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that garment of cloud slowly dissipating. The tides and waves rolled around the sphere in ceaseless motion; and, however incredible it appears, we can point out the strata that were made by that ancient ocean. Geology has brought to light rocks of great thickness, without traces of fossils, and many of them crystalline, which belong to time preceding the creation of animals, after the descending of the waters to the surface. They are called the Azoic rocks, or rocks of the Azoic
because no traces of animals occur in them. Geology proves, too, that before animal life began, large areas of these rocks were dry land, over North America from Labrador westward, and we may almost map out the "dry land" on this hemisphere, which is announced on the third day.
VIII. Vegetation part of the physical creation. The introduction of vegetation on the third day, was one of the mysterious facts in creation until the recent revelations of science. Now we know that the prime mission of vegetation is physical, the removal from the atmosphere of a deadly gas, carbonic acid, and the supply to it of one eminently a supporter of life, oxygen. This it accomplishes by the simple process of growth; upon this great end, its vital functions and structure are based; this single criterion distinguishes all plants from animals. Feeding animals and giving joy by its beauty to the human soul are only concomitant ends of vegetation.
Moses in announcing the creation of vegetation describes plants in general. But the institution of the plant-kingdom was the great event; and if plant-life came forth first in the sea-weed, it was still life, a new feature to the progressing world. According to the records in the rocks, vegetation was for a long age only sea-weeds; then in the coal-period,
1 We have omitted any special reference to the second day, as neither geology nor general science, apart from astronomy and general reasoning, afford much aid in interpreting the account. The step of progress was one between that of light through universal space on the first day, and the separation of the lands and seas on the third. The event of the highest character in that interval, that marking a grand cpoch in terrestrial time, was the elimination or separation of the earth itself from the “deep” or “waters,” (admitted to mean "fluid” in its most extended sense). See Prof. Guyot's views on this subject, in the article in this journal, for April last, p. 327.
flowerless trees, along with the pine tribe (coniferæ) which are almost flowerless; and as the last age before man was about to open, trees of our common genera, oaks, elms, etc., and also the palms, began to diversify the earth's surface.
The proof from science of the existence of plants before animals is inferential, and still may be deemed satisfactory. Distinct fossils have not been found : all that ever existed in the azoic rocks having been obliterated. The arguments in the affirmative are as follows:
1. The existence of limestone rocks among the other beds, similar limestones in later ages having been of organic origin; also the occurrence of carbon in the shape of graphite, graphite being, in known cases, in rocks a result of the alteration of the carbon of plants.
2. The fact that the cooling earth would have been fitted for vegetable life for a long age before animals could have existed; the principle being exemplified everywhere that the earth was occupied at each period with the highest kinds of life the conditions allowed.
3. The fact that vegetation subserved an important purpose in the coal-period in ridding the atmosphere of carbonic acid for the subsequent introduction of land animals, suggests a valid reason for believing that the same great purpose, the true purpose of vegetation, was effected through the ocean before the waters were fitted for animal life.
4. Vegetation being directly or mediately the food of animals, it must have had a previous existence. The latter part of the azoic age in geology, we therefore regard as the age when the plant-kingdom was instituted, the latter half of the third day in Genesis. However short or long the epoch, it was one of the great steps of progress.
IX. The creation of the sun on the fourth day. By arguments already mentioned, based on the oneness of the universe in origin, the sun, moon and stars are shown to have had their places, when the earth was established. But through a prolonged period, as has been remarked, the earth was shrouded in its own vapors, and warm with its own heat, and there was therefore no sun or moon, days or
Whenever the sun first broke through the dense clouds, it was a day of joy to the world, standing out as one of the grand epochs in its history.
The sun is almost the heart and brain of the earth. It is the regulator of its motions, from the orbital movement in space, to the flow of its currents in the sea and air, the silent rise of vapors that fly with the winds to become the source of rivers over the land, and the still more profound action in the living growth of the plant and animal. It is no creator of life; but through its outflowing light, heat, and attraction, it keeps the whole world in living activity, doing vastly more than simply turning off days and seasons. Without the direct sunlight, there may be growth, as many productions of the sea and shady grounds prove. But were the sun's face perpetually veiled, far the greater part of living beings would dwindle and die.. Many chemical actions in the laboratory are suspended by excluding light; and in the exquisite chemistry of living beings, this effect is everywhere marked : even the plants that happen to grow beneath the shade of a small tree or hedge in a garden evince, by their dwarfed size and unproductiveness, the power of the sun's rays, and the necessity of this orb to the organic period of the earth's history.
The sun therefore leads off, not only in fact, but with peculiar grandeur and aptness, the organic history of the globe.
Thus, at last, through modern scientific research, we learn that the appearance of light on the first day and of the sun on the fourth, an idea foreign to man's unaided conceptions, is as much in the volume of nature as that of sacred writ.
X. The invertebrates, fishes, reptiles, and birds, the earlier animal creations. Geology has opened out the fact, that the earliest animals and plants of the globe were wholly water species. There was a long marine era, the lands small, the seas nearly universal, the continents marked out it is true in their grand outline, but only partly emerged; the animals only the inhabitants of the seas, as molluscs, corals, and fishes.
This was followed by a semi-marine, or amphibian era, as
it may be called, when land-plants took possession of the dry land, producing in its earlier half the coal era : but still the continents were at least half the time more or less submerged. Reptiles and birds were then the dominant animal types.
As God has recorded in the rocks by the burial of these races in their successions, so he has written in His word. On the fifth day, He said: “ Let the waters bring forth,” by waters implying apparently the marine or amphibian character of the species of life; and then, the account adds : “ The waters brought forth abundantly," while the rocks testify also to swarming myriads in the seas.
The species with few exceptions were oviparous. Prof. Bush shows that the "great whales" were as correctly reptiles, the same word tannim being used for dragon in Ezek. 29: 3, where the figure is drawn from the crocodile of the Nile; also that the word for fowl, means rather flying thing, whether insect, bird, or flying reptile, all of which occur in this era. He says moreover that the clause in verse 20, translated " and fowl that may fly above the earth” may be as correctly translated and let the fowl fly above the earth ; so as to disconnect it from the clause, “ Let the waters bring forth :” thus it stands in verse 22.
The harmony of geology with Genesis could not be more exact.
XI. The creations of the tribes not simultaneous but successive, and occurring at many different times, after more or less complete exterminations. The records in the rocks declare that these creations came not forth all at once, but in long progression. There was an Age when Molluscs (of which shell-fish, snails, and cuttle-fish are examples) were the dominant race, having as associates corals, crinoids, and trilobites. The earth, we may believe, was yet too warm, and the atmosphere too impure for more exalted forms. This was the Silurian age of geological science.
There was next an Age when Fishes first filled the seas, the Devonian of geology. Then another, when Amphibians (the inferior group of reptiles, including frogs and salaman
ders, related to fishes in having gills when young) commenced, and land-plants were first in exuberant growth, the Carboniferous age (the land-plants, as stated, cleansing the atmosphere from carbonic acid for land animals). Then followed an Age in which true reptiles increased in numbers and diversity, by multiplied creations, until there were reptiles larger than whales in the water, immense leviathan reptiles on the land, and flying reptiles in the air, so that each of the elements was taken possession of by these scaly tribes. This was the Reptilian age. In its progress, reptiles passed their climax, and before its close, commenced their decline; the race, since then, has been a comparatively feeble one.
Moreover, in each of these Ages, there were many distinct creations succeeding to exterminations of previously existing life. Through the Silurian, Devonian, Carboniferous and Reptilian Ages in America, the fifth day of Genesis, fifteen times at least the seas were swept of their species, so that, in the rocky folios of the succeeding epoch, not a species of the former epoch occurs, or only half a dozen or so out of hundreds. After each, life was again reinstated by the Creative Hand, life in all the departments that had thus far been introduced to the globe, new mollusca, new corals, new crinoids, new trilobites; and if the Age of Fishes were in progress, new fishes also, and so on; making a complete creation for the time. Even in the Age of Fishes alone (the Devonian age), there were four such revolutions in America, with new creations throughout. Moreover, there were many partial destructions and restorations at other times. These exterminations can be proved, in many cases, to have been produced, either by the escape of heat, through fissures, from the earth's interior, or the elevation of the sea-bottom to dry land, or some convulsion in the earth's crust. They were, in general, connected with the earth's physical history.
Recapitulating the geological Ages mentioned, and adding those following, they are (naming them, as has been done by Agassiz, from the dominant type):
I. the Age of Molluscs, or the Silurian; II. the Age of Fishes, or the Devonian; III. the Age of Coal-plants and