Imatges de pÓgina


spect, equal to God." But we have not so studied the history of the universe; and our readers, we trust, have learned a better lesson from the oracles of GOD.

In the book of Genesis, the "beginning" of everything is ascribed to the creative power of God; and we are informed that over the formless and chaotic earth, darkness reigned, and "that the Spirit of GoD moved" or brooded "upon the face of the waters," bringing order out of confusion, light out of darkness, and this beauteous earth into a fit condition for the residence of man, and the subsistence of animal and vegetable life. The Almighty architect said, "LET THERE BE LIGHT, AND THERE WAS LIGHT." With respect to this expression, Longinus, that great judge of the beautiful and sublime, says, "It is the most noble and lofty example of sublimity that imagination can conceive; it commands things into existence, speaks with the voice of supernatural authority, and is the language of God." "And GoD saw the light that it was good, and he divided the light from the darkness, calling the light day, and the darkness night; and the evening and the morning were the first day." Surpri sing display of OMNIPOTENCE to illuminate a whole system in so short a time, and appoint the proper portions of light and darkness to every part of the universe!*

Who, with an intelligent mind and a sensitive heart, can look upon the glorious

sists; the globe of the earth, the expanse of the ocean, and the wonders of the skies, were all produced by the power of the ETERNAL. Matter, however, under all the varieties of its form, the relative disposition of its parts, and the motions communicated to it, is but an inferior part of the works of creation. From the faculty of thought, and the powers of perception and reflection of which we are conscious, we feel assured that we are animated by a much higher and nobler principle than brute matter.

THE CREATION OF LIGHT-We were considerably affected in our younger days by the long-standing objection that Moses made light to exist before the creation of the sun; as books then usually taught, what some still fancy, that there could not have been light without this luminary. But not choosing, on such an important point, to attach our faith to any general assertion, we sought to find out if any investigator of the nature of light had perceived any distinction in its qualities or operation which made it a fluid, or matter independent of the sun. It was not easy, before the year 1790, to meet with the works of any student of nature on such a subject, as it had been little attended to; but we at length saw the fact asserted by Henckel, a German of the old school, of some value in his day; and soon afterward some experi ments were announced in England, which confirmed the supposition. It has been a favorite point of attention with us ever since; and no truth in philosophy seems to be now more fully ascertained than that light has a distinct existence, separate and independent of the sun. This is a striking confirmation of the Mosaic record; for that expressly distinguishes the existence and operation of light from the solar action upon it, and from that radiation of it which is connected with his beams and presence. By Moses, an interval of three days is placed between the luminous creation and the appearance and position of the sun and moon. Light was therefore operating, by its own laws and agencies, without the sun, and independently of his peculiar agency, from the first day to the fourth of our terrestrial fabrication. But from the time that the sun was placed in his central position, and his rays were appointed to act on our earth, they have been always performing most beneficial operations, essential to the general course of things. They have also been ascertained by Dr. Herschel to have a power of heating distinct from their production of light and color-an interesting discovery, connected with more consequences and inferences than have yet been noticed. The glory of Sir Isaac Newton began by his discovering that light was not simple and homogeneous, but that it consisted of seven rays of different colors, and of different and invariable degrees of refrangibility. The same degree of this belonged always to the same color, and the same color to the same degree of refrangibility. Red, yellow, and blue, are the primary colors; white light their compound. An opposing theory to this has been gradually growing up from the time of Des Cartes, and is now maintained by several men of no small name and powers in science, which considers light to be an undulating vibration of an ethereal medium universally diffused, and not, as Newton thought, an emanation of particles direct from the sun. La Place preferred the opinion that "light is an emanation from a luminous body." But the newer system comes nearest to the Mosaic fact that light was a distinct production anterior to the sun; and appears to be gaining ground in philosophical minds. Perhaps some harmonizing combination of both theories may reconcile all the phenomena, and best explain the true nature and opera tion of light. It seems most probable that light is an ethereal fluid now universally diffused, and pervading all things, and not an emanation from the sun; but that this luminary has a direct and additional agency upon it, whose effects we daily see. It may not be impertinent to suggest that light seems, like heat, to have two states, active and latent. The active state causes its visible phenomena, and our sensation of daylight. When this subsides, by the sun's departure, into its latent state, our sense of darkness, or night, is produced. The solar rays again emerging on it, have the power of changing its latent state into its active visibility. Light has also the property of being absorbed by, and, we would add, of combining with, all substances; with some wholly, which are then black; with others, the most numerous cases, only in part; and then that portion of them which is not so absorbed emanates from the substance in the color which comes from them to the eye. After having for many years attended to the phenomena of light, we can not but consider it to be a universally-diffused fluid. Thus far the idea would accord with the undulatory theory; but many facts lead us also to conclude that it actually enters into the composition of all or most substances, and, like heat, becomes a latent part of them. From these it is extricable, with more or less rapidity, without the interference of the solar ray, as in the burning of all inflammable bodies, when it passes into its active and visible state. When the two liquids of nitrous gas and oil of turpentine burst into a flame on being mixed, without the approach of any fire, we think we see a striking instance of lat and combined light passing suddenly into the free and active state. So when that brilliant blaze occurs on dipping the iron wire into oxygen gas, it seems to be the latent light combined in the gas, evolving from it instantaneously into its visible form. The sun has nothing to do with these phenomena, nor with any of our artificial illuminations. All these may be deemed latent light, emerging from its combinations into free and active visibility. Yet most of the Newtonian principles and laws concerning it are confirmed by the phenomena which suggested them; and so is much of the new system by those facts which have been ad. Inced in its support. Hence it is most probable that both theories have a foundation in truth, but requir Some further additions and modifications on each side to make them consistent with each other, and emove the apparent contradictions which now keep them in the state of controversial hostility.

scenes and objects around him, without emotion; and, if piety be an inmate of his bosom, without adoring reverence and filial love to Him who made them all? And yet it is most true that the beauties and sublimities of the natural world are exhibited in vain to the generality of mankind. Engaged in other pursuits, or degraded by evil passions, or besotted by self-indulgence, the most magnificent, and the most soothing scenes which mark the power or the goodness of GoD, are equally unnoticed and despised by many who ought to feel most interested in them.

Wandering oft, with brute unconscious gaze
Man marks not" HIM,-" marks not the mighty hand,
That, ever busy, wheels the silent spheres,-
And as, on earth, this grateful change revolves,
With transport touches all the springs of life."

The waters being still dispersed over the face of chaos, the Almighty was pleased to separate them from each other, and restrain their current within proper bounds. He divided those above the firmament from those beneath, and parted the waters of the earth from the watery atmospheres. The firmament* formed on this occasion was called heaven, and, with the separation of the waters, completed the second day of the creation. Light being formed, and the waters separated from each other, the Almighty, on the third day, commanded that the waters beneath the firmament should be gathered together, and dry land appear. The waters, accordingly, fled into deep valleys, and recesses of the earth, the lofty mountains raised their towering heads, and the lesser hills displayed their pleasing summits. As the great Creator designed the earth for the future habitation of man and beast, it was no sooner separated from the waters, than he gave it a prolific virtue, and endowed it with the power of vege tation. The surface was immediately covered with grass for cattle, which was succeeded by herbs, plants, and fruit-trees, proper for the nourishment of man. All those were instantly in a state of perfection, that they might be ready for the use of those inhabitants for whom they were designed.†

The Almighty Creator, having prepared such necessaries as he thought proper on earth, for the use of its intended inhabitants, on the fourth day formed those two great luminaries of heaven called the Sun and Moon! the former of which he appointed to rule the day, and the latter the night. He likewise formed the planets, fixed their gravitation and vicissitudes, and appointed their regular courses, that they might divide time and distinguish the seasons. By means of these luminaries the atmosphere was rarified, and by their influence on the planets, was promoted the office of vegetation.

The creation of the first four days consisting of things inanimate, on the fifth GOD pronounced his omnipotent fiat, for the production of living creatures, saying, "Let the waters bring forth abundantly the moving creature that hath life, and fowls that they may fly above the earth in the open firinament of heaven." He was pleased to form these creatures of different shapes and sizes; some very large, to show the wonders of his creating power, and others exceeding small, to display the goodness of his indulgent providence. After he had created them, he gave them his blessing, by bidding them, be fruitful and multiply; enduing them, at the same time, with a power to propagate, in a prolific manner, their respective species. And thus were completed the works of the fifth day.

In the beginning of the sixth day God created the terrestrial animals, whieh the sacred historian has divided into three classes, namely,

The Hebrew word which we translate firmoment, signifies a curtain, or anything stretched out and extended. The term is not only applied to the sky, but to the atmosphere, and in this place seems particuLarly to refer to that extent of airy inatter which encompasses the earth, and separates the clouds from the

waters on the earth.

Though the first fruits of the earth were all produced without any seeds, by the bare command of God, yet, to perpetuate the same, each kind contained its own seed, which being sown in the earth, or falling, when ripe, from the plants themselves, should continue in succession to the end of the world.

From this expression, some are of opinion that fowls derive their origin from the water as well as the fishes; while others, with reason, suppose them to have been made out of the earth, agreeably the following passage in Gen. ii. 19: "Out of the ground God formed every beast of the field, and every fowl of the air." But these two texts are easily reconciled, when we consider that neither denies what the other asserts. It is to be observed, that some fowls live mostly in the water, others partly on land and partly on water, while a third sort live altogether on land. This diversity countenances the opinion of many of the ancients, that they were made partly out of the water, or of both mixed together. The words in the text are. And God created great whales. But this expression must not be confined to the whale alone; it undoubtedly implies fish of an enonnous size, of which there are various species, that differ both in their form and magnitude.

1. Beasts, or wild creatures, such as lions, tigers, bears, wolves, &c.

2. Cattle, or domestic animals, for the use of men, such as bulls and cows, sheep, hogs, horses, asses, &c.

3. Creeping things, such as serpents, worms, and various kinds of insects.

The omnipotent Creator having made these abundant preparations, crowned his work with the formation of the grand object, MAN, for whose use they were designed. He said, Let us make man in our own image, after our likeness.* And, to show that the creature he was now about to form should be the master-piece of the creation, and (under his auspices) have supremacy over the whole, he further says, and let him have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. In the formation of man's body, GoD made choice of the dust of the earth, after which, having infused into him an immortal spirit, or, as the text says, breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, he became a living soul.†

As soon as Adam began to feel a sense of his existence (having been by his great Creator invested with knowledge as well as power), he was greatly alarmed at the animals that he saw surround him; but the Almighty to ease his mind, assured him, that all the creatures on the earth should be subject to his authority, and to convince him of the great power with which he had invested him, appoint them to appear before him. This was accordingly done, upon which, as they passed, Adam readily gave them such appellations as distinguish their species, and were suitable to their natures.‡

Adam greatly admired the animals to whom he had given names; but, when he saw them all in couples, he was concerned that he alone was without a companion, whose society might contribute to his happiness. The Almighty, knowing his anxiety, threw him into a sound sleep, during which he took away one of his ribs, and, after closing up the orifice, formed it into the body of a woman,|| gave her breath, and, like Adam, she became a living soul.

This was certainly the last acts of the whole creation, which, by the almighty power of GOD, was made perfect in the space of six days; at the close of which the great Creator took a survey of the whole, and pronounced it good, or properly adapted to the uses for which it was intended. The next day (which was the seventh from the beginning of the creation¶) GoD set apart as a time of solemn rest from his labors. He blessed and sanctified it; and to impress mankind with a just sense of his infinite wisdom, power, and goodness, ordered it ever after to be kept sacred.**

• What a noble and majestic expression was this, and how consistent with the nature of that Almighty Being by whom it was spoken! In the formation of other creatures, God says, Let the earth or the waters bring them forth; but here (as if man was to be made only a little lower than the angels) he says, Let us make him in our image- that is, let us make him like ourself; let us endue him with all those noble faculties that will raise him above the animal creation, and make him not only to bear our image in the lower world, but also qualify him for the enjoyment of those blessings that are to be found at our right hand, to the full extent of eternity.

t Josephus says, that after God had created man, he called him Adam, which in the Hebrew signifies red, from the earth with which he was made being of that color.

The great poet, Milton, on this occasion, expresses himself as follows:

"As thus he spake, each bird and beast, behold
Approaching, two and two; these cowering low
With blandishment; each bird stooped on his wing.
I named them as they passed, and understood
Their nature, with such knowledge God endued
My sudden apprehension!"

The general name for woman, in the Hebrew tongue, is Issa; but this woman, being the first, was fafter the fall) called Eve, which signifies the mother of human kind.

Though the sacred historian does not, in a particular manner, mention the formation of Eve till some time after that of Adam, yet it is not in the least to be doubted but they were both created on the same day. This, indeed, evidently appears from the relation of the works of the sixth day, Gen. ii. 27, where, after the words, God created man in his own image, are added, male and female created he them.

It is not directly ascertained at what time or season of the year the world was made; but, from the trees being laden with fruit (of which history informs us our first parents did eat), it is most reasonable to suppose that it was at or near the autumnal equinox.

Thus was the seventh day appointed by God, from the very beginning of the world, to be observed as a day of rest by mankind, in memory of the great benefits received in the formation of the universe. It has been a question, among the learned, whether any sabbath was observed before the promulgation of the law by Moses; but the most judicious commentators agree that Adam and Evo constantly observed the seventh day, and dedicated it in a peculiar manner to the service of the Almighty; and that the first Sabbath, which Philo (one of the most ancient writers) calls the birth-day of the world, was celebrated in Paradise itself; wach pious custom, being transmitted from our first parents to their posterity, became in time so general, that the same Philo calls it the universal festival of mankind.

When Adam first beheld the fair partner of his life, who was presented to him by ner Almighty Creator, he was struck with a secret sympathy, and, finding her of his own likeness and complexion, he exclaimed with rapture,* This is now bone of my bone, and flesh of my flesh. He easily foresaw that the love and union which were now to take place between them were to be lasting. The Divine Hand which conducted the woman to Adam did it in the light of a matrimonial father; and having joined them together, he pronounced this benediction, Be fruitful and multiply, and replenish the earth; intimating, that, as he had given them dominion over every part of the creation, they, by being themselves fruitful in the procreation of children, might live to see the earth replenished with a numerous progeny.

To facilitate the intended happiness of our first parents, the Almighty Creator had provided for their residence a most delightful spot called Eden,† which was watered by an extensive river divided into four streams. It was furnished with all kinds of vegetables, among which were two remarkable trees, one called the Tree of Life,‡

The joy and transport of Adam, on his first sight of Eve, is thus beautifully expressed by Milton:

On she came,
Led by her heavenly Maker (though unseen)
And guided by his voice; not uninformed
Of nuptial sanctity and marriage rites.

Grace was in all her steps, heaven in her eye,

In every gesture dignity and love.

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I, overjoyed, could not forbear aloud:

"This turn hath made amends; thou hast fulfilled

Thy words, Creator bounteous and benign!

Giver of all things fair, but fairest this
Of all thy gifts!"

There is probably no subject on which such a diversity of opinions has been entertained as concerning the site of the Paradise in which the progenitors of mankind were placed. Mohammedans even believe that it was in one of the seven heavens from which Adam was cast down upon the earth after the fall "Some," says Dr. Clarke, "place it in the third heaven, others in the fourth; some within the orbit of the moon, others in the moon itself; some in the middle regions of the air, or beyond the earth's attraction; some on the earth, others under the earth, and others within the earth." Every section of the earth's surface has also, in its turn, had its claim to this distinction advocated. From this mass of conflicting opinions we shall select the two which have been supported by the most emin authorities, and which seem to have the strongest probabilities in their favor.

It has been assumed that in whatever situation, otherwise probable, the marks by which Moses characterizes the spot are to be found, there we may suppose that we have discovered the site of Paradise. In fixing the first probability, the all but unquestionable fact that the known rivers Euphrates and Tigris are mentioned as two of the four rivers of Eden, is of the greatest importance; and therefore the most exact inquirers have not sought for the spot at any point distant from those rivers. The Euphrates and Tigris being thus identified with two of the rivers of Eden, there has remained a great latitude in the choice of a site for the garden, some looking for it near the source of those rivers, and others seeking it in the low and flat plains through which they flow in the lower part of their course.

The first position places Elen in Armenia, near the sources of the four great rivers Euphrates, Tigris (Hiddekel), Phasis (Pison), and the Araxes (Gihon). The similarity of sound between Phasis and Pison is considered to strengthen this opinion, as does also the similarity of meaning between the Hebrew name Gihon and the Greek Araxes, both words denoting swiftness.

One consideration that induced a preference for this site is, that the advocates of this opinion considered "heads," as applied to the rivers which went forth from the garden, to mean "sources," which would therefore render it natural to look for the terrestrial paradise in a mountainous or hilly country, which only could supply the water necessary to form four heads of rivers. But others, those who would fix the site toward the other extremity of the two known rivers, reckon it sufficient, and indeed more accordant with the text, to consider the "four heads" not as sources, but as channels-that is, that the Euphrates and Tigris united before they entered the garden, and after leaving it divided again, and entered the Persian gulf by two mouths; thus forming four channels, two above and two below the garden, each called by a different name. "The river or channel," says Dr. Wells, "must be looked upon as a highway crossing over a forest, and which may be said to divide itself into four ways, whether the division be made above or below the forest." With this view, some writers are content to take the present Shat-ul-Arab (the single stream which is formed by the confluence of the Tigris and Euphrates, and which afterward divides to enter the gulf) as the river that went through the garden; but as Major Rennell has shown that the two great rivers kept distinct courses to the sea until the time of Alexander, although at no great distance of time afterward they became united, other writers are contented to believe that such a junction and subsequent divergence did, either in the time of Moses or before the deluge, exist in or near the place indicated. The deluge must have made great changes in the beds of these and many other rivers, and inferior agencies have alone been sufficient greatly to alter the ancient channels of the Tigris and Euphrates. This is not only rendered obvious by an inspection of the face of the country, but the memory of such events is preserved by local traditions, and they are even specified in the writings of the Arabian geogra phers and historians. Thus, then, of the two most probable conjectures, one fixes the terrestrial Paradise in Armenia, between the sources of the Euphrates, Tigris, Phasis, and Araxes; and the other identifies the land of Eden with the country between Bagdad and Bussorah; and, in that land, some fix the garden near the latter city, while others, more prudently, only contend that it stood in some part of this territory where an ancient junction and subsequent separation of the Euphrates and Tigris took place.

This tree is supposed to have been so called from its having in it a virtue not only to repair the animal spirits, as other nourishment does, but likewise to preserve and maintain them in the same equal temper and state wherein they were created; that is to say, without affecting the party who used it with pain, disease, and decay.

and the other the Tree of Knowledge,* by the latter of which Good and Evil were to be distinguished. Into this earthly paradise did the Almighty conduct Adam and Eve, giving them orders to take care of the garden, and superintend the plants. He granted them permission to eat of the fruit of every tree, except that of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. This he strictly charged them not even to touch, on the penalty of incurring his displeasure, and thereby entailing upon themselves and their descendants, mortality, diseases, and death. With this small restraint God left them in the garden of Eden, where everything was pleasing to the sight, and accommodated to their mutual enjoyment.

Thus fixed in the most beautiful situation, possessed of innocence, devoid of guilt, and free from care, the happiness of our first parents appeared complete:

"Perfection crowned with wondrous frame,
And peace and plenty smiled around;
They felt no grief, they knew no shame,
But tasted heaven on earthly ground."

was transient, their innocence fleeting, and their exemption

But, alas! their bliss from care very short.

All animals at this time were social in their tempers, except the serpent,† who was equally subtle and envious. This malignant creature, viewing the felicity of the first pair with those painful sensations which are natural to depravity of heart, des termined to allure them from their innocence, and stimulate them to the crime of disobedience. In consequence of this infernal design, he began by persuading Eve to taste the prohibited Tree of Knowledge, telling her, that, by so doing, both herself and her husband would immediately be sensible of the difference between Good and Evil, acquire much additional happiness, and even not be inferior, in point of wisdom, to Gon himself.

Unhappily the artifices of the serpent prevailed. Eve gazed on the tempting fruit till her appetite was inflamed; its beautiful hue made her fancy it a most delicious food; and she at length sacrificed her duty to gratify her curiosity. She stretched forth her presumptuous hand, took of the baneful fruit, and ate her own destruction

She plucked, she ate;

Earth felt the wound, and nature from her seat,
Sighing through all her works, gave sign of wo
That all was lost."

Pleased with the taste of the fruit, and fancying herself already in possession of tha additional happiness the serpent had promised her, she flew to Adam, and entices him to participate in her crime.

He scrupled not to eat

Against his better knowledge-
Earth trembled from her entrails, as again

In pangs, and Nature gave a second groan :

Sky lowered, and muttering thunder, some sad drops
Wept, at completing of the mortal sin."

Remorse, the natural consequence of guilt, now opened their eyes to each other's nakedness. No longer shielded by innocence from shame, they were mutually shocked at the reciprocal indecency of their appearance: art was now substituted to conceal what their criminality rendered too obvious; they contrived aprons made of figleaves, and highly applauded themselves for acquiring, at the expense of their integrity, the faculty of invention, to remove difficulties which their former simplicity prevented their perceiving.

While they were in a state of innocence, they no sooner heard the voice of God ap

There are various opinions concerning the nature and properties of the Tree of Knowledge, which was forbidden to our first parents. Some think it had a baneful quality, directly opposite to that of the Tree of Life; while others imagine it is thus called by the sacred historian, because, directly after Adam and Eve had eaten of it, they became sensible of the good they had lost, and the evil they had incurred, by their disobedience.

† It is generally thought that this was the work of Satan, who, to effect his purposes, assumed the figure of a serpent.

It may appear strange to some that the serpent should be here represented as having the power of speech, and that Eve, on that account, should not have been greatly alarmed. Josephus and some others allege that all animals were endued with speech and reason before the fall. But other interpreters more plausibly observe, that the meaning here must be that the serpent, by his actions, conveyed the same ideas to the mind of Eve as words of the same import would have done. For example, she seeing the serpent eat of the forbidden fruit without receiving any damage, concluded it was innocent, and was therefore induced by his example to make the trial herself.

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