautifully this principle continues under our dispensation; I content myself with simply saying, that the principle of a period of hallowed rest is beautifully adapted to the condition and circumstances of mankind, as bound to labour, and exposed to temptation, and needing opportunities of leisure and improvement.
Again, in the fifth commandment— that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee.” This may be peculiar, accidental, having a reference to the nature of the Jewish dispensation ; but still the principle of the law is separable from this accident; and it is the principle, as we have said, of which we speak, and for which we contend. Besides, there may be something, and I think there is something, very admonitory in the circumstance of this particular injunction having this promise attached to it; for this particular injunction is that on which, I have already shown, the general virtue of the character, all the robust and masculine elements of private and public worth, mainly depend. Obedience to this one law is a principal means by which they are nourished, and sustained, and developed in their maturity; those who are flagrantly guilty of its infraction fail in the first step, and poison the fountain of universal virtue; and, however it may be accounted for, it is certainly a fact, that those unhappy persons whom society has been compelled to cast from her bosom have frequently acknowledged that the beginning of their ruin was the violation of this law.
Looking, then, at the law in this light, we say it is adapted universally to mankind; and we think you will see this, if you just consider what the world would be if, in its great principle, it was universally obeyed; what a world it would be if it was universally disobeyed-fully and entirely. And I think you will feel this, my dear friends, if you will just calmly and seriously ask youselves, what part of the law (supposing you had the virtue of the whole world committed to your hand, and had to secure and promote it by some moral rule,) what part of the law you would abrogate under such circumstances ? Which precept could you part with, had you resting upon you such a responsibility, or were you called to the exercise of so high a prerogative?
Now, you must fill up these thoughts for yourselves. But, oh! what a world this would be, if the principles of this law were universally known and universally obeyed !-a pure and simple theism universal; high, spiritual notions of the Supreme Nature; none of the degradation and absurdity of idolatry, none of the mental vacuity of atheism, no irreligion, no blasphemy! Every family in harmony; fathers and mothers worthy of respect, and children respecting them; every house and every hearth the seat of happiness, upon which the angel of peace had descended, and where he shed from his wings blessings and fragrance! Every neighbourhood, united in perfect confidence, walking together in harmony; all business transacted upon the most honourable principles; every man caring for the property, and the life, and the reputation, and the purity, of another ; licentiousness and lust banished from the world ; all pure and holy charities manifested in their brightness and beauty! all commonwealths united and cemented together by the grand and blessed principles of moral action which pervade families and neighbourhoods; every man free from envy, and ambition, and avarice, and desire to overreach and oppress another, and rejoicing in the happiness and virtue which he saw! I do not know
that anybody would have a single reason for lamenting that this law ' was thus universal, except those who live upon the filth and feculence of humanity. Distilleries, gaols, and gin-shops—things that nourish, and are nourished by, the vices of men-would fall into decay, and the owners of some of them might" wail and lament ;” but all that love and delight in purity, excellence, and truth, the happiness of families, and the harmony of society-all would have reason to rejoice in universal obedience being paid to this law. All the nations of the world that are now oppressed by slavery and ignorance, by tyranny and idolatry, by power and priestcraft, would be raised from their degradation, elevated to the dignity of men, taught at once their rights and their duties, and led to the attainment of bliss and virtue, in the knowledge and imitation of the Supreme Nature. All this would result, evidently and obviously, if this law, which is adapted to man, were by man uni. Versally obeyed. And if there was to be a violation of all this,-if there was to be the complete loss of the idea of God, and the entire extinction of everything like worship, and the entire neglect of the religious capacity by which man is distinguished, and if all the rules of conduct which are here laid down were uniformly and universally violated, there would want nothing but perpetuity to make the world hell. Man would be against man, family against family; all purity, virtue, honour, excellence, sincerity, truth, blasted and withered. Every vice rampant and gigantic—the happiness of the world would be a ruin and a wreck at the foot of a general and desolating depravity.
(To be concluded in our next.)
Inquiries and Correspondence.
SIR,—Your reply to my query in the January number, as to how the discoveries of geologists are to be reconciled with the declaration of the fourth commandment, “In six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is," was, I think, far from satisfactory. The arguments which geologists adduce in support of their opinion of the high antiquity of our globe, appear to me to be sound and conclusive. As the foundation of a few remarks upon the subject, permit me to take a brief review of the facts upon which geology, as a science, rests.
The crust of the earth, as far as it is open to human observation, is composed of a variety of substances, to which the term rock is applied. These rocks differ widely in their constitution, as well as in their form and arrangement; some being crystalline and disposed in irregular masses, others being of a softer nature and disposed in layers, or beds, which, according to their nature, observe an invariable sequence; not that they everywhere all follow in rotation, but that, though several members of the series be wanting, yet their order is never inverted, although frequently disturbed by volcanic forces. The crystalline, or, as it is called, the primary rock, is the lowest with which we are acquainted, and is the foundation on which the stratified ones rest. From its crystalline character, we infer that at one time it was in a state of fusion from heat, and that it must have gradually cooled down into its present condition. In none of the varieties of this rock have any organic remains been discovered; but if we examine the secondary rocks (the name given to that first series of stratified formations), beginning with the most ancient, the first organic remains which present themselves are those of aquatic plants and large reeds, but of species different from ours. To these succeed madrepores, encrenites, and other aquatic zoophytes, living beings of simplest forms, which remain attached to one spot, and partake, in some degree, of the nature of vegetables. Posterior to these are ammonites and other mollusci, still very simple in their forms, and entirely different from any animals now known. After these some fishes appear, and plants, consisting of bamboos and ferns, increase, but still different from those which exist.
In the next period, along with an increasing number of extinct species of shells and fishes, we meet with amphibious and viviparous quadrupeds, such as crocodiles and tortoises, and some reptiles and serpents, which show that dry land now existed.
As we approach the newest of the solid rock formations we find lamantins, phocæ, and other cetaceous and mammiferous sea animals, with some birds; and in the newest of these formations we find the remains of herbivorous land animals, of extinct species, and of birds, with some fresh water shells. In the lowest beds of loose soil, and in peat bogs, are found the remains of the elephant, rhinoceros, hippopotamus, elk, &c., of different species from those which now exist, but belonging to the same genera.
Lastly, the bones of the species which are apparently the same with those which now existing, are never found except in the latest alluvial deposits, or those which are either formed in the sides of rivers, the bottoms of ancient lakes and marshes, now dried up, in peat beds, in the fissures and caverns of certain rocks, or at small depths below the present surface, where they may have been overwhelmed with debris, or even buried by man. Human bones are never found, except among those of animal species now living, and in situations which show that they have been, comparatively speaking, recently deposited. (Supp. to Encyclopædia Britannica, vol. vi., also Brougham's Fossil Osteology.)
The whole of the stratified rocks are believed by geologists to have been formed from matter deposited by water, which must have been derived from earlier formations, and been washed down by rivers, and deposited at the bottom of profound seas, where, by the action of heat from below, and the great pressure of water above, it was compressed
into beds of rock. The layers in which they are divided, and the organic remains embedded in them, seem to be a sufficient demonstration of their sedimentary nature and origin ; for how else could these remains have become so embedded, especially those of plants, some of which are found in the same position in which they grew? It must be plain to every one that if such was the case, even allowing that the disintegrating principle operated much more powerfully than it does now, the formation of one solitary member of the series must have occupied an immense period of time. How long, then, must it have taken to form the whole ?
It is a fact of great importance in this inquiry, that no fossil remains of man have been found, although those of plants, of fish, of reptiles, of birds, and of land animals, are so numerous. It is universally acknowledged by physiologists that there is nothing peculiar in the constitution of human bones to cause them to decay more rapidly than those of other animals. Is it not a fair and just inference from this fact, that while these rocks were forming there were no human beings in existence on our globe ; for, if so, what became of their remains, while those of other animals, and even those of fish and of plants, were preserved. From these and many other considerations, I believe, in common with all later geologists, that our globe was in existence, and had been for ages a scene of organic life, before man was first brought into being. In opposition to this conclusion, it has been supposed and asserted, by come who cannot be persuaded to receive the opinion of the high antiquity of our globe, that the rocks, with all the fossil remains which they contain, were brought into existence, by the creative power of God, in the same state and condition in which they now are; that all “ the marks of antiquity” which it now possesses were then enstamped upon it. This opinion is so repugnant to reason, and so irreconcilable with the usual procedure and with the character of God, that to me it appears to be the result either of the darkest ignorance or of the blindest prejudice. To use the words of Professor Silliman
* We will not inquire whether Almighty power inserted plants and animals in mineral masses, and was thus exerted in working a long series of useless miracles, without design or end, and, therefore, incredible. The man who can believe, for example, that the iguanodon, with his gigantic form, 70 feet in length, 10 feet in height, and 14 feet in girth, was created in the midst of consolidated sandstone, and placed down 1,000 or 1,200 feet below the surface of the earth, in a rock composed of ruins and fragments, and containing vegetables, shells, fish, and rolled pebbles, can believe anything with or without evidence. If there be any such persons, we must leave them to their own reflection, since they cannot be influenced by reason and sound argument; with them we can sustain no discussion, for there is no common ground on which we can meet."
Others, again, have attempted to prove that all the formations and all the changes in the strata of the earth, to which we have referred, were produced during the continuance of the Noachian deluge ; but this position, for reasons which brevity forbids me to state, has long since been given up as untenable by all who have paid any attention to the facts of the case. Indeed, so strong is the evidence in favour of the
opinion of the high antiquity of the earth, that had it not been that was opposed to the generally-received interpretation of the first chaptı of the book of Genesis, as well as that of the fourth commandment, have no doubt but that it would long ago have been universally receive But is it really opposed to these portions of revelation, or only to th: interpretation of them which ignorance first proposed and which preju dice still supports ? Revelation has been generally believed to asse that our globe, with all that it contains, was brought into existence i the course of six days, at the commencement of the 6,000 years to whic the history of man extends. This opinion seems to be founded on mistake with regard to the two first verses of the first chapter of Genesis which have been considered to form a part of the narrative of the si days' creation; instead of which they are acknowledged by the bes biblical critics to be merely a preface to what follows, and to contain entirely independent propositions. “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” Here there is no time specified at which the creation took place : it merely asserts the fact that the matter of which they are composed was not eternal, but was produced by the creative power of God. “And the earth was without form and void, &c. This, again, merely informs us of the condition in which our globe was at the time when the six days' creation commenced. It was a confused mass, land and water mingled together, and the whole shrouded with darkness. It is not until the 3rd verse that the account of the first day's creation commences. This is clear, from the pause which intervenes, and which is placed between the account of each successive day afterwards, and also may be inferred from the way in which it commences, as all the accounts of the other days do : “ And God said, let there be.” This interpretation is stated and supported in the 7th Number of this Magazine, with which your present opinions seem to me to be strangely inconsistent. I now come to the declaration of the 4th commandment: “In six days the Lord made heaven and earth,” &c. Rejecting the interpretation which would make the days here spoken of indefinite periods of time, the following, I think, is the only way of reconciling it with the opinion, or rather the fact, of the high antiquity of the earth. Our globe had, for ages, been the scene of organic life; several times it had been subject to some tremendous convulsion, by which animal and vegetable life had been destroyed. Cuvier, from his laborious researches into fossil geology, concluded that there had been, at least, three of these destructions and subsequent re-creations, previous to the present system. The 2nd verse of Genesis describes the state of the earth after one of the catastrophes, and the succeeding verses make known to us the order and manner in which God saw fit, gradually, through the space of six days, to remodel and re-people our globe with beings, in some cases similar to those which had before existed, but in general of a superior order; and especially in the case of man, forming a being far superior to any which he had before placed upon the earth. For, although the theory of development, as recently propounded, appears to be unsupported by facts, yet it is plain that there has been a gradual progression from simple to more complex forms in animal as well as in vegetable life. To this theory it may be objected, that the declaration of this com