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These expedients, however, have only served to show in a more decisive manner the impracticability of their conciliation. Thus the assumption that the word day, in the narrative of the successive acts of the creation, instead of signifying the time of a revolution of the earth on its axis, denotes a vast indefinite period of cycles, or centuries, is in direct contradiction to the passage itself, which defines each of the six days as consisting of an evening and morning; i. e. the period of a complete revolution of the earth on its axis. "And God divided the light from the darkness; and God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night; and the evening and the morning "—which were the darkness and light of twenty-four hours—" were the first day."—Chap. i. 4, 5. This is confirmed also by the announcement at the institution of the law at Sinai, that "in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, and the sea, and all that in them is."—Exodus
following passage in an article from him in the Christian Observer, May, 1834 :—
"Not the mere theoretical views of geologists alone, but the conclusions which appear by the most cogent logical necessity to result from the phenomena of the structure of the earth's surface, and the variety and order of the very numerous series of organic remains imbedded in the strata, do undoubtedly appear to require periods of very considerable duration, and to indicate that very many ages had elapsed before ' the diapason closing full in man,' a new exertion of the creative energy, made in its own image a being of higher intellectual and moral capacities as the head of its other terrestrial works," P. 308.
xx. 11. As we have thus the explicit testimony of the Most High himself that the days of the creation were ordinary days, to assign to the word so totally different and unnatural a meaning, is to contravene his own definition and use of it. It is, in fact, nothing less than to impeach the veracity of his declaration in one passage, in order to save his word from a charge of falsehood in another. So self-confuting a device, instead of answering its purpose, could only serve to impress those who carefully scrutinized it with a profounder feeling of the contrariety of the two representations, and of their hopeless perplexity who could rely on such an expedient for their conciliation. Accordingly, though advanced with much confidence, and for a time accepted by many, it was soon seen to be untenable, and is now, we believe, generally rejected by geologists.* The other expedient f—the assumption that the
* Thus Professor Sedgwick discards it, and pronounces those guilty "of a sinful indiscretion" "who have endeavored to bring the natural history of the earth into a literal accordance with the book of Genesis, first by greatly extending the periods of time implied by the six days of creation; and secondly, by endeavoring to show that under this new interpretation of its words, the narrative of Moses may be supposed to comprehend and describe in order the successive epochs of geology."—Discourse.
t This view is held by Dr. Buckland:—
"The Mosaic narrative commences with a declaration that 'in the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.' These few words creation of the heavens and the earth in the beginning, announced in the first verse, was not included in the first of the six days' work, but took place at
of Genesis may be fairly appealed to by the geologist as containing a brief statement of the creation of the material elements, at a time distinctly preceding the operations of the first day; it is nowhere affirmed that God created the heaven and the earth in the first day, but in the beginning; this beginning may have been an epoch at an unmeasured distance, followed by periods of undefined duration, during which all the physical operations disclosed by geology were going on."—Sridgewater Treat., p. 20.
It is maintained also by Professor Sedgwick and many others.
"The Bible instructs us that man and other living things have been placed but a few years upon the earth, and the physical monuments of the world bear witness to the same truth. If the astronomer tells us of myriads of worlds not spoken of in the sacred records, the geologist in like manner proves (not by arguments from analogy, but by the incontrovertible evidence of physical phenomena) that there were former conditions of our planet, separated from each other by vast intervals of time, during which man and the other creatures of his own date had not been called into being. Periods such as these belong not therefore to the moral history of our race, and come neither within the letter nor the spirit of revelation. Between the first creation of the earth and the day in which it pleased God to place man upon it, who shall define the interval? On this question Scripture is silent. But that silence destroys not the meaning of those physical monuments of his power that God has put before our eyes; giving us at the same time faculties whereby we may interpret them and comprehend their meaning. If the Bible be a rule of life and faith, a record of our moral destinies, it is not, I repeat, nor does it pretend to be, a revelation of natural science.''—Discourse on the Studies of the University of Cambridge.
A writer in the Christian Observer also advances it in the following form, quoted from a friend :—
"I regard Genesis i. 1 as an universal proposition, intended to contradict all the heathen systems, which supposed the eternity of the distance of innumerable ages, and that, in the interval between that and the creation narrated by Moses, there was a series of creations and destructions of vegetable and animal races—is equally at variance with the representation in v. 4, 5, that the darkness, which was divided from the day—which must have embraced that of the whole space between the first creative fiat and the production of light— was called night, and formed part of the first day. It is also in direct contradiction to the declaration of the Almighty at Sinai, that "in six days he made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is;" in which the creation of the heavens and earth is as specifically assigned to the six days, as the plants, fish, fowls, and beasts are, with which the earth and sea were peopled. It is, like the former, accordingly nothing else than an attempt to bring this passage into harmony with the theory of geology, by impeaching the veracity of the other; or to clear the word of God from the charge of falsehood, by transferring that charge to himself!
Apart from this consideration, also, the supposition
matter, or polytheism, or any notion inconsistent with the infinite perfections of the one great Creator; and ver. 2 I regard as proceeding to take up our planet in a state of ruin from a former condition, and describing a succession of phenomena, effected in part by the laws of nature (which are no more than our expressions of God's observed method of working), and in part by the immediate exercise of divine power directing and creating."—Christian Observer, May, 1834.
of such an omission is unnatural and improbable. If such a vast interval, and occupied by such a stupendous series of creative acts, intervened between the fiat which called the heavens and earth into existence, and the six days of the Mosaic creation, why should the Most High, in professedly giving a history of his work, pass them in total silence, and frame the narrative so as necessarily to mislead his creatures in respect to the date and history of the earth? If, as geology asserts, the strata form an indubitable record of those creations, the recital of them in the history in Genesis, so far from unimportant, was obviously necessary, both to his vindication, and to the just instruction of his creatures. To exclude it, was to place them under an unavoidable necessity either of misconceiving or distrusting him, and prepare the way for their being betrayed into the most fatal errors. For as the sole creation in our system which he claims is that of the six days, including the fiat by which the heavens and the earth were called into existence, if there were other previous creations equally important, what could suggest itself so naturally as the reason that they were not claimed by him, as that they were not in fact his? But it is wholly unlike his procedure, and incompatible with his perfections, thus to place them under a seeming logical necessity of doubting that he is the author of his own works. The supposition of such an omission