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stood by the Jews, without the stars as part of its decoration.
Moreover, there is a sublimity and system in the arrangement, and a far-reaching prophecy, to which philosophy could not have attained, however instructed.
The creation, in the first place, consists, according to the record, of two great periods; the first three days constitute the inorganic history, the last three days, the organic history of the earth.
Each period begins with light; the first, light cosmical; the second, light to direct the days and seasons on the earth.
Each period ends in a day of two great works. On the third day, God divided the land from the waters; and he
saw that it was good.” Then followed a work totally different, the creation of vegetation, the institution of a kingdom of life, a work more unlike that of the former half of the same day than those of any two whole days preceding; as much a new creation when expressed in a sea-weed, as in an oak or apple-tree. So, on the sixth day, God created the quadrupeds or Mammalia, and pronounced his work “good;” and as a second and far greater work of the day, totally new in its grandest element, he created MAN; and he then pronounced his creation “ very good.”
There is here no chance parallelism; for God neither in his word or works can be charged with accidental or unmeaning harmonies.
Vegetation, while for physical reasons a part of the creation of the third day, since its main end is physical, was also prophetic of the future, the true organic period, in which the progress of life was the grand characteristic. So again, man, while like other mammals in structure, even to the homologies of every bone and muscle, was endowed with a spiritual nature, which looked forward to another period, that of spiritual existence and immortality. Thus the last day of each great period included one work typical of the period, and the other, while essentially of the period, prophetic of the future.
Surely, philosophy never could have attained to such a
glorious scheme. What now are the special points which God's testimonies in nature have made clear ?
I. The progress of creation mainly through secondary causes. Time was lengthened back by geology to ages unmeasured. This had before been suspected: geology made it positive knowledge.
II. The fact that the days of Genesis were as many long periods, the progression of physical changes and of living beings, being, on this principle, in harmony with the Bible record. The Infinite God worked not by man's time-piece, or by the roll of a ball in space, counting the twenty-four hours, but in his infinitude and eternity, he directed events through the passing ages as if those ages were but moments.
We may remark here, that science explains, and general history also, what we must understand by epochs or periods in history. We learn that the importance of an epoch is generally inversely as its length, or rather, has no necessary relation to length of time. Take the life of a plant, for example: there is the epoch of the stem, that of the flowering, that of the fruit; the first much the longest, and yet the least important in itself. Then, again, the incipient stages of an epoch, are deep in preceding time: the changes leading toward it are at work, and now and then an event strikingly betokens the coming age, and is in fact a characteristic of that age coming up through the darkness of earlier time, foretelling or announcing the future. All history is alike in this; geological history is full of it. An age is marked by its great features, by the cresting of some characteristic; while its limits - its beginning and end - may be, and usually are, indefinite. It is thus that vegetation in the organic division of time was prophetic of the period when life should be the glory of the world.
As to the actual length of periods, geology gives us no definite knowledge.
III. The true principles or law of development or evolution in nature. We observe, as Agassiz has well illustrated, that the development of a living being brings out the profounder distinctions and afterwards those more external. First, in the
growing germ or egg appears a character that enables us to note the class; then, that of the order; then, that of the tribe, family, genus, in succession; and finally, that distinguishing the species. It is an individualizing process. We have already alluded to this subject on a preceding page.
Taking the earth alone as an example, geology proves thật it was,
at one time, a fiery ball in space; and, of course, with no more distinction of parts than in a germ. Then, dry land and seas appear; but the land is of small extent and without its mountains, the waters are all salt, and the climate is one over the whole sphere, the tropics reaching to the poles, for the same tribes of plants covered all zones, even to Melville Island and Spitzbergen. At a much later period, the mountains begin to enlarge, the dry land to expand, and gradually, as time rolls on, a temperate climate settles about the poles ; the tribes of animals also become more localized. Then, in the last age before man, the continents take their full breadth, the Alps and Pyrenees are born, and other mountains attain their majestic dimensions; the rivers consequently multiply and increase in magnitude and in their erosive power, and valleys are everywhere formed in great diversity of beauty ; moreover, the zones of climate become nearly like our own, and every region of the globe has its peculiar Fauna and Flora and temperature. Finally, the features, and climates, and life, attain all their present variety, as ma: appears to take his place at the command of his Maker. Thus the earth's features and functions were gradually individualized. The subject is illustrated also in various details in the organic history of the globe, to which we briefly allude beyond.
IV. The universe one, in system and origin. Threads of light and attraction bind the universe in one, proving an essential unity in the nature and laws of matter. Attraction of gravitation is the fundamental force of matter; and since the law is, in fact and ratio, the same here as in remote space, we may with reason conclude that matter is everywhere essentially the same, now and from its first existence; for the present system of the universe would be annihilated by a change in this law, and therefore it was begun when the law
was established. Bodies possessed of cohesion, necessarily have gravitation ; and hence a general identity as regards attraction of cohesion is involved in the identity of gravitation. Light being dependent on vibrations, as science has shown, and these vibrations a result of molecular action, therefore, since precisely the same rate of vibrations and identical characteristics belong to the light of the stars, we have proof of the profoundest significance and of the most precise character, as to the identity of all matter in its general laws. Thus it is literally inscribed on nature that, CREATION IS ONE, GOD IS ONE, THE UNIVERSE ONE.
V. Light necessarily the work of the first day—the signal of creation begun. From the recent results of science we know that light is dependent not merely on molecular vibrations, but on vibrations of a certain requisite rate; and also that it is produced only by molecular disturbance, action, or combination; it is a result of chemical or molecular change, and is no independent entity. Without mutual molecular action there could be neither heat nor light. Matter in such an inactive, forceless state, would be literally dark, cold, dead. But let it then be endowed with intense attraction of different degrees or conditions, and it would produce light as the first effect of the mutual action begun.
The command "Let light be," was therefore the summons to activity in matter. The Spirit of God moved or brooded over the vast deep, an abyss of universal night, and light, as the initial phenomenon of matter in action, flashed instantly through space, at the fiat of Deity. Thus science, in its latest developments, declares as distinctly as the Bible, that “on the first day light was.”
Light in its veriest universality, must have been the light created, as light is one and the universe one ; and not light about the earth, a little satellite to the sun.
VI. “ The beginning,” the actual beginning. In the fact that light must have been the first phenomenon in creation begun, and that the universe is one in history, we have all needed evidence that Moses meant"in the beginning," where he so asserts.
“ The heavens and the earth," as before stated, is obvi. ously a comprehensive expression for all existence - then a lifeless existence in the extremest sense. The earth was not the earth in defined outline; for, if we may take our translation as correct (and Professor Lewis and others give it the preference), it was “without form, and void,” actually formless, and merged in the great " deep," over which the Spirit of God afterwards brooded.
VII. The earth gradually brought to a condition in which dry land and seas existed. Geology, as we have observed, has taught that the earth was once in complete igneous fusion; and this would imply a heat at the surface equal at least to that of melted iron. Granting this, there are conditions of its waters and atmosphere, and of its rocky mass, which may be partly followed out ; and when we know better than now all the effects of heat on the elements and their compounds, we may perhaps be able to write out the history of those times of chaos. It obviously involved a gaseous condition of the whole ocean, whose waters, if now placed evenly over the sphere, would make a layer averaging two miles in depth. From this state, there would have been a passage to successive stages of condensation, as the cooling went on. Finally, the waters would descend and envelop the surface ; and afterwards, by unequal contractions of the still cooling earth, the dry land would have appeared.
As it would have required a temperature of at least 500 or 600 deg. Fahrenheit to have retained so much water in the state of vapor, the surface of the earth could not have been much below this, when the ocean descended to its place. It was still a highly heated earth and ocean, and the atmosphere must have been dense and murky with foul vapors. In Job there is a sublime description evidently of this period (38:8-10). Jehovah says: “ Who shut up the sea with doors ... when I made the cloud the garment thercof and thick darkness a swaddling-band for it, and brake up for it my decreed place, and set bars and doors, and said, Hitherto shalt thou come and no farther, and here shall thy proud waves be stayed.” From such a state, the earth gradually emerged,