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appear in the strata, Hugh Miller states to be as follows: In the Lower Silurian, we find only thallogens; in the Upper Silurian, acrogens are added. The gymnogens appear rather prematurely, it might be thought, in the old red sandstone, the endogens (monocotyledonous) coming after them in the carboniferous group.
. Dicotyledonous exogens enter at the close of the oölitic period, and come to their greatest development in the tertiary. Again: the animal tribes have been introduced in an order closely agreeing with the geological divisions established by Cuvier. In the Silurian beds, the invertebrate creatures - the radiata, articulata, and mollusca — appear simultaneously. At the close of the period, fishes, the lowest of the vertebrata, appear; before the old red sandstone period had passed away, reptiles had come into existence; birds and the marsupial mammals enter in the oölitic period; placental mammals, in the tertiary; and man, last of all.
Now, these facts do certainly tally to some extent with the Mosaic account, which represents fish and fowl as having been produced from the waters on the fifth day, reptiles and mammals from the earth on the sixth, and man as made last of all. The agreement, however, is far from exact, as, according to geological evidence, reptiles would appear to have existed ages before birds and mammals; whereas here the creation of birds is attributed to the fifth day, that of reptiles to the sixth. There remains, moreover, the insuperable difficulty of the plants and trees being represented as made on the third day, that is, more than an age before fishes and birds; which is clearly not the case. Although, therefore, there is a superficial resemblance in the Mosaic account to that of the geologists, it is evident that the bare theory, that a “day” means an age or immense geological period, might be made to yield some rather strange results. What becomes of the evening and morning of which each day is said to have consisted ? Was each geologic age divided into two long intervals, one all darkness, the other all light ? and, if so, what became of the plants and trees created in the third day or period, when the evening of the fourth day (the evenings, be it observed, precede the mornings) set in? They must have passed through half a seculum of total darkness, not even cheered by that dim light which the sun, not yet completely manifested, supplied on the morning of the third day. Such an ordeal would have completely destroyed the whole vegetable creation ; and yet we find that it survived, and was appointed on the sixth day as the food of man and animals. In fact, we need only substitute the word “period” for “ day” in the Mosaic narrative to make it very apparent that the writer at least had no such meaning, nor could he. have conveyed any such meaning to those who first heard his account read.
“ It has been held,” says Hugh Miller, “ by accomplished philologists, that the days of Mosaic creation may be regarded, without doing violence to the Hebrew language, as successive periods of great ex
We do not believe that there is any ground for this doctrine. The word “day” is certainly used occasionally, in particular phrases, in an indefinite manner, not only in Hebrew, but other languages; as, for instance, Gen. xxxix. 11, “About this time,”
* Testimony, p. 133.
Heb. literally, “about this day." But every such phrase explains itself; and not only philology, but common sense, disclaims the notion, that when “day” is spoken of in terms like those in the first chapter of Genesis, and described as consisting of an evening and a morning, it can be understood to mean a seculum.
Archdeacon Pratt, treating on the same subject, says (p. 41, note):
“ Were there no other ground of objection to this mode of interpretation, I think the wording of the fourth commandment is clearly opposed to it. Exod. xx. 8: • Remember the sabbath-day to keep it holy. 9. Six days shalt thou labor, and do all thy work. 10. But the seventh day is the sabbath of the Lord thy God : in it thou shalt not do any work, – thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy man-servant, nor thy maid-servant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates. 11. For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the Lord blessed the sabbath-day, and hallowed it.'
“ Is it not a harsh and forced interpretation to suppose that the six days in ver. 9 do not mean the same as the six days in ver. 11, but that, in this last place, they mean six periods? In reading through the eleventh verse, it is extremely difficult to believe that the seventh day is a long period, and the sabbath-day an ordinary day; that is, that the same word day should be used in two such totally different senses in the same short sentence, and without any explanation."
Hugh Miller saw the difficulty ; but he endeavors to escape the consequences of a rigorous application of the periodic theory by modifying it in a peculiar, and certainly ingenious manner.
Waiving,” he says, “the question as a philological one, and simply holding with Cuvier, Parkinson, and Silliman, that each of the six days of the Mosaic account in the first chapter were what is assuredly meant by the day * referred to in the second (not natural
* The expression (Gen. ii. 4): “In the day that the Lord God created the earth and heaven,” to which Hugh Miller here refers, may possibly mean " at the time when;” meaning a week, year, or other limited time. But there is not the smallest reason for understanding it to mean “a lengthened period,” i. e. an immense lapse of time. Such a construction would be inadmissible in the Hebrew or any other language. It is difficult to acquit Hugh Miller of an equivocation here. In real truth, the second narrative is, as we have before observed, of distinct origin from the first; and we incline to the belief, that, in this case also, “ Jay" is to be taken in its proper signification.
days, but lengthened periods), I find myself called on, as a geologist, to account for but three out of the six. Of the period during which light was created; of the period during which a firmament
made to separate the waters from the waters; or of the period during which the two great lights of the earth, with the other heavenly bodies, became visible from the earth's surface, - we need expect to find no record in the rocks. Let me, however, pause for a moment to remark the peculiar character of the language in which we are first introduced, in the Mosaic narrative, to the heavenly bodies, – sun, moon, and stars. The moon, though absolutely one of the smallest lights of our system, is described as secondary and subordinate to only its greatest light, the sun. It is the apparent, then, not the actual, which we find in the passage ; what seemed to be, not what was : and, as it was merely what appeared to be greatest that was described as greatest, on what grounds are we to hold that it may not also have been what appeared at the time to be made that has been described as made ? The sun, moon, and stars may have been created long before; though it was not until this fourth day of creation that they became visible from the earth's surface.” *
The theory founded upon this hint is, that the Hebrew writer did not state facts, but merely certain appearances, and those not of things which really happened, as assumed in the explanation adopted by Archdeacon Pratt, but of certain occurrences which were presented to him in a vision, and that this vision greatly deceived him as to what he seemed to see ; and thus, in effect, the real discrepancy of the narrative with facts is admitted. He had, in all, seven visions, to each of which he attributed the duration of a day; although, indeed, each picture presented to him the earth during seven long and distinctly marked epochs. While, on the one hand, this supposition admits all desirable latitude for mistakes and misrepresentations; Hugh Miller, on the other hand, endeavors to show that a substantial agreement with the truth exists, and to give sufficient reason for the mistakes. We must let him speak for himself:
* Testimony, p. 134.
“ The geologist, in his attempts to collate the divine with the geologic record, has, I repeat, only three of the six periods of creation to account for,* . the period of plants, the period of great sea-monsters and creeping things, and the period of cattle and beasts of the earth. He is called on to question his systems and formations regarding the remains of these three great periods, and of them only. And the question once fairly stated, what, I ask, is the reply? All geologists agree in holding that the vast geological scale naturally divides into three great parts. There are many lesser divisions, divisions into systems, formations, deposits, beds, strata; but the master divisions, in each of which we find a type of life so unlike that of the others, that even the unpractised eye can detect the difference, are simply three, the palæozoic, or oldest fossiliferous division; the secondary, or middle fossiliferous division; and the tertiary, or latest fossiliferous division. In the first, or palæozoic division, we find corals, crustaceans, mollusks, fishes; and, in its later formations, a few reptiles. But none of these classes give its leading character to the palæozoic : they do not constitute its prominent feature, or render it more remarkable as a scene of life than any of the divisions which followed. That which chiefly distinguished the palæozoic from the secondary and tertiary periods was its gorgeous flora. It was emphatically the period of plants, of herbs yielding seed after their kind. In no other age did the world ever witness such a flora : the youth of the earth was peculiarly a green umbrageous youth, - a youth of dusk and tangled forests, of huge pines, and stately araucarians, of the reed-like calamite, the tall tree-fern, the sculptured sigillaria, and the hirsute lepidodendrons. Wherever dry land or shallow lakes or running stream appeared, from where Melville Island now spreads out its icy coast under the star of the pole, to where the arid plains of Australia lie solitary beneath the bright cross of the South, a rank and luxuriant herbage cumbered every foot-breadth of the dank and steaming soil; and even to distant planets, our earth must have shone through the enveloping cloud with a green and delicate ray. The geologic evidence is so complete as to be patent to all, that the first great period of organized being was, as described in the Mosaic record, peculiarly a period of herbs and trees yielding seed after their kind.' “ The middle great period of the geologist -- that of the second
possessed, like the earlier one, its herbs and plants ;
* A very inadmissible assertion. Any one - - be he geologist, astronomer, theologian, or philologist who attempts to explain the Hebrew narrative, is bound to take it with all that really belongs to it. And in truth, if the fourth day really represented an epoch of creative activity, geology would be able to give some account of it. There is no reason to suppose that any intermission has taken place.