The earth is one great tomb of life:
“All that tread
The globe are but a handful to the tribes
That slumber in its bosom.”
In endless series the ages stretch along—birth, life, development, destruction. And so shall it be till time is no more.
WHEN that magnificent genius, Francis Bacon, sent forth one of his great works to the world, he wrote this prayer:
“Thou, O Father, who gavest the visible light as the first-born of thy creatures, and didst pour into man the intellectual light as the top and consummation of thy workmanship, be pleased to protect and govern this work, which coming from thy goodness returneth to thy glory. . . . We humbly beg that this mind may be steadfastly in us; and that thou, by our hands and the hands of others, on whom thou shalt bestow the same spirit, wilt please to convey a largess of new alms to thy family of mankind.”
And again he says:
“This also we beg, that human things may not prejudice such as are divine; neither that from the unlocking of the gates of sense, and the kindling of a greater natural light, anything of incredulity, or intellectual night, may arise in our minds toward divine mysteries.”
In the same spirit, but humbly halting afar after this illustrious man, I should be sorry to permit this book to go out to the world without a word to remove the impression which some who read it, and may believe it, may form, that such a vast catastrophe as I have depicted militates against the idea that God rules and cares for his world and his creatures. It will be asked, If “there is a special providence even in the fall of a sparrow,” how
could He have permitted such a calamity as this to overtake a beautiful, populous, and perhaps civilized world?
Here we fall again upon the great debate of Job, and we may answer in the words which the author of that book puts into the mouth of God himself, when from out the whirlwind he answered him:
“Shall he that contendeth with the Almighty instruct him “He that reproveth God, let him answer.”
In other words, Who and what is man to penetrate the counsels and purposes of the Creator; and who are you, Job?—
“Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth? Declare it, if thou hast understanding.
“Who hath laid the measures thereof, if thou knowest? Or who has stretched the line upon it?
“Whereupon are the foundations thereof fastened? Or who laid the corner-stone thereof?
“When the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy.”
Consider, Job, the littleness of man, the greatness of the universe; and what right have you to ask Him, who made all this, the reasons for his actions?
And this is a sufficient answer: A creature seventy inches long prying into the purposes of an Awful Something, whose power ranges so far that blazing suns are seen only as mist-specks!