Abbildungen der Seite

see how any one can deny that it anticipates science as well, since the larger term must of necessity include the lesser ; and there are many historical prophecies in Scripture involving a far more accurate knowledge of science than we have any reason for believing prevailed generally at the time of their original promulgation. We say nothing here of the Philosophy of History itself — of which the Bible exhibits the most astonishing and accurate knowledge ; nor of its insight into the moral and intellectual structure of our species, which must convince every unprejudiced mind that its Great Author “needed not that any should testify to Him of man, for He knew what was in man.” But we shall confine ourselves principally to those departments of natural philosophy with which it is generally supposed the sacred writers had little to do, but with respect to which we shall endeavour to make it evident, they have not only overtaken all modern discoveries, but are, even in this enlightened day, still in advance of the age.

It must strike every thinking mind as a very remarkable fact—that a book written in such remote times as the old Testament, should remain untouched by the progress of science, and philosophy up to the present hour. Bearing in mind this only consideration, that it treats popularly, and not technically or critically, all matters connected with science, we may safely challenge the most enlightened philosophers of the day to point out a single mis-statement—a solitary text refuted, or even impugned, by any discovery in astronomy, geology, or natural history, which has taken place up to the middle of the nineteenth century.

An unfair advantage is often taken by scientific or pseudoscientific infidels on this point. They insist that the Bible should speak with all the studied accuracy, the exact technicality, of a preceptive dissertation—that it should state facts as they are absolutely, rather than as they stand with reference to ourselves; and exult as if they had achieved a victory over truth itself, when they find the sacred writers condescending to speak intelligibly, on subjects which they themselves would invest with all the affectation, or trammel with all the niceties, of scholastic learning. This appears exceedingly disingenuous, especially as it assumes the very position which we have already denied, that the Bible was intended to teach philosophy. It were, perhaps, needless to repeat that we do not sympathize with this opinion, though if we did so, the ground does not appear to be utterly untenable, since these very men know that in works expressly designed to teach science, the language is always more or less accommodated to popular prejudice, Even in the Nautical Almanac, the text-book of the practical astronomer, we shall find two columns headed respectively“ Sun rises,” and “ Sun sets”—whereas every one knows that strictly speaking he does neither one nor the other. And it may be doubted whether any one of these same scientific objectors, in describing a balloon voyage, would write thus :

“ On the night of day 1,750,390, Mr. Green the celebrated air-diver made his forty-fifth descent from Chelsea. The village had set some hours previously, and it was consequently dark, but the street lights were for a time visible above him. The iron shafts rising from the lamps and terminating in a ceiling of new gravel, had a picturesque effect. At the depth of 2,000 feet, Mr. Green threw out large quantities of ballast, which rose in a perpendicular line like an apple from a tree, the balloon sinking rapidly all the time till it had attained a depth of 4,000 feet. The intrepid air-diver now slid up a rope projected from the bottom of the car, and having fired the rockets he had taken with him, clambered down again with some difficulty, entered the car. After a pleasant swim of ten minutes Mr. G. made good his ascent in Twickenham-meadows, where he received able assistance from some laborers, who, having procured a carriage, secured the balloon above the seat, while Mr. Green suspended himself, head downwards, beneath it, and in this manner returned to town."

This illustration will perhaps shew the folly of such objections as are sometimes made to the statements of Scripture on subjects connected with philosophy and science. Yet absurd as it appears, it is but partially exact and technical. To have made it altogether so, we must have rendered it quite unintelligible. Yet the very men who would stigmatize it as highly ridiculous and pedantic, would allege with great pertinacity that the Bible is much behind the age, because it speaks of the sun rising,

and re

setting, and standing still ;* and of the earth as established for ever that it cannot be moved !

But if the very enlightened phraseology just referred to be in advance even of our own day, what would have been the fate of the Bible had it adopted a similar style of language two or three thousand years ago? We see therefore some reason for that popularity of diction which characterizes the sacred writings, as well as for that all-wise reserve which lets in upon their scientific statements, just such light, and such only, as is required to fit them for general reception under the gradual development of circumstances. Had the Bible said more on these subjects, it would have stirred up a vast army of objectors: had it said less, we should have lost one of our most striking and interesting arguments for its authenticity and its Divine origin.

On this point Dr. Gaussen has the following beautiful and apposite remarks

“Two striking facts, burn with vivid lustre as soon as they are examined, and at once discover in the Scriptures the pen of the Omnipotent God. Here, as everywhere else, the objections when closely examined become arguments, and turn upon those who originate them, to the triumph of truth.

“These two facts are analogous to what may be observed in the language of a learned astronomer conversing with his children of tender years, and pointing out to them with his finger the heavens and the earth. If you follow him in this intercourse, in which his tenderness stooping to their level presents to their opening intelligence images and words which they can understand, you will soon be struck with his respect for truth in two ways: First, he will never tell them anything but what is true; and secondly, there will be in his language very manifest indications that he knows more than he wishes to impart to them. He would undoubtedly not pretend to instruct them in science; but, on the one hand, nothing in his communications would contradict his principles; and, on the other, much of what he said would show that what he was silent about he yet thoroughly understood. At a later period of time, when his children having attained to manhood would reconsider his instruction, not only would they find it exempt from all error, but they would moreover recognise that by its wise adaptation to their capacity it was already in pre-established harmony with science, and that its germ had been presented to their unconsciousness. In proportion as their own mental powers unfolded, they would with admiration discover under the reserve and simplicity of his language much concealed wisdom, learned and accurate observations, turns of phrase and expressions which harmonised with facts to them at the time unknown, but with which he had himself long been familiar.

* With reference to the miraculous arrest of the sun at the command of Joshua, Dr. Gaussen calls attention to the very remarkable fact, that the moon is represented as stayed at the same time. Can we for one moment suppose that the mutual relation of these bodies was generally known at the period referred to; and if not, how, but by Divine teaching, could the leader of Israel be in possession of a fact unknown to all the world beside ?

"Well, such is also the double character which every attentive reader may discern in the language of the Scriptures. They speak in poetry, but with precision, the true language of appearances. We there hear a father who addresses himself to the youngest of his children; but in such a manner that the eldest of them can never find a single sentence contrary to the true condition of the things which he has created; and in such a manner also, that he frequently and unconstrainedly, as it were, suffers expressions to escape him which shall show them that what they have learned of his works during four thousand years, he knew before them and better than they. Thus it is that, in the Bible, eternal wisdom addresses itself to its child

In proportion as they advance to riper years, they find the Scripture suited to their age, adapted to their mental development, appearing to grow with their growth, and always exhibiting to them the two facts which we have dwelt upon,on the one hand, the absence of all error; and on the other, indirect but incontestible indications of a science which has preceded all that man ever possessed."

Thus much premised, we shall now attempt to shew that in matters of mere human learning—in science, philosophy, and natural history, the Bible exhibits such a marvellous foreknowledge as is possessed by no human mind, and that conse


“ It is Written"--see page 471,

66 God

quently it must have emanated from a Being infinitely superior

- from Him, in fact, to whom time and space are as nothing, and before whom all things lie open and naked.

Let us look first at the astronomical disclosures of the Bible, In the very first mention made of the heavenly bodies, we cannot but remark the sublime, simple, appropriate, and yet critically exact-terms in which they are introduced. made two great lights; the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night: the stars also.”

In this compendious description there is not a single word with which the most captious astronomer can quarrel. Does he tell us that the “ stars” form no part of our system, and that possibly many of them existed before the Adamic creation—the Bible says nothing to the contrary. It neither gives the how, the when, the why, they were created; but simply claims for them the same Almighty Maker as for the other parts of the universe- God made the stars also."

We shall see this severe majesty of the Scriptures in a still more interesting light, if we contrast it with the statements made in the false scriptures of the heathen-those pretended revelations, which many of the ancients laid claim to—the shastres, and pouranas, and vedas of the Hindoos, or the magic oracles of Zoroaster-the divine Zoroaster, as he is still called in Persia and the East. One extract from the latter will suffice.

" The Father congregated seven firmaments of the world, “ Circumscribing heaven in a round figure, “ And fixed a great company of inerratic stars; “ And he constituted a septennary of erratic animals,

Placing Earth in the middle."" The seven firmaments, the spherical form of the heavens, the seven planets, and the central earth, are all now proved to be fictions; and the theory of the inerratic or fixed stars is seriously endangered by recent discoveries. But not so the astronomy of Holy Writ. The very smell of the fierce fires of contention to which that system has been subjected has not passed on it, and it still flourishes unhurt amid the crash of human speculations.

Even in the Apocryphal books appended to our own Scrip

« ZurückWeiter »