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and it was done. He said, "Let there be light;" and there was light. He formed the material, or illuminating principle, which he afterwards fixed, in all its brightness, in the body of the sun, and elsewhere distributed as it seemed fit to his infinite wisdom. Such was God's work on the first day: the elements were brought into existence, out of which, in the succeeding days, this fair creation arose in beauty.
The firmament was the work of the second day. This is that whole space or expansion which extends and circles round on all sides, containing the air which we breathe, the dews and rains which descend upon us, and the whole course of the motions of the planets that roll above our heads. It served to separate the waters from the waters, part of what was before called the deep, being left mixed with the earth, and part being raised up and distributed in the atmosphere, almighty power and infinite wisdom thus providing for the intended fruitfulness of the earth, and for the necessities and comfort of future living creatures.
On the third day the earth was made to take its forms and qualities. The waters that were left in it from the work of the preceding day were now separated from the land, collected together, and distributed into seas, rivers, and subterranean reservoirs, that the dry land might appear, and an habitation fit for man be thus prepared. Thus every thing proceeds in perfect order, and with consummate skill; and, as the work advances, all is seen and pronounced to be " good." Fertility becomes a quality of the earth when thus laid dry; and, that this may be called into use and exercise, the innumerable tribes and families of grasses, herbs, and trees, were on the same day created, and placed upon the earth, each possessing the power of continuing its kind: "the earth brought forth grass, and herb yielding seed after his kind, and the tree yielding fruit, whose seed was in itself, after his kind." Thus was the food prepared on which the living creatures of the earth should afterwards subsist. How strongly are prescience and beneficence marked by every step of the universal Parent!
The work of the fourth day was the distribution of the principles of light, which had been created on the first day, amongst the heavenly bodies. These were now made; the sun formed, we may suppose, by the concentration of the particles of light and heat in one mass, that he might henceforth disperse his beams amongst all the rest, which again should mutually reflect them upon each other. Of the particular formation of the other heavenly bodies, their properties and uses, we are not informed. The object of revelation is not to satisfy the whole of our curiosity respecting other worlds, and subjects foreign to ourselves, but to afford us necessary information and useful instruction in the things with which we are immediately concerned. The Bible therefore speaks to us of these, not so much in a philosophical as in a popular manner, describing them rather as they appear to be than as they actually are. The account also passes over the other planets and fixed stars, with this only and brief information, that they too, as well as all other things, are God's creation:
"He made the stars also." But the sun and the moon are more particularly spoken of, as being set in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth: they were moreover appointed to divide the light from the darkness, and to form not only the vicissitudes of day and night, but the change of the seasons also, varieties by which the necessities and comforts of man are so much increased.
On the fifth day were brought into being creatures possessed of life. Following the same order as had been observed in the distribution of the waters, God first filled them with living creatures. The sea began now to abound with fish, and the air with fowl, each moving with surprising swiftness and agility in their respective elements. To these also, as before to the vegetables of the earth, he gave the power of multiplying their kind, bestowing life and breath upon the first pairs of them directly from himself, and at the same time qualifying them to increase and multiply amongst themselves.
And still his works proceed, and higher and yet higher rise. The sixth day saw the
formation of animals upon the earth, and man especially, the superior and master of them all. Every kind of terrestrial animal, with all their varieties, from the mightiest quadruped to the meanest insect, all now received their first existence; "the beast of the earth after his kind, and every thing that creepeth upon the earth after his kind. And God saw that it was good." And then there is, as it were, a pause in his operations. The language of ver. 26 is very remarkable ; it is the language of consultation. "God said, let us make man in our image, after our likeness." A council, as it seems, is held; and of whom can it consist but of the Holy Trinity before spoken of? What other probable interpretation can be assigned to this very peculiar mode of expression? Doubtless it is natural and easy, and what is in nowise surprising to us, when we understand and receive the doctrine of the Trinity, so distinctly revealed to us in the gospel; but without that doctrine it is involved in inextricable difficulty and doubt. With such preparation mankind was brought into being.