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place of their residence, nor the government and preservation of both, can be rightly considered, without a steady and constant recognition of this fundamental principle.
Although the religion of man is the great subject of the Bible, it nevertheless opens with a narrative of the creation of the world. On the account furnished in the beginning of the Book of Genesis we shall have to remark at some length; but as it will be necessary to give an outline of what the human intellect has conjectured on this subject, as well as what profane history has handed down to us, we will first enter upon this part of our work.
It may be necessary to make this preliminary remark, that those writers who first treated of creation, contented themselves with giving an outline of facts which agreed in their leading particulars with the Mosaic narrative, although more or less obscured and confused by traditionary additions and interpolations. These accounts, in process of time, called forth ingenious reasonings on the creative process, until the daring mind of man, rejecting the restraint of facts, having acquired through them some little knowledge of the subject, began to imagine that it could suggest a more satisfactory method of the formation of the world than that which had been handed down by the consenting voice of antiquity.
Epicurus was the great leader in this path of speculation; and his example has been followed by numerous philosophers, from his time down to the geological theorists of our own day.
This philosopher affirmed that “atoms of an infinite smallness, and in perpetual motion, compose the universe; and, falling by chance into the region of our world, were, in consequence of the innate motion, brought gradually together, and collected into an indigested mass. These atoms, according to their size and weight, either subsided and settled into earth, or formed themselves into air, or collected themselves into stars; and hence arose the material globe ; while the vegetable and animal productions of the earth sprung from various seeds intermixed with the first combination of atoms, and, being preserved and nourished by moisture and heat, afterward grew up into organized bodies of various kinds." (See Sumner's Records of Creation, p. 20.)
On this absurd scheme, an eminently learned writer justly observes: “Certain it is, what Dr. Clarke conjectures in his dispute with Leibnitz, that Epicurus's philosophy was a corrupt and
atheistical perversion of some more ancient and perhaps better philosophy."-Warburton's Divine Leg., vol. I, p. 622
We may see another version of this theory, varying in some particulars, and more extended, in the Historical Library of Diodorus Siculus.
He says: “Of the origin, therefore, of men, there are two opinions among the most famous and authentic naturalists and historians.
"Some of these are of opinion, that the world had neither a beginning, nor ever shall have an end; and likewise say, that mankind was from eternity, and that there never was a time when he first began to be. Others, on the contrary, conceived both the world to be made, and to be corruptible, and that there was a certain time when men first had a being.
“Por, whereas all things at the first were jumbled together, heaven and earth were in one mass, and had one and the same form; but afterward, they say, when corporeal beings appeared one after another, the world at length presented itself in the order we now see; and that the air was in continual agitation, whose fiery part ascended together to the highest place, its nature, by reason of its levity, tending always upward; for which reason, both the sun and that vast number of the stars are contained within that orb. That the gross and earthy matter, clotted together by moisture, by reason of its weight sunk down below into one place, is continually whirling about ; the sea was made of the humid parts; and the muddy earth of the more solid, as yet very moorish and soft; which by degrees at first was made crusty by the heat of the sun; and then after the face of the earth was parched, and, as it were, fomented, the moisture after. ward in many places bubbled up, and appeared as so many pustules, wrapped up in thin and slender coats and skins, which may be ever seen in standing ponds and marshy places, when, after the earth has been pierced with cold, the air grows hot, without a gradual alteration. And whereas moisture generates creatures from heat, as from a seminal principle, things so generated, by being inwrapped in the dewy mists of the night, grew and increased, and in the day solidated and were made hard by the heat of the sun; and when the births included in those ventricles had received their due proportion, then those slender skins being burst asunder by the heat, the forms of all sorts of living creatures were brought forth into the light; of which
those that had most of heat mounted aloft, and were fowl and birds of the air; but those that were drossy, and had more of earth, were numbered in the order of creeping things, and things used to the earth. Then those beasts that were naturally watery and moist, called “fishes,' presently hastened to the place connatural to them; and when the earth afterward became more dry and solid, by the heat of the sun and the drying winds, it had not power at length to produce any more of the greater living creatures, but each that had an animal life began to increase their kind by mutual copulation.
4 "But if this power of the earth to produce living creatures at the first origin of all things seem incredible to any, the Egyptians do bring testimonies of this energy of the earth about Thebes in Egypt, after the overflowing of the river Nile : the earth thereby being covered with mud and slime, many places putrefy through the heat of the sun, and thence are bred multitudes of mice. It is certain, therefore, that out of the earth, when it is hardened, and the air changed from its due and natural temperament, animals are generated. By which means it came to pass, that in the first beginning of all things, various living creatures proceeded from the earth. And these are the opinions touching the original of things.
“The Egyptians report, that, at the beginning of the world, the first men were created in Egypt ... And that all living creatures were first produced among them, they use this argu. ment--that even at this day, about Thebes, at certain times such vast multitudes of mice are bred, that it causes admiration to the beholders. Some of which to the breast and fore feet are ani. mated and begin to move, and the rest of the body (which yet retains the nature of the soil) appears without form. Whence it is manifest, that, in the beginning of the world, through the fertileness of the soil, the first men were formed in Egypt.”
Such are the views which the genius and learning of Egypt, Greece, and Rome, elicited and promulged with respect to creation. It will be at once admitted, that they are foolish_utterly ridiculous. The cause is equally manifest: Their philosophy excluded the miraculous agency of an almighty God. They referred the origin of all existing things to the operation of natural causes. Their practical atheism led to the darkness, confusion, and foolishness, of their philosophy; and the same cause will always produce the same results. The great elementary truth propounded
in the first chapter of Genesis is this--that “God created the heavens and the earth.” In studying this subject, therefore, we have to trace the footsteps and mark the handiwork of an almighty and infinite Being. It does not follow from this, that we are to close our eyes to the revelations of natural science, or to disregard the many geological facts which have been laboriously collected for our instruction; but the important truth referred to renders it incumbent upon us to bear constantly in mind that the subject does not exhibit the continuous phenomena of a fully formed world, but the operations of almighty power in creation.
It is more than ever necessary to attend to this principle at the present time, when so many proficients in geological science parade their discoveries, and maintain that they clearly contradict the Mosaic account of creation. We are, indeed, fully assured, that in this assertion more is stated than the circumstances warrant. We do not believe either that the well-ascertained facts of geology contradict the narrative of Moses, or that the Scripture account impugns the validity of those facts. The true state of the case appears to be this—that the theories which have been built on those facts have come into collision with the meaning which certain theologians and philologists have given to the language of Moses. He would be a bold man who should declare that the word of God is contradicted by the works of God. While, therefore, great care should be taken, lest we limit and restrict the meaning of Scripture beyond what is reasonable and just, it is equally important that we do not rashly theorize on imperfect data. Above all, we should avoid excluding God from the very actions which, he has distinctly told us, he himself performed.
Some geologists tell us, that the creation of the world in six days is incompatible with the facts which the surface of our globe everywhere presents to our view. We will not further allude to those who, boldly laying aside all sciople, sacrifice the verity of Scripture to the teaching of rocks; but we will refer for a moment to attempts which are made to reconcile this discordancy. Those days, we are told, could not be ordinary days, but must be taken to mean very long periods of time; and Scripture has been frequently quoted in favor of this mode of interpretation : "One day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.” 2 Peter iii, 8. The inference intended is, that therefore what is said to have been done in one day, might have occupied a thousand years. We think this text has a very pertinent
application to the subject; but in our judgment its meaning is the opposite of that which the inference just mentioned would put upon the language. What was the object of the apostle ? Simply this: He had alluded to the prediction of the end of the world, and a final judgment, and to the fact that, as men saw no "signs of” the Lord's “coming," they had begun to doubt the truth of these statements: and the apostle, to remove their doubts, and to sustain the authority of holy writ, says, “One day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day;" evidently intending to teach, that, although the things spoken of might be sufficient, in the estimation of man, to occupy a thousand years, the Lord could accomplish all in one day. Apply this to the subject before us. Does it teach that the day in which the Lord worked must have been a thousand years long, for him to have effected his purpose ? Is not this opposed to the apostle's scope and intention, and, therefore, a flagrant perversion of his meaning? And does not this text, therefore, in its true intent and legitimate application, teach, that although, in the judgment of man, the works of creation might require a thousand years for their accomplishment, yet, as it was the Lord's work, one day with him is as a thousand years, and, therefore, sufficient for the accomplishment of his great designs ?
We are anxious to fix attention on this point, before we proceed to consider in detail the Mosaic narrative. We take a simple illustration. When Adam came from the hands of his Maker, it is evident he was fully formed; as complete in his stature and strength, as in the development of his intellectual powers. If it were possible that the first man, in all the glow of his instantaneous maturity, could now be submitted to our investigation, guided by our experience of the ordinary and universal operations of nature, we should say, that twenty, thirty, or forty years, must have been required bring him to this state of perfection. Yet no one ever imagines that he crept through the progressive stages of infancy and youth; all admit that the power of God fashioned and perfected him in one day, and presented him to nature as its earthly lord. We are not puzzled with this case, because the body of the first man is removed from our sight: but it is not so with the “everlasting rocks”-they remain open to our inspection; and as there is no reason for believing that, in respect of them, as well as in the case of animated nature, the Creator did not at once bring into perfect being, by the word of