Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

text

and men, which had been created in the first chapter, are created again in the second chapter.” Where did Augustin find creation reiterated ? All creation is effected in the first chapter. The second chapter simply states the matter out of which the things were made. Gen. i. 26, contains the spiritual description of man; but Gen. ïi. 7, his physical form, and how it became endued with life. Again, Gen. i. 24, contains the account of the creation of animals; but ii. 19, while it repeats how they were formed, contains the history of their naming by Adam; a fresh fact. What inconsistency is there in this ? As to Origen's error, in the passage, Gen. ii. 4, “ These are the generations of the heavens and the earth, when they were created in the day the Lord made the heavens;” nothing is easier explained, since both the Greek yuepa, and Hebrew dir, imply not simply a day, but time generally, and which sense our author himself admits in this very section, of which we get an instant illustration in Gen. ii. 17. Even Ge senius gives this sense, which is equally that of Dies. The passage then contains no contradiction to the preceding assertions, and is evidently simply a summary of them; and the word generations, in our version, is in the LXX Bibaos; and in the Hebrew

om, a history, stating simply the character of the book of Genesis, placing this description of the work justly and properly after creation, and stating the intentions of the work to be to transmit a durable memorial of it. In the same manner Gen. ii. 21, is an amplification of the previous narrative in Gen, i. 27, and further explains the sequence of causes, that of time being maintained in the previous chapter. As to the distinction of day and night before the sun was created, Gen. i. 5, since God is described as creating the light from the primæval darkness, the alternation of the one or the other principle was the natural result, and no doubt the intention of God in the separation. The sun was afterwards made the treasury whence the light is diffused; but ere the creation of that luminous body, the alternation of day and night might easily proceed,and the sun afterwards sustain for ages the primal law. If light also consist, as is commonly supposed by the most accurate modern theory, of a series of vibrations of æther, it confirms the notion of Moses. Notion, do we say, the revelation made to him. We should be glad to be informed what other name even our author's ingenuity could have given to this, better calculated to express the fact in question to the intelligence of the general mind, than Moses has adopted by what has been perpetually submitted to the observation of mankind since that period. But our author does not stop here, and next assaults Mosaic truth on the grounds of its inconsistency with astronomy, geology, and criticism. With respect to the latter two, both sciences are in such a state of crudity that their decisions become impugned every fifty years; but astronomy has more fixity. We have, under the head of Astronomical Objections to Revelation, the old story, that the account of Moses favours the ancient system, which believed earth the centre of the system, and that the sun and planets were created as subsidiary to the earth. Now, there appears nothing in astronomy to negative the Mosaic theory, that earth was created before the sun; on the contrary, the notion of Newton, who was really as competent as our author to discuss these matters, was very close in affinity to the Mosaic. In his letter to Bentley, he allows that matter might form itself into masses by the mere force of attraction.

“And thus," says he, "might the sun and fixed stars be formed, supposing the matter were of a lucid nature. But how the matter should divide itself into two sorts, and that part of it should fall down into one mass and make a sun; and the rest, which is fit to compose an opake body, should coalesce, not into one great body like the shining matter, but into many little ones; or if the sun at first were an opake body like the planets, or the planets lucid bodies like the sun, how he alone should be changed into a shining body whilst all they continue opake; or all they be changed into opake ones while he continues unchanged, I do not think explicable by mere natural causes, but am forced to ascribe it to the counsel and contrivanee of a roluntary agent.

What in the history of creation, what in astronomy negatives the position of earth being created out of the common matter of the universe the first of the system; or what prevents the creation of the sun as a luminous body being simply all that Moses means ? Moses, also, did not write the history of the system, he wrote only of one planet; and he has simply to show, not the universal system, but such particulars out of it as concerned his subject, and he accordingly describes the offices rendered to earth by her chronometers, as our author calls them, the sun and moon. The tendency of his nation to sidereal worship showed the impress from distant worlds improper at the instant he wrote, that they were not disposed to attach too little but too much importance to the æthereal spheres around the earth. As to any argument being deducible from the fact that Moses describes the progress of creation and cultivation of the earth as occupying five days, and the sun, moons, and stars as created in one, nothing can be more ridiculous than any attempt to found an argument on that point. What hinders our affirming that God then only made them luminous, which is all that Moses says ? What sense does Dr. Strauss attach to the first verse of Genesis : “ In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” What hinders

D'OW from expressing stellar matter? What does it mean, if this be not its meaning ? The next point urged is, the incon sistency of the account of the creation with modern geology. It would, indeed, be difficult, nay, impossible to get any constant quantity to fix this variable. Look at Lyell, Buckland, Kirby, Cuvier, are they agreed on a 'single postulate? Is chemistry herself in a state to enunciate propositions, when she is hourly modifying her assertions ? and, surely, her progress to fixity is in vastly superior advance of geology, which requires wonderful requisites and uncommon powers to arrive at dogmas where so many sciences are required to form a just conclusion. We consider, and always have done, that creation was performed in the six days; and we think our author's argument, that the days in i the account are limited to twenty-four hours expressly by the terms day and night, good; showing clearly that those commentators of the Buckland school, who extend creation over ai period of ages, are wrong. But the insidious and artful observation, that if six days of creation, in the first instance, appear too.. close for a Divine act, they are also, too quick for a process of nature, we deny. The law of elements which are brought into operation, if left to itself, takes time for its accomplishment; and such a law is described as brought into operation by the Great Motor Agent; but it is not a process of nature that is described, it is the process of a vivifying life. When light burst forth, a day might disperse the waters under an ordinary agency, for the presence of light presumes heat. As to the origin of Testacea, and their separation from Mammiferæ in a day, that does not appear under the agency employed inconsistent, for separation was instant on creation. And it is idle to assert, though it may have the aspect in the eyes of infidels like Dr. Strauss of begging the question, that the supernatural character of the Demiurgus is not to be taken into question. We are simply bound to show, that the Demiurgus does not act inconsistent with reason ; but no divine would assert, nor even philosopher worthy of the name, that he does not operate in a manner that defies the low reasoning powers of man to investigate. The only attempt to make criticism bear upon the question before us, after its vaunted powers, is, that the passages Gen. i. 1. 11. 4. and ii. 5. are inconsistent with each other, in which arguments we have already joined issue ; and the baseless unproved assertion that the Book of Genesis is not all written by Moses, together with a dark attempt at Mythos, which the stubborn author of the Pentateuch does not supply, but is as strait forward as he is clear, forin the whole attack, Where was the Mythos when Moses turned to his people with this appeal?“ Ask now of the days that are past,

which were before thee, since the days 'that God created mau upon the earth, and ask from one side of heaven unto the other, whether there hath been any such thing as this great thing is or hath been heard like it? Did ever people hear the voice of God speaking out of the midst of the fire as thou hast and live? Or hath God assayed to go and take him a nation from the midst of another nation by temptations, by signs, and by wonders, and by war, and by a stretched out arm, and by great terrors, according to all that the Lord your God did for you in Israel before your eyes ?”—Deut. iv. 2. Did that look like one that could appeal to facts ? Has his nation, his dark, sunk, mammon-spirited, degraded nation, denied him, or ministered unvarying testimony to his truth? A Mythos, such as the Mosaic, were a miracle in itself. We pass to chap. 46-" Creation out of nothing."

Our author makes an attempt, but it is extremely feeble throughout this chapter, to incorporate matter with God. His reasoning amounts to nothing more than curious speculation on matters which lie infinitely beyond the powers of human reason to reach, to investigate, to separate into elements, or to exbibit with any clearness. After quoting 2 Macc. vii. 28, and Wisdom xi. 17, and contrasting them with Gen. i. 1, he comes to the conclusion that the latter writer does not affirm as to matter, whether the creating God found it ready, or created it also.

“To place matter, which he bad only manufactured as Creator of the World, distinct from God, was not only most analogous to the common conception, which proceeds from the manner and custom in which men are wont to perform their works, but also in philosophy a similar Dualism became customary through Plato. The notion also bad this advantage, that it served as a convenient outlet to unburthen God of the creation of evil in the world. Therefore the eldest Platonic fathers of the Church speak of a creation of the world out of formless matter, and Dualistic, Gnostic, and Manichæan teachers, as Hermogenes, placed with more certainty an eternal matter distinct from God. If in the latter relation there is involved the question of a God unable to vanquish the reaction of the bad matter, and therefore not absolute; if in the first, since the divine production is not a human one, the being bound to matter inust be denied. A reproduction of all things out of his Being, appears also suitable to God. It is after this manner it has been supposed that the Son of God was produced ; but in order to distinguish the world from him, and not to fall into the pantheistic emanatismus of the Alexandrian Gnostics and modern Platonists, it has been decided that the world was created neither out of a pre-existing matter, as men usually make their work, nor of the essence of God as the Son, but through the will of God out of nothing. This nothing ought not to indicate any matter, but on the contrary exclude such an idea. They distinguisbed, morever, a nihil negativum and priva, VOL. XXVII, NO. LIV.

D D

MOHOL

tivum, and, according to it, a creatio prima, and secunda. On the first day God produced of the mere nothing, or of the negatio omnis entitatis, the shapeless matter, out of which, as a primitive nothing, in the following days he made the world. The old pbilosopbical objection against this theory, 'ex nibilo nihil fit,' was removed, it is true, by limiting it to the domain of the final causalitas. However, from all ages, the creation from nothing was a weightless definition for speculative thinkers. Scotus Erigena understood under the nothing out of which all things are produced the sublime depth of the Divine Being above all final something. J. Böhme considered the real nature of God as the matter out of which he bas made all things, and afterwards the wbole root of this supposition was destroyed by Spinozism ; the new dogma, as far it could proceed, bas either sent away the terminus, or so explained it that the nothing onght only to indicate the side of the non-existence, wbich is always joined to the world in reproduction. In the Chaldee history of creation the positive to the nothing is not the divine essence, but the divine will; of which we shall treat in the following chapter."-vol. i. p. 46.

In the above reasoning we throw out of the question at once all Platonic notions, and shall simply take up the Mosaic and Christian. Now, first of all, Moses in his cosmogony is quite clear from Ovid's errors; he describes God positively as making the matter of the heavens and earth, as the immaterial generator of substance. Jehovah did not find things in confusion as Ovid describes God, he made matter. Ovid describes God and nature as co-equal and co-eternal. It is not so in the writings of Moses. Unbelievers may give this generation of matter the name of a weightless definition, but it is absurd to assert that any thing of perishable and fragile form can be God. We are aware that we shall be pressed with the Atomic Theory, with the individuality of every molecule, with its rigid character, with its indestructibility in space. We have nothing to do with this. A character impressed on a palpable thing must be exterior to the thing. If the character be coeval with the thing, then must whatever gave that character have preceded the impressed object. Now the indestructibility of matter is the result of exterior action, and therefore the inferiority of matter in duration to its Maker is evident. Now nothing can be more absurd than that reasoning that expects of the derived all the properties in the underiyed. Can God make gods ? No. Does this proceed from the incapacity of God ? No. Incapacity consists in not doing what is capable of being done. But whoever heard of an incapacity to effect an impossibility? Who, but the school of Hegel and his pupil Strauss ever dreamt of treating the Son as produced, when the divinity of the Son is co-eternal with the Father, only different in mode? Moses asserts amply that matter was not with God

« AnteriorContinuar »