Page images
PDF
EPUB

of men upon our globe. There is another view involved in this second question, which we would not dismiss without a few remarks.

“ Are men, even if diversity of origin is established, to be considered as belonging to one species? or are we to conclude that there are several different species among them? The writer has been in this respect strangely misrepresented. Because he has at one time said that mankind constitutes one species, and at another time has said that men did not originate from one common stock, he has been represented as contradicting himself, as stating at one time one thing and at another time another. He would, therefore, insist upon this distinction — that the unity of species does not involve a unity of origin, and that a diversity of origin does not involve a plurality of species. Moreover, what we should now consider as the characteristic of species is something very different from what has formerly been so considered. As soon as it was ascertained that animals differ so widely, it was found that what constitutes a species in certain types is something very different from what constitutes a species in other types, and that facts which prove an identity of species in some animals do not prove an identity or plurality in another group.” (p. 113.)

Thus we see this distinguished naturalist holds to the doctrine of the unity of mankind, but with this he likewise maintains the plurality of origin ; a positión which, according to the manner in which cer

tain matters in natural science have heretofore been viewed, is a strange one. But some others have adopted it; and they maintain the unity of the human races in such a way as to be consistent, in their own view, with the declaration of Paul, when he says, " He (God) hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth.” (Acts . xvii. 26.) There is the actual relationship of consanguinity — all are made of one blood, although the different races are descended from different, distinct, primitive pairs, which were created at different times in different parts of the earth. And Prof. Agassiz is particular to state that he regards all the races, though descended from different primeval pairs, as having the same relations to the moral government of God, as constituting, spiritually and intellectually, one brotherhood, and as having one destiny. He claims, moreover, that all this is consistent with the sacred Scriptures, and feels it keenly that he has been represented as holding doctrines at variance with the teachings of the Bible.

Let us now inquire what estimate should be placed upon the theory thus set forth.

I. In the first place, let it be remembered that it is a mere theory. No one, so far as we know, has attempted to prove it, or even claimed that it is susceptible of proof. It is an hypothesis resorted to for

the purpose of escaping the difficulties supposed to arise from the inconsistency of certain facts revealed by modern science with the ordinary view of the chronology and unity of the race. It is not pretended that any clear traces can be discerned along the track of man's history of a plural origin of the race. There is certainly, as we go back in time, a convergence of lineage, of language, and of tradition toward one parental center; there is not toward any other. The streams of migration during the ages have apparently come from one common fountain in Central Asia ; there is no other such fountain from which they came. If there are or have been any nations whose origin can not be traced to Adam or Noah, it is sufficient to say that neither can they be traced to any other source. All positive evidence that there was more than one parental stock, from whom the various races and families have descended, is absolutely wanting.

II. The alleged inconsistency of any known facts of science with the Scripture doctrine, to obviate which resort is had to the theory of plurality, has never yet been demonstrated.

Take, first, the case of Cain. It is said that he was afraid that somebody would slay him for his crime of murdering Abel; and as there were then but three living persons of the family of Adam, he

sons

hree

must have referred to people of another race. But how is it ascertained that there were then but three persons living? Who knows how many children may have been born to our first parents between these two brothers, or how many after the birth of Abel? Who can tell what the age of either of the brothers was at the time of the homicide? Certainly," even Abel had grown to something like man's estate, and Cain was older than he. Besides, why limit the murderer's fears to persons then living? . There were generations to come, among whom he knew that the story would be told; and he miglet well apprehend that some avenger of blood would arise long years after that, to redress the wrong done to his kinsman, and inflict justice upon his slayer.

In the matter of Cain's wife, also, the difficulty is greatly exaggerated. It is conceded that the first marriage among Adam's descendants must have been between a brother and sister. But it by no means follows that such a marriage, in those circumstances, was incestuous, in the later signification of that term. He who appointed marriage for the welfare of the race could have sanctioned it, in this necessary instance, as readily as he forbade the repetition of it afterward. Besides, the difficulty is not obviated by the supposition of another race, among whom Cain, may have found a wife. For

she must, again, have been descended from some primeval pair, in whose family the same difficulty must have existed - a marriage equally incestuous. Or if, to avoid this, you suppose still another race, whence the needed wife or husband might have come, you only shift the difficulty again to this. You must, therefore, resort to the absurd supposition of an infinite number of distinct human races, or you must confront the marriage itself, and justify it in its own nature, which you can as well do in the case of Cain and his sister-wife as in any other.

**But the chief difficulties which have caused a resort to the theory under examination grow out of the diversities in color, physiognomy, and other personal characteristics existing among different branches of the race. It is claimed that these diversities are too great, and have been of too long standing to be consistent with the idea of a common descent, especially within the circumscribed period between their actual appearance and the time of Noah. In the proof and illustration of these diversities, great research and learning have been exhibited, and many able works have been written. To treat this topic according to its importance will require a somewhat lengthened consideration.

The subject really involves two questions : first, Can the known diversities existing in the various

« PreviousContinue »