Home page The Occident and American Jewish Advocate Jews in the Civil War Jews in the Wild West History of Palestine The Occident Virtual Library Shopping Mall of Zion AHAVA Hero Products 250x250


Bible Truths.

By S. S.

No. 1.
Introductory Remarks

In an age when practical infidelity marches hand in hand with theoretical religion—when all that is ancient and holy must submit to a synthetical or analytical test—when faith is considered as the dream of childhood, and religion a whim or a prejudice—to enable us to controvert opinions advanced with so much confidence and temerity, we must go back to first principles, and examine our religious edifice, and see whether, after enduring unfalteringly for ages the attacks of bigotry and oppression, its foundations have become as weak as the doubtful and faint-hearted would seem to imagine.

These doubts or fears would never exist, nor do they exist, except in the minds of those who build up their happiness upon the hopes and joys of a temporal existence, who, whilst they devote at least a third part of their earthly days to fit them for (what they term) the duties of this life, seem to forget that some little preparation is required to qualify them for the <<243>> position in which they may wish to be placed in the world to come.

But, notwithstanding the preponderance we give to those pursuits that tend merely to an earthly advancement, we cannot deny that, if there be a future existence, in which we are to take part, the contemplation of that future state must be of the first importance to us; and if this future state is an eternal, and not a temporary one, we should bring to bear on it all the light that a calm judgment and a cultivated understanding can produce.

‘Tis useless to repeat the various arguments adduced from nature and experience to prove the necessity of a self-existent Creator. The self-love of the most reckless would rise up in indignation if he were told that his actions proclaimed him a practical infidel; but, as mankind are divided in their ideas regarding the Supreme, and the duty we owe Him, religion professes to teach these truths,—and the truth of religion is the theme of our present investigation. We may talk as long as we please about a natural or innate religion—the arguments upon which the assumption of a natural religion were based received their quietus long since, by a writer (whose name I do no recollect) who compared the different unrevealed religions existing amongst different races of mankind, and deduced from this comparison that, if one tribe or sect bowed down in adoration before senseless stone, and considered it no evil to feast upon a brother man, whilst others considered it sinful to eat of the flesh of the beasts of the field, which they held as objects of worship, if indeed there was a natural, innate religion, climate and place must have a great influence over it.

The religion, then, that existing records prove to be the first revealed, demands our first consideration; and, if the proofs of its authenticity are unimpeachable, and it does not recognise either time or change in its dogmas, our investigation will end with its examination.

The doctrines of the first religion professing to be revealed are contained in the book which we call the Law, claiming to have been written by Moses, the son of Amram, and gives us a history of the creation of this planet, at a period dating back <<244>> about 5,600 years, together with certain laws, proclaimed at Sinai and other places, relating to our duties towards God and each other. The argument that the world existed eternally, and was only fitted for the subsistence of man at the time named as the commencement of its history, will not bear the test of criticism, because time and eternity are so distinct in their natures that they can never be blended together. Eternal is without commencement; and, were we to commence walking upon a road which had no beginning, how should we arrive at any fixed point upon it? Existence, then, is this road; 5,611 is a point upon it; and, consequently, no matter how far distant this beginning was, it did begin, or we could never have arrived at the place or point we now occupy.

As this truth, then, is admitted, that the earth was created, and not a self-existent body, and as profane history alludes to a universal deluge, which the Bible places in the year 1656, A. M., it is only necessary here to examine the period preceding that deluge, and see if it was of a sufficient duration to allow the various natural phenomena to develope themselves. It will appear to all reasoning minds that the compiler of the Bible deemed the moral and civil laws, and the duties of man, of the first importance to us; for, whilst nearly five whole books are devoted to the detail of these, six chapters only contain the account of the creation and the history of mankind to the deluge. These six chapters convey to us little more than a statement of facts in a chronological order. It is affirmed by some that the six days of creation relate to six periods, and not days in our sense of the word and geologists go so far as to say that the earth itself presents facts capable of a mathematical demonstration, which prove that it must have existed for indefinite periods of years—that prior to the formation of man, it must have undergone numerous and violent changes, each succeeded by a long period of calm and repose.*

* Lyell’s works on geology will afford ample interest to those who choose to study the principles of the science.

It is not necessary here to enumerate the various series of which each strata composing the crust of the earth is composed; sufficient for our purpose to state <<245>> that each series appears in regular order, and so far, though part of the intervening numbers of a series may be altogether wanting, a higher number has never been found beneath a lower number of the order, or, the reverse. That, from the appearance which these rocky strata present, (with the exception of the primary, composed of hard and crystallized rocks, such as granite, &c.,) they must have been at one time in a state of solution, and deposited in a horizontal position, on a level foundation, submerged beneath the sea, which, it is supposed, at some period of time, to have changed its bed. That the upper series of these strata contain shells and other fossil remains, the species to which they belong having become extinct,* probably long before the creation of man; and it is only in the uppermost series of all that there are any remains of animals or plants identical with those now in existence. That the rocks composing the primary strata must have been forced upward by volcanic or other violent action, in a soft or melted state, after the formation of the secondary and upper strata, as appears by their present position, having in most cases thrown the superincum­bent strata upward, and shooting between its various layers. That, as no similar strata have been formed within the cognizance of history, nor any commotions† capable of bringing to the <<246>> earth’s surface the primary rocks now existing have occurred, it must be at once apparent that their formation took place at a period prior to that at which we date the creation.

* The extinction of a species is by itself no proof of an anterior creation. Of some animals and birds known to the ancients, no living specimens now exist. Only within the last two centuries the Dodo (a heavy and ungainly bird), an inhabitant of the islands Mauritius and Bourbon, became extinct. The bones of the Mastodon, found in Ohio, and of the Megatherium, in Paraguay, being imbedded in the soil above all the series of stratified rocks, shows too that the date of their existence is comparatively modern, living perhaps at a time when this continent was inhabited by a race of men farther advanced in civilization than were the Indians or Mexicans found to be by Columbus and those who followed after him in seeking out the wonders of (to them) a new world. As the temperate of the earth has undoubtedly been changed in some latitudes, and as this change is supposed to have been produced by a different disposition of land and water to that which formerly existed, which disposition most probably took place at the deluge, the change of temperature from hot to cold, thus suddenly produced, would itself account for the extinction of those species which required for their habits and formation an almost tropical heat.

† 2,025 years ago an island rose from the sea in the Grecian Archipelago, succeeded by another in the same place 1,571 years afterwards, and followed by a third 144 years since. “These islands were composed of hard rock. and in that last formed were beds of limestone and of other rocks, containing shells.” The mountain of Jorullo, in Mexico, was raised to the height of 1,600 feet in the year 1759 of the common era. May not similar and long-continued eruptions or elevations have taken place at earlier periods, when the world was less populous and less learned, and which passed by unobserved?
But how is it, if the earth’s surface was formed by layers, at successive periods of time, that only a few of these layers are ever found at one place? What became of the missing ones?

Surely, if the theory admits of a mathematical demonstration, there must be some vast field where these missing parts of the various strata have been collected together, yet unexplored, and well worthy of the researches of modern geologists—not that we intend to throw doubt upon the useful truths that geology presents; for, if the whole theory was proved, it would not invalidate the truth of biblical history (as I will show hereafter), but merely to suggest that those who labour in the investigation of this science may sometimes arrive at false conclusions. It is not long since it was “a received opinion among certain geologists that the first animals which were created were of an exceeding simple structure, that they gradually became more complex in their frame, and at last the highly complicated mechanism of the human body was the completion of those repeated efforts of nature towards perfection.” It was farther “maintained that there had been an uninterrupted succession in the animal kingdom, effected by means of generation, from the earliest ages of the world to the present day; that new species and transformations have been gradually produced by the growth of new parts, originating from certain efforts of the animal to fulfill particular instincts (such as the foot of a bird becoming webbed, from repeated efforts to swim); and that the ancient animals, which we find in a fossil state, however different in structure they may be, were fact the ancestors of those now living.” Did we carry this argument back, we might say that <<247>> these first simple creations were produced by matter striving to become something that it was not before; or still farther, that matter itself was produced by something which had a desire to be something else. But the fallacy of such reasoning fortunately was proved by the microscope, and those forms whose supposed simple structure was said to have belonged to an earlier creation, have been proved to possess as complex a mechanism as those of a later day; and from the infusoria, only apparent to our sight through the aid of a powerful magnifier, up to man himself, are forms to be found of such a complicated nature that they could not have existed except through the power of an Omnipotent Creator.

Although, from the laconic account of the creation contained in the first chapter of Genesis, it is impossible to decide whether those five periods, called days, preceding the creation of animals or man, were of the length of twenty-four of our hours, or not it must be presumed that, from the moment the earth commenced her diurnal course, they were of that length, and either that she did not revolve on her axis until the creation was completely finished, or that she commenced to do so as soon as the sun was placed in the firmament of heaven, prior to the creation of animal life. The periods before the existence of the sun being measured by a different method (for the earth could not be governed by the sun prior to its existence, unless it had a rotary motion given to it at the time of its creation), might have been of a very long duration; but, as no animal life existed then, this view would give no support to the geological theory.

It seems to me, however, that too little importance has been given by geologists to the immense change that must have been effected in the crust of the earth by so powerful an instrument as was the deluge, “when all the fountains of the great deep were broken up, and the windows of heaven were opened,” and the waters extended upwards fifteen cubits above the highest mountains. We see in our day the whole outward face of nature changed by a flood or an earthquake,—but what a pigmy power are these, when compared to the mighty deluge! When the fountains of the deep were broken up, its crustaceous inhabitants that found no safety in flight might well have left their shells, <<248>> to gratify the curiosity of modern science and, though the sea might have returned no more to its ancient beds, the fragments of mountains, torn from their place of rest, and beaten small by the tremendous currents, together with the vast body of matter held in solution by the accumulated waters, might, upon settling as the waters were dried up, have formed upon the ancient burial grounds of the ocean (for I suppose the inhabitants of the sea are no less mortal than those of the land) the upper strata (the ancient bottom of the ocean forming the secondary), as it now exists. If the primary strata did not exist previously, there were sufficient agencies at work to have produced it then; for is it to be supposed that, whilst the face of outward nature was undergoing so complete a destruction, no internal throes agitated its bosom?

But to go back to our argument—if we say it was necessary that the world should undergo certain changes and progressions to fit it for the abode of man,* we at once circumscribe the power of his Maker for, if we base our reasoning upon the rules of analysis, that certain results are produced by certain and strictly defined causes, how are we to reconcile man’s being and creation? Instead of having been created in the full vigour of manhood, he should have first undergone the successive stages of infancy, childhood, and youth and, as experience teaches us that the vegetable kingdom is governed by the same progressive laws, therefore the acorn must have preceded the mighty oak of the forest. But as we have shown that the fallacy of the first ideas deduced from the earlier investigations in geology have been proven, may we not suppose that later examinations and a higher <<249>> degree of science may place its truths side by side with those of the Bible, without giving a forced construction to the details of the latter, which, by ascribing all things to an Omnipotent and Omniscient Creator, at once solves all apparent enigmas in the creation?

* The nebular theory of Herschell, alluded to in a former article, was at one time firmly believed in as the geological one is now; and he would have been a bold man who would have dared at that time to have disputed its truth. And yet where now are its supporters? Science strode onwards, and those who followed in her footsteps had to acknowledge, with wonder and admiration, that the embryo worlds, whose formation, they supposed, was developing itself under their observation, were centres of systems perhaps older and more magnificent than our own; and, humble and abashed, their soaring spirits bowed down before the light of revelation, acknowledging that the ways of the Omnipotent were past finding out, and mankind should scan with reverential eye those mysteries exceeding their comprehension.