« PreviousContinue »
various parts of creation were produced in six separate and distinct days, which, from their evenings, and their mornings, must have each comprised one revolution of the Globe upon its axis. On the contrary, we have seen, that the very remarkable coincidence of the first visible appearance of the moon, at the very time alone when she could have been first seen from the earth, (viz. on the third evening of her revolution,) affords us the strongest corroborative evidence of the truth of that part of the record. Since we have found reason to conclude, that, at the end of the third day, all those laws by which the earth was afterwards to be governed, (excepting those of animated beings which had not yet been created,) had begun to act; that the various influences of the sun, and of the moon, were from this time forth to be in force; it now remains for us to proceed to the consideration of these laws, and of these influential causes; and to endeavour to discover whether they are not sufficient to produce many of the secondary appearances, so general over the whole surface of the earth.
Constant Changes in Nature.—Origin of Secondary Forma
tions.— Primitive Soils, for the Nourishment of a Primitive Vegetation.- Constant Circulation in the Fluids of the Earth.--Springs, Brooks, and Rivers.— The Tides, Their Cause Explained.— The Currents of the Ocean, and their present existing System.-Effects naturally arising from these powerful Causes.
Taken in a general sense, we may, perhaps not unaptly, liken our earth, surrounded with its atmosphere, to the various contents of a vessel hermetically sealed up, and kept in constant agitation. This continued movement would cause a constant change in the relative situation of every part of its contents. But the exact number, or quantity, would for ever remain the same.
No extraneous substance could find admittance; no particle from within, could escape.
Thus every created atom now contained within our atmosphere must have been so, under some form or other, “ in the begin
It requires but a slight glance around us to perceive, that by the laws to which all things have been submitted by the Almighty, (to which we generally give the unmeaning name of the
laws of nature,) matter is constantly assuming a different form. The stately oak moulders into dust, and becomes food for other plants. The ox changes grass into flesh; his flesh passes at his death into other beings, who, in their turn, undergo the same metamorphosis. All created beings move, without ceasing, from one form to another. Man himself, being laid in the earth, fertilizes the soil: his flesh becomes food for plants, which are eaten by animals, which man, in his turn, devours. His Creator has announced to him this great truth, 6. For dust thou art, and “ unto dust thou shalt return."* Even the most solid portions of the mineral world are not exempted from the influence of these laws. The primitive and solid granite, when acted upon hy cold, † by heat, or by moisture, becomes
* To say, with Pythagoras, that the soul of a man can pass into the body of a bird, is to extend to a moral sense, this great truth in natural history. Nothing can be more contrary to reason or revelation than this idea ; but, on the other hand, nothing is more certain, than that the alimentary matter of which a body is composed, is transformed into the flesh of the vulture that devours it.
+ Mr. Scoresby, in his account of Spitzbergen, says, “ The invariably broken state of the rocks,” (upon a high mountain, the ascent of which he was attempting,) “ ap
peared to be the effect of frost. No solid rock was met with, and no earth or soil. On calcareous rocks not im
slowly, but gradually decomposed. Its minute parts become detached, and are removed far from their parent rock, by the action of the running waters. Frequent movement rubs off their angles; they assume a new form; they are known by a new name; they become sand or gravel. In either of these new forms, they are hurried to the great deep, and add their mite to that immense treasury. The same currents in the ocean bring the same materials, until either the one becomes expended, or the other differently directed. A bed, or stratum, is formed, which, under certain circumstances, becomes hardened into stone. It again assumes a new form, and is again known by yet another name; it becomes the free stone, or conglomerate of geologists. Thus we may trace the materials of secondary formations to the decomposition of the primitive creations.
“ The primitive rocks of Werner are the following, amounting to fourteen: granite, gneiss,
micaceous schistus or mica slate, argillaceous “ schistus or clay slate, primitive limestone,
primitive trap, including hornblend and greenstone, serpentine, porphyry, sienite,
“ pervious to moisture, the effect is such as might be " expected; but how frost can operate on quartz, is not so easily understood.”
Arctic Regions, vol. 1. p. 122.
topaz rock, quartz rock, primitive finty slate, “ white stone, and primitive gypsum.
“ Some geologists consider this catalogue as “ too limited, and include jasper, hornstone,
pitchstone, and puddingstone, in the number “ of primitive rocks. All these rocks, though
some of them be occasionally found mingled
or alternated in strata with each other, are “ crystalline deposits, and are absolutely without
any trace of organic remains, either of plants or animals. All rocks not included in the foregoing catalogue (except those called allu
vial) are termed secondary, because they are “ found to contain more or less of organic re"o mains : but it has been observed that the “ four rocks found in immediate succession to " the preceding fourteen do not contain organic “ remains of the same characters as the rest. " For although they contain some shells com“ mon to those in immediate succession to them,
they alone are found to contain zoophytes, a species of animal which is considered as forming the first link in the chain of animated beings, none of which are found in any of the suc
ceeding rocks. Werner has called these four, “ transition rocks, as connecting the primitive • with the newer or flætz (flat) rocks, containing “ abundant fossil remains, but by others they " are included in secondary formations.”