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for granted—not to prove the vast antiquity of the earth.
6. They must not assume any condition of the world, the existence of any agents, or the occurrence of auy events, the reality of which they cannot demonstrate; and all their assumptions and reasonings must be consistent with all the facts, and all the laws of nature, which the question affects.
To these, axioms geologists themselves will undoubtedly assent; and it results from them, that if the strata demonstrate that the world has subsisted through a vast series of ages, it must be by what they themselves are, in composition, bulk, and number—not by any theory of an antecedent state of the earth, or the processes by which they were formed. If they do not prove the great age of the world, by what they themselves are, irrespective of any speculations, in regard to the agents by which they were formed, they cannot prove it at all; precisely as, if the nature and number of the elements of which the great pyramid of Egypt consists, and the fact that it was erected by human hands—do not prove that millions of ages were occupied in its erection; no theory, respecting the agents by whom it was built, and the method of their procedure, can demonstrate, that such a period was occupied in its construction.
RESPECTING THE POINTS DISCUSSED IN THIS CHAPTER.
What is the doctrine of modern geology respecting the age of the world? What great truth does that doctrine contradict? What is the mischievous influence which it exerts? Is what it asserts, a geological fact that is discovered by the eye, as the natures and numbers of the strata are; or is it a mere inference from an hypothesis respecting the mode in which the strata were formed? Is the question, whether it is true or not, one of great moment? What is the conclusion to which, if true, it must lead, in respect to the record in Genesis of the creation, and the inspiration of the Scriptures? By what criterion is the question, whether it is true or not, to be tried? State the theory of geologists respecting the formation of the present crust of the globe—in reference, 1st, To the sources from which the materials of the strata were derived; 2d, To the agents by which they were conveyed to the places of their deposition; 3d, To the scale of intensity on which those agents acted. Is their inference of the age of the earth founded on that theory; or is it drawn from the facts of geology which the theory respects? State the language in which geologists express their estimate of the age of the world.
What part of their system is it that we reject? What are the grounds on which we reject it? State then the question we are to debate. Does it respect the reality of the great facts of geology? Or does it simply concern the truth of the hypothesis by which geologists attempt to account for those facts, and ascribe a vast age to the world?
There are certain axioms from which geologists must not depart; there are certain errors into which they must not fall, in order that their conclusion respecting the age of the world may be legitimate. What is the first error from which they must keep free? Specify one of their assumptions that is chargeable with that error. In what respect does the supposition that the earth was created in a gaseous form, contradict nature? Has the geologist any more right to assume that there was once ten thousand times as much combustible matter, or ten thousand times as much latent heat in the globe, as there now is; any more than he has to suppose there was once ten thousand times as much quartz, feldspar, or lime? Is it against a great principle on which they themselves proceed in their speculations, as well as inconsistent with the condition of nature? What is that principle? Is it inconsistent also with the laws of matter, to assume that the material parts of the earth were created in the form of gas? What law of heat does that theory contradict?
What is the next error whioh they must avoid? State an assumption that is chargeable with that error. What is the first objection to that assumption? What is the second? ,
What is the third mistake from which they must keep free? Give an instance of a supposition in which an error of that kind lurks. Why would it have been impossible that the materials of the strata should ever have been drawn from lands of such an elevation, as that supposition ascribes to the continents and mountains of the earth?
What is the fourth error which they must avoid in their speculations? Specify one of their assumptions which is chargeable with that error. Prove that the torrents and rivers that convey sand, mud, and vegetable matter to the ocean, are inadequate to distribute them over its bed.
Point out a fifth ground which they must not make the basis of their inference of the great age of the earth. What is the objection to their deducing the antiquity of the earth from such an hypothesis? Prove that they assume in their premise what they infer in their conclusion. What must they demonstrate to be a fact—before their inference can be legitimate?
What is the last thing which they must not gratuitously assume, if they would make their inference of the age of the world conclusive?
Will geologists themselves assent to these axioms? What then results from them in respect to the nature of the proof by which the great age of the world is to be established, if established at all? If there is nothing in the strata themselves, that proves that a vast period was occupied in their formation, is it not clear that no hypothesis respecting the rate at which their formation was accomplished, can demonstrate it? May it not be as conclusively proved by their mode of reasoning, that innumerable ages were employed in the erection of the pyramids of Egypt, as that such a series of ages were requisite to the construction of the strata of the earth?
The Geological Theory contradicts the Sacred History of the Creation.
That the theory of the creation which geologists entertain and hold is graven on the strata, contravenes the sacred history, is fully admitted and asserted, not merely by those of them who are avowedly sceptical, but by many who receive the Scriptures as a revelation. Thus a writer in a foreign journal, in vindicating their theory, says:
"Geology is accused of inculcating views with respect to the formation of the planet we inhabit, irreconcilable with those statements which may be gathered from the book of Genesis.
"We have always thought the wisest and most consistent course for divines to pursue with regard to this delicate question, would be that of maintaining, to the full extent, the inspiration of the sacred volume on all facts involving the history, prospects, and moral condition of man; but allowing a greater latitude in regard to those portions which relate to natural phenomena, with which these facts are in no wise concerned. It seems reasonable to expect that a book,