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Connexion of Science and Revelation

There Can Exist No Discrepancy Between True Revelation Of The Bible.

Amongst the most predominant impulses of mankind may classed curiosity, or the desire of attaining knowledge of those things of which we are ignorant. Although this feeling may degenerate into a mean and petty vice: it exercises perhaps more influence for good than any other tendency of which the human mind is susceptible. From it spring into existence those arts which adorn, and those sciences which elevate and humanize mankind. We see it in the first efforts of infancy, in its tiny endeavour to become acquainted with each object within its reach: in the destructive researches of the boy, as he makes the knife and the hammer become acquainted with things for which they have no affinity; and in the man of maturer years, as he wanders through the ponderous tomes of former ages, in his search for the history of the past, or soaring amongst the orbs of space, in his eagerness to become acquainted with their beautiful mysteries, or seeking, ‘mid the rocky tablets of the earth, for the knowledge of the day of its formation.

What impelled the alchymist, in the day when the world was young, to forego the pleasures of society, and devote his time to the investigation of the properties of matter? What gave power to the oracles of antiquity, and reared the temples to the spirits of delusion? What caused the mariner to brave the terror of of unknown ocean, in the search for the lands in the distant West?

Though this impulse is thus the chief lever of instruction, and is, when properly directed, the hand-maiden of religion: still its tendency may become mischievous, and its investigations uncertain, whenever it throws off the guidance of reason, to follow its more brilliant but less trustworthy companion, the imagination. But even then, at the touch of truth the tinsel flies off, and reveals the metal in its true light.

For a time the chronology of the Bible had rested on a firm foundation. Its history had been authenticated by the records of every nation, and its truths vindicated by the existence of the very people whose lives it had delineated: when arose one who supposed the records of that nation, whose monuments existed before the commencement of profane history, would point out the landmarks to the knowledge of those dim and distant ages when nations were still in their infancy.

Fortunately for the student, time had done little to efface the monuments of Egypt, whose mild and placid atmosphere left man alone to despoil his own formations. Man too, had been gentle here; and if the hieroglyphics told the truth, here were records of events still existing, that put even the antiquity of the Mosaic narrative to the blush. Kings had reigned, and their dynasties had been forgotten by kings and dynasties that had succeeded to their thrones: and these too had been forgotten in the long line of kings that preceded the Pharoahs of Mosaical memory; contemporaries, no doubt, though much older than the heroes and demigods of Grecian and Roman history. China, though governed by the brother of the sun, had not seen the corner stone of Egypt laid; nor had she commenced the long wall that closed to the barbarians the view of the celestial empire, at the time the last pyramid was finished. In a word, Time himself was but a youth when compared with this ancient dame; and Methuselah but a baby, if manhood is recorded by years. What was Babylon of ancient renown, or Tyre, the queen of cities, compared to Thebes with its hundred gates? Time, time, time! could have only done all this. You may in a few years clasp the world in an iron zone; you may level mountains and fill up valleys, that the fire-horse may go snorting unmolested on his way; you may walk beneath a mighty river, with a nation’s commerce over your head, without danger; or bid rivers flow diversely, a thousand miles from their course; you may plant a continent with people; and raise them to a high state of refinement in a few hundred years; or you may bid ten thousand temples rise to the honour of God. But what are such works, when compared to the monuments of Egypt, but as the ephemeral objects lasting a day, fit only for a nation’s pastime, to be wafted away by the first breath of heaven? And then, too, as to arts and refinement—could Egypt’s advance in them be attained in a few thousand years? What if scarce ten centuries have elapsed since refinement was trampled under the feet of barbarians, and the arts lost in the gloom of the dark ages? Can your knowledge stand the test of the ancient science here shadowed forth? or your arts reach as high as the ancient knowledge? Your inventions are but discoveries, and your discoveries are but such as were attained in our first flights of science. You know the structure of the elements, the lore of the stars, and the laws of the universe:—why, the very things that but to guess at immortalizes you, were with us but the common topics of childhood’s discourse.

And so in the first researches of geologists, how the wise ones laughed, that there were some still stupid enough to believe that this earth of ours had not seen six thousand summers, and that the moon and the stars were but a few years old. Why the very rocks could tell them a different story: and the earth herself, did they but listen to her teachings, show them the folly of  their belief. Chance threw the Scriptures again into the hands of these seekers after knowledge, when lo!—a wonder!—“In beginning God created the heavens and the earth,” looms forth in visible characters. Well, the Scriptures may be true after all: for they do not state how long an interval existed between that beginning, when the heavens and the earth were created, and the first day of our era, when the spirit of God moved over the face of the waters; for only from that day when “God said, Let there be light. and there was light” was this world of my importance to man; for only then was the commencement made towards fitting this earth for his abode.

Day by day, under the omnific hand of the great I Shall Be, grew this orb more lovely; until crowned with beauty, full of all the animal and vegetable life most conducive to man’s happiness:  the end was attained, and man was called into existence.* But science  had found out, in its previous flights, a theory more pleasing to itself than the mode of creation detailed in the Bible: it had found out, under the auspices of the younger Herschell, a system much more vast; a never-ceasing, unvarying progression  from chaos to perfection.  It penetrated the vast arcana of space, and in those distant fields which the telescope had brought within view, beheld numerous chaotic masses, embryo worlds, assuming an orbicular shape, preparatory to their taking position among their sister planets. But again was the Bible triumphant. Scarcely had the world become impressed with the idea that these nebulous masses in the heavens were planets in formation, when the telescope of Lord Ross proclaimed the fallacy of the theory. It proved these nebulae to be galaxies of stars, in endless profusion; suns themselves, and centres of systems like, or still more beautiful than our own. Not that the Bible would teach us that creation ceased “when the foundations of the earth were laid,” but that the secret moving power was still unrevealed, and that man should only see to wonder and adore.

*In the early ages of the world, when the wants of man were few, and his desires easily satisfied, he attained an age which still surprises the world, but which was needful at that time, so as to enable him quickly to fulfill the divine command, “be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it.”
If persons in our time, living to an advanced age, have numbered hundreds as their descendants, how rapid must have been the increase in those antediluvian times. As the increase proceeded in geometrical progression, a whole nation might have been formed from the descendants of one set of parents, even in the progenitors’ life-time.
Is it a wonder then, that if we, even in our short and puny existence, forget the future in the present, they should only have languished for the joys of this world, when death appeared so remote?
After the flood, the age of man was reduced to a period of one hundred and twenty years; but as they preserved their vigour to the last, the earth must have filled up very rapidly with inhabitants; and as the descendants of Noah were civilized, not savage, nations were founded in the course of a few hundred years, and cities built, whose remains are extant even to this day.

And thus must ever the path of science be lighted, if she would not wander astray, by the torch of Scripture, and studded here and there, in its most perilous ascents, with the guide-posts of truth. Year by year may pass away, and become lost in the gulf of oblivion; but her accents exist in the pages of the genius that hails each new-born day as the guiding angel to those researches which render the greatness of God more apparent.

And oh! what transport to the ardent mind to gaze undazzled upon the wonders of creation; to investigate the grand machinery of nature; to behold in all the same simple rules at work, the same perfection attained, from the economy of a plant to the structure of a sentient being; from the smallest globule that exists in nature, to the lamest orb that traverses space. But how small the pleasure, how lessened the desire, were each great secret open to our view. Constantly before us are enacted miracles, as great as exist in nature; but because they are of daily occurrence, we exhibit neither feelings of wonder nor surprise. Years dawn and wane, and are entombed in the memory of the past; yet we see the same surprising accuracy in the workings of the universe, that called forth the admiration of the Chaldean seer, as he gazed at the starry hosts of heaven, from the first watch-tower in the cause of science. Did the sun make its appearance once in a thousand years, then the most careless observer would behold it with admiration and awe: did we feel but once in the existence of life the moon’s soft, trembling, and musical light, how would prayer ascend to the Omnipotent, in the low, sweet voice of the soul. And yet, though the sun greets us each morning, do we follow it on its mission of joy, as it calls into existence from the teeming earth beauty in all its myriad forms?—exponent of its Maker’s beneficence, do we follow its visible teachings, and, like it, live in the lives of others, gladdening the hearts of our brethren with the rays of kindness, calling into existence the beautiful flowers of morality, as we hasten to perform our daily course in the sphere of existence?—or do we merely labour for a useless brightness, and like the sun on the wastes of Africa, despoil of existence whatever plant comes within the beams of our influence?

And the pale orb of night, did she visit us less frequently, might allay by her sweet influence the fever of our passions; might infuse into our systems some part of her own holy calmness, and cause to spring forth the germs of contentment and peace. But who now regard her silent watch in the heavens? who bathe their spirit in her placid waters, that they may become freed from the impurity of earthly desires, so as to be fitted in time for entering within those portals of joy, where enters not the light of the sun or the stars, but the rays of eternal glory?

But yet the lessons that they teach us in their daily visitations are more teeming with love, and more full of beauty. They tell us that we may commence anew the morning of our existence; that He who made them and us is as beneficent to-day as He was in the day that is passed; and that if we feel but the desire, we may enter His dwelling, and seek with His angels for that knowledge which eternity cannot exhaust: and oh! what joy to the soul, to pass our hours in the investigation of the beauty of His tabernacles, and following with the intellect the various windings of nature; and day by day, as our knowledge becomes greater and our desires more intense, to feel more meek in spirit, more elevated in mind, by the thought that this great Being, the Creator of all we see, will ever be, if we are sincere in our wishes, our guide and friend; and that our love for Him will be increased in the ratio of our knowledge, and our happiness in the ratio of the good we do our fellow-beings.

S. Solis.