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•o the time when they were brought into existence, as if they had been created about the same time with our earth; but, as simply declaring the fact, that, at what period soever in duration they were created, they derived their existence from God. That they did not all commence their existence at thai period, is demonstrable from the fact, that, within the space of 2000 years past, and even within the space of y the two last centuries, new stars have appeared in the heavens which previously did not exist in the concave of the firmament; which, consequently, have been created since the Mosaic period; or, at least, have undergone a change analogous to that which took place in our globe, wheu it emerged from a chaotic state to the form and order in which we now behold it. Consequrntly, the phrase, "God rested from all his works,'' must be understood not absolutely, or in re',.ence to the whole system of nature, but me,r'y in relation to our world; and as importing, that the Creator then ceased to form any n.'w species of beings on the terraqueous gtobe. The same canon will direct us in the interpretation of those passages which refer to the lastjudgment, and the destruction of the present constitution of our globe. When, in reference to these events, it is said, "that the stars shall fall from heaven," that "the powers of heaven shall be shaken,'' and that "the earth and the heaven shall flee away,'' our knowledgo of the system of nature leads us to conclude, either that such expressions are merely metaphorical, or that they describe only the appearance, not the reality of things. For it is impossible that the stars can ever fall to the earth, since each of them is of a size vastly superior to our globe, and could never be attracted to its surface, without unhinging the laws and the fabric of universal nature. The appearance, however, of the "heaven fleeing away," would be produced, should the earth's diurnal rotation at that period be suddenly stopped, as will most probably happen; in which case, all nature, in this sublunary system, would be thrown into confusion, and the heavens, with all their host, would appear to flee away.
Now, the scientific student of Scripture alone can judiciously apply the canon to which I have adverted; he alone can appreciate its utility in the interpretation of the sacred oracles; for he knows the facts which the philosopher and the astronomer have ascertained to exist in the system of nature; from the want of which information, many divines, whose comments on Scripture have, in other respects, been judicious, have displayed their ignorance, and fallen into egregious blunders, when attempting to explain the first chapters of Genesis, and several parts of the bt,ok of Job, which have tended to bring discredit on the oracles of heaven.
II.—The system of nature confirm* and illustrates the scriptural doctrine of the Depravity or MAS.
In the preceding parts of this volume, I have stated several striking instances of divine benevolence, which appear in the construction of the organs of the animal system, in the constitution of the earth, the waters, and the atoms phere, and in the variety of beauties and sublirni ties which adorn the face of nature; all which proclaim, in language which can scarcely be mistaken, that the Creator has a special regaa to the happiness of his creatures. Yet the Scriptures uniformly declare, that man has fallen from his primeval state of innocence, and has violated the laws of his Maker; that " hit* heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked ;" and that " destruction ami misery are in his ways." Observation and experience also demonstrate, that a moral disease pervades the whole human family, from the most savage to the must civilized tribes of mankind; which has displayed its virulence in those wars and devastations which have, in all ages, convulsed the world; and which daily displays itself in those acts of injustice, fraud, oppression, malice, tyranny, and cruelty, which are perpetrated in every country, and among all the rr.nks even of civilized life. That a world inhahited by moral agents of this description would display, in its physical constitution, certain indications of its Creator's displeasure, is what we should naturally expect, from a consideration of those attributes of his nature with which we are acquainted. Accordingly, we find, that, amidst all the evidences of benevolence which our globe exhihits, there are not wanting certain displays of " the wrath of Heaven against the ungodliness and unrighteousness of men," in order to arouso them to a sense of their guilt, and to inspire them with reverence and awe of that Being whom they have offended. The following facts, among many others, may be considered as corroborating this position.
In the first place, the present state of the interior strata of the earth may be considered as a presumptive evidence, that a moral revolution has taken place since man was placed upon the globe. When we penetrate into the interior recesses of the earth, we find its different strata bent into the most irregular forms; sometimes lying horizontally, sometimes projecting upwards, and sometimes downwards, and thrown into confusion ; as if some dreadful concussion had spread its ravages through every part of the solid crust of our globe. This is visible in every region of the earth. Wherever the miner penetrates among its subterraneous recesses, wherever tho fissures and caverns of the earth are explored, and wherever the mountains lav bare their rugged clifls' the marks of ruin, convulsion, and disorder meet ti,t; oye of the beholder. Evidences of these facts are to be found in the records of all intelligent travellers and geologists who have visited Alpine districts, or explored the subterraneous regions of the earth; of which I have already stated a few instances, in the article of Otology, pp. 74, 75, 77. These facts seem evidently to indicate that the earth is not now in the same .state in which it originally proceeded from the hand of its Creator; for such a scene of disruption and derangement appears incompatible with that order, harmony, and beauty which are apparent in the other departments of nature. We dare not assert, that such terrible convulsions took place by chance, or independent of the will of the Creator; nor dare we insinuate, that they were the effects of a random display of Almighty Power; and therefore, we are necessarily led to infer, that a moral cause, connected with the conduct of the rational inhahitants of the globe, must have existed, to warrant so awful an interposition of divine power; for the fate of the animated beings which then peopled the earth was involved in the consequences which must have attended this terrible catastrophe. The volumo of revelation, on this point, concurs with the deductions of reason, and assigns a cause adequate to warrant the production of such an extraordinary effect. "The wickedness of man wns great upon the earth; the earth was f,lled with violence; every purpose and desire of man's heart was only evil continually. Man had' frustrated the end of his existence; the earth was turned into a hahitation of demons; the long period to which his life was protracted only served to harden him in his wickedness, and to enable him to carry his diabolical schemes to their utmost extent, till the social state of the human race became a scene of unmixed depravity and misery. And the physical effects of the punishment of this universal defection from God are presented to our view in every land, and will remain to all ages, as a visible memorial that man ias rebelled against the authority of his Make-.
2. The existence of Volcanoes, and the terrible ravages they produce, bear testimony to the state of man as a depraved intelligence. A volcano is a mountain, generally of an immense size, from whose summit issue fire, smoke, sulphur, and torrents of melted lava, (see p. 66.) Previous to an eruption, the smoke, which is continually ascending from the crateri or opening in the lop, increases and shoots up to an immense height; forked lightning issues from the ascending column; showers of ashes are thrown out to the distance of forty or fifty miles; volleys of red-hot stones are discharged to a great neight in the air ; the sky appears thick and dark; he luminaries of heaven disappear; and these
terrible forebodings are accompanied with Urn* der, lightning, frequent concussions of the earth, and dreadful subterraneous bellowings. When these alarming appearances have continued sometimes four or five months, the lava begins lo make its appearance, either boiling overthe top, or forcing its way through the side of the mountain. This fiery deluge of melted minerals rolls down the declivity of the mountain, forming a dismal flaming stream, sometimes fourteen miles long, six miles broad, and 200 feet deep, hi its course, it destroys orchards, vineyards, cornfields, and villages; and sometimes cities, containing twenty thousand inhahitants, have been swallowed up and consumed. Several other phenomena, of awful sublimity, sometimes accompany these ( eruptions. In the eruption of Vesuvius, in 1794^ a shock of an earthquake was felt; and, at the same instant, a fountain of bright fire, attended with the blackest smoke, and a loud report, was seen to issue, and to rise to a great height from the cone of the mountain; and was soon succeeded by fifteen other fiery fountains, all in a direct line extending for a mile and a half downwards. This fiery scene was accompanied with the loudest thunder, the incessant reports of which, like those of a numerous heavy artillery, were attended by a continued hollow murmur, similar to that of the roaring of the ocean during a violent storm. The houses in Naples, at seven miles' distance, were for several hours in a constant tremor; the bells ringing, and doors ami windows incessantly rattling and shaking. The murmur of the prayers and lamentations nf a numerous population added to the horrors of the scene. All travellers, who have witnessed ihese eruptions, seem to be at a loss to find words sufficiently emphatic to express the terrors of the scene. "One cannot form a juster idea," says Bishop Berkley, " of the noise emitted by the mountain, than by imagining a mixed sound made up of the raging of a tempest, the murmur of a troubled sea, and the roaring of thunder and artillery, confused altogether. Though we heard this at the distance of twelve miles, yet it was very terrible" In 1744, the flames of Cotopaxi, in South America, rose 3.000 feet above the brink of the crater, and its roarings were heard at the distance of s,x hundred mile*. "At the port of Guayaquil, 150 miles distant from the crater," says Humboldt, " we heard, day and night, the noise of this volcano, like continued discharges of a battery, and we distinguished these tremendous sounds even on the Pacific ocean."
The ravagm produced by volcanoes are in proportion to the terror they inspire. In the eruption of /Etna, in 1669, the stream of lava destroyed, in 40 days, the hahitations of 27,000 persons ; and of 20,000 inhahitants of the city of Catania, only 3.000 escaped. In the year* 79, the celebrated cities of Pompeii and Hercu
bneum were completely overwhelmed and buried unuor ground by an eruption of Vesuvius, and ihe s[»ta on which they stood remained unknown for 1G00 yean. Since that period, about 40 erupt ions have taken place, each of them producing the most dreadful ravages. But the volcanoes of Asia and America are still more terrible and destructive than those of Europe. The voicanic mountain Pichinca, near Quito, caused, on one occasion, the destruction of 55,000 inhabitants. In the year 1772, an eruption of a mountain in the island of Java destroyed 40 villages, and several thousands of the inhabitants ; and in October, 1822, eighty-eight hamlets, and above 2000 persons, were destroyed in the same island, by a sudden eruption from a new volcano. The eruption of Tomboro, in the island of Sumbawa, in 1815, was so dreadful, that all the Moluccas, Java, Sumatra, and Borneo, to the distance of a thousand miles from the mountain, felt tremulous motions, and heard the report of explosions. In Java, at the distance of 340 miles, the clouds of ashes from the volcano produced utter darkness.
Volcanoes are more numerous than is generally imagined. They are to be found in every quarter of iho world, from the icy shores of Kamtschalka to the mountains of Patagonia. Humboldt enumerates 40 volcanoes constantly burning, between Cotopaxi and the Pacific ocean ; 20 have been observed in the chain of mountains that stretehes along Kamtschatka; and many of them are to be seen in the Phillippines, the Moluccas, the Cape de Verd, the Sandwich, the Ladrone, and other islands in the Indian and Pacific oceans. It is stated in vol. 6th of Sup. to Eney. Brit, lately published, that about 205 volcanoes are known, including only those which have been active within a period to which history or tradition reaches. Europe contains 14; and, of the whole number, it is computed, that 107 are in islands and 98 on the great continents.
Can we then suppose, that so many engines of terror and destruction, dispersed over every quarter of the globe, are consistent with the conduct of a benevolent Creator towards an innocent race of men 7 If so, we must either admit that the Creator had it not in his power, when arranging our terrestrial system, to prevent the occasional action of these dreadful ravagers, or that he ii indifferent to the happiness of his innocent offspring. The former admission is inconsistent with the idea of his omnipotence, and the latter with the idea of his universal benevolence. It is nut therefore, enthusiasm, but the fairest deduction of reason to conclude, that they are indications of God's displeasure against a race of transgressors who have apostatized from his laws.
3. The same reasoning will apply to the ravages produced by earthquakes. Next to volca
noes, earthquakes are the most terrific phenomena of nature, and are even far more destructive to man, and to the labours of his hands. An earthquake, which consists in a sudden motion of the earth, is generally preceded by a rumbling sound, snmetiro.es like that of a number of carriages driving furiously along the pavement of a street, sometimes like the rushing noise of a mighty wind, and sometimes like the explosions of artillery. Their effect on the surface of the earth is various. Sometimes it is instantaneously heaved up in a perpendicular direction, and sometimes it assumes a kind of rolling motion, from side to side. The ravages which earthquakes have produced, are terrible beyond description; and are accomplished almost in a moment. In 1692, the city of Port-Royal, in Jamaica, was destroyed by an earthquake, in thr space of two minutes, and the houses sunk into a gulf forty fathoms deep. In 1693, an earthquake happened in Sicily, which either destroyed, or greatly damaged, fifty-four cities, and an incredible number of villages. The city of Catania was utterly overthrown: the sea all of a sudden began to roar; mount JEtn& to send forth immense spires of flame; and immediately a shock ensued, as if all the artillery tn the world had been discharged. The birds flew about astonished; the sun was darkened; the beasts ran howling from the hills; a dark cloud of dust covered the air; and, though the shock did not last three minutes, yet nineteen thousand of the inhabitants of the city perished in the ruins. This shock extended to a circumference of 7000 miles.
Earthquakes have been producing their ravages in various parts of the world, and in every age. Pliny informs us, ihat 12 cities in Asia Minor were swallowed up in one night. In the year 115, the city of Antioch, and a great part of the adjacent country, were buried by an earthquake. About 300 years after, it was again destroyed, along with 40,000 inhabitants; and, after an interval of only 60 years, it was a third time overturned, with ihe loss of not less than 60,000 souls. In 1755, Lisbon was destroyed by an earthquake,and it buried under its ruins above 50,000 inhabitants. The effects of this terrible earthquake were felt over the greater part of Europe and Africa, and even in the midst of the Atlantic ocean; and are calculated to have extended over a space of not less than four millions of square miles. In August, 1822, two-thirds of the city of Aleppo, which contained 40,000 houses, and 200,000 inhabitants, were destroyed by an earthquake, and 'nearly thirty thousand inhabitants were buried under the ruins. To suppose that the human beings who have been victims to the ravages of earthquakes and volcanoes, "were sinners above al, those who dwelt around them,'' would be t height of impiety and presumption. But,
rHct that thousands of rational beings have been twept from existence, in a manner so horrible ind tremendous, seems plainly to indicate, that -hoy belonged to a race of apostate intelligences, who had violated the commands of their Creator. Such visitations are quite accordant to the idea of man being in the condition of a transgressor; but, if he were an innocent creature, they would be altogether unaccountable, as happening under the government of a Being of unbounded benevolence.
4. The phenomena of thunder-stormst tempests, and hurricanes, and the ravages they produce, are also presumptive proofs that man is a depraved intelligence. In that season of the year when Nature is arrayed in her most beautiful all ire, and the whole terrestrial landscape tends to inspire the mind with cheerfulness— suddenly a sable cloud emerges from the horizon—the sky assumes a baleful aspect—a dismal gloom envelopes the face of nature—the lightnings flash from one end of the horizon to another —the thunders roll with awful majosty along the verge of heaven, tilt at length they burst over head in tremendous explosions. The sturdy oak is shattered and despoiled of its foliage; rocks are rent into shivers; and the grazing herds are struck into a lifeless group. Even man is not exempted from danger in the midst of this appalling scene. For hundreds in every age have fallen victims either to the direct stroke of the lightning, or to the concussions and conflagrations with which it has been attended. In tropical countries, the phenomena of thunderstorms are more dreadful and appalling, than in our temperate climate. The thunder frequently continues for days and weeks in almost one incessant roar; the rains are poured down in torrents; and the flashes of lightning follow each other in so rapid a succession, that the whole atmosphere and the surrounding hills seem to be in a blaze. In some instances, the most dreadful effects have been produced by the bursting of an electrical cloud. In 1772, a bright cloud was observed at midnight to cover a mountain in the island of Java; it emitted globes of fire so luminous, that the night became as clear as day. Its effects were astonishing. Every thing was destroyed for 7 leagues round; houses were demolished; plantations buried in the earth; and 2140 people lost their lives, besides 1500 head of cattle, and a vast number of horses and other animals.—Ency. Brit. Art. Cloud.
Is it not reasonable, then, to conclude, that such awful phenomena as storms, volcanoes, and earthquakes, are so many occasional indications of the frown of an offended Creator upon a race of transgressors, in order to arouse them to a sense of their aposlacy from the God of heaven? We cannot conceive that such physical operations, accompanied by so many terrific and Instructive effects, are at all compatible with the
idea that man is at present in a paradi%atj\ state, and possessed of that moral purity in which he was created. Such appalling displays of almighty power are in complete unison wall the idea, that man is a transgressor, and that the present dispensations of God are a mixture of mercy and of judgment; but if he belong to an innocent race of moral intelligences, they appear quite anomalous, and are altogether inexplicable, on the supposition, that a Being of infinite be* nevolence and rectitude directs the operations of the physical and moral world; more especially when we consider the admirable care which is displayed in the construction of animal bodies, in order to prevent pain, and to produce pleasurable sensations. When man was first brought into existence, his thoughts and affections, we must suppose, were in unison with ihe will of his Creator; his mind was serene and unruffled; and, consequently, no foreboding apprehensions of danger would, in such a state, take possession of his breast. But after he had swerved from the path of primeval rectitude, and especially after the deluge had swept away the inhabitants of the antediluvian world, the constitution of the earth and the atmosphere seems to have undergone a mighty change, corresponding to the degraded state into which he had fallen , so that those very elements which may have formerly ministered to his enjoyment —by being formed into different combinations— now conspire to produce terror and destruction.
The same important conclusion might have been deduced, from a consideration of the immense deserts of marshes and barren sands w hich are dispersed over the globe—the vast and frightful regions of ice around the poles—the position of the mineral strata, and the vast disproportion which the extent of the dry land bears to the expanse of the ocean—all which circumstances, and many others, in conjunction with the facts above stated, conspire to show, that man no longer stands in the rank of a pure intelligence; and that his habitation corresponds, in some degree, to his state of moral degradation. By overlooking this consideration, St. Pierre and other naturalists have found themselves much at a loss, when attempting to vindicate the wisdom ana equity of Providence, in the physical disorders which exist in the present constitution of our globe. The circumstance, that man is a fallen creature, appears the only clue to guide us in unravelling the mysteries of Providence, and to enable us to perceive the harmony and consistency of the divine operations in the system of nature; and no other consideration will fully account for the disorders which exist in the present economy of our world.
But it is a most consoling consideration, that, amidst all the physical evils which abound, the benevolence and mercy of God are admirably blended with the indications of his displeasure. Txunder-storms and tempests contribute to the purification of the atmosphere; and volcanoes are converted into funneis for vomiting up those fiery materials which produce earthquakes, and which might otherwise swallow up whole provinces in one mighty gulf. In the ordinary course of things, such phenomena are more terrific than destructive; and are calculated rather to rouse an unthinking world to consideration, than to prove the instruments of human destruction. Compared with the miseries which men have voluntarily inflicted on one another, the destructive effects of the elements of nature dwindle into mere temporary and trifling accidents. We have reason to believe, that * much greater destruction of human beings has been produced by two or three of the late battles in modern Europe, such as those of Waterloo, Borodina, and Smolensko, than has been produced by all the electrical storms, earthquakes, and volcanic eruptions, which have raged for the space of a hundred years. It has been calculated, that during the Russian campaign of 1812, including men, women, and children, belonging to the French and Russians, there were not less than five hundred thousand human victims sacrificed to the demon of war. It is probable, that the destruction produced among the human race, by the convulsions of nature, sinre the commencement of time, (the deluge only excepted,) doe? not amount to above four or-five millions of lives; but were we take into account the destruction of human life produced by amhition, tyranny, oppression, superstition, wars, devastations, murders, and horrid cruelties, in every period of the world, it would, doubtless, amount to several hundreds of millions. So that, amidst the most terrible displays of the displeasure of God against the sins of men, mercy is mingled with judgment; and while man is the greatest enemy and destroyer of his own species, benevolence is the prominent feature of all the arrangements of the Deity in the physical world. For " his tender mercies areover all his works."*
III.—The discoveries which have been made in the system of nature, illustrate the doctrine of
the RESURRECTION OF THE DEAD.
The doctrine of a resurrection from tho dead, at first view, appears to involve in it a variety of difficulties, and apparent contradictions. That
• complex organ ical machine, as the human body is, consisting of thousands of diversified parts for the performance of its functions, after it has been reduced to atom*, and those atoms dispersed
'The facts stated In this section are expressed for the most part tn the author's own wonls, for the sake of compression. His authorities are. Goldsmith's "Natural History," Humboldt's " Travels," Brviion's, "Tour," Sir w". Hamilton's "Obscrva
• ion.-," Raffles' " History of Java," Ency. Brit. Art. Etna, Ynecann. Earthquake, Anttoch, Cloud; The Library ami scientific Journals for 1833, Ac
to " the four winds of heaven"—should he again reared up with the same materials, in a new and more glorious form—is an idea which seems to baine the human comprehension ; and, in all probahility, would never have entered the mind of man, had it not been communicated by divine revelation. Accordingly we find, that the philosophers of antiquity, though many of them believed in the doctrine of a future state, never once dreamed, that the bodies of men, after they had been committed to the dust, would ever again be reanimated; and hence, when the apostle Paul proposed this doctrine to the Athenian ilosophers, ihey scouted the idea, as if it had en the revtrie of a madman. And, indeed, without a strong conviction, and a lively impression of the infinite power and intelligence of God, the mind cannot rely with unshaken confidence on the declaration of a future fact so widely different from all the obvious phenomena of nature, and from every thing that ties within the range of human experience. "If a man die," says Job, " shall he live again t There is hope of a tree, if it be cut down, that it will sprout again, and bring forth houghs like a plant. But man dieth and wasteth away ; yea, man giveth up the ghost, and where is he?" When the mind, however, is frequently exercised in contemplations on the stupendous works of the Almighty, it must feel an impressive conviction, that " nothing can be too hard for Jehovah." When we endeavour to draw aside the veil which conceals many of the scenes of nature from the vulgar eye, we perceive a variety of operations and analogies, which tend to assist us in forming a conception, not only of the possihility of a resurrection, but also of the manner in which it may probably be effected, when the power of Omnipotence is interposed.
The transformations of insects afford us a beautiful illustration of this subject. All the butterflies which we see fluttering about in the summer months, were originally caterpillars. Before they arrive at that highest stage of their existence, they pass through four different transformations. The first state of a butterfly is that of an egg; it next assumes the form of a loathsome crawling worm; after remaining some time in this state, it throws off its caterpillai skin ; languishes; refuses to eat; ceases to move, and is shut up, as it were, in a tomb. In this state, the animal is termed a ciirysalis; it is covered with a thin crust or shell, and remains sometimes for six or eight months without motion, and apparently without life. After remaining its allotted time in this torpid condition, it begins to acquire new life and vigour; it bursts its imprisonment, and comes forth a butterfly with wings tinged with the most beautiful co* lours. It mounts the air; it ranges from llower to flower, and seems to rejoice in its new and splendid existence. How very different does ft