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ON THE LAST FIVE DAYS' CREATION.
Gen. i. 6-31.
Ver. 6-8. We here enter upon the second day, which was employed in making a firmament, or expanse. It includes the atmosphere, and all that is visible, from the position of the sun, moon, and stars, down to the surface of the globe. ver. 14, 15. 20.
The use of it was to divide the waters from the waters : that is, the waters on the earth from the waters in the clouds, which are well known to be supported by the buoyant atmosphere. The division here spoken of is that of distribution. God having made the substance of all things, goes on to distribute them. By means of this, the earth is watered by the rain of heaven, without wbich it would be unfruitful, and all its inhabitants perish. God makes nothing in vain. There is a grandeur in the firmament to the eye; but this is not all : usefulness is combined with beauty. Nor is it useful only with respect to animal subsistence: it is a mirror, conspicuous to all, displaying the glory of its Creator, and showing his handy works. The clouds also, by emptying themselves upon the earth, set us an example of generosity; and reprove those who, full of this world's good, yet keep it principally to themselves. *
Ver. 9-13. God having divided the heavens and the earth, he now, on the third day, proceeds to subdivide the earth, or chaos, into land and water. The globe became terraqueous ; partly earth, and partly sea.
*Eccles, xi. 1-3.
It is easy to perceive the goodness of God in this distribution, Important as earth and water both are, yet while mixed together they afford no abode for creatures: but separated, they are each a beautiful habitation, and each subserves the other. By means of this distribution, the waters are ever in motion ; which preserves them, and almost every thing else, from stagnancy and putrefaction. That which the circulation of the blood is to the animal frame, that the waters are to the world : were they to stop, all would stagnate and die.*_See how careful our heavenly Fa. ther was to build us a habitation before he gave us a being. Nor is this the only instance of the kind : our Redeemer has acted on the same principle, in going before to prepare a place for us.
Having fitted the earth for fruitfulness, God proceeds to clothe it with grass, and herbs, and trees of every kind. There seems to be an emphasis laid on every herb and tree having its seed in itself. We bere see the prudent foresight, if I may so speak, of the Creator, in providing for futurity. It is a character that runs through all his works, that baving communicated the first principles of things, they should go on to multiply and increase, not independently of bim, but as blessed by his conservative goodness. It is thus that true religion is begun and carried on in the mind, and in the world.
Ver. 14–19. After dividing this lower world, and furnishing it with the principles of vegetation, the Creator proceeded, on the fourth day, to the producing of the heavenly bodies. First, they are described in general, as the lights of heaven ; (ver. 14, 15.) and then more particularly, as the sun, moon, and stars. ver,
The use of these bodies is said to be not only for dividing the day from the night, but for signs and seasons, and days and years. They ordinarily afford signs of weather to the husbandman ;t and, prior to the discovery of the use of the loadstone, were of great importance to the mariner. They appear also, on some extraordinary occasions, to have been premonitory to the world. Pre
* Eccles, i. 7.
* Matt. xvi. 3.
† Acts xxvii. 20.
viously to the destruction of Jerusalem, our Lord foretold that there should be great earthquakes in divers places, and famines, and pestilences, and fearful sights, and great signs from heaven.* And it is said by Josephus, that a comet, like a flaming sword, was seen for a long time over that devoted city, a little before its destruction by the Romans. Heathen astrologers made gods of these creatures, and filled the minds of men with chimerical fears concerning them. Against these, God warns bis people ; saying, Be ye not dismayed at the signs of heaven. This, however, does not prove but that he may sometimes make use of them. Modern astronomers, by accounting for various phenomena, would deny their being signs of any thing : but to avoid the superstitions of heathenism, there is no necessity for our' running into atheism.
The heavenly bodies are also said to be for seasons, as winter and summer, day and night. We have no other standard for the measuring of time. The grateful vicissitudes also which attend them are expressive of the goodness of God. If it were always day or night, summer or winter, our enjoyments would be unspeakably diminished. Well is it said at every pause, And God saw that it was GOOD!
David improved this subject to a religious purpose : Day unto day uttereth speech, and night rinto night showeth knowledge. Every night we retire, we are reminded of death ; and every morning we arise, of the resurrection. in beholding the sun also, which is as a bridegroom coming out of his chamber, and rejoicetli as a strong man to run his race, we see every day a glorious example of the steady and progressive path of the just, which shineth more and more unto the perfect day.
Ver. 20—25. We are next led to review the animal creation ; a species of being less resplendant, but not less useful than some of greater note. In one view, the smallest animal has a property belonging to it which renders it superior to the sun.
It has life, and some degree of knowledge. It is worthy of notice too, that the creation begins with things without life, and proceeds to things possessing vegetative life, then to those which have animal life, and
* Luke xxi, 11.
after that to man, who is the subject of rational life. This shows tbat life is of great account in the Creator's estimation, who thus causes the subject to rise upon us as we proceed.
Ver. 26–31. We are now come to the sixth and last day's work of creation, which is of greater account to us than any
which have gone before, as the subject of it is man.--We may observe,
1. That the creation of man is introduced differently from that of all other beings. It is described as though it were the result of a special counsel, and as though there were a peculiar importance attached to it : God said, Let us make man. Under the Great Supreme, man was to be the lord of the lower world. On him would depend its future well-being. Man was to be a distinguished link in tbe chain of being ; uniting the animal with the spiritual world, the frailty of the dust of the ground with the breath of the Almighty; and possessing that consciousness of right and wrong which should render him a proper subject of moral government.
2. Man was honoured in being made after his Creator's image. This is repeated with emphasis : God created man in his own image; in the image of God created he him. The image of God is partly natural, and partly moral; and man was made after both. The former consisted in reason, by which he was fitted for dominion over the creatures :* the latter, in righteousness and true holiness, by which he was fitted for communion with bis Creator. The figure of his body, by which he was distinguished from all other creatures, was an emblem of his mind : God made man upright. I remember once, on seeing certain animals which approacbed near to the human forin, feeling a kind of jealousy, shall I call it, for the honour of my species. What a condescension then, thought I, must it be for the eternal God to stamp his image upon
God made man upright. He knew and loved his Creator, liv. ing in fellowship with him, and the holy angels. Oh, how fallen! How is the gold become dim, and the most fine gold changed !
* James iii, 7.
This chapter contains a review of the creation, with the addition of some particulars ; such as the institution of the sabbath, the place provided for man, the law given bim, and the manner of the creation of woman.
Ver. 1. There is something impressive in this review : Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of themwisely, mightily, kindly, gradually, but perfectly. Man's work,
, especially when great, is commonly a work of ages. One lays the foundation, and another the top-stone ; or what is worse, one pulls down what another had reared: but God finishes his work. He is a rock, and his work is perfect.
Ver. 2, 3. The conclusion of so divine a work required to be celebrated, as well as the Creator adored, in all future ages : hence arose the institution of the sabbath. We are not to imagine that God was weary, or that he was unable to have made the whole in one day ; but this was done for our example.
The keeping of a sabbath sacred for divine worship, has been a topic of much dispute. Some have questioned whether it was kept by the patriarchs, or before the departure of Israel from Egypt ; supposing that Moses, who wrote the book of Genesis about that time, might be led to introduce God's resting from his works on the seventh day as a motive to enforce what was then enjoined upon them. But if there were social worship before the flood, and during the patriarchal ages, one should think there must be a time for it. We expressly read of time being divided into weeks during these ages : (Chap. xxix. 27, 28.) and as early as the Voi, V.