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what, indeed, agreeably to the laws of gravity, must have been evolved first of all-the matter of light and heat ; of all material substances the most subtle and attenuate ; those by which alone the sun operates, and has ever operated, upon the earth and the other planets, and which may be the identical substances that constitute its essence.
And it tells us, also, that the luminous matter thus evolved produced light, without the assistance of the sun or moon, which were not set in the sky or firmament, and had no rule, till the fourth day ; that the light thus pro
; duced flowed by tides, and alternately intermitted, thus constituting a single day and a single night, whatever their length might be. It tells us that, during the second day, uprose, progressively, the fine fluids, or waters, as they are poetically and beautifully denominated, of the firmament, and filled the blue ethereal void with a vital atmosphere ; that, during the third day, the waters, more properly so called, or the grosser and more compact fluids of the general mass, were strained off and gathered together into the vast bed of the ocean, and the dry land began to make its appearance, by disclosing the peaks or highest points of the primitive mountains ; in consequence of which a progress instantly commenced, from inorganic matter to vegetable organisation, the surface of the earth, as well above as under the waters, being covered with plants and herbs bearing seeds after their respective kinds ; thus laying a basis for those carbonaceous materials, the remains of vegetable matter, which are occasionally to be traced in some of the layers or formations of the class of primitive rocks (the lowest of the whole), without a single particle of animal relics intermixed with them. It tells us that, during the fourth day, the sun and moon, now completed, were set in the firmament, the solar system was finished, its laws were established, and the celestial orrery was put into play ; in consequence of which the harmonious revolutions of signs and of seasons, of days and of years, struck up for the first time their mighty symphony. That the fifth period was allotted exclusively to the formation of water-fowl, and the countless tribes of aquatic creatures ; and, consequently, to that of those lowest ranks of animal life, testaceous worms, corals, and other zoophytes, whose relics are alone to be traced in the second class of rocks or transition formations, and still more freely in the third or horizontal formations ; these being the only animals as yet created, since the air, and the water, and the utmost peaks of the loftiest mountains, were the only parts as yet inhabitable. It tells us, still continuing the same grand and exquisite climax, that towards the close of this period, the mass of waters having sufficiently retired into the deep bed appointed for them, the sixth and concluding period was devoted to the formation of terrestrial animals ; and, last of all, as the masterpiece of the whole, to that of man himself. Thus, in progressive order, uprose the stupendous system of the world ; the bright host of morning stars shouted together on its birthday, and the eternal Creator looked down with complacency on the finished fabric and all its garniture, and
saw that it was good.”
II. It will have been observed that in thus ad. verting to the progressive work of the creation, we have used the term day and period, indifferently, taking the “day” of Moses as not necessarily denoting a period of twenty-four hours, or what we
call a nátural day, but as a period of time the length of which is left indefinite. The Hebrew word, translated day, is thus frequently used ; as for example, we find—“The day of the Lord,”
day of vengeance,” “ the day of small things,"
" "the day of trouble," and similar phrases, signifying only a period of time that has a beginning and an ending, as the several epochs of creation had, according to the Mosaic narrative ; the matter or substance-the material—having been called into existence “in the beginning," and subsequently undergoing the several changes and receiving the various forms indicated by the sacred penman.
“ Who"-as Mrs. Somerville beautifully writes-"Who shall define the periods of those mornings and evenings when God saw that His work was good ? And who shall declare the time allotted to the human race, when the generations of the most insignificant insect existed for unnumbered ages? These stupendous changes may be but cycles in those great laws of the universe, where all is variable but the laws themselves, and He who has ordained them.” And it is important and interesting to observe, that these views are not of yesterday. As Dr. Harris remarks,* the early fathers of the Christian church seem to have entertained precisely similar views ; for St. Gregory Nazianzen, after Justin Martyr, supposes an indefinite period between the creation and the first ordering of all things. St. Basil, St. Cæsarius, and Origen, are much more explicit.” | To these might be added Augustine, Theodoret, Episcopius, and others, whose remarks imply the existence of a considerable
* “The Pre-Adamite Earth,” p. 391.
† Principal Wiseman's “Lectures on the connection between Science and Revealed Religion,” Vol. i., p. 297.
interval between the creation related in the first verse of Genesis, and that of which an account is given in the third and following verses. In modern times, but long before geology became a science, the independent character of the opening sentence of Genesis was affirmed by such judicious and learned
as Calvin, Bishop Patrick, and Dr. David Jennings.f And in some old editions of the English Bible, where there is no division into verses, we actually find a break at the end of what is now the second verse ; and in Luther's Bible (Wittenberg, 1557) we have, in addition, the figure (1) placed against the third verse, as being the beginning of the account of the creation on the first day. Now, these views were formed independently of all geological considerations. In the entire absence of evidence from this quarter-probably even in opposition to it, as some would think—these conclusions were arrived at on biblical grounds alone. Geology only illustrates and confirms them. The works of God prove to be one with this pre-conceived meaning of His word. And there is ground to expect that this early interpretation will gradually come to be universally accepted as the only correct one. We need stand in no fear from the assaults of science on the Sacred Record. The Book and the Rocks are in no wise contradictory, but are in perfect harmony with each other. The creative data that have been dug up from the crust of the earth are in perfect keeping with the creative record in the book of Genesis.
* The Note in “Buckland's Bridgewater Treatise,” by Dr. Pusey, who refers to Petavius, lib. c., cap. 11, sects. i.-viii.
+ Dr. J. Pye Smith's “Scripture and Geology,” pp. 179, 180.
III. The earth's crust having been penetrated to a depth of about six miles, is found to consist, in great part, of stratified rocks, that is, rocks whose component parts are laid in level strata, showing that they were deposited at different intervals out of water, and afterwards hardened into stone.
(1.) The number of strata proves a succession of inundations, and the thickness of them argues a long continuance of the flood during their deposit. The strata have, each in its turn, been at the surface of the earth, and being there submerged under the waters of the ocean, have gradually received the materials which they held in suspension; so that, on the retiring of the sea, or the elevation of the land, they have, in turn, been hardened into a new surface, superimposed upon a former one. Below all the strata, are found rocks not stratified, the materials of which show no trace of having been ever suspended in water, and which are consequently assumed to have formed the original crust, before the first of the inundations by which the several strata were deposited. While such, however, is the normal arrangement, the strata are by no means universally found in the levels on which they were originally deposited. Disturbances, more or less extensive, have occurred in various places, effected, apparently, by volcanic agency, which, breaking through the strata with prodigious force, has thrown large masses into a perpendicular in place of their original horizontal position, and upheaving the unstratified granite from below, forced it through the superincumbent rocks, to exhibit its peaked eminences above the present surface. These disturbances have been as evidently produced by the action of fire as the strata themselves by the action of water. Tho results therefore