"Science has a foundation, and so has religion; let them unite their foundations, and the basis will be broader, and they will be two compartments of one great fabric reared to the glory of God. Let the one be the outer and the other the inner court. In the one, let all look, and admire, and adore; and In the other, let those who have faith kneel, and pray, and praise. Let the one be the sanctuary where human learning may present its richest incense as an offering to God; and the other the holiest of all, separated from It by a veil now rent in twain, and in which, on a blood-sprinkled mercy-seat we pour out the love of a reconciled heart, and hear the oracles of the living God."  M'Cosh.





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Explanation of Frontispiece   13   013  014

Dedication  5   005  006

Preface  7   007  008  009  010  011  012

[p.8] I am compelled to quote ... authors [who], although men of talents, and familiar, it may be, with the Bible and theology, had no accurate knowledge of geology. The results have been, first, that, by resorting to denunciation and charges of infidelity, to answer arguments from geology which they did not understand, they have excited unreasonable prejudices and alarm among common Christians respecting that science and its cultivators; secondly, they have awakened disgust, and even contempt, among scientific men, especially those of sceptical tendencies, who have inferred that a cause which resorts to such defences must be very weak. They have felt very much as a good Greek scholar would, who should read a severe critique upon the style of Isocrates, or Demosthenes, and, before he had finished the review, should discover internal evidence that the writer had never learned the Greek alphabet.

On the other hand, prejudices and disgust equally strong have been produced in the mind of many a man well versed in theology and biblical exegesis by some productions of scientific men upon the religious bearings of geology, because they advanced principles which the merest tyro in divinity would know to be false and fatal to religion, and which they advocated only because they had never studied the Bible or theology.



REVELATION ILLUSTRATED BY SCIENCE ... 17   017  018  019  020  021  022  023  024  025  026  027  028  029  030  031  032  033  034  035  036  037  038  039  040
THE leading object, which I propose in the course of lectures which I now commence, is to develop the relations between geology and religion. I shall first exhibit the relations between science and revealed religion, and afterwards between science and natural religion; though in a few cases these two great branches cannot be kept entirely distinct.

[036] No science is so prolific of direct testimony to the benevolence of the Deity as geology.         

[038]Why should the enlightened Christian, who has a correct idea of the firm foundation on which the Bible rests, fear that any disclosures of the arcana of nature should shake its authority or weaken its influence? Is not the God of revelation the God of nature also?

A fundamental principle of Protestant Christianity is, that the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments are the only [018] infallible standard of religious truth; and I desire to hold up this principle prominently at the outset, as one to which I cordially subscribe. ...[W]e ought not to expect to find that terms used by the sacred writers employed in their strict scientific sense, but in their popular acceptation. Indeed, as the Scriptures were generally addressed to men in the earliest and most simple states of society, with very limited views of the extent of creation, we ought to suppose that, in all cases where no new fact is revealed, the language was adapted to the narrow ideas which then prevailed. When, for instance, the sacred writers speak of the rising and setting of the sun, we cannot suppose they used language with astronomical correctness, but only according to appearances. Hence we ought not to be very confident, that when they employ the term earth, they meant that spherical, vast globe which astronomy proves the earth to be, but rather that part of it which was inhabited, which was all the idea that entered into the mind of a Jew. God might, indeed, have revealed new scientific as well as religious truth. But there is no evidence that in this way he has anticipated a single modern discovery. This would have been turning aside from the much more important object he had in view, namely, to teach the world religious truth. Such being the case, the language employed to describe natural phenomena must have been adapted to the state of knowledge among the people to whom the Scriptures were addressed. ... Revelation may describe phenomena according to apparent truth, as when it speaks of the rising and setting of the sun, and the immobility of the earth; but science describes the same according to the actual truth, as when it gives a real motion to the earth, and only an apparent motion to the heavens. Had the language of revelation been scientifically accurate, it would have defeated the object for which the Scriptures were given; for it must have anticipated scientific discovery, and therefore have been unintelligible to those ignorant of such discoveries. ... [S]ince [020]  science and revelation treat of the same subjects only incidentally, we ought only to expect that the facts of science, rightly understood, should not contradict the statements of revelation, correctly interpreted. Apparent discrepancies there may be; and it would not be strange, if for a time they should seem to be real; either because science has not fully and accurately disclosed the facts, or the Bible is not correctly interpreted; but if both records are from God, there can be no real contradiction between them.

[020] [I]n judging of the agreement or disagreement between revelation and science, it is important, in the first place, that we rightly understand the Bible; and, in the second place, that we carefully ascertain what are the settled and demonstrated principles of science.

[031] The first important conclusion, to which every careful observer will come, is, that the rocks of all sorts, which compose the present crust of the globe, so far as it has been explored, at least to the depth of several miles, appear to have been the result of second causes; that is, they are now in a different state from that in which they were originally created.

In the second place, the same general laws appear to have always prevailed on the globe, and to have controlled the changes which have taken place upon and within it. We come to no spot, in the history of the rocks, in which a system different from that which now prevails appears to have existed.

In the third place, the geological changes which the earth has undergone, and is now undergoing, appear to have been the result of the same agencies, namely, heat and water.

Fourthly. It is demonstrated that the present continents of the globe, with perhaps the exception of some of their highest mountains, have for a long period constituted the bottom of the ocean, and have been subsequently either elevated into their present position, or the waters have been drained off from their surface.

Fifthly. The internal parts of the earth are found to possess a very high temperature

Sixthly. The fossiliferous rocks, or such as contain animals and plants, are not less than six or seven miles in perpendicular thickness, and are composed of hundreds of alternating layers of different kinds, all of which appear to have been deposited, just as rocks are now forming, at the bottom of lakes and seas; and hence their deposition must have occupied an immense period of time.

Seventhly. The remains of animals and plants found in [033] the earth are not mingled confusedly together, but are found arranged, for the most part, in as much order as the drawers of a well-regulated cabinet. In general, they appear to have lived or died on or near the spots where they are now found

Eighthly. Still further confirmation of the same important principle is found in the well-established fact, that there have been upon the globe, previous to the existing races, not less than five distinct periods of organised existence; that is, five great groups of animals and plants, so completely independent that no species whatever is found in more than one of them. [Editor's note: Is the Coelacanth an exception? dcb]

Ninthly. In the earliest times in which animals and plants lived, the climate over the whole globe appears to have been as warm as, or even warmer than, it is now between the tropics. And the slow change from warmer to colder appears to have been the chief cause of the successive destruction of the different races.

Tenthly. There is no small reason to suppose that the globe underwent numerous changes previous to the time when animals were placed upon it

Eleventhly. It appears that the present condition of the [034] earth's crust and surface was of comparatively recent commencement; otherwise the steep flanks of mountains would have ceased to crumble down, and wide oceans would have been filled with alluvial deposits.

Twelfthly. No human remains have been found below those alluvial deposits which are now forming by rivers, lakes, and the ocean. Hence geology infers that man was one of the latest animals that was placed on the globe.

Thirteenthly. The surface of the earth has undergone an enormous amount of erosion by the action of the ocean, the rivers, and the atmosphere. The ocean has worn away the solid rock, in some parts of the world, not less than ten thousand feet in depth, and rivers have cut channels through the hardest strata, hundreds of feet deep and several miles long; both of which effects demand periods inconceivably long.

... Seventeenthly. Every successive change of importance on the earth's surface appears to have been an improvement of its condition, adapting it to beings of a higher organization, and to man at last, the most perfect of all.

[035] The leading truths of theology which these principles affect:

The first point relates to the age of the world. For while it has been the usual interpretation of the Mosaic account, that the world was brought into existence nearly at the same time with man and the other existing animals, geology throws back its creation to a period indefinitely but immeasurably remote.

[the next points]: The introduction of death into the world, and the specific character of that death described in Scripture as the consequence of sin, are the next points where geology touches the subject of religion.

[next] The subject of deluges, and especially that of Noah.

[another theme:] It is well known that the philosophy of antiquity, almost without exception, regarded matter as eternal; and in modern times, metaphysical theology has done its utmost to refute the supposed dangerous dogma. Geology affords us some new views of the subject.


THE EPOCH OF THE EARTH'S CREATION UNREVEALED ... 41  041  042  043  044  045  046  047  048  049  050  051  052  053  054  055  056  057  058  059  060  061  062  063  064  065  066  067  068  069  070
My simple object, at this time, is to ascertain whether the Bible fixes the time when the universe was created out of nothing. 

[057] [S]ince man existed on the globe, materials for the production of rocks have not accumulated to the average thickness of more than one hundred or two hundred feet; although in particular places, as already mentioned, the accumulations are thicker. The evidence of this position is, that neither the works nor the remains of man have been found any deeper in the earth than in the upper part of that superficial deposit called alluvium. But had man existed while the other deposits were going on, no possible reason can be given why his bones and the fruits of his labours should not be found mixed with those of other animals, so abundant in the rocks to the depth of six or seven miles. In the last six thousand years, then, only one five hundredth part of the stratified rocks has been accumulated. I mention this fact, not as by any means an exact, but only an approximate, [058] measure of the time in which the older rocks were deposited; for the precise age of the world is probably a problem which science never can solve. All the means of comparison within our reach enable us to say, only, that its duration must have been immense.

[068] it always produces a temporary evil to change the interpretation of a passage of the Bible, even though, as in this case, it be the result of new light shed upon it; because it is apt to make individuals of narrow views lose their confidence in the rules of interpretation. But when the change is once made, it increases men's confidence in the Word of God, which is only purified, but not shaken, by all the discoveries of modern science. In the present case, it does not seem to be of the least consequence, so far as the great doctrines of the Bible are concerned, whether the world has stood six thousand, or six hundred thousand years. Nor can I conceive of any truth of the Bible, which does not shine with at least equal brightness and glory, if the longest chronological dates be adopted.


THE BEGINNING ... 71  071  072  073  074  075  076  077  078  079  080  081  082  083  084  085  086  087  088  089  090  091  092  093  094  095  096  097  098  099  100  101  102  103  104  105  106  107

Geology asserts that death existed in the world untold ages before man's creation, while physiology declares it to be a universal law of nature, and a wise and benevolent provision in such a world as ours. Now the question is, Do not these different statements conflict with one another? And if so, is the discrepancy apparent only, or real? These are the questions which I now propose to examine, by all the light which we can obtain from the Bible and from science.
[071] DEATH has always been regarded by man as the king of terrors, and the climax of all mortal evils; and by Christians its introduction into the world has generally been imputed to the apostacy of our first parents. ...As the result, it is generally supposed that a great change took place in animals and plants, and from being immortal, they became mortal, in consequence of this fatal deed. But geology asserts that death existed in the world untold ages before man's creation, while physiology declares it to be a universal law of nature, and a wise and benevolent provision in such a world as ours. Now the question is, Do not these different statements conflict with one another? And if so, is the discrepancy apparent only, or real? These are the questions which I now propose to examine, by all the light which we can obtain from the Bible and from science.

[072] [T]he Bible does not inform us whether the death of the inferior animals and plants is the consequence of man's transgression. ...[G]eology proves violent and painful death to have existed in the world long before man's creation. ... [P]hysiology teaches us that death is a general law of organic natures. It is not confined to animals, but embraces also plants. ...[I]n such a system as exists in the world, this universal decay and dissolution are indispensable. For dead organic matter is essential to the support and nourishment of living beings.


THE NOACHIAN DELUGE COMPARED WITH THE GEOLOGICAL DELUGES ... 108  108  109  110  111  112  113  114  115  116  117  118  119  120  121  122  123  124  125  126  127  128

The connection between geology and the revealed history of the deluge, and why the subject should be introduced into this series of lectures.
[103] Almost every geological change which the earth has undergone, from its centre to its circumference, has, at one time or another, been ascribed to this deluge. And so plain has this seemed to those who had only a partial view of the facts, that those who doubted it were often denounced as enemies of revelation. But most of these opinions and this dogmatism are now abandoned, because both Nature and Scripture are better understood. And among well-informed geologists, at least, the opinion is almost universal, that there are no facts in their science which can be clearly referred to the Noachian deluge; that is, no traces in nature of that event; and on the other hand, that there is nothing in the Mosaic account of the deluge which would necessarily lead us to expect permanent marks of such a catastrophe within or upon the earth.

[110] [T]he facts of geology forbid the idea that our present continents formed the bed of the ocean at so recent a date as that of Noah's deluge, and that the supposition that all organic remains were deposited during the two thousand years between the six days' work and the deluge is totally irreconcilable with all correct philosophy.

[112] [The Deluge] could not have deposited the fossil remains in the rocks. This position is too plain to the practical geologist to need a formal argument to sustain it.

First. On this supposition the organic remains ought to be confusedly mingled together, since they must have been brought over the land promiscuously by the waters of the deluge; but they are in fact arranged in as much order as the specimens of a well-regulated cabinet.

Secondly. On this theory, at least, a part of the organic remains ought to correspond with living animals and plants, since the deluge took place so long after the six days of creation. But with the exception of a few species near the top of the series, the fossil species are wholly unlike those now alive.

Thirdly. How, by this theory, can we explain the fact, that there are found in the rocks at least five distinct races of animals and plants, so unlike that they could not have been contemporaries? or for the fact, that most of them are of a highly tropical character? or for the fact, that as we rise higher in the rocks, there is a nearer and nearer approach to existing species?

Fourthly. This theory requires us to admit, that in three hundred and eighty days the waters of the deluge deposited rocks at least six miles in thickness, over half or two thirds of our existing continents; and these rocks made up of hundreds of thick beds, exceedingly unlike one another in composition and organic contents. Will any reasonable man believe this possible without a miracle? But I need not multiply arguments on this point. It is a theory which no reasonable man can long maintain after studying the subject.

[113] There are no facts in geology that afford any presumption against the occurrence of the Noachian deluge, but rather the contrary. [120] [I]n all ages and nations, and especially among ancient ones, universal terms are often used to signify only a very large amount in number or quantity.

[127] It is, indeed, very humiliating to human nature to find so many of the wise, the talented, and the religious so confident and zealous, yet so erroneous.


THE WORLD'S SUPPOSED ETERNITY ... 129  129  130  131  132  133  134  135  136  137  138  139  140  141  142  143  144  145  146  147  148  149  150  151  152  153

The subject to which I wish first to call your attention is the world's eternity, or the external existence of matter.

[129] [T]he world's eternity, or the external existence of matter was the universal belief of the philosophers of antiquity, and, indeed, of most reasoning minds where the Bible has not been known. The grand argument by which this opinion was sustained is the well-known ex nihilo nihil fit, (nothing produces nothing.) Hence men inferred that not even the Deity could create matter out of nothing; and therefore it must be eternal. Most of the ancient philosophers, however, did not hence infer the non-existence of the Deity. But they endeavoured to reconcile the existence of eternal matter with an eternal Spirit. They supposed both to be self-existent and co-existent.

In modern times, the belief in the eternity of matter has usually been connected with, or made the basis of, a refined and popular system of atheism. I refer to the pantheism of Spinoza. He maintains that there exists in the universe but one substance, variously modified, whose two principal attributes are infinite extension and infinite intelligence. This substance, the  of Spinoza, he regarded as God; and hence his system is called Pantheism. Under various modifications, it has been adopted by many sceptical minds, and is, undoubtedly, the most common and plausible system of atheism extant. ... Until quite recently, no one has supposed that any light on this subject could be derived from geology.

And here we must confess, at the outset, that geology furnishes us no more evidence than the other sciences of the creation of the matter of the universe out of nothing.

[142] In the first place, geology teaches that the time has been when the earth existed as a molten mass of matter, and, therefore, all the animals and plants now existing upon its surface, and all those buried in its rocky strata, must have had a beginning, or have been created. ... [D]irect proof of this results from the facts, now admitted by almost all geologists, that the unstratified rocks have all been melted, and that the stratified class have all, or nearly all, been the result of disintegration and abrasion of the unstratified masses. A striking confirmation of this opinion is the spheroidal figure of the earth; a figure precisely such as the globe would have assumed in consequence of rotation, had it been in a fluid state.

[144] You can, indeed, conceive how a solid crust might have formed over the vast fiery ocean, by the simple radiation of heat; and then, too, by natural laws, might the vapours have been condensed into oceans and clouds, while volcanic force within might have lifted up our continents and mountains above the flood. But what a picture of desolation and ruin would such a world present, while unadorned with vegetation, and with no voice of life to break the stillness of universal death! Here is, then, the precise point where we need the interference of a Deity. Admit, if you please, that atheism, with its eternal matter and the laws of nature at command, might form a world without inhabitants. Who does not see, that to bestow organization, and life, and instinct, to say nothing of intellect, upon brute matter, is the loftiest prerogative of Jehovah? especially to fill so vast a world as ours with its teeming millions, exhibiting ten thousand diversities of size, form, and structure. ...

My second example from geology to disprove the notion of an eternal series of animals and plants on the globe, is derived from the history of organic remains. That history shows us clearly, that the earth, since its creation, has been the seat of several distinct economies of life, each occupying long periods, and successively passing away. During each of these periods, distinct groups of animals and plants have occupied the earth, the air, and the waters. Each successive group has been entirely distinct from that which preceded it, though each group was exactly adapted to the existing state of the climate and the food provided; so that, had the different groups changed places with one another, they must have perished, because their constitutions were adapted only to the state of things during the period in which they actually lived.

My third example from geology, demonstrating the special interference of the Deity in the affairs of this world, is the fact of the comparatively recent commencement of the human race. That man was among the very last of the animals created is made certain by the fact that his remains are found only in the highest part of alluvium. This is rarely more than one hundred feet in thickness, while the other fossiliferous strata, lying beneath the alluvium, are six miles thick.

Hence man was not in existence during all the period in which these six miles of strata were in a course of deposition, and he has existed only during the comparatively short period in which the one hundred feet of alluvium have been formed; nay, during only a small part of the alluvial period. his bones, having the same chemical composition as the bones ot other animals, are no more liable to decay; and, therefore, had he lived and died in any of the periods preceding the alluvial, [147 MAN RECENTLY CREATED.] his bones must have been mixed with those of other animals belonging to those periods. But they are not thus found in a single well-authenticated instance, and, therefore, his existence has been limited to the alluvial period. Hence he must have been created and placed upon the globe, (such is the testimony of geology,) during the latter part of the alluvial period.


GEOLOGICAL PROOFS OF THE DIVINE BENEVOLENCE ... 154  154  155  156  157  158  159  160  161  162  163  164  165  166  167  168  169  170  171  172  173  174  175  176  177  178  179  180  181  182  183

THE subject of the present lecture is the divine benevolence, as taught, by geology.

[178] My seventh geological argument for the divine benevolence is derived from the manner in which coal, rock-salt, marble, gypsum, and other valuable materials were prepared for the use of man, long before his existence. If a created and intelligent being from some other sphere had alighted on this globe during that remote period when the vegetation now dug out of the coal formation covered the surface with its gigantic growth, he might have felt as if there was a waste of creative power. Vast forests of sigillaria, lepidodendra, coniferæ, cycadeæ, and tree ferns would have waved over his head, with their imposing though sombre foli age, while the lesser tribes of calamites and equisetaceæ would have filled the intervening spaces; but no vertebral animal would have been there to enjoy and enliven the almost universal solitude. Why, then, he must have inquired, is there such a profusion of vegetable forms, and such a colossal development of individual plants? To what use can such vast forests be applied? But let ages roll by, and that same being revisit our world at the present time. Let him traverse the little Island of Britain, and see there fifteen thousand steam engines moved by coal dug out of the earth, and produced by these same ancient forests. Let him see these engines per forming the work of two millions of men, and moving machinery which accomplishes what would require the unaided labours of three or four hundred millions of men, and he could not doubt but such a result was one of the objects of that rank vegetation which covered the earth ere it was fit for the residence of such natures as now dwell upon it.


[181] My last geological argument for the divine benevolence is founded upon the permanence and security of the world, in spite of the mighty changes it has undergone, and the powerful agencies to which it is now subject.

When we learn from the records of geology, as they are inscribed upon the rocks, how numerous and thorough have been the revolutions of the surface and the crust of the globe in past ages; how often and how long the present dry land has been alternately above and beneath the ocean; how frequently the crust of the globe has been fractured, bent, and dislocated; now lifted upward, and now thrown downward, and now folded by lateral pressure; how frequently melted matter has been forced through its strata and through its fissures to the surface; in short, how every particle of the accessible portions of the globe has undergone entire metamorphoses; and especially when we recollect what strong evidence there is that oceans of liquid matter exist beneath the solid crust, and that probably the whole interior of the earth is in that condition, with expansive energy sufficient to rend the globe into fragments; when we review all these facts, we cannot but feel that the condition of the surface of the globe must be one of great insecurity and liability to change. But it is not so. On the contrary, the present state of the globe is one of permanent uniformity and entire security, except those comparatively slight catastrophes which result from earthquakes, volcanoes, and local deluges.


DIVINE BENEVOLENCE AS EXHIBITED IN A FALLEN WORLD ... 184  184  185  186  187  188  189  190  191  192  193  194  195  196  197  198  199  200  201  202  203  204  205  206  207  208

The point aimed at in this lecture is to ascertain whether natural religion can point out decisive evidence of divine benevolence. 


UNITY OF THE DIVINE PLAN AND OPERATION IN ALL AGES OF THE WORLD'S HISTORY ... 209   209  210  211  212  213  214  215  216  217  218  219  220  221  222  223  224  225  226  227  228  229  230  231  232  233

The geologist carries us back through periods of immense antiquity, and digs out other economies, which have existed on the globe anterior to the present. Were they governed by different laws, or are they all but parts of one great and harmonious system, embracing the whole of the earth's past duration? We could not decide these questions beforehand; but geology brings to light unequivocal evidence that the latter supposition is the true one. To present the evidence of this conclusion will be my object in this lecture.

[209] CONTRIVANCE, adaptation, and design, are some of the most striking features of the natural world. They are obvious throughout the whole range of creation, in the minutest as well as in the most magnificent objects; in the most complicated as well as in the most simple. So universally present are they, that whenever we meet with any thing in nature which seems imperfectly adapted to other objects, as the organ of an animal or plant, which exhibits malformation, it excites general attention, and the mere child need not be told that, in its want of adaptation to other objects, it is an exception in the natural world.

[T]he geologist carries us back through periods of immense antiquity, and digs out from the deep strata evidences of other systems of organic life, which have flourished and passed away; other economies, which have existed on the globe anterior to the present. And how was it with these?. Had they any relation to the existing system? Were they governed by different laws, or are they all but parts of one great and harmonious system, embracing the whole of the earth's past duration?

In the first place, the laws of chemistry and crystallography, electricity and magnetism, have ever been the same in all past conditions of the earth.

In the second place, the laws of meteorology have ever been the same as at present.

In the third place, the agents of geological change appear to have been always the same on the earth.

In the fourth place, the laws of zoology and botany have always been the same on the globe. they may be arranged in four great classes: first, the vertebral animals, second, the mollusks, third, articulated animals, fourth, a radiated structure, and often resemble plants, or their habitation is a stony structure. Hence they are sometimes called zoophytes.

[218] the outlines of organic life on the globe have always been the same; that the great classes of animals and plants have always had their representatives, and that the variations which have been introduced, have been merely adaptations to the varying condition of the earth's surface. The higher and more complex natures, both of animals and plants, were not introduccd at first, because the surface was not adapted to their existence; and they were brought in only as circumstances, favourable to their development, prepared the way.

There is another fact of great interest on this subject. Even a cursory examination of the animals and plants now on the globe, shows such a gradation of their characters that they form a sort of chain, extending from the most to the least [219] perfect species. But we see at once that the links of this chain are of very unequal length; or rather, that there are in some instances wide intervals between the nearest species, as if one or more links had dropped out. How remarkable that some of these lost links should be found among the fossil species! I will refer to a few examples.

Among existing animals no genera or tribes are more widely separated than those with thick skins, denominated pachydermata; such as the rhinoceros and the elephant. But among the fossil animals of the tertiary strata, this tribe of animals was much more common; and many of them fill up the blanks in the existing families, and thus render more perfect and uniform the great chain of being which binds together into one great system the present and past periods of organic life.

A similar case occurs among fossil plants. In tropical climates we find a few species, not much over twenty, of a singular family of plants, the cycadeæ connecting the great families of coniferæ, or dicotyledons, with the palms, which are monocotyledonous, and the ferns, which are acotyledonous. The chasm, however, between those great and dissimilar classes of plants is but imperfectly filled by the few living species of cycadeæ. But of the fossil species hitherto found above the coal formation, almost one half are cycadeæ; so that here, too, the lost links of the chain are supplied.

One other fact, showing the identity of former zoological laws with those which now prevail, must not be omitted. I refer to the existence on the globe in all past periods of organic life of the two great classes of carnivorous and herbivorous animals; and they have always existed, too, in about the same proportion.

[221] In the fifth place, the laws of anatomy have always been the same since organic structures began to exist. ... Cuvier comes to a conclusion even more surprising. " Hence," says he, "any one who observes merely the print of a cloven hoof, may conclude that it has been left by a ruminant animal, and regard the conclusion as equally certain with any other in physics or in morals. Consequently this single footmark clearly indicates to the observer the forms of the teeth, of all the leg bones, thighs, shoulders, and of the trunk of the body of the animal which left the mark. It is much surer than all the marks of Zadig.

"By thus employing the method of observation, where theory is no longer able to direct our views, we procure astonishing results. The smallest fragment of bone, even the most apparently insignificant apophysis, possesses a fixed and determinate character relative to the class, order, genus, and species of the animal to which it belonged; insomuch that when we find merely the extremity of a well-preserved bone, we are able, by a careful examination, assisted by analogy and exact comparison, to determine the species to which it once belonged, as certainly as if we had the entire animal before us. Before venturing to put entire confidence in this method of investigation, in regard to fossil bones, I have very frequently tried it with portions of bones belonging to well-known [224 UNITY OF THE DIVINE PLAN.] animals, and always with such complete success, that I now entertain no doubts with regard to the results which it affords."

[225] The results ... although sustained by the most rigid principles of science, are nevertheless but little short of miraculous; and they demonstrate most clearly the identity of anatomical laws, in all ages, among animals and plants of every size and character, from the lofty lepidodendra and sigillaria to the humblest moss or sea-weed, and from the gigantic dinotherium, mastodon, megatherium, and iguanodon, to the infinitesimal infusoria.

In the sixth place, physiological laws have always been the same upon the globe. [death, reproduction, etc.]


THE HYPOTHESIS OF CREATION BY LAW ... 234  234  235  236  237  238  239  240  241  242  243  244  245  246  247  248  249  250  251  252  253  254  255  256  257  258  259  260  261  262  263  264  265  266

In this lecture, we are inquiring whether law alone will account for the creation and sustentation of the universe.

Note: This is the view of scientific naturalists that all developments in the biological world are the result of purely natural processes without the need for intervention by a Creator. dcb.

[257] The true theory of animal and vegetable existence on our globe appears to be this: Such natures were placed upon the earth as were adapted to its varying condition. When the earliest group was created, such were the climate, the atmosphere, the waters, and the means of subsistence, that the lower tribes were best adapted to the condition of things. That group occupied the earth till such changes had occurred as to make it unsuited to their natures, and consequently they died [258] out, and new races were brought in; not by mere law, but by divine benevolence, power, and wisdom. These tribes also passed away, when the condition of things was so changed as to be uncongenial to their natures, to give place to a third group, and these again to a fourth, and so on to the present races, which, in their turn, perhaps, are destined to become extinct. From the first, however, the changes which the earth has undergone, as to temperature, soil, and climate, have been an improvement of its condition; so that each successive group of animals and plants could be more and more complicated and perfect; and therefore we find an increase and development of flowering plants and vertebral animals. And yet, from the beginning, all the great classes seem to have existed, so that the changes have been only in the proportion of the more and less perfect at different periods. In short, we have only to suppose that the Creator exactly adapted organic natures to the several geological periods, and we perfectly explain the phenomena of organic remains. But the doctrine of development by law corresponds only in a loose and general way to the facts, and cannot be reconciled to the details. If that hypothesis cannot get a better foothold some where else, it will soon find its way into the limbo of things abortive and forgotten. [emphases added dcb]

[263] [T]he hypothesis of creation by law. ... has many advocates, and I must think (I hope not uncharitably) that these are the reasons: First, because men do not like the idea of a personal, present, overruling Deity; and secondly, because there is very little profound and thorough knowledge of natural history in the community. It is just such an hypothesis as chimes in with the taste of that part of the world who have a smattering of science, and who do not wish to live without some form of religion, but who still desire to free themselves from the inspection of a holy God.


<>SPECIAL AND MIRACULOUS PROVIDENCE ... 267  267  268  269  270  271  272  273  274  275  276  277  278  279  280  281  282  283  284  285  286  287  288  289  290  291  292  293  294  295  296  297  298  299
NEXT in importance to the question whether the Deity exists, is the inquiry whether he exerts any direct agency in upholding the universe, and in controlling its events. [267] In the first place, some have removed the Deity entirely from his works into a fancied extra-mundane sphere, where in solitude he might enjoy the blessedness of his own infinite nature, without the trouble of directing the events of the universe, or watching over the works of his hand.

In the second place, a more numerous class have maintained that the Supreme Being, after creating the world, committed its preservation and government either to a subordinate agent, or to the laws which he impressed upon matter and mind, which possess an inherent power to execute themselves; so that, in fact, God exercises no direct and immediate agency in natural operations.

Two varieties of opinion exist among those who believe the world governed and sustained by natural laws, established by the Deity. Some maintain that these laws are general, not particular; not extending to minor events, but only the more important; not providing for species, but only for families. Hence they suppose that these general cases may interfere with one another, and produce results apparently repugnant to the intention of their Author. Others ... believe the laws of nature to extend to every event, and never to interfere with one another, and always to act in accordance with the divine will and appointment, but without any direct agency exerted by the Deity. They suppose these laws, in other words, secondary agencies, to have the power of producing all natural phenomena.

In the third place, there are others who believe that a law can have no efficiency without the presence and agency of the lawgiver. They, therefore, suppose every event in the natural world to be the result of the direct and immediate agency of God.

[268] I should define a Special Providence to be an event brought about apparently by natural laws, yet, in fact, the result of a special agency, on the part of the Deity, to meet a particular exigency, either by an original arrangement of natural laws, or by a modification of second causes, out of sight at the time.

By a Miraculous Providence is meant a superintendence over the world that interferes, when desirable, with the regular operations of nature, and brings about events, either in opposition to natural laws, or by giving them a less or greater power than usual. In either of these cases, the events cannot be explained by natural laws; they are above, or contrary to nature, and, therefore, are called miracles, or prodigies.

[276] [G]eology furnishes us with some very striking examples of miraculous providence.


THE FUTURE CONDITION AND DESTINY OF THE EARTH ... 300  300  301  302  303  304  305  306  307  308  309  310  311  312  313  314  315  316  317  318  319  320  321  322  323  324  325  326  327  328  329
The future changes in the condition of the earth, as they are taught us by revelation and analogy, or, rather, by geology, will form the subject of my present lecture.


THE TELEGRAPHIC SYSTEM OF THE UNIVERSE ... 330   330  331  332  333  334  335  336  337  338  339  340  341  342  343  344  345  346  347  348  349  350  351  352  353  354  355  356  357

The principle which I advance in its naked form is this: Our words, our actions, and even our thoughts, make an indelible impression on the universe.


THE VAST PLANS OF JEHOVAH ... 358  358  359  360  361  362  363  364  365  366  367  368  369  370  371  372  373  374  375  376  377  378  379  380  381
My chief object in this lecture is to show what accessions to our knowledge of the divine plans have been derived from science, especially from geology. 

We will first look at man in the rudest condition in society, in which he has any idea of the existence of beings superior to himself.

In the second place, polytheism, especially among nations somewhat civilized, is an advance in man's conceptions of the Supreme Being.

The next step in man's knowledge of God was an immeasurable advance upon polytheism. I refer to the revelation which God made of himself to the Jews in the Old Testament.

The revelations of Christianity have brought to light so much respecting the moral character and moral government of Jehovah, as to leave little further to be desired or expected in this world.

The discoveries in modern astronomy constitute the fifth step in man's knowledge of God.

The sixth step in man's knowledge of Jehovah has been made by the microscope.

In. the seventh and last place, geology has given great enlargement to our knowledge of the divine plans and operations in the universe, and in the following particulars.

1. It expands our ideas of the time in which the material universe has been in existence as much as astronomy does in regard to its extent.

2. In the second place, geology gives us impressive examples of the extent of organic life on the globe since its creation.

3. In the third place, geology show us that the present system of organic life on the globe is but one link of a series, extending very far backward and infinitely forward.

4. In the fourth place, geology reveals to us a curious series of improvements in the condition of worlds, as they pass through successive changes.

5. Finally, geology discloses to us chemical change as a great animating, controlling, and conservative principle of the material universe.

[380] Such, then, in conclusion of the subject, is the religion of geology. It has been described as a region divided between the barren mountains of scepticism and the putrid fens and quagmires of infidelity and atheism; producing only a gloomy and a poisonous vegetation; covered with fogs, and swept over by pestilential blasts. But this report was made by those who saw it at a distance. We have found it to be a land abounding in rich landscapes, warmed by a bright sun, blest with a balmy atmosphere, covered by noble forests and sweet flowers, with fruits savoury and healthful. We have ascended its lofty mountains, and there have we been greeted with prospects of surpassing loveliness and overwhelming sublimity.

In short, no where in the whole world of science do we find regions where more of the Deity is seen in his works. To him whose heart is warmed by true piety, arid whose mind has broken the narrow shell of prejudice, and can grasp noble thoughts, these are delightful fields through which to wander. More and more they must become the favourite haunts of such hearts and such minds. For there do views open upon the soul, respecting the character and plans of the Deity, as large and refreshing as those which astronomy presents. Nay, in their practical bearing, these views are far more important. Mechanical philosophy introduces an unbending and unvarying law between the Creator and his works; but geology unveils his providential hand, cutting asunder that law at intervals, and planting the seeds of a new economy upon a renovated world. We thus seem to be brought into near communion with the infinite Mind. We are prepared to listen to his voice when it speaks in revelation. We recognise his guiding and sustaining agency at every step of our pilgrimage. And we await in confident hope and joyful anticipation those sublime manifestations of his character and plans, and those higher enjoyments which will greet the pure soul in the round of eternal ages.


SCIENTIFIC TRUTH, RIGHTLY UNDERSTOOD, IS RELIGIOUS TRUTH ... 382   382  383  384  385  386  387  388  389  390  391  392  393  394  395  396  397  398  399  400  401  402  403  404  405  406  407  408

THE connection between science and religion has ever been a subject of deep interest to enlightened and reflecting minds. Too often, however, up to the present time, has the theologian, on the one hand, looked with jealousy upon science, fearful that its influence was hurtful to the cause of true religion while, on the other hand, the philosopher, in the pride of a sceptical spirit, has scorned an alliance between science and theology, and even fancied many a discrepancy. Both these opinions are erroneous; and disastrously have they operated, as well upon science as upon religion. The position which I take, and which I shall endeavour to maintain, is, that scientific truth, rightly understood, is religious truth.