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Creation and Its Records by B.H. Baden-Powell

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vapours or not, and whether specially made countable and recognizable by
what we call the rising and setting of the sun, or not, and whether we
were standing in Nova Zembla or in Australia.

Nor is it of much use to refer to the general use of "day" for
indefinite periods, which is just as common in the English of to-day as
it was in the Hebrew of the Old Testament. But the double use of the
term in different senses has become general, just because it was found
in practice that no confusion ordinarily resulted; and surely such a
practice would not have been common, or at any rate would have been
specially avoided in the sacred volume, wherever any mistake or
confusion was likely or even possible.

No one can mistake what is meant when allusion is made to "the day in
which God made the heaven and the earth." No one falls into doubt when
the "days" of the prophets are spoken of--any more than they do now when
a man says, "Such a thing will not happen in my _day_."

Whenever in Daniel, or in similar prophetic writings, the term "day" is
used in a peculiar sense as indicating a term of years, we have no
difficulty in recognizing the fact from the context and circumstances of
the narrative; nor am I aware that any controversy has ever arisen
regarding the use of the term "day" _in any passage of Scripture
excepting in this_.

This fact alone is suspicious; the more so, because there is absolutely
nothing in the context to indicate that anything but an ordinary day is
intended. Not only so, but there _is_ in the context something that does
very clearly indicate (and I think Dr. Reville is perfectly justified in
insisting on this) that an ordinary terrestrial day is meant. One of the
primeval institutions of Divine Providence for men, my readers will not
need to be reminded, was that of a "Sabbath," which any one reading the
text would understand to mean a day, and which the Jews--the earliest
formal or legal recognizers of it--_did_ so understand, and that under
direct Divine sanction.

If the _days_ of Genesis mean indefinite periods of aeonian duration,
how is the seventh _day_ of rest to be understood?

But even if these difficulties are overcome, absolutely nothing is
gained by taking the day to be a period.

I presume that the object of gaining long periods of time instead of
days in reading the Mosaic record, is to assume that the narrative means
to describe the actual production on the earth of all that was created;
in other words, to assume a particular meaning for the words "created,"
"brought forth," &c and then to make out that if a whole age is
granted, Science will allow us a sequence of a "plant age" a "fish and
saurian age," a "bird age," and a "mammalian age";--that is, in general
terms and neglecting minor forms of life. But then _to make any sense at
all with the verses_ we are bound to show that each age preceded the
next--that one was more than partly, if not quite completely,
established _before_ any appearance of the next.

It is to this interpretation that Professor Huxley alludes when he says,
in his first article,[1] "There must be some position from which the
reconcilers of Science and Genesis will not retreat--some central idea
the maintenance of which is vital, and its refutation fatal.... It is
that the animal species which compose the water population, the air
population, and the land population,[2] respectively, originated during
three successive periods of time, and only during those periods of

[Footnote 1: "Nineteenth Century," December, 1885, pp. 856-7.]

[Footnote 2: These (unfortunate) terms are Mr. Gladstone's.]

For my own part, I hasten to say that, as one of the despised race of
"reconcilers," not only is this idea no central position from which I
will not retreat, but one which I should never think of occupying for
one moment.

But on the view of the _periods_, some such position must be taken up.
And if so, I must maintain that Professor Huxley has shown--if indeed it
was not obvious already--that the idea of a series of periods, and in
each of which a certain kind of life began and culminated (if it was not
fully completed) _before_ another began, is untrue to nature. This,
therefore, cannot have been intended by the author of Genesis.

I will here interrupt my argument for a moment to say that there is a
_certain degree_ of _coincidence_ between the succession of life on the
earth as far as it is explained by palaeontological research, and the
order of creation stated in Genesis; but that is not concerned with any
forced interpretation of the term "day." The coincidence is just near
enough to give rise to a desire to identify creative periods with the
series shown by the fossil-bearing rocks; while it is attended with just
enough of difference to furnish matter for controversy, and to expose
the interpreters to be cut up.

But to return. Nothing, I submit, is gained by getting _day_ to mean
period. Let us put the matter quite squarely. Let us take day to mean
period, and let us take all the verses to mean the _process_ of
_producing_ on earth the various life-forms.

In order to come at once to the point, let us begin with the time when
the dry land and the waters are separate. At that moment, there is
nothing said (or implied) about life already having begun in either
water or on dry land. God commanded plants to grow; consequently during
that _whole period_ nothing but plants, and that of all the kinds and
classes mentioned, should appear either in water or on land. That period
being done, then came the command for water animals, fish and great
monsters, and also birds. We ought, accordingly, to come next upon a
whole period in which no trace of anything but plants and these animals
can be found; and lastly, we ought to find the period of mammalia,
smaller reptiles, _amphibia_ and insects (creeping things).

That is the fair and plain result of what comes of supposing the terms
"let there be," &c., to mean _production on earth of the thing's
themselves_, and that the days are long _periods_.

All overlapping of the periods is inadmissible. All meaning is taken
away, if we allow of fish (e.g.) appearing in the middle of our first
period; for God did not command another day's work till after the first
was completed--"there was evening and there was morning, a first day"
(period), &c.

No; to suit the text so interpreted, we must have a full _period_ of
plants with no fish; then a period of both but no insects, no creeping
things, no animals; and so on. Now it is quite idle to contend any
longer, that any such state of things ever existed.

If we pass over the long series of the most ancient strata in which
doubtful forms of obscure elementary plant and animal life appear
_almost_ together, we shall come to shell-fish, and crustaceans fully
established in the water, and scorpions, and some insects even on land,
_before_ plants made any great show. For the Carboniferous--_the_ age of
acrogen plants, _par excellence_--does not occur till after swarms of
_Trilobite_ Crustaceans had filled the sea and passed away, and after
the Devonian fish-age had nearly passed away; and so on throughout.

The groups in nature overlap each other so closely, that though
plant-life (in elementary forms) probably had the actual start;
virtually the two kingdoms--plant and animal--appeared almost
simultaneously. There is nothing like the appearance of a first period
in which one _alone_ predominated. And long before the plants are
established in all classes, the great reptiles, birds, and some mammals,
had appeared. The seed-bearing plants--true grasses and exogens with
seed capsules (angiosperms) did not appear till quite Tertiary times.
That is the essential difference between the facts and the theory. If we
make a diagram, and let the squares represent the main groups, the order
(according to the period interpretation) ought to be as in A, whereas
it really more resembles B. Thus.

[Illustration: The dotted extensions of the squares indicate the fore
runners of the families, i.e., their first indications in the ages.]

[Illustration: _A New Interpretation suggested_]

But then it will be asked, if the day means only an ordinary day--not a
long period--what is there that actually could have happened, and did
happen, in _three days_ (for that is the real point, as we shall see),
such as the writer describes as the third, fifth, and sixth days?

I answer that on those days, and on the previous ones, God did exactly
what He is recorded to have done. After the creation of light (first
day), and the ideal adjustment of the distribution of land and water
(second day), He (_a_) "_created_," on the third day, plants, from the
lowest cryptogam upwards; then (_b_) paused for a day (the fourth) in
the direct work of creating life-forms, to adjust certain matters
regarding times and seasons, and regulation of climate, which doubtless
would not be essential during the early stages of life evolution, but
would become so directly a certain point was reached; then (_c_) resumed
the direct creating work (fifth day), with fishes, great reptiles,[1]
and birds (grouped purposely so, as we shall see); and, lastly (_d_),
before the Day of Rest, created the group of mammals (_carnivora_ and
_herbivora_), the "creeping things" of the earth, and man (also grouped

[Footnote 1: This term may be here accepted for the moment--not to
interrupt the argument. It will be more fully dealt with in a subsequent

But some one will ask, You then accept the earlier theory, that the
whole life-series that is now revealed to us by the rocks, from the
Laurentian to the Recent, is excluded from the narrative; and that some
special acts of creation, regarding only modern and surviving
life-forms, were made immediately before man appeared? By no-means; for
such a theory is not only in itself improbable, but is contrary to all
the evidence we possess of life-history on the earth, and is so hopeless
that it is really not worth serious examination and refutation.

We have no evidence of any such gap--such sudden change in the history
of life. Nor is it possible to find any place in the Mosaic story at
which we could reasonably interpolate a _long_ period, such as that
indicated by the entire series of rock strata. For a great part of such
a period, not only must there have been a regular succession of life
just the same in nature (though specifically different) as that now on
earth, but a regular distribution of land and water, and a settled
action of the sun and the seasons, would be required. No; we must give
up all the older methods which try to ignore the study of the word
"created," or to assume for it a meaning that it is not intended to

All depends, then, on what is meant by such terms as "created," "let
there be," "let the earth bring forth," &c. Perhaps it has occurred to
but few of my readers seriously to examine into their own mental
conception of an "act of creation." Some will readily answer, "Of course
it means only that at the Divine _fiat_, any given species--say an
elephant--appeared perfect, trunk, tusks, and all the peculiar
development of skull and skeleton, where previously no such creature had
existed." But what possible reason have they for this conclusion? None
whatever. It has simply been carelessly assumed from age to age, because
people at first knew no better; and when they began to know better, they
did not stop to amend their ideas accordingly.

Of course, as Professor Huxley puts it, millions of pious Jews and
Christians[1] supposed _creation_ to mean a "sudden act of the
Deity"--i.e., to mean just what the knowledge of the time enabled them
to imagine. They could do nothing else. The state of knowledge fifty
years ago would not have rendered it possible for an article like
Professor Huxley's (that to which allusion has several times been made)
to have been written at all. What wonder, then, that the multitude did
not understand what _creation_ meant, and that a reasonable
interpretation of the word has only become possible in quite recent
times? Surely all that is the fault of the reader, not of the text. I do
not even care that the writer himself did not fully apprehend the
subject. When a human prophet is entrusted with the divulgation of high
and wonderful things, it is quite possible that he may have been to
greater or less extent in the dark as to all or some of the
communication he was writing.

[Footnote 1: Article quoted, p. 857.]

All that can be reasonably required is that the narrative, as it stands,
shall be consistent with actual truth, and shall at no time come to be
provably at variance with it.

But let us look at the word "creation" more closely. We accept what we
are told, that in the beginning God called into existence force and
matter, the material or "physical basis," and all other necessaries of
life. Suppose, then (even dropping the question of Evolution, in order
to satisfy the "pious millions"), that this "matter" was all ready (if
I may so speak) to spring into organized form and being to take shape on
earth--what shape should it take? Why (e.g.) an elephant? Why not any
other animal, or a nondescript--a form which no zoologist could place,
recognize, or classify? The _form_, the ideal structure, the _formula_,
of the genus elephant must somehow have come into existence _before_ the
obedient materials and the suitable forces of nature could work
themselves together to the desired end.

Mr. Mivart has defined "creation" at page 290 of his "Genesis of
Species." There is original creation, derivative or secondary creation
(where the present form has descended from an ancestor that was
originally "directly" created), and conventional creation (as when a man
"creates a fortune," meaning that he produces a complex state or
arrangement out of simpler materials). That is perfectly true, so far;
but it is only a verbal definition, and still does not go inside, into
the _idea_ involved. We must go farther.

In every act of creation, two requisites can clearly be distinguished:
(1) the matter of life, and the forces, affinities, and local
surroundings necessary; and (2) the type, plan, ideal, or formula, to
realize or produce which, the forces and the matter are to act and
react. This second is all-essential; without it the first would only
produce a limbo of

"Unaccomplisht works of Nature's hand,
Abortive, monstrous, or unkindly mixt.[1]"

[Footnote 1: "Paradise Lost," iii. 455.]

No _creation_ in _any_ sense whatever could come out of it.

In the same way, when we speak of the Divine Artificer "creating," or
saying "Let there be," there are two things implied: (i) the Divine plan
or type-form, and its utterance or delivery (so to speak) to the
builder-forces and materials; (2) the result or the translation into
tangible existence of the Divine plan.

In every passage speaking of creation it _possible_ that both processes
may be implied; it may be clear from the text (as in Genesis i. 1) that
this is so. But it is equally possible that the first point only, which
in some aspects is really the essential matter, is alone spoken of.

And I submit that, given the general fact that God originated everything
in heaven and earth (as first of all stated generally in Genesis i.
1-3), the essential part of the _detailed_ or _specific_ creation
subsequently spoken of, was the Divine origination of the types, the
ideal forms, into which matter endowed with life was to develop;
_without_ any _necessary_ reference to how, or in what time, the Divine
creation was actually realized or accomplished on earth. It may be that
the _form_ so conceived and drawn in Nature's book by the Divine
Designer is a final form, up to which development shall lead, and beyond
which (at least in a material sense) it shall not go; or it may be that
it is a type intended to be transitory;[1] but _both the intermediate
and final forms must take their origin first in the Divine Mind, and be
prescribed from the Heavenly Throne,_ before the obedient matter and
forces and the life-endowment could co-operate to result in the
realization of the forms and the population of the globe.

[Footnote 1: The idea which I am endeavouring to make clear is well
illustrated by another passage in one of the Mosaic books--the account
of the Tabernacle. Moses had no idea of his own of the structure, its
furniture, implements, or the forms of these. The narrative expressly
states that the Divine power originated the designs, and caused Moses to
understand them. In a human work the designer would have drawn the
objects with measures and specifications, and given the papers to the
workmen. With the Divine work, where the design is in the Divine
Thought, and the workmen and builders are forces and elementary matter,
the process is a mystery, but in its practical bearing is understood
from analogy. The Tabernacle was truly God's _creation_, because it was
all commanded in design and "pattern" by the Almighty before Moses put
together the materials that realized the pattern in the camp of Israel.]

The reason why it is the _essential_ part, is, that when once the Divine
command issued, the result followed inevitably--that will "go without

In human affairs, also, we speak of the architect having _created_ the
palace or cathedral, or the ironclad; meaning thereby not the slow
process of cutting and joining stone, or riveting steel plates, but the
higher antecedent act of mind in evoking the ideal form and providing
for all contingencies in the adaptation and subsequent working of the
finished structure. And if we limit this use of the term "creation"
somewhat in speaking of human works, it is because the concept of the
human mind so often fails of realization; that it is one thing to
design, and another to accomplish. The grandest design for a palace may
fail to stand because some peculiarity of the stone has been forgotten,
or some character of foundation and subsoil has been misunderstood. The
noblest form of turret-ship may prove useless because the strength of
some material will not correspond to the ideal, or some curve of
stability has been miscalculated. Not only this: man may create, as a
sculptor, the ideal form for his to-be statue, or the dramatist his
character; but the perfect realization, either in marble or in an actual
being, may be impossible; the ideal remains "in the air." The ideal,
therefore, is not the major part of "creation" in a human work.

But with the Divine work it is otherwise. The Divine thought in Creation
and its result are separated by no possibility of failure. Given the
matter and the laws of force and of life, directly the Great Designer
has uttered His thought to those that are His builders, they _must_
infallibly and without discord, work through the longest terms, it may
be, of an evolutionary series, till, every transitional condition
passed, the final form emerges perfect.

Our very verbal definition, admitting as it does "derivative" creation,
implies this. We all speak of ourselves as "created." How so? We are not
produced ready made. Nor do we wholly solve the matter by saying that we
are "created" because we are born from parents who (if we go far enough
back) originated in a first production from the hand of Nature. We are
really "created" because the _design_--the _life-form of us_, which
matter and force were to work together to produce--was the direct
product of the Divine Mind.[1]

My question, therefore, of the Genesis interpreters is: Why will you
insist on the text meaning only the second element in Creation--the
production on earth, and not the Design or its issue in heaven?

The former we could find out some day for ourselves; we _have_ found out
some of it (though only some) already; the latter we could never know
unless we were told. Surely it is the "_dignus vindice nodus_" in this
case. To tell us the earth's history within a brief space would be
impossible, and would have been for ages unintelligible if it could have
been told; to tell us of God's creation is possible--for it has been
done; and the record, unless misread, is intelligible for all time.

The narrative, if it is a revelation of Divine Creation in heaven, takes
up ground that none can trespass on. None can say "it is not so," unless
either he will show that the words will not bear the meaning, or that
the context and other Scripture contradict it.

[Footnote 1: "_In Thy book_ were all my members written, while _as yet
there were none_ of them" (Psa. cxxxix. 16).

"How did this all first come to be you?
_God thought about me_
and I grew."--_Macdonald_.]

So soon as the matter of earth and heaven (and all that is implied
therewith) originated "in the beginning," the narrative introduces to
our reverent contemplation the solemn conclave in heaven, when, in a
serial order and on separate days, God declared, for the guidance of the
ever potentially active forces, and for materials ever (as we know)
seeking combination and resolution,[1] the _form_ which the earth
surface is (it may be ever so gradually) to take and the _life-forms_
which are to be evolved.

That this creative work was piecemeal, and on separate days, we know
from the narrative. _Why_ it was so arranged we do not know. Vast as was
the work to be done, almost infinite as was the complexity of the laws
required to be formulated, it _could_ have all been done at once, in a
moment of time; for time does not exist to the Divine Mind. But seeing
that the work was to be on earth, and for the benefit of creatures to
whom the divisions of time were all-important, we can dimly, at least,
discern a certain fitness and appropriateness in the gradual and divided

[Footnote 1: The reader will recognize that there is not the least
exaggeration in this. It is plain matter of fact, as I have endeavoured
to show in the earlier chapters of this book. Everywhere we see _force_
ready to be evoked by the proper method. Everywhere we see _molecular_
motion, and a perpetual combination and resolution of elements and
compounds, whether chemical or mechanical.]



In interpreting the narrative before us, we have an important aid which
has hardly received the attention it deserves. I allude to the other
passages of Scripture which were written by men undoubtedly familiar
with the Book of Genesis.

Now, in more than one of them, I find the idea that the Creation spoken
of is the _Divine work in heaven_, and not the subsequent and long
process of its realization on the surface of our globe, fully confirmed.

In the beautiful thirty-eighth chapter of the very ancient Book of Job,
we find a distinct allusion to a time when God "laid the foundations" of
the earth, prescribed "its measures," made a "decreed place" for the
sea, and framed the "ordinances of heaven," and this in presence of the
heavenly host assembled--

"When the morning stars sang together, And all the sons of God shouted
for joy.[1]"

[Footnote 1: Job xxxviii. 7. The sons of God are clearly the angels
(_cf_. Job i, 6).]

The same idea can be gathered from the text which I have placed on the
title-page of this book. "By faith we understand that the aeons (the
whole system of nature in its various branches, physical, moral, and
social) were ordained ([Greek: kataertisthai]) by the word of God." The
_process_ of actual development is here passed over, as not being the
main thing; what attracts attention is the Divine Design, the "framing"
of the wonderful ideal or ordinance without which the "aeons" could not
proceed to unfold themselves. I do not mean, of course, for a moment to
imply that, after God had formulated the laws and designed the forms, He
left the working out of the results to themselves. I should be sorry if,
in bringing into prominence what has generally been overlooked, I seemed
to throw the rest in the shade. God's providence and continued
supervision are as important in themselves as the original design:--but
this is not the central idea embodied in the passage.

There is another Scriptural allusion which suggests the idea of a
Heavenly Conclave, and great act of Creation in heaven. It may be
considered somewhat remote, and even fanciful--but the fact is recorded
_both_ in the Old Testament and the New, and _something_ must be meant
by it. And, moreover, other and very meaningless interpretations have
been from the earliest times given, so that I can hardly omit the
subject if I would. I refer to the permanent presence in heaven, around
the Divine Throne, of the singular forms of being called _Cherubim_,
which seem to indicate some mysterious connection between the life-forms
of earth and the inhabitants of heaven, and some permanent
representation of typical created forms in heaven. In Ezekiel, chapter
i., and again in chapter x., this vision is presented to us.

The prophet was to be prepared, by a very vivid exhibition of the power
and glory of God as the Author and Ruler of the universe, to appreciate
the depth of degradation to which the Jews had fallen in their rejection
of such a God as their Lord and King and of the justice of the terrible
overthrow which was the consequence of that rejection.

The vision then displayed (as I understand it) GOD surrounded by the
typical forms of creation and the irresistible forces of nature. All
forms of life, all energies of nature, were thus shown to be His
creatures. There, around the throne, were four "cherubim" of remarkable
appearance. They were accompanied by the appearances of fiery orbs like
beryl stones, revolving in all directions with ceaseless energy. Any
account of this vision that I can give is, however, pitiable beside the
inexpressibly sublime picture drawn in Ezekiel, to which I must refer
the reader for his own study. And imagine what the feelings of the
prophet must have been when, fresh from the impression of this grandeur
of Creation--this glory and irresistible power of God as the Centre and
great Mover of all, he was taken to witness the pitiable sight of the
Jews turning away from His worship, and to see their elders burning
incense before walls covered with "every form of creeping things and
abominable beasts--all the idols of the house of Israel![1]" How must
the vision have prepared him to realize the depth of degradation with
which he had to contend, and have fired him with energy to denounce it!

There is, then, I think, considerable probability in the contention that
the vision represents God in Creation, surrounded by the types of
creation and the forces of nature.

There is, no doubt, the ancient tradition that the four Cherubim meant
the four Gospels; and this has now become deeply associated with
ecclesiastical symbolism. But I submit that this is only a fancy which
can best be left to church embroidery and stained windows; it is
unworthy of any serious notice. The beings are described, it will be
observed, with great minuteness: all have the same characteristic powers
of rapid motion, and all have _human hands_, a fact that so strikes the
prophet that he repeats it three times.[2] These four Cherubim, then,
seem to me clearly to indicate the archetypes of Creation, the great
design-forms of created life, showing themselves the progressive scale
from the Animal to the Man and the Angel. And these four great types
exactly answer to the resulting groups of created life. We have the
development of _Reptilia_ into _Birds_ as one final type; consequently
one face of each cherub has the Bird type--the Eagle head[3]. Two other
faces on each give us the _Animal_ type, one representing again the
great order Carnivora (the Lion), the other the Herbivorous Ungulates
(the Ox or Calf); while the fourth face indicates the last development,

[Footnote 1: Ezek. viii. 10.]

[Footnote 2: See chapters i. 8, x. 8, and x. 21. Remark, in passing,
that the human hand has always been the subject of wonder as an evidence
of Divine skill in Creation. Sir Charles Bell's Bridgewater treatise, on
the human hand as illustrating the proof of Divine wisdom and
contrivance in Creation, is just as good an argument _for Design_ now as
ever it was. I cannot here resist the temptation to notice one of those
small points in which the accuracy of the Bible is so constantly brought
to light. The popular notion of angels gives them wings as well as
hands--a form quite impossible from the natural history point of view;
_all_ animals of the vertebrate orders never have _more_ than two pairs
of limbs. And in winged animals the fore-limbs become wings. The popular
notion about angels is, however, artistic, not Biblical. Just the
contrary in fact. Here _is_ a vision of a mysterious form with wings and
hands, but how?--the figures are fourfold; and being winged, each
division might have been winged like the eagle, so each cherub would
have had _eight_ wings. But as one of the divisions had a human face and
human hands, the prophet only saw _six_ wings to each, leaving one
division where, nature's _Divine type_ being obeyed, there were _hands_,
and consequently no wings.]

[Footnote 3: Reptiles are unrepresented, perhaps as not being a final

I would say here, as regards the animal creation being represented by a
double form, that it is most curious to notice that this double division
of animals is found throughout Scripture, and seems to have its
counterpart in the actual facts of creation on earth.

Accompanying these created beings in this remarkable vision were
"wheels" which appeared to be spheres within spheres, revolving with
ceaseless activity and never turning, but always going forward. The
wheels were full of eyes. It appears to me probable that these
symbolize--and if so the symbol is at once full of meaning and
grandeur--the inevitable, ever wakeful energies and forces of nature,
the marvellous agency of electricity, chemical affinity, heat,
attraction, repulsion, and so forth. We are accustomed to speak of
"blind force;" but here observe the wheels are _full of eyes_, ever
vigilant to fulfil the purpose for which they are appointed. And this
representation of _forces_ appears necessary to complete a symbolic
representation of God in nature: since the world is made up of dead
matter, of living forms, and of forces or energies which are in
ceaseless motion and action, producing the changes which in fact
constitute the working of the whole system.

I cannot help thinking, therefore, that the imagery of this vision lend
support to the belief that there was a great Creation enacted in heaven,
which was followed by the actual carrying out of the processes on earth,
_but which has retained its representative forms in the heaven itself_.
Had this vision stood alone, it might have been passed over, on the
ground that it deals with high and transcendental matters, and that it
would be hardly safe to let a practical argument rest too much on it.
But the fact is that again in the New Testament a very similar vision is
mentioned (in the fourth chapter of the Book of Revelation): here again
the four living creatures represent the typical forms of life, the
bird, the carnivorous and herbivorous animals, and man; and it will be
observed that in this case there is hardly room to doubt that we have an
exhibition of _Creation_, for there is express allusion to it in the
address of the elders--"Thou hast _created all things_, and for Thy
pleasure they are and were created."



But a step further is necessary: if the conclusion that I have come to,
by accepting "day" in its ordinary and natural sense, and by giving a
hitherto overlooked (and so far a new) meaning to "creation," is sound,
it must not only be rendered probable by reference to other parts of
Scripture written when Genesis was much nearer its original publication
than it is now; it is still (before all things) necessary, that the
interpretation adopted should be conformable to the context.

And I have heard it objected that there are verses which imply not only
a Divine Act in heaven, with the Sons of God in conclave around the
throne--sublime and wonderful picture!--but also distinctly indicate a
corresponding action on earth, and so require us to include in our
rendering of "creation" _both_ the ideas which (page 169 ante) I have
admitted may, on occasion be required by the terms. For example: after
the creative command in verses 7, 9, 11, 15, and 24, is declared, it is
followed by the words of fulfilment--"and it was so;" and in verse 11,
when God has said "Let the earth bring forth grass, &c.", in the next
verse it is positively recorded that the earth _did_ bring forth grass,

I of course admit all this, but it is in no way opposed to my

The _commencement_ of the _result_ probably, if not necessarily,
followed immediately on the issue of the finished command, viz., the
promulgation of the forms to be obtained and the processes to be
followed. The _whole_ result did not become accomplished then and there,
in the time mentioned, or exactly in the order mentioned: we know that
for a fact. Take, for example, the case of _vegetation_. Here the
author, in terms at once precise and universally intelligible, speaks of
"vegetation[1]" (grass of the A.V.), "herb yielding seed," and "trees
yielding fruit," thereby exhaustively enumerating the members of the
vegetable kingdom.

[Footnote 1: Nothing more is meant by the Hebrew "_deshe_." The true
"grasses" (_graminea_),--cereals, bamboos, &c., are certainly not
intended, for these are all conspicuously flowering plants, "herbs
yielding seed," and therefore coming under the second plainly defined
group. But the general term "sproutage" or "vegetation" is just adapted
to signify the mass of cryptogamic plant-life, the mosses, lichens,
algae, and then ferns, &c., which evidently formed the first stage of
plant-life on the globe.]

Now, as a matter of fact, there was no one long (or short) period
during which the whole of this command was realized, _before_ the next
creative act occurred.

At first _algae_ and low forms of vegetable life appeared; and doubtless
we have lost myriads upon myriads of such lower forms of plant-life in
the early strata, because such forms were ill calculated for
fossil-preservation, owing to the absence of woody fibre, silicious
casing, or hard fruit or seed vessels. But when we first have a marked
accumulation of specialized plant-life in the coal measures (Upper
Carboniferous), it is still only of cryptogams--ferns and great club
mosses. A beginning of true seed-bearing plants (Gymnosperm exogens) had
been made with the _conifers_ of the Devonian strata; but true
_grasses_, and the other orders of phanerogamic plants and arboreous
vegetation, do not appear till the tertiary rocks were deposited, very
long after the age of fish and great reptiles had culminated, and the
inauguration of the bird age and the mammalian age had taken place.

Looking only to the abundant, prominent, and characteristic life-forms
of the several strata, it could certainly be said that the period
when the _water_ actually brought forth a vast mass of its
life-forms--corals, sertularias, crustaceans, and fish of the lower
orders--must have _preceded_ (not followed) the time when the earth
produced vegetation of all kinds, and further that it must have come
after the appearance of scorpions and some land insects.[1]

[Footnote 1: A single wing found little more than a year ago is the sole
evidence of insects older than the Devonian; and scorpions
(highly-organized crustaceans) have been found in the Upper Silurian in
some abundance.]

Moreover, as the regular succession in periods of light and darkness on
the earth, and the sequence of seasons was not organized (but only a
generally diffused light, and, probably, an uniform and moist state of
climate without seasons) till _after_ the commands for the formation of
the whole of the large classes of plants, both cryptogams and
phanerogams, it is obvious that as many of these would require the
fuller development of seasonal influences, the whole process could not
have been worked out before the fourth day's creative work was begun.

This instance alone--and it would be easy to add others--shows that the
narrative cannot be meant to indicate what actually happened on earth,
i.e., to summarize the _entire realization_ of the Divine command.

Such being the plain facts with regard to the _kind of accomplishment_
meant by the terms "it was so," "the earth brought forth," &c., it is
quite plain that no violence is done to the text by explaining it as
intended to describe what God did in heaven, with the addition, that as
each command was formulated, the result on earth surely followed, the
thing "was so," and the earth and water respectively no doubt _began_
to "bring forth." More than this cannot be made out on _any_
interpretation that accords with facts. It seems so clear to me that
this is so, that I hardly need refer to the use of the terms the
"_waters brought forth"_ and the "_earth brought forth"_ and the phrase
in chapter ii. 5--the Lord made every plant _before it grew_.

If, as we have been long allowed to suppose, God spake and the water and
earth were _at once_ fully and finally peopled with animals where before
nothing but plants had existed, and so on, I should hardly have expected
the use of words which imply a gradual process--a gestation and
subsequent birth (so to speak) of life-forms.

How the _order_ in which the events are recorded stands in relation to
the subsequent history of life-development on earth, and what its
significance may be, I will consider later on. First I will conclude the
argument for the general interpretation of the narrative.

2. _The Second Genesis Narrative._

I have only one more direct argument to offer; but I think it is a very
important one. The first division of Genesis ends with the Divine
commands creating man and the day of rest which followed. The narrative
ending at chapter ii. verse 3 (the division of chapters here, as
elsewhere, is purely arbitrary), we have at verse 4 of chapter ii, what
has been loudly proclaimed as _another_ account of _the same_ Creation,
which, it is added (arbitrarily enough--but _any_ argument will do if
only it is against religion!) is contrary to the first.[1]

[Footnote 1: The contradiction is supposed to be in verse 19, as if then
the creation of animals was for the first time effected--after the man
and his helpmate. But it is quite clear that the text refers to the fact
that God had created animals; the command was, "Let the earth bring
forth," and the immediate act spoken of was not the formation of
animals, but the bringing of them to Adam to see what he would call

Now, even if there is a _second_ account of Creation, it would surely be
a circumstance somewhat difficult to explain. _Contrary_ in any possible
sense, the narrative (from chapter ii. 4, onward) certainly is not. But
why should there be a second narrative at all? On the hitherto received
supposition that chapter i. intends to tells us the _process_ of
creation--what God caused to be done on earth, not merely what He did in
heaven--there is apparently no room for a second narrative. Nor have I
seen any completely satisfactory explanation. But if we accept the view
that the first chapter explains the Divine Design, and its being
published (so to speak) and commanded in heaven, then it would be very
natural that that narrative should be followed by a second, which should
detail not the _whole_ process of all life existence on earth, but (as
the Bible is to be henceforth concerned with Man, his fall and his
redemption) with an account of _just so much of the_ process as relates
to the actual birth on the earth's surface of the particular man Adam,
the most important (and possibly not the only) outcome of the _fiat_
recorded in chapter i. vers. 27, 28.

In this view, not only _a_ second narrative, but just the particular
kind of narrative we actually have, is not only natural, but even
necessary. _Before_, we had a general account of how God ordained the
scheme of material-form and life-form on the earth; _now_ we have a
detailed account of how He actually carried out one portion of it--that
one portion we are most concerned to hear about, namely the man Adam,
the progenitor of our own race, of whom came JESUS CHRIST, "the son of

The account is designed to introduce to us the scene of Adam's
birthplace--the Garden of Eden.[2] The mention of a garden, and the
subsequent important connection of the trees of that garden with the
conduct of the man, naturally turn the writer's attention to the general
subject of the vegetation on the earth's surface. He prefaces his new
account accordingly with a brief summary--which I may paraphrase thus
without, I trust, departing from the sense of the original: "Such was
the origin of the earth (and all in it) and of the heavenly host, at the
time when God made them. He had made every plant _before_ it was in the
earth--every herb of the field _before_ it grew" (mark the language as
confirming what I have said--God "created" everything before it actually
developed and grew into being on the earth). "Rain did not then fall (in
the same way as now) on the earth, but the mist that exhaled from the
soil re-condensed, and fell and moistened the ground; but there was as
yet no MAN to till and cultivate the soil."

[Footnote 1: St. Luke iii. 38.]

[Footnote 2: Which had a real historic existence. _Vide_ Appendix A.]

Then God actually formed or fashioned _a man_. It is not now that He
created the ideal form to be produced in due time, but that He actually
formed the individual Adam, and placed him in a garden which He had
prepared for the purpose. All the words used now imply actual
production. The Divine ideal was ready, and the earth-elements (of which
we know man's body to consist) were ready at the Divine word to assume
the human shape. And that done, God "breathed into his nostrils the
breath of life" (mark the direct _act_ on the man himself), and the man
became a "living soul." There is nothing here of the "earth bringing
forth" as in the former narrative. We have the direct act of God, not in
the design only, but in the production of the thing itself.

If this is not a complete explanation and justification of the second
narrative, I do not know what, in common fairness, is entitled to be so

The language may be rigorously examined, and it will fully bear out the
position taken up.

I conceive, then, that the cumulation of proof need go no further. The
true explanation of Genesis i. also supplies the place for Genesis ii.
4, _et seq._, and overcomes all the difficulty that has hitherto
existed on the subject.

It will now, I trust, be clear that by such an interpretation of Genesis
we at once give (1) a full and natural meaning to all the terms; we
reconcile it with other Scripture, and we enhance all the sublime
attributes which we have been reverentially accustomed to connect with
this ancient passage. (2) We obviate the difficulty regarding the second
narrative in chapter ii. 4. And (3) we place the whole above any
possible conflict with science, and above any need for "reconciliation."
Here, too, is a purpose and meaning assigned to the _whole_ narrative,
without being driven into the difficult position of supposing the verses
to be the literary outcome of an ignorant imagination which gave
expression to its crude ideas only--though enshrining among utterly
false details a sublime truth, regarding which one can only wonder why
it could not have been stated without the encumbrance of the

The naturalist and the biologist may continue, unquestioned, to work out
more and more of the wondrous story of Life on the globe. They can never
disprove, or on any of their own grounds deny, that God is the Author of
all things--matter, force, and mind alike; that He designed the form and
relations of the earth; that He organized its light, its seasons, and
its changes; that He has furnished the types and patterns of all
life-forms which matter and force are conformably thereto, developing
on the earth. In short, REVELATION tells us that God did all this "in
the beginning," how His form-designs were thought out and declared in
six days, and how He rested on the seventh day.

SCIENCE will tell us how, when, and where the Creative fiats and the
designs of heaven were realized and worked out on earth.

Here is the separate province of each, without fear of clashing, or room
for controversy.



Sec.1. _The Explanation of the Verses._

It remains only now to go over the narrative, the _general_ bearing of
which I have thus endeavoured to vindicate, so that minor matters of
detail, in which it is supposed (1) that some contradiction to known
physical fact may still lurk, and (2) something that negatives the
explanation suggested, may be cleared up.

Let us take it seriatim:--

"In the beginning God created the heaven (plural in the original) and
the earth."

As I have before remarked, we have no real need to discuss whether
"bara" means originated (created where nothing previously existed), or
whether we should render it "fashioned," i.e., moulded material (thus
assumed in terms to be) already in existence.

Either will yield perfectly good and consistent sense; but, as a matter
of fact, there is a virtual consensus of the best scholars that the
word is here used to denote original production of the material.

It is also clear that the text is intended to embrace the whole system
of planets, suns, stars, and whatever else is in space. So the Psalmist
understood it: "By the word of the Lord were the heavens made, and _all_
the host of them by the breath of his mouth.[1]" Nor is there any
reasonable doubt, exegetically, that the subsequent allusion to the sun,
moon, and stars, refers (as the sense of the text itself obviously
requires) to their _appointment_ or adjustment to certain relations with
the earth, and assumes their original material production in space, to
have been already stated or understood.

"And the earth was (became) without form[2] and void, and darkness was
upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of
the waters."

I have, in another connection, already remarked on this verse, and so
shall not repeat those remarks.

[Footnote 1: Psa. xxxiii. 6, and so Psa. cii. 25; _cf_. 2 Peter iii. 5.]

[Footnote 2: Waste (R.V.).]

I will only say that the elemental strife and rushing together of
chemical elements under the stress of various forces and the presence of
enormous heat, would naturally envelop the globe in dense vapours, a
large portion of which would be watery vapour, capable of condensation
or of dispersion, under proper conditions, afterwards to be prescribed
and realized. As it is beautifully expressed in Job xxxviii., "When I
made the cloud the garment thereof, and thick darkness a swaddling-band
for it" (verse 8).

Then commences the serial order of Divine acts with reference to the


This verse is commonly taken as indicating a creation of light for the
first time in the entire cosmos or universe. And if it be so, there is
no objection, on any scientific ground, to the assertion that there was
once a time when as yet the vibrations and waves which we connect with
the idea of Light, had not yet begun. It is true that nebular matter, as
now observed, is believed to be, partially at any rate, self-luminous.
But this fact, supposing it to be such, is not inconsistent with a still
earlier time when light had not yet begun. From the "wave-theory" of
light, which is one of those working hypotheses which are indispensable,
and which, in a sense, may be said to be demonstrated by their
indispensability, it can clearly be seen that if light is caused by
rapid vibrational movement, there must have been--or at any rate there
is nothing against an authoritative declaration that there was--a moment
of time when the first vibrational impulse was given, when, in fact, God
said "Let there be light, and there was light," _before_ which also
there was "darkness upon the face of the deep.[1]"

[Footnote 1: It also needs only to be remarked, in passing, that we are
really in complete ignorance as to the light-medium, the
"luminiferous-ether" outside the comparatively thin stratum of our own
terrestrial atmosphere. We do not know whether there might not have been
a condition of the medium in which, up to the moment of a creative
_fiat_, it was incapable of transmitting light-waves.]

There is no necessary connection between the creation of light _per se_,
and the existence of any particular source (or sources) of light to our
planet or to other planets.

No justification is now needed for such a remark, and the almost
forgotten cavils of one of the "Essays and Reviews" may still survive as
a "scientific" curiosity, to warn us against too hastily concluding that
(in subjects where so little is really _known_) the Bible must be wrong,
and the favourite hypothesis of the day right.

But as a matter of fact, the text, especially when read in connection
with Job xxxviii., need not be taken to refer to any original creation
of light in the universe generally, but merely to the letting in of
light on the hitherto dark and "waste" earth. The command "Let there be
light" was followed on the next day by the formation of a firmament or
expanse. So that all the verse _necessarily_ implies is, that the thick
clouds and vapours which surrounded the earth were so dealt with, that
light could reach the earth: the light was thus divided from the
darkness, and the rotating globe would experience the alternation of day
and night.

The "day" having thus been created formally (so to speak), the Divine
Author proceeds to mark, by His own Procedure, the use of the "days"
which He had provided for the earth.

On this view, of course, the origin of light as a "force"--the first
beginning of its pulsations--is not detailed, any more than the origin
of electric force, or heat, or gravitation.

Here, too, I may remark that the idea of _creation_, which it has been
one of my chief objects to develop, is illustrated. This remark holds
good, whether an original creation of light is intended, or only an
arrangement whereby light was for the first time introduced to the
earth's surface. The idea of creating light not only involves the Divine
Conception of the thing, and the marvellous method of its production,[1]
but doubtless, also, all those wonderful laws of reflection, refraction,
polarization, and a thousand others, which the science of Physical
Optics investigates.

[Footnote 1: And this is still a mystery to us. _What_ light is we do
not know--we can only speak of our own sensation of it. Nor do we know
_what_ vibrates to produce light. Hypothetical terms, such as "ether,"
"luminiferous-medium," and so forth, only conceal our ignorance.]

Naturally enough, in this case, the double idea involved in
creation--the Divine concept and its realization--will, in the nature of
things, fall into one. No process of evolution is required; none is
indicated by science. Directly the Divine hand gave the impulse
concurrently with the Divine thought--light would be. In the nature of
things there is no place for a line between the Divine fiat and its
realization, as there is in the production of life-forms on the earth.
Or, on the other view, directly the Divine command went forth, the
vapours would clear and allow the transmission of light.


There has been gathered round this verse what I may call rather an
ill-natured controversy, because there is no real ground for it; and the
objections taken seem rather of a desire to find out something against
the narrative at any price, than to make the best of it. The verse, when
duly translated, implies that an "expanse"--the setting of a clear space
of atmosphere around the globe--formed one of the special
design-thoughts of the Creator, followed by its immediate (or gradual)
accomplishment. I think we should have hardly had so much cavilling over
this word "expanse" if it had not been for the term subsequently used by
the Seventy in their Greek version ([Greek: stereoma]). The ancients, it
is said, believed the space above the earth to be "solid."

Now I would contend that even if the Hebrew writer had any mistaken or
confused notions in his own mind, that would not afford any just ground
against revelation itself. But I would point out that many of the
expressions which may be quoted to show the idea of solidity, are
clearly poetical. And if we go to the poetic or semi-poetic aspect of
things, may I not ask whether there is not a certain sense in which the
earth-envelope may be said to be solid? The air has a considerable
density, its uniform and inexorable pressure on every square inch of the
earth's surface is very great. Such a word as [Greek: stereoma]
(_firmamentum_) does not imply solidity in the sense in which gold is
solid--as if the heavens were a mass of metal, and the stars set in it
like jewels; it implies, rather, something fixed and offering

It is obvious that a creative act was necessary for this "expanse." We
know of spheres that have no atmosphere; and we are so ignorant of the
true nature of what is beyond the utmost reach of our air-stratum, that
there is room for almost any consistent conjecture regarding it.

Moreover, observe that the atmosphere is not a _chemical_ combination of
gases, and one, therefore, that would take place like any other of the
metallic, saline, or gaseous combinations, of which no detailed account
is given--all being covered by the general phrase, "God created the
heaven and the earth." The air is a mechanical mixture, pointing to a
special design and a special act of origin. The necessary proportions of
each gas and its combined properties could not have originated without

But the main purpose of the expanse, as stated in the text, was to
regulate the water supply. That vast masses of watery vapour must at one
time have enveloped the globe, seems probable--apart from revelation;
and that part of this should condense into seas and fresh-water, and
part remain suspended to produce all the phenomena of invisible
air-moisture and visible cloud, while an "expanse" was set, so that the
earth surface should be free, and that light might freely penetrate, and
sound also, and that all the other regular functions of nature dependent
on the existing relation of earth and air should proceed--all this was
very necessary. And when we recollect what a balanced and complex scheme
it is--how very far from being a simple thing; we recognize in the
adjustment of earth's atmospheric envelope, a special result worthy of
the day's work.

Whether the separation between the condensed but ever re-evaporating and
re-condensing water on the earth's surface, and the water vapour in the
atmosphere, is _all_ that is meant by the division of the "waters that
are above the firmament" from those below, it would not be wise to
assert. We know so little of the condition of space beyond our own air,
and so little of the great stores of hydrogen which have been suggested
to exist in space (and might combine to form vast quantities of liquid),
that we may well leave the phrase as it stands, content with a partial


The only remarks that the first part of this verse calls for, are,
_first_, that it explains how far from mere chance-work the emergence of
land from the water was; _second_ how well it illustrates the use of
terms relating to creation.

The whole scheme of the distribution of the surface of earth into land
and water is one which demanded Divine foresight and a complete ideal[1]
which was to be attained by the action and reaction of natural forces,
just as much as the production of the most specialized form of plant-or

[Footnote 1: Compare Job xxxviii. 10, 11, and Psa. civ. 9.]

This is not the place to go into detail as to how much of the world's
life-history and its climatic conditions depend on the distribution of
land and water. It is sufficient to recognize the immense importance of
that distribution.

But, in the second place, it will be observed that while it is natural
to suppose (though not logically necessary) that the working out of the
Divine plan _commenced_ immediately on the issue of the Divine command
and the declared formulation of the Divine scheme, yet we know--few
things are better known--that the whole scheme was not completely
realized in one day, or one age--certainly not _before_ there was any
appearance of plant-life, aquatic, or dry land, or any appearance of

I believe (though I have lost my reference) it is held by some
authorities that the position of the great _oceans_ as they are now (and
omitting, of course, all minor coast variations) has been fixed from
very early geologic times. But, apart from that, we have ample evidence
of whole continents arising and being again submerged; and of continual
changes between land and water of the most wide-reaching character again
and again happening during the progress of the world's history. So that
here we may see clearly an instance where the revelation of the creative
act must be held to refer to the great primal design--teaching us that
it is a fact that at first all _was_ laid down, foreseen, and designed
by the Creator; but not referring to anything like an account of the
_results_ upon earth, which, for aught we know to the contrary, may not
yet be complete.

As to the second part of the text, we are here introduced to the
commencement of life-forms on earth.

No separation is recorded. Directly the chemical elements of matter have
so combined that a solid earth and liquid water (salt and fresh) are
formed, and the cooling process has gone on sufficiently long to enable
the dense vapours partly to settle down and condense, partly to remain
as vapour (dividing the waters above from the waters below)--directly
this process is aided by the admission of diffused light and by the
adjustment of the atmosphere, and the superficial adjustment of the
distribution of water and land surface is provided for, then plant-life
is organized.

It will be observed that even aquatic plants and algae though growing in
or under water, are nevertheless connected with the _earth_; so that the
phrase, "Let the _earth_ bring forth," is by no means inappropriate.

The earliest rock deposits are able to tell us little about the first
beginning of plant-life. Moreover, as animal-life began only with the
interval of one day (the fourth), we should expect to find--on the
supposition that the heavenly _fiat_ at once received the _commencement_
of its fulfilment on each day--that the first lowly specimens of
vegetable and animal life are almost coeval. And this is (apparently)
the fact.

It is to be remarked that plant and animal always appear in nature as
two separate and _parallel_ kingdoms. It is not that the plant is lower
than the animal, so that the highest plant takes on it some of the first
characters which mark the lowest animal: but both start separately from
minute and little specialized forms so similar that it is extremely
difficult to say which is plant and which is animal.[1]

[Footnote 1: See this well summarized in Nicholson's "Manual of Zoology"
(sixth edition, 1880), p. 13, _et seq._]

All the beginnings of life in _either_ kingdom would therefore be
ill-adapted (most of them, at any rate) for preservation in

[Footnote 1: I think this is quite sufficient, without relying on the
evidence of the great quantities of _carbon_ in the earliest
(Laurentian, Huronian, &c.) strata in the form of graphite. It is
possible, or even probable, that this may be due to carbon supplied by
masses of little specialized _Thallophyte_ and _Anophyte_ vegetation.]

All we know for certain is that vegetable-life was closely coeval with
the lowest animal-life, and that it was very long before specialized
forms, even of _cryptogams_, made a great show in the world.

Probability is entirely in favour of the actual priority being in
vegetable forms; and more than that is not required. For the Mosaic
narrative, while it places the origin of the vegetable kingdom actually
first, lets the _fiat_ for the animal kingdom follow almost immediately.

As to the _order_ of appearance of the plants, I will reserve my remarks
for the moment.


The sun and the stars, and all the host of heaven, are clearly
understood to have been created "in the beginning," under the general
statement of fact which forms the first verse of the narrative.

The 14th verse has always been understood to refer to the establishment
of the _relations_ between the earth and the sun, moon, and stars,
which have, as a matter of fact, been recognized by all ages and all
people ever since. The writer of the 104th Psalm certainly so understood
the passage--

"He appointed the moon for seasons;
The sun knoweth his going down.[1]"

The writer was instructed to use popularly intelligible language, and so
the text speaks of the lights as they _appear_ in the sky or firmament.

Even if we suppose that before this act, the sun was already
incandescent, and the moon capable of reflecting the light, the whole
arrangement of the earth's rotation may have been such that the
alternations of light and darkness may have been very different from
what they are now, and the seasons also. A moment's reflection regarding
the obliquity of the earth's axis, nutation, the precession of the
equinoxes, the eccentricity of the orbit and the changes in the position
of the orbit, will show us what ample room there was for a special
adjustment and adaptation between the earth and its satellite and
between both to the solar centre.[2] So that faith which accepts this as
a Divine arrangement made among the special and formal acts of Creation,
cannot be said to be unreasonable, or to be flying in the face of any
known facts.

[Footnote 1: Ver. 19, &c. The same word is also used of "making" priests
(l Kings xii. 31), and appointing (R.V.)("advancing" A.V.), ("making,"
as we familiarly say) Moses and Aaron (1 Sam. xii. 6).]

[Footnote 2: And the Psalmist justly speaks of God as _preparing_ the
light of the sun (Psa. lxxiv. 16).]

It is very remarkable, as showing how little we can attribute this
narrative, on any basis of probability, to mere fancy or guess-work,
that this matter should have been assigned to the fourth day--_after_
the fiat for plant-life had gone forth.

But the fact is that the unregulated light, and the vaporous uniform
climate that must have continued if the fourth day's command had never
issued, though it might have served for a time for the lowest beginnings
of life, especially marine or aquatic, would ultimately have rendered
any advance in the series of design impossible. Such a fact would never
have occurred to an ignorant and uninspired writer.

It is here impossible to say whether the whole arrangements indicated
were made at once in obedience to the Divine Design, or were produced

It has been suggested that uniformity of climate and temperature
continued up till the carboniferous ages, at any rate; and it is only in
the later ages that such differences of _fauna_ in different parts of
the world appear, as to show differences of climate more like what we
have at present.

Whether this is so or not, I am not concerned to argue. The narrative
tells us that God did, at a certain point in his Creative work, design
and ordain the necessary arrangements; and physical science may find
out, when it is able, how and when the adjustments spoken of came about.

(i.) Let the waters bring forth the moving creature that hath life,
(ii.) Let fowl fly above the earth on the face of the expanse.

As to (i.) the "creation" consisted of--great sea-monsters (or water
monsters), and every living thing that moveth.

Then the animal life received a _blessing_. Animals, even the lowliest,
are capable of a new feature in life--happiness in their being, which
cannot be predicated of plants.

(i.) Let the earth bring forth the living creature after its kind ...
the beast of the earth _after its kind (Carnivora)_, cattle
_after its kind_ (_Ungulata_), and everything that creepeth on
the ground _after its kind_.[1]

And also--

(ii.) Let us make man.... So God created man in His
own image--in the image of God created He him; male
and female created He them.

(7) Then followed the day of rest.

[Footnote 1: See page 178.] [Transcriber's Note: Chapter XIV.]

Sec. 2. _The Order of Events considered._

It was convenient first to bring these later Creative Acts together
before beginning any remarks about any one of them.

It will now be desirable to notice what occurred, because here the
question of _order_ is concerned. I could not avoid a partial statement
on this subject at an earlier page, nor would it be quite sufficient
simply to refer the reader back to those pages. At the risk of some
repetition, I will therefore consider the subject here. It will be
observed that on the older interpretation, which passed over the special
act of God in _designing_ and _publishing the design,_ and descended at
once to the earth to the process of producing the designed forms, this
order was matter of great importance.

Granting the supporters of this view that the six days are unequal
periods often of vast duration, with or without important subdivisions,
they are bound to make out that each creation began, and was at any rate
well advanced, _before_ the next began. We ought, in fact, to see a
period more or less prolonged when the whole of what is indicated in the
_plant_ verse was well advanced, _before_ any marine or fresh-water life
appeared at all.[1]

[Footnote 1: There was "evening and morning" of the third day, i.e.,
beginning and _completion_, and also the whole interval of the fourth
day, _before_ the command of the fifth.]

All attempts to make out that this _was_ so, have proved failures. It is
assumed, for instance (and justly so), that life on the globe began with
low vegetable forms; these represented the "grass" of the text, and it
is suggested that the "fruit tree" is represented by the Devonian and
Carboniferous _conifers_. This in itself is a very strained view. It is
recollected that the terms used are not scientific, but for the world at
large; but without confining "fruit tree" to mean only trees having
_edible_ fruit, still the appearance of a few first species of
_conifers_ in the Devonian, can hardly be called an adequate fulfilment
of the requirements of the passage. But even so, myriads of fish and
other animals existed _before_ the Devonian and Carboniferous plant age.

The animal forms that so existed, have therefore to be _ignored_, or are
assumed to have been created without special notice: and it is said that
the Mosaic period of "moving creatures of the deep," fishes and
monsters, only began when the rocks begin to show _great abundance_ of
shells, of fish, and subsequently of huge reptilians which prepared the
way for birds--which gradually make their appearance towards the Trias.

But the Devonian "age of fishes" (Devonian including old red sandstone)
was far too important a period to be thus got rid of; and it is
difficult to understand _why_ the narrative should exclude all the
extensive and beautiful (though often little specialized) orders of
marine life--all the Corals, the Mollusca and Articulata, which had long
abounded--especially some of the Crustaceans, not an unimportant group
of which (_Trilobite_[1]) had also culminated and almost passed away
before the Devonian; to say nothing of the fact that _land_ "creeping
things" (scorpions among _crustacea_, and apparently winged insects) had

[Footnote 1: It is remarkable that the Trilobites rapidly culminated, so
that we have the largest and most perfect forms, such as _Paradoxus_,
with the lowest (_Agnostus_) in the same beds in Wales (Etheridge's
"Phillips' Manual," Part II. p. 32).]

It is a special difficulty also, that if _insects_ are included among
the "creeping things" of the _earth_ then various families of the
"land-creation" (sixth day) became represented _before_ the great
reptiles of the "water-creation" (fifth day).

The fact is that a glance at the subjoined Tables (which are only
generally and approximately correct) will suffice to show how the main
features of the progress of life-forms differ from what is required by
the older methods of reading Genesis. To reduce the table within limits,
I have grouped together all the lower forms of life in the animal table,
viz., the sponges, corals, encrinites, and molluscs. It is sufficient to
say that these appear in all the rocks except the very oldest--the
Caelenterata beginning, and the Molluscoids exhibiting an early order in
_brachiopoda_, which seems to be dying out. Crustaceans and insects
appeared as early as Silurian times.

The idea of successive "kingdoms" or "periods," each of which was
_complete_ in its actual fauna upon earth before the next was fully
ushered in, can no longer be defended.

It is in the _completion_ of one class of life before the other, that
the fallacy of the period theory lies--for completion is essential to
that theory which supposes "the Mosaic author" to have intended to
describe the _process of production on earth_.

But it is quite impossible to deny that there _is_ a certain observable
movement and gradual procession in the history of life which is exactly
consistent with what is most likely to have happened, supposing the
Divine designs of life-forms were first declared in successive order at
short intervals of time, and then that the processes of nature worked
out the designs in the fulness of time and gradually in order, each one
_beginning_ before the next, but only beginning.

I do not deny that it is perfectly _conceivable_ that the Creator might
have designed the forms in one order, and that the actual production or
evolution of the corresponding living creatures might not have been (for
reasons not understood) exactly, or even at all, coincident with the

But it is impossible to deny the strong feeling of probability that the
commands would _begin_ to be worked out, in the order in which they were

And here it is that the correspondence which undoubtedly exists, gives
rise to controversy.

From one point of view it is just enough to encourage the "period"
holders to try and arrange a scheme; but it is just hot enough to
prevent their opponents (justly) taxing them with straining or
"torturing" the text and failing fairly to make out their case after
all. From another point of view the correspondence is so far
established, and so undeniably unprecedented (in human cosmogonies) and
noteworthy, as to demand imperatively our careful consideration and
compel us to account for it.

It will be observed, first of all, that the whole "creation" (omitting
all incidental and preparatory works) is stated in _groups_ each having
an order within itself.

_Group_ 1. God created (both land and water) "vegetation"--plants
yielding seed, fruit-trees.

_Group_ 2.
In water, not necessarily excluding _amphibia_:--Great aquatic monsters;
fish and all other creatures that move. In air:--Winged fowl.

_Group_ 3. On land generally--for some forms are amphibious:--Beasts
(_Carnivora_), cattle (_Ungulata_, &c.), and other things that creep
on the ground (the smaller and lower forms of life collectively).

The order _within_ the groups is evidently of no consequence, because
the writer does not adhere to it in two consecutive verses dealing with
the same subject; while the "versions" seem to point to some variations
in the text itself as to arrangement, though not as to substance.

But as regards the order _of_ the groups themselves, it is, as I said,
very natural (but yet not logically inevitable) to expect that when the
results came to be existent on earth, those results should exhibit a
sequence corresponding to the order in which the groups were created.
And it is never denied (in _any_ of the most recent publications[1])
that to this extent nature confirms the belief.

[Footnote 1: I have done my best to verify this from the well-known
latest Manuals of Etheridge, Seeley, and Alleyne-Nicholson.]

I am aware that Professor Huxley's recent articles may at first sight
seem to go against this; but that is not so on any grounds of actual
fact, but of a particular _interpretation_--which I submit is wholly

For instance, it is insisted that the "sea-monsters" of the second group
included _sirenia_ and _cetacea_ (dugongs, manatees, and whales,
dolphins, &c.), which are mammals. In that case a portion of the command
would not have been obeyed--a number of the designed forms would have
been kept in abeyance--for a long time. And the same is still more true
if bats--a highly placed group of mammals--were included in "winged

But both these interpretations are distinctly arbitrary, incapable of
holding good, and also entirely ignore the conditions of a Revelation.

The narrative is not discussed or defended as an ordinary secular
narrative, which is true according to the _writer's uninspired intention
or the state of his personal knowledge_. It is defended as a Revelation.
The distinction is as obvious as it is important, directly a moment's
consideration is accorded.

If we assume, for a moment, that God _did_ (on any theory whatever of
Inspiration) instruct, direct, or enable the writer in making the
record, then it is obvious that the writer either put down what he saw
in a vision, or what was in some other manner borne on his mind. In any
case, he could have had no critical knowledge, and no historical
knowledge as an eye-witness, of the actual facts; and he may very well
therefore have used language the full meaning of which he did not
apprehend.[1] What alone is essential is, that the narrative as it
stands, on an ordinary critical, linguistic, and grammatical
interpretation, should not contain anything which is untrue. Suppose,
for example, the word "tanninim" to be _incapable_ of bearing any other
meaning linguistically than "cetacean," then the narrative might be
objected to; but if it will bear a meaning which is consistent with
fact, then it is no matter that the writer at the time had an erroneous,
or (what is more likely) no defined, idea in his own mind of the
meaning. And so with "winged fowl"--the objection fails entirely, unless
it can be shown, not only that the writer might have thought "bats" to
be included, _but_ that linguistically the word _cannot have_ any other
meaning than one which would include bats.[2]

[Footnote 1: As is constantly the case in prophetic writings. Revelation
tells of the remote past sometimes as well as the future, and in neither
case could the inspired writer fully understand the meaning that was
wrapped up in his sentences.]

[Footnote 2: As a matter of fact, in the one case, if the writer's
knowledge were of any importance, it is almost certain that he did _not_
mean _cetacean_ or _sirenian_. In the other case it is impossible to say
whether he thought "bats" were included or not. It is not in the nature
of things that the writer could ever have seen or even heard of a
manatee or a dugong; nor is it likely that he had been a sea-farer, or
could have seen any Mediterranean cetacean. As far as his own knowledge
went, he probably had but a very confused idea. And if we refer to the
poetic description in Psalm civ. 25, 26, we find "leviathan," though
distinctly a sea creature, still one of which the writer had only a
vague traditional idea, certainly not a _known_ Mediterranean dolphin,
for in Job xli. the same term is applied to the crocodile.]

We have every right, then, to say that the "tanninim" of the text may be
taken to refer to that great and remarkable age of Saurians which is not
only of very great importance in itself, but becomes doubly so when we
see its connection backward with the fishes, and forward through the
Pterodactyles to Odontoformae (_Apatornis_ and _Icthyornis_) and modern
winged birds (_Hesperonis_ for the Penguins); and through the
Dinosaurs[1] with the Saurornithes, with the _Dinornis_ and the
struthious birds; and through the Theriodonts with the mammalian

[Footnote 1: And perhaps the pachydermatous mammals (Nicholson,
"Zoology," p. 566).]

In that case the sequence of the two groups, plants and aquatic
animal-forms, is explained. They come almost together--plants being
probably actually the first, and mollusca, fishes, and saurians.

There is, further, no real dispute that the Saurians led up to the Aves,
and that the third group (of mammals) follows all the members of the
second group. The earliest known mammal (_microlestes_) is an isolated
forerunner of not very certain location, the real bulk of the mammalian
orders beginning in the Eocene. Seeing, too, how very closely one
Creative command is recorded to have followed on the other, it is not in
any way against the narrative that some land forms of crustaceans and
insects (and possibly others) began to appear at an early stage, when
the vegetable and water-animal forms had only progressed as far as the
Silurian and Devonian ages. Nor should we wonder if mammalian forms had
occurred earlier. I mention this because of the evident gap in the
geologic record between the Cretaceous and the Eocene, and because in
the article of December, 1885 (and elsewhere), Professor Huxley has used
language which suggests that mammals may have existed of which the rocks
give no sign. E.g. (p. 855): "The organization of the bat, bird, or
pterodactyle, presupposes that of a terrestrial quadruped ... and is
intelligible only as an extreme modification of the organization of a
terrestrial _mammal or_ reptile." The italics are of course mine. And
again (p. 855), "I am not aware that any competent judge would hesitate
to admit that the organization of these animals (whales, dugongs, &c.)
shows the most obvious signs of their descent from terrestrial

I do not quote these words of so great a master as presuming to question
them (even if, as a scientific verdict, I had any motive for so doing),
but merely to point out as a matter of plain and fair reasoning, that if
a Divine Creator had designed certain forms to be gradually attained by
the processes of Evolution, it would not be necessary that any actually
realized form or tangible creature should have existed as ancestors.
Logically, the necessity is _either_ that certain animals should have
actually existed whose descendants gradually lost or gained certain
features and functions till the forms we are speaking of resulted, _or_
that certain patterns or designs should have been created according to
which development proceeded by regular laws till the forms in question

A few words as to the terms used in describing the contents of each
group, may be added. It is obvious that the terms are intended to be
exhaustive of certain main groups which are described sufficiently,
without being cast in a form which would have been incompatible with the
use (at the time) of a human agent as the medium of the recorded

(1) "Vegetation" (of an indefinite character, but not bearing seed),
plants bearing seed, trees bearing fruit with the seed in it--certainly
exhaust the entire range of plant-life.

(2) Moving creatures that live (and fish are afterwards expressly
mentioned) and great monsters (tann[i=]n[i=]m), cover the entire field
of life up to Reptilia as far as these are aquatic forms.

(3) The terms used for the third group are also obviously
exhaustive--the separate mention of the _cattle_ and the _beast_
(Carnivora and Ungulates) is a form which is invariably noticed
throughout the Old and New Testaments. The "creeping things" would
include all minor forms, all land reptiles not described above as the
"tann[i=]n[i=]m," and insects.

And it is remarkable that the tortoises, the snakes, and, the more
modern forms of crocodile and lizard, and the amphibia and higher
insects, are all cainozoic--some of them were preceded by more or less
transitory representatives, e.g., the Carboniferous _Eosaurus_ and
Permian _Protosaurus_ the ancient Labyrinthodons and Urodelas,
Chelonians and the amphicaelian crocodiles. Snakes have no palaeozoic

Land insects, as might naturally be expected, go back to the times when
land vegetation was sufficiently established, and appear gradually all
along the line from the Silurian onwards. The modern types, however, are

The succession, we observe, may be illustrated by the resemblance of a
number of arrows shot rapidly one after the other in so many parallel
courses: all would soon be moving nearly together.

Plant-life, the subject of the first Divine designing, has, as far as we
can reasonably say, the start. According to known laws it appears in
elementary and undeveloped forms, and gradually progresses. One group
(Cryptogams) reaches a magnificent development and begins to die away in
point of grandeur, though still abundantly exemplified. Phanerogamic
plants in their lowest groups of gymnosperm exogens then begin to appear
in the Devonian conifers, gradually followed by _cycads_. And it is not
till Cainozoic times that we have the endogenous grasses and palms and
angiospermous exogens.

But the command regarding animal life had followed the other after a
short interval, so that we soon see this developing _pari passu_ with
the other groups--first the lower marine forms and gradually advancing
to the Pisces, Amphibia, Reptilia, and then to Aves, as a special
division in the second great design group. Lastly the mammals appear and
man.[1] But throughout all, we see the rise, culmination, and decay of
many transitory and apparently preparatory groups--such as, for example,
the Labyrinthodons and Urodelas--preceding the modern types of Amphibia;
ancient fish-forms preceding modern ones, and either dying out or
leaving but a few and distant representatives; or again, the whole
tribes of ancient Saurians, of which something has already been said.
All these wonderful under-currents and cross-currents, rises and falls,
appearances and disappearances, nevertheless all work together till the
whole earth is peopled with the forms, designed in the beginning by the
Heavenly Creator.

[Footnote 1: Nor should we be surprised to find (should it be so
discovered) that some animals appeared after man. (_Cf_. "Nineteenth
Century" for Dec. 1885, p. 856.)]

No account of Creation can be other than wonderful and mysterious; nor
can the mystery of the Divine act be explained in language other than
that of analogy.

We can speak without mystery of a human architect conceiving a design in
his mind; and when he utters it, it is by putting the plans and details
upon paper, and handing them over to the builders, who set to work
(under the architect's supervision, and in obedience to all the rules
he has prescribed as to the methods of work and materials to be used).

All this we can transfer by analogy only, to a Divine design. The
design is in the Divine mind, and He utters it in no material plans or
drawings: the forces of nature and the chemical elements, His obedient
builders, have no hands to receive the plans or eyes to scan them; but
we can perceive the analogy directly, and that is all that is necessary
for Faith.

The origin of all we see in the world and in the entire Cosmos is, then,
in God; and as regards the adjustments of our globe and its relations,
and the actual life-forms in plant and animal, they came into existence
pursuant to groups of types or designs, made by the Divine Mind, and
declared by Him from His Throne in heaven, in six several days--periods
of the rotation of our earth.

That is the message of Revelation. It requires no straining of the
sacred text: it takes everything as it stands, and the seemingly lengthy
explanation it requires is not to manipulate the text, but to clear away
the heap of mistaken conceptions that have gathered round it:--to
establish the idea, that the terms "God said, Let there be," and so
forth, mean Heaven work, in the design and type--not earth work in its
realization and building up. Establishing this by illustration and
argument, nothing more is required in the way of textual exegesis except
to argue for the rejection of perverse and unsustainable meanings long
given to "days," to "expanse" or "firmament," and to "great whales" in
the narrative.

It will be admitted readily that if this account of Creation is the true
one, if the meaning assigned to the Genesis narrative is correct, it
affords no hindrance to _any_ conclusions that may progressively be
demanded by the investigation of life-history on earth.

It requires us to believe that the forms which life assumes are not
chance forms, nor the _unpremeditated_ results of environment and
circumstance. But we are not told positively which forms are transitory,
which are final.

It is only a matter of probable opinion, which it is quite open to any
one to dispute, that there is any indication of finality. I should
personally be inclined to think that we have indications that carnivora,
ungulates, and birds are final forms; that no evolution will ever modify
a bird further into anything that is not a bird; that no transition
between the ungulates and the carnivora is possible; that the
_proboscideae_ are not a final but a transitory type, dying out
gradually--our elephants and similar forms will disappear as the
mastodon did.

But I admit this is all mere speculation, in which I ask no one to
follow me.

On one important point only is there a difference; and if the text is
ever proved wrong on that, it must be given up. But it is here that all
scientific knowledge fails, in _any way whatever,_ to touch the sacred
text. There _is_ an unique and exceptional account of one "special
creation." A man "Adam" is described as having been actually created,
not born as an ultimately modified descendant of ancestors originally
far removed from himself. That is not to be denied; not only was his
bodily form specially created (conformably to the _type_ created in
Genesis i. 26), but a special spiritual and higher life was
imparted--for I believe that no one disputes this as the meaning of the
expression, "breathed into his nostrils the _breath of lives,_ and man
became a living soul."

It must be noted again--although I have before alluded to this in some
detail--that it is not impossible that, pursuant to the general command
"Let us make man," there _may_ have been other human creations, perhaps
not endowed with the higher life of Adam. If it is found difficult to
realize this because the _image of God_ is connected (from the very
first) with the design of Man's life-form, still it is to be remembered
as an undeniable fact, that the form, though one assumed by God Himself
in the Incarnation, _is connected_ in structure and function with the
general animal (Mammalian) type, and that even the Adamic or spiritually
endowed man _may_, by neglecting the higher and giving way to the lower
nature, develop much of the purely bestial in himself. So that the bare
possibility of a pre-Adamite and imperfect man cannot be _a priori_
denied. More than that it is not necessary to say. Nor is it necessary
that any origin of man should be limited to six or eight thousand years
back. If the state of the text is such that a perfect chronology is
possible,[1] then all that the Bible goes back to chronologically is the
particular man Adam. And it is quite impossible that any scientific or
historical contradiction can arise therefrom.

[Footnote 1: It should be borne in mind that just as Revelation is often
absolutely silent on many points that mere curiosity would like to see
explained, so also, the Divine Author may have allowed parts of the
original text of Revelation to be so far lost or obscured as to leave
further points that _might_ have been once recorded, now doubtful. All
that we may be quite sure of is that the text has been preserved for all
that is essential to "life and godliness."]



The information here put together is a compilation from papers in "The
Nineteenth Century," and other sources. It has no pretentions to
originality, but only to give a brief and connected account of the
subject, more condensed and freed from surrounding details than that
which the original sources afford.

Before entering on the subject, I would again call attention to the
surpassing importance of these early chapters of Genesis. And, I add,
that unbelievers are especially glad to be able to allege anything they
can against them, because they are aware that hardly any chapters in the
Bible are more constantly alluded to, and made the foundation of
practical arguments by our Lord and His Apostles, than these early
chapters in the Divine volume. If these chapters can be shown to be
mythical, then the divine knowledge of our Lord, as the Son of God, and
the inspiration of His Apostles, are put in question. All through the
Old Testament, allusions to Adam and to the early history in Genesis
occur; and among other passages, I will only here invite attention to
the 31st chapter of Ezekiel, where there is, in a most beautiful
description of the cedar-tree, an allusion to "Eden, the Garden of God"
(see also chapter xxviii. ver. 13), which some have thought to indicate
that the site was still known, and existing in the time of the prophet.
This at least may be remarked, that in verse 9, where the prophet speaks
of the "trees that _were_ in the Garden of God," the word _were_ is not
in the original, and the sense of the context would rather denote the
present tense--"the trees that _are_ in the Garden of God."

But it is in the New Testament that the most repeated and striking
allusions to Adam, the temptation of the woman by the Serpent, and the
entrance of sin and death into the life-history of mankind, occur.[1]

[Footnote 1: See on this subject page 137 _ante_.] [Transcriber's
note: Chapter X.]

As regards the narrative of Eden itself, there has been, from the very
earliest times, some disposition to regard it as mystical or
"allegorical," i.e., to regard it as representing spiritual facts of
temptation and disobedience, under the guise or story of an actual
audible address by a serpent, and the eating of an actual fruit. The
earliest translators seem to have glossed the "Gan-'Eden," everywhere in
the Old Testament (_except_ in Gen. ii. 8), by the phrase "the paradise
of pleasure," or some other similar term. And the Vulgate _always_ uses
some phrase, such as "place of delight," "voluptas," "deliciae," &c. It
must be admitted that there is some temptation to this course, because
of the inveterate tendency of the human mind to reduce things to its own
level--to suppose everything to have happened _in ways which are within
its present powers to comprehend._ We figure to ourselves the fear and
dislike _we_ should ourselves experience, of a large snake; we imagine
the amazement with which an intelligible voice would be heard to proceed
from such a creature; so far from being _tempted, we_ should at once be
moved to hostility or to flight; and thus we are inclined to throw doubt
on the narrative as it stands.

But this is to do what we justly complain of modern materialists and
positivists for doing--reducing everything to terms of present
experience and knowledge.

It has to be borne in mind, that _under the conditions of the case_, the
serpent was neither ugly, dangerous, nor loathsome, but beautiful and
attractive; that the residents of the Garden were familiar with the
"voice of God"--i.e., they had habitual intelligible communication with
heaven: probably, also, free intercourse with angelic messengers
(inconceivable as it may now seem to us) was matter of daily experience
to them. The woman would then recognize in the voice an Angel
communication; and unaware at first that it was an evil angel, it would
excite no surprise in her at all. Sensations of terror, surprise,
dislike, and so forth, were _ex hypothesi_ unknown. Why then should not
the narrative be exact, unless, indeed, we have some _a priori_ ground
for supposing that human nature _never could_ have been in a state where
the voice of God and angels sounded in its ears, and where innocence and
the absence of all evil emotion was the daily condition of life? The
unbeliever may sneer at such a state, but _reason_ why it should _not_
have been, he can give none. So, again, with the idea of the "tree of
the knowledge of good and evil" and the "tree of life." We are no doubt
tempted to think that these terms may be symbolic; but a more careful
reflection, and a deliberate rejection of the _influence of present
experiences_, may lead us to accept the narrative more literally. Even
now, we are not unfamiliar with the ideas of medicinal virtues in plants
and fruits. I see nothing impossible in the idea that God may have been
pleased to impart such virtue to the fruit of a tree standing in the
midst of the Garden, that physical health, immunity from all decay, and
constant restoration, should have been the result of eating the fruit;
and the eating of this fruit, we know, was freely permitted. The late
Archbishop Whately suggested, and I think with great probability, that
the longevity of the earliest generations of the Adamic race may have
been due to the beneficial effects of the eating of this fruit, which
only gradually died out. Just as we know at the present time, that
peculiarities introduced into human families, often survive from father
to son, till they gradually die out after many generations.

Again, as regards the "forbidden tree," it will not seem impossible,
that as a simple _test of obedience_ in a very primitive state, the rule
of abstinence from a particular fruit may have been literally enjoined,
and that the consequence of the moral act of _disobedience_ (rather
than the physical effect of the fruit eaten) should have been the
knowledge of evil, the first sensation of shame, terror, angry
dissension, and, worst of all, the alienation from God the source of all
good, which followed.

All such considerations of the reality of the history must gain greatly
in strength, if we can demonstrate that the Garden of Eden, the scene of
the temptation, the place where the trees that were the vehicles of such
consequences to the occupants of the garden, stood, had a real existence
and geographical site. Now I need hardly remark that the Mosaic
narrative unquestionably _professes_ a geographical exactness and a
literal existence of the garden, as no fabled locality--no Utopia or
garden of the Hesperides. I need only refer to the _data_ afforded to us
by Gen. ii. 8-14.

The Lord, it is said, planted a garden in Eden: it was "eastward;" but
that does not directly indicate its site. From Gen. iv. 16, we also
learn that the land of Nod where Cain dwelt (after the murder of Abel)
was on the east of Eden.

A river went out and watered the garden. After passing the limits of
Eden, the river is said to have divided itself, or parted, into four
heads, i.e., arms or branches. The first branch was called Pison. This
branch "compasseth," i.e., forms the boundary along the whole length of,
"_the_ Havilah." This country is spoken of as being a tract wherein was
produced good gold, "b'dolach" (translated "bdellium") and "shoham"
(translated "onyx.") The second branch was Gihon, which is described as
similarly compassing the district of K[=u]sh. Here our A.V., by
substituting "Ethiopia" for the original "C[=u]sh," has made a gloss
rather than a translation; and this gloss has given rise to several
errors of commentators in identifying the site of Eden. The Revised
Version has corrected the error.

The third branch was Hiddekel, the _Diklatu_ of the Arabs, the Tigra of
the old Persians, and the _Tigris_ of later writers. This is said to run
eastward towards Assyria.[1] The fourth river was the Frat or Euphrates.
Observe, in passing, that the author gives no detail about the great
river Euphrates, as being well known; while he adds particulars about
the Tigris, and describes the Gihon and the Pison in some detail.

[Footnote 1: So the margin of the A. and R. Versions more correctly.]

Now it will at once strike the reader that two of these rivers are well
known to the present day. The others are not.

It is in the identification of these two, and of the districts which
they "compassed," which form the difficulties of the problem. Up till
recent times, it is remarkable what a variety of speculations have been
attempted as to the situation of Eden. Dr. Aldis Wright, the learned
author of the article "Eden" in Smith's "Biblical Dictionary," remarks:
"It would be difficult, in the whole history of opinion, to find any
subject which has so invited, and at the same time completely baffled,
conjecture, as the Garden of Eden." And in another place he thinks that
"the site of Eden will ever rank with the quadrature of the circle, and
the interpretation of unfulfilled prophecy among those unsolved, and
perhaps insoluble, problems which possess so strange a fascination." It
is, however, to be remarked, (1)that all that was written before
Professor Delitzsch's researches were made known; and (2)that really a
great mass of the conjecture and speculation has been purely in the
air--undertaken without any reference to the plain terms of the text to
be interpreted. It is the extravagance of commentators, and their
insisting on going beyond the narrative itself, that has raised such
difficulties, and made the problem look more hopeless than it really is.

To what purpose are "the three continents of the old world" "subjected
to the most rigorous search," as Dr. Wright puts it--when it is quite
plain from the text itself, that the solution is to be sought in the
neighbourhood of the Euphrates, or not at all? The whole inquiry seems
to have been one in which a vast cloud of learned dust has been raised
by speculators, who began their inquiry without clearly determining, to
start with, what was the point at issue. Either the description in Gen.
ii. 3-14 is meant for allegory, or geographical fact: this question must
first be settled; and if the latter is agreed to, then it is quite
inconceivable that the words should imply any very extensive region, or
any fancied realm extending over a large proportion of one or other
quarter of the globe. The problem is then at once narrowed; and it is
simply unreasonable to look for Havila in India, or for Pison in the
province of Burma, as one learned author does!

Yet commentators have forgotten this; and gone--the earlier ones into
interpretation of allegory--the later into impossible geographical
speculation; while only the most recent have confined themselves to the
obvious terms of the problem as laid down in the narrative itself--a
narrative which (whether true or false) is clearly meant to be definite
and exact, as we have seen. Our A.V. translators are to be held, to
some extent, responsible for the freedom which speculation has
exercised, by themselves taking the C[=u]sh of the narrative to
"Ethiopia," i.e., to the African continent--for which there is no
authority whatever.

As regards the _allegorical_ interpretations, they are too extravagant
for serious notice. Souls, angels, human passions and motives, are
supposed to be represented by towns, rivers, and countries. To all this
it is enough to reply--What reason can we have for supposing an
allegory suddenly to be interpolated at Gen. ii. 8? There is no allegory
before it, there is none after.

Then as to the early geographical expounders. Josephus and others
supposed the allusion was made to the great rivers known to ancient
geography, all of which ran into that greatest river of all, which
encircled the globe. In this view, the Gihon might be the Nile, and the
Pison the Ganges! Here, again, it may be remarked it is impossible to
read the narrative and believe that the author meant any such widespread
region. Even if the author had the ancient ideas about cosmography
generally, that would not prevent his being accurate about a limited
region lying to the east of a well-known river in a populous country. In
later times Luther avoided the difficult speculation by supposing that
the Deluge had swept away all traces of the site! But unfortunately for
this convenient theory, it is a plain fact that the Deluge did not sweep
any two out of the four rivers named. The reader who is curious on the
subject, will find in Dr. A. Wright's article a brief account of the
various identifications proposed by all these commentators. It would not
be interesting to go into any detail. I shall pass over all those
extravagant views which go to places remote from the Euphrates, and come
at once to the later attempts to solve the question in connection with
the two known rivers, Euphrates and Hiddekel (Tigris); as this is the
only kind of solution that any reasonable modern Biblical student will

The different explanations adopted maybe grouped into two main attempts:
(1) to find the place among the group of rivers that surrounds Mount
Ararat in Northern Armenia, _vis._, in the extreme upper course of the
Euphrates near its two sources; (2) to find the place below the
_present_ junction of the Euphrates and the Tigris, along some part of
the united course, which is now more than two hundred miles long, and is
called "Shatt-el-'Arab."

But neither of these attempts has been successful: the first must,
indeed, be absolutely dismissed; because the Hebrew phrases used in
describing the four _branches_ of the river that "went out," and watered
the garden, and then parted, cannot be applied to four independent
sources or streams--_upstream_ of the Euphrates. It will not, then,
satisfy the problem, to find four rivers somewhere in the vicinity of
the Euphrates, and which, in a general way, enclose a district in which
Eden might be placed. It may, indeed, be doubted whether this first
attempt (which I may call the "North Armenian solution") would ever have
been seriously entertained, but from the fact that the name Gihon--or
something very like it--did attach itself to the Araxes or Phasis, a
considerable river of Armenia. Finding a Gihon ready, the commentators
next made the Pison, the Acampsis; and then as Pison was near the
"Havila land," this country was laid on the extreme north of Armenia;
all this without a particle of evidence of any kind.[1] I may here take
the opportunity of remarking that a chance _similarity of names_[2] has
been, throughout the controversy, a fruitful source of enlarged
speculative wandering. Thus this name Gihon (Gaihun, Jikhun, G[=e][=o]n,
&c.) that appears in North Armenia, again appears in connection with the
_Nile_; while again the name "Nile" has wandered back to the confines of
Persia, and one of the _Euphrates_ branches is still called
"Shatt-en-nil." The ancients, indeed, had very curious ideas about the
Nile. Its real sources being so long undiscovered--no Speke or Grant
having appeared--imagination ran wild on the subject. Not only so, but
it is remarkable that the name _Cush_ should have acquired both a
Persian Gulf and an Egyptian employment: and the writer of the able
article in "The Nineteenth Century" (October, 1882) points out several
other singular instances in which names are common both to the
African-Egyptian region, and to this.

[Footnote 1: And it is astonishing to find the error generally
perpetuated in maps attached to modern Bibles.]

[Footnote 2: As distinct from a real philological connection of a modern
name with a more ancient one, and so forth.]

Turning now to the second of the two theories, the identification of the
site on the lower part of the Euphrates after its now existing junction
with the Tigris (and which the supporters of the theory have justified
by making the Gihon and Pison two rivers coming from Eden) must also be
set aside.

For the important fact has been overlooked that it is quite certain,
that anciently, the joint stream, (Shatt-el-'Arab), as it now is, did
not exist. Though the Genesis narrative tells us of a junction
_immediately outside_ the southern boundary of the Garden, the Euphrates
channels and the Tigris branch (with part of the Euphrates water in it)
flowed separately to the Persian Gulf. It is quite certain that, in the
time of Alexander the Great, the mouths of the Euphrates and Tigris were
a good day's journey apart. For this separate outflow there is the
incontestable evidence of Pliny and other authors quoted by Professor
Delitzsch. I may here also remark, that anciently the Persian Gulf
extended much farther inland than it does now. In the time of
Sennacherib, an inland arm of the sea extended so far, that a _naval_
expedition against Elam was possible; more than one hundred miles inland
from the present sea-line. The extension was called N[=a]r Marratum. In
Alexander's time, the city of Charax (now Mohamra) was founded close to
the sea (that was in the fourth century B.C.). It is known from later
histories, that shortly before the birth of our Saviour, the city was
from fifty to one hundred and twenty Roman miles inland. The change is
due to the "Delta," or alluvial formation at the mouth of the rivers.

Turning, then, to the recent inquiries (published in 1881[1]) by
Professor Fried. Delitzsch, it must be confessed that the results
obtained are such as to completely avoid all the difficulties that beset
the other explanations: yet we ought not to be too confident that it is
a final or absolute explanation. A certain caution and reserve will
still be wisely maintained on the subject. At any rate, they show that
_an_ explanation, one that answers _all_ the conditions of the problem,
_can_ be given; and that is a great thing.

[Footnote 1: "Wo lag das Paradies" (Leipzig, 1881) is the title of the

[Footnote: Professor Friedrich Delitzsch is Professor of Assyriology in
the University of Leipzig.]

In placing the site _on_ the Euphrates, and far from the mountain
sources, there is no violence done to the Hebrew language used to
describe the first river, as one that "went out," and watered the
Garden. The words do not require that the river should actually _take_
its _rise_ within the Garden limits; but it is necessary that the river
should be so situated, that its waters could be distributed by means of
creeks or canals across the Garden, that it could be said the river
"went out and watered the Garden." Now it is a remarkable fact, that in
the district just above Babylon, the bed of the Euphrates is in level
much higher than the bed of the Tigris (Hiddekel) to the east, and that
hence there always have been a number of very variable channels leading
from the Euphrates eastward to the Tigris. These, it is well known, were
often enlarged by the ancients and converted into useful "inundation
canals" for irrigation and the passage of boats. Imagine, then, the high
level river bed of the Euphrates, and various streams flowing off it
down to the valley of the Tigris, and we have a most efficiently
irrigated "Garden," and one accurately described by the text--the great
river "went out" and watered it. The Euphrates, moreover, is liable to
great flushes of water from the melting of the snows in wide tracts of

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