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On the subject of creation, the enquiry is sometimes made, when this great and marvellous work was performed. John the Evangelist says, “ In the beginning was the word, and the word was with God, and the word was God. All things were made by him;" conveying the idea, that all things were made, in the beginning. The same is the idea, in the Mosaic history.
66 In the beginning, God created the heaven, and the earth.” By the beginning, is evidently meant the commencement of time. For the very idea of time, consisting in the succession of days and years, had its origin, when finite and intelligent beings commenced their existence.
66 One day with the Lord, is as a thousand years, and a thousand years, as one day.” In the divine mind there is no succession of ideas, no fore nor after. Strictly speaking, there was no time before, nor time when the work of creation was performed. This great work was not only in the beginning, but it constituted the beginning of what we call time. In the divine mind, a whole eternity is one, invariable, unsuccessive now.
We hence see the fallacy and impertinence of the question,“ why was not the great and glorious work of creation performed millions of ages sooner than it was? Why has God deferred, during eternal ages, these rich displays of his divine perfections ?” In this case, we are to consider, that sooner and later, are impertinent terms. There was nothing on which these comparative terms could be predicated. For what we call eternal duration is, in the infinite mind of God, without duration or succession. The creation, and the final judgment of the world, are equally, and eternally present with the Lord.
Another thing noticeable in the work of creation, is its extent. Respecting this we may say, It extends to all existence, except that which is divine. Angels and seraphim, and their glorious habitations called the heavens, constitute parts of the vast work of creation. Holy angels, and the spirits of just men made perfect, together with the exalted Redeemer, in his resurrection state, have a building not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. This is a work of creation. Although in the
history of creation, the word, heavens, might have had particular reference to the visible heavens, such as the sun, moon and stars; yet this is by no means the exclusive meaning. When the Psalmist says, “ The heavens declare the glory of God,” his meaning is the visible heav
But not to exclude the more rich display of his glory, by the creation of the invisible heavens. When Christ speaks of many mansions in his Father's house, prepared for the everlasting residence of his faithful followers, he doubtless meant created mansions. The invis. ible heavens, therefore, as well as the visible, together with the earth and seas, and all creatures and things that are therein, belong to the work of creation,
66 For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers; all things were created by him and for him.” Thus extensive is the work of creation.
Another thing expressive of the wisdom of God in the work of creation, is the process and order of this great work. From the history it appears, that it was not, in all respects, an instantaneous, but in one respect, a gradual work, It is probable, however, if not evident, from the Mosaic history, that the substance of the whole material system was instantaneously called into existence, by the word of divine power ;
was, at first, produced in a state of confused chaos. Accordingly it is said, “ The earth was without form and void, and darkness was upon the face of the deep.” As the heavenly bodies, the sun, moon and stars, were all created in the beginning ; it seems to be implied, that all, at first, were produced instantaneously; and probably, all in a chaotic state. These heavenly bodies, not being prepared, at first, to emit their light; may account for the darkness which was upon the face of the deep. Henceforth, the great work was successive and gradual. Now commenced the idea of time and succession ; particularly in the view of angels. For, from the history of the six days works of creation, it appears probable, that the angels had been previously brought into existence, to be spectators of the series of
wonders, which were displayed in the process of this most marvellous work. From a passage in the book of Job, it is made evident, that the angels were joyful spectators of the work of creation. Speaking of this glorious work, it is said, that, in a view of it, “ The morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy." Angels were then the only sons of God. They only were capable of being spectators and witnesses of God's wonderful works. And is it not rational to suppose, that, on this great occasion, God would glorify himself, by having an innumerable host of the most exalted of all finite beings to be spectators and admirers of the work of creation ? By this work, performed in the most natural and consistent order, the vast and gloomy chaos was reduced to perfect symmetry, beauty and utility. Thus the heavens and the earth being finished, and all the hosts of them, even all the animals and vegetables that were made; God proceeded to create man, the most noble and finishing work, in this lower world. Man alone, among
, all the vast variety of creatures which were made, to inhabit the earth, air and seas, was possessed of rational faculties, and was formed for immortality. And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and man became a living soul.” Man became a moral agent, and a probationer for a glorious immortality. As to the particular order of the process of God's reducing the earth to its primitive beauty and perfection ; and of his creating and forming, from the chaotic mass, all kinds of animals and vegitables, whose seed is in themselves; we find it so distinctly recorded in the first chapter of Genesis, that all further comment on this head is needless. The second chapter contains a rehearsal of some of the great works recorded in the first; and is not, as some suppose, a continuation of the history. This chapter begins by a reference to the first ; « Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them." Thus man was made of the dust of the earth, male and female were they created ; and the female was made of one of man's ribs, that she might be bone of his bones
and flesh of his flesh. This was the last and most wonderful display of creative power. The order of creation appears to be natural and beautiful ; one great and magnificent work succeeding another, till the whole was completed, and pronounced by the Creator to be very good.
Another thing which displays the wisdom and goodDess, as well as the infinite power of God, in the work of creation, is, that all creatures and things were produced in a state of maturity, and were formed to propagate their own species. Herbs, plants and trees, and the crops of precious grain ; every thing requisite to the support of life; and every species of animals, from the greatest to the least, which had need of daily support and nourishment, were created in a state of maturity.
All this is plainly taught us, in the rehearsal of the work of creation, Gen. ii. 4. 5. “ These are the generations of the heavens, and of the earth, when they were created ; in the day that the Lord made the earth and the heavens, and every plant of the field, before it was in the earth, and every herb of the field before it grew." The first crop of all vegetables was not produced by growth, but by creation. And it is added ; " For the Lord God had - not caused it to rain on the earth, and there was not,” or had not been, as yet, 6 a man to till the ground." Man and beast were created in full maturity, and so was every thing requisite to their ample support. Had not this been the case, the whole of the animal creation must have perished in the infancy of their existence. What a mixture of divine power, wisdom and goodness was displayed, in the creation of the whole vegetable and animal world in a state of maturity! Well might the great Creator pronounce the whole very good!
Another thing respecting the great work of creation, and which is calculated to relieve the minds of those who complain of the form of the earth, as being a hideous form, rendering this world an almost inhospitable region, is this; that in its original form, it was doubtless, very different from what it is at present, or from what it has
been, since the general deluge. Originally, it was made in the most pleasant and convenient form imaginable. Though we read of high hills and mountains, above which the waters of the flood prevailed; yet high hills and mountains are relative terms, not deciding the magnitude of either, except in a comparative sense. “ Fifteen cubits upward did the waters prevail, and the mountains were covered.” Mountains of this magnitude, it is readily seen, would be necessary to the most pleasant and productive form of the earth. In this respect, the form of the earth was very good. By the flood, which was an execution of divine wrath upon the world which was filled with violence, the earth was subjected to an awful revolution. The fountains of the great deep, meaning the subterraneous waters, were broken up.
The earth was broken to pieces in a thousand hideous shapes and forms ; the effects of which are visible to this day. Then was realized the threatening to fallen man ; “ Cursed is the ground for thy sake." The earth which, till this time, supported man and beast on vegetable food, could do it no longer. It was from this time, with difficulty, that man could support himself on both vegetable and animal food. On the whole, it is evident, that the earth, in its original, antediluvian state, was most happily formed for the residence and support of man and beast. It was, probably, as fertile as can be conceived. The support of life, in the original state of the earth, instead of a toil, would have been a rich source of pleasure. Had it not been for the fall of man, and the curse denounced upon him and his posterity, and even upon the ground itself, on account of his apostacy, the whole world would have been a paradise. But, alas! from this time, thorns and briars sprang up in the most fertile fields ; and with great difficulty and labor, with the sweat of his face, did man procure a scanty living. Thus it appears to be from no defect of creation, that we live in a rough and hideous world.