« 上一頁繼續 »
tent to perceive the objects as described in the chapter. The direction in which the eye of God is turned is, moreover, of great consequence, and especially in this. case. Now the direction of the eye on the first day was to the earth without form and void, and the darkness on the face of the deep, and without any distraction of attention from this object of interest, God says, "Let there be light, and there was light." Had God's eye moved from the earth to the heaven to see light, as undoubtedly it does on the fourth day, it would have admitted of doubt; but there is no evidence that it did, except the conceits or theories of fallible men. But this subject has been brightened by the light of the latter day being cast upon it, in one of the striking and happy comparisons of the Apostle Paul,-in 2 Cor. iv., 6, 7: "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. And we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God and not of us." Paul was here discussing the apostleship,-a brilliant but tempo, rary institution, and he compares this apostolic light or brilliancy to the light of the first day, not of the fourth. In Phil. ii. 15, he calls the members of the church the lights of the world, the true representatives of the fourth day's work. The apostles held directly from the Redeemer, and His power was directly intrusted to them, while the general officers and members of the church are followers of the apostles, even as they also are of Christ. Now, the light of the first day, which seems also to have been the light of the second, third, and part of the fourth days, was of apostolic characterbrilliant and manifestly heaven descended," but not manifested by or radiated from those bodies which were afterwards appointed to the same purpose. Now, physically, the day of 24 hours is determined by the sun and the diurnal rotation of the earth. If the first day's light was concentrated on and manifested from a different point, or not from a point at all, the duration
of the light might be of a length as indefinite as its disturbing influences were. What the centre of radiation was, and the disturbing influences were, by which the day and night which God saw were produced, shall appear as we proceed. Suffice it that the light shed was not common light, and the days, of course, were not common days.
Again in prophetic language a day generally stands for a year, and it occurs in so natural a form as to require considerable attention to detect this peculiarity. Of many instances, I may specify two. The Redeemer tells the Pharisees to carry a message to Herod, to the effect that he would cast out devils and do cures to-day and to-morrow, and the third day he would be perfected. "Nevertheless," he adds, "I must walk to-day, and tomorrow, and the day following, for it cannot be that a prophet perish out of Jerusalem." These three days are the three years of his public ministry. Daniel also predicts that seventy weeks would transpire from the issuing of the edict to rebuild Jerusalem till the death of the Messiah, and this period was exactly 490 years of 360 days. (Fleming on Rome Papal, page 39.) We do no violence, then, to the Scripture, when we put a day for a period much longer than 24 hours.
The use we make of the word day in Genesis is not new, either in the Jewish or Christian church, Philo and Josephus, Origen and Augustine, held the word in the same estimation. Augustine, indeed, says emphatically, "It is difficult, if not impossible, for us to conceive what kind of days these were." In the interpretation we adopt, then, we do no violence either to the Word of God or the views of the ancient church.
In brief, we regard this chapter of Genesis, and those portions of Scripture by which it is illustrated and explained, as containing the general order of creation. Each day indicates a specific advancement, and presents prominently that mechanical change by which the age may be distinguished most easily. This is commonly done by reference to some agent, though
sometimes to a result produced. These general features harmonise with both geologic and astronomical science, not in the sense of being a full representation of the conclusions deducible from these sciences, but in being in some sense directive of and supplementary to them as a revelation from God, and as being a display of their most striking peculiarities.
To the adoption of these views there are of course many objections urged, and these by men of the highest standing both in the church and in the academy. Two objectors are entitled to special notice from the specially prominent position which they occupy: I refer to the Rev. Professors and Drs. Smith and Hitchcock. Dr. Pye Smith presents us with four objections to the view we adopt, in his work entitled "Scripture and Geology." His strictures commence at the 200th page of that work. The following outline will afford some idea of these objections:-1st. A want of correspondence in detail between the geology of Moses and of modern science. 2nd. The chapter is neither poetical nor oratorical; and such a figurative use of the word day is consequently unbecoming the connection. 3rd. He affirms that it would be an indication of deplorable want of taste for the beauty of language, to put a patch of poetical diction upon this face of natural simplicity. 4th. It involves so large an extension in the liberty or license of figurative speech as to warrant its rejection.
Professor Hitchcock has offered six objections to the views we have adopted, page 66 of his "Religion of Geology." 1st. The word " 'day" is used figuratively nowhere else in Genesis except in ii, 4, where seven days are called one: an instance sufficiently figurative, one would have imagined, to satisfy even a professor. 2nd. The days of the fourth commandment are evidently days of twenty-four hours, and the days of the first chapter of Genesis ought to be so also. We have already set aside this objection by shewing that the fourth and seventh day were not of
twenty-four hours. 3rd. From a comparison of Gen. ii. 5, with i. 11, 12, it appears not to have rained till the third day, probable enough for common days, but absurd for long periods. 4th. The meaning is forced and unnatural. In this both professors, we submit, are mistaken. We have already shewn that the unforced meaning of the chapter furnishes us with long days, and will show it more fully in the sequel. If Moses describes fossil species he cannot describe existing species, and if he describes existing species he cannot describe fossil ones. Here, with all deference to the professor, I submit that he has overlooked the footless serpent. But of this more particularly by and by. 6th. He reproduces Professor Smith's objection, that the correspondence, when carried into detail, entirely disappears, and discrepancy takes the place of argument. To substantiate this, he affirms that the Bible represents plants only to have been produced on the third day, whereas the word "only" does not occur in the entire chapter. This statement one feels tempted to characterise, to say the least, as unscientific. If any opponent of geology would only miss one of the strata, or affirm that only such and such fossils were contained in them, we should soon hear of the ignorance and presumption of the unfortunate scientific controversialist. But what are we to say of a rev. professor who, notwithstanding the solemn warning of "Whosoever shall add to the words of this book," puts an "only" into the first chapter of Genesis to maintain a special view of its meaning? He affirms farther, that the fossil plants are not high enough in the scale of plants to warrant Moses' description. Of this we shall see, on the third day's work passing under review. Again, he says that reptiles are described in Genesis as created on the fifth day, but that they existed as early as the lower carboniferous, and even old red sandstone strata. This objection, and the one immediately preceding, may be answered in Dr. Hitchcock's own language in the same lecture in which these objections are found.
At page 49 he says, "If we should find it distinctly stated, in the particular account of the creation, that a long period intervened between the beginning and the six days, who would suppose the statement a contradiction to the fourth commandment? But suppose we first learn from geology that it did exist, why should we not be as ready to admit it as if stated in Genesis, provided it does not contradict anything therein recorded? For illustration: let us refer to the account given in Exodus of the parents of Moses and their family." He shows from Exodus 2nd, 12, that Levi took a wife who bare Moses, whereas afterwards it turns out that Moses had an elder brother and sister. The professor continues, imagine the Bible silent on the subject, and the fact first brought to light by deciphering Egyptian hieroglyphics in the nineteenth century, who could hesitate to admit its truth because omitted in the Pentateuch?" So we answer the professor's objection to the accuracy of the first chapter of Genesis viewed as a general account of creation, if families of reptiles did exist before the fifth day,-the chapter does not say they did not, and we shall afterwards see that the language of the chapter is specially constructed to meet this objection. But one cannot fail to observe how easily Dr. Hitchcock can intercalate by geology an entire system of animals and plants when it is necessary to his own purpose, and how obtuse he becomes when the same suggestion would much more naturally remove a similar difficulty from the opinion he contraverts. We may apostrophise the professor in the language of Burns:-"Thy weaknesses," O professor, "are but the aberrations of human nature." Of the objection that the details of the chapter are imperfect, I find it difficult to speak moderately. It is comparatively a short: chapter, and, in spite of the opinions of our learned critics, the graces, both of poetic diction and scenic effect are aimed at in its language. As it was written for all ages, views of things were to be inculcated which the amanuensis of Jehovah might not comprehend. Language