Oldalképek
PDF
ePub

crediting it, except by running into gross and manifest absurdities, which furnish well-known instances of the desperation and recklessness of a determined unbeliever. The progress of science has, however, done away with the arguments on both sides, and no one who has paid attention to the subject will now ascribe to a flood that prevailed for a hundred and fifty days, effects which evidently extended through protracted series of ages, or suppose that the mighty revolutions visible in the earth's structure could have been brought about by a deluge that left the olive tree, and probably all other vegetation, undisturbed. It would be going too far to say that there are no visible traces of the Noachian cataclysm, but it may be safely affirmed, that hitherto none have been identified as such. With respect, however, to the nature and effects of the deluge, as connected with the present distribution of mankind and of the different species of animals, an interesting field of inquiry lies open, on which much light yet remains to be shed.

Another view, very generally adopted, and which, at the present time, perhaps, most extensively prevails, is, that between the first and second verses of the first chapter of Genesis may be placed an indefinite period of time, sufficient to allow for the production of all the phenomena which are the subjects of geological investigation, and during which the earth served as the basis of several successive systems of creation, of which the last is recorded by Moses, and took place in six natural days. This hypothesis has been supported by the authority of some eminent names; but it will be acknowledged, that the construction thus put upon the connexion of the verses, if not inadmissible, is forced and unnatural. Besides, the conclusions of geology do not seem to point out a successive series of destructions and renovations, but a gradual blending of the earliest organic world into that amid which we now live, and the links appear so closely united to each other as to form but one concatenation, and not a number of successive broken fragments. It is dangerous to reason à priori respecting topics which are more properly the subjects of observation and inductive conclusions ; but we may presume it to be inconsistent with the manner in which we have seen the wisdom of the Deity exerted, to destroy an order, class, or species only to create it again. But if the coincidences already noticed, and the remarks made on the other supposition be deemed striking and conclusive, this will preclude the necessity of considering an hypothesis which aspires to no greater than a negative excellence.

Another method of argumentation, arising out of this subject, has been to collect together all the opposing views on subordinate topics that have ever been upheld by geologists, from these to infer that there is no attention to be paid to anything they have said, and thus to throw the convenient shade of a pyrrhonic scepticism over the whole science. To those who have been in the habit of observing and reasoning, it will scarcely be necessary to remark how captious is this argument, how fallacious the conclusion, and how sure would be the introduction of a universal darkness and doubt, were the same principle applied to all other subjects. It should always be beneath a sound reasoner to draw conclusions from the difference or VOL. 1. N.S.

4 Y

accordance of men's opinions, and the only object of inquiry should be, 66 what is really ascertained truth ?” the answer to which would, undoubtedly, be conclusive in favour of the great principles of geology, though not, perhaps, to all its subordinate details.

In conclusion, we may remark the wisdom of the Deity in the construction of the volume of revelation. It has been said that historical evidence grows weaker, in proportion as the events become more remote. This assertion is far from being correct on the abstract principles of right reasoning; but, owing to the ignorance, prejudice, and weaknesses of the great majority of human minds, it will be found, in practice, to be almost universally true; and God has so far condescended to human frailty as to insert in the inspired volume, not only the historical record of miracles, but also prophecies, which shall witness to its truth by their accomplishment in the progress of events, and analogous declarations, which, by the increasing growth of science, shall prove that the Creator of the universe was the Author of the Bible.

A QUESTION IN GEOLOGY. I have long wished to see a question investigated, in relation to the antiquity of those strata in which destructive fossil animals, or animals in the very act of destroying other animals, have been found. A paragraph in a late number of the Congregational Magazine, affords me a fair occasion for putting my question through your pages.

My inquiry is this, “ Could there be death by violent and painful means, before the entrance of sin had deranged the order of a holy world, or had given occasion for bringing into action the instruments of violent death?” Comp. Isa. xi. 6—9.

I am aware that Buckland and others contend, that on the whole a greater amount of enjoyment is produced by such deaths; the paper on earthquakes, page 411 of your July number, enters fully into my views on this subject; I will therefore cite the statements to which I allude, with a trifling accommodation to the present subject.

From the simpler forms of dissolution, when there is a calm, gentle, and gradual descent into the valley of the shadow of death, we may not be able to gather evidence of a state of things deranged by sin: but in the tortures consequent on calling into operation the destructive instruments of death, with which carnivorous animals are furnished, we see that which bears the aspect of the execution of a judicial sentence. Even if it could be shown, that good results from the death of myriads of creatures in agonies, yet under an administration of unmixed benevolence, surely the good would be effected some other way, while equity seems to forbid the infliction of pain on creatures innocent themselves, or not involved in the fate of offenders.”

The consideration of these observations will gratify a beginner in Geological researches.

T. K.

R E VIE W.

Hymnology-The Congregational Hymn Book: A Supplement to

Dr. Watts's Psalms and Hymns. Compiled by Direction of the Congregational Union of England and Wales. 32mo.

24mo. and 12mo. London: Jackson and Walford. Praise is one of those exercises of public and private religious duty, to which, in connexion with prayer, the term worship peculiarly applies. It is a solemn address of the mind to God, as the fountain of being and happiness, the ruler of the world, and the beneficent Father of the family of man, laying down at his footstool those emotions of adoration and gratitude, which a right apprehension of the majesty of his being, and the kindness of his acts is calculated to inspire. It is a service, in which, if performed in spirit and in truth, we recognise the excellence and perfection of the divine nature, and the rectitude and benevolence of the divine administration; it takes cognizance of his dealings in providence and his dispensations in grace, his daily mercies and his nightly care, his goodness in seed time and harvest, in summer and winter, in heat and cold; in short, all that is beautiful in nature, desirable in social life, and precious in religion, every temporal comfort and spiritual gift, excite feelings of gratitude in the devout heart, and prompt expressions of praise from the tongue, to the Divine Original of whatever is great and good. Such views had one of the writers of inspiration of the worthiness of God to receive this tribute, that he calls upon all animate and inanimate existences, to unite with him in the service-“ Fire and hail, snow and vapour, stormy wind fufilling his word, mountains and all hills, fruitful trees and all cedars, beasts and all cattle, creeping things and flying fowl. Let them Praise the name of the Lord.” It was a favourite imagination with the bards of the Jewish chuch, one too in which they have been joined by the singers of the modern Zion, that unintelligent creation is not insensible and silent, with reference to the Creator ; that an impression of his grandeur and power, pervades universal nature, and fills every department of the wondrous whole, with testimonies discernible by the hearing ear and the understanding heart, in honour of Him, who wrought out the embroidery of its flowers, the plumage of its insects, the glory of its sun, and the varied colouring of its landscapes. The individual in whom the spirit of piety and the genius of poetry are united, will survey the material world with other eyes and feelings to the undevout and the unimaginative; the earth to such is a magnificent temple, having altars in its cloud-capped mountains, and choristers in its thousand song-birds; its woods and fields are rich in hymns of gratitude and love, “ the jubilate of the soaring lark, is chaunt of clerk," and the sound of the mighty ocean breaking upon a steep and rocky shore,

is the hallelujah of the waters, to the Spirit who of old moved upon their surface.

There are various methods in which praise may be offered to the Divine Being. In its simplest form, it is a purely spiritual engagement; an exercise of the soul, a “ making melody in the heart to the Lord;" the affections being fixed upon him, the thoughts revolving over his excellence and glory, the memory treasuring up the manifestations of his goodness, the feelings being in harmony with his will, and the whole mechanism of the inner man being sweetly attuned to his pleasure. But as the “ fruit of the lips" is required of us, there is an offering praise by the medium of the living voice, mingling with the precatory part of our devotions, those acknowledgments of obligation, those expressions of reverence which the character and acts of the Being we address demand. And besides the employment of the tongue, in pronouncing the praises of God, the practice of singing them in psalms and hymns, commends itself to our attention by express divine injunctions, by the example of piety in all ages, by the grateful influence it has in composing the mind, and by its powerful tendency to foster devout feeling ; thus forming an important and an exhilarating part of the public and social services of religion. Never since the “ Lord's song" was heard in paradise, has it been wholly silent; the strain may have varied in its character, its tone, and power; now a hymn of triumph, of peace, of hope, or of resignation; now as the soft breeze of evening playing in the woods, or as the “ noise of many waters, and of mighty thunderings;” now a solitary notc, a still small voice from some banished Elijah, in ages when the faithful have been minished; and anon a chorus formed of ten thousand tongues, when piety has prospered, and the “ little one has become a strong nation;" but by these vocal melodies the church below has kept up its communion with angels and the host of glorified beings, in the same spirit if not in the same worde, the sons of God on earth, have sung in concert with their elder brethren before the throne !

“Is any merry ? let him sing psalms,” is an apostolic precept sanctioned by the genius of both natural and revealed religion, for both tell us that “all our store" cometh of Him who “ made heaven and earth.” The meaning of the injunction is obvious-it does not imply that praise is at any time inappropriate from our lips, that adverse circumstances absolve us from its exercise, but that when our circumstances are marked with special prosperity, peculiar attention should be paid to the duty of honouring God, by devout acknowledgments. In those pleasing intervals of repose with which human life, with all its bitterness, abounds, when the body is free from pain, and the mind from anxiety; when we have health with its bloom, friendship with its joys, and when beneath the soothing influences and the animating hopes of religion, the stream of existence flows on without a wind to ruffle its bosom, or a whirlpool to disturb its course, then especially are we called upon to “ praise the name of God with a song, and to magnify him with thanksgiving," and when a warm sense of his goodness inflames our love and animates our gratitude, every new pleasure will create a new song,

and every new song will create a new pleasure. But as the beneficent character of God, and the sublime realities of creation, providence, and redemption remain unaffected by the sad vicissitudes to which we are subject, the duty of praise has the same strong claims upon us in grief, as in joy; hence the apparent paradox has often been illustrated in the conduct of piety, “sorrowful, yet always rejoicing;” the eye has been suffused with tears, while the tongue has been cloquent with song, as at the foundation of the second Jewish temple, “ the noise of the shout of joy," was hard to be discerned, “ from the noise of the weeping." And good men have found in religious melodies a refuge and refreshment in adversity; the heart has been soothed, the soul has been invigorated, the mind has been cheered; for the harmony of praise, says Hooker, is a " thing which delighteth all ages and beseemeth all states, a thing as seasonable in grief as in joy, as decent being added to actions of greatest weight and solemnity, as being used when men most sequester themselves from action.” Paul and Silas sang praises in their dungeon in Philippi, and of how little moment became the pain of their stripes, the weight of their bonds, the power of their oppressors, and the darkness of the midnight, under those delightful impressions of the divine care and love they realized in the employ. ment. We all know the happy influence which the harp of David had upon the evil spirit of Saul; and the voice of psalms has the same power to allay the fever of the passions, to calm the tempest of the soul, to inspire hope, and confidence, and charity.

We envy not that man his feelings, who can listen unmoved to a congregation of worshippers, with one heart and soul,” offering praise to the Father of their mercies, in strains in which piety, poetry, and music are in lovely unison; or who can stand by some lonely cottage in the wilds, and hear its humble inmates, at the morning and evening sacrifice, “ chaunt their artless notes in simple guise," without having his affections sweetened, and his mind brought under the influence of soft and tender impressions. Peculiarly grateful are the praises of his creatures to Jehovah-eternal melodies surround his throne in heaven, and from the “ harpers” of the upper sanctuary, he is represented as turning a willing ear to the humble song of his children upon the earth; “ this also shall please the Lord better than an ox or a bullock that hath horns and hoofs." His approbation of the engagement was once signified in a splendid and imposing manner.

“ It came even to pass, as the trumpeters and singers were as one, to make one sound to be heard in praising and thanking the Lord; and when they lifted up their voice with the trumpets and cymbals and instruments of music, and praised the Lord, saying, For he is good, for bis mercy endureth for ever; that then the house was filled with a cloud; even the house of the Lord. So that the priests could not stand to minister by reason of the cloud; for the glory of the Lord had filled the house of God.”

Plutarch tells us, that it is a sacred and leading duty of mankind to hymn the gods, who have endowed them only with an articulate voice.” --úuveiv yap evoeßès kal a ponyoúperov å vopóroig Toùç xaproapévous avois uóvous Thv ēvapOpov pwviv, Deoús. The senti

« ElőzőTovább »