Изображения страниц

to such a degree and so generally, that rain could not then have been formed, except at very great heights, and when thus formed must of course have been liable to be vaporized again before it could reach the earth. During this period vast quantities of vapor must have been exhaled from the moist earth in the day time, or whenever the air was warmest; and been condensed into dew at night, or whenever the air became more cool. And this is just what we are told by Moses, in chap. ii. 5, 6; at the time the herbs and plants were made, "the Lord God had not caused it to rain upon the earth;" and "there went up a mist from the earth, and watered the whole face of the ground." The saying that it had not rained up to the time when vegetation was produced, implies that it did rain afterwards, which as we have seen must actually have occurred soon after.

(14.) And God said, Let there be lights, or luminous bodies. Those here intended are the sun, moon, and stars, as specified in verse 16.-In the firmament of the heaven. Not simply in the heaven, nor simply in the firmament, but "in the firmament of the heaven." The heaven is properly the region of space occupied by the heavenly bodies; the firmament may import the same, or it may mean merely the atmosphere. To be in the firmament, is to be in sight, whether near or distant; to be in the heaven, is to be in a certain region of space, whether in sight or not; and to be in the firmament of heaven, is to be in the visible expanse of the sky. By the removal of the clouds from the atmosphere the sun, moon, and stars became visible. This view of the subject is confirmed by an expression in verse 20, where we read of the birds flying" above the earth, in the open firmament of heaven." Having had waters above it, the firmament had been, as it were shut by dense clouds; but after the heavenly bodies were revealed in it, it is described as being "open;" and what can this import if not the absence of the clouds ?

To divide the day from the night. In verse 18, we have as an equivalent expression, "to divide the light from the darkness." It is worthy of note that in verse 4 of this chapter, as explained by verse 5, we are told of this very same division having been made on the first day, though

it is not there described as having any relation to the heavenly bodies. I am persuaded that Moses describes things as they would have appeared to an actual observer; and that the sense here is, that by means of the sun being generally visible in the day time, and the moon and stars at night, the change from night to day and from day to night, which had been going on ever since light first reached the earth's surface, was thereafter seen to be connected for the most part with the appearance and disappearance of those bodies respectively.

(16.) And God made two great lights, &c. This verse seems to be merely explanatory. The 14th and the 15th verses tell us what God willed respecting these lights; the 17th and 18th inform us that he did what he willed; the 16th verse, standing between, seems to have been thrown in as explanatory. The time in which God made those bodies, I deem to have been in the beginning; as I am told that the verb may, with equal propriety, be rendered, "had made."

(20.) And God said, Let the waters bring forth, &c. (24.) And God said, Let the earth bring forth, &c. Fishes and land animals are here willed, or commanded, to be, as it were, born of the ocean and earth. Parallel with these verses are the 11th and 12th, in which we read of the earth's bringing forth grass, &c. But we ought by no means to infer from this language, that the vegetables and animals came at first into existence in any other manner than by the direct act of creation. For, aside from other considerations, we read in verses 21, 25, as the accomplishment of his volition respecting the animals, that "God created great whales, and every living creature that moveth" in the waters; and that He "made the beast of the earth, and cattle, every thing that creepeth upon the earth." And in chap. ii. 5, we are told that "the Lord God made plant of the field before it was in the earth, and every herb of the field before it grew." Yet when a race of beings was to be produced whose prerogative it should be to "subdue" the earth, and exercise dominion over the animals, it was not said, Let the earth bring forth man; but we read, (26.) And God said, Let us make man. This seems to intimate man's superiority, which however is more defi

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]



nitely taught in what follows:-In our image, after our likeness. The idea here intended is doubtless the same as is embodied in the teaching of an apostle, that "we are the offspring of God." The correlative idea is presented in the affirmation that there is "one God and Father of all."

In scripture language generally, to be "the children of God," or to be "the sons of God," has reference to religious or moral character, or to what we may become by being imitators or "followers of God as dear children." Jesus therefore exhorts his disciples to love not merely their friends, but their enemies also, "that," says he, “ye may be the children of your Father who is in heaven," that is, like him morally. But to be the offspring of God, or to bear his image, relates to what we are constitutionally, or by virtue of creation; it being true that "there is a spirit in man," since God is not only "a spirit," but "the Father of spirits," even "the God of the spirits of all flesh." Man thus having a spiritual nature, and destined to an eternal existence, in a state of immortality, is therefore said to be made in the image of God. But whether this view of the subject is correct or not, it is the doctrine of Moses that mankind now, as an apostle also expressly affirms, "are made after the similitude of God." For that which he tells us the Creator proposed to make in his own image, and did thus make or create, was not merely Adam, nor Adam and Eve, but man-the genus homo, the race.

[ocr errors]


(27.) Male and female created he them. Some persons search the Scriptures diligently, if not daily, for the very laudable purpose of hunting out discrepancies therein. And they find one, as they think, in Moses's account, inasmuch as he here states that the race was created male and female; yet in the second chapter he tells of a time when there was a man, but no woman! Let such consider, they are capable of it, that an after-description of an event and a description of an after-event are sometimes quite two things. Moses first relates in general terms that God created man male and female, placing the former first. He afterwards relates certain circumstances attendant on the creation of the one, and certain other circumstances connected with the creation of the other; and states

definitely, what he had before intimated, that the man was created first; and also mentions the additional fact that some little time elapsed after the man was made before the woman was formed.

Again: Some can not reconcile, with the account of man's creation in the first chapter of Genesis, the statement in the second, that "there was not a man to till the ground." Now what Moses really affirms, is, that there was no man up to the time when God made the herbs and plants. And we learn from the first chapter that man was made after vegetation was created. Where, then, is the discrepancy?

Some writers insist very particularly upon the fact that in the first chapter man is said to have been created, and in the second, to have been formed; and they contend that the first has relation to the mind, or spirit, the second, to the bodily organization. Now, in the language of Moses, to create, and to make, are convertible expressions. Thus he informs us that God said, Let the waters. bring forth fish; and then adds that God created them. He tells us that God said, Let the earth bring forth land animals; and then adds that God made them. He relates also, that God said, Let us make man; and then adds, So God created man. Moreover he says in chap. ii. 4, "These are the generations of the heavens and of the earth when they were created, in the day that the Lord God made the earth and the heavens," &c. To create, and to make, are, then, the same thing precisely.

(31.) And the evening and the morning were the sixth day: The period of time embraced in Moses's sixth view. So far as the production of living creatures is concerned, the work of creation by a direct process then ceased. The three verses following have very improperly been thrown into another chapter.

(Chap. ii. 1.) Thus the heavens and the earth were finished. They were created in the beginning; but the earth, at least, was not finished until the sixth day.

(2.) And on the seventh day God ended his work, &c. The sense intended, evidently is, that He had ended it. In chap. ii. 17, is also an instance of the imperfect tense for the preter-imperfect tense. We there read that the Creator "formed every beast of the field, &c., and brought

them to Adam; " which makes Moses seem to say the opposite of what he had said, that the animals were created before man. The true rendering then is, "had formed," &c. And it being a manifest fact that in these instances the preter-imperfect tense ought to have been used instead of the imperfect, is the statement incredible that chap. i. 16, ought to read, "Now God had made?" &c.

And he rested on that day. What is here meant by God's resting, is well expressed in Heb. iv. 11: "For he that is entered into his rest, he also hath ceased from his own work, as God did from his." That is, the Creator ceased from direct acts of creation. Note, God's Sabbath, as respects the earth, continues yet. Creation is still effected through the operation of the law of reproduction.

(3.) And God blessed the seventh day. Ordained that the seventh period of time should possess a distinguishing characteristic, analogous to a season of rest.-And sanctified it. Set it apart to the purpose above mentioned.

We have now seen that Moses, after stating the general fact that the universe of worlds owes its origin to having been created by God, presents a view of the earth in a chaotic state, destitute of symmetry, void of inhabitants, and unfurnished with any accommodations for inhabitants had they existed; and that he ends with de scribing it as the residence of man, and so fitted and furnished for his reception, as that he, by the aid of his intellectual and physical powers, is able to render it quite a convenient and desirable abode. Only some of the more prominent of the processes by which the earth was thus improved, are by him presented. The principal of these are the following:

Water was formed, and covered the whole surface of the globe; but darkness rested upon its face, for the atmosphere had so much of an opaque substance floating in it that the light of the sun had never penetrated through it. The Creator willed, and light reached the earth's surface; and by the diurnal rotation of the earth, day and night succeeded each other in turn. Still the atmosphere contained an immense volume of vapor reaching quite down to the water all over the earth. He willed, and the vapor arose, leaving an expanse of clear air between the ocean and the clouds. The earth was now, as to its

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »