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tated in rain, and forms torrents by which it returns with various degrees of rapidity into the common reservoir. This restless motion and progress of the •water in the form of rain or torrents gradually attenuate and wear away the hardest rocks, and carry their detached parts to distances more or less considerable; whence we meet with limestone, clay, quartz, or flint, sand, and mineral ores, in places to which they do not naturally belong. The influence of the air, and the varying temperature of the atmosphere, facilitate the attenuation and destruction of these rocks. Heat acts upon their surface, and renders it more accessible, and more penetrable to the moisture, as it enters into their texture; the limestone rocks are reduced by efflorescence, and the air itself affords the acid principle by which the efflorescence is continued. Such are a few of the numerous causes that contribute to the disunion of concrete bodies, and powerfully co-operate with that wonderful fluid which alternately forms and unforms; which creates, decomposes, and regenerates all nature.
The immediate effects of water in the shape of rain is to depress the mountains. But the materials which compose them must resist in proportion to their hardness; and hence we ought not to be surprised at meeting occasionally with peaks which have stood firm amid the wreck of ages, and still remain to attest the original level of the mountain-breadths which have disappeared. These primitive rocks, alike inaccessible to the assault of time and to that of the once animated beings which cover the less elevated heights with their relics, may be considered as the origin of streams and rivers. The water which falls on their summits flows down in torrents by their lateral surfaces. In its course it wears away the soil upon which it is incessantly acting. It hollows out channels of a depth proportioned to its rapidity, its quantity, and the hardness of the rock over which it passes, and at the same time carries along with it fragments of such stones as it loosens in its progress.
These stones, rolled by the water, strike together, and mutually break off their projecting angles; and hence we obtain collections of rounded flints which line the beds of rivers, and of smaller pebbles which the sea is perpetually throwing upon the shores, often incrusted with a gravelly or calcareous edging. The powder which is produced by the rounding of the flints, or is washed down from the mountains, frequently stagnates, forms a paste, and agglutinates into fresh masses of the rocky matter of which it consists; often imbedding flints and other materials, and constituting compound substances known by the name of pudding-stones and grit-stones, which chiefly differ from each other in the coarseness or fineness of their grains, or in the cement which connects them. And if the water be loaded, as it often is, with minutely-divided particles of quartz, it will proceed to crystallize whenever it becomes quiescent; and will form stalactites, agates, cornelians, rock-crystals, plain or coloured, according as it is destitute of, or combined with, any colouring material: and if the material with which the water be impregnated be lime instead of quartz, the crystallization will be calcareous alabaster, or marble.
Many of the earths are now known to be metallic oxides, and all of them are suspected to be so: and hence a degree of heat capable of fusing them, and depriving them of the oxygen which gives them their oxide form, will necessarily convert them into their metallic state. That such currents of heat, from electricity and other causes, are occasionally, and perhaps in different places perpetually, existing beneath the surface of the earth, the Neptunian is as ready to admit as the Plutonic geologist; and hence the origin of metallic minerals, of mines, ores, ochres, and pyrites.
The decomposition of animal and vegetable matter contributes largely, moreover, in the view of the system now before us, to the changes which the globe is perpetually sustaining. The exuviae of shell and coral animals is pepetually adding to the mass of its earths, and laying a foundation for new islands and numerous beds of limestone, in which we very often perceive impressions of the shells from which the soil has originated. On the other hand we observe numerous quantities of vegetables, both submarine and superficial, heaped and deposited together by currents or other causes, constituting distinct strata, which progressively become decomposed, lose their organization, and confound their own principles with those of the earths. Hence the origin of pit-coal, and secondary schists or slates; to which, however, the decomposition of animal substances has also largely contributed. Hence, too, the formation and extrication of a variety of acids and alkalies, which have essentially administered to the actual phenomena of the face of the earth.
The action of volcanoes has contributed much in all ages, and is still contributing in our own, to the present state of the earth's surface. We have daily proofs of the mountains which it has elevated, and have already noticed it as one source of the numerous islands that stud the face of the ocean; and we have just adverted to the subterranean agencies of electricity, heat, water, and other gases and fluids which form its fuel. But the operation of volcanoes is more limited and local than that of the preceding agents. "They accumulate substances," says M. Cuvier, "on the surface that were formerly buried deep in the bowels of the earth, after having changed or modified their nature or appearances, and raise them into mountains; but they have never raised up nor overturned the strata through which their apertures pass, and have in no degree contributed to the elevation of the great mountains, which are not volcanic."
Inundations of seas and rivers have also, from time to time, added their tremendous force; but there is no ground for concluding that any catastrophe of this kind has been universal for the last four thousand years; nor, in fact, that such an event has ever occurred more than once since the earth has been rendered habitable.
In examining, then, the merits of the antagonist systems of geology before us, the Plutonic is perhaps best entitled to the praise of boldness of conception and unlimited extent of view. It aspires, in many of its modifications, not only to account for the present appearances of the earth, but for that of the universe; and traces out a scheme by which every planet, or system of planets, may be continued indefinitely, and perhaps for ever, by a perpetual series of restoration and balance.
With this system the Neptunian forms a perfect contrast. It is limited to the earth, and to the present appearances of the earth. It resolves the genuine origin of things into the operation of water; and while it admits the existence of subterranean fires to a certain extent, and that several of the phenomena that strike us most forcibly may be the result of such an agency, it peremptorily denies that such an agency is the sole or universal cause of the existing state of things, or that it could possibly be rendered competent to such an effect.
More especially should we feel disposed to adhere to this theory, from its general coincidence with the geology of the Scriptures. The Mosaic narrative, indeed, with bold and soaring pinions, takes a comprehensive sweep through the vast range of the solar system, if not through that of the universe; and in its history of the simultaneous origin of this system touches chiefly upon geology, as the part most interesting to ourselves; but so far as it enters upon this doctrine, it is in sufficiently close accordance with the Neptunian scheme,—with the great volume of nature as now cursorily dipped into. The narrative opens, as I had occasion to observe in the lecture on Matter and a Material World, with a statement of three distinct facts, each following the other in a regular series, in the origin of the visible world. First, an absolute creation, as opposed to a mere remodification of the heaven and the earth, which constituted the earliest step in the creative process. Secondly, the condition of the earth when it was thus primarily brought into being, which was that of an amorphous or shapeless waste. And, thirdly, a commencing effort to reduce the unfashioned mass to a condition of order and harmony. "In the beginning," says the sacred historian, " God Creatkd the heaven and the earth.—And the earth was Without Form And Void: and darkness was upon the face of the deep (or abyss).—And the Spirit of God moved upon the Face Of The Waters."
We are hence, therefore, necessarily led to infer that the first change of the formless chaos, after its existence, was into a state of universal aqueous solution; for it was upon the surface of the waters that the Divine Spirit commenced his operative power. We are next informed, that this chaotic mass acquired shape, not instantaneously, but by a series of six distinct days, or Generations (that is, epochs), as Moses afterward calls them ;* and 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.f 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 to us.
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 consequence 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 transition-formations, 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 masterpiece 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 Davs or Generations that preceded the forma
tion 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 first three days without asun."* So that the passage should, perhaps, be rendered, as most strictly it might be, " and there was dusk As there was dawn, the first day."—mx or npa tvi au? will 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 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 Rosenmiiller, 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 primeval light, that during the first three days illuminated the face of nature: "Not," says he, "of the sun or stars, Which Were Not Vet 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 Be. But when he said (that is, three days or generations afterward), 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 everything; whereby it always keeps itself within such bounds, and acts accordingto 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 flight 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, may add the term Generations, employed by Moses himself, seem to indicate.
Nor let it be supposed for a moment, that the term day in the Hebrew tongue seems to demand a limitation to the period of four-and-twenty hours, as it ordinarily imports; for there is no term in any language that is used with a wider latitude of construction than the Hebrew pi' Uom)< OT *** Arabic form, which is the word for day in the original. We are constantly, indeed, employing this very word, as Englishmen, with no small degree of freedom, in our own age; for you will all allow me to drop the phrase "in our own Aoe," and to adopt "in our own Day" in its stead; thus making Age and DAT terms of similar import. But in Hebrew the same term is employed, if possible, in a still wider range of interpretation: for it not only denotes, as with ourselves, half a diurnal revolution of the earth, or a whole diurnal revolution, but in many instances an entire year, or revolution of the earth round the sun; and this not only in the prophetic writings, which are often appealed to in support of this remark, but in plain historical narrative as well. Thus in Exod. xiii. 10, the verse, "thou shalt keep this ordinance in its season from year to year" if literally rendered, would be "through days of days" or, "through days upon days,"—no'D' ETD'D- And in like manner, Judges, xvii. 16, "I will give thee ten shekels of silver by the year" if strictly interpreted, would be "per dies—for the days"—that is, "for the Annual Circle of days,"—O'D'1).
Sometimes, again, the Hebrew or, or day, comprises the whole term of life, as in 1 Chron. xxix. 15—
Our Oats (O'D') on earth are a shadow, And there is none abiding.
So again, Job, xiv. 6—
Turn from him that he may reat,
Till he shall accomplish, as an hireling, his nit—IDV'
But the clearest and most pertinent proof of the latitude with which the term or, or Day, is employed in the Hebrew Scriptures, is in the very narrative of the creation before us: for after having stated in the first chapter of Genesis that the work of creation occupied a period of six Days, the same inspired writer, in recapitulating his statement, chap. ii. 4, proceeds to tell us, "these are"—or rather, "such were the Generations of the heavens and of the earth when they were created; In The Day (ova) that the Lord God made the earth and the heavens." In which passage Moses distinctly tells us that, in the preceding chapter, he has used the term or, Day, in the sense of generation, succession, or epoch; while we find him here extending the same term Day to the whole hexaemeron, the entire term of time, whatever it may be, that these six days or generations filled up. So that the sense given to the word by Moses, instead of limiting us to the idea of twenty-four hours' duration, naturally leads us to ascribe, not only a different, but a much enlarged extent of time to the divisions he has marked by the word or, or Day: or at least to those terms which occurred before the government of the sun and the moon was established, and the heavenly orrery commenced its harmonious action.
Whether, indeed, the days from this last period, constituting the fifth and sixth, were of a different length from any of the preceding, which may also have differed from each other, and were strictly diurnal revolutions of twenty-four hours, it is impossible exactly to determine. But it is a question which by no means affects the actual face of nature or the geological system before us: for as the third or horizontal series of rocks in which petrifactions of Known animal and vegetable substances begin to make their appearance must have continued to augment for ages after the completion of the hexaemeron, or six epochs of creation, whatever be the duration assigned to them; and as the two loftiest, the fourth and fifth sets of rocks.