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explorations, and, in one of his hunting excursions, was
trampled to death by a wounded and infuriated elephant.
When this Article was commenced, and even when put to
press, the most confident expectation was entertained, on
what seemed reliable assurances, that Dr.. Livingstone's vol-
ume would be received in season to have the advanced sheets
reviewed in this connection. But up to this day (June 11th)
but the merest outline with many of the spirited and graphic
Illustrations have been received by the American Publish-
ers. It will be duly presented in our pages hereafter — ^per-
haps in connection with Dr. Earth's Exploration of Northern
and Central Africa ; and Lieut. Burton's Journals in Eas-
tern Africa — ^thus compassing with this article, the whole
of that interesting quarter of the globe.



THE TESTIMONY OF THE ROCKS:

Or, Gedogy in its Bearings on the Two Theologies ^ Natural
and Bevealed, By Hugh Miller. With Memorials of
• the Death and Character of the Author. Boston:
Gould & Lincoln.

Our age is often abused for an alleged want of heroism.
It is called a hard and practical age, deficient in poetry and
sentiment: divorced from chivalry^ and wedded to money-
making. Carlyle pours out a torrent of sarcasm and scorn
on the pigmy men of our generation, ceaseless as the flood
from the dragon's mouth in the Apocalypse, and evokes
Abbott Samson from the shades of the past as a model of
true heroism. Such despair over human degeneracy, indi-



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450 The Testimony of the Bocka. [July,

cates rather the dim eye than the dark place. The stupid
Mexican treads unconsciously on the golden sands of the
Pacific shore, which unfold their hidden wealth to the clear-
sighted Anglo-Saxon. There is no want of heroism in our
day. The belted knights of Cressy and Agincourt were
not braver or more chivalric than the six hundred Crimean
warriors from the ^* nation of shop-keepers/' who made the
brilliant but hopeless charge at Balaklava. Jason, with
his adventurous crew, skirting the shores of the Euxine,
cannot compete in heroism with Florence Nightingale and
her angel band, sailing over the same waters for higher
ends. No hero embalmed in immortal verse by Ariosto, or
Tasso, or the Northern Sagas, for conflicts dire with giants,
and dragons, and sorcerers, in defence of fair lady, can
take the palm of chivalry from Kane and McRae, battling
with the ice-king in his strong fortresses, and storming the
cave of -^olus to carry succor to lost mariners.

Heroism in the human heart is not extinct. The form
may change, but the spirit is eternal. It may be found to-
day in many a lowly home, where a life-long sufferer wastes
to the grave without repining; by many a hearth, where
parent and child, alike children of toil, struggle cheerfully
for a bare subsistence. Hugh Miller deserves a high place
with the foremost heroes of any age. His pride in honest
labor ; his manly preference of a life of toil to a life of de-
pendent ease; his choice of a mason's trade, as a matricu-
lation in nature's university, introducing him to the strange
hieroglyphics sculptured on many a rocky page ; his iron
purpose, never relenting during a fifteen years' experience
of harsh masters, and rude companions, and filthy lodg-
ings, and tables scantily spread with porridge and ban-
nocks ; his rigid economy for the body to buy food for the
soul ; his stern adherence to right at the sacrifice of com-
fort and popularity ; his high aims, which gathered fresh
strength and fortitude from difficulties insurmountable to
others, all mark him as a hero, nobler, and more worthy of
reverence, because more human, than Amadis de Gaul or
the Chevalier Bayard.

Hugh Miller seems to us the finest model of a self-educa-



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1857.] The Testimony of the Bocks. 451

ted man in literary history. Struggling painfully upward,
like Burns, from the Sottish peasantry, with less of sun-
shine and fewer words of good cheer in early manhood, he
shared none of the poet's bitterness against worldly supe-
riors, and was equally free from the low vices which clouded
the poet's genius and shortened his days. With less of
practical sagacity and talent for statesmanship than Frank-
lin, he had a higher poetic imagination, and profounder
religious sensibilities, and a nobler character. Self-educa-
ted men are liable to peculiar prejudices ; they are gener-
ally crotchety; but it would be hard to find a better speci-
men of a well-rounded mind than Hugh Miller, free alike
from weakness and from vanity.

His intellect was robust and healthy, having no taint of
the morbidness common to genius, which often pains one in
the pages of Carlyle, and Foster, and Tennyson, and De
Quincey. He united a fine imagination with reasoning
powers of the first order. A keen and sagacious observer
of nature and men, often penetrating to fundamental laws
by that intuitive perception, which in it* lower range is so
striking a characteristic of woman, and in its higher sphere
belongs to all great discoverers, he was eminently cautious
and deliberate in forming and expressing opinions. In an
age fruitful in scientific speculations, he scarcely embraced
an error, or was compelled to retract an opinion. When
we add to these qualities of mind his generous culture,
which was broader and richer than that of most men trained
in the schools, including all that is noteworthy in English
poetry, history, philosophy and theology; and his charm-
ing style, pronounced by good judges the best English of
the age, and combining the purity of Goldsmith with the
vigor of Bolingbroke and the dignity of Hooker, one may
be pardoned for cherishing a reverential love for the man,
not unlike the attachment of the Highland clansman to his
hereditary chief.

He did more than any man of his age to popularize Ge-
ology, and awaken an enthusiasm in this youthful science
among the people. As Chalmers' "Astronomical Dis-
courses" and Nichols' "Architecture of the Heavens"



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452 2 he Testimony of ike Bocks. [J«ly>

opened the wonders of astronomy to the apprehension of
the common mind, the "Old Red^andstone" and "Fooir
prints of the Creator" hrought the miarvellous facts of ge^
ology into the hovel of the peasant as well as the study of
the scholar. His exquisite style invested the mysteries of
earth's ancient history with a fascination scarcely surpassed
by the latest romance of Scott, and many a reader became
as familiar with the habits of the Ptericthys and Asterole-
pis, as with the customs of Mac Ivor and Montrose. The
volume before us contains the ripened fruits of his genius,
and learning, and piety. It will take rank, we believe, as
the ablest of his works, and the richest contribution made by
English literature to physico-theological science. It is a
wonderful book. One knows not whether to admire most
the profoundness of his learning, or the clearness and vigor
of his reasoning, or the richness of his literary allusions, or
the magical grace of his style^ or his intelligent and rever-
ential piety. As the warrior is content to die on the bat-
tle-field in the arms of victory, we know not that Hugh
Miller could have chosen a better hour for death, (if it had
not come by his own hand, in the wildness of delirium,)
than when he had completed this demonstration that the
Gtod of Eevelation is also the Author of Nature, and laid it
as an humble offering on the altar of religion.
. The Memorials prefixed by the American publ»her0
add much to the value of the work. They make us ac-
quainted with his private life, and the esteem in which he
was held by the scholars and the common people of Scot-
land. They attest the purity of his character, the frank-
ness and courtesy of his manners, and the genuineness of
his piety. When pretenders to science, like Nott and Glid-
don, sneer at the Bible and the Christian fitith ; and pop-
ular writers, like Dickens, caricature the clergy and Evan-
gelical religion, it is refreshing to find a truly great man,
like Miller, acknowledging his indebtedness to the instrao-
tions of the pulpit, bowing humbly like a little child before
the Bible as the fbuntain of all truth. We shall give a
brief analysis of the work, before passing to any^olwerva-
iioTLB on its teachings.



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1857.] The Testvmmy of the Rocks. 453

The first chapter, on the PcdceorUological History of
Plants^ demonstrates the important truth, that a great
principle of order has regulated the introduction of vege-
table life on earth from its first beginning. The character
of vegetable life has steadily improved. We may trace the
evidence of continuous progress from the flowerless plants,
without proper stem or leaf, to the dicotyledonous plants
and trees, which include the most important varieties of our
era, and this progress has been in a direct scientific line.

"It is a marvellous fact, whose full meaning we can as yet but im-
perfectly comprehend, that myriads of aees ere there existed a human
mind, well nigh the same principles of classification now developed by
man's intellect in our better treatises of zoology and botany, were devel-
oped on this earth in the successive geologic periods ; and that the by-
past productions of our planet, animal and vegetable, were chronolog-
ically arranged in its history, according to the same laws of thought
which impart regularitv and order to the works of the later naturabsts
and phytologists." P. 35.

The classification adopted by Lindley in botanical sci-
ence, is precisely the same, with a single exception, (which
may soon be removed by a new discovery,) with the order
in which geology teaches that plants were introduced upon
the earth's surface, and Mr. Miller suggests the pertinent
inquiry,

"Whether we have not a new argument in the fact, for an identity in
constitution and Quality of the Divine and human minds; not a mere
fanciful identity, the result of a disposition on the part of man to imag-
ine to himself a God bearing his ovm likeness, but an identity real and
actual, and the result of that creative act by which God has formed man
in His own image." P. 36.

The second chapter, on the Palceontdlogical History of
Animals, develops a similar fact in the introduction of an-
imal tribes. The geological order of fossils in the earth's
strata, corresponds with the scientific classification of the
best naturalists. It brings out, also, a curious fact in the
history of the different classes of vertebrata. There have
been periods of high development and subsequent decline;
and each class, at the time of its highest development, has
given distinct foreshadowings of the superior order next to
come. He quotes the following language from Agassiz:

9



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454 The Testimony of the Bocks. [July,

'Tt is plain that before the class of reptiles was introduced upon oar
globe, the fishes, being then the only representative of the ,type of ver-
tebrata, were invested with the characters of a higher order, embodying,
as it were, a prospective view of a higher development in another class,
which was introduced as a distinct type only at a later period ; and from
that time, the reptilian character, which had been so prominent in the
oldest fishes, was gradually reduced, till in more recent periods, and in
the present creation, the nshes lost all this herpetological relationship,
and were at last endowed with characters which contrast as much when
compared wiUi reptiles, as they agreed closely in the beginning." P. 99.

The third chapter, on '' The Two Records^ Mosaic and Ge-
otogical/* has been previously published in this country, and
is the raciest and most eloquent in the volume. It presents
a new theory for harmonizing the narrative of the creation
in Genesis with the known facts in geology, and confesses
that the theories of Chalmers and Pye Smith, considered
Satisfactory a few years ago, have been outgrown by geo-
logical discoveries. He considers the ^^days" of Grenesis
as prolonged periods, instead of natural days, and believes
the seventh day to be yet in progress, for 'Hhe work of re-
demption is the work of Grod's Sabbath day."- The illus-
tration, drawn from the collection in the British Museum,
of the vegetable, and reptilian, and mammalian periods,
corresponding to the third, and fifth, and sixth days of cre-
ation, is one of the finest pieces of descriptive painting in
the English language.

The fourth chapter, on the Mosaic Vision of Oreaiiony
continues the discussion of the same subject, and is an in-
genious and well elaborated argument for the theory that
Moses received his knowledge of the great facts of creation
by vision, instead of verbal inspiration. God revealed to
him in this way the pattern of the tabernacle, and to other
prophets the future events which they foretold. On this
theory, the narrative in Genesis is not an accurate account
of facts, but a description of scenes and occurrences as they
would appear optically to an observer. As in prophecy the
event may be wholly misapprehended, until read by the
light of its accomplishment, so the narrative in Genesis
must be interpreted by the facts of science. The brighten-
ing and fading of the successive tableaux in the vision,
woidd naturally suggest, also, the rising and setting of the



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1867.] The Testimony of the Bocks, 455

sun, and explain the use of the word "day." The argu-
ment may fail in carrying conviction to many minds, but
it is a fine specimen of ingenious and cumulative reasoning,
and the description of the progress of the vision, reminds
one of the grandest passages in the Paradise Lost.

Chapters fifth and sixth, on Geology in its Bearings on the
Two Theol(KneSy are the most original and suggestive in the
volume. As the author said of an article of McCosh on
*' Typical Forms,'' they contain the seeds of a rich volume.
He brings in geology as a skillful teacher of natural reli-
gion. It refutes the skeptical theory of an infinite success-
ion of beings, by proving that all orders of existence of
"which we have any knowledge, had an actual beginning.
It refiites, also, the doctrine of development, by exhibiting
the growth of individuals and tribes from birth to death,
but indicating nowhere the transformation of one species
into another. It refutes, also, the argument of Hume,
that from a single effect we can know nothing of the pro-
ducing cause, and confirms the old argument from design,
by showing that the whole history of creation has been in
a direct line of progress, and that "man is the end toward
which all the animal creation has tended from the first ap-
pearance of the first palsezoic fishes. ' ' It confirms, also, the
doctrine of revelation that man has been made in the Di-
vine image, for he is an intelligent agent to carry forward
the Divine planTFor cultivating and beautifying the earth's
surface, and developing the capacities of inferior tribes. In
constructive power he is ever imitating the wonderful con-
trivances visible in the animate creation ; and in his aesthe-
tic culture, he only re-produces combinations of color and
form found in the fossils of past ages. "There is no form of
the volute known to the architect but may be found in the
rocks ; but there are many forms in the rocks unknown to
the architect." The sixth chapter contains, also, some sug-
gestive passages on the Unity of the Human Bace, and the
possible origin of the present diversities, in the degrada-
tion consequent upon sinful habits in successive generations.
Chapters seventh and eighth, on the Noachian Dduge^
present strong and, as it appears to us, unanswerable ar-



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456 The Tdstimony of (he Bocks. [July,

guments against the old theory of a universal deluge, and
maintain that all the ends of retribution for sin were an-
swered by flooding the regions inhabited by man. They
present, also, a vivid picture of the means by which such a
deluge may have been occasioned, in harmony with processes
well known in geologic history.

Chapter ninth, on the Discoverable and the l^^ealedy dis-
cusses with rare discrimination the object of a revelation
from heaven. The author maintains that it is to make known
truth which cannot be discovered by the senses or the rea-
son. The Bible was never designed to teach scientific but
religious truth, and it uniformly describes the scientific
fects as they appear to an ordinary observer.

Chapter tenth, on the Geology of the ArUi-OeologistSj ex-
poses the wild assumptions and incoherent reasonings of
the men who pretend to explain the phenomena of nature,
while they deny the first principles of geological science.
It is a running fire of irony, and logic, and sarcasm, and
pleases us less than any chapter in any of the author's
works. It is the only instance of uncharitableness we can
recall in his writings.

Chapters eleventh and twelfth, on the Less Known FosssU
Floras of Scotland, are valuable contributions to the ge-
ological history of Scotland, but quite out of place in this
volume, and seriously mar its harmony. ^

As this work presents the latest results of geological re-
search, so far as they relate to the Scriptures, we propose to
survey briefly the points of contact between Geology and
the Bible, and to show how far its discoveries have modified
Biblical interpretation, and in what respects they have il-
lustrated or confirmed important Biblical doctrines.

1. In what particulars has Gteology modified the common
interpretation of the Bible?

(a.) The Antiquity of the Earth.

Unscientific readers would infer from the first chapter of
Gknesis that the earth was created in the six days, at whose
close man became its inhabitant ; and that it can lay claim
to no higher antiquity than the few thousand years of
man's existence. But this interpretation is not of necessity



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1857.] The Ikatmmy of the JRocka. 457

the correct one. It was doubted by learned expositors be-
fore geology had lisped its first rudiments, and it is now
generally admitted by candid minds that- *^ the writings of
Moses do not fix the antiquity of the globe." The first
verse of Genesis denies the eternity or self-origination of
matter, and declares the fact of creation. It asserts that
the heavens and the earth had a beginning, and were the
work of God. When they came into being, whether in im-
mediate connection with the creations of the six days, or
countless ages before them, the sacred writer does not inti-
mate. If an objector asserts that the historic unity of the
narrative requires the events to be interpreted as following
in direct succession, we refer him to the method pursued
by the same writer in narrating his own birth. In the se-
cond chapter of Exj>dus it is said, '* There went a man of
the house of Levi, and took to wife a daughter of Levi.
And the woman conceived and bare a son." Every reader
would naturally infer that this son, Moses, was the first-
born of his parents, but subsequent events in the record
prove that two children, at least, Miriam and Aaron, were
born before him. The brevity of the Scriptures brings to-
gether in the order of narrative, events which may be sep-
arated by years or ages in the order of time.

An intelligent mind in our day cannot doubt the great
antiquity of the earth, without setting aside the laws on
which human faith rests, and dismissing the argument for
the Divine existence and wisdom drawn from proofs of de-
sign in the creation. Astronomy asserts for the heavens a
vast antiquity. It declares that many of the stars, and the
remoter nebulsB visible through the telescope, must have
been created ages before the supposed era of the world's
formation. By well known laws of optics this conclusion
is inevitable, for light from the most distant telescopic ne-
bulae can have reached the earth only after a movement of
millions of years. Geology, following in the steps of its
sister science, puts forth similar claims to the antiquity of
our globe. It unfolds distinct and successive strata in the
earth's crust, each containing fossil relics of tribes that have
lived and died, and whose biography, written in these rocky



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458 The Testimony of the Rocks. [July,

leaves, is as legible^ and as credible too, as the history of
Nineveh and Pompeii, disinterred from the oblivion of ages.
If one believes implicitly that the ruins of human dwell-
ings, and the implements of handi-work, found in the dis-
entombed cities, indicate the former existence of nations
long extinct, the same laws of evidence require him to be-
lieve that the skeletons of fishes, and reptiles, and birds,
found in the Palaezoic, and Secondary, and Tertiary forma-
tions, indicate the former existence of animate tribes which
were extinct long before man had being. Hugh Miller has
a fine illustration of this point in his '^ First Impressions
of England." He places a thoughtful man in a grave-
yard in the north of Scotland. The sexton with his spade
turns up from the soil human bones, fragments of coffins
and rusted nails ; striking deeper beneath the human re-
mains, he reaches a vein of sea-sand, filled with shells of
oyster, and mussel, and cockle; lower still, he penetrates a
bed of sandstone, and beneath it a bed of impure lime,
richly charged with remains of fish, of strangely antique
forms. It makes poor patchwork of logic to infer from the
human bones and coffins that human bodies were once bur-
ied there, and to deny that the other remains mark a bur-
ial-place of shells and fishes. If one admits that these fos-
sil relics prove the former existence of tribes of living crea-
tures, there is no escape from the conclusion of the geol-
ogist. The earth's crust to the depth of several miles is
filled with fossils, and the Divine veracity, and the Divine
origin of the laws which guide human faith, compel one to
believe that the strata of our earth indicate an antiquity
which almost surpasses the power of numbers to estimate.
Distances in space, though they suggest no definite concep-
tion, may be employed to illustrate distances of time. We
may compare the antiquity of the superficial deposits, the
most recent formations, with the distances of satellites in
the solar system from their planets, the antiquity of the
Tertiary formations with the distances of the remoter plan-
ets from their central suns ; of the Secondary formations
with the distances of star from star ; and of the Palaezoic
formations (leaving the Azoic out of account) with the un-



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1857.] The Ikstmmy of the Bocks. 459

measurable spaces separating our system from the telescopic
nebulsB.

While geology puts forth such confident claims to the
vast antiquity of the globe, it suggests indirect proof of the
recent origin of man. It confirms the Scripture record that
man is the last born of creation, placed as a sovereign on
the perfected earth to keep and till it, and hold dominion
over its living tribes. After the most diligent search it has
found no trace of human remains or works in the latest of
the Tertiary formations, and it has failed equally to discover
proof of the creation of any fish, or bird, or mammal, since
man began to be. As the word of God teaches, geology af-
firms, that man was the last formed of living creatures, and
with his appearance God rested from the work of creation.

(6.) The " Six Days ' ' of Creation.

Christian men of science have struggled hard to retain the
literal meaning of the word ^^day," without doing violence
to the facts of geology. Dr. Chalmers maintained with ^
great ability that a general convulsion may have preceded
man's coming, indicated by the ^^ without form and void,
and the darkness on the face of the deep." The six days
of creation would then be literal, and in them was comple-
ted the process of refitting our globe as a dwelling-place for
man. Dr. Pye Smith framed an elaborate argument to
prove that the convulsion may have been local, confined to
western Asia, and that the creation described pertained to
that locality. The theory of Chalmers, once considered
satisfactory, is now inadequate to explain the facts of geol-
ogy. Diligent search has failed to discover any proof of
such a convulsion, and has found a formidable array of ev-
idence to discredit it. Some periods in the earth's history
have apparently closed with a great catastrophe. Whole
species of living beings suddenly disappear, and their fossil
remains betray marks of fear and agony in the act of dy-



Online LibraryCharles Fletcher DoleThe Christian review → online text (page 47 of 69)