Images de page
PDF
ePub

false. But, Moses records that God created on the first day, the earth covered with water, and did not till its second revolution upon its axis, call the firmament into existence. Now one result of the previous inquiry has been, that a sphere unequally heated and covered with water, must be enveloped in an atmosphere of steam, which would necessarily be turbid in its whole depth with precipitating moisture. The exposure of. such a sphere to the orb of day would produce illumination upon it; that dispersed and equal light, which now penetrates in a cloudy day, and which indeed is good :” but the glorious source of light could not have been visible from its surface. On the second day, the permanently-elastic firmament was produced, and we have seen that the natural consequences of this mixture of gaseous matter, with vapour, must have been, that the waters would begin to collect above the firmament, and divide themselves from the waters which were below the firmament. The clouds would thus be confined to definite plains of precipitation, and exposed to the influence of the winds, and still invisible sun. The gathering together of the waters on the third day, and the appearance of dry land, would present a greater heating surface, and a less surface of evaporation, and the atmosphere during this revolution would let fall its excess of condensed moisture; and upon the fourth day it would appear probable, even to our short-sighted philosophy, that the sun would be enabled to dissipate the still-remaining mists, and burst forth with splendour upon the vegetating surface. So far, therefore, is it from being impossible that light should have appeared upon the earth before the appearance of the sun, that the present imperfect state of our knowledge, will enable us to affirm, that, if the recorded order of creation be correct, the events must have exhibited themselves in the succession which is described.

The argument therefore recoils with double force in favour of the inspiration of an account of natural phenomena which, in all probability, no human mind, in the state of knowledge at the time it was delivered, could have

*

suggested; but which is found to be consistent with facts that a more advanced state of science and experience have brought to light. If, however, it were reasonable to expect that the ways of God should in all cases be justified to the knowledge, or rather the ignorance, of man, the boldest philosopher might well pause before he applied the imperfect test of a progressive philosophy to the determination of the momentous questions involved in these considerations."

Prior to the creation of vegetation the emphatic word season would have been an inapposite term, because the periodic vicissitudes implied in it could have had no affinity. In like manner, as yet there had been no animated form to which "days and years" could strictly apply as the metre of age; accordingly, it was not until “the earth brought forth grass,” and became instinct with the glow of botanical glory, that these measures of time were introduced into the system. Light might have been otherwise located or diffused, on the first day, to bear witness to the sublime progression of creative power. It might have been scattered over the confused elements of matter, emerging from the womb of time, as a secondary agent, commissioned to promote their separation and subsequent constitution. În some localized form, apart from the orb of the sun, light might have arisen over the axal revolution of the earth, divided the day from the night in periodic times, and not have been transferred to the splendid station of one of the foci of an ellipsis until the fourth diurnal revolution. Hence it is evident, that though the earth had begun to move on its axis, and the relative evening and morning been already described, the globe might not, until now, have commenced its march in the plane of the ecliptic. When the transference of light took place, the sacred historian tells us, that the luminaries of heaven, "the greater to rule by day, and the lesser to rule by night,” divided more specifically the day from the night,

* J. F. Daniell.-“ Meteorological Essays.”—London, 8vo. p. 131, &c.

and were

[ocr errors]

“ for signs, and seasons, and for days, and for years.” The “firmament” had now been established, and “divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament.” The transfer of light, to its present station in the solar system, had taken place; and the earth, which before had only revolved on its axis, began its journey in the plane of the ecliptic, obedient to the astronomical laws discovered by Kepler, and resulting from the combined powers of the attraction of gravitation and a projectile force perpendicular to that of the sun. - The sun and moon were now lights in the firmament to give light upon the earth.” The alternation of day and night, and vicissitude of the seasons were firmly established days and years, signs and seasons were provided for.

When creation stood a finished monument, erected to the glory of the Creator, and emerged in all the majesty of loveliness,” we are informed that “the morning stars sang together.” When the earth took its station in the sky no discord marred the heavenly orbs; the stars in the celestial hemisphere still moved isochronous in their orbits, describing the paths assigned to them, and preserving equal eras in equal times, which find their measure and expression in the vibration of a musical string, or that of a pendulum moving in a cycloid. Respecting the nature of light, we have no knowledge ; one thing, however, seems certain, that it is entirely unconnected with the dark nucleus it serves to envelope—a fact apparently obvious in the maculæ, occasionally observable on the luminous disc of the sun. Well might other stars "sing together" as they rose over the morning of a finished creation; and well might those glad spirits, who witnessed the magnificent scene, and the grandeur and glory of the celestial machinery, strike their harps, and “shout for joy.” Modern astronomy seems to render it more than probable, that the solar system, of which we form a part, is advancing toward the constellation Herculis ; and, moreover, that the whole hemisphere of stars moves round some common centre. Here

may

that ALMIGHTY BEING, who

[ocr errors]

is “higher than the highest,” have stretched the curtains of his “Pavillion;" and here, though “the heaven of heavens cannot contain him,” may his apocalyptic throne be set, while myriads of worlds revolve around, as so many moving miracles of that power “who spake and it was done, and commanded and all things stood fast.”

When we survey the act of creation, it seems obvious, that the creative fiat was followed by instant obedience; matter started into being when the voice of the CREATOR vibrated on the Tonu Bohu, and became conscious from the infusion of living principles; distinct and definite periods marked the succession of creation. On the third day the earth was adorned with a carpet of vegetation ; there was fruit in the vine, and the

pomegranate budded; the lilies of the field were clothed, the palm tree flourished, and the cedar spread out its roots like Lebanon. The sunbeam having played on the leafy and flowery scene,“ redolent of beauty;" the realms of zoology were peopled; and the creation of man,“ in the image of God," was the key-stone of the arch—the last link of completed creation. God gave them his benediction; the sacred pause of the “sabbath” succeeded ; and, in order that it should be an immutable memorial, the CREATOR “rested on the seventh day;" and, by his own example, put an impress on it which man may violate at his peril, thus stamped, there can be no appeal. It will be seen that vegetation had unlocked its buds, and the sunbeam had shed its influence over it, before animal life had yet breathed either by lungs or gills. Now the discoveries of modern chemistry have clearly demonstrated that animal being, from almost its termo monas up to its more complex organization and perfect developement, yield, night and day, carbonic acid gas, which, though it would destroy life if re-absorbed, supplies nutrition for vegetation. The functions of the plant, decompose the compound gas, appropriate the carbon, and, during day, impart to the deteriorated atmosphere the principle of animal vitality, in oxygene its other constituent. In animal life carbonic acid is elaborated without intermission ; but this compound gas is only the produce of vegetation, when the sunbeam is withdrawn; its specific gravity is so great that it falls to the ground unless buoyancy be imparted to it by an increment of temperature, so that its evolution, in either case, by night, is null, being condensed by the cooling process which goes on at this period, while nocturnal dews would also absorb it. It is different with what the animal functions supply by day, for heat will give it a buoyant wing, and it would rise in the atmosphere; the winds, or aerial currents, would mingle the principles of deterioration and of consequent suffering, so that if there were no compensation balance to restore the lost salubrity, ultimate destruction would supervene and “chaos come again." Vegetation, therefore, by the issue of oxygene in the sunbeam, becomes the fountain of atmospheric salubrity. The antidote was established before the aerial poison was elaborated or had emanated. Thus, vegetable and animal forms act and re-act on each other; their dependance is reciprocal; the one cannot say to the other, “ I have no need of thee.” The whole phenomena of creation, as detailed in the annals of the Mosaic cosmogony, are fraught with wonder, and display a remarkable harmony, when compared with facts which modern science has substantiated, and which, therefore, may be adduced in evidence of the truth of these Oracles of Heaven. None but OMNISCIENCE could have described, at this remote era of antiquity, a structure and conditions that should perfectly correspond with the discoveries effected, by mental sagacity, in a more mature stage of its existence; and which could be only, at best, obscurely conjectured by intervening ages ;-now, however, become palpable as the evidence of the senses and of science. All this may well make us wary of sporting our scepticism on some other questions, which, though we may not fully comprehend at present, a higher measure of intellect, in the progress of time, may entirely explain. If, as far as our investigation can reach, we see things clearly in the majority of cases, it is surely reasonable to give credit for the

« PrécédentContinuer »