W0 OR G D'A
The Baldwin Library
7 <' A
CICULAR MOUNTAINS OFTHE MON AND THEIR SADOWS AS SEEN THROUGH A HIGHLY MAGNIFYING TELESCOPE
VARIOUS FORMS OF SOLAR SPOTS
CHANGES IN THE FORM OF A SPOT AS IT IS SEEN PASSING OVER THE SUNS DISC
THE WORLD'S BIRTH-DAY.
"IN THE BEGINNING GOD
CREATED THE HEAVEN
AND THE EARTH."
(GEN. 1. 1.)
-A. BOOK FOR THE YOUNG
PROFESSOR L. GAUSSEN, GENEVA,
AUTHOR OF IT IS WRITTEN," ETC.
T. NELSON AND SONS, PATERNOSTER ROW;
EDINBURGH ; AND NEW YORK.
THE AUTHOR OF THESE LESSONS
THE CHILDREN WHO HEARD THEM FOUR MONTHS AGO
IN THE CHAPEL OF THE ORATOIRE.
WHEN I dedicate to you these explanations of the
first chapter of Genesis, which you heard some time
ago from my lips, I am only paying a debt of grati-
tude which I owe to you, and returning the kind visit
which I received from you eleven Sundays ago. I
can never forget it.
I had scarcely recovered from the severe attack of
illness which had so long kept me a prisoner in bed
-I was bruised both in mind and body, and was
scarcely able to support myself on my crutches-when
I was requested to receive a visit. It is impossible;
I cannot," replied L Still I was entreated to appear
for a moment on the balcony of my room. I did so,
and saw you all assembled, my friends, my dear young
iv AUTHOR'S PREFACE.
You were all standing in a circle on the grass. I
felt deeply at seeing you. I heard your voices and
your hymns; I received your beautiful bunches of
flowers, and I spoke a few words to you from the bal-
cony. But what pleased me more than all the rest,
was the packet of cards presented to me by three of
you in the name of all. On each card there was
written one of your names, along with a few verses
of comfort and exhortation, chosen for me by each
from the word of God.
This bunch of more than a hundred flowers, gathered
for me by your hands in the garden of Scripture, and
for the most part very well chosen, brought to me a
precious fragrance. I frequently read them. They
revived and strengthened my soul, and I felt myself
comforted by God. I was then unable for the slight-
est exertion; but I resolved that I would send you in
return a passage from Scripture, as soon as my health
permitted me to get the notes of these lessons cor-
rected and copied.
I now dedicate to you the lessons on the first
chapter of Genesis, which we had been consider-
ing together when I was separated from you by the
Land of God. I had also explained to you the first
seven verses of the second chapter; but you will not
find them in this book: I have thought it better not
to begin a new chapter. I present to you the first
chapter only: and may these thirty-one verses-which
AUTHOR'S PREFACE. V
I hope you will read often, with care and attention-
do you as much good as yours have done to me !
I hope that, in future, the glorious scenes of the
work of creation, here related, will come more fre-
quently into your thoughts as you look at the mag-
nificent works of God, in the midst of which his
goodness has placed you,-on the shores of our
beautiful lake, on our hills, on our meadows, and at
the foot of our glorious mountains. I hope that they
will teach you daily to know more of the power and
wisdom of God, and that they will encourage you
to pray to Him who is all good as well as all power-
Lastly, I hope that this account of the visible
creation may ever remind you that there is a new
creation, more wonderful still, of which the Bible con-
stantly speaks, and which is absolutely necessary for
each of us. It is wrought in our souls by God, when
he converts them; for "if any man be in Christ,"
says St. Paul, "he is a new creature."
Therefore, my friends, I entreat you to seek this
living and true God, our creator, in the holy word in
which he has revealed himself to us. There he is to
be found; there will he meet the child who is longing
for him, praying to him, waiting for him. He will
create in him a new heart, and renew within him a
right spirit." He will take him in his arms, as the
father in the parable his prodigal son, and will say,
vi AUTHOR'S PREFACE.
" Bring forth the best robe, and put it on him,"-the
robe of our Redeemer's righteousness (Luke xv. 22.)
It is by laying to heart the truths revealed in
Scripture that a soul is converted to God, and escapes
from the wrath to come. Hear the words of the
parable spoken by our Lord Jesus: "They have
Moses and the prophets; let them hear them .....
If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will
they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead"
(Luke xvi. 29, 31).
But let us ever search the Scriptures with a sincere
and humble heart; for the Lord has said, The heaven
is my throne, and the earth is my footstool. .....
all those things hath mine hand made, and all those
things have been, saith the Lord: but to this man
will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite
spirit, and trembleth at my word" (Isa. lxvi 1, 2).
GXNEVA, Augtist 2, 195A.
I. "In the Beginning," 9
IL Three Great Words: God "-" Heaven "-" Earth," 30
III. The Heavens, 47
IV. The Work of the First Day, 72
V. The Work of the Second Day, 91
VL The Three Great Wonders of the Third Day, 115
VIL Plants and their Seeds, 149
VIII. The Great Lights and the Clock of the World, 170
IX. Wonders of the Animal Creation, 197
X. The Creation of Man In the Image of God, 226
XL The Perfection of the Work of God, ... ... ... 50
In presenting this book to English readers, the translator feels
that a benefit is conferred not only on children, but on all parents
and teachers ; for it is a model of what Biblelessons ought to be.
It ought not to detract from the merit of these lessons, as models
of teaching, that all cannot fully agree in Professor Gaussen's
views about geology, as he does not teach anything dogmatically,
or that is still uncertain. He says, "There are still many diffi-
eulties in the details of this subject, which we do not perfectly
understand, but which will yet be cleared up, as former difficulties
have been." Geology is a science still in its infancy; and the
wisest philosophers, when attempting to read the records of the
rocks, are but as children learning to read, stumbling and making
mistakes very often. He is the wisest who is the most willing
to confess how little he knows, and who ever feels that if there
sometimes seem to be contradictions between Nature and the
Bible, the fault is in the reader, and not in the books, whose
perfect agreement and harmony will be more and more clearly
seen the better they are understood.
The translator has not attempted to make this translation
perfectly literal: to do so would be to destroy the spirit of the
book in order to preserve the letter. Long words have been
avoided when possible, even by adding, when it appeared neces-
sary, a few words or sentences, to make the author's meaning
more clear in English. Quotations from English books are given
in the words of the English authors, sometimes at greater length
than in the French work; and the quotations from Scripture
have in some cases been given more fully, and verses have been
added, where it made the passage more complete.
THE WORLD'S BIRTH-DAY.
"IN THE BEGINNING."
"In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth."- GOir. I L
THE Book of Genesis is the most ancient and
the most venerable, the most instructive and
the most indispensable of all books. It is
the foundation, the beginning, and the antici-
pated explanation of all others.
How necessary it is, then, before beginning
the study of this book, that we should pray to
God that his Spirit may give us understand-
ing and a teachable spirit-a spirit of medi-
tation and prayer.
You already know, doubtless, what is meant
by the Greek name Genesis," which we are
accustomed to give to this book. The ancient
10 IN THE BEGINNING."
Jews called it Bereschith-that is to say, In
the beginning"-because they were accus-
tomed to name each book of Moses after the
two or three first words of it. Thus, for
example, they named Exodus Veelehschemoth
(" Now these are the names"); Leviticus was
named Vajikra (" And he called"); and Num-
bers, Bemidbar (" In the wilderness").
The name Genesis" means the birth. In
the time of our Lord this book was so named
by the Jews who spoke Greek, because it was
by this word Genesis that they translated the
word generations" in the fourth verse of the
second chapter. The expression used in our
translation is, These are the generations [or
births] of the heavens and of the earth." They
had translated it thus: This is the book of
the genesis of the heavens and of the earth."
It must be acknowledged that this title is a
most suitable one to be given to the first book
of the Bible, for it makes known to us the
birth of all things,-the birth of the world;
the birth of the earth and of the heavens; the
birth of the light; the birth of the atmosphere;
the birth of the great lights of heaven; the
birth of continents and seas; the birth of moun-
" IN THE BEGINNING."
tains and valleys; the birth of plants, birds,
fishes, and quadrupeds; then, last of all, the birth
of the first man and woman; and then, soon
after, alas! the birth of sin, and death by sin;
but also the birth of the gospel, or of the good
news of the promise of grace in Jesus Christ;
then the birth of the Church of God in the
world; then again the new birth of the earth
after the flood, and the birth of the nations
who repeopled it; and lastly, the birth of
the nation of Israel, by whom the Saviour of
the world was to be waited and looked for,
and among whom the Saviour of the world
was to be born.
So much for the title of the book. Now
let us speak of its Author.
You all know that it was dictated to Moses
from on high,-that he was inspired by God
to write it while he was miraculously leading
across the desert the millions of Israel; and
you also know that at his death Moses left it
to be studied by them from age to age; and
after them, also, by all Christian churches in
every tribe, and tongue, and people, and na-
tion. These words, which I command thee
this day," said Moses to the people of Israel,
12 IN THE BEGINNING."
" shall be in thine heart; and thou shalt teach
them diligently unto thy children, and shalt
talk of them when thou sittest in thine house,
and when thou walkest by the way, and when
thou list down, and when thou risest up"-
" Only take heed to thyself, and keep thy soul
diligently, lest thou forget the things which
thine eyes have seen, and lest they depart from
thy heart all the days of thy life; but teach
them thy sons, and thy sons' sons" (Deut. vi.
6, 7; iv. 9).
You see, then, my friends, that it is in obe-
dience to this holy command that I am now
trying to explain these words to the children
of this school.
I told you that Genesis is the oldest of
books; but you may judge better how old it
is when I tell you that it was written 1491
years before the time of our Lord Jesus Christ;
or, in other words, about 738 years before the
old city of Rome was founded, or about 869
years before the fall of Nineveh,-that is to
say, 869 years before the time at which the
books of profane history generally begin their
Genesis surpasses all other books in an-
IN THE BEGINNING." 13
tiquity, and it is one of the most instructive
and indispensable of a4l books. You may judge
of this also when you consider that if we had
not the Book of Genesis, we should be igno-
rant of nearly half of the history of mankind
on the earth. From Adam to Jesus Christ
was a period of 4004 years, and from the
time of our Lord Jesus Christ to our time
1859 years; which, added together, gives a
period of 5863 years for the whole time that
man has been in the world from his creation
to our day. Now, Genesis alone gives us
the history of the world for 2368 years; that
is to say, during the 1656 years from Adam
to the Flood, and the 712 years from the flood
to the death of Joseph. You see, then, that
the entire history of mankind, from the first
man to the present time, is not so much as
twice and a half the period the history of
which is related in the Book of Genesis alone.
Think how indispensable this sublime book
is also from the things which it makes known
to us. Without this, the first book of the
holy Scriptures, what should we know of all
that is necessary to be known before we can
understand any of the other books ?-nothing
14 IN THE BEGINNING."
of the creation of the heavens and the earth,
-nothing of the wonderful six days' work,-
nothing of the birth of the first man and
woman,-nothing of their abode in Eden, or
of their first state of innocence,-nothing of
the first covenant in paradise, or of the trial
of their obedience, or of their fearful rebellion,
fall, and condemnation,-nothing of the first
promise of a Saviour even at the very gate of
Eden,-nothing of the institution of bloody
sacrifices, or of the history of Abel the right-
eous,-nothing of the Church of God during
the first 1656 years of the history of man,-no-
thing of the prophet Noah, your ancestor and
mine, the preacher of the righteousness which
is by faith,-nothing of the great flood which
destroyed the old world and renewed man-
kind,-nothing of the re-birth of the world,
or of the history of man during the first fbur
centuries which followed the Deluge,-nothing
of the calling of Abraham, of the calling of
Isaac, of the calling of Jacob,-nothing of the
promises which were made to them of the
Saviour,-nothing of the history of the patri-
archs-nothing of the going down of the chil-
dren of Israel into Egypt, or of the story of the
IN THE BEGINNING." 15
life and death of Joseph. And yet, dear chil-
dren, what can be more necessary for us to
know than these very things ? What should
we be, what would become of mankind, where
would the Church be, if the Book of Genesis
had not been given to us, and so many neces-
sary questions answered in it? Is there any
knowledge more indispensable to reasonable
beings who are passing through this world and
going to another, than the answers to these
three important questions -Who am I 7
Whence came I? Where am I going ?
Who am I in this world? Why am I here,
and who placed me here ? Whence came I,
and what have I to do ? Where am I going,
and what would become of me to-morrow if
I were to die to-night?
Again: why is there so much misery in this
world? Why is there so much sin in my
heart ? Why so much suffering in my life ?
And, more than all, why am I subject to this
dreadful death, which must come to all ? And
if death must come, why are there along with
it so many sufferings, such anguish, sickness,
torture, agony, and all the horrors of the dark
16 IN THE BEGINNING."
Ah! these questions must be answered, and
God has answered them all in the Bible, in
this Book of Genesis; and you cannot find
the answer anywhere else except in books
which have been copied from it.
Let us thank God that he has given us
this blessed light, and think how we should
value it. Think with what reverence you
should receive it. Ought you not to come
to your lessons with attentive minds ? Ought
you not to prepare them carefully through
the week, learning your allotted verses per.-
fectly, with deep thought and prayer? On
the way here you should pray for a quiet
spirit, trying to avoid any of your young
companions who have no proper respect for
divine things, and who might try to distract
your thoughts. And when you are seated in
the school, your hearts ought to be raised to
God in secret, inward prayer, that he would
himself speak to you, and that, opening your
hearts to receive his word, he would make it
effectual in you by his life-giving Spirit.
In the beginning God created the heaven
and the earth."
IN THE BEGINNING." 17
Here are five words to be explained be-
fore we go further. What is meant here by
"the beginning ?" What is meant by "create?"
What is the meaning of the name God," or
Elohim, here given to the Creator ? Lastly,
What are these "heavens" and this "earth"
which were created by God?
These are important questions. We can
only attempt to answer them very shortly in
this lesson. We must return to them again
at another time.
The beginning." These words, In the be-
ginning," teach us a truth of the most solemn
importance. It is, that the world has not
always existed; that there was once a time
when nothing that is now in the heavens
or on the earth was yet made,-neither you
nor me, nor any man, nor any woman, nor
any angel; when there was neither sky, nor
earth, nor sea, nor things visible, nor things
invisible. What was there then? What
existed then ? God alone !
In the beginning !" Have you sufficiently
understood, dear children, the great importance
of this word to all the families of men ? It
is like a sun rising on the dark world.
18 IN THE BEGINNING."
When God proclaimed it to Israel by Moses
about thirty-three centuries ago, the whole of
the rest of the earth was plunged into the deep-
est night, as far as regarded this great truth,
the story of the beginning of all things; and
for centuries more, men who knew it not vainly
tormented themselves in conjectures and un-
certainties about it. All men, except the
people of Israel, were going to eternity like
one walking in his sleep. They had forgotten
the knowledge of God which their first father
had. They knew nothing either of whence they
came, of their creation, or of whither they
were going. They were blind to the glory of
God as shown in his works. Their state is
thus described by the apostle Paul: Pro-
fessing themselves to be wise, they became
fools." That which may be known of God
is manifest in them : for God hath shewed it
unto them. For the invisible things of him
from the creation of the world are clearly seen,
being understood by the things that are made,
even his eternal power and Godhead; so that
they are without excuse : because that, when
they knew God, they glorified him not as God,
neither were thankful; but became vain in
IN THE BEGINNING." 19
their imaginations, and their foolish heart was
darkened" (Rom. i. 19-22).
Such is man without the light of the Bible,
and such were they for centuries. There were
many wise among them,-wise according to
this world, of whom you will read in the
course of your studies,-but foolish as to this.
Plato, Aristotle, Pliny, and Plutarch, believed
that the world had always been. The great
Plato, the wisest among them, who lived about
1100 years after Moses, even believed that
the stars were gods; and Pliny, who lived in
the time of the apostle John, fancied that the
world itself was a god. These poor men, the
wise men of a dark world, were in the most
melancholy and distracting state of doubt on
all the great questions of which we have
been speaking. They got confused and be-
wildered when they thought about them ;
they often declared themselves that they knew
not what to think. Thus spoke all the dis-
ciples of Socrates and Plato. Those of you
who learn Latin may possibly read some day a
well-known dialogue on the Nature of the
Gods," which was written fifty years before
the time of our Lord Jesus Christ, by the
20 IN THE BEGINNING."
greatest of Roman orators, the celebrated
Cicero. In this you will see how very little
they knew of the truth, and in what deplor-
able doubt and uncertainty they were. It is
a conversation, and each of the wise speakers
tells in his turn some of the foolish thoughts
and fancies of the time. Oh, what thick
darkness! what sad confusion in all their
thoughts When all had finished, poor Cicero
declares that he is still in doubt what to be-
lieve after he has heard them all Well, my
children, suppose that while all these wise
men were thus assembled in Cotta's house in
Rome, a little boy of the tribe of Judah had
come among them with his Book of Genesis in
his hand, what might he have said to all these
wise Romans ?
Much honoured sirs, you know not what
you say, you are in doubt, and you cannot
tell what to believe, and you are all deceived;
but we, in our children's school, know the
truth with perfect certainty,-we know it be-
cause God himself has told us in his book,
that in the beginning God created the
heaven and the earth.'"
A little child with the Bible is wiser than
IN THE BEGINNING." 21
all the so-called wise men of the earth without
it. These great truths have been often hid
from the wise and prudent, and revealed to
babes" (Matt. xi. 25).
You see then, my friends, that it is by the
Bible that we have the knowledge of the
truth; and it is by faith that we have the
happiness to know it with certainty. So the
apostle Paul told the Hebrews: Through
faith we understand that the worlds were
framed by the word of God, so that things
which are seen were not made of things which
do appear" (Heb. xi. 3).
In the beginning God created the heaven
and the earth." But when was this begin-
ning ? Remark that Moses says nothing of
the time before the beginning." This is a
time which we cannot understand ; it is a
depth too great for man to look into, it is too
long for man even to conceive,-words cannot
express it, and it is better not even to think
of it,-it does not concern us. Again, Moses
does not tell us how long a time has passed
since the beginning." This time is longer,
perhaps, than we can either understand or ex-
press. But this does not concern us either.
22 C" IN THE BEGINNING."
One thing is certain, that the heavens and the
earth had a beginning," however long ago it
may have been.
All things have had a beginning except
God. He alone, the Holy Trinity, has had no
beginning, because he has been from eternity.
"From everlasting to everlasting he is God"
(Ps. xc. 2). That is why he is called Jehovah,
" I AM." He is, and was, and is to come."
He is the high and lofty One that inhabiteth
eternity" (Rev. i. 8; Isa. Ivii. 15). The
Father is called Jehovah," the Son is called
" Jehovah," the Holy Spirit is called Jeho-
vah." That is why the apostle Paul writing
to the Hebrews speaks to them of the eter-
nal Spirit" (Heb. ix. 14); and the apostle
John speaking of the eternal Son, begins his
Gospel as. Moses begins his Genesis, with the
same important and mysterious word,-" In
the beginning :" In the beginning was the
Word, and the Word was with God, and the
Word was God. The same was in the be-
ginning with God. All things were made by
him; and without him was not any thing
made that was made" (John i. 1-3).
Thus Moses says, In the beginning God
IN THE BEGINNING." 23
created the heaven and the earth;" and John
says that in the beginning was the Word," and
"all things were made by him." Then, was
there anything before this beginning ?"
There was God, and the Word who was
with God, and is God."
Read what the Father says to the Son in
the 102d Psalm, as it is quoted in the Epistle
to the Hebrews: Unto the Son he saith,
Thou, Lord, in the beginning hast laid the
foundation of the earth ; and the heavens are
the works of thine hands: they shall perish,
but thou remainest; and they all shall wax
old as doth a garment; and as a vesture shalt
thou fold them up, and they shall be changed:
but thou art the same, and thy years shall
These words are in the 102d Psalm, and in
the Epistle to the Hebrews the apostle Paul
tells us that the Father says these words to
the Son (Heb. i 8-12).
In our Lord's last prayer while he was on
earth-when he knew that the hour was near
when he was to leave the world and return
to the Father-he speaks of the time before
the beginning of the world, when he was with
24 IN THE BEGINNING."
the Father. He says, And now, 0 Father,
glorify thou me with thine own self with the
glory which I had with thee before the world
was. .... Thou lovedst me before the founda-
tion of the world" (John xvii. 5, 24).
But I must go on to the second word of
our verse--the word created." I call it the
second, because though it comes third in our
translation, it is the second word of the verse
in the original Hebrew, and I follow the same
Created," means made of nothing. These
things were not; but God spoke, and they were.
It is through faith, St. Paul tells us, "that
we understand that the worlds were framed
by the word of God; so that things which
are seen were not made of things which do
appear" (Heb. xi. 3).
We must distinguish carefully between the
two words "created and "made." Moses
observes the difference when he says, "God
rested from all his work which he created and
made" (Gen. ii 3).
A watchmaker makes a watch, but he does
not and can not create it. He gets the gold,
and the copper, and the zinc, and the steel,
IN THE BEGINNING." 25
and all the other materials out of the earth,
and then he forms them into a watch; but he
could not have made it of nothing. Man can
make, but God alone can create. No man, no,
not even one of the angels of heaven can
create even the smallest grain of dust.
These words, God created," ought to fill
our minds with wonder and admiration.
Does it not make known to us the immense
distance between the Creator and all his crea-
tures? How far he is above all, not only
above us, poor worms of the dust, but above
the highest of the angels! There is less dis-
tance between a grain of dust and the highest
archangel, than there is between the arch-
angel whom God has created and called out of
nothing, and the great God who has created
him. The smallest insect and the highest
angel, the smallest speck of dust and the
starry heavens, are all alike God's creatures-
he created them all He alone is the Creator-
far above all, greater than we can even con-
ceive. The angels are commanded to worship
the eternal Son who created them; as it is
written, "Let all the angels of God worship
him" (Col. i. 16; Heb. i. 6).
26 "cc IN THE BEGINNING."
When we think of God, we may well say
with the Psalmist, Such knowledge is too
wonderful for me; it is high, I cannot attain
unto it"-" Great is the Lord, and greatly to
be praised; his greatness is unsearchable"
-" No man can find out the work that God
maketh from the beginning to the end"-
"Unsearchable are his judgments, and his
ways past finding out"-" How little a portion
is heard of him ? but the thunder of his power
who can understand?" (Ps. cxxxix. 6; cxlv. 3;
Eccles. iii. 11 ; Rom. xL 33; Job xxvi. 14).
This wonderful thought, God created,"
makes known to us still further what God is
to us, and what we ought to be to God.
God is all, and we are nothing. He can
do all, since he has called all things from
nothing, and all things are his. By him all
things are; he upholds them all continually
by the word of his power." God knows all, since
he has made all; the immensity of the heavens,
and the earth from its surface to its centre, the
heart of man and the hearts of angels, all are
alike open in his sight. He has "numbered
the very hairs of our heads," and counted the
sands of the sea, and measured the dust of the
e" IN THE BEGINNING." 27
earth, as he has also counted the unnumbered
starry suns that roll on high in the heavens
above our heads. Lift up your eyes on high,
and behold who hath creat-d these [the stars],
that bringeth out their -At by number: he
calleth them all by names, by the greatness of
his might, for that he is strong in power; not
one faileth" (Isa. xl. 12, 26).
The same God who created all things governs
all things. He keeps them every moment by
the same almighty power which called them
into being at first.
Unless he were to keep them continually
they could not continue to be, and their pre-
servation is a continual creation. Thus our
Lord Jesus Christ says, My Father worketh
hitherto and I work." All the creatures are
ever depending upon God. They could not live
if he did not keep them alive. The Psalmist
says, 0 Lord, Thou hidest thy face, they are
troubled: thou takest away their breath, they
die, and return to their dust. Thou sendest
forth thy Spirit, they are created; and thou
renewest the face of the earth" (Ps. civ. 29,
0 my friends! how much reason we have
28 IN THE BEGINNING."
to give ourselves willingly to God, whose we
are-to whom we rightfully belong.
Happy is he," says the Psalmist, that
hath the God of Jacob for his help, whose
hope is in the Lord his God; which made
heaven and earth, the sea, and all that there-
in is; which keepeth truth for ever; which
executeth judgment for the oppressed; which
giveth food to the hungry" (Ps. cxlvi. 5-7).
This wonderful thought, God created," is
continually repeated again and again, in every
part of the Scriptures, by men of God, prophets
and apostles, and by the angels of light,-yes,
even by the divine Son of God himself.
Hear Moses, how many times he repeats it;
hear David, his Psalms are full of it; hear
Job, he speaks of it with wonder. Hear the
apostles, they constantly return to this thought.
They use it in pleading with God in prayer.
We are told that they lifted up their voice to
God with one accord, and said, Lord, thou art
God, which hast made heaven and earth, and
the sea, and all that in them is" (Acts iv. 24).
They use it as an argument in their preach-
ing. We preach unto you," say they, that
ye should turn from these vanities unto the
IN THE BEGINNING." 29
living God, which made heaven, and earth,
and the sea, and all things that are therein"
(Acts xiv. 15).
And in the high worship of heaven the
saints ever remember this among their adoring
praises. St. John tells us that they fall
down before him that sits on the throne, and
worship him that liveth for ever and ever, and
cast their crowns before the throne, saying,
Thou art worthy, 0 Lord, to receive glory,
and honour, and power: for thou hast created
all things, and for thy pleasure they are and
were created" (Rev. iv. 10, 11).
The subject of the next lesson will be the
first five verses of Genesis, along with the
first seven verses of the 8th Psalm, which
ought all to be committed to memory.
30 GOD"-" HEAVEN"-" EARTH."
THREE GREAT WORDS: "GOD"-" HEAVEN"-" EARTH."
"In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth."-GEN. L L
Pa. vliL 1-7.
WHAT an imposing picture was presented to
us in our last lesson !-the earth, the heavens,
and the heaven of heavens rising out of no-
thing "in the beginning;" that is to say, at some
time in the depths of past ages-we know not
how long ago-perhaps hundreds of thousands
and millions of years. We have now to con-
tinue this magnificent subject, but first let us
read a few verses of the 8th Psalm, and let us
pray that our hearts may be filled with humble
adoration and praise:-
0 Lord our Lord, how excellent is thy
name in all the earth! who hast set thy glory
above the heavens. When I consider thy
heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon
and the stars, which thou hast ordained; what
is man, that thou art mindful of him ? and
the son of man, that thou visitest him?"
Ah! certainly, dear children, if the sight of
the heavens fills us with admiration and
GOD"-" HEAVEN"-" EARTH." 31
wonder, there is something which ought to
astonish us much more; and it is, that such a
great God should have remembered worms of
the earth such as we are-that he should have
humbled himself to be made like unto us, and
should have come to visit and dwell among us.
In the last chapter we considered only the
first two words of the verse-the words, "in
the beginning," and created."
From these words, you will remember, we
learned two great truths: First, That there was
once a time, called here in the beginning,"
when nothing existed but God alone-neither
spirits nor matter-neither angels nor arch-
angels neither heaven nor earth, nor the
least grain of the dust of the ground. Second,
That God made all things out of nothing.
He spoke, and from nothing there arose our
earth and all that is therein-from nothing
came all the heavens and heaven of heavens
-from nothing came things visible and in-
visible, thrones, dominions, and powers.
We have now to consider the latter words
of the verse, In the beginning God created
the heaven and the earth." We have to
think of the meaning of these three words:
32 GOD"-- HEAVEN"-" EARTH."
" God," heaven," earth." I begin with the
You must understand how very important
it is, that, when the Creator of heaven and
earth gives to men his written word for the
first time, we should study with the great-
est care all the expressions he uses, and par-
ticularly observe and remember the names
by which it has pleased him to be called; for
as he sends us his word to make himself
known to us, he must, of course, have chosen
among all possible names those which might
give us the most true idea of what he is.
The great name "God" is the word by
which is translated the Hebrew name, Elo-
him, used by Moses.
In the Bible God sometimes calls himself
Jehovah (He who is, or the Eternal), and
sometimes Elohim, which is usually translated
God." In the first verse of Genesis it is
the word Elohim that he uses. There is a
very remarkable thing about this name, which
I think even young children may be made to
understand, and it is, that this word Elohim"
is a plural word, while the verb which follows
it is in the singular.
GOD"-" HEAVEN"-" EARTH." 33
Why, it may be asked, has it pleased God
thus to use a plural name in the very first
line of the Scriptures, when through the whole
Bible he declares so repeatedly that the Lord
our God is one Lord-that there is but one
God, and beside him there is none else?
You know, doubtless, what is meant by the
singular and plural of names. None of you
are ignorant that a word takes two different
forms, according as it is meant to express one
thing or more-one person or more. Thus,
for example, we say man when we mean
one, and men when we mean more than
one; child when we mean one, and chil-
dren when -we mean more than one. We do
not say, I have seen three child," but, I
have seen three children." Those of you who
are learning Greek can tell that there are
some languages in which nouns, besides the
singular and the plural, have a third form,
called the dual, which is used when we are
speaking of two things or persons. Thus, for
example, the Greeks have three forms for the
word "God;"-singular, thdos, one god ; dual,
thdb, two gods; plural, tldoi, several gods.
And in the same way in Hebrew, there are
34 GOD"-" HEAVEN -" EARTH."
also three forms of the name of God. There are
the singular, Eloha; the dual, Elohaim; and the
Well, dear children, remark the word used
by the Lord our God himself to express his
own name, when for the first time he gave the
Scriptures to man, in the Hebrew tongue. It
is neither the singular nor the dual that is
used, but the plural-Elohim. And yet this
plural noun has a verb in the singular. It is
difficult to explain this exactly in English, as
our word created is the same both in the
singular and plural; but you may perhaps
understand it if we use the word has, the
plural of which is have-as we say, he has,"
and "they have." Thus in the Bible the
words are not, "Elohim have created," but,
"Elohim has created."
What may we understand from this ? We
may understand that God had an important
design in choosing this very peculiar way of
expressing this first sentence in the Bible, and
that he wished, at the very beginning of his
written word, to teach men that there is but one
God one only eternal and all-powerful
Jehovah; but that in this wonderful and
GOD"-" HEAVEN"-" EARTH." 35
mysterious unity there is a mysterious plu-
rality of persons-the Father, the Son, and
the Holy Spirit, and that these three are one.
This truth is clearly expressed in other verses
of the Bible: "There are three that bear re-
cord in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the
Holy Ghost; and these three are one (1 John
[This is a wonderful thing-too wonderful
for any human being to understand; yet we
know it to be true, because God himself has
said it. We cannot even understand our own
threefold nature. We all have a body and a
life such as the animals have, and besides
these we have a soul that will never die, and
yet these three things make only one person.
We know that these three things are distinct,
because they can be separated; the soul can
be separated from the body, and yet we feel
that still when united they form only one me.
We cannot understand how this is, and yet we
know it, and must believe it, as we must be-
lieve many other things which are too diffi-
cult for us to comprehend while we are in this
This remarkable word, "Elohim." is used
36 GOD"-" HEAVEN"-' EARTH."
also in the 6th chapter of Deuteronomy:
" Hear, 0 Israel: the Lord our God is one
Lord." The Hebrew words used are these:
" Hear, 0 Israel, Jehovah, our Elohim is
one Jehovah." Jehovah means, "He who
is," the very being of God. Thus it is as if
Moses had said, 'Hear, 0 Israel: the very
being or essence of the three persons of our
God, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, is only one
There is much more to be said about this,
but our space forbids. We shall return to the
subject again at another time. We must go
on to the other words of the verse.
What, then, are these heavens," and what
is the earth," which God created in the be-
The word "heavens" is used to express the
whole universe, all the creation of God except
the earth, all the starry worlds which we see
over our heads. Earth" means this poor
little planet on which we live-a planet so
great when compared with man, but so very
small when compared with the rest of the
universe. Among the numberless starry
worlds around it, our earth is only like an
GOD"-" HEAVEN"-" EARTH." 37
almost invisible atom of dust. Yet, as among
all these, it is the earth which concerns us
most, because it is our dwelling-place, there-
fore God, who in his Scriptures speaks to men,
and condescends to accommodate his words to
their weakness, says to them: 'I have created
all things: I have created the universe, and I
have also created this little grain of dust called
" earth," on which you are walking.'
In Scripture, as well as in ordinary lan-
guage, the word earth" is used in two dif-
ferent meanings: sometimes it means the
whole globe on which we live; and some-
times only the solid dust with which the globe
is covered, which is supposed not to be much
more than from nine to twelve miles in thick-
First, The word earth" is used to express
the whole globe in the 1st verse of Genesis,-
" In the beginning God created the heaven
and the earth;" and it is so used also in the
40th chapter of Isaiah, verse 22; and again in
the 26th chapter of Job, verse 7, where we
are told that the Lord "hangeth the earth
Second, The word "earth" is also used to
38 i" GOD"-" HEAVEN"-" EARTH."
express the solid and rocky crust with which
our globe is everywhere covered, and on which
rest the vast waters of the ocean. It is used
in this sense in the 10th verse of the 1st
chapter of Genesis : God called the dry land
Earth is the dry land as distinguished from
the sea; it means the continents and islands
which appear above the waters.
And as this word earth" has two different
meanings in the Bible, so also the word
"heavens" is used to express three very dif-
The first "heaven" or "heavens" is the air
and sky over our heads and around us, the
sky of the birds and of the clouds-the atmo-
sphere ; and it is in this sense that the word
is used in the Bible where we read of the
"dew of heaven," the clouds of heaven," the
"four winds of heaven," the birds of heaven"
(Ps. civ. 12 ; Hag. i 10).
The second "heaven" or "heavens" is the
starry heaven, far away beyond our atmo-
sphere ; the distant space where we see the
sun, the moon, the planets, and all the countless
GOD"-" HEAVEN"-" EARTH." 39
The third heaven" or heavens," where
St. Paul tells us he was carried, is the holy
place, far away in the immensity of space,
called in the Bible the "highest heaven," the
" heaven of heavens," the heaven of the angels,
the heaven where our Lord Jesus Christ went
when we are told that he is passed into the
heavens" (Heb. iv. 14), where the glory of
the Most High is manifested.
I shall first say a few words about the
earth in the first meaning of the word,-that
is, the "earth" which we are told God created
in the beginning, the globe on which we live.
First, You know that it is round. This
had been told us long ago in the Bible;* and
since then men have been able to see that it
is true, because hundreds of ships sail round
the world every year, thousands of sailors
leave Europe and go to the westward without
ever turning back, and at last, after sailing
straight on for long months or even years, they
return by the east to the very place from which
they set out.
Second, We know that our earth goes
Isa. xl. 22; Job xxvi. 10, encircled," Instead of compassed "-
franslation. Prov. viii. 27, "circle," for "compass"-marginal reading.
40 GOD"-" HEAVEN"-" EARTH."
round the sun once every year in an immense
oval course, turning round upon itself at the
same time as a ball does when it rolls along.
It turns round upon itself once in twenty-four
hours, with a speed so great that at the Equa-
tor it moves at the rate of seventeen miles in a
minute, or 1,020 miles in an hour; and while
it is turning thus, it is at the same time going
round the sun at the rate of 20 miles in a
second. If you could be lifted up to a dis-
tance of 300 miles above the earth, how
you would wonder to see it passing beneath
your eyes, flying through space sixty times
faster than a cannon-ball!
Third, The earth has been measured. It
is 25,000 miles all round, or in circumference;
and nearly 8,000 miles straight through, or
in diameter. You may imagine its size when
I tell you that it has been reckoned that
Mont Blanc, the highest mountain of Europe,
is no larger when compared with the earth
than the thickness of one of your hairs is to
your head, or like a small grain of sand placed
on a house 20 feet in height.
You may judge of it also in another way by
GOD"-" HEAVEN"-" EARTH." 41
Suppose that you wished to take a rapid
glance at all the world, and that for this pur-
pose it were possible to place you for an hour
on a height from which you could see forty
miles in every direction. This would be
certainly a very extensive view, and it would
take more than an hour to see it well, since it
would comprehend 1,800 square miles, or
forty-five times the territory of our republic;
yet, notwithstanding, this great space would
be only the forty-thousandth part of the
surface of the earth. Suppose, then, that
you should be lifted up and carried every
hour to the midst of a new view of the same
size, and that this went on for twelve hours
every day, allowing you to see twelve new
views all equally large, how long do you think
it would take for you to see the world at this
rate ? Not less than nine years and forty-
eight hours !
Fourth, This earth, although covered all
round with a solid, crust is all on fire within.
Its interior is supposed to be a burning mass
of melted, glowing metals, fiery gas, and boil-
ing lava. This was mentioned in the Bible
long before learned men had found it out for
42 "cc GOD"-" HEAVEN"-" EARTH."
themselves by observation. It is spoken of in
the Book of Job, about 3,000 years ago (Job
xxviii. 5). We often read also in Scripture
of the mountains being melted like wax,"
rising and leaping like lambs, and raised from
the depths of the earth by the force of the in-
ward fire (Ps. xcvil 5). We read in the
Psalms of a time before the mountains were
brought forth" (Ps. xc. 2); and we read also
in Proverbs of a time before the mountains
were settled" (Prov. viii. 25), while they were
yet being tossed and thrown up by the mighty
power of fire.
"The mountains ascend, 0 Lord and the
valleys descend to the place which thou hast
appointed for them" (Ps. civ. 6-9,-marginal
This inward fire often breaks out stilL
" God touches the hills and they smoke," and
" the mountains flow down" at his word (Ps.
cxliv. 5). The solid crust which covers this in-
ward fire is supposed not to be much more than
from 9 to 12 miles in thickness. Whenever
this crust breaks open, or is cleft in any place,
there rush out lava, fire, melted rocks, fiery
gases, and ashes, sometimes in such floods as
GOD"-" HEAVEN"-" EARTH." 43
to bury whole cities. From time to time we
read of the earth quaking, trembling, and
sometimes opening, and of mountains and
small islands (which are mountains in the sea)
being thrown up in a day.
Thus the Bible said, thirty-three centuries
ago, what learned men have only lately dis-
covered, that some of the greatest mountains
of the earth (such, for example, as Mont
Blanc, and the highest of the Alps), have been
formed long after the first creation of the earth,
by the work of God's mighty servant-the fire.
So great is the heat within the earth, that
in Switzerland, and other countries where the
springs of water are very deep, they bring
to the surface the warm mineral waters so
much used for baths and medicine for the
sick; and it is said, that if you were to dig
very deep down into the earth, the tem-
perature would increase at the rate of a de-
gree of the thermometer for every 100 feet,
so that, at the depth of 7,000 feet, or a mile
and a half, all the water that you found
would be boiling; and at the depth of
about ten miles all the rocks would be
44 GOD"-" HEAVEN "-" EARTH."
Such is the state of the globe on which we
live, dear children, and you cannot have for-
gotten that the Bible also declares to us, that
a day will yet come when this earth will be
burned up by the fire. There is fire, as you
have heard, within it, ready to burst forth at
any moment, at God's command.
The heavens and earth, which are now,
by the same word are kept in store, reserved
unto fire against the day of judgment and
perdition of ungodly men. The day of the
Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the
which the heavens shall pass away with a
great noise, and the elements shall melt with
fervent heat, the earth also, and the works
that are therein, shall be burned up. Seeing
then that all these things shall be dissolved,
what manner of persons ought ye to be in all
holy conversation and godliness; looking for
and hasting unto the coming of the day of
God, wherein the heavens, being on fire, shall
be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with
fervent heat ? Nevertheless we, according to
his promise, look for new heavens and a new
earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness. Where-
fore, beloved, seeing that ye look for such
GOD "- HEAVEN"-" EARTH." 45
things, be diligent, that ye may be found of
him in peace, without spot and blameless"
(2 Pet. iii. 7-1 4).
How wonderful are the works of creation!
Even the little that I have been able to tell
you has given us much cause to wonder,
admire, and adore. But how great ought to
be our adoring gratitude when we remember,
that this earth was even then being prepared
to become, perhaps millions of years afterwards,
the abode of man, and then the great scene of his
redemption by the only Son of the Almighty
God,-a work infinitely greater and more
glorious than all the wonders of creation!
The Word, who was in the beginning with
God, and was God, was made flesh, descended
to this earth, and here lived and died, to save
the elect who had been given him by his
Father before the foundation of the world;
and he will come again to raise them from the
dead, and take them to himself to reign for
ever with him, their Lord and Redeemer.
But this is not my present subject. I
have yet said nothing of the creation of the
sea, of the plants, of the fishes, of the reptiles,
of the birds, and of all the animals which were
46 GOD"-" HEAVEN"-" EARTH."
produced upon the earth during the six days'
work before man appeared.
I will speak of all these in their order. In
the meantime, the subject of the next chapter
will be the first verse of Genesis, along with
the first eleven verses of the 19th Psalm.
"In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth."-GEN. I 1.
Pa. xix 1-11.
THE chapter for this day is a glorious subject.
We are to consider not only the heavens, and
the heaven of heavens," but something even
greater than they are,-their creation. We
are to consider not only the splendour, the ex-
tent, the light, the motions, and the infinite
spaces of the heavens,-we have to think also
of the mysterious time when all these beautiful
and glorious bodies rose from nothing, when
the Eternal called them into being by a single
act of his all-powerful will.
In the beginning Elohim created the
heaven." "The heavens," says the Psalmist,
" declare the glory of God; and the firmament
sheweth forth his handywork. Day unto day
uttereth speech, and night unto night sheweth
knowledge. There is no speech nor language
where their voice is not heard."
I shall first try to show you how their
" voice is heard." They speak to our eyes--
they speak to our understandings-they speak
to our hearts.
First, They speak to our eyes with a beauty,
a variety, a power, as wonderful as delightful
They tell us of the glory of the great God;
they proclaim it to the most ignorant as well
as to the most learned-to the pious shepherd
when at the early dawn he opens the door of his
mountain cottage, as well as to the astronomer
who has passed the whole night beside his tele-
scopes, and who has been watching with admi-
ration and delight the course of the suns and dis-
tant worlds, as he sees them cross with the speed
of the eagle the wonderful fieldof his magic glass.
Second, They speak to our understandings.
They make known to us wonderful things-
things too high and too wonderful for us to
comprehend; they tell us of wisdom, grandeur,
and infinite glory, in a language more forcible
and expressive than any words. One day tells
it to another, and night teaches it to each suc-
Lastly, They speak to our hearts another
language, more eloquent and more powerful
still They say to us, '0 man! the Creator of all
this glory and beauty is thy God-the God
who desires to save thee-thy Father! 0
man! hear the wonderful tidings: The only
Son of God, the eternal Word, who was with
God in the beginning, and who is God, who has
made all things, and withoutwhom nothing was
made,-this Word has been made flesh. The
only Son of God, the Creator of the heavens
and of the earth, with a love greater even than
his glory, came to live and to die on this earth
to atone for thy hateful and abominable sins;
and when he came to this world which he had
made, he had not even where to lay his head !'
Ah if we would but listen attentively to
the silent voice of the heavens-this language
more eloquent than words-we might say as
Jacob did when he saw the glorious vision at
Bethel, Surely the Lord is in this place,
and I knew it not. This is none other but
the house of God, and this is the gate of
heaven" (Gen. xxviii. 16, 17).
Yes, my children, there is a voice in the
heavens which is ever saying to us, The Lord
is here.' Each morning, each evening, each
moment makes known to us his power and
tells of his glory-" Day unto day uttereth
speech, and night unto night sheweth know-
50 THE HEAVENS.
ledge. There is no speech nor language where
their voice is not heard."
"In the beginning Elohim created the
heaven and the earth."
It must be remembered that as the word
" earth" has two meanings in the Bible, so the
word "heaven" has three meanings, or rather,
the Bible mentions three heavens created
by God. The first heaven is meant when it
speaks of the "birds of heaven," "the clouds
of heaven," the four winds of heaven,"-this
is what we call the atmosphere; but this is not
all that is meant by the word in the first
verse of Genesis.
The atmosphere does not rise to a greater
height than forty or forty-five miles above
the earth. Even at the top of Mont Blanc
the air becomes so thin, and there is so
very little of it, that people can scarcely
breathe there; and forty miles higher there
is no air at all. Men have been able to
measure the height of the atmosphere by
observations made when the sun is rising, and
also by the barometer, which tells the weight
of the air. But this is not our present sub-
ject; it will be mentioned again in a future
THE HEAVENS. 51
lesson. In the meantime we have to consider
the second heaven, the immense space stretching
far beyond our atmosphere; the starry sky-
magnificent beyond our highest thoughts-
more glorious than imagination can conceive.
Men have been able to measure the dis-
tance from the moon, which is 240,000 miles
from the earth; also the distance from the
sun, which is so great, that a cannon ball
flying at the rate of 1,000 miles an hour
would take more than ten years to reach it.
The nearest of the fixed stars are at least
400,000 times more distant, and there are
others that are millions and millions of times
more distant still
Yet even beyond this second heaven
God has created also what St. Paul calls the
third heaven, or paradise (2 Cor. xii. 2-4),
and what is also called in Scripture the
" heaven of heavens," or the heavens of
heavens," because this third heaven is as
much beyond the starry heaven as the starry
heaven is beyond our atmosphere. Solomon
speaks of the heaven of heavens" in his let-
ter to Hiram, king of Tyre, about the building
of the Temple in Jerusalem. The house
52 THE HEAVENl.
wh ich I build is great," writes king Solomon;
" far great is our God above all gods. But
who is able to build him an house, seeing the
heaven, and heaven of heavens, cannot rntain
him? who am I then, that I should build him
an nouse, save only to burn sacrifice before
him ?" (2 Chron. ii. 5, 6.)
It is in this heaven of heavens that the
glory of God is more especially manifested.
It is thither that St. Paul tells us he was one
day caught up, whether in the body or out
of the body he could not tell."
It is there that the glorious angels stand
round the throne of God and of the Lamb;
there will be the glorified saints in millions
and millions; there are the thrones, the prin-
cipalities, the powers, the seraphim of glory.
In the beginning God created the second
heaven, the starry sky, and he created also
the heaven of the angels, for they existed long
before man. When Adam was placed in the
garden of Eden some of the angels had already
passed through their state of trial, for we are
told that some of them had not kept their
first estate," and others had kept it (Jude 6, 9).
The glorious angels, clothed with light and
perfectly happy, dwelt in heaven long before
the time of Adam. We are told that mil-
lions and millions of them stand round God's
throne and behold his glory, -that they wor-
ship him and sing his praise, and fly to do
What a glorious idea does this creation
give us of the great God who made it all-of
his wisdom, power, glory, and infinite ma-
jesty! What an idea does it give us of the
work of redemption and of our adorable
Redeemer,-so great, so all-powerful, yet so
meek, and lowly, and long-suffering !
Think of all that is told us in the Bible
about the angels, their wisdom, and holiness,
and power, and goodness, and then think
what He must be who created them, and who
preserves and governs them all, he who
gave them their immortal life and their un-
spotted purity, -he whom they ever adore.
" All the angels of God worship Him," is
said of the Son of God, our Saviour (Heb.
But our present subject is the second
heaven, which we can see with our bodily
eyes, and I have now to tell you something
54 THE HEAVENS.
about it. It would take weeks and months
to tell you even the little I know of it.
Astronomy is the highest subject of human
study, and the more you know of it, the more
will you be filled with wonder, admiration,
The starry sky has proclaimed from age to
age the glory of Jehovah, even from the begin-
ning of the world; but it is only between two
and three hundred years ago since the powers of
the telescope and the science of geometry opened,
as it were, the windows of this world; and they
have given to men a view far beyond any
ever seen before, of twenty heavens, a thousand
heavens, more distant and more vast than the
heavens known in the early ages, and have at
the same time enabled men to learn many
things about the starry worlds, most wonder-
ful, and yet assuredly true. By means of
the telescope and mathematics, astronomers
have been able to measure the heights of
heaven, the distance and the size of the bright
stars that are sparkling by thousands in the
sky. Nay, (can you believe it?) they have
even discovered the weight of some of the
bright worlds of light that are shining so far
away,-the weight of the sun, the weight of
the moon, and the weight of the far distant
I shall try to make you understand how,
by means of mathematics, men have been
able to measure the distances of places far
beyond their reach, even where they cannot
You all know what a triangle is. Here is
one, for example, which I make with my two
thumbs placed in a straight line, and my two
fore-fingers meeting. My two thumbs form
one line, the base of the triangle, and each of
my fore-fingers forms a side of the triangle.
You see that a triangle is a figure having three
sides, and three angles or corners.
Well, it is a truth that can be proved by
geometry, that if I can measure one side and
two of the angles of a triangle, I know all
the rest; for if I know the size of these, I
know exactly what the other sides and angle
must be. If the angles at each end of the
base of the triangle are very small,-that is to
say, if the base and the lines that form the
sides are not far apart,-the lines will meet
sooner, and the top of the triangle will be
nearer the base; but if the angles at each end
of the base are large,-that is to say, if the
lines go far apart,-they will not meet so soon,
and the top of the triangle will be more dis-
tant from the base.
For example, if any one were to say to me,
Can you tell me the distance to the top of the
mountain of the Salkve, by geometry alone,
without going out of the promenade of St.
Antoine where we are ? I might answer, Yes,
I can easily do so in this way: I imagine a
triangle, the top of which is the summit of
the mountain, and the base the promenade of
St. Antoine. I must measure one side and
two angles of this triangle. For this purpose
I should begin by measuring very carefully a
line from the house Vernet at one end of the
promenade, to the other end of it near the
lake. This is one side of our triangle, and
forms the base of it,-it is 800 feet in length.
After that I should go to the house Vernet
and place my instrument there to measure the
angle. This instrument is simply two tele-
scopes crossing each other, so that I can
measure how far the lines that they form
separate from each other. I turn one of my
telescopes so that it points exactly to the top
of the Saleve, and the other so that it points
exactly to the end of the promenade St.
Antoine, and then I measure the angle which
they form; and this is one of my angles. Then
I go to the other end of the promenade and
direct one of my telescopes to the house Vernet,
and the other to the top of the Salive, and
again measure the angle which they form;
this is my second angle, and this is all I want:
for, knowing the length of the base (800 feet),
and knowing the size of the angles at each
end of the base, I could reckon how long the
other two sides must be before they meet at
the top of the triangle, which is the summit
of the Saleve; and I could tell you exactly
how many feet and inches it is from the house
Vernet to the top of the mountain.
It is exactly in the same way that astrono-
mers have measured the distance between the
earth and the moon. Two observers, placed
far from each other, at different points on the
earth, measure exactly the distance between
them; then both directing their telescopes
towards the moon,, they measure the angle
which this line between each of them and the
68 THE HEAVENS.
moon forms; thus they have one side (the
line between them) and two angles,-one
at each end of it,-and so they know the
whole size of the triangle. Thus it has
been discovered that the distance from the
moon to the earth is equal to thirty times
the diameter of the earth, which, as I told you,
is 8,000 miles. Thirty times 8,000 are
240,000 miles, and this is the distance to
But now, how can they know the distance
of the sun ? for the whole earth is too small
even to form one side of the triangle to
measure this immense distance. It may be
done in various ways. The following is one
of the most simple :-
They have imagined a triangle formed by
three imaginary lines between the earth, the
moon, and the sun. We know the length of
one side of this triangle,-it is the distance
between the earth and the moon, which is
240,000 miles. It is easy to measure one
of the angles formed by two telescopes directed
at the same time from the earth to the moon
and to the sun. Thus we have one side and
one angle. But how can we measure the
THE HEAVENS. 569
other angle ? for we cannot go to the moon
to measure the angle formed by two telescopes
directed at the same time to the earth and to
the sun. This is how it is done: Care is
taken to measure the one angle on the earth
at the time when the moon is half full, because
it is known that at that time a line between
the sun and the moon forms exactly a right
angle (or the angle of a square) with the line
between the moon and the earth. Thus, then,
having the length of the base, 240,000 miles,
and two angles, one at the end of the base in
the moon (a right angle), and the other, which
can be measured on the earth at the other end
of the base, we know the size of the triangle,
and can tell that the line between the sun and
the earth is 400 times as long as the line
between the moon and the earth: therefore, the
distance between the sun and the earth is 400
times 240,000 miles, or 96,000,000 of miles.*
When we know the distance between the
earth and the sun, it is then easy to discover
by geometry the size of the sun. It is
1,300,000 times larger than the earth. It is
so large, that if its centre could be placed
Round numbers are here given. More exactly the distance of the
sun Is 95.000,000 of miles.
where the centre of our earth is, it would fill
up not only all the space between us and the
moon, but would even extend far on the other
side, to a distance of about 200,000 miles
beyond the moon ; for half of the diameter of
the sun is 110 times the half-diameter of the
earth, and the distance between the earth and
the moon is only 60 times the half-diameter
of the earth. It is reckoned that a ball flying
as fast as when it is shot from the mouth of a
cannon would take ten years, three months,
and thirteen days, to travel from the earth to
But what will you say when you hear that
we ourselves, carried along with the earth in
its course round the sun, go every year a
distance six times longer than the journey
which a cannon ball would take more than ten
years to travel at its greatest speed? Our
earth moves at the rate of twenty miles in a
second-much faster than a cannon ball-
yet we take this long journey without per-
ceiving that we are moving: while you are
comfortably seated on these benches, and I am
standing in the reading-desk, we are all the
while flying through space, carried along by
THE HEAVENS. 61
our earth. It is a large, heavy carriage to
move so quickly, for it is 25,000 miles round,
and weighs, we are told, twice as much as if
it were all made of marble.
Astronomers have counted more than sixty
planets which all move round the sun, as our
earth does, at different distances from it.
Some of these are much smaller, and others
very much larger, than our earth,-Uranus,
for example, 77 times larger, Saturn 887 times
larger, and Jupiter 1,470 times larger. These
great worlds, instead of having only one moon
like ours, have several moons, and are much
further from the sun than we are. Jupiter
is more than five times further from the sun,
Saturn more than nine times and a half,
Uranus more than nineteen times. Yet even
these great distances, which almost bewilder
the imagination, are as nothing when compared
with the distances of the fixed stars, which the
telescope and modern learning have made
known to us within the last fifty years. These
innumerable little sparkling lights, no larger
to your eyes than the head of a pin, are all
suns, equal to and often much larger than our
sun. Since God has given to man that
wonderful instrument the telescope, astrono-
mers are every day discovering new wonders,
further and further away in the immensity of
space,-so far away that we have neither
words nor figures that you can understand to
express the distance,-further than your very
thoughts can reach.
In a fine winter night about a thousand
stars may be seen by the naked eye; and it
is now known that, with the help of the
telescope, about 80,000 times as many may
be perceived. The telescope of Herschel,
with its large reflector of forty feet focal length,
which magnifies 6,000 times, shows us the
mountains and valleys in the moon as we
should see them if we could be conveyed in a
moment to a place at about forty miles dis-
tant from that luminary. This wonderful tele-
scope makes an object 3,700 times more bril-
liant than it is to the naked eye,-and allows
us to distinguish stars of the thousand three
hundred and forty-fourth magnitude,* whilst
the most practised eye, unaided, can only see
those of the sixth or seventh magnitude. In
Aiago, "Annualre du Bureau des Longitudes," 1842, p. 286.
a dark night Herschel could see through his
telescope the spire of a church at the distance
of 3 miles, and could tell the hour at which
the hand of its clock was pointing at the
moment. Stars of the first magnitude, before
coming within the field of view of his glass,
announced their appearance by' a dawning
light like the rising sun, and soon after shone
with such dazzling brilliancy that the weak eye
was obliged to turn away from the blaze of light.
I should wish to give you some little idea
of the number of the fixed stars (or suns),
and also of their immense size. That you
may form some idea of their number, I may
tell you that Herschel assures us that when
he looked at what is called the milky way,
through his telescope, he could count 2,000
suns in a space on the sky only as large as
the apparent size of the moon ; and if he
looked at one of the clusters of stars called
nebulce," he could count 200,000 suns
within the small space which the moon appears
to cover in the sky. The strongest eye,
unaided by the telescope, can see in a dark
clear night only stars of the sixth degree of
magnitude; through ordinary telescopes stars
of the sixteenth magnitude may be seen; and
every increase in the power of the telescope
brings into view new stars. So many have
been seen of late years, particularly by means
of the new telescope constructed by Lord
Rosse, that we may truly say their number is
infinite,-God alone can number them, as the
Bible tells us (Ps. cxlvii. 4).
While before the invention of the telescope,
about three hundred years ago, the eye of
man could not reckon more than 1,000 stars,
while the most learned men of former ages
supposed their number to be 1,022, or 1,026,
the Bible all along testified that they were
innumerable,-except by God,-compared
them to the sand of the sea-shore (as Herschel
has done in modern times), and told us that
God had scattered them like dust in the
immensity of space, and yet that he calleth
them all by names (Gen. xv. 5; xxii. 17; Heb.
xi. 12; Isa. xl. 26).
Their number is infinite, and now try to
imagine their immense size. I have called
them suns, for such they are; and I have
told you that the moon, as she moves across the
heavens, hides from our view 2,000 of these
THE HEAVENS. 65
suns at a time. These points of light, not
larger to our eye than the head of a pin, have
been measured. Four of the most brilliant
stars seen in our sky have been named Sirius,
Arcturus, Antares, Vega. According to the
observations and calculations of Herschel and
Arago, two of the greatest astronomers, the
diameter of Arcturus, the finest star in the
constellation (or group of stars) called Bootes,
is at least eleven times greater than that
of our sun, so that if it were put in our sun's
place, it would appear to us a sun 121 times
larger than our great light. From the observa-
tions of Wollaston, it has been reckoned
that the diameter of the bright star Sirius is
at least three times and three-quarters that
of our sun, and that placed at the same dis-
tance from us it would appear to us fourteen
times larger than the sun. Yet Vega, the
most brilliant star in the constellation Lyra,
far exceeds even these. From the observations
and measurements of Herschel, its diameter
is reckoned to be 3,000 times that of our sun,
and its distance from our earth is calculated
to be twenty-two millions of millions of miles.
Such measurements are almost too vast for
our minds to conceive, and yet there are others
greater and more distant still
Astronomers have tried to form triangles
for measuring some of the distant stars,
by taking as the known side an imaginary
line between the two extreme points of the
earth's orbit, which are nearly 200,000,000
of miles distant from each other; but even this
long line is too short for such a purpose, and
they have only been able to give an idea of
their distance by the speed of light. They
reckon that light, which travels 192,000 miles
in a second, andcomes to us from the sun in eight
minutes, would take more than six years to
come to us from the nearest of the fixed stars;
and that if light takes six years to come from
a star of the first magnitude, it will take
2,000 years to reach us from a star of the
Ah my young friends, let us adore the
Creator of these wonders, and let us say with
Amos,* "Seek the Lord, and ye shall live.
Seek him that maketh the seven
stars [Pleiades] and Orion,"-these grand
* Amos v. 6, 8.
constellations in the heavens. And let us also
say with David, 0 Lord, when I consider
thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the
moon and the stars, which thou hast ordained;
what is man, that thou art mindful of him?
and the son of man, that thou visitest him ?"
(Ps. viii. 3, 4.)
There is an evil thought which sometimes
comes into the minds of men when they be-
hold all the glory and grandeur of the heavens,
and it is this: They say to themselves,
" Ah heaven is so great that I can scarcely
believe that the Creator of all could have
humbled himself to come down into this
miserable little world to die for us." I shall
answer this in two ways. First, This difficulty
only occurs to those who do not know or con-
sider enough the infimte greatness of God. God
is so great that in his sight there is but little
difference between what we call great and what
we call little. All is as nothing compared with
him. Suppose that, instead of creating men
about six feet in height, he had chosen to make
them of such an enormous size that, with their
feet on earth, their heads should have reached
the sun, so that a cannon ball flying day and
68 THE HEAVENS.
night would have taken ten years and three
months to go from their feet to their heads.
Suppose, I say, that men had been created as
large as this, would they have been worthy
then that God should trouble himself with
them ? No; certainly not. If the objection.
the evil thought were true at all, it would still
be equally true even in that case. Even then
men would be very small compared with the
infinite distances and wonderful size of the
numberless stars; they would be but very small
compared with fixed stars of the eighteenth
magnitude, and still but atoms compared with
the nebulae. When compared with these im-
mense far distant suns unseen by the naked
eye, men would even then be less than the
millions of invisible animalcule are, which
the microscope shows us swimming in a drop
of water, when compared with the visible
glories of our starry sky.
You see, then, that what proves too much
in fact proves nothing; for if this objection
were true, it might lead us to say that God is
too great to trouble himself about any created
thing at all, since all are nothing compared
with him; and such a supposition, instead of
THE HEAVENS. 69
exalting him, would, on the contrary, tend to
take away from his glory, as his work of
preserving and governing the creatures he
has made is as great a wonder as his work in
creating them at first.
But there is a second answer to this evil
thought. Does the greatness of God bewilder
us and crush us to the dust, because we are so
small and low, and it is too high for us,-we
cannot comprehend it, for it is infinite ? Ah,
my friends! let us remember that the goodness
of this all-perfect God is infinite too, and that
we ought to feel still more humbled in the
dust when we think of it. Sin has made us
even more unable to comprehend his infinite
mercy than his infinite power, and we are
much smaller in the view of his great love
than even in the view of his great power.
Ah! if it is true that these heavens, which
were created by his powerful hand, are so far
away above our heads, let us remember that
it is written in the Bible that as the heaven
is high above the earth, so great is his mercy
toward them that fear him" (Ps. ciii. 11).
You see, then, that in God one mystery cor-
responds with another mystery,-the mystery
70 THE HEA VENS.
of his infinite power to the mystery of his
infinite love; both are equally wonderful, and
the immensity of the wonders of his power
which we see may help us to understand and
believe the immensity of his love. The more
you see that he is great beyond all that you
can even conceive, the more ought you to
know and to feel that his mercy and compas-
sion are also infinitely beyond your thoughts;
for we are told that the Lord is good to all,
and his tender mercies are over all his works"
(Ps. cxlv. 9).
Seek ye the Lord while he may be found,
call ye upon him while he is near: let the
wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous
man his thoughts: and let him return unto
the Lord, and he will have mercy upon him;
and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.
For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways, saith the
Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the
earth, so are my ways higher than your ways,
and my thoughts than your thoughts" (Isa.
I thank thee, 0 Father, Lord of heaven
and earth, because thou hast hid these things
THE HEAVENS. 71
from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed
them unto babes."
The next lesson will be from the 2d to the
5th verse of the first chapter of Genesis, along
with the 4th, 5th, 6th, and 7th verses of the
38th chapter of Job.
72 WORK OF THE FIRST DAY.
THE WORK OF THE FIRST DAY.
"And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the
face of the deep: and the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the
waters. And God said, Let-there be light: and there was light. And
God saw the light, that It was good: and God divided the light from
the darkness. And God called the light Day, and the darkness he
called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day."
-GEN. L 2-5. Job xxxvllL 4-7.
WE are told in the first verse of Genesis that
God caused the heavens and the earth to
spring from nothing, in the beginning. The
Holy Spirit of inspiration permits us as it
were to take a brief glance at the whole
wonderful universe which God created at first,
and then immediately brings us back to this
earth, the spot which has the deepest interest
for us, which in the fulness of time was to be
the scene of the great work of redemption,-
a work even more wonderful than creation,
wrought out for us by the Son of God.
In the wonderful story which follows in
this chapter, we hear no more of all the far
distant worlds of which I spoke to you in the
last lesson-of all the suns and planets, clus-
WORK OF THE FIRST DAY.
ters of stars and nebule which are studded
over the immensity of the heavens. Why
should any more be told us about them ? The
object of this holy book is not to teach us
astronomy, or to make known to us the history
of the angels. No; it is written to tell us of
the great work of grace-of the redemption of
the elect on this small but glorious earth-of
the eternal reign of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Therefore, after merely noticing the creation
of all the universe by God, we are recalled at
once, in the second verse, to the history of our
earth alone, and we are told in what a state of
darkness and confusion it was plunged before
it was formed by the six days' work into a fit
habitation for man :-
"And the earth was without form, and
void; and darkness was upon the face of the
It has already been said, when explaining
these words in the first verse, "In the be-
ginning," that no human being knows how
long ago that time was. We know that
it was very long ago,-perhaps hundreds of
thousands of millions of years; we cannot tell,
for the Bible has not told us. But you may
74 WORK OF THE FIRST DAY.
ask, Can we not find out how long ago it is
since the time that is mentioned in the second
verse, when the earth was without form, and
void, and darkness was upon the face of the
deep," and when God began on our earth his
great six days' work?
To this question we must still answer as
we did before, We cannot tell, no man knows,
for the Bible has not told us; but it may
very probably be ten millions or ten hundred
millions of years ago. We do not know.
Two things only we know certainly about
this, and these are: First, That it is about six
thousand years ago since the sixth day's
work of the creation ended, and the first man
appeared on the earth. Perhaps, speaking
more correctly, we might say that it is about
5,860 years ago. Second, We know that be-
fore this time, long before God had created
man, he had created the angels, since we find
that there were good and bad angels at the
time when man fell. We know, therefore,
that these angels must before then have had
their time of trial;-that some of them had
persevered in obedience and kept their first
estate; and that others, on the contrary, had
WORK OF THE FIRST DAY. 75
fallen, as the apostle Jude tells us that the
angels which kept not their first estate, but
left their own habitation, he bath reserved in
everlasting chains, under darkness, until the
judgment of the great day (Jude 6). All
this bad taken place before the fall of Adam,
therefore we see that the creation of the angels
must have taken place long before the crea-
tion of man. The angels rejoiced in the
wonderful work of God in creating the world,
long before there was any man formed.
"Where wast thou," the Lord says to Job,
"when I laid the foundations of the earth?"
(that is, the crust of the earth.) Who laid
the corner-stone thereof, when the morning
stars sang together, and all the sons of God
shouted for joy ?" (Job xxxviii. 4, 6, 7.)
We see, therefore, that, according to the
Scripture account of the creation, we must
suppose that between the first verse and the
second a long time passed-how long we can-
Let us now go on to speak, not of the crea-
tion of the earth, but of its new formation, or
of the great six days' work.
That you may be better able to understand
76 WORK OF THE FIRST DAY.
the great truths of which we are now to speak,
it may be well to recall clearly to your minds
what we have already learned about the earth
in our former lessons.
What do the Scriptures say of its form?
That it is round (Isa. xl. 22).
What does the Bible call its solid crust ?
Earth (Gen. L 10; and also Job xxxvii.
What does the Bible tell us of the interior
of the earth ?
That under it there is fire (Job xxviii. 5).
When the Bible speaks of the globe of the
earth, on what are we told it is hung ?
On nothing: "He hangeth the earth upon
nothing" (Job xxvi. 7).
On the other hand, when the Bible speaks
to us of the crust of the earth by the name of
" earth," how strikingly it calls upon us to
admire and wonder at the mysterious, un-
known, astonishing way in which this thin
crust, on which rest our seas, our rivers, and
our high mountains, is yet fixed so securely
on a sea of fire, of lava, and of melted rocks !
Read what is said of it in the Book of
WORK OF THE FIRST DAY. 77
Where wast thou when I laid the founda-
tions of the earth ? declare, if thou hast under-
standing. Who hath laid the measures thereof,
if thou knowest? or who hath stretched the
line upon it? Whereupon are the founda-
tions thereof fastened ? or who laid the corner-
What is the circumference of our globe ?
Twenty-five thousand miles.
How long does it take to make its annual
journey round the sun ?
A year of 36W days and a quarter, at the
rate of twenty miles in a second.
Does it not at the same time turn round
itself like a ball once in twenty-four hours ?
Yes, and it moves at the rate of 1,000 miles
in an hour at the Equator.
So that if at this moment any of you were
to be lifted up to a distance of six or eight
miles above the spires of St. Peter's Church
in Geneva-to a height two or three times
higher than Mont Blanc-and then suppose
that a strong hand kept you fixed there in
its powerful grasp for twenty-four hours, what
would you see ?
First, you would see the three spires of St.
78 WORK OF THE FIRST DAY.
Peter's passing quickly away under your feet;
then the Fort of 1'Ecluse and the Lake of
Nantua would be seen rushing towards the
side where you had seen the Lake of Lausanne
and Vevey disappear, with the speed of fifteen
miles in a minute. In less than six minutes
you would see beneath you the city of Mfcon
on the Sa6ne; and in less than twenty minutes
the town of La Rochelle and the great Atlantic
Ocean would appear in sight. At the end of
three hours this vast ocean would have passed
below you, and you would see the coasts of
America and the great River St. Lawrence;
then Quebec and the Canadian lakes; then the
Rocky Mountains and the country of the Mor-
mons; then, at the end of thirteen hours, you
would see California and the great Pacific
Ocean; and at the end of seventeen hours you
would see China and its capital city Pekin
below your feet. At the end of twenty-three
hours and a half the Gulf of Venice, Trieste,
and Upper Italy would pass under your view;
and at last, half an hour later, you would find
yourself again where you set out,-hovering
over the spires of St. Peter's, the trees of St. An-
toine, and the court of the Oratoire in Geneva.
WORK OF THE FIRST DAY.
The rotation of the earth upon its own axis
may be perceived in many ways. Travellers
in our day may see its effects on the railways
in America which run directly north and south.
It is quite perceptible, says Lieut. Maury, that
all the carriages which come from the south keep
in their rapid course the impulse which they
have received near the Equator, and have a
tendency to throw themselves towards the
east; and, on the contrary, all those which
come from the north, having received less of
the impulse caused by the whirling of the
earth, have a tendency to throw themselves to
Perhaps some of you will find it difficult to
believe that we are thus turning, and whirling,
and travelling onward, day and night, without
perceiving that we are moving. It may also
be equally difficult to realize the truth that
men are standing on their feet all round the
round earth, some on one side, and some on
the other. This very week I saw a little
friend of mine, who was tormenting herself
by puzzling about this; and I soon satisfied
her, by explaining to her that this world is a
large magnet, and that the point of attraction
80 WORK OF THE FIRST DAY.
in this large magnet must be always the centre
of the magnet. To make her understand
this better, I took a ball of sealing-wax to re-
present the earth, and, having rubbed it well
upon my sleeve, I made it a magnet. Then
I placed little paper men all round this mag-
netic ball, some here, some there, some on one
side, some on the other; and I showed her,
to his great astonishment, that this little imi-
tation earth attracted (or drew to itself) all
these tiny paper men, which clung to it, and
seemed to stand upright on all sides of it, above
Well, dear child," I said to her, "you see
the way in which all the men in the world
are drawn towards the earth, and kept upon it,
on all sides of the round globe, whether in Bri-
tain or in its antipodes, New Zealand, whether
in Australia or Geneva."
But now I must return to the verses for
the day. Let us think what a state the world
was in at that far distant time. We shall
find many interesting things to consider and
explain in the work of the first day.
The earth was without form, and void;"
or, as others translate the words, The earth
WORK OF THE FIRST DAY.
was still in disorder and solitude,"-that is to
say, there were no distinct objects, and all in
it was in confusion. There were no men, no
animals, no birds, no fishes, no reptiles, nor
even the smallest insect; no trees, no plants,
no fresh green grass; no dry land, no sea, no
air, no light.
Darkness was upon the face of the deep."
This yet unformed earth, so void and deso-
late, had an abyss of waters all around it; and,
besides this mass of waters with which it was
entirely covered, it was wrapped in a thick
cloud of the deepest darkness.
There was then no light at all,-not even
the feeble glimmer which we now see in our
darkest nights. The mass of waters, boiling
over the burning fire within, were changed
into steam and hot vapour, which formed a
thick mantle of dark clouds round the melting
rocks and boiling oceans-night and chaos
prevailed over all the earth.
Let us here remark something of great im-
portance. See how admirable the Bible is, in
revealing to men many things about the mys-
terious creation of the world which were not
otherwise known for ages afterwards! Two
82 WORK OF THE FIRST DAY.
facts are here revealed to us, which at first
sight may appear incredible, and almost con-
tradictory, but which learned men, who at
first could scarcely believe them, have dis-
covered, even to their own surprise, to be true,
as they have studied more carefully and exactly
the mountains and the crust of the earth.
These two apparently incompatible facts are,
that fire and water have united to form the
crust of our earth. What two things could
agree worse than fire and water ? Neverthe-
less this is true.
In the present day learned men are all
agreed in acknowledging-First, That formerly
the surface of the earth must all have been
covered by the sea, and that for a long period;
and that many of the old rocks which form
the crust of our globe have been composed of
beds or layers of sand or mud, deposited at the
bottom of a deep and wide sea. Secondly, That
fire has been at work at the same time; and
that the greater number of our high moun-
tains have been forced upwards by the fire
upheaving the rocks as it burst from the burn-
ing depths within.
Well, you see, in the second verse of
WORK OF THE FIRST DAY. 83
Genesis, that such was once really the state of
the earth-water over and around the fire.
This is clearly the case at that time of chaos.
And you may also read in the Second Epitsle of
St. Peter these two facts, brought out and ex-
plained in a remarkable manner; for he tells
us-First, That the earth has been drawn out
of the water, and that it subsists among the
waters.* Secondly, That this same earth will
one day be destroyed by fire.t You will hear
afterwards, in the explanatir- which is to fol-
low of the first events in the history of this
world's creation, that many times since the
first day these depths of waters, under which
the fire burns, have again and again burst out,
raised up by the force of the fire, and have
overflowed various parts of the world.
But let us go on with our subject. In
order to finish the explanation of our four
verses, I must try to answer these four ques-
1st. What is meant by these words, The
Spirit of God moved upon the face of the
2 PeterIIL 5. t 2Peter U 7.
84 WORK OF THE FIRST DAY.
2d. What are we to think of the light
which God caused to appear on the first day ?
" God said, Let there be light; and there was
3d. What are we to think about the sun ?
Where was he during the first three days ?
4th. What are we to think of the evening and
the morning of the first day ? and how long
did this day last? The evening and the
morning were the first day."
To the first question I answer, that the
Spirit of God which moved upon the face of
the waters was the Holy Spirit, whose exist-
ence is thus made known to us in the very
beginning of the Bible. The Holy Spirit
united with the Father and the Son to create
the world, as he still unites with them to
save each soul-three glorious persons in one
only God over all, blessed for ever.
We are here taught that, although soon
after, the plants, the animals, reptiles, birds,
beasts, and man, with all the wonderful works
of creation, sprung from the earth and the
waters, yet it was not the earth and the waters
which produced them by any virtue or power
in them,-it. was the creating Spirit who
WORK OF THE FIRST DAY. 85
prepared them, and caused them to spring
How beautiful and significant is the ex-
pression, The Spirit of God moved upon the
face of the waters." The Hebrew word trans-
lated moved," refers to the movement of the
wings of a bird as it hovers over its nest.
What more beautiful emblem could be
found in all nature to signify the life-giving
creative power, than that of a bird hovering
in silence over the lifeless egg from which a
beautiful and graceful creature will soon burst
forth-bright and gay as the peacock, pure as
the swan, dazzling our eyes with its beauty
like the humming-bird, or charming our ears
with sweet sounds like the nightingale?
It was on the first day of creation that
the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the
waters. He hovered in silence over the
shapeless and desolate earth, which, covered
with thick darkness, was rushing on without
life, without light, without glory,-the Creator
Spirit was preparing it to burst forth into
But let us go on to the third verse: God
said, Let there be light; and there was light."
86 WORK OF THE FIRST DAY
God had but to speak a single word-" Let
there be light"-and light, the most beautiful
of his material works, shone out of dark-
ness," as St. Paul has said (2 Cor. iv. 6).
And God saw the light, that it was good."
,Before entering upon this subject, which is
the answer to our second question, we must
first try to answer the third. What are we
to think about the sun during the first three
days of creation?" Did the sun exist before
God created the light on the first day, or did
he not then exist? The answer is simple.
We must suppose that he did exist, because
he is a part of those heavens which God
created in the beginning." He was then as
now a very powerful magnet, 1,300,000
times larger than our earth, which was pro-
bably turning round him as it does now, but
turning in darkness-for all was yet dark.
The sun was like an immense lamp still un-
lighted. He was lighted up only on the
fourth day, and the moon also was lighted
up by reflection from him-they then became
" lights," ver. 14. And even now, although
our sun is lighted up and has become a light,
we must not fancy that he is all light. No,
WORK OF THE FIRST DAY. 87
he is a great dark globe, as you may clearly
see on some days, even through the dazzling
brilliance of the light with which he is sur-
rounded. At certain times there are open-
ings in the light, through which his dark
nucleus may be seen, like a black kernel in a
bright covering. These openings are called
the "spots" in the sun. Learned men have
even been able to discover that the dark nuc-
leus weighs 355,000 times more than our
But you will ask, perhaps (and this brings
me to our second question), Whence came
the light at first, if the sun were then only a
dark globe ? Ah, dear children, have you not
often seen that there can be both light and
heat without the sun ? When you walk about
the streets at night, or when you go into one
of our large shops brilliantly lighted with gas,
whence comes the light then ? It is not
from the sun. He is hid behind the moun-
tains and has disappeared below the horizon.
God can give light without the sun, and we
must suppose that during the first three days
of creation he had caused the light to come
from other sources, as it was only on the
88 WORK OF THE FIRST DAY.
fourth day that he commanded it to gather
around the surface of this immense globe, round
which our earth has never ceased to turn,
and which God has given us for our great
Before concluding, I would entreat you to
admire the account given by Moses of this
wonderful creation. Nothing can show more
clearly the divine inspiration of the Bible, for
what merely human historian would have ever
dreamed of telling us that the light appeared
three periods before the sun ? Would any
merely human historian have told us that
trees, plants, and herbs sprang up, grew, and
bore fruit long before the sun shone on the
Well, I must tell you further, that in our
day all geologists and botanists, who examine
what is found in the coal mines (which are
the remains of the forests of the old world),
have discovered plants, trees, and seeds so
gigantic, that all have agreed that these
pines, palms, and giant ferns, are such as
could not have grown under the light of our
present sun, even in warm climates, and cer-
tainly not in the climates where they are
WORK OF THE FIRST DAY. 89
found, such as these are now. These trees,
now turned into coal, the remains of the
primeval world, have been found in the cold-
est countries-not only in England, but in
Canada, even at Baffin's Bay and under the
snows of Melville Island, the coldest place in
the world. These large trees require a great
deal both of light and heat. All learned men
who have examined these remains, even such
as do not love the Bible, have yet agreed in
saying that certainly there was once a time,
long ago when these old forests grew, when
there were light and heat upon the primeval
earth different from the light and heat of our
present sun. Honour, all honour, to the word
of God, which told us this long before learned
men found it out!
There is still one other question to answer,
on the subject of the fifth verse, and it is the
fourth,-" The evening and the morning were
the first day."
What are we to think of this evening ?"
How long did it last ? Was this day" a
day twenty-four hours in length ?
Certainly not, since there were then no
great lights to divide the day from the
PLANTS IN THE COAL MEASURES.
90 WORK OF THE FIRST DAY.
night,"-to be a sign and a measure of the
days (ver. 14).
No one can tell how long that day lasted,-
perhaps long years and long ages. All that
we know about it is, that it was a period of
time which began by the night of chaos (when
darkness covered the face of the deep) and
ended when the light shone forth.
The subject of the next lesson will be the
6th, 7th, and 8th verses, of the first chapter
'WORK OF THE SECOND DAY. 91
THE WORK OF THE SECOND DAY.
"And God said, Let there be a firmament In the midst of the waters,
and let it divide the waters from the waters. And God made the fir-
mament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from
the waters which were above the firmament: and it was so. And God
called the firmament Heaven. And the evening and the morning were
the second day."-GsN. L 6-8.
WE considered in our last lesson the work
of the first day. Under the mighty operation
of the Holy Spirit, moving by his divine power
on the face of the waters of the great abyss,
there was first the wonderful work of the
creation of light. "God said, Let there be
light; and there was light." There was an
evening, when darkness covered the face of
the deep; and there was a morning, when light
was created; and this was the first day.
Our lesson for to-day, dear children, is to
be about the work of the second day. This
was also a most magnificent work, the crea-
tion of the atmosphere, a work more wonder-
ful, as you will see, than you have ever before
thought it. God said, Let there be a firma-
nent" (or rather expanse," as the word is
02 WORK OF THE SECOND DAY.
better translated) in the midst of the waters.
And God made the expanse."
In order to try to understand the work of
the second day, we must speak first of what
began it; it was an evening, for we read in
verse 8, "And the evening and the morning
were the second day."
What was this second evening which began
the second day? and how long did this day
last? We must consider these two questions
before going further.
Let us first speak of the second evening.
It is not difficult to imagine the cause of it;
but, before saying anything about this cause,
I must first tell you the way in which the Jews
reckoned their days. Instead of beginning the
day with the morning, as we do, they reckoned
from the evening before,-perhaps because they
had read in Genesis that each of the six days
of creation began with an evening. Monday
did not begin with them at sunrise on Mon-
day, but at sunset on Sunday; and their Sun-
day began at six o'clock on the evening of the
day before, and ended at six o'clock in the
You see then, in verse 8, that between