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extremely slow formation, and upon a newer stratum of later Tertiary age. Nor is that limestone the oldest of the rocks of Egypt. “It rests on a sandstone of Permian or Triassic age; the sandstone rests, in turn, on the famous Breccia de Verde of Egypt; and the Breccia on a group of azoic rocks, gneisses, quartzes, mica schists, and clay slates, that wrap round the granitic nacleus of Syene.” They amount to about ten miles of fossiliferous rocks; and if the sand deposits of twenty feet in thickness required 5,650 years for their formation, the age of the underlying strata, fossiliferous and azoic, is immeasurably greater.
These facts may suffice to impress the reader with the inconceivable dimensions of time revealed in the mysterious structure of the earth; the computations, though necessarily but approximate, are on the whole neither doubtful nor exaggerated; and they show that the six or seven thousand years which the Bible allows since the origin of the earth, are a mere fraction of the time which geology demands for its antiquity.
II. - THE CREATION OF THE WORLD IN SIX DAYS. It has, indeed, been very positively contended, that the days mentioned in the Biblical record of Creation signify periods of a thousand years, or of indefinite extent. But this imputed meaning is absolutely against the usage and genius of the Hebrew language; and the days of creation are really and literally periods of four and twenty hours. However, it might be asserted and it has, in fact, been frequently advanced
– that the earth, with all its various layers and stratifications, has, by the Divine will, been called into existence in that limited number of days; and that God, after the completion of this lordly act of creation, has left nature and all her component parts to those eternal and immutable laws with which He had endowed her. But this opinion is rendered impossible by the following facts:
1. In all the strata of the earth, except the two or three lowest, are found organic remains of creatures which possessed and enjoyed life, and which evidently perished, partly by that revolution of the earth which buried the old formation, and partly by the change of climate which took place in the next epoch. It may be important to observe, that each stratum has its own characteristic species.
A brief summary of these remains will be sufficient for our purpose. In the slaterocks of North Wales and Cornwall are found the earliest remains of animal existence, consisting of two or three species of zoophytes (lamelliferous corals), polyps, and casts of several species of single and double-valved shell-fish, more highly organized even than our cockles and oysters. If this latter fact should appear surprising, we observe, that it is by no means an established principle that the organic beings of every formation are of a higher structure than those of the preceding system, as if nature were steadily progressing and improving. This supposition becomes more than doubtful by the single fact, that the earliest forms of life which occur are not plants, but animals. The exact inquiry into this interesting point is rendered difficult by a particular circum
The immense subterranean heat must necessarily have destroyed, without a trace, those organisms which might have existed in the first system of stratification, nearest to the fiery nucleus of our planet. It is certain that we find in the lower strata, almost exclusively, the remains of marine animals; while the terrestrial races, which exhibit the higher organic forms, are extant in very limited proportions. Even in the present state of the earth, animal life is predominant in the depths of the sea, whilst the productions of the vegetable kingdom prevail on the continents. It must, however, be admitted, that the earth was always and uninterruptedly peopled with living boings after they had once been introduced, and that, although the systems varied in correspondence with the altered conditions of the carth, there exists a certain general resemblance or analogy between the forms of the different periods. A perpetual but
systematic change is working in nature; this is the rule of the material world; it is made the grand conservative and controlling principle of the universe.
In the Silurian formations, which more properly commence the grand series of organic beings, more than 375 species of animals are embedded.
In the Devonian and the New Red Sandstone systems, have been discovered numerous bones and skeletons of fishes and other marine creatures, the very genera of which are now no more existing, and some of which are of the most surprising form and description. In the corresponding masses of Germany and France, the organic remains are peculiarly abundant. Marine plants also appear more copiously.
The mountain limestone, which belongs to the Carboniferous group, is entirely composed of the remains of coralline and testaceous animals, often many miles in length and breadth; while the coal-strata themselves consist wholly of compressed plants, of which upwards of three hundred species have been ascertained, though infinitely more existed; they were mostly of comparatively simple forin and structure; two-thirds belong to the cellular or cryptogamic kind, without power or fruit, whilst the type of this era was the fern or breckan, which thrives best in warm, shaded, and moist situations; and a vegetation existed “abundant and luxurious beyond what the most favoured spots on earth can now show.” The higher classes of plants increased as the globe grew older.
The Old Red Sandstone includes the fossils of zoophytes, conchifera, some tribes of fish, some traces of land plants; perhaps also the first perfect birds, some of small, others of gigantic size; and the foot-prints of those batrachians which have attracted the most zealous attention, and to which we shall later have occasion to allude in a very curious connection. But both in the New Red Sandstone, and still more in the subsequent Oolitic strata, occur in great abundance the huge lizard-like animals, of extraordinary size, power, and armature: the voracious ichthyosaurus, of the length of a young whale, fitted both to live in the water and to breathe the atmosphere; of the general form of a fish, to which, however, were added the teeth and breast-bone of a lizard, the paddles of the whale tribes, the beak of a porpoise, and the teeth of a crocodile; the plesiosaurus, of similar bulk and equal rapacity, with a turtle-like body and paddles, a serpent-neck, terminating in a formidable lizard-head, and most extensively preying upon the finny tribes; further, the megalosaurus, an enormous lizard, forty-five feet long, a carnivorous land creature; the pterodactylus, or flying suurian, a lizard with bat-like wings; crocodiles, some of which were herbivorous, as, for instance, the iguanodon, reaching the amazing length of a hundred feet, or twenty times the size of the iguana of the Ganges, its present representative. Strongly, indeed, do these monstrous and terrible forms remind us of those strange creatures of fancy popular in ancient times and in the middle ages, the winged dragons and griffins, the gorgons, hydras, and chimeras: their huge jaws threatened with fearful teeth; their necks were almost equal in length to half that of the entire body of the boa-constrictor; they had enormous, mail-like, impenetrable bodies and terrific claws; - and all darted upon their prey with irresistible vehemence.—The Oolitic beds contain, further, the remains of about twelve hundred other astonishing species and forms, the first specimens of insects, and about fifty plants.
But only in deposits above the chalk formations do we meet with mammifers. About four thousand forms, all different from the present species, are found in the Tertiary strata; some of them are most remarkable for their size and form, as the palæotherium, the ponderous dinotherium, with the bent tusks in its lower jaw, and many other thickskinned animals (pachydermata), like the hippopotamus and rhinoceros. Some of the species of elephants were of enormous magnitude; the mastodon, with his tusks projecting from both upper and under jaw, reached the height of twelve feet; the mammoth, the megatherium, with claw-armed toes more than two feet in length, and the megalonyx were of gigantic proportions and iron like organization; we find, further, the bear, the horse, and the dog; seals, dolphins, and whales; massive oxen, camels, and other ruminants; the majestic Irish elk, with its broad plank-like horns; and even several felinæ or carnivora, and traces of monkeys (quadrumana): till at last the older creatures became extinct, and were succeeded by the existing occupants of the land and the water.
Now we ask, if the earth was created within six days, how and for what conceivable purpose were these numberless, and often huge and appalling, forms of beings, exhibiling every stage of growth, embedded in the different strata of the earth? We believe there is scarcely any man preposterous or blasphemous enough to impute to the Deity such planless and reckless destruction in the midst of His majestic acts of creation. Many species, and even many distinct genera, have thus entirely disappeared; they are no longer represented on the earth. Generally, even the organic beings of one formation exist no more in the next higher group of rocks. Do not these circumstances compel us to suppose an indefinite antiquity of the earth's crust?
Of the vast number of animals found in the earth, some idea may be formed, if we observe, that, according to Ehrenberg, one cubic-inch of the polishing slate of Bilin, in Bohemia, contains 41,000 millions of individuals of the species Galionella distans, and one billion 750,000 millions of the species Galionella ferruginea. Some of the huge Egyptian pyramids are entirely built of Nummulitic limestone, which consists of chambered shells of very diminutive size, although of wonderful structure. The polishingstone for instance, that of Tripoli — is composed of exquisite shells, of so minute dimensions, that a cube of one-tenth of an inch contains about 500 millions of indivi. duals. These animalcules, subject to the general geographical distribution over the globe, colouring the water, and emitting phosphorescence in the sea, never sleeping, and forming immeasurable masses of earthy and rocky matter, exceed in their collec. tive volume, perhaps, that of all the other animated beings, and a single individual produces in a few hours millions of beings like itself.
Equally prodigious is the luxurious abundance of the Pre-Adamite vegetation; trees of immense thickness, and of extraordinary age, are found in the earth; and we adduce the following analogies:- The English oak attains to the age of 1,000 to 1,500 years, the yew to between 2,000 to 3,000 years; the Wellingtoniana gigantea is nearly as high as the great pyramid of Egypt---viz., 450 feet-it was said to be 3,000 years old, but has at least an age of 1,120 years; the Boabab (Alansonia digitata), growing in Senegal and other parts of Africa, a tree of enormous magoitude, with a trunk of thirty feet in diameter, offers specimens more than 5,000 years old; and the Taxodium (Cypressus disticha), an American treo, is stated to possess a longevity of nearly 6,000 years, and one now growing near Oaxaca, in Mexico, is believed to go back to the origin of the present state of the earth. But, further, the interior of the earth contains palms and coniferæ, which are strangely mixed together, just as at present Europcan forms grow together with tropical ones in the same forest, as, for instance, at Chilpanzingo, on the western declivity of the Mexican table-land, or in the Isle of Pines, south of Cuba; which remarkable fact, Columbus already pointed out in one of his letters. But besides these majestic products of vegetation, there are those immense numbers of little gramina and low cryptogamia, which form the material of the enormous coalbeds; for it is calculated that all the forests of America together would not be sufficient to form one single coal-seam equal to that of Pittsburg. But some trees embedded in the coal strata are indeed of gigantic size; the fossil araucarian in the Granton quarry, though wanting both root and top, measures sixty-one fect in length, by six feet in diameter; and another, seventy feet in length, by fonr feet in diameter; whilst the stem of a Lepidodendron, near Edinburgh, is considerably thicker than the body of a man, and was probably above seventy feet in height. li:hr:0, about 3,000 genera of fossil plants have been discovered in the beds of the earth; and this number is considered insignificant compared with the probable real amount of vegetable life in the preceding conditions of our earth. Although some plants are less capable of resisting the action of water than others, and some are even totally decomposed if for some time immersed in that element, especially the simplest forms of flowerless (cryptogamic) vegetation; the proportion of the different families found in a fossil state leads, on the whole, to a safe conclusion with regard to the primitive flora of the earth; the plants which have been preserved are in themselves amply sufficient to serve as a basis for such conclusions. Now those vegetable remains - it is remarkable to observe — have more or less a tropical character, which is a sure proof of the higher temperature of our planet in former epochs; they show a surprising uniformity of plants over the whole earth, with but very little local difference, though they bear a different character in different periods, and consist, in each individual epoch, of but a very limited number of species – which are as many witnesses for the former more equal distribution of heat on the earth; it is most interesting to observe, that every later period shows the prevalence of a more perfect genus of plants than the preceding one, so that the different epochs might be almost described by their predominant vegetation; the profoundest botanists have arrived at the conclusion that the earlier flora contained the same principal classes and families, though not all the minor species, of the present flora; but that the former possessed the simpler forms of vegetation in the highest possible perfection, whilst the latter only produced the higher and more complicated genera, so that a successive and ascending development in the vegetable kingdom, which is still in endless progress, is manifest from the remotest periods ; that the number of species has during the succeeding geological epochs steadily increased; that the internal connection between all the vegetable creations is the result of one idea working through the infinity of time after a comprehensive plan; but that if we recede rough space of “many millions of years,” to the first origin of all vegetable existence, we must confess the working of a supernatural cause, which defies human comprehension, and which has endowed the earth with the germs of the endless varieties of families, genera, and species; but we can scarcely accede to the very widely-spread theory of a “primitive plant,” or “ cell,” or monad, producing all the later and more perfect vegetable forms by way of a partial metamorphosis; for every new formation of the crust of the earth is incontrovertibly the product of almost entirely new elements not before existing, and therefore amounting to a new creation; and the vegetation of even the last Tertiary epoch, or that below the most recent one, goes back to a period of at least 100,000 years before the present era. It appears, however, that many of the plants are “ hereditary” through various geological epochs; and that certain species have traversed many thousands, perhaps hundreds of thousands of years, in spite of the local and successive revolutions on the earth's surface. For submarine forests in several parts of the globe consist of trees which still cover the neighbouring continents, though the animals found in the same localities in a petrified state have ceased to exist; and many species of plants are not found in regions where they might thrive perfectly well according to their structure, or to the present condition of the globe. They seem to be absent from such countries only because they did not exist there in former geological epochs.
2. It is certain, both from ocular evidence and from inductive conclusions, that most of the animals discovered as fossils in the strata of the earth have died in a natural course on the spot where they enjoyed life. Now, as many of them are creatures of long lifo, and many reached an age far beyond the time now allotted to the creatures of tho earth, it is impossible that they should have accomplished the full circle of their existence in a few days: the many theories which have been ventured to prove the contrary are so extravagant, that they do not eren deserve notice. They proceed from the vain desire to support a tenacious preconception; they are neither based - upon any allusion of the Biblical text, nor derived from natural laws or phenomena. Conjecture fancy, and anysticism, are the parents of these abortive attempts.
3. In some beds we find traces of ancient forests, and enormous fossil trees, with concentric rings of structure, marking the years of growth; in the same layer there are trees of very different ages: can these results be produced in a few days ? Are wo allowed to suppose such arbitrary confusion and perversion of the ordinary laws by Him who assigned to nature and to all her productions their unchangeable laws?
4. The forms of organic life are, especially in the three principal systems, markedly distinct, both with regard to their structure and to the position in which they are found. So, for instance, are the animals of the chalk-beds perfectly unmixed with those of the overlying Tertiary strata; if the formation of both coincided in time, it would be impossible to conceive this entire separation of these organic creatures. Thus, also, it is unquestionable, that an exceedingly protracted time elapsed between the period of the highest Silurian beds and that of the mountain limestone (which forms the lowest part of the Carboniferous group); for we observe a total change in the inhabitants of the sea at the two respective epochs. It is a truth, which can no longer be disputed, that our planet presents a gradual approach to the present order of things, through many and vastly protracted stages, all of them preparatory to the appearance of man. The same laws and conditions, now apparent and working in nature, havo existed throughout all geological ages, though generally in a more or less modified degree. Thus there was, indeed, at all epochs, a parallel advance in the physical aspect of the globe and its organic forms, ascending, on the whole, from the lowest to the higher structures; but many species, both of the animal and vegetable kingdom, became extinct in the subsequent periods, and a constant substitution took place for those organisms which had become unfit for the altered state of the planet.
But all these changes, however extraordinary and astounding, are only as many manifest proofs of the creating activity of an Omnipotent Power, which, through unnumbered millenniums, after an all-wise though recondite plan, prepares new continents in the hidden depths of the fathomless sea, or in the volcanic abysses of the burning earth; lifting them up from the secret womb by a tremendous, but salutary, revolution, and peopling them with other organic beings-harmonising their structure with the modified condition of the planet.
These facts may suffice to prove the atter impossibility of a creation of even the earth alone in six days. The difficulties are infinitely increased, if we proceed to the contemplation of the whole universe, and examine
III.-THE FORMATION OF THE SOLAR SYSTEM. Tue Biblical text teaches that God created, by His all-powerful command, on the first day the light; and on the fourth, the sun, the moon, and all the licavenly hosts (vers. 3—5, 14—19). Without, in this place, entering into the question, how there could be light before the existence of the sun, we shall succinctly state the theory by which modern astronomy attempts to explain the formation of the solar system, and which, from one of its most characteristic features, is generally called the nebular hypothesis. It was first proposed, although with a certain diffidence, by the great French naturalist, Laplace, but has subsequently been developed and repeated, with greater assurance and clearness, by other eminent astronomers.
Originally, the universe was a chaos, or a confused mixture of matter. It was filled with a vaporous mass of a degree of density so infinitely low, that its existence could scarcely be perceived; from this reason the atoms did not act upon each other, and the chaotic mixture remained in motionless repose. In the course of time some physical cause produced a greater attraction of the masses, and destroyed that inert indifference,