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"since a day is the time between sun rise and sun "rise?"
Page 5. "How could God divide the light from darkness, since darkness is nothing but the mere privation of light?
The light was divided from the darkness, as it is now, by the interposition of the earth. This is plain; because it follows, "God called the light day, and "the darkness he called night." Day was the state of the hemisphere on which light irradiated; and night was the state of the opposite hemisphere, on which rested the shadow projected by the body of the earth. I see no absurdity in all this. But may not the assertion, that "darkness is only the mere "privation of light," be controverted? When "Moses 66 says, that darkness was upon the face of the deep," he did not mean that nothing was there. Of the darkness in Egypt, it is said, that it "might be felt." And if the fire at the solar orb could be suddenly extinguished, would not the whole body of the celestial fluid instantly become a torpid congealed mass, and bind the creation in chains of adamant? At the beginning, "light was formed out of dark"ness ;" and therefore may not the truth be this? In Scripture language, may not light be the celestial fluid, in a certain condition, and a certain degree of motion; and darkness the same fluid in a different condition, and without that degree of motion, or when such motion is interrupted by the interposition of an opaque body? A room, for example, is full of light. Close the shutters, and that light instantly disappears. But what is become of it? It is not
annihilated. No: the substance, which occasioned the sensation of light to the eye, is still present as before, but occasions that sensation no longer. Let philosophers consider and determine.
Page 5. "How could the firmament be created, "since there is no firmament, and the false notion "of its existence is no more than an imagination of "the ancient Grecians ?"
Never again let critics, while they live, undertake to censure the writings of an author, before they understand something of the language in which he wrote. The Greek version of the Seventy has indeed given us the word oregewa, which has produced in our translation the corresponding word firmament. But these terms by no means furnish us with the true idea of the original word, which is derived from a verb signifying, to spread abroad, expand, enlarge, make thin, &c. The proper rendering then is, the expansion. But expansion of what? Doubtless, of the celestial fluid before mentioned, of light, air, ether, or whatever you please to call it. In Scripture it is styled the heavens. "Who stretcheth out "the heavens like a curtain!-That stretcheth out "the heavens as a curtain, and spreadeth them out as a tent to dwell in "." How far this expansion of the heavens extends, is another question. That portion of it diffused around the earth is well known by the name of the atmosphere; and its force may at any time be felt by the hand, when laid on the aperture of an exhausted receiver. Sir Isaac Newton appears to have thought, that it might reach to the
t Psal. civ.
u Isa. xl. 22.
orb of Saturn, and beyond, even through all the celestial spaces. It seems to go out from one part of the system, and circulate to the other, and nothing is hidden from its influence; to be in every place, and to possess powers which nothing is able to withstand. The Royal Society, by its late worthy president, earnestly requested Dr. Priestley to make inquiry after this same wonderful substance; so that, by and by, it is likely, we may hear more of it*: and gentlemen may by degrees be induced to entertain a more favourable opinion of the Jewish legislator; as it is said of a great man, some years ago, that having, in the decline of life, accidentally dipped into a Bible, he declared, "he found Moses to be a "clever fellow; and if he had met with him a little sooner, he did not know but he might have read " him through."
Page 6. "How shall we explain the business of "the tree of knowledge of good and evil, and of a "tree of life?"
As my lords the bishops have kindly taken so much pains to bring the infidels into a good way of spending their Sunday evenings at home, I think it would not be amiss, if they were, now and then, at such times, to read a sermon. Let me therefore recommend to them four discourses, by the present
* Many curious particulars concerning that, and other subjects connected with it, have already been communicated to the world by the reverend and learned Mr. Jones, in his very valuable work, entitled, "Physiological Disquisitions, or Discourses on the "Natural Philosophy of the Elements:" printed for Rivington and Robinson.
dean of Canterbury, on the creation of man, the garden of Eden, the tree of life, and the tree of knowledge. It may appear, perhaps, that the Mosaic history is not necessarily so pregnant with absurdities as they are apt to suppose; but that a rational account may be given of man's primeval state, as there described, and of that trial to which he was subjected by his Maker.
In another part of the pamphlet, page 39, it is ob jected to us, "that Adam was threatened with death "on the day of his transgression, but lived at least eight hundred years afterwards."
The execution of the sentence, then, was respited, in consideration of his repentance, agreeably to the proceedings of God with his descendants, both individuals and communities, in numberless instances upon record. Transgression rendered him mortal, and his life from thenceforward was a gradual progress through labour, pain, and sorrow, towards death.
PAGE 3. "Is the account of the fall of man, in the "book of Genesis, physical, or allegorical?"
I apprehend it to be an historical narrative of what really passed in the garden of Eden. With regard to the parties concerned, there is no dispute concerning three of them, the Creator, the man, and the woman. But there appears a fourth, whose nature and character it has been thought not so easy to ascer-* tain. He is called THE SERPENT; but is throughout represented as an intelligent being, and treated as such. He proves himself also to be the TEMPTER. Can we doubt, for one moment, who this being is? The SERPENT, the OLD SERPENT, the DRAGON, are the appellations bestowed in the New Testament, upon the great adversary of mankind, the TEMPTER, the DECEIVER, the ACCUSER, the MURDERER. One question remains, whether, upon the occasion before us, he assumed the form of the natural serpent, or be only described under the name, and by imagery and expressions borrowed from the corresponding nature and qualities of that creature, and applied to him by analogy? Either way, it is beyond all controversy with us who believe the Scriptures, that He is the principal agent in the whole affair: HE is all along intended, and addressed; on HIM was the weight