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Of the Earth and its Physical Changes.

THE history of man is distinct from, but connected with, that of the earth, his appointed abode. The mightiest revolutions of the latter have taken place, for the most part, in a time anterior to the first appearance of man on its surface; and laws and principles of nature were at that period in operation which have since either totally ceased, or have changed their character. Yet in a history of the origin and progress of the human race, that of the earth cannot be passed over in perfect silence. Its changes and periods form a necessary part of the great chain of causes and effects established and conducted by the mighty Being whose power gave existence to all. Modesty and diffidence should be the guides of those who seek to penetrate into the ages antecedent to man and his works.

The only sources from which we can expect to derive the history of the earth are, the Mosaic records, and the examination, in different countries, of its present surface, and the various strata that compose it. The Pentateuch, however, descends not into particulars: the object of the inspired lawgiver was to impress on the minds of his people the great and important truth


which was to form the distinguishing characteristic of their religion, namely, the unity of the Deity; that one sole and mighty Being had given existence to all that was, had shared his power with none, and was alone to be worshipped. The legislator, accordingly, did not depart too far from established opinions, nor seek to introduce truths incomprehensible to those whom he addressed; yet the account he gives of the gradual progress of creation sufficiently corresponds with that which we now read out of the great book of nature. But all attempts to extract a history of the earth and its revolutions from the Bible have failed, and the theories only remain as monuments of the genius of their constructors. Man, not his abode, is the subject of the sacred Scriptures; and we may admire but not question the fact of the people of Israel, though divinely taught in things relating to mind, being left in things relating to matter in equal ignorance with less favoured nations.

The other source of knowledge respecting the history of the earth has, during the last 100 years, been followed with continued and vigorous perseverance by men of intellectual powers of the highest order; and from their discoveries, especially those of the distinguished Cuvier, we learn the following facts respecting the formation and the revolutions of the earth.

To the origin of the solid nucleus of the earth no date can be assigned. Water invested it; and the acotyledonous plants, and the testaceous tribes of fish, were the commencement of vegetable and animal life. A violent revolution of nature annihilated these incipient creations, and their remains combined with other substances to increase the stone of the earth. In the various successive periods appeared the mollusca, the fishes, the amphibious animals, all of gigantic size; and all after living their appointed period were destroyed, and their remains employed as the materials of additional surface for the advancing earth. The mammalia of the waters, sea-horses, sea-lions, whales, and their whole kindred,

formed the next step of the progression. The violent motions and agitations of the waves destroyed these also, that they might add their huge carcasses to the inanimate surface of the earth, which now attained that state in which it sent up vegetation adapted for the support of animals of the land. Nature now put forth her strength in the production of the monstrous megatheria, mastodons and mammoths, whose remains excite our wonder and our curiosity. This race, too, after having possessed the earth for an indefinite period, saw its appointed end come: the waters rose once more, and involved them, like their predecessors, in the clay, sand, and gravel, which ty swept along; but no rocky stratum was, as with the former generations, the result: and the sandstone, gypsum, clay, and other substances, in which the remains of this creation are found, occur only in spaces of limited extent. The violent revolutions of the earth were now at an end; the races of animals, such as at present occupy its surface, appeared; and, last of all, Man, the perfection of nature's works, entered on the scene of his future destinies. But the violent powers of nature had not yet ceased to operate; and tradition retains the recollection of at least one great destruction of animal life by water.

Of Man.

We enter not here into the question of the different races of mankind, and the origin of the surprising differences we find among the members of the same species. We shall not enquire whether the lowest class in point of intellect and form, the Negro, approaching in structure to the ape, be the original type of man, and have thence, by culture and climate, refined to the beauty and mental powers of the European; or whether the reverse be the truth, and climate and want of culture have brought man down from his lofty state, and approximated him to the brute. We confine ourselves to the fact, that there are different races of our species

occupying the various portions of the earth, and distinguished from each other in corporeal structure and in mental development. These numerous varieties are, by the ablest investigators, reduced to three principal stems, viz. the Caucasian or Europeo-Arabic, the Mongol, and the Negro or Æthiopic. The first contains the people of Asia, north and south of the great mountain range of Caucasus and its continuation to the Ganges, of Europe, and of Northern Africa; the second, the people of Eastern Asia and of America; the third, the tribes with woolly hair and sable skin that people the African continent. Yet many tribes can with difficulty be brought under any one of these divisions: the endless variety of Nature is as apparent in the human race as in the animal and vegetable kingdoms.

Original Seat of Man.

It is, perhaps, a useless enquiry to search after the region in which man was first placed, the paradise of his first days of innocence and happiness. The only historic clew we possess are the names of the four rivers, said in the Hebrew records to have watered the land in which the progenitors of the human race dwelt. But as no four rivers can be found on the present surface of the earth agreeing in all points with those mentioned by Moses, our safest course is to confine ourselves to the enquiry after the region where those who escaped the last great inundation which has overwhelmed the earth, resumed their destined course of life and occupation,

The general opinion, founded on the literal interpretation of Scripture, has long been, that at the time of the flood all mankind perished, save Noah and his family. Some, however, contend, that the words of the inspired writer are not to be taken so strictly, and that as his information was destined for a particular portion of mankind, it may have been only intended to instruct them in the history of the race to which they belonged, while that of other races may have been passed over in

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