Abbildungen der Seite

ever else the Divine wisdom had in design should be drawn and framed. Now, therefore, it was that “God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters.” By the words of this command, we are to understand, that He caused the division of the mass above from the mass beneath ; that He separated the one from the other, in order, amongst His purposes of wisdom and goodness, to prevent the newly-formed system from again becoming into that chaos and confusion whence it had been delivered ; therefore “God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament.” This firmament, which we are afterwards told “God called Heaven,” is that vast expanse of air which parts the region of the clouds, here denominated the waters above the firmament, from the earth, here, after similar method and with similar design of construction, denominated the waters under the firmament, and called waters, because that the earth, peculiarly so termed, was not yet separated from the fluid wherewith at creation it was commingled. We are aware, from the pouring down of rain, that large quantities of water are contained in the region or space above; and, at this point of the history, information is given us that they are prevented from overwhelming the parts beneath them—and which of necessary consequence they would do if there were no intervening obstacle—by that expanse or substance which we commonly designate heaven, but which is, in reality

expanse, that

mid-air, and which the Almighty Creator, in the beginning, made to be of so great weight and power as to contain within itself force enough to bear it up, and to be capable of offering such a body and protection as should avert from the earth, over which it depended or was poised, any mischievous effect from the pressing down of the waters that rested upon it. This is that firmament, fast substance, or

“heaven," which is “stretched out like a curtain,” and “spread as a tent;" and it is that of which the Psalmist speaks, where he says, “ He causeth the vapours to ascend from the ends of the earth; he maketh lightnings for the rain; he bringeth the wind out of his treasuries;” and which expressions Jeremiah in the following manner reiterates: “He hath made the earth by his power, he hath established the world by his wisdom, and hath stretched out the heavens by his discretion. When he uttereth his voice, there is a multitude of waters in the heavens, and he causeth the vapours to ascend from the ends of the earth ; he maketh lightnings with rain, and bringeth forth the wind out of his treasures.” This is that firmament, which God is in this place or at this time stated to have made and established. “This Region of the Air,” observes our Commentator', "manifestly parts the waters above it in the clouds, from those below it, here upon earth; the one of which bears a good proportion, and are in some measure equal unto the other; for there are vast trea

[blocks in formation]

sures of waters in the clouds, from whence the waters here below, in springs and rivers are supplied. This appeared afterwards in the deluge, which was partly made by continued rain for many days. The great objection against this exposition is, that now there were no clouds, neither had it, after this rained on the earth. But it must be considered, that neither were the waters below as yet gathered into one place: and, therefore, Moses here speaks of the air, as a body intended to be stretched between the waters above and beneath, when they should be formed.” The clouds, I think, he might with more exactness have described as the pressure of the waters upon the air, when it in any degree yields to their weight; for the purpose of letting them down, or suffering them to press through, upon the earth. It has been intimated, that the word “heaven,” which is applied to the present use, signifies the upper expanse'. That


“After that the Spirit of God had moved upon the waters, and light was created, God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it separate the waters from the waters : that is, those waters which by rarefaction and evaporation were ascended, and those of the earth and sea.

But these waters separate above this extension, which the Latine Translation calleth firmamentum, or expansum, (for so Vatablus, Pagninus, and Junius terme it) are not the crystalline heavens, created in the imaginations of men ; which opinion Basilius Magnus calleth a childish

supposition, making in the same place many learned arguments against this infancie. For the waters above the firmament, are the waters in the ayre above us, where the same is more solid and condense, which God separated from the neather waters by a firmament, that is, hy an extended distance and vast space: the words Raquia, which we in excellence call “ heaven," is the seat of the eternal Majesty; and in scripture is frequently

which Montanus writeth Rakiagh, and Shamaiim, being indifferently taken for the heaven and for ayre, and more properly for the ayre and æther, than for the heavens, as the best Hebricians understand them, Quo suprema ac tenuia ab infimis crassis diducta, inter sectaque distarent, for that, whereby the supreme and thin bodies were placed in distance, being severed and cut off from low and grosser matters: and the waters above the firmament, exprest in the word Maiim, are in that tongue taken properly for the waters above the ayre, or in the uppermost region of the same. And that the word heaven is used for the


the scriptures every where witnesse; as in the blessings of Joseph, and in the 104th Psalm : “ By these springs shall the fowle of the heaven dwell; and


Sodome and Gomorrha it rained brimstone and fire out of the heaven ; and in Isaac's blessing to Jacob; God give thee therefore of the dew of heaven: and in Deuteronomy the 11th. But the land whither you goe to possesse it, is a land that drinketh water of the rayne of heaven; and in Job, Who hath ingendred the frosts of heaven; and in St. Matthew, Behold the fowles of heaven, for they sow not. So as in all the Scriptures of the Old Testament throughout, is the word heaven verie often used for ayre, and taken also hyperbolically for any great height, as, Let us build us a tower, whose top may reach to heaven, etc. And in this verie place Basil avoucheth, that this appellation of heaven for the firmament, is put by way of similitude : his owne words be these ; Et vocavit Deus firmamentum cælum. Hæc appellatio alii quidem propriè accommodatur, huic autem nunc ad similitudinem; And God called the firmament heaven : This appellation, (saith Basil) is properly applied to another, (that is, to the starrie heaven) but to this that is, to the firmament dividing the waters,) it is imposed by similitude. And if there were no other proofe, that by the firmament was meant the ayre, and not the heaven, the wordes of Moses in the eighth verse, conferred with the same word firmament, in the twentieth verse, make it manifest: for in the eighth expressed as the highest heaven, and the heaven of heavens. It was no part of the intention, neither was it of the capacity, of Moses, to speak of the nature of it. God had not revealed it to him. He was but commissioned and enabled to acquaint us with the origin and formation of the heaven and the earth with which we are conversant; that is, the firmament above, and the earth and the waters beneath : the world which was then created, and it alone, was that whose generations he was commanded to deliver. We call God's eternal, invisible, and incomprehensible mansion, by the same appellation of “heaven, because we have no other word, whereby more appropriately to distinguish it. His mansion is that, which is higher, more blessed, and more perfect, than any thing we can conceive: indeed, there is no power in mortal language, or thought, to form image or conception at all approaching in signification or likeness to its height, or its perfectness. Infinity cannot in any instance of it be compassed; if it could, then would it not cease to be Infinity? We, therefore, as of necessity, employ for conveyance to ourselves and others, of our meaning concerning it, a

verse it is written, that God called the firmament, which divided waters from waters, heaven; and in the twentieth verse, he calleth the firmament of heaven, ayre, in these words : And let the fowle fly upon the earth in the open firmament of heaven."Raleigh.

The argument, both of Raleigh and of Basil, has the like point with that I would propose; notwithstanding, as will presently be seen, I differ from them in the primary application of the term 6 heaven.”

« ZurückWeiter »