« ПредишнаНапред »
thor's favorite, Gliddon, dared to differ in some things from his "predecessors of the Champollion school," if all is demonstrated to their hand? But we cannot go into the details, which an investigation in this direction would require, and shall only give the results, as furnished by an able writer who has largely examined the subject before us. He says,
“We see therefore, that as yet, no monumental evidence has been produced, even including the Pyramids, that date back before about B. C. 2000 years; also, that there is no astronomical evidence which can date with certainty before B. C. 1650, and no historical evidence that unquestionably reaches back even as far as this. Thus far, then, there is nothing that requires us to give up the shorter period of the Biblical Chronology."*
We will only say in conclusion, that the Chainpollions, Rossellini, Cogerel, Greppo, Bovet, Wilkinson and Gliddon, have not had their faith in the divine records overturned by Egyptian discoveries, but have rather found material for its confirmation.
“Now here are three (eight] gentlemen of character and competency, who have no object in teaching falsehoods, and when they state a fact as certain; we must believe them.” p. 10.
"Modern science establishes beyond the possibility of a doubt the fact that these dates,"—(viz.: of the Creation, Deluge and Exodus; that of the first, according as he gives it from the Septuagint, being 5586, and of the second, 3246 B. C.)—"for the Creation at least, are too short, and probably by many thousand years. I presume there are few if any divines of the present day, conversant with Geology and Natural History, who do not concur in this opinion, and who do not believe there have been other floods besides the one spoken of by Moses." p. 7.
Modern science establishes no such thing. We shall show farther on, how much Dr. N. misapprehends the teachings of Geology, and how he has confounded two totally distinct schemes, using one or the other as suited the pur. pose of his argument, without being aware of their opposition. As to the dates of the Exodus, those of the Septua. gint and Josephus are actually too high for Mr. Gliddon, while that of Usher, as we have seen, tallies closely with Egyptian history. In regard to the date of the Creation, a term which is always understood as referring to the demiurgic days, or six days work of the Almighty as described in Gen. i. 3—26, there is no divine, however "conversant
• See an able and interesting article in review of Gliddon's Egypt, in the American Biblical Repository, July, 1843, by Rev. A. B. Chapin,
with Geology and Natural History," who deems the Septuagint date "too short.” On the contrary, there are many such divines who regard the Usherian date as sufficiently high. Modern science has touched neither one date nor the other. That the creation of the original materials of the earth long preceded these dates, is readily granted, for modern science, we think, establishes this beyond a reasonable doubt; but what have the Scriptural dates to do with that era ? Dr. N. is therefore guilty of great carelessness or ignorance, and of much injustice to divines, when he speaks of "these dates" with so loose an application.
Upon the question of "other floods besides the one spoken of by Moses," notwithstanding our author intimates it to be fully settled by "modern science,” there is such a diversity of opinions among the ablest Geologists, that we hope there is no divine who would so far overstep the limits of a modest propriety, as to assert such floods to be proved. The subject of Diluvium is still undergoing much examination and discussion, and affords material for very diverse theories, and is not likely to be soon settled. Some, indeed, maintain that there is geological evidence of several local and partial floods. Some, that there is the same evidence of a general and destructive deluge; of whom a part think it was previous to the existence of man, and another part, that it is identical with that described by Moses. Others again, as Lyell, Boué, Maculloch, etc., as distinguished Geologists as we have, that there is no evidence in geological phenomena for any general deluge. The latter author says:
"Of the Mosaic deluge, in particular, I have no hesitation in saying, that it has never been proved to have produced a single existing appearance of any kind, and that it ought to be struck out of the list of geological causes."*
Thus far, then, we have discovered nothing in Egyptian monuments or modern science, which requires us to regard the Septuagint chronology as “too short.” The “positive facts, engraven upon stones,” do not throw the date of the Creation farther back than 5586 years B. C. '
The next paragraph which invites attention, presents an
• System of Geology. Lest it might be inferred that this writer is a disbeliever in Revelation, we quote the following noble avowal: "If there were aught in Geology which contradicted that Word, I should be among the first to say, the science is in error."
instance of that round and unqualified assertion which too much characterizes these essays. The writer says that trees are found which are 6000 years old, and that "no botanist doubts it.” This, he continues, "proves that the flood took place at least 6000 years ago, or that it was not universal." Or, he might have added, the flood did not destroy all the trees. But we have no desire to insist upon this, although the dove which Noah sent out returned with an olive leaf "plucked off,” and some of these aged trees are cypresses, which might possibly have stood a few months submersion without injury. We deny that "no botanist doubts" such an antiquity to existing trees, and assert that no living tree can be demonstrated at present to be over 4500 years old. We are inclined to believe that there may be trees several centuries older than this, but the subject is yet involved in too much uncertainty to justify any positive assertions beyond this limit. Dr. N. had probably read the results of a calculation made by the younger De Candolle, from incomplete and uncertain data, upon certain cypresses in Mexico, and the Baobab of the Cape de Verd Islands; but his assertion of universal credence among botanists, is altogether gratuitous and unfounded. In neither of these cases had the concentric layers of the wood been counted, without which the age of a tree cannot be truly ascertained, nor had De Candolle any thing beyond conjecture for a calculation. The largest tree known in Mexico, and the one upon which De Candolle made his estimate, is a cypress (Taxodium distichum) in the province of Oaxaca. Von Humboldt says it is “118 feet in circumference, though it seems rather to be formed of three stems grown into one." * A circumstance is here mentioned, which at once diminishes the antiquity of this huge tree. If the bole be formed by the union of several stems, its age will be proportionally reduced, and this is a point which is always to be looked after in the computation of the age of very large trees. The celebrated chestnut on Mount Etna, is 163 feet in circumference, but is evidently composed of five trunks. But if this Mexican cypress be a single stock, there are no means of estimating its age but by calculations made from the sections of smaller trees, whose annual rings have been counted. But in this process we are met with several difficulties, which preclude any thing
• Travels and Researches of Von Humboldt. Harper's Family Library, LIV., 320.
haller trees, and he data furnishehe age of this represent,
beyond some approximation to the age of the tree. For we know that trees grow more rapidly in diameter at some periods than at others, and that their growth is also much affected by situation, soil and climate.* There are at present, therefore, no means of ascertaining the age of this remarkable tree; but, from the data furnished by the rate of growth of smaller trees, and from other countries, its maximum age has been computed at 5124 years, and its minimum age at 4024 years. Thus are we lest to the uncertainty of 1100 years, in the attempt to decide the age of this tree.
In the case of the Baobab, we have no better clue to the age of some large stocks than in that of the cypress. The famous Dragon Tree of Teneriffe, is perhaps older than either of the others, although, being of much slower growth, it is only about fifty feet in circumference. But as this belongs to a class of trees which do not increase by concentric layers, we have no means of ascertaining its age but by calculations based upon the growth of young trees, which is very indefinite and unsatisfactory. Cases of extreme longevity certainly exist among the denizens of the forest, and perhaps reaching nearly or quite back to the era of the Deluge; but no tree has yet been proved to have attained the age of 6000 years, and until some more satisfactory and decisive estimates are furnished, we must adopt the advice of an old Spanish comedy,~"De las cosas mas seguras, la mas segura es dudar.” † Cases of great longevity, especially in exogenous trees, do not surprise us when we learn, what “no botanist doubts,” that they are not subject like animals to a limited duration, and to any necessary decay of vital power, but only perish by the agency of extraneous causes. With this fact in view, we would be glad to know why it is that we do not find instances of trees whose ages reach farther back than the Septuagint date of the Deluge. We will remark, in conclusion of this topic, that we shall not be at all disturbed by a demonstration of trees whose ages reach
• In the college garden at Malacca, "there is a Pride of India tree" (Melia Azedarach) which is thirty feet high, with many graceful boughs, yet the seed from which it sprung was planied only two years ago, and ihe stem has once been cut down to the root. This gigantic scion is therefore the second growth.” Journal of Messrs. Tyerman and Bennett, Vol. II., p. 76.
+ There is an interesting and elaborate exhibition of this subject in an article on "The Longevity of Trees,” in the North-American Review for July, 1844, which we do not hesitate to attribute to Prof. Gray, the accomplished Professor of Natural History in the University of Cambridge.
quite back to the Creation, for we do not deem it necessary or important to suppose that the Deluge was universal. Our principal object in the brief discussion of this question is, as in some other instances, to illustrate how much easier it is to assert than to prove, and that the assertions of the Lecturer must sometimes be received with very considerable qualifition.
"It is recorded that the largest Pyramid took 100,000 men twenty years to build it." * **"Now let me ask, if several hundred of these Pyramids existed, with a vast number of other stupendous monuments,-if Memphis and Thebes were built, and contained, with the country around, a population which could execute all these wonderful things,-if all the useful arts and sciences, together with Astronomy, existed at this remote date,-how many centuries previous must this country have been populated ? It is difficult for the mind to reach it. Reflect for a moment on the slow progress which a nation must make from infancy to such perfection.” p. 11.
The author has told us on the preceding page, how long a time was occupied in the erection of these "stupendous monuments.” He says, “The Pyramids were built between the tinie of Menes, the first king, and 2272 B. C.” The time of Menes he puts at 2750, which is 496 years after the Deluge, and would give 478 years as the period during which the pyramids were built. Mr. Gliddon supposes they were built within a period of 300 years. According to Champollion, the oldest monuments are the pyramids of Dakschour and Sakkara, which were built during the third dynasty after Menes. And as he says, in the letter before quoted, that there is no Egyptian monument anterior to the year 2200 B. C., we shall have a period of 1046 years between the Deluge and the building of the first pyramid, and of minus 72 years for their erection, if we take 2272 as the year of their completion. We shall not attempt to increase this confusion by entering into a calculation based on a lower date for the era of Menes, which, as it is confessedly undetermined within 500 years, we should have a right to assume, and shall leave it to be removed by those who are more concerned in its elucidation than we are. If we may trust Champollion, it was during the fifth dynasty, i. e., more than ten centuries after the Deluge, ihat "arts and sciences were gradually developed.” We do not, then, conceive it very “difficult” to comprehend how the population of Egypt, with an unusually “slow progress," might have advanced "from infancy to such perfection” in the space of more than a thousand years.