« AnteriorContinuar »
ter is four times and one third that of the earth : his number of comets is great; but these are selected as bulk eighty times and a half that of the earth. Two being most contradictory. satellites have been discovered belonging to him; of We have thus explained that the term heaven imthe first the period is 8 days, 17 hours, 1 minute, ports in sacred history : we now turn, with the inthe second the period is 13 days, 11 hours, 5 minutes. spired writer, to consider those events which occurred His orbit is inclined to the ecliptic, 90°.
on one of these planets, THE EARTH, which, he obThis planet, by his great distance, was unknown till serves, was originally without form, and void. the powerful telescopes of Mr. Herschel discovered The most striking and prominent features of the him; consequently the ancients were entirely unac Mosaic history, are the creation of the world we inquainted with him.
habit, and the destruction of it by a deluge of water : III. Elevalion of the orbit of the planets, as seen as both these histories have been attacked by the enfrom the sun: these are estimated by comparison with emies of Revelation, who well knew the importance the orbit of the earth, from which the orbit of Mer- of Moses, considered as an historian, in relation to that cury differs more than that of any other planet; and divine system, we shall bestow more attention on is therefore at once the smallest, and the most irregu- these two histories, than on others of less moment. lar, as his eccentricity is greatest, and, as the eleva- We are under the necessity of supposing, that our tion and depression of his course is also greatest. readers are informed of the existence, and in some deThe orbit of Jupiter differs but little from that of the gree of the application, of those instruments to which earth. In fact, with regard to what differences might science is unspeakably beholden; we mean the telhave existed, the whole of the planetary courses may escope, the microscope, the barometer, the thermombe regarded as nearly similar. Their quantities of eter, &c. not that our reasonings will require any variation from the ecliptic is as follows:
practical acquaintance with these instruments; but Mercury 6° 59' 20° Jupiter 29 20
that we shall be under the necessity of appealing to Venus 3 23 5 Saturn 2 33 30
them for the truth of our assertions. Those obserMars 1 52 Georgian 90
vations which they have furnished, together with their IV. As the foregoing figure is under a necessity results, must be taken as truths, admitted truths, beof supposing, what is false in fact, that the courses of cause excursions in demonstration of them would emthe planets cross each other[i.e. form knots or nodes] ploy our time in a manner which is not the intention in the middle of the elevation, it is the design of the of these pages. thin lines, marked with the names of the planets, to Moses describes the chaos as a confusion, without correct this idea ; accordingly, by attending to them, mentioning any agent whereby this confusion was pro
appears, that the intersections of the planes of the duced; he attributes it neither to fire, nor to water, planetary orbits with that of the earth, i.e. their nodes neither to earthquakes, nor to explosions : he mere(sach planes supposed to be extended so as to meet ly acquaints us that the earth existed, but in exthe earth's orbits,] are as follows:
treme disorder, the reduction of which to order, is 14° 43' The ascending node of Mercury in g Taurus, the subject of his history. His subject does not 13 59
of Venus in a Gemini, lead bim to say whether any or what changes were
of Mars in 8 Taurus, produced in the centre of the earth, or in those mass7 29
of Jupiter in a Cancer, ive parts of it between the centre and the circumfer21 13
of Saturn in s Cancer. ence; for any thing which appears in his narration The descending nodes are of necessity diametri- they may remain as they were ; but the external parts, cally opposite to the ascending, and are marked on the superficial layers of matters which compose the the plate by the names of the planets at length. upper strata of this planet, these underwent changes The computation of the planetary distances is, of which the sacred historian has preserved the order,
In round numbers. and of which he relates the consequences. Mercury · 36,841,500 37,000,000
The earth was without form and void : sightless 68,891,500 69,000,000
(unsightly) and unprepared, say the Lxx, a chaos, an Earth 95,173,000 95,000,000
unarranged mass of materials ; confused, disorderly, Mars
145,014,000 145,000,000 discordant. Jupiter 494,991,000 495,000,000
The very heathen poets describe this chaotic state, Saturn 907,956,000 908,000,000
this primitive character of the earth. Georgian 1,900,000,000
Ante mare et terras, et quod tegit omnia cælum, V. This plate exhibits also tracks of three comets,
Unus erat toto naturæ vultus in orbe, a specimens of the irregularity with which these bod
Quem dixere chaos, rudis indigestaque moles, les advance toward the sun on all sides: some from
Nec quicquam nisi pondus iners congestaque eodem, the right hand, some from the left; some ascending
Non bene junctarum discordia semina rerum. from below, some descending from above. We remark
Ovid Metam. lib.i. that such courses as are most round, are most speedily “ Before the sea, the land, the all-surrounding terminated; while such as are very narrow, and almost, heaven were, the whole appearance of nature was the as it were, parallel, are of very long duration. The same undistinguished surface; called chaos; a gross
unarranged mass, incapable of producing any thing it. Now the natural operation of this agitation among self, yet containing the seeds of all things, though the surface materials of the chaos would doubtless dispersed.”
Cause the heavier matters to sink; the metals, The If we reflect a moment on this state of things, we stones, the earths would descend, leaving in the upshall see the reason of the order adopted by Moses in per regions the lighter particles, airs, vapours, exhahis narrative. 1st, The heavenly bodies were the lations, and fluids, which being transparent in some works of God, therefore worship should not be paid to degree, though mixed and polluted by various unsetthem, but to their Creator. 2dly, The earth was cha tled ingredients, yet would no longer oppose the emotic: therefore it had not existed in its present form anations of light now gliding into them, among them, from all eternity, as some philosophers held; neither, and through them. Thus it was God said, Light be, 3dly, was the earth itself to be worshipped: that and light was : thus it was God separated the dark which had been deformed ought not to be deified, ness from the light : 1st, By the rotary motion of The idolatry of the world at The time when Moses the earth, one half of its surface only being exposed wrote, rendered such a caveat against infidelity highly to the light at one time; the other half remaining in necessary and appropriate.
darkness; 2dly, by causing the opaque bodies to sink The chaos naturally supposes a mass of materials below those which were transparent, so that they no of different densities; some light, some heavy, some longer impeded the passage of light; 3dly, by estabcompact, some expanded; solids also, and fluids; all lishing the bounds of the horizon, which now repreheterogeneously intermingled; materials of various sented a state of night, in those parts of its surface qualities and properties, but all dissociated, all disor which declined from the immediate visitation of light; dered: can it be fitted for inhabitants ?
and a state of morning, in those parts approaching The prelude to discharging this chaotic state from toward the direct action of light, the surface of the earth was giving to the planet a ro As natural day and night is now occasioned by tary motion on its axis. We must therefore desire the
very same motion of this planet, i.e. its revolution the reader to understand the history of Moses as im on its axis, we may freely infer, that the same cause plying, that some person of competent dignity, power, originally produced the same effect: and since one intelligence and benevolence, visited this disorderly rotation now separates between day and night, bemass, took his station opposite to a certain part of it, tween light and darkness, so it did then. from thence issued his orders, and directed the whole That divine impulse which originally imparted of obedient nature.
this motion, still continues it, still produces the same He first bids this globe revolve: of which the im effects; morning, evening; light, darkness; which mediate consequence is, a vehement agitation among still make one day; or, as it is in the Hebrew, the superficial particles of the chaos, resisting the “evening, morning, day, one." course of the globe; that is to say, by endeavouring But the globe is not a sentient being itself, it is to maintain their station, the lighter particles oppose only a receptacle, a habitation for sentient beings; the progress of the revolving matters around them: let us, therefore, inquire what principles are necesstill, however, the globe continues to roll, and there. sary to qualify it for the reception of animated existby this agitation is prolonged over its whole surface. ence, to whom we must attribute, Ist, individual Such is the account, which would be given by those life ; 2dly, the power of continuing that life ; 3dly, who render the words, Dinhe nn ruaCH ALEIM, the power of transmitting that life in succession. WIND of God, i.e. a violent wind, so violent as only If the dark and frozen regiovs of the poles were God could raise and direct. Such is the rendering of favourable to life, animal or vegetable, we might disthe Chaldee paraphrast Onkelos, of the Rabbis Mai
pense perhaps with light and warmth as primary monides and Aben-ezra, of the Christian fathers The- requisites; but, if at this day nature exults in the rigodoret and Tertullian, of Episcopius, and others; our of her productive powers under the genial inand it is acknowledged, that the phrase is analogous fluence of radiance and heat, then, no doubt, radito expressions used not infrequently in the Hebrew ance and heat were originally necessary to enable writings. But the majority of interpreters, with equal the first individuals to receive their being, and to propriety, and equal correctness, consider these prolong their continuance after they had received it. words as denoting a person, the spirit of God, who moved, brooded, say some, as a hen broods over eggs,
OF LIGHT, AND ITS EFFECTS. on the surface of the waters. For my own part, I Light was, as we have seen, the first principle bethink this person is understood to be stationary, fix stowed on this new world, to prepare it for the reed opposite to ope point of the earth, which gradual- ception of inhabitants; whether vegetable inhabily, as it revolves, brings its whole surface, in succes tants, or animal; and I mean to insist that the order sion, under the inspection, and the influence of this and progress of each day in the creation history is arranging power; the consequence of which is, that preparatory to the following days, with a correctness virtue from this spiritual agent visits the whole in suc which has hitherto not been sufficiently understood
; cessive progression,
and it will be remembered that each day is coinci
dent with a revolution of the globe. Light, then, plicable, but moist, muddy, mixed liquids ; liquids
requisite for the sustenance of life when it shall begin SECOND DAY.
upon the globe ; if living creatures are to be sustain
ed by the fluids of the atmosphere, if they are to THE EXPANSE, OR FIRMAMENT.
breathe the air, doubtless the air must be fitted for A second revolution of the globe shewed what their breathing, it must be cleared from noxious or beneficial effects had accompanied the first revolu- hazardous ingredients, from pollutions injurious to tion. The superincumbent parts of the mass had the vessels which inhale it, from whatever might imsubsided into somewhat of an orderly distribution, pede the duties of the parts adapted to employ it, and had advanced to a certain degree of clearness, and from all risk which otherwise might atiend its and purification: and now, God directed the firma- operation; in short, it must be pure, not poisonous ; ment to appear:
and salutary, not deadly.
SEA, EARTH, VEGETATION.
combine into considerable collections. God thereThis is what I understand by the phrase God di. fore directed those waters, whose weight detained rided, or separated, by somewhat of a chemical sep- them on the surface of the carth, to congregate in a aration, the lower waters from the upper waters; fit receptacle. These the historian describes by the where, we observe, that the word waters, is taken term, “waters under the expanse;" meaning, all not with great latitude, implying not pure waters, for as raised into the atmosphere, all not mingled with atyet there were none to which that character was ap- mospherical principles, all not exhaled into elevated