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HISTORY AND RELIGION
THE PATRIARCHAL AGE.
THE CREATION OF THE WORLD AND OF MAN.
Sublimity and importance of the subject-Sources of information-Scripture tho only infallible guide-Creation associated with man's moral probation-Human theories and speculations-Epicurus-Diodorus Siculus—Modern geologists Question of the creation of the world in six days—2 Peter iii, 8—Illustration from the case of man-Fossil remains—Mosaic NARRATIVE-Gen i, 1-First Day-Proofs in nature of the Holy Spirit's agency-Creation and division of light-Second Day-Creation of the atmosphere-Third Day-Division of land and water-Creation of the vegetable kingdom-Fourth Day-Formation of the sun, moon, and stars-Fifth Day-Creation of fishes and birds-Sixth DayCreation of animals and of man-NOTICES OF CREATION HANDED DOWN BY Profane HISTORY –Sanchoniatho, Berosus—Cosmogony of the Hindoos-Laws of Menu-The Vedas–Persian theology-Scandinavian mythology-Classic authors of Greece and Rome -Hesiod-Aristophanes-Orpheus–Pythagoras and Plato-Proclus Ovid-Points of resemblance common to the above accounts-Cause of this. Tee attempt to supply any satisfactory account of the creation of the world, and of the primitive condition of mankind, may appear a presumptuous undertaking; and yet, however difficul. this task may seem, or hopeless its successful execution, these subjects, it will be readily admitted, are of deep interest and importance. Nothing was ever fabled by poetic imaginatior. involving conceptions so sublime, and operations so magnificer as the creation of our world; no development of intellect, scin tillations of genius, or exhibitions of moral principle in the human character, can be placed in comparison with the spiritual and intellectual state of man, when he first came from the hand of his Maker, glorious in the possession of the divine image, and happy in a pure and perfect fellowship with God.
To these subjects we propose to call the serious attention of the reader; and in doing so, while we take Holy Scripture for our principal guide, shall avail ourselves of the various means.
which scientific researches, and the records of profane history, afford for their illustration.
We are anxious at once to observe, that the subjects now to be discussed, immediately and necessarily fix our attention on the almighty power and beneficent purposes of God. We cannot properly contemplate man apart from his religious character and spiritual destiny. We cannot form just ideas, of his primitive condition apart from his immediate relation to the Author of his being. Nor can we contemplate the creation of the world on which we live, without distinctly recognizing the high moral purposes for which it was called into existence.
This is made more evident by the fact, that not only does the nature of the subject identify itself with the operations of divine wisdom and power, but the information on which alone we can rely is communicated by divine revelation. Neither the labors of science, nor the fragments of ancient history which have been preserved to our day, can give us an authentic and consistent idea of creation. In this great work of the Deity, we have a stupendous fact which we never could have known unless it had been revealed. We may construct a system of opinions by the independent exertion of our own minds; we may reason upon appearances, and arrive at conclusions, without being indebted to foreign assistance; but, by reasoning we never could discover past facts; in this way no man could ever' write a history. He who professes to inform us of what formerly occurred, must relate either what he has seen, or what he has heard; but he must not tell us merely what he thinks. When Jehovah made the earth, and created man upon it, there were no human witnesses of his power. Man, therefore, according to these intuitive and unquestionable principles, could not of himself obtain any knowledge of creation. We may reason, and reason plausibly, respecting the formation of the world, or the original circumstances and condition of mankind; but, in this way, it is utterly impossible to discover anything respecting the facts. For a knowledge of these we are necessarily indebted to foreign information. This information we have in the Bible.
These conclusions are not only sustained by reason, they are also confirmed by experience. The highest efforts of the human mind have been put forth with the most daring energy in speculative researches on this subject, and have utterly failed. The more it has struggled, the more we perceive the feebleness of the
human mind, and the narrow limits that confine it. If ever a people were placed by Providence in circumstances which warranted the hope that they would evince superhuman powers of understanding, the Greeks were that favored community. Yet even their gigantic intellectual efforts failed to elicit the elementary truth now under consideration. They were ignorant of creation. They did not perceive the possibility of any other change than one of form, and the giving a new mold to preexistent materials. This was the plague-spot of their entire philosophy. It was this that shed the withering curse of darkness and superstition over the wide range of their intellectual effort. The truth enunciated in the first verse of the Bible would have emancipated their minds from benighted thraldom, and thus have given spirit and life to the philosophy of the world. The Scripture doctrine of creation would have overturned the fundamental errors which corrupted the learning of Greece; and not of Greece only, but of all other countries unenlightened by revelation. Ignorant of this truth, the most profound researches of the greatest minds served only to plunge them into all the subtilties and absurdities of pantheism; the universe was confounded with its Maker: and, imbued with this false principle, the more they reasoned, the deeper they sunk into error; it haunted them on every side, and blinded them to every just notion of God, of nature, and of themselves. Thus it has always been, wherever revelation has been unknown, or its teaching rejected.
But where the Scripture doctrine, that "God created the heavens and the earth,” is known and received, there the first principle of true philosophy is recognized. Nature is considered, not as a necessary existence, but as the creature of the Almighty; and the laws of nature, not as the unalterable conditions of being, but as the manner in which unchangeable Wisdom operates to confer the highest benefits, and to manifest his preservation and government of the world. “This view gives a totally different aspect to all things, and removes the creature to an infinite distance from the Creator. There is no longer any room for the imagiriary universe of the pantheists. Jehovah, the self-existent and all-perfect Being, with the worlds which he created, and which he is ever ruling, alone meets our view. Though intimately present with all his works, he is yet entirely distinct frorit them. In him we live, and move, and have our being.' He is infinitely nigh to us, and infinitely present with us, while we
remain infinitely distant from his all-perfect and incommunicable essence.”—Douglas's Errors regarding Religion, p. 35.
But Holy Scripture not only declares that “God created the heavens and the earth;" it also gives us important information respecting events which took place even prior to this creation. We are told that God had previously called into being the several orders of angels, who, ministering to his will, stood in his presence, and were witnesses of his majesty and glory. Of these spiritual intelligences some retained their purity, while others fell from their original estate. These were cast out of heaven, and doomed to degradation and punishment; they employed their powers to counteract the purposes of the Almighty, and to exalt themselves against the Most High. We extend no daring speculation into the mysterious causes of their fall
, but simply notice the facts which Holy Scripture has so distinctly revealed. We may, however, presume, that these events influenced the divine purpose in the creation of the world, and greatly affected the future circumstances of mankind. It is certain that the angels took a deep interest in this creation, and in the condition and destiny of human nature. Hence we are told that when God “ laid the foundations of the earth, the morning stars sang together, and the sons of God shouted for joy."
These plain and distinct enunciations of revelation must be taken as first principles hy every intelligent mind searching after truth, and anxious to be guided by its teaching. It is utterly absurd in a Christian to invest the inductions of science, or any other source of knowledge, with an authority superior to that which is awarded to the explicit declarations of holy writ. Two truths cannot contradict each other. If they appear to do so, the appearance must result from the incompetency of the person who endeavors to form a judgment on the subject. Therefore, in considering the origin of the world, although it may be wise not only to hear all that the researches of science have elicited as to the operations of nature in past ages, but even to search after this information with great diligence; it is not wise to be led away by the general influence of these inductions, so as to regard the existence and present condition of the world as the result of a series of natural operations, while the existence of mankind is looked upon as one of the thousand accidents by which it has been affected; their moral and spiritual condition and destiny
being entirely left out of the account. This is neither reasonable nor religious. On this subject, we are not to take the book of revelation and the book of science, and reject all the declarations of either which the other does not confirm. They are two separate and independent teachers, which, when fairly used and fully understood, cannot contradict each other; while each may, and is intended to, communicate information respecting which the other is entirely silent.
If we pursue this course, it will appear that revealed truth, lit up with the prescience of Jehovah, discloses hidden things; and, penetrating regions which the eye of science never reached, and never can reach, it unveils the counsels of the Almighty, and displays his plans and purposes respecting man. Here we learn that God, having called into being spirits richly endowed with blessings, and partakers of his glorv in the heavenly world-having marked and punished the apostasy of a part of this angelic host+ had contemplated the creation of man. This creation led to the system of vicarious sacrifice, and the entire scheme of redemption. Hence revelation exhibits Christ as “the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world," and speaks of the "purpose and grace" of God, as “given us before the world began.” To all, therefore, who will take the book of revelation to inform their minds and guide their judgment respecting spiritual things, as they take the boak of science to teach them earthly things, the moral probation of man, in connection with his religious privileges and future destiny, will appear as the great object of this remarkable display of divine wisdom and power; and this earth, with its elaborate scheme of construction, and its beautiful and varied furniture, is presented to our minds only as the platform on which this grand moral experiment was to take place.
We propound these views pointedly and prominently, because we regard them as essential to a correct apprehension of the subject. We are aware that to some persons they will appear forced and strange : still we adhere to our purpose. We write for those who revere the Scriptures; and who, while anxious to receive all the knowledge which science has disclosed, are no less, nay, are yet more, anxious to derive instruction from the inspired records of revealed truth. To all such it will be manifest that religion is indigenous to our earth; that the world was formed for it; and that, consequently, neither the origin of mankind, he