In the Present Crusade against the Bible and the Faith of Christian Men...
IN the present crusade against the Bible and the Faith of Christian men, the task of destroying confidence in the first chapter of Genesis has been undertaken by Mr. C. W. Goodwin, M.A. He requires us to "regard it as the speculation of some Hebrew Descartes or Newton, promulgated in all good faith as the best and most probable account that could be then given of God's Universe." (p.252.)

Mr. Goodwin remarks with scorn, that "we are asked to believe that a vision of Creation was presented to him by Divine power, for the purpose of enabling him to inform the world of what he had seen which vision inevitably led him to give a description which has misled the world for centuries, and in which the truth can now only with difficulty be recognized." (p.247.) He puts "pen to paper," therefore, (he says,) in order to induce the world to a "frank recognition of the erroneous views of nature which the Bible contains." (p.211.) The importance of the inquiry, he vindicates in the following modest terms: -- "Physical Science goes on unconcernedly pursuing its own paths. Theology, (the Science whose object is the dealing of God with Man as a moral being,) maintains but a shivering existence, shouldered and jostled by the sturdy growths of modern thought, and bemoaning itself for the hostility it encounters." (p.211.) -- A few remarks at once suggest themselves.

I cannot help thinking that if any person of ordinary intelligence, unacquainted with the Bible, were to be left to obtain his notion of its contents from "Essays and Reviews," infidel publications generally, and (absit invidia verbo!) from not a few of the Sermons which have been preached and printed in either University of late years, -- the notion so obtained would be singularly at variance with the known facts of the case. Would not a man infallibly carry away an impression that the Bible is a book abounding in statements concerning matters of Physical Science which are flatly contradicted by the ascertained phenomena of Nature? Would he not be led to expect that it contained every here and there a theoretical Excursus on certain Astronomical or Physiological subjects? and to anticipate, above all, an occasional chapter on Geology? Great would be his astonishment, surely, at finding that one single chapter comprises nearly the whole of the statements which modern philosophy finds so very hateful and that chapter, the first chapter in the Bible [101] .

But the surprise would grow considerably when the conditions of the problem came to be a little more fully stated. Has then the actual history of the World's Creation been ascertained from some other independent and infallible source? No! Are Geologists as yet so much as agreed even about a theory of the Creation? No! Can it be proved that any part of the Mosaic account is false? Certainly not! Then why all this hostile dogmatism? -- To witness the violence of the partisans of Geological discovery, and the arrogance of their pretensions, one would suppose that some Divine Creed of theirs had been impugned: that a revelation had been made to them from Heaven, which the profane and unbelieving world was reluctant to accept. Whereas, these are Christian men, impatient, as it seems, to tear the first leaf out of their Bible: or rather, to throw discredit on the entire volume, by establishing the untrustworthiness of the earliest page!

One single additional consideration completes the strangeness of the picture. If our account of the Six Days of Creation were a sybilline leaf of unknown origin, it would not be unreasonable to treat its revelations as little worth. But since the author of it is confessedly Moses, -- the great Hebrew prophet, who lived from B.C.1571 to 1451, who enjoyed the vision of the Most High; nay, who conversed with God face to face, was with Him in the Mount for thrice forty days, and received from Him the whole details of the Sacred Law; -- since this first chapter of Genesis is known to have formed a part of the Church's unbroken heritage from that time onward, and therefore must be acknowledged to be an integral part of the volume of Scripture which, (as our Lord says,) of ou dunatai luthenai, -- "cannot be broken, diluted, loosened, explained away;" -- since, further, this account of Creation is observed to occur in the most conspicuous place of the most conspicuous of those books which are designated by an Apostle by the epithet theopneustos, or, "given by inspiration," "filled with the breath," or "Spirit of God;" and when it is considered that our Saviour and His Apostles refer to the primæval history contained in the first two chapters about thirty times [102] : -- when, (I say,) all this is duly weighed, surely too strong a primâ facie case has been made out on behalf of the first chapter of Genesis, that its authority should be imperilled by the random statements of every fresh individual who sees fit to master the elements of Geology; and on the strength of that qualification presumes to sit in judgment on the Hebrew Scriptures, -- of which, confessedly, he does not understand so much as the alphabet

It is even amusing to see how vain a little mind can become of a little knowledge. Mr. Goodwin remarks, -- "The school-books of the present day, while they teach the child that the Earth moves, yet assure him that it, is a little less than six thousand years old, and that it was made in six days." (p.210.) (I am puzzled to reconcile this statement with the author's declaration that "no well-instructed person now doubts the great antiquity of the Earth any more than its motion." (Ibid.) Would it not have been fairer to have named at least one of the school-books which perpetuate so wicked a heresy?) "On the other hand, Geologists of all religious creeds are agreed that the Earth has existed for an immense series of years, -- to be counted by millions rather than by thousands; and that indubitably more than six days elapsed from its first Creation to the appearance of Man upon its surface. By this broad discrepancy between old and new doctrine is the modern mind startled, as were the men of the sixteenth century when told that the earth moved." (p.210.)

But begging pardon of our philosopher, if all he means is that more than six days elapsed between the Creation of "Heaven and Earth," (noticed in ver.1,) and the Creation of Man, (spoke of from ver.26 to 28,) -- he means to say mighty little; and need not fear to encounter contradiction from any "well-instructed person." True, that an ignorant man could not have suspected anything of the kind from reading the first chapter of Genesis: but this is surely nobody's fault but his own. An ignorant man might in like man-nor be of opinion that the Sun and Moon are the two largest objects in creation; and there is not a word in this same chapter calculated to undeceive him. Again, he might think that the Sun rises and sets; and the common language of the Observatory would confirm him hopelessly in his mistake. All this however is no one's fault but his own. The ancient Fathers of the Church, behind-hand as they were in Physical Science, yet knew enough to anticipate "the hypothesis of the Geologist; and two of the Christian Fathers, Augustine and Theodoret, are referred to as having actually held that a wide interval elapsed between the first act of Creation, mentioned in the Mosaic account, and the commencement of the Six Days' work." (p.231.) Mr. Goodwin therefore has got no further, so far, than Augustine and Theodoret got, 1400 years since, without the aid of Geology.

But we must hasten on. The business of the Essayist, as we have said, is to undermine our confidence in the Bible, by exposing the ignorance of the author of the first chapter. "Modern theologians," (he remarks, with unaffected displeasure,) "have directed their attention to the possibility of reconciling the Mosaic narrative with those geological facts which are admitted to be beyond dispute." (p.210.) -- And pray, (we modestly ask,) is not such a proceeding obvious? A "frank recognition of the erroneous views of Nature which the Bible contains," (p.211,) we shall be prepared to yield when those "erroneous views" have been demonstrated to exist, -- but not till then. Mr. Goodwin must really remember that although, in his opinion, the "Mosaic Cosmogony," (for so he phrases it,) is "not an authentic utterance of Divine knowledge, but a human utterance," (p.253,) the World thinks differently. The learned and wise and good of all ages, including the present, are happily agreed that the first chapter of Genesis is part of the Word of God.

After what is evidently intended to be a showy sketch of the past history of our planet, -- "we pass" (says Mr. Goodwin) "to the account of the Creation contained in the Hebrew record. And it must be observed that in reality two distinct accounts are given us in the book of Genesis; one, being comprised in the first chapter and the first three verses of the second; the other, commencing at the fourth verse of the second chapter and continuing till the end. This is so philologically certain that it were useless to ignore it." (p.217.) Really we read such statements with a kind of astonishment which almost swallows up sorrow. Do they arise, (to quote Mr. Goodwin's own language,) "from our modern habits of thought, and from the modesty of assertion which the spirit of true science has taught us?" (p.252.) Convinced that my unsupported denial would have no more weight than Mr. Goodwin's ought to have, I have referred the dictum just quoted to the highest Hebrew authority available, and have been assured that it is utterly without foundation.

After such experience of Mr. Goodwin's philological "certainties," what amount of attention does he expect his dicta to command in a Science which, starting from "a region of uncertainty, where Philosophy is reduced to mere guesses and possibilities, and pronounces nothing definite," (p.213,) has to travel through "a prolonged period, beginning and ending we know not when;" (p.214;) reaches another period, "the duration of which no one presumes to define;" (Ibid.;) and again another, during which "nothing can be asserted positively:" (p.215:) after which comes "a kind of artificial break?" (Ibid.)

For my own part, I freely confess that Mr. Goodwin's final admission that "the advent of Man may be considered as inaugurating a new and distinct epoch, that in which we now are, and during the whole of which the physical conditions of existence cannot have been very materially different from what they are now;" (p.216;) and that "thus much is clear, that Man's existence on Earth is brief, compared with the ages during which unreasoning creatures were the sole possessors of the globe:" (p.217:) -- these statements, I say, contain as much as one desires to see admitted. For really, since the fossil Flora, and the various races of animated creatures which Geologists have classified with so much industry and skill, confessedly belong to a period of immemorial antiquity; and, with very rare exceptions indeed, represent extinct species, -- I, as an interpreter of Scripture, am not at all concerned with them. Moses asserts nothing at all about them, one way or the other. What Revelation says, is, that nearly 6000 years ago, after a mighty catastrophe, -- unexplained alike in its cause, its nature, and its duration, -- the Creator of the Universe instituted upon the surface of this Earth of ours that order of things which has continued ever since; and which is observed at this instant to prevail: that He was pleased to parcel out His transcendent operations, and to spread them over Six Days; and that He ceased from the work of Creation on the Seventh Day. All extant species, whether of the vegetable or the animal Kingdom, including Man himself, belong to the week in question. And this statement, as it has never yet been found untrue, so am I unable to anticipate by what possible evidence it can ever be set aside as false.

In my IInd Sermon, I have ventured to review the Mosaic record sufficiently in detail, to render it superfluous that I should retrace any portion of it here. The reader is requested to read at least so much of what has been offered as is contained from p.28 to p.32. My business at present is with Mr. Goodwin.

And in limine I have to remind him that he has really no right first to give, in his own words, his own notion of the history of Creation; and then to insist on making the Revelation of the same transaction ridiculous by giving it also in words of his own, which become in effect a weak parody of the original. What is there in Genesis about "the air or wind fluttering over the waters of the deep?" (p.219.) Is this meant for the august announcement that "the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters?" -- "On the third day, . . . we wish to call attention to the fact that trees and plants destined for food are those which are particularly singled out as the earliest productions of the earth." (p.220.) The reverse is the fact; as a glance at Gen. i.11. will shew. -- "The formation of the stars" on the fourth day, "is mentioned in the most cursory manner." (p.221.) But who is not aware that "the formation of the stars "is nowhere mentioned in thi8 chapter at all?

"Light and the measurement of time," (proceeds Mr. Goodwin,) "are represented as existing before the manifestation of the Sun." (p.219.) Half of this statement is true; the other half is false. The former idea, he adds, is "repugnant to our modern knowledge." (p.219.) Is then Mr. Goodwin really so weak as to imagine that our Sun is the sole source of Light in Creation? Whence then the light of the so-called fixed Stars? But I shall be told that Mr. Goodwin speaks of our system only, and of our Earth in particular. Then pray, whence that glory [103] which on a certain night on a mountain in Galilee, caused the face of our Redeemer to shine as the Sun [104] and His raiment to emit a dazzling lustre [105] ? "We may boldly affirm," (he says,) "that those for whom [Gen. i.3-5] was penned could have taken it in no other sense than that light existed before and independently of the sun." (p.219.) We may indeed. And I as boldly affirm that I take the passage in that sense myself: moreover that I hold the statement which Mr. Goodwin treats so scornfully, to be the very truth which, in the deep counsels of God, this passage was designed to convey to mankind; even that "the King of Kings, and Lord of Lords, who only hath immortality, dwelleth in the Light which no man can approach unto [106] ."

"The work of the second day of Creation is to erect the vault of Heaven (Heb. Rakia; Gr. stereoma; Lat. Firmamentum,) which is represented as supporting an ocean of water above it. The waters are said to be divided, so that some are below, and some above the vault. . . . No quibbling about the derivation of the word Rakia, which is literally 'something beaten out,' can affect the explicit description of the Mosaic writer contained in the words the waters that are above the firmament,' or avail to shew that he was aware that the sky is but transparent space." (pp.219, 220.) "The allotted receptacle [of Sun and Moon] was not made until the Second Day, nor were they set in it until the fourth." (p.221.) Surely I cannot be the only reader to whom the impertinence of this is as offensive, as its shallowness is ridiculous! In spite of Mr. Goodwin's uplifted finger, and menacing cry, -- "No quibbling!" I proceed with my inquiry.

For first; Why does Mr. Goodwin parody the words of Inspiration? The account as given by Moses is, -- "And God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters [107] ." But surely, to make the "open firmament of Heaven" in which every winged fowl may fly [108] , is not "to erect the vault of Heaven," -- "a permanent solid vault," -- "supporting an ocean of water!"

The Hebrew word here used to denote "firmament," on which Mr. Goodwin's indictment turns, ("rakia,") is derived from a verb which means to "beat." Now, what is beaten, or hammered out, while (if it be a metal) it acquires extension, acquires also solidity. The Septuagint translators seem to have fastened upon the latter notion, and accordingly represented it by stereoma; for which, the earliest Latin translators of the Old Testament coined an equivalent, -- firmamentum. But that Moses by the word "rakia" intended rather to denote the expanse overhead, than to predicate solidity for the sky, I suspect will be readily admitted by all. True that in the poetical book of Job, we read that the sky is "strong, as a molten looking-glass [109] :" but then we meet more frequently with passages of a different tendency. God is said to "stretch out the heavens like a curtain [110] ," "and spread them out as a tent to dwell in [111] :" to "bind up the waters in His thick clouds [112] ," and "in a garment [113] ," &c., &c. [114] It is only needful to look out the word in the dictionary of Gesenius to see that spreading out, (as of thin plates of metal by a hammer,) is the only notion which properly belongs to the word. Accordingly, the earliest modern Latin translation from the Hebrew, (that of Pagninus,) renders the word expansio. And so the word has stood for centuries in the margin of our English Bible.

The actual fact of the case, -- the truth concerning the physical phenomenon alluded to, -- comes in, and surely may be allowed to have some little weight. Since expansion is a real attribute of the atmosphere which divides the waters above from the waters below, -- and solidity is not, -- it seems to me only fair, seeing that the force of the expression is thought doubtful, to assign to it the meaning which is open to fewest objections.

But "the Hebrews," (says Mr. Goodwin,) "understood the sky, firmament, or heaven to be a permanent solid vault, as it appears to the ordinary observer." This, he adds, is "evident enough from various expressions made use of concerning it. It is said to have pillars [115] , foundations [116] , doors [117] , and windows [118] ," -- (p.220.) Now, I really do not think Mr. Goodwin's inference by any means so "evident" as he asserts. If Heaven has "pillars" in the poetical book of Job, so has the Earth [119] . The "foundations" spoken of in 2 Sam. xxii.8, seem rather to belong to Earth than to Heaven, -- as a reference to the parallel place in Ps. xviii.7 will shew [120] . Is Mr. Goodwin so little of a poet, as to be staggered by the phrase "windows of Heaven," when it occurs in the figurative language of an ancient people, and in a poetical book [121] ?

For the foregoing reasons, I distrust Mr. Goodwin's inference that "the Hebrews understood the sky to be a solid vault, furnished with pillars, foundations, doors, and windows." But whether they did, or did not, it is to be hoped that he is enough of a logician to perceive that the popular notions of God's ancient people on this subject, are not the thing in question. The only Fact we have to do with is clearly this, -- that Moses has in this place employed the word "rakia:" and the only Question which can be moved about it, is (as evidently) the following, -- whether he was, or was not, to blame in employing that word; for as to the meaning which he, individually, attached to the phenomenon of which "rakia" is the name, it cannot be pretended that any one living knows anything at all about the matter. A Greek, Latin, or French astronomer who should speak of Heaven, would not therefore be assumed to mean that it is hollow; although koilon, coelum,' ciel,' etymologically imply no less.

Now I contend that Moses employed the word "rakia" with exactly the same propriety, neither more nor less, as when a Divine now-a-days employs the English word "firmament." It does not follow that the man who speaks of "the spacious firmament on high," is under so considerable a delusion as to suspect that the firmament is a firm thing; nor does it follow that Moses thought that "rakia" was a solid substance either, -- even if solidity was the prevailing etymological notion in the word, and even if the Hebrews were no better philosophers than Mr. Goodwin would have us believe. The Essayist's objection is therefore worthless. God was content that Moses should employ the ordinary language of his day, -- accommodate himself to the forms of speech then prevalent, -- coin no new words. What is there unreasonable in the circumstance? What possible ground does it furnish for a supposition that the etymological force of the word, -- or even that the popular physical theory of which that word may, or may not, have once been the connotation, -- denoted the sense in which Moses employed it? Is it to be supposed that when a physician speaks of a "jovial temperament," he insinuates his approval of an exploded system of medicine? Do astronomers maintain that the Sun has a disk, or the Earth an axis? that the former leaves its place in the heavens when it suffers eclipse [122] ?' or that the latter has a superior latitude, from East to West? To give the most familiar instance of all, -- Do scientific men believe that the sun rises, and sets? -- And yet all say that it does, until this hour! . . . Why is Moses to be judged by a less favourable standard than anybody else, -- than Shakspeare, than Hooker, even than Mr. Goodwin? The first, in an exquisite passage, bids Jessica, --

"Look how the floor of heav'n

Is thick inlayed with patens of bright gold."

Did Shakspeare expect his beautiful language would be tortured into a shape which would convict him of talking nonsense? -- But this is poetry. Then take Hooker's prose: --

"If the frame of that heavenly arch erected over our heads should loosen and dissolve itself; . . . if the Moon should wander from her beaten way [123] ," &c.

Did Hooker suppose that heaven is "an arch," which could be "loosened and dissolved?" or that "the way" of the moon is "beaten?" -- But this is a highly poetical passage, written three centuries ago. -- Let an unexceptionable witness then be called; and so, let the question be brought to definite issue. I, for my part, am quite content that it shall be the philosopher in person. The present Essayist shall be heard discoursing about Creation, and shall be convicted out of his own mouth. Mr. Goodwin begins his paper by a kind of cosmogony of his own, which he prefaces with the following apology: -- "It will be necessary for our purpose to go over the oft-trodden ground, which must be done with rapid steps. Nor let the reader object to be reminded of some of the most elementary facts of his knowledge. The human race has been ages in arriving at conclusions now familiar to every child." (p.212.) After this preamble, he begins his cc elementary facts," as follows: --

"This Earth, apparently so still and stedfast, lying in majestic repose beneath the ætherial vault," -- (p.212.)

But we remonstrate immediately. "The ætherial vault!" Do you then understand the sky, firmament, or heaven to be "a permanent solid vault, as it appears to the ordinary observer?" (p.220.)

"The Sun which seems to leap up each morning from the east, and traversing the skyey bridge," -- (p.212.)

The skyey bridge!" And pray in what part of the universe do you discover a "skyey bridge?" Is not this calculated "to convey to ordinary apprehensions an impression at variance with facts?" (p.231.)

"The Moon which occupies a position in the visible heavens only second to the Sun, and far beyond that of every other celestial body in conspicuousness," -- (p.212.)

Nay, but really Mr. Philosopher, while you remind us "of some of the most elementary facts of our knowledge," (p.212,) you write (except in the matter of the "leaping Sun" and the "skyey bridge,") -- exactly as Moses does in the first chapter of Genesis! What else does that great Prophet say but that "the Moon occupies a position in the visible heavens only second to the Sun, and far beyond that of every other celestial body in conspicuousness?" (p.212.)

Enough, it is presumed, has been offered in reply to Mr. Goodwin, and his notions of "Mosaic Cosmogony." He writes with the flippancy of a youth in his teens, who having just mastered the elements of natural science, is impatient to acquaint the world with his achievement. His powers of dogmatism are unbounded but he betrays his ignorance at every step. The Divine decree, "Let us make Man in Our image, after Our likeness [124] ," he explains by remarking that "the Pentateuch abounds in passages shewing that the Hebrews contemplated the Divine being in the visible form of a man." (!!!) (p.221.) A foot-note contains the following oracular dictum, -- "See particularly the narrative in Genesis xviii." What can be said to such an ignoramus as this? Hear him dogmatizing in another subject-matter: -- "The common arrangement of the Bible in chapters is of comparatively modern origin, and is admitted on all hands to have no authority or philological worth whatever. In many cases the division is most preposterous." (p.222.) That the division of chapters is occasionally infelicitous, is true: but is Mr. Goodwin weak enough to think that he could divide them better? The division into chapters and verses again is not so modern as Mr. Goodwin fancies. Dr. MCaul, (in a pamphlet on the Translation of the Bible,) shews reason for suspecting that some of the divisions of the Old Testament Scriptures are as old as the time of Ezra.

To return, and for the last time, to Mr. Goodwin's Essay. -- His object is, (with how much of success I have already sufficiently shewn,) (1) To fasten the charge of absurdity and ignorance on the ancient Prophet who is confessedly the author of the Book of Genesis: (2) To prove that a literal interpretation of Gen. i., "will not bear a moment's serious discussion." (p.230.) I look through his pages in vain for the wished-for proof. He has many strong assertions. He puts them forth with not a little insolence. But he proves nothing! At p.226, however, I read as follows: -- "Dr. Buckland appears to assume that when it is said that the Heaven and the Earth were created in the beginning, it is to be understood that they were created in their present form and state of completeness, the heaven raised above the earth as we see it, or seem to see it now." (pp.226-7.)

But Dr. Buckland "appears to assume" nothing of the kind. His words are, -- "The first verse of Genesis seems explicitly to assert the creation of the Universe: the Heaven, including the sidereal systems, -- and the Earth, . . . the subsequent scene of the operations of the six days about to be described." (pp.224-5.)

"This," continues Mr. Goodwin, "is the fallacy of his argument." (p.227.)

But if this is "the fallacy of his argument," we have already seen that it is a fallacy which rests not with Dr. Buckland, but with Mr. Goodwin. He proceeds: --

"The circumstantial description of the framing of the Heaven out of the waters proves that the words Heaven and Earth,' in the first verse, must be taken proleptically." -- (p.227.)

But we may as well stop the torrent of long words, by simply pointing out that "the heavens," (kashamaim,) spoken of in Gen. i.1, are quite distinct from "the firmament," (rakia,) spoken of in ver.6. The word is altogether different, and the sense is evidently altogether different also although Mr. Goodwin seeks to identify the two [125] . And further, we take leave to remind our modern philosopher that no "circumstantial description of the framing of the heaven out of the waters," is to be found either in ver.6, or elsewhere. And this must suffice.

The entire subject shall be dismissed with a very few remarks. -- Mr. Goodwin delights in pointing out the incorrectness of "the sense in which the Mosaic narrative was taken by those who first heard it:" (p.223:) and in asserting "that this meaning is primâ facie one wholly adverse to the present astronomical and geological views of the Universe." (p.223.) But we take leave to remind this would-be philosopher that "the idea which entered into the minds of those to whom the account was first given," (p.230,) is not the question with which we have to do when we are invited to a "frank recognition of the erroneous views of Nature which the Bible contains." (p.211.) "It is manifest," -- (in this I cordially agree with Mr. Goodwin,) -- "that the whole account is given from a different point of view from that which we now unavoidably take:" (p.223:) and, (I beg leave to add,) that point of view is somewhere in Heaven, -- not hero on Earth! The "Mosaic Cosmogony," as Mr. Goodwin phrases it, (fond, like all other smatterers in Science, of long words,) is a Revelation: and the same Holy Ghost who gave it, speaking by the mouth of St. John, not obscurely intimates that it is mystical, like the rest of Holy Scripture, -- that is, that it was fashioned not without a reference to the Gospel [126] . But we are touching on a high subject now, of which Mr. Goodwin does not understand so much as the Grammar. He is thinking of the structure of the globe: we are thinking of the structure of the Bible. But to return to Earth, we inform the Essayist that it is simply unphilosophical, even absurd, for him to insist on what shall be implied by certain words employed by Moses, -- (of which he judges by their etymology;) and further to assume what erroneous physical theories those words must have been connected with, by his countrymen, and so forth; and straightway to hold up the greatest of the ancient prophets to ridicule, as if those notions and those theories were all his!

"After all," (as Dr. Buckland remarked, long since,) "it should be recollected that the question is not respecting the correctness of the Mosaic narrative, but of our interpretation of it:" (p.231:) -- "a proposition," (proceeds Mr. Goodwin,) "which can hardly be sufficiently reprobated." But I make no question which of these two writers is most entitled to reprobation. For the view which will be found advocated in Sermon II., (which is substantially Dr. Buckland's,) (p.24 to p.32,) it shall but be said that it recommends itself to our acceptance by the strong fact that it takes no liberty with the sacred narrative, whatever; and receives the Revelation of God in all its strangeness, (which it cannot be a great mistake to do;) without trying to reconcile it with supposed discoveries, (wherein we may fail altogether.) I defy anybody to shew that it is impossible that God may have disposed of the actual order of the Universe, as in the first chapter of Genesis He is related to have done; and probability can clearly have no place in such a speculation. I would only just remind the thoughtful student of Scripture, and indeed of Nature also, that the singular analogy which Geologists think they discover between successive periods of Creation, and the Mosaic record of the first Six Days, is no difficulty to those who hesitate to identify those Days with the irregular Periods of indefinite extent. Rather was it to have been expected, I think, that such an analogy would be found to subsist between His past and His present working, when, 6,000 years ago, God arranged the actual system of things in Six Days. -- Neither need we feel perplexed if Hugh Miller was right in the conclusion at which, he says, he had been "compelled to arrive;" viz. that "not a few" of the extant species of animals "enjoyed life in their present haunts" "for many long ages ere Man was ushered into being;" "and that for thousands of years anterior to even their appearance many of the existing molluscs lived in our seas." (p.229.) I find it nowhere asserted by Moses that the severance was so complete, and decisively marked, between previous cycles of Creation and that cycle which culminated in the creation of Man, that no single species of the præ-Adamic period was reproduced by the Omnipotent, to serve as a connecting link, as it were, between the Old world and the New, -- an identifying note of the Intelligence which was equally at work on this last, as on all those former occasions. On the other hand, I do find it asserted by Geologists that between the successive præ-Adamic cycles such connecting links are discoverable; and this fact makes me behold in the circumstance supposed fatal to the view here advocated, the strongest possible confirmation of its accuracy. At the same time, it is admitted that in every department of animated and vegetable life, the severance between the last (or Mosaic) cycle of Creation, and all those cycles which preceded it, is very broadly marked [127] .

Mr. Goodwin's method contrasts sadly with that of the several writers he adduces, -- whether Naturalists or Divines. Those men, believing in the truth of Gov's Word, have piously endeavoured, (with whatever success,) to shew that the discoveries of Geology are not inconsistent with the revelations of Genesis. But he, with singular bad taste, (to use no stronger language,) makes no secret of the animosity with which he regards the inspired record; and even finds "the spectacle of able, and we doubt not conscientious writers engaging in attempting the impossible, -- painful and humiliating." He says, "they evidently do not breathe freely over their work; but shuffle and stumble over their difficulties in a piteous manner." (p.250.) He asserts dogmatically that "the interpretation proposed by Buckland to be given to the Mosaic description, will not bear a moment's serious discussion:" (p.230:) while Hugh Miller "proposes to give an entirely mythical or enigmatical sense to the Mosaic narrative." (p.236.) He is clamorous that we should admit the teaching of Scripture to be "to some extent erroneous." (p.251.) He "recognizes in it, not an authentic utterance of Divine Knowledge, but a human utterance." (p.253.) "Why should we hesitate," (he asks,) "to recognize the fallibility of the Hebrew writers?" (p.251.)

With one general reflexion, I pass on to the next Essay. -- The Works of God, the more severely they have been questioned, have hitherto been considered to bear a more and more decisive testimony to the Wisdom and the Goodness of their Author. The animal and the vegetable kingdoms have been made Man's instructors for ages past; and ever since the microscope has revealed so many unsuspected wonders, the argument from contrivance and design, Creative Power and infinite Wisdom, has been pressed with increasing cogency. The Heavens, from the beginning, have been felt to "declare the glory of God." One department only of Nature, alone, has all along remained unexplored. Singular to relate, the Records of Creation, (as the phenomena of Geology may I suppose be properly called,) -- though the most obvious phenomena of all, -- have been throughout neglected. It was not till the other day that they were invited to give up their weighty secrets; and lo, they have confessed them, willingly and at once. The study of Geology does but date from yesterday; and already it aspires to the rank of a glorious Science. Evidence has been at once furnished that our Earth has been the scene of successive cycles of Creation; and the crust of the globe we inhabit is found to contain evidence of a degree of antiquity which altogether defies conjecture. The truth is, that Man, standing on a globe where his deepest excavations bear the same relation to the diameter which the scratch of a pin invisible to the naked eye, bears to an ordinary globe; -- learns that his powers of interrogating Nature break down marvellous soon: yet Nature is observed to keep from him no secrets which he has the ability to ask her to give up.

In the meantime, the attitude assumed by certain pretenders to Physical Science at these discoveries, cannot fail to strike any thoughtful person as extraordinary. Those witnesses of God's work in Creation, which have been dumb for ages only because no man ever thought of interrogating them, are now regarded in the light of depositaries of a mighty secret which, because God knew that it would be fatal to the credit of His written Word, He had bribed them to keep back, as long as, by shuffling and equivocation, they found concealment practicable. It seems to be fancied, however, that that fatal secret the determination of Man has wrung from their unwilling lips, at last; and lo, on confronting God with these witnesses, He is convicted even by His own creatures of having spoken falsely in His Word [128] . -- Such, I say, is the tone assumed of late by a certain school of pretenders to Physical Science.

What need to declare that to the well-informed eye of Faith, -- (and surely Faith is here the perfection of Reason for Faith, remember, is the correlative not of Reason, but of Sight;) -- the phenomenon presented is of a widely different character. Faith, or rather Reason, looks upon God's Works as a kind of complement of His Word. He who gave the one, gave the other also. Moreover, He knew that He lead given it. So far from ministering to unbelief, or even furnishing grounds for perplexity, the record of His Works was intended, according to His gracious design, to supply what was lacking to our knowledge in the record of His Word. . . . "Behold My footprints, (He seems to say,) across the long tract of the ages! I could not give you this evidence in My written Word. The record would have been out of place, and out of time. It would have been unintelligible also. But what I knew would be inexpedient in the page of Revelation, I have given you abundantly in the page of Nature, I have spared your globe from combustion, which would have effaced those footprints, -- in order that the characters might be plainly decipherable to the end of Time. . . . . O fools and blind, to have occupied a world so brimful of wonders for wellnigh 6000 years, and only now to have begun to open your eyes to the structure of the earth whereon ye live, and move, and have your being! Yea, and the thousandth part of the natural wonders by which ye are surrounded has not been so much as dreamed of, by any of you, yet! . . . . O learn to be the humbler, the more ye know; and when ye gaze along the mighty vista of departed ages, and scan the traces of what I was doing before I created Man, -- multiply that problem by the stars which are scattered in number numberless over all the vault of Heaven; and learn to confess that it behoves the creature of an hour to bow his head at the discovery of his own littleness and blindness; and that his words concerning the Ancient of Days had need to be at once very wary, and very few!"


[101] A writer in the Saturday Review, (April 6, 1861,) in an admirable Article on the importance of retaining the office of Dean' in its integrity, (instead of suicidally merging it in the office of Bishop,') speaks of there being "no English Commentary on the New Testament brought up to the level of modern Theological Science." [As if "the level" had been rising of late!] "Butler and Paley are still our text-books on the Evidences; and we are defending old belief's behind wooden walls against the rifled cannon and iron broadsides of modern Philosophy."--p. 337. What a strange misapprehension of the entire question,--of the relation of Theological to Physical Science,--does such a sentence betray!

[102] See below, p. 235.

[103] As the excellent Townson observed long since,--"The brightness of countenance and raiment which dazzled and overcame the sight of His Apostles when He was Transfigured on the Mount, was to Him but a ray of that glory in which He dwelt before the Worlds were made."--Sermon on "The manner of our Saviour's Teaching,"--Works, vol. i.[p. 282.

[104] St. Matth. xvii. 2.

[105] St. Mark 9:3.

[106] 1 Timothy 6:15, 16.--If it be more philosophical to suppose that the Light which shone upon the earth during the first three days proceeded from the Sun, (the orb of which remained invisible,) and not from any extraneous independent source,--I have no objection whatever to such a supposition, indeed to any other which suffers the inspired record to remain intact. I am by no means clear however that Philosophy (begging her pardon,) does not entirely mistake her office, when she pretends to explain the first chapter of genesis. Pence, her constrained language, and unnatural manner, when she desires to be respectful,--her inconsequential remarks and perpetual blunders when she rather prefers to be irreligious. She is simply out of her element, and is discoursing of what she does not understand.--Theology, dealing with a physical problem by the method of Theological Science; and Philosophy, applying to a chapter in the Bible the physical method,--are alike at fault, and alike ridiculous. This truth, however obvious, does not seem to be generally understood. But, (to return to the first three days of Creation,)--since the Author of Revelation seems to design that I should understand that Sun, Moon, end Stars not only did not come to view until the fourth day,--but also that they were not re-invested with their immemorial function and office until then,--I find no difficulty, remembering with whom I have to do, even with Him who sowed the vault of Heaven so thick with stars, each one of which may be not a sun but a system[Herschel];--when, I say, I attend to the emphatic nature of the inspired record, on the one hand, and to God's Omnipotence on the other,--I have no difficulty in supposing that He embraced the Sun in a veil, for just so long a period as it seemed Him good, and when He willed that it should re-appear, that He withdrew the veil again. The name for the operation just now alluded to belongs to the province of Philosophy. Divinity is all the while thinking about something infinitely better and higher.

[107] Genesis 1:6.

[108] Ibid. 20.

[109] Job 37:18.

[110] Psalm 104:2.

[111] Isaiah 40:22.

[112] Job 26:8.

[113] Proverbs 30:4.

[114] See also Job 9:8. Even in Job 37:18, the sky is said to be "spread out." So Isaiah 45:12, &c.

[115] Job 26:11.

[116] 2 Samuel 22:8.

[117] Psalm 78:23.

[118] Genesis 7:11.

[119] Job 9:6. Psalm 75:3. See Blomfield's Glossary to Prom. Vinct. v. 357.

[120] Comp. Isaiah 24:18.

[121] See Isaiah 24:18 and Malachi 3:10.

[122] ekleipein ten hedran. (Herod.) See Copleston's Remains, p. 107.

[123] Eccl. Pol. I. iii. 2.

[124] Genesis 1:26.

[125] "The difficulty," he says, (alluding to Genesis 1:1,) "lies in this, that the heaven is distinctly said to have been formed . . . on the second day." (p. 226.) But this is the language of a man determined that there shall be a difficulty. "The Heavens and the Earth" clearly denote, (in the simple phraseology of a primitive ago,) the sum of all created things; the great transaction which Nehemiah has so strikingly expounded:--"Heaven, the Heaven of Heavens, with ell their host,--the Earth and all things that are therein;" including "the sea, with all that is therein." (Nehemiah 9:6.) Whereas "the firmament" of ver. 6, (which God called "Heaven" in ver. 8,) can only indicate the blue vault immediately overhead, wherein fowls fly. (ver. 20.) If this be not the meaning of Genesis 1:1, one half of the phrase is "proleptical,"--the other half not: for the creation of Earth is nowhere recorded, if not in ver. 1. . . . But surely it is a waste of words to discuss such "difficulties" as these.

[126] Consider especially Hebrews 4:9 and 10; and consider, (besides Exodus 20:11,) Deuteronomy 5:15. See also Colossians 2:17.

[127] "There have been found within the area of these islands upwards of 15,000 species of once living things, every one differing specifically from those of the present Creation. Agassiz states that, with the exception of one small fossil fish, (discovered in the clay-stones of Greenland,) he has not found any creature of this class, in all the Geological strata, identical with any fish now living." (Pattison's The Earth and the World, p. 27.)

[128] I allude to such passages as the following,--all of which are to be found in Mr. Goodwin's Essay:-- "We are asked to believe that a vision of creation was presented to him (Moses) by Divine power, for the purpose of enabling him to inform the world of what he had seen; which vision inevitably led him to give a description which has misled the world for centuries, and in which the truth can now only with difficulty be recognized." (p. 247.) "The theories [of Hugh Miller and of Dr. Buckland] assume that appearances only, not facts, are described; and that, in riddles which would never have been suspected to be such, had we not arrived at the truth from other sources." (p. 249.) "For ages, this simple view of Creation satisfied the wants of man, and formed a sufficient basis of theological teaching:" but "modern research now shews it to be physically untenable." (p. 253.) "The writer asserts solemnly and unhesitatingly that for which he must have known that he had no authority." But this was only because "the early speculator was harassed by no such scruples" as "arise from our modern habits of thought, and from the modesty of assertion (!) which the spirit of true science has taught us." He therefore "asserted as facts what he knew in reality only as probabilities. . . . He had seized one great truth. . . . With regard to details, observation failed him."--(pp. 252-3.)

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