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amidst such a bundle of figures, flying at the mast-head of creation, are we to select the one that has a meaning? Reason gives the matter over to imagination, and imagination herself, as she stretches her wings over the dreadful chaos, is confounded in the mighty void.
But we are all bound to reconcile science with scripture. What would you substitute as safer ground? We would simply say, be less articulate. We cannot do better than to take Calvin's remarks, applied to astronomy, and apply them to geology, or any other science, which may now or hereafter appear to conflict with the Bible.
To make my meaning clear, let me suppose myself a trembling candidate for a settlement before a council of venerable Doctors of Divinity, and some of them consummate geologists. They examine me as to my ability to defend the Bible against the scientific infidelity of the day. A venerable man arises and asks. Do you consider yourself as set to defend the gospel? Trembling Candidate. Yes sir, as far as I know how. Learned Doctor. Have you studied geology thoroughly, in its connection with revelation? Trembling Candidate. No sir, I have not. My knowledge, to you, I have no doubt, would appear very superficial. Learned Doctor. How can you expect then to defend the gospel? Trembling Candidate. I may be a very imperfect champion. Learned Doctor. Have you given any attention to the subject? Are you aware of any difficulties in bringing the two sciences to an agreement. Trembling Candidate. Yes sir, I have. I believe I have read all your books on the subject. Learned Doctor. Well, have they done you any good? Have they enlightened you on the subject? Trembling Candidate. Certainly, sir, they have. I acknowledge the general truth of the science, and I respect you as one of its most able benefactors. Learned Doctor. Well, do you intend to follow my example in answering objections? Trembling Candidate. As far as I can, sir. I have read your books with the greatest interest, and received from them much instruction. But I certainly follow you more heartily
when you keep on the negative side than when you pass over to the positive, and attempt to extort from revelation or nature a specific testimony that they agree. I then start back, and prefer my ignorance to your knowledge. Learned Doctor. Do you mean to throw contempt on my speculations? Trembling Candidate. No, by no means; I have read your works with a double instruction; often as an example, and now and then as a warning. I cannot involve myself in some consequences which I see sanctioned by very high authority. Learned Doctor. How will you then defend the Bible? Trembling Candidate. Simply by saying that an inspired writer and a philosopher fill two departments, each of them perfect in his line. I suppose the narrative of Moses conveyed all that he wished it to convey. It was perfect for his purpose. It presented God as the rightful sovereign, because he is the literal creator of this universe. He meant also to sanction a Sabbath. But he designed to teach little or nothing of science. I shall stop where he stops. I shall stop on obvious declarations. I see, on my ground, no positive contradictions, nor, when the subject is fairly considered, much difficulty. I shall deem it safe to be as ignorant as Moses or Paul was, and as silent, on the dogmatic side, as was Jesus Christ. Learned Doctor. Well, I dont know but I must let you pass until you get the eggshell off your head. Trembling Candidate (whispers to himself). It is not yet knocked off by you.
Many other instances might be given than those noticed above. We present only specimens.
The opinion that it is geology solely that proves a supernatural interposition among the operations of nature, i. e. that it lays a foundation for believing the miracles of the gospel, is surely unsupported. Most of the old philosophers (except the Epicureans) bear one testimony on this point. Anaxagoras is said to have introduced mind to account for the motion and arrangement of matter. Πάντα χρήματα ἦν ὁμοῦ· εἶτα νοῦς ἐλθὼν αὐτὰ διεκόσμησε. “All the wise
Diogenes Laertius, Lib. II., Anaxagoras.
agree," says Plato, " that the ruling principle in heaven and earth is voûs" (mind). It was a general principle that the beginning of motion was mind. Modern philosophy reechoes the sentiment. MacLaurin, in his account of Newton's discoveries, says: "We are always meeting powers which surpass mere mechanism." Newton himself says: "The main business of natural philosophy is to argue from phenomena without framing hypotheses, and to deduce causes from effects, till we come to the very first cause, which certainly is not mechanical;" and the following maxim is found in Cote's preface to Newton's Principia: "Causae simplicissimae nulla dari potest mechanica explicatio; si daretur enim, causa nondum esset simplicissima." It is a fixed maxim, in all comprehensive philosophy, that the laws of nature lead to something above nature; but what is above nature is the miraculous power. The first decree that creation offers to our adoration is, that she is not sufficient to her own operation; and geology only adds a weak--"weak" because the vote was taken in the subterranean chambers of the earth and kept there for ages-suffrage to Nature's ancient and stronger declaration.
One evil must always attend these recondite resemblances between science and revelation. They never can recur spontaneously to the plain Christian. They never strike him, because they are found beyond the sphere of common observation, and they are totally unlike any proof adduced by the sacred writers.
1 Philebus, p. 28, C. D.
DESCRIPTION OF THE CITY OF VAN, by Rev. Justin Perkins,
On my recent return to Persia, I spent a Sabbath at the renowned ancient Armenian city of Van. It is situated about seventy miles southwest of Ararat. Its location is one of the finest in the world. The charming lake of Van stretches away to the westward like a vast placid mirror, being nearly a hundred miles in length, and at least half that in breadth. The lofty pyramid peaks of Mt. Stephen and Mt. Nimrod, loom up beyond as mighty pillars, to mark its northwestern and southwestern limits. To the north, east, and south is spread out a broad, fertile plain, to the distance of ten to fifteen miles, bounded all around by rugged mountain-ranges; those on the south forming a most magnificent chain, whose higher portions are capped with perpetual snow. This chain runs parallel with the lake and plain of Van, and rears a seemingly impassable barrier between Old Assyria and Armcnia. Its streams flowing south from the head-waters of the river Tigris, the miscreant sons of Sennacherib, the Assyrian king— Adrammelech and Sharezer― might well have felt themselves secure from pursuit, on crossing such a mountain-barrier and fleeing into Armenia.
The town of Van is near the lake, hardly a mile from its eastern shore. It reposes compactly under a bold cliff of flint rock, which rises abruptly from the plain, about a mile in length, from two to five hundred feet in height, and not much broader than it is high. The southern face of this cliff, under which the town is built, is perpendicular. Its crest is surmounted by strong fortifications, which, with the natural advantages of the place, render it well-nigh impregnable. Beautiful gardens, orchards, and vineyards environ the city in all directions.
On the perpendicular face of the cliff that overhangs Van are interesting relics of antiquity. Near the top is a royal palace, cut out in the solid rock, consisting of an audience hall, and two smaller rooms which open from it. There is, also, a few hundred feet westward from the palace, a large, smoothed tablet, on the surface of the rock, covered with arrow-head inscriptions. And there are similar inscriptions on the opposite side of the cliff. These inscriptions were copied by Mr. Layard, about twelve years ago.
No wonder that the Assyrian queen Semiramis should choose Van as a favorite summer retreat, though obliged to make her way to it by a journey of a month, winding along the shore of the Tigris and its branches, rising gradually with the advance of the season, and regulating her return, in the autumn in the same way, but in the reverse direction. The contrast
of climates could hardly be greater than that of the burning plains of Old Nineveh and the genial atmosphere of this lofty region, nearly six thousand feet above the ocean, and further modified by the lake and the snowcapped mountains. Her route must doubtless have been the same as that now travelled, which has, from time immemorial, been a great route of commerce. I passed over several stages of that route on my way from the city of Bitlis, which is on the head-waters of the Tigris, nestled among the mountains, near the southwest corner of the lake.
Van is a venerable town in Armenian history, having been one of the capitals of that ancient kingdom. It now contains from twenty to thirty thousand inhabitants, the majority of whom are still Armenians; and the whole region is studded with Armenian churches and monasteries. Two rocky islands of the lake are seats of renowned monasteries, still swarming with monks like bees, though unfortunately the “bees” are all "drones.”
A more interesting and inviting missionary field than Van can hardly be conceived. Added to its local attractions are the great numbers of Armenians accessible, who, if more superstitious than those of western Turkey, are in a far more normal and hopeful state. Those of the west, by coming in contact with European civilization in its least desirable forms, are much more inclined to copy its faults and vices than its virtues. The wonder is, that Van has remained so long unoccupied by American missionaries; and it is not strange that the late Dr. Dwight, who visited this city a few months before his death, had entertained the purpose of making it his future residence. Within the last two months, I have passed across Turkey from the borders of Servia - Wallachia and Bulgaria, on the northwest, to the eastern confines of the empire; and were I to-day to select a location for its attractions of climate and actual scenery (all enhanced under the clear sky of this lofty region), of antiquarian associations, and last, though not least, for missionary promise, that place, of all others that I have seen within the dominions of the Porte, would be Van. Is there no young pastor, among the subdivided parishes of New England, who can be spared to occupy such a field?