AUTHORS PREFACE TO FIRST EDITION|
IN 1876 the author of the present volume published a smaller book, entitled Earth's Earliest Ages and Their Lessons for Us, in which his object was twofold. He first attempted to remove some of the Geological and other difficulties usually associated with the commencing chapters of Genesis; and then endeavoured to show that the characteristic features of the Days of Noah were reappearing in Christendom, and, therefore, that the Days of the Son of Man could not be far distant.
For guidance in his efforts after the first of these aims, he adopted the following obvious principles-which, if they be admitted, render the interpretation easy and precise, and anticipate every possible Geological objection.
I. That the first chapter of Genesis, equally with those which follow it, is, in its primary meaning, neither vision nor allegory, but plain history, and must, therefore, be accepted as a literal statement of facts.
II. That care must, however, be taken to elicit the exact sense of the Hebrew text, which the English Authorized Version often fails to express.
III. That, to those who really believe in a Supreme Being, the occurrence of supernatural interference, causing physical convulsions and changes, presents no difficulty, especially in connection with a world the moral condition of which was evidently out of course ages before the creation of our race.
In the latter half of the volume, it became necessary to investigate Spiritualism, because that strange movement was deemed to be an incipient revival of the last and greatest cause of corruption in the days of Noah. And possibly it may have been owing to this investigation, and its admission of the supernatural character of phenomena then generally ascribed to illusion or imposture, that the book lay for a while in comparative neglect. When, however, its surmises began to be verified by the spread and forcible intrusion upon public notice of Spiritualism, the speedy sale of the remaining copies, and the letters received by the author, testified to an awakening interest, and determined the reissue, in some form, of the work. It was, however, apparent that a mere reprint would be very inadequate, since, apart from the author's increased familiarity with the subject, Spiritualism itself had greatly developed, and two other waves of kindred thought, Theosophy and Buddhism, had followed it.
Not only, then, has the original work been revised with copious additions, but fresh chapters have also been added to deal with the later phases of that which, in spite of great diversities among its supporters, we must, nevertheless, regard as one threefold movement. And in no point, perhaps, is its real unity more easily discerned than in the main object of its teachings, which is, to set aside the salvation of the Lord Jesus, and to substitute the doctrine that sin must be gradually worn away by our own works and sufferings, either in the spirit world or in a series of reincarnations upon earth.
The latter scheme, or spiritual evolution, preceded and, as it were, introduced by the physical evolutionary theories, is, under sundry disguises and with various modifications, insinuating itself in quarters where its rejection might have been deemed certain. But Christians, at least, ought to perceive that it is directly subversive of the Biblical cosmogony and plan of salvation; and that, by its very nature, it tends, more slowly, perhaps, but not less surely, to obliterate the great Creator Himself from the minds of His creatures.
Should any of our readers be predisposed in favour of such a theory, we would entreat them to consider its pedigree as given in our chapter on Theosophy; to note its avowed origin from " descending angels," who can be none other than those Nephilim which the Bible mentions as having already appeared twice upon earth ; and to remember that its acknowledged depositaries and guardians have been ' not the apostles and Church of the Lord Jesus, but the initiates of the Mysteries, the Brahman priests, and the followers of Buddha'.
A solemn thought remains. It would seem to have been by means of this very doctrine that Satan effaced the primal revelation from the minds of the intellectual among men, and changed their faith in the only true God into that Pantheism which is ever found to be the basis of Pagan philosophy.
But many signs appear to testify that the hour of the Powers of Darkness is again approaching-that eclipse of faith which, it is foretold, shall precede the coming of the Son of Man. And " the thing that hath been, it is that which shall be,"