Guide An Essay on the Mosaic Account of the Creation and Fall of Man

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But however that be, so much follows from this theory, that the earth existed before the residuary parent globe could be called the sun, or could perform its office of luminary to the system. If the earth therefore had light dm-ing this period, it must have been derived from some other source. That this is possible cannot now be denied. The discoveries with regard to heat, combustion, electricity, galvanism, show that there may be light independent of the sun.

It is also now generally received that the sun itself is an opaque body, and that solar light proceeds from a luminous atmosphere by which it is surrounded. Indeed it has done more — it has proved the accuracy of the Mosaic language. Thus, so far is the Mosaic doctrine of light from being opposed to recent discoveries, that if Moses had wished to describe the modern doctrine concerning light, he could not have expressed himself more happily.

Now, this theory of La Place may or may not be true, [ ] but it is an offspring of modern science, and implies, just like the Mosaic account, the pre-existence of the earth before the sun became the luminary of the system. It does, indeed, also imply the pre-existence of the great parent nebulous globe, but this is not contrary to the Mosaic account. The creation of the sun or parent globe may be included in verse 1, and the work of the fourth day consisted in furnishing it with its luminous atmosphere.

The stars of this sixteenth verse are certainly different from those morning stars of which Job speaks, which were in existence long before, and, as connected with the sun and moon, seem naturally to mean those belonging to the solar system, and which received their light on the fourth day, when the sun became luminous. Having thus seen how modern science proves that the earth and light might exist, and, according to scientific theory, probably did exist before the sun, it is no longer difficult to conceive, how there might also be a measure of time.

It is quite certain that the Almighty could not only arrange the earth in six ordinary days, but that He could create the whole universe by a momentary exertion of His power. The shortness of the time, therefore, is no valid objection. The contrary objection that six ordinary days are too long, and that instantaneous creation is more worthy of Omnipotence, is just as strong. But nature and Scripture both teach us that it has pleased God to work gradually.

His purpose was to fill the earth with inhabitants, and yet only a single pair was created. He announced the Redeemer in Paradise, but years passed away before the fulness of the time was come. It is His will that the whole earth shall be filled with the knowledge of Himself; but the diffusion of that knowledge has been left to gradual preaching and human instrumentality.

Essay on the Mosaic Account of the Creation and Fall of Man. - Christian Classics Ethereal Library

So in nature, trees, animals, and men have small beginnings, and require time to attain to perfection. This twofold course of the Divine procedure, in grace and in nature, guards us against the necessity of supposing that the arrangement of the earth was of necessity sudden, or a series of instantaneous exhibitions of Omnipotence.

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The facts of creation, however, must be gathered from the Mosaic statement. Moses undoubtedly reckons six days. The first three days were certainly not measured by the interval between sunset and sunset, for as yet the sun was not perfect, and had no light. The first day consisted of an alternation of light and darkness. But how long the light lasted, and how long the darkness until the next dawn, is not said.


And God called the light Day, and the darkness He called Night. The sacred historian guards against this supposition by relating that God divided between the light and the darkness, and that, in consequence of this division, evening happened, and morning happened, so that one stage of creation was divided from the other by an interval of darkness. The time of light in which the Divine work proceeded, He called Day, and the time of darkness He called Night. There was light and there was darkness, and God called the light Day, and the darkness He called Night.

But how long the light continued before it was evening, or how long the darkness continued before it was morning, or what was the duration of the two together, we are not told; and so far there is nothing to cause us to conclude that the whole was equal to twenty-four hours. Evening and morning do not together make a day, but only a part of a day. The whole day is not complete until the following evening. But that Moses does not here reckon from evening to evening is proved from the account of the first day.

The first day must, therefore, be reckoned as beginning at the appearance of light, and continuing through the evening to the dawn. The appearance of light, with the darkness that followed the evening until the next dawn, is the first day. With that dawn the second day begins. This mode of reckoning, unique in the Bible, and peculiar to this first chapter of Genesis, suggests that the days are peculiar too. To know the length of the first day, it would be necessary to know how long the light continued after its first appearance until the evening came, and then how long from evening until the first dawn.

But this is not told us.

(3-1) Introduction

It is said, chap. But what is the rest in question? Is it quiet possession of the land of Canaan? No, says the Apostle. Believers now enter into the rest verse 3 , i.

This is plain as he goes on in verse 4 from what the Scripture says. But though the Mosaic language implies that the six days of which he speaks are six periods of time, it does not follow that they are to be identified with the six periods commonly received in geology. Indeed, to those who have no theory to establish, it is apparent that they do not agree, neither is it necessary that they should.

That the Mosaic account is not contradicted by modern discovery is quite sufficient. The impossibility of identifying these periods is evident from the fact that of the work of two days in the Mosaic account geology knows nothing, and astronomy nothing certain; namely, that of the first on which the light was called forth; and of the fourth day, when the sun and the planetary system were perfected. Moses gives an outline of the history of creation, such as would be intelligible to those for whom he wrote, and suitable as an introduction to Divine revelation, and on both accounts necessarily limited in the matter and brief in the narration.

He, therefore, notices only those things necessary to a true religious system, or perceptible by men. After the original creation of heaven and earth, and the condition of earth, he mentions the evocation of light and the creation of the ether, in which the heavenly bodies move, as effected in the first two days. Whether anything else was created in those two days, he neither affirms nor denies.

Notes and Commentary on Genesis 3

So far therefore as the Mosaic record is concerned, these two days may include the whole of the primary, secondary, and tertiary formations, with all their products, their flora and their fauna. The products of those periods, buried in the earth, were, so far as we know, utterly unknown to the Israelites and their contemporaries, and to mankind for many ages after. Even to ourselves the knowledge is recent. For Moses to mention them, was not only unnecessary, but would have been altogether out of place. Such details would have encumbered the outline, and turned away the attention from God the Creator to things at that time invisible and unintelligible.

The object of the Mosaic narrative is to explain the origin of the universe and of its parts, as they were known or visible to men of that day.

So soon, therefore, as he has mentioned the light and the ether, he advances at once to the preparation of the earth for man; and thus the third day presents the dry land in its present state, with its flora differing from the preceding geological stages. At the close of that period, the earth also appears to have been peopled by its present flora and fauna, with the exception of some local removals of certain animals, and the general extinction of a few species.

Then on the fifth day the marine, and on the sixth the land animals of the present period were called into existence. The rise of the ocean had buried the tertiary world in its waters. The waters of the seas and oceans, lifted up from their beds by this immense perturbation, swept over the continents with irresistible force, destroying instantaneously the entire flora and fauna of the last tertiary period, and burying its ruins in the sedimentary deposits which ensued When the seas had settled into their new beds, and the outlines of the land were permanently defined, the latest and greatest act of creation was accomplished by clothing the earth with the vegetation which now covers it, peopling the land and the water with the animal tribes which now exist, and calling into being the human race.

The most conspicuous condition which distinguishes the present from all past periods is the existence of the human race among its fauna, the attributes of which are so peculiar as to place it out of all analogy with the other classes of animals. In all former ages and periods, including those which immediately preceded the present, no traces of climatic difference have been found.

There is one most striking and extraordinary coincidence: Moses represents the earth as existing for a long period before the sun became its source of light and heat. During that period there could have been no climatic difference, as this depends upon the position of the earth with reference to the sun. Now this exactly agrees with the conclusions of geology, which asserts, as we have seen, that before the human period there was no difference of climate, that the earth was not dependent on the sun for its temperature, that there was apparently one uniform high temperature over the whole earth, and consequently that the flora and fauna of warm climates are found, in the prehuman period, in latitudes where they could not now exist.

Here then is an instance of the extraordinary scientific accuracy of the Mosaic account. Another objection to Scriptural cosmogony is, that the Bible asserts that the earth is immovable. According to this mode of interpretation, it can also be proved that the Hebrews also held that a pious man was an immovable fixture; for it is said, Prov. So far, therefore, are the above passages from declaring that the earth is immovable, that they necessarily imply its motion.

A totter, a slip, would be of dreadful consequence to its inhabitants; but the Lord has so arranged and steadied its motions, that no totter is possible. The wonderful mode of its suspension in space, as well as that of the heavenly bodies, as necessarily implied in the Scriptural doctrine of an ethereal expanse, is also beautifully expressed in Job xxvi. There are certain popular phrases which no universality of science will ever banish from general use.

The great historian of the Inductive Sciences, like all other people of common sense, uses the popular language. The turning back of the sun, when he had reached his greatest distance to the south or the north, as shown either by his rising or his height at noon, would perhaps be the most observable of such circumstances. To the end of time the most scientific of men will continue to speak of sunrise and sunset — the sun passing the meridian, or sinking below the horizon; and he who would try to substitute a more exact phraseology would be regarded as more of a pedant than a philosopher.

Verses The waters are said to be divided, so that some are below, some above the vault. That the Hebrews understood the sky, firmament, or heaven, to be a permanent, solid vault, as it appears to the ordinary observer, is evident enough from various expressions made use of concerning it. It is said to have pillars Job xxvi.

  • An Essay on the Mosaic Account of the Creation and Fall of Man Nathaniel Lardner.
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  • It has been pretended that the word rakia may be translated expanse, so as merely to mean empty space. The context sufiiciently rebuts this. This objection, if well founded, would be conclusive proof of the opposition between astronomic science and the Mosaic cosmogony.