Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing (epiphany) of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; Titus 2:13
THE THIRD CREATIVE DAY-DRY LAND,
Gen. 1: 9-13
THE POINTS OF DEPARTURE AND ARRIVAL. THE ANTECEDENTS OF THIS DAY'S FIRST CREATIVE WORK. THE PERTINENT CREATIVE PROCESS. VOLCANIC AND EARTHQUAKE EFFECTS. THE PRESSURE EAST AND WEST RATHER THAN FROM NORTH AND SOUTH. THE PROCESS PROGRESSIVE THROUGH OTHER EPOCHS. IT WAS GOOD. THREE POETIC DESCRIPTIONS QUOTED FROM THE BIBLE. ORDER, KINDS AND FIXITY IN VEGETATION. GRASS. PLANTS. TREES. SOME PARTICULARS ON VEGETATION.
THE next part of our study of God's works of Creation is that of the gathering of the waters of our sphere into seas and the consequent appearance of dry land. This is briefly described in Gen. 1: 9, 10, in words simple, in sense sublime. This will readily be recognized when it is seen that in these few simple words God has described the gigantic work of causing the shoreless ocean that covered our globe to be gathered into earth's seas, with submerged parts of its bottom arising as continents, etc. This great work occupied but a part of the third creative epoch, the rest of it being occupied in bringing forth earth's grass, plants, bushes and trees of that period. The better to visualize this work, its point of departure and its point of arrival must be kept in mind. Its point of departure was a shoreless ocean, covering the primeval crust of this earth, on whose top by the fall of two of earth's seven canopies the first and second strata over that crust had been deposited. These strata were in a more or less soft condition, as was earth's underlying primeval crust. Thus such was the point of departure for the first part of the third creative epoch's work. The point of arrival of the first part of earth's third creative epoch was collected aggregations of water, called seas, and dry land. If this point of departure
and this point of arrival are kept in mind, it will be possible to obtain a clear view of the first part of the creative work during the third epoch of creation. And the clear view is one that presents to our mind's eye some sublime works.
The antecedences of the gathering together of earth's shoreless ocean into seas and the appearance of its continents, will next engage our attention. Certain of these relate to conditions in and under earth's primeval crust or scum, and others to conditions above that crust or scum. The first of these below earth's crust that had to do with the gathering of earth's waters into seas and the appearance of dry land was the nucleus in the center of the earth. It is the nature of a more or less solid sphere in revolving to condense its center more rapidly than its parts farther away from its center. Such condensation of course would make this center denser and thus smaller. This center we call earth's nucleus. Its condensing naturally made it attract to itself surrounding matter, which likewise became denser, and thus gradually the interior of the earth, i.e., that below earth's primeval crust or scum, contracted until there was quite a distance from the top of the molten matter and the bottom of earth's primeval crust or scum. This is the first antecedence to be kept in mind in order to clearness on the subject under study. Later on we will point out how this factor cooperated in producing the gathering together of earth's waters into seas and the appearance of the dry earth.
The second antecedence to the gathering of the waters of earth into seas is the molten mass proper. Its continued cooling also caused it to condense in size and at the same time also to generate between its surface and the bottom of earth's scum highly explosive gases. Then, too, the surface of this molten mass was very likely quite uneven: in some places nearer, in other places farther away from the bottom of earth's
primeval crust or scum. This molten mass in its constant agitation, due to its boiling and exploding, contributed to making its surface more or less uneven. In other words, there were doubtless on its surface ridges, valleys and hills, some of which may have approached mountains in size. These irregularities would doubtless be constantly shifting their positions, some even disappearing and others appearing. All of these conditions of the molten mass have their relations to the first part of the work of the third creative day, which will later appear.
Then there are certain conditions in earth's crust above the molten mass that played their part in producing the collection of earth's waters into seas and the appearance of dry land. This crust did not have a smooth outer surface. It arose and fell in the forms of ridges, valleys and hills, some of which attained mountain proportions, as can be seen in the granite, basalt, gneiss and crystalline rock coming out above the present seven layers of earth's strata. Ridges, hills and mountains imply valleys. And this entire condition proves that earth's crust was of varying thickness. Hence, parts of it were capable of resisting pressure more than were others. It is also quite probable that parts of this crust were denser than others were, which would also contribute to their being able to bear a varying amount of pressure. These considerations played their part in the work of our study, which will be brought out in their proper place.
Some conditions above earth's primeval crust likewise contributed to produce the collection of earth's waters into seas and the appearance of dry land above the water. The fact that earth's crust, as just shown, was not smooth, but irregular, by reason of its ridges, hills, mountains, plateaus and valleys, implies that the crust was much thinner in some than in other places; and the more or less solid deposits that were laid upon it by the falling canopies were of varying degrees of
thickness and density, which made the pressure upon this crust vary in proportion to the weight and amount of the more or less solid materials in these deposits. The same fact also proves that in places the shoreless ocean that covered earth after the first and second canopies fell was deeper than at other places, and this, too, would make a varying pressure rest upon earth's primeval crust. And at these deeper places the primeval crust was thinner and hence, generally speaking, weaker than elsewhere. Then, too, the two strata formed by the falling of the first and second canopies were neither solid nor dense. They were at first more or less soft, and parts of them, agitated from below and above, drifted hither and thither, which, again, would make variations in the amount of pressure in different places, with the greater weight gravitating upon the thinner parts of the crust, because their surface was deeper. These things also had their parts to play in the work of producing the seas of earth and the appearance of dry land.
These considerations prepare us to understand the process whereby earth's waters were collected into seas and whereby the dry land was made to appear. This process itself was a simple one: It consisted of a sinking of the thinner and weaker parts of the bottom of earth's shoreless ocean to a great depth, which in turn caused other parts of this bottom to buckle, whereby parts of it rose higher and higher until they appeared above the water's surface. How was such sinking possible? We answer: By a combination of the conditions mentioned above as antecedences of the collection of earth's waters into seas and the appearance of dry land. In the first place, the hollow space formed between the molten mass and earth's primeval crust became so deep as to conduce to such sinking of that crust and its superincumbent strata and water. In the second place, the greater thinness of that crust at some places, with heavier pressure thereon from the greater
weight of the above-lying two strata and water than in other places, contributed to this fall at the places where that primeval crust was thin and weak, while where it was thicker and stronger it would by that fall tend in places to rise, in others seem to rise, the waters settling increasingly lower, leaving other parts free of water.
A phenomenon that doubtless all of us have witnessed will illustrate this: Often streams of water rise to a greater than their normal height, and while in that condition receive a thick covering of ice. Somewhat later the water receding more and more leaves this ice unsupported, until, unable longer to bear its unsupported weight, the ice falls down to the surface of the water. So, the molten mass becoming denser and denser, receded farther and farther away from the bottom of what was once its scum, earth's primeval crust, until the latter, unable longer to bear in its weaker and thinner places its own and its superincumbent weight, fell to the surface of the molten mass in the above-mentioned parts. And as parts of the ice in the above illustrations the parts near the surface of the water usually rise, so parts of the earth's crust and its overlying strata rose, and that in a number of ways. In some places the sinkings were so deep as to cause the land to appear above the water by the mere flowing of the water from those parts, as it sought its level in the deep sinkings above described, without the land actually rising at all. This applies mainly to the land that is very near the level of the sea. How are we then to explain the forming of plateaus, hills, mountains and valleys? In part by the fact that they had existed as such under the water, as described above, the mere sinking of the water causing it to drain away from them, thus leaving them dry and more or less high above sea level when it had receded to its place in the immense depressions made by the sinking of the primeval crust, etc.
But there were other causes that helped to produce some of the high plateaus, hills, mountains and valleys. When the bottom of parts of the primeval crust lit upon the adjacent molten mass it doubtless caused it to sink there, and this pressure made adjacent parts of the molten mass rise, just as a huge rock cast into some mud makes the mud immediately under the rock sink and the adjacent mud not under the rock rise. Such rising molten matter would raise the overhanging primeval crust, etc., to varying heights, which also would go to produce our plateaus, hills, mountains and valleys. In some cases this molten matter burst through the primeval crust, etc., and spread itself over immense territories, producing the great lava countries like Bashan, etc. Still another cause contributed to producing such elevations: The immense amounts of gases that arose from the molten mass and remained awhile between it and earth's primeval crust forced by explosions a rising of this crust, etc. Then, also, two or more processes combined to produce these results.
Volcanic activities contributed more or less to the production of mountains and hills. Science assigns a variety of causes to volcanoes and earthquakes. One of these is the subsidence of the earth's primeval crust from time to time in various places to the molten mass, as explained above, causing in other places that molten mass to rise and discharge part of its contents through vents already existent or forced by the present pressure of the discharged matter. Many of our mountains are extinct or active volcanoes and have been built up gradually by the repeated discharges of lava through their craters. Earthquakes have also contributed toward elevating parts of the earth into plateaus, hills and mountains, and, by rending them apart, forming valleys, though streams of water have been the chief causes of valleys apart from those up heaved from the bottom of earth's primeval shoreless ocean, as described above. The softness of the
primeval crust and its two strata contributed its share toward the forces above mentioned, under Divine manipulation producing the results that we are studying.
Thus pressure internal and external produced the gathering of earth's waters into seas and the appearance of land. This pressure seems to have been lateral, i.e., east and west, rather than from top to bottom, i.e., from north to south. The following facts suggest this: The lay of the continents is north and south, indicating that the pressure was from east and west. Had the pressure been from north and south, there would have been no continent at the south pole and no immense masses of islands in the Arctic Ocean. The direction of the mountain ranges is generally north and south, and still more generally along the seas and oceans, and that because the pressure produced by the sinking bottoms of the primeval ocean would be mainly along or at some distance from its newly formed shores. The general contour of the continents suggests such pressure. The shores of eastern North America and of western Europe would fit, roughly speaking, into one another. The same is true of eastern South America and western Africa. In a more modified sense this is true of western South America and eastern Australia; western Mexico and Central America and the eastern Philippines and East India. So is it true, too, of southern Europe and northern Africa; and of north-east Africa, and south-west Asia. South-east Africa and western Australia fit to one another. Eastern Asia and western North America recede gradually and harmoniously away from one another as they extend southward. The general lay of the oceans, especially the Atlantic and Pacific, is in line with this thought. All of these facts are in harmony with the thought that the pressure that sank the bottom of the primeval ocean was exerted, generally speaking, laterally—east and west, and not north and south.
We are by many facts led to see that the process
that has just been described was not exerted only in the third creative epoch, but also in succeeding epochs. That it began in an epoch in which our globe was covered by a shoreless ocean is manifest from the fact that high up on the mountains of western North and South America, on the Alps, on the Himalayas and on numerous other mountains are found innumerable shells and shell fish embedded in the rocks, having been deposited while they were yet under water. The same phenomenon appears much nearer the sea level, e.g., in parts of France. On the other hand, high up on other mountains are found rocks that were deposited in the fourth, fifth and sixth creative epochs, as in other places on earth's surface near sea level strata appear that were laid down by canopies that fell after the third canopy fell, its fall being at the end of the third creative period. These facts show that this process was not confined to the third creative epoch. In our time, as might be expected, because of the preparation of our earth for the Millennial conditions, the same process is going on. A number of new islands have been upheaved in the Pacific Ocean, especially along the coast of Alaska. This accounts for the frequent earthquakes and volcanoes along the shores of certain lands: Japan, China, California, Italy, India, Turkey, many isles of the sea, etc. Accordingly, we are warranted in believing that this has been an intermittent process, extending over all the creative epochs from the third to our own. The earth gives evidence, therefore, of its gradual and intermittent operation. Our explanation foregoing has been the Christian view of the matter for centuries, even as Milton nearly three centuries ago stated it in the following description:
"The mountains huge appear
Emergent; and their broad bare backs upheave
Into the clouds; their tops ascend the sky
So high as heaved the timid hills, so low
Down sunk a hollow bottom, broad and deep
Capacious bed of waters."
The appearance of the dry land as it emerged from the shoreless ocean's bottom was not that of our present earth. Five of earth's strata have from as many canopies since fallen to our earth and have greatly changed its appearance from what it was as it arose from under the water. There were no grass, plants, bushes and trees to beautify its face, and to relieve it from its monotonous appearance. It doubtless for several thousand of the seven thousand years of the third epoch presented the appearance of a muddy swamp unrelieved by the sight of any vegetation, with turbid lakes and muddy streams draining the new land. It certainly was not yet fit for habitation. As formerly pointed out, there is good reason for believing that the expression of v. 10 in our text, "And God saw that it was good," belongs in the middle of v. 8. But if it does belong to v. 10, the language might be well interpreted to mean that its possibilities from the Divine standpoint made it seem good prospectively to God. The word good, used in connection with God's creative works lower than man, has the sense of useful, beautiful, fitting. In such a sense the earth before vegetation appeared was good prospectively. It is because of such possibilities of the dry land at that stage of creation that we can call it good. God's benevolence toward man, as well as His wisdom and power, are manifest to our eyes of faith, even in this stage of His creative work, for He was then benevolently preparing earth to become a fit habitation for man; and this was one of the steps toward that object.
Above we have cited scientific facts in corroboration of the process whereby God gathered together earth's waters into its seas and made the dry land appear. Scientists are, generally speaking, a unit in describing the matter as given above. As children of God, however, we are more desirous of seeing how God in His other Book, the Bible, describes it than in seeing how He describes it in His book of nature. We will, therefore,
quote some pertinent Scriptures, using the A.R.V., which translates the passages much better than the A.V. First we will quote in strophic form from God's poetic description of creation in Ps. 104: 5-9, 32:
"Who laid the foundations of the earth [first the primeval crust, then the six strata],
That it should not be [re]moved forever.
Thou coverest it with the deep [earth's shoreless ocean] as with a vesture;
The waters stood above the mountains [of earth's primeval crust].
At Thy rebuke they fled [sinking parts of that ocean's bottom is here called a rebuke];
At the voice of Thy thunder they hasted away [the explosions of gases, contributing to the sinking of parts of the ocean's bottom, are here called thunder].
(The mountains rose [out from under the shoreless ocean]; the valleys sank down [the low places in the earth's crust between its heights are here called valleys]):
Unto the place which Thou hast founded for them. [The waters are here spoken of as seeking their level when earth's crust at places, its valleys, sank This is evident from the statements of vs. 6, 7, 9, v. 8 being a parenthesis.]
Thou hast set a bound that they may not pass over [Job 38: 10, 11; Jer. 5:22],
That they turn not again to cover the earth [as before the third creative epoch].
He looketh upon the earth and it trembleth [earthquakes connected with this process];
He toucheth the hills and they smoke [volcanoes connected with this process]."
The above description of the Psalmist is not only beautiful poetry, but also true and perfect science. The famous description of our Lord in His pre-human existence, as God's Wisdom, also gives us some thoughts on this subject. We quote Prov. 8: 25, 26, 29, from the A. R. V.:
"Before the mountains were settled [in their places after being brought up from under earth's shoreless ocean],
Before the hills were brought forth [from under the universal ocean],
While as yet He had not made the earth [dry land, in contrast with the sea],
Nor the field, nor the beginning of the dust of the field [In vs. 25, 26, conditions before the third creative day are negatively described] …
When He gave the sea its bounds [during its creative day],
That the waters should not transgress His commandment [expressed in His act of gathering them together into the seas to which He forever confined them],
When He marked out the foundations of the earth [in making it appear above the waters and remain there forever]."
We find another very fine poetical description of this work in Job 38: 4-11, which we also quote in strophic form
from the A. R. V.:
"Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth [the creative work with this earth from its beginning until the dry land got a substantial basis]?
Declare, if thou hast understanding.
Who determined the measures thereof [when God appointed the place of the sea and the land], if thou knowest?
Or stretched the line upon it [accurately arranged for its boundaries]?
Whereupon were the sockets thereof fastened [in the laws of gravitation]?
Or who laid the corner stone thereof [probably the primeval crust];
When the morning stars [angels] sang together,
And all the sons of God shouted for joy?
Or who shut up the sea with doors [confined it within its sphere],
When it brake forth and issued out of the womb [fell down from the canopies, their birthplaces]?
When I made clouds [the canopies] the garment thereof,
And thick darkness a swaddling-band for it [the seven canopies covered the shoreless ocean with thick darkness as its infant clothing],
And marked for it My bound [He set its bounds in the third creative epoch],
And set bars and doors [securely kept it within those bounds],
And said, Hitherto [to its bounds] shalt thou come, but no further;
And here shall thy proud waves be staid [It is remarkable that, while rivers have built up some of the land's space into the seas, e.g., the Euphrates, the Mississippi, etc., there is no record of any part of a continent being submerged under the sea. The land and the seas, as referred to in our text, have been perpetually divorced]."
Yea, "God saw that it was good." The work was well done. The seas keep their places; the continents keep their places. This is good for both of them: good for the inhabitants of the land, for the sailors over the bounding main and for the denizens of the oceans. This work praises the Lord. Yea, all God's works praise Him; and we, too, praise Him, who alone doeth wonders, whose name is holy and reverend!
We will now study the second part of the third creative day's work, treated of in Gen. 1: 11-13. The first part of the third creative day's work is described in vs. 9, 10, and was discussed in the preceding part of this chapter. The creative work described in Gen. 1: 1-10 concerns inanimate nature; with vs. 11-13 the creation of land animate nature begins. By this statement we are not to understand that no created life existed before the second part of the third creative day's work began; for not only were various orders of spirits created before this, but some very small forms of sea life, like some shell fish, existed before, as they form part of the strata deposited before the third creative day. But no land beings could have existed before, because (1) there was a shoreless ocean that
covered our sphere, and (2) because they needed the vegetable world for their food in order to exist. The creation of such creatures as shell fish, as living before the third creative period, is merely ignored in the Genesis account. The logical order in which creation proceeded is evident, among other matters, by the time order assigned to the creation of the vegetable world. It logically follows the formation of the land as distinct from the sea, and logically precedes the creation of land animals, so as to be available for their food. While no human or animal being lived during the third creative day to see that the yet unfallen canopies so obscured the sun that it could not have been visible to the sight of such, had they existed, yet a sufficiency of its light pierced through these canopies to the earth to give enough of it to the vegetation then created to sustain its life. Evidently the vegetation of that time was much different from that of our times, since the air was then highly charged with carbonic gas, which that vegetation absorbed in great quantities, as can be seen from the fact that in its plants and trees it went to form the coal beds of our earth.
The description of the creation of vegetation contained in vs. 11-13 is simple, yet very complete. In these verses the term grass includes not only what we now call grass, but also mosses and weeds; the term herb covers not only what we call herbs, but also plants; and the term tree, literally wood, covers what we include under the terms trees, bushes and vines. Accordingly, under three heads the entire vegetable world is covered in the terms used in vs. 11-13. By this remark we are not to be understood to mean that during the third creative epoch every species of grass, moss and weed, every species of herb and plant and every species of bush, tree and vine, were then brought into existence; for certainly the highly carbonized condition of the atmosphere of those times
would have been fatal to the existence of many of the grasses, mosses, weeds, herbs, plants, bushes, trees and vines of our time. Rather we are to understand the language to mean that examples of all these three forms of vegetation were then brought into existence, i.e., such only of them as were hardy enough to exist in the gaseous atmosphere that then prevailed. It will be noted that God endowed the various forms of the vegetable world with the wonderful power of reproduction: grass and herb yielding seed, the fruit tree yielding fruit, after its kind, whose seed is in itself. These verses also teach the fixity of each species of the vegetable world, after its kind. There is nothing here of one vegetable species developing into a higher species. While, as witnessed in horticulture, it is possible to cultivate each species into higher development and into different varieties, yet it is always within its kind, species; it is never from a lower into a higher species, as evolution claims. Each remains after its kind, so far as we can gather from the Bible. That such a thing as a change from one species into another had not happened, it seems to us, is evident from the fact that in the over 6,000 years of human experience it has never been noted as occurring. But the way that the creation of the vegetable world was unfolded pleased God as a good thing—God saw that it was good, which means that the creation of the vegetable world had proceeded far enough during the third creative period as to manifest its usefulness—"good" (v. 12). Thus the third day's creative work had in both of its features a dim beginning and a useful completion—there was an evening and there was a morning, day third (v. 13).
The creation of grass, as including also that of mosses and weeds, is set forth before that of herb and tree. While its being mentioned first would not necessarily prove that in point of time it was created first, yet its order' of mention likely means that. This likelihood
is increased by the fact that grass, moss and weeds in their organization are, generally speaking, the least complex of the vegetable kingdom. And it is reasonable to suppose that the Creator, as He did with creation as a whole, since each succeeding epoch dealt with increasingly higher things, proceeded from the simple to the complex in the detailed creations in each of the epochs. However, the point is of a kind on which dogmatism is unnecessary and fruitless. A number of things in the vegetable kingdom of grass strikes us. It is almost universally distributed throughout the land surface of the earth. Unless displaced by civilization in the form of houses, roads, etc., it is found everywhere on land, except in arid wastes, above the grass line on mountains and far north or south in the frigid zones. Its color, green, is noteworthy, especially when its wide prevalence is considered; for green is the most restful and most beneficial of all the colors to the eye. If grass were white or red its effects on man and beast through the eye would be exciting and nerve-racking. The progressiveness in the creative process of grass deserves note; for the grass that could have endured the carbonic gas of the third epoch must have been coarser and would be less beneficial for man's and beast's uses than in its present condition, which proves that it has progressed in quality since the third creative epoch.
Great, indeed, is the variety of grass in its three forms already mentioned. Using the word in its present restricted sense, there are hundreds of varieties of grass, among which may be mentioned Bahama grass, Bengal grass, Bermuda grass, Kentucky blue grass, black-seed grass, blue-eyed grass, alfalfa grass, snake grass, dog's-tail grass, esparto grass, five-leafed grass, four-leafed grass, etc., etc., etc. Mosses, too, are of many kinds, e.g., long or Spanish-moss, animal-moss, canary-moss, Ceylon-moss, Corsican-moss, cup-moss, feather-moss, flowering-moss, fork-moss, golden-moss,
hair-moss, Iceland-moss, Indian-moss, Irish-moss, etc., etc., etc. The kinds of weeds are myriad and, as a rule, may be dismissed as enemies of other plant life and of man and beast, though some varieties have valuable food, medicinal and other uses. But most of them are a part of the curse (Gen. 3: 18). Certainly there is a great deal of beauty in these three kinds of grass. Their forms in many cases manifest much beauty, so too, their texture, their shades of color, their leaves and blades. Often much delicacy of form, structure, shape and color is manifest in them. Most of their kinds are useful, some for food, some for enriching the soil by drawing to it nitrogen that they extract from the air and some for drawing poisons out of the air. Even weeds enrich the soil with nitrogen, though often stealing away from more useful plants the riches of the soil needed by the latter for their better growth. And there is more or less similarity in their essential or constituent parts and the connecting links of these. All of them have an organism; all of them have life-principle vitalizing that organism; and all of them have sap that is the connecting link between the organism and the life-principle, just as blood in animals is the connecting link between their organisms and life-principle. So wonderful are the organisms of grass, moss and weeds that their construction argues design and intelligence in their creation, and thus they imply the existence of a purposeful and intelligent Creator. Thus even so lowly a thing as a blade of grass by its constitution and intricacies proves God's existence as a reality.
Arising from the grass forms of the vegetable world we come next to the plant forms of the vegetable world. While not seeking to point out a line of cleavage between the world of plants and the world of trees more than that the texture of the latter is wood while that of the former is of vegetable materials softer than wood, and while in some cases it is hard to tell to
which of the two domains certain examples of them belong, in general people will be able to recognize without scientific precision of definition to which of these domains the examples at hand belong. Certain it is that size will not determine it; for in the carboniferous age, which is the same as the third epoch, some ferns, as evidenced from their fossils, attained heights of from fifty to eighty feet. In fact at that time, as evidenced again by fossil remains, vegetation was decidedly ranker and the trees were much more enormous in height and girth; for the thickness of some of the coal beds giving no evidence of seams within them, which we would expect, if in such cases layers of trees were laid upon other layers of them, seems to suggest that they are the "skeletons" of but single trees. The fact that between the higher and lower layers of the veins of coal layers of sand, clay and gravel are found, implies that floods rolled over the lower layers, depositing above them such debris, upon which in turn other trees, etc., were deposited. Nor are we to conclude that this process of laying down our coal deposits was limited to the third epoch or carboniferous age, for in higher strata such are also found. It was also during this period and in later periods that immense quantities of gas were caught and imprisoned between lower strata and the newly deposited strata from falling canopies. During this period and some subsequent periods highly carbonized water, in which all kinds of debris, including carbon-filled wood and plants, were contained, was caught and imprisoned between the strata and in time was changed into petroleum. It is from these "captives" that we are getting our supplies of petroleum and natural gas. Accordingly, we see that the rank plant and tree growths of that time have proved useful to us—"good." All His works are good.
Like grass the plants ("herbs") of the vegetable world are widely distributed. Indeed, like grass, we find them everywhere on land, except in arid lands,
above the plant line on mountains and plateaus and in the northern and southern parts of the frigid zones. While in color they are generally green, they are exceptionally of other colors. Indeed, among their leaves all the colors of the rainbow are present. This is more particularly true of many of the plant leaves native to the tropics, whose rich vegetation by far surpasses from almost every standpoint that found in the other zones. One of the finest collections of tropical plants in the world is found in Hope Gardens near Kingston, Jamaica. Here one can see a riot of colors, not only brilliant, but even gorgeous in leaf and flowers. Castleton Gardens in Jamaica from a different standpoint are another marvelous example of an exhibition of tropical plants. Adjectives fail us to describe the plant colors found in Hope and Castleton Gardens; for they beggar description. Travelers in the Amazon regions of South America have there found plants of the most diverse coloring. In the park of Georgetown, British Guiana, are to be found some most striking examples of the brilliant and gorgeous coloring of tropical plants. Of course, with such colors beauty is inseparably connected; and such beauty is evident even more in the flowers than in the leaves of tropical plants. Here, also, beauty riots as well as color. While plants are more luxurious, colorful and beautiful in the tropics than in other zones of earth, those of the semi-tropical and temperate zone lands afford much color and beauty. The inhabitants and visitors of California, Florida, Palestine, Hawaiian Islands, etc., can give abundant testimony on this subject. While inferior in color and beauty to the plants of the tropics and semi-tropics, the plants of the temperate zones and even of the warmer parts of the frigid zones can offer a multitude of hues and beauties in their leaves and flowers.
The varieties of plants are multitudinous. Botanists have classified them by the hundreds of thousands and
they probably run into the millions; for some of the richest plant sections of the world, e.g., the largest parts of the Amazon district, have never been visited by civilized man. Here, indeed, full many a plant and flower are born to blush unseen and waste their fragrance on the desert air. It would be needlessly freighting this chapter merely to mention their species, let alone the subdivisions of some of them. Some of them are for adornment, others of them are for utility. This utility in some is along the lines of producing food and drink, in some along the lines of enriching the soil and purifying the atmosphere, in some along the lines of producing and conserving rain and dew to make fruitful the earth, and in some to supply remedies against disease and poison in man and beast. As a matter of fact, man and beast derive almost all their nourishment either directly or indirectly through the plants of the vegetable world. There is a similarity along general lines in their organization and life, i.e., they have the same general component parts of their being, even amid almost infinite variety; for all of them have an organism and life-principle animating that organism; and they all have sap as the connecting link between their organism and the life-principle, since the sap is the vehicle through which the life-principle vitalizes the plants' organism. Thus, the same general law of existence operates in the plant world as operates in the animal world, though different forms and modes operate in each. As we saw in the grass of the vegetable world, so do we recognize in the plants of the vegetable world, that they have developed from a coarser to a more refined stage as conditions about them became more refined, e.g., while gigantic ferns and trees thrived during the third creative epoch, a plant like the sensitive plant could not have existed then, since the conditions of that time were too strenuous for its delicate organization to exist.
The world of trees, in the sense of hard, woody growths, is according to Gen. 1: 11, 12, the third form of the vegetable world. Here, again, we may remark that some forms of the vegetable world are hard to classify, e.g., some may classify the bamboo as a tree, but its hollow stem proves it not to be wood and it is usually classed as a plant; so, too, some would classify the banana, plantain and castes as trees, but their softness proves that they are not wood and they are, therefore, classed as plants. As we saw, the word translated tree in Gen. 1: 11, 12, should be rendered wood. It, therefore, covers what we mean by bushes, vines and trees. We find them widely distributed, except in most arid lands, above the timber line on mountains and plateaus and in the bulk of the land of the frigid zones. Their bark is of different colors; and their leaves are usually green, though when embraced by the arms of autumn's early frosts they blush first into yellowness and then into redness. More or less of beauty marks them, especially when they put forth their flowers. Few things on earth are more beautiful than some of the flower bushes in bloom; and a similar remark fits some fruit trees when in bloom, e.g., cherry and apple trees. The varieties of bushes, trees and vines are many, and each of these three classes of the tree has many divisions and subdivisions, though these are not so numerous as the varieties of plants. Their utility is great. The fruit and nut bushes, trees and vines, particularly trees, yield products good for food or drink. Their presence distributes rain and preserves moisture much needed for the soil, while their absence conduces to rainlessness at places, at other places to floods. They conserve the soil from erosion. They supply welcome shade amid torrid heat. They furnish shelter for birds and some beasts, and fire for the preparation of food, heat against the rigors of cold and building material for houses, furniture, vehicles, fences and utensils, as well as weapons for the more primitive peoples and
almost countless other useful things. They exhibit the same principles of being as we see in grass and plant being: organism and life-principle, with sap as their connecting link; and they give evidence of having progressed from their course and rude condition in primitive times to their present development, which will doubtless continue as ages advance.
A few words may be devoted to some of the big trees of the world, as the largest and oldest of all living things on earth. The best known of such trees are the Sequoias, or Giant Redwoods, of California, where there are several national parks set aside for their preservation. The largest of these is called General Sherman and the next largest is called General Grant. The diameter of the former is 36 feet, about 115 feet in circumference at the base, and its height 280 feet. These two trees are about 4,000 years old. There is a very wide-spread picture of a noted Sequoia called Wawona (Indian for big tree), in the Mariposa Grove, near the Yosemite Valley. The picture shows a large stage coach which carries a number of seated passengers, and which is drawn by several horses through a 27 foot tunnel, ten feet square, hewn through the standing tree, while on each side of this tunnel the bulk of the tree's trunk from the ground upward remains to keep intact the standing tree. This tree is, however, considerably smaller than General Sherman or General Grant, being 227 feet high and 90 feet in circumference at the base. Though less known, the eucalyptus trees of southeastern Australia are as high as the redwoods of California. Another tree very remarkable for its immense breadth is the Banyan tree of India. In width it covers in some cases an immense area. Some of them stretch out their branches until these run parallel with the ground upward of 75 feet on all the sides of the tree, i.e., a diameter of over 150 feet! They are, of course, supported by the branchlike roots that these branches at various places along
their lengths send down to the earth, into which they then grow as roots. In Queens Park at Kingston, Jamaica, are several of these, one of which sends out branches in all directions, of about 50 feet in length, parallel with the ground. A large one looks more like a grove than a single tree and affords a fine shade against a torrid sun, as many can testify.
But, perhaps, the largest (not the tallest) and oldest tree on earth is the Tree of Tule. Tule is about 360 miles south of the City of Mexico and several miles south of the town of Oaxaca. This tree is 50 feet in diameter. Its circumference at six feet above the ground is 154 feet and 2 inches. Its height is over 160 feet. The tree belongs to the family of the Montezuma Cypress and is closely related to the Swamp Cypress or Bald Cypress of the Southern United States. The Montezuma Cypress was once very numerous in Mexico and many examples of it were very large. Even in the days of Cortez the Big Tree of Tule was known as the largest and oldest living thing. Over a hundred years ago, Humboldt carved on its trunk an inscription which has by the growth of the tree become so covered as to admit of only the beginnings and endings of its lines to be deciphered. Recognizing its worth the government has kept soldiers there as guards against the depredations of sight-seers. Assuming that the growth of the annual rings of this tree is the same as in other large specimens of the same species, the age of the Big Tree of Tule is estimated as over 4,000 years. The noted tree in Mexico City called the Tree of the Sorrowful Night, under which Cortez rested after his worst defeat at the hands of the Aztecs, belongs to the same species.
Above we have discussed generalities as to the vegetable world in grass, plant and tree. There are a few particulars connected with all three of them on which we desire to treat briefly. Flowers are common to almost every species of all three of them. Practically
every kind of flower has in common the sepals, or the green leaf-like covering of the unopened flower, petals, or colored flower leaves, stamens, which are the parts of the flower with knobbed ends, and the pistils (usually only one—though often compound) or carpels, which are the center of the flower. The box-like ends of the stamens are the anthers, which contain the pollen. Each carpel, or pistil, consists of a stout base called the ovary, and a portion rising from the ovary called the style, whose upper portion is called the stigma. The stigma's surface secretes a sweet fluid in which grains of pollen from the same kind of flowers grow. The flower is fertilized by the pollen passing through the style into the ovary, where it grows into the ovule, which in time grows into a seed in the ovary. Remarkable, indeed, are the processes of pollination. Sometimes self-pollination occurs, i.e., the pollen of a flower fertilizes its own reproduction; but it usually occurs through insects, like bees, wasps, ants, flies, etc., becoming more or less covered with pollen during their visits to flowers and then carrying it to flowers later visited by them. These insects do not intend to pollinate the styles of flowers. It is unconsciously done during their search for food from flower to flower. Sometimes the wind carries the pollen from the stamens of one flower to the pistils of another. The Creator has furnished remarkable means assistful to pollination, like the hair-like projections in the pistils' styles, as well as the pistils' sticky and sweet secretions. It is needless to speak of the beauties that God has condensed into flowers, which make them so loved by mankind. Flowers could carry out their purpose of reproduction without sepals and petals, but not without stamens and carpels or pistils.
The main purpose for which a plant exists is reproduction, as indicated in vs. 11, 12. This is done through the process of fruitation; for in the fruit are embedded the seeds, whereby reproduction takes place. And in
many cases the fruit is to man the most valuable part of a plant or tree. Indeed, many thousands of tree fruit-units are used for food purposes to one of the seeds being used for reproductive purposes. And almost a similar proportion of vegetable units as to food and seeding purposes prevails. The Lord has arranged for the fruit usually to be a covering to protect the seed until it is mature, at which time the fruit is usually ripe. What we have said of fruit applies to fruit in the wide sense of that term and not simply to tree fruits, i.e., to berries, grapes, nuts, vegetables eaten as such, grains, etc., as well as to true fruits. Though usually not the most important for food, the seed is most important to the plant or tree on which it grows, for almost exclusively by seed does reproduction occur, though in some cases it occurs through seedlings. Hence, the most important thing that the vegetable world produces is seed for its growth after its kind. Always in these seeds are the reproductive powers. There is always life-principle in them and there is always in them a farinaceous substance. And through the chemical action of the earth combined with moisture this life-principle develops out of the farinaceous substance of the seed a root which it sends downward and a shoot which it sends upward, thus producing a new plant. So reproduction takes place, which preserves the existence of the kind of plant to which the pertinent seed belongs. Thus has God arranged for each form of grass, herb or plant and tree to have seed within itself, after its own kind, in order to preserve in existence each of them. Of course, Divine wisdom and power, and to a less extent Divine justice and love, express themselves in each one of these products of God's creative work.
No less do these qualities exhibit themselves in the roots of grass, plant and tree. These roots have divers functions. The first of these is to hold the grass, plant or tree in its place, which makes the vegetable world
void of locomotion. Then, too, the root takes in moisture from the earth, through which the plant makes sap, as the point of contact between the life-principle and the stock, and as the means of its growth. Also the root extracts from the earth the chemicals required for body builders and as part of the food in the grass, plant or tree. To achieve these purposes the roots send out hundreds, yea, in some cases thousands, of root-hairs, which draw to the roots the moisture and chemical elements of the earth needed for sustaining life and ministering growth to the stem, etc. The usual downward course of roots is due to their search for moisture and to gravity. Remarkable in the process of growth are the bud and stem. These are related; for the bud is the point of departure of a new stem, as the bud is often the point of arrival of an old stem; for a new stem is but the development of a bud which before was the product of an old stem. Light has a powerful effect on the growth of stems; for these always grow toward the light; and curious, indeed, are some of the antics of stems under artificial checks in their travels toward the light. This habit is necessary because much of growth and food value depends on the amount of sunlight the leaves receive. As before implied, buds are the promise of the future branch. The factors that influence the germination of seeds have much to do with the opening of buds.
It is interesting to note that through the leaves food in the form of starch is manufactured for a plant. Since starch as such is insoluble it must be changed into a soluble form, which is done mostly in the leaves by the process of digestion, which occurs through a digestive ferment called diastase. So, too, plants form proteids as food for themselves and for man and beast. Besides preparing and digesting food, the leaves have other functions. They do the breathing for the grass, plant and tree. They turn to the light to gain more vitality and energy from the sunlight. They draw
much nitrogen from the air, used in manufacturing proteids. Their drooping in darkness is due to their sleeping. They are more or less sensitive to contact, a fact that reaches its highest development in the sensitive plant. These leaves purify the air by imbibing some of its gases during sunlight, but they poison the air at night or in the dark by exhaling poisonous gases. Hence, plants may well be kept in the room where people spend their day time, but never where they spend their night time, especially in bedrooms. Leaves throw off excess of moisture in grass, plant and tree.
While, as a rule, the vegetable kingdom develops flowers, there are some flowerless members of that world, called Cryptogams. Some of these are the ferns and their allies. Mosses also belong here. Both of these forms of plant life love shade and moisture. They are of very great variety and especially beautiful are many kinds of ferns. To this group—flowerless plants—belong also the various kinds of algae and fungi, among which the best known are mushrooms. Some forms of bacteria are of the vegetable world.
We have given a brief description of the second part of the third creative day's work. This brief study serves to show that its part of the third day's creative work was good. In this feature God saw that its work was good, and we trust that this study has enhanced the Lord's creative powers in our hearts and minds.
I think that I shall never see
A poem lovely as a tree;
A tree whose hungry mouth is prest
Against the earth's sweet flowing breast;
A tree that looks at God all day,
And lifts her leafy arms to pray;
A tree that may in Summer wear
A nest of robins in her hair;
Upon whose bosom snow has lain;
Who intimately lives with rain.
Poems are made by fools like me,
But only God can make a tree.