Billeder på siden

brief record that Scripture gives us of these ineffable processes. Which is the more sublime view, the more pious, the more worthy of God, a power given to the earth, a nature working after its laws and ideas as constituted by the in-forming Logos, or such a grotesque, mechanical, idealess operation as Milton poetically sets forth, though it is the same conception that is commonly and prosaically held? Let the thoughtful reader judge.

But our dread of naturalism, even though a naturalism revealed in the Bible, will force us to go much beyond this, if we adhere rigidly to that so-called orthodox notion which would utterly exclude every thought of a physical process in the origin and early growth, either of vegetable or animal existence. It will lead us to regard some of the most striking words of the account-the words of generation-as mere surplusage. "Let the waters swarm a swarm of life," which is the most literal rendering, "let the earth germinate;" we slip over them as though they had hardly any place, or we regard them as rhetorical (thus insensibly falling away from our confident literalness) and find ourselves coming back to the unwarranted notion of God's directly making, and at once, or in the space of a few hours, all the varying kinds of grass, herbs, trees, etc., "from the hyssop that cometh up by the wall unto the cedar of Lebanon," and all the varieties of animal life, in their full and perfect growth, as individuals of each species, from the invisible animalcule to the lion or the elephant. He fabricates them of some outward material. He gives, in this way, to each its outward form and inward difference, not as the product of a law, or force, invisible and immaterial, working after an idea, (thus constituting an inward natural ground of species,) but by an arbitrary outward force determining the quantity, the quality, and the constituent elements of each. The , or species, does not work out, making, or building out, the organization, but is put into it, or made by it. To use the language of Cudworth and Aristotle, the artificer stands outside of his work, and introduces his idea into it by outside means. Thus viewed, there is no essential difference between the divine and human workman in the manner of working, but only in the degree of force or strength employed. Though more elaborately finished, perhaps,

inwardly and outwardly, than similar human fabrications, the first tree, thus made, is just as arbitrary and as artificial a thing as a toy tree, or a waxen rose. The organization is independent of the life. It is its antecedent instead of its effect. The material, the artificial, is first, and afterward there somehow springs up in it a motion, force, or nature, that works according to the mechanical conditions in which it is placed, instead of such nature, or force, as a pre-existent thing, having determined such a mechanism, such a selection of material, and such an out-building of the material through which it is manifested in the sensible or phenomenal world. In any way we can conceive it on such hypothesis, the material organization is first; the nature, the law, or the force acting according to a law, is a consequent, whether springing out of the organization (a doctrine which would be very dark and dangerous to faith if traced to its ultimates) or created by God as a separate thing, and then arbitrarily connected with the organization and made to dwell in it. There would have been some relief from these difficulties had it been revealed to us that God made every particular thing directly, just as he made the first matter of the universe; or that each thing, each first plant, tree, fish, reptile, man, had been brought into being directly out of non-being by an immediate fiat making each thing just what it was, both in respect to matter and organization, without any becoming, or any creative connection with any previous force or material. Then there would be no first or last, no order of priority about it, either in time or nature. Mohammed is very fond of this notion of the making of each individual thing wholly and directly from nothing, or nonexistence. Hence the formula so oft repeated in the Koran, in which God is represented as saying to each thing, kun fayakun, "Be, and it was."* The Arabian prophet affects a hyper piety here. He was determined that there should be no

* See Koran, Surat ii, 111; iii, 42-52, where he represents man as created in this way, vi, 72, where it is applied to the earth, xvi, 42; xix, 36; xxxvi, 82; xl, 70, in which places it is spoken of every particular thing that is said to be created.

There is similar language in Psalm xxxiii, 9, “He spake and it was, he commanded and it stood," but that is spoken of creation generally, as being all by the word of God, as more particularly recounted in Genesis, the first part refering, probably, to the primal origination of worlds, and the second to the standing or permanent order, the work of subsequent mediate creations.


naturalism charged upon him, such as some might impute to Moses if they judged him strictly by his language. But nothing is more clear than that our Scriptures take a different There is no new material for the first plants, the first animals, or the first man. And so in respect to all the works after the first day. They are invariably connected with a pre-existing material, and with something which may be regarded as a pre-existent nature, existing generally, or in the particular material in which and through which the life is to be manifested.

What is the next step in the conception, as defended by the so-called literalist? Let us carry it steadily out; for there is but one way to do this without getting involved, somewhere, in this dreaded naturalism. These mechanically formed products, grasses, plants, trees, in their numberless varieties, are planted, or rather set out in the earth to grow. Now nature may come in. But why not sooner if God had so willed? Why not in the first as well as in the second generation? The first tree had, doubtless, all the appearances of growth and succession that marked the second, and which have appeared in all subsequent trees of that species, denoting a causality of some kind, working in the most interior nature. Were these appearances unreal in the first tree? Did they tell a false story? Did they indicate no real process, no actual corresponding causality? If they did, then this first tree was a growth just as much as any subsequent one from that time to this. The causality thus indicated (unless it was a magical causality without its true successions in time, which is an absurd contradiction) must have had a duration equal to that of the second, if not vastly longer, unless we suppose nature to have had her motion retarded after the first birth, of which, in this case, there is no evidence. The first tree was to be the model, the paradigm, the representative of the idea, for all subsequent trees. Was it to be so in appearance only, or in the very things that appeared through such appearances, and of which they were the representative? Was it the model simply in the quantity, the figure, the mechanical arrangement of the matter, or in the law process also, the actual working through which that quantity of material was gathered, that figure brought out, and that organization received its peculiar struc

ture, differing from every other? But this is all speculation, it may be said, about birth and growth. No, it is not so. It is the very language of Scripture. "Let the earth bring forth, Let the earth grow grass, Let the waters swarm,' "* be prolific, "bring forth abundantly." If Mr. Lord had been making a Bible, with his views of time and creative causation, he would never have used such language.

We must have the supernatural; the writer holds it as firmly as any other; but this is not inconsistent with the idea of a nature, and that, too, from the very start. The tree is not a real tree until it has a nature, and that nature is in act. Before this, or without this, it is only an image of a tree, however elaborately wrought, both in its inward and its outward construction. It is still an image, as much as the figure in the toy shop. Unless we arbitrarily limit the power we call creation to a point short of the perfect work, we must have a nature in it. Why not then from the beginning, or a nature supernaturally started, but working, immediately, as a nature, and making its first production a birth, a growth, a time growth, having its seed, or the envelope of its law, growing in it as much as any subsequent one; we might even say more so, inasmuch as it is to be, in all things, a model or pattern to the rest. Why not recognize an immaterial power (if we shrink from the word spiritual) which God originates, a great host of such immaterial powers, having their species, their varying ideas, each working according to a law, (which is an idea in action,) and all as real, in one sense, as the outward material manifestations with which, in God's time, and with God's permission, they clothe themselves when made to work in the earth, the air, and the waters? This looks very suspicious, some might say, besides being very unintelligible; it is the old dream of Origen and Plato about an ideal world; we are afraid of it; it requires us to think of forces, powers, laws, as

*The Arabic translation of this passage, in the version called Arabs Erpenianus, is very remarkable. We attach great value to this version, as made by one of those learned Arabian Jews who were distinguished in the ninth and tenth centuries, and as being, in itself, marked by the closest fidelity to the Hebrew. For the Hebrew, he uses a denominative Arabic verb made from the noun for lizard, as being, or supposed to be, one of the earliest and most swarming productions of the slimy earth and waters. Dhababa, scatuit lacertis. It shows clearly his view of the passage.

somehow antecedent to matter, (in the order of nature at least, if not of time,) shaping and organizing matter: as causes in truth, instead of effects of such organization or material arrangement. But what if matter, itself, be force? Some of our scientific men seem to be approaching that idea. They have already resolved heat into an immaterial force; it would not be taking a very great leap to hold it true of all those other sensible or phenomenal manifestations by which matter is made known to us, leaving only a dark residuum, to which we should find it very difficult to apply either name, conception, or idea.

The mere conception, we admit, or sense image, here, may not be quite so easy and simple as the other which we have called the mechanical one, but ideally it is more easy. Conceptually it gives us some trouble, because it takes us into a higher sphere than the conceptual or imaging world. But still, we say, we must take it, or something like it; we must hold to natures, forces, etc., as something separate from matter, (somewhere at least in the producing processes,) or we must unshrinkingly carry out the other view with all its crudities, and perhaps land at last in something far more to be dreaded than what some call naturalism, in other words, a dead, cold, hard materialism, which makes matter the older thing, and force, and law, and life, nothing but results of the way in which it is put together. In the other view, there is, indeed, something required higher than sense, or the reflex imagings of sense which we call conceiving. We are beyond the pavóμeva, and in the region of the vooúueva, (Heb. xi, 3,) where it is difficult to retain our hold, but where, nevertheless, we have a good scriptural anchor to hold us. Not by sense, or by our power of conceiving, but "by faith do we understand (voovμev) that the worlds were framed by the word of God." And how framed? "So that from the unseen things were made the things that are seen." The answer is ascribed to the same faith that is defined, (v. i,) above, as the λɛyxos ov Bhεпоμévov, "the conviction of things unseen." βλεπομένων, In the common version the text reads, "so that the things which are seen were not made of things that do appear." The Vulgate has it, ut ex invisibilibus visibilia fierent, "so that the visible things were made (or became) from the things invisible."

« ForrigeFortsæt »