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“ but no farther; and here shall your proud “waves be stayed.” On the fourth day, the sun and moon were formed, and placed in the heavens to illuminate the earth, to distinguish between day and night; to divide, and to rule the revolving seasons of the year. “He made the stars also.” On the fifth day, were created fishes, and the swarming, multiform inhabitants of the hoary deep, the fowls of heaven, and whatsoever flieth in the expansion above us:... these all, were produced from the waters. On the sirth day, were formed all terrestrial animals. Then also MAN, his last, best work, was “fashioned” from the “dust of the earth,” and animated with “a living soul.” Of man he formed the woman, “to be an help meet for “ him.” “ Thus the heavens and the earth were finish“ed, and all the host of them.” And “God “ rested from his work, and blessed the seventh “ day, and sanctified it,” as a sabbath to the man and to his posterity. Such is the Mosaic account of the creation, leading us up to God as the Creator and Disposer of all things; affording, beyond controversy, the most rational of the hypotheses presented to you; and while it has left the way open for philosophic inquiries, it has not said
any thing to gratify vain curiosity. We will attend to some few questions which have been often suggested from this representation of the beginning of all things, and conclude this Lecture, which has already been drawn out to a great length. 1. What was the light that made it's appearance before the creation of the sun? In considering this question, which cannot be solved, and which is a matter of opinion altogether, various conjectures have been formed. Some have called it elemental fire. Some have supposed that it resembled the shekinah. A similar
representation of it is made by our immortal bard:
“‘Let there be light,' said God, and forthwith light
The critic, to whom we have before referred, supposes it to have been “an emanation of the “ same sun that still enlightens us; and which, “although it had not yet appeared in it's full
* Par, Lost, Book VII. l. 243–249.
“glory, yet shed sufficient light through the “ dense atmosphere, to make the surface of “ the terraqueous globe visible *.” But as I feel inclined to give implicit credit to the Mosaic account, in it's literal signification, which affirms that the sun and moon were made on the fourth day, and that “God commanded the “light to shine out of darkness” on the first, I should rather imagine it to be the same particles of light diffused, which were afterwards collected into one body—the sun f. But of these various opinions the reader will judge for himself. 2. Does the Mosaic account oppose the present system of astronomy? The language of the scriptures expresses simply the appearance of things, and neither sanctions nor opposes any system of philosophy. It has left the road of knowledge and research perfectly open; and neither forbids, nor adopts, the hypotheses of those who have explored the heavens, and with laborious and useful skill, developed the laws by which the great system, of which the globe constitutes a part, seems to be regulated. When in common language we say—“the sun rises, and sets”—we do not mean to oppose the Newtonian, or any other astronomical system, but merely to express the apparent motion of this grand luminary. It is the beauty of the scriptures, that their language is perfectly conformable to our ideas, and therefore on most subjects falls within the grasp of our comprehension. And we ought to recollect that the design of this volume is not to develope the laws of nature, but to lead us along the narrow path which conducts to heaven; not to guide our feet through the orbits of planets, but to direct them to the throne of the invisible God. 3. Does the Mosaic account of the creation extend to the universe at large? This is an enquiry which cannot be decided. Some have concluded that the earth, the sun, and the moon, only belong to this history. Others restrict it to the solar system. Others extend it to the wide universe. The circumstances of the creation, as related by Moses, apply principally to the globe which we inhabit. The sun and the moon are mentioned as formed at the same period, and are evidently included in the G
* Dr. Geddes' Crit. Rem. on Gen. C. I. ver, 3, vol. I. p. 14; quarto.
+ I do not profess to offer this hypothesis as clear of objection and difficulty; but it is the best which occurs to me, and is allowable where every thing must be merely hypothetical. I am happy to find that this thought corresponds with one suggested in Mr. Fuller's commentary on Genesis; which since the publication of the first edition of these Lectures, I have had the high gratification of reading.
account, because of their connection with, and advantage to, the earth. But the phrase, “He “ made the stars also"—seems to advert to the great universe; and may lead us to presume, that the creation of all things was effected at one and the same time. 4. In what sense are we to understand the term “six days"—as literal, or as allegorical ? A critic”, whom we have had occasion to mention more than once, boldly pronounces it “a beautiful mythos, or philosophical fiction.”— Some of the ancient Christian Fathers esteemed it allegorical. I confess, however, that my reverence for this volume, makes me very reluctant to resolve into allegory, any thing which wears the appearance of a fact on it's pages; much more so to venture to call it a fable. The following reasons determine me in concluding, that Moses designed it as a statement of facts, and that we ought to understand the phrase, “six days,” in it's literal sense: The seventh day was instituted as a sabbath, that in it the man might rest from his labour, and more immediately serve his gracious Creator; and the reason, the only reason, assigned for it in the promulgation of the law was, that “in “siv days the Lord made heaven and earth, “ the sea, and all that in them is; wherefore
* Dr. Geddes,