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GENESIS i. 1.
In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.
LIFT up your eyes to heaven, and view the glorious orb of day shining in his strength, and ask, How came he there? Look downwards upon the earth, and admire the mountains, the vallies, the woods, the streams, the plants, the animals, with which it is filled, and ask, Whence sprung all these? Consider the structure of yourself, and all the curious mechanism of man; his bones, his muscles, his nerves, the circulation of his blood, his faculty of speech, his thinking powers, and then enquire, Who made him thus? each part so curiously wrought? the whole so marvellously put together? Revolve in thought the different nations that are now existing,
the many generations that have passed away, the myriads that have peopled earth throughout so long a lapse of years, and you must needs desire to learn, What was the origin of these? whence came they? and how began their being? This book informs us. We have here authentic records, and the only authentic records, of the formation of man, and the origin of the world. The writings of Moses, therefore, are interesting to us from curiosity alone, as carrying us up to the most remote antiquity, and instructing us in subjects, respecting which we have no other means of information. But higher motives should more strongly urge us to the study of them. They contain not only the natural, but the religious, history of man; they tell us of the great Creator's laws and dispensations to his creatures. Not Moses, but God himself, is the Author. Our duty is their subject, our infinite and eternal happiness their design.
I propose to attempt a plain and practical exposition of the five books of Moses; selecting such facts and circumstances as, while
they are in themselves full of interest and instruction, may also serve to give a general view of the whole of these inspired writings. May that Divine Spirit, by whose inspiration Moses wrote, be pleased to favour with his blessing this humble endeavour to promote an acquaintance with this interesting part of Holy Scripture; and to him be all the glory ascribed, of whatever instruction I may be enabled to convey.
The first book is the Book of Genesis, and its first chapter contains the account of the creation of the world. From this, indeed, the book has taken its name; Genesis being the same as generation, because here is made known to us the first springing into existence, the birth of all things. "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth:" in the beginning, that is, of time, when the world, and all things in it, first began to be. Before this beginning was eternity, in which the Almighty self-existent Creator ever lived, incomprehensible in his nature and mode of existence, but revealed to us in these sacred writings as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit,
one infinite, ever-living, and ever-blessed God. Some intimation is given of this truth in the first verse itself, where those that are learned in the original remark that God is a plural noun joined to a verb in the singular number, denoting a plurality of persons in perfect unity. Here we are told that in the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. St. John opens his Gospel with the information, that "in the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him, and without him was not any thing made that was made." Of the presence and influence of the Holy Spirit in the work of creation, we have an assurance in the second verse of this chapter; thus early is the doctrine of the divine Trinity in Unity strongly intimated to us, in not clearly revealed.
We proceed to consider the work of creation itself. The heavens and the earth were first made, the whole being only a vast, misshapen, useless mass, till the Almighty Creator began to reduce its elements to order, to
dispose and arrange them each in its own appropriate place, and to fill the whole with life and fruitfulness. This was done in the course of six days, not because his infinite power could not have instantaneously produced it perfect, but because it pleased him to bring beauty out of deformity, and order out of confusion, in a gradual manner, and to occupy time in the completion of his work, perhaps to teach his creatures that they too, with persevering assiduity, must continue to labour, nor, till they have laboured, enter into rest. Here, then, the Spirit of God is introduced, commencing his operations. "The Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters." The original rather gives us the idea of the parent bird brooding upon its nest, and affording from itself that genial heat that brings the embryo into life. While thus the Spirit was moving upon the face of the waters, God said, "Let there be light;". -an instance of true sublimity, unequalled in any other writings; a sentence that instantly shows the mighty power of God, with whom to will and to effect is the same thing. He spake,