« AnteriorContinuar »
element throughout the realms occupied by the system—if, as philosophers suppose, such an element exists—by acting on which it is that the light becomes perceptible. That it was the light of the sun that was then created, is seen from the fact that it is called day, in contradistinction from night. No illumination of the earth by other celestial bodies, or by other causes, ever bears that name. If an element, such as some hold is the instrument of illumination, had been diffused through space, it would not have been perceptible, unless acted on by the sun, or some similar agent. That it was the light of the sun is shown, moreover, from the fact that its commencement formed a morning, and that the period of its shining, together with the night, constituted the first day. Morning is never caused by any other light than that of the sun. In order to a morning, evening, and day, the earth must, as already stated, have revolved on its axis; and the space which elapsed from the first creative fiat to the close of the first day, must have been twenty-four hours, or the period of one complete revolution. The expression—evening and morning were the first day—is equivalent to the expression: the period of darkness and sunshine were the first day. It would have been to use the term in a double sense, to have said, night and day were the first day.
These facts plainly preclude the supposition of a prior existence of the earth and its vegetable and animal races. The geological theory which ascribes to the globe a previous existence, is as directly and irreconcilably in contradiction to them, as it is to the inspired representation that the whole work of creation was accomplished in six days. The testimony of the text is that the earth was created on the first day. The theory asserts that its creation took place innumerable ages earlier, and that in the interspace it had been the theatre of vegetable and animal life, and passed through a series of destructive revolutions. The text declares that the heavenly orbs and light were created on the first day. The theory asserts that they had then existed through a duration whose length we cannot estimate.
This contradiction cannot be evaded by the supposition which some have made, that the language is metaphorical. Nothing but a total ignorance of the law of the metaphor could have betrayed any one into so absurd a notion. In order to prove that the words light, evening, morning, and day, are used metaphorically, it must be shown that they are applied to something wholly unlike that which they literally denote. Light, accordingly, on that supposition, does not mean light that is perceptible by the eye, but something analogous, and knowledge, therefore, or the means of intellectual illumination; as that is the only instrument that produces an effect that simply resembles that of light on the eye. On the same principle, evening and morning must mean, not the dark and light portions of twenty-four hours of the earth's revolution, but analogous parts of a period in the existence of some other agent or object, such as the late and early parts of a person's life, or old age and youth.* The meaning of the expression, And the evening and the morning were the first day, must accordingly be:—And the old age and youth of the earth were the first day. The corresponding statement in the following verses must, in like manner, mean:—And the old age and youth of the earth were the second day, the third day, and so to the sixth! And finally, to complete the climax of absurdity, the word day must, to be consistent, be taken to mean the whole period of the earth's existence; for what period can it be supposed to have after its youth and old age? The expression, accordingly translated so as to give the terms a metaphorical meaning, becomes: and the old age and youth of the earth were its first whole existence; and the old age and youth of the earth were its second whole existence; and so of the remaining four days! Such is the absurd perversion of the passage to which this contrivance to reconcile it with the demands of the geological theory leads. It indicates a very crude state of the art of interpretation that writers of reputation should have sanctioned so extraordinary a construction.
* This construction is indeed formally advanced by De Luc and others. "As morning and evening are expressions used to denote likewise the beginning and end either of a life, or of a certain period, there can be no doubt that it is necessary, without reference to anything but the immediate sense contemplated by the inspired writer, to take the days in question for indefinite periods."—Letters to Prof. Blumenbach, p. 91.
But the supposition that the passage is metaphorical is set aside by the further consideration, that terms, when metaphorically used, are always applied to agents or objects of which that which they literally mean, cannot be properly predicated; as when God is called a sun; knowledge is called light; youth, the morning of life; old age, its evening; and death, its night. But in applying the terms light, evening, morning, and day, to the earth, no such transferrence of them is made from a different set of objects of which they alone can be literally predicated. They are as applicable in their literal sense to the earth, as they are to anything else. The fancy that they are here used by that figure is thus, in every relation, mistaken and absurd. The contradiction, therefore, of the theory to the passage is direct and absolute.
This however, is but one of the objections to which their construction of it is obnoxious. It is as contradictory to the principles of geology as it is to the sacred text. As light is necessary to plants and animals, and dry land also to many of the species that are found imbedded in the earth, geologists, in assuming that the earth was the theatre of vegetable and animal life through vast ages anterior to the creation here narrated, assume that light and dry land also existed through those immeasurable periods. Consequently, as at the epoch of this narrative there was no light in being, until created on the first day, and no dry land till the waters were drawn into seas on the third, they assume or imply that the light they suppose to have existed previously, had been annihilated, and the dry land submerged under the ocean. But those suppositions are not merely unauthorized, but forbidden by their principles. The axioms on which they professedly found their system prohibit, in the first place, their assuming as a ground of induction, the occurrence of any event since the creation of the earth, that is not directly indicated by the strata themselves in their present condition. But they do not pretend to find any traces in the strata of which they treat, that an annihilation of light and submergence of the continents and islands of an inhabited earth had taken place anterior to the Mosaic epoch. They find indubitable proofs in the depths of the earth, that light and dry land were contemporaneous with those races; but none that at a later epoch they were struck from existence. The supposition, indeed, of the existence of such proofs, in the condition of the rocks, earths, and fossils, is