« PreviousContinue »
sprung from an acorn, though all subsequent individuals, in But when an ordinary mind, anxiously searching after truth, both species, must now pass through these stages. If this finds itself launched into a sea of clouds and thick darkness, perfection of form is admitted, then, in the first creation of without star or compass as a guide, it must either desperately ihe animal and vegetable world, are we to suppose that the proceed from doubt to infidelity, under the guidance of unasmineral productions of the earth were exceptions from this sisted reason and philosophy, or must give up the subject in rule? or that a Being so wise and so powerful as to be able despair of ever reaching the desired object; happy if it escape to create a man or a tree, with all the wonderful contrivance the too common taint of unbelief on points incomparably more and design discoverable in each, and above all, endued with important than geology. For if the sacred scriptures are the a living principle, was yet obliged to form an imperfect mass, unerring dictates of divine inspiration, which prophecy so and to wait the fermenting or crystallizing process from fully determines, we must consider them as infallible in every which its more perfect form was to arise? The idea is re-point. · If, on the contrary, we find at the very threshold a volting to reason; and when we have rejected it as improbable, statement demonstrably false, we should have the strongest as impossible, then comes inspiration, with its lofty and im- possible ground for refusing our belief to the subsequent posing simplicity, to assist our weak understandings, and to history. assure us that “ in the beginning God created the heaven and "Infidels have always imagined, and believers have too the earth."
generally conceded, that the Mosaic account of the early ages Having, by this line of reasoning, come to the conclusion of the world is the weakest of the outworks of Christianity. that the theory of a chaos, or imperfect formation of the earth, But, on the contrary, we may be persuaded that the firmest is not only contrary to our reason, but also in direct opposi- ground which even a philosophical believer can take, is the tion to history, our belief in the truth of the inspired writings Mosaic record.”—Edin. Encyclop. Antediluvian. is strengthened and confirmed; and we feel equally disposed It is in vain we look for this line of reasoning in the works to question those theories of philosophy which account for of those who are generally considered the great leaders in the present appearances and stratifications on the earth's sur-science. Both parties into which geologists have ranged face, by a numerous succession of accidents and revolutions themselves, the supporters of the theories of fire and of water, which are supposed by some to have occurred previous to are equally opposed to the simple and unadorned narrative of the creation or production of mankind, but subsequent to the the sacred historian; and both parties have, consequently, led earth's having assumed that perfect crystalline form we now themselves and their followers into an inextricable maze on discover in the primitive rocks. The demand for time is here the subject of primitive formations. It is, indeed, a melanagain advanced by geologists, who support this theory of choly proof, if any such were wanting, of the natural turpialternate revolutions; and as time is as nothing in eternity, tude of the human mind, that notwithstanding the bright they make whatever draughts they have occasion for upon instances which have been and still are found in the opposite this inexhaustible fund. It appears that history, as well as soale, so large a portion of those who search deepest into, and the consideration of the present course of things upon the who ought, therefore, to be best acquainted with, the works earth, are equally considered as nothing in this philosophy of the Creator, have been so little inclined to give him the The minerals of the earth have been likened to coins stamped credit due to his omnipotence and wisdom, that philosophy with unknown or difficult characters; and it is the business and scepticism have been but too often and too justly looked of the geologist, as of the antiquary, to decipher and arrange upon as almost synonymous terms. What advances have them in chronological order. But as it may safely be pre- been made in every branch of science and of arts since the sumed that the antiquary would make little advance in his days of Newton, and even since those of the great Linnæus! work, if he neglected to consult such histories as were within yet we do not always find a proportioned increase either in his reach, so we may come to the same conclusion with re- faith or in religious zeal. Any attempt to mix up science gard to the geologist. Ancient coins, minerals or fossils are with religion has, indeed, been openly condemned by many all equally unintelligible, if we have no guide from history to able writers; yet the time, it is to be hoped, will come, when lead us to an explanation of them.
the Linnæan systems will be followed, as well in religion as In entering, then, upon our geological inquiries, it appears in its union with the knowledge of the works of the Creator. the more natural course to proceed upwards, from material The great and good Linnæus lost no opportunity of expathings as they are now presented to our senses, to the First tiating on the wisdom and goodness of the Almighty. In Great Cause, by which alone they could have been produced ; such expressions of admiration his breast seemed to glow and then, consulting such history as may be within our reach, with warmth, and he became truly eloquent.* to retrace our steps downwards, from the beginning of all “Awake, upon the earth," exclaims he, “ I have contemthings to the present time.* We may thus entertain a cor- plated an immense, eternal, all-powerful, and omniscient fident hope that all the appearances on the surface of the God! I have seen him, and fallen prostrate in astonishment earth, upon which the theories of philosophy have been at his very shadow. I have sought out his steps in the midst founded, may be accounted for by an attentive and unpreju- of his creatures, even amongst the most imperceptible. What diced, and above all, a docile consideration of the three great power! what wisdom! what inexpressible perfection! I have events recorded in history, viz. the creation of the earth; the observed the animals nourished by vegetables; these, again, formation of a bed for the primitive sea, with the natural causes by earthly bodies; the earth rolling in its unalterable orb round acting within that sea for upwards of sixteen centuries ; and, the sun, the burning source of its life; the sun itself, turning lastly, the deluge, with its crowd of corroborative witnesses, on its axis, with the planets that surround it, forming, with together with the subsequent action of natural causes from that the other stars, indefinite in number, an immense and boundtime to the present day, or for upwards of four thousand years. less system. All is ruled by the Incomprehensible Prime
With regard to the character of Moses himself, and the Mover, the Being of Beings, as Aristotle has called him, the books of scripture which were written by him, under the Cause of Causes, the Eternal Architect of his magnificent guidance of inspiration, by which alone he could have pro- work." nounced the remarkable prophecies which were afterwards Even the heathen philosophers have set us an example on so strictly fulfilled, it would not be to my purpose in this these great and important points, which the most humble place to enter into discussion. It is enough to say that he Christians must acknowledge with admiration. is acknowledged by all as the most ancient historian whose call him Fatality? you are not wrong," says Seneca, “as works have come down to our times; and that the frequent every thing depends upon him. Do you prefer him under the notice taken of him by ancient writers, would serve to con- name of Nature ? you are right; all things are born from him. firm the truth of his own narrative, even if events foretold did if you name him Providence, you are equally right; for by not vouch for his veracity.
his orders and councils the world displays its wonders. He If the great events thús recorded in the inspired writings, is all eye, all ear, all soul, all life; and human intellect is inwith all their necessary consequences, were as studiously capable of comprehending his immensity.” “That Being,” adopted as foundations to build upon, as they have hitherto says the same heathen, " that Cause of Causes, without whom been studiously set aside in geology, we should soon find in nothing exists, who has constructed and organized all things; all classes, ardent students in this most interesting science. who is every where present, and yet escapes our view; has In the sixteenth century, the astronomer, John Kepler, of Wir-trable, that it is in thoughi alone that we can reach it.
veiled his August Majesty in a retreat so holy and impenetemburg, presented a work full of wild theory, to the great Tycho Brahe, who, after perusing it, returned it with the following ad
In a beautiful hymn of Cleanthes, as preserved by Stovice: -“First, lay a solid foundation for your views by actual observation ; and then, by ascending from these, strive to reach the causes of things.” The whole philosophy of Bacon was thus compressed, his lecture room at Upsal:
* This great naturalist and philosopher inscribed over the door of by anticipation, into one short sentence.
“ Innocui vivite, Numen adest.”
“ Do you
bæus, we find the following sublime address to the Deity, are to be accounted for by the slow and gradual march of naunder the title of Jupiter :
tural secondary causes, Mr. Lyell's system requires an un"O God, from whom all gifts descend, who sitteth in thick limited period of time for its completion; and in tracing the darkness, dispel all ignorance from the mind of man; deign errors into which other philosophers have fallen, he thinks to enlighten his soul, draw it to that eternal reason which there can be no wonder if such should be the case, when hun*serves as thy guide and support in the government of the dreds of years are often reckoned instead of thousands, and world; so that, honoured with a portion of this light, we may, thousands instead of millions. Mr. Lyell accounts for the in our turn, be able to honour thee, by celebrating thy great elevation of mountain ridges, by successive up-heavings of works unceasingly in a hymn. This is the proper duty of volcanic force, small in degree, but of frequent repetition; man. For surely nothing can be more delightful to the in- and, having time at command, he finds no difficulty in this habitants of the earth, than to celebrate that Divine Reason process. which presides over the world.”
But notwithstanding this theoretical argument in the “PrinTo such magnificent acknowledgments of a true God, by ciples of Geology,” so distinctly opposed by so many facts those whom we call heathens, we may add the beautiful in nature; and, with regard to at least one deluge, so totally creed of the great Pliny: “We must believe,” says he, “that opposed to history, and the traditions of all nations, Mr. Lyell there exists an Eternal, Infinite, and Uncreated Divinity:" has taken a very learned and extended view of secondary
The light of day, however, begins to dawn upon this philo- causes and of secondary formations. On the evidences to be sophic night; and there are many whose eyes begin to be derived from the fossil remains of quadrupeds, however, he opened, by the very excesses of hypothesis which have been has encountered the same difficulties as professor Buckland, promulgated by their scientific leaders. The great end of the without having succeeded in throwing any greater degree of study of geology ought to be, a moral, rather than a scientific light on the obscurities of that subject. His mode of accountone; the numerous practical and economical uses to be de-ing for the remains of elephants in the icebergs of the polar rived from it, should be, comparatively, subordinate, and seas, and for the other tropical remains of animals and vegewould be fully gained in the course of the inquiry. The study tables over the temperate and polar regions, proceeds upon carried on upon this principle in the present day, when sci- the same principle, and is open to the same glaring objections ence has made such rapid advances, as to have, as it were, as the theories of Dr. Buckland and baron Cuvier. shed a new light upon our benighted minds, would have the With regard, however, to the actual age of the world, and effect of settling our fluctuating opinions, which may have the actually short period during which secondary causes have been shakeu by the suggestions of a false philosophy. Let been in action on the portions of the globe we now inhabit, but a small portion of the brilliant talent be displayed on the we may safely refer the subject to the powerful evidence proscience, viewed in this light, that has been expended and lost duced in such abundance, and with so much industry, by this in hypothetical reasoning for the last half century, and we author himself. I have had occasion in a note, in another may confidently trust, that the coalition thus formed between part of this treatise, (see Chapter V.) to notice the startling science and religion, will bid defiance to the utmost efforts of facts produced by Mr. Lyell, with respect to the quantity of infidelity and scepticism.
mud daily imported into the sea by the single river, the Ganges : it is there admitted by Mr. Lyell, that even at the lowest estimate, viz. one part in a hundred, of mud, in the waters of that river, there is imported daily into the Bay of Bengal, “a mass
more than equal in weight and bulk to the great pyramid of POSTSCRIPT.
It does not suit the theory of Mr. Lyell to admit
the correctness of major Rennell's estimate, in which it is Since this work was completed, the “ Principles of Geolo-shown, with much clearness, that the daily deposit of that singy,” by Mr. Lyell, have appeared ; a work of very great tal-gle river, in the flood season, instead of only once, is nearly ent, and full of interesting research and information on the equal to SEVENTY-Four times the weight of that gigantic monusecondary causes in constant action upon the earth. This able ment. If we even divide the difference between these two writer has, however, taken, in some respects, a new line of authors, and admit the amount to be not more than than from theory, and is as desirous of accounting for the phenomena on thirty to forty times the size of the pyramid per day, and if we the surface of the earth, without the aid of any unusual or extend our view of a similar action to all the rivers of the carth, preternatural convulsion, as other geologists have been to and then consider the comparative actual extent of the whole press into their service a constant repetition of deluges and mass of secondary formations over the surface of the primitive disasters. He sets out upon the principle of Playfair," that globe, we shall at once perceive that such violent transporting amid all the revolutions of the globe, the economy of nature powers, acting for a million of ycars, must have produced a has been uniform, and her laws are the only things that have mass of secondary formations, infinitely greater than what resisted the general movement. The rivers and the rocks, the actually exists upon the earth, which may, probably, be conseas and the continents, have changed in all their parts; but sidered as of not greater medium thickness than about one the laws which direct those changes, and the rules to which mile. But one million of years is not sufficient for those they are subject, have remained invariably the same.”—Title who advocate the view of the subject adopted by Mr. Lyell; Page.
no author of that school has ever yet been able to bound his Thus we find, that while Cuvier inculcates the doctrine of views within any nameable period; and we may, with much numerous deluges, alternately of salt and of fresh water, Mr. truth, transpose their own animadversion, and consider it as Lyell endeavours to account for all things without the aid of not very wonderful if they find themselves involved in inexany general deluge, though he considers local deluges as tricable confusion and difficulty, when they calculate upon amongst the ordinary occurrences of nature, and producing thousands of years, instead of hundreds, and millions instead of violent local effects. The Mosaic deluge appears to be look- thousands. ed upon either as a fable, or as a less general catastrophe, than it is usually conceived to have been; and, as a supporter of the Mosaic account of it, it is probable that I shall be classed among those "physico-theological writers," who, in the early days of science, wrote, it is true, but little worthy of
CHAPTER I. saving them from the contempt with which they are here treated.
Our ideas of the real extent of objects on the Earth's Surface oflen As may easily be conceived of a theory wherein all things
erroneous.- True height of Mountains.- Depths of the Oceun.
-Of Mines.—Of Volcanic Foci.--Eruptions of Mud containIt may be said of this, and of all other philosophical inquiries, as has been eloquently observed with regard to christianity. “It is ing Fish.-Volcanoes only in Secondary Formations.--True delightful to have every doubt removed, by the positive proof of its Scale on which to view the Earth.-- Form of the Earth.--Newtruth; to feel that conviction of its certainty which infidelity can ton's Demonstrations.-Gravity and Centrifugal Force.never impart to her votaries; and to perceive that assurance of the
False inferences drawn from Newton's Hypothesis.- True faith which is as superior in the hope which it communicates, as in
Primitive Creations.—Density of the Earth.-Reflections the certainty on which it rests, to the cheerless and disquieting doubts of the unbelieving mind. Instead of being a mere prejudice of edu
arising from the Subject. The Days of Creation. cation, which may be easily sbaken, belief, thus founded on reason, becomes fixed and immovable; and all the scoffing of the scorner, On entering on a subject so extensive as the consideration of and speculations of the infidel, lie as lightly on the mind, or pass as the entire globe, and with the intention of first viewing it in a imperceptibly over it, and make as little impression there, as the spray upon a rock.”—Keith's Evid. of Proph. p. 4.
* Principles of Geology, vol. i. p. 284.
general way, before we proceed to the examination of its par- more than a quarter of a mile deeper than was reached by lord ticular parts, our first object ought to be to attain the neces- Mulgrave. sary elevation from whence this full and general view may be Mr. Scoresby sounded in latitude 75 degrees 50 minutes obtained.
north, longitude 5 degrees 50 minutes west, with 1058 fathMan, in his little sphere of action, on a minute portion of oms; and in latitude 76 degrees 30 minutes north, longitude its surface, finds his ideas so confined, that he is constantly 4 degrees 48 minutes west, with 1200 fathoms of line, or one misled by them, in forming conceptions of objects beyond mile and 640 yards, in neither instance finding the bottom. common, every day observation. Thus, when traversing the This last is, probably, the greatest depth of soundings ever stupendous Alpine regions of the earth, the mind of a stranger attempted. is overcome with the unusual appearances of things; and it The deepest mines that man has yet been able to form, do is in such scenes that the geologist but too often forms erro- not reach, in perpendicular depth, much beyond two hundred neous notions of the “ fracture and ruin of the solid crust of the fathoms, or not more than about a quarter of a mile. M. earth."* In like manner, an idea of immensity is attached to Humboldt saw, in 1803, a mine, in Mexico, which was to be the fathomless abysses of the great deep, or to the profound sunk to the great depth of 1685 feet, or 280 fathoms, and sources of volcanic fires. These objects, however, great as which was to require twelve years for its completion, which, as they may appear in the common scale of human compari- however, appeared very doubtful. son, almost vanish when the larger and more correct scale, on In viewing even volcanic action on the same great scale by which the whole globe has been framed, is applied to them. which we have measured the mountains and the depths, we The entire diameter of the earth is computed at about 8,000 cannot consider these awful phenomena of burning mountains miles. Now, the loftiest peak upon the earth's surface, t as more than superficial pustules on the mere skin of the earth. though it rises to the enormous elevation of upwards of twenty- It is now pretty generally understood, and acknowledged, that six thousand fcet, is but five such miles above the general sur-water is one of the inost active agents in the production of volface of the ocean. In like manner, the greatest depths of the canic fires; and when we consider the number of volcanoes in ocean sink into comparative insignificance, when this scale is the interior of our continents, which have, to all appearance, applied to them. For although the actual méasurement of become extinct from the want of that communication with these depths is, and ever must remain, beyond the reach of the waters of the sea, which obviously must, at one time, have human art, yet we have the strongest reasons (almost amount-existed; and that almost all the active volcanoes now known ing to certainty) for supposing, from analogy, that the form are situated near the sea coast, and rarely, or never, far in the and surface of the bed of the sea have no greater variation interior of large continents, we have very great reason to confrom the general level than those of the surface of the dry clude, that the utmost depths of volcanic action are not much, land ;£ and, consequently, that while there may be depths in if at all, greater than those we have found reason to assign to the ocean extending to four or five miles, by far the greater the ocean itself, that is, from one to five miles. portions of it, as of the dry land, do not vary more than from Catopáxi, in South America, is, perhaps, of all volcanic a few hundred feet to half a mile, from positive smoothness.g mountains, the most distant from the sea; and yet it is only
The greatest depths that have ever been reached by actual 140 miles from the shores of the Pacific. This remarkable soundings, have seldom exceeded one mile. Captain Parry, volcano, which is nearly 19,000 feet above the level of the however, in latitude 57 degrees 4 minutes north, longitude sea, presents us with a very strong corroboration of what has 24 degrees 34 minutes west, and about one hundred leagues been said, that water is the great agent in volcanic action; and from any land, found no bottom with the deep sea clamms, that the deepest source of this activity is not greater than and a line of 1020 fathoms, or one mile and 280 yards, being has been above supposed. This volcano, from time to time,
throws up, not only great quantities of mud, but also innume
rable fish. The almost extinct volcano of Imbarbara, has also * « In the midst of such scenes, the geologist feels his mind invigo-frequently thrown up fish in such quantities as to cause purated; the magnitude of the appearances before him extinguishes alltrid exhalations over the whole neighbouring country. The the little and contracted notions he may have formed in his closet; and species of fish thus thrown up, is that called by the natives of works, that he can form an adequate conception of the great relations Quito, permadilla; it is about four inches in length, and is of the crust of the globe, and of its mode of formation.”—Edinburgh almost the only fish found in the lakes and waters of Quito: Encyclopedia, Mineralogy.
but the great numbers occasionally thrown out, give us reason It has been well observed, that greatness is only a comparative to suppose that there must be very considerable subterraneous quality. It is true, that Alpine scenery is well calculated to enlarge lakes in the calcareous caverns of that country in which these the mind, and to extinguish notions, formed on a more contracted fish are bred, and from which the volcanic action of these view of the earth's surface. But even this enlarged view becomes mountains so far from the sea, is supplied with the necessary contracted in its turn, unless the earth be viewed upon its own proper scale.
quantity of water. In this case we are certain, that those lakes + Dhawalageri, in Asia. Mount Blanc is not quite three miles cannot be at any very great depth below the general surface of above the same level. On taking the mean height of twenty-nine of the country, as the fish could not exist deprived of atmospheric the greatest elevations in the Old World, it is found to be only one air. mile and three-quarters. The mean height of an equal number in
According to Humboldt, the volcanoes of America scarcely the New World is nearly two miles above the level of the sea. # We find it a general rule, probably without any material excep
ever threw out lava; but chiefly slag, ashes, pumice, and tion, that where a country is low, and the shore flat, the neighbour-vast quantities of water and slime. We consequently never ing sea is shallow in about the same proportion. On the contrary, hear of burnings in the tremendous eruptions of Quito, but where a coast is mountainous, and the cliffs high and precipitous, only of overflowings of slimy mud. During the great earththere we find the sea of very considerable depth, and nearly of the quake of the 4th of February, 1797, 40,000 human beings same form under water as above. We have this point ably illustra- were destroyed by the water and mud that issued from the ted in the survey of the German Ocean, with sections of the depths, mountains. In the description of the mud volcanoes in the in six different lines, from the shores of Great Britain to those of Holland, Denmark, and Norway, by Mr. Stevenson, in 1820. We island of Trinidad, given by Dr. Furguson, in the Edinburgh come to the same conclusion on a small, but generally correct scale, Transactions, one of the party who was examining them by considering any fresh-water lake, the shores of which present a picked up a white sea shell of the turbinated kind, in the act variety of scenery. In all the Swiss lakes it is very striking; and in sof being thrown out along with the mud; a very sufficient some, where the immediate shores are of great elevation, the bottom proof of a subterraneous communication with the sea. of the lake has not yet been found. $ In the course of some late experiments at sea, on board H. M.
It has been remarked, that no known volcano is seated in sloop Trinculo, captain Booth, by order of the lords of the admiralty, granite, nor is it found near any volcano, except in very low in order to find soundings at unusual depths, Mr. Massey made use situations. The same may be said of primitive rocks in of several newly invented machines for this purpose.
general. The volcanic formation of Iceland is, probably, the He sunk a copper globe, capable of sustaining great pressure, most extensive in the world, covering a space of, at least, with a line of 840 fathoms. The globe was enclosed in a strong net 60,000 square miles; yet there is no appearance of primitive of cord, and was fixed close on the line, at about 40 fathoms from rock in the whole of that island, though the mountains reach the lead. Neither globe nor lead returned to the surface; the globe had exploded, by the high pressure, and the line appeared as if an elevation of nearly 6000 feet above the sea. One eruption blown off by an air-gun. A second globe was sunk, with a greater of Ætna covered a space of fifty leagues in circumference, weight, and the same quantity of line, and it was inclosed in a still and one hundred and twenty feet in thickness, with calcarestronger netting, made of log-line, and not fixed so close to the line ous sand or dust; and as calcareous earth enters very spaas in the former trial. In this instance the lead returned without ringly into the composition of what are considered primitive having reached the bottom; but the globe had exploded, and the net rocks, though it forms a large proportion of the secondary, was blown to pieces. These experiments proved, to the satisfaction of Mr. Massey and captain Booth, the impossibility of counteracting
we have thus another strong reason for supposing that volcathe effects of high pressure offered at great depths in the sea.
noes are not very deeply seated in the earth.
The whole volcanic formation of which Vesuvius forms God, in the beginning, formed matter, in solid, massy, hard, the focus, reposes upon the secondary lime stone, of which impenetrable, and movable particles, of such sizes and figures, the Appenine range is there formed. Of this we have vari- and with such other properties, and in such proportions to ous direct proofs, the most remarkable of which is the fre-space, as most conduced to the end for which he formed them. quent projection of calcareous bodies from the crater, either * All material things seemed to have been composed of the in an unaltered, or in a modified state. When we connect hard and solid particles above-mentioned, variously associated this fact with the probable, and almost obvious communica- in the first creation by the counsels of an intelligent agent. For, tion with the waters of the neighbouring sea, we cannot but it became him, who created them, to set them in order ; and if consider it as highly probable that the focus of this volcano he did so, it is unphilosophical to seek for any other origin of is at a depth below the surface of the land, not much, if at this world, or to pretend that it might rise out of chaos by thie all, greater than the thickness of the secondary strata, or the mere laws of nature; though, being once formed, it may depth of the adjoining sea.
continue by these laws for many ages."* When we have thus reduced to their true and proper scale When Newton had remarked, that the planets present to those objects on the earth's surface which we consider great- the sight figures of obtuse spheroids, and not of perfect spheres ; est; and when we further consider that the theories of philo- when he had reflected upon the nature and properties of that sophy on the formation of the whole earth, are formed on a particular figure, and had contemplated those orbs, as subjected view of the minute portions of its diameter to which we have in their revolutions to the opposing actions of gravity and access, these portions, not being more than, at the very ut- centrifugal force, his penetrating mind at length discovered, most, five miles in height, and, by analogy, five in depth, out of that the rule of harmony and equilibrium between these two 8000 miles ; how trifling does the theorist appear with his contending powers was only to be found in the figure of an cabinets of minerals on which his theories are founded. Let obtuse spheroid. him cast his mind's eye along the diameter of a section of “ In order to render this fact plain to the understanding of the globe, and say if he is justified in forming theories of the others, he imagined this hypothetical illustration. If,” said mode of first formations on so slight a view of its mere sur-he, “ the earth were formed of an uniformly yielding subface.*
stance; and if it were to become deprived of its motion,” the Having thus corrected any false notions we may have formed, law of attraction or gravity, acting equally, and without reas to the comparative extent of objects within our view; and sistance, from all points of its surface, towards its centre, having thus attained the proper elevation from whence we would cause that yielding substance to settle into the figure may consider and study the globe as a whole, let us now pro- of a perfect sphere. But if it were then to receive a transverse ceed to an attentive and unprejudiced consideration of it, from impulse, causing it to revolve upon its axis, this new impulse the earliest times of which we have any record, and examine would cause a centrifugal force, counteracting the force of whether that record is contradicted, or corroborated by the ap- gravity, by urging the particles, composing the yielding subpearances we may discover.
stance, from the centre towards the circumference; and thus We find, then, that the most remote history opens with the as- would produce an alteration in the figure of the sphere. For sertion, that, “ in the beginning God created the heaven and the this new force would tend to elevate the surface, and would earth; but the earth was invisible and unfurnished, and dark- have most power at the equator, and least at the poles ; whereness was upon the face of the deep."
as, the opposite force of gravity would tend to depress the · I shall here adopt the corrected translation of the Mosaic surface, and would have most power at the poles, and least at record, from the numerous authorities, and unanswerable ar- the equator. The result of this inequality of gravitation guments brought forward by Mr. Granville Penn, in his ad- must necessarily be, that the original sphere, becoming elevainirable work, entitled, the “ Comparative Estimate of the Min- ted at the equator, but not at the poles, and the power by eral and Mosaicul Geologics." That estimable writer has which this elevation was occasioned gradually diminishing proved, in the most satisfactory manner, that the tohu vabohu from the equator to the poles, the figure would be eventually of the Hebrew text, the 'without form and void of our trans- changed into that of an obtuse spheroid. lation, was uniformly translated, both by the Septuagint, and “It being thus shown that such would be the necessary reby the Jewish and Christian churches, for 600 years subse- sult of the compound power of gravity, and centrifugal force, quent to the Septuagint translation by the terms invisible, it followed, that those two antagonist forces, acting at the (from being covered with the waters) and unfurnished, from same time in the earth, (SUPPOSING it to have been formed of having, as yet, no vegetation.t.
an uniformly yielding substance,) would have worked themIt is one of the great triumphs of human intellect, that the selves into harmony and equilibrium, by assuming that figure, globular form of the earth is proved to demonstration; and to which they would thenceforth maintain. Whereas, if we this has been added, by the immortal Newton, the certain suppose the case of a true sphere, which should consist of a knowledge of that remarkable fact, that the globe is slightly solid and resisting substance, the two opposing forces would flattened at the poles, and may, therefore, be termed rather an act in perpetual and violent discord, with a constant tendency obtuse spheroid, than a perfect sphere.
to disunite and rend the texture of the fabric. Now Newton This great and wise man, in considering the nature and ori- having maintained, that God, in the beginning, formed all gin of all things, has said, “ it appears probable to me, that material things, of such figures and properties as most con
duced to the end for which he formed them; and having de* It is not, perhaps, surprising, that the general views of mankind monstrated that the property of an obtuse spheroid was that which are, on such subjects, so very confined ; for the globe itself-is as most conduced to the end for which God formed the earth, much too large as the best artificial globes are too small for general viz. to revolve with regularity, and with perfect hurmony in use. In order to obviate, in some degree, both objections, I have occa
all its parts; he left it to the capacity of every one to draw the sionally formed a section of the earth upon a tiat sandy beach, upon obvious inference, in conformity with his known principles, the scale of one inch to a mile; and I have found that such a scale viz, that it is highly probable that God has formed the earth materially assists the mind, in correcting false judgments on this ex- with the same figure, which it is manifest he has given to tensive subject. We have thus a circle of 8,000 inches in diameter, the other planets, and for which an adequate reason is thus or of 222 yards, which, when marked.out with small stakes, upon a rendered plain to the intelligence : and he confirmed this arany part of this circumference, we have an opportunity of taking a gument of probability by adding the positive fact, that unless just, though microscopic view of things as they are. The the earth actually was flatter at the poles than at the equator, highest mountain is, then, fully represented by five inches! the the waters of the ocean constantly rising towards the latter, greatest depth of the ocean by the same little span! while we can- must long since have deluged and overwhelmed the equatorial and land over the whole of this vast surface! In order to form an now retained in equilibrio over the whole surface of the not calculate upon more than one inch as the medium variety of sca regions, and have deserted the polar; whereas the waters are idea of smaller objects, we must examine an inch scale, finely gradnated, and that, too, by the aid of a microscope; and we shall thus
globe.”+ find, that man would occupy about the 880th part of an inch in his Maclaurin, in his account of Sir Isaac Newton's philosoproudest stature, or about the size of the smallest animalcula ob-phy, † thus draws his inference from the above clear and served in fluids!
beautiful demonstration:f Comp. Estim., vol. i. p. 173.
“What we have said of a Fluid earth must hold good of the I must here acknowledge the very important services that have earth as it is ; for if it had not this figure in its solid parts, been rendered to science by this most able writer, who is the first that has clearly exhibited some of the most important, but obscure,
but a spherical figure, the ocean would overflow all the equatruths of Scripture, in connection with physical facts, open to ourtorial regions, and leave the polar regions elevated many examination. 'It is only to be regretted, that the necessarily controversial character of the comparative estimate, renders it a work * Optics, Lib. 3.
+ Com. Estim. vol. i. p. 73. more suited to the mind of the learned than of the general reader. Page 361,
miles above the level of the sea; whereas we find that one We have, then, presented to the mind, on the first day of is not more elevated above that level than the other." the creation, and created out of nothing, by the incomprehen
The supposed figure of a globe of an yielding substance, sible power of the Almighty, a solid mineral globe, with its made use of by Newton, merely to explain the effects of the surface invisible, (from being covered with a thin coating of two great forces which are constantly in action upon the earth, water, and there being as yet no light, for “ darkness was has been construed, by, the continental philosophy, into an upon the face of the deep.") And here, it is not without argument in favour of the actual primitive fluidity of the globe effort, that the mind is restrained within the limits to which in a chaotic state ; * and thence it has argued, that that par- our present inquiries must be confined. For when we conticular form which was given to all the revolving heavenly sider that this great globe is but a small member of a stobodies, by the great wisdom of the Creator, to obviate the ef- pendous system ; and that even that system is lost in the immenfects of two contending powers, was assumed by the globe itself sity of other systems throughout boundless space, the appawhile in a fluid state, by the mere laws of nature.t
rent similarity of all which suggests the probability of each Nothing, however, could be further from the ideas of New-revolving sphere being destined to the same ends as our own;* ton, who had previously stated his belief, that “as God had the mind is overwhelmed with the extent of the prospect, and formed matter with such figure and proportions, as most condu- with our own incomparative insignificance, which would alced to the end for which he formed it ; and as the end, in this most induce a doubt of the reality of those numerous blessinstance, was regularity and harmony, it was unphilosophical ings which we feel have been conferred upon us by our Mato seek for any other origin, either for the substance, or the ker. There is, indeed, nothing that so completely overshape of the globe; or to pretend, that it could have risen out whelms the finite mind of man, as the discoveries which his of a chaos by the mere laws of nature.”
genius and his reason have enabled him to make in astronFrom the announcement, then, of the sacred record, thatomy; by which he finds, that, great as our solar system is, “in the beginning, God created the earth ;” and from the pre- the immensity of space is filled with such systems, each ceding considerations, from the great mind of Newton, on moving in its own sphere, and all retained, in the most wonthe subject of this announcement, we are to conclude, that, derful regularity and order, by the laws to which the “in the beginning” our globe was of the same solid, sphe Creator has submitted them. When we raise our thoughts, roidal figure, we now find it to be ; and, consequently, that from our own little planet, to the contemplation of so boundgranite, and all other rocks, which do not bear the stamp of less a creation, it is not without the utmost effort of the mind subsequent formation from the effects of those laws, com- that we can connect time, and more especially a short time, with monly called of nature, but in reality those of God, and to such immensity. But we must keep in mind, while dwelling which the earth, and all things upon its surface, have been on such subjects, that man's most erroneous notions of creation, subjected since the first creation, are to be considered as prim- arise from the necessity he experiences of connecting length itive creations ; and, also, that the elastic fluid, forming the of time, with extent, or difficulty of operation in his oron finite firmament or atmosphere, and the waters, which were at first labours. We must not forget that most of our great astronomical spread over the whole surface, but were afterwards collected discoveries have been founded on our own earth, and its sin“into one place," at the command of the Almighty, are to be gle satellite, as a base: and if, in the study of this earth, we included in our minds as primitive creations.
find it revealed to us in the most unequivocal manner by hisIt appears strange, that the consideration of air and water, tory, and corroborated by physical facts, that our planet has (we may, perhaps, also, include fire,) has been hitherto omit- not existed more than what may appear to us infinitely too ted by those philosophers who have formed theories on the short a time for the formation of so great and so perfect a body, chaotic formation of the earth. In those theories we hear of we have no power to limit this discovery to an individual nothing but the formation of rocks by natural or secondary member of the solar system; we must extend it to the whole, causes; and though, by some, fire was considered the chief upon the same principle of analogy on which so many astroagent in these formations, and by others, water, we have no nomical discoveries have been suggested, and subsequently account given, or attempted, of how these two important ele- demonstrated to be true; our reason must bend, with whatever ments first came into existence. Thus, in the systems of the difficulty, to so conclusive a corollary. But this is a field chaotic philosophy, out of the four elements of which the system much too wide for our finite comprehensions. We cannot of our globe is composed, three remain utterly unaccounted for; proceed far on such inquiries as the present, without the conand we may justly add, that the origin of the primitive elements, viction being pressed upon us, that "the ways of God are not from which the fourth is supposed, in those theories, to have as our ways, nor his thoughts as our thoughts." We feel the arisen, is equally concealed from the reason and understanding. necessity of curbing our curiosity respecting the state of other
Some philosophers, undeterred by the apparent impossibil- planets, and of other systems; and we must be satisfied and ity of any satisfactory result, have attempted to ascertain thankful for the merciful dispensations it has pleased the the mean density of the earth. This problem only admits of Almighty to bestow so abundantly upon our own. an approximated solution, derived from the principles of univer- We must feel satisfied, however, from what history ansal gravitation. For our actual view of the interior of the nounces, and our reason corroborates, that not only our own earth does not extend, as has been before said, to more than earth, but the whole of our solar system, started into being one-sixteenth thousandth part of the whole. The calculations of at the same instant, and by the same incomprehensible and Dr. Maskelyne, from observations on the attraction of the Almighty power; and that the laws by which the revolutions mountain, called Schehalien, in Perthshire, followed up by of the various members of our system are regulated and Hutton, Playfair, and Cavendish, lead us to the same con- preserved, were enacted on this, the first day of the creation ; clusions, which, a priori, we should have expected ; viz. that when, though the sun had not yet
actually shone forth, it yet prothe central parts of the earth abound with some species of duced the effect of light, and of the “evening and the mornheavy and solid matter; and as our inquiries, with regard to ing,” which “were the first day." the surfuce of the globe, are in no way affected by the ques- It is here scarcely necessary for us to dwell upon that tion of its interior structure, which will probably remain for- most remarkable part of the first day's creation, the fiat that ever unknown to us; and as the above result is in no way con- light should appear, as it has no very intimate connexion with tradictory, either to our reason, or to history, we may safely the geology of the earth, and has been most justly admired by assume the internal solidity of the earth, as a fact, until all who are capable of reading, or expounding the sacred volstronger reasons are adduced in opposition to it.
The remark, however, ought not to be omitted, that
the distinct mention of the evening and the morning, forming * De Luc. Lett. Geol. p. 81.
each particular day, has always proved an insurmountable f“ The spheroidal figure of the earth, its crystalline and stratified difficulty in the theories of a chaotic philosophy, which, in structure, and its numerous petrifactions, are proofs of its original acknowledging the days of Scripture, though it assigns to fuidity. The Auidity, according to Werner, was aqueous; and he them a much longer period of time than one revolution of the conjectures that the various rocks were originally suspended or dis- earth on its axis, has yet been unable to give any reasonable solved in water, and gradually deposited from it.”-Edin. Encyclop. explanation of the terms evening, and morning, as forming Mineralogy, p. 408.
It has been already shown that this Wernerian theory of primitive one day.f The idea of assigning unlimited periods to the formations is entirely at variance with these very laws of nature, to the agency of which alone these formations were attributed.See page 17.)
problematical ideas of men, there is, perhaps, none more common or The terms so commonly used in geological writings, the crust of unfounded than that which attributes to the globe a hollow interior. the earth, is but too well 'adapted to mislead the mind as to the * We may say of the universe, what Pascal has so beautifully er. true nature of the globe, which, as far as we know, or can under-pressed of the immensity of God: “C'est un cercle infini, donc le stand, is solid throughout. The above term would seem to imply centre est partout, et la circonference nulle part.” a mere outer shell, covering a hollow interior. Of the many false or + There is a very general traditionary votion amongst all nations,