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smote all the firstborn of the Egyptians. In a similar manner, a great number of analogous passages, where the word day occurs, are to be explained. The first creative act of God was the production of matter; a word, a thought sufficed; it was the introductory work of the first day; and the command that light should appear was pronounced in a subsequent part of the same day. As the end of the creation was order, life, and beauty, the production of the chaos did not occupy a day for itself, but formed the starting-point from which the cosmogony at once passed to the origin of universal light. Whatever efforts have been made to prove that the days here represent periods, the advocates of this opinion have not been able to bring forward one single plausible argument; unless it be considered in harmony with the Biblical notions of Divine omnipotence, that God created the light, or the heaven, or the dry land, in a period of 50,000 or 100,000 years; of that Omnipotence which "commands, and it exists." The term "evening and morning" describes indisputably the lapse of one complete day, or of four-and-twenty hours and this cycle of hours elapses, even if there were no sun to mark it. Sun and moon do not make the day; they only govern it. And as there were days and nights before the creation of the sun and the moon, so there will be, at the end of time, light without the luminaries which diffuse it; as is distinctly stated, both in the Old and the New Testament.
3. Hugh Miller once believed that the" six days" were ordinary days of twenty-four hours cach, and that the latest of the geologic ages was separated by a great chaotic gap from our own. But at that time his labours as a practical geologist had been restricted to the palacozoic and Secondary Rocks; later, however, he directed his attention to the more recent formations also, and studied their peculiar organisms; and his unavoidable conclusions were, that "for many ages ere man was ushered into being, not a few of his humble contemporaries of the fields and woods enjoyed life in their present haunts, and that for thousands of years anterior to even their appearance, many of the existing molluscs lived in our seas;" and, consequently, he since then accepted the six days of creation as vastly extended periods, perhaps "millenniums of centuries." We have introduced this opinion as a type of many similar views. It is perfectly unworthy of Biblical science, constantly to modify the interpretation according to the successive and varying results of other sciences, just as if the Biblical text were composed of indefinite and vague hieroglyphics, capable of every possible construction; it is a most objectionable practice to make the Hebrew narrative subservient to all the fluctuating movements of heterogeneous studies, which are based upon premises perfectly different from the Biblical notions, and which, as systematic sciences, neither derive support from them, nor require their authority and sanction. Scientific honesty and manly firmness prescribe a far different conduct, at once more simple and more decided. Let the true and authentic sense of the Biblical narrative be ascertained with all possible assistance of learning and philological knowledge: independently of this, let the other sciences bearing on the subject be zealously studied; and then let the results of both researches be compared, without bias and without anxious timidity. If careful geological studies press upon the mind the conviction, that even the present epoch commenced many ages before the appearance of man on earth; let it be admitted, without unavailing reluctance, that the Mosaic record speaks of a creation in six days, which is irreconcilable with those investigations, since it is philologically impossible to understand the word "day" in this section in any other sense but a period of twentyfour hours. Thus geology preserves its legitimate freedom, and the Bible is liberated from the trammels of an irrational mode of interpretation. That this conflict does not
1 Num. iii. 13, viii. 17. 21 Sam. xv. 35, xxvii. 1; 42; Isa. xiii. 6, 9, etc.
Ps. lxxviii. 3 j. 16.
4 Isa. lx. 19; Revel. xxi. 23.
5 See Testimony of the Rocks, x. xi.
affect the moral and religious teaching of the Scriptures, has already been urged and explained.
4. But the device that the days denote epochs, is not only arbitrary, but ineffective; for the six "epochs” of the Mosaic creation correspond in no manner with the gradual formation of the cosmos. More than one attempt has, however, been made to show this agreement; but they crumble into nothing at the slightest touch. Geologists and astronomers have divided the six days between themselves, and both of them have limited themselves to those three days, which, they thought, alone fell within their province. The same distinguished geologist to whom we have already alluded, found himself called upon only to account for the third, fifth, and sixth day of the creative week. They correspond, in his opinion, with the three great divisions of the geological strata, in such manner that the oldest, or palaeozoic division, is identical with the third day, or the period of plants; the middle, or Secondary series, with the fifth day, or the epoch of the great sea monsters and whale-like reptiles; and the later, or Tertiary fossiliferous beds, with the sixth day, or the age of the beasts of the field and of man.“ This view might, at first glance, appear inviting; it captivates by an apparently remarkable coincidence. But the resemblance is deceptive; it is limited to the mere outlines and general characteristics, and ceases entirely in the more detailed application. The objections which a more careful consideration brings to light are insurmountable. That view is based upon the erroneous assumption, that the "days" of creation are periods of vast duration; it violently dismembers the six days into two unconnected periods; whereas the astronomical and geological days belong inseparably together, since the earth is an integral part of the astral systems; and it confounds the predominant or prominent organic creatures with the origin of the other, though perhaps less numerous, species; for there existed shells, fishes, and reptiles long before the period of the plants which we find compressed in the Carboniferous beds; and yet, according to the Biblical record, the fishes and reptiles were created on the fifth and sixth, the plants on the third, day. This circumstance is fatal to the view in question, which, indeed, stands in a decided conflict with the spirit of our narrative: for the Bible lays the principal stress, not upon "the amazing development of the plants during the protracted cons of the Carboniferous period," but upon the order in which the plants, the fishes, and the other animals were successively produced; the first and smallest "creeping thing that creeps upon the earth" was brought forth later than those huge and enormous trees, whose gigantic structure fills us with astonishment. This is the doctrine of the Bible, which can never be argued away by any geological theory.
5. But, according to that explanation, it remained to account for the astronomical part of the first chapter. In order to effect this, the same scholar has not only revived, but developed with greater copiousness, a conjecture which we had hoped was at last numbered among the errors of the past. It is asserted, that the sun, moon, and stars may have been created long before, though it was not until the fourth period of creation that they became visible from the earth's surface; since the Bible describes, "not what was, but what seemed to be, and what optically appeared." For it is further maintained, that the description of the first chapter is the result of actual optical vision ; that, in the same manner as Moses was shown the pattern of the holy Tabernacle and its vessels," he saw "by vision the pattern of those successive pre-Adamic creatures, animal and vegetable, through which our world was fitted up as a place of human habitation"; it is believed "the drama of creation nas been optically described, because it was in reality visionally revealed"; and that this was done because the com munication of the correct scientific theory of Galileo and Newton would have been
6 See Hugh Miller, Testimony of the Rocks, 135-152, 159-169; see, also McCausland, Sermons in Stones, pp. 92 -200.
Compare Exod. xxiv. 9, 40; xxvi. 30;
disbelieved or rejected, as contradictory to the evidence of the senses.-What a complicated tissue of conjectures and assumptions! It is, indeed, very difficult to conceive by what miracle Moses could have enjoyed that extraordinary privilege which this theory claims for him; it is beyond the capability of man to inquire how Moses could actually, standing on some elevation above our planet, have seen, "in a great airdrawn panorama," the creation of light, of the firmament, of the sun and the stars, of the earth itself, with its successive strata and its numberless tenants; and in what manner he knew how many thousand years each "tableau" comprised: such ideas lie so entirely beyond the intellect and experience of man, and are so utterly destitute of every, the faintest and remotest, Biblical foundation, that we should reproach ourselves with levity if we attempted to enter fully into these subjects. Those who think this remark too decided, may read the pages in which that imaginary vision is described; they will scarcely believe that they are on the sober ground of science; they will think themselves floating in the aerial spheres of fiction: they see themselves at once introduced into an untroden recess of the Midian desert; here they behold Moses; a great and terrible darkness falls upon the prophet; he sees the Divine spirit moving on the waters; he hears the words: "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth"; unreckoned ages pass on; he hears again the creative voice: "Let there be light"; myriads of heavy, sunless days elapse; the dim light sinks beneath the undefined horizon; it again brightens; Moses sees that the lower stratum of the heavens, occupied in the previous vision by seething steam, is clear and transparent, and only in an upper region do the clouds appear. Darkness descends for a third time upon the seer; but again the light rises, and there is no longer an unbroken expanse of sea. "The white surf breaks, at the distant horizon, on an insulated reef, formed, mayhap, by the Silurian or Old Red coral zoophytes ages before, during the bygone yesterday." And in this manner, the author, though with a rare charm of fascinating eloquence, carries out the visions of the six days. Do such soaring flights of fiction demand refutation? They lie beyond the pale both of science and of criticism, in a sphere where reason willingly resigns the sceptre to fancy. And yet it is of this "panorama of creation” that the author contends, with a strange assurance: "I know not a single scientific truth that militates against even the minutest or least prominent of its details": though he admits, in another place, that "the Scriptures have never yet revealed a single scientific truth";2 and describes those who defend the plain, literal, and exclusively correct acceptation of the text, as men who labour to “pledge revelation to an astronomy as false as that of the Buddhist, Hindu, or Old Teuton." The few arguments which are scantily interspersed in these poetical descriptions, vanish before the slightest examination. The Bible contains notions and miracles far more incomprehensible to the human intellect than the systems of Copernicus, Kepler, and Newton, or the discoveries of geologists; and yet it did not hesitate to proclaim them, because it believed them to be true.-A prophetic vision which reveals past events is without example or analogy in the whole range of the Biblical records. Wherever the Scriptures intend to describe visions, they are careful to introduce them in a manner that they are clearly distinguishable as such, and can never be confounded with plain history. The prophecies of Ezekiel offer so numerous instances of such visions, that it suffices simply to refer to that part of the Old Testament. The concession which has been made, that, in the lapse of time, the prophetic framework of the narrative may have been lost or forgotten, shows the extreme weakness of the whole theory. How could the plants of the third "period" have grown and prospered, if the sun obtained his power on the earth in the fourth only? And to what extravagant
Hugh Miller, loc. cit., pp. 135-152,159-169, 187-191.
conclusions will, at last, that objectionable mode
interpretation lead? The Biblical records are written in the ordinary style of human composition, for they were intended for the perusal and study of man. This ancient and orthodox principle must remain our supreme rule and guide. Wherever we swerve from it we are hopelessly tossed on the endless waves of unprofitable and often dangerous speculation; we sow the seeds of interminable dissensions; and we contribute to make that book, which was designed to unite mankind, the badge of separation and animosity. By a simple and judicious system of interpretation, in which calm common sense presides, we might hope to see the infinite variety of sects diminished, and to promote the reign of love and concord.
The first chapter of Genesis is, therefore, not a "creative picture," but a creative history; it presents not a series of" prophetic visions or tableaux," but of acts and events; it is neither "mythic poetry," nor "a hieroglyph," nor an "apologue"; but, what it has always struck every plain and unprejudiced reader to be, a simple prose narrative, though sometimes rising to the boundaries of the majestic and the sublime.
6. From very early times, it has been justly supposed, that the first verse of our Book describes the creation of matter, or of the universe in general; whilst the following part of the chapter treats of the arrangement and distribution of matter, of the formation of the earth, and of the beings which people it. This opinion was entertained by many of the early fathers of the church; and has been adopted by many later theologians and critics. Now, most of the modern followers of this opinion, believe that an infinite interval of time elapsed between the creation of matter recorded in the first verse, and the formation of the universe in its present admirable order, a period sufficiently extensive to account for the various and repeated changes, both in the condition of the earth, and the sidereal systems; so that, in fact, the first chapter of Genesis does not fix the antiquity of the globe at all. But this supposition is absolutely untenable, from the following reasons:-1. The second verse, beginning with and or but the earth, stands evidently in a very close connection with the preceding verse the contents of which it qualifies and defines, describing the state of the earth in its chaotic confusion, and leaving the "heaven" (that is, all the stellar hosts) to a later consideration. The connecting particle and expresses here, necessarily, immediate sequence; it is inadmissible to translate: "But afterwards the earth became waste and desolate"; it is, in a word, utterly impossible to separate the two first verses, and to suppose between them an immense interval of time; this acceptation would not only mock all sound principles of interpretation; but it would, 2ndly, be in direct opposition with Exodus xx. 11: "For in six days the Lord made the heaven and the earth, the sea and all that is in them." 3. In the New Testament (Matth. xix. 4), man is said to have been created "in the beginning"; the work of the sixth day was, therefore, believed to be coeval with the time specified in the first verse. 4. This theory is of no avail unless it prove the possibility of the vegetable life found within the earth in a fossil state. But the light was only produced in the first, and the sun on the fourth day of the creative week,-and not within that indefinite space which preceded the latest creation;-how can we, therefore, account for the organic remains existing in almost all the secondary and tertiary strata of the earth? The earth could not have been called "dreary and empty" if it teemed with life and vegetation long before its present state, and was, then also, though in an inferior degree, full of harmony, order, and beauty. Immediately before the appearance of man, there was not even one of those transitory chaotic periods which generally accompany the geological revolutions; for many mammiferous animals, as the badger, the goat, and the wild cat, which were the contemporaries of the extinct mammoth, the bulky northern hippopotamus and rhinoceros, or the massive northern elephant and tiger, still live in our forests; and by far the greatest part of the shells of that period still people our waters.
7. Another expedient, equally inefficient, has been attempted, by the assertion, that the Bible never endeavours to teach that which the human mind is by itself able to discover; that it, therefore, in no way intended to give information on the origin of the world, since the natural sciences could, by due exertion, without extraneous aid, furnish the necessary knowledge. But to what consequences does this principle lead? Many parts-nay, by far the greatest portion—of the moral precepts of the Bible have been independently discovered and enforced by the heathen sages also. Even the Decalogue contains, in its second part at least, commandments which are inherent in the nature of man, and which have been acknowledged as the standard of virtue even by savage tribes. It is not difficult to adduce from the literature of the Greeks and Romans, or the Hindoos and Persians, many, often literal, analogies with very important ethical injunctions. And yet the moral doctrines avowedly constitute the characteristic portion of the Scriptures. Why were they, then, embodied in the Bible, since they have been found in another way also? Or are they to be regarded as accessory and unessential, because they have thus been discovered? This nobody has had the courage to assert. But the Bible is not silent on the Creation; it attempts, indeed, to furnish its history; but in this account it expresses facts which the researches of science cannot sanction, and which were the common errors of the ancient world. The Bible intended to give a complete system of morality; and, therefore, inserted even those truths which were not new, but were extensively acknowledged by other nations. In the same manner it furnishes a history of creation, such as it was able to give, without regard to the possible future discoveries of the physical sciences.
s. It is maintained, that the lower strata of the earth were formed in the time from the beginning to the deluge, whilst the higher beds of the Tertiary system are the result of the post-diluvian ages. But a host facts rises to overthrow this opinion. The period from the creation to the deluge comprised, according to Biblical Chronology, not more than 1656 years. This space of time is utterly insufficient to explain the formation of the different lower strata, one or two of which alone required a period incomparably more extended. Since the deluge more than four thousand years have elapsed, and yet within this epoch scarcely more than the alluvial drifts have been formed. The lower strata contain no traces of human bones or human works; the earth was then, indeed, unfit for human habitation; it could not possibly contain a Paradise such as the Scriptures describe, with its luxuriant vegetation and its perfect animal creation. The various beds are the result of violent revolutions of the earth's surface, and yet the Bible makes no mention of them; since even the Noachian deluge caused no material change of our planet; the waters, which covered for a short time its surface, subsided and retired, after which the earth assumed its former state and aspect. We consider it unnecessary here to multiply the reasons against that supposition, as they are partly apparent from our preceding observations, and will partly be supplied in the remarks on the Deluge.
Some other modes of conciliation, not more successful than those here reviewed, have been noticed in the larger edition of this work.
We believe we have indisputably demonstrated, both by positive and negative proofs, that, with regard to astronomy and geology, the Biblical records are, in many essential points, utterly and irreconcilably at variance with the established results of modern researches. We must acquiesce in the conviction, that, at the time of the composition of the Pentateuch, the natural sciences were still in their infancy, and that the Hebrews were in those branches not materially in advance of the other ancient nations. But, on the other hand, they succeeded completely in removing, even from their physical