Изображения страниц

mounted with sharp pinnacles, like those of the Alps, and sometimes covered with perpetual snow. There would have been little alluvium in the valleys, their floors would have been bare rocks, upon which trees could hardly find a foothold.. The grinding, degrading, and assorting agencies have been necessary to render the world habitable for man. Doubtless similar agencies were employed less energetically to fit the ancient continents for the accommodation of the by-gone systems.

C. Vast cavities in the earth have been filled with immense supplies of metals, coal, petroleum, salt, lime, gypsum, etc., for the benefit of man ages before his existence. This may be called prospective benevolence. These substances were of no use to the primitive inhabitants of the earth; they were designed for the benefit of those who had skill to work the ores, and apply the metals to the wants of every-day life.

(a) Metals. These are distributed according to their need. No metal is so useful as iron, and none is so widely distributed through the rocks. It was deposited in every age, and occurs in every condition, from the tough crystalline ores of Lake Champlain to the accumulations in alluvial bogs. The principal iron works of our country are where the ore and the fuel necessary to smelt it occur near together. The ores need to be reduced, and thus there is a requisition upon the inventive genius and practical skill of man to devise the best methods. Perhaps the next valuable metals are lead, copper, and zinc; and these are less commonly diffused than iron, but more abundantly than tin, manganese, mercury, and the precious metals. The latter being universally desirable are widely spread, but in much smaller quantities. Gold, silver, and platinum in the metalic state, both occupy veins in the rocks and are disseminated through beds of gravel. They appear not to have been even injected into the veins till shortly before the advent of man. The precious metals were designed specially for man's benefit, for they were of no use to the fishes, mollusks and crustaceans of early times. When scattered through beds of gravel, machinery can separate

VOL. XXIV. No. 94.


them from the base earth, and thus even the poorest tribes can extract them for the purposes of trade.

(b) Coal. If an intelligent being had visited the world in the carboniferous period, and seen the immense forests now converted into coal, he might have asked to what purpose is all this waste, since there are no mental natures to enjoy its beauties? But the nineteenth century can answer his question. The immense forests of sigillariae, lepidodendra, cycads, etc., have not only purified the atmosphere by the withdrawal of a deadly gas, but have been stored up as a fossil fuel for the benefit of factories, steamships, railroads, and dwelling-houses. We are warmed, fed, and clothed by its aid. There are not less than four million millions of tons of coal in North America alone, twenty-one times as much as in Great Britain. Ninety-two million seven hundred and eighty-seven thousand eight hundred and seventy-three tons of coal were raised in Great Britain in 1866; and at the same time the State of Pennsylvania produced twelve million. six hundred and ninety-eight thousand five hundred and thirty-two tons. There is enough coal in the world to last for hundreds of thousands of years at the present rates of consumption. Who can doubt that prospective benevolence prepared these immense deposits for the age of mind?

(c) Petroleum. As fast as new wants are felt the same kind hand opens new reservoirs of supply. Very much of the material used for illumination had been derived from whales; but these animals are becoming so scarce that the world can no longer depend upon this source. To meet this scarcity, within a few years immense reservoirs of natural oil or petroleum have been discovered west of the Alleghanies. By sinking bore-holes a few hundred feet into the rock in certain localities, streams of oil will spout forth. I have seen such a stream produce two thousand barrels per day, and larger ones have been known. The yield for 1864 in the United States, was eighty-seven million gallons; and for four years, beginning with 1861, two hundred and twentyone million gallons. The value of that obtained in 1864 is

estimated at forty million three hundred thousand dollars. The annual sales of petroleum in this country equal those of either coal or iron, and there is no reason to expect a serious diminution of the supply at present. Hence this new business must not be considered a financial bubble, ready to burst when monetary difficulties arise.

(d) Similar supplies of limestone, gypsum, rock salt, guano, bitumen, clay, and other substances have been stored in the earth for man's benefit.

(e) Water. We should expect such an unstable element as water to be very unequally distributed on the surface, but it abounds wherever man sets up his habitation. The grand source of water is rain. This percolates the earth and either remains upon the surface forming lakes, ponds, and streams, or occupies cavities and particular strata in the earth. The layers, both of the surface deposits and solid rocks, are of two kinds, those pervious and impervious to water. Those that are impervious hold the water trickling down from the surface in natural cisterns at various depths. Man penetrates to these cisterns or wells, and derives from them in purity the element so necessary to his existence. Viewed as conservators of water, the alternations of gravel, sand, and clay, so often exposed in cuttings, and so little esteemed, assume a new importance. They have been arranged in alternating order by an all-wise hand, prospectively for the benefit of man.

D. The general stability and security of the present system of life and action proves the divine benevolence. When one reads of the numerous revolutions in the crust of the earth, its elevations and depressions, the fractures, foldings, and inversions of the strata, the numerous injections of melted lava into fissures and the repeated extermination of life, he is apt to imagine the whole history a "grand tossing, rending, recomposing process, a world rolling down through gulfs and fiery cataclysms." But these striking events were occasional during ages of quiet action, and were manifested more by the changes of life than violent action. And these changes

have been less frequent in the Cenozoic than any of the earlier periods. The present state of the globe is one of permanent stability and security, although there may be slight earthquake-jars, and slow changes of level. The variations in the climate within historic times have been chiefly caused by man's agency, and the surface temperature is not appreciably affected by the internal igneous nucleus. This permanence and security is essential to the existence and well-being of all organic nature. And it must have required infinite wisdom and benevolence so to adjust all the elements of change in the system that they should balance one another and secure a quiet habitation for hundreds of generations. The same benevolence has also thus kindly provided for each of the pre-existing systems similar exemption from evil, till the time came for the introduction of a new dispensation. At present the world contains more organisms of delicate and complicated structued than at any previous period.

These four arguments, each of whose subdivisions is really a separate proof, offer convincing evidence of the existence of benevolence in Deity. They are the more important because drawn from a field at the first view unpromising. Their force will augment with the growing perfection of the sciences.

(To be continued.)




Dr. Pond was born at Wrentham, Mass., July 29, 1791; was graduated at Brown University in 1813; was pastor of the church in Auburn, Mass., from 1815 until 1828; was editor of the Spirit of the Pilgrims from 1828 until 1832; was Professor of Theology at Bangor from 1832 to 1855; and has been Professor of Ecclesiastical History at the same Institution from 1855 to the present time. He has published a large variety of essays in the magazines and quarterlies of the day; a large number of sermons and pamphlets, and more than twenty volumes, of which the last is the ablest. He has been, and still is, a model of diligence and regular self-discipline.

The present volume contains seventy lectures. It is written in a perspicuous style, and on many subjects exhibits a clear and sound logic. He says correctly in his preface: "These lectures are not sermons, like those of Dr. Dwight, which were delivered to a public assembly on the Sabbath. Neither are they mere technical, scientific forms, to be enlarged upon, ex tempore, by the lecturer, and to be taken down in notes by those who hear them. They are rather theological essays, written out in full and read to the students, not to be servilely copied or imitated, but to awaken thought and interest, and assist them in the difficult work of writing which was to follow. Prepared in this way, and for such a purpose, the lectures are adapted to be read and studied, not only by ministers and theological students, but by intelligent Christians generally. They are adapted to be used in theological classes, should any such be formed in our congregations. They are adapted and intended for a somewhat general circulation."

In the first fourteen lectures Dr. Pond discusses the various truths relating to the Divine existence and attributes, to the sacred scriptures, to the Trinity. He then proceeds to consider the decrees or purposes of God. These purposes he distinguishes from the divine law; for the law is a rule for the conduct of intelligent creatures, "but the purposes of God are not a rule of conduct to his creatures. They are rather a plan of operation to himself - the plan according to which he is disposing of events throughout the universe" (p. 159). The divine purposes are also distinguished from the divine foreknowledge; "they are prior in the order of nature to foreknowledge, and are that on which it is grounded" (p. 160).

1 Lectures on Christian Theology. By Enoch Pond, D.D., Professor in the Theological Seminary at Bangor. 8vo. pp. 747. Boston: Congregational Board of Publication. 1867.

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »