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In the fourth, and concluding Chapter, are advanced some of those many Moral uses properly to be educed from the established fact of the Earth's Antiquity, and which impart to this subject not merely the interest of an awakened curiosity, but also the impressment of high practical truths.
PRINCIPLES OF INTERPRETATION APPLICABLE TO THE SCRIPTURAL RECORD OF
Among these rocks and stones methinks I see
And I own
ATURE is not less richly gifted in her more
retired adornments, than in those outward robes of beauty that meet the casual eye. Copious, indeed, are the stores treasured up in the apparently most unpromising portions of her mysterious frame. What marvels of creative wisdom! what large materials for elevating thought lie entombed under
every footstep we mark upon the pregnant earth! We walk over the buried ruins of multitudinous worlds; the surface that bears us up is formed of the successive convolutions of innumerable creations -in long ancient time teeming with animal life, or glowing with vegetable beauty—while the records of their far-stretching history, shew forth in their deep-laid sepulchres their Maker's praise, for the most part unheeded and unknown. Confining its observation to the present epoch of the world's history, the heedless eye passes over the legible traces in the earth of long receding epochs of ancient worlds. Proud man will hardly believe, indeed, that this earth has had any thing to do with economies and existences with which he has not been connected ; bis self-consequence would fondly fancy that this globe has been the theatre, merely, of his exploits, and all the discovered evolutions of the earth he would date, only, from the period when human annals begin ; hence thousands of objects lying along our path which ought, with awakening voice, to speak to man's intellect, and to his devotional feelings of a wisdom illimitable, and the exercise of a power, in the earth's eternal Architect, stretching far beyond the sphere of human cognizance, have their marvels unnoticed, and their lessons of exalting piety unapplied. Justly we regard with pity the mental feebleness in the untutored Indian, who, looking upon the evening
sky, discerns in its starry expanse only a spangled canopy stretched for a covering over his head; or bending down to the grassy sod sees only a green carpet spread for his feet; and well we wonder that his eye can wander over such speaking oracles of Creation's power, unaroused to some accordant influ
But not less strange is it that civilized men, with intellects trained to a far-piercing mental sight, should, nevertheless, live the inhabitants of a terrestrial sphere so wonderfully framed and endowed, and yet remain insensible, as so many do, to the antique marvels of his own loved dwelling-place. What, in very truth, is this terrestrial abode he now, in his course, inherits? It is the repository of exhaustless mysteries; the chronicled archive of unnumbered epochs; the sepulchre of an infinite series of by-gone beings; the antique storehouse of long-elaborated appliances for human uses-displaying in its vast mysterious whole the noblest sanctuary yet opened to our view of the Almighty's goodness, and of His unsearchable skill. We lose much indeed of benefit and blessing, accessible to all, by this strange oversight of the wonderful matters abounding in this earthy globe we live on-yes, much is lost, that might expand our conceptions, and lead our thoughts heavenward, would we but read the records of former economies of the world on every rock we pass, and trace on every fossil relique our hands may touch the sculptured memorials of long passed away creations of beings
The just Creator condescends to write
His gracious attributes.
True it is indeed, that this strange, rich page in Nature's chronicles, has only recently been laid open, in any discernible manner, to our observation. It is but in late years that the researches of science have been directed so to penetrate into the buried records of the Earth, as to display the added testimony its monuments of deep antiquity yield to the great Creator's power. At no long distant period those terrestrial phenomena were only very dimly shadowed out, which, it has been reserved for investigators of the present day, to have clearly revealed to their view.
There is something singularly indicative of a peculiarity in the action of Divine Providence, in this gradual development only, which seems permitted, of the traces of the Creator's footsteps through His universe. One
has unfolded to it one extraordinary revelation of His creative wisdom, and to another age a farther advancing display of what He has done, is vouchsafed : each progressive manifestation more and more evidencing a unity of design