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apparently through the agency of the established laws of gravity and crystallization, which regulate it at the present moment.
It tells us, that during the first of these days, or generations, was evolved, what, indeed, agreeably to the laws of gravity, must have been evolved first of all, the matter of light and heat; of all material substances the most subtle and attenuate; those by which alone the sun operates, and has ever operated, upon the earth and the other planets, and which may be the identical substances that constitute his essence.* And it tells us, also, that the luminous matter thus evolved produced light without the assistance of the sun or moon, which were not set in the sky or firmament, and had no rule till the fourth day or generation: that the light thus produced flowed by tides, and alternately intermitted, constituting a single day and a single night of each of such epochs or generations, whatever their length might be, of which we have no information communicated
It tells us that during the second day or generation uprose progressively the fine fluids, or waters, as they are poetically and beautifully denominated, of the firmament, and filled the blue ethereal void with a vital atmosphere. That during the third day or generation the waters more properly so called, or the grosser and compacter fluids of the general mass, were strained off and gathered together into the vast bed of the ocean, and the dry land began to make its appearance, by disclosing the peaks or highest points of the primitive mountains; in con
* Herschel, Phil. Trans. vol. lxxxiv.
sequence of which a progress instantly commenced from inorganic matter to vegetable organization, the surface of the earth, as well above as under the waters, being covered with plants and herbs, bearing seeds after their respective kinds; thus laying a basis for those carbonaceous materials, the remains of vegetable matter, which we have already observed are occasionally to be traced in some of the layers or formations of the class of primitive rocks (the lowest of the whole), without a single particle of animal relics intermixed with them.
It tells us, that during the fourth day or epoch, the sun and moon, now completed, were set in the firmament, the solar system was finished, its laws were established, and the celestial orrery was put into play; in consequence of which, the harmonious revolutions of signs and of seasons, of days and of years, struck up for the first time their mighty symphony. That the fifth period was allotted exclusively to the formation of water-fowl, and the countless tribes of aquatic creatures; and, consequently, to that of those lowest ranks of animal life, testaceous worms, corals, and other zoophytes, whose relics, as we have already observed, are alone to be traced in the second class of rocks or transitionformations, and still more freely in the third or horizontal formations; these being the only animals as yet created, since the air and the water, and the utmost peaks of the loftiest mountains, were the only parts as yet inhabitable. It tells us, still continuing the same grand and exquisite climax, that towards the close of this period, the mass of waters having sufficiently retired into the deep bed appointed for them, the sixth and concluding period
was devoted to the formation of terrestrial animals; and last of all, as the master-piece of the whole, to that of man himself.
Such is the beautiful but literal progression of the creation, according to the Mosaic account, as must be perceived by every one who will carefully peruse it for himself.
Of the extent, however, of the DAYS or GENERATIONS that preceded the formation of the sun and moon, and their display in the sky or firmament, it gives us, as I have just observed, no information whatever. We only know that the flow of luminous matter which measured them advanced or was kindled up by regular tides; so that it alternately appeared and disappeared, commencing with a dawn and terminating with a dusk or darkness; for at the close of each it is said, "and the evening and the morning were the first day:" or, more literally, as, indeed, suggested in the marginal reading of our national version, " and there was evening and there was morning the first day:" that is, there was dusk and dawn, and by no means such an evening and morning as we have at present. And hence, Origen observes, that "no one of a sound mind can imagine there was an evening and a morning during the three first days without a sun.' So that the passage should, perhaps, be rendered, as most strictly it might be," and there was dusk As there was
.ויהי ערב ויהי בקר יום אהד -,dawn, the first day
It has, indeed, been contended, that each of these periods constituted a solar day, or a revolution of the earth round its own axis, and consequently
* Περὶ ̓Αρχὸν: in loc.
answered to the measure of twenty-four hours, as at present. But to maintain this opinion it is necessary to suppose that the sun and the moon were set in the sky "to rule over the day and over the night," -"to divide the light from the darkness,”and to "be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and for years, on or before the very first day or generation; for otherwise there could be no solar day, or such as we have at present, produced by a revolution of the earth round her own axis. And there have not been wanting cosmologists and critics, as Whiston and Rosenmüller, who have maintained that the sun and the moon were created antecedently to the earth; that they had their stations allotted them in the heavens, and actually produced solar days and diurnal revolutions of the earth from the first. But though their own hypothesis require this, the idea is directly opposed to the spirit and the letter of the Mosaic narrative, and hence can in no respect be acceded to by any one who is anxious to preserve this narrative in its integrity and simplicity.
How much more explanatory and pertinent is the remark of our own excellent Bishop Hall, when speaking of the primæval light, that during the first three days illuminated the face of nature: "Not," says he, "of the sun or stars, WHICH WERE NOT YET CREATED; but a common brightness only, to distinguish THE TIME, and to remedy the former confused darkness." And how admirably to the same effect does Bishop Beveridge thus express himself: "When he said, let there be light, by that word the light, WHICH WAS NOT BEFORE, BEGAN TO
But when he said, (that is, three days or generations afterwards,) let there be lights in the firmament, to divide the day from the night, he thereby GAVE LAWS TO THE LIGHT he had before made, where he would have it BE, and what he would have it DO. This is what we call the law of nature: that law which God hath put into the nature of every thing; whereby it always keeps itself within such bounds, and acts according to such rules, as God hath set it, and by that means shows forth the glory of his wisdom and power."
Nothing, indeed, can be clearer, than that, according to Moses, the sun and the moon were only set in the heavens during the fourth day or generation in the work of creation; and that, whatever may be the relative proportion of the times and the seasons, the light and the darkness, the day.and the night, that have occurred subsequently, we have no reason to suppose they occurred in the same proportion antecedently; since we are expressly told by the same inspired writer, that their immediate office, on being set in the sky, was to RULE these divisions of time, as they have ruled them, with a single miraculous exception or two, ever since, and to divide the light from the darkness, as it has since been divided.
We have no knowledge whatever, therefore, of the length of the first three or four DAYS or GENERATIONS that marked the great work of creation, antecedently to the completion of the sun and moon, and their appointment to their respective posts. And hence, for all that appears to the contrary, they may have been as long as the Wernerian system, and the book of nature, and I may add the