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exhibits the act of the Most High as creative, and as constituting the sun, moon, and stars, what they had not before been, the determiners to the earth of seasons, and days, and years. If it were not an omnipotent act accomplishing an important step in the completion of the system, then the work of the creation, instead of occupying six days, must have been confined to five.
The act, then, was almighty and creative; it was exerted, apparently at least, on the bodies of the solar system already in existence, and really so, or else on the earth, and perhaps on both, and its effect was an alteration of their relations or motions by which the sun, moon, and stars became the determiners to the earth of its seasons, days, and years. The plain sense of the fiat is, "Let the luminaries in the firmament of the heaven be to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and for years." A change, therefore, was wrought in their adjustment and motions, which gave birth to seasons, and years, and the variations in the length of days. That may have been simply the inclination of the earth's axis—and the axes of the other planets, for the fiat may be considered as affecting them all—to the ecliptic, which is the reason that there is a diversity and succession of the seasons, that there is a variation in the length of the days and nights, and that the circle of changes through which they pass is completed in the compass of a year, and repeated in every answering period. If the earth's axis had previously been perpendicular to the ecliptic, and had continued so, there could have been no variation in the length of the days, no diversity and succession of seasons, and no obvious signs of the completion of the year. The last is now known, from the declination of the sun, and the consequent variation of the length of the days and nights, and succession of the seasons. It could then have been known only by observing the relation of the earth to the constellations of the zodiac. Such a change extended to the whole circle of the planets, all of which are inclined to the ecliptic—perhaps to the infinite crowd of similar orbs that are supposed to circle round the other suns of our star-system—and giving rise to such a train of important events in the economy of life, was worthy of the omnipotent fiat, and one of the sublimest of the creative acts.
It is possible, however, that it may have been of a still grander character. It may, besides that change, have embraced the communication to the earth and other planets of the projectile motion by which they are borne round in their orbits. It is conceivable that at their creation they received no other motion than that by which they revolve on their axes. Neither that nor their projectile motion is, like the force of gravity, inherent, but adventitious, and must be referred to an omnipotent fiat. As, however, they were subject to the gravitating power from the moment of their creation, the supposition that the force which drives them around their orbits was not imparted to them till the fourth day, implies that at their creation they were at a far greater distance both from the sun and from each other. The space which belongs to our system is, however, amply sufficient for the arrangement that would then have been required. Astronomers have estimated that the planet nearest the sun, if divested of its projectile force, and the centrifugal force also generated by its revolution on its axis, would not fall to the sun in less than fifteen days and a half; nor the moon to the the earth in less than about five days.*
It would be no difficult problem to determine what their respective distances from the sun must have been, that, falling under the force of gravity, they should at the end of 72 hours have reached the distances at which they are now stationed, when they received the projectile impulse that sends them around their orbits. The supposition implies, indeed,
* Mercury would fall to the sun in
that the momentum they had acquired was annihilated at those points, and may be thought to be improbable. Why should it be deemed more singular, however, than that the sun was created without the robe by which it fills its office as the luminary of its circle of revolving orbs? or that the earth was formed at first without mountains, hills, or dry land? As it would have given birth to a variation in the length of the days and nights and a succession of seasons and years, and meets, therefore, the conditions of the passage in even a more emphatic manner than the former, it may at least be considered as possibly the act God then exerted; and, if extended to all the planetary systems that revolve round the countless stars of our galaxy, was one of the vastest and most momentous of the whole series of the creative fiats.
Whichever of these is supposed to be the work of the fourth day—and one or the other undoubtedly must, as there is no other by which the sun, moon, and stars could be made to determine as they do, the length of the days, and the succession of seasons and years—it is, like the others, wholly irreconcilable with the geological theory. If the earth had already existed through an incalculable round of ages, and been the scene of vegetable and animal life, it must have revolved round the sun, and that orb and the moon and stars filled the office they now do, as determiners of the length of the days and nights, and the succession of seasons and years. It will be said, perhaps, that if the axis of the earth be supposed to have been perpendicular to the ecliptic during those ages, and to have received its present inclination on the fourth day of the creation, recorded by Moses, it will meet all the conditions of the text. That supposition, however, cannot be made by geologists; as their maxims forbid their assuming the occurrence of any event which is not demonstrated by the present condition of the earth, and was not caused by the forces to which they refer the facts of geology. But no traces exist in the crust of the globe, of such a change in the relation of the earth's axis to the ecliptic. It has been supposed, indeed, to have taken place at the deluge, and to have been the occasion of that catastrophe; but geologists treat it as wholly improbable. Some of them deny even that there are any evidences in the condition of the earth of the occurrence of the deluge itself. While many of them regard the fossil vegetables, and animals that are found in high latitudes, as decisive proofs that the temperature of those climes during their life must have been far higher than at present, they generally ascribe the superior warmth which is supposed then to have prevailed, to the influence of internal fires. They cannot, therefore, assume that the earth's axis received at the Mosaic epoch its present inclination, unless they pre