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ftitution of the world; to the various changes and revolutions, which it hath hitherto undergone; as well as those which, the fame Scripture foretells, it is to undergo hereafter; and likewise to gather what hints may be occafionally interfperfed in it, that may contribute to illuftrate this fubject. And then conftantly following this clue, without ever quitting, or lofing fight of it; when the whole, and every part, is digested, and weighed, and compared together; to see what kind of system can be raised upon it, and it alone, independently of every thing foreign to it; and exclufively of whatever cannot be fairly brought to agree and harmonize with it: Whereby it is hoped every thing will appear to be done in number, weight, and measure:-That the earth, as well as the heavens, will declare the glory of God:-That the whole creation will manifeft itself to be the work of his hands; and to be likewise, both controuled and sustained by his power.
The two fore-mentioned Theories hav
ing brought this fubject much into con
templation; and neither thefe, nor any others, having obtained much approbation; it is more to be wondered at, that a Scrip ture Theory had not been thought of fooner; than that it fhould be attempted now; especially, as every other hypothesis, that is not founded on Scripture, or at least, that is not agreeable to it, being weighed in the balance, muft be found wanting.
Having premised thefe few obfervations, I fhall now enter upon the defign of investigating from Scripture, the true Theory of the Earth: Supplying as little as poffible from reafon, or hypothefis; but what may be fairly grounded upon, or by just confequence deduced from, Scripture; or, at leaft, where Scripture is filent, and affords no light; what will be neceffary to fill up its place, fhall be no more, than what, I truft, will appear to be perfectly confiftent with it. And if this Scripture Theory of the Earth fhall be fo happily investigated as to attain to that truth which it aims at, it will then affume to be no more than a· plain natural history of it; but that in
its defign, the largest and most comprehenfive; as well as the most genuine and authentic, of all others.
And may that wisdom which was with thee, O God, and was prefent when thou madeft the world*; when thou didst fet a compass upon the face of the depth, and appointedft the foundation of the earth +— May that wisdom, which fitteth by thy throne, defcend from above, enlighten my dark understanding, and enable me, in fome measure, to discover and apprehend the mighty plan of thy works! May that Spirit, which dictated to thy fervant Mofes the hiftory of the creation; which revealed to the patriarch Noah the diffolution of the earth by water; to thy apofile Peter its deftruction by fire; and to thy beloved difciple, the renovation of it- May he vouchsafe to me likewife, even to me thy fervant, a feeble perfon, of a short time, and more limited capacity; one ray of his divine light, to
* Wisdom, ix. 9.
+ Proverbs, viii. 27. 29.
guide me in tracing, though obfcurely, yet justly, the outlines of this great and flupendous work; together with its various changes and revolutions! For thy counsel who hath known, except thou give wisdom, and fend thy holy Spirit from above*?
* Wisdom, ix. 17.
OF THE CREATION OF THE EARTH.
HE Bible opens with the history of the whole material creation. It gives us a general view of the origin of the world, and of the formation of its several conftituent parts, according to the order in which they were brought into being.
In the beginning God created the heaven, and the earth; or, rather, the heavens, as the original word is elsewhere more justly tranflated. The heavens, and all the host of them*.-All the heavenly bodies, fun, moon, and stars-all this fyftem at least.
This plain declaration, which is repeatedly confirmed in Scripture, at once overthrows the two great atheistical hypo
*Gen. ii. 1.