Графични страници
PDF файл

faith, to believe that the word rendered day denoted the exact period of twenty-four hours, before a sun existed to measure that time ? —Why not admit at once, that on the account of the two first days of the creation, an awful obscurity rests which can never be dissipated by man? Yet it is evident, that by a certain class of geologists, and, as appears from one pretty broad hint, by Mr. Gisborne himself, the patrons of this interpretation, by which, after all, the truth of the Mosaic account may best be established, are accounted little better than infidels.* There is indeed something so triumphant in our author's tone, so supercilious in his manner, when writing on this subject, as would scarcely be justified in one who had either discovered facts, or demonstrated truths which must for ever silence and confound bis antagonists. Somewhat excited, perhaps, by this loftiness of temper, when coupled with a want of the best, that is the latest, information on the subject, we shall investigate his reasonings intended to prove that all organized remains which have been discovered in a mineralized state, are relics of the Noachian deluge; and, secondly, shew that the facts adduced to prove a succession of periods anterior to the æra, unquestionably the true æra, of the creation of man, do not consist of the discovery of a few remains of animals belonging to species no longer existing; but that they have been reduced to numerous species, genera, and classes. We shall also point out to Mr. Gisborne's observation, and that of all who are anxious to establish the veracity of Moses, that the successive order in which these organized remains are discovered, while they are not to be accounted for by the confusion occasioned by a single disruption of the earth's surface, are so relatively situated in the strata where they are discovered as to afford the strongest confirmation to the Mosaic account of the order in which they were severally created.

Let us now take up our author's assumption, that all these appearances are relics of the Noachian deluge only.

In the self-same day entered Noah, and Shem and Ham and Japheth, the sons of Noah, and Noah's wife, and the three wives of his sons with them, into the ark. They, and every beast after his kind, and all the cattle after their kind, and every creeping thing that creepeth

** We ask not for the high antiquity of the earth which inkidelity assigns.'-p. 32.

t. If the skeletons of the mammoth or of the megatherion, or the horns of some unknown tribe of the class of the deer or the buffalo, have been found on the surface of the earth, or dug up from bogs or cavities, may not these animals still survive in the central solitudes of America ? &c. Is not any of these suppositions at least as philosophical as to erect on a basis so narrow and slender' (the basis of fact and experiment) the hypo. thesis of an unknown world? If fifty years ago the bones of a kangaroo had been extracted from a mine or a morass, they inight probably have been produced by some philosopher as triumphant proofs that our globe was constructed from the wreck of a predecessor —that is, we suppose, of a preceding globe. A mine or a morass!—that is, in a recent or mineralized state. Does our author make no distinction betwixt the two ?


upon the earth after his kind, every fowl after his kind, every bird of every sort. And they went in unto Noah, into the ark, two and two of all Aesh, as God had commanded him, and the Lord shut him in.'

These are the words of Moses, in which the emphatical reiteration of the words all and every is very remarkable. Now on Mr. Gisborne's hypothesis, that at the æra of the deluge sixteen hundred and fifty years only had elapsed, not since the creation of man, which is unquestionably true, but from the formation of the present crust of the earth, we beg leave to present him with two difficulties. The crust of the earth, as broken up at Noah's flood, was indubitably the present crust, and this, as our author contends, was exactly coeval with the creation of man. These organized remains, therefore, of unknown animals, had existed upon earth in this intermediate period of sixteen centuries and a half. But they are found imbedded in strata of various kinds, and at various depths, together with symptoms of violent convulsions (not one, but many) interposed, which during this period must have rendered the earth utterly uninhabitable by man, directly against the evidence of Moses himself.

In the next place, every creature of land or air then existing entered into the ark. If so, did the living representatives of these mineralized species enter the ark or not?if they did, they have all perished sinceif not, they had all perished in the sixteen centuries přeceding. But this leads to another difficulty.—If they had so perished, how came it to pass that not a vestige of any species now remaining is discovered imbedded in the same strata with them? For even in the very latest of these appearances there is some variety in their anatomy which proves them to have belonged to different species. If, again, these unknown and extinct species did enter the ark, they must have been extinct since. Why then are their remains scarcely ever found in a recent state, and especially with the relics of existing quadrupeds in alluvial deposits ? But again, within the space of eleven hundred years after the deluge, Moses drew up, for the purpose of establishing a distinction between clean and unclean animals, the first sketch of zoology which the world ever saw. Yet by what we know of the uniform practice and observances of the Jews, all the species there enumerated may be accounted for, as indeed they have been by the erudition of Bochart.* All the lost species therefore, among which are to be enumerated not the unwieldy helpless megatherion or mammoth only, but many species of birds, must have become extinct in that short interval. And why, it may be asked, did the process of extinction stop at that precise point in other animals while the miserable sloth itself, half ani

* See his Hierozoicon, passim.
D 2


mated, unprotected, and utterly defenceless, has survived in the midst of beasts, and birds of prey, and noxious serpents, to this very hour? Once more: if the mineralized remains of testaceous animals are relics only of the Noachian flood, why do these too exhibit remains of so many species, and even genera, wholly extinct in their recent state?

Mr. Gisborne very feebly endeavours to account for the possibility of the formation of calcareous rocks, in the period assigned by what he and his school conceive to be the Mosaic chronology for the present globe, but he never attempts to account for this striking phenomenon—the diversity of species, of which the organic remains contained in those immense masses consist: yet in how slight a degree must the convulsion occasioned by the deluge have affected the testacea ! Or if for a moment it could be conceived that it had operated to the destruction of certain species, why did it permit the escape and preservation of other tribes no better fortified and protected than those ? Again-if, as Mr. Gisborne thinks himselt bound to believe, all the deposits of animal exuvia were made during the convulsion of the Noachian flood, how is it that an universal and indiscriminate jumble of these remains, testacea, fishes, birds, quadrupeds, and even of the human species are not promiscuously discovered? Or, why are the strata in which they are found imbedded any thing more than fortuitous masses and heterogeneous deposits out of the broken and dislocated materials of the Adamic globe; and why do these strata exhibit marks of any thing more than dislocation since the waters of the deluge have been withdrawn? Mr. Gisborne might have learned from every intelligent geologist of the present day, that in the formation and disposition of the principal strata of the earth, there appear none of those marks of confusion of which he so loudly complains and from which he infers so much; while, on the contrary, it is manifest that regular deposits have been made, and at successive periods evidently been superinduced upon each other; that in each of these are found, in undeviating order, the remains of different classes of aniniated beings, beginning with the monads, the simplest of the living works of the Creator, and ascending through the scale to tribes of quadrupeds, in which the gradation closes without ever* rising to man;-that between these successive deposits are indubitable vestiges of successive convulsions, equally formidable with those which dislocate and, if Mr. Gisborne will have it so, deform the present crust of the earth;—that in order to mineralize these successive deposits some chemical cause or causes must uniformly have been employed, which have bad the collateral effect of destroying the animals whose nature and organs fitted them to exist

* A single instance to the contrary has indeed occurred in a rock of very late formation.


upon the surface of the last deposit, and unfitted them for the Dext;-and finally that these chemical causes, whatever they were, have ceased to operate, excepting in particular instances, and

upon a very limited scale. And why, after all, will bigotry contend that this veracity of Moses depends upon a literal interpretation of a word so indefinite as day, which may as well be understood to apply to any unassigned period of time when the abandonment of this rigid limitation of the word will furnish us with a proof of the inspiration of the historian somewhat better than Mr. Gisborne's demonstration of a moral cause of the disruption of the crust of the earth ?

But to return to Mr. Gisborne's position, that nothing but a moral cause can account for the present dislocated state of the earth's surface, we are compelled to refuse him the assumption, both as philosophers and as Christians,-First therefore, man, as the most perfect, was the last created of all living beings. Mr. Gisborne will allow, that there was no moral agent upon the planet called Earth, before man.

Yet are there indubitable appearances of disruptions in the earth's surface equally formidable, and which must have been equally destructive to the inhabitants, whatever they were, of the then existing surface of the globe, with any which can be conceived of the Noachian deluge. One race after another, of subordinate beings in their different classes, lave actually been swept away, and so far as appears, by very sudden and violent convulsions, before sin appeared in the world. Surely then such appearances may have been produced by physical

Let us not, however, be mistaken as denying, or even doubting, that the Mosaic deluge was occasioned by the sin of man: we are informed of it by inspiration itself, and on that authority assuredly believe it. - We now return to the narrative of Moses, corroborated as we have seen by this wonderful coincidence betwixt that and the order in which organized animal remains are discovered in the successive strata. What are the millions and millions of chances against his having casually hit upon such a coincidence as the order assigned by him for the creation of the successive classes of being, with their respective positions in a mineralized state, we leave to the patient calculator to compute. Centies venereum jecit. Whence then, we will ask the unbeliever, did the historian derive this information, and what did he know of appearances and arrangements beneath the present surface of the earth? Had he explored the patriarchal wells? which though among the most wonderful monuments of human perseverance, could have afforded him, we dare to affirm, very superficial information. Perhaps he drew his information from Egyptian traditions ?




Whence were these derived? Perhaps it will be answered, through the line of the patriarchs, from Adam bimself. The fact of inspiration is then admitted; for whence could Adam have learned the history and order of events which happened before his own creation, but from the Creator himself? Once more: we object, as Christians, to Mr. Gisborne's assumption, that the present surface of the globe could not have undergone the changes which appear upon it from any other than a moral cause. For how, we may be permitted to ask, but in extent, do these appearances differ from those produced by the earthquakes at Lisbon, in Calabria, at Messina, or at Portroyal? Yet would even he deny that these were or could be produced only by physical causes? If so, we should then presume to ask whether he supposes that the greatest of all sinners on the face of the earth were to be found only on low levels and on the margin of the sea ? or that those Galileans were sinners above all the Galileans because they suffered these things, or those eighteen upon whom the tower in Siloam fell and slew them? There is one who will tell him nay.'—We are therefore forbidden to draw the inference for ourselves, but are to wait for a direct assurance of the intent and purport of such judgments, as in the case of the deluge. But perhaps there may be found among our readers, some who will treat our assertions, with respect to the order and harmony of primæval deposits on the surface of the globe, and the regular arrangement of their organic contents, as gratuitous assumptions. Mr. Gisborne, in particular, who allows himself to speak so cavalierly of the accidental discoveries of a few insulated remains belonging to species now no longer remaining, will probably be among the first to fall into the snare, and the last to extricate himself from it.

Of the last, and beyond comparison the most scientific writer on the subject, we repeat that he appears to have no knowledge. For bis information therefore, we have abstracted from M. Cụvier's Essay on the Theory of the Earth, already referred to, a compendium of the latest geological discoveries, to which we now subjoin the conclusion of Linnæus at a much earlier period of the science of Linnæus, as much a Christian as Mr. Gisborne, who, by the far less clear and certain lights of his day, was led to the declaration, 'Diluvii vestigia cerno nulla, ævi vetustissimi plurima.' To our author, probably, and to others, at the first view, this may appear a startling declaration; but let them recollect how few and of how small extent were the apertures necessary for the emission of subterraneous waters at Noah's deluge, and how litile reason there is, from the account of Moses himself, for believing that the general surface of the globe underwent any material change in consequence of that catastrophe. The annihilation of the human race,

« ПредишнаНапред »