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the vastness of its sublimity anything to be found in Job. It is "the Spirit brooding on the waters." It is the origin of life. Poetry we may call it; but it is that poetry that transcends philosophy, and whose aid is sought when all other forms of language fail in adequateness of conception as well as of idea. There is vivid imagery in both cases. We have no right, in dealing with the one, to call it hyperbole, nor to interpret it as we would dry skeleton facts in the other. In truth, ineffable ideas are struggling for utterance; every power of language and conception, of thought and imagery, are employed to set forth the wondrousness of the earthly and the human origin. In both, to the thoughtful mind, there is prominent the idea of process of going forth-of one thing coming out of another; in other words, of a nature, (natura,) a being born, and an ever being about to be born, and to give birth to something else. Natura in Latin, púous and yéveoiç in Greek, are no more poetical, and no less poetical, than 5 and 5 in Hebrew. They all have one radical conception; they all have the germ of a thought, expressed in Job by extended and particular images of birth, infancy, growth, nurture, etc., which, on account of their greater extent and particularity, making the conception more prominent and pictorial, we call poetry. Had we been ever accustomed to read in our Bibles, (Gen. ii, 4,) "These are the natures (births, growths) of the heavens and the earth, in their being created (22, Septuagint, őre éyéveтo,) in the day of the Lord's making them," it would doubtless have greatly modified our thinking, and given a different aspect to the whole account; but the meaning would have been precisely the same, etymologically, conceptionally, and ideally. We should not in that case have wondered that the orthodox Augustine, who had none of our modern notions, or narrow prejudgments of time, should have called the creative days naturæ, or a series of "ineffable" successions in the divine working.
To call it poetry amounts to nothing. In the same way the language of our most abstract philosophy, all our physics and metaphysics, are poetical when the terms they employ, and are compelled to employ, are reduced to their etymological and primary images. In other writings, the poetical form is expressly designed as poetry; the figures are clearly rhetorical. In the Scriptures, the rhetorical effect, though designed, is
never proposed as the aim, or it is kept wholly in the background. "I am but dust and ashes," says the patriarch. This may be called poetry, indeed; but Abraham no more thought of speaking poetically, according to our modern definitions, than when he uttered the abstract ethical question, "Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?" Again: "Dust thou art;" pulvis et umbra sumus; "He formed man of the dust of the earth." Why should it be thought that this is any more the language of particularity (or of thought limited to the narrowest conception) than the other? Lowliness of origin and of physical constitution is the idea in the one case; why seek to narrow it in the other, or to make it an outward plastic formation from the ground as the immediate material of the first human effigies? Do we not, in fact, by such interpretation impair that most significant moral idea of which this language is the vehicle, and which its imagery was designed most vividly to express? "The first man is ek ys xoïkóç, from the earth, earthy;" there is little ground for dispute about the meaning here. It is an expression for the physical life; it is the same as the owμa vxikov, the animal body, or the body in which sense and nature rule, in distinction from the σῶμα πνευματικὸν, the spiritual body, or the body in which the spirit, the divine reason, the heavenly life, reign supreme; whether we regard it as the heavenly life first given when God stamped upon man his own immortal image, or that same life restored by Christ, "the second man, the Lord from heaven," after it had been sunk in earthliness and animality. The allusion in 1 Corinthians xv, 47, is evidently to Genesis ii, 7, only xoïkós is a still lower word, still more significant of humble origin, and more closely allying man with those lowest natures that came out of the xóos, the fusile, moist, alluvial earth, or the slimy waters. No word could have been better adapted to this conception; and yet who would quote it in favor of an outward plastic formation, unless he had previously from some source acquired a prejudice, a prejudgment to that effect? We could no more draw from it a scientific or matter-of-fact conclusion, than from the etymology of homo from humus, (if that be correct philology,) or of Adam from adama, the earth.
There are two modes of interpreting the Scriptures, and especially the creative account, that are at war with the views
here suggested. The one is the attempt at scientific accommodation, making science the interpreting oracle, and the Scriptures a nose of wax, to be formed into any shape that this higher authority may dictate, and without regard to any method of exegesis having its rule and sanction in itself. It is a favorite in platform speeches, and in ambitious sermons and treatises that have so much to say about "the harmonies of science and revelation "--ever glorifying the latter in words, but making science the true regula fidei, "the pillar and ground of the faith." Of this easily-assuming and faith-destroying tendency there may be something said, if space permits, in another part of these remarks. We have called it a mode of interpretation; but, in fact, it does not pretend to interpret at all, only to reconcile, to use its favorite word, or to give the Scriptures that meaning which is demanded by some scientific hypothesis, without ever waiting to see how soon such hypothesis may be superseded by something else equally clamorous in demanding recognition. Seemingly in wide opposition to this, but equally opposed to the spirit of the Bible and of antiquity, is that mode of interpretation which boasts of its literalness, or close fidelity to the very words of Scripture. It contains a fallacy in its very start. It is illogical and unphilological in the use of the very term which it so exclusively claims. The literal interpretation in a proper sense is the true interpretation, giving that which the language, regarded in all its idiomatic and historical aspects, was designed to convey, or which lies most interior in its words and sentences. Thus we interpret the words, "Our Father who art in the heavens," most truly, and in that sense most literally, when we interpret them most widely. We would therefore prefer to call it the narrow interpretation, especially in giving the meaning to Genesis i. It is marked by an utter insensibility to the grandeur of the account. Everything is taken on the most reduced scale of conception the language will possibly bear. Inches and barleycorns are preferred, when the due proportion of the events narrated would not only allow, but even demand, the remotest degrees of longitude, and that too as reckoned on the vast celestial equator. It is not simply that such interpreters are insensible to the grandeur of the language, the awe of its conciseness, its mysterious reserve of reduplications and minute FOURTH SERIES, VOL. XVII.-14
particularities that would only belittle the immensity it aims to set forth, but they seem to take no heed of the difficulties and inconsistencies which spring up in the literal account itself, (according to their notion of literalness,) and as a necessary consequence of such abnormal crowding. Thus the Hebrew yom must be twenty-four solar hours exactly, in the face of the fact that it is predicated of phenomena and events antecedent to any time-measures having any connection with the sun, or astronomical movements as now existing. This very first step brings them into difficulties-most literal difficulties -which have to be obviated by guesses and crude scientific hypotheses, having no ground in the language, introducing still more crowding and inconsistency, and giving rise to more objections than any of those accommodations to science at which they so loudly rail. Moses must have understood these difficulties of a solar day without a visible sun, and of a morning without a sunrise, as well as Mr. Lord; yet he makes no provision for them; and this is the clearest evidence that the great facts of his account lay in a plane transcending such collision, and altogether superseding the necessity of any such hypothetical explanations. And so with all the times and successions that follow. Throughout, it should be remembered, creation begins with the night. The first morning is that ineffable command, "Let there be light!" whether it mean light generally, in its first and essential being, or light as then commanded to shine on that dark abyss of waters; "Let there be light there." In either case it is the first morning which this narration takes into view. And now, to accommodate it to the twenty-four-hour hypothesis, there must be a reckoning back of just twelve hours to get our principium principiorum, which must either be an arbitrary starting-point taken out of an indefinitely preceding darkness, and having nothing to distinguish it from anything before or after, or else we utterly mar the chronological consistency of this nicely-adjusted calendar. But how inconceivably narrow is all this! How utterly different the impression that must be made upon a thoughtful mind that, casting aside all prejudgments, lets this sublime language have its due emotional effect. Let such a one slowly and seriously read these majestic opening verses, and carry with him this diminutive ephemeris, this frigid almanac calcula
tion, if he can: "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth; and the earth was formless and void; there was darkness upon the face of the deep; the Spirit of God was brooding upon the waters. And God said, Let there be light, and there was light; and God saw the light that it was good; and God divided the light from the darkness; and God called the light day, and the darkness he called night; and there was an evening and a morning-one day." Who shall measure this? On what scale of current chronology shall it be counted?
"And the earth was formless and void." The tense form of the Hebrew verb n denotes cotemporaneousness with the principium mentioned in the first verse. Such was its state when the creative work began; the creative work, we mean, set forth in this Mosaic account, without reference to any other works that might have been beside it, or before it, in the eternities of God. Had it been not cotemporaneous, or the state in which the work commences, but a succeeding state or act, it would have required the vau conversive form, 7, according to a rule which is one of the most fixed things in the Hebrew language. We need not stop to prove this if the reader will only take his Hebrew Bible and observe how constantly this successive form-ever denoting one event following after another is used in all the subsequent steps of the process. "And God said,” ¬¬; "Let there be," ; and there was, . Again, "And God saw," ""; "and God divided," 777; "and God called," p; and so throughout, until "the earth and heavens are finished." This invariable and unbroken sequence makes it certain that the great things mentioned in verses first and second are not successive, but cotemporaneous and initial. They all belong to the beginning. Then was the formless earth and heavens for the heavens here mentioned are the heavens of our earth-then was the darkness resting; then was the Spirit brooding; and then went forth the Word, and light and life began. There had been a night; who shall tell us how long it was? And now the day is dawning; by what method shall be computed its beginning or its duration? God calls it Day. The name is not given to it as a measure of extent-that is a later and a subordinate ideabut as denoting a wondrous phenomenon, marking the first great transition, and calling up the dual contrast which