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in the future, we have no right to suppose there ever was one.
Such evidences, however, exist, of sudden, extraordinary, and violent action of water, as to require at least a hypothetical dispensation of this element from the rule of uniforın action. Accordingly he thinks we can foresee deluges like those of former times; and observes, that “in speculating on catastrophes by water, we may certainly anticipate great floods in future; and we may therefore presume that they have happened again and again in past times ;" and we may “introduce them into geological speculations respecting the past, provided we do not imagine them to have been more frequent or general than we expect them to be in time to come."
In this way he lays a foundation for reasoning in a circle whenever his theory of antiquity and causation requires it. Taking the position that the order of nature is now uniform, and has continued so for several thousand years, he assumes that it always was so; and construes all the phenomena he meets with accordingly. If we take it for granted at the outset that his theory is true, then bis constructions and inferences generally must be admitted; but they are not such of themselves as to prove the truth of the theory. The numerous instances which he has collected, and which evince extraordinary labour and ingenuity, of the results of this uniform course of physical operations in modern times, lose all their importance as grounds of argument in support of this theory, unless the truth of the theory itself be first assumed ; in which case, indeed, it inust be allowed to derive a seemingly cumulative support from the numerous facts which he ciles, and the relatior:s and analogies which he ingeniously assigns to them. In the progress of his work, he dissents from the now prevalent notion of internal heat, deeming it deficient of evidence, and too much a matter of mere speculation and hypothesis. Yet elsewhere he observes that, “in the rocks of high antiquity, many organic forms have been obliterated by various causes, such as subterranean heat, and the percolation of acidulous waters, which have operated during a long succession of ages."
He does not assume the eternity of the carth or of the present system of changes. That question he leaves as one which geological researches and reasonings cannot determine. “It has been urged,” he remarks, " that as we concede the astonishing fact of the first introduction of a moral and intellectual being, so also we may conceive the first creation of the planet itself. I am far from denying the weight of this reasoning from analogy; but although it may sirengthen our conviction, that the present system of changes has not gone on froin eterniiy, it cannot warrant us in presuming ihat we shall be permitied 10 behold the signs of the earth's origin, or the evidences of the first introduction into it of organic beings."
The introduction of man he regards as an event of no more significance in relation to ihe objects of his inquiry, ihan the introduce tion of any new race of animals. He contemplates man in this relation as a physical being, and alludes to his moral nature only
so far as to account for his greater interference with the irrational tribes under some circumstances than under others.
He supposes “ the general condition of the globe immediately before and after the period when our species first began to exist, to have been the same, with the exception only of man's presence ;” and limits his interference to his cultivating the earth, subduing and destroying animals and the like.
His views are not embarrassed by references to any thing contained in the sacred volume, except in a brief section on the “
supposed effects of the flood." The only rational inference which can be made from his work as a whole, is, that the earth is eternal, and has been subject to an unvarying and ceaseless round of change from existing physical causes.
It would be tedious to notice at any greater length the attempts which have been made to reconcile the Scriptures with the foregone conclusions of the geologists. Noris it needful; enough, it is presumed, has been said to show that those attempts fall very far short of what the case requires. What they offer is anything but satisfactory; and in place of adopting any of the hypotheses proposed, it were better and safer to conclude, that if the present geological theory respecting the age of the world, the successive creations of animals, &c., be true, it must be consistent with all that is revealed in the Bible, though it be impossible to make its consistency apparent.
But is that theory true ? Are the geologists correct in their inferences and conclusions from the facts of their subjeci ? Are they safe in placing such bold reliance on those inferences, when at variance with plain Scripture statements and implications ? Have they not, amid the novelties and physical wonders disclosed by their researches, yielded themselves quite loo easily to this captivating theory, and shut their eyes to whatever might threaten to disturb it?
Let it be observed that they all take a widely different view of the object or reason of