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'Mid the golden light of the setting sun,
It sings as it soars into heaven! And the blessed notes fall back from the skies; 'Tis its only song, for in singing it dies.
5. You have heard these tales; shall I tell you one,
A greater and better than all ? Have you heard of Him whom the heavens adore,
Before whom the hosts of them fall?
For earth in its wailings and woes,
And die for the life of His foes?
6. Have you heard this tale—the best of them all,
The tale of the Holy and True ?
Lives on in the world anew.
As the stars fill the sky above;
For the sake of the life of love.
7. Now hear these tales, ye weary and worn,
Who for others do give up your all; Our Savior hath told you, the seed that would grow
Into earth's dark bosom must fall, Must pass from the view and die away,
And then will the fruit appear;
The grain that seems lost in the earth below
Will return many fold in the ear.
LXIII.— GEOLOGIC PROOFS THAT THE EARTH
1. “The earth, for anything that appears to the contrary, may have been made yesterday!” We stand in the middle of an ancient burying-ground in a northern district. The monuments of the dead, lichened and gray, rise thick around us; and there are fragments of moldering bones lying scattered amid the loose dust that rests under them, in dark recesses impervious to the rain and the sunshine. We dig into the soil below; here is a human skull, and there numerous other well-known bones of the human skeleton, vertebræ, ribs, arm and leg bones, with the bones of the breast and pelvis. Still, as we dig, the bony mass aocumulates, — we disinter portions, not of one, but of many skeletons, some comparatively fresh, some in a state of great decay; and with the bones there mingle fragments of coffin, with the wasted tinsel-mounting in some instances still attached, and the rusted nails still sticking in the joints.
2. We continue to dig, and at a depth to which the sexton never penetrates, find a stratum of pure sea sand, and then a stratum of the sea-shells common on the neighboring coast,
- especially oyster, muscle, and cockle shells. We dig a little further, and reach a thick bed of sandstone, which we penetrate, and beneath which we find a bed of impure lime,
richly charged with the remains of fish of strangely antique forms.
3. “The earth, for anything that appears to the contrary, may have been made yesterday!" Do appearances such as these warrant the inference? Do these human skeletons, in all their various stages of decay, appear as if they had been made yesterday? Was that bit of coffin, with the soiled tinsel on the one side, and the corroded nail sticking out of the other, made yesterday? Was yonder skull, instead of having ever formed part of a human head, created yesterday, exactly the repulsive looking sort of thing we see it ? Indisputably not. Such is the nature of the human mind—such the laws that regulate and control human belief,—that in the very existence of that church-yard we do and must recognize proof that the world was not made yesterday.
4. But can we stop in our process of inference at the moldering remains of the church-yard? Can we hold that the skull was not created a mere skull, and yet hold that the oyster and cockle shells beneath are not the remains of molluscous animals, but things originally created in exactly their present state, as empty shells ? The supposition is altogether absurd. Such is the constitution of our minds, that we must as certainly hold yonder oyster shell to have once formed part of a mollusk as we hold yonder skull once formed part of a man.
5. And if we can not stop at the skeleton, how stop at the shells ? Why not pass on to the fish? The evidence of design is quite as irresistible in them as in the human or the molluscous remains above. We can still see the scales which covered them occupying their proper places, with all their nicely designed bars, hooks and nails of attachment; the fins which propelled them through the water, with the multitudi nous pseudo-joints, formed to impart to the rays the proper
elasticity, lie widely spread on the stone; the sharp-pointed teeth, constructed like those of fish generally, rather for the purpose of holding fast slippery substances than of mastication, still bristle in their jaws; nay, the very plates, spines and scales of the fish on which they fed still lie undigested in their abdomens.
6. We can not stop short at the shells; if the human skull was not created a mere skull, nor the shell a mere dead shell, then the fossil fish could not have been created a mere fossil. There is no broken link in the chain at which to take our stand; and yet, having once recognized the fishes as such,— having recognized them as the remains of animals, and not as stones that exist in their original state, - we stand committed to all the organisms of the geological scale. .
7. But we limit the Divine power, it may be said ; could not the Omnipotent First Cause have created all the fossils of the earth, vegetable and animal, in their fossil state ? Yes, certainly; the act of their creation, regarded simply as an act of power, does not and can not transcend his infinite ability. He could have created all the mummies of Mexico and of Egypt as such, and all the skeletons of the catacombs of Paris.
8. It would manifest, however, but little reverence for His character to compliment His infinite power at the expense of His infinite wisdom. It would be doing no honor to His name to regard Him as a creator of dead skeletons, mummies, and church-yards. Nay, we could not recognize Him as such, without giving to the winds all those principles of common reason, which, in His goodness, He has imparted to us for our guidance in the ordinary affairs of life. In this, as in that higher sense adduced by our Savior, “ God is not the God of the dead, but of the living.”
9. In the celebrated case of Eugene Aram, the skeleton of his victim, the murdered Clark, was found in a cave; but
how, asked the criminal, in his singular, ingenious, and eloquent defense, could that skeleton be known to be Clark's ? The cave, he argued, had once been a hermitage; and in times past hermitages had been places not only of religious retirement but of burial also. “And it has scarce or ever been heard of,” he continued, “but that every cell now known contains or contained those relics of humanity,—some mutilated, some entire. Give me leave to remind the court that here sat solitary sanctity, and here the hermit and the anchorite hoped that repose for their bones when dead, they here enjoyed when living. Every place conceals such remains. In fields, on hills, on high-way sides, on wastes, on commons, lie fragments and unsuspected bones. But must some of the living be made answerable for all the bones that earth has concealed and chance exposed ?”.
10. Such were the reasonings, on this count, of Eugene Aram; and it behooved the jury that sat upon him in judgment to bestow upon them their careful consideration. But how very different might not his line of argument have been, had the conclusions of the anti-geologist squared with the principles of human belief! If the fossil exuviæ of a fish, or the fossil skeleton of a reptile, may have never belonged to either a reptile or a fish, then the skeieton of a man may have never belonged to man. No more could be argued, Aram might have said, from the finding of a human skeleton in the floor of a cave, than from the finding of a pebble or a piece of rock in the floor of a cave. So far from being justified in inferring from it that a murder had been perpetrated, a jury could not have so much as inferred from it that a human creature had existed.