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theory may be, of the origin of the world or the early state of mankind in the world.

The first ten or eleven chapters of Genesis, till we come to the time of Abraham, are a series of detached sketches, rather than a continued narrative.

With Abraham properly begins the Jewish history. The lives of the great patriarchs of the nation, recorded with considerable fulness of detail, and with the simplicity of ancient oriental history, occupy the rest of the book of Genesis from the eleventh chapter (ver. 10), where the genealogy of Abraham is traced up to Shem, the son of Noah. At this point history may be said to begin. The previous chapters of Genesis contain a succession of pictures and poems, the bright fancies and earnest speculations of the earliest race of men, rather than rigid statements of absolute fact or systematic science.

I shall endeavour now to suggest the kind of spirit in which these compositions must be approached if we would do justice to them.

The first picture is that of The CREATION; or rather, as already shewn, there are two pictures, both by very ancient and very powerful masters.

We may compare them, contrast them, and admire and profit by the beauty and devoutness of both. The man of small science, and no poetry or religion, may tell us, truly and prosily, that the solar system is very different from what is there represented; that the author of Genesis has made the sun, moon and stars to serve the earth alone, and imagined the sky to be a solid “firmament;" that he is geologically wrong beyond all doubt in some things respecting the earth's stratification, and zoologically wrong in classing birds (as he evidently does) with aquatic reptiles and fishes, and making them to have been all produced from the water. We admit all this, we know it, we avow it; nor should we reverence the pretensions of the book of Genesis if it had not upon it the stamp of antiquity which these philosophical errors, the living framework of its poetry and devotion, present. As a poet (for the scene is essential poetry, and the language approaches sometimes towards the measured distribution of Hebrew rhythm) and as a worshiper (which every true poet is), the Bard of Creation has chosen for his sublime

song

the natural objects most calculated to excite vivid emotion and most susceptible of powerful description, whether in simple or in learned days. He has found the way, under the joint guidance of genius and devotion, to the universal human heart.

If any one should undertake, in the present age of philosophy, to write a description of what he might conceive to have been the order or process of creation, he would proceed in some respects very differently. We may imagine a scientific modern poet or imaginative philosopher framing his description somehow thus. Instead of beginning with the earth, which (though all in all to man as the place of his habitation) is but a speck in God's vast universe, and mentioning casually, and as it were in passing, that “God created the stars also," as objects of utterly unknown character and of assumed insignificant dimensions, mere lights to give light upon the earth, and giving very little of it,—the philosophical worshiper in Nature's vast temple might more probably begin his theme by setting before our imagination the idea of infinite space, and representing the almighty fiat as bidding star after star spring forth to be the innumerable centres of planetary systems,--each sun immeasurably distant from the attractive forces of every other, yet none so widely removed but that infinite space and boundless creation may spread beyond. He would attempt to describe how system upon system may have risen obedient to the creative mandate, “ Let it be;" would tell how universal laws impressed upon matter produced universal order, and every planet in each solar system, with all their endless varieties of arrangement, size and motion,yea, every atom of which each planetary body is composed, and every object that moves upon or near its surface,-obeyed the influence of a few grand controlling principles, majestic in their simplicity, and uniform in their endless varieties of application; he would bid us admire the magnificent unity in the operations of Deity, by which

“The very law that moulds a tear,
And bids it trickle from its source,-
That law maintains the earth a sphere,

And guides the planets in their course.' Or, if our philosopher were a disciple of that more recent and most fascinating theory of creation which sees worlds even now in daily progress of formation and growth, and the geological stratification of future earths in course of nebular deposite, then would he first sing,—not of earth's primeval chaos, but of something more ancient far-a nebular universe, divinely endowed with powers of attraction and rotatory motion, and would tell us how from these simple agencies concentric masses were in the course of ages agglomerated, and, in the course of ages more, were evolved into systems of rotatory orbs, all moving round their common centre, and how some of these again broke up into smaller portions, as the Earth and its Moon, Jupiter and his four, Herschel and his six, Saturn and his seven,-around which last, another portion of the moving mass, possessed of higher centrifugal force or less gravity of structure, became flattened and extended into a marvellous and beautiful ring of light. And then would our philosopher, whether simple Newtonian or Nebulist, come nearer home in space and time. When the imagination was strained by the immensity of the

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view which it had been striving to grasp, he would reverse the process of thought, and instead of attempting to look from the whole to its parts, he would propose to “rise from individual to the whole.” He would lead us to view our own fair planet with nearer attention; would tell-as the sacred writer has done, but perhaps be able to describe a little more of the still mysterious processhow, at the will of the great Creator, all that is fair and good, wise and wonderful, great and glorious, in and about our earth, was called into being, action and enjoyment. He would lead us, by the light of the later discoveries of science, to regard the primitive rocks, which form, as it were, the crust of our planet, as the monuments of that long antiquity through which “the earth was without form and void," when, though the Spirit of God ever“ brooded on the face of the abyss," it had not yet called forth life, nor scarcely vegetation. Then he would point out the indications which present themselves in the earth's structure of the successive agencies of volcanic fire and watery deposite, and of the successive ages (not days) corresponding in the history of the plants and animals, whose remains are safely preserved as the hieroglyphic history of those olden times, or rather as the picture-writing of the geological ages; till at length the existing order of creation, as we see it, was completedthe earth prepared to become the receptacle of a higher order of creature,—and then that creature, Man, was made in God's image, after His likeness, not merely to have dominion over all God's works on earth at present, but to rise (as the science of Christianity has since taught us) to higher glory hereafter. And then would the Bard of the Creation invite us to fancy, if we can,

similar acts of productive beneficence as exerted, not on our earth alone, but on all the myriad and myriad worlds with which space is spangled, and not once for all, but per

petually and for ever repeated (for what is Providence, if it be not truly creative power continually sustaining and renewing what is made ?); and so would the sacred philosopher bid us, if we can, imagine worthily of God's works; so obtain, if we can, some approach towards an adequate conception of the immensity, the glory and the goodness of the One All-present Deity.

And yet, in a more recent, and it might be a more philosophically constructed picture of the great work of creation, the most striking and impressive representations must still be principally the same as in the venerable book of Genesis with which the Bible opens. Enlarged science has added vast extent to our views of the creation; but the mind, like the eye, has its limit of clear vision, and within the range of its clear vision we find that the objects most calculated to excite vivid emotion and most susceptible of powerful description, are principally those which present themselves even to the unscientific mind's attention, as they did to the regard of an unscientific age.

Those things which most obviously display the bounty of creation, while they impress the heart of the simple-minded, may rouse the penetration of the sage to the inner scrutiny of their beneficent wonders. These are what the writer in Genesis has depicted as he conceived them in process of being formed and severally pronounced "good." These are the objects most accessible to observation, and therefore most fraught with feeling and devotion. In these, the large type of the “world's harmonious volume," mankind have always read their lessons of natural religion. These are Nature's perpetual mementos of piety, which every mind consults with essentially similar, though varied, perceptions of their power. How vividly was the impression of their beauty, order and beneficence felt by him who described them as successively starting into being at the Creator's

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