Page images

mated, unprotected, and utterly defenceless, has survived in the midst of beasts, and birds of prey, and noxious serpents, to this very hour? Once more: if the mineralized remains of testaceous animals are relics only of the Noachian flood, why do these too exhibit remains of so many species, and even genera, wholly extinct in their recent state?

Mr. Gisborne very feebly endeavours to account for the possibility of the formation of calcareous rocks, in the period assigned by what he and his school conceive to be the Mosaic chronology for the present globe, but he never attempts to account for this striking phenomenon—the diversity of species, of which the organic remains contained in those immense masses consist: yet in how slight a degree must the convulsion occasioned by the deluge have affected the testacea ! Or if for a moment it could be conceived that it had operated to the destruction of certain species, why did it permit the escape and preservation of other tribes no better fortified and protected than those ? Again-if, as Mr. Gisborne thinks himselt bound to believe, all the deposits of animal exuvia were made during the convulsion of the Noachian flood, how is it that an universal and indiscriminate jumble of these remains, testacea, fishes, birds, quadrupeds, and even of the human species are not promiscuously discovered? Or, why are the strata in which they are found imbedded any thing more than fortuitous masses and heterogeneous deposits out of the broken and dislocated materials of the Adamic globe; and why do these strata exhibit marks of any thing more than dislocation since the waters of the deluge have been withdrawn? Mr. Gisborne might have learned from every intelligent geologist of the present day, that in the formation and disposition of the principal strata of the earth, there appear none of those marks of confusion of which he so loudly complains and from which he infers so much; while, on the contrary, it is manifest that regular deposits have been made, and at successive periods evidently been superinduced upon each other; that in each of these are found, in undeviating order, the remains of different classes of aniniated beings, beginning with the monads, the simplest of the living works of the Creator, and ascending through the scale to tribes of quadrupeds, in which the gradation closes without ever* rising to man;-that between these successive deposits are indubitable vestiges of successive convulsions, equally formidable with those which dislocate and, if Mr. Gisborne will have it so, deform the present crust of the earth;—that in order to mineralize these successive deposits some chemical cause or causes must uniformly have been employed, which have bad the collateral effect of destroying the animals whose nature and organs fitted them to exist

* A single instance to the contrary has indeed occurred in a rock of very late formation.


upon the surface of the last deposit, and unfitted them for the next;--and finally that these chemical causes, whatever they were, have ceased to operate, excepting in particular instances, and upon a very limited scale. And why, after all, will bigotry contend that this veracity of Moses depends upon a literal interpretation of a word so indefinite as day, which may as well be understood to apply to any unassigned period of time—when the abandonment of this rigid limitation of the word will furnish us with a proof of the inspiration of the historian somewhat better than Mr. Gisborne's demonstration of a moral cause of the disruption of the crust of the earth ?

But to return to Mr. Gisborne's position, that nothing but a moral cause can account for the present dislocated state of the earth's surface, we are compelled to refuse him the assumption, both as philosophers and as Christians,-First therefore, man, as the most perfect, was the last created of all living beings. Mr. Gisborne will allow, that there was no moral agent upon the planet called Earth, before man. Yet are there indubitable appearances of disruptions in the earth's surface equally formidable, and which must have been equally destructive to the inhabitants, whatever they were, of the then existing surface of the globe, with any which can be conceived of the Noachian deluge. One race after another, of subordinate beings in their different classes, lave actually been swept away, and so far as appears, by very sudden and violent convulsions, before sin appeared in the world. Surely then such appearances may have been produced by physical

Let us not, however, be mistaken as denying, or even doubting, that the Mosaic deluge was occasioned by the sin of man : we are informed of it by inspiration itself, and on that authority assuredly believe it.

We now return to the narrative of Moses, corroborated as we have seen by this wonderful coincidence betwixt that and the order in which organized animal remains are discovered in the successive strata. What are the millions and millions of chances against his having casually bit upon such a coincidence as the order assigned by him for the creation of the successive classes of being, with their respective positions in a mineralized state, we leave to the patient calculator to compute. . Centies venereum jecit. Whence then, we will ask the unbeliever, did the historian derive this information, and what did he know of appearances and arrangements beneath the present surface of the earth ? Had he explored the patriarchal wells ? which though among the most wonderful monuments of human perseverance, could have afforded him, we dare to affirm, very superficial information. Perhaps he drew his information from Egyptian traditions ?





Whence were these derived? Perhaps it will be answered, through the line of the patriarchs, from Adam bimself. The fact of inspiration is then admitted; for whence could Adam have learned the history and order of events which happened before his own creation, but from the Creator himself? Once more: we object, as Christians, to Mr. Gisborne's assumption, that the present surface of the globe could not have undergone the changes which appear upon it from any other than a moral cause. For how, we may be permitted to ask, but in extent, do these appearances differ from those produced by the earthquakes at Lisbon, in Calabria, at Messina, or at Portroyal? Yet would even he deny that these were or could be produced only by physical causes? If so, we should then presume to ask whether he supposes that the greatest of all sinners on the face of the earth were to be found only on low levels and on the margin of the sea i or that those Galileans were sinners above all the Galileans because they suffered these things, or those eighteen upon whom the tower in Siloam fell and slew them? There is one who will tell him


therefore forbidden to draw the inference for ourselves, but are to wait for a direct assurance of the intent and purport of such judgments, as in the case of the deluge. But perhaps there may be found among our readers, some who will treat our assertions, with respect to the order and harmony of primæval deposits on the surface of the globe, and the regular arrangement of their organic contents, as gratuitous assumptions. Mr. Gisborne, in particular, who allows himself to speak so cavalierly of the accidental discoveries of a few insulated remains belonging to species now no longer remaining, will probably be among the first to fall into the snare, and the last to extricate himself from it.

Of the last, and beyond comparison the most scientific writer on the subject, we repeat that he appears to have no knowledge. For bis information therefore, we have abstracted from M. Cụvier's Essay on the Theory of the Earth, already referred to, a compendium of the latest geological discoveries, to which we now subjoin the conclusion of Linnæus at a much earlier period of the science-of Linnæus, as much a Christian as Mr. Gisborne, who, by the far less clear and certain lights of his day, was led to the declaration, Diluvii vestigia cerno nulla, ævi vetustissimi plurima.' To our author, probably, and to others, at the first view, this

may appear a startling declaration; but let them recollect how few and of how small extent were the apertures necessary for the emission of subterraneous waters at Noah's deluge, and how little reason there is, from the account of Moses himself, for believing that the general surface of the globe underwent any material change in consequence of that catastrophe. The annihilation of the human race,


with a few exceptions, was the object of God, and for that purpose an inundation, without these supposed convulsions, otherwise than as required for producing that inundation, was quite sufficient. And do not we find, in conformity with this opinion, that among the rivers of Paradise the Euphrates itself is distinctly mentioned? which goes far towards identifying the other three. And what must have become of rivers, mountains, and all other features of the earth's antediluvian surface, on Mr. Gisborne's supposition? or was the surface of our planet antecedently a perfect plane? If it were, the present dislocations on its surface, instead of being penal in their nature, were among the greatest blessings ever bestowed upon mankind. It would be easy to shew in how great a degree all subsequent improvements in the arts and accommodations of human life depend on the inclined position of the strata of the earth.

We now proceed to some very singular positions and reasonings of our author, intended to prove, from physical phenomena, the Fall of Man.

'It has already appeared evident, from documents furnished by natural theology, that mankind are fallen by transgression from the condition in which they were created. Let imagination' (we seriously wish that our ingenious author had exercised his reason more and his imagination less, but) 'let imagination form to itself a picture of the state of beings in which, fresh from their Maker's hand, and in full possession of his favour, they were originally stationed upon earth. For the assistance of our conceptions, we are supplied with two models, one delivered by the finger of God in the opening chapters of the Book of Genesis; the other by the pen of man in the representations given by poets of a golden age.'

Surely we may remark, in passing, that the juxtaposition of the Book of Genesis and Ovid's Metamorphoses was not very judicious or well considered, in so serious a Christian as our author. With his permission, therefore, we will discard the latter in toto.

Form the picture, however,' says Mr. Gisborne, on either pattern, on any consistent pattern, including unsullied innocence and the complete possession of the favour of God, there will remain two questions to which we may desire a reply. In the first place, in what degree, according to our conception, could the mineral substances which have been specified be necessary or useful to man in such a state of innocence, &c.? The necessity or the utility of such substances to such beings is not easily, if at all, to be discerned.'

Here we will just observe, that as Adam in Paradise was required to work the ground, as it is in the original, the utility of an iron mattock in preference to a wooden stake may perhaps be discerned. But now we get into Ovid and poetry, for surely what follows is no more the sense than the language of Moses.

D 4

6 Were

Were men dwelling in a paradisiacal state, or amidst the realization of an age of gold, when neither corporeal need prompted a wish for cloathing,—when the grove, though shelter were superfluous, would ever be at hand with its grateful vicissitude of shade, —when trees loaded with fruit were spreading their offerings in spontaneous luxuriance to meet the first sensations of hunger and thirst, -when all was purity, and peace and joy, on what obvious grounds could we rest the applicability and the importance of the substances under consideration ?

On this declamatory passage we have to observe, that Mr. Gisborne betrays a strange antipathy to labour, which was necessary in order to give a relish to all these enjoyments; and that his idea of our first parents in Paradise seems to be that of two indolent, contemplative, voluptuous devotees.—Yet, in the midst of all this purity and peace and joy, the pains and penalties of idleness must have been felt, and accordingly our great poet, in order to make ease more easy, has been careful to find employment for the inhabitants of his Paradise, whereas that of Mr. Gisborne would have better suited the Castle of Indolence

• Where labour only was to kill the time,

And labour sore it was and weary woe.' • But, in the second place, if it be assumed that the possession of coal and of iron, and of the rest of the metals, would be not only in a moderate degree desired, but even of essential advantage to man in the supposed condition of felicity, and in the consequent continuance of the favour of the gracious Father of Creation, is it possible to suppose that those substances would be placed in the situations in which they are now arranged? To answer this question affirmatively, appears beyond the possibility of reason. Consider that the beds of coal and the metallic veins are deeply stationed below the surface of the earth, that they are buried under strata of powerful resistance, that by the convulsions through which these sțrata have been disjoined and dislocated the accompanying coal and metal participate in every mode of confusion, and that by the combination of all these circumstances they are rendered at once of doubtful discovery and of difficult access. Consider further that the metallic bodies, when discovered and obtained, are rarely in a state fitting them for the service of man. They offer themseļves to him in masses of shapeless, rugged, stony, and untractable ore, and are to be subdued by the strongest discipline of fire and of labour, ere they will submit to the forms and manifest the qualities which are indispensably necessary before he can derive a particle of benefit from his acquisition. Is it conceivable that men, innocent, happy, in the full enjoyment of God, men dwelling in an actual or a virtual Paradise, should be doomed by their heavenly Father to seek the mineral production which we are supposing them to need, in such a situation? Assuredly we may without hesitation conclude, that if to innocent and favoured man minerals were of importance, they would be provided for him by divine goodness in stations easy of detection and of access, and would be endued with the qualities necessary for that purpose.'


« PreviousContinue »