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of twenty-four hours, although not measured by an actual revolution of the planet; so it might, were it not for its logical connection with the words evening and morning. If we take the word day in its literal import, we must take its context as well. But the nature of the case forbids our understanding the words, evening and morning, in their literal sense. There was as yet no earth, no sun, no sunrise or sunset; there could have been no actual evening or morning. The logical connection, therefore, with these words, so far from shutting down the word day to a period of twenty-four hours, actually forbids such an interpretation.*
So of the other periods, until the fourth; and, if the days be homogeneous, the argument applies to all the seven.
Another consideration, which presents itself to the philosophic mind, in reading the Mosaic narrative, is that, while God's power in creating is represented by spoken commands, his agency is further spoken of in terms that suggest a gradual development, rather than an instantaneous creation of physical forms.
Thus, God is described not as creating animals and plants full-formed, and setting them upon the earth, but as creating them through the intermediate agency of natural causes: "Let the earth bring forth,"-"Let the waters bring forth," &c. It would seem that physical causes operated then, as now; that life and growth were subject to the same conditions; that, the germs of life being created, its perfect forms were gradually developed, precisely as they are to-day. Indeed, there is nothing in the account here given, which forbids a proper statement of the "development theory."
If these remarks be just, then Milton's picture of
"Innumerable living creatures, perfect forms,
Limb'd and full grown:"
“The tawny lion, pawing to get free
His hinder parts," &c.,
is to be regarded with the charity due to poetical license, rather than as a correct representation of the idea of the Mosaic narrative.
The fact that the seventh day is left unfinished, would also seem to forbid the reader to consider this narrative in the light
Compare Professor Tayler Lewis' Six Days of Creation, Chap. ix.
of a chronology of the creation. If the periods here spoken of are homogeneous, what right have we to arbitrate concerning the unknown periods of the past, while the last one of the series is still in progress?
From these considerations, it appears that the language of this ancient record, with all its weaknesses and limitations, is still guarded by its very form against those misconceptions which the shallow interpreters of modern times would force upon it.
But these considerations of the internal evidence of the document before us with regard to the significance of the words, "evening," "morning," and "day," acquire especial force, when we remember that they are not the after-thoughts of our day, devised to put down infidel objections, but that they have all along been recognized from the earliest period down to the present time. Thus, it is a significant fact that the cosmogonies of the Chaldeans, the Egyptians, the Hindoos, and other ancient nations, in all which traces of a knowledge of this primeval document of Genesis may be discerned, embody the idea of vast and unknown periods of creation. That of the Hindoos "describes many successive creations and destructions, as the events of so many days; and represents each of these days of the Creator as lasting many thousand ages."* But beginning with Moses-in Psalm xc, 2, which is "A prayer of Moses the man of God,"-the writer, evidently laboring to express the thought of boundless past duration, uses the words, "Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever thou hadst formed the earth and the world," as parallel to the expresssion "from everlasting to everlasting;" and adds immediately after, (v. 4), "For a thousand years in thy sight are but as yesterday when it is past, and as a watch in the night." It would seem that Moses did not regard the account of the creation, which he placed at the beginning of the sacred books, as in any wise limiting the periods of God's creative agency to days of human reckoning. Compare also Solomon: Proverbs viii, 22-30; Micah v, 2; literally "the days of eternity." So Peter, casting his eye along the
The Genesis of the Earth and of Man. London, 1860. pp. 26, 27.
ages from "the beginning of the creation," to "the coming of. the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat," exclaims, "But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day."*
In the writings of Augustine, although buried under a mass of mystical rubbish, we have proofs most positive that the same critical objections, which we have alledged against interpreting the days of Genesis as representing periods of twenty-four hours, were fully realized by him. Thus the fact that days occur before the creation of the sun forbids him to regard those days as ordinary days; and he confesses himself to be unable to conceive, much more to describe, what sort of days they were. So the expression "the evening and the morning" he regards not as limiting the period of duration to twenty-four hours, but simply as marking the boundaries between the successive "natures" or "creations."+
Philo Judæus, the mystic, is still more explicit. He says: "It would be a mark of great simplicity to think the world was created in six days." But, not to multiply examples, here is a remarkable quotation from Lord Bacon's Essay, Of Truth, showing how clearly he discerned the depths of a profound philosophy beneath the surface of the Mosaic record: "The first creation of God in the works of the days, was the light of
* 2 Peter iii, 4-12.
Compare De Genesi ad Litteram Liber IV, xxvi: "Ac sic per omnes illos dies unus est dies, non istorum dierum consuetudine intelligendus, quos videmus solis circuitu determinari atque numerari; sed alio quodam modo, a quo et illi tres dies, qui ante conditionem istorum luminarium commemorati sunt, alieni esse non possunt. Is enim modus non usque ad diem quartum, ut inde jam istos usitatos cogitaremus, sed usque ad sextum, septimumque perductus est; ut longe aliter accipiendus sit dies et nox, inter quæ duo divisit Deus, et aliter iste dies et nox, inter quæ dixit ut dividant luminaria quæ creavit, cum ait, Et dividant inter diem ac noctem. Tunc enim hunc diem condidit, cum condidit solem, cujus præsentia eumdem exhibit diem: ille autem dies primitus conditus jam triduum peregerat, cum hæc luminaria illius diei quarta repetitione creata sunt."
Vespera autem et mane non quasi per temporis præteritionem et adventum, sed per quemdam terminum, quo intelligitur quousque sit naturæ alterius, consequenter exordium: De Genesi ad Litteram Liber II, xiv.
the sense, the last was the light of reason, and his Sabbath work, ever since, is the illumination of his spirit."
Thus have sensible men in all ages, uninfluenced by scientific considerations, regarding this ancient record from its true and proper stand-point, interpreted it, not as teaching the creation of the world in six times twenty-four hours, nor in any sense as a record of science or chronology, but simply as teaching profound religious truth. To such minds its language need present no inconsistencies. They only who attempt with false keys to unlock its meaning, find difficulty in coming at the truth.
Reviewing now the argument: we have seen from the nature of language, and from the necessary limitations of that early language, in which this account of the creation was first preserved, that the word "day" was not only the most natural, but, for aught we know, the best possible word, that could have been employed to represent in a concrete form, that should be intelligible to the uncultivated minds of primitive men, the abstract conception of one of a series of long and indefinite durations; that the words, " evening" and "morning," are the most natural, if not the best possible words, that could have been employed to mark the separation and boundaries of such periods in their order of succession; that the logical connection of these words with each other and with the rest of the narrative, so far from requiring the word "day" to be interpreted as denoting a period of twenty-four hours, absolutely forbids such an interpretation; and finally, that there is no evidence that this use of language has ever led to a misconception of its true idea, except when it has been regarded from a false and irrelevant stand-point; but, on the contrary, that from its earliest history until now its meaning has been correctly understood by those who have regarded it in its proper light and interpreted it according to the fundamental laws of language. Is it not evident that this much-vaunted objection to the truthfulness of the Mosaic narrative of the creation arises from no error or imperfection in the narrative itself, but solely from an ignorance of certain fundamental and necessary principles of language, or from an unwillingness or incapacity to interpret
the language of the narrative in accordance with these principles.
We come now to notice two important hypotheses concerning the origin of the Mosaic account of the creation and the manner in which it was at first preserved-important from their relations to what has been already said concerning the language of the Hebrew record, and especially valuable as being not so much hypotheses as necessary inferences from known and recognized facts.
First, concerning the origin of this account of the creation. From the very nature of the case a true account of the creation must be either the induction of profound and genuine science or a revelation from God. No human eye was witness of its progressive steps. But it is obvious that the science of that early age when this account originated, if indeed there was anything that could properly be called science, must have been utterly inadequate to produce a correct theory of the creation. We have already seen from the language of this document the erroneous ideas of nature that then prevailed. The cosmogonies of the scientific nations of the primitive world, the Chaldeans, the Egyptians, the Persians and the Hindoos, are grossly absurd and inconsistent with reality; while the Hebrews were an illiterate people, possessing not even a rudimentary knowledge of science. Moreover, the prime laws of matter were unknown, and hence correct induction was impossible. If then the account of the creation here given be a true one, it must have been a revelation from God.
Assuming now, what will hereafter be shown, that the account of the creation is true, and, therefore, that it is a revelation from God, we may ask what is the probable method, in which the revelation was made.
Throughout the whole Old Testament, whenever any revelation of future events is spoken of as made to the servants of God, the method of such revelation, in the vast majority of instances, is through visions. The case of Moses, with whom God spake "mouth to mouth," is so far exceptional as to prove this general assertion. Compare Numbers xii, 6-8: "If there