Изображения страниц

the original creation of the matter of the universe, as the successive production of animals and plants by ordinary generation; since they looked upon both as equally the work of God. A passage in the 104th Psalm will illustrate this idea, (vs. 29, 30):

Thou hidest thy face, they (animals of every kind) are troubled : thou takest away their breath, they die and return to their dust. Thou sendest forth thy Spirit, they are created : and thou renewest the face of the earth. Now we cannot but see the resemblance between this description and that of the original creation in Genesis. The same Spirit is concerned and the same word used, viz. $72. It very well describes, also, those successive destructions and renewals of animal races, which geologists maintain are shown by the history of organic remains, to have taken place on the globe. Yet commentators generally suppose that this passage describes only the ordinary destruction and renewal of the animal races, which is daily taking place by what are called natural laws.

The inference we wish to make from such facts as these, is, that even though new species of organized beings were from time to time created, it would not be strange that it should not be noticed in the Scriptures, if the mention of it did not fall in directly with the great moral object of the Bible ; since the inspired writers would not regard such an exercise of Divine power as scarcely more illustrative of the perfections of Jehovah, than the ordinary and continual reproduction of animals and plants.

Suppose now, that naturalists should find reason to conclude that new species of animals and plants do occasionally appear on the globe ; would there be any inconsistency between such a fact and the Scriptures ? Must we believe that the creation of all animals and plants, that ever have existed, is described in the Bible ? We think it almost certain, as we have shown in another place, (Bibl. Repos. Vol. VI. p. 309,) that the animals and plants found fossil are not described in Genesis. And naturalists think that there are some cases in which a new species of animal is introduced in modern tirnes ; as in those instances where animals or animalculae are found only in some substance that has been discovered by a chemical process in modern times.* We do not regard the examples which they cite as entirely satisfactory : But the enormous multiplication of the

Blumenbach's Manual of Natural History, p. 276. London, 1825,

frogs of Egypt, sometimes mentioned by commentators as an example of a new creation, seems explicable by natural laws but with great difficulty. And such examples, in connection with our previous reasoning, go to take away all improbability from the conclusion, that there was a new creation immediately subsequent to the deluge.

Evidence is derived from geology that several catastrophes, which have in early times taken place on the globe, by which entire races of organized beings have been destroyed, have been followed by the creation of new races. Sometimes a few species seem to have survived the catastrophe, or have been reproduced ; but in general, those created after the catastrophe have been different from those destroyed by it. Here then, it seems to us, we obtain a still stronger presumption that the diluvial catastrophe described by Moses was followed by an analogous new creation, so far as it was necessary to repeople the world, or to adapt organized beings to changes in climate and other circumstances. The numerous examples of new creations which Palaeontology furnishes, show us that such is the law of the Divine administration.

Another consideration renders still more probable the idea of a new creation subsequent to the deluge. It does not appear from the sacred records, that any provision was made in the ark for the preservation of plants or seeds. Now there are very many species that would have been entirely destroyed by being covered with water for a year ; as will be evident to any one who has noticed how a flood of a few weeks will ruin many plants on which the water rests. They cannot survive so long without the access of air. The diluvial waters, therefore, must have destroyed the germinating principle in numerous instances; and unless the postdiluvian flora be more scanty than the antediluvian, as we have no reason to suppose,

these last species must have been recreated after the waters had retired.

These several circumstances do not prove certainly that such a creation did take place. But when we connect them with the facts that have been detailed, respecting the present distribution of organized beings, which are totally at variance with their having spread except miraculously from one point, and when we consider further, that the Scriptures leave us at entire liberty to suppose such a creation, the hypothesis certainly appears probable enough to form a satisfactory reply to the objection under consideration against the scriptural account derived from the present distribution of organized beings. Some, however, have thought that it would be still more satisfactory to combine both the hypotheses which we have named. They would admit a new creation, and also suppose that the deluge was not universal. We do not feel anxious which of these three modes of relieving the difficulty is adopted. But one of them at least seems to us indispensable.

4. It only remains, as the fourth general branch of our subject, to inquire whether any natural causes could have produced the deluge.

It is well known, that from the earliest times, writers have indulged in speculations on the natural causes of this event ; while to many, such an inquiry seems almost sacrilegious ; since they suppose the deluge to have been strictly miraculous. Had the sacred writers distinctly informed us that such was the fact, all philosophical reasoning concerning that event would have been presumptuous and useless. But since the Bible is silent on this point, and since we know it to be a general principle in God's government, not to superadd to natural agencies a miraculous energy where the former is sufficient to accomplish his purposes, we are surely at liberty to inquire whether any forces exist in nature sufficient, by their unaided operation, to produce such a catastrophe. In giving a history of opinions respecting the deluge, we have exhibited a variety of hypotheses on this subject, but most of them are too evidently baseless to need a formal examination. We shall therefore mention only those that are still advanced by respectable writers of the present day.

1. Some impute the deluge to the approximation of a comet to the earth, or to an actual appulse of the two bodies. On this hypothesis it is not necessary to add any thing to what we have stated in giving the history of opinions concerning the deluge, (Bibl. Repos. Jan. 1837. p. 107.) The fact, now well ascertained, that the comets are not solid bodies, and for the most part are only very attenuated vapor, certainly renders this hypothesis entirely untenable. And we can explain the circumstance that some writers still cling to it, only by supposing them ignorant of the facts, or strangely perverted in their judgments by the influence of hypothesis.

2. Some suppose that the deluge was caused by the sinking down of the antediluvian continents beneath the ocean, and the elevation of our present continents above the waters. Such an event would, indeed, produce a complete and universal deluge ;

and a certain class of writers, as we have seen in a former number of this work, (Bibl. Repos. Jan. 1837. p. 108,) maintain this theory with great confidence. They are writers who are greatly scandalized by the efforts of geologists to show that a long interval may bave elapsed, undescribed, between the

beginning and the six days of creation, lest too great latitude of interpretation should thus be allowed in biblical exegesis. And yet this hypothesis of theirs requires them to admit, contrary to what every child sees to be the truth in reading the Bible, that the waters of the flood did not first rise over the land and then subside, leaving the same land dry; but that the land sunk down, which brought over it the ocean, and that other continents rose in other parts of the globe to form new habitations for organized beings. Hence they must further admit, that there must at that time have been an entirely new creation of plants and many animals. Also, that the description of the garden of Eden in Genesis is not a part of the Bible, but an interpolation ! Surely, men who can take such liberties as this with the Bible, where its language is plain and simple, should be cautious in condemning others for a more liberal interpretation of some passages which have always perplexed the critic. And further, this supposed interchange of land and water at the epoch of the last deluge, is contrary to many facts in geology; such as for instance, the occurrence of the remains of land animals on all existing continents, imbedded in the higher strata. Tertiary deposites also, are frequent whose strata are horizontal, and whose level therefore cannot bave been essentially altered since their deposition ; for otherwise they would have been tilted up. Yet these deposites were made anterior to the last geological deluge, because its relics are strowed over them. But in giving a history of this subject, we have already entered so fully into the arguments respecting this hypothesis, that we forbear lest we should be repetitious.

3. Another hypothesis imputes the deluge to the sudden elevation of the bottom of the ocean, so as to throw its waters over a part, if not the whole, of existing continents. No fact is more generally admitted, by those conversant with geology, than that our present continents once constituted the bottom of the ocean, and that almost equally certain is it, that different continents and different parts of the same continent, were elevated above the waters at different epochs. A distinguished French geologist, who has paid much attention to this point, thinks he can distinguish as many as twelve of these epochs among the rocks of Europe, and there are several obvious in this country. It is generally admitted, also, that these elevations took place suddenly ; that is, they resulted from a paroxysm of internal power. Let us now imagine a continent, or even a single mountain chain, to be raised from the ocean's depths in a few days, or a few weeks. There can be no doubt but the waters would be driven in mighty waves over those continents, or at least over that part of them which was previously above the waters. Suppose, for example, that the bed of the northern ocean were to be thus lifted up over a vast area, by volcanic agency beneath, that is, by the accumulation of vapor and gases beneath the earth's crust. The result would be, that the waters of the northern ocean, with the vast masses of ice there accumulated, would be driven in a southerly direction, at least over the northern hemisphere. After the fractured crust had permitted the pent up gases, vapors, and lava, to escape, it would gradually subside, and thus bring back the diluvial waters to their former beds in a quiet manner ; and thus, ere long, all traces of the catastrophe would disappear, unless the aqueous currents should have been powerful enough deeply to denude the surface and transport diluvium and bowlders. Now we know that volcanic power does frequently operate in this very

Witness the new island of Sabrina, which, in 1811, was raised near the Azores, and gradually sunk back again after a few days : also, in 1831, the island of Hotham, or Graham, in the Mediterranean, which has also disappeared.

We are not anxious that our readers should believe this to have been the mode in which the Noachian deluge was produced. Our main object is to show that a natural cause exists sufficient to have produced that castastrophe, and thus to take away all improbability respecting the occurrence of such an event from its supposed physical impossibility. This is, however, the hypothesis respecting the cause of the Mosaic deluge, that is now extensively adopted by able geologists. Some have imputed it to the elevation of the Andes, others to that of the Alps. It seems to us, however, that there is every probability these mountains were raised from the ocean at an earlier period than that of the scriptural deluge ; and if the deluge of geology be regarded as identical, the waves produced by the lifting up of those mountains would not have flowed in a direction corresponding to the course which we have shown the waters of that


« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »