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The Mineral and Mosaic Geologies.
of the modes by which, and the times in which, the several classes of mineral matter composing this earth received their sensible formations.
“The latter of these geologies is of very great antiquity, and rests its credit for the truth of the historical facts which it relates, upon a record pretending to divine revelation, and acknowledged as such by the uriaterrupted assent of some of the best and wisest of mankind, for upwards of three thousand years. The former is of very recent origin, and can hardly be said to have existed in a state approaching to maturity for more than half a century. It does not indeed pretend to oppose any record to that of the other; but it aspires to establish a series of historical facts, by induction from chemical principles newly discovered, which, it affirms, disclose evi. dence of truth superior to any that is presented in the professedly historical document, and which must, therefore, qualify the credit which that document is entitled to receive.
“ It pretends that, by employing the method of analysis and induction from 'observation, sound principles of physics, and the rules of an exact logic, introduced by the happy revolution effected by Bacon and Newton in the studies of the nata. ral sciences, and by adhering to the rules taught and practised by those great teachers, it is able to reason from the sensible phenomena of mineral matter, to the mode of its first formations and subsequent changes.' The Mineral Geology (under which term our author includes the Wernerian and Huttonian, as well as all other geological systems not founded on the Mosaic history) appeals, therefore, to the philosophy of Bacon and Newton in proof of its own validity ; and since the merits of the two geologies can only be tried by applying both to some
common and agreed test, the Mosaic consents to submit itself unconditionally to the same philosophy, and to leare to its verdict the ultimate decision, which is true, and. which false—for so wholly contradictory are they to each other, that whichever of them be true, the other must of ne. cessity be absolutely and fundamentally false.'
“The mineral geology concludes, frona the crystalline phenomena of this earth, that it was originally a confused mass of elemental prin. ciples, suspended in a vast dissolution, a chaotic ocean, or original chaotic fluid ; which, after an unassignable series of ages, settled themselves at last into the order and correspondence of parts which it now possesses, by a gradual process of precipitation and crystallization, according to certain laws of matter, which it denominates the laws of affinity of composition and aggregation, and that they thus formed successively, though remotely in time, 1. a chemical, 2. a mineral, and lastly, a geognostic, which is its present, structure,
“ Is this conformable to Newton on the same subject?
“It seems probable to me (said the wise, sober, and circumspect Newton,) that God in the beginning, formed matter in solid, mas. sy, hard, impenetrable, moveable particles, of such sizes and figures, and with such other properties, and in such proportions to space, as most conduced to the end for which he formed them. All material things seem to have been composed of the hard and solid particles above-mentioned, variously associated in the first creation, by the counsels of an intelligent agent. For it became him who created them to set them in order, and if he did so, it is unpbilosopbical to seek for any other origin of this world, or to pretend that it might rise out of a chaos by the mere laws of nature; though, being once formed, it may continue by those laws for many ages.*
“So much for the first result of the application of the test.
“ The mineral geology has stated further, that during the long process of crystallization and precipitation, and before it attained to its present solidity, the earth acquired its peculiar figure that of an oblate spheroid) by the operation of the physi. cal laws which cause it to revolve on its axis.' This Newton had observed to be the form of the planets; and reasoning on the fact, he discovered that the rule of harmony and equilibrium' between the two antagonist powers of gravity and centrifugal force, can only be found in that figure. Hence the mineral geology appeals to his philosophy in support of its assertion, and concludes, 'since the earth has that spheroidal form which its motion of rotation ought to produce in a liquid mass, it follows, necessarily, that it must have been fluid.' “Thishowever does not follow necessarily, nor at all, nor is any
* Optics, L. iii. in fin.
The Mineral and Mosaic Geologies.
such consequence deducible from Newton's philosophy. Newton, with no other view than to illustrate his meaning, supposed an earth formed of an uniformly yielding substance, in order to shew that whilst at rest such a mass would be spherical, but that when made to revolve on its axis, it would assume a spheroidal form. But Newton constantly maintained that God at the beginning formed all material things (and, therefore, this earth which is one of them) of such figures and properties as most conduced to the end for which he formed them, and consequently, for the reasons already given, 'he formed the earth with the same figure, which, it is manifest, he has given to the other planets. Moreover, unless the earth was actually flatter at the poles than at the equator, the waters of the ocean constantly rising towards the equator, must long since have deluge ed and overwhelmed the equatorial regions, and have deserted the polar, whereas the waters are now retained in equilibrium over all its surface.' Thus its oblate spheroidal form is no proof of its original fluidity, though it is an incontestable one of that divine wisdom which fashioned it according to the strictest rule of harmony and equilibrium' between those laws which he had ordained it should for ever after be obedient to, and which therefore most conduce to the end for which he formed it.' Thus, both from crystalline character and from the obtuseness of spherical figure, the mineral geology concludes to chaos; whereas from both of these Newton concluded to God.'
“Our author proceeds to shew that this discordance between the conclusions of the mineral geology and those of Newton, arises from the analysis of the former being limited to mineral matter, whereas Newton's included all matter, of which mineral matter is only a part. The investigation of the mode of the first formation of mineral matter, must be connected with the inves. tigation of the mode of the first formation of all matter in the general, otherwise we assume a partial principle for a general, and setting out in error, must continue in it to the end. “Such a wonderful conformity in the planetary system,' said Newton,
6 must be the effect of choice, and so must the uniformity in the bodies of animals; these and their instincts can be the effect of nothing else than the wisdom and skill of a powerful, everliving agent.'
• With common sense and Newton, all first formations are creations, and by that term he denoted them. Were it otherwise, there would be formations before first formations, which is absurd. Deluc would not use the term created, because, said he, • in physics, I ought not to employ expressions which are not thoroughly understood between men.' Our author reprobates his conduct and his argument with just severity. · Was he aware,' says Mr. Penn, that in excluding the word, he at the same time excluded the idea associated with that word; and, together with the idea, the principle involved in that idea - the exclusion of which is the very parent cause of all materialism and all atheism ?'
“It was the all-sufficiency ascribed by the mineral geology to physical impressions, or what it denominates pheno rena, to determine the great question of the mode of the first formation of mineral substances, that induced it to check its analytical progress, short of the end to which it ought to have pursued it. Our author, therefore, proceeds to shew how insufficient phenomena alone are to determine that question.
“If a bone of the first created man now remained, and were mingled with other bones, pertaining to a generated race; and if it were to be submitted to the inspection and examination of an anatomist, what opinion and judgment would its sensible phenomena suggest respecting the mode of its first formation, and what would be his conclusion? If he were unapprized of its true origin, his mind would see nothing in its sensible phenomena, but the laws of its ossification ; just as the mineral geology • sees nothing in the details of the formation of minerals, but precipitations, crystallizations, and dissolutions. He would therefore naturally pronounce of this bone, as of all other bones that its fibres were originally soft,' until,in the shelter of the maternal womb, it acquired 'the hardness of a cartilage, and then of bone';' that this effect was not produced at once, or in a very short time,' but by degrees; “that after birth, it increase ed in hardness, by the continual addition of ossifying matter, until it ceased to grow at all.'
The Mineral and Mosaic Geologies,
Physically true as this reasoning would appear, it would nevertheless be morally and really false ; because it concluded from mere sensible phenomena, to the certainty of a fact which could not be established by the evidence of sensible phenomena alone ; namely,
the mode of the first formation of the substance of created bone.
“From hence we obtain a second principle, with respect to such first formations by creation, that their sepsible phenomena alone cannot determine the mode of their formation, since the real mode was in direct contradiction to the sensible indications of those phe
“ The same ingenious argument is then applied to vegetable first formations, and the just inference de duced from boththat, from phenomena alone, physics can determine nothing
concerning the mode of the first formations of the first individuals composing either the animal or vegetable kingdoms of matter.'
“ Nor are they 'a whit more competent to dogmatize concerning the mode of first formations, from the evidence of phenomena alone, in the mineral kingdom, or to infer that it was more gradual, or slower, than those of the other two. For;' continuing the comparison, and transferring it to created mineral matter, the sensible phenomena which suggest crystallization to the Wernerian, or vitrification to the Huttonian, in ex. amining a fragment of primitive rock, are exactly of the same authority, but not of a particle more, with that which would have suggested ossification and lignification to the anatomist and naturalist, who should unknowingly have inspected or analyzed created bone or created wood-and all would be equally in error, in concluding them to have been respectively formed by the modes of crystallization, ossification, and lignification. • The mineralogist can no more discover the mode of the formation of primitive rock by the laws of general chemistry'• than the anatomist can discover the mode of the formation of created bone, by the laws of generation and accretion.'
"Concluding, then, with Newton, that God at the beginning formed all material things' of such figures and properties as most conduced to the end for which he formed them, we per