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THE earth, according to the received chronology of Moses, has existed rather less than six thousand years. Its creation has usually been fixed, by commentators on the Bible, at four thousand and four years before the birth of Jesus Christ. The genealogies of Moses, from which this æra has been gathered, are drawn up with great distinctness and precision; and admit of no question on their accuracy, which does not at the same time destroy his authority as an inspired writer. We cannot impugn these, and, with any degree of consistency, receive his other statements of professed revelation. Indeed it is scarcely too much to assert, that his entire credit as an historian is bound up in the authenticity of these annals; - since his chief object in writing would be frustrated, if they were not worthy of an implicit reliance. The most ostensible design of the Pentateuch was, without doubt, the deliverance from Egypt and the institution of the Law. But the Law
itself in its true power, was little else than an initiation into Christianity :-" the schoolmaster," in the language of St. Paul, "to bring us to Christ;"-and the real object of Moses was unquestionably to bring down the line of the Messiah from Adam, to whom the promise was given, through Abraham, to whom it was renewed,-to his own times; when, from the incorporation of Israel into a nation, the records would be kept with accuracy, until all should be completed in the incarnation of Jesus. In point of fact the spirit of all revelation may be reduced within the range of this one single principle; - the fall of human nature through Adam, and its recovery through Christ. This is the great end of the Bible. There has been no inspiration, which directly or collaterally, has not tended to this result; and every record,-whether promise, blessing, prophecy, or judgment, — has had in view the subjection of men's minds into this faith of a Redeemer.
Hence these genealogies have been compiled with the most scrupulous precision. Not only has the birth and death of each progenitor been carefully noted; but the several branches of the families have been so distinguished from each other, that the main line of Shem through the Patriarchs may be traced throughout with the utmost perspicuity. We ascend with ease to its source in Eden from any given. period of the Jewish history. No just reason has ever been adduced for throwing a doubt upon the correctness of these records; while in their reception by the whole nation of the Jews; by the prophets; and more than all, by Jesus Christ himself, we have a strong and positive argument in favour of
their truth. On these grounds we believe the period from Adam to Christ to have been four thousand and four
But, though admitting this æra as correct in regard to the birth of Adam, men have been induced at various times to extend their views on the earth's creation; and to separate the two events by a far distant interval. They have imagined the received chronology to be too limited; and assuming that the modern date of the present system throws an air of improbability around it, have insisted on the extension of the days of creation, each into the space of a thousand years. They have chiefly grounded this opinion on that passage of Scripture which asserts, that "one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day." The lateness, however, of the creation, independent of other considerations, can never be a valid objection; inasmuch as, however remotely it may be antedated, the world must have been young and newly formed at some period, and no satisfactory reason can be given, why the same agency of the Deity may not be in continual exertion now, as in æras long past. Space is unlimited, and for aught we can pronounce to the contrary, systems may be in the course of successive formation by the fiat of the Almighty without the slightest interval of repose.
Under this view then, the question is left precisely where the theorist has found it. But of later years men of science have brought their investigations to bear upon the subject, and have attempted to adduce
*2 Pet. iii. 8.