Imágenes de páginas

but the tropical and southern parts of the globe have not had their diluvial phenomena examined with care enough to enable us to decide whether this deluge extended so far. Yet from the powerful waves produced at a great distance by earthquakes beneath the ocean, it is difficult to conceive how a torrent of water should rush over the northern hemisphere, or even over the northern parts of America, without inundating by its direct or reflex action all other parts of the globe. We prefer, however, to speak of the last geological deluge as being extensive, rather than universal, until direct evidence be furnished of its being coextensive with the globe.

As to the extent of the Noachian deluge, the language of Scripture seems at first view to be very decided: And the waters prevailed exceedingly upon the earth ; and all the high hills that were under the whole heaven were covered. Alike universal are the terms employed repeatedly to denote the destruction of animals upon the earth : And behold I, even I, do bring a flood of waters upon the earth, to destroy all flesh, wherein is the breath of life, from under heaven; and every thing that is in the earth shall die. In spite of these strong expressions, not a few able writers have understood them as simply universal terms with a limited meaning. Of such cases numerous examples might be quoted in the sacred records. Thus, in Gen. 41: 57, it is said, that all countries came into Egypt to Joseph to buy corn, because that the famine was sore in all lands. Here we have reason to suppose that only the well known countries around Egypt are meant. Again, 1 Kings 10: 24: And all the earth sought to Solomon to hear his wisdom: that is, doubtless, his fame was very extensive, and many sought to him, but not literally the whole earth. We have also a case in point in Deut. 2: 25: This day I will begin to put the dread of thee and the fear of thee upon the nations that are under the whole heavens, who shall hear report of thee, and shall tremble, and be in anguish because of thee. An analogous case is that of the animals shown to Peter in vision, let down in " a certain vessel,” wherein were all manner of four-footed beasts of the earth, and wild beasts and creeping things, and fowls of the air, (Acts 10: 12.) Who will imagine that all the quadrupeds, reptiles, and birds on the globe, were here shown to the apostle ? Is it not clear that this is an example of the principle stated by Aristotle : toyáo návres airτι πολλοί κατα μεταφοράν είρηται, « all is said metapliorically


many ?We might quote here the declaration of Paul to the Colossians (Col. 1: 23) wherein he speaks of the Gospel which was preached to every creature which is under heaven. No one can suppose that the apostle meant that the Gospel had in that day been literally preached to every creature under heaven: for every reader must have known the contrary to be true. But it had been preached very extensively; and thus would every reader understand it; so conformable was the mode of expression to the idiom of the Bible, and indeed of all languages. “ The Jews," says Michaelis, “ have well observed, that 56, all, every, is not to be understood, on all occasions, with the mathematical sense of all; because, it is also used to signify many." The same is true of the Greek tās, the Latin omnis, the English all, etc. Even in the description of the flood in Genesis there is one of these universal terms employed, whose meaning we are obliged to limit. It was commanded to Noah - of every living thing of all flesh, pairs of every sort, shalt thou bring into the ark to keep them alive. Here we must limit the term all flesh, to such animals as needed a shelter from the cataclysm. Most writers on the Scriptures are now willing to admit that not even pairs of all the land animals, amounting it is now well known to several hundred thousand, were collected from every part of the earth into the ark. Even Granville Penn, in his severe strictures upon geology, as he understands it, or rather as he misunderstands it, takes this ground. But the younger Rosenmüller very justly contends, that if the universality in respect to the animals saved in the ark be given up, so must the universality in respect to its extent: that

if limit the terms in the one case, we may in the other. Such has been the conclusion of

able commentators. “ It is evident,” says bishop Stillingfleet,“ that the flood was universal as to mankind; but from thence follows no necessity at all of asserting the universality of it as to the globe of the earth, unless it be sufficiently proved that the whole earth was peopled before the flood.” (Orig. Sacr. Book 3. chap. 4.) i consentiunt quidem omnes,' says Le Clerc, “ diluvium universale fuisse, quatenus totum orbem habitatum oppressit, universumque humanum genus, exemptâ Noachi familiâ, eo interiit. At alii volunt totum telluris globum aquis obrutum fuisse, quod alii negant." “Non putandum est,” says Poole in his Synopsis, “totum terrae globum aquis tectum fuisse.



we may

[ocr errors]

Quid opus erat illas mergere terras, ubi homines non erant ? Licet ergo credamus ne centissimam quidem orbis partem aquis fuisse obrutam, erit nihilominus diluvium universale, quia clades totum orbem oppressit.”

" Num diluvium totum terrarum orbem inundavit," says Dathe, "an regiones tantum eo tempore habitatas dissentiunt interpretes. Ego quidem facio cum his, qui posterioram sententiam defendunt-Vocabulum omnis, non probat inundationem fuisse universalem. Constet multis in locis 35 intelligendum esse tantum de re, sive loco de quo agitur, Cap. 2: 19, 20. Ezek. 31 : 6. Igitur omnia animalia, in navem intromissa sunt earum regionum, quae aquis inundandae. Sic quoque de montibus sentiendum est, quos aquae superaverunt.

We doubt, therefore, whether the language of Moses requires us to admit that he meant to impute an universality to the deluge coextensive with the earth. But if it be a fact that the ark did rest upon the summit of the present mount Ararat, in Armenia, and that the waters rose fifteen cubits above that level, we can hardly conceive it possible that so mighty a wave should not sweep over the whole globe, either in its flux or reflux. For according to the recent observations of professor Parrot, that mountain is 15,219 English feet above the ocean. There are two suggestions, however, that may throw some doubt over this conclusion. Some authors do not think it certain that the present mount Ararat is the Ararat (077%) on which the ark rested. “The stream of interpreters,” says Mr. Kirby, “ancient and modern, place this mountain in Armenia ; but Shuckford, after Sir Walter Raleigh, seems to think that Ararat was further to the east and belonged to the great range anciently called Caucasus and Imaus, which terminates in the Himmaleh mountains to the north of India. This opinion seems to receive some confirmation from Scripture, for it is said, as they journey ed from the east, they found a plain in the land of Shinar. Now the Armenian Ararat is to the north of Babylonia, whereas the Indian is to the east.”+ Mr. Kirby quotes also the tradition prevalent in India that the ark was moored at first to the Himmaleh, and he considers its superior height as corresponding better than that of Ararat with the long period of ten weeks that intervened after the ark first rested, before the tops of other

• Pentateuchus a Dathio, p. 63.
| Bridgewater Treatise, p. 25. Philad. 1836.

mountains were seen. These arguments are not perhaps sufficient to overweigh the almost universal testimony of antiquity; yet they are not without weight. We venture to make another suggestion. Is it certain that the ark rested upon the highest summit of Ararat ? The language of Moses does not surely teach that such was the fact; for he merely states that the ark rested upon the mountains of Ararat, or Armenia (778 77759, Gen. 8: 4). And we might presume that the place of descent would be chosen by God in a convenient spot for reaching the plain below; whereas the summit of Ararat is so difficult of ascent, that not until A. D., 1829, did man succeed in setting his foot upon it. So that nothing but a miracle could have enabled the men and animals preserved in the ark to descend in safety. We confess that the point where the ark rested must have been very elevated, because we find it to have been ten weeks afterwards before the tops of other mountains began to appear, although the waters were continually decreasing.

If we mistake not, then, the deluges of Scripture and of geology, may, or may not, have been universal, in consistency with the language of the sacred history, and with the facts of science as they are at present understood. They agree, therefore, in having been very extensive, if not universal. And in view of such proofs of their identity, it should require decisive evidence to the contrary to disjoin them. The following are the principal objections to this identity.

1. The great preponderance of extinct species of organic beings in diluvium. Some of these species appear to have existed through several geological periods anterior to the diluvial epoch. Now it is known that the more unlike existing animals and plants are to the remains of those in a particular formation, the more ancient do we conclude that formation to be. On the same principle, the presumption is rather in favor of placing the last aqueous catastrophe which geology describes at a period earlier than man's creation.

2. No human remains are found in diluvium. If man had existed and in great numbers, there seems no reason why his remains should not occur along with those of other animals. There is no way to avoid this conclusion but by supposing the antediluvians to have been limited to central Asia, whose diluvium has been as yet little explored.

3. The period occupied by the Mosaic deluge was too short

to have produced the diluvial phenomena which geology exhibits. We confess we have been deeply impressed with this objection, when witnessing the powersul denuding effects of the the last geological cataclysm. It is not merely the vast accumulations of diluvium, nor the smoothed and furrowed aspect of the hardest rocks, that have seemed to demand more time than the year of the Noachian deluge ; but the scooping out of vallies, and that too of considerable depth, and in solid rock. True, there are distinct marks of a power and violence in the diluvian waters of which we see no examples at present in aqueous currents ; and we feel at a loss to determine how much more rapidly this unknown increase of power might have accoinplished the work of denudation. We ought to recollect too, that when we look upon a valley through which a powerful current of water has rushed, we are not generally able to determine whether that current has formed the whole valley, or only given it its last form. Another circumstance, also, has struck us as indicating that even the geological deluge did not occupy an immense period. Along the rocky banks of existing rivers, we have almost always found more or less of those excavations in the rocks called pot holes, produced by the long continued gyratory motion of pebbles in a cavity. But distinct as are the marks of the diluvial waters, we never saw any of these peculiar excavations. And we cannot but impute their non-existence to the want of sufficient time during the cataclysm.

Upon the whole, the arguments against the identity of the two deluges appear to us rather to preponderate. “This important point, however," to use the language of Dr. Buckland, “cannot be considered as completely settled, till more detailed investigations of the newest members of the Pliocene, and of the diluvial and alluvial formations shall have taken place.”* We feel no great anxiety how this question is settled, as to its bearing upon revelation. But examined in the true spirit of the Baconian philosophy, it seems to us that there is quite too much evidence of the identity of the two deluges, and quite too much ignorance of the whole subject of diluvium yet remaining, to permit an impartial geologist to decide peremptorily, as some have done, that they could not have been contemporaneous. We rather prefer that state of mind in which the judgment remains undecided, waiting for further light. Meanwhile it is

• Bridgewater Treatise, p. 95. Vol. I. London, 1836. VOL. XI. No. 29.


« AnteriorContinuar »