« 上一頁繼續 »
must be employed intelligible to an unscientific people, which shall be sufficiently clear as a guide to the great doctrine of the Bible, by which it has been distinguished in all ages from the doctrines of heathen philosophy and mythology-"God made the world and all things that are therein." And whilst this doctrine must be palpable to the most unlettered, there must yet be such a substratum of scientific detail unnecessary to this special end, as will impress the minds of the men on whom the ends of the world should come, that the God of the Bible knew, and has therein inscribed, such manifestations of His knowledge of the latest discoveries of science, that they shall be constrained to acknowledge that the God of nature is the God of the Bible. But you may, perhaps, have the best idea of the value of this objection regarding details, when you consider that there is more matter in the table of contents of Dr. Smith's work than in this entire chapter; that in his index there are, at least, six and a half times as much matter; and that Professor Hitchcock requires more words to explain a small geological chart than Moses for the entire creation. Dr. Smith gives, in an appended note, from page 381 to 385 inclusive, a table of formations and fossil remains, on which, to put a poetic patch, would certainly spoil its very technical face; and even this contains nearly three times the amount of matter of the first chapter of Genesis. Such is the value of the objection to details.
It will now be proper, since we have had both a general statement of the view of the chapter under consideration, which we adopt,-and also the objections to that view advanced by its most distinguished opponents, to indicate the course of argument we mean to pursue to confirm it, and to set aside the advanced objections.
We purpose, then, first, to analyse the succinct declarations of Scripture on other subjects, and to show that words which describe genera as well as species, may, in such narratives, be fairly expounded generically; specific
circumstances determining the species which shall disappear and those which shall arise; every succeeding day adding an additional element to the mechanical conditions previously constituted, and rendering the former species incapable of existence, while the utilising influences of Jehovah's goodness and benevolence is seen to adapt the species to the general condition it is placed in, and the animals by which it is surrounded. We shall see, also, a distinct new species referred to in this book of Genesis, confirming our general conclusions on this subject. In the second place, we shall enter at some length into the features of the mechanical succession detailed in the chapter.
In some prophetic declarations we shall find remarkable confirmations of the principle, that words which describe genera as well as species may be understood generically. In such cases as the present, I believe the Spirit of God has adopted a law of description of this kind, and by selecting a clear and easily resolvable specimen, we may find a key not merely for prophecy,' which is professedly enigmatical, but suited to the explanation of the condensed narratives of the other Scriptures. We select the following: Rev. xi., 1, 2, 3"And there was given me a reed like unto a rod, and the angel stood, saying,-Rise and measure the temple of God and the altar, and them that worship therein. But the court which is without the temple leave out and measure it not, for it is given to the Gentiles, and the holy city shall they tread under foot forty and two months. And I will give power unto my two witnesses, and they shall prophesy a thousand two hundred and three score days, clothed in sackcloth."
Now, forty-two months of thirty days each equal 1,260 days, so that the treading under foot of the holy city, and the prophesying of the witnesses in sackcloth, are equal terms of duration. If, now, the statement of Professor Hitchcock about the successive creations in Genesis, that they can only include accurately one species, be applied to these 1,260 days, and to a single
pair of witnesses, it would follow that the application of this period of time, and these two witnesses, could only be found once in history. Now, what is the fact? What use has been made of these two prophetic enigmas, and what result has been obtained? In a little work which Mr. Fleming published on Jan. 1, 1701, and addressed to his congregation in London, on Rome Papal, and kindred topics, having been drawn to speak of the then difficulties and trials of the church, and the prospect of deliverance from them, that he might not give occasion to groundless fears or delusive hopes, made his appeal to the Scripture testimony regarding the then present and then future history of the church. Having entered into some observations regarding the meaning of the woes, trumpets, and vials, and the times of their commencement and conclusion, he states that at the opening of the 18th century they were in the outpouring of the fourth vial, and then proceeds to the contemplation of the prospects of the church immediate and remote, and to apply the 1,260 days as a measure of successive occurrences.-Pages 74, 81, and 83. This measure he applies first to the year 552, the first step in Papal advancement, and he obtains 1812; but these 1,260 years are only of 360 days, and when they are corrected to the length of our years, they are 18 years shorter, so that if we take 18 years from 1812, we get the era of the French Revolution, the year 1794. He applies it again to the year 606, and obtains 1866, which, lessened by 18 years, gives the year 1848; and then to the year 758, and obtains 2018, from which he deducts 18 as before, and obtains the year 2000 as the year of the final overthrow of Antichrist. Here, affording the frequent historic application of one Scriptural number, in two instances at least, with most truthful accuracy. Under each of these different stages, or ages, the witnesses differed in characteristics according to the manifestations of Papal dominancy or worldly opposition to the truth. What I wish especially to notice here is the generic
character of the 1,260 days. No anticipations of future occurrences have fallen out so accurately as these conjectures of Mr. Fleming. The overthrow of
the French monarchy, and the degradation of Rome in the close of the last century, and the revolutions of the year 1848 of this one, being both most remarkable occurrences; and both eras being anticipated by the application, not of distinct prophecies regarding each, but by the application of the period of testimony to the periods of the rise of the power, the destruction of which was so remarkably and clearly foretold. Notice another circumstance regarding this anticipation at every successive period the witness-bearing assumes a phase suited to the times. It does not possess a single or solitary characteristic, but is adapted to the prevalent defections of the age in which such testimony was borne. These modes of bringing out and applying the enigmas of Revelation, and which have been so remarkably successful, encourage us to believe that, apart from all other considerations directly affecting the question, the animals mentioned as dominant on any creation-day need not be esteemed the only animals of the kind or genus created. We may believe that in God's mode of statement and illustration, and in his creation and miracles, there reigns a law not less uniform and beautifully harmonious than in his common providential procedure.
By these considerations, then, we assure ourselves of the breadth of meaning embraced in the short and succinct narratives of the other Scriptures, and become armed for the contemplation of the suggestive words employed to describe the creation and arrangement of the world in the chapters under our consideration.
The generic character of the witnesses, and the period of their witness-bearing, are not less unlikely than the generic character of the animals and plants of the first chapter of Genesis. And when we find a clear instance of specific change of animal in the third chapter of Genesis, we feel more warranted in coming
to this conclusion.
Nor is it too much to hang such a conclusion on one specimen. If you send a tooth or a bone to a professor of comparative anatomy, he will furnish you with the habits, general appearance, genus, and specific character of the animal. Sir Isaac Newton, perceiving an apple fall from a tree in a garden, constructed a theory according to the laws of which he described the relations and revolutions of our planetary system. And God, in selecting as the physical symbol of spiritual degeneracy the serpent, more subtle than the beasts of the field, and crawling on his belly, makes appeal not merely to the universal disgust in which the reptile is held by savage and sage alike, but likewise to the scientific skill of our own era, whose anatomical researches have determined that the serpent has lost the dignity and position its congeners once occupied in the scale of animals, and shows us most clearly that he who directed the pen and dictated the words of Moses, knew the specific qualities of the animals of different ages- the mentioning of genus only in the first chapter of Genesis notwithstanding. And, as we shall see in our review of the fifth day's work, this specimen warrants in concluding that the day to which the different animals are referred is not necessarily the period of their first appearance in any form, but the period of their generic ascendancy.
We come now to consider what we conceive to be the distinctive feature of the first chapter of Genesis, viz., the mechanical succession displayed in it indicative of the condition of the earth and heavens, produced by certain mechanically indicated fiats of the Almighty, and which indications are still capable of observation by us in the present constitution of the world.
The chapter opens with the simple, but sublime declaration," In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth." I do not conceive that this is the mere creation of matter, but the mechanical arrangement also of the worlds to each other. It embraces the effects ofthe law of gravitation,-the separation of the various