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for ever." Measured by the inconceivable eternity of God, or by the endlessness of His love, or the immutability of His Word, the stars of heaven will wither like the dry leaves of the vine or the fig;a the firmament will vanish like smoke, and the earth will decay like a garment. God, who has created the world, is its Lord; He allows it to exist only so long as His profound designs demand it; the Mind rules the matter, He does not tremble that the heavens will once be destroyed by the flames, as the heathen gods, who stand under the rule of fate, constantly feared. He will, in due season, Himself effect that awful consummation for the punishment of the impious, but only to create a new heaven and a new earth;6 and a time will be, when the light of the moon will be like that of the sun, and the light of the sun seven times greater, or like the light of seven days; and the new Jerusalem will have no need of the sun or of the moon, for the glory of God will illumine it.
We now entreat the reader to compare all these Biblical views with the lessons of astronomy. A very moderate degree of attention will show that both systems are organically and radically different; that their whole character is almost opposite. It is not sufficient to say that both have different ends, and move in different spheres; that the one has an exclusively religious tendency, and aims only at the majesty and glory of God; whilst the other has a purely scientific character, is unconcerned about the First Cause, and explores only the secondary causes: or that the chief end of the former is man and his moral excellence, whilst the tendency of the latter is to demonstrate the undeviating necessity of the physical laws. This, we repeat, is not sufficient. These might be differences of treatment rather than of conception. But there are other more decided distinctions. The Bible contemplates the objects of nature as they optically appear to the unscientific eye, and as they have been observed by almost all unlearned ancient nations; whilst astronomy enters into their real character, often against the obvious evidence of the senses, and strives to discover their hidden properties and their marvellous motions: the one is satisfied with phenomena as they exist and are, whilst the other penetrates into the mysteries of their origin and progress, and has even the courage to anticipate their future changes and their ultimate unavoidable revolutions: the former considers the earth as the principal object of the universe, to which the sun and the stars, which are fixed in the solid expanse of heaven, are subordinate; whilst the latter teaches that the earth is but a most inconsiderable part of the sidereal systems—a part so small that “no arithmetician can assign a fraction low enough to express its proportion to the whole universe"; that it is a subservient link in our solar system; that it is a celestial body every way analogous to many
the stars which crowd the heavens; and that, so far from being motionless, it revolves round the sun, its centre, with extraordinary velocity: the one represents the moon as the second great luminous body of the world, to which the stars are scarcely more than mere appendages; whilst the other shows that the moon slines only by borrowed light, and that the stars are objects of infinitely greater importance in the universe than the moon: in the former all plants and animals are created at the same epoch, whilst geology teaches, that the different species belong to periods vastly remote from each other. Every one may pursue these comparisons in further detail, and he will at every step be arrested by the striking contrasts which exist between the Biblical and the astronomical teaching. But let it not be said, that the Bible intentionally described the actual objects in so simple and unscientific a manner, in order to adapt itself to the uncultivated understanding of the contemporaries. We shall not urge that the Bible
! Eccl. i. 4.
3 Isa. li. 6; Ps. cii. 27, 28; comp. Lu. xxi, 33; 2 Pet. iij. 7.
4 Ovid, Met. i. 253—257.
2 Pet, iii, 7. 6 Isa. Ixv. 17; 2 Pet. ii. 13; Rev. xxi.l. 7 Isa. xxx. 26. 8 Rev,xxi. 23.
repeatedly insists, that it was not written for one age and one people, but for all times and all nations; that it must, under that supposition, have assumed that in no future period any nation would advance to more profound researches and more refined culture. But every one secs at once the very dangerous character of that principle. If the Scriptures are not bonâ fide truth, but in many important points a convenient accommodation to prevailing absurdities and childish ignorance: where can we with confidence say that they are in earnest, and that their doctrines claim the authority of absolute truth? This would throw open the Bible to uncertainty and doubt in so unparalleled a degree, that it would practically cease to have any definite meaning. And if the sublime acts of creation, as described in the first chapter, are not serious truths, of what other parts can we expect it? If a book, which is intended as a guide and a preceptor, withholds, on many momentous questions, designedly its better knowledge and conviction, it has necessarily forfeited, in a great measure, that esteem and confidence which alone secure its authority. It is, therefore, the first principle of interpretation to suppose, that the Bible expressed in every respect and on all subjects what it considered to be the truth.
It may, however, be alleged, that the Mosaic legislation, in several instances, evi. dently accommodated itself to ancient usages. It is true, the law-giver often adapted his precepts to existing customs; that is, he converted falschood into fruth; he did not simply adopt the pagan views, but he purified and ennobled them; he retained the form, which is immaterial, and infused into it a new spirit, which alone is essential. The laws on circumcision, the phylacteries, or the sacrifices, are based upon similar rites prevalent among other eastern nations; but they contain nothing which recalls their heathen origin; they are the total reform of customs which it was either impossible or unadvisable to eradicate. Nothing of this nature was done with regard to the physical conceptions. They were, indeed, purified from all superstitious alloy, but their fundamental errors were not corrected: they are more noble, but not more true or exact, than the cosmical systems of other primitive nations.
In order to prove these assertions still more decidedly, we now insert a brief outline of the astronomical results on the nature and economy of the Universe. We are induced to do this by the additional consideration, that it becomes a Biblical commentary on the Creation, to show the majestic grandeur of the Creator by the marvellous character of His works.
Overwhelming as our solar system is in its vast dimensions, it is a mere point compared with the endless number of fixed stars which fill the infinitude of space. It may astonish us that our sun has a diameter of 192,492 geographical miles; that he is 1,410,000 times greater than the earth; and that his volume amounts to 4,078 millions of cubic miles; that Neptune moves round the sun at a distance of more than 700 millions of geographical miles, and requires 217 years to complete one revolution; and that there are probably other planets beyond Neptune, the remotest of which might be 13,000 millions of geographical miles distant from the sun, and would require 15,000 years to complete its orbit. We may well admiringly ponder over the facts, that there are comets which visit the horizon of our heaven once every 1,500 to 8,000 years, that of 1780 every 75,838 years, and that of 1844 every 100,000 years; that others, describing a parabolic line in their course, will most probably never reappear; that the radius of the head of the comet of 1843 was, on the 28th of March, 47,000 miles, the breadth of its tail 33 millions of miles, and the length 150 millions of miles; and that 60 to 700 comets have already been seen, whilst their probable number has been estimated at one million, or, as Kepler observes, “ like fishes in the ocean." But who can suppress a religious awe, if he considers, that the whole
system of our sun, with all its planets, satellites, and comets, moves again, as an inexpressibly small fraction of universal space, round another point (towards the constellation of Hercules), in the same manner as Jupiter and his moons revolve round our sun; so that if the universe has no common central sun, it moves at least round one common centre of gravity, and that there exists no resting or fixed point in the realms of space, but that the whole moves uninterruptedly like“ an eternal worldclock”; that the fixed stars form independent systems, some of which resemble our solar system, others, at present about 6000 in number, consist of two, three, or four sidereal bodies of various colours, revolving, at a very small distance from each other, round a common centre of gravity, and often requiring many hundreds, and even thousands, of years to complete their revolution; no doubt accompanied by planets with extremely complicated orbits, and with white, blue, red, and green days: that most probably many luminous bodies, as, for instance, Sirius and Spica, move round large dark masses, which form their centre of gravity; that, according to a very moderate calculation of Sir William Herschel, the milky way alone contains eighteen millions of stars, and the whole heavens 273 millions, of which about 8,000 are visible to the unaided eye, and of which Bessel has calculated the positions of 75,000, and Argeland that of 22,000 more; that the Pleiades contain forty-four visible stars in less than three degrees; that not only our planets, and even our sun, but probably the comets and the numberless satellites of the other suns, are the theatres of organic life; that our sun belongs, with regard to the intensity of light, to the weaker fixed stars, for the power of the light of Sirius is, for instance, sixty-three times greater, although its brightness appears to be about 200,000 millions of times less intense than that of the sun; that, by means of the telescope, systems of stars are discovered at a distance of 100,000 billions of miles, and that their light required many thousand years to reach our earth, although it travels nearly 42,000 geographical miles in a second; that, for instance, the star Vega of the Lyre is 41,600 times more distant than the planet Uranus, although this latter is nineteen times more distant from the sun than the earth, namely, 396 millions of geographical miles; which stupendous, inconceivable space may be brought nearer to our comprehension, if we suppose the distance of the earth from the sun to be one foot; then Uranus would be nineteen feet from the sun, and the star Vega thirty-four and a half geographical miles; that one double-star (61 Cygni) is 18,240 times more distant from the sun than Neptune, and 550,900 times more than the earth, that is, more than eleven billions of geographical miles; that the light of certain nebulæ which are nearly twelve millions of miles distant from our system, employs rather more than a million of years in reaching us, and that, as Sir William Herschel explicitly remarks,“ the rays of light of the remotest nebulæ must have been almost two millions of years on their way, and, consequently, so many years ago this object must already have had an existence in the sidereal heavens, in order to send out those rays by which we now perceive it;" the undulations of light proceeding from an unresolvable nebula have been called the oldest witnesses of the existence of matter; they lead back “over a myriad of millenniums” into the depths of primeval time; and many heavenly objects have long vanished before they reach us, whilst others have assumed a different character. More than twenty new stars have been observed appearing and disappearing; for instance, in the year 1572 the star of Tycho Brahé was seen in the constellation of Cassiopeia; it surpassed Sirius, Jupiter, and Venus in brilliancy; it was distinguished even at day-time, and remained at night visible even through clouds of considerable density; but it vanished in March, 1574, without trace, after having shone for seventeen months; its light was, in succession, resplendently white, yellow, red, and whitish pale. Similar phenomena occurred in 1600 with a star in the constellation of Cygnus, and in 1604 with one at the foot of Ophiuchus; both of them were brighter than stars of the first magnitude: the former remained during twenty-one years in the firmament. Kepler and Tycho, anticipating the theory of Laplace, declared these new stars to be the result of recent agglomeration of the cosmic nebulæ, which fill the space of heaven. A new star of the sixth magnitude was discovered so late as the 28th of March, 1848, by Hind; in 1850 it appeared only as a star of the eleventh magnitude, and approached its disappearance. In the year 1845, the comet of Bila divided itself before our eyes into two comets of similar shape, both consisting of nucleus and tail, but of unequal dimensions; so that it might be asked, if similar processes are not of possible daily occurrence. “Does the number of stars," asks Arago, “sensibly increase from year to year, either because new stars are in the course of forming, or because the light of the most remote has not had time to arrive at the earth since the beginning of creation?” But without dilating upon the periodic stars," that is, those the brilliancy of which varies periodically, even the brightness of the stars is not constant: the light is diminishing in some; it has been entirely extinguished in others; and is continually increasing in others.
The nebulous matter above alluded to is spread through the whole immensity of space in very different degrees of density and luminosity, as nebulæ incapable of being further resolved into stars, planetary nebulæ, or nebulous stars; and in very different shapes, partly globular, partly annular and spiral; and these nebular stars especially tend to convince us that “ stars are incessantly forming"; that we are present at the slow progressive birth of new "suns.” One of them (which was observed on the 6th of January, 1785), if its centre coincided with that of the sun, would encompass with its atmosphere the orbit of Uranus, and extend eight times beyond! Sir William and Sir John Herschel furnished two lists of not less than 3,538 nebulæ, and 338 clusters of stars. They form a huge zone which, it is believed, engirds, as the greatest circle, the whole heaven, and cuts, perhaps, the stars of the milky way almosi perpendicularly. Between 10,000 and 20,000 stars appear frequently compressed within a nebula, the diameter of which is not more than six to eight minutes. By far the greater number of nebulwe are crowded together in the northern hemisphere, where they irregularly spread through many constellations; whilst, in the southern heavens, they are both less frequent and more uniforınly distributed: the region of the south-pole itself is poor in stars; and no pole-star is there visible to the naked eye. But many of those nebulæ are still shapeless masses of matter of the vastest dimensions, not yet formed into bodies or stars; they extend frequently over several degrees. According to the observations of the Earl of Rosse, one of these cosmic nebulæ, occupying only eight degrees, must have the enormous diameter of 200 millions geographical miles! The planetary nebulæ in the Great Bcar are probably diffused through a sphere the diameter of which is seven times greater than the orbit which Neptune circumscribes, and which is 747 millions of geographical miles. And if we, in conclusion, remind our readers of that most extraordinary of all nebulæ, in the Orion, which has since the last two centuries engaged the attention of almost all astronomers, with a light apparently changing from blazing flames to complete blackness; and of those dark clouds in the southern hemisphere of the heaven, called Magellanic clouds, which filled Sir John Herschel with speechless astonishment, which he considered as an irregular aggregate of stars and round clusters of nubeculæ, varying in dimensions and density, and of vast tracts of “star-dust"; and which, on account of the extraordinary variety of elements of which they consist, was called "an epitome of the whole starred heaven" — if we combine these and the preceding facts, we might well, in adoration of the Creator, exclaim, with humble reverence: “ The heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament tells the work of His hands.”!
! Ps. xix. 2; comp. viii. 2; Job xxxvi. 26: xxxviii. 4, 5.
“ These are Thy glorious works, Parent of good -
We are now sufficiently advanced in our proofs and arguments, to be enabled to draw the practical conclusions: but one essential point in connection with the history of creation remains to be discussed; namely, the origin and nature of man, the crowning work of the six days. Hoping, therefore, that the reader will not lose the thread of this inquiry, we shall here introduce a few remarks, comparing the Scriptural notices on the origin of man with the evidence of the various sciences connected with that subject.
VI. - THE CREATION OF MAN. IF, in the words of a modern poct, “the proper study of mankind is man,” it is a satisfactory circumstance, that, with regard to the origin and diffusion of the human race, Scripture and science are less at variance. The statements of the former have, on the whole, been confirmed by the latter in a surprising degree; and we may expect similar results from the future investigations of the ethnographic sciences.
1. The Mosaic narrative teaches that man was the latest act of God's creating energy. The researches of geology have led to the same result. Remains of human forms or works are found in no formation that can be called stratified, not even in the newest Tertiary beds, except those nearest to our present surface; man did not exist before the present condition of the earth. The history of our planet's crust reveals a progressive continuity of creations, the highest of which is man; he is the most perfect of all organic beings; he was framed to strive after virtue and to enjoy happiness; therefore he was not created before the earth offered him a fit abode; not before the plains and valleys were adorned with the charms of a rich vegetation, nor before the air, the waters, and the forests were peopled with animals destined to serve his use or to bear his yoke.
2. The cradle of the human race is in the central region of Western Asia. This Biblical statement is more and more ratified by every progress of ethnographical science. The most perfect and most beautiful type of the human species is found in that centre of the temperate zone, in Iran, Armenia, and the Caucasus; whilst some Daturalists have awarded the palm of superiority to the Arabs on the east side of the Red Sea. Man is here, both physically and intellectually, in the highest perfection of his nature. The Caucasian race includes the Greeks and the Hebrews; the nation of beauty and the nation of truth, of art and of religion; it has thus become the delight and the guide of the human families; it has ennobled and elevated mankind. Now it is a very important and remarkable fact, that the further we depart from that centre, the type of man loses both in physical and internal perfection; and it loses in proportion to the distance. The further we proceed—either to the south, to Africa; or eastward, to Australia; to the west, to America; or, northward, to the poles—we find a gradual degeneracy of the human form and the human mind; till the Hottentots and the Bushmen, the South Australians and the natives of Van Diemen's Land, the South American Indians and the Pesherais, the Laplanders and the Esquimaux, either cause disgust by their deformity, or pity by their wretchedness, or aversion by their sensual and brutish propensities. This remarkable law assists us, not only to discover the original seat of mankind, but it is another very weighty proof of the unity of all