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ON THE CREATION OF THE WORLD.
GENESIS, i. 1.
In the beginning, God created the heaven and the earth.
SUCH is the commencement of the history of
ascend to the origin of all those useful and necessary arts, without the knowledge of which, mankind could hardly subsist. We discern society and civilization arising from rude beginnings in every corner of the earth; and gradually advancing to the state in which we now find them: All which afford plain evidence, that there was a period, when mankind began to inhabit and cultivate the earth. What is very remarkable, the most authentic chronology and history of most nations, coincides with the account of Scripture; and makes the period during which the world has been inhabited by the race of men, not to extend beyond six thousand years.
To the ancient philosophers, creation from nothing appeared an unintelligible idea. They maintained the eternal existence of matter, which they supposed to be modelled by the sovereign mind of the universe into the form which the earth now exhibits. But there is nothing in this opinion which gives it any title to be opposed to the authority of revelation. The doctrine of two self-existent, independent principles, God and matter, the one active, the other passive, is a hypothesis which presents difficulties to human reason, at least as great as the creation of matter from nothing. Adhering, then, to the testimony of Scrip
ture, we believe, that in the beginning God created, or, from non-existence, brought into being, the heaven and the earth.
But though there was a period when this globe, with all that we see upon it, did not exist, we have no reason to think that the wisdom and power of the Almighty were then without exercise or employment. Boundless is the extent of his dominion. Other globes and worlds, enlightened by other suns, may then have occupied, they still appear to occupy, the immense regions of space. Numberless orders of beings, to us unknown, people the wide extent of the universe, and afford an endless variety of objects to the ruling care of the great Father of all. At length, in the course and progress of his government, there arrived a period, when this earth was to be called into existence. When the signal moment, predestined from all eternity, was come, the Deity arose in his might; and with a word created the world.What an illustrious moment was that, when, from non-existence there sprang at once into being this mighty globe, on which so many millions of creatures now dwell?—No preparatory measures were required. No long circuit of means was employed. He spake, and it was done: He commanded, and it stood fast. The earth was, at
first, without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. The Almighty surveyed the dark abyss; and fixed bounds to the several divisions of nature. He said, Let there be light; and there was light. Then appeared the sea and the dry land. The mountains rose; and the rivers flowed. The sun and moon began their course in the skies. Herbs and plants clothed the ground. The air, the earth, and the waters, were stored with their respective inhabitants. At last, man was made after the image of God. He appeared, walking with countenance erect; and received his Creator's benediction, as the Lord of this new world. The Almighty beheld his work when it was finished; and pronounced it good. Superior beings saw with wonder this new accession to existence. The morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy.*
But on this great work of Creation, let us not merely gaze with astonishment. Let us consider how it should affect our conduct, by presenting the divine perfections in a light which is at once edifying and comforting to It displays the Creator as supreme in power, in wisdom, and in goodness,
I. As supreme in power. When we consider with how much labour and difficulty human power performs its inconsiderable works; what time it cost to rear them; and how easily, when reared, they are destroyed; the very idea of created power overwhelms the mind with awe. Let us look around, and survey this stupendous edifice, which we have been admitted to inhabit. Let us think of the extent of the different climates and regions of the earth, of the magnitude of the mountains, and of the expanse of the ocean. Let us conceive the immense globe which contains them, launched at once from the hand of the Almighty; made to revolve incessantly on its axis, that it might produce the vicissitudes of day and night; thrown forth, at the same time, to run its annual course, in perpetual circuit through the heavens after such a meditation, where is the greatness, where is the pride of man? Into what total annihilation do we sink before an omnipotent Being? Who is not disposed to exclaim, Lord, what is man that thou art mindful of him; or the son of man that thou shouldst visit him! When compared with thee, all men are vanity; their works are nothing. Reverence and humble adoration, ought spontaneously to arise. He who feels no propensity to worship and adore, is