Theological Institutes

Part First - Evidences of The Divine Authority of the Holy Scriptures

By Richard Watson

Chapter 20


THE system of revealed religion contained in the Old and New Testaments, being opposed to the natural corrupt inclinations, and often to the actual practice of men; laying them under rules to which they are averse; threatening them with a result which they dread; holding out to them no pleasures but such as they distaste, and no advantages but those which they would gladly exchange for a perpetual life of sinful indulgence on earth; will be regarded by many of the most reflecting among them as a system of restraint; and must therefore often excite either direct hostility, or a disposition to encourage and admit sugges­tions tending to weaken its authority. It may be added that, as the Scriptures cannot be known without careful examination, which implies a serious habit not to be found in the majority, objections have been often raised by ingenious men in great ignorance of the volume itself against which the are directed; and being sometimes urged on the ground of some popular view of a fact or doctrine, they have been re­ceived as carelessly as the were uttered. Philosophers too have some times constructed hasty theories on various subjects, which have either contradicted or been thought to contradict some parts of the Scriptures; and the array of science, and the fascination of novelty, have equally deceived and misled the theorist himself and his disciples. Since the revival of letters, and in countries where freedom of discussion has been allowed, objectors have arisen, and numerous attempts have been made to shake the faith of mankind. That specious kind of infidelity known by the name of" Deism," made its appearance in Italy and France about the middle of the sixteenth century, and in England early in the seven­teenth. Under this appellation, and that of " The Religion of Nature," each adopted to deceive the unwary, the attack upon Christianity was at first cautious, and accompanied with many professions of regard for its manifold excellencies. Lord HERBERT of Cherbury was the first who in this country advocated this system. He lays down five primary articles of religion, as containing every thing necessary to be believed; and as he contends they are all discoverable by our natural faculties, they supersede, he informs us, the necessity of a revelation. They are-that there is a supreme God-that he is chiefly to be worshipped-that piety and virtue are the principal part of his worship-that repentance expiates offence-and that there is a state of future rewards and punish­ments. The history of infidelity from this time is a striking comment upon the words of St. Paul, "But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived ;" for, in the progress of this deadly error, all Lord Herbert's five articles of natural religion have been questioned or given up by those who followed him in his funda­mental " that nothing can be admitted which is not discover­able by our natural faculties." HOBBES, who succeeded next in this warfare against the Bible, if he acknowledges that there is a God, repre­sents him as corporeal, and our duty to him as a chimera, the civil magistrate being supreme in all things both civil and sacred. SHAFTES­BURY insists that the doctrine of rewards and punishments is degrading to the understanding and detrimental to moral virtue. HUME denies the relation between cause and effect, and thus attempts to overthrow the argument for the existence of God from the frame 'of the universe. By others the worship of God, which Lord Herbert advocates, has been rejected as unreasonable, because he needs not our praises, and is not to be turned from his purposes by our prayers. As all law, of Divine authority, is on this system renounced, so "piety and virtue" must be understood to be what every man chooses to consider them, which amounts to their annihilation; and as for future reward and punishment, philosophy, since Lord Herbert's days, has discovered that the soul of man is material; or rather, being a mere result of the organization of the body, that it dies with it. The great principle of the English proto-infidel,  sufficiency of our natural faculties to form a religion for ourselves, and to decide upon the merits of revealed truth," is, however, the principle of all; and this being once conceded, the instances just given are sufficiently in proof that the cable is slipped, and that every one is left to take his course wherever the winds and the currents may impel his unpiloted, uncharted, and uncompassed bark. This grand principle of error, between which and absolute Atheism there are but a few steps, has been largely refuted in the foregoing pages, and the claims of the Holy Scriptures to be considered as a revelation from God, established by arguments, the force of which in all other cases is felt, and acknow­ledged, and acted upon even by unbelievers themselves. If this has been done satisfactorily, the objections which remain are of little weight, were they even less capable of being repelled; and if no answer can he found to some of the difficulties which may be urged, this circumstance is much more in accordance with the truth of a revelation, than it would be with its falsehood. "We do not deny," says an excellent writer on the evi­dences of Christianity, (Dr. OLINTHUS GRE; GORY,) "that the scheme of revelation has its difficulties; for if the things of nature are often diffi­cult to comprehend, it would be strange indeed if supernatural matters were so simple, amid obvious, and suited to finite capacities, as never to startle and puzzle us at alt, lie who denies the Bible to have come from God because of these difficulties, may for exactly the same reason deny that the world was formed by him."

The mere cavils of infidel writers may be hastily dismissed ; the most plausible objections shall be considered more at large. As to the former, few of them could have been urged if those who have adduced them had, consulted the works of commentators, and Biblical critics, writings with which it is evident they have little acquaintance ; and thus they have shown how ill disposed they have been to become fully acquainted with the subjects which they have subjected to their criticism. To this may be added their ignorance of the idiom of the Hebrew, the language of the Old Testament ; their inattention to the ancient manners and cus­toms of the countries where the sacred writers lived, to occasional errors in the transcription of numerous copies which may be rectified by collation, and to the different readings, which, to a candid criticism, would generally furnish the solution of the difficulty.

The Bible has been vehemently assaulted. because it represents G as giving command to the Israelites to exterminate the nations of man ; hut a few remarks will be sufficient to prove how little weight there is in the charges which, on this account, have been made against the author of the Pentateuch. The objection cannot be argued upon the mere ground that it is contrary to the Divine justice or mercy to cut off a people indiscriminately, from the eldest to the youngest, since this is done in earthquakes, pestilences, &c. The cholera morbus, which has been for four years past wasting various parts of Asia, has probably destroyed half a million of persons of all ages. The character of the God of nature is not therefore contradicted by that ascribed to the God of the Bible. The whole objection resolves itself into this question was it consistent with the character of God to employ human agents in this work of destruction? Who can prove that it was not? No one; and yet lucre lies the whole stress of the objection. The Jews were not rendered more cruel by their being so commissioned ; for we find them much more merciful in their institutions than other ancient nations;- nor can this instance be pleaded in favour of exterminating wars, for there was in the case a special commission for a special purpose, and by that it was limited. Other considerations arc also' to be included. The sins of the Canaanites were of so gross a nature, that it was neces­sary to mark them with signal punishments for the benefit of surround­ing nations; the employing of the Israelites, as instruments under a special and publicly proclaimed commission, connected the punishment more visibly with the offence, than if it had been inflicted by the array of warring elements, while the Israelites themselves would be more deeply impressed with the guilt of idolatry, and its ever accompanying polluted and sanguinary rites; and finally the Canaanites had been long spared, and in the meantime 1)0th warned by partial judgments, and reproved by the remaining adherents of the patriarchal religion who resided among them.

Thus the objection rests upon no foundation. The destruction of in­fants, so often dwelt upon, takes place in nature and providence; the objection to the employment of human agents, arising from habits of in­humanity being thereby induced, assumes what is false in fact; for this effect upon the Jews was prevented by the circumstance of their knowing that they acted as ministers of the Divine displeasure, and under his commission; and some important reasons may be discovered for executing the judgment by men, and especially this, that it might exhibit the evil of a sanguinary and obscene idolatry.

That law in Deuteronomy, which authorizes parents, the father and the mother, to bring " a stubborn and rebellious son," who was also " a glutton and a drunkard," before the elders of the city, that, if guilty, he might be stoned, has been called inhuman and brutal. In point of fact, it was, however, a merciful regulation. In almost all ancient nations, parents had the power of taking away the lives of their children. This was a branch of the old patriarchal authority which did not all at once merge into the kingly governments which were afterward established. There is reason therefore to believe that it was possessed by the heads of !hwilies among the Israelites, and that this was the first attempt to control it, by obliging the crimes alleged against their children to be proved before regular magistrates, and thus preventing the effects of unbridled passions.

The intentional offering of Isaac by Abraham has also had its share of censure. The answer is, 1. That Abraham, who was in the habit of sensible communication with God, could have no doubt of the Divine command, and of the right of God to take away the life he had given.

2. That he proceeded to execute the command of God, in faith as the Apostle Paul has stated, that God would raise his son from the dead. The whole transaction was extraordinary, and cannot therefore be judged by common rules; and it could only he fairly objected to, if it had been so stated as to encourage human sacrifices. Here, however, are sufficient guards; an indubitable Divine command was given t hue Sacrifice was prevented' by the same authority ; and the history stands in a book which represents human sacrifices as an abomination to God.

Indelicacy and immodesty have been charged upon some parts of the Scriptures. This objection has something in it which indicates malignity, rather than an homiest and principled exception : for in no instance are any statements made in order to incite impurity; and nothing, throughout the whole Scripture, is represented as more offensive to God, or as more certainly excluding persons from the kingdom of heaven, than the unlawful gratification of the senses. It is also to be noted, that many of the passages objected to are in the laws and prohibitions of both Testaments, and as well might the statute and common law of this country be the subject of reprehension, and be held up as tending to encourage vices of various kinds, because they must, with more or less of circumstantiality, describe them. We are farther to take into ac. count the simplicity of manners and language in early times. We observe, even among the peasantry of modern states, a language, on the subjects referred to, which is more direct, and what refined society would call gross; but greater real indelicacy does not necessarily follow. Countries and classes of people might be pointed out, where the language which expresses sensual indulgence has more of caution and of periphrasis, while the known facts show that their morals are ex­ceedingly polluted.

Several objections which have been raised against characters and transactions in the books of Judges, Samuel, and Kings, are dissipated by the single consideration, that where they are obviously immoral or unjustifiable they are never approved; and are merely stated as facts of history. The conduct of Ehud, of Samson, and of Jephthah, may be given as instances.

The advice of David, when on his death bed, respecting Joab and Shimei, has been attributed to his private resentment. This is not the fact. He spoke in his character of king and magistrate, and gave his advice on public grounds, as committing the kingdom to his son.

The conduct of David also toward the Ammonites, in putting them "under saws and harrows of iron," has been the subject of severe animadversion. But the expression means no more than that he employed them in laborious works, as sawing, making iron harrows, hewing wood and making bricks, the Hebrew prefix signifying to as well as under "lie put them to saws and harrows of iron (some render it iron mines,) and to axes of iron, and made them to pass through the brick kiln."

With respect to the imprecations found in many parts of Scripture, and which have been represented as expressions of revenge and malice, it has been often and satisfactorily observed, that they are predictions and not anathemas, the imperative mood being put for the future tense, according to the Hebrew idiom.

These have been adduced as specimens of the objections urged by infidel writers against the Scriptures, and of the case with which they may be met. For others of a similar kind, and for answers to objec­tions founded upon supposed contradictions between different passages of Scripture, reference must be made to commentators.[1] With respect to all of them, it has been well observed, "that a little skill in the original languages of the Scriptures, their idioms and properties, and in the times, occasions, and scope of the several books, as well as in the antiquities and customs of those countries which were the scenes of the transactions recorded, will always clear the main difficulties."

To some other objections of a philosophical kind, as being of a more imposing aspect, the answers may be more extended.

Between natural philosophy and revelation-the book of nature and the book of God-it has been a favourite practice with unbelievers to institute a contrast, and to set the plainness and uncontradictory charac­ter of the one against the mysteries and difficulties of the other. The common ground on which all such objections rest, is an unwillingness to admit as truth, and to receive as established and authorized doctrine, what is incomprehensible. They contend, that if a revelation has been made, there can be no mystery in it, for that is a contradiction; and that if mysteries, that is, things incomprehensible, are held to be a part of it, this is fatal to its claims as a revelation. The sophism is easily answered. Many doctrines, many duties, are comprehensible enough; no mystery at all is involved in them; and as to incomprehensible sub­jects, nothing is more undoubted, as we have already shown, than that a fact may be the subject of revelation, as that God is eternal and om­nipresent, and still remain mysterious and incomprehensible. The fact itself is not hidden, or expressed in language or symbol so equivocal as to throw the meaning into difficulty, the only sense in which the argu­ment could be valid. As a fact, it is clearly revealed that these are attributes of the Divine Nature; but both, notwithstanding that clear and indubitable revelation, are still incomprehensible. It is not revealed How God is eternal arid omnipresent, nor is such a revelation pretended; but it is revealed THAT HE is so-not how a trinity of persons exists in unity of essence; but THAT SUCH is the mode of the Divine existence. If however men hesitate to admit incomprehensible subjects as matters of faith, they cannot be permitted to fly for relief from revelation to philosophy, and much less to set up its superior claims, as to clearness of manifestation, to the Holy Scriptures. There too it will be seen, that mystery and revelation go inseparably together; that he who will not admit the mystery cannot have the benefit of the revelation ; and that lie who takes the revelation of facts, embraces at the same time the mystery of their ernisec. The facts, for instance, of the attraction of gravitation of cohesion, of electricity, of magnetism, of congelation, of thawing, of evaporation, are all admitted. The experimental and inductive philosophy of modern tunes, has made many revelations of the relations and in some instances of the proximate causes of these phenomena; but the real causes are all confessedly bidden. With respect to mechanics says a writer who has devoted his life to philosophical studies, (Dr. GREGORY'S Letters on the Christian Religion,) "this science is conversant about force, matter, time, motion, space; each of these has occasioned the most elaborate disquisitions, and the most violent disputes. Let it be asked, What is force? If the answerer be candid, his reply will be, 'I cannot tell so as to satisfy every inquirer, or so as to enter into the essence of the thing.' Again, What is matter? 'I cannot tell.' What is motion? 'I cannot tell;" amid so of the rest. The fact of the communication of motion from one body to another, is as inexplicable as the communication of Divine influences. How, then, can the former be admitted with any face, while the latter is denied solely on the ground of its incomprehensibility?

"But perhaps 1 may be told, that although things which are incomprehensible occur in our physical and mixed inquiries, they have no place in 'pure mathematics, where all is not only demonstrable, but in­telligible.' This, again, is an assertion which I cannot admit; and for the denial of which I shall beg leave to produce my reasons, as this will, I apprehend, make still more in favour of my general argument. Now, here it is known, geometricians can demonstrate that there are curves which approach continually to some fixed right line, without the possibility of ever meeting it. Such, for example, are hyperbolas, which continually approach toward their asymptotes, but cannot possibly meet them, unless an assignable finite space can become equal to nothing. Such, again, are conchoids, which continually approach to their directrices, yet can never meet them, unless a certain point can be both beyond and in contact with a given line at the same moment. Mathematicians can also demonstrate that a space infinite in one sense, may, by its rotation, generate a solid of finite capacity; as is the case with the solid formed by the rotation of a logarithmic curve of infinite length upon its axis, or that formed by the rotation of an Apollonian hyperbola upon its asymptote. They can also show in numerous in. stances, that a variable space shall be continually augmenting, and yet never become equal to a certain finite quantity; and they frequently make transformations with great facility and neatness, by means of ex­pressions to which no definite ideas can be attached. Can we, for example, obtain any clear comprehension, or indeed any notion at all, of the value of a power whose exponent is an acknowledged imaginary quantity, as x sq. rt-1? Can we, in like manner, obtain any distinct idea of a series constituted of an infinite number of terms? In each case the answer, I am convinced, must be in the negative. Yet the science, in which these and numerous other incomprehensibles occur, is called Máthesis, THE DISCIPLINE, because of its incomparable superiority to other studies in evidence and certainty, and, therefore, its singular adap­tation to discipline the mind. How does it happen, now, that when the investigation is bent toward objects which cannot be comprehended, the mind arrives at that in which it acquiesces as certainly, and rests satis­fied? It is not, manifestly, because we have a distinct perception of the nature of the objects of the inquiry; (for that is precluded by the sup. position, and, indeed, by the preceding statement,) but because we have such a distinct perception of the relation which those objects bear one toward another, and can assign positively, without danger of error, the exact relation, as to identity or diversity, of the quantities before us, at every step of the process."

Modern astronomy has displayed the immense extent of the universe and by analogical reasoning has made it probable, at least, that the planets of our and of other systems may be inhabited by rational and moral beings like ourselves; and from these premises infidel philosophy has argued with apparent humility for the insignificance of the human race, and the improbability of supposing that a Divine person should have been sent into this world for its instruction and salvation, when, in comparison with the solar system, it is but a point, and that system itself, in comparison of the universe, may be nothing more.

Plausible as this may appear, nothing can have less weight, even if only the philosophy and not the theology of the case be taken into con­sideration. The intention with which man is thus compared with the universe is to prove his insignificance; and the comparison must be made either between man and the vastness of planetary amid stellar matter, or between the number of mankind, and the number of supposed planetary inhabitants. If the former, we may reply with Dr. Beattie, "Great extent is a thing so striking to our imagination, that sometimes, in the moment of forgetfulness, we are apt to think nothing can be important but what is of vast corporeal magnitude. And yet, even to our apprehension, when we are willing to be rational, how much more sublime and more interesting an object is a mind like that of Newton, than the unwieldy force and brutal stupidity of such a monster as the poets describe Polyphemus? Who, that had it in his power, would scruple to destroy a whale in order to save a child? Nay, when compared with the happiness of one immortal mind, the greatest imaginable accumulation of inanimate substance must appear an insignificant thing. 'If we consider,' says Bentley, 'the dignity of an intelligent being, and put that in the scale against brute and inanimate matter, we may affirm, without overvaluing human nature, that the soul of one virtuous man is of greater worth and excellency, than the sun and his planets, and all the stars in the world.' Let us not then make bulk the standard of value; or judge of the import­ance of man from the weight of his body, or from the size or situation Of the planet that is now his place of abode."

To the same effect an ingenious and acute writer remarks upon a passage in Saussure, (Voyages dans les Alpes,) who speaks of men in the phrase of the modem philosophy, as "the little beings which crawl upon the surface of the earth," and as shrinking into nothing both as to "space and time," in comparison with the vast mountains and "the great epochas of nature." "If," says Mr. Granville Penn (Comparative Estimate of the Mineral and Mosaic Geolgies,) "there is any sense or virtue in this reflection, it must consist in duly estimating the relative importance of the two magnitudes and durations, and in concluding logically, the comparative insignificancy of the smaller. And it will then necessarily follow, that the insignificancy of the smaller would lessen, in the same proportion in which it might increase in bulk. If the little beings therefore were to be magnified in the proportions of 2, 3, 4, &c, their insignificancy, relatively to the great features of the globe, would necessarily diminish in the same ratio. The smaller the disproportion between the man and the mountain, the less would be the relative insignificance of the former and although the increase of magnitude in the smaller object be ever so inconsiderable, yet if it is positive and real, its dignity must be proportionately increased in the true nature of things: the bigger the being that crawls upon the surface of this globe, the less absurd would be the supposition that he is lime final object of this terrestrial creation. The Irish giant, therefore, whose altitude exceeded the measure of eight feet, would exceed in relative dignity, by the same proportion, BACON and NEWTON, whose height did not attain to six feet. If this is nonsense, then must that also be nonsense from which it is the genuine conclusion: viz, that the material magnitudes of the little beings, or their duration upon the earth on which they 'crawl,' determines, in any manner, their importance, in the creation, relatively to the primordial mountains which arise above it, or to the extent of the regions which may lie sur­veyed from their summits. For if the same physically small beings possess another magnitude, which can be brought to another and a different scale of computation from that of physical or material magnitude; a scale infinitely surpassing in importance time greatest measures of that magnitude; then there will be nothing astonishing or irrational in the suppositions, that the highest mountains, and the widest regions, and the entire system to which they pertain, may be subservient to the ends of those beings, and to that other system to which they pertain ; which latter will thus be found superior in importance to the former. Such a scale is that, by which the intelligent, moral, and immortal nature of MAN is to be measured, and which the sacred historian calls, a formation 'after the image and likeness of GOD;' a scale so little taken into the contemplation of the science of mere physics. As Soon, however, as that moral scale of magnitude once supersedes the physical scale in the apprehension of the mind ; as soon as the mind perceives, that time duration of that intelligent moral nature infinitely exceeds the vastest 'epocha of nature' which the imagination of the mineral geology can represent to itself; amid that, though the physical nature of man is limited to a very small measure of time, yet his moral nature is unlimited in time, and will outlast all the mountains of time globe; it then perceives, at the same moment, the counterfeit quality of the reflection, which at first appeared so sublime arid so humble, so profound and so devout. The sublimity and humility betray themselves to be the disparagement and degradation of our nature; the profundity is found to be mere surface, and the devotion to be a retrocession from the light of revelation."

If the comparison of mart with mere material magnitude will not then support this effort to effect his degradation, and to shame him out of his trust in time loving kindness of his God; if time comparison be made between things which have no relations in common, and is therefore absurd; as little will it serve this unnatural attempt to prostrate man to an insect rank, and to inspire him with reptile feelings, to conclude his insignificance from the number of other beings. For it is plain that their number alters not his real character; lie is still immortal, though myriads beside him are immortal, and still he has his deep capacity of pleasure and of pain. Unless, therefore, it could be proved that the care of God for each must be diminished as the number of his creatures is increased there is, as Mr. Penn has stated it, neither "sense nor virtue" in such reflections upon the littleness of man; and they imply, indeed, a base and an unworthy reflection upon the supreme Creator himself, as though he could not bestow upon all the beings he has made a care and a love adequate to their circumstances. What man is with respect to God, can only be collected from the Divine procedures toward hint; and these are sufficient to excite the devout exclamations of the psalmist, "What is man that THOU art MINDFUL of him? or the son of man that THOU VISITEST him ?" That lie has riot only been made by God, but that he is governed by his providence, none but Atheists will deny; but any argument drawn from such premises as the above would conclude as forcibly against providence, as it can be made to conclude against redemption. "Our Saviour,"- says Dr. Beattie, "as if to obviate objections of this nature, expresses most emphatically the superintending care of Providence, when he teaches that it is God who adorns the grass of the field, that without him a sparrow falls not on the ground, and that even the hairs of our head are numbered. Yet this is no exaggeration; but must, if God is omniscient and almighty, be literally true. By a stupendous exuberance of animal, vegetable, and mineral production, and an apparatus still more stupendous (if that were possible) for the dis­tribution of light and heat, he supplies the means of life and comfort to the short lived inhabitants of this globe. Can it then appear incredible; nay, does not this consideration render it in the highest degree probable, that he has also prepared the means of eternal happiness far beings, whom he has formed for eternal duration, whom he has endowed with faculties so noble as those of the human soul, and for whose accommodation chiefly, during their present state of trial, he has provided all the magnificence of this sublunary world ?"

There is, however, another consideration, which gives a sublime and overwhelming, grandeur to the Scripture view of the redemption of the race of man, and of which, for the want of acquaintance with our sacred writings, infidel philosophers appear never to have entertained the lead conception. It is the moral connection of this world with the whole universe of intelligent creatures; and the " intention" there was in the Divine mind to convey to other beings, by time history and great results of his moral government over one branch of his universal family, a view of his own perfections; of the duties and dangers of created and finite beings; of transgression and holiness, in their principles and in their effects by a course of action so much more influential than abstract truth. Intimations of this great and impressive view are found in various passages of the New Testament, and it opens a scene of inconceivable moral magnificence-" To the intent, that to the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the Church time manifold wisdom of God."[2]

It has been objected to the Mosaic chronology, that it fixes the era of creation only about four thousand years earlier than the Christian era; and against this, evidence has been brought from two sources-~ the chronology of certain ancient nations, and the structure of the earth.

The objections drawn from the former of these sources have of late rapidly weakened, and are in fact given up by many whose deference to the authority of Scripture is very slight, though but a few years ago nothing was more confidently urged by skeptical writers than the refutation of Moses by the Chinese, Hindoo, and Egyptian chronologies, founded, as it was then stated, on very ancient astronomical observations  preserved to the present day. It is however now clearly proved, that the astronomical tables, from which it has been attempted to assign a prodigious antiquity to the Hindoos, have been calculated backward; (CUVIER's Theory of the Earth;) and among the Chinese the earliest astronomical observation that appears to rest upon good grounds, is now found to be one made not more than two thousand nine hundred years ago. (CUVIER'S Theory of the Earth.) As for the conclusion drawn from the supposed zodiacs in the temples of Esneh and Dendara in Egypt, it is now strongly doubted whether the figures represented upon them are astronomical or mythological, that is, whether they are zodiacs at all. Their astronomical character is strongly denied by Dr. Richard. son, a late traveller, who examined them with great care; and who gives large reasons for his opinion. Even if the astronomical character of these assumed zodiacs be allowed, they are found to prove nothing. M. Biot, an eminent French mathematician, has recently fixed tine date of time oldest of them at only seven hundred and sixteen years before Christ.

Against the excessive antiquity assigned to some ancient states, or claimed by them, the science of geology has at length entered its protest; and though, as we shall presently see, it has originated chrono­logical objections to the Mosaic date of the creation, on the origin of nations it has made a full concession to the history of the Scriptures. Cuvier observes-" By a careful investigation of what has taken place on the surface of the globe since it has been laid dry for the last time, and its continents have assumed their present form, at least in such parts as are somewhat elevated above the level of the ocean, it may be clearly seen that this revolution, and consequently the establishment of our existing societies, could not have been very ancient." (Theory of the Earth.) D'Aubuisson remarks, "that the soils of all the plains were deposited in the bosom of a tranquil water; that their actual order is only to be dated from the retreat of that water; and that the date of that period is not very ancient." (Traitê de Georgnosie.) "Dolomieu, Saussure, De Luc, and the most distinguished naturalists of the age, have coincided in this conclusion, to which they have been led by the evidence of various monuments and natural chronometers which the earth exhibits; and which remain perpetual vouchers for time veracity of the Mosaic chronology, with respect to the epocha of the revolution Which the Mosaical history relates."[3]

From the absence of all counter evidence in the records of ancient nations, as well as from these philosophical conclusions, which are to be considered in the light of concessions made to time chronology of the Pentateuch, we may therefore conclude, that, as to the origin of nations and the period of the general deluge, the testimony of Scripture remains unshaken.

Geology has, however, objected to the Mosaic date of the creation of the earth, which it is said affords a period too limited to account for various phenomena which modem researches have brought under con­sideration. To the last general inundation of the earth, it is allowed, that no higher a date can be assigned than that which Moses ascribes to the flood of Noah; but several revolutions, each of which has changed the surface of the earth, are contended for, separated from each other by long intervals of time; and, above all, it is assumed, that time elements of the primitive earths were contained in an "original chaotic fluid," and that, in obeying the laws of the affinity of composition, they coalesced and grouped themselves together in different manners, and settled them selves into order, according to certain laws of matter after an unassignable series of ages. These are time views of Cuvier, D'Aubuisson, De Luc, and other eminent writers on this subject; and whatever they themselves might intend, time have been made use of by infidels to discredit time authority of time sacred historian. It has been replied, that the Bible not being intended to teach philosophy, it is not fair to try it by a philosophical standard. This however cannot be maintained in the case before us, though the observation is pertinent in others, as when the sun is said to have stood still, popular language being adopted to render the Scriptures intelligible. If Moses professes by Divine inspiration to give arm account of the manner in which the world was framed, he must describe the facts as the occurred; and if lie has assigned a date to its creation out of nothing, that date, if given by an infallible authority, cannot be contradicted by true philosophy.

To allow time sufficient for the gradual processes of" precipitation and crystalization," by which the first formations of the solid earth are said to have been effected, others have conceded to the geologists of this class, that an antiquity of the earth much higher than that which appears on the face of the Mosaic account may be allowed without contradicting it, and be even deduced from it. They therefore interpret the "days" mentioned in the first chapter of Genesis as successive pe­riods of ages, and the evening and morning of those days are made the beginnings and ends of those imagined periods.[4] This interpretation is, however, too forced to be admitted in the case of so simple a narrative as that of Moses; and there would be as good a reason for thus extending the duration of the term "day" whenever it occurs in his writings to an indefinite period, to the destruction of all chronological accuracy and of all sobriety of writing. No true friend pf revelation will wish to see Moses defended against the assaults of philosophy in a manner which, by obliging us to find a meaning in his writings far re­mote from the view of general readers, would render them inapplicable to the purpose of ordinary instruction. Beside, if we are to understand the first day to have been of indefinite length, a hundred, or a thousand. or a million of years, for instance, why not time seventh, the Sabbath also? This opinion cannot therefore be consistently maintained, and we must conclude with Rosenmuller, "Dies intelligendi sunt naturales, quorum unusquisque ab una verpera incipiens, alterâ termintur; quo modo Judaei, et multi ahi antiquissimi popmmli, (lies numerarunt-that we are to under stand natural days; each of which commencing from one evening is terminated by the next; irm which manner the Jews, and many others of the most ancient nations, reckoned days."

By other believers in revelation who have allowed the two principles laid down by geologists to go unquestioned, viz, time original liquidity of the earth, holding the elements of all the subsequent formations in a state of solution; and the necessity of a long course of ages to complete those processes by which the earth should be brought into a fit state, so to speak, for the work of the six days, which in that case must be confined to mere arrangement; another, amid certainly a less objectionable inter­pretation of Moses than that which makes his natural days and nights terms for indefinite periods of time, has been adopted. "Does Moses ever say, that when God created time heavens and the earth, he did more at the time alluded to than transform them out of previously existing materials? Or does he ever say, that there was not an interval of many ages between the first act of creation, described in the first verse of the book of Genesis, and said to have been performed at the beginning; and those more detailed operations the account of which commences at the second verse, and which are described to us as having been per. formed in so many days? Or finally, does he ever make us to under­stand that the genealogies of man went any farther than to fix the antiquity of the species, and, of consequence, that they left the antiquity of the globe a free subject for the speculations of philosophers? We do not pledge ourselves for the truth of one or all of these suppositions, nor is it necessary we should. It is enough that any of them is infinitely more rational, than the rejection of Christianity in the face of its historical evidence." (CHALMER'S Evidences of the Christian Revelation.) "As to the period when this mass was made, Moses only says that it was 'in the beginning,'-a period this, which might have been a million of years before its arrangement." (MANTELL'S Geology of Sussex.)

To all these suppositions, though not unsupported by the authority of some great critics, there are considerable objections; and if the difficulty of reconciling geological phenomena with the Mosaic chronology were greater than it appears, none of them ought hastily to be admitted. That creation, in the first verse of Genesis, signifies production out of nothing, and not out of preexistent matter, though the original word may be used in both senses, is made a matter of faith by the Apostle Paul, who tells us, "that the things which are seen, were not made of things which do appear ;" sx fainomenwn ta blepomena gegonenai which is sufficient to settle that point. By the same important passage it is also determined, that "the worlds were produced in their form, as well. as substance, instantly out of nothing; or it would not be true, that they were not made of things which do appear." "The apostle states that these things were not made out of a preexistent matter; for, if they were that matter, however extended or modified, must appear in that thing into which it is compounded and modified; therefore it could not be said, that the things which are seen, are not made of things that appear: and he shows us also, by these words, that the present mundane fabric was not formed or re-formed from one anterior, as some suppose." (Dr. A CLARKE in loc.) No interval of time is allowed in the account of the creation by Moses, between the creating and the framing of the worlds (that is, the heavens and the earth simply,) so created and framed at once by the word of god. The natural sense too of the phrase "in the beginning," is also thus preserved. Thrown back, so to speak, into eternity without reference to time it has 'no meaning, or at best a very obscure one; but connected with time, the commencement of our mundane chronology, it has a definite and obvious sense. Moses begins his reckoning from the first creative act ;-from the creation of the "heavens and the earth," which was therefore a part of the work of the first natu­ral day. "In the first of these natural days, the whole mineral fabric of this globe was formed at once, of such size and figure, with such pro­perties, in such proportions to space, and with such arrangement of its materials, as most conduced to the ends for which God created it."[5]

It will now be observed, that if such interpretations of the Mosaic account cannot be allowed, the decisions of Scripture and some of the modern speculations in geology, must be left directly to oppose each other, and that their hostility on this point cannot be softened by the advocates of accommodation. On this account no alarm need be felt by the believer, "for there is no counsel against the Lord;" and the progress of true philosophy will ever, in the result, add evidence to the truth of revelation. On the antiquity of the human race geology has been compelled already to give its testimony to the accuracy of Moses, and the time is probably not far distant when a similar testimony will be educed from it, as to the antiquity of the globe.

In what it now opposes that authority, it may serve to rebuke the dogmatism with which it has disputed the Scriptures, to observe, that, strictly speaking, the science itself is not yet half a century old, and is conversant, not with the surface of the earth only, but with its interior strata, which have been as yet but partially examined. It is therefore too early to theorize with so much confidence; and the eager manner in which its hasty speculations have been taken up against the Mosaic account, can only remind thinking men of the equally eager manner in which the chronologies of China and Hindostan, and the supposed zodiacs of Egyptian temples were once caught at, for the same reason, and we may justly fear from the same motives. It will, indeed, be time enough to enter into a formal defence of Moses, when geologists agree among themselves on leading principles. Cuvier gives rather an amusing account of the odd and contradictory speculations of his scientific brethren; (Theory, by Jamieson, page 41-47;) all of which he of course condemns, and fancies himself; as they all fancied them.. selves before him, a successful theorist. The vehemence with which the two great rival geological sects, the Neptunian and Plutonian, have disputed, to a degree almost unprecedented in the modern age of philosophy, adds but little authority to the decisions of either, inasmuch as the contest is grounded upon an assumed knowledge of facts, and therefore shows that the facts themselves are but indistinctly apprehended in their relations to each other, and that the collection of phenomena on both sides still need to be arranged and systematized, under the guidance of some calm, and modest, and master mind.[6]

In all these speculations it is observable, that it is assumed at once that philosophy and the Mosaic account are incompatible, and generally without any pains having been taken to understand that account itself. Yet as that account professes to be from one who was both the author and the witness of the phenomena in question, it might have been supposed that the aid of testimony would have been gladly brought to induction. An able work has been recently published on this subject by Mr. Granville Penn, who has at once reproved the bold philosophy which excludes the operation of God, and employs itself only among second causes; and has unfolded the Mosaic account of two great revolutions of the earth, one of which took place when "the waters were gathered into one place," and the other at the deluge, "when the fountains of the great deep were broken up,"[7] and has applied them to account for those phenomena which have been made to require a theory not to be reconciled with the sacred historian.[8]

Voltaire objected to the philosophy of the Mosaic account, that it has represented a solid firmament to have been formed, in which the stars are fixed as in a wall of' adamant. This objection was made in ignorance of the import of the original word rendered firmamentum by the Vulgate, and which signifies an expanse, referring evidently to the atmosphere. The Septuagint seems to have rendered ayqr, by qerewma, which signifies a firm support, with reference to the office of the atmosphere, to keep up, as effectually as by some solid support, the waters contained ill the clouds. The account of Moses is philosophically true the expanded or diffused atmosphere "divides the waters from the waters," time waters in the clouds from time waters of the earth and sea; and time objection only shows ignorance of the original language, or inattention to it.

It is more difficult to explain that part of the Mosaic relation which represents light as created on the first day, and the sun not until the fourth; it would be wearisome to give the various solutions which have been offered. One of' the most recent, that which supposes the creation of latent heat and light to be spoken of, cannot certainly be maintained; for the light which on the first day obeyed the sublime flat, was not latent, but in a state of excitement, and collected itself into a body suffi­cient to produce the distinction between day and night, which, had it been either in a latent state, or every where diffused in an excited form, could not have been effected. The difficulty, however, so far from discrediting time Mosaic account, affords it a striking confirmation. Had it been compiled under popular notions, it never could have entered the mind of man, drawing all his philosophy from the optical appearances of nature only, that light, sufficient to form the distinction between day and night, should have been created independent of the sun; and the conclusion therefore is, that the account was received either from inspiration, or from a tradition pure from its original fountain, and which had flowed on to the time of Moses, unmixed with popular Gorruptions.

"Sir William herschel," says Mr. Granvihle Penn, "has discovered that the body of the sun is an opaque substance; and that the splendid matter which dispenses to the world light and heat, is a luminous atmos­phere, (Phil. Trans. for 1795, p. 46; and for 1801, p. 265,) attached to its surface, figuratively, though not physically, as flame is attached to the wick of a lamp or a torch. So that the creation of the sun, as a part of 'the host of heaven,' does not necessarily imply the creation of light; and, conversely, the creation of light does not necessarily imply the creation of the body of the suns In the first creation of the heaven and the earth,' therefore, not the planetary orbs only, but the solar orb itself, was created in darkness; awaiting the light, which, by one simple Divine operation, was to be communicated at once to all. When then the almighty Word, in commanding light, commanded the first illumination of the solar atmosphere, its new light was immediately caught, and re­flected throughout space, by all the members of the planetary system. And well may we imagine, that, in that first, sudden, and magnificent illumi­nation of the universe, the morning stars sang together, and the sons of God shouted for joy," Job xxxviii, 7.

But if the discovery of herschel be real, the passage just quoted supposes the solar orb to have been invested with its luminous atmosphere on the first day, and the difficulty in question still remains untouched, though it admirably explains how "the heavens," that is, our solar system, should be created by one act, and vet that it should require a second fiat to invest them with light. Another way of meet­ing the difficulty is, that the lights which are said to have been made on the fourth day, were not on that day actually created, but determined to certain uses. Thus Rosenmuller: "If any one who is conversant with the genius of the hebrew, and free from any previous bias of his judg­ment, will read the words of this article in their natural connection, he will immediately perceive that they import the direction or determination of the heavenly bodies to certain uses which they were to supply to the earth.~ The words tram yhy, are not to be separated from the rest, or to be ren deredfiant luminara,-let there be lights; that is, let lights be made; but rather, let lights be, that is, serve in the expanse of heaven-inserviant in expanso coelorum-for distinguishing between day and night; and let them be, or seree, for signs, &c. For we are to observe, that time verb rrrv to be, in construction with the prefix l, for, is generally employed to express the direction or determination of a thing to an end; and not the production of the thing: e. g. Num. x, 31; Zech. viii, 19, and in many other places."

To this there is an obvious objection, that it does not assign any work, properly speaking, to the fourth day; and how, when neither being was on that day given to them, nor any change effected in their qualities or relations, the lights could be determined to certain uses except by giving information of their uses to men, cannot be conceived; and as yet man was not created. Mr. Penn indeed supposes that the heavenly bodies had been hid from the earth till the fourth day by vapours; that then they were for the first time dispelled; arid, as he eloquently says, "the amazing calendar of the heavens, ordained to serve for the notation of time in all human concerns, civil and religious, so long as time and man should continue, was therefore to be now first unfolded to the earth, with all the visible indices of time by which its measures were thereafter to be marked, distinguished, and computed; and the splendid cause, which had hitherto issued its effect of light through an interposed medium, was to dispense that light to the earth immediately, in the full manifestation of its effulgence."

The notion, that the earth was from the first to the fourth day enveloped with vapour, so that, as in a fbg, the distinction of day and night was manifest, though the celestial orbs were not visible, is however assumed, and does not appear quite philosophical and though the dispersion of these vapours from the atmosphere assigns a work to the fourth day, it scarcely appears to be of sufficient importance to accord with the language of the history. It would be better to suppose with others, that on the fourth day the annual motion of the earth commenced, which till then merely turned upon its axis, and with it the annual motion of the moon and planets in their orbits,-that wonderfully rapid and yet regular flight of the heavenly bodies which so awfully displays the power of the great Artificer in communicating, and constantly feeding, the mighty impulse, and which is so essential to the measurement of time, that without it the "lights" could not be, or serve, "for signs and for seasons," and "for" solemn "days," religious festivals, and the commemoration of important events, and "for years." A sublime work is thus assigned to the fourth day, and the difficulty seems mainly to be removed: but whether some violence is not done to the letter of the account, may still be doubted; and the difficulty which proves, as we have seen, if admitted in its full force, more for the Mosaic relation than against it, had better be retained than one iota of the strict grammatical and contextual meaning of Scripture be suffered to pass away.

Several objections have been made at different times to the Mosaic account of the deluge. The fact however is not only preserved in the traditions of all nations, as we have already seen; but after all the phi­losophical arguments which were formerly urged against it, philosophy has at length acknowledged that the present surface of the earth must have been submerged under water. "Not only," says Kirwan, "in every region of Europe, but also of both the old and new continents, immense quantities of marine shells, either dispersed or collected, have been discovered. This and several other facts seem to prove, that at least a great part of the present earth was, before the last general con­vulsion to which it has been subjected, the bed of an ocean which, at that time, was withdrawn from it. Other facts seem also to prove with sufficient evidence, that this was not a gradual retirement of the waters which once covered the parts now inhabited by men; but a violent one, such as may be supposed from time brief, but emphatic relation of Moses. The violent action of water has left its traces in various undisputed phe­nomena. "Stratified mountains of various heights exist in different parts of Europe and of both continents, in and between whose strata various substances of marine, and some vegetables of terrestrial origin repose either in their natural state, or petrified." (KIRWAN's Geological Essays.) "To overspread the plains of time arctic circle with the shells of Indian seas, and with time bodies of elephants and rhinoceri, surrounded by masses of submarine vegetation; to accumulate on a single spot, as at La Bolca, in promiscuous confusion, the marine productions of the four quarters of the globe; what conceivable instrument would be efficacious but the rush of mighty waters 7" (Gisborne's "Testimony of Natural Theology," &c.) These facts, about which, there is no dispute, and which are acknowledged by the advocates of each of the prevailing geological theories, give a sufficient attestation to the deluge of Noah, in which "the fountains of the great deep were broken up," and from which precisely such phenomena might be expected to follow. To this may be added, though less decisive in proof, yet certainly strong as presumptive evidence, that the very aspect of the earth's surface exhibits interesting marks both of the violent action, and the rapid subsidence of waters; as well as affords a most interesting instance of the Divine goodness in converting what was ruin itself, into utility, and beauty. The great frame work of the varied surface of the habitable earth was probably laid by a more powerful agency than that of water; either when on the third day the waters under the heavens were gathered into one place, and the crust of the primitive earth was broken down to receive them, so that "the dry land might appear;" or by those mighty convulsions which appear to have accompanied the general deluge; but the rounding, so to speak, of what was rugged, where the substance was yielding, and the graceful undulations of hill arid dale which frequently present themselves, were probably effected by the retiring waters. The flood has passed away; but the soils which it deposited remain; and the valleys through which its last streams were drawn oil to the ocean, with many an eddy and sinuous course, still exist, exhibiting visible proofs of its agency, and impressed with forms so adapted to the benefit of man, and often so gratifying to the finest taste, that when the flood "turned," it may be said to have "left a blessing behind."

Thus tire objections once made to the fact of a general deluge have been greatly weakened by the progress of philosophical knowledge; and may indeed be regarded as nearly given up, like the former notion of the high antiquity of the race of men, founded on the Chinese and Egyptian chronologies and pretended histories. Philosophy has even at last found out that there is sufficient water in the ocean, if called forth, to overflow the highest mountains to the height given by Moses, a conclusion which it once stoutly denied. Keill formerly computed that twenty-eight oceans would be necessary for that purpose, but we are now informed "that a farther progress in mathematical and physical knowledge has shown the different seas and oceans to contain at least forty eight times more water than they were their supposed to do; and that the mere raising of the temperature of the whole body of the ocean to a degree no greater than marine animals live in, in the shallow seas between the tropics, would so expand it as more than to produce the height above the mountains stated in the Mosaic account." As to the deluge of Noah, therefore, infidelity has almost entirely lost the aid of philosophy in framing objections to tine Scriptures.

The dimensions of the ark, and tire preservation of the animals contained in it, are however still the subject of occasional ridicule, though with little foundation. Dr. Hales proves the ark to have been of the burthen of 42,413 tons, and asks, "Can we doubt of its being sufficient to contain eight persons, and about two hundred, or two hundred and fifty pair of four-footed animals, (a number to which, according to M. Buffon, all the various distinct species may be reduced,) together with all the subsistence necessary for a twelvemonth, with the fowls of the air, and such reptiles and insects as cannot live under water? All these various animals were controlled by the power of God, whose special agency is supposed in the whole transaction, and 'the lion was made to lie down with the kid."

Whether Noah was commanded to bring with him, into the ark, a pair of all living creatures, zoologically and numerically considered, has been doubted; and as during the long period between the creation and the flood, animals must have spread themselves over a great part of the antediluvian earth, and certain animals would, as now, probably become indigenous to certain climates, the pairs saved must in such cases have travelled from immense distances. Of such marches no intimation is given in the history; and this seems to render it probable that the animals which Noah was "to bring with him" into the ark, were the animals, clean and unclean, of the country in which he dwelt, and which, from the evident capacity of the ark, must have been in great variety and number. The terms used, it is true, are universal; and it is satisfac­tory to know that if the largest sense of them be taken, there was ample accommodation in the ark. Nevertheless, universal terms in Scripture are not always to be taken mathematically; and in the vision of Peter, the phrase panta ta tetrapoda ths ghs-" all the four footed beasts of the earth," must be understood of "varii generis quadrupedes," as Schleusner paraphrases it. In this case we may easily account for the exuviate of animals, whose species no longer exist, and which have been discovered in various places. The number of such extinct species has probably been greatly overrated by Cuvier; but of the fact to a con­siderable extent, there can be no doubt. It is also to be remarked, that we are not obliged to go to the limited interpretation of the command to Noah respecting the animals to be preserved in the ark in order to account for this fact; for without adopting the totally unscriptural theory of a former world; or of more general revolutions of the earth than the Scriptures state, (partial ones affecting large districts may have taken place,) we know of no principle in tine word of God which should lead us to conclude, that all the animals which God at first created Should be preserved to the end of time. In many countries whole species of wild animals have perished by the progress of cultivation, a process which must ultimately produce the utter extinction of the same species every where. The offices which many other creatures were designed to fulfil in the economy of nature, may have terminated with the new circumstances in which the parts they have chiefly inhabited are placed. So it might be before the flood, and in many places since. Thus then the exuviae of extinct species may be expected to present themselves. Hut in addition to this, if we suppose that during the antediluvian periods animals of various kinds had located themselves in different portions of the ocean, and in different climates of the primitive earth; and that, of the terrestrial animals become indigenous to parts of the earth distant from Noah and the inhabited world, some species were not received into the ark, their remains will also occasionally be discovered, and present the proof of modes of animated existence not now to be paralleled. Among fossil remains it has been made a matter of surprise that no human skeletons, or but few, and those in recent formations, have been found. The reason however is not difficult to furnish. If we admit that the present continents were the bottom of the antediluvian ocean, and that the ocean has changed its place; then the former habitations of men are submerged, and their remains are beyond human reach. If any part of the antediluvian earth still remains, it is probably that region to which Noah and his family were restored from the ark; and in those countries, geology has not commenced its interior researches, and such fossil remains may there exist. There is this difference between tine human race and the inferior animals, that while the latter for near two thousand years were roaming over tine wide earth, the former confined themselves to one region; for those extravagant calculations as to the population of the earth at the time of the flood, which some have made, cannot be maintained on the authority of Scripture, on which they professedly rest; since it is certain that they represent Noah as a preacher of righteousness to the whole existing "world" of men, during tine time the ark was preparing, one hundred and twenty years. The human race must therefore have lived, however populous, in the same region, and been either in personal communication with him, or within reach of the distinct report of his doctrines, and of that great and public act of his faith, the preparing of the ark, "by the which lie condemned the world; and became heir of the righteousness which is by faith." Even Cuvier gives it as a reason why human skeletons are not found in a fossil state, "that the place which men then inhabited may have sunk into tine abyss, and that the bones of that destroyed race may yet remain buried under the bottom of some actual seas."

Such are the leading evidences of the truth of the Holy Scripture and of the religious system which they unfold, from the first promise made to the first fallen man, to its perfected exhibition in the New Testament. The Christian will review these solid and immovable foundations of his faith with unutterable joy. They leave none of his moral interests unprovided for in time; they set before him a certain and a felicitous immortality. The skeptic and the infidel may be entreated, by every compassionate feeling, to a more serious consideration of the evidences of this Divine system, and the difficulties and hopeless. ness of their own; and they ought to be reminded, in the words of a modern writer, "If Christianity be true, it is tremendously true." Let them turn to an insulted, but yet a merciful Saviour, who even now prays for his blasphemers, in the words he once addressed to Heaven in behalf of his murderers, FATHER, FORGIVE THEM; FOR THEY KNOW NOT WHAT THEY DO!


FROM the work referred to in the text, the following extracts will be read with interest.

Mr. Penn first controverts the notion of those geologists who think that the earth was originally a fluid mass; and as they plead the authority of Sir I. New­ton, who is said to have concluded from its figure, (an obtuse epherotd,) that it was originally a yielding mass, Mr. Penn shows that this was only put hypothetically by him; and that he has laid it down expressly as his belief, not that there was first a chaotic ocean, and then a gradual process of first formations, but that "God at the beginning formed all material things of such figures and properties as most conduced to the end for which he formed them ;" and that he judged it to be unphilosophical to ascribe them to any mediate or secondary cause, such as laws of nature operating in a chaos. Mr. Penn then proceeds to show, that, though what geologists call first formations may have the appearance of having been produced by a process, say of crystalization, or any other, that is no proof that they were not formed by the immediate act of God, as we are taught in the Scriptures; and he confirms this by examples from the first formations in the animal and vegetable kingdoms, and contends that the first formations of the mineral kingdom must come under the same rule. "If a bone of the first created man now remained, and were mingled with other bones pertaining to a generated rare; and if it were to be submitted to the inspection and examination of an anatomist, what opinion and judgment would its sensible phenomena suggest, re­specting the mode of its first formation, and what would be his conclusion? If he were unapprized of its true origin, his mind would see nothing in its sensible phenomena but the laws of ossification; just as time mineral geology 'sees nothing in the details of the formation of minerals, but preciptations, crystalizations, and dissolutions.' (D'Aubuisson, i, 326-7.) He would therefore naturally Pronounce of this bone, as of all the other bones, that its 'fibres were originally soft,' Until, in the shelter of the maternal womb, it acquired 'the hardness of a Cartilage, and then of bone,' that this effect 'was not produced at once, or in a Very short time,' but 'by degrees;' that, after birth, it increased in hardness 'by the continual addition of ossifying matter, until it ceased to grow at all.'

"Physically true as this reasoning would appear, it would nevertheless be morally and really false. 'Why would it be false? Because it concluded, from mere sensible phenomena, to the certainty of a fact which could not be established by the evidence of sensible phenomena alone; namely, the mode of the first formation of the substance of created bone.

 "Let us proceed from animal to vegetable matter; and let U8 consider the first created tree, under which the created man first reposed, and from which lie gathered his first fruit. That tree must have had a stem, or trunk, through which the juices were conveyed from the root to the fruit, and by which it was able to sustain the branches upon which the fruit grew.

"If a portion of this created tree now remained, and if a section of its wood were to be mingled with other sections of propagated trees, and submitted to the inspection and examination of a naturalist; what opinion and judgment would its sensible phenomena suggest to him, respecting the mode of its first formation; and what would be his conclusion? If he were unapprized of its true origin, his mind would see nothing in its sensible phenomena, but the laws of signification; just as the mineral geologist 'sees nothing in the details of the formations of primitive rock, but precipitations, crystalizations, and dissolutions.' lie would therefore naturally pronounce of it as of all the other sections of wood: that its 'fibres,' when they first issued from the seed, 'were soft and herbaceous;' that they 'did not suddenly pass to the hardness of perfect wood,' but, 'after many years;' that the hardness of their folds, 'which indicate the growth of each year,' was therefore effected only 'by degrees;' and that, 'since nature does nothing but by a progressive course, it is not surprising that its substance acquired its hardness only by little and little.'

"Physically true as the naturalist would here appear to reason; yet his reasoning, like that of the anatomist, would be morally and really false. And why would it be false? For the same reason; because he concluded from mere sensible phenomena, to the certainty of a fact which could not be established by the evidence of sensible phenomena alone; namely, the mode of the first formation of the substance of created wood.

"There only now remains to be considered, the third, or mineral kingdom of this terrestrial system; and it appears probable, to reason and philosophy, by prima facie evidence, that the principle determining the mode of first formations, in two parts of this three-fold division of matter, must have equal authority in this third part. And indeed, after the closest investigation of the subject, we can discover no ground whatever for supposing that this third part is exempted from the authority of that common principle; or that physics are a whit more competent to dogmatize concerning the mode of first formations, from the evidence of phenomena alone, in the mineral kingdom, than they have been found to be in the animal or vegetable; or to affirm, from the indications of the former, that the mode of its first formations was more gradual and tardy than those of the other two.

"Let us try this point, by proceeding with our comparison; and let us consider the first created rock, as we have considered the first created bone and wood; and let us ask, what is rock, in its nature and composition?

"To this question, mineralogy replies: 'By the word rock, we mean every mineral mass of such bulk as to be regarded an essential part of the structure of the globe. (D'Aubuisson, i, p.272.) We understand by the word mineral, a natural] body, inorganic, solid, homogeneous, that is, composed of integrant molecules of the same substance. (D'Aubuisson, i, p. 271.) We may, perhaps, pronounce that a mass is essential, when its displacement would occasion the downfall of oilier masses which are placed upon it. (D'Aubuisson, i, p. 272.) Such are those lofty and ancient mountains, the first and most solid bones, as it were, of this globe,-let premiers, les plus solides Ossemeos,-which have merited the name of primitive, because, scorning all support and all foreign mixture, they repose always upon bases similar to themselves, and comprise within their substance no matter but of the same nature. (Saussure, Voyages des Alps, Disc. Prel. pp. 6, 7.) These are the primordial mountains; which traverse our continents in various directions, rising above the clouds, separating the basins of rivers one from another; serving, by means of their eternal snows, as reservoirs for feeding the springs, and forming in some measure the skeleton, or, as it were, the rough frame work of the earth. (Cuvier, sec. 7, p. 39.) These primitive masses are stamped with the character of a formation altogether crystaline, as if they were really the pro. duct of a tranquil precipitation.' (D'Aubuisson, ii, p. 5.)

"Had the mineral geology contented itself with this simple mineralogical statement, we should have thus argued concerning the crystaline phenomena of the first mineral formations; conformably to the principles which we have re­cognized. As the bone of the first man, and the wood of the first tree, whose solidity was essential for 'giving shape, firmness, and support,' to their respective systems, were not, and could not have been, formed by the gradual processes of ossification and lignification, of which they nevertheless must have exhibited the sensible phenomena, or apparent indications; so, reason directs us to conclude, that primitive rock, whose solidity was equally essential for giving shape, firmness, and support to the mineral system of this globe, was not, and could not have been, formed by the gradual process of precipitation and crystalization, not­withstanding any sensible phenomena, apparently indicative of those processes, which it may- exhibit; but that in the mineral kingdom, as in the animal and vegetable kingdoms, the creating agent anticipated in his formations, by an immediate act, effects, whose sensible phenomena could not determine the mode of their formation; because the real mode was in direct contradiction to the apparent indications of the phenomena.

"But the mineral geology has not contented itself with that simple mineralo­gical statement; nor drawn the conclusion which we have drawn, in conformity with the principles, and in observance of the rules, of Newton's philosophy. It affirms, 'that the characters by which geology is written in the book of nature, in which it is to be studied, are minerals;' (D'Aubuisson, Disc. Prel. p.29;) and it 'sees nothing' in that book of nature but 'precipitations, crystalizations, and dissolutions;' and therefore, because it sees nothing else, it concludes without hesitation, from crystaline phenomena to actual crystalization. Thus, by at­tempting the impossibility of deducing a universal principle, viz, the mode of first formations, from the analysis of a single individual, viz, mineral matter, separate from coordinate animal and vegetable matter; and concluding from that defective analysis, to the general law of first formations; it set out with inadequate light, and it is no wonder that it ended in absolute darkness; for such is its elemental chaos, and its chemical precipitation of this globe: a doctrine so nearly resembling the exploded atomic philosophy of the Epicurean school, that it re­quires a very close and laborious inspection to discover a single feature, by which they may be distinguished from each other."

This argument is largely supported and illustrated in the work; and thus by referring first formations of every kind to an immediate act of God, those im­mense periods of time which geology demands for its chemical processes, are rendered unnecessary. From first formations, Mr. Penn proceeds to oppose the notion that the earth has undergone many general revolutions, and thinks that all geological phenomena may be better explained by the Mosaic record, which confines those general revolutions to two. Mr. Penn's course of observation will be seen by the following recapitulation of the second and third parts of his Work.

"That this globe, so constructed at its origin, has undergone two, and only two general changes or revolutions of its substance; each of which was caused by the immediate will, intelligence, and power of GOD, exercised upon the work which he had formed, and directing the laws or agencies which he had ordained within it.

"That, by time FIRST change or revolution, that of gathering the waters into one place, and making the dry land appear,) one portion or division of the surface of the globe was suddenly and violently fractured and depressed, in order to form, in the first instance, a receptacle or bed for the waters universally diffused over that surface, and to expose the other portion, that it might become a dwelling for animal life; but yet, with an ulterior design that the receptacle of the waters should eventually become the chief theatre of animal existence, by the portion first exposed experiencing a similar fracture and depression, and thus becoming in its turn, the receptacle of the same waters; which should then be transfused into it, leaving their former receptacle void and dry.

"That this FIRST revolution took place before the existence, that is, before the creation of any organized beings.

"That the sea, collected into this vast fractured cavity of the globe's surface, continued to occupy it during 1656 years [from time creation to the deluge;] during which long period of time, its waters acted in various modes, chemical and mechanical, upon time several soils and fragments which formed its bed; and marine organic matter, animal and vegetable, was generated arid accumulated in vast abundance.

"That, after the expiration of those 1656 years, it pleased God, in a Second revolution, to execute his ulterior design, by repeating the amazing operation by which he had disposed the first earth; and by the disruption and depression of that first earth below the level of the bed of the first sea, to produce a new bed, into which the waters descended from their former bed, leaving it to become the theatre of the future generations of mankind.


"That it must, therefore, necessarily exhibit manifest and universal evidences of the vicissitudes which it has undergone; viz. of the vast apparent ruin occa. sioned by its first violent disruption and depression; of the presence and operation of the marine fluid during the long interval which succeeded; and, of time action and effects of that fluid in its ultimate retreat.

"Within the limits of this general scheme, all speculations must be confined which would aspire to the quality of sound geology; yet vast and sublime is the field which it lays open, to exercise the intelligence and experience of sober and philosophical mineralogy and chemistry. Upon this legitimate ground, those many valuable writers, who have unwarily lent their science to uphold and propagate the vicious doctrine of a chaotic geogony, may geologize with full secu­rity; and may there concur to promote that true advancement of natural philosophy, which Newton holds to be inseparable from a proportionate advance­ment of the moral. They must thus at length succeed in perfecting a true philosophical geology; which never can exist, unless the principle of Newton form the foundation, and the relation of Moses the working plan."


[1] See also a copious collection of these supposed contradictions, with judi cious explanations, in the Appendix to vol. 1. of HORNE'S Introduction, &c

[2] "In this our first period of existence, our eye cannot penetrate beyond the present scene, and the human race appears one great and separate community; but with other worlds, and other communities, we probably may, and every argu­ment for the truth of our religion gives us reason to think that we shall, be con­nected hereafter. And if by our behaviour we may, even while here, as our Lord positively affirms, heighten in some degree the felicity of angels, our salvation may hereafter be a matter of importance, not to us only, but to many other orders of immortal beings. They, it is true, will not suffer for our guilt, nor be rewarded for our obedience. But it is not absurd to imagine, that our fall and recovery may be useful to them as an example; and that the Divine grace manifested in our redemption may raise their adoration and gratitude into higher raptures, and quicken their ardour to inquire with ever new delight, into the dispensations of infinite wisdom. This is not mere conjecture. It derives plausibility from many analogies in nature, as well as from Holy Writ, which represents the mystery of our redemption as an object of curiosity to superior beings, and our repentance as an occasion of their joy." (Dr. BEATTIE'S Evidences of time Christian Religion See also Dr. CHALMERS Discourses on the Modern Astronomy.)

[3] PENN's Comparative Estimate, &c. Professor Jamieson, in his Mineralo­gical Illustrations of Cuvier's Theory, observes, "The front of Salisbury Craigs near Edinburgh, affords a fine example of-time natural chronometer, described in the text. The acclivity is covered with loose masses that have fallen from the hill itself; and the quantity of debris is in proportion to the time which has elapsed since the waters of the ocean formerly covered the neighbouring country If a vast period of time had elapsed since the surface of the earth had assumed its present aspect, it is evident that long ere now the whole of this hill would have been enveloped in its own debris. We have here then a proof of the com­paratively short period since the waters left the surface of the globe,--a period not exceeding a few thousand years."

[4] "Most readers have presumed, that every night and day mentioned in the first chapter of Genesis must be strictly confined to the term of twenty-four hours, though there can be no doubt but that Moses never intended any such thing; for how could Moses intend to limit the duration of the day to its present length. before, according to his own showing, the sun had begun to divide the day from the night ?" (MANTELL's Geology of Sussex.)

[5] This view is totally inconsistent with the favourite notion of certain mo dern geologists of a primitive chaotic ocean, containing like that of the heathen poets, the elements of all things; a notion which those who wish to reconcile the account of Genesis with the modern geology have been willing to concede to them, on the ground that Moses has said that the earth was "without form and void." But they have not considered that it was " the earth," not a liquid mass, which is thus characterized; circumfused with water, it is true, but not mingled with it. The LXX render the phrase whbw wht, tohu vabohu, aoparoc, kai akataskeu açoç, invisible and unfurnished,-invisible both because of the darkness, and the water which covered it, and unfurnished, because destitute as yet of vegetables and animals.. "It is wonderful," says Rosenmuller, "how so many interpreters could imagine that a chaos was described in the words vht, tohu vabohu. This notion unquestionably took its origin from the fictions of the Greek and Latin poets, which were transferred, by those interpreters, to Moses." Those fictions ground themselves, we may add, upon traditions received from the earli­est times; but the additions of poetic fancy are not to be applied to interpret the Scriptures.

[6] Mons. L. A. NECKER DE SAUSSURE, (Voyage en Ecosse,) speaking of the disputes between the Wernerians and Huttonians, says, "The former availed themselves of the ascendancy which a more minute study of minerals afforded, to depreciate the observations of their adversaries. They denied the existence of facts which the hatter had discovered, or they tried to sink their importance Hence it happened that phenomena, important to the natural history of the earth, have never been made known and appreciated as they ought to have been, by geologists most capable of estimating their consequences."

[7] See note A at the end of the chapter.

[8] A scientific journal of great reputation, edited at the Royal Institution, has made an honourable disclaimer of those theories which contradict the Scriptures, and speaks in commendation of the work of Mr. Penn: "We are not inclined; even if we had time, to enter into the comparative merits of the fire and water fancies, miscalled theories; but we have certain old-fashioned prejudices, which, in these enlightened days of skepticism and infidelity, will no doubt be set down as mightily ridiculous, but which, nevertheless, induce us to pause before we acquiesce either in tie one or the other. There is another mode of accounting for the present state of the earth's structure, on principles at least as rational, in a philosophical light, as either the Plutonian or Neptunian; and inasmuch as it is more consistent with, and founded on, sacred history, incomparably superior. (See Mr. G RANVILLE PENN'S Comparative Estimate of the Mineral and Mosaical Geologies.")