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ages so famous as Aaron and Miriam, and who were destined to enact parts so important in the history of the church; and so we have been introduced to them. And had it been as necessary for the purpose of revelation, that reference should have been made to the intervening creations in the one case, as to the intervening births in the other, we would doubtless have heard of them too. But, as has been already said, it was not so necessary; it was not necessary at all. The ferns and lepidodendra of the coal measures are as little connected with the truths which influence our spiritual state, as the vegetable productions of Mercury or of Pallas; the birds and reptiles of the oolite, as the unknown animals that inhabit the plains or disport in the rivers of Saturn or Uranus. And so revelation is as silent on the geological phenomena as on the contemporary creations on the periods and order of systems and formations, as on the relative positions of the earth and sun, or the places and magnitude of the planets."
Dr. Pye Smith seeing the full strength of the first objection now referred to, sought to save his belief in the lengthened period alleged to have been between the work indicated in the first verse and the commencement of the six days of creation, and to give an answer to those who held that generally there had been no state of universal darkness and confusion, by the hypothesis of a partial chaos. In urging this he held that the word “earth," in the second verse meant, as it does in some other passages, only a particular region—"the part of our world which God was adapting for the dwelling of man and the animals connected with him.” This he represents as the part of Asia “ lying between the Caucasian ridge, the Caspian Sea, and Tartary on the north, the Persian and Indian Seas on the south, and the high mountain ridges which run at considerable distances on the eastern and western flank.” Dr. Pye Smith, in a word, limited chaos to the supposed region of the land of Eden. The arbitrary use of the word " earth," and the inadequacy of a partial chaos to account for the use of such language as the “ earth was without form and void,” will continue to make this theory even less influential in the future than it has been in the past.
This reference to the “ partial chaos hypothesis” of Dr. P. Smith forms a convenient stepping-stone from the theory of Chalmers and Buckland, Sedgwick and Hitchcock, to the “age theory," now associated with the name of Mr. Hugh Miller. Not, indeed, because he was the first to form it. As has already been pointed out, the theory is not new; but Mr. Miller has expounded it with an eloquence, and illustrated
it by a lavish richness of intellectual and scientific gifts, and put it in a setting of poetic beauty unequalled in the popular literature of science. During his studies among the Old Red Sandstone series of rocks, all that he found necessary when looking at the relations between science and theology," was some scheme that would permit him to assign to the earth a high antiquity, and to regard it as the scene of many successive creations. During the last nine years, however, he had spent a few weeks every autumn in exploring the later formations, and acquainting himself with their peculiar organisms.” And he adds— “The conclusion at which I have been compelled to arrive is, that for many long ages ere man was ushered into being, not a few of his humbler contemporaries of the fields and of the woods enjoyed life in their present haunts, and that for thousands of years anterior to even their appearance, many of the existing molluscs lived in our seas. The day during which the present creation came into being, and in which God when he made “the beast of the earth after his kind, and the cattle after their kind," at length terminated the work by moulding a creature in his own image, to whom he gave dominion over them all, was not a brief period of a few hours' duration, but extended over, mayhap, millenniums of centuries.” The main positions on which he insists, in trying to make good his views of the first chapter of Genesis, are—1st, that the only part of the Mosaic record with which the geologist has to do is the work of the third, fifth, and sixth days; 2nd, that the days of the Mosaic record are to be regarded as indefinitely prolonged periods; 3rd, that this record is not a history of literal events as they occurred, but a vision which appeared to Moses; and 4th, that these being so, the Geological record is in complete harmony with the Mosaic record. In giving this summary I do not wish to be held as replying to any of the theories here referred to, but simply as supplying a fair outline of them, that readers may have them fully before them. This design, however, admits of a review of their weak points.
In regard to the “ age theory” as thus stated by Mr. Miller, it will be noticed that he limits his illustrations to the three days—third, fifth, and sixth, namely, “ the period of plants, of great sea monsters and creeping things, and the period of cattle and the beasts of the earth.” In doing this he adds—“ All geologists agree in holding that the vast geological scale naturally divides into three great parts.” Of course he refers to the Palæozoic, the Secondary, and the Tertiary periods. Without at present doing more than mention the fact, that geologists are not agreed as to the points at which these general divisions are to be drawn, it must be borne in mind that the majority of geologists are in the habit of naming these three as convenient divisions under which other series of strata, as worthy of an independent place as they are, may be classed. And this is claimed for them on grounds which are scientifically fatal to Mr. Miller's views, even that the forms of animal life found in them are for the most part characteristic, but in some cases suggestive of the series above or below them. It will be seen that Mr. Miller takes no account of the fourth day's work, leaving that for the astronomers. But he was bound to look the fact in the face, that if there is anything sure as to the carboniferous period, it is, that the vegetation of that epoch must have had a bright sun shining on it, whereas, according to this scheme, it must have flourished for millions of years without sunlight! Indeed several of its advocates, who can never have given an hour's study to some of the plainest facts of physiological botany, broadly assert this. Again, in the, say, fifty thousand feet of fosiliferous strata underlying the carboniferous series, in which Mr. Miller finds his first age or day—the day of plants, when “the earth brought forth grass, and herb yielding seed after his kind, the tree yielding seed after his kind,”—we meet with a whole world of marine life, corals, molluscs, crustaceans, fishes, and even in their uppermost layers traces of reptiles, all of which, on the principles of the “age theory," ought to have been created after the third day. In the first chapter of Genesis they are so represented, but in the first chapters of the Book of Stone, they precede the “ period of plants.” This line of remark might be lengthened, but enough has been written to show that the “ age theory” will not satisfy unbiassed readers.
Another scheme has recently been stated by Mr. Gosse, in the hope of meeting the difficulties of the case. This theory is styled by its author “ Prochronism," and is illustrated by much skill and the fruits of varied zoological and botanical information in “Omphalos," a work published in 1857. The leading idea is, that as all the forms of life now on the earth were in the six days' work created as mature forms— the tree not as the seed, but as the full grown tree—the bird not as the egg, but as fully feathered—the mammal not as a simple life-germ, but fully formed in every part—there must have been marks of unreal development about them, in a word, marks of growth in which time had no place—marks before time, prochronic. The fir tree and the oak had their concentric rings, each one of which would at creation have marked, as now, a year's growth, though they had been created but a moment before. The feathers of the eagle and the redbreast would
alike bear evidences of a gradual growth to maturity, though they had just come from the hands of the Creator. Man and the beasts of the field would have marks about them which now characterize those that have lain in their parent's womb, and have attained to full development, only by a slow process. The system of unreal development, the author holds, formed a part of the plan of the Creator. Taking such views as these for a standing point, he applies the principle referred to in them to the fossiliferous strata. The marks of slow deposit in the stratified rocks, the numberless changes of generic forms of life, and the gradual evidences of development in them from the young to the full-grown organism, do not demand his acknowledgment of long protracted periods; for prochronism was the plan according to which all things were done, and all these had been created the moment before Adam opened his eyes on the world! Thus the theory, less worthy perhaps than any other of intelligent men, that God created all the fossils just as they are found in the rocks, is reproduced for our reception, because it comes with a new name, and is cleverly associated with illustrations drawn from advanced science. The general outline of it now given should satisfy us that it is wholly inadequate to meet any of the difficulties which it professes to remove.
There are several other theories of creation and schemes to account for the present forms of life, which need not be noticed here, as reference will be made to them when other passages of scripture are considered.
Is there not then any one hypothesis which may be accepted, as meeting all the wants both of geology and of the word of God ? Before giving a direct answer to this question, we must inquire into the present attainments in the classification of the stratified rocks. If it can be shown that this is such as to baffle every attempt to find an exact parallel between the geologic periods and the days of creation, it will be seen that “the age theory” will not supply satisfactory standing ground. A glance at any two or three tabulated forms of classification will at once suggest, that many most important differences of opinion on this matter exist, even among highly accomplished geologists. Sir R. Murchison assigns the rank of an epoch to the earliest rocks under the name of Azoic. With what statements in the Mosaic record will this collate ? Professor Phillips arranges the fossiliferous strata under three grand divisions, but the late Edward Forbes thinks they should be regarded under two. Then, is granite recognized to have the central and fundamental position assigned to it above ?
“Without,” says Mr. Beete Jukes," attempting to deny that it frequently does hold this position, I am yet rather inclined to doubt whether it has not in many cases been assigned to it as a matter of course, without adequate investigation.” Must, as some affirm and others deny, the Upper Cambrian of Professor Sedgwick, cease to be thus characterized, and be merged in the Lower Silurian of Sir R. Murchison ? Is the uppermost bed of the Old Red to be united with the Carboniferous, or must it hold its old place as a true Devonian ? Shall the whole of the present Permian, or only its lowermost division, be held to belong to the true Palæozoic system? Rising still higher in the ascending order, should the Lias, as some allege, be separated from the Oolite and have a distinct systematic place given to it? And shall we reckon the Wealden along with the Oolite or with the Chalk ? At the point at which the geologic periods link into the present epoch, even graver differences obtain as to the classification of deposits.
These things are referred to, in order to show that, even in the great advancement to which the scientific study of geology has already attained, the classification of the rocks is not yet in a condition to warrant us to believe it likely that any scheme will be found satisfactory, which claims to have discovered a complete parallelism between the ages of nature, as revealed to us in the fossiliferous strata, and the days of creation described in the first chapter of Genesis. But, in making this statement, it is not to the discredit of geology. On the contrary, the generalizations which have been reached by the classification of the rocks, supply most valuable standing ground for field work, and afford us views of the deepest interest of the succession of great epochs and of the care and faithfulness of the Creator. It is only when these generalizations are made use of for other than their lawful ends—when they are regarded as fitting foundations for cut and dry sytems of creation, and for resting either theological or scientific hobbies on—that they are not found willing to tell the tale which every theorist demands. Since, however, the two records have been brought face to face, it is well to know that there is firm footing, both for the theologian and the man of science. There is so for the former, and he may lay aside all suspicions of the progress of science: there is so for the latter, and he may go on faithfully setting down everything he sees in the wide field of observation to which he has devoted himself, without even asking whether or no this or that may come to be regarded by some as unscriptural. If the theological bearings of scientific discoveries are to be thrust on the student at every step, he will be hampered continually. But if