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pressed. 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 the 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 orb'd splendor.”
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 a 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
* The original word here translated made (v. 16) is not the same as that used in the first verse, which properly signifies to create. When it is said that “God made iwo great lights,” the meaning is that he made them to become lights to the earth." The same word is used in the fourth commandment, where it is said that “in six days the Lord made heaven, and earth, and sea, and all that in them is.” During the six days, God renewed the face of the desolate earth, and made the heavens visible, and gave the seas their bounds, and filled earth, and air, and ocean with their appropriate inhabitants.
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 dorninion 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 inquire,—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
It is remarkable that some of the Christian Fathers entertained similar views respecting the creation of the world, to those which have been here expressed. Justin Martyr, and after bim Gregory Nazianzen“ suppose an indefinite period to have elapsed between the creation, and the first ordering of all things.” Basil and Origen "account for the creation of light prior to the fourth day, not by supposing that there was no sun, but that the rays of the sun were prevented by a dense chaotic atmosphere, from penetrating to the earth.” - See Wiseman's Lectures, p. 178.
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 man. This is all in which we have a direct personal interest. To have proceeded further in the parrative 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.
But it is not enough to say that the teachings of geology, and those of the Bible, are not self-contradictory. In various particulars, as I shall now proceed to show, the former serve to illustrate and support the latter.
1. Geology teaches that this world had a beginning. To be sure, it places its origin at a very remote period. Still there was an origin—there was a beginning. The organizations on the earth, and in the earth itself, have uniformly taken place in an ascending series, from the less to the more perfect
. ` Trace now this series backward, and we at length arrive at a period when there were no organizations, and when the earth itself was not. The geological conclusion therefore is, that the earth was originally created from nothing. The same also is a doctrine of the Bible. “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” “Before the mountains were brought forth
, or ever thou hadst formed the earth and the world, even from
* When this article was written, the author had not seen Buckland's Bridgewater Treatise on Geology and Mineralogy. He has since been gratified to learn that his own views of the first chapter of Genesis agree, to a shade, with those of that celebrated philosopher and Christian.
everlasting to everlasting thou art God.” Ps. 90: 2. “I was set up from everlasting, or ever the earth was.” Prov. 8: 23.
The geological conclusion that this world must have had a beginning is of very great importance in connection with natural theology. The most plausible of all the atheistical hypotheses are those which assert the eternity of the world. Without undervaluing anything which has been written with a view to refute these unreasonable suppositions, the proper refutation of them is to be sought, and is found, in the world itself. Tracing back geologically the history of this globe, and (after successive revolutions) we arrive at a period, when it contained no living thing, and when it was incapable of sustaining any form of life with which we are acquainted. We arrive at a period, when nought terrestrial existed but the bare elements of nature, and when in all probability an existence was imparted even to these.
2. Geology teaches that the earth we inhabit is the workmanship of one God. This is evident from the unity of design everywhere exhibited in the structure of the globe. The Bible also teaches the same doctrine. The God of the Bible is one God—to whom the work of creation is ascribed.
3. Geology teaches that the Creator of the world is a being of infinite wisdom, power, and goodness. No one can look into the interior of the earth, and observe its massive structure and multiform organizations, and not be convinced that its Maker is possessed of unlimited wisdom and power. As little can we doubt the goodness of the Creator. To give but a single indication of this. Was there no goodness manifested, on the part of the Creator, in his treasuring up, at a period long anterior to the creation of our race, those measureless coal formations, which are now beginning to be exhumed for our comfort and benefit ? -No reader of the Bible needs be informed that the creation of the world is there ascribed to a Being of infinite wisdom, power, and goodness.
4. Geology teaches that the earth, compared with its Creator, is a very little thing ;—that he holds it in his hand, and can rock it on its base, and upheave it from its deep foundations, at bis pleasure. In literal accordance with this, is much of the language of the Bible. “ He taketh up the isles as a very little thing, “ He looketh on the earth, and it trembleth; he toucheth the hills and they smoke.” “ He stood and measured the earth; he beheld and drove asunder the nations; the everlasting mountains were scattered; the perpetual hills did bow." Vol. XII. No. 31.
“His lightnings enlightened the world; the earth saw and trembled; the bills melted like wax at the presence of the Lord.” At language
such as this, infidelity has been accustomed to sneer, and shake her head. - She would not believe that there lives a Being able or disposed to effect such stupendous changes in our firmly established world. But geology confirms the solemn facts, as taught by revelation."
5. Geology teaches that, previous to the creation of man, the earth was chiefly, and often perhaps entirely, corered with water. Most of the animals of that period were either marine animals, or of an amphibious character. Most of the plants and vegetables were such as grow in marshes and fens. The stratified rocks from the lowest to the highest, are all to be referred to the action of water. The bowlders which occur in the tertiary formations; the regular layers in clay pits and other places below the diluvium, all proclaim that, at the period immediately preceding the creation of man, the earth must have been almost entirely covered with water. This conclusion is in literal accordance with the representations of Scripture. While the ruins of a previous organization lay formless and desolate,“ darkness," we are told, “ was upon the face of the deep
, and the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters." It was these tertiary waters which were divided by the firmament on the second day; and were gathered into seas and oceans on the third.
6. Geology teaches that man, and most of the present races of animals, have not existed on the earth more than a few thousands of years. In the transition and secondary formations, and in the deeper portions of the tertiary, we find no traces of human beings, or (with few exceptions) of such animals as now exist. Indeed, it is not at all likely that man could have lived on the earth at that period, had he been placed here. Dragons, and mighty lizards, and other frightful amphibious creatures were then the lords of the creation. It is only in the upper tertiary and diluvial formations, that we find the remains of such animals as now exist, and in some few cases, perhaps, the bones of men, Now this shows conclusively that man, and the present races of animals, are among the comparatively recent inhabitants of the earth. They cannot have existed on it more than a few thousands of years. The Scriptures certify us of the truth of this important geological conclusion. They inform us definitely, that man, and the other animals now on the earth, were created less than six thousand years ago.