Imágenes de página

foundations of the earth were laid. Nor does it denote simply the orbs of our solar system; as it is stated in a subsequent verse that the stars—by which are meant those that are visible to the unaided eye— were placed in the firmament at the same time as the sun and moon. Heaven denotes, therefore, doubtless, the vast cloud of worlds to which our system and the glittering arch that spans our evening sky belong, that till within a few years comprised all that were known to the inhabitants of our world.

"And the earth was waste and desolate," or unfurnished with organic bodies, "and darkness was upon the face of the deep; and the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters," v. 2. That which is here the subject of predication is the earth, the same identical earth that now exists, and in essentially its present shape and solidity; not as some maintain, the mere materials of which it consists in the form of gases, or in solution in a vast ocean. This is seen from a variety of considerations. As gravity is a property or law of all matter, the earth must have been subject to it from the moment of the creative fiat, and not only to that share of it which was inherent in itself, and drew its particles to its own centre, but that also which is exerted on its mass by the sun, moon, and other orbs of our system. It is seen, also, from its rotation on its axis. That it was created with that motion is shown by the fact that a whole night and day had passed, that is a complete revolution on its axis, at the close of the first day. It must, therefore, have been under the full force of the gravitating power, or its rapid whirl would have thrown off not only the ocean from its bosom into the surrounding space, but a large share, if not the whole, of its earthy and rocky mass, and left them, if the other bodies of the system were exerting their attractive force, to be drawn away to them.

That it was then as solid as it now is, and of essentially the same dimensions and shape, is shown also by the fact that the ocean enveloped and formed a deep around it. It appears from the narrative of the third day that there was no dry land until the waters were gathered into the seas. The waters of the original deep were those that were then collected into seas, and constitute the present waters of the globe. The earth cannot, therefore, have been larger than it now is, or they would not have been adequate to cover its whole surface, and to such a depth as to form an abyss. Had it been three or four times its present diameter, they would have formed only a thin stratum around it. It must also have been in a spheroidal form, or of greater diameter at the equator than at the poles, or they would not have retained their position on every part of its surface; as a perfect sphere enveloped by an ocean of only such a depth, and revolving on its axis, would immediately throw its water towards the equator in such a manner as to uncover the poles. It was thus created essentially what it now is, in shape, dimensions, and solidity, and its waters were what waters now are, and were those of our present seas.

These truths lie on the face of the narrative, and cannot be set aside by any legitimate process. It has been supposed, indeed, by some, that the language of the narrative is metaphorical, and denotes a different event from the creation of the material earth. But that has arisen from a misconception or ignorance of the nature of the metaphor. That figure, in the first place, always lies exclusively in the predicate of a proposition. The subject or nominative to which it is applied, or of which the affirmation is made, is always used in its literal sense, as in the expressions: God is a shield; all flesh is grass; the winds sigh; the fields smile. But the nominative of the affirmation in the first verse is God, and in the second the earth. Whatever the meanings of the affirmations are, therefore, of which they are the nominatives, they, and nothing else, are the subjects of those affirmations; or in other words, God was literally the agent of that which is ascribed to him; and the earth was really the subject of that which is asserted of it. And next, the figure consists in the ascription to the agent or subject to which it is applied, of a nature, act, or condition, that is not proper to it, but that is peculiar to a being or thing of a different species; and the object of its use is, to indicate in an emphatic manner, that the agent or object to which it is applied, presents a strong resemblance to that which the terms used by the figure literally signify; as when a hero is called a lion, to indicate his courage; and a statesman a pillar of the republic, to express the support he yields to its institutions. But there is no such transference here of the words create, waste, desolate, deep, waters, which are the terms of the predicates, from their natural sphere, to one that is proper only to another class of words. It is proper to God, and his peculiar and exclusive prerogative, to create, and to create worlds like heaven and the earth. It is equally consonant to the nature of the earth to be created, and created a waste, that is without vegetables or animals, enveloped at every point by an ocean, and shrouded in darkness. There is no other body of which those affirmations could be more truly and appropriately made. The fancy, therefore, that they are used metaphorically, can only be entertained by persons who are altogether unaware of these laws of the figure. The only term in the passage that is employed metaphorically is face, which properly denotes the human countenance, but is here used instead of surface, as is shown by the noun that follows, and does not vary the general sense of the passage.

The narrative is demonstrably, therefore, literal, and teaches that the earth, as called into existence by the creative fiat, was essentially what it now is in shape, dimensions, solidity, and motion on its axis. What a crowd of absurd speculations which divines as well as geologists have indulged, are dispersed by this inspired announcement!

"And God said, Let there be light: and there was light. And God saw the light, that it was good; 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 were the first day," v. 3-5.

This act was not the creation of the sun and other light-giving bodies, as they are not the subject of the fiat, "let there be light," and their creation had already been announced in the first verse; but the light itself of the sun, and probably of all the other similar orbs which to us are fixed stars, and constitute the vast circuit of worlds clustered most numerously in the line of the milky-way, to which our solar group belongs; and included not only the creation of the light-giving atmosphere of the sun, and all the other bodies of that class, but of the medium also, or

« AnteriorContinuar »