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discussion of the theological difficulties; and, in fact, skilfully eludes all such questions by appealing in forcible terms to the existing satisfaction of public opinion in Scotland on these points, as resting on interpretations now universally received ; and then, going off into an eloquent view of the general scope and design of revelation as distinct from scientific objects, he there leaves the matter. Yet in the representation thus made, slight and general as it is, there seems to me much of interest and demanding notice in connexion with the object of the present work.
After a luminous historical sketch of the progress of geological views, the controversies which prevailed, the hostility once excited among the Scottish clergy against the new science, and the gradual cessation of that opposition, the present situation of affairs is thus described (p. 14) :“ After having for half a century stumbled on the dark mountains,' the Church is now feeding her flock on the green pastures of the Huttonian geology. She recognises as an impregnable truth the great principle for which Hutton and Playfair were proscribed, and has commanded the sacred scholar to accommodate his philology to the Huttonian interpretation of the language of Moses.” Now, not to dwell upon the somewhat singular kind of spiritual pasture here assigned to the Christian flock, I confess I neither understand how the Church succeeds in enforcing this command on the sacred scholar; nor what sort of “philology,” can effect the accommodation required. I'have before adverted to the various philological attempts, which are all manifest failures, not only in principle but even in their critical details. I have also pointed out the actual force of the contradictions; and at the same time, as appears to me, the entire independence of Christianity with respect to them. To apply such considerations, it would seem, must involve peculiar difficulty in the case of a church whose
formularies (I believe,) are grounded upon a very express adoption of the obligations of the Old Testament dispensation, and especially of the Sabbath, in accordance with the dogmas of the Westminster Assembly. Notwithstanding, by some means, it seems, so completely has this accommodation been brought about, to the satisfaction at least of all inquirers in Scotland, that the reviewer says of Dr. Buckland's chapter on the subject," To us in Scotland it seemed a work of supererogation :" the question had been “ discussed to exhaustion during the Scottish controversy between the rival theories. Even the pious Professor of Divinity in our university had adopted the explanation given by the Huttonians, and the public mind was equally tranquillized.”—p. 15.
The precise nature of the explanation given by the Huttonians, and adopted by the Professor of Divinity, does not appear. However, that the public mind should have been tranquillized on the subject is not surprising. The great mass of nominal believers doubtless looked on the disclosures of geology with consternation and horror as long as they were told that its doctrines were subversive of religion by those who ought to know. The Professor of Divinity had but to adopt the “ Huttonian explanation," and the Church to enjoin on its ministers the use of a corresponding “philology,” and the public thus enlightened, immediately ceased from their outcries, either against geology, or in support of the truth of religion, and relapsed into their ordinary utter indifference to both.
The reviewer, however, continues in a subsequent passage :-" The question, indeed, lies within a narrow compass. The truths of religion and science can never be at variance. A geological truth must command our assent as powerfully as that of the existence of our own minds, or of the Deity himself; and any revelation which stands opposed
to such truths must be false. The geologist has, therefore, nothing to do with revealed religion in his scientific inquiries. It is the office of the divine to interpret the Sacred Canon ; and if he does this with the discrimination and learning it demands, he will never find it at variance with the deductions of science. If Scripture, on the contrary, be studied by instalments, and viewed from insulated points, and interpreted literally in its detached passages, we shall find it at variance with itself, and shall reproduce all the heresies which have disgraced the history of the Christian Church. But if we look at the sacred scheme as a whole, and generalize its individual propositions, we shall find in it a unity of doctrine,” &c.
In the general excellence of these remarks I fully acquiesce. The observation in the first sentence is undeniable ;-truth cannot be contrary to itself; I would merely notice that this seems a singular reason why the geologist should " therefore have nothing to do with revealed truth” in his researches. That he has not is very true ; not for this reason, but on account of the essential independence of scientific inquiry into the works of God, as I have before explained.
But further, it is worthy of notice with how much skill the precise point of the contradiction is eluded under the eloquent and undeniable generalities by which the responsibility is shifted on to the shoulders of the divine. His business it is to interpret Scripture; which, when rightly understood, will never be found at variance with geology: -And why? Because when comprehensively studied it furnishes a unity of doctrine, a spiritual law, &c., all which great objects of revelation the writer proceeds to dilate upon in the powerful language of just encomium through the remainder of the paragraph.
In a general sense nothing can be more just than the remarks here made on the principles of Scripture interpretation; yet this appears to me not a little at variance with the literal philology before recommended.
In a more particular sense, however, I cannot but regard the indiscriminate adoption of this “generalizing” system, by which all the different parts of the Sacred Records are amalgamated into one, and the distinction of their separate applications lost sight of, as the very source of the difficulty and objection felt on the ground of the geological discrepancies.
There is no doubt a plausibility in the vague assertion that geological conclusions cannot really come into collision with religious truths :—but the facts show that in the present instance there is such a collision ;-since the literal history of the creation involves the primæval institution of the Sabbath ; a collision which no philology can prevent, no generalities disguise ;- but it can become an objection only from the prevalence of that system which mixes up Christianity with older dispensations.
ON THE GEOLOGICAL EVIDENCE OF FORMER CONDITIONS OF ORGANIZED LIFE, AND ITS UNBROKEN
In corroboration of my remarks on the unbroken series of changes by which the existing order of things on the globe has been introduced, I have peculiar satisfaction in being permitted to present my readers with the following extract from a letter with which I have been favoured by PROFESSOR PHILLIPS, of King's College, London:
“ The origin of organic life upon the globe, it may, perhaps, be impossible for geologists to fix, either with reference to the successive times disclosed by the examination of the earth's crust, or the geographical position; but it is certain that in descending the series of strata, i. e., in ascending the stream of time, we arrive at epochs continually less and less fertile of animal life, and finally reach a terminus of this life, as judged of by the organic remains in the rocks, before attaining the limit of geological time, estimated in terms of the thickness and nature of stratified deposits. This is the true geological definition of the origin of organic life on the globe.
“ If it should be asked, as is natural, were there any previous systems of life on the globe ? I reply, this is a matter to be considered on the evidence collected by geologists as to the physical conditions under which the earlier strata of the globe were deposited in the primæval ocean. Perhaps the balance of evidence, including of course that derived from general physical considerations, is in favour of