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To sum up the whole, therefore, in few words, it would seem that, with the exception of what is claimed in behalf of Thyoth and Sanchoniathon of Berytus, sacred history claims a priority over that of profane, by a period of about three thousand three hundred years. Herodotus is the earliest post-diluvian profane historian extant. He flourished about one thousand years after the Jewish historian Moses, and about five hundred years before Christ; and the chronology of his history bears date only about seven hundred years prior to that event.
At this stage of our advance, and as appropriate to the subject in hand, we would respectfully submit, whether, what is claimed by the Antiquarian as applicable to the age of the world from the creation and fall of man, is not strictly true of those periods which elapsed during the week of creation and of formation of the material universe, as designed to be set forth in the Mosaic cosmogony of that event. The affirmative of this position sustained, it will, if we mistake not, reflect material light on the preceding, in as much as it will discover the grounds of those errors into which the ancient profane historian was betrayed; which was, that of confounding the evident remote antiquity which stamped the works of nature, with those oral traditionary historic facts, as above represented,
With this intimation in view, and without further delay, we now state, that, in Scripture, various forms of speech are employed to designate TIME; one of which is the term “day,” used in the first chapter of Genesis to denote the length of the Great Creator's week of labor and of repose. “The evening and the morning were the FIRST, SECOND, THIRD day,”! &c. The question respecting this term as above, is, whether it is a natural or solar day of twenty-four hours, or a period of vastly greater length.
In conducting our inquiries in reference to this interesting subject, we observe that, reasoning analogically, Nature and Providence are gradual in their operations; not like man, who is always for subitaneous violence, but deliberately proceeding, by gradual evolutions, as illustrated in the physical and intellectual powers of man, to unfold to our view the properties, first, of matter, and then of mind.
In accordance, therefore, with this principle, we now proceed to demonstrate, a posteriori, as founded upon the physiological and oryctological discoveries of science, that the six days of creation, as mentioned in the history of Moses, were periods of stupendous length-and,
I. Presumptive evidence of this fact we think may be fairly drawn, from a more extended survey of the work of formation attributed to each of the six days.
1. Gen. i. 5, 8, 13, 19, 23, 31. Chap. ii. 2.
1. The work of the first day was the separation of light from darkness - the Hebrew word or, translated light, Parkhurst defines to be the celestial fluid in a state of activity. 7ų. wechoshech, rendered darkness, the same celestial fluid in an inactive state. It was from this crude aqueous matter, (which, in its inactive state, constituted the darkness which enveloped the primeval chaos, and which preceded the existence of light,) by being subjected to the energies of the Divine Spirit, that its inherent igneous properties were thrown off, and when collected into one body, constituted light: the residuum, - darkness.* The work of this first day, is to be carefully distinguished from that of the fourth, which was appropriated to the formation of the sun, moon, and stars.
2. The second day was appropriated to the separation of air and water.
, rakia, signifies air, or the expansion, a gaseous fluid, and not firmament, as in the English version, which is taken from the Septuagint. This constituted the next step of advance in the organization of the .chaotic aqueous matter. For, till there was an expanse, or atmosphere, the particles of water thrown off
רקיע ,The original word
* "It seems to me most rational,” says Bishop Patrick, "by this light to understand those particles of matter which we call fire, (whose properties every one knows are light and heat,) which the Almighty Spirit, that formed all things, produced as the great instrument for the preparation and digestion of the rest of the matter; which was still more vigorously moved and agitated, from the top to the bottom, by this restless element, till the purer and more shining parts of it, being separated from the grosser, and united in a body fit to retain them, became light."- Com. on Gen. i. 1-3.
by the continued action of fire on the primeval elements, could not ascend. This expanse provided, the process of evaporation could go on, the smaller particles being raised above by exhalation, and the larger body of water remaining below. Thus the atmosphere, and which is the same with the material heaven, through which the birds of the air wing their devious course, “ divided the waters which were above them, * from the waters which were below them."
3. On the third day, sea and land were disunited, and the earth was made to produce vegetation. Each successive process in the conformation of the primeval aqueous matter to the purposes designed, should be sedulously kept in view. The chaotic elements had by the organization of the first two days, produced successively and in the following order, darkness, light, the atmosphere, and a division of the exhalated particles of water, from the denser fluid. This fluid, however, was subjected to another process that of bringing together its granitic and earthy elements; the former constituting the primitive rock or skeleton of our globe, the latter, the soil with which they were covered, as indispensable to the purposes of vegetation. Hence the division of earth and water, or sea and land, and the production of grass, herbs, and trees.
It might here be asked, how, without the genial warmth of the sun, &c., could the surface of the earth
* It has been demonstrated that of the exhalated watery particles which float in the air, there is an average of about four hundred weight to every square yard of the earth's surface.
be productive of the various vegetable tribes? The answer is, that as the chaotic aqueous matter, in its ACTIVE state, partook of the properties of heat as well as light, so, “as in a hot-house, germination would proceed without interruption.” But,
4. On the fourth day, a more perfect division of darkness and light into day and night was produced, by placing in the material heavens, the sun, the moon, and the stars. This was the first division of “the evening and the morning” of the three preceding days, into natural day and night. Thenceforward, the diurnal revolutions of the earth on its axis, and the lunar and solar revolutions of the sun and moon, established the divisions of time into days, months, and years, and the seasons into those of summer and winter.
5. The formation, first. of fishes, and second, of birds, the products of the waters, constituted the work of the fifth day.
6. The work of the sixth day was appropriated to the formation, first, of the various species and genus of beasts and reptiles, and finally, of Man. And,
7. The seventh day was a SABBATH OF REST.
In conducting our inquiries in reference to the question at issue, we shall be compeled to wander rather beyond the common beaten track, and argue, a posteriori, as an aid to our conceptions of the probable time, during which the primordial elements remained in their chaotic state, subject to the agency of the Divine Spirit. Also, a priori, as estimated by the general alalogy of the works and word of God, as