Page images
PDF
EPUB

sider the strong expression used in the record,

of every living thing of all flesh,in the same sense as we find it in various other parts of Scripture; and, indeed, as such expressions are often used in our own, and in other languages, that is, not as literally meaning every created being over the whole globe, but merely a great number.

Michaelis* remarks, “ the Jews have well “ observed that the expression all, every, is not “ to be understood, on all occasions, with the

mathematical sense of all; because it is also “ used to signify many. Thus, in Isaiah xxiv. 10. “ where we read “every house is shut up,” “ Kimchi most truly observes, though he says

every house, he only means many; as it is

said, all countries came into Egypt. And “ if we reflect upon our own native tongues, " we shall find that we often use the term all “ for many, or most.

We have also a re“ markable example of this strong mode of “ speech in 1 Kings, xviii. 10, where Obadiah “ affirms thus forcibly and solemnly to Elijah: As the Lord thy God liveth, there is no nation

* Michaelis was a celebrated German theologian and biblical critic, who died in 1791. The extensive knowledge which he had acquired in biblical philology, as well as in every department of learning connected with the study of the Scriptures, enabled him to form very accurate notions on the original institutions and language of the Hebrews. He was Professor of Hebrew, Arabic, and Syriac, in the University of Göttingen.

or kingdom, whither my lord hath not sent to “ seek thee :” which affirmation, though uni“ versal in its terms, was evidently not de

signed to be universal in its signification; and “ innumerable instances of the same mode of

speech occur in the Sacred Writings."*

We have some reason to doubt, from the fossil remains of animals now discovered, which have not yet been found alive upon the present earth,

, whether every living creature was included in this strong expression: and though, from the remarkable circumstance of the similarity of all languages in certain common expressions, and in the universal tradition of the Deluge found amongst the most distant and savage nations, we feel assured that the whole existing race of man on the whole earth, has sprung from Noah and his family; we have no evidence to lead us to the same conclusion with respect to quadrupeds, or birds found in such isolated countries as New Holland, where the species so entirely differ from every kind, known on other parts of the earth. With respect, also, to the lower classes of animated beings, including

Comp. Estim. ii. p. 214.

reptiles, insects, and animalcula, to which latter there seems no bound in the creation, we feel inclined to believe that a new creative power was: exercised after the Deluge; and we may, in this instance, say with the Inspired Psalmist, He took away their breath, " and they died, and returned to their dust : He sent forth His Spirit, and they were created, and He renewed the face of the " earth.*

It may, perhaps, here be asked, What reason can be assigned for the slow and gradual course of this awful judgment; since, if the first formation of the bed of the sea were an instantaneous operation, the destruction of the earth by a deluge could, and probably would, be equally rapid. But various good and sufficient reasons may be given, for a gradual, rather than an instantaneous, operation, in the case of the Deluge. And, first, we must consider, that, by this method, the great moral impression which was intended to be made upon the family of Noah, and upon all succeeding generations, would be much more effectual, by the long continuance of their terror, than if they had been stunned, and, as it were, thunderstruck, by a dreadful, but rapid, calamity. Again,

* See Note, next page.

we must remember, that as the All-Wise Ruler of the Universe had ulterior views for the welfare of his human creatures, a gradual operation acting upon what was to be the new earth, would render it better fitted for a habitation for mankind, than if the bed of the sea, with its soft sediments, had, by one violent convulsive throe, been elevated above the surface, and thus left dry, in the most deranged and ruinous condition. Besides, any such sudden convulsion must have caused so violent an agitation, that the natural means of preservation prescribed to Noah, by the Almighty Himself, must have been overpowered by the preternatural vortex into which the vessel would have been plunged.

Thus, although we can in no way account for the Deluge, but by supernatural agency, yet the command given to Noah to make use of so common a means of safety as a floating vessel, shews us that it was the intention of God to allow natural means, or the laws of nature, to take their course, after the first impulse had been given by His preternatural decree.*

* The experience of every year ought to teach us caution in coming to any determined conclusion with respect to extinct races of animals. A great portion of the earth still remains unexplored, and every year makes us acquainted with some new thing in the animal world, with the existence of which we were before unacquainted,

167

CHAPTER VIII.

General View of the existing Surface.-Force of the Waves.

--Principles of Stratification.Cavnus Limestone.Gibraltar.--The Plains of the Earth.Of South America.Of Africa.Of Asia.-Of Europe.-- Result of this View.--Chalk Basins.-- That of Paris, a Guide to all similar Basins.-Salt Deposits.--Coal Formations.Evidences of Coal being a Marine, and not a Lucustrine Formation.

Thus have we followed, in as concise a manner as the subject will admit of, the traditions as well as the history of this awful event, both supported by the corroborative evidence of numerous physical facts in all parts of the world : and we cannot doubt its having been the intention of the Almighty, that the memory of so signal a judgment should be for ever deeply imprinted on the human mind, even in the most distant and isolated corners of the earth. should not be doing justice to so interesting a subject, if we left it, without taking a general view of the present surface of the habitable globe, and further tracing, as we shall every where be able to do, the lasting monuments of it, so universally presented to our consideration.

When we consider, then, the state of the earth, as it now is, we find it divided into sea and land; but so unequally, that the ocean

But we

« PreviousContinue »