Page images

process had taken for its accomplishment at least millions of years. Lyall says, “In all countries, in digging to certain depths, and in mining, the remains of fishes, vegetables, quadrupeds, and birds are found in the soil or embedded in the rocks, except in those of simple substance or primitive antiquity. The general regularity with which those that are marine are laid at one level, and those which are products of land at another, lead to the conclusion, that the sea has repeatedly covered the land for long periods of time, and that the land has at intermediate periods been dry. The remains consist, always at certain depths, of species of animals, vegetables, &c. not now in existence, and often of genera not congenial to the present climate. There are now 50,000 species of fossils recognized, but they are believed to be of very distant epochs.” To have some idea as to the length of time requisite to produce the amazing masses of fossiliferous rocks, let us hear Sir Richard Philips on some portions of them. “The newest tertian strata (he states) were formed in the last progress of the perihelion through the northern signs, between 6 and 16,000 years since; the four other series, at intervals of 20,900 years, rendering the period of the tertiary formations about 93,000 years. The secondary formations, at least ten in number, may be referred to ten northings of the perihelion, or 213,000 years. The transition periods may include twenty others, making together 600,000 years.” That the conclusion thus given, that the earth has subsisted for a time so vast as the period just indicated, and that not in a chaotic condition, but regulated by laws similar to those which now prevail; having light and heat, day and night, and every requisite for growth and life (for otherwise the plants could not have lived, grown, and died, and the animals would have had no use for eyes, nor could they have existed at all); that these conclusions are not the conjectures of one highly speculative mind, but the obvious teaching of Geology, admitted by all who have fully and fairly examined the evidences the earth exhibits, there was undoubted proof when Professor Buckland, amid the plaudits of the members of the British Association, announced his entire conviction that millions of

had seen the world rolling in its orbit and sustaining life.* The same views pervade his works : in his “ Bridgewater Treatise” especially. Instance such sentences as the following, concerning fossil remains: “They are documents which contain the evidences of revolutions and catastrophes LONG ANTECEDENT to the human race.”+ Again, concerning the lizard tribe : “The annals of their history may be traced back through thousands of years antecedent to that latest point in the progressive stages of animal creation, when the first parents of the human race were called into existence.”* To the same effect writes Lord Brougham, in his illustrations of Paley,+ speaking of a person studying the beautiful and interesting works that have been published on Geology: he says, "By these he will be led to infer, that the fair scene before him, so happily adapted for the abode of man, was a condition of the earth resulting from many successive revolutions taking place at periods incalculably remote;" and he quotes Sir John Herschel, who says, “ That the situation of a pebble may afford him evidence of the state of the globe he inhabits myriads of ages ago, before his species became its denizens." We will close these quotations by the observation of Professor Brinkley, afterwards Bishop of Cloyne, who says, “It is therefore in the progress, through countLESS AGES, of the changes on the surface, from the chaotic or primary formation of the geologists, to the most interesting state of the surface as it now exists, that we trace the endless arguments for design." +


* See a paper expressly written upon this declaration of Dr. Buckland's in our Periodical for 1836, p. 277.-ED.

+ Vol. 1, p. 128.

We might now proceed, would time permit, to unfold at length the grounds upon which those illustrious men have arrived at the conclusion, that this earth has actually existed for countless ages; but they may be learned by reference to treatises on Geology, and their introduction here would lead us too far from our present object. He, however, must have no common assurance, who would accuse such men as Phillips and Brougham of inaccuracy, or ignorance; or Herschel, Brinkley, and Buckland of impiety. The witnesses therefore are competent in skill to discern, and motive to report aright; and they inform us that the earth has subsisted for

thousands, nay,

millions of

years ; and if so, are we not compelled either to deny the Divine Word altogether,to suppose it is an inextricable mystery, or to look for a spiritual interpretation ? Surely every consideration will impel the pious mind to the latter alternative; and then how diffierent a hue the whole

“Instead of the thorn, springs up the fir-tree ; and instead of the briar, comes up the myrtle-tree; and it is to the Lord for a name, for an everlasting sign, which shall not be cut off.” Where nothing but vexatious perplexity met the enquirer, and involved him in confusion, the bloom and the beauty of spiritual wisdom break upon the soul, and ally it to its Saviour for ever.

B. A. (To be continued.)


* Vol. 1, p. 167.

+ Vol. 1, p. 2.

Vol. 2, p. 26.


It is the duty of every rational being who is able to appreciate the value of religious knowledge, to examine the writings and opinions of his fellow-men, that he may ascertain where truth lies; for in the present day, when the religious creeds which all parties pretend to derive from the Holy Word, are so various and opposite, as are also the systems of mental and moral philosophy, it requires a steady and constant exercise of the understanding to discover the truth at all times, and to decide, amidst the varieties of conflicting opinions, which of them to embrace.

But when, by a careful and diligent examination, we have separated truth from error, right from wrong, good from evil, and have chosen for ourselves right principles and motives; it then becomes our bounden duty, as well as our truest interest, to carry them out in practice, in a steady, firm, and persevering manner.

In order to attain a right decision of character on all occasions, our wills and understandings must be nicely balanced; for if the will too much predominates, it will darken and blind the understanding to what is right, so that we shall be liable to be led astray by our natural inclinations, and to forget, or wilfully resist, the sacred calls of duty. Suppose, for instance, that we are tempted to procrastinate when we know we have a duty to perform ; or to pursue a present pleasure when we know we ought to be otherwise engaged ; our will may then suggest to us, that “there cannot be much harm in putting off this duty for once; another opportunity will do as well;" and if we are not decided and determined to persevere in the right path, in the struggle between the calls of duty on the one hand, and the temptation to procrastinate, or to enjoy a present pleasure, on the other, duty will be sacrificed ; and afterwards, we shall have to suffer the reproaches of conscience for our folly and indecision.

A wavering and irresolute disposition is a source of misery to ourselves, and to all with whom we are connected. The promises of a person under the influence of such a disposition, cannot be relied on. In his business or studies he will be constantly flitting from one object or pursuit to another; and, as a necessary consequence, he will not do anything well, for not having resolution and perseverance to overcome difficulties, whenever a difficulty arises, he will evade it, and turn to something else, which, in like manner, will soon be given up, and with a degree of fickleness that makes him resemble the weathercock, changing with every wind.

On the contrary, he who possesses decision, united with perseverance, may surmount every obstacle, and will generally succeed in what he undertakes. His promises can always be relied on, he steadily and firmly pursues the object on which his mind is fixed, and suffers nothing to turn him from it. Suppose, for the sake of illustration, that two persons commence a course of study at the same time; the one endowed with superior natural abilities, but too indolent and indecisive in his habits to cultivate them properly; the other, possessed but of moderate abilities, but persevering and industrious in the cultivation of them. The former will improve rapidly at first, and bid fair to outstrip his companion; but he will soon give way to his indolence and irresolution, and trusting to his abilities, will defer bis studies to the last moment, or neglect them altogether; so that in consequence

of bestowing little time upon them, they will leave but a slight impression upon the memory, and thus he will soon forget what cost him so little trouble to acquire. The latter will learn slowly, but surely; having to labour hard for what he acquires, it will be well digested, and therefore not easily forgotten; possessing perseverance, with a determination to succeed, he will soon make up for his deficiency in natural ability, and in the end, become the more successful of the two. Like the hare in the fable, the one takes a nap by the way, whilst the other, creeping on his slow but steady pace, arrives first at the goal.

While then we guard against a feeble, irresolute, and wavering disposition, as a hindrance to our advancement in wisdom and happiness, it is equally necessary, and especially if we possess a natural decision of character, that we take care not to fall into the opposite extreme of obstinacy and self-will, by evincing a determination to have our own way, and maintain our own opinions, whether right or wrong, and independently of the wisdom or wishes of others. We should be firm, but gentle ; and while we are determined to let nothing turn us from the path of duty, we should give due consideration to the opinions and wishes of others, before we allow ourselves to conclude that it is our duty to oppose them.

The Holy Word abounds with admonitions to decision and perseverance; and it is obvious that without these qualities, no man can become, in any remarkable degree, either a good Christian, or a good member of society. “ Choose ye this day whom ye will serve,” is the language of holy Writ, and what an immensity of happiness or misery depends upon our choice, for this choice is nothing less than the selection of our ruling motive, for time, and for eternity! Word also declares, that he only who perseveres and “endures to the end,” in faithfully serving the gracious Master he has chosen, shall be

The holy saved. Of what vast importance, then, it is, that we exercise every faculty of our minds in rightly deciding as to the line of conduct we ought to pursue, whether in regard to our spiritual, or our temporal concerns; and having decided to the best of our ability, we should

persevere to the end, as an apostle advises, "steadfast without wavering." A changeable and irresolute disposition is the ground of the character of those who are denoted in the Word by the lukewarm, of whom our Lord emphatically declares, that “because they are neither cold nor hot, he will spue them out of his mouth!”

Happy will it be for us if we serve the Lord constantly, and with our whole heart and mind, not in a feeble fluctuating manner, now turning to Him and then turning away from Him to ourselves and the world, as if it were possible for us to serve two masters, but taking care that whatever employment or use we engage in, and thus whatever our hand findeth to do, we do it with all our might. It is evident, that whatever is done by halves cannot be done well; let us then call to our aid decision and perseverance, in every purpose and action of our lives.

H. C.



It is fitting that our readers should occasionally be made acquainted with the course of the fulfilment of the Lord's prediction (in Matt. xxiv. 6, 7.) in relation to the present times; " ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars ; for nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom.These words, our author tells us, denote, that about the time of the Lord's Second Advent, debates and disputes will exist concerning truths, and that evil will contend with evil, and the false with the false.

One of these manifold contentions has for some time been going on in the Calvinistic sections of the professing Church. It originated with the “United [but it would now seem disunited] Secession Church of Scotland. * It appears that a Dr. Marshall, perceiving that moderate Calvinistic ideas were gaining ground in the Secession Church, took the field as the advocate of a limited atonement, against what he deemed a dangerous heresy, namely, that Christ died for all, and not for the Church only. Thus has been kindled a dispute, which, probably, will

* Not the recent secession, but a former one, which adhered to “ the solemn league and covenant."

N.S. NO. 49.-VOL. V.


« PreviousContinue »