« FöregåendeFortsätt »
Old Testament, upon physical subjects, into such modern expressions as shall be agreeable to the reality of the things spoken of, (p. 268.) Dinna forget this fearfu' sentence. Upon the principle which has been explained, he adds, I now propose to the impartial judgment of Bible scholars, that method of understanding the Mosaic account of the creation and the flood, which appears to me just and safe. Now, read with the most abstracted attention, and, as you read, deeply ponder, and fearlessly, and sternly, put the solemn question, How will this do, when He who inade the world,--spake from Sinai's faming top, the eternal and unchangeable law,-by His Spirit indited the Scriptures,—whose Father, as an absolute God, sustaining the rights of Deity, sent the flood in His dire displeasure, cut off, with one exception, all mankind, laid all the strata, imbedded all the fossils, upheaved, and set fast all the nountains ? How will such irrational and wilful treatment of Scripture, for the sake of science, falsely so called, do in that day when He comes in the clouds of beaven ? (Matth. xxiv. 30; xxv. 31;) and when every eye shall see Him, (Rev. i. 7; *x 11,) and He will reward every man according to his works ? (Matth. xvi. 27 ; Rom. ii. 8; 2 Tim. iv. 18; Rev. ii. 23.) The reader who wishes to have Dr. P. Smith's sense fully, must throw out the words we have sometimes, from indignation or Wonderment, cumbrously inserted. Having beat up with great sophistry his way, he comes now to the conclusion, the
ever entered the mind of man; and how he treats the Creator and His Word, no language can describe, (p. 296.),
Gen. i. 1.- In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The phrase, the heavens and the earth, though not always used by the sacred writers in the full sense, is the most comprehensive that the Hebrew language affords, to designate the universe of dependent being; and on account of the connection, it requires to be so taken in in this place. It thus corresponds to the expressions in the New Testament, All things that are in the heavens, and that are on the earth, the visible and the
the all things. This sublime sentence, therefore, stands as an independent axiom at the head of the Sacred Volume, announcing that there was an epoch, a point in the flow of infinite duration, when the whole of the dependent world, or whatever portion of it first had existence, was brought into being; and that this commencement of being was not from pre-existent materials, (this is against good Dr. Chalmers question,) nor by fortune, chance, or accident, nor through the skill of any finite agent; but absolutely and solely by the will, wisdom, and power of the One and only
God. It was a creation in the proper sense,—not a-modelling, or new forming. Here, the expression, unlike John i., specifies an action as taking place at this point of time,-an act of the Infinite Being, (p. 270.) But when that beginning was,when that act was put forth,-it was not the design of Revelation to inform us. Candlish picked up some grains of the upas here. Carry it back as far as we may, there is eternity beyond it; and, compared with that eternity, all finite duration sinks into a moment. In the same manner we understand the recapitulation in chap. ii. 1-3,-the commencement of the briefer narrative in chap. ii. 4,-and the reason of the Sabbath given in the Fourth Commandment, (Exod. xx. 11.) Who ever heard of a law, and an eternal law, thus treated ? Truly, geology needs great concessions, or demolitions. All that the Israelites could understand by the heavens and the earth, all that they knew, and all that it concerned them to know,-Was made, (he is worse than Mr. Miller and Mr. James Brown, teacher, Nicolson Square.—Mr. Brown understands the Hebrew, and will not go against the Bible, but has a leaning to geology,) adjusted, arranged, appropriated to new purposes, (for so the word signifies,) in six days. There is just as much reason to interpret that commandment as representing the Deity to faint and be weary, in direct contradiction to other parts of the Bible, (Isa. xl. 2,) as to maintain, that it teaches the proper creation of the universe to have taken place immediately before the institution of the Sabbath. Gratuitous and baseless assertion. Dr. Buckland has inserted a note into his Bridgewater Treatise, which appears very obscure, and quite nugatory, -If it had any application to the matter at all, it would
rather go to darken the evidence of a proper creation being here asserted, or declared in any other part of the Bible. Whether the original writer of this sacred archive was Moses, or whether he was placing at the head of his work a composition of an earlier patriarch, the calm majesty and simplicity of the declaration give, as a matter of internal evidence, the strong presumption, that he spoke with authority,-only strong presumption,-that he only repeated what the Omniscient Spirit had commanded him to say and write. The declaration is, in the New Testament, adduced as an object of faith, which implies a divine testimony, (Heb. xi. 3.) How quaint! What was the condition or constitution of the first created matter! Certainly it falls within the province of general physics to examine this question, and if the investigation be conducted in the true spirit of philosophy, which is modest, reverential, and cautious, of which the Doctor sets a perfect example,) in a word, the spirit of genuine religion, (genuine religion has a higher aim,) though it may not be demonstratively answered in the present life, yet valuable approximations may be made to it. The nebular hypothesis, ridiculed, as it has been, by persons whose ignorance cannot excuse their presumption : is regardedas in a very high degree probable by some of the finest and most Christian minds.(
(Certainly the Christianity of geology.) If I may venture to utter my own impressions, I must profess it as the most reasonable supposition ; and the correlate of the nebular theory, that God originally gave being to the primordial elements of things, the very small number of simple bodies, endowing each with its wondrous properties. Then that the action of these properties, in the ways which His wisdom ordained, and which we call laws, produced, and is still producing, all the forms and changes of organic and inorganic natures; and that the series is by Him destined to proceed in combinations and multiplications, ever new, without limit of space, or end of duration, to the unutterable admiration and joy of all holy creatures, and to the eternal display of His glory who fixed the wondrous frame. He is now denying almost the whole Scriptures. Lucretius of old, with his atoms, and the Vestiges of the Natural History of Creation, do not, and cannot go farther into absurdity, Atheism, and materialism. WE sat five long, tedious nights hearing Dr. Nichol espatiate upon, this irrational, unseriptural hypothesis, - brought to Edinburgh by the great and the good, as they thought themselves, for this specific purpose.
We called it all nonsense and Atheism to those next us, be who they might; for which we were not thanked by fair ladies, who wished to sip the cup of infidelity and philosophy. In a brief space, Dr. Nichol, after looking through Lord Rosse's telescope, publicly pronounced it untenable. It turned out, that Sir David Brewster bad never believed it; but many who crowded the Waterloo Rooms, like Mr. G. Lyon, will believe it to their dying-day, if infinite sovereignty and mercy do not prevent. Ti is the only basis of geology, and it contravenes Scripture from beginning to end. If any person will retain geology after reading Dr. Smith, he must be blinded by geology. But we have not yet done with the Doctor. He quotes a passage from Dr. Nichol, which we do not think necessary now to transcribe.
Verse 2. And the earth was without form, and void, and darkness was upon the face of the deep. The first inquiry here is. What relation does this paragraph bear to the preceding ? Is it the relation of close connection and immediate sequence ?
or does it only express posteriority, without defining the separating interval ! My conviction is not the former, but the latter, (p. 273.) The conviction of every rational man would be the foriner. Whether the Hebrew or English is taken, earth, in the first verse, is succeeded by earth in the second; and darkness, in the second, is contrasted with light in the third. The matter, too, shuts up to the former, that is, of im. mediate and necessary sequence. The conjunction—the definite article-everything, enforces immediate sequence. But the very fact of Moses being the amanuensis, and the Holy Spirit the dictator, puts it beyond all doubt; and the question would never have been raised, but for poor, baseless geology to find some resting-place. It is the very acme of impiety ever to doubt, far more to disbelieve, upon the subject. The Doctor proceeds,—The question will be answered by attending to the connecting particle. As it is rendered in our version, it paturally excites the idea of immediate sequence. (So it does also in the Hebrew, Dr. Smith.) But a few words, adds he, will shew, that this would be an unwarranted inference from the expression in the original. This prefixed conjunction is the general connecting particle of the language; bnt the mode of connection may be extremely various, and is always to be ascertained by a consideration of the circumstances in every
It may be copulative, or disjunctive, or adversative, or it
may express a mere annexation to a former topic of discourse; the connection being only that of the subject-matter, or the continuation of the composition. This continuative use forms one of the most marked peculiarites of the Hebrew idiom; and it comprehends every variety of mode in which ope train of sentiment may be appended to another. It introduces the series of history, commencing at Numb. xx. I, which ir mediately follows the preceding narrative, from which it is chronologically separated by an interval of 38 years; yet that interval is not indicated by any words; it is left to be made out by the research of the reader. What although ! But the interval is not quite so long. Numbers contains the history of the Israelites from the beginning of the second month of the second year after their departure from Egypt, to the be ginning of the eleventh month of the fortieth year of their journeyings,-a period of 38 years and 10 months. Now, did all the things and events narrated, some of them very important, take place in ten months ? But letting this pass, as Dr. Duff in India says, is it pot strange, that there is so much labour, and cutting, and carving of the Bible, necessary, to found geology? It looks ill. What would Dr. Smith - what
would Mr. Miller, who takes a most unfair case, (Exod. ii.,) think of the thief, or murderer, or adulterer with their own wife, who would reason with them so long, so pertinaciously, so sophistically, that they must rob, and must destroy, and must murder? Would they not reckon it special pleading; and, if they durst, bid them begone? Virgil says, It was a laborious matter--we quote from memory-to found the Roman State. All the empires that ever were, or will be founded, will not cost the half of the labour that is requisite to found geology; and when one part is built up, another tumbles down. As this prefix is most usually rendered in our version, though frequently by other conjunctions, the English reader has it in his power to observe the variety in the shades of meaning, and the differing grounds upon which it connects sentiments and expressions. "Dr. Dathe of Leipsic, a cautious and judicious critic, of course, like himself, renders the two sentences
thus:- In the beginning God created the heaven and the at earth; But afterwards the earth became waste and desolate.
Does this display great caution and judgment? The old serpent displayed much more when he said to Eve, Ye shall not surely die. Dathe has but learned from him. For God doth know, &c. Let the reader who understands language and Biblical divinity,—who is striving, night and day, to enter in at the strait gate, (Luke xiii. 24,)try the But. A most important subject of our inquiry, is the genuine meaning of the word we render earth, and which has an etymological affinity with the words of the same signification in all the Teutonic, languages-to which class ours belong-the ancient Persian, those allied to the Hebrew, and the Sanscrit. The most general sense of the word, is the portion of the universe which the Supreme Lord has assigned for the habitation of mankind, (p. 274.) When it is conjoined with the heavens, it denotes the entire created world; but it is evident of itself, that the practical understanding of the phrase would be in conformity with the ideas of the people who used it. To object to all his unprecedented expressions, either in jest, sarcasm, or earnest, as I may have too often done, only renders the darkness less visible. The better way is to let him roll on, not like the Nile, or the Ganges, but the deadly Stygian lake, or Serbodian bog, into which, Macphail says, the great and good Chalmers gallantly, rode his hobby. Considering all the evidence of the case, I can find no reason against our regarding the word subsequently to the first verse; and
throughout the whole description of the six days, as designed to express (h
alics) the part of our world which God was adapting for the dwelling of man, and the