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existence to be only of six or eight thousand years' date; or that he was not concerned before that time in some part of the majestic scheme by which man is to be made like him, and to be presented before the presence of his glory.
Having thus discussed a few of the facts and inferences of geologists, I shall now attempt to show that so far from being repugnant to ScriptureIII.-GEOLOGY HAS DECIDEDLY THE SANCTION OF HOLY WRIT.
1. The Bible sanctions geological discoveries in showing that the earth had a beginning.
I have endeavoured to show in the opening of this lecture that the epithet of " infidel,” as applied to this science, is absurd and unwarranted. It is quite true that geology shews our earth to be older than popular opinion holds it to be; but it can never prove the world to be eternal ; for no number of finites can make an infinite. Even the primitive rocks themselves are compounded of various substances, each of which in a separate form must have existed before it could have been incorporated with the others, and in the blending and compacting of these rocks, the same evidences of infinite wisdom are to be traced, as in the more elaborately organized forms of creation. The crystals which compose them are more accurately and delicately chiselled than the most highly finished piece of human mechanism, and yet so perfectly distinct is each, that the mass, as has been well remarked, can be broken only in Nature's joinings. Mechanism can divide them into atoms, and chemistry may dissolve them, perhaps, into gases; but even in these forms they are just as much matter as before. No art of man can possibly annihilate them. All the laws, therefore, that regulate the universe, and even the inert molecules of which it is composed, cry out for God.
2. Scripture sanctions the unlimited term which geology claims for the earth's duration.
I have said before that the Bible does not fix the age of the earth : though it does fix the date of Adam's creation. Much has been said with respect to the meaning of the word “day,” so repeatedly used in the narrative of the Mosaic creation. The term has evidently a very indefinite meaning, for it is used in various senses. But I am not disposed, as are many geologists, to consider the “ days” of Moses as so many protracted periods in which the
geological phenomena I have described, took place. The creation of Adam is not necessarily connected with that of the earth itself; the whole evidence, indeed, of Revelation is against such a supposition. Before the light itself was called upon to shine out of darkness—and this has always been regarded as the first act of Creative power—the earth is distinctly stated to have been in existence—“the earth was.” A chaotic mass “standing out of the water, and in the water," as if emerging from a previous overthrow, presented itself to the Great Forming Hand that was to reduce it to order: this chaos having been originally, but at a period of which we know absolutely nothing, brought out of nonentity by the voice of the Omnipotent. The “ earth” was; the “ darkness” was; the “deep" was ; the “ dry land” was; though we know not how long they had been ; when operated upon by the Spirit of God at the Mosaic creation.
There is nothing in the Bible to lead us to suppose that the earth will be annihilated to make room for the new heavens and the new earth," to which we look forward. Water and fire are the recognized emblems of purification rather than of absolute destruction. The Apostle Peter seems to take a very comprehensive view of the matter when he sketches out a series of changes and modifications to which it has been already subjected, in connection with its future renovation. He speaks of
1. “The heavens which were of old,"—the visible universe, probably, long before our earth held in it that important place which we now assign to it as the theatre in which the great mystery of Godliness was enacted.
2. “ The earth standing out of the water, and in the water :' the ruins from which the antediluvian earth was constructed.
3. “ The world that then (i. e. before the deluge of Noah,) was, which being overflowed with water, perished.”
4. The heavens and the earth which now are."
5. “The new heavens and new earth wherein dwelleth righteousness."
3. Geology and Scripture agree in assigning a superlative antiquity to the mountains and higher parts of the habitable earth.
Every reader of the Bible must have been struck with this fact. The epithets “ lasting,” “ perpetual,” “ everlasting," “ ancient," and their parallels are generally used in reference to these parts of
the globe. The idea has in fact passed into a proverb, and we say, e as old as the hills.” Geology has given us a reason for this by showing that our mountain-ranges are actually composed, in all instances, of the oldest description of rocks; Cuvier says, they form the skeleton, or rough frame-work of the earth.
4. Geology and Scripture recognize important changes of the earth's surface; and agree with respect to the agency by which they were effected.
Geology ascribes the most material of them to volcanic agency and water. “ Thou coveredst,” says the psalmist, “ the earth as with a garment; the waters stood above the mountains. At thy rebuke they fled: at the voice of thy thunder they hasted away ; the mountains ascend; the valleys descend unto the place that thou hast appointed for them.” “ As for the earth,” says Job, “ out of it cometh bread; and under it is turned up, as it were, fire.”
Again," He putteth forth his hand upon the rock: He overturneth the mountains by the roots : He cutteth out rivers among the rocks. The mountain falling cometh to nought, and the rock is removed out of its place : the waters wear the stones : thou washest away the things which grow out of the dust of the earth.”
“ The passage of the Potowmac through the Blue Mountains is perhaps one of the most stupendous scenes in nature. You stand on a very high point of land : on your right comes up the Shenandoah, having ranged along the foot of the mountain 100 miles to seek an outlet. On the left approaches the Potowmac in search of a passage also. At the moment of their junction, they rush together against the mountain, rend it asunder, and pass off to the sea.
“ The broken and rugged faces of the mountain on each side of the river-the tremendous rocks which are left with one end fixed to the precipice and the other jutting out, and seemingly ready to fall; the bed of the river for several miles below, obstructed and filled with the ooze and stones carried from this mound; in short, every thing on which you cast your eye evidently demonstrates a rupture and breach in the mountains."
What a commentary is this on the inspired declaration—" He cutteth out rivers among the rocks .!”
5. Geology and Scripture agree in extolling the wonders of creation. The language of both is, “ O Lord, how manifold are thy works ; in wisdom hast thou made them all."
Geology opens to us a variety of new and interesting chapters in natural theology; the same evidences of design are apparent in all the vast variety of organized beings whose remains are found buried in the earth, as in those which walk its surface.
6. Gcology and Scripture agree in eralting God's providence,“ in preserving man and beast,” and in adapting each to its peculiar position and circumstances; no less than in providing for the wellbeing of future generations, by laying up for their use the minerals and metals so necessary to these ends.
Though it will, I trust, appear from these remarks, that geology is not opposed to Scripture, it may be said that this and similar studies have a tendency to fill the mind with such vast and overwhelming views, that it cannot settle down to the study of itself, or submit to the plain, uncompromising dictates of truth.
It is quite certain that they never can make men religious in the strict sense of that expression. No one ever reached the heaven of the Bible, by studying the laws and motions of the material heavens. This is an odious heresy; the world by wisdom never did, and never can know God aright. And therefore, we are recommended to “seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness,” by the prayerful study of his word. But why “first," and not only? Because other pursuits are not only lawful, but highly desirable. It is, however, a gross falsehood to charge the Bible with exhibiting more limited views than are afforded by the contemplation of creation. The Bible goes beyond all such disclosures, when it unlocks the very sanctuary of God himself, and shews the Great Framer of these wonders with ten thousand times ten thousand standing in his awful presence; and thousands of thousands ministering before him.
Nay, it reveals Him as ordering all the mighty agencies of nature and of providence, for the one great purpose of reconciling all things to himself, whether they be things in heaven or things on earth; that in the dispensation of the fulness of times, when every dispensation centres in one majestic climax, he may gather them in his paternal arms, and throw around them the shield of his unfailing love.
Tell me not that nature has more glories than grace; that creation offers more extensive and magnificent fields for contemplation than the oracles of truth! You can neither start from first principles,
nor arrive at satisfactory conclusions without the Bible. Go back to chaos, and you must stop there, for you cannot pry into its origin. Go forward, and to what do all your speculations tend? Perhaps to some temporal good; but death puts an end to them, “ Man giveth up the ghost, and where is he?"
But the Bible begins with God, leads us through the glories and mysteries of creation, providence, and grace; and brings us back to Him again, presenting us faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy. “The entrance of thy word giveth light," said one who used that light as well in the study of nature and providence, as in his search for sacred truth; and why should we refuse to avail ourselves of so sure and unquenchable a ray, as that which emanates from God himself, even whilst investigating only the inferior departments of his government.
Depend upon it, we never advance so rapidly in other acquirements, as when we have the hidden radiance of God's word within the heart. All things become new in the marvellous light of a renewed spirit; and that which might before lead us off from the pursuit of truth, will now bring us at every step nearer to our Father's heart, and endear to us the better and more enduring substance of that home from which we are to go out no more for ever.
THE PRESENT SUPERIOR PRIVILEGES OF THE YOUNG.
In delivering a missionary address lately from Zechariah xiv. 6,7, the delightful and cheering words, “ it shall come to pass, that at evening time it shall be light;" naturally, led me to shew the young who were present, and there were many youth in the congregation, their privileges and prospects as greatly superior to those of their forefathers. We have passed our early time in the dark and cloudy day, but they are indulged in having their happy lot in such an evening as the prophet speaks of, when the indications of approaching light and splendour in the church of God are many and refreshing No meditative mind can mistake these eventful days, replete with omen and interest. The diffusion of knowledge, the unparalleled advance of science, the irrepressible thirst after attainments in general literature, and in the several departments of its practical application; the evident awakening of intellectual power, in “ the masses" of our people ; energies called forth,