« EdellinenJatka »
the earth, in the first state of which we can venture to form any notion, is supposed to have been a hot, fuid mass, surrounded by an immense atmosphere, which you may compare to steam ; and that, in this state, it revolved round the sun, and also turned upon its axis, thus acquiring the form which it actually does possess. As the heated mass gradually cooled, part of its atmosphere would be condensed, and fall in water upon the surface.”
- This is very easy to understand, I have often seen steam converted into water by cooling. But surely, mamma, in such as you are describing, no living creature could exist!
or So far as we are enabled to judge from appearances, it seems very clear that there have not always been living creatures on the earth. I will tell you the facts which have led to this conclusion. As we advance towards the summits of lofty mountains, the remains of marine animals, that multitude of shells we have spoken of, begin to grow scarce, and at length entirely disappear. We arrive at rocks of a different formation, which contain no vestige at all of living creatures; nevertheless, the structure of these rocks shews that they also have once been fluid, or, rather, that the particles of which they are composed have settled down into a fluid. It is evident from the position of those rocks, that they have been moved and overturned since ther were hardened into stone; and the height to which their bare and rugged tops are elevated above all the rocks containing shells, shews that their summits have never been covered by the sea, since they were raised up out of its bosom.”
r“Do you suppose that this elevation of the mountains took place at the Deluge?”
« It does not seem improbable, but we have no positive information of the changes produced in the structure of the earth by that awful event. Some expressions used by the sacred historian may be understood as implying that it was attended by convulsions of the earth's surface far greater than would be the necessary consequence of an inundation of a few months' continuance. The short account contained in the early chapters of Genesis, seems designed to teach the important truth, that God is the Creator, Governor, and Judge of the earth and all its inhabitants—that His will is the rule of their duty, and that wilful disobedience to it will be punished. On subjects not connected with this purpose, the historian is silent; and therefore, with regard to the means, the succession of causes, by which the Divine Wisdom has brought this beautiful world to the state in which we see it, man has been left to discover them gradually by the exercise of his reason. One fact seems established beyond the possibility of doubt that the surface of the earth has been subjected to a great and sudden revolution, which appears to have taken place about the period assigned in Scripture to the Deluge; and that this revolution buried all the countries then inhabited by men, and by those animals which are now best known :and, further, that it also laid dry the bed of the ocean existing at the time of this great convulsion, which became the surface of our present earth, and was peopled by the small number of men and animals that escaped from the ruin of the former world."
I understand you perfectly :- the sea and land changed places
But I should like to know what reasons people have for such an extraordinary supposition.”
O“ They will be explained to you gradually as we proceed in our inquiry. I will now add, that it is also believed, the countries now inhabited, which were laid dry, as I told you, immediately after the Deluge, had not always been covered by water ; but that, at some more remote period, they had been inhabited, if not by men, at least by land animals, of which the remains have been discovered in a fossil state ; it seems probable that they were, at two or three different times, overwhelmed by the sea. We have no account of these ancient inundations, and I believe there is no reason to suppose that they were universal like the Deluge: only a small portion of the earth could have been inhabited by the first generations of men ; and distant parts of its surface might repeatedly have been inundated without their knowledge.”' pp. 30–34.
Harry, after listening to the whole of the explanation, is delighted with the simplicity of the account, but is struck with the length of time that would be required for the completion of the supposed process.
«« I cannot imagine," said he,“ how the gradual formation of land by depositions from water, and the tedious labours of coral-worms, is to be reconciled with the account given by Moses. Six days! Why six thousand days would not have done it.”
r« That difficulty has been noticed by several persons,” replied Mrs. Beaufoy, “ and it has been explained in different ways. First: that, supposing the six periods of creation to mean literally days of twentyfour hours, as only a small part of the earth was at first required for the abode of man and animals, the present continents might have remained beneath the waters for a very long period.
o“ Others have thought, that Moses, after recording in the first sentence of Genesis, the great truth that all things were made by the will of an intelligent Creator, passed silently over some intermediate state of the earth, which had no direct relation to the history or the duties of man, and proceeded to describe the successive appearance of the present order of things. On this supposition, the fossil remains, and peculiarities of structure, which excite our wonder and curiosity, may have belonged to that intermediate state of the earth.
1« And lastly, your difficulty may be explained, and, I think, very satisfactorily, by understanding the Days of Creation to mean, not ordinary days, but periods of time, in which the recorded events took place in the order described so briefly by the sacred historian. If you refer to Johnson's Dictionary, you will find that the word day is used by approved writers in this general sense ; and many passages in the Bible seem to favour this construction. Cruden’s Concordance will also shew you, that, among the Hebrews, days and weeks were often used for distinct periods of time, not corresponding with those divisions in our popular sense of the words. One respectable writer, who has adopted this view of the subject, expresses the satisfaction he derived from it, in observing the unexpected and pleasing accordance between the order in which, according to the account of Moses, the work
of creation was accomplished, and the order in which the fossil remains of plants and animals are deposited in the earth; adding, that the agreement is so close, it must satisfy or surprise every one. However, I have no wish to press this explanation upon you. You know too little of the subject to form an opinion at present; and it is not of any consequence which of the three I have mentioned you may hereafter think most probable. Neither of them has any tendency to lessen your reverence for the Scriptures, or to prove the occasion of suffering to yourself: happily, we do not live in the days of Galileo !" !
Art. VI. Saturday Evening. By the Author of “ Natural History
of Enthusiasm. 8vo, pp. viii, 492. Price 10s. 6d. London, 1832. ALTHOUGH this volume follows so close upon the elaborate 44 Essay on Ethical Philosophy by the same Writer, reviewed in our Number for October last, a glance at its contents has been sufficient to satisfy us that they are composed of no crude or hastily concocted materials. We are much mistaken if they are not the slow accumulation of years of meditative retirement. The volume mainly consists of a series of what may be termed theologico-philosophical discourses or essays, such as might have suited, in their general cast of subject, the Saturday papers of the Spectator, those especially which were furnished to Addison by Henry Grove. The · Advertisement' prefixed to the papers, thus explains the title and the design of the work.
• Although the Author dedicates his pen to the service of Religion, he would not seem (layman as he is) to trench either upon the season or the office of public instruction. But there remains open to him the Saturday Evening, which devout persons, whose leisure permits them to do so, are accustomed to devote to preparatory meditation.'
The title derives a further significance from the subject of the first two papers, as will be seen from the table of contents which we subjoin ; and it is somewhat fancifully connected with the Author's view of the present era, as the day of preparation 'before the great Millennial sabbath.
"1. The Hour of Hope and Diffidence.--" That day was the Preparation.” II. The Common Expectation of Christians.-" And the Sabbath drew on." III. The Courage peculiar to Times and Places.“ I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ.”. IV. Laxity and decision.-" That I may make manifest the mystery of Christ, as I ought to speak.” V. The means of mercy.-" The Gospel, the Power of God to Salvation.” VI. The Church and the World." The world knoweth us not.”• VII. The State of sacred Science." I am wiser than all my teachers, because thy Testimonies are my Meditation.” VIII. The Hidden World.-" The things that are unseen are eternal." IX. The State of Seclusion.-" The things that are seen are temporal." X. The Limits of Revelation. _" And we prophesy in part." XI.
Vastness of the Material Universe.-“ When I consider the heavens What is man!” XII. Piety and Energy.--" Add to your faith virtue.” XIII, The Last Conflict of Great Principles.- The Son of man, when he cometh, shall he find faith on the earth ?" XIV. Licentious Religionism.-" Add to virtue knowledge, and to knowledge temperance.” XV. The Power of Rebuke.-" If thou take forth the precious from the vile, thou shalt be as my mouth; and I will make thee unto the people a defenced brazen wall.” XVI. Strength of the Power of Rebuke." Howbeit, in understanding be men.” XVII. The Recluse." Add to Godliness, brotherly kindness.” XVIII. The Modern Anchoret.—“And to brotherly kindness charity.” XIX. The Family Affection of Christianity.-“ Be kindly affectioned one to another, with brotherly love.” XX. Charity and Conscience.—“ For meat destroy not the work of God.” XXI. The Few Noble.—“Not many noble.” XXII. Rudiment of Christian Magnanimity.—“Let him that glorieth, glory in the Lord.” XXIII. The Dissolution of Human Nature." It is appointed to all men once to die.” XXIV. The State of Souls.-" They all live unto God.” XXV. The Third Heavens." In thy presence is fulness of joy :-at thy right hand are pleasures for evermore.” XXVI. The Precursor.-" Thou wilt shew me the path of life.” XXVII. Endless Life.—“ Neither can they die any more.” XXVIII. T'he Perpetuity of Human Nature. This mortal must put on immortality."* XXIX. Unison of the Heavenly Hierarchy.--" Christ—the head of all principality and power.”
It will be seen, that many of the papers which follow one another, are closely connected in their subject. The first seven have an especial bearing upon the present times. The remainder of the volume consists of a course or series of philosophical meditations, the predominant design of which seems to be, to promote that true elevation of spirit, which is known under the homely-phrase, heavenly-mindedness; a disposition which has many counterfeits among the varieties of intellectual enthusiasm, but which, we fear, must be regarded as in the present day a rare attainment. Having received the volume late in the month, we must confess that we have not been able as yet to give it that leisurely and thorough perusal which it demands; but we felt unwilling to postpone our notice of a work which we feel confident the religious public will receive with something more than approbation,— with deference and gratitude. Its practical, yet philosophical character almost precludes controversial difference with the Writer, and still more the flippancy of criticism. Admitted to his Saturday Evening retirement, we listen to his discourse as that, not of a professional lecturer, or a disputant of this world', but of one who, having held converse with the true Fountain of wisdom, opens to us his private thoughts in the tones of friendship. The volume is replete not merely with thought, but with materials for thinking,—with germinant seeds that, where they find the right soil, cannot fail to reproduce a harvest of thoughts in other minds. Whatever effort of attention the papers may require, they will richly repay; and as the Meditations are generally short, even readers unaccustomed to the mental etfort of close, abstract thinking may bear the fatigue, and thus, in reading the volume, may lay the foundation of a valuable habit. But, without further prelude, we shall lay before our readers a specimen or two of the subject matter and style of the papers. We take our first extract from a beautiful paper on the Vastness of the Material Universe, as made a ground of irreligious scepticism.
If, in imagination, we stretch the wing to distant quarters of the realm of nature, and if we take with us the sober expectations which philosophy authenticates, what shall we find_east or west, above or below, but suns and planets, much diversified, no doubt, in figure and constitution; yet nothing more than solid spheres, of measurable diameter, and fraught, like our own, with organization and intelligence. Let us indulge as freely as we choose, in prodigious conceptions of magnitude and splendour; still we must (unless we discard all probability, and all actual appearances) keep within certain bounds. Suns are but suns; planets only planets. This vastness of the universe, therefore, which, when thought of collectively, overpowers the mind, reduces itself, when rationally analysed, to what we have already stated—namely, the greatness of accumulation. Who shall count the stars, or who number the worlds that are revolving around those centres of light ? No one attempts this arithmetic; any more than he sets about to reckon the sands of the shore: but the infinitude of grains makes not each grain either more or less important than it would be, if the number of the whole were much fewer than it is.
And certainly, if our earth may retain its individual importance, notwithstanding the countless infinity of the worlds among which it moves ; it may do so notwithstanding its comparative diminutiveness.
True, its disk is barely perceptible from planets which, by the breadth of their own, dazzle our sight. But no such rule of valuation can ever be assented to; for it is favoured by no analogy.-If the earth is to be deemed insignificant, merely because it is vastly less than Jupiter, or Saturn, we ought to judge that Greece, Italy, and England, merit no attention, in comparison with Africa and Asia : and yet in fact it is these petty regions, not the continents adjoining them, that have concentrated, successively, the intelligence of the world.
But in looking more narrowly to this prejudice, and in tracing it to its elements, it resolves itself altogether into a natural infirmity of our limited faculties. What then is this conception of vastness, and what is the emotion of sublimity that attends it, and with which we so much please ourselves? It is nothing more, and it is nothing bet. ter, than the struggle or agony of the mind under the consciousness of its ignorance, and of its inability to grasp the object of its contemplation. Whatever far surpasses the reach of the intellectual powers whatever can be conceived of only imperfectly, and vaguely, is thought of as stupendous, sublime, infinite; and while we entertain the ever. swelling, but never perfected idea, an emotion that is partly pleasurable, and partly painful, inflates the bosom. Now the notion of in