Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

if we abstract a single link, or one order of beings, there will be a manifest deficiency. This being the case in the parts of the several kinds, wherefore should it not be so in the kinds themselves? Wherefore should not the produce of the waters be the first link in the general chain of the animate beings of this world ? And if they be, the reason of their priority of creation is evident enough. In their formation, and probable means or faculties of intelligence, they are somewhat below, in their respective species, the species which answer to them of the fowls which“ fly in the open firmament of heaven.” The same observation may be made, in our comparison of the fowls of the air, and the beasts of the earth. Now, with what greater force can the argument be carried onward, in the united comparison of these latter with the one last created being? Such a view of the subject will shew us, that there was nothing undesigned or accidental in the order according to which the several parts of creation are known to have proceeded. There was design, and method, and wisdom, and goodness, in it all; and they argue with no little of irreligion as well as of weakness, who would endeavour to persuade that any work of God, of primary creation, or of subsequent arrangement, could be entered upon without fullest motive and truest design. It is, or ought to be, an essential article of faith with every believer in God, that wisdom is in all His works, the smallest as well as the greatest; and we are unable to reconcile ourselves to the supposition that wisdom can be con

66

sistent with absence of design. The very term 'wisdom' implies design. “The Lord by wisdom hạth founded the earth; by understanding hath He established the heavens." Touching the Almighty, we cannot find him out: He is excellent in power, and in judgment.”

This fifth day was that, wherein animal life was first bestowed; and the first objects of the determination to grant it, were they which the waters were capacitated to produce, and in great measure to sustain, “the fish” that were to “move” in the sea, and “the fowl” that were to “fly above the earth, in the open firmament of heaven.”

“ Now God,” says the Commentator , “ proceeded to form the lower sort of animals, viz. the fish, and the fowl; which are in many respects inferior to beasts. And the fishes were called moving in the Hebrew, creeping,) creatures; because their bellies touch the waters, as creeping things do the earth. Both fishes and fowls were made out of the waters; which contained in them many things besides simple water; for the sea and rivers are still richly furnished with various compounds for the nourishment of an innumerable multitude of fishes. The great congruity there is between fish and fowl in many particulars, will not let us doubt they had the same original.” “ And God,” it is said, “ created great whales, and every living creature that moveth, which the waters brought forth abundantly after their kind,

Bishop Patrick

G

and every winged fowl after his kind.” All these animals, small and great, in their every distinguishing shape and variety, were so produced, at the command of God, out of that water, that element, which was intended for the future residence and nourishment of one kind of them altogether, and, to a certain extent, of a portion of the other. They are described generally, in the first instance, as "the moving creature that hath life, and fowl that may fly in the open firmament of heaven.” This description comprehends all their kinds and classes; it declares both the one and the other to have originated from the same source—the fishes which move or creep through the sea, and the fowls which fly through the air.

The next verse is a sort of amplification, setting forth the mighty power of God, in producing those vast beings which excite our astonishment by their bulk, as “the great whales;” and those beauteous ones, which are borne by their wings on the breath of heaven, and which, both from their admirable form, and their extraordinary power and action of movement, draw our wondering regard, as “the winged fowl.” The amplification is made, for the

purpose likewise of shewing, that there is not any thing, vast, powerful, wonderful, and admirable as it may be, which was not originally ordered by the Word of God. It is not the whale only which is designed in the expression of this verse; the word used in the Hebrew, signifies the largest fish of whatever kind; and it is the intention of it to include them all. Some interpret it as meaning dragons; but, interpret it particularly as we will, the same conclusion must be arrived at; and, it is the concurrent testimony of those on whose judgment we may most securely rely, that the word means the largest beings which inhabit the waters; and “ moving,” or “creeping” as it may be rendered, is applicable to the largest as to the least, and denotes the mode of passage by all from one part of the waters to another: according to our Commentator, before cited, their moving, or creeping, or swimming, flatly on their bodies; or, according to some other expositors, their moving or passing through the waters, in like manner as other beings move through their proper elements; as the fowl move through the air, and as man and beast move through the earth; the manner of motion being different, and adapted in its difference to either element, but the effect being the same.

The former construction seems the most correct, for there is an evident distinction drawn between “ the moving” “ creature,” and “the fowl that may fly:" the words may be taken as descriptive of their different properties in this respect; and, the same distinction being afterwards in two instances drawn, in the twenty-fourth and the twenty-sixth verses, I am confirmed in my opinion, notwithstanding I have thought right to mention the different sense which has been attributed.

It has been matter of some dispute, whether the fowl were really made out of the element of the water, whether they were made out of the earth, or whether they were made partly from the earth, and partly from the water. The arguments on both sides, in the two first cases, have been had from different sources; from varying construction of the words of Moses, and from the character and formation of the fowls themselves. Here also, I agree with our Commentator. He does not go extensively into the subject, nor even so much so as his plan would permit, and it is to be regretted that he does not; but I take his construction as the more marked by simplicity, and the more consonant with ordinary method, and, therefore, the safest to follow. I do not propose an examination of the arguments of construction, which have been used: to do so, would not be suitable to the scheme of this work: it would involve questions, which, from their ignorance of the Hebrew language, general inquirers would not comprehend; and others may satisfy themselves by seeking to the sources whence the desired information may be gained. I will hereon content myself with saying, that the better reason appears to rest with those who receive the words in their obvious sense ; who assent to our authorized version, drawing their argument from it as true construction; and, if that version be correct, all ground of dispute is removed; still, however, such is the pertinacity of human nature, and such our proneness to differ one from another, that men will dispute, be the opposite case never so strong. “ The great congruity,” says the Commentator', " that there is between fish and fow]

[blocks in formation]
« ZurückWeiter »