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H I S T OR Y
Holy Bible. .
BOOK THE FIRST.
HE Almighty Architect having created that mass of
matter out of which the Universe was to be formed*, “Commanded the light to shine out of darkness.”
6 God “ divided between the light and between the darkness : “ And God called the light day, and the darkness he called
night;”+ for hitherto nothing but darkness had overspread the unformed earth and water, which with the other materials of the creation lay blended together without
• Various opinions were entertained by the Heathen Philosophers concerning the origin of the world, and the nature of the element or elements of which they pretended particular bodies to have been formed. Some maintained that water was the principle of all things ; others gave that pre-eminence to the air, others to the fire, &c. but they all agreed in this, that the matier of the world was unproduced. They never disputed among themselves upon the question, whether any thing was made out of nothing! They all agreed that it was impossible. Bayle's Dict. un. der the word Epicurus. Indeed the Heathen Greeks had no correct notion of Creation, nor any proper word whereby to express it.
When it is said, Gen. i. 1, “ God created the heavens and the earth," the substance, not the form, is intended ; for after this, they were “ without form and void." v. 2.
† So Gen. i. 4, is translated by some of the learned, who suppose that the diurnal motion of the earth began at this time, by means of which motion, ever since continued, the airs that were in a state of darkness all the night, were en. lightened in the morning; and the airs that were enlightened all the day, grew darker in the evening. See Pike's Philosophia Sacra.
order or distinction. The Spirit* of God moved upon the face of the waters. No sooner had the light displayed its cheerful beams, than it gave birth to the first day, which was immediately succeeded by the first night.
And to keep this part of new-framed nature within proper limits, the Almighty made the Firmament, t which was designed to separate between “ the waters which were under the expanse, and the waters which were above the expanse.” consequence
of which the waters were confined to certain bounds. The dry land then appeared, which was called Earth, as the gathering of the waters was called Sea. Tlfe earth being as yet unadorned, he gave the word, and it was immediately decorated with plants, and flowers, and trees, in all their beautiful variety.
Hitherto, the light, which God created the first day, was diffused throughout the universe, by the struggling of the small globes of ethereal matter, to break loose from the centre of their vortexes; but on the fourth day God made those two great luminaries of heaven, the sun and moon, the one to rule the day and the other the night ; and to render them more useful, by the regularity of their motion, he appointed them for signs to distinguish the seasons, and by them divide time into days and years. He made the stars also, which he set in the firmament, 'where they accomplish their revolutions in their appointed periods.
God having employed the first four days in the creation of inanimate things, proceeded to that of the living creatures :" Let the waters bring forth abundantly the
Spirit. The Hebrew word thus translated, is used for the Spirit of God, and the spirit of a man too; but there is reason to think that the material spirit is here intended. It is the word used for the dir. Isa. xl. 7, " The spirit of the Lord bloweth on the grass of the field;" and Ps. 104. 30, “ Thou sendest forth thy spi. rit, they are created,” &c. This does not exclude the agency of the Divine Spirit in the creation, but rather confirms it; for the material spirit is the type of the Holy Ghost in his various operations.
+ Firmament. The Hebrew word signifies Expansion. Moses had mentioned the spirit, which is the grosser part of the heavens, and the light which is the finer part; these two are supposed to be in a continual conflict or commotion, by which an expansion is produced, and by this expansive force nature operates.
moving creature that hath life, and fowl that may fly above the earth in the open firmament of Heaven.” After this God created great whales, * and all other living creatures which the waters produced, and gave them this blessing, “ Be fruitful, and fill the waters with fish, and the earth with fowl.” Moreover he added to the fertility of the earth, which before brought forth only vegetables, the production of animals, saying, “Let the earth bring " forth the living creature after its kind; cattle and creep-.
ing things, and beasts of the carth after their kinds; and it was so.'
All these parts of the creation being thus finished in their admirable order, the Almighty, to crown this great work, changes his style, which before was, Let this, or that be so, and saith, “ Let us make man in our own image, i after our own likeness :" He is not, like the other creatures, produced at an instant, but a sacred council is as it were held between the persons of the Holy Trinity, the result of which is a noble creature, who shall unite in his person both worlds; and though the matter out of which man was formed was but the dust of the ground, yet God
* Whales. The Hebrew word Tanim, signifies large creatures, as well on earth, as in the water, and is commonly applied to large fishes,
Image.' Man was created with light in his understanding, and holiness in his will, which with all his affections and appetites, was subject to his enlighten. ed understanding, and in this consisted the image of God; and to which fallen man must again be restored by the agency of the Holy Spirit. See Col. iii. 10. Eph. iv. 24,
The expression “ Let us make man," certainly implies a plurality of persons in Jehovah ; for there can be no imaginable reason why God should speak of himself in the plural number, unless he consists of more persons than one ; which is further evident from Gen. iii. 22. It would be absurd to suppose, as some do, that God should borrow this way of speaking from that of human princes, before a man was created on the earth. It should also be noted that the word Elohim, translated God, is plural, and is frequently joined with plural verbs and plural adjectives; yet here, and in many other places, it is joined with a verb in the singular, and strongly implies a plurality of persons in one and the same Jehovah.
See this argument at large in The Catholic Doctrine of the Trinity,” by the late learned W. Jones, M. A. F. R. S, Rector of Paston, and Minister of Nay land.
breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and man be. came a living soul. Man being thus excellently formed, was invested with the two great blessings of fruitfulness and dominion: “be fruitful,” saith he “ and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it, and have dominion over it.” He was constituted lord over all other creatures, and the product of the whole earth was granted to him for sustenance and delight.
Such was the creation of the world, of which when God had taken a general survey, he pronounced it " very good.” On the seventh day he “rested from all his work which, he had created and made," and therefore appointed it to be observed by man as an holy rest, wherein he might contemplate the wonders of the creation, and adore his glorious Maker.
God was then pleased further to display his goodness by placing Adam, for so the first man was named, in the beautiful garden of Eden, * or Paradise, which he was to dress and to keep, indulging him with a general permission to eat of the fruit of every tree in the garden, even of the Tree of Life, but expressly forbidding him to eat of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. By obedience to this law he was to evince his fidelity to his Maker, and his dependence on him as his supreme Lord and Benefactor; at the same time, to deter him from disobedience, the awful threatening was pronounced, “ In the day that thou eatest thereof, thou shalt surely die.”+
• Eden. It would be endless to recount the various opinions of Geographers concerning its situation. Moses says that “ a river went out of Eden to water the garden, and from thence it was parted and became into four heads.” Some suppose tbis river to be the common channel of the Euphrates and Tigris after their confluence, which parted again below the garden into two different channels : so that the two channels before, and the other two after their confluence, constitute the heads mentioned by Moses. If this conjecture be true, it will determine the situation to have been in the South of Mesopotamia: but others place it on Mount Caucasus.
t Whether the Tree of Life was a single tree or an entire species of trees, and whether it had any natural virtue to preserve life, are questions much disputed, but of little consequence. The Tree of Life, however, was a sacrament of that covenant of works, under which Adam was placed; it was a pledge of the favour of God; and by the use of it he maintained commu
God having given Adam a permission what to eat, and a prohibition what to forbear, puts him in possession of the sovereignty he had before given him ; causing all the beasts of the field and fowls of the air to pass before him, that he might give them their names ; and whatsoever Adam called any creature, that was its name.
And now Adam being the only creature without a companion, God caused a deep sleep to fall on him, and while he slept, took out one of his ribs, * closing up the flesh again, and made it into a woman, and brought her to him. Adam being sensible of what his Maker had done, as soon as he saw the woman, exclaims, in a kind of rapture, “ This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my fesh :" And, as he had given names to all other creatures, he likewise calls her WOMAN, subjoining as a reason,
" because she was taken out of man.” These two then, being united in so dear a relation, were to be inseparable ; so that, in all succeeding ages of the world, a man should leave both father and mother, and adhere to his wife, rendered by marriage indissolubly one. This was the conjugal insti
nion with his Maker, and acknowledged him as the Author of that better life, which though innocent, he was to seek after, not in himself, but in God, as a liberal rewarder. Witsius thinks that the Tree of Life signified the Son of God, not indeed under the character of a Mediator, (that consideration being peculiar to another covenant) but as he is the Author of Life to man in every condition, and the fountain of all his happiness. Hence Christ is called the Tree of Life. Rev. xxii. 2.
There was another tree, deriving its name from the Knowledge of Good and Evil, this was the Tree of Mortality, as the former was the Tree of Immortality. This was designed for the probation of man. If from a principle of love to God he regarded the probationary precept, he was to acquire the full knowledge of all the good intended for him ; but if disobedient, he was to be doomed to the greatest calamity, the extreme evil of which he should know from experience.
* Ribs. Many frivolous quæries have been proposed concerning this circumstance in the creation of woman; but it ought to satisfy us that this mode of her formation was most agreeable to the divine wisdom; and it may suggest some practical hints of no small importance in domestic life. 16 The woman was ta. ken, not from the head of man, to usurp authority over him ; nor from his feet, to be trampled on by him ; but from his side, to be regarded as next himself; under his arm to be protected ; and near his heart, to be beloved by him."