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THE DELU GE.
THE GENERAL DESIGN OF THE WORK, AND A JUSTIFICATION
OF CALLING IN THE AID OF ETYMOLOGY.
The most recent speculations of geology have tended to discredit the facts of the Mosaic deluge; and the manner in which the subject has been treated by two of the most eminent geologists of the present day, has contributed much to produce the same effect. Their respect for revealed religion has prevented them from arraying themselves openly against the scriptural account of it — much less do they deny its truth — but they are in a great hurry to escape from the consideration of it, and evidently concur in the opinion of Linnæus, that no proofs whatever of that deluge are to be discerned in the structure of the earth. Dr. Buckland throws it aside as a feeble agent, and can find no phænomena worth recording produced by “the comparatively tranquil inundation described in the
inspired narrative; » and he adds : -" It has been justly argued, that as the rise and fall of the waters of the Mosaic deluge are described to have been gradual, and of short duration, they would have produced comparatively little change on the surface of the couutry they overflowed.” That, however, was not always his opinion: for Mr. Lyell accuses him of representing it as “a violent and transient rush of waters, which tore up the soil to a great depth, excavated valleys, gave rise to immense beds of shingle, carried fragments of rocks and gravel from one point to another, and during its advance and retreat strewed the valleys, and even the tops of many hills, with alluvium.” ? Mr. Lyell should have said diluvium ; for that is the term which the professor himself selected to express the deposits of the Mosaic deluge. But since he has seen reason to alter his opinion, he has sealed his recantation by appropriating that term to a different purpose: he now refers it to some previous violent irruption of water, the last of the great physical events that have affected the surface of our globe; and there is no longer a term in geology which can suggest an idea of the Mosaic deluge to the mind of the geologist. Dr. Fleming and Mr. Lyell were the first who led the way to the adoption of the tranquil theory, by
1 Buckland's Bridgewater Treatise, note at p. 95. 2 Lyell's Principles of Geology, 3d edit. iv. 147.
3 Buckland's Reliquiæ Diluvianæ, p. 187. compared with p. 223. and 228.
Bridgewater Treatise, p. 94.
insisting that in the narrative of Moses “there are no terms employed that indicate the impetuous rushing of the waters, either as they rose, or when they retired, upon the restraining of the rain and the passing of the wind over the earth.” It seems not to have been sufficiently considered, that a wind passing over the retreating waters does not present an image of great tranquillity. He who has ever seen upon the sea-shore the effects of a single tide agitated by wind, in accumulating masses of sand and gravel which alter the whole aspect of the beach, will not readily accede to the opinion that “ the surface of the earth would not undergo any great modification at the era of the Mosaic deluge. And wherever a section of those accumulations happens to be displayed, evidence is afforded of the rapidity with which strata of different materials may be successively deposited, either from some difference in the strength of the wave, or from the manner in which those materials are arranged in the bed of the sea. I do not mean to dispute the conclusiveness of the evidence, which shews, that the greater part of our fossils belonged to a preexistent condition of the earth, before it was remodelled in the hands of its Creator, and received its present form ; neither do I enter into the question, whether the Pliocene period has of necessity a greater antiquity than the deluge; nor
| Edin. Phil. Journal. xiv. 205. Lyell's Prin. of Geol. iv. 148. 2 Lyell, iv. 151.