ePub 版

masses of matter into those distinctive bodies and sys tems of bodies which constitute the objects of astronomical investigation. But this determines only their weight, velocity of motion, and distances from each other, and is quite distinct from the ordering of their respective constitutions, and the symmetry of their present arrangements. All the past efforts of speculatists have failed to devise a scheme whereby we might conceive worlds to grow rather than to be created. And it seems a needless waste of miraculous power, first to create inert matter, and then to burst it asunder into globes and shells and systems. I incline to the simple statement as at once rational and Godlike:-"In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.' But this mechanical creation, instantaneous and complete in itself, does not seem to be suitable as a means of preparing a residence for creatures having a mental constitution susceptible of constant progression and succession of ideas. And hence steps are taken by which the impress, not of a created world, but of an organised or systematised world may be left upon the race for whose habitation it was designed. And the first step in this direction is the Almighty fiat, "Let there be light." These questions here arise, What was this light? In what was it centred? And what was the effect produced by it?

Complaint has been made that no mention is here made of heat. Dr. Smith is particular in noticing this circumstance as characteristic of the Bible language generally.-Page 512. Now this objection, whatever weight it may have had in Dr. Smith's day, has certainly lost its weight in ours. For it is capable of demonstration by experiment, that the light and heat are both results of the same cause; in fact, they are both modifications of the same result. Light requiring a greater, and heat a lesser number of the vibrations by which both are produced. The philosophical accuracy of the Bible, then, can be maintained, although no mention be made of heat as a beneficial result of the sun's influence.

But how painful is this quibbling. Although we had not attained to the identity of origin and essence of light and heat, is it so hard a thing for a man who has seen the light of the sun to conceive of his warmth also? Surely this complaint of want of scientific accuracy is a very unwarrantable objection in such a case as this. But we know that God could not say, "Let there be light," without at the same time saying by scientific implication, Let there be heat. Where, then, was this light to be visible,-this heat to be felt? The 2nd verse, unlike the first, confines our attention specially to the earth, and the 3rd verse does not introduce a diversion. We therefore conclude that this light was produced on the earth, and that this was its centre of radiation. The result, then, is, that the earth was by this fiat endowed with luminous properties. That in itself it possessed the light and heat it now derives from a heavenly source. But this light seems to have been intense. This we have already noticed in commenting on the declaration of Paul, “God who commanded the light to shine out of darkness."

I may recall your attention again to this passage on which we have already had occasion to advert. The passage reads thus: "For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us."

The simple meaning of which passage is as follows: God made the dark earth shine with the glory of the sun, and has made the dark hearts of apostles display the glories of the character of the Son of Righteousness. The first light shed by a dark world showed forth the physical power and glory of the omnipotent Jehovah, and the graces by which apostles are distinguished are so brilliant and lovely, that they display the gracious character of the God of love. The earth and the earthen vessel are certainly correlates.

Now, applying the scientific corrollary that this intense light was also accompanied with intense heat-that the mass which shed the light glowed as a furnace, and we are introduced to a feature in the ordering of the earth of the most intense importance. Have we any experimental evidence that this condition of the earth has ever existed? Do the rocks testify that they have been sources of light? No fact seems more clearly indicated than this, and still the testimony is unequivocal that the remains of this state of incandescence are to be found in the recesses of the globe. But a disagreement, to some extent, subsists upon this subject,- Mr. Darwin, and others, reckoning that the crust of the earth is not more than 20 miles in thickness; while Mr. Hopkins, on the basis of a mathematical analysis, affirms it to be not less than 800 to 1,000 miles. This discrepancy is not easy to reconcile. Both classes of philosophers agree that the entire nucleus of the earth is a molten mass, but Hopkins reckons that it only approaches to within 20 miles of the surface in isolated localities. This, however, does not satisfy the conditions required by the increase of temperature felt in descending mines-an increase over the entire globe, which more warrants Mr. Darwin's conclusions than those of Mr Hopkins. But I suspect that the conditions mentioned in the first chapter of Genesis are sufficient to perfect reconciliation. If we suppose that the earth was created a solid heterogeneous mass-that it was covered partially with water-that, on the Almighty's fiat going forth, "Let there be light," an immediate thermal action took place, the result of which was a glowing, shining mass of matter, and that this thermal power gradually penetrated towards the interior without entirely involving it, and that a portion still remains untouched,-there seems here a ground of reconciliation more complete than can be obtained from any other theory. But be this as it may, this much is certain,-all testimony concurs that the earth was once a bright shining globe. There is

another matter which I cannot forbear mentioning as bearing on, and in favour of the mechanics of the Bible, and that is, that the rocks which give the above-noted evidence of their former incandescence, are of different and commingled ingredients. If the theory of primitive gaseous condition were tenable, such a circumstance, I humbly conceive, would be impossible. For gases, in condensing, must rank according to their density, and gases of the same density would also remain at the same radial distance from the centre of

the mass. Now nothing can be farther from the state of the rocks than such a supposition. But if we sup pose, as the Bible states, that mechanical creation first took place that this was consistent with the admixing or mingling together of different elements; if we further suppose, as the Bible also further states, that the effect of the fiat by which heat was produced was light-which, as Paul explains, shone out of darknessthis also must have operated on the surface, and, penetrated from without inwards, meeting at every progressive stage in its inward progress new heterogeneous explosive elements, which, mingling with the superincumbent molten mass, and discharged with it, will account for all the various diversities of igneous production. One other observation on this first day's work. It is a mechanical product, designed to effect ultimate order. The geologist proceeds from without inwards, obtaining, by going down, the acts which transpire by the order of successive layers; the Bible describes the process as detailed from within outwards by the Almighty maker, and states definite mechanical results as the effect of each distinct fiat. We shall find this principle carried out on each of the succeeding days; and when a class of animals indicate this mechanical advance, it becomes substituted by name in place of mechanical details. The geologist demands that the Bible, to be accepted as of scientific accuracy, shall give animal details; the Bible gives a mechanical succession with such animals or plants as suit the

particular mechanical condition or progress of order which was begun by the Spirit of God moving upon the waters, and God proclaiming, "Let there be light." I maintain that this is what the chapter proposes-that it starts with declaring the earth without form and void, and darkness brooding over the face of the deep; and, to show that these words are to be understood in a mechanical sense, it proceeds to relate the establishment of order by a progressive mechanical succession. Nor is it in this relation less scientific because it denotes light rather than heat, but, on the contrary, as I think, speaks forward to a more advanced science than we have yet attained-seeks auditors not from the simple days of our forefathers, or from the comparative intelligence of our own times, but wakens the echoes of those glorious centuries yet unseen, when present imperfections of detail and principle shall have been dissipated by the onward progress of scientific attain


But we must pass on to notice the second day's work. Gen. i., 6, 7 : "And God said let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters. And God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament, and it was so." This I conceive to be the creation of an atmosphere, and the language employed to denote the manner of its introduction seems to confirm the views we have taken of the first day's work. This atmosphere is introduced into the midst of the waters and produces a division. Now it could not be introduced into the midst of the waters if they were on the surface of the earth. But if we consider that the first day's work converted the waters into steam or mist, we find the language at once natural and intelligible. And we are able to set aside an objection of detail by Dr. Hitchcock, that there was no rain till the third day—a thing he affirms to be absurd, on the supposition that days here are ages. In Gen. ii., 5, 6, we

« 上一頁繼續 »