« ZurückWeiter »
Genesis i. 9-13.
And God said, Let the waters under the heaven be gathered 10gether unto one place, and let the dry land appear: and it was
And God called the dry land earth; and the gathering together of the waters called he seas: and God saw that it was good. And God said, Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb yielding seed, and the fruit-tree yielding fruit after his kind, whose seed is in itself, upon the earth : and it was so. And 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 : and God saw that it was good. And the evening and the morning were the third day.
It pleased the Creator now to proceed to the regular disposition of the earth and the waters. We are to bear in mind, with respect to this portion of the work, that hitherto the act of creation only had been performed, and that these great component parts of the nether world had not yet been placed in their pre-designed order, or appointed to their intended services. From the whole original mass those separations had been made, from which were produced the air and the light; and the remainder consisted but of water and of earth. These formed one mass; they were mingled together in one confused heap, they were undistinguishable, the one from the other;
that is, there was no particle, however minute, which had not in it somewhat of either; and it was, at this point, necessary that they should be separated, or withdrawn from their primary and essential amalgamation, in order that they might be fitted and commanded to their proper stations and offices: now, therefore, the history tells us that “ God said, Let the waters under the heaven be gathered together unto one place, and let the dry land appear”—and so it accordingly happened. Each element assumed the situation, and became ready for the duty, to which it was the divine purpose it should be assigned. There is an observation, upon this part of the work, of our commentator ', which is too important to be withholden from the present notice and use ; and I with the utmost satisfaction adduce it, because it is altogether built on argument of Scripturethe only safe rule by which we can in such matter be guided. “ There being such large portions of matter drawn out of the chaos, as made the body of fire and air before-mentioned, there remained in a great body only water and earth; but they so jumbled together, that they could not be distinguished, It was the work, therefore, of the third day to make a separation between them; by compacting together all the particles which make the earth, which was before mud and dirt; and then, by raising it above the waters which covered its superfices, (as the Psalmist also describes this work, Psalm civ. 6.)
and lastly, by making such caverns in it, as were sufficient to receive the waters into them. Now this we may conceive to have been done by such particles of fire as were left in the bowels of the earth : whereby such nitro-sulphureous vapours were kindled, as made an earthquake; which both lifted up the earth, and also made receptacles for the water to run into; as the Psalmist (otherwise I would not venture to mention this) seems in the fore-mentioned place to illustrate it, Psalm civ. 7. where he says, At thy rebuke, they (i. e. the waters) fled; at the voice of thy thunder they hasted away. And so God himself speaks, Job xxxviii. 10. I brake up for it (i. e. the sea) my decreed place, and set bars and door's. Histories also tell us of mountains that have been, in several ages, lifted up by earthquakes; nay, islands in the midst of the sea: which confirms this conjecture, that possibly the waters were, at the first, separated by this means; and so separated, that they should not return to cover the earth. For the word in the beginning of this verse, which we translate gathered, comes from a word which signifies a square, a rule, or perpendicular line: and wherefore denotes they were most exactly collected, and so poised in such just proportions, that they should not again overflow the dry land.” The entire scriptural passages, on which the commentator grounds himself, are these: First, in the hundred and fourth Psalm— “Thou coveredst the deep as with a garment; the waters stood above the mountains. At thy rebuke they fled; at the voice of thy thunder they hasted away. They go up by the mountains; they go down by the valleys into the place which thou hast founded for them. Thou hast set a bound that they may not pass over; that they turn not again to cover the earth.” Next, in the thirty-eighth chapter of the book of Job—“ Who shut up the sea with doors, when it brake forth as if it had issued from the womb? When I made the cloud the garment thereof, and thick darkness a swaddling band for it, and brake up for it my decreed place, and set bars and doors, and said, Hitherto shalt thou come, but no further: and here shall thy proud waves be stayed.” There is full justification, we see, in the argument. It does not rest on mere conjecture: it is no speculation or supposition : but it accounts, in manner agreeable both to reason and to Scripture, for the appearance of the earth and the waters. It shows to us a process, so regular and perfect in its conception and operation, as now to seem natural; and we cannot bring ourselves to think that the separation could have been effected by other means than those which are here. stated. God, by miracle indeed, as all creation was the work of miracle, thus separated the earth and the waters, and then ordained the continuance of the result of that miracle to be to future times a natural cause. “ And God," proceeds the sacred historian, “ called the dry land earth, and the gathering together of the waters called he seas.” He called the dry land“ earth,” a word signifying lowness or depth, in contradistinction to the word “ heaven,” which signifies height; and he called the gathering together of the waters “seas," a bed or supply of water. The globe assumed the form and appearance which we at this day see it to have. God brought the elements of earth and water into such character, and rested them on such foundation, that they should not afterwards interfere with the appointment, either of the other. That great mass of water, which is called sea, was fixed by a perpetual ordinance; and all the rivers, and springs, and fountains of waters, were directed to turn themselves into it. “ He gathereth the waters of the sea together," saith the Psalmist,“ as an heap: he layeth up the depth in store-houses.” “All the rivers run into the sea," observes the Preacher; “yet the sea is not full; unto the place from whence the rivers come, thither they return again.” “He divideth the sea with his power,” saith Job. Thus, the waters “ were sent down into their proper channels, and the earth made dry, and fitted for the habitation of such creatures, as were afterwards created'.” It was at this point, “God saw” that this part of his work “was good.” The earth and the seas were properly disposed: the work, which had been commenced on the preceding day, was finished; the Creator, therefore, surveyed it, and found it to be according to his design, and no longer delayed to pronounce the sentence of approbation and blessing. It was reduced into shape ; it was arranged into its parts, each of which had received its station,