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eral wisdom of His Providence is radical, we cast this particular burden upon it. We conclude that this element of difficulty is no mere exception, not a mistake in one unfortunate department, but is something connected with the fundamental principles of His administration. That we cannot make our intelligence shine quite through it, only indicates that it is a part of the Incomprehensible Self. Thus, practically, the particular difficulty vanishes in proportion as we become convinced of its universality.
It is both refreshing and invigorating to Christian faith thus to draw from the different departments of natural science God's old works- new illustrations and confirmations of the old, well-established doctrines of His Holy Word, albeit neither the one nor the other is fully understood. In this way, new analogies from nature clothe old Bible truths afresh, as each succeeding spring renews the old, warm earth.
Such analogies are also a convenient weapon with which to foil a captious doubter. Cavillers at Scripture are usually mere naturalists in belief. They admit a God, and nature as the exponent of Him. When, then, they are forced to admit that their store-house of illustrations, Nature, is full of precisely the same sort of element which they rail at in the Divine Revelation, their mouths are stopped. Moreover, the Bible theology can apply the facts drawn from nature to the highest and noblest uses. Their deeper meaning is never touched until they are made to utter God's idea in them. This the Bible helps us to do; and in this way it discharges in full its obligations to science for whatever light science may have shed upon the true intent of inspiration in certain passages of the sacred record.
Mere science arranges the wonderful facts of nature in beautiful order, along the ground. With this her peculiar province ends. Infidelity would fasten this chain to the great iron wheel of Fate, or to the no less inexorable “ Laws of Nature." Christianity raises one end of the beautiful series and fastens it to the throne of God. Then all the facts shine with a new lustre from above, for the Spirit of the Infinite Intelligence pulsates through them. Christian
faith is always comforted when facts in science can be thus raised above the earth, or wrested back from the grasp of Infidelity, and applied to their highest uses in illustrating and substantiating the truths of Revelation.
This brief essay is an attempt to do a little something in this good cause. If the facts used in illustration are questioned, the writer takes covert under the wing of the best Christian Geologists in the world, who are authority for all the facts of any importance, which he has quoted. Should the method of reasoning from these facts be questioned, he is equally happy to hide himself in the shadow of the many great and good men who have used the same method, and with far better success, but not with a better intent or for a better end.
It is sometimes objected to the commonly received doctrine of the fall of man, that it was too great an evil for God to permit; that, according to the orthodox view of mankind, " the universe is a failure.”
Geology, especially in its record of the carboniferous era, furnishes analogies for an answer.
No ruin could be more complete than that which ended the carboniferous era. It was universal and utter. All the luxuriant vegetation which clothed the earth with a wreath of beauty, was swept off, and hardly a species of the numerous animals which had swum in its tepid lakes, or browsed on the gigantic vegetation which overhung their banks, survived to see their strange but nobler successors. Nebuchadnezzar and Titus at Jerusalem, Alaric at Rome, and the Turks at Athens, only did on a limited scale what was done universally, when the powers of nature were let loose upon the earth at this Geological epoch.
Each stately palm and fern, every leaf and spire of moss in those illimitable forests, as shown by their perfect impress on the rock to-day, was a beautiful and complete demonstration of the being and attributes of God; and yet the whole magnificent record, when as yet no intelligent eye had read it, was swept off into a perfect ruin, and once more the fair earth was na yan “tohu vavohu.” Moreover, all the Fauna of this period, — the highest types of animal life yet seen upon the earth, — a Fauna, in many respects the most wonderful that the earth has even seen or ever will see, these characteristic races, the only sentient inhabitants of the earth at that time, all went down alive into the pit.
It seemed as if the Great Creator were disappointed with the work of His fingers, and had suddenly turned it to destruction. The shadow on the dial of progress seemed to have leaped'ten degrees backward, as if suddenly rebuked by the Almighty.
It may be said that this ruin of plants and animals, however great, furnishes no fair analogy for the ruin of rational and immortal souls by sin. We apprehend that the quality of the thing destroyed does not materially affect the analogy.
At that time there were no higher creatures on the earth than those which were destroyed. They were the best which Infinite Benevolence had yet contrived for this sphere.
Moreover, the blank ruin was relieved by no clear promise of anything better to come. It appeared as if the Creator had destroyed forever the very climax of his works, up to that time. Apparently, the whole system was coming to an end, for all its princes were cut off. It was a direful premonition of what actually occurred at a later period, and of which the Christian poet sang :
“ Earth felt the wound, and Nature from her seat,
That all was lost !"
But this terrestrial ruin was only apparent and temporary. It swept the earth with a besom, only that higher orders of creation might have a clean field. The gigantic and clumsy creations of that fertile period were cleared off, root and branch, sire and son, in order that no relics of them might mingle with, and thus degrade, the higher natures and the warmer blood of the races which were to come. The high temperature of that period appears to have been suddenly lowered, causing universal death ; but it was in order that hardier and more intelligent races might develop in a cooler and more bracing air; and the superabundant carbonic acid in that atmosphere, needful to the luxuriant flora of that period, but fatal to the higher orders of animals which were to come, was gradually drawn out by the superabundant vegetation, changed by the mysterious chemistry of vegetable life into the solid carbon of wood, then softened and finally dried and packed away in a form which renders it entirely harmless to the lungs of succeeding races. Better still; this element, fatal to the higher breathing animals, was not only taken out of the air and converted into a useful solid, but this change also set free a large amount of the vital oxygen, thus adapting an atmosphere still better to the wants and organs of the nobler races which were next to come upon the stage.
Thus that element, the carbonic acid, which once would have swept the earth clean of the human race, had they then been upon it, is now become the solid carbon of the coal fields, without which some of the most enlightened and Christian parts of the earth would soon be swept clean of the greater part of their present industry and usefulness.
Now is ruin, however disastrous it may seem in itself and at the time, to be deplored as sheer ruin when it leads to the existence of a something higher and better than what was ruined ? Should it be deplored when it is made to enter as a component element, into that higher and better state?
“That which thou sowest is not quickened except it die.” • It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body.” Infinite Wisdom has revealed no other method of producing a spiritual body than through the death of the natural.
Real goodness is indestructible. The substantial good of each successive Geological era is preserved, and “ crops out” in the next. Ruin is not sheer ruin as long as God controls it; and in His sublime providence death is only a sowing for harvests of higher life, and the wanton breach of God's law in the fall is chosen as an antecedent of the highest possible glory to the law and the Lawgiver.
The current doctrine of the fall and recovery of man, finds an illustration and counterpart in the primeval destruction and present restitution of the luxuriant vegetation of the carboniferous era.
Perhaps the objection assumes this form : “ The restoration, if admitted, is not complete." In other words, “ the plan of redemption does not work perfectly." We can answer this best by separating it into parts.
(a) “ The recovery is not immediate upon the ruin.” But who can number the ages during which the coal fields remained uncovered ? How long did God leave this untold wealth of light and heat and force, to be unused and unknown ?
It appears to be a principle with God to reserve valuable blessings until man is sorely pressed with a sense of need. Necessity is the divinely appointed mother of discoveries, as well as of inventions. God keeps silent as to His gracious provisions for lost man, until the heart is breaking, and out of the depths cries for help. So did He wait long for the best time to manifest His eternal love in the appearance of His Redeemer-Son; and so is He now waiting for the best time to make known His coming to the nations for whom He appeared.
“ The recovery is not immediate ; how could Jehovah endure the long, dark, and sad interval before the restoration ?"
In itself considered and disconnected from its consequents, how dull and drear must this Geological period have seemed to the All-Wise Creator! Not one gleam of rationality shooting athwart the horizon of night; not a creature that could survey and contemplate the scene; not one aspiration towards Himself to relieve the universal earthiness; not one hope of immortality springing up from all the universal sowing of death ; on all the face of the round earth, not one emanation of delight in God; not one thought of God, nor even one capability of loving or knowing God! What could be more blank and dreary than this, in itself considered ?
But the Divine foreknowledge shot rays of light all through