An Exposition of Genesis 1 - 2:3
New Edition, Revised
Preface To The First Edition.
The volume consists of papers which have already appeared in the Bible Treasury and thus secured a considerable circulation. But it has been strongly urged that even those who read these successive articles desire to have them as a consecutive whole, not only for their own reconsideration, but as much or more for the help of thousands unacquainted with that periodical, and more willing to examine the exposition of Gen. 1 - 2:8 in a convenient collective form.
The writer has only to express his growing sense of the perfectness and inestimable value of this scripture as of all others. He prays that the work, notwithstanding all shortcomings may be by grace helpful to all who (in a day of effort to resuscitate lifeless forms and of reactionary free-thinking, both of which schools of unbelief struggle for the mastery) would keep Christ’s word and not deny His name. In faith and love they would also seek earnestly the winning of souls from the imminent and increasing peril of going back, from the true light of Christ in all its fulness, to the darkness of a world now rapidly becoming apostate; which, by wisdom even more dangerously than by folly, knew not God, and rejects as foolishness the wisdom of God in Christ and Him crucified.
London, March, 1894.
The Old Testament is a revelation from God in view of His earthly people Israel. It was of the highest moment that they should have the truth authoritatively announced that the one true God is the Creator of all. Darkness covered the earth, gross darkness the peoples. Israel, in Egypt, as later in the land of Canaan, was ever prone to forget this truth and lapse into the delusions of men. Fallen like others, they wished to be like all nations in their polity and their religion. Hence the importance of their knowing and acknowledging creation in any real sense; it points to and is bound up with the unity of the living God.
A difficulty has been raised, why, if God created, it was not always. The answer is as simple as complete. Eternal creation, eternal matter, is untrue and impossible, a contradiction for thought, even if we had not the word of God to enlighten us. God of all power, if He pleases, creates: there only is the truth of it. To say that the self-existing One cannot create is to deny that He is the Absolute, that He is God. But that God, omnipotent, omniscient, sovereign and good, can crease when He chooses, flows necessarily from what He is. If He could not display Himself in this way, or even more gloriously, He is not God. If the display of creation or of anything else were always, He would not be free and absolute. His sovereignty is part of Himself (Eph. 1:11). Suppose any display necessary, and you destroy in thought His divine essence and will. Necessity is at bottom an atheistic device to get rid of the true God. Creation, therefore, was perfectly free to God, but not necessary; it was when and as He pleased. And He was pleased to create. Creation exists.
Nor can there be conceived a more simple, sublime, and comprehensive opening of divine revelation than these few words: — “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” It is the absolute commencement of creation, and in the most pointed contradistinction from the seven days. The question is solely about the true unforced meaning of the written word of God, not about Rabbis any more than the chosen people. What does the inspired record contain and convey? It may be of interest to examine what Philo or Josephus understood, as well as how the Seventy translated it into Greek long before Christ. One may weigh either the Massorah or the Jerusalem Targum, and the comments of Jarchi, Aben Ezra, both Kimchis, Levi Ben Gerson, Saadias Haggaon, Abarbanel, or any other learned Jew, to say nothing of others.
But without them there is God’s word given to be read and understood, though not without the faith of Christ, not without His guidance Who communicated it originally. It was not given to teach science, and it is wholly independent of philosophy for its intelligence. Geologists, Botanists, Zoologists, Astronomers, Historians, etc., have His brief and clear account before them. Man’s comprehension of what is communicated may be affected by the amount of his knowledge, and far more by his faith. This, however, is a question of our understanding and expounding it; but we must never forget that God is the Author, and the writers only the instruments. The Bible is a moral book, only the more striking in its unity because it consists of so many compositions of so many writers, stretching over a thousand years of the most varied circumstances if we limit ourselves to the O.T. The reader may be right or wrong at any given time in the idea he attaches to what we call “firmament,” “plant,” or the like; but the truth remains unadulterated and unchanging in scripture, for us to read again and again, and to learn more perfectly.
This indeed constitutes its characteristic and permanent value. It is not only a full and sure source of instruction in consonance with its moral and yet higher designs to God’s glory; it is the sole standard of the truth, by which we are bound to test all else which professes to be divine. Let us ever search afresh in faith, and ever grow into a deepening knowledge of the revealed mind of God.
The philosophies, as well as the religions, of antiquity were wholly ignorant of creation. Of God, of the “beginning,” they knew nothing. Dreams of evolution were the earliest folly, and, among the Ionic school, Anaximander and Anaximenes followed Thales, each differing, all blind. Anaxagoras let in with mere matter the idea of mind, but no creator. It is useless to name others; even Plato and Aristotle, rivals too, had no real light. They, more or less openly, all held eternal matter at bottom; and though the philosophers boasted, as they still do, of their knowledge and logic, they failed to see that they could not prove it, or even that it is to mere mind unthinkable. To the believer it is the simple yet deep truth, that a beginning was given to everything that exists; if God says it, he perceives that nothing else can be true. For it is impossible to admit an effect without a cause; but reasoning can never rise at best beyond, There must be a First Cause; it can never say, There is. This God alone can and does affirm: “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” God brought the whole ordered system into being. The form, nature, and aim, are not here explained: such a detail had no proper place here. That He created all is a primary and momentous truth.
But there is not a word in scripture to warrant the strange and hasty assumption that the universe was brought into being in the six days of Gen. 1:3-31, so often referred to throughout the Bible. Construe the six days as men will, it is out of the power of any on just principles of interpretation to deny that the first day begins with light, and that the first two verses are marked off in their nature, as well as by their expression, from the work of the six days. Nothing indeed but prepossession can account for the mistake, which the record itself corrects. “In the beginning” has its own proper significance, and is in no way connected with “the days,” save as the revealed start of divine creation, and in due time (however probably immense the interval) leading to that measure of time only when the constitution of things was made for Adam, for the race.
The antiquity of the earth may be as great as the shifting schemes of the most enthusiastic geologist ever conceived: there is absolutely neither here nor in any other part of scripture the least intimation that opposes vast ages before man was created, or that affirms man to be nearly contemporary with the original creation. It is ignorance of scripture to say that Moses assigns an epoch to the earth’s first formation, such as fathers or commentators (not without worthier remarks) have imagined and made current in Christendom. The philosophers who have spent their time in the study of geology and kindred sciences will act wisely in reading with unwonted care the beginning of Gen. 1. They will thence learn that they have been precipitate in the conclusion that the inspired writing is at all committed to the blunders of its interpreters, theological or scientific. However vast the periods they claim, even for the strata nearest the surface, scripture is the sole record which, while revealing God as the Creator of all things, leaves room for all that has been wrought before the Adamic earth. “The everlasting God, Jehovah, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary: there is no searching of his understanding” (Isa. 40:28). While geology waits for its Newton, subjection to scripture meanwhile would be untold gain to its devotees as to all other men.
There was an epoch then in the infinite course of eternity when God created the universe. This is here stated with the utmost accuracy — “ in the beginning.” It is in view of man, primarily indeed of Israel, that the Pentateuch was written, the Second man and Last Adam being the, as yet, hidden object (and the church one with Him) of God’s counsels. Angels are not spoken of, though we know from another ancient book of inspiration that they expressed their joy when earth’s foundations were made to sink (Job 38:6, 7). “In the beginning,” accordingly, is severed from all the measures of time with which a man’s existence is conversant. How admirably previous duration, unlimited by ordinary notation, suits the immense changes of which geology takes cognizance, needs no further remark here.
“God” in our version answers to the Hebrew Elohim, which, however, has the peculiarity of a plural substantive with a singular verb. Christianity alone in its own time cleared up the enigma, which still remains impenetrably dark to the Jews, as well to other men, who know not in Christ “the true Light.”
Again, there ought to be no doubt among scholars that the word “created” in our tongue corresponds better than any other with the original. With us, as with Israel, the word admits of application to signal callings into existence out of actual material, as in Gen. 1:21, 27, but only with a special ground and emphasis. And never is it used of any other maker than God. But if the aim were to speak of creation in the ultimate, highest, and strictest sense, the Hebrews, like ourselves, had no other word so appropriated. Here the context is decisive. “God created the heavens and the earth,” where nothing of the kind existed previously. They were created out of nothing as men speak, perhaps loosely, but not unintelligibly. The heathen might worship, as all did, the heavens, or even the earth; the Jew sinned against the written word if he was ensnared of Satan after their dark example. The first words of God’s law told him that those were but creatures; Israel was to hear if others were deaf, and bound to own, serve, and worship the one God, the Creator. The chosen people was quite as ready as any other to worship the creature, as all their history to the Babylonish captivity proves; but there can be no doubt what the Bible supposed, declared, and claimed from its very first verse — God created the universe.
Further, it is not matter created, crude matter to be afterwards fashioned into the shapely and beautiful universe of the heavens and the earth. It is not chaos first, as Greek and Latin poets feigned, in accordance with heathen tradition never wholly right, though often mixing up what was not wrong. It is not a nebula, as La Place conceived, a mere modification of the same rationalism, however refined it be. Lord Rosse, by his observations with his great reflector, has fairly disposed of this unbelieving hypothesis. For he has proved that many nebulae, considered even by the Herschels irresolvable objects, actually consist of agglomerations of stars. Surely, therefore, the only just presumption is that all nebulae are nothing more, and only need more powerful means to make manifest their true nature. God only has given the truth plainly, briefly, and after a way transparently divine in its simple and unparalleled majesty. “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” How is it, ye savants, that this great truth is found here only in its pristine splendour, towering above your Hesiods and Homers, your Ovids and Virgils, your Egyptian and Mexican remains, your Hindu and Chinese fables? How is it that to our day the Lyell and Darwin, to say nothing of profaner men, are stumbling in the dark over a morass of hypotheses (to say the least), unproved and dubious? It is because God’s word is not believed as He wrote it; and this, because men like not the true God Who judges sin and saves only through His Son the Lord Jesus. So of old when men knew God, they glorified Him not as God, neither gave thanks, but became vain in their reasonings, and their senseless heart was darkened. It is the more guilty now, because, the Son of God being come and having accomplished redemption, the darkness quite passes away and the true light already shines. Alas! anything is welcome but a living God, and least of all the whole universe created by and through and for His Son Who is before all things and by Whom all things consist. “By faith we understand (or apprehend) that the worlds have been framed by God’s word, so that what is seen hath not been made out of things which appear” (Heb. 11:3).
Creation then in ver. 1 is the great primary fact of revelation. It is all the stronger, because the Hebrew text (“In [the] beginning”) has no article, any more than the Greek in John 1:1. It is therefore undefined. Compare Prov. 8:23. From the context, however, it is plain that the fourth Gospel rises beyond the first book of Moses; for it goes back to divine and eternal being (not ἐγένετο, but ἦν), and not merely divine origination, which in fact appears later (in John 1:3), and this in a form all-embracing and exclusive. “All things were made (came into being) through him, and without him was not anything made which hath been made.”
“In the beginning” is not a known fixed point of time, but indefinite according to the subject-matter; it here intimates that “Of old,” or “In former duration” (expressly undefined), God created the universe. Undoubtedly there is no disclosure of the immense aeons of which geologists speak so freely; but the language of ver. 1 leaves the door open for all that can be proved by research, or even for the longest demand of the most extravagant Uniformitarian.
But the words do affirm a “beginning” of the universe, and by God’s word, as in both O. and N.T. (see Ps. 33:6-9, and Heb. 11:3). This was everything to accomplish His design, and His design was to create the heavens and the earth, where there had been nothing. Whatever Atheists or Pantheists feign, science at length confesses there was a “beginning;” so that “created” stands here in its proper and fullest sense, as the context requires.
“There was a beginning, says geology, to man; and farther back, to mammals, to birds, and to reptiles, to fishes, and all the lower animals, and to plants; a beginning to life: a beginning, it says also, to mountain ranges and valleys, to lands and seas, to rocks. Hence science takes another step back, and admits or claims a beginning to the earth, a beginning to all planets and suns, and a beginning to the universe. Science and the record in Genesis are thus one. This is not reconciliation; it is accordance.” So writes Dr. J. D. Dana, the eminent American Professor, in the “O. and N. Test. Student” of July, 1890.
The record declares that God created not a “formless earth,” but “the heavens” (where at no time do we hear of disorder) “and the earth.” But even as to “the earth,” which was to be a scene of change, we are expressly told by an authority no leas inspired, and therefore of equal authority with Moses, that such disorder was not the original state. “For thus saith Jehovah that created the heavens; he is God; that formed the earth and made it; he established it, he created it not a waste, he formed it to be inhabited” (Isa 45:18). The Revised V. is purposely cited, as confessedly the more correct reflection of the prophet. Here is therefore the surest warrant to separate ver. 2 from ver. 1 (save, of course, that it is a subsequent fact), severed, it may be, by a succession of geologic ages, and characterised by a catastrophe, at least as far as regards the earth. Indeed it would be strange to hear of an ordered heavens along with a “formless earth” as the firstfruits of God’s creative activity.
But we are not told of any such anomaly. The universe, fresh from God’s will and power, consisted of “the heavens and the earth.” Silence is kept as to its condition then, and up to the cataclysm of ver. 2; and most suitably, unless God’s purpose in the Bible were altogether different from that moral end which pervades it from first to last. What had the history of those preliminary physical changes to do with His people and their relations to Himself? But it ought not to be doubted that each state which God made was a system perfect for its aim. Yet it was not formless materials only, but heaven and earth.
“And the earth was (or became) waste1 and empty, and darkness [was] upon the face of the deep; and the Spirit of God [was] brooding upon the face of the waters” (ver. 2).
The well-known and flexible particle of connection in the Hebrew text introduces the verse. Its meaning, usually and simply copulative, is often modified, as almost all words in every language must be, by contextual considerations. Hence the learned Dathe, in 1781, renders it here “posthaec vero,” expressly to distinguish the state of things in ver. 2 from that referred to in ver. 1, and sends us to such instances as Num. 5:23, Deut. 1:19. Now there is no doubt that the Hebrew conjunction admits of an interval as often as facts demand it; but there is no need of departing from its primary force, “and” (though our conjunction is not so pliant); or it may readily have a somewhat adversative force as we see in the LXX. The true determination lies in what follows. For the usage of the past verb when thus employed is to express a state subsequent to, and not connected with, what goes before, but previous to what follows. Hebrew idiom does not use that verb simply as a copula, as may be seen twice in this verse, and almost everywhere; or it puts the verb before the noun. The right conclusion therefore is that Moses was led to indicate the desolation into which the earth was thrown at some epoch not made known, after creation, but prior to the “days” in which it was made the habitation for Adam and the race.
With this agrees the occurrence of the remarkable phraseology “waste and empty” elsewhere. There are but two other occasions: — Isa. 34:11, “the line of confusion [or waste] and the stones of emptiness;” and Jer. 4:23, “I beheld the earth; and lo! it was waste and emptiness.” In both it is a desolation indicted, not the primary condition. So it is in Genesis 1:2. It is the more to be noted, as in Jeremiah it is said of the heavens at this time, that “they had no light.” Thus is confirmed, by each of the other occurrences, the conviction that our text describes a state which befell the earth, possibly long after its original creation as in the verse before. It is to this interval that the successive ages of geology apply. Here are undeniable facts, full of interest, and implying creation made existent and extinguished. One’s confidence in the hypotheses reared on all this may be otiose or enthusiastic; but the exact meaning of Moses’ words in this verse leaves all the room that could be desired for those vast processes which may be gathered from the observed phenomena of the earth’s crust. There is nothing in scripture to exclude a succession of creatures rising to higher organization from lower as the rule, with a striking exception here and there, from the Eozoon in the Laurentian rocks of Canada to the Mammalia, which most nearly resemble those of the earth as it is. But all the brilliant ingenuity of Sir C. Lyell, with others of kindred view, fails to explain or evade the proofs of change at this very period, immense as it may have been, incomparably vaster and more rapid than since man appeared. No doubt the deluge had the deepest moral significance, and is thus unique, because the human race, save those in the ark, was then swept away. But physically its traces were superficial compared with those far more ancient convulsions so apparent except to those who worship Time and Uniformitarianism.
“We simply assert” (says the cautious Sir R. I. Murchison), “on the countless evidences of fracture, dislocation, metamorphism, and inversion of the strata, and also on that of vast and clean-swept denudations, that these agencies were from time to time infinitely more energetic than in existing nature - in other words, that the metamorphisms and oscillations of the terrestrial crust, including the uprise of sea-bottoms, and the sweeping out of debris, were paroxysmal in comparison with the movements of our own era We further maintain that no amount of time (of which no true geologist was ever parsimonious when recording the history of bygone accumulations of sediment, or of the different races of animals they contain) will enable us to account for the signs of many great breaks and convulsions which are visible in every mountain chain, and which the miner encounters in all underground workings. . . . The case therefore stands thus. The shelly and pebbly terraces which exist are signs of sudden elevations at different periods; whilst the theory of modern gradual elevation and depression is still wanting in any valid proof that such operations have taken place except within very limited areas. Much longer and more persistent observations must indeed be made before any definite conclusion can be reached respecting the rate of gradual elevation or depression which has been going on in the last thousand years, though we may confidently assert that such changes in the relations of land to water in the historical period have been infinitesimally small when compared with the many antecedent geological operations” (Siluria, 490-1, fifth ed., 1872).
On the one hand the facts point to changes in earth and sea, and these repeatedly varied too with fresh water; to rocks igneous and stratified and metamorphosed, and (during the periods thus implied, and with a corresponding environment of temperature and constitution) to organised natures, vegetable and animal, from lower orders to high, short of man and those animals which accompany his appearance on the earth; to whole groups of these organisms in vast abundance coming to an end, and others quite distinct succeeding and extinguished in their turn. Would it not be a harsh supposition that God, in the fossils of the rocks, made a mere appearance of what once lived? that these petrified creatures never had animate existence here below? On the other hand, the principle and the fact of creation we see not more plainly revealed in ver. 1 than of disruption in ver. 2; and both before the actual preparation of the earth for Adam as described in the six days.
As the creation, announced in a few words of noble simplicity, is the first and most momentous of God’s productive interventions, so the catastrophe here briefly described seems to be the last and greatest disturbance of the globe, the twenty-seventh or sub-Apennine stage, if we accept the elaborate conclusions of M. Alcide D’Orbigny (Paleontologie Stratigr., Tome ii. 800 - 824), a most competent naturalist. Then the Alps and Chilian Andes received their actual elevation, of itself (though with many other changes of enormous consequence) quite sufficient to account for universal confusion, with destruction of life on the earth, the deep supervening everywhere, and utter darkness pervading all. However vast, this state may have been for but a little while. The animals embedded ages before in the rocks had eyes; presumably therefore light then prevailed. Indeed some of the earliest organic remains had vision with the most striking adaptation to their circumstances, as the Trilobites of the Silurian and other beds, with their compound structure, each eye in one computed to have 6,000 facets (Owen’s Pal. 48, 49, 2nd ed.). The language of ver. 2 is perfectly consistent with this, when compared with ver. 1, and in fact naturally supposes the darkness to be the effect of the disorder.
To confound the two verses is as contrary to the only sound interpretation of the record, as it is to the facts which science undertakes to arrange and expound. Nor can anything be more certain than the manner in which scripture steers clear of all error and consistently with all that is irrefragably ascertained, whilst never quitting its own spiritual ground to occupy the reader with physics. To reduce these gigantic operations of the geologic ages, in destruction and reconstruction with new living genera and species, to the slow course of nature and providence in the Adamic earth, the fashionable craze of the modern school, is “making a world after a pattern of our own,” quite as really as uninformed prejudice used to do. It was absurd to deny that the petrifactions of the strata were once real animals and plants, and to attribute them to a plastic force in the earth, or to the influence of the heavens: but so it is to overlook the evidence of extremely violent and rapid convulsions before man was made, closing one geological period and inaugurating another with its flora and fauna successively suited to each in the wisdom and power and goodness of God.
Neither ver. 1 nor ver. 2 is a summary of the Adamic earth, which only begins to be got ready from ver. 3. There are, accordingly, three states with the most marked distinction: original creation of the universe; the earth passed into a state of waste and emptiness; and the renovation of the earth, etc., for man its new inhabitant and ruler. Science is dumb, because wholly ignorant, how each of these three events, stupendous even the least of them, came to pass; it can only speak, often hesitatingly, about the effects of each, and, with least boldness, about creation in the genuine sense, though some, I cheerfully acknowledge, with outspoken and ungrudging cordiality. How different and surpassing is the language of scripture, which has revealed all these things to babes, if they are hid from or dubious to the wise and the prudent! From the Bible they are, or ought to be, known on infallible authority, and this in the first written words God gave to man, when Rome and Athens had not emerged from barbarism if they existed as such at all.
Our ver. 2 then brings to view a confused state of the earth, as different from the order of primary creation as from the earth of Adam and his sons, in regard to which state the Spirit of God is said to have been “brooding upon the face of the waters.” By His Spirit the heavens are beautified; and as to creatures generally it is written, “Thou sendest forth thy Spirit, they are created, and thou renewest the face of the ground.” Here it was to be for man’s earth. This is the link of transition. All was to be made by God’s word. Wisdom rejoices in the “habitable” earth, and has delights with the sons of men. A mighty wind might rage over the abyss. The Spirit of God, not the wind, could be said with propriety to “brood.” What new wonders were at hand!
Now comes the first point of direct contact with the habitable earth and its surrounding. We have had (ver. 1) the creation of the heavens and the earth, apart from date or definite time; we have had also (ver. 2) a superinduced condition of confusion, but the Spirit of God brooding upon the face of the waters. Neither one nor other has to do with man’s earth, though earth there had been under both those differing and successive conditions. Nor can it be doubtful to him who knows God, that even the latter had its worthy and wise aim as well as more obviously the former. But neither phase is connected immediately with man, though all was done to God’s glory with man in prospect, and above all the Second man, as we can add unhesitatingly from the N.T. It is to the facts stated in these preliminary verses that geological observations and inferences would mainly refer. As the words are few and general, there is ample space for research.
The believer knows beforehand that theoretic conclusions wherever sound must fall in with the sentence of inspiration. The work of the six days has little if anything to do with geology. There may be a measure of analogy between the work of the third, fifth, and sixth days, and certain of the alleged antecedent geologic periods which the Bible passes over silently as being outside its range and object, while room is left for them all in vers. 1 and 2. But the effort to force the days, whether those three or al] six, into a scriptural authority for the successive ages of geology is mere illusion. If it be a harmless use of geology, it is anything but reverence for God’s word or intelligence in it. That there are discrepancies between the record and any facts certainly ascertained, neither geology proves, nor any of the sciences still more sure and mature. But he who is assured of revealed truth can afford to hear all that experts assert, even when based on a partial induction of facts, as is not seldom the case. If, outside scripture, there is nothing a believer has to contend for; if scripture speaks, he believes, no matter what science declares to the contrary; if science confirms it, so much the better for science. Assuredly God’s word needs no imprimatur from men.
If one appealed to any branch of physical science as to the first day, he could get no clear answer. Geology has confessedly, nothing to say. What can astronomy or optics do more? Science, as such, leaves out God — science, not scientific men, many of the greatest of whom have been true-hearted believers. Science, in itself, knows nothing of the power that originated, ignores the First Cause, and shirks ordinarily even the final causes which might summon heed to a first cause. It occupies itself with an established order in the world and with secondary causes, especially those at work before men’s eyes or probably deducible from experience. The peril for the unwary is obvious, and real, and notorious. It would be much less if science were honest enough to acknowledge its ignorance of what is beyond its sphere. But often its interpreter says “There is not,” where logically and morally he is entitled only to say, “I know not.” This is not merely audacity without warrant, but sin of the worst kind. The fool hath said in his heart, “There is no God.” It is exactly where science finds itself confessedly stopped by a blind wall that scripture proclaims the truth from God. As He knows, so He revealed as far as in His wisdom and goodness He saw fit. “And God said, Light be: and light was. lend God saw the light that [it was] good; and God divided between the light and the darkness. And God called the light Day, and the darkness He called Night. And there was evening, and there was morning, one (or, first) day” (vers. 3-5).
Now who but an inspired man would have so written? The more you depreciate Israel as an unlettered, if not rude and barbarous, people, the greater the wonder. Did Egypt so teach, or Babylon? did Greece or Rome? How came Moses to declare that the fact was as he writes? I do not speak of the sublime which Longinus so justly extolled, but of that which human experience never could have suggested; for living man, had he judged from universally known phenomena, had ever regarded the sun as the great source of light; so that if the writing had been his, he must naturally have spoken first of that bright orb. In other words, the work of the fourth day would more reasonably have taken the place of the first. That the philosophers taught for ages afterwards. But not so the truth; and, whatever the seeming and striking difficulty, especially then, Moses was given to write the truth. As the apostle says some fifteen centuries after, God spoke light to shine out of darkness (2 Cor. 4:6). The darkness is not said to have been everywhere, but “on the face of the deep,” and now that an earth for the human race was in question, there it was that God commanded light to shine. That it was “created” now is not said; that it had existed before during the geologic ages for varying phases of the earth and for a very long while for the vegetable and animal kingdoms, there is abundant reason to conclude. But this is science, not faith, though the scriptural account is the sole cosmogony that leaves room for it.
But what is affirmed is that (after utter confusion reigned over the earth and darkness on the face of the deep, yet the Spirit of God brooding on the face of the waters) God interposed and said, Light be; and light was. As far as the Adamic earth was concerned, the light-bearers were not yet set in their functions as now: this was the fourth-day work. The word was, “Light be;” and light was: language evidently consistent with that view of light which prevails in comparatively modern times against Sir I. Newton’s theory of emanation from the sun. If the phenomena of light are allowed in general to be a result of molecular action, and dependent on fundamental qualities of matter as it is now constituted, so that it was not the creation of an element admitting of independent existence, as science now owns, is it not remarkable that the words of Moses avoid all error, without forestalling scientific discovery, and express nothing but truth in the clearest terms? At the word of God appeared instant activity of light, just before that time inert.
But science easily over-shoots itself in hasty generalisation. For it contradicts the inspired record when it ventures to say that the fiat as to light on the first day must have preceded the existence of water and of earth, of solid or liquid or gaseous compounds of every kind. Granted that light is manifested in the making of such compounds. But vers. 1 and 2 give the surest testimony that “earth” and “water” did exist, not indeed before light, but before that particular fiat of God which called it into action for the earth that now is, after the confusion and darkness which had just before prevailed.
It is all a mistake then, and distinctly at issue with the context, to assume that there was no “light” in the state of things intimated by ver. 1. And it is allowed that even the “earth” and “water” of ver. 2, whatever the then state of ruin and darkness, could not have been without “light” previously, if but to form them. Verse 3 was not therefore really the signal of creation begun, but of God acting afresh and in detail, ages after the universe was created, with its systems, and within them its suns, planets, and satellites. On the plain face of the record, after the mighty work of the universe, and after a disruption that befell the earth with most marked consequences, God puts forth His word to form the Adamic earth with its due accompaniments.
Hence we may notice anticipatively that on the fourth day not a hint is given of creating the physical masses of the sun, moon, and stars. It is there and then no more than setting them in their declared and existing relations to the earth. Their creation belongs in time to Gen. 1:1; but of the rest more fully in its place. That on the first day light dissipated the then prevailing darkness is true, and of deep interest as God’s first word and act for the earth of man. But this says nothing about the original creation of the heavens and earth. Nor is it quite comprehensible why “the waters” of ver. 2 should not be literal waters, because utter darkness veiled the deep or abyss. These are the inconsistencies that necessarily flow from the false start which confounds “in the beginning” of ver. 1 with the “first day” of vers. 3-5 and those that follow; as this again involves the extraordinary error of taking ver. 2 to be the original state of the earth in ver. 1, when it immediately came into being from God.
The hypothesis that the earth when creation began was a frigid chaos or frozen globe, strange as it seems, is hard to escape for such as deny successive states since creation according to God’s will, or, which goes along with it, for such as affirm the “creation” of the sun, etc., only on the fourth day. The argument is that, if so, it must have been almost cloudless, well lighted, and well warmed — in short, an impossibility. But reasoning from things as they are to a condition so contrasted in the record itself with what God formed for man subsequently is fallacious. It is simply a question of what God tells us of the abnormal state supposed in ver. 2. Not a word implies frigidity, save that darkness was on the face of the deep, which may rather have been the effect of heat acting on the earth and the waters, a transient state after previous order, and before it was made for Adam.2 The record in no way identifies the disorder with the earth when its creation was effected in ver. 1; but it assuredly distinguishes the dark dislocation of ver. 2 from the work of the fourth day when the earth and sun and stars became one in system as in their present constitution. In short, the dilemma appears to be quite baseless. The true scope of ver. 2 is not at all that the original creation was a scene of darkness, even for the earth, but that when the earth, not the heavens, was thrown into confusion ever so long after, darkness was on the face of the deep. Light is not an element calling for annihilation (which would indeed be absurd), but a state flowing from molecular activity which God could and did here arrest, as far as “the deep” was concerned. It acted all the same elsewhere; as it had over the earth till then during the formation of what some geologists call the Tertiary, Secondary, and Primary beds, to say nothing of what preceded: details for men to discover and interpret as they can scientifically, but as foreign to scripture as the detailed wonders and movements of the starry heavens.
Hence “creation” of light, first or second, in the universe is only the slip of philosophers. Scripture is more accurate than its most modern expounder, even when striving to show the accordance of science with the Bible. In the gloom that overhung the earth thrown into desolation God caused light to act, as the characteristic act of the “first day” of the week, the brief cycle that was to close with man its new master and representative of God here below. “And God saw the light that [it was] good; and God divided the light from the darkness; and God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night.” It presents to us God pondering and speaking in gracious consideration of the race He was about to create thereon, with a mind dwelling on realities about to open out for man far more solemn than the light or the darkness, day or night, literally. Yet the light of the eyes rejoiceth the heart, says the Preacher (Prov. 15:30), and truly is sweet (Eccles. 11:7), as God pronounced it “good.” “And it was evening, and it was morning, first (or, one) day.” Only we must guard against taking the previous darkness as the evening. It would appear rather that light shone; and then its waning into night, and brightening into day, constituted the first day. That the earth would revolve on its axis, before the light- bearing of the sun afterwards, and so have the phenomena of evening and morning, is easy to apprehend. The fact is certain; the “how” was no difficulty to Him Who spoke and it was done. Our place is to honour Him in believing His word, without which faith nothing is as it should be. Another first day was to behold a better light; there, too, still more conspicuously, if that True Light shone when all was profounder darkness, He too had been before the darkness.
If the preceding exposition be just, the day of the first week is plainly one of twenty-four hours. No one can fairly deny that scripture, like other speech, uses “day” where required in a general or figurative sense, which may cover a period of considerable length. But this need never produce embarrassment to a careful reader: as ever, the context gives the clue. In this chapter and the next we have the word variously applied according to the exigency of the case; in none ought it to be doubtful. Here “the evening” and “the morning” should exclude just question. It can only mean, thus defined, a day of twenty-four hours. Before (not “there was a sun,” but before) the sun was set to rule the day (of twelve hours) as now makes no difference as to the length meant. The same phrase is carefully used before and after. Nor would any prolonged sense have been tolerated for this carefully specified week but for the error which muddles “the beginning” with the first and following days, makes the heavens and the earth at first to be a chaos, and in so doing effaces in fact the creation of both the one and the other. For where is either really “created” on such a scheme?
This will appear still more convincingly when we come to close quarters with the six days viewed as embracing the immense ages of geology. It might not be so glaring when taken in a dreamy poetic way as a vision in the hands of the late Hugh Miller. But when the simple dignity of the true father of history is vindicated for the matchless prose of Moses, the effort to make the days, or some of them, answer to the ages of geologic formation in building up the crust of the globe proves itself in so much more glaring and violent failure. Take the first day as our first test: are we told to imagine such a notion as that the outshining of the light in dispelling the immediately antecedent darkness occupied an age? And if not for the first day, or the second, or the fourth, how harshly inconsistent to claim it for the third, fifth, and sixth? Especially as the seventh day, or sabbath, should honestly put to the rout any such application. In every case the figurative sense is here irrelevant and unsuitable. We shall see in due time from scripture that the stretching out of the sabbath into an aeon is altogether unfounded.
An ingenious attempt is made in “Sermons in Stones” to show that the brooding of the spirit in ver. 2 means the creation of submarine animals (Zoophytes and Bivalve Molluscs without visual organs) before light; then of a higher class furnished with organs of sight after light on the second day; and lastly of Vertebrate Fishes on the third. All this is error opposed by the record, which admits of animated nature for man’s world only after the fourth day. For this confusion we are indebted to the misinterpreting “days” here into ages. The truth is, according to the record, that the Spirit’s brooding upon the face of the waters is quite general and admits of no such precision, as it was also before the first day. And if the days were simply days of the week in which Adam was created, geology can neither affirm nor contradict. Its main office is to investigate the evidence of the successive ages of the earth’s crust before the human race. It is freely granted that the language employed by inspiration is that of phenomena; but this does not warrant the hypothesis of the medium of a vision. It was a divine communication to and by Moses; but how given we know not and should not speculate, lest we err. A vision in fact might have shown him the submarine animals, being beyond natural conditions; but the hypothesis is invented to foist in the creation of animals, not seen or specified in the record.
Further, we must banish the notion that the black pall of an unbroken night was the original condition - a heathen, not a biblical, idea. It was not so before ver. 2, which describes a subsequent and transient state. The first verse supposes an order of the universe; the second, an interruption of no small moment for man; then in ver. 3 the week begins in which the earth was prepared for his abode who was made before that week ended. The geologic ages had passed before the human measures of time commenced. If the record had been duly read, the Inquisition might have avoided its unwise and suicidal judgment of Gal. Galiléi; for the first day, compared with the fourth, favours the Copernican theory as decidedly as it condemns the old philosophy of Ptolemy. It exactly agrees with the revolution of the earth round its axis for evening and morning, independently of the function of the sun soon after formed. Only we must take note that the profound darkness dispelled was neither primeval nor universal, as many men of science have hastily assumed. It had nothing to do with the heavens, any more than had the disorder which befell the earth, after ever so long lapse of time.
Happily the second day’s work admits of a notice so much the more brief because of the rather full remarks on the preceding verses. In these were discussed the original creation “in the beginning”; then the superinduced state of confusion; lastly the work of the “first day” that commences the week of the earth’s preparation for the human race.
The evident immediateness of the first day’s work applies throughout the other days. Whatever grounds there may be for scientific men to infer processes occupying vast tracts of time before the “days,” there is no real reason to doubt, but plain and positive scripture to believe, that the work done on the several six days was not of long ages, but really within the compass of the literal evening and morning. How unnatural to suppose an age for light to act on the first day! And why suppose otherwise on the second day or any other? A long succession of ages may be true after “the beginning” and before “the days,” which taken in their natural import have a striking moral harmony with man, the last work of God’s creation-week.
In this way there is no contest between long periods of progressive character and successive acts of marked brevity. On the one hand, the record is so written as to leave ample space for the researches of scientific discovery over the evidence of successive states of the earth before man existed; on the other, details under the shape of divine fiats in the six days appear only when man is about to be created. There is thus truth in both views. The mistake is in setting them in opposition. One can understand, if God so willed it, immense times of physical action, with secondary causes in operation before man, not without the evidence of convulsion far beyond volcanoes or the deluge within the human period, which great geologists at home and abroad admit, contrary to the recent speculations of others. But there are those that feel the gracious (not belittling) condescension of God in deigning to work for six days and rest on the seventh, only when getting ready that earth where was, not only the first man to come under His moral government, but the Second man later to glorify God to the uttermost, give to such as believe eternal life, and prove the worthlessness of all who reject His grace and repent not of their sins; the true and intelligible and blessed reason why this earth, so insignificant in bulk when compared with the vast universe of God, has a position in His favour so transcending all other planets, suns, or systems, put together. If man was much to differentiate the earth, Christ is infinitely more: and He has yet to show what the earth and man on it are to be under His glorious kingdom, to say nothing of the heavens according to His grace and the counsels of God.
But a little must be said of the second day. These are the terms: — “And God said, Let an expanse be in the midst of the waters, and dividing be between waters and waters. And God made the expanse, and divided between the waters that [are] under the expanse and the waters that [are] above the expanse: and it was so. And God called the expanse Heavens. And there was evening and there was morning, a second day” (vers. 6-8).
There is no more ground for conceiving this to be the first creation of atmospheric heavens than we saw in the case of light on the first day. The absolute language of creating is avoided in both cases. As there had been light in the long ages of geology when not only plants but animals marine and terrestrial abounded, suited to the systems that contained them, so an atmosphere was requisite and, no doubt, was furnished of God with every provision for their sustenance till a new condition succeeded by God’s power. That which now girdles the earth may not have been altogether alike for the varying states of vegetable and animated being long before man existed, to say nothing of the azoic periods before either. They had each an environment adapted by the Creator of all. The remains in successive strata indicate an admirable suitability for the then flora and fauna, quite different from the Adamic earth and its inhabitants, in some of which it may be doubted if man could have lived, as he did not in fact.
The great difficulty for geologists, especially of late from the growth of infidel thought, is to allow such a revolution as ver. 2 intimates. Even Christians among them are afraid to be governed by its express declarations, and shrink from the ignorant mockery of those who boldly deny there ever was a breach of continuity between the original creation and the days of man on the earth. But on the one hand it is certain that the record maintains such a breach to have occurred (and this not on a circumscribed part of the earth, which some like Dr. Pye Smith have imagined in a spirit of compromise,3 but for the earth wholly) as to require an entire re-ordering of it as well as man’s creation, God’s vicegerent then first made to have dominion over all here below. On the other hand, it is intolerable to assume that no convulsions could have effected such changes as the non-action of light, or the destruction of atmospheric conditions, etc. This is mere and narrow unbelief. “Ye do err, knowing not the scriptures nor the power of God.” How little science can explain even of existing life and of its surroundings! How unbecoming of geology to dogmatise! Is it not one of the youngest of sciences, with much to explore and adequately weigh, and very far from the precision of chemistry for instance, though there too how much is unknown?
At a fit moment the question of the mammoth, etc., co-existing with the musk-ox and other surviving quadrupeds may be briefly examined. But on the face of the argument it is plain that there is no more difficulty in conceiving God might renew some previously existing plants and animals for Adam’s earth, than in causing light again to act on the first day and the atmosphere on the second. The work of the first day, perfectly if not exclusively consistent with an instantaneous exertion of the divine will, illustrates and confirms that of the second day. Scripture places the description of ver. 2 at some time before these days commence. Light acted first after that disorder, and according to the earth’s revolution on its axis. Next day the atmospheric heavens, so essential to light, sound, and electricity, to vegetation and animal life, were called (or rather recalled) to their functions after that confusion which destroyed them in ways beyond our ken.
Assuredly this renewal was no matter of a long age of gradual process, but a work to which God assigned a separate day, though to Him abstractedly a moment had sufficed. As it is, man’s attention was impressively drawn to His considerate and almighty goodness Who then separated “waters from waters,” which otherwise had filled space above the earth with continual vapour and without that due mixture of gases which constitutes the air essential to all life on the globe. To its machinery with other causes by divine constitution we owe the formation of clouds and the fall of rain as well as evaporation; to its refractive and reflective powers, that modification of light which adds incalculably to beauty no less than to the utility of the creation: a black sky had otherwise cast its constant pall over the earth. Even had dry land by another fiat been disengaged from the waters, without this encompassing elastic fluid, vapours would not have been absorbed nor have fallen as now; dew had ceased; fountains and rivers if formed had wasted away; water had enormously prevailed; and if dry land had survived anywhere, it must have been a dry arid waste with neither animal life nor a blade of grass. But enough; these are not the pages in which to seek the physical methods of creative beneficence.
It is now generally known, as it had long been laid down by the most competent Hebraists before modern science existed, that “expanse” is the real force of the original word, instead of “firmament” which came to us through the Latin Vulgate, as it seems due to the Greek Septuagint. Possibly these Jewish translators in the days of Ptolemy Philadelphus may have succumbed here as elsewhere to Gentile ideas or at least phrases. And a great Rabbinical scholar, a Christian teacher, has given his opinion that the Greek version employs the word ( στερέωμα) in the sense of an ethereal or fine subtle orb, and in no way of a solid permanent vault as rationalists love to assume, basing it on etymology and figurative usage. The aim is obvious, the wish father to the thought. Excluding God from the written word as from creation, deifying nature and exalting fallen man (more especially of the nineteenth century), they gladly depreciate the text by citing “windows” and “doors,” “pillars” and “foundations” as if meant literally. Now the usage of the word even in the chapter itself (vers. 15, 17, 20, 28) sufficiently proves that the word conveys the idea of the open transparent sky, whatever may have been the misunderstanding of the reader at any given time.
Hence it may be noted that the Authorised and Revised English Versions give “the air” as the equivalent of “the heavens” in ver. 28 as elsewhere. It is really the expanse, including the atmospheric heavens in the lower part of which birds fly. A solid vault is out of the question. The true derivation seems rather from a word expressing elevation, like the source of our own “heaven”; but even if drawn from the idea of beating or hammering out, who knows not that words may and do acquire a force etherealised according to the object designated, wholly above their material origin? The scriptures really present the heavens as spread out, and the earth hung upon nothing, nowhere giving countenance to the grossness of the stars fastened like brass nails on a metallic vault. Sceptical ill-will likes that it should seem so; but it is unworthy slander. Even Dathe who was free enough gives “spatium extensum,” as did learned Jews generally long before and since.
“The waters above” consist of that enormous supply of vapour which fills the clouds and falls as rain, hail, or snow. “The waters below” covered the earth as yet, but were shortly to form seas, when the dry land appeared next day. It is ignorance therefore to say, in the face of a crowd of scriptures, that the waters above imply a permanent solid vault like a shower bath. The Hebrews could see the movements of many heavenly bodies instead of regarding all as fixtures. But even had they been as dull as rationalism is invidious, our concern is with the divine record, the accuracy of which irritates hostile minds who would hail the least flaw with satisfaction. Scripture abides; science changes and corrects itself from age to age. As to figures, “bottles” are used no less than “pillars,” and a “tent” or “curtain” as well as “windows” and “doors.” They are all strikingly expressive. Only the stupid or malicious could take any of them in the letter, to dishonour the scriptures.
This publication is scarcely the suited place, nor does the writer pretend, to draw out adequately the wondrous and beneficent functions of the separated waters or seas and of the dry land, any more than of the light and of the atmospheric heavens, on which a little has been said. But a few words here may confirm, what was remarked as to the first and the second days, that the record speaks with immediate propriety of God’s constituting the earth for the human race. By no means does it intimate particulars of the long periods before man when those successive changes are observable, which laid down vast stores for his future use and fitted the earth’s progressively built-up crust, the rich field of geological research. One can admire the wisdom which did not encumber the Bible with the details of natural science. Rocks crystalline and stratified are before men’s eyes, who can reason on the fossils they embalm. Scripture alone avoids the universal heathen idea of a primitive chaos, and the philosophic error of an eternal universe or even eternal matter. Scripture, on the contrary, has carefully enunciated God’s creation at an undefined moment, “in the beginning,” not merely of crude materials, but of the heavens and the earth, without a word about their denizens. It also makes known the fact that the earth was subjected to revolution so complete that before the Adamic state of things divine power was needed to cause light to act in a diurnal way, as well as to order the atmosphere, and from a previous and universal overspread of waters the appearance of dry land, on which God began the plants or vegetable kingdom for man.
Thus the work of these days wholly leaves out, because chronologically it follows, the vast operations both of slow construction and of destruction which give special interest to the geologist. Original creation and subsequent dislocation (which swept away in due time whole species and genera of organised beings, followed by fresh and different ones, and this repeatedly) it asserts distinctly; and both, before the days which prepared all for his life and probation under divine government who was created ere the week closed. The document itself furnishes the warrant to the believer for taking the first verse indefinitely before the six days, and also for affirming the state, possibly final state, of confusion into which the earth passed before it became the world as it now is.
There may indeed be some analogy between the days that concern the earth of the human race and those immense ages of ripening advance which preceded, so as to furnish a slight ground of resemblance on which not a few men of ingenuity and the best intentions have reared their various schemes for accommodating the days to the geological ages. Yet this hypothesis, even when guarded by the most cautious and competent aid of science, does not square with scripture. It is unjustifiable in every point of view to confound the disturbed state of ver. 2 with the creation of the earth described in ver. 1, which it really follows, disorder after order; is it not even absurd to identify ver. 3 with either? Each follows consecutively; and the long tracts of time, if filled up in a way that scripture does not essay, would come in after ver. 1, and before ver. 3, which wholly differing from what precedes, introduces a new condition where alone details are given to mark God’s direct dealings with man.
Hence the days, from ver. 3 and onward, are wholly misapplied to the geologic ages. Where for this scheme have we the formation of the plutonic, volcanic, and metamorphic rocks? Where the upheaval of the mountain ranges and the tracing of the river systems? Where the succession of organic remains, marine and terrestrial, vegetable and animal, new ones following those extinguished, and mutually distinct, from the Laurentian beds to the Post-Pleiocene or Quaternary? The six days set forth the peculiar constitution God was pleased to establish for the existing or human world. What the geologic periods embrace is successive remodellings of the earth where sea and land have changed place, mountains were raised and valleys scooped, perhaps again and again, not only a sweeping away of old organic creation, but an introduction of new plants and animals, each assemblage confessed even by Lyell to admirably fit the new states of the globe; with singular varieties all pointing by harmony of parts and beauty of contrivance to One Divine Maker. These days only begin, when God, having closed the long undefined periods of progressive character, with repeated extermination of their correspondingly changed flora and fauna, forms, within the brief span of human labour, that system, inorganic and organic of which man is the appointed head, but enriched by all He had slowly deposited and rendered available to man’s industry and profit by that dislocation which laid bare treasures so remote and manifold, so interesting and important.
The divine operations of the third day call for more detail than that which was last before us. They form a double class, as does the work of the sixth day.
“And God said, Let the waters under the heavens be gathered together to one place, and let the dry [land] appear. And it was so. And God called the dry [land] Earth, and the gathering together of the waters he called Seas. And God saw that [it was] good. And God said, Let the earth sprout grass, herb producing seed, fruit-trees yielding fruit after their kind, the seed of which [is] in them, on the earth. And it was so. And the earth sprouted grass, herb producing seed after its kind, and trees yielding fruit, the seed of which [is] in them after their kind. And God saw that [it was] good. And there was evening, and there was morning, a third day” (vers. 9-13).
We have seen light (involving heat) caused to act for the Adamic earth, and that atmosphere which sustains an enormous body of waters above those that lie below: both of them results of essential importance for what was coming, and of course adapted by divine power and wisdom to the system in which the human race were to exist. It was needless and foreign for a divine revelation to explain how these and other works of God were effected. The important truth for His people, and for every soul of man, to know, is that He is both the Originator and the Maker of all. No student of geology doubts mechanical any more than chemical agency on the largest scale in forming the crust of the earth. Heat, water, and air have played their part under His hand in change, and waste, and progressive formation. But it is only the petty and pedantic unbelief of some who cry up such gradual secondary causes as are now seen, shutting out the evidence (which geology itself affords to candid minds) of repeated and enormous transformations, and all but entire revolution of organic life, in both extinction and new creation, with the corresponding change of the globe and its temperature which this implies, and each of these not for a brief space but for ages before the earth of man. Facts plainly enough point to these conclusions for those who occupy themselves with the natural antiquities of the earth. Nor can it be doubted that each successive tale inscribed on the fossiliferous rocky tablets of the earth shows on the whole distinct progress, in no way as mere development of the antecedent condition, but the fresh fruit of creative acts, even if some species seem renewed for the subsequent phase, and all with evident relation to the earth as it was to be for Adam, and as it will be when the Second man takes it with the universe itself for His inheritance. Unity of plan marks all from first to last.
But all this bygone succession of physical change is only left room for in the revealed word which dwells on man and Immanuel. Geological detail in scripture would have been as much out of place as any other science; but how can the room left for all, in what is said, be accounted for save as implying the knowledge of all by Him Who revealed His word? An original creation of the heavens and the earth without details, and unlimited even by myriads of years, “in the beginning,” perfectly falls in with every ascertained fact; and a violent dislocation of the earth, of the highest importance for the race in its disarrangements, altogether different from and more thorough than any diluvial or merely superficial action, is also made known; followed by that “making” of heaven and earth which is historically described in Gen. 1:3-31 and referred to solemnly in Ex. 20:11.
It is pertinent to observe that the effort to interpret the days of the immense ages before man, separates Adam from his historic time as well as the creation placed under him as its head. For according to the long periods of geology what would the fossil-plants of the third day have to do with those that grew on the Adamic earth? And so with the animals on the fifth day, if not the sixth. On the contrary “the six days” were plainly meant to convey a realm of creation immediately connected with Adam, the various forms of organic nature being subjected and given to him. The sixth day is thus made geologic as well as historical. Surely this does not hang together; any more than our having a detailed account of fossil creation, and none at all of that which seems the express object of the several days — the creation in view of the incoming race. Now in a divine revelation it is easy to understand passing over all particulars of the fossilised stages of the earth; but inconceivable that there should be no account of heaven and earth and sea and all that in them is, in connected relation to Adam and his sons: especially as out of the thousands of organised species in the Secondary rocks, not a single species, says Professor Hitchcock, corresponds with any now living; and even out of the thousands in the Tertiary, but few seem identical with living species The natural and only reasonable conclusion is that, whatever the analogy with the divine action in past geologic time, the “days” speak solely of what God made in immediate view of Adam; not of fossils, animal or vegetable, but of the organic beings placed under Adam and his race, with their surroundings and suited system. To suppose both is nothing but confusion.
Returning to the day before us we see a fresh operation of God for man’s world, the waters under the heavens collected to one place, and dry land consequently appearing. Not that such a separation had not existed before; but that the disruption, wise and benevolent for the earth of man, made it a necessary act now, as indeed in a general way everything had to be made afresh for Adam: a disruption wholly distinct from the vague and useless chaos which the heathen imagined.
Now God formed the earth and seas in the condition which substantially abides to our days. How momentous an act for the race needs few words to explain. That both earth and seas had existed previously no geologist disputes, any more than the various phases of both according to the plants and animals that prevailed from one geologic age to another. Doubtless also, save for dead-level Uniformitarians if there be such, the epochs of change that destroyed the older creatures and beheld new races modified greatly both the earth and the seas; for each period had its own proper system, with changes in inorganic matter, water, atmosphere, temperature, and the like, corresponding to each new set of organised beings.
The earth then was to have that form for the most part which God saw best fitted for His new purpose: vast continents and vaster oceans, islands large and small, lakes salt and fresh, swamps and torrents, mountains and rivers, plains greater or less, and valleys not merely effected by gradual erosion but often by deep and sudden dislocation. It is common knowledge what a part is played in the physical economy of the world by the “seas,” (which in Hebrew idiom embrace all large collections of waters, oceans, seas, lakes, and even rivers,) as well as by the varied disposition of the land, high or low. To this the disarrangement of Gen. 1:2 had directly contributed; as now in the separation of earth and seas after having been commingled for a time. Rapid extraordinary operations wrought, and of course slow and existing causes, in bringing about what was then done for man; but here we learn that God laid down the great landmarks which abide to this day. Gen. 2:11-14 is enough to indicate that men attribute to the deluge or other changes more than can be proved.
God gave names too, as to the objects of His work on the previous days.
But there is a second part of His work to notice: vegetable nature for the earth that now is, that kingdom which mediates between minerals and animals. God commanded the earth to bring forth grass (or, sprout sprouts4), herb seeding seed, fruit trees yielding fruit after its kind, which has its seed in itself after its kind, as is said here most emphatically. This is the true origin of vegetable species for the Adamic earth. And as God pronounced good the dry land and the seas, so now the beautiful clothing of the dry land, and the abundant supplies for man and beast — at first indeed the exclusive food even for man.
How does the protracted scheme of the days as geologic periods agree with the vegetable kingdom on the third day, and the animal even in its lowest forms on the fifth? Is it really so with the evidence of fossils? The coal measures indicate vast brackens, ferns, etc.; but what of fruit-trees bearing fruit according to each several kind? Certainly it would seem that Zoophytes are as early as any vegetable remains, long before the Carboniferous era so paraded as the fulfilment of the third day, after a great abundance of marine animals far beyond plants, of which direct evidence appears in the rocks. If the days are taken simply in reference to Adam, there is no difficulty on any such score, as the provision for the world that now is appeared with no interval such as geology can appreciate.
How absurd, taking the third day before us as our example, for us to identify it with the Carboniferous age, or that which laid the basis for the coal measures! What real analogy between coal-plants, chiefly Acrogens, and the grass, herb, tree, so manifestly for the food of animals, above all of man? What with herb in general producing seed, and what with fruit-trees yielding fruit after their kind, the seed of which is in them? This is evidently not provision for coal, but for the food and refreshment of man and cattle, of bird and beast. The analogy vanishes when looked into. For geologic eras it is a failure; for man’s world it is the simple and suited truth. It was plant-life for Adam’s earth. The Carboniferous era, when people have been content with facts, was the age, botanically of Cryptogams and Gymnosperms, in the animal realm of the earlier reptiles, Batrachian or Amphibian. Now does this truly correspond with the third day? With the formation of seas and the emergence of dry land? And this clothed with verdure, herbs, and fruit-trees, each propagating after its kind? Beyond just doubt Moses means herbs, not of the Carboniferous age, but solely of the earth for man, animal life for it not existing till the fifth day. Compare ver. 29.
But the geologic evidence points to plants and animals even in Archaean time; for as the simplest animal forms (Rhizopods) have been detected in the Laurentian rocks, so the enormous quantity of graphite, being carbon, implies abundant vegetation, sea-weeds, and lichens. The metamorphism of the rocks may account for the rare indications of organic life even in the Huronian beds which were subsequent; but according to what is generally averred, Paleozoic time goes farther back than even the Silurian age, Upper and Lower, the era of fucoids on the one hand and of marine invertebrate animals on the other (Protozoans, Radiates, Molluscs, and Articulates). Then comes the Devonian, or age of fishes (chiefly Selachian and Ganoid), and some insects, in addition to previous invertebrates; and, besides sea-weeds, Calamites, Conifers, Ferns, and Lycopods. Surely long ages with organic life, not only vegetable but animal, before the Carboniferous period, as all geologists accept, disprove beyond controversy the effort to make out the third day therein fulfilled. Hence Principal Dawson (Arch. 168) is obliged to own that the coal flora (consisting mainly of Cryptogams allied to ferns and clubmosses, and of Gymnosperms allied to the pines and cycads) cannot coalesce with the higher orders of plants called into being in our verses 11, 12. “For these reasons,” says he, “we are shut up to the conclusion that this flora of the third day must have its place before the Paleozoic period of geology,” i.e., when vegetation was incomparably lower than that of the coal measures! The true conclusion on the contrary is that the third day’s work implies a flora for man and the creatures under him, long after the coal measures.
By the way, Dawson remarks that “the sacred writer specifies three descriptions of plants as included in it”: the first he will have to be not “grass,” but the Cryptogamia, as fungi, mosses, lichens, ferns, etc.; then seed-bearing herbs, and fruit-bearing trees. The Cryptogams may well be doubted: if tenable, it might be pleaded even more fairly that the Phaenogams, endogenous and exogenous, follow. However, it would seem that no scientific classification is intended, but a general division which all could observe into grass, herbs, and fruit-trees, each species none the less expressly and permanently reproductive. In point of fact it is not till the Cretaceous period of Mesezoic time that we find the first traces of Angiosperms (Oak, Plane, Fig, etc.); so that the reference to an age before the Paleozoic time is still less reasonable than the hypothesis of the Carboniferous era.
Doubtless geologists would, if they could, make verses 11, 12 subsequent to the great operations of the fourth day; for who can question the all-importance not of light only but of the sunbeam for herbage of all kinds, for fruit-bearing, and for timber? This is no difficulty for one who takes the days as “the evening and the morning”; but is it not insuperable for all who regard them as representing ages of untold duration? The Archaean rocks, we must bear in mind, are believed to be near five miles thick; the Silurian system considerably thicker, especially if we add the Devonian. Then come the Carboniferous and Permian formations of not far from four miles; and after the Triassic and Jurassic the Cretaceous, when it would seem that Angiosperms or Dicotyledons began to appear (Rose, Apple, Elm, etc.). In fact it was only just before the Tertiary or Cainozoic, if we include in it, as most do, the Nummulitic beds. Who can reckon the times of these formations?
There is another observation of importance to make. What scripture reveals of the third day’s work points in no way to Archaean or Paleozoic times, but simply and naturally to the formation of the Adamic earth. Geology tells us that the continents while still beneath the waters began to take shape; then, as the seas deepened, that the first dry land appeared, low, barren, and lifeless; next that, under intestine and external action, the dry land expanded, strata formed, and mountains rose, each in its appointed place, till finally heights and continents reached their fullest development. Now the flora described by the inspired writer does not fit the geologic first appearance of dry land, when of the character above described, till the mountains rose ages afterwards and river-systems followed. To say the least, marked advance of state is involved in the flora described by Moses. How then identify it with the earliest geologic time when sea-weeds alone existed in the waters, along with lichens on the land, and even then the Eozoon Rhizopod?
Moses describes just such a vegetable kingdom in its main features as Adam had, and we have now. It was vegetation as he knew it; and God led him so to describe it, being the truth. Is there then contradiction between the more or less satisfactory conclusions of geology and unerring scripture? In no way. Distinguish the times, and clashing disappears. The third day speaks solely of the earth’s last emergence from the waters by which it was submerged long ages after the original “outlining of the land and water determining the earth’s general configuration.” Dr. Dana on reconsideration should acknowledge that the idea of life expressed in the lowest plants and afterward, if not contemporaneously, in the lowest or systemless animals, the Protozoans, is doubly and hopelessly incongruous with the Mosaic record. Take it as of the Adamic week, and all is plain to the believer, if a few difficulties remain for the geologist. Why should any wonder, since it is confessed by the same competent authority that “a broken record the geological undoubtedly is, especially for terrestrial life” (Dana’s “Manual of Geology,” 601, third edition, 1875)? Not so with the Bible, which, being divine, is and most be true: plain for the wayfaring man, profound for the most informed and best cultured.
The evidence which the record furnishes of the third day is express. It is dry lands and seas in view of man: in no way the varying phases of either in the geologic ages, but solely the result, after the last disturbance when the waters prevailed everywhere. Indeed a good deal of unfounded hypothesis is now exploded (especially since the recent deep-sea soundings) as to the alternation of the ocean beds and the vast mountain ranges east or west. For though the strata and fossils, marine, lacustrine or fluviatile, and terrestrial, point to repeated submergence and emergence of considerable regions, the continents have abode from Archaean time, the Atlantic flowing on one side, the Pacific on another. During the ages that followed, allow all that can be proved of change by upheaval, oscillation, dislocation, and rock formation, fragmental, or crystalline, eruptive or stratified, by means organic, mechanical, or chemical, by atmosphere, water, fire or aught else, there were elements of life vegetable and animal brought into being in the waters and on the land, but successively extinguished, and new ones created with the changed state of the globe, each period having its appropriate species in the new environment.
But none of these alternations, vast and important as they were physically, enters the scope of the six days. No geologist denies that the mountains, to take this one sample, were elevated substantially as they are, long before the human race; and on mountains depend the springs and rivers and even the due fall of rains, and striking equalisation of temperature between the extremes” climes, so necessary to man and beast and herb. Very much more indeed had been done by God in that immense preparation, not only in the partially hidden supplies (coal, marble, lime, precious stones, metals, etc.) for man’s use, but in enriching the soil and beautifying the surface of the earth in countless ways, working, as He still does, now for instance by sudden volcanic action, and again for example by the slow process of innumerable polyps, yea, and mysteriously by their combined action (though the one be organic and the other not) in the accomplishment of His creative designs, from a time when there was no life here below, till every organised form was there short of man. Now it is exclusively of the human era and its belongings that the six days speak; and none more clearly than the third day, when the vegetable kingdom began, but solely in reference to Adam and those subject to him. The application to geologic time is impossible as proved by the record itself, and the mutual contradictions of all who essay it.
The evidence is no less plain and conclusive as to the fourth day, of which the more prudent advocates for the long-period days say little. But even here, though it be a question of the heavenly orbs, the record looks at them simply in view of man and this earth. “And God said, Let there be light-bearers in [the] expanse of the heavens to divide between the day and between the night; and let them be for signs and for seasons and for days and years; and let them be for light-bearers in [the] expanse of the heavens to give light on the earth. And it was so. And God made the two great lights, the greater light for ruling the day, and the lesser light for ruling the night (the stars also). And God set them in the firmament of the heavens to give light on the earth and to rule over the day and over the night, and to divide between the light and the darkness. And God saw that [it was] good. And there was evening, and there was morning, a fourth day” (verses 14-19).
It is a mistake to suppose that during the long ages of vegetable and animal life up to the highest forms, one excepted, there had not been the shining of sun, moon and stars, as well as sea and land and atmosphere, though not always quite the same as ours. If geology can trace the proofs of life, and its progress in a typical system, which reveals unity of plan as distinctly as deep and comprehensive wisdom, be it so; yet they enjoyed sunlight, heat, air, and water throughout. But here we have everything successively ordered for man, after those immense eras of change were closed, when the last disturbance needed God’s interference for a new system. Light was caused to act. The atmosphere as it is followed, Next, the seas were gathered to their own place, and dry land appeared, and the vegetable realm; the work of mountain-making and valley- scooping, shaping as well as storing, having been already, and it may be in long successive ages, effected. In each case of these “days” the result seems instantaneous. “He spoke, and it was done.” The work stated here is quite distinct. “The evening and the morning” are the expression of God’s considerate goodness to man, responsible to learn of Him and to do His will on the earth, as Christ did perfectly.
It is assuredly not the creation of the sun, etc. This the inspired historian does not say, but only that God now constituted the heavenly luminaries, after the plants and before the animals for the Adamic earth. Light had shone otherwise since the first day of the great week. Now He set the light-bearers of the heavens to do their assigned work, but it is for the earth, and indeed for man. Their creation was implied in ver. 1; for God did not create either empty; and what would heaven be without its host? And we saw that ver. 2 implies that the earth even had not been so, though so it became with other marks of disorder. What then hindered the functions of sun and moon was now rectified. Light independently had been proved to be under God’s control. On the fourth day He gave the luminaries of heaven their unhindered relation to divide the day from the night. Now we can readily understand the plants (and these were for the use of man and his congeners) caused to spring forth on the day before without the sunbeam; but assuredly not so of a geological age of grass, corn, and fruit. Yet we see the fitness of the due ordering of light and heat, as we have it, the next day, if the plants were to flourish, as well as for the animal life that begins after that according to His word.
This is entirely confirmed if we inspect the context more closely. For where would be the sense of the light-bearers “for signs and for seasons, and for days and years,” if it had been an age (thousands, myriads, millions of years) before Adam? If, on the contrary, God was not creating them, but, after that which had intercepted, only “setting” them to their ordained task in immediate view of man, all is clear and consistent. And to whom could this be of such interest as to Israel, the people of His choice, in whose history we have them acting as “signs” on critical occasions for His sovereign will? Without dwelling on His wonders in Egypt where light was in Israel’s dwellings, darkness thick in all the rest of the land, or later at Sinai, we see what a sign it was to Israel when Joshua said in their sight, “Sun, stand still upon Gibeon, and thou, Moon, in the valley of Ajalon”; or in far other days when Jehovah spoke to sick Hezekiah, and gave him a sign in the shadow that went back ten steps on the dial of Ahaz. And what a sign again where all was lost, as far as man is concerned, in the Cross of Messiah when darkness for three hours covered all the land! A mere eclipse was then impossible. Nor will whole clusters of signs be wanting when He comes in power and glory on the clouds of heaven. For “seasons” is needed no comment: man alone on earth understands and appreciates these fit and recurring times. As the same Hebrew word means “the congregation” and “the solemn feast,” as well as the season or appointed time at which they kept it, “seasons” may have a sacred aspect; but the more ordinary sense seems confirmed by what follows. Very little astronomy is requisite to know how “days and years” are defined by them, but only for man. In the ages before him this were all irrelevant. In view of man, and Israel especially, it is as affecting as full of interest. The constant design is reiterated in “Let them be for light- bearers in the expanse of the heavens.” It was their effect, not their structure, that is intimated. “And it was so.”
Then we are told that “God made,” not created, “the two great lights.” The language is never varied without purpose. Rosenmüller the younger was an admirable Hebraist, and certainly free enough in his handling of scripture: yet he has no hesitation in his discussion of this question formally, but insists that the genuine force of the construction is not “fiant luminaria” (i.e., let lights be made), but “inserviant in expanso coelorum” (i.e., serve in the expanse of the heavens). He compares the singular with the plural of the Hebrew verb for being, and deduces the inference that the language can only express the determination of the luminaries to some fixed uses for the world, and not to their production. Further, it is solely relation to man on earth that demonstrates the strict phraseological propriety of “the two great lights.” He Who created all and inspired Moses knew better than Newton or La Place the sizes of every orb in heaven; but for man’s and for Israel’s help on earth, to say nothing of every subject creature, what were all the rest, for light-giving by day and night, compared to the sun and moon?
This, again, as definitely excludes scientific preoccupation as it confirms the reference throughout. The stars only come in parenthetically. God made them too, if blind man deified them. But God gave sun and moon to rule over the day and over the night. They were His creatures and gifts for man’s use dividing between the light and the darkness. “And God saw that [it was] good,” not as if they were just created, but in the assigned work He gave to be done by them. “And there was evening and there was morning, a fourth day.” Here it cannot be fairly denied by any, that from the necessary effect of that day’s work we have the ordinary vicissitude of night and day; and that a similar diurnal revolution followed for the fifth and sixth days, as for every day since, including the seventh. But this being so, surely consistency requires it for the three previous days. That light was supplied otherwise before the fourth day is no impediment. The daily course of the earth on its axis depends on gravitation, not on illumination, and would have gone on equally, had the sun been only and always opaque, or had its previous and its present action in light-bearing never existed.
And here it may be noticed that those who contend for nothing but the same agencies at worn from the first as act now before our eyes, and who go so far as to swell the time into incalculable ages by embracing the fond hypothesis of evolution, so that 300,000,000 years span an inconsiderable period of geological imagination, have now to confront an unexpected and veritable coup de grace from Lord Kelvin. For he has proved that if the earth existed at all only 100,000,000 years ago, it must have been on scientific grounds a red-hot molten globe altogether incompatible with life, animal or vegetable. The geologists in their loose and one-sided way reasoned from the deposition of the enormously deep strata at the present rate of formation. But Lord Kelvin founded his far more rigorous calculations on the acknowledged facts of the earth’s tidal retardation, as well as of its gradually cooling state. Hence the recent disposition among the less prejudiced men to re-arrange the order and time of formations by the probable contemporaneity of unlike strata. They essay thus to reduce their egregious demands by the supposition that the Cambrian, for instance, may coalesce chronologically with the Silurian, the former lacustrine, the latter marine; and similarly the Permian with the Jurassic, etc. The groups thus associated would each owe their different phenomena to their respective conditions of deposit.
But those who accept the plain and simple interpretation of the record here offered will observe that, if all these shifting and precarious hypotheses are due to the dim twilight of the science, scripture is responsible for no error. What it asserts remains not only unshaken but indisputably true.
We are now come to a fresh activity of divine power, when the Holy Spirit employs again the term “created” (ver. 21): not merely organisms, for these we have seen for the new vegetable kingdom on day third, but the first animal life for the Adamic world, to people the waters below and the heavens above. They are familiarly known to be the opposed but mutually dependent realms of life, far above inorganic nature, not only in growth and structural development, but in germs for the continuance of the species, both of which materialism vainly strives to explain or evade. For plants take in nourishment without an interior cavity or sac, and without digestive fluid, which animals have; and as plants imbibe carbon and give out oxygen, animals exhale carbon and use up oxygen: a provision worthy of divine wisdom for the well-being of the earth. Nor is this hard to appreciate; for plants are nourished by inorganic food which they convert into organic for animals, as they store up for their use condensed force from the sun’s influence, starch, gluten, etc., for animal development with increasing power, and locomotive faculty, as well as a will. That their germs are chemically like, not only in elements but in their proportions, only brings out the total difference which results from their respective character of life. To originate animal life especially, even in its least form, justly calls for the term “created.”
Thus God is not content with employing chemical powers to disintegrate and to reconstruct, as well us mechanical means chiefly by water, frost, and gravitation not only to enlarge the surface but to increase its fertility. The provision and satisfying of life is a part of His admirable plan even for a fallen world, the very volcano playing no small part, whatever its temporary terrors, in His beneficent hand. But all else would have been ineffectual without that great reality, of which science is as ignorant as those whom it most despises in its unbecoming scorn — that reality which would bring God face to face with every rational being, were men not hard in conscience and blinded by sin — that reality which meets every soul as the surest fact, yet the most inscrutable for any man; life, not vegetable only but animal, even if we regard it in its simplest range. It is life that directs the chemistry of plants or animals; it is life which produces the organisation appropriate according to its kind. Men may speak of protoplasm, and analyse into carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, and oxygen; but these are the mere materials which God employs according to the limits He has imposed on species under the agency of life. When life is given, the activity of change goes on in the creature and its reproduction; when life is withdrawn there is a dissolution into the common stock for the fresh replenishment of the earth and its organized beings. Men may shrink from the Causa causans, and take refuge in “the laws of nature “; but after all they only succeed, if they do succeed, in retreating a step back from the Giver of ]life, and the Sovereign sustainer of nature. But this retreat is to lose God altogether.
Genesis 1 knows nothing of a primordial gas, or the nebula hypothesis, of an original spore, or of a monad. That God created the universe is its proclamation, with details of Adam’s world. A nisus formativus is here unheard, and left only to the unbelieving fanatics of science. Men would have had ere this wings better than those of Daedalus if desires and efforts availed; nor would the peacock be left alone to expand his feathered glories in the golden light of the sun. The power and wisdom of God has made these countless creatures, plants or animals, out of a few elements; and these, as geology is compelled to own, repeatedly exterminated on the earth, and as often renewed, in systems ever perfectly suited to each, and as uniformly rising on the whole, when He was pleased to form a higher one, till He created man. Yea, at last He deigned to send His Son, the Eternal Word, to be made flesh, accomplish redemption, and unite to Himself those that are His for heavenly glory; as God will send Him again to bless Israel and all nations, to reign from heaven over a reconciled creation (for He is Heir of all things), but none the less to judge those who reject Him the Lord and Saviour to their own everlasting ruin, and manifestly so in “that day.”
Further, as God created, so He perpetuates life within variations brought about by circumstances and especially by man’s will, which, ceasing to act, leave plant or animal to revert to primitive type; when hybrids are forced, sterility also ensues. His will gave birth to the creatures that people the waters and the sky; and He abides to give constant effect to His will. We can see therefore the wisdom of His revelation of the day before us; for how many sages have dreamt and thought that the sun was the prolific source of life! The vegetable kingdom was formed when the sun was not yet set to do its all-important office for the earth of man. The humbler departments of the animal kingdom were called into being by God the day after. And how manifestly is contingency excluded no less than necessity? It is all the result of the Creator’s will, Who upholds all that He has called into being. “For thou didst create all things, and because of thy will they were and they were created” (Rev. 4:11). Dualism, pantheism, eternal matter, and evolution are mere but wicked delusions.
“And God said, Let the waters swarm a swarm of living creatures (lit. souls), and let birds fly above the earth on the face of the expanse of the heavens. And God created the great whales (or, sea monsters) and every living creature that moveth with which the waters swarmed after their kind, and every winged bird after its kind. And God saw that [it was] good. And God blessed them, saying, Be fruitful and multiply and fill the waters in the seas, and let birds multiply on the earth. And there was evening and there was morning, a fifth day” (vers. 20-23).
Here it is to be observed that “sea-monsters”5 is given by many modern translators, the Revisers among them; so as to include the huge creatures of large rivers, crocodiles, etc., as well as marine. Indeed “whales” may be here in view specifically by the accompanying epithet “great”; seeing that they exceed in size all other animals, not only of the Adamic period, but even of previous ages when characterised by creatures of enormous magnitude as compared with analogous ones in man’s day. If the whale be here singled out, the description is justified beyond dispute; and all the more because the fossils, as the rule, disclose specimens larger of their kind than any now living, whether Protozoans, Crustaceans, or the Vertebrates in general. Even the birds then must have been gigantic, if we accept their supposed footmarks on the new red sandstone of Connecticut. Their fossils were much later.
In ver. 20 then God spoke into being the creatures that people the waters and those that people the air in terms the most general. In ver. 21 the result is stated with more precision, the great whales or sea-monsters being distinguished from every living creature that moveth (whether Protozoans, Radiates, Molluscs, Articulates, or Vertebrates), with which the waters swarmed, after their kind. Again we hear of “every bird of wing” after its kind. A correct version here, as the reader may see, explodes the error which commentators, Jewish and Christian, have tried to explain; for the sense is not that the waters produced the birds, but that God made them fly in the open expanse of the heavens. Compare Gen. 2:19, which distinctly teaches that they were formed out of the ground no less than was the beast of the field.
But the important fact announced is that for Adam’s world the waters were now peopled and the air likewise. It is in no true sense the Reptilian age, though no doubt such reptiles as belonged to the waters then were included; for land reptiles are distinctively of the sixth day, as is certain from vers. 24, 25, 26, 28. Hence the effort to make the fifth day’s work correspond with the Mesozoic time of geology is an utter fallacy. During it, especially in the Cretaceous period, reptiles abounded, and many were enormous, Dinosaurs, Enaliosaurs, Ichthyosaurs, Mosasaurs, Plesiosaurs, or Pterosaurs; for in contrast with the fifth day the earth had then its species, as well as the sea and the air. Jurassic Britain had its vast and numerous varieties, as their absence is the more conspicuous since Adam’s day. But all that the cautious Dr. Dana says as to birds is, that they probably began in the Triassic, especially as the inferior tribe of Marsupials were then found; that in the Jurassic some if not all birds exhibited the long vertebrated tail which with other peculiarities allied them to reptiles; but that in the Cretaceous they were numerous, and most of modern type, though some were of the older form. To suppose all that now people the waters and air existed then is as baseless as that these verses really describe the Reptilian age. For “the great” sea-monsters and many birds had yet to be.
Now it is on the face of the record that the entire population of the waters and of the air, as Adam knew both, is meant; not that extraordinary era of the Secondary formation, with its prodigious denizens of earth and sea and air. Indeed it is notorious geologically that Protozoans, Radiates, Molluscs, and Articulates had been even in the Lower Silurian; and in the Upper S. fishes appear if only Sharks and Ganoids. Again, who does not know that the Devonian is habitually designated the age of Fishes? How then can it be fairly alleged that the day-period interpretation holds good? If the third day means the Carboniferous age, though this has been proved erroneous, how comes the age of Fishes to be before it? The record declares that the fish and the fowl of Adam’s world were only and alike on the fifth day.
Is it not then extreme prejudice that has beguiled able and excellent persons into the thought that the record here speaks of the Reptilian age of geology? Hence one zealous advocate limits the swarm of the waters in ver. 23 to “the reptile,” and for the same reason changes “that moveth” into “that creepeth” in ver. 21. The fact is that, though the former word often means “reptile,” the context here proves it to be of far larger bearing, and in fact of cognate signification with the verb; so that to “swarm swarms” seems the literal force, and to “bring forth abundantly the moving” thing is a fair representation as in the A. and R. Versions. Again, in ver. 21 the right way is to interpret the Hebrew as “moving” in water and “creeping” on land; so any one may see who can intelligently use a Hebrew Concordance. In both respects Sir J. W. Dawson is more correct than the late Mr. D. M’Causland: but he errs in making ver. 21 say “great reptiles.” It is either all the large creatures of the deep, or not improbably “the whales,” for the reason already and appropriately implied in “the great.” Perhaps we may fairly add that the Cetacea call for a special place as being the representative of Mammals, and hence are made to stand apart from the general population of the deep. Certainly they were of the waters.
The effect too of the periodic construction of the days is here quite plainly as unfounded as elsewhere. The fishes with which Adam and his race were familiar are thereby almost wholly left out of God’s account of His creation. All we are told, on that hypothesis, is of fossil Saurians, the most anomalous in appearance of all the creatures whose remains have come to view, of which Moses knew as little as the children of Israel, however interesting to geologists in our day. Is it credible that the Holy Spirit inspired the law-giver to speak of wonders only intelligible in the nineteenth century, and to pass by without a word what they needed to know of the teeming creatures in the watery world?
As usual the hypothesis when considered seriously betrays its inherent unreality. The huge Saurians of the Mesozoic were not marine only, as they ought to be if the record spoke of them; many of them were Pterosaurs of the land, some species even winged, though we cannot count Pterodactyls as birds. The inspired text therefore conclusively puts them all out of consideration. Here we read solely of the creatures with which the waters swarmed, of every living creature that moved there, each according to its species, as well as of those justly designated “the great” among the multitudes of smaller sea-creatures; as also of “every winged bird” after its kind. The natural force and true aim of the revelation was to make known God’s work in that lower part of the animal kingdom, which is none the less the object of His care; and if one portion be of vast bulk, none the less was it His creature. The Adam family were called to own His hand and goodness in the whole.
The evident intention was to impress, on all that heed the written word, that the fifth day’s work embraced the entire circle of aquatic animals as well as all bird life known to mankind; not at all to acquaint them with a bygone system of animated nature, which sustained at the close of the Cretaceous period one of the most complete exterminations of species confessed by geologists. In fact too it is only in the Quaternary that Teliost Fishes as well as Birds find their culmination; of all allusion to which, though nearly affecting man, the mis-interpretation entirely deprives us. If on the contrary the inspired writer speak of what concerns man practically, with this agrees the expressed blessing of God, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the waters in the seas, and let birds multiply on the earth.” It also derives impressive confirmation from vers. 26, 28, where dominion over the fish of the sea is given to man, no less than over birds of the air, and beast and cattle and all that creep on the earth. The only detail in fact is in setting forth the origin of what was actually put under man’s rule; which certainly does not apply to Paleozoic, or Mesozoic, or Tertiary times.
Genesis 1:24, 25
It needs few words to prove that in the fifth day’s work we vainly look for an exact correspondence with the Secondary or Mesozoic period. Fishes, even vertebrated fishes, had been created in abundance in Paleozoic time, and so before the Carboniferous age; also the earlier reptiles, chiefly Amphibian, preceded the age when they arrived at gigantic proportions and in every sphere, earth having its species no less than sea and air: Does this agree with the record which distinguishes its denizens, as of sea and air, from those that were only called into being on the following day, — which declares that every reptile of the earth belongs to the sixth, and not the fifth? Dinosaurs (including Megalosaurs, Iguanodons, Hylaeosaurs) being land reptiles stand opposed. Nor is this all. The absurdity of the periodic interpretation is that we are compelled to leave out the fishes proper, such as Adam knew and we, in order to make it fulfilled in Labyrinthodonts, Ichthyosaurs, Pterodactyls, &c. Birds had in no way their culmination, any more than Teliost Fishes, or even the higher insects, and Mammals, till the Quaternary of man. The Cetacea (“the great whales”) again resist this expository violence. Expressly specified in the text as created on the fifth day, being water-creatures, they according to geology ought to belong to a far later epoch, as being of a high mammalian rank, and in no way to be classed with even the small marsupials, &c., of an earlier day, though this again is not according to the record. The truth we have seen, in accordance with that of the four previous days, is that the fifth day’s work contemplates the entire population of sea and air for man’s world, and nothing else. Here as in every other case the ages of geology prove untenable when fairly examined. Apply the six days to Adam’s time, and the balance is restored.
Exactly analogous for the land’s inhabitants is the work of the sixth day. Does it really correspond with Cainozoic time before man, or the Tertiary age? The scripture gives manifestly and solely the land- creatures made for man and on the same day as man; geology is obliged to confess that “all the Fishes, Reptiles, Birds, and Mammals of the Tertiary are extinct species” (Dana, 518). Take the equine tribe alone: there was the Orohippus of the Eocene, the Anchitherium of the Meiocene, and the Hipparion of the Pleiocene. All passed away before the Quaternary, when the Equus Caballus exists for man’s service. Even those who contend most keenly for nothing but secondary causes operating all through cannot deny the general extermination of species that closed Mesozoic time any more than the great disturbances that wrought repeatedly and similarly in the Tertiary age. Indeed geologists of eminence, who had nothing to do with theology and alleged prejudice, are constrained to allow that the elevation of the great mountain chains of Europe and Asia, as well as of America, only attained its full height about the close of that period, as well as the larger part of igneous eruption, with the usual destruction of systems of life in being previous to God’s introducing a new one adapted to the fresh conditions. “Chaos” is not a word any Christian need favour; but there was assuredly a fearful state of disorder that intervened, however brief the interval might have been. Do not geologists seem rash to deny that of which they are and must be ignorant? But all this was antecedent to the six days. The believer absolutely subject to God’s word can calmly accept every ascertained fact, assured that every work of God agrees with His word. But hypotheses are another thing and open to criticism, especially where we see plain symptoms of infidelity open or underlying.
“And God said, Let the earth bring forth living creature (lit. soul) after its kind, cattle, and creeping thing, and beast of the field after its kind. And it was so. And God made beast of the earth after its kind, and the cattle after its kind, and every creeping thing of the ground after its kind. And God saw that [it was] good” (vers. 24, 25).
Where is the analogy even here with the age of Mammals, as the Tertiary has been well designated? If we add according to scripture the creation of man on that same day, the system is not only different but even in contrast. The simple truth intended is that we have in these verses the land population of all kinds for the period of the human race; as before we had that of the waters and of the air, after the vegetable provision, with the due establishment not of light only but of the heavenly phenomena.
To introduce the herbivores, the reptiles, and the carnivores into the text is to strain after a scientific gloss, besides failing to represent the sense in some respects if not in all. Compare Deut.. 28:26 for the very first class. Reptiles again are too narrow, and so are the “carnivore,” where “ferae” would express the truth more exactly. Nor is there real anachronism in giving “cattle” as the first named in verse 24, the domesticable if not yet domesticated animals, appropriate to the use of man. “Creeping thing” follows in its more literal application, whereas “moving” expressed more fully the action of the creatures that peopled the waters, so as to embrace not only serpents, etc., but insect life. “Animal of earth” designates the wild beast.
All of them are terms in constant usage where man lives and reigns; they do not distinctively define the age of Mammals where he was not, such as Anoplotheres, Chaeropotami, Dinotheres, Palaeotheres, Lophiodons, Xiphodons, etc. Pachyderms are no doubt included, but by no means so determined as to warrant a reference to the age in which they abounded. Indeed, at that time confessedly there was the almost total absence of the tribe of ruminants, which rose to prominence when man was made.
The language of the text does not really call up the period “when the brute species existed in their greatest magnificence, and brutal ferocity had full play,” but the day crowned by the creation of man where material force fell into the shade before higher powers. In man’s presence the greater birds and beasts that co-existed even become extinct; as notably the Moa of New Zealand, the Dodo of the Mauritius, and the Aepyornis of Madagascar; and again the Urus (or Bos primigenius) described in Caesar’s Comm. de Bello Gall. 6:26, the great Irish Elk (or Megaceros), the Megatherium, the Mastodon, and the Mammoth. For the evidence points to their co-existence with man, some for but a little while, others till recent time. The tendency has been to push man’s age back on the assumption that only so could he have been coeval with them. But the facts are plain and sure enough, not only as to the first but even the last named also, that they existed with man for no inconsiderable time, and this if we accept the lowest reckoning of Biblical chronology. It seems the fashion just now to exaggerate as to time, placing the glacial season or seasons at an incredibly remote distance, and thus the gigantic creatures that perished then, and man also, judging from remains which indicate his hand. There is on the contrary strong and varied evidence, in the estimate of sober geologists, not committed to hypothesis, to show the recent date of the glacial period both in Europe and in America, and the sudden close of what is called “the drift,” and the extinction of mammoths, etc.
The second part of the sixth day’s work is too momentous to be touched here. This only may be remarked, how fitting it is that for Adam’s time all animal and vegetable creation should arrive at the highest organisation, that the heavenly luminaries should do their regulative work in view of the race, that the seas and the land should be as a whole adequately settled, that the atmospheric conditions in supplies of water, vapour, dew, etc., should stand most favourably, with the bountiful and regular vicissitudes of night and day, for life more varied than ever before here below. Thus, if the geologic ages brought by divine power and wisdom a constantly rising state of the earth and of creatures suited to each new state, so, the six days connected with Adam and his world express rapidly succeeding divine fiats culminating in him, and in their combination of respective goodness characterising that period in which the human race was called not only into being, but into responsibility before God. Other ages might be distinctively azoic; or the system of life might be ushered in with sea-plants, then with marine life of low type, then with fishes when the Vertebrates were made. Next, when dry land was fitted, such plants grew as would flourish and adapt it for higher ones, and, again, for living creatures that live on herbage, as well as prey one on another. So in geologic ages we can talk of the age of Acrogens, of Invertebrates, of Fishes, of Reptiles, and of Mammals. But the human period is characteristically that of all, not in their utmost profusion or in their greatest physical magnitude, but as the rule in their highest forms and also together in their respective places under their appointed ruler, God’s vicegerent here below. For example, the Cereals attach to the human period, and depend pre-eminently on cultivation. Compare Isa. 28:28-29.
In each case we have God’s word, the immediate and manifest result, and its excellence in His sight declared. Thus if the six days gave an immediate relation to Adam, the immense ages antecedent were on a vast scale preparatory; and geology, as one of its ablest exponents owns, “leaves wholly unexplained the creation of matter, life, and spirit, and that spiritual element which pervades the whole history like a prophecy, becoming more and more clearly pronounced with the progressing ages, and having its culmination and fulfilment in man.”
Genesis 1:26, 27.
In day third we saw the distinct two-fold energy of the Creator; not only the waters gathered into seas, and the dry land appearing, and this seen to be good; but the earth caused by His word to put forth grass, herb seeding seed after its kind, and tree yielding fruit, with its seed in itself after its kind, upon the earth, and this seen to be good. On the sixth day there is also a double action, and the second still more strikingly distinguished, as human life is brought into being, the highest of earthly natures (not as before vegetable life, the lowest of organised creatures) here below. The spheres had been fitted in divine wisdom and in the unfolding ways of God for the living beings that were to clothe and fill them with beauty, food, and fruit, to be followed duly by higher beings to profit by all that His provident goodness had prepared, all endowed with powers of constant reproduction, whether vegetable or animal. In a general way God had in the vast ages of which geology takes cognisance so wrought in creative energy, but without man as the centre of systems which successively appeared and fell. The days we have seen have special reference to man, who, on the sixth, follows and crowns the highest animals set under his rule.
“And God said, Let us make men in our image, after our likeness; and let them have dominion over fish of the sea, and over bird of the heavens, and over cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. And God created Man6 in his image, in God’s image created he him; male and female created he them” (vers. 26, 27).
Not only is man introduced with marked separateness from the previous creation of animals, even from those of the earth made on the same day, each “after its kind,” and all seen as “good,” but for the first time God enters into counsel with Himself for this great and absolutely new work. It is no longer “Let there be,” or “Let the earth (or “the waters”) bring forth,” though man’s body is in its due place expressly said to have been formed of the dust of the ground. Here the language rises into appropriate grandeur and solemnity, “Let us make men.” Not a word about kinds of men, for there was but one; whatever people may have subsequently dreamt in their pride or in the selfish advantage they desired to take of their degraded fellows. Not a little was suffered afterwards in view of their hard-heartedness; but from the beginning it had not been so.
We shall hear yet more when we come to a fresh revelation, not of man’s creation as its head simply, but of the moral relations in which he is shown to have been set; but here there is ample evidence of the dignity conferred on the race. “Let us make men in our image, after our likeness.” Nothing is more opposed to the Bible than the anthropomorphism of Greek and Roman mythology, which degraded their deities to fallen males and females with like passions and lusts, and gave the sanction of religion to the basest immorality. And what philosophers of Greece or Rome ever ventured to claim so noble a prototype? Here Moses was inspired to give it as the holy declaration of the Creator. How far from the brute at length evolving man, a theory suggested by Satan to brutalise the race! It is the simple yet wondrous truth: not God brought down to the human level, but men alone created after a divine pattern.
A frequent question is raised as to the force of the terms and their precise shade of difference; for those are not to be heard who hide their ignorance under the assumption that both mean the same thing. The usage throughout the O. and N. Testaments seems to indicate that “image” represents, and “likeness” resembles. Thus the “image” of the world-power in Nebuchadnezzar’s dream represented the succession of Gentile empires from first to last: likeness could not be the point. So it is “image” in the plain of Dura (Dan. 3), the proportions of which exclude a human figure, or the resemblance of any living creature. Whatever it might not be like, it definitely represented what the monarch commanded to be an object of worship. Again, in the N. T. the denarius our Lord asked for had on its face the image and superscription of Caesar. It might have been a faulty likeness, but was an indisputable image of the Roman imperator. It expressed his authority and represented his claim over the Jews because of their departure from God, ill as they liked to own either.
So men (ver. 26) are said to have been made in God’s image, after His likeness, as the former is emphatically repeated in ver. 27: not in His likeness, after His image. In God’s image is the truth insisted on, though here also man is declared to be made after or according to His likeness. To man only was it given to represent God here below. Angels are never called to such a place. They excel in might. They fulfil God’s word, they hearken unto the voice of His word. Yet no angel rules in His name, nor does he represent Him, as a centre of a system subjected to Him, and looking up to Him. But man was made to represent God in the midst of a lower creation dependent on him; though in order to be created in God’s image, he was also made “after His likeness,” without evil and upright. But even when through sin the likeness existed no more, he abode His image; however inadequate to represent God aright, he was still responsible to represent Him. Hence in Gen. 5:1, 2, we read that God made man in His likeness; male and female created He them, and blessed them, and called their name Adam in the day of their creation But it is significantly added in ver. 3 that Adam begat in his likeness. Seth resembled his father, now fallen, as well as represented him. Again, when after the deluge animals were given for the food of man, blood was interdicted, and the most jealous care of human life insisted on; for in the image of God made He man. To kill him was rebellion against God’s image, though a man was now anything but like God.
The N.T. fully sustains the same distinction far beyond Caesar’s case already referred to. Thus the man in 1 Cor. 11 is distinctively called God’s image and glory, as publicly representing Him; and Christ, the incarnate Son, is styled “image of the invisible God.” His not being called “likeness” only confirms the truth. If so entitled, it would deny His deity. For He is God, instead of being only like God. Compare for the Christian now, Col. 3:10, as well as 2 Cor. 3:18; and for the glorious result, Rom. 8:29, and 1 Cor. 15:49.
On the other hand we must not confound the state of Adam unfallen with the new man which “after God hath been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth.” This is descriptive of the new creation, not of the first Adam state where all was mere innocence, but the knowledge of good and evil along with the power by grace which abhors evil and clings to good that is implied in righteousness and holiness of the truth. This is not nature, but supernatural in believers, who become partakers of a divine nature (2 Peter 1:4).
Nevertheless, though Adam’s state was far from that of which Christ is the risen Head, be evidently was made to have a portion, though a creature, above all the creation that surrounded him, “in God’s image, after His likeness.” How utterly false in presence of the Bible are the speculations of evolution, an hypothesis logically at issue with those fixed laws of nature which the same philosophers cry up to the exclusion of God! For how reconcile invariable law with change of species? The truth is that real science depends upon the uniformity of results, and consists in discovering and classifying them. This does not hinder variation through circumstances, failing which the original type returns.
Again, as natural science is essentially based on the reality and continuance of species, so it can give no account of origins. If honest, it admits there must be a cause, and an adequate one; but here, as science, it is and must be wholly ignorant. God’s word alone reveals the truth; and of all reveries, none viler than the ignorance which refuses to learn and dares to defy divine revelation, by conceiving man a developed ape, fish, seaweed, or aught else. The truth is that primordial causes are beyond science; which, instead of honestly owning its ignorance, pretends to deny the creation which scripture clearly reveals. God alone could create; and He declares that He has done so, and in what order. Science would gladly learn if not sceptical; for its province lies in investigating effects, and cannot reach up to primordial causes, which it is of all moment to know if revealed. But we can only know them from God’s testimony, which is simple if we were.
How worthy of God and cheering to man, turning from these freaks of spurious science, to weigh once more His words! “Let us make men in our image after our likeness; and let them have dominion over fish of the sea and over bird of the heavens [the work of the day fifth] and over cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth [sixth day’s work]. And God created Man in his image, in God’s image created he him; male and female created he them.” How emphatically, it will be noticed, Moses says that God created the race. It was enough to say so once of the vast universe in ver. 1, when it was brought originally into being. Again, it was said to mark the introduction of animated nature, or at least of the aquatic Mammals, into the Adamic world in ver. 21. But here of Man it is repeated again and again to enforce the attention of all who tremble at God’s word. Not only was Man an unprecedented creature, but he had a place in God’s mind altogether peculiar, not merely in time on earth, but for all eternity. For the unfolding of this we must await other declarations of God’s mind. What is said here points to his creature place as originally set on earth by God. Even for the details of this we need chap. ii with its all-important supplement on the relations of Adam, where we have the key to the fact that Man was created “male and female,” as we are told here: a single pair, and even so, formed as none other ever was, that Man might be differentiated from every creature in earth or heaven. For immense consequences turn on that fact, which God took care to make good, and only He in the nature of things could reveal.
What can science as such say on a matter so profoundly interesting, and morally so important? Is it logical to deny whatever it does not know? For science to confess ignorance is no doubt humiliating. But is it reverent to despise what God does know and has revealed? Alas! science knows nothing of faith any more than of piety or reverence. Were it content to assert only what it knows, and confess its ignorance of all beyond its own limits, it would do less mischief and speak more becomingly. Hewers of wood and drawers of water have a place useful if not dignified. Boasting is not seemly, save only in the Lord for all who trust Him.
Thus we have seen Man, the race, created in God’s image. No doubt, that this should be true, it was and must be after God’s likeness in the absence of all moral evil. But it was emphatically a creation in God’s image. Man was the last and chief creature here below, the only one in the heavens or the earth, whom scripture designates as made in God’s image: a wondrously high distinction, with the grave responsibility of representing Him aright before others, as His delegated ruler. Not even the highest angel possesses such a place before the universe. Angels serve on account of those that shall inherit salvation.
But here, as we may easily stray, we need simple and entire subjection to the written word; and this we are most unlikely to have or court unless we have unwavering faith in it, as we certainly ought if we believe it inspired of God. This the apostle predicates, not merely of scripture generally as a known body of holy writings, but of everything coming under that designation, some of which had yet to be written. What can be conceived more precious and withal comprehensive, than πᾶσα γραφὴ, “every scripture,” in 2 Tim. 3:16? He declares it to be, not only useful for the various purposes of divine blessing to man, but before all God-inspired. All admit the human instruments; but if scripture be God-inspired in every part, it is certain that God is not a man that He should lie. And He has magnified His word above all His name.
Now there is a two-fold danger of misapprehending Adam’s state and place while unfallen. We may exalt it beyond the truth by confounding it with what grace gives in Christ; or we may lower it by making it a question of such reasoning and conscience as man acquired by the fall. In his original state Adam stood in relationship with God in thankful use of all He gave, but liable to death on disobedience. It was in no way heaven held out if he obeyed, as will appear more fully by-and-by. The danger was of losing his first estate by transgression. But God imposed no such moral government as the law; nor had Adam the knowledge of good and evil till the fall. Man was not holy but innocent, and tested solely by prohibition as the simple test of obedience on God’s part. It was a blessed creature’s responsibility to obey with the threat of death on transgression.
By the fall man got the knowledge of good and evil, that is, the intrinsic perception of right and wrong apart from prescription; or as Jehovah Elohim said (Gen. 3:22), “Behold, the man is become as one of us to know good and evil!” In Adam fresh from God’s hand the knowledge of good and evil would have been a defect, a moral inconsistency, and therefore an impossibility. Before the fall he had conscience solely in the sense of responsibility to obey, not at all in the way of accusing or else excusing self. Only when he sinned, and thus lost his innocence, did he gain the moral power of knowing good and evil of himself, hence forth his sad, painful, but most useful monitor. Before that, he was naturally enjoying divine goodness in its creative effects, under the test, not of resisting things intrinsically evil, but of a single restriction from God which made eating the forbidden fruit wrong: a state wholly different from ours. The fall changed for evil the whole ground of standing. Propitiation with life in Christ is a still deeper and higher change for good, even though in fact the old man yet abides and is altogether evil in itself. Christianity is no mere restoration of man, but eternal life in Christ and eternal redemption.
But unfallen Adam was in no way free in the sense of independence of God. He had indisputable title to act in what God subjected to him, but in nothing else. Obedience and dependence were due to God. All was good around him to enjoy: one thing was forbidden, and wrong because God forbade it, as a test of subjection to Himself. To act independently was to set self up as God, and thus in effect to set aside the true God. But this is sin, yea, apostasy from God, instead of walking as created in His image, after His likeness, the total opposite of Him, Who being God, became man, the image of the invisible God, come to do His will on earth where all else had failed.
And here it is that science, however interesting in its sphere and useful also, comes in so mischievously. At best it ignores man as God created him, because it only knows man as he is, fallen from his original relationship with God in nature; as it equally ignores man born anew, born of water and of the Spirit, because the new birth is supernatural. This ignorance falsifies scientific ideas and reasonings. For instance, that knowledge of good and evil of which scripture speaks as a consequence of the fall, or a moral sense as men call it, is assumed to be the highest ethical constitution that has survived the fall! But there was this immense difference that, while of course God knew good and evil, it was as One unassailable by evil and supremely above it in His own nature: man only acquired it by sin and in subjection to the power of evil, and thus having it now in himself. The Lord Jesus on the contrary was the Word made flesh, born not innocent only but holy, rejecting evil always even when tempted as Adam and his sons never were, and at the end as a sacrifice dying for sins and to sin, that we who believe might live in Him risen, the life-giving Spirit, the Second man and Last Adam.
Now faith only, not science, recognises either the fall of the first man as affecting all mankind and the entire scene put under him, or the victory which God gives all who believe in Christ risen from the dead. Science accepts fallen man’s estate as the only one, because it alone is the subject-matter of ordinary experience. It is therefore involved in difficulties necessarily insoluble, because it knows neither the sinless and happy state in which God originally set man, nor the righteous deliverance which the Lord Jesus gives to faith in God’s love; still less the glory, power, and incorruption to be made good even for the dead, and for the mortal body, when He comes. Philosophy is either openly infidel or vainly essays to conciliate, with a God of power and goodness, a world of sin, suffering, misery, and death. Were creation truly believed and the fall honestly confessed, the main difficulty vanishes; absolutely so, when God’s love is read in the gift of His Son incarnate and suffering for the sinful world which crucified Him in its unbelief of His glory and rejection of His grace and truth. But science as such starts with the world and man as they are, ignoring his moral disorder and the effect of this on what was subjected to him; and cannot rise above the facts it discovers in the perceived course of nature, but may deduce its laws so called. God only could reveal creation. His word alone tells how man fell from innocence in first estate into sin and death, and dragged down with him all the inferior creation.
Science in its very nature is incapable of rising to this knowledge infinitely more important as it is than all it can make known or even discover, however ample the field in nature may be. For revelation speaks of three broadly distinct conditions: creation unfallen; creation as it is in guilt, and misery, whatever the resources of sovereign grace held out to faith; creation as it will be when all things are made new. Science occupying itself solely with the intermediate is in great danger of denying in dishonest pride what it cannot know scientifically, to the destruction of all who trust it, instead of the God Who gave His Son in love to save sinners who repent and believe the gospel.
But to return, we read, “And God blessed them; and God said to them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and have dominion over fish of the sea and bird of the heavens, and over every living thing that creepeth on the earth” (ver. 28). Man, as Prof. Owen said, is the sole species of his genus, and the sole representative of his species.
This is the second benediction of creation. The first was when God made the creatures that peopled the waters and the air of Adam’s world, the earliest to enjoy animal life in that state of things. God has pleasure in blessing His creatures that have a life even of a lowly kind to appreciate the fruits of His goodness, and especially in view of their reproduction and multiplying within their sphere. Here, a second time, He blessed mankind, male and female, of whom alone it is said, though the detailed difference is reserved for a subsequent and more fitting occasion. In verse 22 we have only “saying,” but here “God said to them, Be fruitful,” etc. Man was the depository of God’s revelation, as he ought to be His priest, and, as we have seen, His viceroy. This is more than the interpreter of nature, as one of our sages styled him. He had intercourse with God at once.
Language thus was in no way the slow invention of man’s wit, but an immediate endowment of our first parents by God from creation. Here His word assures us of its reality from the first day of man’s creation; and everything confirms in the chapters that follow. To imagine otherwise is to disbelieve the Bible and prefer one’s own thoughts or the dreams of other men, as if we or they could know anything about the matter. He Who alone knows all has been pleased to tell us the truth through Moses. His word was valid for the unintelligent creation: how comforting for the human pair to hear Him say, Be fruitful, and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it! Even though man comes in as a creature with the rest, still he is introduced exceptionally as the crown of creation; and the higher creatures are pronounced good separately from man, who is blessed, male and female, in an address to them as at the head of all the rest.
Then comes the proclamation of the rule assigned them by God. Not only were they, like others, to multiply and fill the earth, they were to subdue, or bring it into subjection. Next He adds as before, “and have dominion over fish of the sea and over bird of the heavens, and over every living thing that creepeth on the earth.” Thus from the outset was man, even when enumerated as a being fresh from God, set apart essentially. None other was to subdue the earth. He alone had the God-given capacity. He alone was called to have dominion. Development in the Darwinian sense is not only an illusion, but at plain issue with the word of God. A striking and practical proof of the reality of this dominion as far as every beast and every bird was given to Adam (Gen. 2:19) when Jehovah Elohim brought them to see what their lord would call them; and whatever he called each living soul (or, creature), that was its name: a fact full of interest otherwise on which some remark will fall in its season. Be was owned by God in that place of authority which entitled him to give each subject creature its name.
For the present, however, we do not notice more than the singular evidence here afforded of real intelligible language communicated from the very first to the head of the race. Adam had it in perfection, like the other properties of full growth, the day he was created. Doubtless in this he differed from all that sprang from him in due time and to this day who have to learn. But here God created worthily of Himself; and even infidels own that there must have been primeval causes for all that exists, of which science can give no account. It can at most only say “must be,” not “is.” For its fixed laws are only gathered from the constant course of things; and such a course supposes the “things that appear” to have gone on long enough for men to observe the order of nature which they thus designate. An originating first cause is no less certain; also the phenomena need time for that regular course which they describe by “laws of nature.”‘ Eternal self-existence belongs only to God, not to the creature; and none so negligent or perhaps rebellious as geologists, if they forget how often God intervened to create as well as to destroy in a way irreconcilable either with chance or with fate. But these are the characteristic mainsprings of Epicureanism on the one hand and of Stoicism on the other, the two chief opposing systems of ancient philosophy (Acts 17:18) as of modern under new names. Without creation and the fall, man can account for nothing aright; but for knowing either we need faith, as well as their revelation, which some in their infatuation pronounce impossible. These men confessedly can make known their evil ideas to their fellows; but God, they argue, cannot communicate His good word! What is possible with men seems to their unbelief impossible with God! Could folly sink lower? Creation must be a miracle; but miracles must not be. Has not the nineteenth century settled it for ever.
Here also natural religion betrays its inherent insufficiency and falseness. For it never truly feels or acknowledges the fall, even if it borrow creation as a tradition from the Bible. If it estimated the ruin aright, it would own the necessity of divine revelation and of salvation by grace, yea of a Saviour able to meet God in righteousness, no less than man in grace. But it takes the ground of making out a righteousness of its own, supplemented by God’s mercy to cover all faults and deficiencies. Impossible for any soul to find satisfaction thus. For on one side he acknowledges a Creator God of power and goodness infinite: on the other he faces a world and race of sin, evil, wretchedness, and death, to say nothing of a judgment he could not but dread. The strongest and clearest mind is lost in this labyrinth; and human efforts on the religious side of superstition are as vain to clear it up and present the truth and purge the conscience as the profane speculations and self-contradictory antinomies of philosophy. Human religion only hardens men in their naturally false thoughts of God as either austere or easy-going. Philosophy (in its struggles to escape the inconsistencies inevitable to a fallen estate, which is not confessed to God with a broken heart) only darkens more deeply what is already dark, and ends too often by the mental endeavour to deny the God Whom sin and unbelief have made unknown, save in the qualms of conscience.
No! man was made to look up, not physically alone but morally, in dependence on God the source and giver of all goodness. He sought independence by sin, and gained a conscience already bad, which made him look down, while his pride still pretended to everything. He had lost God and departed from Him, and (being wholly insufficient to abide self- sustained) set his mind on the creature below himself so as at length even to deify it. The Son of God emptied Himself by taking the form of a bondman, being made in the likeness of men, and humbled Himself, becoming obedient even unto the death of the cross; where God was glorified as to sin by propitiation for it, and the ground laid for the righteous salvation of all who believe. A man-god was Satan’s bait and man’s ruin. The God-man dying in obedience and for redemption is the triumph of truth and grace.
The closing notice remains, the economy of the primeval creation, and the divine estimate of it all.
“And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb producing seed that [is] upon the face of all the earth, and every tree in which [is] the fruit of a tree producing seed: to you it shall be for food; and to every animal of the earth, and to every bird of the heavens, and to every thing that creepeth upon the earth, in which [is] a living soul, every green herb for food. And it was so. And God saw everything that he had made, and, behold [it was] very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day” (vers. 29-31). Man has still his distinctive place in God’s commission and plan; but it is in the state of innocence. After the fall came in corruption and violence. Animal life was not permitted to man till after the deluge. Herbs and fruit were given at first to man, and to the subject creation every green herb. Death was not in the Adamic earth till sin. Granted that Rom. 5:12-21 does not go beyond the human race as fallen under death through sin; but Rom. 8:19- 22 looks at “all the creation” as ruined through the fall of its head. Neither scripture raises any question about states of the earth anterior to Adam. We have seen in Gen. 1:1, 2, the general principle of a previous condition called into being and destroyed; which, as far as it goes, leaves room for death by one means or another among the then animals. In no previous conditions was there man existing, still less the great moral trial of Adam the first head, and the varied dispensations of God, till through the last, the risen Adam, God gives those who believe the victory. Whatever gradual approach may have been made before, the six days describe the formation of that platform where man would be tested in every way according to divine wisdom, and God was in due time to bring in Christ, His Son, become man to glorify Him, not only in obedience but in redemption, and a wholly new and everlasting creation only as yet come in the person of its glorious Head on high. The words of God here spoken are in view of man and earth yet unfallen.
Here experience is necessarily at fault. For only the Bible could give us the truth as to the primitive phase of man and the creatures around him. But it at once approves itself, when revealed, as being the sole conceivable state in which the Creator could have placed creation and its head suitably to His own goodness. Hence the force and moral beauty of His final survey in the last verse. “And God saw everything that he had made (i.e., in the Adamic earth), and behold, it was very good.” So with the one exception of day second had He called each thing “good”; now as a whole it was superlatively so in His eyes.
Yet the unbeliever, scientific or not, is misled by his abuse of experience about a time where he cannot have a tittle of evidence to contradict scripture, and imputes to God, if he allow there is One, such a world as would be the production of a fiend, not of the Only True God. Even on his own ground it is the grossest assumption to assume that at the beginning (and science is now compelled to own there must have been a beginning) things were as they now are. It is illogical, as well as infidel, to take for granted that the present state is a normal one, or that God made men sinful, vain, proud, selfish, to say nothing of more abominable outbreaks; that He left men indifferent, so as to become heathen or Jews, Mahometans or Christians, of any religion or of none, without guidance or proof. It is evident that the state of the world is offensive to God; and that it has been so since man left records more or less credible. This is a fact, Bible or no Bible.
But the Bible alone, unlike every other testimony, gives us the simplest, clearest, and fullest explanation, in a few words, how all came to pass. God made man upright, surrounded by every thing “very good” yet under trial of obedience, as we shall soon hear definitely, but he departed from God through the wiles of the enemy in the face of solemn warning, He sinned and thus introduced death for himself and his posterity, and “subjected to vanity” the creation put under him. But God, when tracing the evil to its source, has proved His goodness by holding out the assurance of a Conqueror over the enemy, even while suffering Himself, to be born of woman too. And to this word all believers from the fall clung till He came Who made it good in His death on the cross and in His resurrection.
Thus does God from the first proclaim mercy rejoicing over judgment, though sin bore its sorrowful fruits in an outcast race and a blighted world, where no creature is as God made it. It is science, not scripture, which here as elsewhere, brings in difficulties even for believers.
But Sir J. W. Dawson in his Archaia, 217-222, raises questions which are certainly not solved, though brought by himself, a very competent geologist, “into the light of our modern knowledge of nature.” He pictures Eden either cleared of its previous inhabitants or not yet invaded by animals from other centres! He supposes man created then with a group adapted to his happiness (Gen. 2:19, etc., treating of them only), and these latest species of animals and plants extending themselves within the spheres of older districts, so as to replace the ferocious beasts of older epochs and other regions! He fancies that on the fall the curse that befell the earth would thus consist in the predaceous animals with thorns and briars invading his Eden. Most of my readers will have heard more than they wish of notions as irreconcilable with scripture as derogatory to it. How can the excellent Principal of M’Gill College have indulged in such speculations? Evidently because being sure, too sure, of his geological scheme, he accommodates scripture to it: a position not very wise scientifically where so much is continually shifting and so little is absolutely ascertained — a position most antagonistic to a Christian’s faith in God’s word. He is not entitled geologically to assume a mixture of the conditions of the Tertiary with those of the human period in the Quaternary. His theory of day-ages exposes him to these consequences, along with the recently adopted fashion of opposition to A D’Orbigny’s careful and exhaustive proof in his “Prodrome de Stratigraphique Palaeontologie,”7 that not a species of plants or animals survived the Tertiary, and that a distinct break preceded man’s time as often before.
And what is the alleged ground in scripture? “Man was to rule over the fish of the sea, the birds of the air, and the b’hemah or herbivorous animals. The carnivorous creatures are not mentioned, and possibly were not included in man’s dominion”! But this is distinctly refuted by ver. 30, which expressly assigns every green herb to “every beast “ or animal of the earth. The same text proves that at this time “every animal in the earth was herbivorous,” though it is boldly laid down that this cannot be meant. Nor should any believer question the past fact, if assured by inspired prophecy that the day is coming, when the wolf shall dwell with the lamb and the leopard lie down with the kid, when the cow and the bear shall feed, their young lying down together, and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. Here undoubtedly science will decry and scoff; but he who believes (as Dawson does) the unfallen state of Adam and his Eden, if not his earth, is inconsistent in curtailing his rule to a petty domain. The apostle, we have seen, interprets his headship of creation in general, whatever modern geology may pronounce to the contrary.
Philologically too, it is quite an error that b’hemah, though expressing “cattle,” is limited as is here imagined. Any good Hebrew Concordance will show the most unlearned that it is frequently employed in the largest sense and rightly rendered “beast” in both the Auth. and the Rev. Versions. Compare Gen. 6:7, Gen. 7:2 twice, 8, Gen. 8:20, Gen. 34:23, Gen. 36:6: Ex. 8:17, 18, Ex. 9:9, 10, 19, 22, 25, Ex. 11:5, 7, Ex. 13:2, 12, 15, Ex. 19:13, Ex. 20:10, Ex. 22:10, 19. It occurs at least 25 times in this sense in Leviticus, 8 times in Numbers, and 7 times in Deuteronomy; so often in the historical books, in the Psalms and in the Prophets, where the sense of “cattle” is in fact rare.
This then is God’s account of His creation, and in detail of the Adamic earth. No wise man will wonder that we are conducted silently over the vast and successive platforms of dead plants and animals, to say nothing of the debris of rocks, under water and heat. Here we have a system of life rising up, not by any necessity, but by divine power, wisdom, and goodness, to beings constituted chief of creation and made in His image after His likeness, before sin brought in death and every woe on the guilty and all subject to them: a system where our feeble eyes cannot fail, save blinded by wilful evil, to see it everywhere, above, around, below, filled with contrivances that disclose the omniscient designs and the inexhaustible benevolence of the omnipotent Designer, yet in no case absolutely, but with a view to moral government, the effects of which afford a handle of objection to those who refuse that divine word which reveals good then and still higher purposes of grace in Christ for all who believe. Even in the lowest point of view, well may we at this place exclaim with the psalmist, “These wait all upon thee, that thou mayest give [them] their meat in due season: [that] thou givest them, they gather. Thou openest thine hand; they are filled with good” (104:27, 28).
These verses are really the necessary supplement and close of chap. 1, if we divide into chapters on a sound principle. It is well known that such a division, save in the Psalms, etc., has no authority and is not seldom erroneous. The new title given to God, Jehovah Elohim, indicates consistently a new subject, as will be shown in its place. Hitherto it is simply Elohim, the abstract name of the Creator. Here as everywhere the name has nothing whatever to do with the question of authorship, as ignorant unbelief has suggested with misplaced confidence, but springs exclusively from internal reasons, as may be seen throughout scripture to much interest and instruction.
“And the heavens and the earth and all their host were finished. And God had finished on the seventh day his 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 sanctified it; because that on it he had rested from all his work which God had created in making” (or, and made, lit. to make) (vers. 1-3).
The last is without doubt a remarkable phrase, falling in naturally with what we have seen in the opening verses, an original creation where man was not, succeeded by catastrophe, and by fresh creative energy, the details of which refer to the scene where and when man was to be brought into being. Here the work and the rest of God are in clear view of the race; and the seventh day or sabbath has immense importance. On its first mention it was unmistakably the witness of God’s rest: His rest, not from weariness of course, but from the work of creation and making. This work was now ended for the life that now is. And as the six preceding days were literal, so is the seventh the closing day of the week.
This is amply and strictly confirmed by Ex. 20:1-11. The sabbath is not a but the seventh day, the memorial of creation finished — of the Adamic world. “For in six days Jehovah made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day; therefore Jehovah blessed the sabbath day and sanctified it.” The language is precise. It is not said “created” but “made.” This was the right phrase as a whole for the work of the six days, however well creating is said of parts within that work. It was not the original production but a special construction of divine will and power with man in view. That the seventh day is the sabbath is with equal care impressed in Deut. 5:12-15, though the connection of heart here is with the deliverance from bondage in the land of Egypt rather than with creation.
Nor is there a commandment on which scripture laid greater stress, when the law was bound on the sons of Israel, than that of the sabbath. All the others were moral in a sense which this was not; for of their own selves they could not but feel and own the duty. But the hallowing of the sabbath was of God’s initiation exclusively, and singularly marked out for His people that they should not even look to gather the manna on that day. His honour was pre-eminently identified with its observance; and so was His blessing.
For us, Christians, the first day of the week, and not the sabbath, is characteristic. That only is to us the Lord’s day, as the day of His resurrection, and the witness of our accomplished redemption and of the power of His life as risen from the dead, and our life. It is accordingly as much marked by the new creation and grace as the sabbath day was by the six-days creation and the law. Yet, though we have to do with the Lord on the first day, as the N.T. makes plain in manifold ways, the sabbath is not done with but will assuredly re-appear, when Zion arises from her long slumber in the dust, and the light of Jehovah shines in Israel for the universal blessing of the earth and the nations, as it never did even in the days of David and Solomon; so the prophets proclaim, and scripture cannot be broken.
Ours meanwhile is a higher call and a brighter hope; for we are by the Holy Spirit united to Him Whom Jew and Gentile crucified, Whom God not only raised but set at His own right hand in the heavenlies, far above all principality and power and might and dominion, and every name that is named not only in this age but also in that which is to come; we are the body of the glorified Head. Those who had the sabbath, as a sign between them and Jehovah, rejected their own Messiah, Who, slain by the bands of lawless men, lay in the grave that sabbath, “high” or great day as it emphatically was It was the sin and the death of Israel, the ground of a still more terrible scattering than that of Assyria or of Babylon; yet in God’s grace the divine and only efficacious means to faith of blotting out that sin and every other; as we prove who believe the gospel, while hardening in part has befallen Israel. But all Israel shall be saved by-and-by; and when they are, from one moon to another, and from one sabbath to another, all flesh shall come to worship before Jehovah. We now by the Spirit sent down from heaven draw near by faith within the holiest, and this with boldness by the blood of Jesus. Of our peculiar blessing the first day, not the seventh, is the witness. Nor can lack of Christian intelligence be more decided than confounding the Lord’s day with the sabbath.
But the seventh day is also decisively against the day periods. For what can be conceived more unnatural, save when we let a system of private interpretation carry us away alike from simplicity and from spiritual understanding? Till the days introduced Adam and his world, it could not be said that the heavens and the earth, still less “all their host,” were finished. Previous states of the creation had their importance; but till man and his congeners, animal and vegetable, there was a great lack. Neither on earth nor even in the heavens was there a creature made in God’s image or after His likeness. This was not a little in itself as bringing in moral ways of and with man, and room for God’s manifestation in promise and government, till the infinite fact of Immanuel, the Word made flesh, the Son of God a man, and His work no less infinite of redemption, yet to be the basis not only of the church’s blessedness, as also of all saints and of Israel to come, but of the new heavens and new earth through all eternity.
What possible evidence from scripture that “the seventh day is the modern or human era in geology” (Archaia, 235)? or as the author of “Footprints of the Creator” puts it, “God’s sabbath of rest may still exist; the work of redemption may be the work of His sabbath day!” Does it need the words of any one to refute such a reverie of self-destroying fancy? The scripture before us points out His rest as cessation from work, not merely from creation, but from “creating to make.” No doubt, if six immensely protracted periods of several thousand years each were certainly meant by the six days, analogy would claim a proportionately lengthened term for the seventh. But the doctrine of God’s word even then would be thrown into confusion. For sin violated the rest of creation; and as God could not rest in sin, so He would not in misery, its effect. This is not our rest: it is polluted.
The argument of Heb. 3, 4 is that, even though Messiah is come and the work of propitiation wrought, and we that believe do enter into the rest of God, we are only as yet in the day of temptation in the wilderness. Hence we are exhorted to fear lest any might seem to have failed, and to use diligence to enter in. A sabbatism, then, remains to the people of God. It is not yet come. It is the day of glory and not before, when God has no more work to do, all being done so perfectly that He can rest for ever. So our Lord pleaded to those who indulged in somewhat similar imagination in His day, “My Father worketh hitherto, and I work.” But work and rest are in contrast. Hence our Lord did on the sabbath what roused the enmity of the Jews implacably. God’s rest was in no true sense come. He must work in grace, yea, the Father and the Son; and this has been done beyond all thought of the creature, and God is glorified thereby; yet the rest remains for another day.
But that work, infinitely acceptable and efficacious, is the very opposite of His rest, though the foundation of it. Meanwhile the heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ are being called; the delay, the long-suffering of God, is salvation; and the people of God must be by faith fitted to enjoy His rest. In due time they will enter in, in heaven and on earth. But it still remains; it is not yet come. The idea of a sabbath from Adam till now is a dream wholly antagonistic to all revealed truth. It will be at the end when God makes all things new, and the first things have passed away. This is in the fullest sense the rest of God, not the morning cloud that enveloped the entrance into Canaan, nor the dew that passed so early away in Eden. They were but shadows. The reality is to come, the true rest of God. There cannot be rest and work at the same time in the same sense. To view the sabbath or rest of God as contemporaneous with His work is to be in a mist and to lose completely the truth of both in strange fancifulness.
The absurdity which thus inevitably attaches to the age-day theory is proved by no consideration more clearly than by the seventh day or sabbath. That the natural day is meant is only the more evident from the fact that scripture leaves no room for a symbolic or age-lasting sabbath, after the Adamic world was made, but casts us only on its sure but still future dawn. It is “a promise left us” which the day of glory alone fulfils. Of this the sabbath, the natural day at the beginning, was the pledge, the blessed antitype, when God and the creature shall (by redemption and resurrection power) enjoy the communion of His own rest, sin, sorrow, and death completely effaced, and love, righteousness, and glory, triumphant for ever through our Lord Jesus. This the scriptures hold out abundantly and unambiguously; but an allegoric sabbath stretching over the fall and the deluge, the kingdom of Israel and the Gentile world-powers (to say nothing of the law, the gospel, and the church), is a mere fiction of some few geologists speculative beyond the rest, for which not a word of revelation has ever been truly advanced.
Reviewing these papers attentively for reproduction in a small volume, I do not feel the need of adding many words. Scripture is to the believer absolutely reliable; and, in my judgment, it refuses to bend to philosophic speculation which is not true science, but the guesswork of some scientists assuming to theorise on what is unknown to science and therefore illegitimate. In such schemes generally proper creation is denied, and evolution of matter (perhaps eternal matter) takes the place of God calling the universe into being as in Gen. 1:1. Next, the state of disorder, so necessary in its results for man when brought into existence, is shown in ver. 2 and connected with the statement of original creation, because both preceded man’s world, and cover the enormous periods of geologic time, not only when fossil remains make their records recognisable in themselves and distinguishable one from another, but the more vague Azoic age which preceded.
Hence the least offensive of these schemes, as Prof. Dana’s, is not only without, but opposed to, scripture in assuming an original nebula. For this disagrees with both the first verse and the second of Gen. 1, and conceives the third to mean the earth as a globe of molten rock, like the sun in brightness and nature, enveloped in an atmosphere containing the dissociated elements of the future waters and whatever else the heat at the surface could evaporate. Such is the first era of philosophic conjecture. A second went forward until first the earth became centrally solid. Long after, a crust was formed outside; and the vapours of the atmosphere were condensed, and a watery envelope made. A third age, or continuation, followed, so as to admit of the simplest forms of vegetable life, and of the crust increasing by contraction, aided by disintegration of the rock, by exposure, to the ocean; and so began the earth’s supercrust — the only part of the earth’s structure within the reach of direct investigation. As the first introduction of vegetable life is the fourth age, the display of the systems followed in the four grand types of the animal kingdom in the fifth; and in the sixth, Mammals, and Man.
Analogy, with the chief periods of geological time, is admitted. But it is only a measure of analogy as a whole. We have seen on conclusive evidence that the inspired record will not bend to the assumption, either that the first verse of Gen. 1 is a summary of the chapter, or that ver. 2 contains the original order of creation, instead of being a state of confusion into which, for the wisest purposes to come, the earth was thrown. He created it not a waste (compare Isa. 14:18). Both verses are incompatible with the hypothesis, fashionable for the moment, that man’s world like himself goes forward with a progress steady in the main and slowly advancing to comparative perfection. Nor is the periodistic reading of the days due to the text itself or any light of the Holy Spirit afforded by other scriptures, but to the overbearing influence of unbelieving geologists who take almost equal pleasure in parading the prevalent scheme of their science as absolutely settled among all the intelligent, and in perplexing Christians too easily allured or alarmed, who forthwith set about to adjust the language of Holy Writ to the alleged exigence of modern scientific results. Yet the enormous changes, not merely through the better ascertainment of important facts, but in the abandonment of fundamental principles by one so influential as the late Sir C. Lyell, ought assuredly to impress the need and the value of creation; especially as the change was a yielding to the sceptical spirit of the day, betraying animus against scripture, not to say contempt for all it teaches of man’s comparatively recent origin, as well as the utmost self-confidence in that uniformitarianism which logically shuts out God and denies creation in any real sense.
Now, speculate as people may on Gen. 1 - 2:8, it will scarcely be contested that God in the words of Ex. 20 did not adopt the language of poetry or philosophy but laid down moral principles in the most liberal and unambiguous terms. What then means His fourth commandment to Israel? “Remember the sabbath day to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labour and do all thy work; but the seventh day is a sabbath unto Jehovah thy God. For in six days Jehovah made the heavens and the earth, the sea and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day,” etc. (vers. 8-11). The accuracy of the inspired word is so much the more to be noticed, as so many commentators wrongly refer to it as “created” instead of “made:” exactly agreeing with the remarkable phrase that closes the account in Gen. 2:3, which combines, yet distinguishes, “all his work which Elohim created to make.” Whatever particulars might properly be called creating within the six days, the comprehensive term which embraced the whole is expressly “made” in contradistinction to the equally proper term “created” in Gen. 1:1. Can any nicety of speech more manifestly confirm the interpretation of the days in Genesis as meant exclusively in their ordinary and historical sense? The six days are God’s work in view of man; on the seventh is His rest, the pledge of a better and enduring one, based on the redemption of the Second man, and issuing in glory for heavens and earth, and above all for those who by grace believe. Need one say more?
1 “Without form” is hardly exact, for all matter must have form, but desolate or disordered it may be made subsequently. “To become” (not “be”) is the force of the verb in some twenty places in this chapter.
2 Without any pretension to dogmatise on science, it is curious to find how these oracles disagree. For the nebular theory in La Place’s “Exposition du Système du Monde,” the boast of modern science so vaunted against Genesis 1, supposes all the planets existing before the sun reached its actual condition. And Arago, Humboldt, etc., contend that the sun not only was but is a dark globe, with a luminous atmosphere simply. Dr. A M’Caul also refers to the discoveries of Kirchhoff in proof that the earth was before the sun and had a light of its own. Why attach weight to any speculation about the solar system before the preparation of the earth for the race? The proper domain of science lies not in what has long passed away, but in the accurate classification of facts grouped under general laws that stand the test.
3 Sir J. W. Dawson, in his “Archaia,” rejects the views represented by both Chalmers and Smith, but seems himself obscure as to the bearing of ver. 2. He is a believer; where, and when, does he then assign the occurrence of that unparalleled disorder? That scripture places it before the Adamic earth, and after the original creation, is an undeniable fact. It is easy to object if influenced by some loud-voiced materialists; but what is the truth? What saith the scripture? Geology has much to learn. Our call is to believe God, not to humour the lispings of an infant science. That immense and violent upturning was itself absolutely requisite for man about to be created subsequently.
4 There may be a question whether the peculiar phrase here does not mean the general term “sprouts” expanded into herbs and fruit-trees, as some learned men have inferred. The substantive has a wider meaning than “grass” which it frequently signifies; but I am not aware of any other application so extensive as to justify that generic forge. If meant here it is peculiar.
5 This must not be confounded with a shorter word, which would seem to mean jackals. When a land monster is expressed by the word in the text, it means a dragon or serpent.
6 The race, Man, which as it has the article in Hebrew, is thus distinguished from the anarthrous noun, has a name derived from the ground out of which man was taken. The context confirms the plural sense also.
7 Trois Volumes, Victor Masson, Paris; also his “Cours élém. de pal. et de Géol. strat.” 2 vols. Perhaps no recent author has combined to the same degree mastery over both zoology and geology with the fullest scope of practical observation. Such a man’s positive testimony is entitled to unusual respect.