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FIRST ELEVEN CHAPTERS OF GENESIS.
The history of the creation, (which is a matter of no small importance,) is faithfully and honestly, in a majestic style and exact method, delivered to us in the records of this chapter; concerning which we may truly say with the historian, 1 Chron. iv. 22, these are ancient things; even as ancient as time itself; which should engage us to the study of it, and to acquaintance with it; for indeed this is a chapter to be often read with much faith and great thankfulness.
N the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.
Now the history of the creation is delivered to us,
First, in general, ver. 1; and Secondly, in particular, in the rest of the chapter.
I. In general, v.1. The first words of John's Gospel are the same with the first words of Genesis, In the beginning ; but they have a far different signification; there they signify, in the beginning of eternity; (if we may so speak, for eternity hath strictly no beginning,) then the Word was. Here it signifies in the beginning of time; then the world was. Before this beginning, nothing was but Almighty God; even the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth, who was from everlasting, Ps. xc. 2; and it is easy to demonstrate by the principles of reason that there must be such a Being. The Chaldee paraphrase renders it, in wisdom God created; and it is a great truth that the world was made in infinite wisdom; and so any one that seriously observes the curious method and order of things, must needs confess. Ps. cxxxvi. 5. Prov. iii. 19. Ps. civ. 24.
God created, that is, made out of nothing. None can do that, but he that hath infinite power. Man can make something out of something, but it is one of nature's first principles that (ex nihilo, nihil fit,) out of nothing, nothing can be made, viz. by the power of nature in an ordinary way; but out of nothing, something was made by the power of him who, having
his being of himself, gives breath and being to all things.
The heaven and the earth. This is understood
1. By heaven and earth are meant all the creatures; by heaven, the heaven itself and all the creatures that are in it; and by earth, the earth itself and all the creatures that are in it. Acts xvii. 24. Col. i. 16. Afterwards the sacred writer branches these generals into particulars, in order of time; and then by the beginning must be meant all the six days, at the end of which it is said, the heavens and the earth were finished. Chap. ii. 1.
2. By heaven and earth others understand that confused heap, out of which the heaven and the earth were afterwards made, and which is called the deep, and waters; being as it were, the substance, matter, or seed of the whole world.
3. Some by heaven, understand the third heavens, (the Empyrean heavens as they are called, from their light,) the seat of the blessed, the habitation of God's holiness, Isa. Ixiii. 15, into which St. Paul was rapt. 2 Cor. xii. 2. These God did in the beginning, that is, at the very first instant of time, create, that is, make perfect, without any pre-existent matter. And that in the next place he replenished these heavens with angels, who were to be the inhabitants of that glorious place, and who should seem to have been created before the earth; because the angels, (who are commonly understood, by the morning stars and the sons of God, Job xxxvüi. 7,) are said to have sung together, and to have shouted for joy, when the foundations of the earth were laid. And by the earth they understand that chaos or heap of matter which was in the beginning of the first day made imperfect; and out of which all other created things, with their several forms and fulness, even the firmament and visible heavens themselves, were afterwards made and brought forth in order, by the power of God. And perhaps the manner of expression intimates the likelihood of this last interpretation; the earth was without form and void, but so was not the heaven, but perfect and complete at first. And as to the lights of heaven, mentioned to be created in v. 14, these belong to the lower, not to the third heavens.
The reasons why God did, (according to this opinion,) create the heaven complete at first, might be, (1.) Because it was to be the place of his more special and peculiar residence, where he would show forth his glory immediately in an inexpressible manner. (2.) Because the heavens, being out of our view, cannot so well be the object of our meditation; and the creation of them is therefore not set down by