Obrazy na stronie





“ And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. (Gen. i. 26.)

In this lecture we propose to treat upon the first chapter of Genesis, in its spiritual import—the creation of man. This chapter has generally been looked upon as a history of the creation of the material uni

For, after the loss of the science of correspondences, and while men remained ignorant of the lower sciences, and particularly of Astronomy, Geology, and Chemistry, they were in much mental darkness as to the physical laws as well as the spiritual. And in this ignorance, the literal sense of the account of the creation, was adapted to their gross states and wants. It was good for them to read it, to reverence it, and to believe it. For thereby they acknowledged the Lord, in His infinity, as the creator and sustainer of the universe. And they could therein regard Him as their heavenly Father. This instruction was just what they needed. It was all their states could bear.

But men were not always to remain in this ignorance. They were made for higher light and life than nature gives. But before they could advance to spiritual knowledge, they must lay its foundation in nature. It was for this reason that their existence commenced in this material mode of life. "First that which is natural, and afterward that which is spiritual.”

And as men investigated nature and reasoned upon her laws, the natural sciences were gradually seen, and their principles and rules noted, and laid down. And in this progress, a natural philosophy was gradually evolved, from the great universal laws of things. And upon the truth of this philosophy, they found that they could. implicitly depend, even to mathematical certainty. Therefore, in due time, they raised the mighty telescope, and looked in among the rolling worlds; and learned their comparative magnitudes, distances and revolutions; an event far more astounding in that day, than the steam engine and electric telegraph are in this. For the delusion was then broken. The earth ceased to be the great centre, the main body of the universe; and the sun, moon and stars, mere torches and tapers passing round it to light it. Thus men saw the sizes of our sun and earth, and perceived that the earth was not the primary, but a secondary body, and entirely dependent upon the sun for heat, light, germination and growth; and was daily turning to that sun for blessings, and revolving around him for seasons. And they saw in these things fixed and eternal laws.

With this sure, scientific light in the mind, men now look at the narrative of the creation, and they marvel at the idea, that this little earth, but a mere atom of dust in the balance against the rest, and even cold and opaque in its nature, should have been the first thing created in the whole universe : and that, here it was for a long time, solitary and alone, in boundless space, without sun, moon, or stars, to cheer the gloom ; and yet, wonderful to tell, bearing trees and vegetables, contrary to all known laws. And well may man wonder that the enormous sun, the great centre and physical source of a huge system of worlds, should have been the last heavenly body made ; or at least, not made until after one of his planets had been three immeasurable days in existence; and bearing trees ; days which are now considered, by Biblical scholars, to mean indefinite periods of time; probably not less than a thousand years each ; thus leaving the earth alone. in the gloom of its solitude, for thousands of years.

The geologist, also, begins to doubt and demur, as he reads this history of the creation. For, in the process of the earth’s formations, he beholds the animal kingdom treading upon the very heels of the vegetable, and mingling with it, at every step of its progressive creation. And he asks how it is possible, that all the animals and fishes, and reptiles and insects, were created on the fifth and sixth days, and all the vegetables and trees on the third, when geology tells so very different a story ? For she says the first vegetables were very small mosses upon the rocks, produced after the atmosphere and other elements had prepared the surface of the granite with mould enough to give growth to minute vegetables. And in these little vegetables, before the larger growths were produced, are found, minute animal organizations. And, as we turn over the leaves of the stone book, we see a regular progression of larger vegetables and larger animals, from the smallest


to the production of large animals and trees. This must have taken a long time, so that many animals, besides the creeping things, must have been formed before the earth produced large trees.

Thus the astronomer and geologist are giving up the divinity of the Word. They say, Which shall we believe, God's word or His works? We cannot believe them both, and retain our reason. To this question, the natural philosopher—the strong-minded man, answers, saying, Take His works : believe them; they cannot lie. While the zealous theologian, blindly de*voted to the letter of the Word, says, Take the Bible, and let science go : they cannot be reconciled. But a third voice speaks, saying, Take them both : they are God's own books, and they tell the same truths. Read them together, in the light of analogy : each is a key to the other, and verifies its divinity: Read, I beseech you, and every doubt will flee away.

The strongminded philosopher hears this third voice and turns to look. And as the light of correspondences beams into his mind, he beholds the truth of the Holy Word shining through the symbolic language ; and he yields the palm, saying, Both are true. The astronomer and geologist too, turn to look : and as they see the light of correspondences shining through nature's page in the speech of the written Word, they exclaim, Give God the glory : both books are true. And even the zealous theologian, at last, with caution, turns to look. He reads, and ponders upon correspondences; looks, and hesitates, and looks again, and turns the page backward and forth; but he cannot leave it till he finally cries out, Amen : thy will O God be done : both books are true : Nature and Revelation have met together : Science and Theology have kissed each other.

Let us then look at the sacred history, for that divine light, that we too may see its harmony and beauty and be blessed by its spirit. And in doing this, let us bear in mind, that it is the soul of man, that God everywhere speaks about, both in His Word and in His works: that the soul—the mind is the man ; the body is its mere clothing : that this history of the creation has nothing to do with the formation of man's natural body, nor the creation of the natural universe. God had, previous to this history, brought mankind into existence, in numbers we know not how many. They were not yet in the image and likeness of God ; because they knew nothing of His love and wisdom. They were simple, ignorant, harmless children of Nature ; with no knowledge of soul, mind, God or heaven : distinguished from the brutes only by a capacity to become spiritual. And in this ignorance they would have remained if their heavenly Father had not taught them spiritual things.”- The Bible, therefore, commences with an account of the process of the elevation of these human souls from natural to spiritual, and of thus making them real men, by giving them the image and likeness of God-the Infinite Man. And the narrative is perfectly applicable now to every person who knows not

« PoprzedniaDalej »