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pared with our own humble globe. Thus has modern science reversed nearly all the prima facie views to which our senses lead us as to the constitution of the universe; but so thoroughly are the above statements wrought into the culture of the present day, that we are apt to forget that mankind once saw these things very differently, and that but a few centuries have elapsed since such views were startling novelties.
Our earth, then, is but one of the lesser pendants of a body which is itself only an inconsiderable unit in the vast creation. And now, if we withdraw our thoughts from the immensities of space, and look into the construction of man's obscure home, the first question is, whether it has ever been in any other condition than that in which we now see it; and, if so, what are the stages through which it has passed ? and what was its first traceable state ? Here geology steps in, and successfully carries back the history of the earth's crust to a very remote period, until it arrives at a region of uncertainty, where philosophy is reduced to mere guesses and possibilities, and pronounces nothing definite. To this region belong the speculations which have been ventured upon as to the original concretion of the earth and planets out of nebular matter, of which the sun may have been the nucleus. But the first clear view which we obtain of the early condition of the earth presents to us a ball of matter, fluid with intense heat, spinning on its own axis, and revolving round the sun. How long it may have continued in this state is beyond calculation or surmise. It can only be believed that a prolonged period, beginning and ending we know not when, elapsed before the surface became cooled and hardened, and capable of sustaining organized existences. The water, which now inwraps a large portion of the face of the globe, must for ages have existed only in the shape of steam, floating above and enveloping the planet in one thick curtain of mist. When the cooling of the surface allowed it to condense and descend, then commenced the process by which the lowest stratified rocks were formed, and gradually spread out in vast layers. Rains and rivers now acted upon the scoriaceous integument, grinding it to sand, and carrying it down to the depths and cavities. Whether organized beings co-existed with this state of things we know not, as the early rocks have been acted upon by interior heat to an extent which must have destroyed all traces of animal and vegetable life, if any such ever existed. This period has been named by geologists the Azoic, or that in which life was not. Its duration no onde presumes to define.
It is in the system of beds which overlies these primitive formations that the first records of organisms present themselves. In the so-called Silurian system, we have a vast assemblage of strata of various kinds, together many thousands of feet thick, and abounding in remains of animal life. These strata were deposited at the bottom of the sea, and the remains are exclusively marine. The creatures whose exuviæ have been preserved belong to those classes which are placed by naturalists the lowest with respect to organization, — the mollusca, articulata, and radiata. Analagous beings exist at the present day, but not their lineal descendants, unless time can effect transmutation of species; an hypothesis not generally accepted by naturalists. In the same strata with these inhabitants of the early seas are found remains of fucoid or seaweed-like plants (the lowest of the vegetable tribe), which may have been the first of this kind of existences introduced into the world ; but, as little has yet been discovered to throw light upon the state of the dry land and its productions at this remote period, nothing can be asserted positively on the subject.*
In the upper strata of the Silurian system is found the commencement of the race of fishes (the lowest creatures of the vertebrate type), and in the succeeding beds they become abundant. These monsters clothed in mail, who must have been the terror of the seas they inhabited, have left their indestructible coats behind them as evidences of their existence.
Next come the carboniferous strata, containing the remains of a gigantic and luxuriant vegetation; and here reptiles and insects begin to make their appearance. At this point, geologists make a kind of artificial break, and, for the sake of distinction, denominate the whole of the foregoing period of animated existences the Palæozoic, or that of antique life.
In the next great geological section, the so-called Secondary period, in which are comprised the oölitic and cretaceous systems, the predominant creatures are different from those which figured conspicuously in the preceding. The land was inhabited by gigantic animals, half-toad, half-lizard, who hopped about, leaving often their footprints, like those of a clumsy human hand, upon the sandy shores of the seas they frequented. The waters now abounded with monsters, half-fish, half-crocodile (the well-known saurians), whose bones have been collected in abundance. Even the air had its tenantry from the same family type ;
* It has been stated that a coal-bed, containing remains of land plants, underlying strata of the lower Silurian class, has been found in Portugal.
for the pterodactyls were creatures half-lizard, halfvampire, provided with membranous appendages which must have enabled them to fly. In an early stage of this period, traces of birds appear; and, somewhat later, those of mammals, but of the lowest class belonging to that division; namely, the marsupial or pouch-bearing animals, in which naturalists see affinities to the oviparous tribes. The vegetation of this period seems to have consisted principally of the lower classes of plants, according to the scale of organization accepted by botanists; but it was luxuriant and gigantic.
Lastly comes the Tertiary period, in which mammalia of the highest forms enter upon the scene, while the composite growths of the Secondary period in great part disappear, and the types of creatures approach more nearly to those which now exist. During long ages this state of things continued, while the earth was the abode principally of mastodons, elephants, rhinoceroses, and their thick-hided congeners, many of them of colossal proportions, and of species which have now passed away. The remains of these creatures have been found in the frozen rivers of the North, and they appear to have roamed over regions of the globe where their more delicate representatives of the present day would be unable to live. During this era, the ox, horse, and deer, and perhaps other animals, destined to be serviceable to man, became inhabitants of the earth. Lastly, 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. Thus the reduction of the earth into the state in which we now behold it has been the slowly continued work of ages. The races of organic beings which have populated its surface have from time to time passed away and been supplanted by others, introduced we know not certainly by what means, but evidently according to a fixed method and order, and with a gradually increasing complexity and fineness of organization, until we come to man as the crowning point of all. Geologically speaking, the history of his first appearance is obscure; nor does archæology do much to clear this obscurity. Science has, however, made some efforts towards tracing man to his cradle ; and by patient observation, and collection of facts, much more may perhaps be done in this direction. As for history and tradition they afford little upon which anything can be built. The human race, like each individual man, has forgotten its own birth ; and the void of its early years has been filled up by imagination, and not from genuine recollection. 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.
We pass 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. But even those, who may be inclined to contest the fact that we have here the productions of two different writers, will admit that the account beginning at the first verse of the first chapter, and ending at the third