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DATIONS (of our holy faith) be destroyed, what can the righteous do?"
On these grounds, and on many others, I am inclined to think that there is some error in modern computation, and that the old and literal sense of Scripture may yet be found to be the true one.
To throw together the writer's doubts in one synoptical view; the deductions of the new science,
1st. Contradict the plain and literal account of Scrip
2d. They produce a general scepticism, by shaking the first foundations of our faith.
3d. They destroy our grand obligation to observe the holy Sabbath.
4th. They have no support from collateral evidence, from written history, oral tradition, or monuments.
5th. They render it wholly unaccountable how the world should have existed for many ages under the dominion of animals utterly unintelligent, without one vestige of man, the being of reason and probation, for whom the world and its animals were made; for it is allowed that the few human fossil remains discovered are imbedded in matrices of recent formation, and tally with the received chronology of Scripture.
6th. Geology assumes chronologically that the same distance of time was necessary of old between one formation or deposition and another, which now elapses; while every thing proves a higher temperature in the earth,expanding mosses into shrubs, and ferns into trees, and peopling northern countries with tropical animals; and this, even without making allowance for the agency of Omnipotence, and other circumstances of early date.
7th. The science of geology has confessedly many anomalies, which are awkwardly explained by guesses and "may-be's." It even conjures up the Atlantis of Plato from the deep, to furnish a deposit for the Wealden strata. Lyell's Elements, p. 363, and the whole of chap. xxv.
8th. The new science overthrows the scriptural doctrine, "that by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin;" for it puts death before the existence of a man who might sin.
9th. There have been two other objections to the literal meaning of Scripture; the first derived from the alleged diversities of parent-stocks in the human race; and the second, from the difference of language in the world. These,—which would have overthrown the doctrine of one man's original sin and its consequences,have been laid prostrate by a surer branch of science. The former was cleared up by Professor Smith of Philadelphia, in an answer to Lord Kaimes, and more fully by Dr. Pritchard in his Physical History of Mankind; and the latter by the admirable ethnographical lectures of Dr. Wiseman,—although indeed the well-known fact that man is universally the only cross-grained animal - the only animal whose instincts are opposite to the design of his creation—the only animal requiring reason, and gifted with it, to subdue or regulate his innate propensities—the only animal invariably, through all his tribes, hues, and diversities, depending (whether he knows it or not) on a superior influence, to draw him nearer to a fulfilment of the ends of his being; all thus proclaiming a common descent from one parent and corrupted stock;-this fact, I say, might have sufficiently explained the first objection; just as the confusion of tongues at Babel would itself
have answered the second. But this leads us to expect, that the geological interpretations now in vogue will in time prove equally untenable, and that revelation will triumph in its plain and literal sense.
Not writing a treatise on geology, however, I forbear to suggest any explanation of the phenomena insisted on, through the intervention of intermediate causes (although this might be done); since it is to the excess and extravagance of seeking to explain every thing by such causes, that much of the evil of the present day is owing. Philosophy has traced to secondary causes many phenomena which have hitherto been conceived to have sprung from the immediate agency of Omnipotence. Bold and daring in the pride of its power, may we not fear that it is pushing its researches too far, in attempting to explain miracles and extraordinary interpositions, solely by the established laws of nature. La Place is said to have hailed the approaching era, when no primary cause shall ever be sought for or mentioned. But a bound there MUST be to secondary causes; a point at which the seeker after them will be at a loss to reply to the question, agreeably to the laws of nature, which was the first, the bird to lay the egg, or the egg to produce the bird: and instead of all the antiscriptural theories attempting to explain the secrets of geology, is it not better to repose on the intelligence imparted by the inspired volume, and on the omnipotence of Him, who could, with a word and in a moment, create all those effects, which we may not suppose him so fettered by his own laws as to accomplish only in ages? If, however, these views should after all be erroneous, or if we should be met with the Nee Deus intersit, it is satisfactory to reflect (though the solution be
clumsy), that we have still something to fall back upon, in the explanations of believing geologists, rather than resign altogether our Bibles, our creed, and our hopes. (See p. 179, quest. 133.)
To abandon the plain meaning of Scripture, and to adapt the word of God to the idol of imperfect science, is the first step in Rationalism. The author professes himself friendly to plenary inspiration, with unimportant diversities. He desires and wishes, in matters of revelation, to stand in the old ways.