Lectionary Calendar
Wednesday, June 12th, 2024
the Week of Proper 5 / Ordinary 10
For 10¢ a day you can enjoy StudyLight.org ads
free while helping to build churches and support pastors in Uganda.
Click here to learn more!

Bible Commentaries
Genesis 1

The Biblical IllustratorThe Biblical Illustrator

Verse 1

Genesis 1:1

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth

The Christian doctrine of creation

In considering the subject of creation we see, first of all, that a distinction must be drawn between what I would call primary and secondary creation.

Primary creation is creation proper. It is that grand act whereby Almighty God in the beginning called into being the finite world. Secondary creation, on the other hand, belongs to the sphere of Providence, or to the sphere of the history of the finite world. If we look at the history of the finite world, we see that during its course a vast series of beings have been called into existence. All the generations of mankind have come into existence during ages gone by. In like manner all the countless hosts of living creatures, the animals and plants that inhabit the world. Nor is this all. Men of science now tell us, that even the earth itself, the sun, the moon, and the planets, have come into existence during the history of the world. There was a time in the history of the finite world when there was neither sun, nor moon, nor earth, when the matter of which all these bodies are composed was diffused in a previous state. They have, therefore, like ourselves, received their existence during the history of the world. Now, the origination or bringing into existence of all these things I call a creation. Creation is that which is the work of an intelligent being. It is the giving of existence, by an intelligent being, to that which had previously none. And since all these things have received existence, and have received it at the hand of God, their origination is a creation.

In regard to SECONDARY CREATION, the great difficulty is this--If you will think over what I have been saying to you about it, you will see that the truth of my view all depends upon this, that the laws of nature alone and unaided are not sufficient to govern the course of nature. The view which I have given requires us to suppose that, in addition to the laws of nature, there is needed the Divine Intelligence to combine and direct them. In a word, we must suppose that the Divine Intelligence never leaves nature, but continually guides and directs its course to those great ends and purposes which God has in view. Now here it is that the difficulty comes in. It is held, by a large class of reasoners, that the laws of nature alone and unaided are perfectly sufficient for the purpose indicated. But is this view true? I think not. In fact there are many ways in which I could show its inadequacy were this the place to discuss the question. I shall not attempt any such discussion, but shall content myself with simply pointing out one fact which makes it impossible; I mean the fact that the course of nature is a history. If the course of nature were governed solely by the laws of nature, it must, as a necessary consequence, flow in grooves or cycles. But, in point of fact, it does neither. If we look at the course of nature, we see that it is a varied and ever-varying stream. From the beginning of the world up to the present moment, no two events, and no two objects, however similar, have been exactly the same in all respects. The course of nature is a free, orderly, progressive sequence, or series of events flowing towards, and attaining high ends and purposes. The course of nature being thus confessedly a history, what principle is it, which alone can account for it? You may ponder over the matter as much as you please, you may turn it and twist it in every possible way, but you will in the end be obliged to confess that the only principle sufficient for the purpose, is Intelligence. No other principle but Intelligence can account for the order of a free, varied, and progressive whole such as the course of nature actually is. Why is it that the conviction of a never-ceasing Providence in the affairs of the world is written in such living characters on the hearts of all men? It is from the perception that the course of nature is a history, and the inference which is instantaneously drawn, that it must be ordered by intelligence. The result then is, that the course of nature cannot be conceived by us as possible apart from the Divine Intelligence. We must suppose that the Divine Intelligence presided over it in the beginning and has ever since continuously guided its course. Now what follows from this? It follows that the first chapter of Genesis is literally true, in the sense in which the ordinary English reader understands it. It is still literally true that God created the sun, the moon, the sea, the dry land, the various species of plants and animals. For God prepared the conditions under which all these things came into existence. He guided the course of nature so that it should aid or abut in their production. They are, therefore, His creations; and owe their existence to His creative fiat. I wish I could stay to point out the many striking consequences which flow from this view--the air of grandeur and living interest it imparts to nature, the Divine light it sheds into every corner and crevice of it. But I must content myself with merely indicating one point, viz., how this view satisfies all our religious aspirations. It brings us very near to God. It brings God all round us and within us. But what comes home especially to the religious mind is the assurance which this view gives us, that we, as individuals, owe our existence not to dead and unintelligent laws, but to the will and purpose of the living God. Our individual existence was prepared and intended by God. We are His creation.

We have next to consider PRIMARY CREATION, which is far more difficult. Primary creation, as I have said, is that grand act whereby God called into being the finite world. It differs from secondary creation in these two respects: first, that there were no pre-existent materials out of which the finite world was formed, and secondly, in that the process whereby it was made was not one of natural law, but a process of intelligence. The difficulties which have been raised in modern times against this cardinal doctrine have been very great, and in dealing with them I do not well know how to make myself intelligible to some of you. One of the most perplexing of these difficulties is the view which regards creation as a breach of the law of continuity. The law of continuity obliges us to suppose that each state of the material world was preceded by a previous state. Hence, according to this law, it is impossible that the material world could ever have had a beginning. For the law compels us to add on to each state of things, a previous state, without ever coming to a stop. If we do stop short we break the law. And hence those who take this view would exclude creation, as being nothing else but a stopping short, and consequent breaking of the law. Creation, they say, is the doctrine that there is an absolutely first link in this grand chain, and if we are to adhere to the law of continuity we must exclude it. But this whole view of the matter is radically wrong. In supposing creation to be the first link in the chain of continuity, we necessarily suppose that, like all the other links, it took place in time. There was a time before, and a time after it. But if you will think over the matter, you will see that this could not be; for time only came into existence when the creative process was completed. In fact, space and time, the laws of nature, and the law of continuity, are all relations of the finite world; and they could not possibly have any existence till the finite world itself existed, that is, till the creative act was completed. Hence, if we would grasp in thought the creative act, we must transcend the law of continuity; we must transcend all the laws of nature; we must transcend and forget even space and time. If we would understand aright the creative act, we must view the finite world solely in relation ‘to the Divine Intelligence, of which it is the product. The great question in regard to primary creation is, Is it conceivable by us? There is a sect of people called agnostics, who say that it is utterly inconceivable, that no intelligible meaning can be attached to the word. They have wrongly compared creation to a process of natural law, and finding no analogy in this comparison, they have rashly set it down as unthinkable by us. But I have shown you that creation is not a process of natural law; I have shown you that it transcends natural law; I have shown you that it is purely a process of intelligence. Regarded in this point of view, I will now show you that it is intelligible to us, not, perhaps, perfectly intelligible, but still so much so, as to afford us a very tangible notion. The Bible conception of creation is simply this. The finite world as a whole, and in each one of its details, was formed as an image or idea in the Divine Intelligence, and in and by that act of formation it obtained objective or substantial reality. God had not, like us, to seek for paper whereon to describe His plan, nor for materials wherein to embody it. By His absolute power, the image of the world formed in the Divine Intelligence became the actual, substantial, external world. It obtained, as we say, objective reality. Thus the finite world was not a creation out of nothing, neither was it the fall of the finite out of the infinite, nor a necessary evolution out of the Divine Essence, it was the objectified product of the Divine Intelligence. It may, however, be said that this goes a very little way in making the act of creation conceivable to us, for we have no experience of the immediate and unconditioned externalization of a mere mental idea, and we cannot imagine how it could be possible. I admit that we have not the experience indicated. And yet, I would ask you, which is the most marvellous point in the whole process--the act by which the image of the finite world was constituted in the Divine Intelligence, or the act by which it obtained objective reality? Plainly it is the former. It is far more marvellous that the finite world in its first beginning, and in its whole subsequent development, should be imaged forth in the Divine Intelligence, than that this image should crystallize into concrete objective existence. Thus the very point of creation which is the most difficult is made conceivable to us by being reflected in the processes of our own minds. We can create to the extent of forming the mental image. It is only in the externalization of our idea that we are hemmed in and hampered by conditions. I maintain, therefore, that the Bible doctrine, whether we believe it or not, is conceivable by us. We have, first of all, a clear notion of the human intelligence, which is infinite and absolute in one of its aspects; this gives us a notion, inadequate no doubt, but still a tangible notion of the Divine Intelligence which is infinite and absolute in every aspect. Then we have a clear notion of the origination or creation of mental images or plans of things by the human intelligence; this enables us to understand how the plan or pattern of the finite world originated in the Divine Intelligence. The last point, viz., the externalization of the Divine idea, is the most difficult. But though a hard one to you and me, you see it did not present the same elements of difficulty to those great men who had made the powers and processes of intelligence their peculiar study. But I will say more for the Bible doctrine. It is the only philosophical account of the finite world that does not throw human knowledge into irretrievable confusion. The bearing of the question is simply this. If we view the finite world apart from intelligence, the moment we begin to reason on it, we fall into contradiction and absurdity. The consequence of this is, that we land ourselves first of all in agnosticism, and then in utter scepticism; disbelieving in God, in the moral world, nay, even in the most assured results of physical science. Hence, if we would save human knowledge, the finite world must be viewed in relation to intelligence; and the whole question lies between the Bible and a doctrine such as that of Fichte. Is the finite world the product of our intelligence? or is it the product of the Divine Intelligence? We cannot hesitate between the two. Indeed the logic of facts has already decided for us. (D. Greig, M. A.)

Import of faith in a Creator

When man looks out from himself upon the wonderful home in which he is placed, upon the various orders of living things around him, upon the solid earth which he treads, upon the heavens into which he gazes, with such ever-varying impressions, by day and by night; when he surveys the mechanism of his own bodily frame; when he turns his thought, as he can turn it, in upon itself, and takes to pieces by subtle analysis the beautiful instrument which places him in conscious relation to the universe around him; his first and last anxiety is to account for the existence of all that thus interests him; he must answer the question, How and why did this vast system of being come to be? Science may unveil in nature regular modes of working, and name their laws. But the great question still awaits her--the problem of the origin of the universe. This question is answered by the first verse in the Bible: “In the beginning God created,” etc. And that answer is accepted by every believer in the Christian Creed: “I believe in one God,” etc.

WHAT IS MEANT BY CREATION? The giving being to that which before was not. Creation is a mystery eminently satisfactory to reason, but strictly beyond it. We men can do much in the way of modifying existing matter, but we cannot create the minutest particle of it. That God summoned it into being is a truth which we believe on God’s authority, but which we can never verify.


1. Men have conceived of the relation between the universe and a higher power in four different ways. Either God is a creation of the world, that is to say, of the thinking part of it; or God and the world are really identical; or God and the world, although distinct, are co-existent; or God has created the world out of nothing.

(1) If God is a product of human thought, it follows that the universe is self-existent, and that it alone exists. A purely subjective deity is in truth no deity at all.

(2) If God and the world are two names for the same thing, though the name of God be retained, the reality has vanished as truly as in the blankest atheism. For such a deity is neither personal nor moral. Murder and adultery become manifestations of the Infinite One as truly and in the same sense as benevolence or veracity.

(3) If, to avoid this revolting blasphemy, we suppose God and the world to be distinct, yet eternally co-existent, do we thereby secure in human thought a place for a moral and personal God? Surely not. God has ceased to be if we are right in imagining that there never was a time when something else did not exist independently of Him.

(4) It is necessary, then, to believe in the creation out of nothing, if we are to believe also in God’s self-existent, personal, moral life.

2. Again, belief in the creation of the universe by God out of nothing naturally leads to belief in God’s continuous providence; and providence, in turn, considering the depth of man’s moral misery, suggests redemption. If love or goodness was the true motive for creation, it implies God’s continuous interest in created life.

3. Belief in creation, indeed, must govern the whole religious thought of a consistent believer. It answers many a priori difficulties as to the existence of miracle, since the one supreme inexplicable miracle, compared with which all others are insignificant, is already admitted.

4. Once more, belief in creation is of high moral value. It keeps a man in his right place. “It is He that hath made us, and not we ourselves.” At first sight, man is insignificant when confronted with external nature. Yet we know that this is not so. The heavens and the earth will pass away. But the soul will still remain, face to face with God. (Canon Liddon.)

The Creator and the creation

THE WHOLE TRINITY, each in His separate office, though all in unity, addressed themselves to the work of creation.

1. The Holy Spirit brooded over the watery chaos.

2. The Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, was that power, or “Arm of the Lord,” by which the whole work was executed. “In the beginning was the Word.”

3. The Father’s mind willed all, planned all, and did all.

God created ONLY “the heaven and the earth.” He provided a heaven, but He did not provide a hell. That was provided, not for our world at all, but for the devil and his angels.

If we ask WHY God created this universe of ours, three purposes suggest themselves.

1. It was the expression and out-going of His wisdom, power, and love.

2. It was for the sake of His noblest work, His creature, man.

3. The heaven and the earth were meant to be the scene of the exhibition of His own dear Son. Remember, that marvellously grand as it was, that first creation was only a type and earnest of a better. (J. Vaughan, M. A.)

The Creator and His work

THEN ATHEISM IS A FOLLY. Atheism is proved absurd--

1. By the history of the creation of the world. It would be impossible for a narrative to be clearer, more simple, or more divinely authenticated than this of the creation. The very existence of things around us is indisputable evidence of its reality.

2. By the existence of the beautiful world around us. The world standing up around us in all its grandeur--adaptation--evidence of design--harmony--is a most emphatic assertion of the Being of God. Every flower is a denial of atheism. Every star is vocal with Deity.

3. By the moral convictions of humanity. There is probably not an intelligent man in the wide universe, who does not believe in, and pay homage to, some deity or other.

THEN PANTHEISM IS AN ABSURDITY. We are informed by these verses that the world was a creation, and not a spontaneous, or natural emanation from a mysterious something only known in the vocabulary of a sceptical philosophy. Thus the world must have had a personal Creator, distinct and separate from itself.

THEN MATTER IS NOT ETERNAL. “In the beginning.” Thus it is evident that matter had a commencement. It was created by Divine power. It had a birthday.

THEN THE WORLD WAS NOT THE RESULT OF A FORTUITOUS COMBINATION OF ATOMS. “In the beginning God created.” Thus the world was a creation. There was the exercise of supreme intelligence. There was the expression in symbol of great thoughts, and also of Divine sympathies.

THEN CREATION IS THE OUTCOME OF SUPERNATURAL POWER. “In the beginning God created.” There must of necessity ever be much of mystery connected with this subject. Man was not present to witness the creation, and God has only given us a brief and dogmatic account of it. God is mystery. The world is a mystery. But there is far less mystery in the Mosaic account of the creation than in any other, as it is the most natural, the most likely, and truly the most scientific, as it gives us an adequate cause for the effect. The re-creation of the soul is the best explanation of the creation of the universe, and in fact of all the other mysteries of God. (J. S.Exell, M. A.)

The theology of creation

Man naturally asks for some account of the world in which he lives. Was the world always in existence? If not, how did it begin to be? Did the sun make itself? These are not presumptuous questions. We have a right to ask them--the right which arises from our intelligence. The steam engine did not make itself; did the sun? In the text we find an answer to all our questions.

THE ANSWER IS SIMPLE. There is no attempt at learned analysis or elaborate exposition. A child may understand the answer. It is direct, positive, complete. Could it have been more simple? Try any other form of words, and see if a purer simplicity be possible. Observe the value of simplicity when regarded as bearing upon the grandest events. The question is not who made a house, but who made a world, and not who made one world, but who made all worlds; and to this question the answer is, God made them. There is great risk in returning a simple answer to a profound inquiry, because when simplicity is not the last result of knowledge, it is mere imbecility.

THE ANSWER IS SUBLIME. God! God created!

1. Sublime because far reaching in point of time: in the beginning. Science would have attempted a fact, religion has given a truth. If any inquirer can fix a date, he is not forbidden to do so. Dates are for children.

2. Sublime because connecting the material with the spiritual. There is, then, something more than dust in the universe. Every atom bears a superscription. The wind is the breath of God. The thunder is a note from the music of his speech.

3. Sublime, because revealing, as nothing else could have done, the power and wisdom of the Most High.

THE ANSWER IS SUFFICIENT. It might have been both simple and sublime, and yet not have reached the point of adequacy. Draw a straight line, and you may describe it as simple, yet who would think of calling it sublime? We must have simplicity which reaches the point of sublimity, and sublimity which sufficiently covers every demand of the case. The sufficiency of the answer is manifest: Time is a drop of eternity; nature is the handiwork of God; matter is the creation of mind; God is over all, blessed for evermore. This is enough. In proportion as we exclude God from the operation, we increase difficulty. Atheism never simplifies. Negation works in darkness. The answer of the text to the problem of creation is simple, sublime, and sufficient, in relation--

1. To the inductions of geology.

2. To the theory of evolution.

Practical inferences:

1. If God created all things, then all things are under His government.

2. Then the earth may be studied religiously.

3. Then it is reasonable that He should take an interest in nature. (J. Parker, D. D.)

What we learn here about God

1. His being.

2. His eternity.

3. His omnipotence.

4. His absolute freedom.

5. His infinite wisdom.

6. His essential goodness. (J. White.)

A revelation of God and of nature


1. His name: names have meaning.

2. His nature: spirituality, personality.

3. His mode of existence: manifold unity.


1. Matter not eternal.

2. The antiquity of the earth.

3. The order of creation. (Pulpit Analyst.)

Love in the fact of creation

WHAT IS CREATION? Creation is a work of free condescension on the part of God. There was a time when it was not, and God willed that it should be. It was by Him called into existence out of nothing. It is not only not God, but it is not Divine--partakes in no way of His essence, nor (except in one, its spiritual department, where He has specially willed it) of His nature; has in itself no principle of permanence, cannot uphold itself, but depends altogether for its being, and well being, on the good pleasure of Him, whose Divine love created and upholds it. The world is a standing proof of God’s condescension--that He lowers Himself to behold the things which are in heaven and in earth, which He needeth not. Creation, viewed in its true light, is as really a proof of the self-forgetting, self-humbling love of our God, as redemption; for in it He left His glory which He had, the Father with the Son, and the Holy Spirit with both, before the worlds began, and descended to converse with and move among the works of His own hands; to launch the planets on their courses through space, and uphold in them all things living by His ever-abiding Spirit.

WHY IS CREATION? May we presume to ask, What moved Him who was perfect in Himself, who needed nothing beyond Himself, whose character of love was fulfilled in the unity of the Three Persons in the God-head--what moved Him to lower Himself to the creation and upholding of matter, and of life organized in matter? We have already attributed the act to free condescending love; but what love--love for whom? Here again Scripture gives us an answer. “The Father loveth the Son, and hath given all things into His hand.” “By Him (the Son) were all things created, that are in heaven and that are in earth, visible and invisible--all things were created by Him and for Him.” I hesitate not then in saying that all creation was the result of the love of the Father for the Son; the result of His Almighty will to carry forward, and to glorify, His Divine character of love, by the glorification of His beloved and only-begotten Son. This world is Christ’s world--made by and made for Christ--made as the theatre whereon, to all created beings, and even to the Father Himself, was to be shown forth the glorious self-denying love of the Son of God. Thus the world is to the Christian a fact in the very path and process of his faith, and hope, and love. Thus creation is to him part of redemption; the first free act of love of his God, which provided for his being called into existence, as the next free act of love provided for his being called to be a partaker of the Divine nature. (Dean Alford.)


GOD. No attempt made to prepare mind of reader for idea of God; as though every human being had this naturally; and so they all have.

CREATED. God made world out of nothing; then He must have absolute power over it and all in it. Nothing can hurt those whom God loves, and protects. Events of world are still in His hands. All must work for Him.


1. Gradual, in measured stages, deliberate. But, observe, never lingering or halting; no rest until complete. Each day has its work; and each day’s work, done for God, and as God appoints, has its reward. Result may not always be seen; as seed is not seen unfolding beneath ground, yet as truly growing there as when it shoots up green in face of day. So in a good man’s life. He looks onward.

2. Orderly. (C. P. Eden, M. A.)


The language of man follows things and imitates them; the Word of God precedes and creates them. Man speaks because things are; but these are because God hath spoken. Let Him speak again, and things will revert together with man who speaks of them, to nothing. Let us be content to perceive in creation a character which belongs only to God, and which distinguishes His work from that of His creatures. The human mind works only with the materials with which God supplies it; it observes, imitates, combines, but does not create. The best painter in the world, composing the most beautiful picture that ever proceeded from the hand of man, creates nothing: neither the canvas, nor the colours, nor the brushes, nor his own hands, nor even the conception of his work, since that conception is the fruit of his genius, which he has not given unto himself. Trace to the origin of each of the several things which have combined to form this picture, and you will find that all the channels from which they came, converge towards, and meet in the Creator, who is God. In thus showing us from its first page that the visible world has had such a wonderful beginning, the Bible informs us that it is also as a Creator that God saves souls. He not only develops the natural dispositions of our hearts, but creates in them new ones, “For we are labourers together with God”; but labourers working like the painter, with what God has given to us. We hear, read, seek, believe, pray, but even these come from God. “For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure”; and if we seek the principle of our salvation we shall find that we owe all to God from the beginning, and from the beginning of the beginning. “For we are His workmanship created in Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.” “You have been taught in Christ,” writes St. Paul to the Ephesians, “to put off the old man, to be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and to put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.” “In Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature.” Thus speaks the New Testament. The Old uses the same language. Not only does David, rising from his fall, pray in these words by the Spirit: “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me” (Psalms 51:12); but all the Lord’s dealings towards the people of Israel, that type of the future Church, are compared by Isaiah to a creation--“I am the Lord, your Holy One, the Creator of Israel, your Isaiah 43:15). If He alternately deals out to them good and badfortune--He creates. “I am the Lord, and there is none else. I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I, the Lord, do all these things” (Isaiah 45:6-7). If He tries them for a time by chastisingthem through the hands of their enemies, He creates: “Behold, I have created the smith that bloweth the coals in the fire, and that bringeth forth an instrument of destruction for his work” (Isaiah 54:16). If He raises up prophets to them, He creates: “I create the fruit of the lips; Peace, peace, to him that is far off, and to him that is near” (Isaiah 57:19); and if ultimately He give to that people, after many vicissitudes, happier days and an eternal rest, He will create: “For, behold, I create new heavens and a new earth: but be ye glad and rejoice forever in that which I create; for, behold, I create Jerusalem a rejoicing” (Isaiah 65:17-18). The creation of the world affords us a new lesson as to the manner in which God acts in the dispensation of grace. There again, all that God makes is good, and very good; what is evil proceeds from another source. For all that is good and holy, let us ascribe the glory to God; for what is evil let us accuse ourselves. This doctrine, too, is necessary in order that you should not make a false application of what you have just heard respecting the sovereignty of God. He acts as Creator, we should say in things which belong to His government, but He only uses this sovereign power for good; He only gives birth to good thoughts, holy desires and dispositions, consistent with salvation. God creates, but how does He create? At first view we only see here the sovereign Lord, alone at first in His eternity, alone afterwards in the work of creation. But a more deliberate contemplation leads us to discern in this singleness a certain mysterious union of persons previously hidden in the depths of the Divine nature, and displaying itself at the creation, as it was to be manifested at a later period in the redemption of our race. And have you the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost? The Three unite in the creation of the world; they unite in the redemption of man; are they also united within you? Are you born of the Father, and become His children? Are you washed in the blood, of the Son, and become members of His body? Are you baptized with the Spirit, and become His temples? Ponder upon these things; for it is not a vain thing for you, because it is your life. Finally, God creates, but for what purpose? does He only wish to spread before you an enchanting exhibition? No, He has nobler designs. The Lord has created all things for His glory, and His first object is to render visible the invisible things hidden within Himself, by giving them a body, and, if one may so speak, by exhibiting them in the form of flesh. (A. Monod, D. D.)

Chance cannot explain order in creation

How often might a man, after he had jumbled a set of letters in a bag, fling them upon the ground before they would fall into an exact poem, yea, or so much as make a good discourse in prose! And may not a little book be as easily made by chance as this great volume of the world? How long might a man be in sprinkling colours upon a canvas with a careless hand before they could happen to make the exact picture of a man? And is a man easier made by chance than his picture? How long might twenty thousand blind men, which should be sent out from the several remote parts of England, wander up and down before they would all meet in Salisbury Plains, and fall into rank and file in the exact order of an army? And yet this is much more easy to be imagined than how the innumerable blind parts of matter should rendezvous themselves into a world. (Archbishop Tillotson.)

Chance not creative

Athanasius Kircher, the celebrated German astronomer, had an acquaintance whom he much esteemed, but who was unfortunately infected by atheistical principles, and denied the very existence of a God. Kircher, sincerely desirous to rescue his friend from his mistaken and ruinous opinion, determined to try to convince him of his error upon his own principles of reasoning. He first procured a globe of the heavens, handsomely decorated, and of conspicuous size, and placed it in a situation in his study where it would be immediately observed. He then called upon his friend with an invitation to visit him, which was readily responded to, and on his arrival he was shown into the study. It happened exactly as Kircher had planned. His friend no sooner observed it than he inquired whence it had come, and to whom it belonged. “Shall I tell you, my friend,” said Kircher, “that it belongs to no one; that it was never made by anyone, but came here by mere chance?” “That,” replied the atheist, “is impossible; you jest.” This was Kircher’s golden opportunity, and he promptly and wisely availed himself of it. “You will not, with good reason, believe that this small globe which you see before you originated in mere chance, and yet you will contend that those vast heavenly bodies, of which this is but a faint diminutive resemblance, came into existence without either order, design, or a creation!” His friend was first confounded, then convinced, and, ultimately abandoning all his former scepticisms, he gladly united with all who reverence and love God in acknowledging the glory and adoring the majesty of the great Creator of the heavens and earth and all their host.

Order no proof of evolution

His (Professor Huxley’s) conclusion is an hypothesis evolved from an hypothesis. To see that this is indeed the case, let us put his argument in syllogistic form. It is as follows: Wherever we have an ascending series of animals with modifications of structure rising one above another, the later forms must have evolved themselves from the earlier. In the case of these fossil horses we have such a series, therefore the theory of evolution is established universally for all organized and animal life. Now, even if we admit his premises, everyone must see that the conclusion is far too sweeping. It ought to have been confined to the horses of which he was treating. But passing that, let us ask where is the proof of the major premise? Indeed, that premise is suppressed altogether, and he nowhere attempts to show that the existence of an ascending series of animals, with modifications of structure ascending, one above another, is an infallible indication that the higher members of the series evolved themselves out of the lower. The existence of a series does not necessarily involve the evolution of the higher members of it from the lower. The steps of a stair rise up one above another, but we cannot reason that therefore the whole staircase has developed itself out of the lowest step. It may be possible to arrange all the different modifications of the steam engine, from its first and crudest form up to its latest and most complete organized structure, in regular gradation; but that would not prove that the last grew out of the first. No doubt in such a case there has been progress--no doubt there has been development too--but it was progress guided and development directed by a presiding and intervening mind. All present experience is against this major premise which Huxley has so quietly taken for granted. It is a pure conjecture. I will go so far as to say that even if he should find in the geologic records all the intervening forms he desires, these will not furnish evidence that the higher members of the series rose out of the lower by a process of evolution. The existence of a graduated series is one thing; the growth of the series out of its lowest member is quite another. (W. M. Taylor, D. D.)

The creation

In the first place, THE OBJECT OF THIS INSPIRED COSMOGONY, OR ACCOUNT OF THE WORLD’S ORIGIN, IS NOT SCIENTIFIC BUT RELIGIOUS. Hence it was to be expected, that while nothing contained in it could ever be found really and in the long run to contradict science, the gradual progress of discovery might give occasion for apparent and temporary contradictions.

Then again, in the second place, let it be observed that THE ESSENTIAL FACTS IN THIS DIVINE RECORD are,--the recent date assigned to the existence of man on the earth, the previous preparation of the earth for his habitation, the gradual nature of the work, and the distinction and succession of days during its progress.

And, finally, in the third place, let it be borne in mind that the sacred narrative of the creation is evidently, in its highest character, MORAL, SPIRITUAL, AND PROPHETICAL. The original relation of man, as a responsible being, to his Maker, is directly taught; his restoration from moral chaos to spiritual beauty is figuratively represented; and as a prophecy, it has an extent of meaning which will be fully unfolded only when “the times of the restitution of all things” (Acts 3:2-11 have arrived. Conclusion:--The first verse, then, contains a very general announcement; in respect of time, without date,--in respect of space, without limits. (R. S. Candlish, D. D.)

On the existence and character of God

THE ARGUMENT FOUNDED ON THE PRINCIPLE OF CAUSATION. The belief in causation is one of the primary convictions of the human mind. It will be unnecessary for the purposes of this argument to discuss its origin. It is also certain that this conviction is not the result of any conscious process of reasoning. We acquiesce in it because we cannot help doing so. Anyone may satisfy himself that this is the case, by trying whether it is possible for him to believe that any particular phenomenon has come into existence without a cause. One of these primary beliefs is that every phenomenon must owe its existence to a cause adequate to produce it. This proposition therefore constitutes one of the highest rectitudes which is attainable by man, and lies at the foundation of all reasoned truth. Such being the case, it becomes necessary to determine what we mean by the term “cause,” not what philosophers mean by it, but what is the idea which the common sense of mankind attaches to it? Unless we are under the bias of some particular theory, we invariably associate the idea of efficiency with that of cause. We may frequently mistake non-causes for causes, but efficiency, i.e., power to produce the effect, is the fundamental idea which underlies the conception of cause in the minds of ordinary men. This being so, the following important consequences follow.

1. Whatever exists in the effect, must exist either actively or potentially in the cause.

2. The cause of one effect may be the effect of some preceding cause.

3. Various things, which philosophers and men of science have designated causes, are not causes, but necessary conditions of the existence of a particular thing. Thus space is the necessary condition of the existence of extended bodies, but is certainly not the cause of their existence. In a similar manner, in the language of the Darwinian theory, the environment of a thing is frequently spoken of as its cause. It may be the necessary condition of the existence of a thing in that particular form, but to designate it its cause is an inaccuracy of thought. The truth is, necessary conditions limit the action of causes, and may direct their activity into this or that channel; but to treat them as causes is absurd, for they neither do, nor can produce anything.

4. Law is not a cause. The reader’s attention cannot be too carefully directed to this fact, for, in scientific language, law is habitually used as the equivalent of force, and the greatest confusion of thought has been the result; nay, more, it is frequently personified even by those who refuse to allow that we have any means of knowing that the First Cause of the universe is a personal Being. Thus even scientific men are constantly in the habit of affirming that the laws of nature effect this or that; and that feeble man is unable to resist their overwhelming power. The truth is, that while the forces of nature effect much, the laws of nature can effect nothing. What are the laws of nature? They are merely expressions of the definite order of the occurrence of phenomena. I must now recur to one more point above referred to, as fraught with consequences of extreme importance. I have observed that the very conception of an efficient cause (and an efficient cause is the only one which satisfies the idea of real causation), involves the consequence that it must contain within itself, either actively or potentially, all the effects of which it is the cause; otherwise, such portions of the effects which are not inherent in the cause must be self-produced, which is a self-contradiction, or be produced by the energy of an independent Creator, a conclusion which the theist will readily accept. This being so, all the effects, or in other words, the phenomena, which exist in the universe, must exist either actively or potentially in its first cause, i.e., in God. Now, one of the phenomena of the universe is intelligence. Intelligence therefore must exist in God. Another of its phenomena is the moral nature of man, and the principles of morality founded on the moral law. God therefore must be a moral Being. Another of its phenomena is free agency as it exists in man. The first cause of man (i.e., God)

must therefore be a free agent. Another of its phenomena is will, for it exists in man. Volition therefore must exist in God. Another of its phenomena is personality, for it exists in man. Personality therefore must exist in God. Another of its phenomena is that its forces act in accordance with invariable law, from which action the order of the universe springs. Invariable law therefore must be an expression of the Divine will, and the love of order must exist in God. This argument may be pursued to a much greater length; but this will be sufficient to indicate its character.

THE ARGUMENT FOUNDED ON THE ORDER OF THE UNIVERSE. This argument proves that its first cause (i.e., God)

must be possessed of intelligence. It is one of the instinctive beliefs of our minds, when our rational powers have attained their full development, that whenever we contemplate an orderly arrangement of a complicated character, we instinctively draw the inference that it denotes the presence of intelligence. We feel that this is an inference which we cannot help drawing, for order and intelligence are in our minds mutually correlated. Observe, I make this affirmation under the qualification that we cannot help drawing this inference when our rational powers have attained to their full development. I do so because I maintain that the ideal of human nature and the testimony which its constitution affords to the realities of things, are to be found in the perfect and not in the imperfect man. The opponents of theism dispute the correlation of order and intelligence on two grounds. First, they affirm that the conception is an anthropomorphic one, inapplicable to the works of nature. Secondly, that the production of all the phenomena of the universe by the unintelligent forces of nature, acting in conformity with laws from which they are incapable of varying, is an adequate account of these orderly arrangements. With respect to the tact of these objections to the validity of our argument, I answer--First, that our belief in this correlation between order and intelligence is not a relative, but an absolute belief, embracing all things, all places, and all times. Secondly, that even if the objection were valid, it makes no attempt to propound an alternative theory of the origin of these orderly arrangements. Thirdly, the affirmation that the alternative theory, viz., that all existing phenomena have been evolved by the action of the unintelligent forces of nature, in conformity with invariable law,--affords an adequate account of the existence of this order, contradicts alike our reason and our experience. First, it contradicts our reason. What, I ask, is the conclusion which we draw, when we contemplate an orderly arrangement of a complicated character? I answer that we cannot help inferring that it has originated in intelligence. If the suggestion is made, that it is due to what is commonly called chance, we reject it with scorn. Scientific unbelief, I know, affirms that there is no such thing as chance. Let me adduce one or two simple illustrations. Suppose a traveller had met in some foreign country a construction (it is my misfortune, and not my fault, that I can only express myself in language which has the appearance of assuming the point at issue), which on examination he found to bear a striking resemblance to the machinery in the arsenal at Woolwich, and that no one could tell him how it had originated. Further, that he succeeded in setting it in motion; and that after carefully observing it, he discovered that all its movements took place in a constantly recurring definite order. Let us also further suppose, that on making inquiry how it got there, he was told that during some distant period of the past, a number of the unintelligent forces of nature, after a prolonged struggle, had succeeded in evolving this singular result. Would he, I ask, consider this an adequate account of its origin, or view it as an attempt to impose on his credulity? Or let us take a case nearer home, the library of the British Museum for example, or its collections of minerals or fossils. On walking round them he could observe that their contents were arranged in a certain definite order, yet he is entirely ignorant how they got arranged in this order. But he would scorn the idea, if it were suggested to him, that these arrangements were the result of the concurrence of a number of unintelligent forces, and would without a moment’s hesitation draw the conclusion that they were due to the agency of intelligence. Of this he would feel as certain as of his own existence. These instances will be equally suitable as illustrations of the argument from adaptation. But it will be needless to multiply examples. I therefore ask if in these, and in an indefinite number of similar cases, we esteem this conclusion to be one of the most unquestionable of certitudes, why should the inference become inconclusive, when we observe similar arrangements in the phenomena of nature, the only difference being that the latter are on a vaster scale, and in an endless variety of complication? It follows, therefore, that the alternative suggested by unbelief contradicts the convictions of the reason of an overwhelming majority of civilized men. Secondly, the alternative theory derives no support from experience. No one has ever witnessed an orderly arrangement issue from the meeting together of a number of the unintelligent forces of nature. If on throwing up twelve dice an equal number of times, they invariably fall in the same order, the conclusion is inevitable--they are loaded. In a similar manner the conclusion is equally inevitable, when we contemplate the orderly arrangements of the universe. They are loaded with a Divine intelligence.

THE ARGUMENT FOUNDED ON THE INNUMERABLE CORRELATIONS AND ADAPTATIONS WHICH EXIST IN THE UNIVERSE, COMMONLY CALLED THE ARGUMENT FROM FINAL CAUSES. The argument from adaptation may be best exhibited under two heads. First, those adaptations which denote plan, or the realization of an idea through a gradual course of evolution; and, secondly, those adaptations by which a particular result is produced, and which alone render its production possible. To take an example of each. The human hand, if contemplated as a piece of mechanism, is one of the most wonderful of contrivances. We all know the innumerable and the delicate functions which it is capable of executing. It consists of a number of parts marvellously adjusted and correlated together, which, if any one of them had been different from what it is, or had been differently correlated one to the other, the mechanism in question would either never have come into existence, or it would have failed to produce the results which it is now capable of accomplishing. This serves as an illustration of the argument from both kinds of adaptation above referred to. This marvellous instrument, as it exists in man, is found in embryo in the fore feet of the lowest form of vertebrate animals. Its parts are all found there, yet in such a form that they are utterly unable to produce the results which they do in man. They exist there in type only, or idea, of which the human hand is the realization. Before it has attained to this realization it has appeared in different orders of animals, each time making a nearer approach to the realization which the idea has received in the hand of man, and each time correlated to a corresponding advance in mind. Throughout the whole series of these improvements in the instrument, we recognize what in ordinary language we designate a plan, or, the gradual realization of an idea, commencing in a very rudimentary form, and gradually attaining to higher stages of perfection, until it has culminated in the human hand. A process of this kind, when we witness it under ordinary circumstances, we designate a plan. But a plan implies the presence of intelligence. When, therefore, we see such plans carried out in nature, which only differ from ordinary ones in the multitude of the adaptations and correlations which are necessary to enable them to become realities, we may surely draw the inference that they must have originated in intelligence. But the hand forms an apt illustration of the other kind of adaptation. I have already observed that it is admitted on all hands to be a marvellous piece of mechanism, so constituted as to be capable of executing an almost endless variety of functions. The unbeliever, however, asks us to believe that this affords no proof that it has originated in intelligence. But if he were to fall in with an instrument devoid of life, which was capable of executing only ball of the functions which are performed by the human hand, he would not only infer that it had had a contriver, but he would be loud in the praises of his ingenuity. Why then, I ask, should the contemplation of the one piece of mechanism afford unquestionable evidence of the presence of an intelligent contriver, and the contemplation of that of which it is the copy, only far more elaborate and perfect, afford none? The reason why the opponent of theism accepts the one inference, and rejects the other, must be left to him to explain. I will only adduce one further illustration, viz., our faculty of hearing, because this is effected by three sets of adjustments, each of which is entirely independent of the others; and each of which consists of a number of complicated correlations. The first of these adjustments consists of the vocal organs, which form a musical instrument of a far more complicated character than has ever been invented by man. Be it observed also that this musical instrument is so constituted, that it subserves a multitude of purposes beyond the production of noise. Yet exquisite as this instrument is, it never would have produced a single sound unless it had been correlated to the atmospheric air, or the air to it, in such a manner that its waves should correspond with the different movements of the instrument. These correlations, in order theft they may produce musical sounds, must be of the most complicated character; and yet the one set are absolutely independent of the other. Yet both these sets of marvellous adjustments and correlations would fail to produce a single sound, except for the existence of another highly complicated set of correlations and adjustments, independent of both, viz., the human ear, adapted to receive the impressions of the waves of sound, the auric nerves, and the brain to perceive them, and the human mind to interpret their meaning. Each of these is composed of a number of the most complicated adjustments; and unless the entire series, of which all three sets of adaptations are composed, had been mutually correlated the one to the other, with the utmost care, hearing would have been impossible, and the remaining complicated adjustments would have existed in vain. I have only adduced these two examples for the purpose of illustrating the nature of the argument. The reader must estimate its force, remembering only that the universe is admitted on all hands to be full of similar adjustments, in numbers which surpass the powers of the human intellect even to conceive. What then must be the conjoint force of the whole? Let me draw the inference, Reason affirms that the theory that these adaptations, adjustments, and correlations, with which every part of the universe abounds, have originated in an intelligence which possesses a power adequate to their production, is an account of their origin which satisfies the requirements alike of common sense and a sound philosophy; or to employ the metaphor used above, these adjustments, adaptations, and correlations proclaim the fact that the forces of the universe are everywhere loaded with intelligence. This argument acquires an additional conclusiveness, the amount of which it is difficult to estimate, from considerations derived from the mathematical doctrine of chances. I have already observed that these adjustments and correlations are conditioned on a number of the forces of the universe concurring in meeting together at the same time and place; and that if any one of them had failed to do so, the result produced by their correlation would have either not existed at all, or would have been a different one from that which would have been produced by the conjoint action of the whole. Now, it is obvious that if these adaptations, etc., have not been produced by a superintending intelligence, they can only have been the result of that fortuitous concurrence of forces which we have above described as constituting what is popularly designated chance. This being so, the production of those sets of complicated correlations, which I have above described as necessary for the production of that infinite variety of sounds which the ear is capable of distinguishing, by the fortunate meeting together of a number of independent forces at the same time and place, in accordance with the mathematical doctrine of chances, could only be expressed by a fraction, which, if its numerator is unity, its denominator would be some number followed by an array of ciphers, the length of which I must leave to the reader to conjecture. But this is only an inconsiderable part of the difficulty which besets the theory which I am controverting. This process would have to be repeated in the case of every independent correlation in the universe; and to get at the combined result, these fractions would have to be multiplied together; and the result would be a fraction whose numerator is unity, having for its denominator some number followed by an array of ciphers continued ad infinitum. According, then, to the mathematical doctrine of chances, it is an improbability, amounting to an impossibility, that these adaptations and correlations can have been the result of a fortuitous concurrence of the unintelligent forces of nature. They must then originate in intelligence. The theory which opponents of theism ask us to accept, as affording a rational account of the origin of those adaptations and correlations with which the universe is full, is this. The forces of the universe have gone on energizing in conformity with laws from which they cannot deviate during the eternal ages of the past; and in their course have passed through every possible combination. The unstable ones have perished, and the stable ones have survived, and by means of this ever-reiterated process have at length emerged the order and adaptations of that portion of the universe which is destitute of life, without the intervention of intelligence. How these forces originated, and became endowed with their specific qualities, which have rendered them capable of effecting such marvellous results, we are asked to believe to be a secret into which the limitations of the human mind render it impossible for us to penetrate, and which must therefore remain forever unknown. But with respect to the process by which animated existence has been evolved, its language is less vague. Its theory is as follows. The original germs of life, the existence of which it is compelled to postulate, and which, in a manner wholly unaccounted for, became possessed of a most convenient power of generating their like, with a number of inconsiderable variations, produced a progeny greatly in excess of their means of subsistence. Hence originated among them a struggle for life, with the effect that the weaker living forms have perished, and the stronger, i.e., those better adapted to their environment, have survived. This struggle has been continued during an indefinite number of ages. This theory is called the theory of natural selection, or the survival of the fittest in the struggle for existence; and modern atheistic unbelief propounds it, aided by another theory, viz., that of sexual selection, and a third, viz., that of the accumulation of habits through a long succession of transmissions from remote ancestors, which have gradually become fixed, as an adequate account of the origin of all the adaptations and correlations which are presented in the existing forms of animal and vegetable life. This theory utterly breaks down, as affording even a specious account of the origin of these adaptations and correlations at several points. First, it fails to account for the origin of life, or to show that it is possible to produce living out of non-living matter. Until it can effect this, it is simply useless for the purposes of atheism. Strange to say, unbelief is now compelled to live by faith. It is confident that the discovery will be made hereafter. Secondly, it fails to give any account of the origin of those qualities, which the original germs of life must have possessed, in order that a starting point may be found for the course of evolution which it propounds. Thirdly, it assumes the concurrence of a multitude of fortunate chances (I use the word “chance” in the sense above described), so numerous as to approximate to the infinite, of what common sense and reason refuse to believe to be possible, and which hopelessly conflicts with the mathematical doctrine of chances and probabilities. Fourthly, it demands an interval of time for the carrying out of this vast process of evolution, which although abstractedly possible, other branches of science refuse to concede to it as lying within the existing order of things. Fifthly, it utterly fails to bridge over that profound gulf which separates the moral from the material universe, the universe of freedom from the universe of necessity. All that it can urge with respect to the origin of life and of free agency, is that it hopes to be able to propound a theory at some future time which shall be able to account for these phenomena. Sixthly, the theory in question, including the Darwinian theory of the production of the entire mass of organisms that have existed in the past, and exist in the present, by the sole agency of natural selection, without the intervention of intelligence, is, in fact, a restatement in a disguised form of the old theory of the production of all the adaptations and correlations in the universe, by the concurrence of an infinite number of fortunate chances--a theory which contradicts the primary intuitions of our intellectual being. Seventhly, as a fact, the recorded observations by mankind for the last, say, four thousand years, show no instance of evolution of one species from another, but display variation, not infinite but limited, and recurrent to the original form. Eighthly, as a fact, geology (Palaeontology) shows the same absence of such evolution and of indefinite variation. Ninthly, all the ascertained facts point only to creation by a plan, or in accordance with a rule, which permits variability within discoverable limits, and requires adaptation, and therefore furnishes no evidence of evolution of species. Let me set before the reader in two sentences the result of the foregoing reasonings. The atheistic theory of evolution utterly breaks down as affording a rational account of the origin of adaptations and correlations with which every region of the universe abounds. Consequently the theistic account of their origin, which satisfies alike sound philosophy and common sense, is the only adequate one; or, in other words, they have originated in an intelligence which is possessed of a power adequate to their production.

THE EVIDENCE WHICH IS FURNISHED BY CONSCIENCE AND THE MORAL NATURE OF MAN. Two universes exist beside each other. One, in which the laws of necessity dominate; the other in which free agency is the essential factor. The first may be designated the material, and the second the moral universe. These are separated from each other by a gulf which no theory of evolution can bridge over. When the first free agent came into existence, a power essentially different from any which had preceded it was introduced into that universe, where necessary law had hitherto reigned supreme. The question therefore presents itself, and demands solution: How did it originate? It could not have produced itself. It therefore issued from a cause adequate to produce it. That cause must ultimately resolve itself into the first cause of the universe, that is, God. From this follow the following conclusions--Man is a free agent; therefore God must be a free agent. Man’s free agency is limited by conditions; but God is not limited by conditions. Therefore His free agency is more absolute and perfect than the free agency of man. A moral universe exists. God is the cause of its existence. Therefore the essential principles of morality, as affirmed by conscience, and witnessed by the moral nature of man, must exist in God. Personality exists in man as an essential portion of his moral nature; therefore, He who framed man, i.e., God, must be a person, who is at the same time the Creator, the Upholder, and the moral Governor of the universe which He has created. Such are the inferences which we are entitled to draw by the aid of our reason respecting the existence and the moral character of God. (Preb. Row, M. A.)


We object to this system as follows.

1. Its idea of God is self-contradictory, since it makes Him infinite, yet consisting only of the finite; absolute, yet existing in necessary relation to the universe; supreme, yet shut up to a process of self-evolution and dependent for self-consciousness on man; without self-determination, yet the cause of all that is.

2. Its assumed unity of substance is not only without proof, but it directly contradicts our intuitive judgments. These testify that we are not parts and particles of God, but distinct personal subsistences.

3. It assigns no sufficient cause for that fact of the universe which is highest in rank, and therefore most needs explanation, namely, the existence of personal intelligences. A substance which is itself unconscious, and under the law of necessity, cannot produce beings who are self-conscious and free.

4. It therefore contradicts the affirmations of our moral and religious natures by denying man’s freedom and responsibility; by making God to include in Himself all evil as well as all good; and by precluding all prayer, worship, and hope of immortality.

5. Our intuitive conviction of the existence of a God of absolute perfection compels us to conceive of God as possessed of every highest quality and attribute of men, and therefore, especially, of that which constitutes the chief dignity of the human spirit, its personality. (A. H. Strong, D. D.)

The end of God in creation

LET US FIRST EXPLAIN WHAT WE MEAN BY THE END OF GOD IN CREATION. It will be seen at once that an ultimate end, or that for which all other ends in the series exist, and from which they derive their importance, is in the mind of the agent his chief end. It is contended by some that the same series of subordinate ends may have more than one ultimate end, of which one may be chief, and the others inferior ends. This was the opinion of Edwards. He says: “Two different ends may be both ultimate ends, and yet not be chief ends. They may be both valued for their own sake, and both sought in the same work or acts, and yet one valued more highly and sought more than another. Thus a man may go a journey to obtain two different benefits or enjoyments, both which may be agreeable to him in themselves considered, and so both may be what he values on their own account, and seeks for their own sake; and yet one may be much more agreeable than the other; and so be what he sets his heart chiefly upon, and seeks most after in his going a journey. Thus a man may go a journey partly to obtain the possession and enjoyment of a bride that is very dear to him, and partly to gratify his curiosity in looking in a telescope, or some new invented and extraordinary optic glass. Both may be ends that he seeks in his journey, and the one not properly subordinate, or in order to another. One may not depend on another, and therefore both may be ultimate ends; but yet the obtaining his beloved bride may be his chief end, and the benefit of the optic glass his inferior end. The former may be what he sets his heart most upon, and so be properly the chief end of his journey.” Our view differs somewhat from that of Edwards upon this point. As these different objects are to be obtained by the same course of action, or by the same series of subordinate ends, we believe it would be speaking more correctly to represent them as forming one compound ultimate end, rather than two distinct ultimate ends. Again: The ends or purposes of intelligent beings are divided into subjective and objective ends. The subjective end has reference to the feelings and desires of the agent or being, which are to be gratified by the selection and accomplishment of the objective end. It consists in the gratification of these feelings and desires. The objective end is the thing to be done or brought to pass, and to the accomplishment of which the agent is prompted by these feelings, affections, or desires. It is not the subjective end of God in creating the universe that we seek. We know this must have been based in the perfections of His character; it must have been for the gratification of His infinite benevolence, His boundless love, that He adopted and spake into being the present system of things. But there must be some objective end toward which He is impelled by His benevolence and love, and for the accomplishment of which the present system was caused to exist. It is this objective end that we are endeavouring to ascertain.

WE PROCEED TO POINT OUT WHAT WE CONSIDER GOD’S END IN CREATION TO HAVE BEEN. And here we premise that whatever this end was, it was something in the order of time future; that is, something yet to be obtained or accomplished. It would be absurd to suppose a being to adopt and carry out a plan to obtain a good, or to accomplish an end which was already obtained or accomplished. We are now prepared for the general statement that, according to our view, the end of God in creation is not to be found in Himself--that God is not His own end. The differences between Edwards and ourself upon this point may be traced mainly to a distinction which he has omitted to make, but which we deem of great importance. We mean the distinction which exists between the display of the attributes and perfections of God, and the effect produced by that display upon the mind of the beholder. These attributes and perfections belong to God; their display is the act of God; but the impression made upon the mind of another, by this display, forms no part of God; it is not the act of God, but the result of that act; it is an effect which was not produced, nor does it exist in the mind of God, but which was produced and exists in the mind of the creature. The importance of this distinction will be made apparent hereafter. That God could not have been His own end in creation, we argue from the infinite fulness of His nature. We can conceive of but one way in which a being can become his own objective end in anything he does, and that is by supposing that he is destitute of something of which he feels the needs, and consequently desires for himself. To illustrate: Take the scholar who pursues with diligence his studies; he may do this because he delights in knowledge, and his ultimate objective end may be an increase of knowledge; or he may do it because knowledge will render him more worthy of esteem. In either case, the ultimate end is to be found in himself, and in both the idea of defect on the part of the agent is prominent. Were his knowledge already perfect, there would be no need that he should study to increase it. Now until some defect is found to exist in God--until it can be shown that He does not possess, and has not from eternity possessed, infinite fulness; that there is in His case some personal want unsupplied, it is impossible to show that God is His own end in creation. But it may be well to dwell more at large upon this part of the subject.

1. God’s own happiness could not be His ultimate end in creation. It will be borne in mind, that the ultimate end is something in the future, something yet to be accomplished. God’s happiness can be made His end in creation in only two ways--by increasing it, or by continuing it, But this happiness can never be increased, for it is already perfect in kind, and infinite in degree. And the only way in which the continuance of this happiness can be made God’s end in creation is by supposing it necessary order to the continued gratification of His benevolent feelings. While the feelings of God’s heart are fully gratified He must be happy; and we admit that His failing to accomplish any purpose, and thus failing to gratify these feelings, would disappoint and render Him unhappy. So that the continued gratification of these feelings, and thus the continuance of His happiness, was undoubtedly an end of God in creation; but, as we have seen, this was His subjective, and not His objective end. We perceive, then, that God’s happiness, either in its increase or continuance, is not the end for which we seek.

2. God’s attributes, natural or moral, could not have been His end in creation. The only ways in which we can conceive the attributes of God to be His end in creation, are to increase them, to exercise them, or to display them. The first could not have been His end, for the increase of attributes already infinite is impossible. It will be seen that Edwards makes the exercise of God’s infinite attributes a thing desirable in itself, and one of His ends in creation. If we understand him, he teaches that God exerted His infinite power and wisdom in creation for the sake of exerting them; their exercise was in itself excellent, and one ultimate object or end which Deity had in view in exerting them, was that they might be exerted. That is, the exercise itself, and the end of that exercise, are the same thing. To show the absurdity of this position, we remark--

(1) The moral attributes of God were not exercised at all in the work of creation. Benevolence cannot create, nor justice, nor mercy. The only attributes which were, or could have been exerted by God in the work of creation, are His infinite wisdom to contrive, and His eternal power to execute. We admit that the gratification of the benevolent feelings of God’s heart led Him to exercise these natural attributes in one direction rather than another; but the gratification of these feelings, as has been already shown, is the subjective end of God in creation. But it may be asked, Did not the work of creation furnish an occasion for the exercise of God’s moral attributes, viz., His benevolence, justice, and mercy? Certainly it did. But that which is a mere incident of creation cannot be its end.

(2) To suppose God to exercise His natural attributes or powers, simply for the sake of exercising them, or that this forms any part of His ultimate end in exercising them, is a supposition entirely unworthy of Deity. We deny that there is anything excellent in itself in the exercise of natural powers, simply for the sake of exercising them: and this denial holds good whether these powers are finite or infinite; whether they belong to the creature or to the Creator. The truth is, that all the excellence which attaches to the exercise of natural powers, depends upon and is borrowed from, their designed results. The exercise of God’s wisdom and power in the work of creation is excellent, because the designed result is excellent, and for no other reason. It is evident, then, that the mere exercise of God’s attributes, whether natural or moral, forms no part of His ultimate end in creation. Nor can the mere display of His attributes form any part of God’s end in creation. Now the position we take is, that such a display as this, considered separately from any effect to be produced upon mind by it, formed no part of God’s end in creation. We are led to this conclusion, because such a display, simply in the light of a display, and aside from the effect it produces upon intelligent mind, is entirely valueless. God understood and delighted in His own attributes just as perfectly before this display as afterward, and, aside from its effect upon other minds, it must be made in vain; which is unworthy of the Great Supreme. What would be thought of an author who should write and publish a book simply to display the powers of his mind, without any idea of having it read to produce an effect upon other minds? Let us recapitulate, and see to what point we have arrived. We started with the proposition, that God was not His own end in creation; or that God’s end in creation cannot be found in Himself. We have shown that God’s happiness was not His end; that His attributes, natural and moral, whether we consider their increase, their exercise, or their display, were not, and could not have been His end. We have shown that His end, could not consist in any good which He expected to receive, or was capable of receiving from His creatures, owing to impressions made upon their minds by the display of His attributes in the work of creation. We know of no other way in which God can be His own end in creation. And if there is no other way, then the end which we seek is not to be found in God, and we must look for it in some other direction. To this view it is objected by Edwards, that the supposition that God’s end is out of Himself militates against His entire and absolute independence. “We must,” says he, “conceive of the efficient as depending on His ultimate end. He depends on this end in His desires, aims, actions, and pursuits; so that He fails in all His desires, actions, and pursuits, if He fails of His end. Now if God Himself be His last end, then in His dependence on His end, He depends on nothing but Himself. If all things be of Him, and to Him, and He the first and last, this shows Him to be all in all: He is all to Himself. He goes not out of Himself for what He seeks; but His desires and pursuits, as they originate from, so they terminate in Himself; and He is dependent on none but Himself in the beginning or end of any of His exercises or operations. But if not Himself, but the creature, be His last end, then, as He depends on His last end, He is in some sort dependent on the creature.” The fallacy of the position assumed in this objection lies in the supposition that the relation which subsists between the happiness of a being and the accomplishment of his ends has to do with his independence. The question of independence is based upon entirely a different principle, viz., that of the power or ability of the being. If he possesses in himself the power to accomplish his ends, without aid from any other source, then, as far as they are concerned, he is entirely independent; and this is equally true, whether these ends are within or without himself. If a being had no power, or not power sufficient to accomplish his ends, were they all within himself, he would still be dependent: on the other hand, if he has within himself absolute power to accomplish all his ends, although these ends are out of himself, he is still independent. The question of independence has nothing to do with the position of these ends; but it has everything to do with the ability of the agent to execute them. So the question of God’s independence does not depend upon the position of His ends, but upon His perfect ability to accomplish them, whatever they are, and wherever they may be located. Having shown that God’s end in creation is not in Himself--and having answered the objection of Edwards to this position, the question returns, Where and what is this end? We shall now attempt to answer this question by the following train of reasoning:--

1. The attributes of God are most wonderfully displayed in the work of creation. His power and wisdom are everywhere conspicuous. So, likewise, the moral excellencies of His character are written in sunbeams upon the works of His hand: and to minds not darkened by sin, these excellencies stand out in bold relief. Now a display of this character must produce a powerful effect upon intelligent mind; and upon the supposition that the mind is perfectly formed and rightly attuned, the effect must be blessed indeed. The result to which we come, then, is, that the display of the Divine perfections would produce an effect upon mind, perfectly organized and undisturbed by adverse influences, which would cause the recipient to admire and love the Lord his God with all his heart, mind, and strength; and this effect would be limited only by his capacity.

2. There is another display or exhibition secured by, or consequent upon, the work of creation, viz., that of the attributes, both natural and moral, of the creatures themselves.

3. There is still another effect secured by the work of creation, and the display consequent upon, it, viz., that produced “upon a being by the display of his own powers, attributes, or qualities. These he becomes acquainted with by consciousness, and by a careful observation of their workings in various directions. The impression which these attributes of self must make upon the mind of self, provided this mind is perfect in its organization, and undisturbed by adverse influences, will be in exact proportion to the worth of self in the scale of being. This is self-love as distinguished from selfishness; which is self-love overleaping its boundaries, or overflowing its banks. We have arrived, then, at the following result, viz., that the effect which the display of character consequent upon the work of creation is calculated to produce upon perfect mind, is admiration of love toward, and delight in God, to the full extent of the powers of the creature, and love to self, and all creature intelligences, measured by their worth in the scale of being. In other words, it is entire conformity to the moral law, which consists in loving God with all the soul, mind, and strength, and our neighbour as ourself. This is the result of the action of perfect mind in the direction of perfection itself, it is easy to perceive that perfect bliss, happiness, or delight midst inhere in, or constitute a part of such action--and this, not merely in the sense of art effect, but that it must be woven into its very texture, so as to form a part of its web and woof. This effect is denominated holiness; and as it is produced in the mind of the creature, and not in the mind of God (who was perfectly and infinitely holy before creation began), we call it creature holiness, i.e., holiness belonging to the creature; and the happiness which inheres therein and forms a part of it is, for the same reason, creature happiness. The production of this effect upon the minds of intelligent creatures, we believe to have been God’s end in creation--that end without which the universe would not have existed. This position thrown into the form of a proposition would run thus: God’s last end in creation was to secure the greatest possible amount of creature holiness, and of that happiness which inheres in and forms a part of such holiness. Or thus: The ultimate, objective end for which God created the universe, was the production of the greatest possible amount of creature holiness and happiness. We use the term creature holiness and happiness in opposition to the position of Edwards, that this holiness and happiness are emanations from God in such a sense, that they are communicated to the creature from His fulness; so that, in fact, they are God’s holiness and happiness diffusing themselves among the creatures of His empire. He holds that communication of holiness and happiness formed a part of God’s last end, or one of His ultimate ends, in creation. But then, to carry out his theory, which makes God His own end, he calls this holiness and happiness an emanation from Deity Himself, like a fountain overflowing its banks, or sending forth its waters in streams. The idea that creation is an emanation from God is not strictly true. It is a production of God, and a production of something out of nothing, not an emanation from Him. We can see how the benevolence of God could lead Him to purpose from all eternity to create the universe at a certain time,--in which case, the universe would not exist until that time arrived. But we cannot see how an original tendency can exist in God, for something to flow out of Himself, as water streams from a fountain, unless the flowing out co-exists with the tendency; and if so, then the universe has co-existed with God, that is, it has existed from eternity. The phraseology used by Edwards would go to show that the universe is a part of God; and that the holiness of the creature is simply God’s holiness communicated to the creature. He says: “The disposition to communicate Himself, or diffuse His own fulness, which we must conceive of as being originally in God as a perfection of His nature, was what moved Him to create the world.”. . .”But the diffusive disposition that excited God to give creatures existence was rather a communicative disposition in general, or a disposition in the fulness of the divinity to flow out and diffuse itself.” If these statements are correct, then the creation must be a part of the fulness of God. If the act of creating was the flowing out and the diffusion of the Divinity itself, then the result must have been a part of that divinity; or, in other words, the universe must be a part of God. Again, in speaking of the knowledge, holiness, and joy of the creature, he says: “These things are but the emanations of God’s own knowledge, holiness, and joy.” So that the universe is not only a part of God, but the very attributes of His intelligent creatures, their perfections, their holiness and happiness, are only communications of the perfections, the holiness and happiness of God: they are God’s perfections, God’s holiness and happiness, communicated by Him to the creature. We believe that the universe, instead of being an emanation from Deity, is the work of His hand; instead of being the overflowing of His fulness, it is a creation of His omnipotence--a causing something to exist out of nothing; and the holiness and happiness of creatures, instead of being the holiness and happiness of God communicated to them, consists in their conformity to the rule of right, and that delight which inheres in and is consequent upon such conformity. The production of these, or the securing them to the greatest possible extent, we hold to be God’s last end in creation. We repeat, then, that the ultimate objective end of God in creating the universe was, to secure the greatest possible amount of creature holiness and happiness. Our reasons for this opinion are as follows:

1. As we have seen, God’s ultimate end must be something desirable in itself, and not desired merely as a means to an end. The holiness of God is the most excellent thing in the universe; and next to it, is the holiness of His creatures. God’s end in creation could not have been to promote the former, for it was perfect from eternity. It must, therefore, have been to promote the latter, which is so excellent in itself, and so much to be prized for its results, that it is entirely worthy to be the ultimate end of Jehovah. But it may be asked, May not God’s end in creation have been to display His own holiness, on account of the delight He takes in having that holiness praised, loved, and adored? No doubt God delights to have the perfections of His character praised, loved, and adored; but, is this delight selfish, or is it benevolent? If selfish, then it is sin. If benevolent, then it is a delight in holiness. God delights to be praised, loved, and adored, because this praise, love, and adoration, form the principal ingredient in holiness; and as it is the creature who praises, loves, and adores, so that this effect is produced in the mind and heart of the creature, we call it creature holiness.

2. We argue that creature holiness is the end of God in creation, from the fact that for God to promote His own glory, or to promote such a state of mind in the creature as will lead the creature to glorify Him, is the same thing as to promote holiness in the creature. The Scriptures teach that God does what He does for His own name’s sake, or, which is the same thing, for His glory’s sake; and we are commanded, “whether we eat or drink, or whatever we do, to do all to the glory of God.” If, therefore, “God’s glory,” and “God’s being glorified,” as they are set forth in the Scriptures, differ from creature holiness, then His holiness is not the end of God in creation; but if they can be shown to be the same thing, then is it His last great end in creating the universe. God’s glory consists either in that which constitutes His intrinsic glory, or in that in which He delights and glories, as something which He desires and seeks to accomplish above everything else; or in that state of mind in others, which leads them to praise and glorify Him. That God’s intrinsic glory was not, and could not have been His end in creation, is evident from the fact that it was and is the same from eternity, before creation existed; it has never been in any sense changed or altered, nor is it possible that such change should take place: and it is perfectly evident that that which existed before an event, and is not in the least changed by the event, could not have been the end or object of that event. Again: If we mean, by God’s glory, that in which He delights and glories, as something which He desires and seeks to accomplish above everything else; then, as we contend, this something is holiness: and as it cannot be His own holiness (for He cannot seek to accomplish what is already accomplished), it must be creature holiness. That holiness is what God delights in above everything else, and desires to promote, is evident from the following considerations:

(1) It is the most excellent or desirable thing in the universe, and, therefore, God must delight in it supremely; it must be that in which He glories. This we have already illustrated.

(2) The moral law contains the foundation and essence of true holiness; and, if this law is (as it is universally admitted to be) a transcript of God, then does He delight supremely in holiness.

(3) The rewards and penalties which God has attached to His law, and the development which He has made of his feelings in the death of Christ, and the work of the Spirit, all go to show that He has set His heart supremely upon holiness, that He delights and glories in it, and seeks, above everything else, to promote it.

(4) The Scriptures teach that, without holiness, it is impossible to please God; and that faith is peculiarly pleasing in His sight, because of its relation to holiness; it appropriates the righteousness of Christ; it purifies the heart, and produces good works.

(5) It must be evident to every student of the Bible, and close observer of the providences of God, as they are developed in the history of the Church, that the whole economy of grace has for its object the production and conservation of sanctification or holiness; and that, when this is accomplished, the gracious economy will he exchanged for one purely legal.

(6) The transcendent glory of heaven consists in its holiness--nothing unclean or impure shall be admitted into it. These considerations go to show that God delights supremely in holiness, and that its production to the greatest possible extent is the thing upon which He has supremely set His heart. Again: If we mean by God’s glory, the impression made upon the minds of others, which leads them to praise and glorify Him, then vie say, This impression is holiness, and as it is made in the minds of creatures, it is creature holiness. When we love the Lord our God with all our soul, mind, and strength, we glorify Him for what He is in Himself; and when we love His creatures, according to their worth in the scale of being, we glorify Him through His creatures, as the servants of His household, and the subjects of His empire. If we are holy, we shall glorify God; and if we glorify God, we shall be holy. The one cannot exist without the other; and they resolve themselves into the same thing. This view perfectly accords with the Scriptures. As our limits forbid an extended examination, we will select from those passages quoted by Edwards, to prove that God is His own end in creation. The first class are those which speak of God as the first and the last, the beginning and the end (Isaiah 44:6; Rev Revelation 1:11). These passages simply teach the eternity and absolute sovereignty of God. They have nothing to do with His end in creation; and the wonder is that a divine like Edwards should have quoted them for such a purpose. A second class of passages are those which declare everything to have been created for God (Colossians 1:16; Hebrews 2:10). These texts teach that God is the Creator and Proprietor of all things--that they were made by Him, and for His use; but they do not decide what use God intends to make of them, nor what end He means to accomplish by them. They have no sort of bearing upon the question under discussion. A third class are those passages which speak of God’s glory as the end of all things. They may be arranged under three heads.

1. Those passages which speak of what God does as being done for His name’s sake, or for His own glory (Isaiah 43:6-7; Isaiah 60:21;2 Samuel 7:23; Psalms 106:8). These texts teach that God does what He does, to lead His subjects to praise and glorify Him, and to magnify His great and holy name; in other words, to love Him with all their soul, mind, and strength: and what is that but creature holiness?

2. Those passages which enjoin it upon the creature to do what he does to the glory of God (1 Corinthians 6:20; 1 Corinthians 10:31).

3. Those passages which speak of the glory of God as the result of certain acts of the creature (Philippians 1:11; John 15:8). But how is itthat, “being filled with the fruits of righteousness,” and “bearing much fruit,” glorifies God? It does this in two ways: These fruits are holiness embodied in the life, and they present the transcendent excellence of God’s ultimate end in creation. They produce their effect upon other minds, and lead them to praise and glorify God, and thus promote holiness in them. To love and adore God with all the heart, is to glorify God; and to love and adore God with all the heart, is holiness in exercise: so that, in this sense, God’s glory and the exercise of holy affections are the same thing. And to lead others to love and adore God with all the heart, is to lead them to glorify God; and to lead others to love and adore God with all the heart, is to lead them to exercise holy affections: so that to promote the glory of God in others, and to promote holiness in them, is the same thing. The end of God in creation, then, as we think we have shown, is not in Himself, but consists in the promotion of creature holiness, and that happiness which may appropriately be called the happiness of holiness. (W. C. Wisner.)

The creative laws and the Scripture revelation

It is proposed to examine the general teaching of the Scriptures in the light of six laws, according to which, by the common consensus of competent authorities, the Creator worked in the production of this present terrestrial order.

1. The first of these laws is the law of progress. It may be taken as a fact, settled by overwhelming scientific evidence, and no less clearly affirmed in Genesis, that the world was not created all at once, and that there was a certain order in which its various parts appeared. It was, without an exception, an order under a law of progress; first, that which was lower, afterward that which was higher. The illustrations are so familiar that they scarcely need to be mentioned. Is this law of progress still in force; or is the progress ended, and is man, as we know him, the last and highest form of life that earth shall see? The impossibility of further progress cannot therefore be argued on the ground of inconceivability. It can only be established if it be proved beyond controversy that the end of creation has been reached in man. Is there sufficient reason to believe this? Reason itself teaches that if there be a personal God, the Creator of all, then the self-manifestation of God must be the highest end of the earthly creation. When, therefore, the Holy Scripture tells us of the appearance on earth of a God-man, the perfect “image of the invisible God,” and of a new order of manhood begotten by a new birth into union with this second man, and renewed after the image of the Creator, to be manifested hereafter in a corresponding embodiment and in a changed environment, through a resurrection from the dead, all this is so far from being contrary to the order established in creation, that it is in full accord therewith, and only furnishes a new illustration of that law of progress according to which God worked from the beginning.

2. A second law which has been discovered to have been characteristic of the creative process, is the law of progress by ages. That this was the law of Divine procedure is clear both from the book of revelation and of nature. There were periods of creative activity. The work had its evenings and its mornings, repeatedly recurring. The line of progress was not a uniform gradient; not an inclined plane, but a stairway, in which the steps were aeons. In each instance a “new idea in the system of progress” was introduced, and that fact constituted, in part at least, the new age. But it may be further remarked, that each new age was marked, not merely by the presence, but by the dominance, of a higher type of life than the one preceding. Now we have seen that, according to Scripture, the law of progress is still in force; after man as he now is, shall appear manifested in the earth a humanity of a higher type than the present animal man, namely, the “spiritual man,” as Paul calls him. Does the Scripture also recognize this plan of progress by ages as still the plan of God? The contrast between the present age and that which is to come, is indeed one of the fundamental things in the inspired representation of the divinely established order. And we can now see how, in this mode of representation, the Scriptures speak with scientific precision, and harmonize completely with the best certified conceptions of nineteenth century science. Not only, according to their teaching, is there to be still further progress, progress manifested in the introduction of a new and higher type of manhood, even that which is “from heaven,” but the introduction of that new manhood of the resurrection to dominance in the creation is uniformly represented as marking the beginning of a new age. And just herein, according to the Scripture, lies the contrast between the age which now is and that which is to come; that in the age which is now, the dominant type of life is that of the natural, or “animal,” man; in that which is to come, the dominant type of life shall be “spiritual” or resurrection manhood, manifested in men described by our Lord as those “who cannot die any more, but are equal unto the angels.”

3. Another law of the Divine working in the bygone ages of the earth’s history, we may call the law of anticipative or prophetic forms. This law has been formulated by Professor Agassiz in the following words, which have been endorsed by the most recent authorities as correctly representing the facts: “Earlier organic forms often appear to foreshadow and predict others that are to succeed them in time, as the winged and marine reptiles of the Mesozoic age foreshadow the birds and cetaceans (that were to succeed them in the next age). There were reptiles before the Reptilian age; mammals before the Mammalian age. These appear now like a prophecy in that earlier time of an order of things not possible with the earlier combinations then prevailing in the animal kingdom.” Such, then, has been the law in all the past ages. Is it still in force, or is its operation ended? What a momentous question! How full of both scientific and religious interest! For even on scientific grounds, as has been shown, we are led to anticipate an age to come which shall be marked by the dominance of a type of life higher than the present. And, as we have seen, the suggestion of science is in this case confirmed by Scripture, which describes the life and characteristics of that “age to come,” as science could not. Such descriptions are not very minute, but so far as they go they are very definite and clear. Perhaps the most full and clear single statement is that found in the words of Christ to the Sadducees, to whom He spoke of an age to follow the present, to be inherited by men in resurrection; a type of men who “neither marry nor are given in marriage. Neither can they die any more: for they are equal unto the angels; and are sons of God, being sons of the resurrection.” (Luke 20:35-36). Men incapable of subjection to death, sons of God, perfectly holy--such is the race which shall come to headship in creation in the future age. Herein again, then, the record of Scripture is consistent at once with the system of law as revealed in the past, and with itself, in that, having predicted an age to come, to be inherited by the higher order of resurrection manhood, it sets forth also, as historic fact, the appearance of anticipative forms in the age which now is. Not to speak of the cases of Enoch and Elijah, we have an Illustrious instance of a prophetic type in the person of Jesus of Nazareth. In Him was manifested a type of life transcending beyond measure embodied life as we know it here. It appeared in One who claimed to be the Son of God, and who manifested powers, in proof of this claim, such as well befitted it--powers which later, by one of His disciples, were suggestively called “powers of the age to come,” and who finally became the firstborn from the dead, being the firstborn son of the resurrection.

4. Another law to be observed in the Divine working in the early history of the earth, is the law of creative interpositions. We must, on scientific grounds, affirm creative intervention at least in the origination of matter, and of life, and of free moral agents. The only alternative is absolute agnosticism on this subject. So much, then, as regards the past. Creative interposition appears as included in the system of law. How is it as regards the future? Are we now done with these manifestations of creative power, or shall they, according to the Scripture, be witnessed again in the future? For we are taught, as we have seen, that the present age, marked by the presence and dominance of the animal man, shall end; and that another age shall then follow, marked by the introduction of a new physical order, “a new heavens and a new earth,”--an order of things to be inherited by an order of men called by our Lord “children of God and sons of the resurrection,” sexless, sinless, and incapable of dying. Has the man of the present age power to raise himself into this exalted order of life? No one will pretend this. In particular, the natural, or psychical, animal man of the present age cannot by any self-development or self-culture raise himself into the order of the spiritual manhood of the coming age. For regeneration and for resurrection alike he is powerless. Hence Holy Scripture tells us with utmost plainness that what has been in time past, is now and shall be again. It tells us that even in this present age the creative power of God is secretly working, in the “new birth” of those who are chosen to become the sons of God and heirs of the age to come, and therefore styles the regenerated man “a new creature.” As yet, however, it is but the faint dawn of the creative morning. When the day breaks, the same Scriptures teach us, shall be seen a new and magnificent display of the creative might of God, introducing “a new heavens and a new earth,” and bringing in also the sons of the resurrection with their spiritual bodies to inherit the glory. For as the new order of the new age shall itself be introduced by creative power, so shall the new manhood which is destined to inherit that order. For resurrection is by no possibility the outcome of a natural process; it will be the direct result of an act of the almighty power of God.

5. Reference may be made to another law of the Divine administration in the earlier terrestrial history. It may be called the law of exterminations. The rocks bear testimony to the fact that from time to time during the long creative ages, at the close of one great period after another, there occurred exterminations, more or less extensive, of various orders of life. Professor Dana, for instance, tells us, “At the close of each period of the Palaeozoic ages, there was an extermination of a large number of living species; and, as each epoch terminated . . . one, in most cases, less general.” In particular, he says, again, that at the close of the Cretaceous age there was an extermination “remarkable for its universality and thoroughness”; “the vast majority of the species, and nearly all the characteristic genera disappeared.” The same thing occurred again at the close of the Tertiary, and again in the Quaternary. The causes of these various exterminations were different in different instances. Often they were due to the elevation or submergence of extensive areas of the earth’s surface; sometimes to the more sudden and rapid action of earthquakes; sometimes, within narrow limits, they were caused by fiery eruptions from the interior of the earth. Sometimes, again, they were due to changes of climate more or less extensive, through the operation of causes which need not be here detailed. As a matter of fact, it appears that the inbringing of a higher order of life and organization commonly involved the extermination of various genera and species unsuited to the new environment. This was demonstrably a part of the plan of God in the development of His creative thoughts. Even lesser divisions of the great creative aeons were sometimes marked in like manner. Up to the present human period, therefore, there has been in force a law of exterminations, operating under the conditions specified. But yet another age, according to Scripture, is to succeed the present. Is there reason to anticipate that when the point shall be reached of transition from the present to the coming age, the law of exterminations will again take effect? Does Scripture give any hint in answer to this question, and is it here again in harmony with scientific discovery as regards the laws of the past? The reader will have anticipated the answer which must be given. For it is the repeated declaration of the New Testament Scriptures that the present age shall end, as earlier ages have sometimes ended, with catastrophic changes; this next time, with a catastrophe, not of water, but of fire, giving a new and very terrible application of the ancient law of exterminations. For we are told that a day is coming when “the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up.” The day for which the present heavens and earth are “reserved into fire,” shall also be a “day of the perdition of ungodly men.” 2 Peter 3:7).

6. Yet one other law of the creative working may be discerned as we study the record of the rocks. We may well call it the law of preparation. It were thinkable, since God is almighty, that each age should have been introduced as something absolutely new, having no connection with the ages that had preceded it; that He should have prepared the earth for the new orders of life which were to inhabit it, by a direct act of creative power. But, as a matter of fact, God did not do in this way. On the contrary, He so constituted the successive ages in the earth’s history that each was a preparation for that which was to come afterward. Illustrations are as numerous as the ages and periods of geologic time. Each age had its roots, so to speak, in the age or ages that had preceded it. Indeed, the whole Scripture history is a series of illustrations of this law. Just as in the geologic ages, here were subordinate periods, less sharply distinct indeed, into which the greater ages were subdivided, so the Scriptures divide the whole present age of the natural man into what, in theological and biblical language, we call successive “dispensations.” In the case of each of these we may see this law of preparation exemplified. Each dispensation was in order to another which was to follow. The Adamic age prepared for the Noachian; the Noachian, for the Mosaic; the Mosaic--and indeed all of these again--for the Christian. So also, according to the same revelation, shall it prove to be as regards the whole great age of the natural man. In a manner still more momentous and comprehensive, this age is set forth as a preparation for the age which is to come, the resurrection age. This may be true even in a physical sense. For in the new age, according to Isaiah, Peter, and John, there is to be a new earth, which shall appear out of the fires which shall yet consume the present world; and for this and the physical changes which shall thus be brought about, we know not what forces may not even now silently be working beneath our very feet. They teach this as regards regeneration and sanctification. These are preparatory in their nature. It is thus that the new man is “made in secret, and curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth.” Even death, whether it be of the saint or of the sinner, has its part in the preparatory plan. The application of this is evident. Whence such a harmony in the one case, and in such unexpected directions, for which we search in the authoritative books of other religions in vain? Whence had these men who wrote the Scriptures this their wisdom? Assume what they claim for themselves, a special inspiration from the Former of the universe Himself, and then the harmony with the original system of natural law which pervades the representations of the past, present, and future, is what we should expect. Deny this, and how shall the fact be explained? Further, it is evident that the facts to which our attention has been directed, reverse the argument which one often hears from unbelievers against the probability of the truth of Scripture history and prophecy, derived from the observed uniformity of the system of natural law. Instead of saying that the observed invariability of the system of natural law makes the Scripture teachings with regard to the incarnation, the resurrection, the new heavens and the new earth, and the judgment by which they shall be introduced, to be intrinsically improbable, we must say the opposite! These thoughts also have a bearing on the theodicy. Much in the present age is dark with painful mystery. If there be a God infinite in holiness, goodness, and power, then, it has been asked in all ages, Why such a miserable, imperfect world? Why the earthquake, the pestilence, and the famine, with the destruction and agony they bring? Why sorrow, and sin, and death? Why the disappointed hopes, the darkened homes, empires wrecked, races degenerating, and disappearing from sight at last in a morass of moral corruptions? These questions burden the holy, while the scoffer answers in his desperation, “There is no God such as you dream!” If this were the last age of earth, it is hard to see how such questions could be answered. But if we recall to mind the ancient law of progress, and progress by ages, and that other law of preparation, we may be able to see--not indeed the answer to our questionings, but so much as shall enable us to hold fast, without wavering, our faith in the God of nature, of history, and of revelation. (S. Kellogg, D. D.)


DEFINITION OF CREATION. By creation we mean that free act of the triune God by which in the beginning for His own glory He made, without the use of pre-existing materials, the whole visible and invisible universe. In explanation we notice--

1. Creation is not “production out of nothing,” as if “nothing” were a substance out of which “something” could be formed.

2. Creation is not a fashioning of preexisting materials, nor an emanation from the substance of Deity, but is a making of that to exist which once did not exist, either in form or substance.

3. Creation is not an instinctive or necessary process of the Divine nature, but is the free act of a rational will, put forth for a definite and sufficient end. Creation is different in kind from that eternal process of the Divine nature in virtue of which we speak of generation and procession. Begetting is eternal, out of time; creation is in time, or with time.

4. Creation is the act of the triune God, in the sense that all the persons of the Trinity, themselves uncreated, have a part in it--the Father as the originating, the Son as the mediating, the Spirit as the realizing cause.

PROOF OF THE DOCTRINE OF CREATION. Creation is a truth of which mere science or reason cannot fully assure us. Physical science can observe and record changes, but it knows nothing of origins. Reason cannot absolutely disprove the eternity of matter. For proof of the doctrine of Creation, therefore, we rely wholly upon Scripture. Scripture supplements science, and renders its explanation of the universe complete,


1. Dualism. Of dualism there are two forms.

(1) That which holds to two self-existent principles, God and matter. These are distinct from and co-eternal with each other. Matter, however, is an unconscious, negative, and imperfect substance, which is subordinate to God, and is made the instrument of His will. This was the view of the Alexandrian Gnostics. It was essentially an attempt to combine with Christianity the Platonic conception of the ὕλη. In this way it thought to account for the existence of evil, and to escape the difficulty of imagining a production without use of preexisting material. A similar view has been held in modern times by John Stuart Mill, and apparently by Frederick W. Robertson. With regard to this view we remark:

(a) The maxim ex nihilo nihil fit, upon which it rests, is true only in so far as it asserts that no event takes place without a cause. It is false, if it mean that nothing can ever be made except out of material previously existing. The maxim is therefore applicable only to the realm of second causes, and does not bar the creative power of the great first Cause. The doctrine of creation does not dispense with a cause; on the other hand, it assigns to the universe a sufficient cause in God. Martensen, “Dogmatics,” 116--“The nothing out of which God creates the world, is the eternal possibilities of His will, which are the sources of all the actualities of the world.”

(b) Although creation without the use of pre-existing material is inconceivable, in the sense of being unpicturable to the imagination, yet the eternity of matter is equally inconceivable. For creation without pre-existing material, moreover, we find remote analogies in our own creation of ideas and volitions, a fact as inexplicable as God’s bringing of new substances into being. Mivart, “Lessons from Nature,” 371,372--“We have to a certain extent an aid to the thought of absolute creation in our own free volition, which, as absolutely originating and determining, may be taken as the type to us of the creative act.” We speak of “the creative faculty” of the artist or poet. We cannot give reality to the products of our imaginations, as God can to his. But if thought were only substance, the analogy would be complete. Shedd, “Dogm. Theol.,” 1.467--“Our thoughts and volitions are created ex nihilo, in the sense that one thought is not made out of another thought, nor one volition out of another volition.”

(c) It is unphilosophical to postulate two eternal substances, when one self-existent Cause of all things will account for the facts.

(d) It contradicts our fundamental notion of God as absolute sovereign to suppose the existence of any other substance to be independent of His will.

(e) This second substance with which God must of necessity work, since it is, according to the theory, inherently evil and the source of evil, not only limits God’s power, but destroys His blessedness.

(f) This theory does not answer its purpose of accounting for moral evil, unless it be also assumed that spirit is material--in which case dualism gives place to materialism. The other form of dualism is:

(1) That which holds to the eternal existence of two antagonistic spirits, one evil and the other good. In this view, matter is not a negative and imperfect substance which nevertheless has self-existence, but is either the work or the instrument of a personal and positively malignant intelligence, who wages war against all good. This was the view of the Manichaeans. Manichaeanism is a compound of Christianity and the Persian doctrine of two eternal and opposite intelligences. Zoroaster, however, held matter to be pure, and to be the creation of the good Being. Mani apparently regarded matter as captive to the evil spirit, if not absolutely his creation. Of this view we need only say that it is refuted

(a) by all the arguments for the unity, omnipotence, sovereignty, and blessedness of God;

(b) by the Scripture representations of the prince of evil as the creature of God and as subject to God’s control.

2. Emanation. This theory holds that the universe is of the same substance with God, and is the product of successive evolutions from His being. This was the view of the Syrian Gnostics. Their system was an attempt to interpret Christianity in the forms of Oriental theosophy. A similar doctrine was taught, in the last century, by Swedenborg. We object to it upon the following grounds:

(1) It virtually denies the infinity and transcendence of God--by applying to Him a principle of evolution, growth, and progress which belongs only to the finite and imperfect.

(2) It contradicts the Divine holiness--since man, who by the theory is of the substance of God, is nevertheless morally evil.

(3) It leads logically to pantheism--since the claim that human personality is illusory cannot be maintained without also surrendering belief in the personality of God.

3. Creation from eternity. This theory regards creation as an act of God in eternity past. It was propounded by Origen, and has been held in recent times by Martensen. The necessity of supposing such creation from eternity has been argued upon the grounds--

(1) That it is a necessary result of God’s omnipotence. But we reply that omnipotence does not necessarily imply actual creation; it implies only power to create. Creation, moreover, is in the nature of the case a thing begun. Creation from eternity is a contradiction in terms, and that which is self-contradictory is not an object of power.

(2) That it is impossible to conceive of time as having had a beginning, and since the universe and time are co-existent, creation must have been from eternity. But we reply that the argument confounds time with duration. Time is duration measured by successions, and in this sense time can be conceived of as having had a beginning.

(3) That the immutability of God requires creation from eternity. But we reply that God’s immutability requires not an eternal creation but only an eternal plan of creation.

(4) That God’s love renders necessary a creation from eternity. Although this theory claims that creation is an act, in eternity past, of God’s free will, yet its conceptions of God’s omnipotence and love, as necessitating creation, are difficult to reconcile with the Divine independence or personality.

4. Spontaneous generation. This theory holds that creation is but the name for a natural process still going on--matter itself having in it the power, under proper conditions, of taking on new functions, and of developing into organic forms. This view is held by Owen and Bastian. We object that

(1) It is a pure hypothesis, not only unverified, but contrary to all known facts.

(2) If such instances could be authenticated, they would prove nothing as against a proper doctrine of creation--for there would still exist an impossibility of accounting for these vivific properties of matter, except upon the Scriptural view of an intelligent Contriver and Originator of matter and its laws. In short, evolution implies previous involution--if anything comes out of matter, it must first have been put in.

(3) This theory, therefore, if true, only supplements the doctrine of original, absolute, immediate creation, with another doctrine of mediate and derivative creation, or the development of the materials and forces originated at the beginning. This development, however, cannot proceed to any valuable end without the guidance of the same intelligence which initiated it.

GOD’S END IN CREATION. In determining this end, we turn first to--

1. The testimony of Scripture. This may be summed up in four statements. God finds His end

(1) in Himself;

(2) in His own will and pleasure;

(3) in His own glory;

(4) in the making known of His power, His wisdom, His holy name.

All these statements may be combined in the following, namely, that God’s supreme end in creation is nothing outside of Himself, but is His own glory--in the revelation, in and through creatures, of the infinite perfection ofHis own being. Since holiness is the fundamental attribute in God, to make Himself, His own pleasure, His own glory, His own manifestation, to be His end in creation, is to find His chief end in His own holiness, its maintenance, expression, and communication. To make this His chief end, however, is not to exclude certain subordinate ends, such as the revelation of His wisdom, power, and love, and the consequent happiness of innumerable creatures to whom this revelation is made.

2. The testimony of reason. That His own glory, in the sense just mentioned, is God’s supreme end in creation, is evident from the following considerations:

(1) God’s own glory is the only end actually and perfectly attained in the universe. But while neither the holiness nor the happiness of creatures is actually and perfectly attained, God’s glory is made known and will be made known in both the saved and the lost. This, then, must be God’s supreme end in creation. This doctrine teaches us that none can frustrate God’s plan. God will get glory out of every human life.

(2) God’s glory is the end intrinsically most valuable. The good of creatures is of insignificant importance compared with this. Wisdom dictates that the greater interest should have precedence of the less.

(3) His own glory is the only end which consists with God’s independence and sovereignty. If anything in the creature is the last end of God, God is dependent upon the creature. But since God is dependent only on Himself, He must find in Himself His end. To create is not to increase His blessedness, but only to reveal it.

(4) His own glory is an end which comprehends and secures, as a subordinate end, every interest of the universe. The interests of the universe are bound up in the interests of God. Glory is not vain-glory, and in expressing His ideal, that is, in expressing Himself, in His creation, He communicates to His creatures the utmost possible good. This self-expression is not selfishness but benevolence. No true poet writes for money or for fame. God does not manifest Himself for the sake of what He can make by it. Self-manifestation is an end in itself. But God’s self-manifestation comprises all good to His creatures.

(5) God’s glory is the end which in a right moral system is proposed to creatures. This must therefore be the end which He in whose image they are made proposes to Himself.


1. To the holiness and benevolence of God. This is not a perfect world. It was not perfect even when originally constituted. Its imperfection is due to sin. God made it with reference to the Fall--the stage was arranged for the great drama of sin and redemption which was to be enacted thereon. We accept Bushnell’s idea of “anticipative consequences,” and would illustrate it by the building of a hospital room while yet no member of the family is sick, and by the salvation of the patriarchs through a Christ yet to come. If the earliest vertebrates of geological history were types of man and preparations for his coming, then pain and death among those same vertebrates may equally have been a type of man’s sin and its results of misery. If sin bad not been an incident, foreseen and provided for, the world might have been a Paradise. As a matter of fact, it will become a paradise only at the completion of the redemptive work of Christ.

2. To the wisdom and free-will of God.

3. To providence and redemption. (A. H. Strong, D. D.)

The creation as a revelation of God

1. His omnipotence.

2. His wisdom.

3. His goodness.

4. His love. (J. P. Lange, D. D.)

The world according to its various forms

1. As creation.

2. As nature.

3. As cosmos.

4. As aeon. (J. P. Lange, D. D.)

The work of God and the work of man

What is different, and what is common to both.

1. The order.

2. The constancy.

3. The gradual progression.

4. The aim. (J. P. Lange, D. D.)

The creation and revelation of life from God

1. The foundations of life in the elementary world.

2. The symbolical phenomena of life in the animal world.

3. The reality and truth of life in the human world. (J. P.Lange, D. D.)

The birth of the world also the birth of time

1. The fact that the world and time are inseparable.

2. The application.

(1) The operations in the world are bound to the order of time.

(2) Time is given for labour. (J. P. Lange, D. D.)

The outline of creation

heaven and earth:--

1. Heaven and earth in union.

2. Earth for heaven.

3. Heaven for earth. (J. P. Lange, D. D.)


How to begin to write the Bible must have been a question of great difficulty. The beginning which is given here commends itself as peculiarly sublime. Regard it as you please, as literal, historical, prabolical, it is unquestionably marked by adequate energy and magnificence of style. He finds that he must say something about the house before he says anything about the tenant, but he feels that that something must be the least possible.

THIS ACCOUNT OF CREATION IS DEEPLY RELIGIOUS, and from this fact I infer that the whole book of which it is the opening chapter is intended to be a religious and not a scientific revelation.

THIS ACCOUNT OF CREATION EVIDENTLY ADMITS OF MUCH ELUCIDATION AND EXPANSION. Moses does not say, “I have told you everything, and if any man shall ever arise to make a note or comment upon my words, he is to be regarded as a liar and a thief.” He gives rather a rough outline which is to be filled up as life advances. He says in effect “This is the text, now let the commentators come with their notes.” This first chapter of Genesis is like an acorn, for out of it have come great forests of literature; it must have some pith in it, and sap, and force, for verily its fertility is nothing less than a miracle.

This account of creation, though leaving so much to be elucidated, is in harmony with fact in a sufficient degree to GIVE US CONFIDENCE IN THE THINGS WHICH REMAIN TO BE ILLUSTRATED.

THERE IS A SPECIAL GRANDEUR IN THE ACCOUNT WHICH IS HERE GIVEN OF THE ORIGIN OF MAN. “Let Us make man”--“make,” as if little by little, a long process, in the course of which man becomes a party to his own malting! Nor is this suggestion so wide of the mark as might at first appear. Is man not even now in process of being “made”? Must not all the members of the “Us” work upon him in order to complete him and give him the last touch of imperishable beauty? The Father has shaped him, the Son has redeemed him, the Spirit is now regenerating and sanctifying him, manifold ministries are now working upon him, to the end that he may “come to a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ.” (J. Parker, D. D.)

God the Maker of heaven and earth

As regards the time of creation we are told nothing. There is no note of date or time until after the creation of Adam. Six successive periods of creation are spoken of, with no indication as to the length of each.

There is no contradiction, I think, between any result as to the world’s age at which science may arrive, and the record with which the Book of Genesis opens. Are there not clear indications that the creation of the world was not the result of the omnipotent act of a moment, but of the Divine creative energy working (as we ever still see it working) through gradual processes, through successive gradations?

As long as science keeps to her own great sphere of discovering and codifying facts, we have only to thank her for her labours. I need scarcely say, however, that a certain school of scientific men are not content with this. They leave the boundaries of science, and enter the domain of theology. They say, because we find these successive stages of progress in creation--this development of one period from another--we will regard matter as having in itself all power and potency of life. They will not mention God at all, or if they do it is merely as another name for law. In the law which they discover from its operations--in the potency which they find in matter itself, they see sufficient to account for all creation; and we can dispense with that myth which we call “God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth.” It is here they impugn Genesis. It was not “God” who created these things; they were evolved from eternal matter, in accordance with irresistible law. The Bible is primarily a religious book. This chapter is not meant to tell us all the varied processes through which God carried on His great creative work. The lesson Moses had to tell the people he ruled when he brought them out of a land where material force was everything; where men worshipped the physical universe--the fruits of the field, and the moon and stars of heaven--was, that there was a God beyond all these; that these were only the works of His creative power. Without Him they could not be. It was not a scientific view of the material universe, but a religious view, that Moses wished to give these people. He sought to impress on them that, though these things passed through various add successive stages, God was there. God did it. (T. T. Shore, M. A.)

The creation

We must judge the book by the times.

The first principle to be inferred is that of THE UNITY OF GOD. One Divine Being is represented as the sole Cause of the universe. Now this is the only foundation of a true religion for humanity.

The next principle in this chapter is that ALL NOBLE WORK IS GRADUAL. God spent six days at His work, and then said it was very good. In proportion to the nobility of anything, is it long in reaching its perfection. The greatest ancient nation took the longest time to develope its iron power; the securest political freedom in a nation did not advance by bounds, or by violent revolutions, but in England “broadened slowly down from precedent to precedent.” The greatest modern society--the Church of Christ--grew as Christ prophesied, from a beginning as small as a grain of mustard seed into a noble tree, and grows now more slowly than other society has ever grown--so slowly, that persons who are not far-seeing say that it has failed. The same law is true of every individual Christian life. Faith, to be strong, must be of gradual growth. Love, to be unconquerable, must be the produce not of quick-leaping excitement, but of patience having her perfect work. Spiritual character must be moulded into the likeness of Christ by long years of battle and of trial, and we are assured that eternity is not too long to perfect it.

Connected with this universal principle is another--that THIS GRADUAL GROWTH OF NOBLE THINGS, CONSIDERED IN ITS GENERAL APPLICATION TO THE UNIVERSE, IS FROM THE LOWER TO THE HIGHER--is, in fact, a progress, not a retrogression. We are told in this chapter that first arose the inorganic elements, and then life--first the life of the plant, then of the animal, and then of man, “the top and crown of things.” It is so also in national life--first family life, then pastoral, then agricultural, then the ordered life of a polity, the highest. It is the same with religion. First, natural religion, then the dispensation of the law, then the more spiritual dispensation of the prophets, then the culmination of the external revelation through man in Christ, afterwards the higher inward dispensation of the universal Spirit, to be succeeded by a higher still--the immediate presence of God in all. So also with our own spiritual life. First, conviction of need, then the rapture of felt forgiveness, then God’s testing of the soul, through which moral strength and faith grow firm; and as these grow deeper, love, the higher grace, increasing; and as love increases, noble work and nobler patience making life great and pure, till holiness emerges, and we are at one with God; and then, finally, the Christian calm--serene old age, with its clear heaven and sunset light, to prophesy a new and swift approaching dawn for the emancipated spirit.

The next truth to be inferred from this chapter is that THE UNIVERSE WAS PREPARED FOR THE GOOD AND ENJOYMENT OF MAN. I cannot say that this is universal, for the stars exist for themselves, and the sun for other planets than ours; and it is a poor thing to say that the life of animals and plants is not for their own enjoyment as well as ours! but so far as they regard us, it is an universal truth, and the Bible was written for our learning. Therefore, in this chapter, the sun and stars are spoken of only in their relation to us, and man is set as master over all creation. It is on the basis of this truth that man has always unconsciously acted, and made progress in civilization.

The next principle is THE INTERDEPENDENCE OF REST AND WORK. The Sabbath is the outward expression of God’s recognition of this as a truth for man. It was commanded because it was necessary. “The Sabbath was made for man,” said Christ. And the same principle ought to be extended over our whole existence.

Lastly, there is one specially spiritual principle which glorifies this chapter, and the import of which is universal, “GOD MADE MAN IN HIS OWN IMAGE.” It is the divinest revelation in the Old Testament. In it is contained the reason of all that has ever been great in human nature or in human history. In it are contained all the sorrows of the race as it looks back to its innocence, and all the hope of the race as it aspires from the depths of its fall to the height of the imperial palace whence it came. In it is contained all the joy of the race as it sees in Christ this great first principle revealed again. In it are contained all the history of the human heart, all the history of the human mind, all the history of the human conscience, all the history of the human spirit. It is the foundation stone of all written and unwritten poetry, of all metaphysics, of all ethics, of all religion. (Stopford A. Brooke, M. A.)

Creation’s birth

1. What a strange opening to a book! Without observation, parade, flourish.

2. Strange that there is no argument on the being of God. The Architect is simply named in the description of the building. A portrait in oil suggests a painter.

3. There is a gradual unveiling of God as you proceed with the book. God reveals Himself to us by slow processes.

What was BEFORE the beginning?

1. God in underived and perfect existence.

2. God dwelling in the silence and grandeur of His own eternity.

What was IN the beginning?

1. When was the beginning? Date not fixed here. We only know the fact, that there was a beginning.

2. What occurred in the beginning? The material universe began to be.

What FOLLOWED the beginning?

1. Law.

2. Life.

3. History.

4. Redemption.


1. From a beginning we know not what may come.

2. The beginning contains what follows. (J. S. Withington.)

God first

THE DEVOUT RECOGNITION OF GOD SHOULD PRECEDE ALL PHILOSOPHY. The God whom we worship is not a metaphysical idea; a form of thought; a philosophical abstraction; but a living, personal, eternal Being, apart from and prior to all human thought. He is not a creation of the intellect, but the intellect’s Creator. We must begin with Him. Is not this one of the child’s first thoughts, and one which life’s long experience but deepens and confirms--that it was God who created all things? Does not the bare statement carry with it its own conviction? What need is there of proof? Who argues that there is a solid earth on which he stands; a sun shining in midday sky? Who constructs arguments to prove his own existence? And does not God stand at the beginning of all thought and all argument? And is not the denial of Him a sheer and wilful absurdity which no attempt at proof can make even plausible?

THE DEVOUT RECOGNITION OF GOD SHOULD PRECEDE ALL SCIENCE. The fact of His existence lies at the foundation of all physical science, and must be admitted as its first and most essential fact. For what is science in general, or a science in particular, but the knowledge of facts--their qualities, relations, and causes--arranged and classified? But if science begins by refusing to admit, or by failing to perceive, the First Fact, and the Great Cause of all things? Does nothing exist but what the knife of the anatomist, or the tests of the chemist can detect? Matter and force do exist, or matter under some plastic power passing through innumerable changes. But what is it? And is this all? Are there no marks of intelligence?--purpose?--will? Is there no distinction of beauty?--of right and wrong? And what are these but marks of the ever-present God? Atheism explains nothing, and Pantheism nothing. No! Science cannot discover God. It is in the light of God’s presence that science is best revealed. Science and philosophy alike presuppose HIM.

THE DEVOUT RECOGNITION OF GOD PRECEDES ALL MORALITY AND RELIGION. It lies at the basis of any sound ethical theory, and any true religious system of doctrine and practice. Religion, whether natural or revealed, is based on this fact. It is no more the part of religion than it is of philosophy and science to discover or to demonstrate the existence of God, but to worship Him. (F. J. Falding, D. D.)

The creation



THIS PROGRESS OF CREATION PASSES FROM ORDER, THROUGH ORGANIZATION, INTO LIFE, UNTIL IT CULMINATES IN MAN. Plants and animals are “after their kind.” Not so with man. He is “after the likeness” of God. Lessons:

1. The adaptation of this world to be man’s place of abode while God tries him by the duty He has placed upon him to perform.

2. All things are subject to man’s use and government.

3. The human race is of one blood, derived from one pair.

4. God loves order. (L. D. Bevan, LL. B.)


This simple sentence--

DENIES ATHEISM. It assumes the being of God.

DENIES POLYTHEISM. Confesses the one eternal Creator.

DENIES MATERIALISM. Asserts the creation of matter.

DENIES PANTHEISM. Assumes the existence of God before all things, and apart from them.

DENIES FATALISM. Involves the freedom of the Eternal Being. (James G. Murphy, LL. D.)

Moses and Darwin

Though the Hebrew prophet was not a teacher of science, he has in this chapter given us the alphabet of religious science. The great principles of things were disclosed to him, and in these verses he has given us a rapid and suggestive sketch of the great outlines of God’s creative work. His instructions were not incorrect, but incomplete, in order to meet the pupil’s capacity.


1. According to Moses, creation has its origin in God. Darwin has gone down into the bowels of the earth, he has traced this globe to a nebulous light, and pursued the molecules to their furthest point. But he has confessed that beyond there is a mystery which baffles all skill, and this mystery he calls God. According to him the material universe has a spiritual origin, and before and after each creation he would write the word “God.”

2. According to Moses, God’s method of creation was by slow development. Evolution is the great faith of the scientific world today. It directs us to trace everywhere the processes of unfolding growth. And according to Darwin these processes are the methods of creative wisdom.


1. No honest criticism can destroy God’s truth.

2. Evolution does not banish God or design from nature.


1. Patience and perseverance in study. He accumulated facts, but he took time to reflect upon them before he formed them into systems. All great work is slow work.

2. Darwin loved nature, and therefore could interpret her.

3. Darwin lived a simple, true, and loving life. (D. B. James.)

The creation


1. The universe not self-existent, self-evolved, or eternal, but


2. Brought into existence by the exercise of Divine power. “God created.”

3. Stages in process of formation implied.


1. The chaotic condition of the planet described.

2. The Divine Author of the present order.

3. The first recorded fiat.

THE SUMMARY OF THE CREATIVE WEEK (Genesis 2:4-8). Lessons:

1. Learn the comprehensiveness of the opening sentence of the


2. Learn to appreciate this clear, refreshing, and authoritative declaration that the origin of the universe and of man is a personal, all-wise, almighty, and loving God.

3. Learn the lofty dignity of our primal spiritual nature in its identification with the ineffable nature of God.

4. Learn that to worship, love, and obey God, is our reasonable service. (D. C. Hughes, M. A.)

Genesis of the universe

A FUNDAMENTAL QUESTION. What is the origin of things? Perhaps the sublimest question mortal man can ask. A profoundly religious question, going down to the very roots of Truth, and Science, and Theology, and Character, and Worship.

THE PRECISE PROBLEM. It is not touching the shaping of matter already existing; it is touching the origin of matter itself.

IMMENSITY OF THE PROBLEM. The universe, practically speaking, is infinite.

THE PROBLEM ITSELF. Here are sixty or seventy elements which, so far as we know at present, make up the existing universe. And the point to be exactly observed is this: not one solitary atom of these elements which make up the universe can man make. All that man can do is to operate on these elements, compounding them in various proportions, using the compounds in various ways, shaping them, building with them, and so on. In short, man must have something on which, as well as with which, to operate. Here, then, is the mighty question: “How account for this tremendous fact? Whence came this inconceivable amount of material?”

1. The question is legitimate. We cannot help asking it. Every effect must have a cause. Here is a stupendously measureless effect: what caused it? Not one man, not all mankind together, with the most perfect machinery conceivable, can make one solitary atom of matter. Where, then, did all this measureless, unutterable, inconceivable quantity of matter composing this material universe come from? Suppose you say it came from a few cells or germs, or perhaps one. That does not answer the question. The axiom, “Every effect must have a cause,” implies another axiom: “Effects are proportional to their causes”--that is to say, causes are measured by their effects. If the whole material universe came from a few germs and from nothing else, then the weight of these germs must be equal to the weight of the universe. You cannot get out of a thing more than is in it.

2. Only two answers are possible.

(1) The answer of logic. The first is this: Matter never had any origin at all; it has always existed. It is the one and only conclusion at which the logician, trusting solely to the logical processes and denying miracles, can possibly arrive.

(2) The answer of Scripture. The other answer is the first verse of the Book of God: “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” Ah, here comes out the infinite difference between man and God: Man is only a builder, constructing with materials; God is a Creator, constructing without materials. God creates atoms; man fashions molecules.

3. Grandeur of the answer. Thus this word “create” is the divinest word in language, human or angelic. It is the august separatrix between the creature and the Creator, between the finite and the Infinite. Well, then, may our text stand forth as the opening sentence of God’s communication to man. For all theology is wrapped up in this one simple, majestic word--Created. It gives us an unbeginning, almighty, personal, self-conscious, voluntary God.

4. Final cause of creation. Why did God create the material universe? Let us not be wise above what is written. And yet I cannot help thinking that there is a reason for the creation in the very constitution of our spiritual nature. We need the excitation of sensible objects. We need a material arena for self-discipline. As a matter of fact, we receive our moral training for eternity in the school of matter. It is the material world around us, coming into contact with our moral personalities through the senses of touching and seeing, and hearing and tasting, which tests our moral character. And so it comes to pass that the way in which we are impressed by every object we consciously see or touch probes us, and will testify for us or against us on the great day. But while this is one of the proximate causes of the creation, the final cause is the glory of God. It is the majestic mirror from which we see His invisible things, even His eternal power and Godhead (Romans 1:20). (G. D. Boardman.)


THE MAKER OF THE WORLD, God. The great I AM. The First Cause.


1. By God’s Word.

2. By God’s Spirit.

THE MEANING OF THE WORLD. God created the world--

1. For His own pleasure and glory (Revelation 4:11).

2. For the happiness of all His creatures (Psalms 104:1-35).


1. Faith in God, as the Almighty, the All-wise Creator.

2. Reverence for God, as wonderful in all His doings.

3. Gratitude to God, as providing for the wants of His creatures. (W. S. Smith, B. D.)

The word “earth” as used in Scripture

In Scripture, as well as in ordinary language, the word “earth” is used in two different meanings: sometimes it means the whole globe on which we live; and sometimes only the solid dust with which the globe is covered, which is supposed not to be much more than from nine to twelve miles in thickness.

1. The word “earth” is used to express the whole globe in the 1st verse of Genesis--“In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth”; and it is so used also in the 40th chapter of Isaiah, verse 22; and again in the 26th chapter of Job, verse 7, where we are told that the Lord “hangeth the earth upon nothing.”

2. The word “earth” is also used to express the solid and rocky crust with which our globe is everywhere covered, and on which rest the vast waters of the ocean. It is used in this sense in the 10th verse of the 1st chapter of Genesis: “God called the dry land earth.” Earth is the dry land as distinguished from the sea; it means the continents and islands which appear above the waters.

(1) You know that it is round.

(2) We know that our earth goes round the sun once every year in an immense oval course, turning round upon itself at the same time as a ball does when it rolls along.

(3) The earth has been measured. It Isaiah 25:0 miles all round, or in circumference, and nearly 8,000 miles straight through, or in diameter. You may imagine its size when I tell you that it has been reckoned that Mont Blanc, the highest mountain of Europe, is no larger when compared with the earth than the thickness of one of your hairs is to your head, or like a small grain of sand placed on a house twenty feet in height.

(4) This earth, although covered all round with a solid crust, is all on fire within. Its interior is supposed to be a burning mass of melted, glowing metals, fiery gas, and boiling lava. This was mentioned in the Bible long before learned men had found it out for themselves by observation. It is spoken of in the Book of Job, about three thousand years ago (Job 28:5). We often read also in Scripture of the mountains being “melted like wax,” rising and leaping like Iambs, and raised from the depths of the earth by the force of the inward fire (Psalms 97:5). We read in the Psalms of a time “before the mountains were brought forth” (Psalms 90:2); and we read also in Proverbs of a time “before the mountains were settled” Proverbs 8:25), while they were yet being tossed and thrown up by the mighty power of fire. So great is the heat within the earth, that in Switzerland and other countries where the springs of water are very deep, they bring to the surface the warm mineral waters so much used for baths and medicine for the sick; and it is said that if you were to dig very deep down into the earth, the temperature would increase at the rate of a degree of the thermometer for every hundred feet, so that at the depth of seven thousand feet, or a mile and a half, all the water that you found would be boiling, and at the depth of about ten miles all the rocks would be melted. (Prof. Gaussen.)


Creation is not caprice or chance. It is design. The footprints on the sands of time speak of design, for geology admits that her discoveries all are based upon design. And this verse, as the whole creation narrative, confirms the admission of science as to design. Therefore, both the Revelation of God and the Revelation of Nature go hand in hand. Which, then, is the higher? Surely, Revelation. And why?

1. Because Revelation alone can tell the design. Nature is a riddle without revelation. I may admire the intricate mechanism of machinery, or even part of the design hanging from the loom; but all is apparent confusion until the master takes me to the office, places plans before me, and so discloses the design. Revelation is that plan--that key by which man is able to unlock the arcana of nature’s loom.

2. Because that design is the law of Christ. All are parts of one mighty creation, of which Christ is the centre. (Wm. Adamson.)

On beginnings


1. Some beginnings are thoroughly evil, and their evil nature is beyond dispute. To begin to steal, however small the theft; to begin to lie, however trifling the falsehood; to begin selling things for what they are not, and by false weight and measure, however the deception may escape discovery; to begin to swear, however silent the oath may be kept; to begin dissolute practices, however trimly they may be dressed up.

2. Other beginnings are innocent, but such as are easily turned into an evil course. One begins to take proper recreation, and ends in a pleasure seeking, self-indulgent, idle, undutiful habit.

3. Other beginnings are a mixture of good and evil. It is undoubtedly well that a drunkard should become a total abstainer; but it is not an unmixed good when with his abstention he mingles self-righteous pride and unjust reflections on others.

4. Moreover, there are good beginnings whose good character is complete and unquestionable. It is always good to set ourselves, for Christ’s sake, to do honestly, to work diligently, to show mercy, to pray believingly, to help and succour, and sympathize with one another. Every really Christian beginning is an entire good.


1. Bad beginnings are made without forethought and resolve, without definite intention, choice, and premeditation; in a word, heedlessly.

2. Good beginnings are made with forethought, and election, and predetermination. “What shall I do with my life?” is a question for every man who would be right minded.

(1) Good beginnings are made in the light. An enlightened choice is a first requisite.

(2) Good beginnings are made with worthy ends in view.

(3) Good beginnings are to be made earnestly. If our desire is for the beginning of the goodness of God in our characters, it is a desire which shames sloth. (J. E. Gibberd.)

God the Author of all things.

“In the corner of a little garden,” said the late Dr. Beattie, of Aberdeen, “without informing any one of the circumstance, I wrote in the mould with my finger the initial letters of my son’s name, and sowed garden cress in the furrows, covered up the seed, and smoothed the ground. Ten days after this he came running up to me, and with astonishment in his countenance told me his name was growing in the garden. I laughed at the report, and seemed to disregard it, but he insisted on my going to see what had happened. “Yes,” said I carelessly, “I see it is so, but what is there in this worth notice? Is it not mere chance?” “It cannot be so,” he said, “somebody must have contrived matters so as to produce it.” “Look at yourself,” I replied, “and consider your hands and fingers, your legs and feet; came you hither by chance?” “No,” he answered, “something must have made me.” “And who is that something?” I asked. He said, “I don’t know.” I therefore told him the name of that Great Being who made him and all the world. This lesson affected him greatly, and he never forgot it or the circumstances that introduced it.”

Seeking the true God

Twenty years ago, when Christian missions scarcely existed in Japan, a young Japanese of good family met with a book on geography in the Chinese language, which had been compiled by an American missionary in China. It began with these words: “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.” What could this mean? Who was that God? Certainly He was not known in Japan; perhaps He might live in America, whence the author of the book came. The young man determined to go to America and seek for God. He left Japan secretly, at the peril of his life; for the old law was then still in force, under which death was the penalty incurred by any Japanese who quitted his country. He made his way to China, and thence to the United States. There, after some perplexing experiences, he did find the God he had been seeking, and with his whole heart embraced the faith of Christ. That young man, Joseph Nisima, is now Principal of a Native Christian College at Kioto, the ancient sacred capital of Japan. (E. Stock.)

A question for atheists

Napoleon the First, with all his disdain for men, bowed to one power that he was pleased to regard as greater than himself. In the heart of an atheistic age he replied to the smattering theorists of his day, “Your arguments gentlemen, are very fine. But who,” pointing up to the evening sky, “who made all these?” And even the godless science of our times, while rejecting the scriptural answer to this question, still confesses that it has no other to give. “The phenomena of matter and force,” says Tyndall, “lie within our intellectual range; and as far as they reach we will, at all hazard, push our inquiries. But behind, and above, and around all, the real mystery of the universe lies unsolved, and as far as we are concerned, is incapable of solution.” But why incapable of solution? Why not already solved, so far as we are concerned, in this “simple, unequivocal, exhaustive, majestic” alpha of the Bible--“In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth”? (J. B. Clark.)

The folly of atheism

A suggestive scene took place lately in a railway car that was crossing the Rocky Mountains. A quiet business man, who with the other passengers, had been silently watching the vast range of snow-clad peaks, by him seen for the first time, said to his companion: “No man, it seems to me, could look at that scene without feeling himself brought nearer to his Creator.” A dapper lad of eighteen, who had been chiefly engaged in caressing his moustache, pertly interrupted, “If you are sure there is a Creator.” “You are an atheist,” said the stranger, turning to the lad. “I am an agnostic,” raising his voice. “I am investigating the subject. I take nothing for granted. I am waiting to be convinced. I see the mountains, I smell the rose, I hear the wind; therefore, I believe that mountains, roses, and wind exist. But I cannot see, smell, or hear God. Therefore--” A grizzled old cattle raiser glanced over his spectacles at the boy. “Did you ever try to smell with your eyes?” he said, quietly. “No.” “Or hear with your tongue, or taste with your ears?” “Certainly not.” “Then why do you try to apprehend God with faculties which are only meant for material things?” “With what should I apprehend Him?” said the youth, with a conceited giggle. “With your intellect and soul?--but I beg your pardon”--here he paused--“some men have not breadth and depth enough of intellect and soul to do this, This is probably the reason that you are an agnostic.” The laugh in the car effectually stopped the display of any more atheism that day.

Creation a comforting thought

When Mr. Simeon, of Cambridge, was on his dying bed, his biographer relates that, “After a short pause, he looked round with one of his bright smiles, and asked, ‘What do you think especially gives me comfort at this time? The creation! Did Jehovah create the world, or did I? I think He did; now, if He made the world, He can sufficiently take care of me.’”

Man’s limited knowledge of nature

Systems of nature! To the wisest man, wide as is his vision, nature remains of quite infinite depth, of quite infinite expansion; and all experience thereof limits itself to some few computed centuries and square miles, The course of nature’s phases, on this our little fraction of a planet, is partially known to us, but who knows what deeper courses these depend on! What infinitely larger cycle (of causes) our little epicycle revolves on! To the minnow every cranny and pebble, and quality and accident, of its little native creek may have become familiar; but does the minnow understand the ocean tides and periodic currents, the trade winds and monsoons, and moon’s eclipses; by all which the condition of its little creek is regulated? (T. Carlyle.)

Verse 2

Genesis 1:2

And the earth was without form and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep

Genesis of order



1. The primeval chaos.

(1) Origin of chaos. The direct issue of the Creative Will. God created the atoms of the universe, starting with them in a chaotic state.

(2) Picture of chaos. All the elements which now exist were doubtless there; but all were out of relation.

(3) Confirmation of science. If the magnificent nebular hypothesis of the astronomers--first propounded by Swedenborg, adopted by Kant, elaborated by Laplace and Herschel, and maintained with modifications by such scientists as Cuvier, Humboldt, Arago, Dana, and Guyot--be true, there has been a time when the earth, and indeed the whole universe, was in a state of nebula, or chaotic gaseous fluid. As such, the earth was indeed without form and void, and darkness was on the face of the deep. Being in a gaseous state, it was “without form and void”; being as yet in an inactive state, it was “dark”; being in a state of indefinite expansion, it was a “deep.”

2. The organizing energy.

(1) The breath of God.

(2) Moved over the face of the fluids.

And now let us attend to THE MORAL MEANING OF THE STORY.

1. And, first: all life begins chaotically. It is true of physical life. Look at this bioplast; the most powerful microscope fails to detect in it much sign of system, or structure: the most that it detects is a tiny grouping of seemingly unarranged, chaotic material; in fact, so structureless does it seem, that the microscope declines to prophesy whether it will unfold into a cedar, an elephant, or a man. Again, it is true of intellectual life. Look at this newborn infant: how nebulous and chaotic its conceptions! Your little one may grow into a Shakespeare; but at present, and intellectually surveyed--forgive me, fond mother, for saying it--your little one is scarcely more than a little animal. Do we not apply indiscriminately to infants and animals the impersonal pronoun “it”? Once more: it is true of moral life. That is not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural: then that which is spiritual. Look at humanity as a whole, and through the ages, ancient, mediaeval, modern, How vast but abortive its endeavours! How besmeared its history with idolatries, barbarisms, wars, butcheries, oppressions, crimes, blasphemies! Verily, humanity, compared with its latent, transcendent possibilities, is indeed a chaos, without form, and void, and darkness is over its deep. And what is so sadly true of humanity as a whole, is as sadly true of each member of humanity, at least in his natural, or rather unnatural, denatured state. For each man is a microcosm, a miniature world of his own. And each man, compared with what is conceivable concerning him, is a chaos.

2. Is there any hope here? Thank God, there is. That same breath of God which moved over the face of those ancient fluids, is moving today over the soul of humanity. Ah, this is the blessed energy by which the chaos of our moral nature is being organized into order and beauty. Observe: as, in shaping the material earth out of the old chaos, the Spirit of God added no new elements, but simply fashioned into order the old; so, in organizing the spiritual chaos, He adds no new faculties, but simply quickens and organizes the old. What man needs is not creation, but re-creation; not generation, but regeneration. And this it is which the Holy Ghost is achieving. Brooding, incubating as God’s Holy Dove over the chaos of humanity, He is quickening its latent forces, arranging its elements, assorting its capacities, organizing its functions, apportioning its gifts, perfecting its potentialities: in short, completing, fulfilling consummating man in the sphere of Jesus Christ. (G. D. Boardman.)

An emblem of unrenewed man

EMPTINESS OF GOOD. Chaos was absolutely unproductive. Not a single tree, bush, or flower. Not even the seeds of any useful herbs. So is man as a spiritual being till God’s Spirit begins to work on his fallen nature. “In me, that is, in my flesh, dwelleth no good thing.”

DARKNESS. A meet covering for such an unsightly spectacle. The wicked man is said to “walk in darkness” (1 John 1:6); “darkness blindeth his eyes” (1 John 2:11); his “understanding is darkened” Ephesians 4:18); his “foolish heart is darkened” (Romans 1:21); he “loves darkness rather than light” (1 John 3:21); “he knows not nor understands, but walks on in darkness” (Psalms 82:5); and if he repent not he “shall be cast into outer darkness” (Matthew 25:30). The children of God were “at one time darkness, but now are light in the Lord; “ “they walk as children of light” (Ephesians 5:8); they are “called out of darkness into marvellous light” (1 Peter 2:9); they are “delivered from the power of darkness” (Colossians 1:13); they “cast off the works of darkness, and walk honestly as in the day” (Romans 13:12-13).

CONFUSION. The chaos was a hideous mixture of all discordant materials--earth and water; mud and rock; vegetable and mineral; mire, slime, lees, scum, clay, marl, crag, and pool. This is but a faint image of the turmoil, struggle, and strife that go on continually in the heart of a man who is under the dominion of “lusts and passions that war against the soul.” Was there a visible form? If so it may have been some white cloud like the Shechinah. But if cloud there were, there was no vitality in that; it was only a symbol made use of by the vitalizing Agent to intimate that He was present. This power was--

1. Silent in its operation.

2. Efficacious.

3. Instantaneous.

In one word, the chaotic state of man’s soul before God can only be restored to light, warmth, order, beauty, and life by the working of the Divine Spirit, through applying “the truth as it is in Christ Jesus” as the means. This work is done silently and gently. Zaccheus was thus awakened Luke 19:5-8); Nathanael (John 1:47-49); the woman of Samaria John 4:9-29).

The teaching of chaos


1. This may be true of the world of matter.

2. This may be true of the world of mind. Desolate. Not peopled with great thoughts. Not animated by great and noble convictions.

3. This may be true of the world of the soul. The soul life of many lacks architecture.


1. This is true of the material world. The earth was without form and void; but now it is everywhere resplendent with all that is esteemed useful and beautiful. It manifests a fertility most welcome to the husbandman. Whence this transition? It was the gift of God. It was the result of the Spirit’s hovering over the darkness of Nature. The world is under a Divine ministry.

2. This is true of the world of mind. The chaos of the human mind is turned into order, light, and intellectual completion, by the agency of the Divine Spirit.

3. This is true of the world of soul. The chaos of the soul of man can only be restored by the creative ministry of the Holy Spirit. He will cause all the nobler faculties of the soul to shine out with their intended splendour. He will make the soul a fit world for the habitation of all that is heavenly. (J. S.Exell, M. A.)

Without form and void

1. A type of many souls.

2. A type of many lives.

3. A type of many books.

4. A type of many sermons.

5. A type of many societies. (J. S. Exell, M. A.)

On looking back to original condition

The best way to judge of things aright is to consider them in their first original.

1. To bring down our pride.

2. To quicken our endeavours.

3. To fill our mouths with praises to Him that made us what we are, and might have continued, without His free and infinite mercy. (J. White.)

The chaos

The text is easily divided into two parts: first, the earth was without form, and void, and darkness was upon the face of the deep: second, the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.

The first subject then for our consideration is THE STATE OF THE WORLD IN THE BEGINNING OF TIME. The earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep: that is, the earth lay a hideous, barren, and desolate heap; as a waste, howling wilderness, earth and sea mingled together. How short and wretched must have been the existence of creatures, if God had doomed any to dwell in such a state!--how utterly impossible would it have been for them to fix a comfortable habitation, or to remedy one even of the existing evils! Where should we have made our pleasant homes and warm firesides? Could we “have commanded the morning, and caused the day spring to know its place”? Could we have driven away the darkness, or “have shut up the sea with doors”?

1. Here, then, we are led to reflect, first, upon the wisdom and goodness of God manifested in His gracious design in the creation. God had no design to form creatures for misery, but for happiness, as the apostle declares when speaking of the Christian dispensation: “God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain mercy by Jesus Christ.” So here He had determined to make man; but to make him, not a child of sorrow, but a comfortable and happy creature: He therefore first begins, with infinite goodness, to prepare him a pleasant and goodly dwelling place. But which among the angels would have supposed that He would form it from this gloomy chaos, this miserable and barren spot we have been considering? They had no such power themselves, not the mightiest of them; and it is probable they did not yet know the almighty power of God, or, at least, that they had not seen it so marvellously displayed. When, therefore, He fixed the foundation of the earth, and formed the world, He tells Job that then “the morning stars sung together, and all the sons of god shouted for joy”: they sung of the mighty power and glory of God: they shouted for joy at the goodness and wisdom of their everlasting Father, here displayed so gloriously. Thus, when we consider the works of the Holy Spirit, how lovely does He himself appear to us!--how worthy of our highest adoration and gratitude! But, further, the word here translated “moved,” literally means settled or brooded, and it is understood by some to express that act of the Holy Spirit by which He imparted life and activity. This is the peculiar office of the Holy Spirit, “it is the Spirit that quickeneth,” saith our Saviour: “the Spirit giveth life,” says St. Paul: it was the Spirit that “raised Jesus from the dead”: it is the Spirit that shall breathe upon our dry bones, that they may live; for in like manner it was the Spirit of God that entered Adam, and man became a living soul. To this Holy Spirit of God then we are indebted, not only for our own life and preservation from day to day and from year to year, but for all those living creatures which increase and multiply to supply us with food and clothing, and many other comforts. As often, therefore, as we use them, should not our hearts be grateful to Him who is the author of them, and take heed not to abuse them? Now, we have considered the state of this world before the Word of God and the Spirit of God began their operations upon it. You have seen its disorder and confusion, its barren, empty, and useless condition, and the utter darkness in which it was buried. You have seen, then, an exact representation of the fallen state of man, and what the Word and Spirit of God, and these only, can do for him. The whole soul and body of man without these is without form, and void: his heart is a misshapen, hideous, and disordered mass of empty, unprofitable, and good-for-nothing matter; and, when the Holy Spirit of God enters it, He finds it lifeless, dark, and barren, and, like the unrestrained and troubled waters, all ruinous and in wild disorder, as in chaos. This is the state of man, and therefore he is fit for nothing else but destruction, except he is rendered “fit for a habitation of God through the Spirit.” There is, as in chaos, a continued strife of elements within us, a continual war and confusion among “our lusts, which war in our members”: we “are full of uncleanness,” ungodliness, intemperance, and sin: while the ungoverned waters struggle for a vent, and rage and swell, the earth is rent and torn asunder, and at last overwhelmed; and thus, while one desire, one lust, one inclination in our frame rages, and is indulged, another part of us is convulsed and disordered, and at last perhaps “sudden destruction comes upon us.” Here, then, we see the free mercy of God towards us, in His willingness to rescue us from this chaotic state. It is plain, then, that a change must be wrought in us if we would be saved: for think not that God will pollute His heavens with such creatures: think not that He will suffer the holiness and harmony of heaven to be interrupted by unsubdued, deformed man. This change, then, from darkness to light, from barrenness to fruitfulness, from confusion to peace, from sin to holiness and loveliness, and happiness, in short “from the power of Satan unto God,” this change is needed in all, and none can be saved without it; and it is the work of the Word and Spirit of God: none other can do it; none other has any part in it. I say it is the work of the Word and Spirit: not the Word alone, nor the Spirit alone; but it is the work of the two conjointly. (J. Matthews, M. A.)

The inability of chaos apart from God to evolve order

It would be unphilosophical to hold that chaos evolved from herself the order that everywhere appears. Can I believe that the pile of rubbish that marks the site of Babylon will ever produce a city so beautiful and magnificent as that which witnessed nightly the revels of the Chaldean Monarchs? Shall I see, as if by magic, street after street arise, square after square occupy its ancient position, temple after temple point its glittering canopy to heaven; shall I see the city enclosed by walls, filled with a busy, trading, pleasure-seeking population, and be told that all this order, and magnificence, and life, has come of the pile of ruins? (G. Wight.)

The chaos of the earth illustrated by the chaotic condition of the moon

Of such a condition of the earth, a definite idea may be formed by an examination of the moon’s surface--a very chaos of explosive action. Thousands of small pits are there, and, as certainly, immense chasms, whose flattened interiors rival a congeries of English counties, while stupendous ridges and peaks encompass them, standing out like the Apennines and Pyrenees, and sometimes transcending the loftiest eminences of the Alps. He who has traversed the Great Schiedegg and the Wengun Alp, beneath the shadow of the almost vertical steeps of the Wetterhorn and the Eiger, has been awe-struck by summits so towering, and descents so profound; and yet feeble is their image of the heights and depths of the moon’s Himalayas. What evidences are these of volcanic agency, while other elevations, due possibly to the same mighty power, astound him who steadily contemplates them, by their rectilinear extent.
Yet, amidst these cindery plains, no river makes a path, no stream meanders; down those precipices neither silver thread of water winds its way, nor is there the gushing, the tumbling, and foaming of some huge cascade; and hence the great desert of Africa resembles the naked and arid wastes, where no life springs forth to relieve, much less to cheer, this immense scene of unmitigated desolation. As, then, the moon is, so was this earth of ours, when Moses described not its contents, of which he knew nothing, but its surface, as without form and void. (C. Williams.)

And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters:--

The work of the Holy Spirit

It is a significant, suggestive fact, that the work of the Holy Spirit is historically coeval with the work of creation. The Divine Being who inspired the Bible appears upon its first page, a mystic centre of light and beauty in the midst of an universe of darkness. And St. Paul tells us that God the Holy Spirit, who first illumined the dark world of matter, still illuminates the dark world of mind. All is midnight in the heart, mind, and soul of a sinner, until He, the Light of Life, saith, “Let there be light.”

The work of the Spirit in the NATURAL man. The force of Paul’s allusion to the creation in Genesis implies that man’s original earth, in its perennial darkness, waste, and submersion, is a type of man’s heart, as nature moulds it, and sin corrupts it. “The earth was without form and void”; and the heart is without grace, or capacity of spiritual discernment, till the Spirit of God moves in His creative, enlightening energy, upon both the one and the other. This is equally true of every man, for “who maketh thee to differ? and what hast thou, O man, that thou didst not receive? “It is our part to preach Christ, but it is the Spirit’s office to convince “of sin, righteousness, and judgment.” The Spirit Himself is the foundation of all spirituality. “It is the Spirit that quickeneth, and the Spirit giveth life: the words that I speak unto you, they are Spirit,” because He spake in the Spirit, lived in the Spirit, and commanded His disciples “to wait” for the Spirit, before they commenced their ministry, that they might be “endued with power from on high.” That is the only power still to convert souls. The most powerful ministry is simply that which is the most spiritual, which most prays in the Spirit, preaches in the Spirit, lives in the Spirit, and most constantly insists upon congregations seeking the Spirit, and resting on His gifts and graces as their only source and secret of edification.

The work of the Spirit in the REGENERATE man. “The path of the just is as a shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day,” for He who gives the first convicting and converting impulse, “giveth more grace.” As the original motion of the Spirit of life and light was followed by the creation of the sun, the moon, and the stars, each in their appointed orbits, fulfilling their Creator’s munificent purposes of love and goodness; so the work of the quickening Spirit in individual regeneration is succeeded by ampler revelations of Christ as the “Sun of Righteousness,” the centre of His redeeming system; of the Church, as His satellite, “fair as the moon,” borrowing all her light and influence upon many waters from the Lord, whose fainter image she is, a light shining in dark places: and of Christ’s ministers and sacraments, as stars in His right hand, by whose “lesser lights” He deigns to carry on His gracious offices of mercy to “a world lying in darkness, and in the power of the wicked.” But it is the Spirit which gives the weight and efficacy to all these means of grace, and channels of edification, by which the child of God is built up in his most holy faith, and rendered more and more conformed to the image of God’s dear Son. At every step there is the scriptural impress of the Spirit, from first to last. (J. B. Owen, M. A.)

The Spirit of God considered as the chief agent in the work of the new creation

In fulfilment of this process of new creation, the Spirit of God descends upon the benighted surface of the human soul.

1. In order to dissipate the darkness in which it is naturally involved. The mind of man, as disordered, corrupted, and clouded by sin, may well be compared to that confused and rayless obscurity which rested over the face of the abyss. It is enveloped in a thick, impenetrable mantle of ignorance, prejudice, and unconcern. And it is only when the Spirit of God begins to move upon the stagnant waters of his cold and damp indifference, that light breaks in upon his mind.

2. Another function equally necessary and important, which the Spirit of God performs in the new creation of the soul, is that of purification. The mind of each one of us, by nature, is full of all impurity and pollution. In this condition we are utterly unfit for the service of God here, and the presence of God hereafter--unfit for communion with God by prayer and devout meditation--unfit for the suitable and acceptable discharge of any one of the duties of God’s worship--unfit for life--unfit for death. Under these circumstances it becomes a question of supreme and paramount importance, whether a renovating process has been commenced upon us--whether, under the influence of the salutary motions of the Spirit of God, we have made it our endeavour to cleanse ourselves from all impurity of flesh and spirit, and to perfect holiness in the fear of God--whether the various streams of thought, feeling, and conduct, are gradually purifying from their drossy and turbid aspect, and whether our whole character from day to day becomes more thoroughly assimilated to the Divine image, and assumes more of the complexion and the hue of heaven.

3. In connection with the effects already specified, the human soul requires to be reduced to order, and to be harmonized in its various principles and habits. By the fatal shock which it received in Eden, the whole system has been disorganized. In relation to the character and attributes of Jehovah--to His revealed will and the whole range of His service--to the objects and pursuits connected with a spiritual and eternal world, it is altogether out of joint. By the original apostasy from God, in fact, the whole nature of man went to wreck. The various elements of his being forsook their proper combination and position in the system, and entered into new and most destructive relations. The wild and tumultuous anarchy of his affections is like the troubled sea when it cannot rest, whose waters cast up mire and dirt. The scene of chaos, in which heaven and earth, fire and water, were commingled together into one vast ocean of jarring elements, was not more replete with confusion than is the mind, when let loose unto itself, and freed from the soothing restraints, and the controlling and regulating impulses, of that Spirit which moved upon the face of the waters. It is this Spirit alone, who can rectify the deep disorders of our nature. It is He alone who can separate, direct, soothe, and harmonize the warring elements of our carnal and unsubdued mind, and reduce every faculty and affection into the cheerful and meek obedience of the faith. It is He alone who can restrain the aberrations of the judgment--who can check the wanderings of the imagination--who can curb the impetuosity of the passions, and attemper the whole soul and spirit into one harmonious and well-balanced scheme of Christian character and conduct. Other means may be used, indeed, and ought to be used. The Bible should be read--the ordinances of religion should be attended--the duties of prayer, and devout meditation and reflection, should be solemnly and uninterruptedly discharged; but other means, without the accompanying and moving energies of the Spirit, will be found ineffectual.

4. Nor is the Spirit merely the author of light, purity, and order, in the formation of the new creature, but life itself: that which is essential to the exercise and enjoyment of all other endowments in His special gift. While He moved upon the face of the waters, the command went forth, and they were at once seen to teem with animated existence. Impregnated with His vital energies, the great deep became instinct with life and motion. The various forms of vegetable and organized existence--the tenants of the ]and, and those that wing their flight through the regions of air, were seen to burst forth from its capacious bosom, until every quarter of the universe became peopled with its appropriate inhabitants. The great Spirit, who was thus the primary agent in kindling material nature into life, is also the author of that higher life which pervades the new creation. (J. Davies, B. D.)

The creation

THE SPIRIT OF GOD BROUGHT ORDER AND DEVELOPMENT TO THE MATERIAL WORLD. How did that shapeless mass become such a world as this? What account of the transition does science give? It says, “Change succeeded to change, in strict accordance with physical law, very slowly but surely, with no sudden transitions, till, step by step, the one condition passed into the other.” Those regular changes were all that appeared; and they are all which appear now, though the same changes are still going on. We cannot see the intelligence, the mind, which directs the works of nature; but it is equally true that we cannot see them in the works of man. Yet the mind of man is at work, though invisible, animating his body; and it is truer to speak of his mind as planning the house he builds, and the steam engine he sets to work, than to say that the materials came together into their right places, though that is all that we see. And so it is truer to say that the Invisible Mind, the unseen Spirit of God, moved upon the formless earth, and brought it to its present ordered form, than to say it happened so. Science mentions only what appeared; but Genesis tells the deeper truth, that the informing mind accomplished all--Genesis, which was written centuries before science was born. There is special fitness in the words employed, “The Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.” It indicates the quiet untiring ways in which God works in the heavens and the earth.

THE SPIRIT OF GOD MUST BRING ORDER AND DEVELOPMENT TO THE SPIRITUAL WORLD. The moral and spiritual nature of man forms quite another world from the material universe, and yet how closely the two are linked in the human body and soul! Look at the moral and spiritual nature of men. How high they can rise! so high that there is fitness in speaking of God’s image in them as a real kinship of nature with God. What noble examples there have been among men, of righteousness, faithfulness, and love--the very attributes of God--yet we feel man has not realized the greatness and goodness that he may. But how low men can sink! to what extremes of wrong, and treachery, and selfishness, and cruelty! We cannot picture it all; to do so would be to have present to the mind what human society has been and is--the crimes, the woes, the degradation, and shame, of generations of human lives and hearts. To picture human society as it is--I mean especially its evils--would be more, not only than imagery could realize, but more than any feeling heart could bear. The material chaos is but a faint image of this deeper spiritual chaos; but taking it as such, we may ask, Does God leave the world in this chaos of degradation and woe? Turn to another Bible picture: “I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes” (emblems of purity), “and palms in their hands” (emblems of victory). (T. M. Herbert, M. A.)

Verses 3-4

Genesis 1:3-4

Let there be light

The creation of light



1. For the protection of life. Plants could not live without light; without it, the flowers would soon wither. Even in a brief night they close their petals, and will only open them again at the gentle approach of the morning light. Nor could man survive in continued darkness. A sad depression would rest upon his soul.

2. For the enjoyment of life. Light is one of God’s best gifts to the world.

(1) It is inexpensive. The world has to pay for the light produced by man; that created by God, we get for nothing. Man has limitations; God has none. Man is selfish; God is beneficent.

(2) It is extensive. It floods the universe. It is the heritage of the poor equally with the rich; it enters the hut as well as the palace.

(3) It is welcome.

3. For the instruction of life. Light is not merely a protection. It is also an instructor. It is an emblem. It is an emblem of God, the Eternal Light. It is an emblem of truth. It is an emblem of goodness. It is an emblem of heaven. It is an emblem of beneficence.

DIVINELY APPROVED. “And God saw the light, that it was good.”

1. It was good in itself. The light was pure. It was clear. It was not so fierce as to injure. It was not so weak as to be ineffectual. It was not so loud in its advent as to disturb.

2. It was good because adapted to the purpose contemplated by it. Nothing else could more efficiently have accomplished its purpose toward the life of man. Hence it is good because adapted to its purpose, deep in its meaning, wide in its realm, happy in its influence, and educational in its tendency.

3. We see here that the Divine Being carefully scrutinises the work of His hands. When He had created light, He saw that it was good. May we not learn a lesson here, to pause after our daily toil, to inspect and review its worth. Every act of life should be followed by contemplation.

DIVINELY PROPORTIONED. “And God called the light day, and the darkness He called night.”

1. The light was indicative of day. In this light man was to work. The light ever active would rebuke indolence. By this light man was to read. In this light man was to order his moral conduct.

2. The removal of light was indicative of night. In this night man was to rest from the excitement of pleasure, and the anxiety of toil. Its darkness was to make him feel the need of a Divine protection. (J. S. Exell, M. A.)

Light and the gospel compared


1. Light and the gospel resemble each other in their source and Divine resemblance.

2. Light and the gospel resemble each other in their adaptation to the end designed.

3. Light and the gospel resemble each other in their purity.

4. Light and the gospel resemble each other in their inseparable connection with joy and happiness.


1. That man should have the light of salvation.

2. That His Church should be the light of the world.

3. That the world should be filled with the light of the gospel of Christ.

(1) Now the gospel is adapted to all the world. It is as much suited to one part of it as to another.

(2) It is expressly said that it is designed for the whole world. “I am the light of the world.” “Go into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.”

(3) The whole world shall finally enjoy its saving rays. “This gospel of the kingdom,” etc. (See Isaiah 11:9; Isaiah 60:19, and Habakkuk 2:14.)


1. Have you the light of Divine grace in your hearts?

2. Have you this light in your families?

3. Have you this light in your neighbourhood?

4. Are you assisting to enlighten the world? (J. Burns, D. D.)

Genesis of light


1. “God said”: an anthropomorphism.

2. The God-said of Moses the God-word of John.

3. The first light chemical.

4. “And God saw the light, that it was good.” It is to light that the cloud, the sunset, the rainbow, the diamond, the violet, owe their exquisite hues. Truly the light is sweet, and a pleasant thing it is for the eyes to behold the Ecclesiastes 11:7). Nay, more: Light is one of the essential conditions of all life itself--alike vegetal, animal, human, and, doubtless, angelic. Yes, there is a better curative than allopathy or homeopathy, hydropathy or aeropathy; it is heliopathy, or light of the sun. Physicians understand this, and so seek for their patients the sunny side of hospitals. And so they unconsciously confirm the holy saying, “To you that fear My name shall the Sun of Righteousness arise with healing in His wings” Malachi 4:2).

5. Evening: Morning. Observe the order of the words: It is not first morning, and then evening; it is first evening, then morning: “And there was evening, and there was morning, day one.”


1. God is light (1 John 1:5). For aught I know, the apostle’s message is literally true. Remember that when we are talking of light we are moving in presence of a very subtile mystery. The origin and nature of light is still a profound problem. True, we talk learnedly and correctly about the laws of light; its laws of reflection, refraction, absorption, dispersion, polarization, etc. But these are only phenomena; they tell us nothing about the nature or origin of light itself. All we know of light is merely a knowledge of the mode and laws of its motion. We do not know the essence of light itself. One thing is certain: light is the nearest known, sensible approach to immateriality, being classed with its apparent kindred--heat, electricity, magnetism--among the imponderables. Indeed, the modern magnificent undulatory theory denies that light is material, and affirms that it is but a mode of motion. We are accustomed to say that there are but two things in the universe--spirit and matter--and that the chasm between these is infinite. Possibly this is one of those assumptions which, did we know more, we would affirm less. Possibly light is an instance of what the philosophers call tertium quid--a third something, intermediate between spirit and matter, ethereally bridging the measureless chasm. Possibly light is God’s natural expression, outflow, radiation, manifestation, vestment Psalms 104:1-2). Possibly, when the Creator moves in that finite world we call time, He leaves light as His personal vestige and train. His mantle ripples into light, is light itself. In view of this possibility, how natural as well as fitting that the ancient token of God’s personal presence among the Hebrews should have been the shechinah, or dazzling glory cloud.

2. And as God is light, so also are His children light. Expressly are they called Sons of Light (Luke 16:8). Expressly is He called Father of Lights (James 1:17). We know that light is latent in every form of matter; for, when sufficiently heated, it becomes incandescent--that is to say, self-luminous. What is flame but a mass of heated, visibly glowing gas? True, it doth not yet appear what we shall be (1 John 3:2). Nevertheless, I believe that light is latent within us all, and that by-and-by, at least in the case of God’s saintly children, it will stream forth; not that it will be evolved by the action of any heat or chemical force, but that, under the free, transcendent conditions of the heavenly estate, it will ray forth spontaneously.

3. Jesus Christ Himself, as Incarnate, is the shadow of God’s light. Infinite God, Deity as unconditioned and absolute, no man hath ever seen or can ever see, and live (Exodus 33:20). He dwelleth in light which no man can approach unto (1 Timothy 6:15), is light itself. “Dark with excess of light,” we poor finite beings cannot behold Him except through the softening intervention of some medium. Therefore the Son of God, brightness of His glory and express image of His person (Hebrews 1:3), radiance of His effulgence and character, or impress of His substance, became incarnate, that in the softer morning star and suffused dayspring of the Incarnation we might be able to look on the dazzling Father of Lights, and not be dazed into blindness.

4. Jesus Christ is not only the shadow or tempered image of God: in the very act of becoming that shadow Jesus Christ also became the Light of the John 8:12). Ah, how much the world needed His illumination!

5. As Jesus Christ is the Light of the World, so also is His Church. He, clear as the sun, she, fair as the moon, both together resplendent as an army with banners (Song of Solomon 6:10).

In conclusion:

1. A word of cheer for the saint. Ye are sons of light. Recall now how much light means. It means all that is most bright and clean, and direct, and open, and unselfish, and spotless, and lovely, and healthful, and true, and Divine. How exceedingly great, then, your wealth! Oh, live worthily of your rich estate.

2. A word of entreaty to the sinner. Of what use is the most abounding light if we persist in keeping our eyes closed? As there is an eternal day for the sons of light, so there is an eternal night for the sons of darkness. (G. D.Boardman.)

Light and life




1. Trust in God’s overruling providence.

2. The study of nature should not be separated from religion. (W. S. Smith, B. D.)


Light is PURE. Its property repels defilement. It traverses unstained each medium of uncleanness.

Light is BRIGHT. Indeed, what is brightness but light’s clear shining.

Light is LOVELY. Beauty cannot live without it. So Christ decks all on whom His beams descend.

Light is FREE. The wealth of the wealthy cannot purchase, nor the poverty of the poor debar from it. Waste not time in seeking a price for Him, compared with whom an angel’s worth is nothing worth.

Light is ALL-REVEALING. By Christ’s rays, sin is detected, as lurking in every corner of the heart; and the world, which we so fondled, is unmasked, as a monster whose embrace is filth, and in whose hand is the cup of death.

Light is the PARENT OF FRUITFULNESS. In Christ’s absence, the heart is rank with every weed, and every noxious berry. But when His beams enliven, the seeds of grace bud forth, the tree of faith pours down its golden fruit.

Light is the chariot which CONVEYS HEAT. Without Christ, the heart is ice. But when He enters, a glow is kindled, which can never die.

Light is the HARBINGER OF JOY. Heaven is a cloudless God. (Dean Law.)

The Word of God

“Let there be.”

1. How the growth of the world points back to the eternal existence of the Word.

2. How the eternal Word is the foundation for the growth of the world. (J. P. Lange, D. D.)

Light, a source of life

1. Its good, as existing in its ground.

2. Its beauty, as disclosed in its appearing. (J. P. Lange, D. D.)

The creation of light a day’s work of God

1. The first day’s work.

2. A whole day’s work.

3. A continuous day’s work.

4. A day’s work rich in its consequences. (J. P. Lange, D. D.)

All the blessings of the light

We, who worship “the Father of lights,” have reason every day that we live to thank God for life and health, for countless blessings. And not least among these may be reckoned the free gift of, and the many “blessings of the light.” For in many ways that we can tell off, at once, upon our fingers, and in very many more ways that we neither dream of nor think of, does light minister to our health, wealth, and comfort.

1. The very birds sing at daybreak their glad welcome to the dawn, and the rising sun. And we all know and feel how cheering is the power of light. In the sunlight rivers flash, and nature rejoices, and our hearts are light, and we take a bright view of things.

2. So, too, light comes to revive and restore us. Darkness is oppressive. In it we are apt to lose heart. We grow anxious, and full of fears. With the first glimmer of light in the distance, hope awakens, and we feel a load lifted off our minds.

3. Again, we have often felt the reassuring power of light. In the darkness, objects that are perfectly harmless take threatening shapes; the imagination distorts them, and our fancy creates dangers. Light shows us that we have been alarmed at shadows: quiets and reassures us.

4. Once again, the light comes to us, often, as nothing less than a deliverer. It reveals dangers hidden and unsuspected; the deadly reptile; the yawning precipice; the lurking foe.

5. And when, over and above all this, we remember that light is absolutely essential, not to health only, but to life in every form, animal and vegetable alike, we shall heartily echo the words of the wise king in Ecclesiastes: “Truly the light is sweet; and a pleasant thing it is for the eyes to behold the sun.” (J. B. C. Murphy, B. A.)

The first day

The work begins with light, God said, “Let there be light,” and at once light shone where all before was dark. God says, “Repent ye--the kingdom of heaven is at hand”: then our darkness displeases us, and we are turned to light. Thus of all those blessings hid in Christ from everlasting, and which are predestinated to be accomplished in the creature, light is the first that is bestowed: “God shines in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” But the “heaven” announced “at hand” is yet unformed. No sun yet shines, no fruits adorn the creature. Many steps remain before the image of God will come, the man created in righteousness, to rule all things. Then at once comes a division between what is of God and what is not; between the natural darkness in the creature and the light which God has made. The light shines in darkness, but the darkness comprehends it not. Two conflicting powers are striving each to gain the day, making the old domain of darkness a continually shifting but ceaseless battle field. Then a name is given by God both to light and darkness; that is, the character of each is learnt according to the mind of God. Now the darkness has a name. What God calls it, we call it. His thoughts are not altogether strange to us. Natural as the darkness may seem to the creature, God calls it “night,” or deviation. It is a turning from the right or straight line. The light is “day,” or movement: there is a disturbance of the darkness. Death rules no longer; life with light is come. Besides, in this name there is a form given to both. Until now light and darkness were unformed, but “day” and “night” intimate order and distribution. Night is darkness put within limits. So with light; it is not “day” till it is arranged and put in form and order. (A. Jukes.)

Light, natural and spiritual

Every saved man is a new creation.

THE DIVINE FIAT. “Let there be light.” The work of grace by which light enters the soul is--

1. A needful work. No heart can be saved without spiritual light, to reveal self and Jesus Christ.

2. An early work. First day.

3. A Divine work.

4. Wrought by the Word. God spake.

5. Unaided by the darkness itself. Darkness cannot help to bring day.

6. It was unsolicited.

7. Instantaneous.

8. Irresistible.


DIVINE APPROBATION. Natural light is good. Gospel light is good. Spiritual light is good.

1. Because of its source.

2. Because of its likeness. God is light.

3. Because of its effects.

4. It glorifies God.

DIVINE SEPARATION. The Christian man has light and darkness contending within him; also contending forces without him.

DIVINE NOMINATION. We must call things by their right names. (C. H.Spurgeon.)

Light and its laws

The light God has made, and His mind concerning it.

1. Physical light--good; light, sweet; pleasant. Sun, the emblem of many things; cheerful revealing.

2. Mental light--good. Hence in some parts an idiot is called “dark.”

3. Gospel light--good; the light of the story of God; light that shined out of darkness to enlighten Gentiles; Christ, the Light of the world, the Sun of Righteousness.

4. Spiritual light--good.

5. Essential light--light of heaven from the Father of lights.

The law by which it is governed.

1. Not mixed, but separated.

2. Sons of light must have no communion with darkness.

3. Churches should be lights in the world.

4. Truth not to be mixed with error.


1. Love the light.

2. Walk in it.

3. Enforce the law concerning it. (J. C. Gray.)

The ceaseless act of the Almighty

THE THINGS SPOKEN OF IN THE TEXT, LIGHT AND DARKNESS. To each of these terms there are different significations. There is what we term natural light; there are also mental and moral light (the illumination of the understanding and of the heart); there are also providential, spiritual, and eternal light: each of these has its opposite state of darkness. It is true that our text speaks only of light natural; yet, as the works of God in nature are often typical of His works of grace, we may follow the example of Scripture, and in tracing out the truths it teaches, may endeavour to prove, that in the whole economy of nature, providence, and grace, it is the practice and prerogative of God to divide the light from the darkness. Is it darkness with any of the Lord’s people present? Are His dealings mysterious? Are their state and prospects full of gloom and obscurity? Child of sorrow, strive to bow with submission to the will of your Heavenly Father. “Let patience have her perfect work.” “Light is sown for the righteous, and gladness for the upright in heart.” “Why art thou cast down, oh my soul! and why art thou disquieted within me?” “Hope in God, for thou shalt yet praise Him who is the health of thy countenance.” “At evening time it shall be light.” Yes, then, when you are expecting the darkness to increase--when the sun of enjoyment seems to have set forever,--then, “at evening time it shall be light.” “Who is among you that feareth the Lord and obeyeth the voice of His servant: that walketh in darkness and hath no light; let him trust in the name of the Lord, and stay upon his God.” “Unto the upright there ariseth light in darkness.” There are also spiritual and eternal lights, with their opposite states of darkness. “With Thee is the fountain of life,” said the sacred writer, and “in Thy light shall we see light.” While we are in the darkness of natural corruption and alienation from God, we know nothing aright, nothing of the evils of sin, nothing of the astonishing love of Jesus, we have no just conceptions of the amazing and stupendous work of redemption, or of the work of the Holy Spirit upon the soul of man. But when in infinite compassion Jehovah enlightens the understanding and touches the heart, we see and feel the reality and vast importance of eternal things--we see at what an awful distance sin has placed us from a God of spotless purity--we feel how deeply we are steeped in the poison and pollution of iniquity--we adore the infinite wisdom manifested in the plan of redemption, that stupendous plan, which while it redeems, pardons, and sanctifies the sinner, satisfies also the high claims of Divine justice, magnifies the Divine perfections, and brings “Glory to God in the highest.”

We have now to consider WHAT MAY BE AFFIRMED CONCERNING THE OBJECTS HERE SET BEFORE US: GOD DIVIDES THE LIGHT FROM THE DARKNESS. He is accomplishing this upon earth by a mysterious but infinitely wise process. Much light and darkness dwells in the minds of individuals--in the various religious sects throughout the land, and among the different nations of the world. Whatever true light is in the world, it is of God. He is its Author. By nature all are under the dominion of the prince of darkness, and are enslaved by Him. But a stronger than he comes upon him, and delivers the captive from the dark dungeons of iniquity. Jesus came to be a light to them that sit in darkness; He sends His Spirit with His Word to subdue the rebellious heart, to awaken the insensible heart--to pour the light of celestial day upon the benighted spirit--to show the sinner to himself, and to reveal the saving mercy, of God in Christ--to reveal the dangers that lie in his pathway to eternity--to give him right views of every essential truth connected with salvation and eternal life--to teach him everything it is requisite he should know and experience ere he can inhabit the realms of light above--in short, to separate the light from the darkness. Hitherto the very light had been darkness; there had been light in the intellect perhaps, but darkness in the soul (for in many an unrenewed character the one is strangely mixed with the other). There may even possibly exist a theoretic knowledge of Divine things where blackest crimes dwell in the heart and are perpetrated in the life. But where Jesus shines forth in mercy--where the Holy Spirit exerts His power, the light is separated from the darkness: there is no longer that heterogeneous mixture of knowledge and sin, of Divine truth in the intellect and sin in the life, which formerly existed. Jehovah has wrought His wondrous work, has divided the light from the darkness, has separated the sinner from his sins, “and behold all things become new.” To conclude: The day of final separation is hastening on, then, forever and at once, God will divide “the light from the darkness,” truth from error, holiness from iniquity, the righteous from the wicked. Truth and righteousness shall dwell in heaven, error and iniquity shall sink to hell. The wicked will then be all darkness, the righteous will then be all light. (W. Burgess.)

Darkness before light

And do you think, children, that you were first light and then became dark? or that you were first dark and then became light? Because when you were a baby boy or girl you did not know much; it was very dark: now I hope that the light of the Sun of Righteousness is upon you, that the evening has become the morning. The morning star has risen, I hope. It is light! light! (J. Vaughan, M. A.)

Night a necessity

A remarkable effect was mentioned by Mr. Robert Hunt (to whom the public are indebted for much valuable information on solar and other phenomena) to the present writer. In the course of his early experiments on the active power of the sun’s rays, he subjected a metal plate to its operation, and, of course, received upon it a picture of the objects within its range. He now rubbed this off, making the surface clear and fresh as at first; photographed a different picture, and then effaced this as he had done the former. In this way he proceeded some ten or twelve times, now receiving, and now rubbing off the traces of the sunlight, when the question arose in his mind, “What would be the result were I to transmit an electrical current through this plate?” To determine it, he caused a current to pass through it diagonally, when, to his astonishment, the various objects that had been, as he supposed, effaced from the surface, rushed to it confusedly together, so that he could detect there a medley of them all; thus proving that there had not been merely a superficial action of the light, but that it had produced a molecular disturbance throughout the plate. Only let, therefore, the sunbeams play uninterruptedly on the iron, the brass, or the granite, and they will crumble into dust under an irresistible power; the falling over them of the mantle of night alone prevents the occurrence of a catastrophe. (C. Williams.)

It was good

The first day of creation

1. Man’s fallen nature is a very chaos, “without form and void,” with darkness thick and sevenfold covering all. The Lord begins His work upon man by the visitation of the Spirit, who enters the soul mysteriously, and broods over it, even as of old He moved upon the face of the waters. He is the quickener of the dead soul.

2. In connection with the presence of the Holy Spirit the Lord sends into the soul, as His first blessing, light. The Lord appeals to man’s understanding and enlightens it by the gospel.

3. If you keep your eye upon the chapter you will observe that the light came into the world at first by the Word “God said, ‘Let there be light.’” It is through the Word of God contained in this book, the Bible, that light comes into the soul. This is that true light which lighteth every man that cometh into the world.

4. The light which broke in upon the primeval darkness was of a very mysterious kind, and came not according to ordinary laws, for as yet neither sun nor moon had been set as lights in the firmament. Can we tell how spiritual light first dawns on nature’s night? How He removes darkness from the understanding, and illuminates the intellect, is a secret reserved for Himself alone.

5. The light came instantaneously. Six days were occupied in furnishing the earth, but a moment sufficed for illuminating it. God works rapidly in the operation of regeneration: as with a flash He darts light and life into the soul. The operations of grace are gradual, but its entrance is instantaneous. Although instantaneous, it is not, however, shallow and short lived.

THE LORD SEES WHATEVER HE CREATES. “The Lord saw the light.”

1. He was the sole observer of it. Neither eye of man, nor bird, nor beast was there to behold the golden glory; but God saw the light. Newly enlightened one, it may be you are pained because you have no Christian companion to observe your change of heart: cease from your sorrow, for God beholds you.

2. That light had come into the world in a noiseless manner, yet the Lord saw it. The entrance of God’s Word which giveth light is effected in “solemn silence of the mind.” If men make an illumination, we can hear the crackling of their fireworks over all the city; but when God illuminates the earth with the sun, the orb of day arises without a sound. Although the work in your soul has been so quiet, so hidden from the eyes of men, so unremarkable and commonplace, yet take comfort from the text, “The Lord saw the light.” No trumpet proclaimed it, but the Lord saw it; no voice went forth concerning it, but the Lord saw it and it was enough; and in your case it is the same.

3. The earth itself could not recognize the light, yet the Lord saw it. How often do we mourn that we have scarcely more light than suffices to reveal our darkness and make us pine for more. Oh, troubled one, lay this home to your soul, the Lord saw the light when earth herself could not perceive it.

4. Let us not forget that besides the light there was no other beauty. The earth, according to the Hebrew, was “tohu and bohu,” which, in order to come near both to the sense and sound at the same time, I will render “anyhow and nohow.” Even so your experience may seem to be a chaos, nohow and anyhow, exactly what it should not be, a mass of unformed conceptions, and half-formed desires, and ill-formed prayers, but yet there is grace in you, and God sees it, even amid the dire confusion and huge uproar of your spirit.

5. Remember, too, that when the light came it had to contend with darkness, but God saw it none the less. So, also, in your soul there still remains the darkness of inbred corruption, ignorance, infirmity, and tendency to sin, and these cause a conflict, but the light is not thereby hidden from the eyes of God.

6. For many reasons the Lord sees the light, but chiefly He sees it because He made it, and He forsakes not the work of His own hands.

THE LORD APPROVES OF WHAT HE CREATES. “God saw the light that it was good.” He took pleasure in it.

1. Now, as far as this world was concerned, light was but young and new: and so in some of you grace is quite a novelty. You were only converted a very little while ago, and you have had no time to try yourselves or to develope graces, yet the Lord delights in your newborn life. Light is good at dawn as well as at noon: the grace of God is good though but newly received; it will work out for you greater things by-and-by, and make you more happy and more holy, but even now all the elements of excellence are in it, and its first day has the Divine blessing upon it.

2. Here we must mention again that it was struggling light, yet none the less for that approved of by the Lord. We do not understand how it was that the light and the darkness were together until God divided them, as this verse intimates; but as John Bunyan says, “No doubt darkness and light here began their quarrel,” for what communion hath light with darkness. My brethren, I am sure you are no strangers to this conflict, nor is it to you altogether a thing of the past. You are in the conflict still. Still grace and sin are warring in you, and will do so till you are taken home. Let this help you, O ye who are perplexed; remember that struggling as the light is, God approves of it, and calls it good.

3. As yet the light had not been divided from the darkness, and the bounds of day and night were not fixed. And so in young beginners; they hardly know which is grace and which is nature, what is of themselves and what is of Christ, and they make a great many mistakes. Yet the Lord does not mistake, but approves of that which His grace has placed in them.

4. As yet the light and darkness had not been named: it was afterwards that the Lord called the light “day,” and the darkness “night,” yet He saw the light that it was good. And so, though you do not know the names of things, God knows your name.

5. The light of the first day could not reveal much of beauty, for there was none, and so the light within does not yet reveal much to you; and what it, does reveal is uncomely, but the light itself is good, whatever it may make manifest.

6. But why did God say that light was good?

(1) I suppose it was because its creation displayed His attributes.

(2) He loves the light, too, because it is like Himself, for “God is light, and in Him is no darkness at all.”

(3) Light is eminently good, for the Lord spent a whole day in creating and arranging it--a whole day out of six. This shows that He attaches great importance to it. Moreover, he gave it the front rank by occupying the first day of creation’s week upon it. Even thus the plan of grace was early in the mind of God; it was and is His masterpiece, and He has never yet placed it in the background.

(4) I suppose that the Lord approved of the light because it was a seasonable thing. It was what was wanted to begin with. Not but what God could work in the dark, for, as to natural light, in that respect darkness and light are both alike to Him; but we can all see that the works of His creating skill needed light, for how could plants, animals, and men live without it?

THE LORD QUICKLY DISCERNS ALL THE GOODNESS AND BEAUTY WHICH EXISTS IN WHAT HE CREATES. The Lord did not merely feel approbation for the light, but He perceived reason for it: He saw that it was good. He could see goodness in it where, perhaps, no one else would have been able to do so.

1. Let us note, then, that light is good in itself; and so is Divine grace. What a wonderful thing light is! Just think of it! How simple it is, and yet how complex. Light, too, how common it is! We see it everywhere, and all the year round. Light, too, how feeble and yet how strong! Its beams would not detain us one-half so forcibly as a cobweb; yet how mighty it is, and how supreme! Scarcely is there a force in the universe of God which is more potent. The grace of God in the same manner is contemptible in the eyes of man, and yet the majesty of omnipotence is in it, and it is more than conqueror.

2. Light is good, not only in itself, but in its warfare. The light contended with darkness, and it was good for darkness to be battled with. Grace has come unto you, and it will fight with your sin, and it ought to be fought with, and to be overcome.

3. The light which came from God was good in its measure. There was neither too much of it nor too little. If the Lord had sent a little more light into the world we might all have been dazzled into blindness, and if He had sent less we might have groped in gloom. God sends into the newborn Christian just as much grace as he can bear; He does not give him the maturity of after years, for it would be out of place.

4. Light was good as a preparation for God’s other works. He knew that light, though it was but the beginning, was necessary to the completion of His work. Light was needful, that the eye of man might rejoice in the works of God, and so God saw the light that it was good, in connection with what was to be. And, oh, I charge you who have to deal with young people, look at the grace they have in them in relation to what will be in them.

5. What a mass of thought one might raise from this one truth of the goodness of light and the goodness of grace, as to their results. Light produces the beauty which adorns the world, for without it all the world were uncomely blackness. Light’s pencil paints the whole, and even so all beauty of character is the result of grace. Light sustains life, for life in due time would dwindle and die out without it, and thus grace alone sustains the virtues and graces of the believer; without daily grace we should be spiritually dead. Light heals many sicknesses, and grace brings healing in its wings. Light is comfort, light is joy, the prisoner in his darkness knows it to be so; and so the grace of God produces joy and peace wherever it is shed abroad. Light reveals and so does grace, for without it we could not see the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.

GOD RECORDED HIS ESTIMATE OF THIS FIRST DAY’S PRODUCT. “God saw the light that it was good.”

1. This leads me to say to the young Christian, the Lord would have you encouraged.

2. My last word is to older Christian people. If the Lord says that His work in the first day is good, I want you to say so too. Do not wait till you see the second, third, fourth, fifth, or sixth day before you feel confidence in the convert and offer Him fellowship. If God speaks encouragingly so soon, I want you to do the same. (C. H. Spurgeon.)

Verse 5

Genesis 1:5

And God called the light day, and the darkness He called night:--

Light, natural and spiritual

The Holy Ghost mysteriously quickens the dead heart, excites emotions, longings, desires.

DIVINE FIAT: God said, Let there be light, and there was light. The Lord Himself needed no light to enable Him to discern His creatures. He looked upon the darkness, and resolved that He would transform its shapeless chaos into a fair and lovely world.

1. We shall observe that the work of grace by which light enters the soul is a needful work. God’s plan for the sustaining of vegetable and animal life, rendered light necessary. Light is essential to life. It is light which first shows us our lost estate; for we know nothing of it naturally. This causes pain and anguish of heart; but that pain and anguish are necessary, in order to bring us to lay hold on Jesus Christ, whom the light next displays to us. No man ever knows Christ till the light of God shines on the cross.

2. Next observe it was a very early work. Light was created on the first day, not on the third, fourth, or sixth, but on the first day; and one of the first operations of the Spirit of God in a man’s heart is to give light enough to see his lost estate, and to perceive that he cannot save himself from it but must look elsewhere.

3. It is well for us to remember that light giving is a Divine work. God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light.

4. This Divine work is wrought by the Word. God did not sit in solemn silence and create the light, but He spake. He said, “Light be,” and light was. So the way in which we receive light is by the Word of God. Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God. Christ Himself is the essential Word, and the preaching of Christ Jesus is the operative Word. We receive Christ actually when God’s power goes with God’s Word--then have we light. Hence the necessity of continually preaching the Word of God.

5. While light was conferred in connection with the mysterious operation of the Holy Spirit, it was unaided by the darkness itself. How could darkness assist to make itself light? Nay, the darkness never did become light. It had to give place to light, but darkness could not help God. The power which saves a sinner is not the power of man.

6. As this light was unassisted by darkness, so was it also unsolicited. There came no voice out of that thick darkness, “Oh God, enlighten us”; there was no cry of prayer. The first work of grace in the heart does not begin with man’s desire, but with God’s implanting the desire.

7. This light came instantaneously.

8. As it is instantaneous, so it is irresistible. Darkness must give place when God speaks.

DIVINE OBSERVATION. “And God saw the light.” Does He not see everything? Yes, beloved, He does; but this does not refer to the general perception of God of all His works, but is a something special. “God saw the light”--He looked at it with complacency, gazed upon it with pleasure. A father looks upon a crowd of boys in a school and sees them all, but there is one boy whom he sees very differently from all the rest: he watches him with care: it is his own child, and his eye is specially there. Though you have come here sighing and groaning because of inbred sin, yet the Lord sees what is good in you, for He has put it there. Satan can see the light and he tries to quench it: God sees it and preserves it. The Lord watches you, and He sees the light. He has His eye always fixed upon the work of grace that is in your soul.

DIVINE APPROBATION. “God saw the light, that it was good.” Light is good in all respects.

1. The natural light is good. Solomon says, “It is a pleasant thing to behold the sun”; but you did not want Solomon to inform you upon that point. Any blind man who will tell you the tale of his sorrows will be quite philosopher enough to convince you that light is good.

2. Gospel light is good. “Blessed are the eyes which see the things which ye see.” You only need to travel into heathen lands, and witness the superstition and cruelty of the dark places of the earth, to understand that gospel light is good.

3. As for spiritual light, those that have received it long for more of it, that they may see yet more and more the glory of heaven’s essential light! O God, Thou art of good the unmeasured Sea; Thou art of light both Soul, and Source, and Centre.

(1) It must be good from its source. The light emanates from God, in whom is no darkness at all, and, as it comes absolutely and directly from Him, it must be good.

(2) It is good, again, when we consider its likeness. Light is like to God. It is a thing so spiritual, so utterly to be ungrasped by the hand of flesh, that it has often been selected as the very type of God. Ignatius used to call himself, Theophorus, or the God bearer. The title might seem eccentric, but the fact is true of all the saints--they bear God about with them. God dwelleth in His saints as in a temple.

(3) It is good, also, in its effect. It is good for a man to know his danger--it makes him start from it. It is good for him to know the evil of his sin--it makes him avoid it, and repent of it.

(4) It is good, moreover, because it glorifies God. Where were God’s glory in the outward universe without light? Could we gaze upon the landscape? Spiritual light shows us our emptiness, our poverty, our wretchedness, but it reveals in blessed contrast His fulness, His riches, His freeness of grace. The more light in the soul, the more gratitude to God.

(5) Let me say of the work of God in the soul as compared to light, that it is good in the widest possible sense. The new nature which God puts in us never sins: it cannot sin, because it is born of God. “What!” say you, “does a Christian never sin?” Not with the new nature; the new nature never sins: the old nature sins. It is the darkness which is dark: the light is not darkness; the light is always light.

DIVINE SEPARATION. It appears that though God made light there was still darkness in the world: “And God divided the light from the darkness.” Beloved, the moment you become a Christian, you will begin to fight. You will be easy and comfortable enough, as long as you are a sinner, but as soon as you become a Christian, you will have no more rest.

1. One part of the Divine work in the soul of man is to make a separation in the man himself. Do you feel an inward contention and war going on? Permit me to put these two verses together--“O wretched man that I am, who shall deliver me from the body of this death? There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.” How can these two things be consistent? Ask the spiritual man: he will tell you, “The Lord divideth between light and darkness.”

2. Whereas there is a division within the Christian, there is certain to be a division without. So soon as ever the Lord gives to any believer light, he begins to separate himself from the darkness. He separates himself from the world’s religion, finds out where Christ is preached, and goes there. Then as to society, the dead, carnal religionist can get on very well in ordinary society, but it is not so when he has light. I cannot go to light company, wasting the evening, showing off my fine clothes, and talking frivolity and nonsense.

DIVINE NOMINATION. Things must have names; Adam named the beasts, but God Himself named the day and the night. “And God called the light day, and the darkness called He night.” It is a very blessed work of grace to teach us to call things by their right names. The spiritual aspirations of God’s people never can be evil. Carnal reason calls them folly, but the Lord would have us call them good. (C. H. Spurgeon.)

Lessons from the night

1. One of the first lessons which God intends us to learn from the night is a larger respect for wholesome renovation. Perhaps this may not show itself in any great lengthening of our bodily life, but rather in a more healthy spirit, less exposed to that prevailing unrest which fills the air and which troubles so many minds.

2. The night is the season of wonder. A new and strangely equipped population, another race of beings, another sequence of events, comes into and fills the world of the mind. Men who have left their seal upon the world, and largely helped in the formation of its deepest history--men whose names stand up through the dim darkness of the past, great leaders and masters, have admitted that they learned much from the night.

3. The next thought belonging to the night is that then another world comes out, and as it were, begins its day. There is a rank of creatures which moves out into activity as soon as the sun has set. This thought should teach us something of tolerance; senses, dispositions, and characters are very manifold and various among ourselves. Each should try to live up to the light he has, and allow a brother to do the same.

4. Such extreme contrasts as are involved in light and darkness may tell us that we have as yet no true measure of what life is, and it must be left to some other conditions of existence for us to realize in anything like fulness the stores, the processes, the ways of the Kingdom of the Lord which are provided for such as keep His law.

5. Let us learn that, whether man wake or sleep, the universe is in a state of progress, “the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together.”

6. Let us learn to use day rightly and righteously, to accept the grace and the forces of the Lord while it is called today, and then the night shall have no forbidding, no repulsive significance.

The evening and the morning were the first day

The first day

THINK OF THE DAY’S BEGINNING. Evening came before morning. Light issued out of darkness. The first goings of creative power were in obscurity.

THE DAY’S CHARACTER--“Evening and morning.” In all life are alternations of darkness and light--shadow and sunshine. Rest is the condition of labour, and labour of rest.

THE DAY’S RELIGION. There was a morning and an evening sacrifice.

THE DAY’S END. That which began in darkness is followed by darkness, which ushers in a new day. “The night cometh.” (The Preachers Monthly.)

The evening and the morning

Let us reflect on what is God’s way of estimating THE PERIODS OF HISTORY. I do no unjust disparagement to the common way of recording the course of human history, when I say that it takes the form of a record of failures and catastrophes coming down upon splendid beginnings of empire. It is the morning and the evening that make the day; not the evening and the morning. For one Motley to tell the story of the Rise, there be many Gibbons to narrate the Decline and Fall. History, as told in literature, is a tragedy, and ends with a death. So human history is ever looking backward; and the morning and the evening make the day. But it is not so that God writes history. The annals of mankind in the Holy Book begin in the darkness of apostasy; but the darkness is shot through with gleams of hope, the first rays of the dawn. The sentence of death is illuminated with the promise of a Saviour: and the evening and the morning are the first day. There is night again when the flood comes down and the civilization and the wickedness of the primeval world are whelmed beneath it. But the flood clears off with a rainbow, and it is proved to have been the clearing of the earth for a better progress, for the rearing of a godly race, of whom by and by the Christ shall come according to the flesh: and the evening and the morning are the second day. And again the darkness falls upon the chosen race. They have ceased from off the land of promise. They are to be traced through a marvellous series of events down into the dark, where we dimly recognize the descendants of heroic Abraham and princely Joseph in the gangs and coffles of slaves, wearing themselves out in the brickyards of the land of Egypt, the house of bondage. And this--is this the despairing evening of so bright a patriarchal age as that gone by? No, no! it is so that men reckon, but not God. This is the evening, not of yesterday, but of tomorrow. The elements of a new civilization are brooding there in that miserable abode of slavery: of a civilization that shall take “the learning of the Egyptians” and infuse into it the spirit of a high and fraternal morality, that shall take its religious pomps and rituals and cleanse them of falsehoods and idolatries and inform them with the spiritual worship of the one invisible God. The holy and priestly civilization of David and Solomon, of the sons of Asaph and the sons of Korah, is to come forth out of that dark chaos of Egyptian slavery. And the evening and the morning shall be the fourth day. We need not trace the history of humanity and of the Church on through all its pages. We have only to carry the spirit of this ancient story forward into later times, and the dark places of history become irradiated, and lo! the night is light about us. We behold “the decline and fall of the Roman Empire”--that awful convulsion of humanity; nation dashing against nation; civilization, with its monuments and records, its institutions and laws, going down out of sight, overwhelmed by an inrushing sea of barbaric invasion, and it looks to us, as we gaze, like nothing but destruction and the end, ruin and failure. So it seems to us at this distance: so it seemed to that great historian, Gibbon. But in the midst of the very wreck and crash of it sat that great believer, Augustine, and wrote volume after volume of the Civitas Dei--the “city of God,” the “city that hath foundations,” the “kingdom that cannot be moved.” This awful catastrophe, he tells the terrified and quaking world, is not the end--it is the beginning. History does not end so. This is the way its chapters open. The night was a long night, but it had an end: and now we look back and see how through all its dark and hopeless hours God was slowly grinding materials for the civilization of modern times. So long, so long it seemed: but the morning came at last. And the evening and the morning made the day. And we, today, are only in the morning twilight, after just such another convulsion and obscuration of the world. I have spoken to you now of this principle of the divine order, which begins the day with the evening, as illustrated, first in creation, and then in history; and now, can I safely leave it with you to make the more practical application of it--

TO THE COURSE OF HUMAN LIFE? For this is where you most need to know and feel it, and where, I suspect, you most fail to see it. It has been such a common blunder, from the days of Job and his friends down to the days when Christ rebuked the Pharisees, and from those days again down to ours--the blunder of supposing that the evening goes with the day before, and not with the day after--that the dark times of human life are a punishment for what is past, instead of being, as they always are to them that love God, a discipline and preparation for what is coming. There are many and many such eventides in life--times of enforced repose; hard times, when business stagnates or runs with adverse current; times of sickness, pain, seclusion; times of depression, sorrow, bereavement, fear. Such are the night times of life; and blessed are they who at such times have learned to “look forward, and not back”; to say, not, What have I done, that this thing should befall me? but, rather, What is God preparing for me, and for what is He preparing me, that thus He should lovingly chasten and instruct me in the night season? Then lift your heads, ye saints, and answer: “No, no! this is not the end; this is the beginning. The evening is come, and the morning also cometh; and the evening and the morning are the day. Look! look at the glory of the evening sky. It shall be fair weather in the morning, for the sky is red.” So shall it “come to pass that at evening time it shall be light.” (L. W. Bacon.)

The first day

“The evening and the morning were the first day.” The evening came first. God’s glorious universe sprang into existence in obscurity. “There was the hiding of His power.” It is very remarkable that the creation work and the redemption work of God were both alike shrouded in darkness. When God spake, and the worlds were made, it is said, “darkness was upon the face of the deep.” When Christ hung upon the cross, having finished His work of love, it is said, “There was a darkness over all the land unto the ninth hour.” What a lesson does this teach us! The glory was so exceeding that it needed to be overshadowed: for us the veil was thrown over Jehovah’s brightness; the light would have been too strong for mortal eyes; the diadem of the King of kings would have been too dazzling to meet our gaze, had it not been dimmed for our sakes. Nevertheless, hidden as He is in unapproachable majesty, His secret is with them that fear Him; and while the evening lasts, they wait with longing expectation for that morning when they shall see no longer through a glass darkly, but rather face to face. “The evening and the morning were the first day.” It was the alternation of light and shade which constituted this first day; and is it not so with the spiritual days of a Christian? Darkness and light succeed each other. If, then, thou art one who, ass child of God, art sitting in darkness, there is comfort in this word for thee. If it is evening now, the sunlight shall arise again. Even the record of God’s creation speaks to thee of consolation: there is in it a promise of joy to come; thy day would not be perfect, if there were not a morning to succeed thy night. But if thou art one with whom there is the brightness of sunshine in providence and in grace, this sentence speaks to thee in warning. Although now thou canst look up to an unclouded sky, and there is light in thy dwelling and in thine heart; remember the evening shadows. The longest day has its sunset. God hath ordained the alternation of light and darkness. As it is with individuals, so it is with the whole Church of Christ; and now it is peculiarly with her the night time, the deepest night she has ever known, and, blessed be God, the last night. She standeth now beneath the darkened sky of that “tribulation” which is to issue in the millennial brightness of her coming Bridegroom’s kingdom. How often does she inquire, “Watchman, what of the night?” and the answer is, “The morning cometh, still as yet there will be night: if ye inquire already, yet must ye return; come and inquire again” (Isaiah 21:12, Geneva version). It shallbe darker yet with her, ere the breaking morn appeareth: but how glorious will be the dawn of that light, when the Sun of Righteousness Himself shall arise with healing in His beams. Truly, said David, when he saw the glory of the King of kings and spake of Him--“He shall be as the light of the morning when the sun ariseth, even a morning without clouds.” “Even so,” Saviour, “come quickly,” “The evening and the morning were the first day.” I cannot help noticing another thing in the consideration of this subject. The evening of a natural day is the season of rest from labour: “Man goeth forth unto his work and to his labour until the evening.” In the darkness of the night, the various occupations of busy men are laid aside, and the world is hushed in silence, waiting the returning morning. Is there nothing of this in the Christian’s experience? Can he work when the night sets in upon his soul? Does not he, too, wait and long for sunrise? “The evening and the morning were the first day.” There is yet another lesson in these words, which I would notice. What is it which constitutes the evening of a natural day? It is not that the position of the sun is changed; but that the inhabitants of the earth are turned from Him. Let us not forget that it is so with the evening of the soul. There are some in the religious world, who seem to be just like the philosophers of a former day, who believed and taught that the sun moved round our planet; they speak as if the light of the Christian were caused by some change in Christ, the eternal Sun of Righteousness. Nay, it is not so. Our Saviour God is ever the same, in the glory of His salvation, in the brightness of His redemption; but we alas I turn away our faces from Him, and are in darkness, it is sin which causes it to be evening with us; it is our iniquity which has made it dark. There is one thought connected with the evening and the morning, which is so precious to me, that I cannot pass it over. There was, under the law, a sacrifice appointed both for the morning and the evening. Ah! when it is daylight with thee, Christian, and thou goest into the sanctuary, having boldness to enter into the very holiest, having free access unto the Father; thy soul can there offer its sacrifice of willing, loving praise. But the evening cometh, and then thou dost shrink back from saying aught to God, from bringing thine offering with so heavy a heart. Still, go even then; and pleading the blood of that richer sacrifice which never faileth to bring down a blessing, lay the tribute of thy broken heart beside it, and ask thy God, for His sake not to despise it. He will not do so, for, in the provisions of His temple service, there was a sacrifice for the evening too. (The Protoplast.)

The record of the first day of creation reminds us of the first day of human life

How rapidly do the “few days” which succeed the first evening and morning in the life of man, pass away. I think I have somewhere read of a philosopher who was seen in tears, and on being asked, “Why weepest thou?” answered, “I weep because there is so much for me to do, and my life is too short to do it in.” Whether the philosopher said so or not, I am sure my own heart has said it oftentimes, and so, I doubt not, have the hearts of others. Sorrow and sickness are the two great means by which many a young heart has become aged; the mind is early matured, and the stranger wondering says, “How old such an one is in character!” Yet every day of natural life has its burden, as foreordained of God. There is one thought connected with the day, that is a very solemn one. The evening and the morning will succeed each other, without break or change, year after year; but a day will come upon us, the evening of which we shall never see; a sun will rise that we shall never see go down; the morning will come and find us in a body of sin and suffering, and before the evening we shall have passed away. (The Protoplast.)

Verses 6-8

Genesis 1:6-8

Let there be a firmament

The atmosphere



1. Gathers up the vapours.

2. Throws them down again in rain, snow, or dew, when needed.

3. Modifies and renders more beautiful the light of the sun.

4. Sustains life.


1. The atmosphere is necessary for the transmission of sound. If there were no atmosphere, the bell might be tolled, the cannon might be fired, a thousand voices might render the music of the sweetest hymn, but not the faintest sound would be audible. Thus all commercial, educational, and social intercourse would be at an end, as men would not be able to hear each other speak. We seldom think of the worth of the atmosphere around us, never seen, seldom felt, but without which the world would be one vast grave.

2. The atmosphere is necessary for many purposes related to the inferior objects of the world. Without it the plants could not live, our gardens would be divested of useful vegetables, and beautiful flowers. Artificial light would be impossible. The lamp of the mines could not be kindled. The candle of the midnight student could never have been lighted. The bird could not have wended its way to heaven’s gate to utter its morning song, as there would have been no air to sustain its flight.


1. To be thankful for the air we breathe. How often do we recognize the air by which we are surrounded as amongst the chief of our daily blessings, and as the immediate and continued gift of God? How seldom do we utter praise for it.

2. To make the best use of the life it preserves. To cultivate a pure life. To speak golden words. To make a true use of all the subordinate ministries of nature. (J. S. Exell, M. A.)

Uses of the atmosphere

1. The atmosphere is the great fund and storehouse of life to plants and animals; its carbonic acid is the food of the one, and its oxygen the nourishment of the other; without its carbonic acid the whole vegetable kingdom would wither, and without its oxygen the blood of animals, “which is the life thereof,” would be only serum and water.

2. It is a refractor of light. Without it the sun’s rays would fall perpendicularly and directly on isolated portions of the world, and with a velocity which would probably render them invisible; but by means of the atmosphere they are diffused in a softened effulgence through the entire globe.

3. It is a reflector of light. Hence its mysterious, beautiful, and poetical blue, contrasting and yet harmonizing with the green mantle of the world.

4. It is the conservator and disperser and modifier of heat. By its hot currents constantly flung from the equatorial regions of the world, even the cold of the frigid zones is deprived of its otherwise unbearable rigour; while the mass of cold air always rushing from about the poles towards the equator quenches half the heat of tropical suns, and condenses the vapour so needful to the luxuriant vegetation.

5. It is the great vibratory of sound, the true sounding board of the world, and without it the million voices and melodies of this earth would all be dumb; it would be a soundless desert, where an earthquake would not make a whisper. By its pressure the elastic fluids of animal bodies are prevented from bursting their slender vessels and causing instantaneous destruction. Its winds propel our ships, its electricity conveys our messages. By the aid of its warm gales and gentle dews the desert can be made to blossom as the rose. (John Cobley.)

The composition of the atmosphere

But the atmosphere with which the Creator has surrounded the earth is wonderful also in its composition. The two elements of which it chiefly consists--oxygen and nitrogen--are mixed in definite proportions, as 20 to 80 in 100 parts. If this proportion were but slightly altered, as nitrogen destroys life and extinguishes flame, the result of any perceptible increase of it would be that fires would lose their strength and lamps their brightness, plants would wither, and man, with the whole animal kingdom, would perform their functions with difficulty and pain. Or if the quantity of nitrogen were much diminished, and the oxygen increased, the opposite effect would be produced. The least spark would set anything combustible in a flame; candles and lamps would burn with the most brilliant blaze for a moment, but would be quickly consumed. If a house caught fire, the whole city would be burnt down. The animal fluids would circulate with the greatest rapidity, brain fever would soon set in, and the lunatic asylums would be filled. A day is coming when “the elements shall melt with fervent heat.” God has but to subtract the nitrogen from the air, and the whole world would instantly take fire; such is the activity and energy of the oxygen when left uncontrolled. (Brewer.)

Interesting illustrations of design in the atmosphere

Vast quantities of oxygen are daily consumed by animals, and by combustion. Carbonic acid gas is evolved instead. But this gas is so injurious that when the air is charged with only one-tenth part of it, it is wholly unfit for animals to breathe, and is unsuitable to the support of fires. The vegetable kingdom meets the whole difficulty. It gives out oxygen and takes in carbonic acid in amply sufficient measure to balance the disturbance created by the animals. Thus every breath we draw instructs us to admire the wisdom of Him who doeth all things well. (Brewer.)

Again, oxygen is a little heavier and nitrogen a little lighter than common air. Had it been otherwise, had nitrogen been a little heavier, and carbonic acid gas been a little lighter, we must have breathed them again, so that, instead of breathing wholesome air, we should have been constantly inhaling the very gases which the lungs had rejected as offal. The consequences would have been most fatal. Life would have been painful; diseases ten times more prevalent than they now are; and death would have cut us off at the very threshold of our existence. (Brewer.)

Further, if the air had possessed an odour, such as that of phosphuretted hydrogen, it would have interfered not only with the perfume of flowers, but also with our faculty of discriminating wholesome foods by their smell. If it had been coloured like chlorine gas, or a London fog, we should have seen only the thick air, and not the objects around us. Had it been less transparent than it now is, it would have obstructed the rays of the sun, diminished their light and warmth, and abridged our power of distant vision. (Brewer.)

The air is the great means of life, not only to man, but to all living things. It is also essential to combustion. Without it no fire would burn, and all our industries which depend on the use of fire would necessarily be at a standstill. By the heat of the sun an immense quantity of water in the form of vapour is daily carried up from the earth, rivers, and seas--amounting, indeed, to many millions of gallons! In the course of a year it is not less than forty thousand cubic miles! But if there were no atmosphere this circulation could not exist. There would be no rain, rivers, or seas, but one vast desert. Neither could the clouds be buoyed up from the surface of the earth, nor could the winds blow to disperse noxious vapours, and produce a system of ventilation among the abodes of men. (Brewer.)

The influence of sin seen in its deterioration

There is something in the earth’s atmosphere that blights and injures. It is not the same healthful, genial, joyous firmament that it was when God created it. (H. Bonar.)

Genesis of the sky


1. Ancient conception of the sky. To the ancient Hebrew the sky seemed a vast, outstretched, concave surface or expansion, in which the stars were fastened, and over which the ethereal waters were stored. (See Proverbs 8:27; Hebrews 1:12; Isaiah 34:4; Isaiah 40:22; Job 22:14; Job 37:18; Psalms 148:4.) “Ah, all this,” you tell me, “is scientifically false; the sky is not a material arch, or tent, or barrier, with outlets for rain; it is only the matterless limit of vision.” Neither, let me again remind you, is there any such thing as “sunrise” or “sunset.” To use such words is to utter what science declares is a falsehood. And yet your astronomer, living in the blaze of science, fresh from the discovery of spectrum analysis and satellites of Mars, and knowing too that his words are false, still persists in talking of sunrise and sunset. Will you, then, deny to the untutored Moses, speaking in the child-like language of that ancient infarct civilization, the privilege which you so freely accord to the nineteenth-century astronomer?

2. Panorama of the emerging sky. Everywhere is still a shapeless, desolate chaos. And now a sudden break is seen. A broad, glorious band or expanse glides through the angry, chaotic waste, separating it into two distinct masses--the lower, the heavy fluids; the upper, the ethereal vapours. The band, still bearing upward the vapour, swells and mounts and arches and vaults, till it becomes a concave hemisphere or dome. That separating, majestic dimension we cannot to this day call by a better name than the expanse. And that expanse God called heavens. And there was evening and there was morning, a second day.


1. The heavens suggest the soul’s true direction--it is upward. To express moral excellence by terms of altitude is an instinct. How naturally we use such phrases as these: “Exalted worth, high resolve, lofty purpose, elevated views, sublime character, eminent purity!” How naturally, too, we use opposite phrases: “Low instincts, base passions, degraded character, grovelling habits, stooping to do it!” Doubtless here, too, is the secret of the arch, and especially the spire, as the symbol of Christian architecture: the Church is an aspiration. Even the very word “heaven” itself, like the Greek Ouranos, means height, and, according to the etymologists, is an Anglo-Saxon word, heo-fan; meaning what is heaved up, lifted, heav-en--heaven. Well, then, may the vaulting sky stand as a symbol of human aspiration. The true life is a perpetual soaring and doming; or rather, like the mystic temple of Ezekiel’s vision, it is an inverted spiral, forever winding upward, and broadening as it winds (Ezekiel 41:7). The soul’s true life is a perpetual exhalation; her affections evermore evaporating from her own great deep, and mounting heavenward in clouds of incense.

2. As the heavens suggest human aspirations, so do the heavens suggest their complement, Divine perfections. It is true, e.g., in respect to God’s immensity. Nothing seems so remote from us, or gives such an idea of vastness, as the dome of heaven. Climb we ever so high on mountain top, the stars are still above us. Again: It is true in respect to God’s sovereignty. Nothing seems to be so absolutely beyond human control or modification as the sun and stars of heaven. Again: It is true in respect to God’s spirituality. Nothing seems so like that rarity of texture which we instinctively ascribe to pure, incorporeal spirit, as that subtile, tenuous ether which, it is believed, pervades the clear, impalpable sky, and, indeed, all immensity. And in this subtile ether, so invisible to sight, so impalpable to touch, so diffused throughout earth and the spaces of the heavenly expanse, we may behold a symbol of that invisible, intangible, ever-omnipresent One who Himself is Spirit; and who, accordingly, can be worshipped only in spirit and truth (John 4:24). Again: it is true in respect to God’s purity. Nothing is so exquisite an emblem of absolute spotlessness and eternal chastity, as the unsullied expanse of heaven, untrodden by mortal foot, unswept by aught but angel wings. Again: It is true in respect to God’s beatitude. We cannot conceive a more perfect emblem of felicity and moral splendour than light. Everywhere and evermore, among rudest nations as well as among most refined, light is instinctively taken as the first and best possible emblem of whatever is most intense and perfect in blessedness and glory. And whence comes light--the light which arms us with health, and fills us with joy, and tints flower and cloud with beauty, and floods mountain and mead with splendour--but from the sky? Well, then, may the shining heaven be taken as the elect emblem of Him who decketh Himself with light as with a robe (Psalms 104:2), who dwelleth in light which no man can approach unto (1 Timothy 6:16), who Himself is the Father of lights (James 1:17). (G. D.Boardman.)

The atmosphere

The word “atmosphere” indicates, in general, its character and its relation to the earth. It is compounded of two Greek words, one signifying vapour and the other sphere, and, taken together, they denote a sphere of vapour enveloping or enwrapping the whole earth. The ancients regarded the air, as children do now, as nothing at all. A vessel filled only with air, had nothing in it. “As light as air” is a proverbial expression, but a very false one, to denote nothingness. We may not be aware of it, but yet it is true that the breathing of the air yields us three-quarters of our nourishment, while the other quarter only is supplied by the food, solid and liquid, of which we partake. The principal parts of this food are oxygen, hydrogen, nitrogen, and carbonic acid, and these, too, are the constituent elements of the atmosphere. There is a sense, therefore, in which we may truly say of the air, what the apostle and the old Greek poet before him said of God, “In it we live and move and have our being.” The weight of the atmosphere is so great that its pressure upon a man of ordinary size has been computed to be about fourteen or fifteen tons. A man of large frame would have to carry one or two tons additional. But as the air’s pressure is lateral as well as vertical, and equal upon all sides and parts of every body, it not only does not crush or injure the frailest flower, but actually feeds and nourishes it. There are other than atmospheric burdens, and those which consciously press more heavily, which yet a man may find a great blessing ill carrying with a cheerful face and courage. The atmosphere is tenanted by myriad forms of life, vegetable and animal. A French naturalist of great eminence, M. Miquel, writing upon “Living Organisms of the Atmosphere,” has found numberless organisms dancing in the light of a single sunbeam. The atmosphere, moreover, is the great agent by which nature receives the wonderful colours which are her most beautiful adorning. It is owing to the reflection of the sun’s rays that the sky and the distant horizon assume that beautiful azure hue which is subject to endless variations. It is owing to the refraction of these rays as they pass obliquely through the aerial strata, that we have the splendours of the morning and evening twilight, and that we seem to see the sun three or four minutes before he actually rises above the eastern horizon, and three or four minutes after he actually disappears below the western horizon. If it were not for the atmosphere, the light would instantaneously disappear as the sun sank below the horizon, and leave the world in utter darkness, while at his rising in the morning the world would pass in an instant from complete darkness into a flood of dazzling and blinding light. Such daily and sudden shocks to vision would be painful, and probably destructive to sight. Without the atmosphere there would have been no place in the universe for the dwelling place of man, because without it the waters would have prevailed. But as by the atmosphere the waters below were, on the second day of the creative week, divided from those above, a place was provided suitable for the abode of man. Without the air, which gathers the moisture in the clouds and sends it down again upon the earth, there could be no precipitation of rain or snow. Without the atmosphere there could be no purifying winds, which are but air in motion, no medium to transmit and diffuse the light and heat of the sun, no agent to modify and make surpassingly beautiful the light of the sun, and no possibility of respiration for plants or animals, without which it would be impossible to maintain any form of organic life. The atmosphere, too, is indispensable for all the practical purposes of life. If by some miraculous intervention it should be made possible for human life to exist without the air, it would be useless and vain. The air is necessary for the transmission of sound. Without it, the bell might be tolled, the cannon might be fired, a great multitude of voices might unite to render the music of the sweetest hymn, but not the faintest sound would be audible either to the performers or to the listeners. In the worship of God we should need no tune books, no organ, no choir, no preacher, “for there is no speech nor language where their voice is not heard,” and the voices of none of these could be heard. You might breathe or even loudly speak your words of love into the very ear of some dear one, and yet not one of your words would be heard without the presence of air in the ear to empower its wondrous mechanism for hearing. As light is indispensable for seeing, so in exactly the same way is the air necessary for hearing, and without it the ear would be a perfectly useless organ, instead of being, as now, a wonderful organ to minister to our joy and delight. And since without the atmosphere we could not hear each other speak, it follows that all commercial, educational, and social intercourse would be at an end, and the earth would become one vast grave.

1. Let us learn from the air a lesson--and it is a most impressive one--as to the inestimable value of our “common mercies,” which we enjoy every moment, without a thought and without an emotion of gratitude to the great Giver of them.

2. Let us learn from the atmosphere a lesson as to how to overcome our difficulties. The dove in the fable was irritated because the wind ruffled its feathers and opposed its flight. It foolishly desired to have a firmament free from air, through the empty spaces of which it vainly thought it could fly with the speed of lightning. Silly bird! It did not know that without the air it could not fly at all, nor even live. And just so it is with the difficulties we encounter. Without them and without conquering them, a high Christian manhood or character is unattainable.

3. Let us learn from the atmosphere a lesson of thankfulness. It is amongst the chief of our daily blessings, and is the immediate and continuous gift of God, to whom our praises are continually due.

4. Let us learn from the atmosphere to make the best use possible of the life it nourishes and preserves. As in itself the air is sweet, wholesome, and life-giving, let us be taught by it to live pure and noble lives which shall yield for others wholesome and helpful and not poisonous and corrupt influences. Our example makes a moral atmosphere for others to breathe, which is wholesome or noxious, according as the example is good or bad. (G. C.Noyes, D. D.)

The atmosphere

The atmosphere, like an ocean, overlies the whole surface of the earth; in fact, it is an ocean; and it is literally true, that, like crabs and lobsters, we live and move and spend our days at the bottom of a sea--an aerial sea. This atmospheric ocean rises far above us, and, like that of waters, has its waves, its currents, and its tides. It is found to grow more rarified, as well as colder, as we ascend towards its upper limit, which is supposed to be about forty-five miles above the level of the sea. Barometrical observations, however, show that on ascending to the height of three and a half miles (nearly that of Cotopaxi), we leave behind us, by weight, more than one-half the whole mass of the atmosphere. And from the experience of aeronauts, it is believed that there is no such air as man can breathe at an elevation of eight miles; probably death would be the certain consequence of exceeding seven, though some, of late, at great risk and suffering, have ascended to nearly that height. On the summit of Mont Blanc, which is a trifle under three miles, the sensations of those who make the ascent are very painful, owing to the levity of the air; the flesh puffs out, the head is oppressed, the respiration is difficult, and the face becomes livid; whilst the temperature is cold almost past endurance. This ocean of air, like that of water, has also its weight and pressure. People, in general, are not aware, because they are not conscious, of any weight resting upon them from the atmosphere; yet reliable experiments prove that at the sea level it presses with a force equal to fourteen and three-fifths pounds on every square inch, or 2,100 pounds on every square foot, or 58,611,548,160 pounds on every square mile; or on the whole surface of the earth with a weight equal to that of a solid globe of lead sixty miles in diameter! How few reflect that they live under an ocean of such stupendous weight! But to bring this fact more sensibly before the mind, we may state that the atmospheric pressure on the whole surface of a medium sized man is no less than fourteen tons--a weight that would instantly crash him, as hollow vessels collapse when sunk deep in the ocean, but for the elasticity and equal pressure of the air on every part without, and the counterbalancing pressure and elasticity of the air within. The air encompassing the earth is a compound substance, made up of two gases, mixed in the proportion of twenty-one parts of oxygen to seventy-nine parts of nitrogen, by measure; mixed with these is a small proportion of carbonic acid gas, which does not exceed one two-thousandth part of the whole volume of the atmosphere. Whether the air is taken from the greatest depths, or the most exalted heights which man has ever reached, this proportion of the oxygen and nitrogen gases is maintained invariably. Considering the vast and varied exhalations that constantly ascend from sea and land, together with the incessant agitation of winds and tempests, this stands before us a most astonishing fact, indeed! But it is not more wonderful than it is important. No possible change could be made in the composition of the air, without rendering it injurious both to animal and vegetable life. If the quantity of nitrogen were but a little increased, all the vital functions of man would be performed with difficulty, pain, and slowness, and the pendulum of life would soon come to a stand. If, on the other hand, the proportion of oxygen were increased, all the processes of life would be quickened into those of a fever, and the animal fabric would soon be destroyed, as it were, by its own fires. (H. W. Morris, D. D.)


1. On the mass of the atmosphere. Vast an appendage as this is to our globe, its dimensions and density have been adapted with the utmost exactness to the constitution of all organized existences. Any material change in its mass would require a corresponding change in the structure of both plants and animals, and, indeed, in the whole economy of the world. If its mass were considerably reduced, all the difficulties experienced by travellers on the summits of lofty mountains, and by aeronauts at great elevations above the earth, would ensue; on the other hand, if much increased, opposite and equally disastrous results would follow. If the atmosphere had been twice or three times its present mass, currents of air would move with double or triple their present force. With such a change nothing on sea or land could stand against a storm. But how happily do we find all things balanced as now constituted. And how obvious, that, ere ever God had breathed forth the fluid air, in His all-comprehending Mind, its mass was measured and weighed, and the strength and wants of all living creatures duly estimated before one of them had been called into being. All the works of God have been done according to a determinate counsel and infallible foreknowledge.

2. On the pressure of the atmosphere. Contemplating the enormous weight of the air, resting upon all things and all persons, who but must devoutly admire both the wisdom and the goodness of the Creator, in so adjusting all the properties of the firmament, that under it we can breathe and walk and act with ease, unconscious of weight or oppression, while in fact we are every moment under a load, which, when reduced to figures, surpasses both our comprehension and belief.

3. On the composition of the atmosphere. How very wonderful is this! When we reflect upon the proportions and combinations of its constituent elements, we cannot but look up with adoring reverence to its Divine Author. What wisdom, what power, what benevolence, have been exercised in arranging the chemical constitution and agencies of this world, to adapt them unfailingly to the strength and wants of animals and of plants, even the most delicate and minute! How very slightly the atmosphere of life differs from one that would produce instant and universal death How trifling the change the Almighty had need make in the air we hourly breathe, to lay all the wicked and rebellious sons of men lifeless and silent in the dust! (H. W. Morris, D. D.)

A type of prayer and its answer

In the natural world, the sun pours down its light and heat, and diffuses his genial influences over all; yet warming and animating, in a special degree, those fields and hillsides turned more directly towards him, and drawing upward from them a proportionally greater amount of vapour; this vapour, as we have seen, in due time, returns in showers, refreshing and beautifying all nature. So in the world of Christian devotion. Under the benignant beams of the Sun of Righteousness, the exhalations of prayer and praise are drawn upwards to the heavenly throne, more abundantly, as in nature, from those more completely under His gracious influences; and these exhalations of the heart, through a Saviour’s mediation, are made to return in richer showers, even showers of grace, to refresh and strengthen those souls to bring forth fruit unto everlasting life. Again: As the earth, without showers, would soon become parched and barren and dead; so, without the rain and dew of Divine grace, the moral earth would become as iron, and its heavens as brass; every plant of holiness, every flower of piety, and every blade of virtue, would soon droop and die. Nor does the parallel end here: as in the physical world, the greater the quantity of vapours drawn up from sea and land, the greater will be the amount of rain that sooner or later will come down on plain and mountain; so in the spiritual, the more abundant the exhalations of prayer and supplication from the children of men, the more copious the showers of grace that will be poured out in return. Let prayer, therefore, daily ascend as the vapours from the ends of the earth, and rise as clouds of incense before the throne, and this wilderness shall yet blossom as the rose, flourish as the garden of the Lord, and bloom with all the beauties of an unblighted paradise. (H. W. Morris, D. D.)

Atmospherical adjustments

The atmosphere constitutes a machinery which, in all its complicated and admirable adjustments, offers the most striking displays and convincing proofs of this. This vast and wonderful appendage of our globe has been made expressly to meet the nature and wants of the living creatures and growing vegetation that occupy its surface; and all these plants and animals have been created with distinct reference to the properties of the atmosphere. Throughout design and mutual adaptation are most manifest. The atmosphere has been composed of those elements, and composed of them in just the proportions that are essential to the health and nurture of all living creatures. The atmosphere has been made for lungs; and lungs have been made for the atmosphere, being elaborately constructed for its alternate admission and expulsion. And how beautiful that adjustment by which animals breathe of the oxygen of the air, and set carbonic acid free for the use of plants, while plants absorb carbonic acid, and set oxygen free for the benefit of animals! The atmosphere and the ear have also been formed one for the other. This organ is so constructed that its use depends entirely upon the elastic properties of the air. In like manner the atmosphere and the organs of speech have been formed in mutual adaptation. The whole mouth, the larynx, the tongue, the lips, have been made with inimitable skill to form air into words. Equally evident is the mutual adaptation of the atmosphere and the organs of smell, as the latter can effect their function only in connection with the former. In one word, all the parts of all animal organizations, even to the very pores of the skin, have been contrived with minute nicety in adaptation to the constituent elements and elastic properties of the atmosphere. Add to all the foregoing, its admirable qualities for disseminating h, at evaporating moisture, equalizing climate, producing winds, forming clouds, and diffusing light--and we behold in the Firmament of heaven a concourse of vast contrivances, that constitute a sublime anthem to the Creator’s praise! The various elements composing the atmosphere, its gases, and vapours, and electricity, are, indeed, as if instinct with life and reason. Animated by the solar beams, they are everywhere in busy and unerring activity,--sometimes acting singly, sometimes in combination, but always playing into each other’s hands with a certainty and perfection which might almost be called intelligence, and which nothing short of Infinite Wisdom could have devised. Thus, by their manifold and beneficial operations, “the heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament showeth His handiwork.” (H. W. Morris, D. D.)

The firmament

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 which 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 handiworks. 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. (A. Fuller.)

The second day

The second day’s work is the forming of an expanse or heaven in the creature, by which the hitherto unbounded waters are divided from the waters. God then names the expanse. At this stage the state of the creature, that it is drowned in waters, begins to be perceived. Such is the second state or stage in the new creation. In the midst of the waters a heaven is formed in the once benighted creature. That unstable element, so quickly moved by storms, is the well-known type of the restless desires of the heart of fallen man; for “the wicked are like the troubled sea, which cannot rest, whose waters cast up mire and dirt.” Before regeneration, unquiet lusts everywhere prevail: the whole man or creature is drowned and buried in them. In the progress of the new creation, these waters are not at once removed: indeed, they are never wholly removed till that other creation comes, when there is “no more sea.” They are first divided by a heaven; then bounded on the third day, when the dry land rises up out of them. This heaven represents the understanding opened, as the rising earth upon the third day shows us the will liberated. For till now, “the understanding has been darkened”; nay, it is written of the natural man that he has “no understanding.” But now the heaven is stretched. Christ “opens the understanding” of those who before this had been His disciples. And thus another precious gift, once hid with Christ in God, now by Christ is wrought in us also. A heaven is formed within the creature; a heaven into which darkness may return, and through which clouds shall pour as well as bright sunshine; a heaven which for sin may be shut up and become like brass, but which was made to be the home and treasure house of sweet and dewy showers; a heaven like Israel’s path through the sea of old, sorely threatened by dark and thick waters, but, like that same path, a step to resurrection power, and worthy to be called “heaven,” even by God Himself; influencing the earth in untold ways, here attracting, there repelling; the great means after light of arranging and disposing all things. (A. Jukes.)

Verses 9-10

Genesis 1:9-10

The gathering together of the waters called He seas

The sea and the dry land


THE SEA. “Let the waters . . . unto one place.”

1. The method of their location. Perhaps by volcanic agency.

2. The degree of their proportion. If the sea were smaller, the earth would cease to be verdant and fruitful, as there would not be sufficient water to supply our rivers and streams, or to distil upon the fields. If the sea was larger, the earth would become a vast uninhabitable marsh, from the over abundance of rain. Hence, we see how needful it is that there should be a due proportion between the sea and dry land, and the wisdom and goodness of the Creator, in that it is established so exactly and beneficently.

3. The extent of their utility. They not only give fertility to the earth, but they answer a thousand social and commercial purposes.


1. The dry land was made to appear. The land had been created before, but it was covered with a vast expanse of water. Even when things are created, when they merely exist, the Divine call must educate them into the full exercise of their utility, and into the complete manifestation of their beauty. So it can remove the tide of passion from the soul, and make all that is good in human nature to appear.

2. It was made to be verdant. “And let the earth bring forth grass.” The plants now created are divided into three classes: grass, herb, and tree. In the first, the seed is not noticed, as not obvious to the eye. In the second, the seed is the striking characteristic. In the third, the fruit. This division is simple and natural.

3. It was made to be fruitful. “And the fruit tree yielding fruit.” The earth is not merely verdant and beautiful to look at, but it is also fruitful and good for the supply of human want. Nature appears friendly to man, that she may gain his confidence, invite his study, and minister to the removal of his poverty.


1. For the life and health of man.

2. For the beauty of the universe.

3. For the commerce and produce of the nations. (J. S. Exell, M. A.)

Various uses of the sea

1. Water is as indispensable to all life, whether vegetable or animal, as is the air itself. But this element of water is supplied entirely by the sea. All the waters that are in the rivers, the lakes, the fountains, the vapours, the dew, the rain, the snow, come alike out of the ocean. It is a common impression that it is the flow of the rivers that fills the sea. It is a mistake. It is the flow of the sea that fills the rivers.

2. A second use of the sea is to moderate the temperature of the world. A common method of warming houses in the winter is by the use of hot water. The water, being heated in the basement, is carried by iron pipes to the remotest parts of the building, where, parting with its warmth and becoming cooler and heavier, it flows back again to the boiler, to be heated anew, and so to pass round in the same circuit continuously. The advantage of this method is, that the heat can be carried to great distances, and in any direction.

3. A third important use of the sea is to be a perpetual source of health to the world. Without it there could be no drainage for the lands. The process of death and decay, which is continually going on in the animal and vegetable kingdoms, would soon make the whole surface of the earth one vast receptacle of corruption, whose stagnant mass would breathe a pestilence, sweeping away all the life of a continent. The winds would not purify it; for, having no place to deposit the burden, it would only accumulate in their hands, and filling their breath with its poisonous effluvia, it would make them swift ministers of death, carrying the sword of destruction into every part of the world at once.

4. It may be mentioned, as a fourth office of the sea, that it is set to furnish the great natural pathways of the world. Instead of a barrier, the sea is a road across the barrier. Hence the ocean has been the great educator of the world. The course of empire began on its shores, and has always kept within sight of its waters. No great nation has ever sprung up except on the seaside, or by the banks of those great navigable rivers which are themselves but an extension of the sea. Had it not been for the Mediterranean, the history of Egypt, of Phoenicia, of Greece and Rome and Carthage, would have been impossible.

5. A fifth office of the sea is to furnish an inexhaustible storehouse of power for the world. Of the three great departments of labour which occupy the material industry of the race,--agriculture, commerce, and manufactures,--we have seen how the first depends upon the ocean, the one for the rains which support all vegetable life, the other for the thousand paths on which its fleets are travelling. We now find that the third one also, though at first appearing not to have very intimate connection with the ocean, does in fact owe to it almost the whole of its efficiency. Ninety-nine hundredths of all the mechanical power now at work in the world is furnished by the water wheel and the steam engine.

6. A sixth office of the sea is to be a vast storehouse of life. The sea has a whole world of life in itself. It is said that the life in the sea far exceeds all that is out of it. There are more than twenty-five thousand distinct species of living beings that inhabit its waters. Incredible numbers of them are taken from the sea; in Norway, four hundred millions of a single species in a single season; in Sweden, seven hundred millions; and by other nations, numbers without number.

7. Omnipresent and everywhere is this need and blessing of the sea. It is felt as truly in the centre of the continent, where, it may be, the rude inhabitant never beard of the ocean, as it is on the circumference of the wave-beaten shore. He is surrounded, every moment, by the presence and bounty of the sea. It is the sea that looks out upon him from every violet in his garden bed; from the broad forehead of his cattle, and the rosy faces of his children; and from the cool-dropping well at his door. It is the sea that feeds him. It is the sea that clothes him, It is the sea that cools him with the summer cloud, and that warms him with the blazing fires in winter.

8. There is a sea within us which responds to the sea without. Deep calleth unto deep, and it is the answer and the yearning of these inward waves, in reply to that outward call, which makes our hearts to swell, our eyes to grow dim with tears, and our whole being to lift and vibrate with such strong emotion when we stand upon the shore and look out upon the deep, or sit in the stern of some noble ship and feel ourselves cradled on the pulsations of its mighty bosom. There is a life within us which calls to that sea without--a conscious destiny which only its magnitude and its motion can symbolize and utter. (Bib. Sacra.)

Genesis of the lands


1. Panorama of emergent lands. A sublime spectacle it is--this resurrection of the terrestrial forms out of ocean’s baptismal sepulchre--this emergence of island, and continent, and mountain--this heaving into sight of Britain and Madagascar and Cuba and Greenland, of Asia and Africa and Australia and America, of Alps and Himalayas and Andes and Sierra Nevada; more thrilling still, of Ararat and Sinai and Pisgah and Carmel and Lebanon and Zion and Olivet.

2. Geologic confirmation. How could the geologist make out his magnificent geological calendar, if it were not for the successive layers of deposited or stratified rocks of the lands upheaved into view from the depths of old ocean’s sepulchre? And so, at this very point, the ancient seer and the modern sceptic agree; both say that the earth was formed out of water and by means of water (2 Peter 3:5). But they differ as to the explanation. The ancient seer said, “The secret of Nature is God.” The modern sceptic says, “The secret of Nature is Law.” And yet both speak truly, for Truth is evermore unutterably large: God is the cause of Nature, and Law is God’s means.

3. Beneficence of the arrangement. “God saw that it was good.” And well might He delight in it. For a blessed thing this Divine distribution of lands and seas was.


1. The birth of individuality.

2. The birth of duty. Each man is in himself a little world. The individualization of each man is not so much for the man’s own sake as for the sake of all men. This, then, is the stirring thought of the hour: Individualization for the sake of mankind. Go forth then, brother, inspired with the majestic thought that you are a personal unit--a man among men--individualized from the mass of humanity for the sake of humanity andhumanity’s King. Yes, happy the day, let me again say it, when God says to thee: “Let the waters gather themselves to one place, and let the dry land appear.” Thrice happy the day when thou obeyest, looking upward to the opening heavens and outward to the broadening horizon. (G. D.Boardman.)

The third day

Up to this point the unquiet element, which is naturally uppermost in the creature, has prevailed everywhere. Light has come, and shown the waste; a heaven is formed within it; but nothing fixed or firm has yet appeared. Just as in the saint there is first light, and a heaven too within, while as yet he is all instability, with nothing firm or settled. But now the firm earth rises. The state desired by Paul,--“that we be no more tossed to and fro with every wind of doctrine, but may grow up in all things into Him who is the Head, even Christ,”--here begins to be accomplished. Now the will, long buried and overwhelmed with tossing lusts, rises above them to become very fruitful; and the soul, once lost in passions, emerges from the deep, like “the earth which He hath founded forever.” There is yet more for us to mark in this emerging earth. Not only does it escape the floods: it comes up also into the expanse of heaven. That creature, so long buried, now mounts up to meet the skies, as though aspiring to touch and become a part of heaven; while on its swelling bosom rest the sweet waters, the clouds, which embrace and kiss the hills. When the man by resurrection is freed from restless lusts; when he comes up from under the dominion of passions into a state of rest and peace; not only is he delivered from a load, but he also meets a purer world, an atmosphere of clear and high blessing; where even his hard rocks may be furrowed into channels for the rain; heaven almost touching earth, and earth heaven, Not without awful convulsions can such a change be wrought. The earth must heave before the waters are gathered into one place. (See Psalms 104:7-8.) Many a soul shows rents and chasms like the steep mountains. Nevertheless, “the mountains bring peace, and the little hills righteousness.” And this is effected on the third or resurrection day; for in creation, as elsewhere, the “third day” always speaks of resurrection. Then the earth brings forth fruit. Fruitfulness, hitherto delayed, at once follows the bounding of the waters. For, “being made free from sin, we have fruit unto righteousness, and the end everlasting life.” The order of the produce is instructive; first the grass, then the herb, then the fruit tree yielding fruit after his kind: as ever, the blade before the ear, the small before the great, from imperfection onwards to perfection. The first thing borne is “grass,” the common emblem of the flesh. Is it asked how the risen creature can bring forth fruits, which are, like the goodliness of the grass, of the flesh and carnal? Because for long the regenerate man is yet “carnal,” and his fruits are in the flesh, though with sincere desires for God’s glory. The development of Adam, as exhibited in the Word, not to say experience, gives proofs on proofs of this. The Corinthians, too, were “carnal,” though with many spiritual gifts. But after “grass” comes “herb and tree,” with “seed and fruit”; some to feed the hungry, some to cure the serpent’s bite; some hid in a veil of leaves, or bound in shapeless husks; some exposing their treasures, as the lovely vine and olive; the one to cheer man’s heart, the other to give the oil to sustain the light for God’s candlestick. Such is the faithful soul, with many-coloured fruits, “as the smell of a field which the Lord blesses.” The form of the fruit may vary; its increase may be less or more--some thirty, some sixty, some an hundredfold; for “the fruit of the Spirit may be love, or peace, or faith, or truth, or gentleness”: but all to the praise of His grace, who bringeth forth fruit out of the earth, “fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ.” Nor let us forget,--“whose seed is in itself, after his kind.” God’s fruits all multiply themselves: this is their constitution. (A. Jukes.)

Distribution of sea and land

By means of this distribution the waters are ever in motion, which preserves them and almost everything 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 Father 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 us to prepare a place for us. (A. Fuller.)

Verses 11-13

Genesis 1:11-13

Let the earth bring forth grass




1. There was the Divine agency. It was the power of God that gave seed and life to the earth. For it is very certain that the earth could not have produced grass, and herb, and tree of itself.

2. There was the instrumentality of the earth. “And God said, Let the earth bring forth grass,” etc. So when called by God the most barren instrumentalities become life-giving and verdant. When the Divine Being is about to enrich men, He gives them the power to help themselves.

IT IS GERMINAL IN THE CONDITION OF ITS GROWTH. “Seed.” Fertility never comes all at once. God does not give man blade of grass or tree in full growth, but the seeds from which they are to spring. Germs are a Divine gift. God does not give man a great enterprise, but the first hint of it. The cultivation of germs is the grandest employment in which men can be engaged.


1. Life must not always remain germinal. The seed must not alway remain seed. It must expand, develop. The world is full of men who have great thoughts and enterprises in the germ, but they never come to perfection.

The fruit must be--

1. Abundant.

2. Rich.

3. Beautiful.

4. Refreshing.

IT IS DISTINCTIVE IN ITS SPECIES AND DEVELOPMENT. “Fruit after his kind.” The growth will always be of the same kind as the seed. There may be variation in the direction and expression of the germinal life, but its original species is unchanged. This is true in the garden of the soul. Every seed produces fruit after its kind. (J. S. Exell, M. A.)

The grass

1. Consider the grass for

(1) its beauty;

(2) its utility;

(3) the characteristic virtues of the grass of the fields:

(a) its humility;

(b) its cheerfulness;

(c) as an emblem of human life.

2. Consider it, particularly, in the places where your dead are lying. What Golgoth as would be our cemeteries did not the grass grow there more green and more abundant, if possible, than almost anywhere beside! (Homiletic Review.)

The beauty of the grass

What is there in it of beauty or of strength? Let Ruskin answer: “A very little strength, and a very little tallness, and a few delicate long lines meeting in a point--not a perfect point either, but blunt and unfinished, by no means a creditable or apparently much-cared-for example of Nature’s workmanship; made, as it seems, only to be trodden on today, and tomorrow to be cast into the oven; and a little pale and hollow stalk, feeble and flaccid, leading down to the dull brown fibres of its roots.” That is all. “And yet,” he adds, “think of it well, and judge whether of all the gorgeous flowers that beam in summer air, and of all strong and goodly trees, pleasant to the eyes and good for food--stately palm and pine, strong ash and oak, scented citron, burdened vine--there be any by man so deeply loved, by God so highly graced, as that narrow point of feeble green.”

Genesis of the plants


1. Panorama of the emerging plants. On all sides spring up, as though by magic, the floating algae, the circling lichens, the luxuriant mosses, the branching ferns, the waving grasses, the graceful palms, the kingly cedars, the iris-hued flowers. And a blessed vision it is: this grateful exchange of dull uniformity and barren nakedness for vegetable colours--for carpets of emerald, and tapestries of white and azure and crimson and orange and purple. Even the God of beauty Himself feels that it is good.

2. The birth of life.

3. The soil the matrix of the plant.

4. Fruit after its kind. Here the Sacred Chronicle virtually asserts the invariability of what we call “Species.”

5. Ministry of vegetation.

(1) Plants are the source of all our food: directly as in vegetable diet--e.g., bread, which we call the “Staff of Life”; and indirectly, as in animal diet--these animals themselves having been fed on the vegetable world. Annihilate plants, and where is food? Annihilate food, and where is man?

(2) Vegetation is the grand means of atmospheric purification.

(3) The vegetable world is a never-ending source of aesthetic delight. The two great occasions and conditions of physical beauty are figure and colour. The plants, in their infinitely varied range from diatom to cedar, illustrate every conceivable line of figure, every conceivable hue of colour. Their ravishing song ranges through the whole scale of possible figures, through the whole gamut of possible hues. They are not only ministrants to a transient pleasure, they are also witnesses to an eternal beauty.


1. The plant is a beautiful emblem, or, rather, a prophetic type of man himself.

2. The birth of powers.

(1) The parable of germination.

(2) The parable of evolution.

(3) The parable of fructification.

This then is the lesson of the hour: The birth of powers to issue in heavenly fruitage. Be not content then with the mere sense of individuality and of duty, mechanically taking your allotted place with the grouping lands and Genesis 1:9-10); actually put forth in living exercise your latent powers. Yes, happy the day when the Lord of seeds and of souls says to thee: “Let the earth put forth shoots, and the fruit tree yield its fruits!” Thrice happy the day when thou obeyest, thy life becoming arborescent, the leaves of thy tree spirally arranged so as to take in the most thou canst of God’s air and sunshine, yielding the fruits of a Christian character. (G. D.Boardman.)

The vegetable creation

Notice the general parts and functions of trees and plants.

THE ROOTS. Two important and special purposes.

1. To attach the plant or tree to the soil, and support it there in its proper position.

2. To select and draw suitable juices from the soil, for nourishment.

THE LEAVES. The principal organ of every plant. The seed in which the plant originates, when carefully examined, is found to be composed of a leaf rolled tightly, and altered in tissue and contents, so as to suit its new requirements. The bud also consists of leaves folded in a peculiar manner, and covered with hardened scales to protect them from the winter cold. And the flowers, the glory of the vegetable world, are merely leaves arranged so as to protect the vital organs within them, and coloured so as to attract insects to scatter the fertilizing pollen, and to reflect or absorb the light and heat of the sun for ripening the seed. If we pursue our study of leaves still further, and contemplate their chemical functions, we shall find each a marvel and a mystery in itself. Every leaf is an individual, gifted with peculiar powers; its stomata and other organs constitute a complete laboratory; it absorbs air, and exhales moisture; it elects the carbon, and sends forth as useless the excess of oxygen, it extracts from the sunbeam its chlorophyll, and with it adorns itself in the charms of verdancy. In a word, it embodies in its thin and distended form one of the most wonderful examples of organic chemistry. It is at once full of science and full of poetry.

THE FLOWERS. They are the most beautiful productions of the vegetable kingdom; and, as to the delicacy of their forms, the beauty of their colouring, and the sweetness of their odour, seem preeminently designed for the pleasure of man, for he alone of all the living tenants of the earth is capable of appreciating them. They also perform several important functions in connection with the reproduction of the species. Flowers exhibit many powers and properties which the science of man has never been able to explain. Some will instantly close upon the slightest touch. Some will flutter as if in alarm, upon sudden exposure to intense light. Some seem possessed of limited powers of locomotion; a certain species of wild oats, when placed upon a table, will spontaneously move; pea blossoms always turn their backs upon the wind; the heliotrope always faces the sun; the tulip opens its petals when the weather is fine, but closes them during rain and darkness. The pond lily closes its pure white leaves at night, as it lies on its watery bed, but unfolds them again in the morning.

On the other hand, some flowers open only at night; that splendid flower, the night-blooming cereus, is of this kind; it opens but once, and that in the night, for a few hours only, then wilts and dies without ever admitting the light of day into its bosom. Some open and shut at certain hours, and that so regularly as to indicate the time of day, like the sindrimal of Hindostan, which opens at four in the evening and closes at four in the morning. Dr. Good, in his “Book of Nature,” describes a water plant, valisneria spiralis, which, at a certain season, detaches itself from its stem, and, like a gallant suitor, sails complacently over the waters in pursuit of a mate, till he finds her. Other flowers there are, as the nepenthes, that will adroitly catch flies and devour them. Others again possess a most extraordinary luminous property; the nasturtium, if plucked during sunshine, and carried into a dark room, will there show itself by its own light; a plant that abounds in the jungles of Madura illumines the ground to a distance all around; and many species of lichens, creeping along the roofs of caverns, lend to them an air of enchantment, by the soft and clear light they diffuse. Who can explain to us these phenomena of flowers? Who but must see that the hand and counsel of Infinite Wisdom are concerned in the production of these vegetable wonders! I add but one fact more respecting flowers, and that is, the power which each flower has to regulate for itself the heat of the sun.


1. Look at the admirable contrivance of the vessels, or capsules, in which the various seeds are lodged and protected while they mature. These are so many, so diverse, and often so complicated in their forms and materials, that it would seem as if they had been adopted only for the sake of demonstrating the inexhaustible resources of the Divine invention. Some are invested in close tunicles, some are surrounded with hard shells, some are elaborately folded in leaves, some are deposited in rows within parchment pods, some are in eases lined with softest velvet, some are wrapped in wool, some are held as in blown bladders, some are placed between hard scales, some are defended by pointed thorns, some are housed as beneath a roof, some are within slits made in the edge of the ]eaves, some are buried in the heart of the fruit, and some in various other manners.

2. The fecundity of plants, or their capacity for producing seeds, presents us with another remarkable fact. The common cereals often yield from sixty to a hundred fold. One castor oil plant will produce 1,500, one sunflower 4,000, and one thistle 24,000 seeds in a single season.

3. Another interesting fact connected with seeds is the arrangement made for their dispersion. Sometimes the pericarp, or vessel containing the seed, opens elastically, as with a mechanical spring, and discharges the seeds contained in its cavity to a considerable distance. Some seeds, as those of the dandelion and thistle, are provided with a beautiful stellate down, which serves as wings, and by means of which they often travel many miles. Other seeds, as the burdock, are furnished with little hooks, by means of which they cling to men and beasts as they pass by, and are thus scattered far and wide. Birds, also, are important agents in this great work. Many of the heavier seeds, such as acorns, are gathered and buried by mice, squirrels, etc., of which, while part are consumed, many are left in the ground to germinate. Rains, and rivers, also, often carry seeds hundreds and even thousands of miles from where they were produced; and the ocean not unfrequently bears them to the shores of other continents, or wafts them upon the coral islands just risen from its bosom, and thus soon covers them with vegetation.

4. The seed having been dispersed and dropped in the soil, the next process to be noticed is its germination. To this certain conditions are necessary. A certain degree of heat must be had; at a temperature below freezing point, seed will not germinate, and if the temperature be up to, or very near, the boiling point of water, it will not germinate, but die. The most suitable temperature for each particular plant varies between these limits according to the nature of the plant. Again, if seeds have the necessary warmth and moisture, yet if exposed to bright light, they will not germinate; shade is always, absolute darkness sometimes, necessary for the success of the germinating process. If the seed enjoys all the required conditions of shade, water, air, and heat, it will grow and flourish. When a seed, a grain of wheat, say, is cast into the ground, from one end of it issues a plumule, or tender sprout; from the other a number of fibrous threads; the plumule immediately tends upward, and works for the air and light, and becomes a plant; the fibres also at once struggle downwards, and become the roots. “Now, what is a little remarkable,” says Paley, “the parts issuing from the seed take their respective directions, into whatever position the seed itself happens to be cast. If the seed be thrown into the wrongest possible position, that is, if the ends in the ground point the reverse of what they ought to do, everything, nevertheless, goes on right. The sprout, after being pushed out a little way, makes a bend and turns upwards; the fibres, on the contrary, after shooting at first upward, turn down.” This fact is not more wonderful than it is important; for, how unprofitable would be the labours of the husbandman, if only the grains that happened to be right end up would prove productive, for scarce one seed out of a hundred would be found in this position. Or, how endless would be his toil, if he had with care to place each particular seed in the ground with plumule end up. But for the present wise and happy constitution of the seed, by which each part proceeds in its right direction, and to fulfil its appointed office, where would be our daily bread? How manifest both the wisdom and goodness of God in this thing.

5. The longevity of seeds, or the power which they possess for retaining the vital principle for lengthy periods of time, is another remarkable fact to be noticed here. This is an important provision, as it supplies a safeguard against the extinction of the species under unfavourable circumstances, which may often occur. “In the time of the Emperor Hadrian, a man died soon after he had eaten plentifully of raspberries. He was buried at Dorchester. About thirty years ago the remains of this man, together with coins of the Roman Emperor, were discovered in a coffin at the bottom of a barrow, thirty feet under the surface. The man had thus lain undisturbed for some one thousand seven hundred years. But the most curious circumstance connected with the case was, that the raspberry seeds were recovered from the stomach, and sown in the garden of the Horticultural Society, where they germinated and grew into healthy bushes.” What a wondrous creation, then, have we in a grain of seed! What a mystery is its life, that can thus well nigh immortalize its tiny and delicate organism, preserving it uninjured and unchanged through the lapse of hundreds and thousands of years!

THE EDIBLE AND OTHER USEFUL PRODUCTIONS OF PLANTS is another subject that demands our grateful consideration. He might have made all these of the same, or nearly the same, taste; but so far from this was His Divine generosity, that we have almost an interminable variety of fragrance and flavour, of sweetness and acid, of mellowness and pungency: and all so wonderfully suited to gratify our taste, to stimulate our appetite, and to yield us every required and desirable nutriment in health and in sickness. Then, too, plants not only feed, but clothe us. (H. W. Morris, D. D.)

Reflections on the vegetable creation

In vegetation we have the productions of Divine chemistry! Out of the same elements we here behold the utmost diversity of results. Ten thousand species of herbs, plants, and trees, springing from the same soil, watered by the same showers, surrounded by the same atmosphere, and warmed by the same sun--yet how different in their qualities! Some are acid and some are tasteless, some offering the richest nourishment and others the rankest poison, some are exhilarating and some stupefying, a few are as sweet as honey, and many as bitter as the waters of Marsh, some secreting oil while others are exuding gum, some sending forth odours that delight and some that sicken and offend--yet all these are constituted of the same four or five primary elements, the diversity arising simply from the different proportions in which Infinite skill has combined them. And herein is chemistry which man, astonishing as his progress has been in this science, can neither imitate nor approach. Man, indeed, can take a plant and separate these its elements, and ascertain their exact proportions, but he can never recombine them so as to restore the plant. This is God’s prerogative. “What a thought that was, when God thought of a tree!” exclaimed a philosopher. Yes, a tree, a single tree, originating in an atom seed, deriving its vitality from heaven, drawing its juices from the earth, feeding upon the air, eliciting its colouring from the sunbeam, and elaborating its several parts by the mysterious power of its own vitality--presents a concourse of contrivances and properties and functions such as would never have entered the mind of man, or perhaps of any other intelligence, had not God set it in living form before him. What conceptions, then, shall we form, and what sentiments entertain of that Mind, who, with unerring foresight, contrived a thousand, yea a hundred thousand differing trees and plants--differing in their size from the invisible lichen of the naked rock to the expanded banian tree of India, which proffers beneath its shade ample room for an army--differing in form from the creeping vine to the cedar of Libanus--differing in their age and duration from the ephemeral “flower of the grass” to the mighty adonsonia, hoary with the mosses of more than twenty centuries--differing in their juices from the nourishing grape to the pohon upas in their deadly valleys--differing in their aspect from the serpent cactus to the stately pine--differing in their habitations from the climbing lianas of the Guinea forests to the confervae of the silent pool--differing in the structure of their roots, in the form of their leaves, and in the texture of their stems--differing in their flowers, and seeds, and fruits--differing in the rapidity of their growth, and circulation, and decay--differing in their qualities for absorbing and reflecting the heat of the sun--and differing in a multitude of other particulars! In the vegetable kingdom we behold a diversity all but endless. In their creation, then, what countless ends to be secured. What an infinitude of influences, properties, and agencies to be determined. And what an infinitude, too, of weights, and measures, and proportions to be calculated. Yet in the Divine mind, as in a vast storehouse of glorious ideas and designs, the plans of all were perfect and complete ere ever the omnipotent word to clothe the earth with verdure had gone forth. In that plan nothing was forgotten, nothing overlooked. No unforeseen difficulty arose, no part of the Divine purpose failed, no tree or plant or blade of grass came short of its designed perfection. (H. W. Morris, D. D.)

Lessons from leaves, flowers, and grass

We need not seek for rare or out-of-the-way productions to gather lessons--every green thing that springs out of the ground is a preacher to us, if we would but listen to its voice. All the leaves of the forest join in one general murmur to repeat in our ears the prophet’s warning, “We all do fade as a leaf.” And as we are so prone to thrust this truth out of mind, as comes on every fading fall of the year, God spreads before us on plain and hillside a great parable, in which our own decay and death are pictorially represented in such a vivid and impressive manner, that he who runs may read, and he who reads must reflect and profit. With the leaves join the beauteous flowers, like whispering angels, to impress the same needful admonition upon the heart and mind of man. “As a flower of the field, so he flourisheth.” And each flower along his path seems to look up and address him in language of its own, and say--

“Child of the dust, like me you spring,

A bright but evanescent thing;

Like me may be cut down today,

And cast a worthless weed away.”

The grass also has its speech. It spreads itself before us like a living allegory, in which we may see our image and our end. It says, “All flesh is grass; in the morning it flourisheth and groweth up; in the evening it is cut down and withered.” And when its beauties and benefits, and teachings all can avail man no more, the green grass reverently spreads itself as a robe over his slumbering form, and forsakes not even that upon which all others have turned their back--his grave--remaining there, in each bright blade, a perpetual type of a coming glorious resurrection! (H. W. Morris, D. D.)

The growth of plants

The creation of vegetables is placed by Moses subsequent to the production of light and of the atmosphere; immediately after the waters had receded from the land, and just before the creation and arrangement of the solar system. This position of vegetables in the series of creation exactly answers the demands of our present knowledge. Instead of requiring the suns light to germinate, seeds and plants, in order to do so, must be sowed and placed in darkness before they begin to vegetate (solar light is unfriendly to first germination). A small heat and moisture first cause their living principle to begin its operations, but they cannot flower and fruit until they receive the solar beams; nor could they grow without light, air, and moisture. A portion of oxygen air is essential to vegetation. Hence the previous atmosphere, which contains in its composition that portion, was indispensable, as was also some water on the soil where they were to grow. This exact placing of the vegetable formation and first germination is another test of the authenticity of the Hebrew cosmogony, which random fiction could not have stood. (S. Turner.)

The miracle of reproduction

This was not a mere transformation; it was a new creation, a miracle, or rather sixty thousand miracles in one. A chemist can form rocks, and even precious stones, by combining silicium, lime, carbon, etc.; but could any chemist form a tree, a blade of grass, a bit of moss, or the smallest living plant? Look at the flowers, the trees, the seeds, the fruits, and all the wonders of vegetable life! Oh, what a collection of miracles! but the miracle of miracles is, that each has “its seed in itself.” A watch, which is one of the most admirable works of man, is very inferior in its workmanship even to the smallest plant, which we can scarcely see without the help of a microscope; but what would you think of a watch which could produce watches, which in their turn could produce other watches, and so on from generation to generation, from age to age? (Professor Gaussen.)

Plant life

Have you ever thought what life is? for it was then that life appeared for the first time upon the earth. The air, the winds, and the tempests have no life; the sea, the dry land, the mountains, the valleys, the rocks, the volcanoes and their flowing lavas, have no life--a gas has no life. But a tree and a plant have life, although they have not thought or feeling. Consider how the plant is born and grows: it springs from its seed as the bird springs from the egg; it pierces the soil; it grows up; it is fed by the juices of the earth through the hundred mouths of its roots; it drinks through its leaves the air and the dew of heaven; and it faithfully gives out in return its delicious odours. We know that it even breathes--it inhales and exhales the air; it sleeps in the night, and is revived to new beauty and vigour in the day. A life-giving juice circulates through all its vessels, as the blood circulates in our veins. Every year it gives birth to numerous children, which resemble the mother plant, and live, and grow, and breathe, and bring forth other plants in their turn. (Professor Gaussen.)

An inimitable work

Scientific men such as Sir James Hall and others, have succeeded in imitating some of the natural rocks in their laboratories. By taking chalk, silicium, vegetable matter, and other things, and subjecting them to strong heat and powerful pressure, they have been able to manufacture, in small quantities, marble like that of our mountains, coal such as we burn in our fires, crystallized silicates like the granites of the Alps, and even a few small fragments of precious stones. But do you suppose that any chemist could succeed in making a living plant, even a blade of grass, a sprig of hyssop, a morsel of the humble moss that grows on the wall, a strawberry plant, a blue-hell, or a field daisy? All the greatest triumphs of human art and skill have been lately collected in the Exhibitions of London and Paris; but if all the mechanics who made these, and all the learned men in the world were united, and if they were to work together for a thousand years, they could not form one living grain of corn, one seed of a living poppy, one seed of any kind, containing within it, infolded in the germ, ten thousand plants of corn, or one hundred thousand plants of poppies, proceeding from and succeeding each other from this time till the end of the world. (Professor Gaussen.)


Have you ever considered how wonderful a thing the seed of a plant is? It is the miracle of miracles. God said, Let there be plants “yielding seed”; and it is further added, each one “after his kind.” The great naturalist, Cuvier, thought that the germs of all past, present, and future generations of seeds were contained one within the other, as if packed in a succession of boxes. Other learned men have explained this mystery in a different way. Let them explain it as they will, the wonder remains the same, and we must still look upon the reproduction of the seed as a continual miracle. Consider first, their number. A noted botanist counted sixty thousand, then eighty thousand, and he supposed it possible that the number might even amount to one hundred thousand. Well, let me ask you, Have these one hundred thousand kinds of plants ever failed to bear the right seed? Have they ever deceived us? Has a seed of wheat ever yielded barley, or a seed of a poppy grown up into a sunflower? Has a sycamore tree ever sprung from an acorn, or a beech tree from a chestnut? A little bird may carry away the small seed of a sycamore in its beak to feed its nestlings, and on the way may drop it on the ground. The tiny seed may spring up and grow where it fell, unnoticed, and sixty years after it may become a magnificent tree, under which the flocks of the valleys and their shepherds may rest in the shade. Consider next the wonderful power of life and resurrection bestowed on the seeds of plants, so that they may be preserved from year to year, and even from century to century. Some years ago a vase hermetically sealed was found in a mummy pit in Egypt, by the English traveller Wilkinson, who sent it to the British Museum. The librarian there having unfortunately broken it, discovered in it a few grains of wheat and one or two peas, old, wrinkled, and as hard as stone. The peas were planted carefully under glass on the 4th of June 1844, and at the end of thirty days these old seeds were seen to spring up into new life. They had been buried probably about three thousand years ago, perhaps in the time of Moses, and had slept all that long time, apparently dead, yet still living in the dust of the tomb. Lastly, consider the almost incredible fruitfulness of these marvellous seeds. I have heard it said that a very well-known traveller, who returned from America to Europe between two and three hundred years ago, having admired in the New World this beautiful tree, then unknown in Europe, had put two or three chestnuts in the pocket of his coat. After his arrival in Paris, having put on the same coat again, he found a single chestnut still remaining in the pocket, and he took a fancy to plant it in the court of his house. The following spring a young chestnut tree appeared, which grew and flourished, and became the parent, not only of all the chestnuts in France, but of all the magnificent trees of this kind under which the people of France, Germany, and Italy assemble on their days of festival. These all sprang from the solitary chestnut brought from America in that traveller’s pocket. But what do you think of the wonderful reproducing power of seeds, when I tell you that from a single poppy seed, not larger than a grain of gunpowder, there may spring in four years, poppies enough to cover all the habitable earth, that is to say, one-fourth of the surface of the globe, or about fifty million square miles? If each seed should produce as much as Ray calculates, I have reckoned it would amount in four years to a million of millions of millions of seed; which may be estimated at 660,000 bushels (or 82,500 quarters), and would be more than enough to cover the five continents of the earth. All this immense multitude of seeds might spring in so short a time from a single little seed, not nearly so large as a grain of oats. Now, let us try to calculate the productive power of a grain of corn. All historians tell us that in old times the harvests in Egypt and Syria returned a hundredfold for one, and in Babylonia two hundred fold for one. Well, suppose that I were to sow my grain in a soil as fertile as that of Egypt is said to have been in old times, my first harvest would be 100 grains; these 100 grains would produce 100 times as much for my second harvest, or 10,000 grains; my third harvest would be 100 times 10,000, or 1,000,000 grains; and my fourth, 100,000,000 grains. It has been reckoned that there are about 820,000 grains in a bushel. At this rate, my fourth harvest would yield about 122 bushels of grain; and four years after, it would be 100,000,000 as much, or 12,200,000,000 bushels, or 1,525,000,000 quarters. This is scarcely one-sixth less than twice the 900,000,000 quarters which we reckoned would be necessary to supply the whole human race for a year. Thus in eight years as much corn might spring from one seed as to supply all mankind with bread for more than a year and a half. Remark, also, my friends, that God has not given the reproductive power of plants to their seeds alone. The life of vegetables exists in many parts of them separately, and each of these parts alone, separated from all the others, can reproduce the whole plant. (Professor Gaussen.)

The first vegetable

We come now to the consideration of the highest form of pure matter, unconnected with an immaterial principle; viz., that which is invested with organic power. Before the creation of the vegetable, the state of matter had been inorganic; but at the commandment of God, a portion of it became invested with altogether new properties and new powers. It assumed, at once, and in obedience to the will of Him that spake, that extraordinary form of existence, which we call organized structure: and became, in that change, subject to new forces, regulated by new laws. The great difference which strikes us at once, as existing between an inorganic and organic structure is, that in the former, each particle acts as it were separately, and for itself; and in the latter, each particle acts as a part of a whole, for a certain end to be brought about in the whole structure; but then this effect is the beautiful resultant of certain fixed though unknown laws of combination. Professor Faraday has divided the powers of matter into two great classes--instant and waiting. Gravitation, for instance, he calls instant, because its action is unceasing, under all circumstances. Electricity, on the other hand, he calls waiting, because it is only called forth under certain circumstances, and, so to speak, waits for them.

1. Organic powers are eminently waiting forces; they are manifested under certain circumstances, and so we find that a seed will remain for thousands of years without germinating, if deprived of the influences of heat and light.

2. Again: These powers seem to be communicable. As the particles of the inorganic world are drawn into the organic fabric, they become themselves organic; they receive a communication of power, and act as invested with it, until they are again thrown off.

3. These powers seem also to be exhaustible. I feel the extent of the difficulty that lies in this admission, and yet I must acknowledge that there does appear to be a kind of exhaustion of power in an organized structure. We find that in a certain time, these powers cease to act, and the plant, according to common language, dies. This is the stronghold of those who believe the functions of the vegetable arise from, and are governed by, an immaterial principle. For, they say, upon the removal of this principle, the whole material frame becomes powerless, and the plant dies. The great answer to this is, that the whole organic fabric does not always lose its power, or as it is called die, at once, but very often, both in the plant and in the animal, one portion of it ceases to manifest organic power before the rest; and this fact overthrows the whole argument. I feel strongly inclined to believe that, after all, there is no real exhaustion of organic power, any more than there is of physical power, but that when, in the appointed time, the whole fabric of the plant (or animal) goes to decay, these powers lie dormant in the particles of matter, till, in the wondrous revolution of the wheel of natural providence, they became incorporated with organic structure again, and put forth their manifested actions. In fact, that organic powers are powers of circumstance and not of essence; they are always present in matter, but always waiting. They are, what an ancient writer called so long ago, “moveable powers”; and they are governed, ruled, and regulated by Him who first said, “Let the earth bring forth grass,” etc. Let us now consider especially the words, “Whose seed is in itself.” Of all the manifestations of power, there is none so wonderful as that of reproduction. Even when we come to the consideration of the material portion of the complex nature of the animal, although we shall find other forms of power, such as contractibility, as in the case of muscle; vibration, as in the case of the fibres of the brain, receiving the impressions of light and sound; yet shall we discover none more extraordinary than this of reproduction. And yet, strange and striking as this power is, when we reflect upon it, it is not perhaps more so than certain physical powers. It is almost as wonderful that matter should attract matter, as that matter should produce matter; for both actions are alike dependent on the Creator’s will. Strictly and philosophically speaking, there is no further creation of matter in the case, but a gathering in of surrounding matter, to form the germ of the future plant. We know that the most complex structure of any plant or animal (man included) is but the elaboration of the simple cell: this cell draws from the world around the materials which compose other cells, and these new cells develop themselves into the different parts which compose their future fabric, root, leaves, buds, etc.; perhaps according to their different reception of the influences of heat, light, and electricity: but this is all wrapt in mystery. There is a limit to all the investigations of man, a point beyond which he cannot go; when, like one of old, he “looks up unto the heavens, and bewails his ignorance;” but the Christian, amidst all these wonders, has a sure resting place whereon to stand, for he knows by whom all these things consist. “He upholdeth all things by the word of His power,” is the true solution to all our difficulties; and if we rested on this there would not be that unquietness which we so often feel in the pursuit of natural science. We are too apt to speak as if we thought that God having created the universe left it to itself. He is the governor of the material world, as He is of the spiritual world. God said, “Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb yielding seed, and the fruit tree yielding fruit,” etc.; “and it was so.” (The Protoplast.)

All nature is emblematic

When the Incarnate Jehovah preached upon this earth that He had made, He took the whole of creation as His text. The waving corn in the fields through which He walked with His disciples, the wild flowers, the trees which overshadowed Him, all served as symbols of heavenly things. “Consider,” He said, “the lilies of the field.” While we walk in a world where beauty still lingers, for it is “though spoiled by sin, in ruin fair,” we may read a lesson in every leaf, and bud, and blossom. If we are anxious and distrustful as to God’s provision of our wants in this life, even the very herb of the field rebukes us, for God has clothed it; the wild flowers raise their heads, bright with His workmanship, and they speak to us, saying, “Hath God so decked us, and shall He not rather clothe you, O ye of little faith?” And then how many lessons do we learn from the sowing of the seed. Christ said, “Hear ye the parable of the sower.” Have we heard it? Again, Christ said in another parable, “So is the kingdom of God, as if a man should cast seed into the ground, and should sleep, and rise night and day, and the seed should spring and grow up, he knoweth not how.” It is just so with the servant of God, scattering the seed in preaching the word of life; it springs up, he knows not how; he obeys the command of God. Another lesson Christ drew from natural vegetation was given in these words: “The kingdom of heaven is like to a grain of mustard seed, which a man took and sowed in his field: which indeed is the least of all seeds, but when it is grown it is the greatest among herbs, so that the birds of the air come and lodge in the branches thereof.” Christ cast the little seed of His Church into the world: neglected, despised, unnurtured, it sank into the ground, and man trod it under foot; but when it is grown to its full height and established in its millennial glory upon earth, all nations shall flow into it,--“the birds shall come and lodge in the branches thereof.” Once more, the Apostle Paul preaches from the same text in the book of creation, the resurrection from the dead. When we see the seed sown, and remember how unlike it is to the perfect fabric of the future plant, let us reflect that just so little will the sin-bearing, suffering, decaying body we now wear resemble that which shall be raised in perfect beauty. (Professor Gaussen.)

The law of food production

God has given to every seed and living plant the tendency to develop itself, or grow under certain conditions. These conditions are an adequate supply of moisture, heat, light, air, and the all-essential requisite of a suitable soil. This law operates mainly through the principle of capillary attraction. Every blade, leaf, or stalk has in it a number of very small tubes, each with a bore as small as a hair, which has the singular power of drawing up the sap from the soil into the plant or stalk, so making it grow. This sap when drawn up lengthens and enlarges the blade or stalk, and continues to do so from day to day until it reaches an ultimate point fixed by the Creator, when it issues in blossom and fruit. That point being reached, the process stops, when man steps in and gathers the fruit which God has provided for him. These tubes act like so many mouths, which are endowed with a sort of instinct for selecting from the soil such nourishment as suits the age or species of the plant or vegetable to which they belong. The sap itself consists of water mixed with saline, sulphurous, or oily materials, and is prepared in such a manner as to suit the various seeds that are put into the ground.

THE ADVANTAGES OF THIS LAW in supplying food.

1. It gives continual freshness to our food. Had the food of the world been all provided on the day when God made men and the cattle, and the supply been made large enough to last till the end of the world, it must long ere this time have become corrupt.

2. It supplies abundance. Every seed is endowed with both a power of self-development and also a power of self-multiplication.

3. It secures variety of food. This is as important as abundance. Had there been only one species of food we should almost have died from having the same constantly served up at our tables.

4. It saves space on the world’s surface. Had the whole supply of the world’s food been provided on the first day the world itself could not have furnished accommodation.

5. This law secures a permanent supply of food to the end of time.

6. This law impressively teaches man’s continual dependence on God.

7. Never does anything get out of order. There is nothing to repair, everything works with the most perfect order and regularity.

8. Far greater skill and beauty lie beneath the surface than upon it. This is the characteristic of all God’s works as compared with man’s.


1. In the simplicity of its operation.

2. In its efficiency.

3. In its beautiful adaptations. Processes of the most consummate skill are set a-going in every part of nature in order to furnish man with food. Take the case of plants. The bark which covers them defends them from the extremes of heat and cold, and also opens up a free entrance for sap and air to reach them. The leaves which clothe them assist in bringing food from all parts within reach. They are furnished with the power of sucking nourishment for them; they protect them in their tender state, and carry off by perspiration the redundant fluids which would otherwise stagnate and turn rancid. They are the lungs of the plant.

Verses 14-19

Genesis 1:14-19

Let there be lights in the firmament

The heavenly luminaries



THE MISTAKES MAN’S EYE MAKES IN JUDGING THE WORKS OF GOD. We “limit the Holy One of Israel.” What a small world man’s eye would make of God’s creation!

THE DEEPEST HUMILITY IS THE TRUEST WISDOM. The most difficult discovery for man to make in the world is to find out his own littleness.

UNCONSCIOUS BENEFITS ARE RENDERED BY ONE. PART OF CREATION TO ANOTHER. Here are seen the wisdom, power, and goodness of the great Creator. Little do these distant stars know what benefits they confer on our small world.

THE HIGH ESTIMATE WHICH GOD PUTS ON MAN. He ordains such glorious worlds to serve Him.


The heavenly bodies


1. Their magnitude.

2. Variety.

3. Splendour.


1. They were to be for lights. They are unrivalled, should be highly prized, faithfully used, carefully studied, and devotionally received. These lights were regnant.

(1) Their rule is authoritative.

(2) It is extensive.

(3) It is alternate.

(4) It is munificent.

(5) It is benevolent.

(6) It is welcome. A pattern for all monarchs.

2. They were made to divide the day from the night. Thus the heavenly bodies were not only intended to give light, but also to indicate and regulate the time of man, that he might be reminded of the mighty change, and rapid flight of life. But the recurrence of day and night also proclaim the need of exertion and repose; hence they call to work, as well as remind of the grave.

3. To be for signs, and for seasons, and for days and years. The moon by her four quarters, which last each a little more than seven days, measures for us the weeks and months. The sun, by his apparent path in the sky, measures our seasons and our years, whilst by his daily rotation through the heavens he measures the days and the hours; and this he does so correctly that the best watchmakers in Geneva regulate all their watches by his place at noon; and from the most ancient times men have measured from sun dials the regular movement of the shadow. It has been well said that the progress of a people in civilization may be estimated by their regard for time--their care in measuring and valuing it. Our time is a loan. We ought to use it as faithful stewards.


1. The greatness and majesty of God. How terrible must be the Creator of the sun. How tranquil must be that Being who has given light to the moon. One glance into the heavens is enough to overawe man with a sense of the Divine majesty.

2. The humility that should characterize the soul of mall. “When I consider the heavens, the work of Thine hand,” etc. (J. S. Exell, M. A.)

Reflections on the sun

In the sun we have the most worthy emblem that the visible universe presents of Him, who, with the word of His power, kindled up its glories, and with the strength of His right hand established it in the heavens. And the analogies between the sun of nature and the Sun of Righteousness are both striking and instructive.

1. In the opening scene of the fourth day we have a fine image of the advent of the Redeemer of men. On that morning the sun burst forth in its unveiled glories, irradiating the new-made earth, and revealing upon its face scenes of loveliness and grandeur which could neither be seen nor known before. So arose the Sun of Righteousness upon the world of mankind, an object as wonderful and as new in His person, and character, and office, as the great orb of day when it first came forth to run the circuit of the heavens--pouring a flood of light from above upon benighted humanity, and opening up to them views of truth, happiness, and immortality, such as the world had never known or heard before; and, like the solar light, while revealing all else, remaining Himself a glorious mystery.

2. As the natural sun is the centre of the system of creation, so the Sun of Righteousness is the vital centre of revealed truth and religion.

3. As the sun shines by his own light, so the Son of God poured the light of truth upon men from the fountain of His own mind. The instructions He imparted were neither derived from tradition nor borrowed from philosophy. He was a self-luminous and Divine Orb, rising upon the darkness of the world, shedding new light, and revealing new truths to bewildered humanity.

4. As in the pure sunbeam we have combined all the colours of the rainbow in their due proportions, so in Christ we find all virtues and graces harmoniously blended in one perfect character. In Him we behold every principle, every affection, every impulse, in perfect equipoise.

5. As the sunlight, on whatever foulness or corruption it may fall, remains uncontaminated, so the Son of Man, amid all the temptations, guilt, and depravity of earth, continued pure and unspotted.

6. As the light of the sun is unlimited and inexhaustible, so also are the healing and saving beams of the Sun of Righteousness.

7. As the sun’s law of gravitation extends over the whole solar system, so the law of love, proceeding from the Sun of Righteousness, extends its authority over the whole family of man. Gravitation exercises its dominion alike over the mightiest planet and the minutest asteroid; so the Divine law of love, with equal hand, imposes its obligations upon kings, and peasants, and beggars; its authority is no less binding in courts and cabinets than in churches and families, its voice is to be heeded no less by the diplomatist sent to foreign realms, than by the preacher who remains among his flock at home. To all it speaks alike, in the name and in the words of its Divine original, “Love one another, as I have loved you.” (H. W. Morris, D. D.)

The great time keeper

What are the benefits God intends to secure for us, by the arrangements here made? By this means, He--

Compels men, as far as they can be compelled, to reckon their time, or number their days aright.

Calls us often to a reckoning with ourselves under the most impressive influences.

Invites us to new purposes of future life.

Teaches us, in the most impressive manner possible, the value of time.

Impresses upon us, as a truth of practical moment, that everything must be done in its time.

Reminds us both of our rapid transit here and immortality hereafter.

VII. Teaches us that there is a changeless empire of being, which theestablished round of seasons and years, and the mechanical order of heaven itself suggests and confirms. (H. Bushnell, D. D.)


ITS SPEED! Have you any idea of it? The mind becomes confused when we try to imagine it. For instance, whence, think you, came the bright rays which this very morning lighted up your room with their dazzling brightness? Ah! they had travelled very far before they reached you, even all the distance between the sun and the earth. If a man could take the same journey, travelling at the rate of ninety-five miles a day, he would take a million of days, or nearly three thousand years to do it. And yet, how long do you think those bright rays have been in travelling this morning from the sun to your window? Only eight minutes and thirteen seconds.

But if you wonder at the speed of light, what will you say when you think of its ABUNDANCE? This is, if possible, still more wonderful. Who can even imagine the immense and immeasurable torrents of light which from age to age have gushed forth from the sun in every direction, constantly filling with their ceaseless waves the whole extent of planetary space? I do not speak thoughtlessly when I tell you of the ceaseless flow of these waves of light, for they gush forth from the sun by night as well as by day. Some young people fancy that when it is night with us, it is then night in the universe; but this is a childish fancy, for, on the contrary, there is perpetual day in the wide universe of space.

ITS BRILLIANT COLOURS. The rays of light which come to us directly from the sun, are, you know, of a dazzling white. If you shut carefully all the shutters in your room, so as to make it perfectly dark, and if you allow a single ray of light to enter through a small hole, you will see it mark on the opposite wall a beautiful circle of white light. But do you know what would happen to this ray if you were to place before the hole a prism of finely polished glass? When the great Newton tried this experiment for the first time, he tells us that he started with joy. The sight that he saw, and that you would see, would be this: The prism would decompose and divide the beautiful white ray into seven rays, still more beautiful, of bright-coloured light, which would paint themselves each separately on the wall, in the following order: violet, indigo, blue, green, yellow, orange, red. These brilliant-coloured rays, of which each white ray is made up, are reflected in various ways, according to the nature and composition of different bodies, and thus they give their varied and manifold tints to all objects in nature. (Professor Gaussen.)

The clock of time

It is beautiful to observe how the motions of the stars of heaven in their orbits are represented by the flowers of earth in their opening and closing, in their blossoming and fading. The clock of time has two faces: the one above, on which the hours are marked by the rising and setting of the orbs of heaven; the other below, on which the hours are marked by the blossoming and the fading, the opening and the closing of the flowers. The one exactly corresponds with the other. The movements of the living creatures depend upon the movements of the lifeless stars. The daisy follows with its golden eye the path of the sun through the sky, opens its blossom when he rises, and closes it when he sets. Thus should it be with our souls. There should be a similar harmony between them and the motions of the heavenly bodies which God has set in the firmament for signs to us. Our spiritual life should progress with their revolutions; should keep time with the music of the spheres; our thoughts should be widened with the process of the suns. This is the true astrology. And as the daisy follows the sun all day to the west with its open eye, and acknowledges no other light that falls upon it--lamplight, moonlight, or starlight--remaining closed under them all, except under the light of the sun; so should we follow the Sun of Righteousness whithersoever He goeth, and say with the Psalmist, “Whom have we in the heavens but Thee; and there is none upon the earth whom we desire besides Thee.” (H. Macmillan, D. D.)

The clock of the universe

It was the will of God that man should be able to measure and reckon time, that he might learn its value and regulate its employment of it. He therefore placed in the heavens a magnificent and perfect clock, which tells the hours, the days, the weeks, the months, the seasons, and the years--a clock which no one ever winds up, but which yet goes constantly, and never goes wrong. The dial plate of this clock is the blue vault of heaven over our heads--a vault spangled with stars at night, brilliant with light by day--a vault whose edges, rounded like the edge of a watch, rest on the horizon of our mountains here at Geneva, while far out at sea the whole great dial plate may be seen, the dome of the sky seeming to rest on the wide circle of the ocean. And what, think you, are the hands of this magnificent dial plate? God has placed on it two, the greater and the lesser. Both are ever shining, both are ever moving. They are never either too early or too late. The greater is the great light which rules the day, and which, while it seems to turn above our heads from east to west across the celestial vault, rising each morning over the Alps, and setting each evening over the Jura, seems to move at the same time on the great dial plate of the heavens in a contrary direction, that is to say, from the west to the east, or from the Jura towards the Alps, advancing every day the length of twice its own breadth. And the lesser hand of the clock is the lesser light which rules the night, which progresses also in the same direction with the sun, but twelve times faster, advancing each day from twenty-four to twenty-rive times its own breadth, and thus turning round the dial plate in a single month. Thus, for example, if you look this evening at the moon as she sets behind the Jura, and if you carefully observe what stars are hidden behind her disk, tomorrow you will see her again set behind the same mountain, but three-quarters of an hour later, because she has in the meantime moved towards the east twenty-four times her own breadth; and then she will cover stars much nearer the Alps, so that twenty-four moons might be placed in the sky between the place that she will occupy tomorrow and the one she occupies today. (Prof. Gaussen.)

No note of time in the dark

When the famous Baron de Trenck came out of his dark dungeon in Magdeburg, where he could not distinguish night from day, and in which the King of Prussia had kept him imprisoned for ten years, he imagined that he had been in it for a much shorter period, because he had no means of marking how the time had passed, and he had seen no new events, and had had even few thoughts: his astonishment was extreme when he was told how many years had thus passed away like a painful dream. (Prof. Gaussen.)

Time should be valued

The savages of North America, after their fatiguing hunting parties, and warlike expeditions, pass whole weeks and months in amusement and repose, without once thinking that they are wasting or losing anything that is valuable. It has been well said that the progress of a people in civilization may be estimated by their regard for time--their care in measuring and valuing it. If that be true even of a half-savage people, how much more must it be true of a Christian nation! Ah, how much ought a Christian to value his time, if he means to be a faithful steward, since his hours belong not to himself, but to his gracious Master, who has redeemed him at so great a price; and since he knows that he must give an account of it at last. (Prof. Gaussen.)

The moon, an emblem of the Church

1. As the moon, though widely separated from the earth, is attached to it by the invisible bonds of gravitation, and ordained to travel with it in its appointed course round the sun--so the Church militant, though distinct from the world, is connected with it by many ties, and appointed to pursue her pilgrimage along with it to eternity.

2. As the moon receives all her natural light from the sun, so the Church receives all her spiritual light from the Sun of Righteousness.

3. As the moon has been appointed to reflect the light she receives upon the earth to relieve her darkness, to guide the lone mariner on the deep, to lead the belated traveller in his path, and to cheer the shepherd keeping watch over his flock by night--so the Church has been ordained to reflect her heavenly light for the guidance of benighted and bewildered humanity around her. The design of her establishment, like that of the moon, is to give light upon the earth.

4. As the moon remains not stationary in the heavens over some favoured spot, but according to the law of her creation, pursues her career around the globe to cheer and enlighten its every habitable region--so the Church has been organized and commanded to carry the light of the gospel into all the world, and preach the unsearchable riches of Christ to every creature.

5. As the moon, while shining in her usual brightness, moves forward unnoticed, but when under an eclipse has the gaze and remarks of half the earth’s population--so the Church while walking in light and love, enlists but little of the world’s attention; but let her honour pass under a cloud, or her purity be tarnished by the misconduct of but a member, and the eyes of all are fixed upon her, and her failing repeated by every tongue. Let the Israel of God take heed to their ways. (H. W. Morris, D. D.)

God calling the luminaries into existence

1. The call was omnipotent. Man could not have kindled the great lights of the universe.

2. The call was wise. The idea of the midnight sky, as now beheld by us, could never have originated in a finite mind. The thought was above the mental life of seraphs. It was the outcome of an infinite intelligence. And nowhere throughout the external universe do we see the wisdom of God as in the complicated arrangement, continual motions, and yet easily working and harmony of the heavenly bodies. There is no confusion. They need no readjustment.

3. The call was benevolent. The sun is one of the most kindly gifts of God to the world; it makes the home of man a thing of beauty. Also the light of the moon is welcome to multitudes who have to wend their way by land or sea, amid the stillness of night, to some far-off destination.

4. The call was typal. The same Being who has placed so many lights in the heavens can also suspend within the firmament of the soul the lights of truth, hope, and immortality. (J. S. Exell, M. A.)

God has placed the lights above us

1. As ornaments of His throne.

2. To show forth His majesty.

3. That they may the more conveniently give their light to all parts of the world.

4. To manifest that light comes from heaven, from the Father of lights.

5. The heavens are most agreeable to the nature of these lights.

6. By their moving above the world at so great a distance, they help to discover the vast circuit of the heavens. (J. S. Exell, M. A.)

The heavenly bodies

1. Not to honour them as gods.

2. To honour God in and by them (Psalms 8:1; Timothy 6:16; Isaiah 6:2). (J. S. Exell, M. A.)

The place and use of creatures are assigned unto them by God

1. That He may manifest His sovereignty.

2. That He may establish a settled order amongst the creatures.

3. Let all men abide in their sphere and calling.

(1) To testify their obedience to the will of God.

(2) As God knows what is best for us.

(3) As assured that God will prosper all who fulfil His purpose concerning them. (J. S. Exell, M. A.)

The stars and the spiritual life

Not for secular purposes alone are the divisions of time marked out for us by the heavenly bodies; they have a still higher and more important purpose to serve in connection with our spiritual life.

The lights which God hath set in the firmament BREAK UP THE MONOTONY OF LIFE. Life is not a continuous drudgery, a going on wearily in a perpetual straight line; but a constant ending and beginning. We do not see all the road of life before us; the bends of its clays and months and years hide the future from our view, and allure us on with new hopes, until at last we come without fatigue to the end of the journey.

The lights which God hath set in the firmament DIVIDE OUR LIFE INTO SEPARATE AND MANAGEABLE PORTIONS. Each day brings its own work, and its own rest.

The lights which God hath set in the firmament ENABLE US TO REDEEM THE TIME; to retrieve the misspent past by the right improvement of the present. Each day is a miniature of the whole of life and of all the seasons of the year. Morning answers to spring; midday to summer; afternoon to autumn; evening to winter. We are children in the morning, with fresh feelings and hopes; grown-up men and women, with sober and sad experiences, at noon; aged persons, with whom the possibilities of life are over, in the afternoon and night.

The lights which God hath set in the firmament ENABLE US TO SET OUT ON A NEW COURSE FROM SOME MARKED AND MEMORABLE POINT. God is giving to us, with every new horizon of life, a sense of recovered freedom, separating us from past painful experiences, and enabling us to begin a new course of life on a higher plane. And with this division of time by the orbs of heaven--this arrangement of days and months and years, with their perpetually recurring new opportunities of living no more unto ourselves but unto God,--coincide the nature and design of the blessed gospel, whose unique peculiarity is, that it is the cancelling of debts that could never be paid, the assurance that our relations to God are entirely changed, and that all old things are passed away, and all things become new. It is this association that gives such importance to anniversaries, birthdays, and new year’s days-seasons considered peculiarly auspicious for commencing life afresh, and which are generally taken advantage of to form new resolutions. (H. Macmillan, D. D.)

Lessons of the firmament

LET US LOOK AT THE SUN, AS AN EMBLEM OF GOD HIMSELF. The king of the hosts of heaven, the centre of revolving orbs, the source of light and heat.

THE MOON, SHINNING WITH BORROWED LIGHT, MAY REPRESENT THE CHURCH, which, like a city set on a hill, only reflects the light that falls on it. Out of Zion, the perfection of beauty, God shines.

THE STARS MAY REPRESENT CONSPICUOUS CHARACTERS. The brightest star and best is the Star of Bethlehem, which ushered in Christ.

The star of the East is the daystar which marks our bright, guiding light, Jesus Christ. He is the centre of attraction to all. (J. B. Smith, D. D.)

The fourth day

The fourth day’s work is “lights set in heaven”: mighty work: more glorious far than the “light” upon the first day. Then the light was undefined. Now lights are come; one with warmth; one cold but shining: each defined; the one direct, the other reflex; but both to rule and mightily affect, not the earth only, but even the wide waters: giving another cheek, too, to darkness, not only taking from it day, but invading and conquering it by the moon and stars in its own domain of night. And so after that the seas of lust are bounded, and the fruits of righteousness begin to grow and bud, a sun, a mighty light is kindled in our heaven,--Christ dwells there, God’s eternal word and wisdom,--no longer undefined, but with mighty warmth and power, making the whole creation to bud and spring heavenward: while as a handmaid, another light, of faith, grows bright within,--our inward moon, truth received on testimony, the Church’s light; for as men say, Christ is the sun, the Church the moon, so is faith our moon within to rule the night. Of these two, the lesser light must have appeared the first; for each day grew and was measured “from the evening to the morning”; just as faith, with borrowed light, in every soul still precedes the direct beams of this light or Word within. Now both shine to pour down light. Oft would darkness fall, if our moon of faith rose not to rule the night. Yet fair as she is, she but reminds us of present night, making us sigh for the day star and the perfect day. These lights are “for signs and for seasons and for years,” and “to rule over the day and over the night also.” For “signs”--first, of what we are. We have thought this earth is fixed: but sun and moon show that we are but wanderers here. We have supposed ourselves the centre; that it is the sun that moves. The lights will teach us in due time that he is steadfast: it is we who journey on. Again, these lights are “for a sign” how we stand, and where we are; by our relative positions toward them showing us, if we will learn, our real situation. For the moon is new and feeble, when, between us and the sun, it trenches on his place, and sets at eventide. So is our faith: put in Christ’s place, it must be weak: dark will be our night: we shall move on unillumined. Not so when in her place, not in His, but over against Him, our moon of faith rises at even, as our Sun withdraws Himself. Now she trenches not upon Him; therefore she is full of light, making the midnight almost as the noon-day. Signs they are, too, to the man, when at length he walks upon the earth,--the image of God, which after fruits and lights is formed in us,--to guide him through the wastes within the creature, as he seeks to know its lengths and breadths that he may subdue it all. The lights are “for seasons” also; to give healthful alternations of cold and heat, and light and darkness. Sharp winters with their frosts, chill and deadness in our affections, and the hours of darkness which recur to dim our understandings, are not unmixed evil. Ceaseless summer would wear us out: therefore the lights are “for seasons,” measuring out warmth and light as we can profit by it. So faith wanes and waxes, and Christ is seen and hid, each change making the creature learn its own dependence; forcing it to feel, that, though blessed, it is a creature, all whose springs of life and joy are not its own. These lights, too, are “to rule over the day and over the night.” To rule the creature, much more to rule such gifts as the day, wrought by God Himself in it, as yet has been unknown. Even to bound the natural darkness hitherto has seemed high attainment. Now we learn that the precious gifts, which God vouchsafes, need ruling; an earnest this of that which comes more fully on the sixth day. A sun “to rule the day” leads to the man “to have dominion,” set to rule, not the day only, but every creature. It is no slight step, when God’s aim, hitherto unknown, is learnt; that in His work this gift is for this, that for the other purpose; when it is felt that the best gifts may be misused and wasted; that they need governing, and may and must be ruled. (A. Jukes.)

The heavenly bodies emblematic of the spiritual

It is interesting to notice the many applications made in Scripture of the heavenly bodies as emblems of the spiritual.

1. God is a Sun and Shield (Psalms 84:11).

2. Christ is the Sun of Righteousness (Malachi 4:2); the Light of the John 8:12); the Morning Star (Revelation 2:16); the dispeller of the darkness (2 Samuel 23:4).

3. The Church is fair as the moon (Song of Solomon 6:10); clear as the Song of Solomon 6:10): the moon under her feet (Revelation 12:1); crowned with stars; the saints are to shine as the stars (Daniel 12:3); with different glories (1 Corinthians 15:41); as the sun in his Judges 5:31); as the sun in the kingdom of their Father Matthew 13:43).

4. Christ’s ministers are likened to stars (Revelation 1:16-20).

5. Apostates are likened to wandering stars (Jude 1:13).

6. It was a star that lighted the wise men (Matthew 2:2).

7. At the coming crisis of earth’s history, all these heavenly orbs are to be shaken and darkened for a season (Mark 13:25). (H. Bonar, D. D.)


THE LIGHTS OF ANGELS, OF MEN, AND OF ANIMALS. The angels behold the face of God and watch His plans from age to age. Compared with us, they live in the blaze of day: we have the lesser light of human reason, which relieves, but does not banish, the night. There are around us other conscious creatures, endowed with still feebler powers, who grope in the dim starlight of animal existence. God is the “Father of all lights.”

THE LIGHTS OF HEATHENISM, JUDAISM, AND CHRISTIANITY. What a glimmering starlight of religious knowledge is that of the heathen millions! How partial and imperfect was the knowledge that even the Jews possessed! At last “the Sun of Righteousness arose with healing in His wings.” The world has not exhausted, it has scarcely touched, the wealth of spiritual light and life in Him.

THE LIGHTS OF CHILDHOOD, MANHOOD, AND THE HEAVENLY STATE. The faint gleam of light in childhood develops into the stronger light of manhood, but even that does not banish the night. “In Thy light we shall see light.” (T. M. Herbert, M. A.)

Genesis of the luminaries


1. Twin triads of the creative week. This venerable creation archive evidently divides into two great eras, each era consisting of three days; each day of the first era having a corresponding day in the second era. Thus, to the chemical light of the first day correspond the sidereal lights of the fourth day. To the terrestrial individualization of the second day corresponds the vital individualization of the fifth day. To the genesis of the lands and of the plants on the third day corresponds the genesis of the mammals and of man on the sixth day. Thus, the first era of the triad was an era of prophecy; the second era of the triad an era of fulfilment.

2. The two-fold difficulty.

(1) “Was not light already existing?” The answer is easy. Light may exist independently of the sun. There is, e.g., the light of phosphorescence, the light of electricity, the light of incandescence, the light of chemism, atom clashing with atom, and discharging light at every collision.

(2) “The earth,” you remind me, “is a constituent part of the solar system; as such, it necessitates from the beginning the contemporaneous existence of the sun, to hold the solar system in balance, and to keep earth itself in its orbit; but if the sun was not created till the fourth day, what becomes of the astronomic teaching that earth has been from the beginning an integrant part of the solar system?” Again the answer is easy. Observe, first, that our passage does not assert that God created--that is to say, caused to come into existence for the first time--sun, moon, and stars, on the fourth day. All that our passage asserts in this matter is this: God on the fourth day for the first time caused sun, moon, and stars to become visible. Remember that light is not an essential, constituent part of the sun. For aught we know, the sun itself may be a dark body, as indeed the “solar spots” have led some astronomers to think. Moreover, surveying the sun as the centre of gravitation for the planetary system, the sun can fulfil its gravitating office equally well whether luminous or not.

3. Panorama of the emerging luminaries. There is still light on the newly-verdured mountain and mead. But it is a strange, weird light; perhaps like that of the zodiacal gleam, or the dying photosphere, or perhaps like the iris-hued, lambent shimmer of the northern aurora. Suddenly the goldening gateways of the East open, and, lo, a dazzling orb, henceforth the lord of day, strides forth from his cloud pavilion as a bridegroom from his chamber, and rejoices to run his course as a giant his race; upward and upward he royally mounts; downward and downward he royally bows: as he nears the goal of his resplendent march, lo, the blushing portals of the West open to receive him: and lo, again, his gentle consort, “pale empress of the night,” sweeps forth in silver sheen, while around her planet and comet, Arcturus and Mazzaroth, Orion and Pleiades, hold glittering court.

4. Purpose of the luminaries.

(1) To bring about alternations of light and darkness. Man, as at present constituted, must have recurrent periods of sleep. And that we may sleep and wake at healthful intervals, how mercifully the Framer of our bodies and Father of our spirits has divided the day from the night; at every sunset dropping the curtains of His evening, and so inviting to repose; at every sunrise lifting the curtains of His morning, and so inviting to labour! Ah, it is one of the perhaps inevitable regresses of civilization that it tends to reverse our Divine Father’s method, bidding us close our shutters, that we may sleep during His sunshine, and light our little candles and gas jets, that we may work during His night.

(2) To be for signs, seasons, days, years.

(3) To give light on the earth.


1. The luminaries are guides to Jesus Christ. The Creator has expressly bidden us accept His ordinances of the heavenly bodies as the pledge of His covenant of grace in the Divine Son (Jeremiah 31:35; Jeremiah 33:20-26; Psalms 89:35-37).

2. Jesus Christ and His Church and His truths are the true luminaries, shining in the true heavens. Jesus Christ Himself is the true Greater Light, ruling the day as the Sun of Righteousness, coming out of the chamber of His eternity as the King of the worlds, going forth from the ends of the heavens, circling unto the ends thereof, and nothing is hidden from His heat Psalms 19:5-6). The Church of Jesus Christ--Immanuel’s real, spiritual Church, the aggregate of saintly characters--is the true lesser light: ruling the night as the moon of His grace, shining because He shines upon her, silvering the pathway of this world’s benighted travellers. The truths of Jesus Christ--the truths which He came to disclose--are the true stars of heaven, from age to age sparkling on His brow as His many-jewelled diadem. And Jesus Christ and His Church and His truths are the world’s true regulators--serving for its signs and its seasons, its days and its years. Let me cite a single instance. Why do not the world’s scholars still measure time from the Greek Olympiads? Why do not the world’s kings still reckon their annals from the Year of Rome? Why do not the world’s scientists date their era from some memorable transit or occultation? Ah, Jesus Christ and His Church and His truth are too much for them. And so they all, even the most infidel, bow in unconscious homage before the Babe of Bethlehem, reckoning their era from that manger birth, dating their correspondence, their legislations, their discoveries, their exploits, with the august words: Anno Domini. Yes, Christianity is humanity’s true meridian, dictating its measures of time and space, its calendars and eras, its latitudes and longitudes. All history, if we did but know it, is time’s great ecliptic around the eternal Son of God. Happy the hour, brother, when the fourth day dawns on thy soul, and thou takest thy place in the moral heavens, henceforth to shine and rule as one of earth’s luminaries!

2. A personal entreaty. Take heed, O friend, lest the day come when the stars, now fighting in their courses for thee, shall fight against thee Judges 5:20). In that coming day of sack-clothed sun and crimsoned moon and falling stars, one thing shall survive the dissolving heavens and melting elements: It is the blood-bought Church of the living God. (G. D. Boardman.)


There are few words much oftener in our mouths than that short but most important word, time. In one sense, the thought of it seems to mingle itself with almost everything which we do. It is the long measure of our labour, expectation, and pain; it is the scanty measure of our rest and joy. Its shortness or its length are continually given as our reason for doing, or leaving undone, the various works which concern our station, our calling, our family, our souls. What present time is; which it is most difficult to conceive, if we try it by more exact thought than we commonly bestow on it; for even as we try to catch it, though but in idea, it slips by us. Subdivide ore” measure as we may, we never actually reach it. It was future, it is past; it is the meeting point of these two, and itself, it seems, is not. And so, again, whether there is really any future time; whether it can exist, except in our idea, before it is. Or whether there can be any past time; what that can be which is no more; whose track of light has vanished from us in the darkness; which is as a shadow that swept by us, and is gone. All this is full of wonder, and it may become, in many ways, most useful matter of reflection to those who can bear to look calmly into the depths of their being. It may lead us to remember how much of what is round us here is, after all, seeming and unreal, and so force us from our too ready commerce with visible shadows into communion with invisible realities. It may show us how continually we are mocked in the regions of the senses and the understanding, and so drive us for certainty and truth to the higher gifts of redeemed reason and fellowship with God. It may abate the pride of argument on spiritual things, and teach us to take more humbly what has been revealed. And this should give us higher notions of that eternity towards which we are ever drifting on. We are apt to think of it as being merely prolonged time. But the true idea of eternity is not prolonged time, but time abolished. To enter on eternity is to pass out of the succession of time into this everlasting present. And this suggests to us the two remarkable characters, which together make up the best account we can give of time. The one--how completely, except in its issue, it passes from us: the other--how entirely, in that issue, it ever abides with us. In itself how completely does it pass away. Past time, with all its expectations, pains, and pleasures, how it is gone from us! The pleasures and the pains of childhood, of youth, nay, even of the last year, where are they? Every action has tended more to strengthen the capricious tyranny of our self-will, or to bring us further under the blessed liberty of Christ’s law. We are the sum of all this past time. It was the measure of our opportunities, of our growth. We are the result of all these minutes. And if we thus look on past time, how, at this break in our lives, should we look on to the future? Surely with calm trust, and with resolutions of increased earnestness. Let our thanksgivings grow into the one, our humiliation change into the other. If time is the opportunity and measure of this growth, what a work have we to perform in it! How should we strive to store it full with deeds which may indeed abide! (Bishop S. Wilberforce.)

The sun

The sun is almost the heart and brain of the earth. It is the regulator of its motions, from the orbital movement in space, to the flow of its currents in the sea and air, the silent rise of vapours that fly with the winds to become the source of rivers over the land; and the still more profound action in the living growth of the plant and animal. It is no creator of life; but through its outflowing light, heat, and attraction, it keeps the whole world in living activity, doing vastly more than simply turning off days and seasons. Without the direct sunlight there may be growth, as many productions of the sea and shady grounds prove. But were the sun’s face perpetually veiled, far the greater part of living beings would dwindle and die. Many chemical actions in the laboratory are suspended by excluding light; and in the exquisite chemistry of living beings this effect is everywhere marked: even the plants that happen to grow beneath the shade of a small tree or hedge in a garden evince, by their dwarfed size and unproductiveness, the power of the sun’s rays, and the necessity of this orb to the organic period of the earth’s history. (Bib. Sacra.)

God more glorious than the sun

We are told that the late Dr. Livingstone of America, and Louis Bonaparte, ex-king of Holland, happened once to be fellow passengers, with many others, on board one of the North River steamboats. As the doctor was walking the deck in the morning, and gazing at the refulgence of the rising sun, which appeared to him unusually attractive, he passed near the distinguished stranger, and, stopping for a moment, accosted him thus: “How glorious, sir, is that object!” pointing gracefully with his hand to the sun. The ex-king assenting, he immediately added, “And how much more glorious, sir, must be its Maker, the Sun of Righteousness!” A gentleman who overheard this short incidental conversation, being acquainted with both personages, now introduced them to each other, and a few more remarks were interchanged. Shortly after, the doctor again turned to the ex-king, and, With that air of polished complaisance for which he was remarkable, invited him first, and then the rest of the company, to attend a morning prayer. It is scarcely necessary to add that the invitation was promptly complied with.

The luminaries

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; 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. Previous 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 His 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 anything: 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. He considered “day unto day as uttering speech, and night unto night as showing knowledge.” Every night we retire we are reminded of death, and every morning we arise of the resurrection. In beholding the sun also, “which as a bridegroom cometh out of his chamber, and rejoiceth 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.” (A. Fuller.)

Verses 20-23

Genesis 1:20-23

Let the waters bring forth abundantly

Fish and fowl



1. Life was not an education.

2. It was not the result of combination.

3. It was a miraculous gift. There are two words in this sentence that should be remembered, and joined together most closely, they are “God” and “life.” This should be so in the soul of man, as God is the source of its true and higher life. If the Church were to remember the connection of these two great words, she would be much more powerful in her toil. Life was at first the miraculous gift of God. Its continuance is His gift.


1. Life is varied in its manifestations. There were created on this day both fish and fowl. Thus life is not a monotony. It assumes different forms. It grows in different directions. It has several kingdoms. It has numerous conditions of growth.

2. Life is varied in its capability. The fish swim in the water. The fowls fly in the air; the abilities and endowments of each are distinct and varied. Each takes a part in the great ministry of the universe. The whole in harmony is the joy of man.

3. Life is abundant and rich in its source. The waters brought forth abundantly. There was no lack of life-giving energy on the part of God. The world is crowded with life. The universe will not soon become a grave, for even in death there is life, hidden but effective to a new harvest.

4. Life is good in its design.


1. It was the blessing of increasing numbers.

2. It was the blessing of an extended occupation of the land and sea.

3. Let us always remember that the blessing of God rests upon the lower spheres of life. (J. S. Exell, M. A.)

Genesis of the animals


1. Animals the issue of fifth and sixth days.

2. Panorama of the emerging animals. Lo! the nautilus spreads his sail, and the caterpillar winds his cocoon, and the spider weaves his web, and the salmon darts through the sea, and the lizard glides among the rocks, and the eagle soars the sky, and the lion roams the jungle, and the monkey chatters among the trees, and all animate creation waits the advent and lordship of man, God’s inspiration and therefore God’s image, God’s image and therefore God’s viceroy.

3. The animal succession a progress.

(1) Animals of the water.

(2) Animals of the air.

(3) Animals of the land.

(4) Man.

And with this Mosaic account of the origin of life, ascending from plant, by way of animal, to man, the geological records substantially agree: first, plants and fishes of the Palaeozoic period; secondly, birds and reptiles of the Mesozoic period; thirdly, mammals and man of the Neozoic period.

4. “After their kind.” Almost like a prophetic caveat against the modern hypothesis of the mutability of species.

5. The Creator’s blessing. The benediction of fertility.

6. The Divine delight.


1. Animals have “souls.” What in man we call reason, in animals we call instinct. As that mysterious force which vitalizes and builds up the fabric of the human body is the same mysterious force which vitalizes and builds up the fabric of the animalcule, so that mysterious guide which teaches Newton how to establish the law of gravity, and Shakespeare how to write his “Hamlet,” and Stephenson how to bridge the St. Lawrence, seems substantially to be the same mysterious guide which teaches the beaver how to build his dam, and the spider how to weave his web, and the ant how to dig his spiral home. The difference does not seem to be so much a difference in nature or kind, as in degree or intensity. As the diamond is the same substance with charcoal--only under superior crystalline figure--so reason seems to be substantially the same with instinct--only in an intensely organized state. One thing is common to man and animals: it is that mysterious principle or force which, in want of a better name, and in distinction from the term spirit, we call “soul.”

2. Animals perhaps are immortal. I quote from that profound treatise by Louis Agassiz, entitled “Essay on Classification”: “Most of the arguments of philosophy in favour of the immortality of man apply equally to the permanency of the immaterial principle in other living beings. May I not add that a future life in which man should be deprived of that great source of enjoyment and intellectual and moral improvement, which results from the contemplation of the harmonies of an organic world, would involve a lamentable loss? And may we not look to a spiritual concert of the combined worlds and all their inhabitants in presence of their Creator, as the highest conception of paradise?” (See Romans 8:19-23.) (G. D.Boardman.)

The prolific character of the life of the ocean

The finny tribes are specially prolific. The eggs of fish, or spawn, produce vast multitudes. The row of a codfish contains nine millions of eggs, of a flounder, about a million and a half, and of a mackerel, half a million. “The unchecked produce of one pair of herrings would in a very few years crowd the Atlantic.” So is it also with birds. The passenger pigeon of North America has been seen in flocks a mile broad, and taking four hours in passing, at the rate of a mile a minute, and was calculated to contain 250 millions of Psalms 104:24-25). The microscope also shows there are beings with perfect organs of nutrition and locomotion, a million of which would not exceed in bulk one grain of sand, and eight millions of which might be compressed within a grain of mustard seed. Others are so small that 500 millions of them could live in a dish of water. There are even animalcules so minute that a cubic inch could contain a million millions of them. (Jacobus.)

Shoals of animalculae

Some few years ago a newspaper correspondent, writing from the Gulf of Siam, said: “We steamed forward at the rate of six or seven knots an hour, and a wonderful spectacle presented itself. Athwart the vessel, long white waves of light were seen rushing towards it, ever brighter and in swifter motion, till they seemed to flow together, and at length nothing could be seen on the water but a whirling white light. Looking stedfastly at it, the water, the air, and the horizon seemed blended in one; thick streamers of mist seemed to float by both sides of the ship with frantic speed. The appearances of colour resembled those which arise when one turns a black-and-white striped ball so quickly that the white stripes seem to run together. The spectacle lasted for five minutes, and was repeated once again for two minutes. No doubt it was caused by shoals of animalculae in the water.”

Resemblances between fishes and birds

I must tell you of a discovery made by a very dear friend whom I have lost, the excellent Dr. Prevost, a learned anatomist of Geneva. He often mentioned it to me as affording a remarkable testimony to the Word of God. It helps to explain the words of the 20th verse. We may perhaps wonder that two such apparently different kinds of creatures as fishes and birds should be classed together. Who among us would have thought of such an arrangement? But, dear children, scientific men have discovered, on examination, that there are very close resemblances between them in their anatomical structure and in some other things. Both spring from eggs; and while the one class--the birds--swim in the air with wings, the other--the fishes--fly in the water with fins. And besides these points of resemblance, the discovery made by Dr. Prevost, which astonished himself and interested the learned world very much, was this, that the globules of the blood of fishes and birds are seen to be the same, when closely examined, and do not at all resemble the globules of the blood of those animals which sprang from the earth on the sixth day. (Prof. Gaussen.)

Some of the faculties and organs of fishes

Fishes appear to be endowed with the senses common to land animals. Those of touch and taste are supposed to be feeble, in general: though some are furnished with flexible feelers, or organs of touch. Their organs of smelling and hearing are more acute, and are in their structure happily adapted to the element in which they live. These latter senses have no external avenues, as in land animals; for immediate and perpetual contact with the dense element of water would soon prove ruinous to their delicate and sensitive nerves. Smelling is said to be the most acute of all their senses. The olfactory membrane and nerves in them are of remarkable extent; in a large shark they expand over a surface of no less than twelve or thirteen square feet. Hence, by this sense the finny tribes can discover their prey or their enemies at a great distance, and direct their course in the thickest darkness, and amid the most agitated waves. Possessing the foregoing faculties fishes are not without a degree of sagacity. They have been found even capable of instruction, and been taught to come when called by their names, and to assemble for their food at the sound of a whistle or bell. They are said to be among the most long-lived of all animals. The carp has been known to reach more than a hundred years of age. And Kirby relates that a pike was taken in 1754, at Kaiserslautern, which had a ring fastened to the gill covers, from which it appeared to have been put into the pond of that castle by order of Frederick II in 1487--a period of two hundred and sixty-seven years. Fishes excel in strength, and seem to be capable of prolonged exertion without apparent fatigue. Even the feathered tribe, in this, must yield the palm to the finny race. The shark will out travel the eagle, and the salmon will out strip the swallow in speed. The thunny will dart with the rapidity of an arrow, and the herring will travel for days and weeks at the rate of sixteen miles an hour, without respite or repose. Sharks have been observed to follow and play around a ship through its whole voyage across the Atlantic; and the same fish, when harpooned, has been known to drag a vessel of heavy tonnage at a high speed against wind and tide. (Prof. Gaussen.)

Fecundity of fishes

This “blessing” is to be regarded, not simply as a solemn word of command, but the imparting of reproducing energies to the varied tribes of the deep. And to see how effective this blessing was, we need but look at the results which followed. Nothing can exceed that “abundance” brought forth. If we attempt to estimate the number of eggs in the toes of various kinds of fish, we may be able to form some faint conception of it. The roe of the cod fish, according to Harmer’s estimate, contains 3,686,000 eggs; of the flounder, 225,000; of the mackerel, 500,000; of the tench, 350,000; of the carp, 203,000; of the roach, 100,000; of the sole, nearly 100,000; of the pike, 50,000; of the herring, the perch, and the smelt, from 20,000 to 30,000. Other species are equally prolific. Such numbers present an idea of fecundity that is truly overwhelming. It must be observed, however, that a large proportion of the eggs deposited are destroyed in various ways; they are eagerly sought after by other fishes, by aquatic birds, and by reptiles, as food; and in the young state, they are pursued and devoured by larger ones of their own species, as well as by those of others. Still the numbers which arrive at maturity surpass all comprehension, as appears from the countless myriads of those that are of gregarious and migratory habits. Impelled and guided by that mysterious power we call instinct, fishes, at certain seasons, migrate and travel in immense droves to seek a suitable place and temperature for the reproduction of their species. Vast migrations take place from the oceans into all the rivers of the earth; the salmon and others often ascend large streams in great numbers for hundreds and even thousands of miles. Vaster yet by far are the migrations that occur in the ocean from one region to another. The migratory tribes of the sea are very numerous; of these, among the best known is the cod; at spawning time these fish proceed northward, and frequent the shallows of the ocean, such as the banks of Newfoundland, where they are found in infinite multitudes. The haddock resorts, in like manner, to northern coasts, and has been found in immense shoals of more than twenty miles long and three miles broad. The mackerel also is a migratory tribe; these winter in the Arctic and Antarctic oceans, from whence in the spring they emerge from their hiding places in innumerable myriads, and proceed to more genial seas to deposit their eggs. The thunny travels for the same end in numbers without number. But the most notable of all the migratory species are the herrings; these, like many others, pass the winter in high northern latitudes, and at different times through the summer, proceed southward in search of food, and to deposit their spawn. Some idea of their numbers may be formed from the vast quantities that are taken. Many years since, when the business was prosecuted on a more limited scale than at present, it was reported that on the coast of Norway no less than 20,000,000 were frequently taken at a single fishing; and that the average capture of the season exceeded 400,000,000. At Gottenberg, 700,000,000 were annually caught. Yet all these millions were but a fraction of the numbers taken by the English, Dutch, and other nations. But all that are taken by all nations put together, are no more missed from the countless hosts of the ocean than a drop out of the full bucket. Their shoals, says Kirby, consist of millions of myriads, and are many leagues in width, many fathoms in depth, and so dense that the fishes touch each other; and this stream continues to move at a rapid rate past any particular point nearly all summer. If, then, these single groups of a few species that happen to fall under the observation of man be thus numerous, or rather innumerable, it is obvious that the aggregate of all the orders, genera, and species, making up the whole population of the deep, must infinitely transcend all the powers of human enumeration! (Prof. Gaussen.)


As in the beauteous creations of the vegetable world, and among the countless living tenants of the deep, so also among the birds of the air, we behold indubitable evidences and most impressive displays of the universal and constant agency of God. In all their doings and movements, the guiding finger of their Creator is clearly seen. Prior to all experience, and independent of all instruction, we see the little feathered tribes undertake and accomplish all the ingenious duties of their being; and accomplish them, too, with a certainty and perfection which no instruction could teach, and no experience improve. The sparrow performs and goes through with the whole process of building, laying, hatching, and rearing, as successfully the first time as the last. And whence is all this to the little bird of the air, if not from the omnipresent and infinite Spirit? Who or what leads the young female bird to prepare a nest, untaught and undirected, long before she has need of it? Who instructs each particular species in its own peculiar style of architecture? And when the first egg is brought forth, who teaches her what she must do with it? or that it is a thing to be taken care of, that it must be laid and preserved in the nest? And the germ of future life being wrapped in the egg, who teaches its little owner that heat will develop and mature that germ? Who acquaints her with the fact that her own body possesses the precise kind and degree of warmth required? And what is it that holds her so constantly and so long upon the nest, amid light and darkness, storm and sunshine, without the least knowledge or idea as to what the result or fruit of all this toil and self-denial is to be? Here, then, are operations carried on, and effects produced, which must constrain every candid mind to recognize in them the invisible band of God. Again, the migration of birds--how astonishing is all this! “The stork in the heavens knoweth her appointed times; and the turtle and the crane and the swallow observe the time of their coming.” So fixed are the dates of departing and returning with many tribes of the feathered race that, “in certain eastern countries at the present day, almanacs are timed and bargains struck upon the data they supply.” Now, who informs them that the day is come for them to take their leave? or announces to them that the time has arrived for their return? Without science, without a map, without a compass, without a waymark, who acquaints them with the direction they are to take? or measures out for them the length of the journey they have to perform? Who enables them to pursue undeviatingly their course over pathless oceans, and through the trackless voids of the atmosphere, alike in the day time and in the night season, and to arrive exactly at the same spot from year to year? To whom shall we ascribe this extraordinary power--to God, or to the little bird? It must be either to the one, or to the other. It is obvious that the little bird does not possess either the reasoning powers, or the geographical acquaintance, or the meteorological knowledge, which would enable it either to plan or to carry out such astonishing enterprises. Indeed, could man thus, amid all storms and darkness, infallibly steer his voyages over the main, it would render superfluous the use of his compass and sextant, and enable him at once to dispense with his trigonometry and logarithms. Whatever name, then, we may give this mysterious power, and in whatever light we may regard these astonishing facts, correct and sound reasoning as well as the Scripture, will lead us to the conviction and acknowledgment of the illustrious Newton, that all this is done through the immediate influence and guidance of Him, “in whom all live and move and have their being,” and without whom “not a sparrow falleth to the ground.” In the feathered population of our globe we also behold, not proofs only, but most interesting and delightful displays of the goodness of God. The very introduction of the winged race into the new-made world was, in itself, a demonstration of the benevolence of the Divine mind, as they constitute one of its most beautiful and lovely features. Birds are also living parables, and as such the Great Teacher often employed them. (Prof. Gaussen.)


On the fifth day were also produced the insect population of the new-made world, for these, as well as birds, must be included in the term winged thing. This department of animated nature presents to us a field of study all but illimitable, insects being by far the most numerous and diversified of all the living orders that occupy the dry land. Not less than 100,000 different species are already known, and many more doubtless remain to be discovered. A distinguished naturalist has made the statement, that there are probably six species of insects to every species of plants; this estimate, therefore, would make the entire number of insect species on the face of the globe considerably over half a million. The insect tribes are of all conceivable forms, habits, and instincts. (Prof. Gaussen.)

Reflections on the insect creation

Insects, like every other class of living creatures, have their place to occupy, and their office to fulfil in the Divine plan, and form an essential link in the great chain of animated nature. Small and insignificant as they appear, viewed singly, yet taken collectively, they make up armies far more potent and formidable than either Alexander, or Caesar, or Bonaparte ever mustered; and these being everywhere dispersed, and daily and hourly at work in their several departments, they constitute an agency of great power, and no doubt of great good, in the economy of the world. We may not be able to determine how, or what, each particular species contributes to the benefit of the great whole; but we may be sure that their great variety of organs, and their wonderful instinctive capacities, have been bestowed upon them for ends worthy of the wisdom that produced them. The works of the Lord are perfect, and nothing has been made in vain. Insects are an ornament to the earth’s scenery, and, no doubt, were designed by the munificent Creator to be objects of pleasurable observation and study to man. The insect creation teaches us that God is to be seen in the least as well as in the greatest of His works. He is in all and through all. The guidance of His finger is to be traced as distinctly in the circles of the spider’s web as in the orbits of the planets; and the operation of His hand is as plainly seen in the lustre of an insect’s wing, as in the resplendent disk of the sun, which sheds light and life on surrounding globes. In the history of insects, we meet with the most beautiful illustration that all nature affords of the great and distinguishing doctrine of Christianity--the resurrection of the dead. (Prof. Gaussen.)

Verses 22-23

Genesis 1:22-23

And God blessed them, saying, Be fruitful and multiply

God’s blessing abundant

At the close of this day the Lord does what He has not done on any of the other four days; He blesses that which He has created, and the object of His blessing is an abundant and perpetual increase.

God is liberal; munificent in His donations both temporal and spiritual. Does He give joy? It is unspeakable joy. Does He give peace? It is a peace which passeth all understanding. Does He give pleasures? They are pleasures for evermore. Does He give glory: It is an exceeding eternal weight of glory. The close-handed and narrow-hearted Christian has not learned to be so in the school of the Master. All who are in His school, and who practice the lessons which they receive there, are open-handed and large-hearted. (A. McAuslane, D. D.)

God’s blessing upon the means of great importance

As in a course of physic, a diseased man is prescribed to boil certain midicinabble herbs in running water, and then to drink a quantity of that water, and so is cured of his disease; and yet we know that it is not the water, but the decoction or infusion, which cureth the patient: so it is not the bread that nourisheth, nor the abundance of outward things which enricheth or contenteth, but the infusion of God’s blessing, which is the staff of life, without which a man may starve for hunger with bread in his mouth, suffer the extremity of cold with good clothes on his back, and die like the children of Israel with the flesh of quails in his mouth. (J. Spencer.)

Verses 24-25

Genesis 1:24-25

God made the beast of the earth

The animal creation



1. We should regard the animal world with due appreciation. Man has too low an estimate of the animal world. We imagine that a tree has as much claim to our attention and regard as a horse. The latter has a spirit; is possessed of life; it is a nobler embodiment of Divine power; it is a nearer approach to the fulfilment of creation.

2. We should treat the animal world with humane consideration. Surely, we ought not to abuse anything on which God has bestowed a high degree of creative care, especially when it is intended for our welfare.


1. Useful for business. How much of the business of man is carried on by the aid of animals. They afford nearly the only method of transit by road and street. The commercial enterprise of our villages and towns would receive a serious check if the services of the animal creation were removed.

2. Needful for food. Each answers a distinct purpose toward the life of man; from them we get our varied articles of food, and also of clothing. These animals were intended to be the food of man, to impart strength to his body, and energy to his life. To kill them is no sacrilege. Their death is their highest ministry, and we ought to receive it as such; not for the purpose of gluttony, but of health. Thus is our food the gift of God.

THAT THE ANIMAL WORLD WAS AN ADVANCE IN THE PURPOSE OF CREATION. The chaos had been removed, and from it order and light had been evoked. The seas and the dry land had been made to appear. The sun, moon, and stars had been sent on their light-giving mission. The first touch of life had become visible in the occupants of the waters and the atmosphere, and now it breaks into larger expanse in the existence of the animal creation, awaiting only its final completion in the being of man.


1. The growth and continuance of the animal world was insured. Each animal was to produce its own kind, so that it should not become extinct; neither could one species pass into another by the operation of any physical law.

2. The animal world was good in the sight of God. It was free from pain. The stronger did not oppress, and kill the weaker. The instinct of each animal was in harmony with the general good of the rest. But animals have shared the fate of man, the shadow of sin rests upon them; hence their confusion and disorder, their pain, and the many problems they present to the moral philosopher. (J. S. Exell, M. A.)

The animals of the earth as fore runners of man

1. The first signs and pictures of human life.

2. Its most intimate assistants.

3. Its first conditions. (J. P. Lange, D. D.)

Reflections on the domestic animals

In domestic animals we recognize a very marked token of the paternal kindness of the Creator. Their value and importance to man cannot well be estimated. How much do they add to his strength in toil, to his ease and speed in travelling, and to his sustenance and gratification in food. Even the dog proffers to us a serious and profitable lesson. “Man,” said the poet Burns, “is the god of the dog. He knows no other, he can understand no other. And see how he worships him. With what reverence he crouches at his feet, with what love he fawns upon him, with what dependence he looks up to him, and with what cheerful alacrity he obeys him! His whole soul is wrapped up in his god; all the powers and faculties of his nature are devoted to his service, and these powers and faculties are ennobled by the intercourse. Divines tell us that it ought to be just so with the Christian; but does not the dog often put the Christian to shame?” The ox, also, is to us a living parable. As he slowly wends his way from the field of toil, at noon, or evening, toward home, how affecting the remonstrance his moving figure is made to utter--“The ox knoweth his owner, and the ass his master’s crib; but Israel doth not know, My people do not consider.” And when he bows his submissive neck to receive the yoke and go forth to his labour again, how gracious the invitation symbolized by the willing act--“Take My yoke upon you, and learn of Me; for I am meek and lowly in heart, and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For My yoke is easy, and My burden is light.” The sheep, likewise, is a sacred emblem. Were this animal to repeat all the various truths committed by the Spirit to its symbolism, it would preach to us a new lesson with every change of situation in which we beheld it--following after the shepherd--enclosed in the fold--scattered on the mountain--lying down in green pastures--straying among wolves--borne on the shepherd’s shoulder--bound before the shearer--separating from the goats--in these various circumstances, sheep read to us the most solemn and important truths of the gospel of the Son of God. And the lamb--this is the central symbol of the Christian system. This innocent and gentle creature is preeminently the type of Him who was holy, harmless, and undefiled, the Lamb of God that was slain to take away the sins of the world, in whose blood the redeemed of heaven have washed their robes and made them white. The horse also is a chosen figure of inspiration. In the Book of Revelation--that wonderful portion of the sacred volume--the King of kings, and Lord of lords, is represented as riding on a white horse; and the armies of heaven as following Him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, to witness His victory over all the enemies of truth and righteousness, and to participate in the final triumphs of His grace. Such is the deeply interesting event, such the glorious consummation, of which the horse stands forever a symbol and a remembrancer before his rider. How wise the arrangement that has thus embodied Divine truth in living forms, that ever move before our view. How kind and gracious in God our Father thus to constitute” sheep and oxen” to be unto us as priests and prophets, holding forth the Word of life, and, though they see not the vision themselves, symbolizing the glorious things of Christ and of heaven, to inspire us with the comfort of the most blessed hope. (H. W. Morris, D. D.)

Beasts, or wild animals

The term beast in the history of this day, as has already been stated, is employed to designate wild animals, in contradistinction from the tame, included under the word cattle. Although these are not designed so immediately or so eminently for the service of man as domestic animals, yet many, if not most of them, contribute in one way or another to his welfare--some as game for his sustenance, some by their hides and fur for his clothing, and all as subjects of interesting and profitable study. It is stated in the Holy Scriptures concerning the various branches of the human family, that “God before appointed the bounds of their respective habitations”; this is equally true of the different tribes of animals, Wise design and kind adaptation stand forth conspicuously in the arrangement which has assigned to them their several localities. The hairless elephant, rhinoceros, and tapir are obviously made for the heat and luxuriance of the Torrid Zone; and it is there they are found. The camel and the dromedary have been fashioned and constituted with specific adaptations for the parched and sandy deserts of the tropics; and here, accordingly, they have been located. Advancing to the more temperate regions, we still find all creatures, both domestic and wild, admirably fitted to occupy the zone given to them for their inheritance. And as we proceed northward, we discover given to the various animals hardihood of constitution, together with warmth of covering, increasing with the increasing rigour of the climate, till we pass within the Arctic circle, and reach the polar bears. Voyagers in those latitudes tell us that these animals disport in the regions of ice, and revel in an intensity of cold, which, to man with every contrivance of art for protection, is almost past endurance, and produces in him diseases which shortly terminate his existence--that they sit for hours like statues upon icebergs, where, if we were to take up our position for one half hour, we should become statues indeed, and be frozen into the lasting rigidity of death--that they slide in frolic down slopes of snows, which if we were to touch with our bare hand, would instantly, like fire, destroy its vitality. Who that contemplates these shaggy creatures of the pole, so constituted as to find a congenial home amid eternal ice and snow, and to take their frolicsome pastime amid the bleak and dismal horrors of an arctic night, but must confess that every creature, by Divine appointment and adaptation, is suited for its place, and that every place is fitted for its given occupants? (H. W. Morris, D. D.)

Verses 26-27

Genesis 1:26-27

Let Us make man in Our image, after Our likeness

The creation of man



1. This consultation was Divine. Held by the Three Persons of the Ever-Blessed Trinity, who were one in the creative work.

2. This consultation was solemn Man, unlike the rest of creation, is a being endowed with mind and volition, capable even of rebellion against his Creator. There must be a pause before such a being is made. The project must be considered. The probable issue must be calculated. His relation to heaven and earth must be contemplated.

3. This consultation was happy. The Divine Being had not yet given out, in the creative work, the highest thought of His mind; He had not yet found outlet for the larger sympathies of His heart in the universe He had just made and welcomed into being. The light could not utter all His beneficence. The waters could not articulate all His power. The stars did but whisper His name. The being of man is vocal with God, as is no other created object. He is a revelation of his Maker in a very high degree. In him the Divine thought and sympathy found welcome outlet. The creation of man was also happy in its bearing toward the external universe. The world is finished. It is almost silent. There is only the voice of the animal creation to break its stillness. But man steps forth into the desolate home. He can sing a hymn--he can offer a prayer--he can commune with God--he can occupy the tenantless house. Hence the council that contemplated his creation would be happy.

THAT MAN WAS CREATED IN THE IMAGE OF GOD. Man was originally God-like, with certain limitations. In what respect was man created after the image of God?

1. In respect to his intelligence. God is the Supreme Mind. He is the Infinite Intelligence. Man is like Him in that he also is gifted with mind and intelligence; he is capable of thought.

2. In respect to his moral nature. Man is made after the image of God, in righteousness and true holiness. He was made with a benevolent disposition, with happy and prayerful spirit, and with a longing desire to promote the general good of the universe; in these respects he was like God, who is infinitely pure, Divinely happy in His life, and in deep sympathy with all who are within the circle of His Being.

3. In respect to his dominion. God is the Supreme Ruler of all things in heaven and in earth. Both angels and men are His subjects. Material Nature is part of His realm, and is under His authority. In this respect, man is made in the image of God. He is the king of this world. The brute creation is subject to his sway. Material forces are largely under his command.

4. In respect to his immortality. God is eternal. Man partakes of the Divine immortality. Man, having commenced the race of being, will run toward a goal he can never reach. God, angels, and men are the only immortalities of which we are cognizant. What an awful thing is life.

5. In respect to the power of creatorship. Man has, within certain limits, the power of creatorship. He can design new patterns of work.

THAT THE CREATION OF MAN IN THE DIVINE IMAGE IS A FACT WELL ATTESTED. “So God created man in His own image” (Genesis 1:27). This perfection of primeval manhood is not the fanciful creation of artistic genius--it is not the dream of poetic imagination--it is not the figment of a speculative philosophy; but it is the calm statement of Scripture.

1. It is attested by the intention and statement of the Creator. It was the intention of God to make man after His own image, and the workman generally follows out the motive with which he commences his toil. And we have the statement of Scripture that He did so in this instance. True, the image was soon marred and broken, which could not have been the case had it not previously existed. How glorious must man have been in his original condition.

2. It is attested by the very fall of man. How wonderful are the capabilities of even our fallen manhood. The splendid ruins are proof that once they were a magnificent edifice. What achievements are made by the intellect of man--what loving sympathies are given out from his heart--what prayers arise from his soul--of what noble activities is he capable; these are tokens of fallen greatness, for the being of the most splendid manhood is but the rubbish of an Adam. Man must have been made in the image of God, or the grandeur of his moral ruin is inexplicable. Learn:

1. The dignity of man’s nature.

2. The greatness of man’s fall.

3. The glory of man’s recovery by Christ. (J. S. Exell, M. A.)

What is the image of God in which man was created?

NEGATIVELY. Let us see wherein the image of God in man does not consist. Some, for instance, the Socinians, maintain that it consists in that power and dominion that God gave Adam over the creatures. True, man was vouched God’s immediate deputy upon earth, the viceroy of the creation. But that this power and dominion is not adequately and completely the image of God is clear from two considerations.

1. Then he that had most power and dominion would have most of God’s image, and consequently Nimrod had more of it than Noah, Saul than Samuel, Caesar than Christ--which is a blasphemous paradox.

2. Self-denial and humility will make us unlike.

POSITIVELY. Let us see wherein the image of God in man does consist. It is that universal rectitude of all the faculties of the soul--by which they stand, act, and dispose their respective offices and operations, which will be more fully set forth by taking a distinct survey of it in the several faculties belonging to the soul; in the understanding, in the will, in the passions or affections.

1. In the understanding. At its first creation it was sublime, clear, and inspiring. It was the leading faculty. There is as much difference between the clear representations of the understanding then, and the obscure discoveries that it makes now, as there is between the prospect of landscape from a casement, and from a keyhole. This image was apparent--

(1) In the understanding speculative.

(2) In the practical understanding.

2. In the will. The will of man in the state of innocence had an entire freedom to accept or not the temptation. The will then was ductile and pliant to all the motions of right reason. It is in the nature of the will to follow a superior guide--to be drawn by the intellect. But then it was subordinate, not enslaved; not as a servant to a master, but as a queen to her king, who both acknowledges her subjection and yet retains her majesty.

3. In the passion. Love. Now this affection, in the state of innocence, was happily pitched upon its right object; it flamed up in direct fervours of devotion to God, and in collateral emissions of charity to its neighbour. Hatred. It was then like aloes--bitter, but wholesome. Anger. Joy. Sorrow. Hope. Fear. The use of this point--that man was created in the image of God--might be various; but it shall be two fold.

(1) To remind us of the irreparable loss we have sustained by sin.

(2) To teach us the excellency of the Christian religion. (R. South, D. D.)

The Divine image in man

It is not too much to say that redemption, with all its graces and all its glories, finds its explanation and its reason in creation. He who thought it worth while to create, foreseeing consequences, can be believed, if He says so, to have thought it worth while to rescue and to renew. Nay, there is in this redemption a sort of antecedent fitness, inasmuch as it exculpates the act of creation from the charge of short-sightedness or of mistake. “Let us make man in our image,” created anew in Jesus Christ, “after the image of Him that created him.” Notice three respects in which the Divine image has been traced in the human.

“God is Spirit,” was our Lord’s saying to the Samaritan. Man is spirit also. This it is which makes him capable of intercourse and communion with God Himself. SPIRITUALITY thus becomes the very differentia of humanity. The man who declares that the spiritual is not, or is not for him, may well fancy himself developed out of lower organisms by a process which leaves him still generically one of them; for he has parted altogether from the great strength and life of his race.

Spirituality is the first Divine likeness. We will make SYMPATHY the second. Fellow suffering is not necessarily sympathy. On the other hand, sympathy may be where fellow suffering is not. Love is sympathy, and God is love. Sympathy is an attribute of Deity. When God made man in His own likeness, He made him thereby capable of sympathy. Spirituality without sympathy might conceivably be a cold and spiritless grace; it might lift us above earth, but it would not brighten earth itself.

The third feature is that which we call INFLUENCE; the other two are conditions of it. Influence is by name and essence the gentle flowing in of one nature and one personality into another, which touches the spring of will and makes the volition of one the volition of the other. It is indeed a worse than heathenish negation of the power and activity of God, the source of all, if we debar Him alone from the exercise of that spiritual influence upon the understanding, the conscience, and the heart of mankind, which we find to be all but resistless in the hands of those who possess it by His leave. (Dean Vaughan.)

Man in God’s image

The small can represent the great. Is not the sun reflected in the hues of the smallest flower, and in the greenness of the finest blade of grass? Yet that sun is distant from our earth ninety-five millions of miles, and is larger than our earth one hundred thousand times.


1. In the possession of moral powers and susceptibilities.

2. In the pure and righteous state of his whole nature.

3. In his relative position toward other terrestrial creatures.


1. In the possession of the Divine image human nature had within itself a mirror of God.

2. It led to fellowship with, God.

3. It was a mirror of God to other creatures.

4. It was a mirror in which God saw Himself.

In this was involved--

(1) Supreme good to man himself.

(2) High satisfaction and glory to God.


1. How sadly changed is human nature.

2. How elevated is the Christian.

3. How blessed is God. (S. Martin.)

The image of God in man

In man two widely different elements are blended, of which only the one could be moulded in the image of God. God is a Spirit: but man is material as well as spiritual. God “breathed into (man’s) nostrils the breath of life”: but He had previously “formed (him) of the dust of the ground.” Man therefore is like a coin which bears the image of the monarch: when we would describe the features of that royal likeness, we take no thought of the earthly material of the metal on which it is impressed.

1. In the first place, then, man bears God’s image, because God gave him a freewill, by the force of which gift he is entrusted with individual responsibility, and exercises a sort of delegated power. This freewill was made separate from that of God, or the gift would not have been complete. But it was never meant to be independent of that of God, or the gift to a creature would have been fatal; as indeed man made it, when he started aside into the rebellion of a self-seeking and isolated will. God is the great First Cause.

2. But what are the next features of God’s image, in addition to this gift of will? It might resemble mere force committed to some powerful but lawless body, which could move without the help of sense or sight. Thus the madman, for instance, retains will with its full originating power. But it impels him blindly and irrationally; it may impel him to do himself an injury, or to injure those whom he once loved most dearly. And this would be an instance of will without light. Or again, the thoroughly abandoned man, who is given over to a sort of moral madness, he too retains the power of will; but it has lost all moral guidance; it no longer obeys the laws of rectitude; it has become, by the loss of that guidance, more dangerous, because more mischievous, than even the mightiest of the powers of nature. And this would be an instance of will without law. To complete our notion of God’s image, therefore, we must add to the power of will the law of conscience. Whatsoever is right is our bounden duty, which the strict harmony of our nature enjoins; whatsoever is wrong must be firmly shunned, as a contradiction to that nature, as a new discord in the place of harmony, as a new dishonour to the image of God,

3. But in the third place; it is not sufficient to have added the law of conscience, unless we add the light of reason too. For we could imagine a creature, possessing something like both will and conscience, who might nevertheless be far less richly endowed than man. The will of such a being might be unenlightened: the conscience might be no more than a sort of stolid sensation of mindless and unreasoning fear. The gift of intellect, then, is a third essential feature in our nature; and a third trace of the image of God. Our first parents had dominion, for God “endued them with strength by themselves, and made them according to His image, and put the fear of man upon all flesh, and gave him dominion over beasts and fowls.” They had intelligence, for “counsel, and a tongue, and eyes, ears, and a heart gave He them to understand.” They had intercourse with God, for “He made an everlasting covenant with them, and showed them His judgments.” Now I need scarcely point out how precisely and accurately this threefold division corresponds with what we had reached through an altogether different process. It was as an image of God’s will that man possessed dominion: as an image of God’s mind that he was capable of knowledge: as an image of God’s moral nature, that he was admitted to intercourse with God. (Archdeacon Hannah.)

The creation of man in the Divine image

WHAT BELONGS TO THE IMAGE OF GOD, OR TO THE UPRIGHTNESS IN WHICH MAN IS HERE SAID TO BE CREATED? The principal question here to be considered is, whether the expressions in the text relate to the nature or to the character of man. Perfection of original constitution is one thing; perfection of action and of moral character is a different thing. Now we understand the expressions in our text to be employed with exclusive reference to the nature of man, to the essential being and constitution of his powers. We suppose the meaning to be, that God created man with certain spiritual faculties, which are an image or likeness of what exists in the Maker Himself.

1. We include here, first, reason, or the intellectual powers by which knowledge is acquired.

2. Intimately connected with these intellectual faculties, is the power of feeling moral obligation and of recognizing moral law; and we therefore name this as a second thing embraced in the Divine image, which belongs to man by creation. If the first is an image of the Divine knowledge, this is an image of the Divine holiness.

3. Still another part of the image of God in the soul is the power of free will, or the faculty of determining our actions, and so forming our character. This constitutes the executive power in man, or that by which he gives being and direction to his actions.

4. We may further include in the Divine image in man the power of exercising certain affections. There are decisive indications in nature, and most emphatic declarations in Scripture, that God is compassionate, and loves His creatures. We are, therefore, justified in regarding the feelings of which we are capable of love to God, and of love and piety towards other persons, as still another part of the image of God in the soul.

WE INQUIRE WHETHER THE LANGUAGE OF OUR TEXT OUGHT TO BE UNDERSTOOD OF OUR FIRST PARENTS MERELY, OR OF MANKIND IN GENERAL? We think it applies essentially (though possibly with some modification in respect to the original constitution in the descendants of Adam) to all human beings. Much which we have already said has, in fact, assumed this view; but we shall here state the reasons of it more fully.

1. The passage in Genesis is most naturally viewed as relating to the human nature generally, which then began its existence in Adam and Eve.

2. The Scriptures in several places speak of men generally as made in the image and likeness of God (See Genesis 9:6; James 3:9).

3. We conclude with a few brief remarks.

1. The discussion through which we have passed enables us to see the ground on which Paul could say of the Gentile nations, who have no written revelation, that they are a law unto themselves. Endowed with spiritual faculties which enable them to determine for themselves the main substance of their duty. Made in image of God; so moral and accountable beings.

2. We see also that natural religion, or the religion which developes itself out of the conscience, must be the foundation of the religion of revelation.

3. All men need much and careful instruction. (D. N. Sheldon, D. D.)

Our ancestors

WHEN did God make man?

1. After He had created the world.

2. After He had enlightened the world.

3. After He had furnished and beautified the world.

How did God make man?

1. Consultation amongst the Persons of the Godhead.

2. Process.

3. Breath of life.

WHAT did God make man?

1. A creature comely and beautiful in his outward appearance.

2. Dignified in his soul.

3. Princely in his office.

4. Probationary in his circumstance.

Concluding reflections:

1. How happy must have been the state of man in Paradise!

2. How keenly would they feel the effects of the fall!

3. How visibly do we see the effects of the fall in our world!

4. How thankful ought we to be for the redemption of the world by our Lord Jesus Christ! (Benson Bailey.)

The image of God


1. After His natural image.

(1) A spiritual being.

(2) Free.

(3) Immortal.

2. After His political image. Man is God’s representative on earth.

3. After His moral image. This consists in knowledge, holiness, righteousness, and happiness resulting therefrom (Colossians 3:10; Ephesians 4:24).



1. Man may certainly recover the moral image of God. His ignorance as to spiritual and Divine things, his unreasonableness and folly, may be removed, and he may be enlightened with knowledge and wisdom. As to the necessity of thus recovering the Divine image. Without this we do not learn Christ aright; the gospel and grace of God do not answer their end upon us, nor are we Christians (Ephesians 4:21); without this we do not, cannot glorify God, but dishonour Him (Romans 2:23-26); without this, we cannot be happy here, we cannot be admitted into heaven Hebrews 12:14; Matthew 5:8; 1 John 3:3; Revelation 7:14, Matthew 22:11.; 2 Corinthians 5:3). In order to recover this lovely image of God, we must look at it, as Eve looked at the fruit (2 Corinthians 3:18); we must long for it, must hunger and thirst after it Matthew 5:6); we must exercise faith in Christ (Acts 26:18), and in the promises (2 Peter 1:4); and thus approach the tree of life, and pluck, and eat its fruit; we must pray for the Spirit (Titus 3:5; Ezekiel 36:25; Ezekiel 36:27; 2 Corinthians 3:18); we must read the word, hear, meditate, etc. (John 8:31-32; John 17:17; 1 Peter 1:22-23; James 1:18); we must use self-denial, and mortification (Ro Galatians 5:16), and watchfulness (1 Peter 5:8; Revelation 16:15). (J. Benson.)

Man’s creation and empire

MAN CREATED; THE GODLIKE CREATURE. We are justified in emphasizing man’s entrance into the world as a creation. In the first chapter of Genesis a distinct word is used to denote three separate beginnings: first, when matter was created; second, when animal life was created; third, when man was created. Man only approaches the animal when he is under the control of the spirit that tempted him at the fall. Man is, however, connected with the earth and the animal. The added mental and spiritual endowments consummated the likeness of God upon the earth. When Christ came into the world it was in the same image.

THE EMPIRE AND THE GRANARIES FOR MAN. That kingship which came to man from his likeness to God he has kept as he has retained the Divine image. Single-handed man was not equal to a contest with the monsters that filled the deep. The beasts that roamed the primeval forests could not be conquered, even by the giants who were on the earth in those days, by sheer strength of arm. The sea, the winds, the creeping, flying, browsing mammoths have always been man’s master, save as he used mind and heart to secure his dominion. What, then, makes man the master? Mind, reason, judgment, like God’s.

THE UNFINISHED DAY. Of each preceding evening and morning God said: “And there was evening and there was morning, one day,” but no such record has come to us respecting the seventh day. This is the Scripture: “And on the seventh day God finished the work which He had made; and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had made. And God blessed the seventh day, and hallowed it.” We are still in that day. (W. R. Campbell.)

The Divine in man

The heathen, recognizing in their own way the spiritual in man, tried to bridge over the chasm between it and the earthly by making God more human. The way of revelation on the contrary is to make man more godlike, to tell of the Divine idea yet to be realized in his nature. Nor have we far to go to find some of the traces of this Divine in human nature.

1. We are told that God is just and pure and holy. What is the meaning of these words? Speak to the deaf man of hearing, or the blind of light, he knows not what you mean. And so to talk of God as good and just and pure implies that there is goodness, justice, purity, within the mind of man.

2. We find in man the sense of the infinite: just as truly as God is boundless is the soul of man boundless; there is something boundless, infinite, in the sense of justice, in the sense of truth, in the power of self sacrifice.

3. In man’s creative power there is a resemblance to God. He has filled the world with his creations. It is his special privilege to subdue the powers of nature to himself. He has turned the forces of nature against herself; commanding the winds to help him in braving the sea. And marvellous as is man’s rule over external, dead nature, more marvellous still is his rule over animated nature. To see the trained falcon strike down the quarry at the feet of his master, and come back, when God’s free heaven is before him; to see the hound use his speed in the service of his master, to take a prey not to be given to himself; to see the camel of the desert carrying man through his own home: all these show the creative power of man, and his resemblance to God the Creator. (F. W. Robertson, M. A.)

Wherein can the image of God, in a finite creature, consist? To this question some answer, that the image of God consisted in the superiority of man’s physical faculties, in the admirable conformation of his body. This answer is unworthy of our text and God. Is God a material being? Has He a body, in the image of which lie could create man? Others, on hearing the question, answer, that the image of God in man consisted in the dominion which was given him over all created beings. But can this be the whole of God’s image? Others, again, reply to our question, that the image of God consisted in the faculty of the understanding with which man is endowed, and which so eminently distinguishes him from all other creatures. This answer is less remote from the truth, but it is incomplete. In the fifth chapter of Genesis we find the two words, image and likeness, employed in a manner calculated to make us understand their meaning in our text. There it is said, that “Adam begat a son in his own likeness, after his image, and called his name Seth.” Now is it not evident, that these words ascribe to Seth all the qualifies, physical, intellectual, and moral, which his father possessed? And, can we, without doing violence to the grammar itself, restrain the meaning of these expressions in our text to a certain superiority by which man is distinguished? We think, then, that we are authorized to extend these words to all that which constitutes the character of God, with all the restrictions which the finite nature of man requires. Man resembled his Creator with regard to his intellectual and moral qualities. Doubtless there are, in God, incommunicable perfections which belong to His eternal essence; and, indeed, it is for having arrogated to himself these august perfections, that man unhappily excavated an abyss of woe beneath his feet. But there are in God moral perfections which He communicates to His creatures, endowed with an understanding to know, and a heart to love. In this sense, man was a reflection, feeble, no doubt, and finite, of the Divinity Himself. He was, St. Paul tells us, created in “righteousness and true holiness.” But that we might be able still better to distinguish the traits of this image, God has not contented Himself with merely giving us an exact description of them in the words which we have just considered. Bead the Gospels; there is developed before our eyes the life of one whom the Bible calls the second Adam, one who is designated the image of God, the express image of the person of God, the image of the invisible God. What Divine traits does that image bear! What a reflection of the Divine perfections! What wisdom! What level What devotion! What holiness! There, my brethren, we clearly behold the being made “after God in righteousness and true holiness,” of which the apostle speaks. Now see how the image of God in man develops itself in the idea of the inspired apostle, and in the manifestation of the Son of God on earth. We too, place some traits of this image in the understanding. Not, indeed, in the understanding which requires to be “renewed in knowledge,” because it has forgotten the things which are above, and has lost the knowledge of the name of its heavenly Father; but in the clear and enlightened understanding of the first man, created after the image of God; a spiritual understanding, the reflection of the supreme intelligence, capable of rising to God, of seeking God, of adoring God in His works, and in all His moral perfections; an understanding without error and without darkness, possessing a full knowledge of the author of its being, and all the means of continually making new progress in that knowledge by experience. Now to know God is life eternal; it is the perfection of the understanding; it is the image of God. We do not, however, mean to represent man, created in the image of God, notwithstanding the superiority of his understanding, as a savant, in the ordinary meaning of that word, nor as a philosopher, or metaphysician: it was not by the way of reasoning that he arrived at the knowledge of things; he had no need of such a process. The superiority, even of his understanding, consisted, perhaps, chiefly in its simplicity, its ignorance of what is false, its inexperience of evil, in that practical ingenuousness, which constitutes the charm of the unsophisticated character of a child, a character which Jesus commands us to acquire anew. Always disposed to learn, never presuming upon itself, plying those around it with questions, listening to their answers with an entire confidence--such is the child in the arms of its father, such was Adam before his God, who condescended to instruct him, and whose word was never called in doubt. The Scripture confirms us in the idea, that this was indeed an admirable feature of God’s image, when it tells us, that “God made man upright, but that (afterwards, alas!) they sought out many inventions (reasonings)” (Ecclesiastes 7:29). The Apostle Paul also countenances this opinion, when, in his tender solicitude for the Christians at Corinth, who were exposed to the sophistry of a false philosophy, he writes to them, with an evident allusion to the seduction of our first parents, “I fear lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.” Finally, Jesus Christ also establishes it, when, showing us, in this humble and noble simplicity, this child-like candour, full of openness and confidence, characteristic feature of the children of His kingdom, He addresses to His still presumptuous disciples this solemn declaration: “Verily, I say unto you, except ye be converted and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.” This feature of character leads us to another, which is inseparable from it. This simplicity in the mind supposes or produces simplicity in the heart. When an individual is straightforward in thought, he is straightforward in his actions. Hence, when the Bible tells us that “God made man upright,” it employs a word which, in the original language, means straightness, as, for example, of a way or a line; and to be upright, is to follow, without deviation, this way, or this line. Now, man created after the image of God, followed without effort, as by instinct, this way of uprightness. This feature, so beautiful and so noble, is reproduced in the new man, which, according to the apostle, is “created after God in righteousness,” that is, in uprightness of mind and of heart. Finally, let us not forget (and this consideration includes all that remains for us to say on the image of God in man), that this being, “created after God in righteousness and true holiness,” bore in him a heart capable of loving. And what is the feature of His glorious perfections, that God takes the greatest pleasure in engraving upon His creature, if it be not His love? Is not God love? And shall not he, who bears impressed upon his whole being the image of God, who places his glory in being loved, be capable of loving? Yes, lively, deep, powerful affections filled the heart of the first man, since, even to this day, these affections exercise so great an influence over us, and are often, without our knowing it, the real motives of our actions. But in Adam these affections were pure, as his whole being, they partook of that “true holiness” which constitutes the image of God. To man, still innocent, to love God was life. But love is an all-powerful principle of activity, devotedness, and energy. In the first man it must have been the motive of his devotion to God, the mysterious bond of his intimate communion with Him, the sure guarantee of his filial obedience, the ineffable charm which made him find in that obedience all his happiness. So sweet is devotedness to that which we love! Ah! that servile obedience which makes us tremble before the law, because the commandment came forth with thunderings from the smoking summits of Sinai, was unknown in Eden; that tardy, imperfect obedience, which costs our selfish, grovelling hearts so much, was unknown; it was unknown, because that same love reigned there, which makes the seraph find his happiness in flying at the will of Him who pours life and felicity over him in an unceasing stream. Thus, the understanding of man, always enlightened in the will of God, who spake to His creature as a man speaks to his friend; and the heart of man, which loving that sovereign will above all things, made him find liberty in perfect submission and happiness in ready obedience; so that, in him, thought, will, and affection, all united in one holy harmony, to the glory of Him that had “created him in righteousness and true holiness.” (L. Bonnet.)

Man created in the image of God

To inquire wherein this “image of God” consisted.

To suggest some useful inferences from the inquiry.

1. In the first place, then, we may venture to affirm that man’s resemblance to his Maker did not, as some have strangely imagined, consist in the form or structure of his body, though “fearfully and wonderfully made,” and reflecting, as it does in an eminent degree the wisdom and goodness of the Creator. For with what propriety can body said to be “the image” of spirit?

(1) His understanding--the ruling faculty--was made capable of clearly discerning what is really good, of accurately discriminating between right and wrong, of ascertaining correctly, and as it were intuitively, the boundaries of good and evil; the former as consisting in conformity to the Divine will, the latter in deviation from that will. Doubtless Adam possessed, in his original state, a perfect knowledge of his Maker; that is, a knowledge morally perfect--perfect in kind, though in degree necessarily imperfect, as must ever be the knowledge which a finite being possesses of one that is infinite. His understanding was free from error, his judgment from corrupt bias.

(2) And as his intellect perceived, so his will approved and chose, that which was good. His will implicitly followed the dictates of his understanding; cleaving to, and taking complacency in, all that his judgment saw to be right; rejecting and shunning all which is pronounced to be wrong. The affections also, and appetites, and the subordinate movements and inclinations of the soul, were regulated and controlled according to this standard. There was no war between the decisions of the judgment and the inclinations of the will.

(3) That the image of God in the soul of man consisted, primarily at least, in the right state of the understanding and will, as it regards moral excellence, will appear further by what is said by St. Paul respecting the new man, or that new nature which in regeneration is imparted to the soul. The “new man,” he tells us, in one passage of his Epistles, is “created after God”--i.e., after the likeness of God--“in righteousness and true holiness” (Ephesians 4:24). In another passage he says that it is “renewed in knowledge, after the image of Him that created him” Colossians 3:10). Knowledge, then, and holiness--knowledge not speculative but practical, holiness not relative but real; the one illuminating the mind, the other governing the heart--constituted, in the apostle’s view, that “image of God” in which our text declares that He created man. From all these considerations we may infer that the image of God in which Adam was created consisted in an understanding prepared to imbibe true knowledge, a judgment free from corrupt bias, a will disposed to obedience, and affections regulated according to Divine reason and moral truth. From such a state of mind, godliness, in its internal exercises and outward expressions--righteousness, truth, benevolence, purity, and an exact regulation and government of every appetite and passion--must necessarily result, and every duty to God and man be constantly and delightfully performed. The same disposition would ensure belief of every truth which God should afterwards reveal, obedience to every precept which He should enjoin, a cordial acceptance of every proposal which He should make, and admiration of every discovery of the Divine glory at any time vouchsafed. Nor let this be deemed an uninteresting or unimportant subject of consideration. The contrary will, I trust, appear if we proceed--

2. To suggest some practical inferences from the inquiry which has been made.

(1) We may learn hence the worth of the soul. Of what other of the works of God is it said, that they were created “after His own image”? Has God put such honour upon our souls, and shall we cover them with dishonour? You employ a great deal of time and thought about your bodies, which were made of dust, and will quickly return to dust; but of your souls, your immortal souls, formed of heavenly materials, and moulded after the Divine likeness, you take scarcely any thought at all. Accidents and dangers, sicknesses and diseases that befall the body, are carefully guarded against and carefully remedied; whilst the moral disorders of the soul, the certain danger to which it is exposed from the wrath of God and the bitter pains of eternal death, are forgotten, made light of.

(2) But, further, we are led to consider, from the subject before us, the true end of our being, and the perfection of our nature. Why did God form us after His own image, in knowledge and holiness? Doubtless that we might be capable of knowing, loving, and serving Him; that we might adore His perfections, obey His will, glorify His holy name. This was Adam’s highest dignity before he fell in the earthly paradise. And this, we have reason to believe, will constitute the happiness of the redeemed in the paradise above. Suffer me then to ask, my brethren, are you mindful of the end for which you were created? Do you count the knowledge of God, and conformity to Him, your highest good, and seek your truest happiness in His favour?

(3) Again--let the subject we have been considering remind us how awful are the effects of sin; and how low we are fallen in consequence of sin. What marred the honour and dignity of our first estate? Sin. What defaced and obscured the lineaments of the Divine image in our souls? Sin. What cut us off from that blissful communion with the Father of spirits--the source of perfection and fountain of light--in which our highest happiness originally commenced? Sin. Sin is the separation of the soul from God, as death is that of the body from the soul.

(4) And this leads me to remark in the last place, the absolute necessity of an entire change of nature, if we wish to go to heaven when we die. The image of God, which sin has effaced, must be restored before we can be admitted into His presence above. (Archdeacon Hodson, M. A.)

The antiquity of man historically considered

The problem of the antiquity of man has to the historian two stages. In the first, it is a matter wholly within the sphere of historical investigation, and capable of being determined, if not with precision, at any rate within chronological limits that are not very wide, i.e., that do not exceed a space of two or three centuries. In the further or second stage, it is only partially a historical problem; it has to be decided by an appeal to considerations which lie outside the true domain of the historian, and are to a large extent speculative; nor can any attempt be made to determine it otherwise than with great vagueness, and within very wide limits--limits that are to be measured not so much by centuries as by millennia. The two stages which are here spoken of correspond to two phrases which are in ordinary use--“Historic man” and “Prehistoric man.” In pursuing the present inquiry, we shall, first of all, examine the question, to what length of time history proper goes back--for how many centuries or millennia do the contemporary written records of historic man indicate or prove his existence upon the earth? The result is, that for the “Old Empire” we must allow a term of about seven centuries or seven centuries and a half; whence it follows that we must assign for the commencement of Egyptian monarchy about the year B.C. 2500, or from that to B.C. 2650. This is the furthest date to which “history proper” can be said, even probably, to extend. It is capable of some curtailment, owing to the uncertainty which attaches to the real length of the earlier dynasties, but such curtailment could not be very considerable. The history of man may then be traced from authentic sources a little beyond the middle of the third millennium before our era. It is true and safe to say that man has existed in communities under settled government for about four thousand five hundred years; but it would not be safe to say that he had existed in the condition which makes history possible for any longer term.

What is the probable age of “prehistoric man”? for how long a time is it reasonable to suppose that mankind existed on the earth before states and governments grew up, before writing was invented, and such a condition of the arts arrived at as we find prevailing in the time when history begins, e.g., in Egypt at the Pyramid period, about B.C. 2600, and in Babylonia about two centuries later. Professor Owen is of opinion that the space of “seven thousand years is but a brief period to be allotted to the earliest civilized and governed community”--that of Egypt; nay, he holds that such a period of “incubation,” as he postulates, is so far from extravagant that it is “more likely to prove inadequate” for the production of the civilization in question. This is equivalent to saying that we must allow two thousand five hundred years for the gradual progress of man from his primitive condition to that whereto he has attained when the Pyramid kings bear sway in the Nile valley. Other writers have proposed a still longer term, as ten thousand, fifteen thousand, or even twenty thousand years. Now, here it must be observed, in the first place, that no estimate can be formed which deserves to be accounted anything but the merest conjecture, until it has been determined what the primitive condition of man was. To calculate the time occupied upon a journey, we must know the point from which the traveller set out. Was, then, the primitive condition of man, as seems to be supposed by Professor Owen, savagery, or was it a condition very far removed from that of the savage? “The primeval savage” is a familiar term in modern literature; but there is no evidence that the primeval savage ever existed. Rather, all the evidence looks the other way. “The mythical traditions of almost all nations place at the beginnings of human history a time of happiness, perfection, a ‘golden age,’ which has no features of savagery or barbarism, but many of civilization and refinement.” The sacred records, venerated alike by Jews and Christians, depict antediluvian man as from the first “tilling the ground,” “building cities,” “smelting metals,” and “making musical instruments.” Babylonian documents of an early date tell, similarly, of art and literature having preceded the great Deluge, and having survived it. The explorers who have dug deep into the Mesopotamian mounds, and ransacked the tombs of Egypt, have come upon no certain traces of savage man in those regions, which a widespread tradition makes the cradle of the human race. So far from savagery being the primitive condition of man, it is rather to be viewed as a corruption and a degradation, the result of adverse circumstances during a long period of time, crushing man down, and effacing the Divine image wherein he was created. Had savagery been the primitive condition of man, it is scarcely conceivable that he could have ever emerged from it. Savages, left to themselves, continue savages, show no signs of progression, stagnate, or even deteriorate. There is no historical evidence of savages having ever civilized themselves, no instance on record of their having ever been raised out of their miserable condition by any other means than by contact with a civilized race. The torch of civilization is handed on from age to age, from race to race. If it were once to be extinguished, there is great doubt whether it could ever be re-lighted. Doubtless, there are degrees in civilization. Arts progress. No very high degree of perfection in any one art was ever reached per saltum. An “advanced civilization”--a high amount of excellence in several arts--implies an antecedent period during which these arts were cultivated, improvements made, perfection gradually attained. If we estimate very highly the civilization of the Pyramid period in Egypt, if we regard the statuary of the time as equalling that of Chantrey, if we view the great pyramid as an embodiment of profound cosmical and astronomical science, or even as an absolute marvel of perfect engineering construction, we shall be inclined to enlarge the antecedent period required by the art displayed, and to reckon it, not so much by centuries, as by millennia. But if we take a lower view, as do most of those familiar with the subject--if we see in the statuary much that is coarse and rude, in the general design of the pyramid a somewhat clumsy and inartistic attempt to impress by mere bulk, in the measurements of its various parts and the angles of its passages adaptations more or less skilful to convenience, and even in the “discharging chambers” and the “ventilating shafts” nothing very astonishing, we shall be content with a shorter term, and regard the supposed need of millennia as an absurdity. There is in truth but one thing which the Egyptians of the Pyramid period could really do surprisingly well; and that was to cut and polish hard stone. They must have had excellent saws, and have worked them with great skill, so as to produce perfectly flat surfaces of large dimensions. And they must have possessed the means of polishing extremely hard material, such as granite, syenite, and diorite. But in other respects their skill was not very great. Their quarrying, transport, and raising into place of enormous blocks of stone is paralleled by the Celtic builders of Stonehenge, who are not generally regarded as a very advanced people. Their alignment of their sloping galleries at the best angle for moving a sarcophagus along them may have been the result of “rule of thumb.” Their exact emplacement of their pyramids so as to face the cardinal points needed only a single determination of the sun’s place when the shadow which a gnomon cast was lowest. Primitive man, then, if we regard him as made in the image of God--clever, thoughtful, intelligent, from the first, quick to invent tools and to improve them, early acquainted with fire and not slow to discover its uses, and placed in a warm and fruitful region, where life was supported with ease--would, it appears to the present writer, not improbably have reached such a degree of civilization as that found to exist in Egypt about B.C. 2600, within five hundred or, at the utmost, a thousand years. There is no need, on account of the early civilization of Egypt, much less on account of any other, to extend the “prehistoric period” beyond this term. Mere rudeness of workmanship and low condition of life generally is sometimes adduced as an evidence of enormous antiquity; and the discoveries made in cairns, and caves, and lake beds, and kjokkenmoddings are brought forward to prove that man must have a past of enormous duration. But it seems to be forgotten that as great a rudeness and as low a savagism as any which the spade has ever turned up still exists upon the earth in various places, as among the Australian aborigines, the bushmen of South Africa, the Ostiaks and Samoyedes of Northern Asia, and the Weddas of Ceylon. The savagery of a race is thus no proof of its antiquity. As the Andaman and Wedda barbarisms are contemporary with the existing civilization of Western Europe, so the palaeolithic period of that region may have been contemporary with the highest Egyptian refinement. Another line of argument sometimes pursued in support of the theory of man’s extreme antiquity, which is of a semi-historic character, bases itself upon the diversities of human speech. There are, it is said, four thousand languages upon the earth, all of them varieties, which have been produced from a single parent stock--must it not have taken ten, fifteen, twenty millennia to have developed them? Now here, in the first place, exception may be taken to the statement that “all languages have been produced from a single parent stock,” since, if the confusion of tongues at Babel be a fact, as allowed by the greatest of living comparative philologists, several distinct stocks may at that time have been created. Nor has inductive science done more as yet than indicate a possible unity of origin to all languages, leaving the fact in the highest degree doubtful. But, waiving these objections, and supposing a primitive language from which all others have been derived, and further accepting the unproved statement, that there are four thousand different forms of speech, there is, we conceive, no difficulty in supposing that they have all been developed within the space of five thousand years. The supposition does not require even so much as the development of one new language each year. Now, it is one of the best attested facts of linguistic science, that new languages are being formed continually. Nomadia races without a literature, especially those who have abundant leisure, make a plaything of their language, and are continually changing its vocabulary. “If the work of agglutination has once commenced,” says Professor Max Muller, “and there is nothing like literature or science to keep it within limits, two villages, separated only for a few generations, will become mutually unintelligible.” Brown, the American missionary, tells us of some tribes of Red Indians who left their native village to settle in another valley, that they became unintelligible to their forefathers in two or three generations. Moffatt says that in South Africa the bulk of the men and women of the desert tribes often quit their homes for long periods, leaving their children to the care of two or three infirm old people. “The infant progeny, some of whom are beginning to lisp, while others can just master a whole sentence, and those still further advanced, romping together through the livelong day, become habituated to a language of their own. The more voluble condescend to the less precocious, and thus from this infant Babel proceeds a dialect of a host of mongrel words and phrases, joined together without rule, and in the course of one generation the entire character of the language is changed.” Castren found the Mongolian dialects entering into a new phase of grammatical life, and declared that “while the literary language of the race had no terminations for the persons of the verb, that characteristic feature of Turanian speech had lately broken out in the spoken dialects of the Buriatic and the Tungusic idioms near Njestschinsk in Siberia.” Some of the recent missionaries in Central America, who compiled a dictionary of all the words they could lay hold of with great care, returning to the same tribe after the lapse of only ten years, “found that their dictionary had become antiquated and useless.” When men were chiefly nomadic, and were without a literature, living, moreover, in small separate communities, linguistic change must have proceeded with marvellous rapidity, and each year have seen, not one new language formed, but several. The linguistic argument sometimes takes a different shape. Experience, we are told, furnishes us with a measure of the growth of language, by which the great antiquity of the human race may be well nigh demonstrated. It took above a thousand years for the Romance languages--French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Wallachian, and Roumansch, or the language of the Grisons--to be developed out of Latin. Must it not have taken ten times as longto develop Latin and its sister tongues--Greek, German, Celtic, Lithuanian, Sclavonic, Zend, Sanskrit--out of their mother speech? Nor was that mother speech itself the first form of language. Side be side with it, when it was a spoken tongue, must have existed at least two other forms of early speech, one the parent of the dialects called Semitic--Hebrew, Arabic, Syriac, Phoenician, Assyro-Babylonian, etc.

The other bearing the same relation to the dialects of the nomad races scattered over Central and Northern Asia--the Tungusic, Mongolic. Turkic, Samoyedic, and Finnic--which are all “radii from a common centre,” and form a well-established linguistic family. But these three mighty streams, which we may watch rolling on through centuries, if not millennia, distinct and separate one from another, are not wholly unconnected. If we trace them back as far as the records of the past allow, we shall find that “before they disappear from our sight in the far distance, they clearly show a convergence towards one common source.” Widely different, therefore, as they are, both in grammar and vocabulary, they too must have had a common parent, have been developed out of a still earlier language, which stood to them in the relation that Latin bears to Italian, Spanish, and French. But in what a length of time? If the daughter languages of the Latin were only developed in the space of a thousand years, and Latin, with its sister tongues, required ten or twenty times as long to be developed out of the primitive Aryan speech, how much longer a time must have been needed for the formation from one common stock of the primitive Aryan, the primitive Semitic, and the primitive Turanian types! When from reasoning of this kind--regarded as valid--the conclusion is deduced, that “twenty-one thousand years is a very probable term for the development of human language in the shortest line,” we can only feel surprise at the moderation of the reasoner. But the reasoning is invalid on several grounds.

(a) The supposed induction is made from a single instance--the case of Latin and its daughter tongues. To prove the point, several cases parallel to that of Latin should have been adduced.

(b) The time which it took for Latin to develop into Italian, Spanish, Wallachian, etc., assumed to be known, is not known. No one can say when Italian was first spoken. All that we know is, when it came to be a literary language. The fact seems to be that the Gauls and Spaniards, even the provincial Italians, learnt Latin imperfectly from the first, clipped it of its grammatical forms, corrupted its vocabulary, introduced phonetic changes consonant with their own habits and organs of speech. Languages nearer to Spanish and Italian than to classical Latin were probably spoken generally in Spain and Italy, while Latin was still the language of the capital and of polite society.

(c) Linguistic development is not, in fact, equal in equal times. On the contrary, there are periods when changes are slow and gradual, while there are others when they take place with extraordinary rapidity. English altered between Chaucer and Shakespeare very greatly more than it has changed between Shakespeare and the present day. Changes are greatest and most rapid before there is a literature; consequently, in the early stages of a language’s life. And they are facilitated by the absence of intercourse and isolation of tribe from tribe, which is the natural condition of mankind before states have been formed and governments set up. In the infancy of man linguistic change must almost certainly have progressed at a rate very much beyond that at which it has moved within the period to which history reaches back. It is as impossible, therefore, to measure the age of language by the period--supposing it known--which a given change occupied, as it would be to determine the age of a tree by the rate of growth noted at a particular time in a particular branch. The diversities of physical type have also been viewed as indicating a vast antiquity for man, more especially when taken in connection with supposed proof that the diversities were as great four thousand years ago as they are now. The main argument here is one with which history has nothing to do. It is for physiologists, not for historians, to determine how long it would take to develop the various types of humanity from a single stock. But the other point is an historical one, and requires to be considered here. Now, it is decidedly not true to say that all, or anything like all, the existing diversities of physical type can be traced back for four thousand years, or shown to have existed at the date of B.C. 2100. The early Egyptian remains indicate, at the most, five physical types--those of the Egyptians themselves, the Cushites or Ethiopians, the Nashi or negroes, the Tahennu or Lybians, and the Amu or Asiatics. The Egyptians are represented as of a red-brown colour, but their women as nearly white. They have Caucasian features, except that their lips are unduly thick. The Ethiopians have features not dissimilar, but are prognathous and much darker than the Egyptians, sometimes absolutely black. The negroes are always black, with crisp, curly hair, snub noses, and out-turned lips; but they are not represented until about B.C. 1500. The Tahennu or Lybians of the North African coast have features not unlike the Egyptians themselves, but are fair-skinned, with blue eyes and lightish hair. The Ainu have features like those of the Assyrians and Jews: they vary in colour, being sometimes reddish, sometimes yellow, and having hair which is sometimes light, sometimes dark. The diversities are thus considerable, but they are far from equalling those which now exist. And it may be suspected that each type is exaggerated. As there cannot have been the difference of colour between the Egyptian men and the Egyptian women which the monuments represent, so it is to be supposed that in the other cases the artists intensified the actual differences. The Ethiopian was represented darker than he was, the Lybian lighter; the negro was given crisper and bushier hair, a snubber nose, and thicker lips. Art, in its infancy, marks differences by caricaturing them. We must not argue from caricatures, as if they had been photographs. We are not obliged, then, to relegate the entire development of existing physical types to the prehistoric period, and on that account to give it, as has been proposed, a vast enlargement. History shows us five types only as belonging to its first period. The rest may have been developed subsequently.

Further, there are a certain number of positive arguments which may be adduced in favour of the “juvenility” of man, or, in other words, of his not having existed upon the earth for a much longer period than that of which we have historical evidence. As, first, the population of the earth. Considering the tendency of mankind to “increase and multiply,” so that, according to Mr. Malthus, population would, excepting for artificial hindrances, double itself every twenty-five years, it is sufficiently astonishing that the human race has not, in the space of five thousand years, exceeded greatly the actual number, which is estimated commonly at a thousand millions of souls. The doubling process would produce a thousand millions from a single pair in less than eight centuries. No doubt, “hindrances” of one kind or another would early make themselves felt. Is it conceivable that, if man had occupied the earth for the “one hundred or two hundred thousand years” of some writers, or even for the “twenty-one thousand” of others, he would not by this time have multiplied far beyond the actual numbers of the present day? Secondly, does not the fact that there are no architectural remains dating back further than the third millennium before Christ indicate, if not prove the (comparatively) recent origin of man? Man is as naturally a building animal as the beaver. He needs protection from sun and rain, from heat and cold, from storm and tempest. How is it that Egypt and Babylonia do not show us pyramids and temple towers in all the various stages of decay, reaching back further and further into the night of ages, but start, as it were, with works that we can date, such as the pyramids of Ghizeh and the ziggurat of Urukh at Mugheir? Why has Greece no building more ancient than the treasury of Atreus, Italy nothing that can be dated further back than the flourishing period of Etruria (B.C. 700-500)? Surely, if the earth has been peopled for a hundred thousand, or even twenty thousand years, man should have set his mark upon it more than five thousand years ago. Again, if man is of the antiquity supposed, how is it that there are still so many waste places upon the earth? What vast tracts are there, both in North and South America, which continue to this day untouched primeval forests?

The results arrived at seem to be that, while history carries back the existence of the human race for a space of four thousand five hundred years, or to about B.C. 2600, a prehistoric period is needed for the production of the state of things found to be then existing, which cannot be fairly estimated at much less than a millennium. If the Flood is placed about

B.C. 3600, there will be ample time for the production of such a state ofsociety and such a condition of the arts as we find to have existed in Egypt a thousand years later, as well as for the changes of physical type and language which are noted by the ethnologist. The geologist may add on two thousand years more for the interval between the Deluge and the Creation, and may perhaps find room therein for his “palaeolithic” and his “neolithic” periods. (G. Rawlinson, M. A.)

The Jewish and the Christian thought of man


1. A similarity of nature to that of God Himself.

2. Likeness of character to the Divine.

3. A share in Divine authority.

4. Divine interest and attention.

5. Privilege of approach to the Most High.

6. A sense of man’s degradation and misery through sin. The same heart that swelled with loftiest hope and noblest aspiration, as it felt that God was its Father and its King, was the heart that filled with tremor and shame, as it saw the heinousness of its guilt and the depth of its declension.

THE DISTINCTIVELY CHRISTIAN VIEW. What has Christ added to our thought about ourselves?

1. He has led us to take the highest view of our spiritual nature. A treasure of absolutely inestimable worth.

2. He has drawn aside the veil from the future, and made that long life and that large world our own.

3. He has taught us to think of ourselves as sinners who may have a full restoration to their high estate. (W. Clarkson, B. A.)

The creation of man


1. In the manner of his creation.

2. In the period of his creation.

3. The exalted scale in the rank of beings in which he was placed.

4. The perfect happiness he possessed.


1. The image of His spirituality.

2. The image of His perfections.

3. The image of His holiness.

4. The image of His dominion.

5. The image of His immortality. “A living soul.”


1. Let us remember with gratitude to God the dignity He conferred upon us in creation. “What is man,” etc. (Psalms 8:4).

2. Let us shed tears of sorrow over the fallen, ruined state of man.

3. Man is still a precious creature, amid all the ruin sin has produced.

4. In redemption, we are exalted to dignity, happiness, and salvation.

5. Let us seek the restoration of the Divine image on our souls; for without this, without holiness, no man can see the Lord. (J. Burns, D. D.)

The Divine image in man


1. In immortality.

2. Intelligence.

3. Righteousness.

4. Blessedness.


1. This is seen in the body of man. Disease; death.

2. It is seen more painfully in his soul. God will not dwell in the heart which cherishes sin.

THE PROVISION MADE FOR RESTORING THE DIVINE IMAGE TO MAN. Christ, the second Adam. (The Evangelical Preacher.)

Man created in the Divine image

THE MORAL CONSTITUTION OF MAN. Man has sometimes been called a microcosm, a little world, a sort of epitome of the universe. The expression is not without meaning; for in man unite and meet the two great elements of creation, mind and matter; the visible and the invisible; the body, which clothes the brute, and the spirit, which belongs to angels. Now, it is a law and property of this outward purl that it should perish and decay; whilst it is the privilege and designation of this inward part, that it should be renewed and strengthened day by day. And this we shall see, as we examine this immaterial part of man’s nature more closely. Take, for example, the operation of the thinking principle. Although we often think to a very bad purpose, yet in our hours of waking and consciousness we always do think. The mind is an ocean of thought, and, like the ocean, is never still. It may have its calm thoughts, and its tumultuous thoughts, and its overwhelming thoughts; but it never knows a state of perfect rest and inaction. Of no material or visible thing could this be affirmed. No one expects to find amongst the undiscovered properties of matter the power of thought. Again: we see this with regard to the freedom of moral agency which we possess; the power we have to follow out our own moral choice and determination. Man was formed first for duty, and then for happiness; but without this liberty of action he could not have fulfilled the designation of his being in either of these respects. I must be capable of choosing my own actions, and must be capable of determining the objects towards which they shall be directed, or I could never become the subject either of praise or of blame. I should be “serving not God, but necessity.”


1. Man’s created bias was towards purity and holiness.

2. Man was created in a condition of perfect happiness. He had a mind to know God, and affections prompting to communion with Him.

3. And then, once more, we cannot doubt that man is declared to be made in the image of God, because he was endowed by his Maker with perpetuity of being, clothed with the attribute of endless life, placed under circumstances wherein, if he had continued upright, ample provision was made for his spiritual sustentation, until, having completed the cycle of his earthly progressions, he should be conveyed, like Enoch, in invisible silence, or like Elijah, on his chariot of fire, or like the ascending Saviour, in His beautiful garments of light and cloud, to the mansions of glory and immortality. For there was the “tree of life in the midst of the garden.” He was permitted to partake of that; it was to be his sacrament, his sacramental food, the pledge of immortal being, the nourishment of that spiritual nature which he had with the breath of God. Thus man’s chief resemblance to his Maker consisted in the fact, that he was endued with a living soul--something which was incapable of death or annihilation. He had an eternity of future given to him, coeval with the being of God Himself. (D. Moore, M. A.)

Genesis of man

THE CREATION ARCHIVE TWO FOLD (Genesis 1:26-31; if. 5-22).



1. Jesus Christ the image of God. He becomes this in and by the fact of His Incarnation. In Ecce Homo is Ecce Deus.

2. Man the image of Jesus Christ. In the order of time, the Son of God made Himself like to man; in the order of purpose, the Son of God made man like to Himself. It was an august illustration of His own saying when incarnate: “The first shall be last, and the last first” (Matthew 20:16). Do you ask in what respect man was made in the image of Christ? Evidently, I answer, in substantially the same respects in which Christ became the image of God. Thus: in respect to a spiritual nature: When

Jehovah God had formed the man of dust of the ground, He breathed into his nostrils the breath of life. The language, of course, is figurative. Nevertheless it must mean something. What, then, does this inbreathing by the Creator mean, if not the mysterious communication of Himself--the eternal Air or Spirit--into man? As Christ, surveyed man-wise, was born of the Spirit in Nazareth, so man, made in His image, after His likeness, was born of the Spirit in Eden. Again: a spiritual nature necessarily involves personality; and personality, at least finite, as necessarily involves what I have called secular attributes, e.g., attributes of sensation, cognition, passion, action, etc. All these belonged to Christ; and through these He declared and interpreted the Father, being in very truth the Word of God, or Deity in articulation. And the Word has existed from the beginning, being the God-Said of the creative week. In man’s potencies of whatever kind--moral, intellectual, emotional, aesthetic--whatever power or virtue or grace there may be--in all this we behold an image of the Lord from heaven. Once more: personality cannot, at least in this world, exist apart from embodiment, or some kind of incarnation, which shall be to it for sphere and vehicle and instrument. Some kind of body is needed which, by its avenues and organs, shall awaken, disclose, and perfect character. And as Christ’s body vehicled and organed His Personality, and so enabled Him to manifest the fullness of the Godhead which dwelt in Him body-wise, so man’s body was made in the image of Christ’s, even that body which in His eternal foreknowledge was eternally His. This, then, was the image in which man was created, the image of Christ’s human Personality, or Christ’s spirit and soul and body. Man is the image of Christ and Christ is the image of God; that is to say: Man is the image of the image of God, or God’s image as seen in secondary reflection.

MAN GOD’S INSPIRATION (Genesis 2:7). On his body side he sprang from dust: on his soul side he sprang up with the animals: on his spirit side he sprang from God. Thus, in his very beginning, in the original makeup of him, man was a religious being. Coming into existence as God’s inbreathing, man was, in the very fact of being Divinely inbreathed, God’s Son and image. Well, then, might man’s first home be an Eden--type of heaven, and his first day God’s seventh day--even the Creator’s Sabbath.


1. Man’s authority over nature. It was man’s original commission, humanity’s primal charter. And history is the story of the execution of the commission, civilization the unfolding of the privileges of the charter.

Wherever civilized man has gone, there he has been gaining dominion over the fish of the sea, and the fowl of the air, and every living thing that moveth on the earth, ay, subduing earth itself. See, e.g., how he makes the fish feed him, and the sheep clothe him, and the horse draw him, and the ox plough for him, and the fowl of the air furnish him with quills to write his philosophies and his epics. Again: see man’s supremacy over the face of Nature; see, e.g., how he dikes out the ocean, as in Holland; and opens up harbours, as at Port Said; and digs canals, as at Suez; and explodes submarine reefs, as in East River; and builds roads, as over St. Gothard; and spans rivers, as the St. Lawrence; and stretches railways, as from Atlantic to Pacific; see how he reclaims mountain slopes and heaths and jungles and deserts and pestilential swamps, bringing about interchanges of vegetable and animal life, and even mitigating climates, so that here, at least, man may be said to be the creator of circumstances rather than their creature. Again: see man’s supremacy over the forces and resources of Nature; see how he subsidizes its mineral substances, turning its sands into lenses, its clay into endless blocks of brick, its granite into stalwart abutments, its iron into countless shapes for countless purposes, its gems into diadems; see how he subsidizes its vegetable products, making its grains feed him, its cottons clothe him, its forests house him, its coals warm him. See how he subsidizes the mechanical powers of nature, making its levers lift his loads, its wheels and axles weigh his anchors, its pulleys raise his weights, its inclined planes move his blocks, its wedges split his ledges, its screws propel his ships. See how he subsidizes the natural forces, making the air waft his crafts, the water run his mills, the heat move his engines, the electricity bear his messages, turning the very gravitation into a force of buoyancy.

2. But in whose name shall man administer the mighty domain? In his own name, or in another’s? In another’s most surely, even in the name of Him in whose image he is made. The Son of God alone is King, and man is but His viceroy; viceroy because His inspiration and image. Man holds the estate of earth in fief; his only right the right of usufruct.


1. Jesus Christ the archetypal Man. Jesus the form, mankind the figure. See Romans 8:29; Colossians 1:15; Revelation 3:14.

2. Man’s incomparable dignity. His starting point is the Eternal, Infinite One. A genuine coin, stamped in effigy of Kaiser or President, is worth what it represents. Man, stamped in the effigy of the King of kings and

Lord of lords, is worth, let me dare to say it, what he represents, even Deity. Little lower than the angels, little lower than Elohim, did Elohim make him (Psalms 8:5). All this explains why this earth, cosmically so tiny, morally is so vast. Jesus Christ came not to save the worthless. He came to save Divine imageship: that is to say, all Godlike potentialities. He came to save Divine imageship itself.

3. Imageship the die of race unity. May it ever be ours to recognize lovingly every human being, whether Caucasian or Mongolian, as a member of mankind, and so our kinsman! When all men do this, mankind will not only be the same as humanity; mankind will also have humanity.

4. We see the secret of man’s coming triumph: it is imageship. Jesus Christ is the image of God; as such, He is the Lord of all. Mankind is Christ’s image lost. The Church is Christ’s image restored: as such, she, like her image, is lord of all. All things are hers; whether Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas, or the world, or life, or death, or things present, or things to come: all are hers; and she is Christ’s, and Christ is God’s (1 Corinthians 3:21-23).

5. Would you know how to be restored in the image of God? Then gaze on the character of Him who is the brightness from His Father’s glory, and the express image of His Person. Enter into the fellowship of that character. Be everlastingly closeted with Him in the kinships and intimacies of a perfect friendship. Lovingly study every feature of that beaming Image (2 Corinthians 3:18). Thus gazing, and thus changed, it matters little what our earthly fate be, whether renown or obscurity, wealth or poverty, long life or early death. Enough that on the resurrection morn we shall perceive that as we had borne the image of the earthly, even of the first man Adam, so henceforth we shall bear the image of the heavenly, even of the Second Man, the Lord from heaven (1 Corinthians 15:47-49). (G. D.Boardman.)

The image of God

GOD’S DECREE. God consults with Himself. Complex nature of Deity.

MAN’S DIGNITY. Nearer to God’s own nature than other animals. A moral being.


1. Our position of dignity should strengthen our sense of duty.

2. Our relationship to God should encourage us to noble aims.

3. In Jesus Christ man is restored to the image of God and to the hope of a high and blessed destiny. (W. S. Smith, B. D.)

The vastness of man

“Let Us make man in Our image.” Such is man’s height, and depth, and breadth, and mystery. He has not come from one principle or distinction of the Divine nature, but out of all principles. Man is the image of the whole Deity. There is in him a sanctuary for the Father, for the Son, and for the Holy Ghost. (J. Pulsford.)

The making of man

There is surely no bolder sentence in all human speech. It takes an infinite liberty with God! It is blasphemy if it is not truth. We have been accustomed to look at the statement so much from the human point that we have forgotten how deeply the Divine character itself is implicated. To tell us that all the signboards in Italy were painted by Raphael is simply to dishonour and bitterly humiliate the great artist. We should resent the suggestion that Beethoven or Handel is the author of all the noise that passes under the name of music. Yet we say, God made man. Here is the distinct assurance that God created man in His own image and likeness; in the image of God created He him. This is enough to ruin any Bible. This is enough to dethrone God. Within narrow limits any man would be justified in saying, If man is made in the image of God, I will not worship God who bears such an image. There would be some logic in this curt reasoning, supposing the whole case to be on the surface and to be within measurable points. So God exists to our imagination under the inexpressible disadvantage of being represented by ourselves. When we wonder about Him we revert to our own constitution. When we pray to Him we feel as if engaged in some mysterious process of self-consultation. When we reason about Him the foot of the ladder of our reasoning stands squarely on the base of our own nature. Yet, so to say, how otherwise could we get at God? Without some sort of incarnation we could have no starting point. We should be hopelessly aiming to seize the horizon or to hear messages from worlds where our language is not known. So we are driven back upon ourselves--not ourselves as outwardly seen and publicly interpreted, but our inner selves, the very secret and mystery of our soul’s reality. Ay; we are now nearing the point. We have not been talking about the right “man” at all. The “man” is within the man; the “man” is not any one man; the “man” is Humanity. God is no more the man we know than the man himself is the body we see. Now we come where words are of little use, and where the literal mind will stumble as in the dark. Truly we are now passing the gates of a sanctuary, and the silence is most eloquent. We have never seen man; he has been seen only by his Maker! As to spirit and temper and action, we are bankrupts and criminals. But the sinner is greater than the sin. We cannot see him; but God sees him; yes, and God loves him in all the shame and ruin. This is the mystery of grace. This is the pity out of which came blood, redemption, forgiveness, and all the power and glory of the gospel. We cannot think of God having made man without also thinking of the responsibility which is created by that solemn act. God accepts the responsibility of His own administration. Righteousness at the heart of things, and righteousness which will yet vindicate itself, is a conviction which we cannot surrender. It is indeed a solemn fact that we were no parties to our own creation. We are not responsible for our own existence. Let us carefully and steadily fasten the mind upon this astounding fact. God made us, yet we disobey Him; God made us, yet we grieve Him; God made us, yet we are not godly. How is that? There is no answer to the question in mere argument. For my part I simply wait, I begin to feel that, without the power of sinning, I could not be a man. As for the rest, I hide myself in Christ. Strange, too, as it may appear, I enjoy the weird charm of life’s great mystery, as a traveller might enjoy a road full of sudden turnings and possible surprises, preferring such a road to the weary, straight line, miles long, and white with hot dust. I have room enough to pray in. I have room enough to suffer in. By-and-by I shall have large space, and day without night to work in. We have yet to die; that we have never done. We have to cross the river--the cold, black, sullen river. Wait for that, and let us talk on the other side. Keep many a question standing over for heaven’s eternal sunshine. If we would see God’s conception of man, we must look upon the face of His Son--Him of whom He said, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” That is man; that is the ideal humanity. It is useless to look in any other direction for God’s purpose and thought. (J. Parker, D. D.)

God makes man near to Himself

Earthly sovereigns perpetuate and multiply distinctions between themselves and their subjects. In Great Britain the monarch is removed from the rank of the people by princes of the blood royal, dukes, marquises, earls, barons, viscounts, baronets, knights, esquires; and outward appearances, especially on public occasions, are so regulated, as to impress the people with their own distance; while an audience with the sovereign, or any correspondence or intercourse is, except to the favoured few, a thing impossible. All this may be necessary and even useful, where the ruling power is but earthly and human. In bold contrast with this political policy is the conduct of the supreme Sovereign--God. The King of kings formed His first earthly subjects with affinitiesbetween them and Himself most near and intimate. (S. Martin.)

Fellowship with God

The possession of the image of God led to fellowship with God. It was a means of knowing God, and a power to love God. Looking into themselves they saw God, and looking out of and beyond themselves they saw God. They were drawn to God by cords of love, and enjoyed with God the communion of mind and heart. God was in all their thoughts. God sat enthroned over all their feelings. He was to them the first, and He the last. God spake, they listened, understood, and believed. God wrought, they saw and rejoiced in His works. They spake to God, and knew that God heard and understood. They laboured and knew that God had pleasure in their doings. They walked with God--yea, dwelt in God, and God in them. Separation from their Creator they knew not. Clouds and darkness were never about Him. The light of love was always in His countenance. A filial character was given by likeness to God to the entire religion of our first parents. Their notion of Deity was the idea of a father--their feelings toward God were those of children--and their service to God was that of a son and of a daughter. The inward moulded the outward. Without doubt the very body sympathized with the spirit, Remorse did not turn their moisture into the drought of summer. Jealousy did not mock and feed upon their flesh. Sorrow did not cause their bones to wax old. Grief did not furrow the cheek, or blanch the hair. Shame brought not confusion on the face. There was no inward fire to consume--no worm to gnaw and devour. A glowing conscience, a joyful heart,and a peaceful mind, were marrow to the bones, health to the flesh, and beauty to the countenance. (S. Martin.)

God manifests Himself through man

By reason of His complacency in His own nature, God desires to manifest Himself--to express and to make known His own being--to develope His own character of life. God is also disposed to hold fellowship with His spiritual universe. Had He preferred solitude, He could have dwelt alone in His own eternity, or have created merely these material forms which, like a sea of glass, should have reflected His nature in the cold distance of an unconscious and inanimate likeness. But willing to hold fellowship with His creatures, determining to make Himself visible, and delighting in His own nature with infinite complacency--He made man in His own image. This reflection of Himself was pleasant to God. He rejoiced in this work. He looked upon what He had made, and to Him it seemed good. He ceased to create when He bad made man, and entered on His sabbath satisfied with this masterwork of His hand. His own blessedness was increased because livingly reflected. As the artist rejoices when his metal, or marble, or canvas expresses his ideal--as the poet leaps with pleasure when his metaphor and rhythm breathethe inspiration of his heart--as the father glows with gladness to behold in his firstborn boy his own features--so God delighted in the image of Himself in man. Distance from God! Distance! Where was distance then? As the shadow to the form--as the fruit to the tree bough--as the recent born to the mother--man in God’s image was to God. (S. Martin.)

The Divine image a thought experimentally useful

And of what special importance is this subject to you--Christians? It is profitable for doctrine, and it is profitable for reproof--it rebukes that self-conceit, that vanity, that pride, that self-importance which not a few Christians exhibit. How can men think of themselves more highly than they ought to think, when they remember that their characteristic should be the image of God! It is profitable for correction--it may correct the grovelling of the willingly ignorant, and of the worldly, and of the fleshly, and of the low-minded; it may correct the false ambition of such as make money, and earth’s honour their goal--it may correct the self-complacency of the self-righteous, and the error of those who hold that man has not fallen. And it is profitable for instruction in righteousness; it saith, Make not orthodoxy your goal, neither benevolent activity, but make a nature renewed by the Holy Ghost the mark of the prize of your high calling of God in Christ Jesus. (S. Martin.)

Man a creation, not an evolution

The theory holds that, in the struggle for existence, the varieties best adapted to their surroundings succeed in maintaining and reproducing themselves, while the rest die out. Thus, by gradual change and improvement of lower into higher forms of life, man has been evolved. We grant that Darwin has disclosed one of the important features of God’s method. We deny that natural selection furnishes a sufficient explanation of the history of life, and that for the following reasons:

1. It gives no account of the origin of substance, nor of the origin of variations. Darwinism simply says that “round stones will roll down hill further than flat ones” (Gray, “Natural Science and Religion”). It accounts for the selection, not for the creation, of forms.

2. Some of the most important forms appear suddenly in the geological record, without connecting links to unite them with the past. The first fishes are the Ganoid, large in size and advanced in type. There are no intermediate gradations between the ape and man.

3. There are certain facts which mere heredity cannot explain, such for example as the origin of the working bee from the queen and the drone, neither of which produces honey. The working bee, moreover, does not transmit the honey making instinct to its posterity; for it is sterile and childless. If man had descended from the conscienceless brute, we should expect him, when degraded, to revert to his primitive type. On the contrary, he does not revert to the brute, but dies out instead.

4. The theory can give no explanation of beauty in the lowest forms of life, such as molluscs and diatoms. Darwin grants that this beauty must be of use to its possessor, in order to be consistent with its origination through natural selection. But no such use has yet been shown; for the creatures which possess the beauty often live in the dark, or have no eyes to see. So, too, the large brain of the savage is beyond his needs, and is inconsistent with the principle of natural selection which teaches that no organ can permanently attain a size as required by its needs and its environment. See Wallace, “Natural Selection,” 838-360.

5. No species is yet known to bare been produced either by artificial or by natural selection. In other words, selection implies intelligence and will, and therefore cannot be exclusively natural.


1. The Scriptures teach that the whole human race is descended from a single pair.

2. This truth lies at the foundation of Paul’s doctrine of the organic unity of mankind in the first transgression, and of the provision of salvation for the race in Christ.

3. This descent of humanity from a single pair also constitutes the ground of man’s obligation of natural brotherhood to every member of the race. The Scripture statements are corroborated by considerations drawn from history and science.

Three arguments may be briefly mentioned:

1. The argument from history. So far as the history of nations and tribes in both hemispheres can be traced, the evidence points to a common origin and ancestry in central Asia.

2. The argument from language. Comparative philology points to a common origin of all the more important languages, and furnishes no evidence that the less important are not also so derived.

3. The argument from psychology. The existence, among all families of mankind, of common mental and moral characteristics, as evinced in common maxims, tendencies, and capacities, in the prevalence of similar traditions, and in the universal applicability of one philosophy and religion, is most easily explained upon the theory of a common origin.

4. The argument from physiology.

(1) It is the common judgment of comparative physiologists that man constitutes but a single species. The differences which exist between the various families of mankind are to be regarded as varieties of this species. In proof of these statements we urge--

(a) The numberless intermediate gradations which connect the so-called races with each other.

(b) The essential identity of all races in cranial, osteological, and dental characteristics.

(c) The fertility of unions between individuals of the most diverse types, and the continuous fertility of the offspring of such unions.

(2) Unity of species is presumptive evidence of unity of origin. Oneness of origin furnishes the simplest explanation of specific uniformity, if indeed the very conception of species does not imply the repetition and reproduction of a primordial type-idea expressed at its creation upon an individual empowered to transmit this type-idea to its successors. (A. H. Strong, D. D.)

The creation of man


1. He was not made to be in anywise a helper to God in creation. There is nothing that we see around us, or behold above us, or that we trample on with our feet, that was created by us. The most insignificant insect that crawls, the meanest among herbs, had their first origin from the Almighty.

2. But, again, as the order of the universe shows clearly to us that we had no share either in the formation or design of anything that we see, so does it lead us to grateful reflections upon God’s goodness and wisdom in our creation. He did not place our first parents in a void, empty, and unfurnished dwelling, but He garnished the heavens with light, and clothed the earth with beauty, ere He introduced into it that creature who should dress and keep it, and be allowed to have dominion over every living thing.

THE PECULIAR DELIBERATION WITH WHICH GOD APPLIED HIMSELF TO THIS HIS NOBLER WORK. “Let Us make man in Our image, after Our likeness.” Whence this altered form of expression? What other view can we take of it, than that it is a token of man’s greater dignity and higher worth? Should it not excite us to soar above our fallen state--to rise superior to the ruin in which we find ourselves involved--to recollect the glory of our first creation, and the honour which was put upon us in this deliberate purpose and counsel of the several persons of the blessed Trinity in our creation.

MAN WAS CHEATED IN GOD’S IMAGE, AFTER HIS LIKENESS. Let us, in concluding the subject, consider what practical improvement may be derived from it. Is God our Maker, and shall we not worship and adore Him? Again, ought not the image of God in man to be prized above all beside? The body decays and moulders into dust: the spirit is indestructible. Whence is it that this dying body exercises our chief care and thought, while the immortal spirit is neglected and forgotten? Shall the tongue be allowed to utter lies, seeing that it is given us by the God of truth? Shall we curse man, that is made after the image and likeness of God? Again, are we distinguished from the beasts that perish by the noble gift of reason, and understanding, and conscience, and shall we allow the members of the body to “usurp a wretched dominion over us? (H. J. Hastings, M. A.)

Man created in God’s image

1. Whatever may be the difficulties this text of ours presents to expositors and divines, the main fact it embodies and sets forth is so clearly expressed as to exclude the possibility of a difference of opinion respecting it. And this fact is none other than that our first parents were created by God, and this in His image and likeness. This plain statement of Holy Writ, that man has been created, is nevertheless considered by many scientists of our days as being utterly erroneous and untenable.

2. It must have been a most solemn moment in the history of creation when, at the close of it, God undertook to create man, who was to complete and crown His marvellous six days’ work. What this world would have been without man we can easily picture to ourselves when we read the descriptions by explorers and travellers of those parts of our globe never inhabited or cultivated by man. We know that without man’s care and attention many things in nature would have gradually disappeared, others again would not have developed to such a state of perfection as they have attained to. Besides this, nature without man, who combines in himself the material and spiritual, the natural and supernatural, and thus forms a reasonable and necessary link between nature and its Creator, would have lacked a high and noble aim worthy of the great Creator.

3. God created man in His image, after His likeness. (A. Furst, D. D.)

Love in the creation of man

In man animal organization is carried to its highest. That which in the quadruped is a comparatively insignificant member becomes in man the hand, so wonderful in its powers, so infinitely versatile in its applications. That tongue, which the rest of animal creation possess, but which the highest among them use only for inarticulate signals, becomes in him the organ of articulate speech, so marvellous in its construction, and its uses. And of the same rich bestowal of the best of God’s gifts of life and life’s benefits on man, many other examples might be, and have been given. But it is not in man as the highest form of organized animal life that we are to seek for exemplification of the declaration in my text. His erect form, his expressive eye, his much-working hand--his majesty in the one sex, and beauty in the other--these may excite our admiration, and lead us to praise Him who made us; but in none of these do we find the image of God. God is without body, parts, or passions. He is above and independent of all organized matter: it sprung from the counsel of His will, it is an instrument to show forth His love and praise, but it is not, and cannot be, in His image. But let us advance higher. God bestowed on man, as on the tribes beneath him, a conscious animal soul. And here let me remind you that I follow, as I always wish to do, that Scriptural account and division of man, according to which the soul, the ψυχὴ of the New Testament, is that thinking and feeling and prompting part of him, which he possesses in common with the brutes that perish; and which I will call for clearness, his animal soul. Now here again, though he possesses it in common with them, God has given it, in him, a wonderfully higher degree of capability and power. The merely sentient capacities of the animal soul in the most degraded of men are immeasurably above those of the animal soul in the most exalted of brutes,--however he may be surpassed by them in the acuteness Of the bodilysenses. And again, in speaking of man, we cannot stop with these animal faculties. To the brute, they are all. It is obvious, then, that we must not look for God’s image in man in this his animal soul, because this is confessedly not his highest part; because it is informed and ennobled by something above it: moreover, because it is naturally bound to the organization of his material body. And this point is an important one to be borne in remembrance. It is not in our mental capacities, nor in any part of our sentient being, that we can trace our likeness to God; whenever we speak of any or of all of these in the treatment of this subject, we must look beyond them, and beyond the aggregate of them, for that of which we are in search. What, then, is that part of man at which we have been pointing in these last sentences? that soul of his soul, that ennobler of his faculties, that whose acknowledged dignity raises him far above the animal tribes, with whom he shares the other parts of his being? Let us examine his position, as matter of fact. By what is he distinguished from all other animals, in our common speech and everyday thought? Shall we not all say that it is by this--that whereas we regard each animal as merely a portion of animatedmatter, ready to drop back again into inanimate matter, the moment its organization is broken down--we do not thus regard ourselves or our fellow men, but designate every one of them as a person, a term which cannot be used of any mere animal? And is it not also true, that to this personality we attach the idea of continuous responsibility--of abiding praise or blame? To what is this personality owing? Not to the body, however perfect its organization; not to the animal soul, however wonderful its faculties; but to the highest part of man--his spirit. And here it is that we must look for man’s relation to God. God is a Spirit; and He has breathed into man a spirit, in nature and attributes related to Himself: which spirit rules and informs, and takes up into itself, and ennobles, as we have seen, his animal soul. This spirit is wonderfully bound up with the soul and the body. The three make up the man in his present corporeal state--but the spirit alone carries the personality and responsibility of the man. The body, with its organization and sentient faculties, is only a tent wherein the spirit dwells; itself is independent of its habitation, and capable of existing without it. The spirit of man makes the essential distinction between him and the lower animals. His spirit, his divine part, that Whereby he can rise to and lay hold of God, was made in the image of God. And this leads us to the second division of our inquiry, How was man’s spirit created in the image of God? What ideas must we attach to these words, “the image of God”? To this question but one answer can be given, and that in simple and well-known words. God is love: this is all we know of His essential character. He Who is Love, made man, man’s spirit, after His own image. That is, He made man’s spirit, love--even as He is love. In this consisted the perfection of man as he camefrom the hands of His Creator--that his whole spirit was filled with love. Now what did this imply? clearly, a conscious spirit; for love is the state of a knowing, feeling, conscious being. What more? as clearly a spirit conscious of God; knowing Him who loved it, and loving Him in return. Faith is the organ by which the spirit reaches forth to God. We never can repeat or remember too often, that faith is “appropriating belief”; not belief in the existence of God as a bare fact, distant and inoperative, but belief in Him as our God--the God who loves us--the God who seeks our good--the God to whom we owe ourselves--the God who is our portion andour exceeding great reward. And it is essential to faith, that we should not, speaking strictly, know all this--not have hold of every particular detail of it--not master the subject, as men say; this would not be faith, but knowledge. We are masters of that which we know; but we are servants of that which we believe. And therefore man, created in the image of God, loving God, dependent on God, tending upwards to God, is created in a state of faith. By this faith his love was generated--by believing God as his God--by unlimited trust of His love, and uninterrupted return of that love. And O what does not this description imply, that is holy, and tending to elevate and bless man? “Love,” says the apostle, “is the bond of perfectness”; and the same command of our Lord, which we read in one place of the Gospel, “Be ye perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect”; in another runs, “Be ye merciful,” i.e. loving, “even as your Father is merciful.” One remark more. On this image of God depends the immortality of man’s spirit; not on its own nature, as some have dreamed. As it had a beginning, so it might have an end. It can only be immortal by being united to Him who liveth forever. God’s love called into being those who were in its own image, kindred to itself, bound to itself by love; how can we conceive that love annihilating again such kindred objects of its own good pleasure? And this immortality is not removed by sin: for it lies at the root of the race--is its essential attribute, not an accident of its being. (Dean Alford.)

The state of innocence

The name of Adam suggests to us at once the estate from which the human race has fallen, the cause of that fall, the vast forfeit that one man made to God; and naturally awakens in our own minds questions as to our lost inheritance. Would Adam have died if he had never fallen? If he had lived, would he have continued in paradise, or been translated into heaven? What was his condition in paradise? Was it one of probation and of interior sufferings dependent on such a state, or was it one of entire freedom from all such trial? And lastly (and this is most important in such probation), was Adam indued with a supernatural power, or did he simply depend on the gifts of his original creation? To these four questions I will append one brief inquiry in addition. Had our first parents a claim to eternal happiness by the right of their original creation, or in virtue of some covenant made with them by God?

1. With regard then to the first of the above questions, a very slight examination of Holy Scripture will assure us that Adam would not have died in an unfallen state. As is always the case in the direct intercourse of God with His creature, a covenant was made between the two, the terms of which were clearly defined. “Of the tree of knowledge of good and evil thou shalt not eat; for in the day thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die”; and the woman, in stating the terms of the covenant, says, “God hath saith, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die.” Now these propositions clearly involve the power of inversion, and imply that, in the event of their not eating the forbidden fruit, they shall live and not die; that is, their death was simply and only dependent on breach of the covenant. The same point is clearly ascertained by a comparison of 1 Corinthians 15:1-58 and Romans 5:1-21, both with the separate parts of each and one with another.

2. I will now approach the second branch of the subject, namely, the question, whether Adam would have remained, had he not fallen, an inhabitant of paradise; or been translated into the immediate presence of God in heaven. There seem to be four especial reasons, amongst many others, for concluding that the latter would have been the case; for, in the first place, it is apparent that in the case of all covenants, such as those which God made with man, there is a punishment annexed to the breach of the terms of such covenant, and a reward annexed to their fulfilment; and inasmuch as this punishment would involve a worse condition for the fallen party than the one which he occupied at the period of the ratification of the covenant; so, on the other hand, a superior condition is the reward of the fulfilment of those terms. Now the fall of Adam at once brought upon him the loss of paradise, that is, the inferior condition; and, by parity of reasoning, had he not fallen but endured his probation, it would have secured to him translation to heaven itself, or a superior condition. But I pass on to the second reason on which I base my belief that Adam would have been eventually translated to heaven. He was clearly possessed of the perfect power of self-will; he had vast and manifold opportunities of exercising it; he was placed in the immediate presence of a piercing temptation; be daily passed the tree of knowledge on his visit to the tree of life. So acute was that temptation, that in spite of the continual presence of

Jehovah, of the purity of the nature hitherto innocent, of the innate image of God, be exercised that power of free will, and he fell. For what could all of the powers have been given him? and why should he have been placed in such a position, unless some great attainment beyond what he at that moment enjoyed was to be placed within his grasp? To imagine otherwise would be inconsistent with the whole analogy of God’s providence. But, thirdly, I spoke above of the external support which was continually necessary from the Divine Being for the preservation of Adam’s natural life; a state of continued exertion is unnatural to the Deity; a state of repose is His true condition; consequently we cannot imagine but that the first Adam was eventually to have been placed in a position in which continued life was natural to him. Even the daily visit of the Almighty to the garden of Eden implied a transitory, and not a permanent condition. But, fourthly, though the fact of sinning involved death to the natural body, it by no means follows that the absence of sin leaves that natural body in the same condition, but rather we should expect it would tend to elevate it, as much as the fall into sin depressed it.

3. I will now pass on to the third head, the moral condition of our first parents in Eden. There is a popular impression, not unfrequently given children and ignorant persons, that our first parents were in a state of entire freedom from any kind of suffering. Now the presence of an object highly desirable to the eye and the mind, while the moral agent is fully possessed of the power of free will and yet under a strong bias towards a different direction from that desire, in itself implies a condition of very considerable mental suffering, and in this condition clearly our first parents were placed, for we are distinctly told that the tree of the knowledge of good and evil was in the first place highly desirable to the eye; and secondly, to the mind, inasmuch as it imparted the keenest knowledge of right and wrong; consequently no misapprehension could be greater than that our first parents were without probation, and all its attending trials; nay more, we are bound to consider how intense must have been the desire after knowledge, a thing in itself so innocent and elevated, in so sublime a creature as Adam was, fresh from the hands of the Creator, and having as yet no bias in favour of wickedness; besides which, some exquisite external beauty seems to have arrayed the tree of knowledge, which made it the more fascinating to Adam and Eve, as we gather from the terms that it was desirable to the eye. From all this it is clear Adam was in a state of very keen probation.

4. With what power did Adam approach the scene of his temptation? Was it with the original power of his creation or some supernatural gift of the Spirit? Surely with the latter. (E. Monro, M. A.)

Proofs of the Divine in man

To this day no fact in natural history remains more conspicuous than the strong contrast betwixt man and every other animal, in their relations to nature--particularly in their power to master and utilize the forces of nature. Once man appears upon the globe, no matter how he came there, he reacts upon his environment in a way that is possible to no other organism. In popular language, he is not the mere “creature of circumstances” in the same sense in which that may be affirmed of other creatures. To a large and growing degree, he makes his own world--modifying, conquering, counteracting, utilizing the forces of nature, with its living productions, to his own ends. This process, which the venerable book before us calls “subduing” the earth, and which it regards as a special task assigned to our human family, is due to two faculties peculiar to man. The first is the power to store up his observations upon nature and compare them, until by degrees the laws according to which her forces operate come to be understood: the result of this power is science. Next, is the power to recombine matter in fresh combinations so as to utilize the forces of nature for new ends of his own: the results of this we term the Mechanical Arts. Neither of these two faculties exists in any other animal, save in the most rudimentary form. These two in combination have given birth to human civilization. Man enlarges his power from day to day, while the very ball on which he is a pigmy resident seems to contract itself in his grasp. Space and time are nearly annihilated: seas almost cease to divide; the engineer alters even the face of the land; matter becomes less and less our enemy, more and more our minister. By science and by art, we are entering upon a veritable “dominion” over this globe which God has given us to possess, and a crown is set upon man’s head of “glory and honour.” I do not pause to insist upon the strange foresight exhibited in these ancient words, or how strangely the destiny of our race which was thus foreshadowed in the dim dawn of history has come to be fulfilled in our time. Let me rather ask you to notice how revelation at its outset is not content to recognize this mastery of man over the rest of nature as his preeminent function--it undertakes already to explain it. It assigns a reason for it. It finds that reason in the constitution of human nature itself, viz., in man’s dual nature, and especially in his resemblance on one side of his two-fold being to his Creator. “God made man in His own likeness.” Now, to do justice to this theory, accounting for man’s supremacy and power over nature, we must bear in mind that when it assigns to man a dual origin it is in order to correspond with the dual constitution which he possesses. In the picturesque and poetic style of primitive thinkers, man came in part from the “dust of the ground,” and in part from “the breath of God.” In other words, he is on one side of his being a mundane product, fashioned, or, more probably evolved, out of material nature, under the operation of the same biological laws which account for the origin of other species on the globe; but on another side he is something more than that, a spiritual being possessed of a different order of life from that which we find in other species, a life which natural evolution fails to account for. The truth of that statement depends on facts which lie outside the sphere of biology as one of the physical sciences--lie in the region of metaphysics and of religion. They must justify themselves to other observation than that of the five senses. Nay, we may go further and say: So long as there remains a class of facts in human consciousness, of whose origin biology can give no account--facts, for example, like the sense of duty, the instinct of worship, the feeling of responsibility, the desire to pray, or the yearning after immortality--so long is it only scientific to postulate like Scripture a second origin for man’s nature. The dual constitution of this exceptional creature, so long as it cannot be resolved into unity, calls for a dual cause to account for it. If the breath of the beast, and of the animal life in man too, goeth downward, “returning to the earth as it was,” shall not the spirit of man go upward, “returning to God who gave it”? So much as man possesses in common with the brutes, comes from “the dust of the ground”--that physical science will explain to us. So much as separates man from the brutes and makes him a scientific, inventive, responsible, and religious animal--this demands another explanation. Can we find a better than the old one--“God breathed into man the breath of life,” or “God created man in His own image”? I do not claim this scriptural theory of man’s spiritual origin as a result of the modern science of anthropology. On the contrary, I believe it to be a revelation. At the same time, the facts seem to call for some such extra-physical cause; and so far, nothing equally good even as a working hypothesis has been discovered. The spiritual nature of man is a fact, as I have said, both of metaphysics and of religion: and neither metaphysics nor religion has yet been swallowed up (like the magicians’ rods) by physical science. It was not along the road of metaphysical speculation, however, that the Hebrews reached the great fact that man is a spiritual being akin to his Creator. That road was travelled by the Greek mind. St. Paul found in Greek poetry traces of the same truth; and Greek poetry had learned it from Greek philosophy. That “we are the offspring of Zeus” was the result of observing human nature on its intellectual and ethical side rather than on its religious. But the Hebrews were not a speculative, they were preeminently a religious, people: and when they said, man is akin to Jehovah and wears His likeness, they meant that they were profoundly conscious through their own religious experience of having much in common with a personal God. It was by their devotional instincts, first and chiefly, and by the spiritual fellowship they were conscious of enjoying with the Living Object of their worship, that the great Hebrews, like Moses, David, Isaiah, or Paul, realized man’s kinship with the Eternal, in spite of those obvious ties which link him as an organism to brute life upon the globe. Unquestionably this is, if one can attain it, the surest demonstration of all. The religious man who, in his worship and in the inward crises of his experience, finds that he can fling himself forth upon the unseen, and, in the darkness, where sense avails no longer, can touch One who is a real person like himself--can exchange with that awful invisible One personal confidences and affections, can ask and receive, can love and be loved, can lean and be upheld; he knows with certainty that he is born of God and akin to God. To be conscious from day to day of an interior life, utterly apart from that of sensation, to which life God forms the ever-present conditioning environment, just as nature surrounds and conditions my animal life--this is to be as sure that God is, and that my spirit is kindred with His, as I am sure that nature is, and that my organism corresponds to it. No one who actually leads this super sensuous life of personal intercourse with God will ask or care for any lower proof that man’s spirit wears God’s likeness. But although the religious experience of mankind be the leading proof that we are made in a Divine likeness, it is far from being the only one. From man religious I fall back on man scientific, and inquire if even his achievements do not imply that he is akin to his Maker. Could man be the student and master of nature that he is, were he not in some real sense intellectually akin to nature’s Maker? Does not the dominion which he is come to wield through science over physical forces argue in favour of that anthropology of Genesis which says, God’s own breath is in him. The great masters of science tell us that they experience a very keen intellectual delight in tracing out the hidden unity of forces and of the laws of force by which this vast complex world is reduced to simplicity. It is not from the observation of isolated facts that this intellectual pleasure springs. It arises when the observer becomes aware of something more than a crowd of isolated facts. Of what more? Of some relationship binding facts together--binding together whole classes of facts; as, for example, of an identical force at work in widely sundered departments of being, or of correlated forces; of a type-form running through large families of organisms, underlying their diversities; of universal laws creating cosmical order amid such a multiplicity of details. The studious mind becomes aware of an ordering, designing Mind. The thought with which God began to work leaps up anew for the first time after all these intervening cycles of dead material change, leaps up in a kindred mind. The dead world knew not what its Maker meant, as change succeeded change, and race was evolved out of race, and cycle followed cycle; but I know. Across it all, we two understand each other--He, and I His child. Is not science a witness to the likeness of God in the mind of man? But I cannot dwell on this, for I should like to suggest in a word how the Divine image in man further reveals itself when, from being a student of nature, he goes on to be its imitator. The arts are, one and all of them, so many imitations of nature, that is, of the Divine working upon matter. For example, we discover the dynamical laws of matter, and at once set about imitating their natural applications in our mechanics. We discover the laws of chemical affinity and combination; and we set about bringing into existence such combinations as we require, or resolving compounds into their elements, at our pleasure. We discover the laws of electrical force, and straightway we proceed to utilize it as a motor or a light. In short, we have no sooner learnt His method from the Author of nature (which is the task of science) than we try to copy it and become ourselves workers, makers, builders, designers, modellers, just like Himself, only on our own reduced and petty scale. Thus our artificial products, like our science, bears witness to the ancient word: “There is a Spirit in man; and the breath of the Almighty giveth him understanding.” Here, therefore, I return to the point item which I set out. Along this two-fold road, of science, which traces out the thoughts of God; and of art, which imitates His working in obedience to known laws, man fulfils his destined function according to the ancient oracle of Genesis. He “subdues the earth” and wins dominion over it. He is the solitary creature on earth who even attempts such a function. He is fitted for it by his exceptional nearness to, and likeness to, the Creator. He can be the student and the copyist of God’s works, because he was made in the image of God. Just in proportion as he realizes this godlike lordship over the globe, with its dead and living contents--a lordship based on his deciphering and sharing the Creator’s thoughts--in that proportion does he approach the lofty position which Scripture assigns to him, and in which Scripture recognizes his crown of glory and honour. But “we see not yet all things put under him.” During the long ages past it has been merely a faint shadow of royalty man has enjoyed. In the main, natural forces have mastered him. So they do still over a great portion of the earth. Science and art in this late age of man certainly seem to sweep rapidly to their goal, winning and recording year by year victories such as were never seen before. Notwithstanding, men are still far from satisfied, and complain that the physical ills of life and of society are far from overcome--all things far from being put under man’s feet. What is to be the future condition of humanity, its final condition, in relation to nature? Is its lordship to grow much more perfect than we see it? Shall nature ever yield up all her secrets, or stoop to serve our welfare with all her forces? I know nothing that pretends to answer such inquiries save Christianity. And her answer is: We see Jesus, sole and perfect type of man’s likeness to God, Representative and Forerunner of humanity redeemed; and Him we see already exalted to an ideal height of mastery over nature, crowned with the ancient royalty promised to our race, Head over all, with the world beneath His feet. (J. O.Dykes, D. D.)

Care for the body

If one should send me from abroad a richly carved and precious statue, and the careless drayman who tipped it upon the sidewalk before my door should give it such a blow that one of the boards of the box should be wrenched off, I should be frightened lest the hurt had penetrated further, and wounded it within. But if, taking off the remaining hoards and the swathing-bands of straw or cotton, the statue should come out fair and unharmed, I should not mind the box, but should cast it carelessly into the street. Now, every man has committed to him a statue, moulded by the oldest Master, of the image of God; and he who is only solicitous for outward things, who is striving to protect merely the body from injuries and reverses, is letting the statue go rolling away into the gutter, while he is picking up the fragments, and lamenting the ruin of the box. (H. W. Beecher.)

Man made in the image of God

1. It is the only basis of revelation.

2. It is a rational basis of the Incarnation.

3. A rational basis for the doctrine of regeneration by the Holy Spirit.

4. The foundation of those glorious hopes that are set before us in the New Testament. (M. Gibson, D. D.)

The defaced image

But as the image of a sovereign is effaced from old coins; or as the original expression is lost from the old figure-head on the exposed building; or as “decay’s effacing fingers” soon destroy all beauty from the dead body; so sin speedily and effectually spoiled, or obliterated, the moral image of God from the soul of man. At Bournemouth I lately noticed some stunted, misshapen shrubs, which were neither useful nor ornamental, and which were a degenerate growth of the fine trees abounding in that neighbourhood, or of the yet finer forests of fir in Norway. So what a contrast there is between the lowest and the highest trees of men around us; and between the highest types now and what man was at first. (H. R. Burton.)

Man in God’s kingdom

The king of Prussia, while visiting a village in his land, was welcomed by the school children of the place. After their speaker had made a speech for them he thanked them. Then taking an orange from a plate, he asked: “To what kingdom does this belong?” “The vegetable kingdom, sire,” replied a little girl. The king took a gold coin from his pocket and, holding it up, asked: “And to what kingdom does this belong?” “To the mineral kingdom,” said the girl. “And to what kingdom do I belong, then?” asked the king. The little girl coloured deeply, for she did not like to say, “the animal kingdom,” as she thought she would, lest his majesty should be offended. Just then it flashed into her mind that “God made man in His own image,” and looking up with a brightening eye, she said, “To God’s kingdom, sire.” The king was deeply moved. A tear stood in his eye. He placed his hand on the child’s head and said, most devoutly, “God grant that I may be accounted worthy of that kingdom!”

Verse 28

Genesis 1:28

Have dominion

Man’s dominion over the lower animals



1. The power of man is in his mind.

2. The benefit and extent of man’s dominion is made to depend on the moral as well as the intellectual nature with which he was originally endowed.

3. As God has thus fitted man, by his superior nature, for dominion; so, on the other hand, He has given to the inferior animals a corresponding disposition to acknowledge man’s superiority.

4. Thus the comfort of man is evidently promoted when this dominion is wisely and justly exercised, according to the original design of the Creator.

“The hay appeareth, and the tender grass showeth itself, and herbs of the mountains are gathered: the lambs are for thy clothing, and the goats are for the price of the field.” But the dominion of man when justly exercised, is a mean of comfort also to the animals who are connected with him. Living in our society and neighbourhood, they become the objects of our care. Attached to our persons and homes, they feel pleasure in our service. They thus partake of our provision, and enjoy the advantage of our foresight.

THE MANNER IN WHICH OUR DOMINION OVER THE INFERIOR ANIMALS OUGHT TO BE EXERCISES. A right to rule is not a right to tyrannize; and a right to service extends only to such duties as are consistent with the powers of the servants, and with the place which is assigned to them. All power is of God, and can only be lawfully exercised when exercised according to His designs. That likeness to God in which we were originally created, should remind us that justice, and goodness, and mercy, are the chief distinctions after which we should aspire; and that our dominion was designed, like that of Him who designed it, to be exercised with wisdom, rectitude, and compassion. The consideration of our dominion, and the services by which those who are subjected to our power, in such numberless ways, minister to our comforts, only enforces on us more strongly the duty of providing for their comfort, and preserving them from injury. And is it not the very essence of benevolence to desire and to promote the happiness of every being within the sphere of our influence? (S. McGill, D. D.)

The Divine blessing

Every loving father wishes his children well. The Divine Father wishes the first human pair well, for such is the import of the words “He blessed them.” We can say, too, without any hesitancy, that He wishes every member of the human family well, both for time and eternity. Those who are not blessed, and there are thousands, ought not to ascribe this to God, but to themselves. (A. McAuslane, D. D.)

Verses 29-30

Genesis 1:29-30

To you it shall be for meat

The universe God’s gift to man



1. Extensive.

2. Valuable.

3. Increasing.

Every day becoming better known and more thoroughly appreciated. All the gifts of God are productive; time unfolds their measure, discloses their meaning, and demonstrates their value.


1. To evince love. One of the great objects of creation was to manifest the love of God to the human race, which was shortly to be brought into existence. The light, the sun, the stars, and the creation of man; all these were the love tokens of God. These were designed, not to display His creative power--His wisdom, but His desire for the happiness of man.

2. To teach truth. The world is a great school. It is well supplied with teachers. It will teach an attentive student great lessons. All the Divine gifts are instructive.

3. To sustain life. God created man without means, but it was not His will to preserve him without; hence He tells him where he is to seek his food. We must make use of such creatures as God has designed for the preservation of our life. God has provided for the preservation of all life. Let us learn to trust God for the necessities of life in times of adversity. Men who have the greatest possessions in the world must receive their daily food from the hand of God. (J. S. Exell, M. A.)

Dependence on God


1. Asking them by prayer.

2. Acknowledging our own beggary.

3. Trusting Him by faith.

4. Remembering His promise.

5. Obedient to His will.


1. Else we are ungrateful.

2. Else we deserve famine. All the provisions that God allows man for food are drawn out of the earth. The homeliness of the provision on which God intended man to feed. (J. S. Exell, M. A.)

Let no man be discontented with mean fare

1. It is as good as the body it nourishes.

2. It is better than we deserve.

3. It is more than we are able to procure of ourselves.

4. It is more profitable for health.

5. It is free from the temptation to excess. God gives us not all our provisions at once, but a daily supply of them.

(1) To manifest His Fatherly care.

(2) To make us dependent on Him.

(3) To exercise our faith.

(4) To teach economy. God makes provision for all the creatures He hath made. Man was not only a good creature but a blessed one. (J. S. Exell, M. A.)


1. It exerts an influence on the disposition of man. A hungry man always feels the risings of cruelty, however they may be conquered by nobler principles. When you think of the cruelty of an Indian you should always think of his famished condition.

2. It indicates the civilized condition of man. You are told that a people are a wheat-eating people. Of course they must raise it; they must have the plough and the ploughshare; they must command iron, or, at least, some hard metal; they must understand the process of mining and smelting; they must have fields and fences; they must have foresight to sow and patience to wait for a crop; and, finally, they must be protected by law, for no one will lend the labour who is not assured of protection.

3. It contributes to extensive social changes. The introduction of sugar, for example, has changed the whole face of society. It was found to be one of the purest and least cloying sweets ever discovered. It was handed from the Arabs to the Spaniards; it was cultivated first in the Madeira Islands; then it was given to all the European nations; was raised in the West Indies on an immense scale. Then came rum, brandy, and all the alcoholic drinks, slavery and all its consequences, until now it is a debated problem whether the sweet cane was a blessing or a curse. At any rate this single article of food, so unimportant and neglected in its origin, changed the whole face of society.

4. It indicates the general refinement of the mind. Nay, we are instructed not to be totally indifferent to the kind of food, for discrimination here is connected with other discrimination, and indicates improvement in the taste. We will not take advantage of Dr. Johnson’s remark, who held that he who did not mind his dinner would scarcely mind anything else. Suffice it to say, that taste in food and taste in dress, science, and literature, always go together. He that feeds grossly will judge grossly.

5. It is essential in order to the higher pursuits of life. Take away from the astronomer his food, and he will soon cease to lift his telescope to the stars. The saint, the martyr, the moralist, and the poet, all pursue their sublime occupations through the vigour and animation of the body. In a word, as the sweetest blossom on the highest tree, though it seems to be fed by the very air which it decorates, is nourished by the dirt and manure around the roots of the tree, so the sublimest mind is supplied by the food of the body. (Bib. Sacra.)

Man’s proper food

Remark here, that when God assigned to man, while still innocent, his proper food, he gave him only the fruits of the field; and it was not till after the earth had been twice cursed because of sin that he was permitted to eat the flesh of animals. “Upon this point also,” says
M. de Rougemont, in his interesting “History of the Earth,”--“upon this point, as well as others, science has arrived, by long, circuitous ways, and painful study, at the very same truths which are plainly revealed to us in Genesis.” “It is a question,” says M. Flourens, “which has much perplexed physiologists, and which they have not yet been able to determine, what was the natural and primitive food of man. Now, thanks to comparative anatomy, it is very easy to see that man was originally neither herbivorous nor carnivorous, but frugivorous.” It was not till after the curse had been brought on the earth by sin that man began to feed on the birds of the air and the beasts of the field. Before he sinned he had a dominion over the creatures, which he lost in a great measure, and which he only keeps in a degree by force and violence; but at first they did not flee from him, and he did not eat them. Doubtless, before man sinned, the productions of the earth were richer and better than they are now, and offered a much greater variety of food and nourishment to man. But at the fall the nature of the soil and of its vegetable productions must have been in some way altered. Probably God greatly reduced the number of food-producing plants, and the earth brought forth instead those bearing useless thorns, and even some whose fruits or juices cause death. (Prof. Gaussen.)

The miracle of nourishment

Perhaps it may appear to you a very natural thing that corn, strawberries, cherries, grapes, figs, dates, peaches, pineapples, and all the various and delicious fruits of our orchards and of other climates, should feed and nourish you; but think of the miracle which must be wrought in your body--in your stomach, your lungs, your heart, your veins, your glands, your arteries, and all the various parts within you--before these fruits, or any other food that you eat, can be prepared inyour stomach, changed into a kind of milky substance, and conveyed in your veins, and passed with your blood through one of the ventricles of your heart, and thence into your lungs, to be burned and purified there, and return again as perfect blood into the other ventricle, and thence be driven by a rapid movement into your arteries, and to the very extremities of your body, in order that it may reproduce, without your interference, your skin, your flesh, your bones, your nerves, your nails, and the thousands and thousands of the hairs of your head. It is a miracle wrought by God, that any kind of food, whether leaves, seeds, fruits, or bread should serve as food and nourishment to me at all; it is a mystery and a wonder how it is changed into a part of my body, so as to make it grow, repair it, and renew its waste: and therefore it was a work of almighty power when God appointed man’s food, and said of the trees and plants, “To you it shall be for meat.” What is bread? It is a paste composed of ground corn, water, and salt, baked after it has begun to ferment. But how does it happen that the corn and the salt should nourish me? Corn, we are told, is composed of carbon and the two gases which form water. Now, how can carbon or charcoal nourish me? Try to eat a bit of charcoal, and you will find it like taking a mouthful of sand. Think how wonderfully these substances, of which corn is composed, must be transformed by Divine power to produce the corn, and then still further changed to become a part of our bodies. Then salt is composed of two substances which separately would hurt me, and yet combined they are wholesome, and help to cause the corn and other things to nourish me. If I were to take two phials, one filled with sodium and the other with hydrochloric acid, and if I were to mix them in a glass, they would combine and form salt at the bottom of the glass; and yet, separately, each of these phials would contain a destructive poison. If I were to swallow the hydrochloric acid, it would burn my stomach; and if I were to pour it into the palm of my hand and hold it there, it would soon burn a hole right through my hand; and yet this dreadful poison, when combined with sodium, forms salt, which is so wholesome and so necessary for our health. (Prof. Gaussen.)

Nature productive

The botanist Ray tells us that he counted 2,000 grains of maize on a single plant of maize sprung from one seed, 4,000 seeds on one plant of sunflower, 32,000 seeds on a single poppy plant, and 36,000 seeds on one plant of tobacco. Pliny tells us that a Roman governor in Africa sent to the Emperor Augustus a single plant of corn with 340 stems, bearing 340 ears--that is to say, at least 60,000 grains of corn had been produced from a single seed. In modern times, 12,780 grains have been produced by a single grain of the famous corn of Smyrna. In eight years, as much corn might spring from one seed as to supply all mankind with bread for a year and a half. (Prof. Gaussen.)

Verse 31

Genesis 1:31

And God saw everything that He had made, and, behold, it was very good

Creation very good


Why was it very good?

1. It was the offspring of infinite wisdom and power and love.

2. Because guided into existence by Jesus.

3. Because there was no evil in it.

4. Because it was like God.

WHAT was very good? Everything which He had made.

How are they very good? In themselves--in their purposes--in their arrangements.

IS EVERYTHING VERY GOOD STILL? God is fetching very good things out of the apparent frustration of His plan. He is restoring what is now very bad to be very good. (J. Bolton.)

The good creation

No one can prove to us that God made the world; but faith, which is stronger than all arguments, makes us certain of it.

1. All which God has made is good, as He is, and, therefore, if anything in the world seems to be bad, one of two things must be true of it.

(1) Either it is not bad, though it seems so to us, and God will bring good out of it in His own good time; or

(2) if the thing is really bad, then God did not make it. It must be a disease, a mistake, a failure of man’s malting, or of some person’s making, but not of God’s making. For all that He has made He sees eternally, and, behold, it is very good.

2. God created each of us good in His own mind, else He would not have created us at all. Why does God’s thought of us, God’s purpose about us, seem to have failed? We do not know, and we need not know. Whatever sin we inherited from Adam, God looks on us now, not as we are in Adam, but as we are in Christ. God looks not on the old corrupt nature which we inherited from Adam, but on the new and good grace which God has meant for us from all eternity, which Christ has given us now.

That which is good in us God has made; He will take care of what He haw made, for He loves it. All which is bad in us God has not made, and therefore He will destroy it; for He hates all that He has not made, and will not suffer it in His world. Before all worlds, from eternity itself, God said, “Let Us make man in Our likeness,” and nothing can hinder God’s word but the man himself. If a man loves his fallen nature better than the noble, just, loving grace of God, and gives himself willingly up to the likeness of the beasts that perish, then only can God’s purpose towards him become of none effect. (C. Kingsley, M. A.)

God in nature; or, spring lessons


1. The ceaseless and infinite energy of God.

2. The blessedness and beauty of God.

LESSONS CONCERNING HUMAN LIFE. It is an old, but true comparison of this life to the seasons of the year. Spring has always suggested the refreshing, promising, transient, and changeable nature of life’s early days. But notice, especially, the improvability of life. Spring, the cultivating season. Conditional. Spring neglected, autumn shows barren fields. Precarious. Buds, etc. may be blighted. Need for watching, etc.

SUGGESTIONS CONCERNING HUMAN DESTINY. In spring “all things become new.” To be “young again” has been the dream of all ages. The distinct proof of immortal youth beyond the grave is given only by Christ “The First-begotten of the dead.” (J. Foster, B. A.)


God’s approbation of His works

1. The true origin of all things.

2. The original perfection of all things.

(1) Very good, as being well adapted to answer its particular intention.

(2) Very good, as being well calculated to promote the glory of its Maker.

(3) Very good, as being conducive to the perfection and welfare of the whole

3. God’s approbation of His works.


1. Seeing that God had done for man the utmost that his case admitted, both as respected himself, and as respected the world around him, the blessings of which were given him richly to enjoy, it follows that man was under the greatest obligations possible, in his then present circumstances.

2. Sin is at once the vilest injustice and the basest ingratitude imaginable Isaiah 1:2; Malachi 1:6).

3. A continuance in sin is the most daring imprudence. According to that constitution of things which was “very good,” holiness and happiness went together. Sin, by violating that constitution, “brought death into the world with all our woe.”

4. Reformation is well-pleasing to God. He approved of things in their original state. He is unchangeable.

5. The text suggests a lesson of humility. “How is the gold become dim!” the Divine image effaced I Humility becomes every rational creature, on account of its debt and its dependence.

6. The text furnishes ground of hope and encouragement. It proclaims the goodness of Him with whom we have to do; and therefore encourages us to hope in His mercy. Let us remember, however, that it is to the gospel we are indebted for improving hope into assurance (Romans 8:32). (Sketches of Sermons.)

God’s approbation of His works

Let us consider--

The natural truths asserted by our text. Among these are--

1. The true origin of all things--“God saw everything that He had made.”

2. The original perfection of all things “very good,” “very good,” as being--

(1) Well adapted to answer their particular intention.

(2) Conducive to the perfection of the whole.

(3) Well calculated to promote the Creator’s glory.

3. God’s approbation of His work. He saw it very good.

The moral truths suggested.

1. Gratitude.

2. Hatred of sin.

3. The discontinuing of all evil.

4. Reformation and return to virtue.

5. Humility.

6. A ground of hope and encouragement.

Everything in species made perfect at one and the same time in the creation

All artists, in what they do, have their second thoughts (and those usually are the best); as, for example, a watchmaker sets upon a piece of work (it being the first time that ever men were wont to carry a pastime in their pockets), but, having better considered of it, he makes another, and a third, some oval, some round, some square, everyone adding lustre and perfection to the first invention, whereas, heretofore, they were rather like warming pans, to weary us, than warning pieces, to admonish us how the time passed. The like may be said of the famous art of printing, painting, and the like, all of them outdoing the first copies they were set to go by. But it was not so with God in the creation of the several species of nature; He made them all perfect, simul et semel, at one and the same time, everything pondere et mensura, so just, so proportionate in the parts, such an elementary harmony, such a symmetry in the bodies of animals, such a correspondency of vegetals, that nothing is defective, neither can anything be added to the perfection thereof. (J. Spencer.)

The love of beauty: in nature

In these most simple and mysterious words we are plainly told that in the beginning the Creator of this world delighted in the beauty of its outward form. He approved it not only as fit for the material development which He had designed for it, fit for the ages of change, the course of history which should be enacted on it: but also as outwardly delightful. He saw His work, and, behold, to sight it was very good. Apart from all the uses it would serve, its outward aspect was in harmony with a certain Divine law: and for this Almighty God judged that it was very good. If men would only look frankly at the first chapter of Genesis, without either timidity or injustice, it would surely seem very strange to find this simple and complete anticipation of a thought which, though it has been astir in the world for many centuries, has only in the last few years received its due emphasis and its logical force. I mean the thought that our delight in the visible beauty of this world can only be explained by the belief that the world has in some way been made to give us this delight by a Being who Himself knows what beauty is: and that the beauty of Nature is a real communication made to us concerning the mind and will that is behind Nature . . . We have then a right to say that the quality or character which can thus speak and appeal to our spirit must have been engendered in this visible world by a spiritual Being able and willing to enter into communion with us, and knowing what would affect and raise our thoughts. When we receive and read a letter, we are sure it has come from someone who knew our language and could write it. When we listen to a beautiful piece of music we are sure that the composer had either a theoretic or at least a practical acquaintance with the laws and the effects of harmony. And when at the sight of a great landscape, rich and quiet in the chaste glory of the autumn, or glad with the bright promise, the fearless freedom of the spring, our whole heart is filled with happiness, and every sense seems touched with something of a pleasure that was meant for it, and all words are utterly too poor to praise the sight--then surely, by as good an argument, we must say that, through whatever ways and means, the world received its outward aspect by the will of some being who knew the law and truth of beauty. It does not matter, so far as this inference is concerned, how the result has been attained, or how many ages and thousands of secondary causes are traced between the beginning of the work and its present aspect: it is beautiful now: it now speaks to us in a language which our spirits understand: and, however long ago, and in whatever way, only a spiritual being could have taught it so to speak. Whatever creation means, the world was created by One who could delight in beauty: whenever its Author looked out upon His work He must have seen that it was very good Lastly, but above all, if we are to receive from the visible beauty of the world all that it can reveal to us concerning Him who made and praised it, we must draw near to it with watchful obedience to His own condition for so great a blessing: “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” It was nobly said by the founder of inductive science, that for entrance into the kingdom of knowledge as for entrance into the kingdom of heaven, men must become as little children. They must draw near with free and humble hearts if they are to enter into the mysteries of natural science: they must not dictate to Nature, or assert themselves in her presence: they must come to her with affectionate attention to wait upon her self-revealing. (F. Paget, D. D.)

Admiration of completed work

“The Lord rejoices in His works.” What a wonderful sentence that is! That man must have been inspired when he said that God rested from His labours, and looked upon His works, and pronounced them good. Of all joys, that is the grandest and sublimest, to review one’s own work and pronounce it good. There is no passage in English much more beautiful than that which describes the author of that great work on “Falling Rome” (Gibbon) when he had just come to the conclusion of his task. Walking there under the trees of Lausanne, he, like a true artist, drew back and admired his finished work. And he was right. For there are times when a man may look upon his work, and say, “That is genius!” When Swift was beginning to doat, he took down from a shelf one of his own works, and exclaimed, “What a genius I must have had when I did that!” (G. Dawson.)

Perfection of nature

I have seen the back of a splendid painting, and there, on the dusty canvas, were blotches and daubs of colour--the experiments of the painter’s brush. There is nothing answering to that in the works of God! I have seen the end of a piece of costly velvet; and though man had in it fairly imitated the bloom of the fruit and the velvet of the flowers, there was a common, unwrought, worthless selvage--a coarse, unsightly selvage. There is no selvage in the works of God! (H. Wonnacott.)

A pretty world

I once, writes Joaquin Miller, strolled through a miserable Mexican village. The shadows were creeping over the cabins, where women came and went in silence, and men sat smoking at the cabin doors, while children played in swarms by the water. The air was like a breath of God, and all nature seemed as sacred as rest to a weary man. A black, bent, old negro woman, all patches from head to foot, frosty-headed and half blind, came crooning forth with a broken pot tied together, in which she had planted a flower to grow by her door. I stopped, watched her set it down and arrange it; and then, not wishing to stare rudely at this bent old creature, I said--“Good evening, auntie; it’s a fine evening.” She slowly straightened up, looked at me, looked away at the fading sunlight on the hills, and said softly, “Oh, it’s a pretty world, massa!” The old woman was a poetess--a prophetess. She had a soul to see the beauty, the poetry about her. “Oh, it’s a pretty world, massa!” She had no other form of expression, but that was enough. Hers was the password to nature. “And God saw every, thing that He had made, and, behold it was very good.”.

Bibliographical Information
Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on "Genesis 1". The Biblical Illustrator. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/tbi/genesis-1.html. 1905-1909. New York.
Ads FreeProfile