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The question, Whether the facts from which the geologists infer that the earth existed millions of ages prior to the Scripture era, are such as to render that conclusion unavoidable ? is not so settled as to preclude further examination. Though the philosophers appear pretty generally to have adopted this theory of high antiquity, and though some ecclesiastics have been forward to profess their faith in it, and in its consistency with the Scriptures, there are not wanting those, to whom that construction of facts and appearances from which the inference is derived, is not satisfactory, and who deem it safe for the present to adhere to the cosmogony of the Bible. To such, the importance of the subject in its relation to the sacred volume will, it is presumed, render acceptable an endeavour to show that the modern geological theory, and the methods proposed for reconciling the Mosaic record with it, are not well founded; or at least that they are open to as grave objections as the Hebrew text or the commonly received chronology.
The facts discovered by geological research are freely admitted. There can be no rational motive to deny or doubt them; nor is it material to the point at issue, whether all of them are correctly reported or not, whether different geologists agree or disagree with respect to many of them, or whether or not there are innumerable other and similar facts yet undiscovered. The only questions of importance relate to the causes of those facts, their nature and mode of operation, and the inferences to be deduced froin them. lf the facts were caused in the manner supposed by the geologists, then their inference as to the lapse of ages must be admitted. If, for example, the stratified rocks and the fossil remains contained in them, were deposited by the gradual operation of the causes which are now producing analogous results, slowly ef
fecting the decomposition of crystalline rocks, and transferring the detritus to the lower levels and depths of the sea ; then indeed inust we conclude that man's intellect is incompetent to compute or conceive of a number of years
sufficient to serve as an elemen in estimating the periods occupied by this process, prior to the "six days of Moses." Hence the geologists who hold this theory employ such phrases as, millions of millions of years, myriads of ages, inconceivable duration, &c., to show the inadequacy of language to convey any notion of the periods so occupied. Some of them leave to their readers no alternative but to conclude that the earth must be eternal, and that nature has progressively fashioned and improved it, and brought different classes of organized beings into ex. istence successively at different places, as the course and condition of things in other respects gave occasion. Others, however, believe and teach that the earth had a beginning, though they regard the facts of fossil geology as showing that there were many successive and distinct creations of plants and animals long antecedent to the creation of man. These, we are assured, have not existed by succession from eternity. “It is demonstrable from geology," says Doctor Buckland, " that there
“ was a period when no organic beings had existence; these organic beings must therefore have had a beginning subsequently to this pe
riod.” For no fossil remains of organic . beings have been found in the crystalline rocks, or elsewhere than in those formed by sedimentary deposits; therefore no such beings could have existed prior to the commencement of the process of stratification. If, as some allege, life may have existed during the formation of the crystalline bed, and the animal and vegetable remains may have been obliterated by the effect of intense heat from below ; it is answered, that this would but remove to a point further back the first term of the finite series of organic beings, for the series must stop short of the still melted mass beneath, which is supposed, by the same author, to exist at the depth of a hundred miles.' Such is the argument. To those, however, and there are such, referred