Category: Old Testament


Man consisting of body and soul, a body made out of the earth and a rational immortal soul the breath of heaven, we have, in these verses, the provision that was made for the happiness of both; he that made him took care to make him happy, if he could but have kept himself so and known when he was well off. That part of man by which he is allied to the world of sense was made happy; for he was put in the paradise of God: that part by which he is allied to the world of spirits was well provided for; for he was taken into covenant with God. Lord, what is man that he should be thus dignified—man that is a worm!

I. A description of the garden of Eden, which was intended for the mansion and demesne of this great lord, the palace of this prince. The inspired penman, in this history, writing for the Jews first, and calculating his narratives for the infant state of the church, describes things by their outward sensible appearances, and leaves us, by further discoveries of the divine light, to be led into the understanding of the mysteries couched under them. Spiritual things were strong meat, which they could not yet bear; but he writes to them as unto carnal, 1 Cor. 3:1. Therefore he does not so much insist upon the happiness of Adam’s mind as upon that of his outward state. The Mosaic history, as well as the Mosaic law, has rather the patterns of heavenly things than the heavenly things themselves, Heb. 9:23. Observe,

1. The place appointed for Adam’s residence was a garden; not an ivory house nor a palace overlaid with gold, but a garden, furnished and adorned by nature, not by art. What little reason have men to be proud of stately and magnificent buildings, when it was the happiness of man in innocency that he needed none! As clothes came in with sin, so did houses. The heaven was the roof of Adam’s house, and never was any roof so curiously ceiled and painted. The earth was his floor, and never was any floor so richly inlaid. The shadow of the trees was his retirement; under them were his dining-rooms, his lodging-rooms, and never were any rooms so finely hung as these: Solomon’s, in all their glory, were not arrayed like them. The better we can accommodate ourselves to plain things, and the less we indulge ourselves with those artificial delights which have been invented to gratify men’s pride and luxury, the nearer we approach to a state of innocency. Nature is content with a little and that which is most natural, grace with less, but lust with nothing.

2. The contrivance and furniture of this garden were the immediate work of God’s wisdom and power. The Lord God planted this garden, that is, he had planted it—upon the third day, when the fruits of the earth were made. We may well suppose to have been the most accomplished place for pleasure and delight that ever the sun saw, when the all-sufficient God himself designed it to be the present happiness of his beloved creature, man, in innocency, and a type and a figure of the happiness of the chosen remnant in glory. No delights can be agreeable nor satisfying to a soul but those that God himself has provided and appointed for it; no true paradise, but of God’s planting. The light of our own fires, and the sparks of our own kindling, will soon leave us in the dark, Isa. 50:11. The whole earth was now a paradise compared with what it is since the fall and since the flood; the finest gardens in the world are a wilderness compared with what the whole face of the ground was before it was cursed for man’s sake: yet that was not enough; God planted a garden for Adam. God’s chosen ones shall have distinguishing favours shown them.

3. The situation of this garden was extremely sweet. It was in Eden, which signifies delight and pleasure. The place is here particularly pointed out by such marks and bounds as were sufficient, I suppose, when Moses wrote, to specify the place to those who knew that country; but now, it seems, the curious cannot satisfy themselves concerning it. Let it be our care to make sure a place in the heavenly paradise, and then we need not perplex ourselves with a search after the place of the earthly paradise. It is certain that, wherever it was, it had all desirable conveniences, and (which never any house nor garden on earth was) without any inconvenience. Beautiful for situation, the joy and the glory of the whole earth, was this garden: doubtless it was earth in its highest perfection.

4. The trees with which this garden was planted. (1.) It had all the best and choicest trees in common with the rest of the ground. It was beautiful and adorned with every tree that, for its height or breadth, its make or colour, its leaf or flower, was pleasant to the sight and charmed the eye; it was replenished and enriched with every tree that yielded fruit grateful to the taste and useful to the body, and so good for food. God, as a tender Father, consulted not only Adam’s profit, but his pleasure; for there is a pleasure consistent with innocency, nay, there is a true and transcendent pleasure in innocency. God delights in the prosperity of his servants, and would have them easy; it is owing to themselves if they be uneasy. When Providence puts us into an Eden of plenty and pleasure, we ought to serve him with joyfulness and gladness of heart, in the abundance of the good things he gives us. But, (2.) It had two extraordinary trees peculiar to itself; on earth there were not their like. [1.] There was the tree of life in the midst of the garden, which was not so much a memorandum to him of the fountain and author of his life, nor perhaps any natural means to preserve or prolong life; but it was chiefly intended to be a sign and seal to Adam, assuring him of the continuance of life and happiness, even to immortality and everlasting bliss, through the grace and favour of his Maker, upon condition of his perseverance in this state of innocency and obedience. Of this he might eat and live. Christ is now to us the tree of life (Rev. 2:7; 22:2), and the bread of life, John 6:48, 53. [2.] There was the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, so called, not because it had any virtue in it to beget or increase useful knowledge (surely then it would not have been forbidden), but, First, Because there was an express positive revelation of the will of God concerning this tree, so that by it he might know moral good and evil. What is good? It is good not to eat of this tree. What is evil? It is evil to eat of this tree. The distinction between all other moral good and evil was written in the heart of man by nature; but this, which resulted from a positive law, was written upon this tree. Secondly, Because, in the event, it proved to give Adam an experimental knowledge of good by the loss of it and of evil by the sense of it. As the covenant of grace has in it, not only Believe and be saved, but also, Believe not and be damned (Mark 16:16), so the covenant of innocency had in it, not only “Do this and live,” which was sealed and confirmed by the tree of life, but, “Fail and die,” which Adam was assured of by this other tree: “Touch it at your peril;” so that, in these two trees, God set before him good and evil, the blessing and the curse, Deut. 30:19. These two trees were as two sacraments.

5. The rivers with which this garden was watered, Gen. 2:10-14. These four rivers (or one river branched into four streams) contributed much both to the pleasantness and the fruitfulness of this garden. The land of Sodom is said to be well watered every where, as the garden of the Lord, Gen. 13:10. Observe, That which God plants he will take care to keep watered. The trees of righteousness are set by the rivers, Ps. 1:3. In the heavenly paradise there is a river infinitely surpassing these; for it is a river of the water of life, not coming out of Eden, as this, but proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb (Rev. 22:1), a river that makes glad the city of our God, Ps. 46:4. Hiddekel and Euphrates are rivers of Babylon, which we read of elsewhere. By these the captive Jews sat down and wept, when they remembered Sion (Ps. 137:1); but methinks they had much more reason to weep (and so have we) at the remembrance of Eden. Adam’s paradise was their prison; such wretched work has sin made. Of the land of Havilah it is said (Gen. 2:12), The gold of that land is good, and there is bdellium and the onyx-stone: surely this is mentioned that the wealth of which the land of Havilah boasted might be as foil to that which was the glory of the land of Eden. Havilah had gold, and spices, and precious stones; but Eden had that which was infinitely better, the tree of life, and communion with God. So we may say of the Africans and Indians: “They have the gold, but we have the gospel. The gold of their land is good, but the riches of ours are infinitely better.”

II. The placing of man in this paradise of delight, Gen. 2:15; where observe,

1. How God put him in possession of it: The Lord God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden; so Gen. 2:8, 15. Note here, (1.) Man was made out of paradise; for, after God had formed him, he put him into the garden: he was made of common clay, not of paradise-dust. He lived out of Eden before he lived in it, that he might see that all the comforts of his paradise-state were owing to God’s free grace. He could not plead a tenant-right to the garden, for he was not born upon the premises, nor had any thing but what he received; all boasting was hereby for ever excluded. (2.) The same God that was the author of his being was the author of his bliss; the same hand that made him a living soul planted the tree of life for him, and settled him by it. He that made us is alone able to make us happy; he that is the former of our bodies and the Father of our spirits, he, and none but he, can effectually provide for the felicity of both. (3.) It adds much to the comfort of any condition if we have plainly seen God going before us and putting us into it. If we have not forced providence, but followed it, and taken the hints of direction it has given us, we may hope to find a paradise where otherwise we could not have expected it. See Ps. 47:4.

2. How God appointed him business and employment. He put him there, not like Leviathan into the waters, to play therein, but to dress the garden and to keep it. Paradise itself was not a place of exemption from work. Note, here, (1.) We were none of us sent into the world to be idle. He that made us these souls and bodies has given us something to work with; and he that gave us this earth f 74f1 or our habitation has made us something to work on. If a high extraction, or a great estate, or a large dominion, or perfect innocency, or a genius for pure contemplation, or a small family, could have given a man a writ of ease, Adam would not have been set to work; but he that gave us being has given us business, to serve him and our generation, and to work out our salvation: if we do not mind our business, we are unworthy of our being and maintenance. (2.) Secular employments will vary well consist with a state of innocency and a life of communion with God. The sons and heirs of heaven, while they are here in this world, have something to do about this earth, which must have its share of their time and thoughts; and, if they do it with an eye to God, they are as truly serving him in it as when they are upon their knees. (3.) The husbandman’s calling is an ancient and honourable calling; it was needful even in paradise. The garden of Eden, though it needed not to be weeded (for thorns and thistles were not yet a nuisance), yet must be dressed and kept. Nature, even in its primitive state, left room for the improvements of art and industry. It was a calling fit for a state of innocency, making provision for life, not for lust, and giving man an opportunity of admiring the Creator and acknowledging his providence: while his hands were about his trees, his heart might be with his God. (4.) There is a true pleasure in the business which God calls us to, and employs us in. Adam’s work was so far from being an allay that it was an addition to the pleasures of paradise; he could not have been happy if he had been idle: it is still a law, He that will not work has no right to eat, 2 Thess. 3:10; Prov. 27:23.

III. The command which God gave to man in innocency, and the covenant he then took him into. Hitherto we have seen God as man’s powerful Creator and his bountiful Benefactor; now he appears as his Ruler and Lawgiver. God put him into the garden of Eden, not to live there as he might list, but to be under government. As we are not allowed to be idle in this world, and to do nothing, so we are not allowed to be wilful, and do what we please. When God had given man a dominion over the creatures, he would let him know that still he himself was under the government of his Creator.

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In these verses, I. Here is a name given to the Creator which we have not yet met with, and that is Jehovah—the LORD, in capital letters, which are constantly used in our English translation to intimate that in the original it is Jehovah. All along, in the first chapter, he was called Elohim—a God of power; but now Jehovah Elohim—a God of power and perfection, a finishing God. As we find him known by his name Jehovah when he appeared to perform what he had promised (Exod. 6:3), so now we have him known by that name, when he had perfected what he had begun. Jehovah is that great and incommunicable name of God which denotes his having his being of himself, and his giving being to all things; fitly therefore is he called by that name now that heaven and earth are finished.

II. Further notice taken of the production of plants and herbs, because they were made and appointed to be food for man, Gen. 2:5, 6. Here observe, 1. The earth did not bring forth its fruits of itself, by any innate virtue of its own but purely by the almighty power of God, which formed every plant and every herb before it grew in the earth. Thus grace in the soul, that plant of renown, grows not of itself in nature’s soil, but is the work of God’s own hands. 2. Rain also is the gift of God; it came not till the Lord God caused it to rain. If rain be wanted, it is God that withholds it; if rain come plentifully in its season, it is God that sends it; if it come in a distinguishing way, it is God that causes it to rain upon one city and not upon another, Amos 4:7. 3. Though God, ordinarily, works by means, yet he is not tied to them, but when he pleases he can do his own work without them. As the plants were produced before the sun was made, so they were before there was either rain to water the earth or man to till it. Therefore though we must not tempt God in the neglect of means, yet we must trust God in the want of means. 4. Some way or other God will take care to water the plants that are of his own planting. Though as yet there was no rain, God made a mist equivalent to a shower, and with it watered the whole face of the ground. Thus he chose to fulfill his purpose by the weakest means, that the excellency of the power might be of God. Divine grace descends like a mist, or silent dew, and waters the church without noise, Deut. 32:2.

III. A more particular account of the creation of man, Gen. 2:7. Man is a little world, consisting of heaven and earth, soul and body. Now here we have an account of the origin of both and the putting of both together: let us seriously consider it, and say, to our Creator’s praise, We are fearfully and wonderfully made, Ps. 139:14. Elihu, in the patriarchal age, refers to this history when he says (Job 33:6), I also am formed out of the clay, and (Job 33:4), The breath of the Almighty hath given me life, and (Job 32:8), There is a spirit in man. Observe then,

1. The mean origin, and yet the curious structure, of the body of man. (1.) The matter was despicable. He was made of the dust of the ground, a very unlikely thing to make a man of; but the same infinite power that made the world of nothing made man, its master-piece, of next to nothing. He was made of the dust, the small dust, such as is upon the surface of the earth. Probably, not dry dust, but dust moistened with the mist that went up, Gen. 2:6. He was not made of gold-dust, powder of pearl, or diamond dust, but common dust, dust of the ground. Hence he is said to be of the earth, choikosdusty, 1 Cor. 15:47. And we also are of the earth, for we are his offspring, and of the same mold. So near an affinity is there between the earth and our earthly parents that our mother’s womb, out of which we were born, is called the earth (Ps. 139:15), and the earth, in which we must be buried, is called our mother’s womb, Job 1:21. Our foundation is in the earth, Job 4:19. Our fabric is earthly, and the fashioning of it like that of an earthen vessel, Job 10:9. Our food is out of the earth, Job 28:5. Our familiarity is with the earth, Job 17:14. Our fathers are in the earth, and our own final tendency is to it; and what have we then to be proud of? (2.) Yet the Maker was great, and the make fine. The Lord God, the great fountain of being and power, formed man. Of the other creatures it is said that they were created and made; but of man that he was formed, which denotes a gradual process in the work with great accuracy and exactness. To express the creation of this new thing, he takes a new word, a word (some think) borrowed from the potter’s forming his vessel upon the wheel; for we are the clay, and God the potter, Isa. 64:8. The body of man is curiously wrought, Ps. 139:15, 16. Materiam superabat opus—The workmanship exceeded the materials. Let us present our bodies to God as living sacrifices (Rom. 12:1), as living temples (1 Cor. 6:19), and then these vile bodies shall shortly be new-formed like Christ’s glorious body, Phil. 3:21.

2. The high origin and the admirable serviceableness of the soul of man. (1.) It takes its rise from the breath of heaven, and is produced by it. It was not made of the earth, as the body was; it is a pity then that it should cleave to the earth, and mind earthly things. It came immediately from God; he gave it to be put into the body (Eccl. 12:7), as afterwards he gave the tables of stone of his own writing to be put into the ark, and the urim of his own framing to be put into the breast-plate. Hence God is not only the former but the Father of spirits. Let the soul which God has breathed into us breathe after him; and let it be for him, since it is from him. Into his hands let us commit our spirits, for from his hands we had them. (2.) It takes its lodging in a house of clay, and is the life and support of it. It is by it that man is a living soul, that is, a living man; for the soul is the man. The body would be a worthless, useless, loathsome carcass, if the soul did not animate it. To God that gave us these souls we must shortly give an account of them, how we have employed them, used them, proportioned them, and disposed of them; and if then it be found that we have lost them, though it were to gain the world, we shall be undone for ever. Since the extraction of the soul is so noble, and its nature and faculties are so excellent, let us not be of those fools that despise their own souls, by preferring their bodies before them, Prov. 15:32. When our Lord Jesus anointed the blind man’s eyes with clay perhaps he intimated that it was he who at first formed man out of the clay; and when he breathed on his disciples, saying, Receive you the Holy Ghost, he intimated that it was he who at first breathed into man’s nostrils the breath of life. He that made the soul is alone able to make it new.

From: Genesis 2

We have here,

I. The settlement of the kingdom of nature, in God’s resting from the work of creation, Gen. 2:1, 2. Here observe,

-1. The creatures made both in heaven and earth are the hosts or armies of them, which denotes them to be numerous, but marshalled, disciplined, and under command. How great is the sum of them! And yet every one knows and keeps his place. God uses them as his hosts for the defence of his people and the destruction of his enemies; for he is the Lord of hosts, of all these hosts, Dan. 4:35.

-2. The heavens and the earth are finished pieces, and so are all the creatures in them. So perfect is God’s work that nothing can be added to it nor taken from it, Eccl. 3:14. God that began to build showed himself well able to finish.

-3. After the end of the first six days God ceased from all works of creation. He has so ended his work as that though, in his providence, he worketh hitherto (John 5:17), preserving and governing all the creatures, and particularly forming the spirit of man within him, yet he does not make any new species of creatures. In miracles, he has controlled and overruled nature, but never changed its settled course, nor repealed nor added to any of its establishments.

-4. The eternal God, though infinitely happy in the enjoyment of himself, yet took a satisfaction in the work of his own hands. He did not rest, as one weary, but as one well-pleased with the instances of his own goodness and the manifestations of his own glory.

II. The commencement of the kingdom of grace, in the sanctification of the sabbath day, Gen. 2:3. He rested on that day, and took a complacency in his creatures, and then sanctified it, and appointed us, on that day, to rest and take a complacency in the Creator; and his rest is, in the fourth commandment, made a reason for ours, after six days’ labour. Observe.

    -1. The solemn observance of one day in seven, as a day of holy rest and holy work, to God’s honour, is the indispensable duty of all those to whom God has revealed his holy Sabbaths.

    -2. The way of sabbath-sanctification is the good old way, Jer. 6:16. Sabbaths are as ancient as the world; and I see no reason to doubt that the sabbath, being now instituted in innocency, was religiously observed by the people of God throughout the patriarchal age.

    -3. The sabbath of the Lord is truly honourable, and we have reason to honour it—honour it for the sake of its antiquity, its great Author, the sanctification of the first sabbath by the holy God himself, and by our first parents in innocency, in obedience to him.

    -4. The sabbath day is a blessed day, for God blessed it, and that which he blesses is blessed indeed. God has put an honour upon it, has appointed us, on that day, to bless him, and has promised, on that day, to meet us and bless us.

    -5. The sabbath day is a holy day, for God has sanctified it. He has separated and distinguished it from the rest of the days of the week, and he has consecrated it and set it apart to himself and his own service and honour. Though it is commonly taken for granted that the Christian sabbath we observe, reckoning from the creation, is not the seventh but the first day of the week, yet being a seventh day, and we in it, celebrating the rest of God the Son, and the finishing of the work of our redemption, we may and ought to act faith upon this original institution of the sabbath day, and to commemorate the work of creation, to the honour of the great Creator, who is therefore worthy to receive, on that day, blessing, and honour, and praise, from all religious assemblies.

This chapter is an appendix to the history of the creation, more particularly explaining and enlarging upon that part of the history which relates immediately to man, the favourite of this lower world. We have in it,

I. The institution and sanctification of the Sabbath, which was made for man, to further his holiness and comfort (Gen. 2:1-3).

II. A more particular account of man’s creation, as the centre and summary of the whole work (Gen. 2:1-7).

III. A description of the garden of Eden, and the placing of man in it under the obligations of a law and covenant (Gen. 2:8-17).

IV. The creation of the woman, her marriage to the man, and the institution of the ordinance of marriage (Gen. 2:18-25).

From: Genesis 1

We have here the approbation and conclusion of the whole work of creation. As for God, his work is perfect; and if he begin he will also make an end, in providence and grace, as well as here in creation. Observe,

I. The review God took of his work: He saw every thing that he had made. So he does still; all the works of his hands are under his eye. He that made all sees all; he that made us sees us, Ps. 139:1-16. Omniscience cannot be separated from omnipotence. Known unto God are all his works, Acts 15:18. But this was the Eternal Mind’s solemn reflection upon the copies of its own wisdom and the products of its own power. God has hereby set us an example of reviewing our works. Having given us a power of reflection, he expects we should use that power, see our way (Jer. 2:23), and think of it, Ps. 119:59. When we have finished a day’s work, and are entering upon the rest of the night, we should commune with our own hearts about what we have been doing that day; so likewise when we have finished a week’s work, and are entering upon the sabbath-rest, we should thus prepare to meet our God; and when we are finishing our life’s work, and are entering upon our rest in the grave, that is a time to bring to remembrance, that we may die repenting, and so take leave of it.

II. The complacency God took in his work. When we come to review our works we find, to our shame, that much has been very bad; but, when God reviewed his, all was very good. He did not pronounce it good till he had seen it so, to teach us not to answer a matter before we hear it. The work of creation was a very good work. All that God made was well-made, and there was no flaw nor defect in it.

   -1. It was good. Good, for it is all agreeable to the mind of the Creator, just as he would have it to be; when the transcript came to be compared with the great original, it was found to be exact, no errata in it, not one misplaced stroke. Good, for it answers the end of its creation, and is fit for the purpose for which it was designed. Good, for it is serviceable to man, whom God had appointed lord of the visible creation. Good, for it is all for God’s glory; there is that in the whole visible creation which is a demonstration of God’s being and perfections, and which tends to beget, in the soul of man, a religious regard to him and veneration of him.

   -2. It was very good. Of each day’s work (except the second) it was said that it was good, but now, it is very good. For,

        (1.) Now man was made, who was the chief of the ways of God, who was designed to be the visible image of the Creator’s glory and the mouth of the creation in his praises.

        (2.) Now all was made; every part was good, but all together very good. The glory and goodness, the beauty and harmony, of God’s works, both of providence and grace, as this of creation, will best appear when they are perfected. When the top-stone is brought forth we shall cry, Grace, grace, unto it, Zech. 4:7. Therefore judge nothing before the time.

III. The time when this work was concluded: The evening and the morning were the sixth day; so that in six days God made the world. We are not to think but that God could have made the world in an instant. He said that, Let there be light, and there was light, could have said, “Let there be a world,” and there would have been a world, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, as at the resurrection, 1 Cor. 15:52. But he did it in six days, that he might show himself a free-agent, doing his own work both in his own way and in his own time,—that his wisdom, power, and goodness, might appear to us, and be meditated upon by us, the more distinctly,—and that he might set us an example of working six days and resting the seventh; it is therefore made the reason of the fourth commandment. So much would the sabbath conduce to the keeping up of religion in the world that God had an eye to it in the timing of his creation. And now, as God reviewed his work, let us review our meditations upon it, and we shall find them very lame and defective, and our praises low and flat; let us therefore stir up ourselves, and all that is within us, to worship him that made the heaven, earth, and sea, and the fountains of waters, according to the tenour of the everlasting gospel, which is preached to every nation, Rev. 14:6, 7. All his works, in all places of his dominion, do bless him; and, therefore, bless thou the Lord, O my soul!

 

From: Genesis 1

We have here the third part of the sixth day’s work, which was not any new creation, but a gracious provision of food for all flesh, Ps. 136:25. He that made man and beast thus took care to preserve both, Ps. 36:6. Here is,

I. Food provided for man, Gen. 1:29. Herbs and fruits must be his meat, including corn and all the products of the earth; these were allowed him, but (it should seem) not flesh, till after the flood, Gen. 9:3. And before the earth was deluged, much more before it was cursed for man’s sake, its fruits, no doubt, were more pleasing to the taste and more strengthening and nourishing to the body than marrow and fatness, and all the portion of the king’s meat, are now. See here,

    -1. That which should make us humble. As we were made out of the earth, so we are maintained out of it. Once indeed men did eat angels’ food, bread from heaven; but they died (John 6:49); it was to them but as food out of the earth, Ps. 104:14. There is meat that endures to everlasting life; the Lord evermore give us this.

     -2. That which should make us thankful. The Lord is for the body; from him we receive all the supports and comforts of this life, and to him we must give thanks. He gives us all things richly to enjoy, not only for necessity, but plenty, dainties, and varieties, for ornament and delight. How much are we indebted! How careful should we be, as we live upon God’s bounty, to live to his glory!

     -3. That which should make us temperate and content with our lot. Though Adam had dominion given him over fish and fowl, yet God confined him, in his food, to herbs and fruits; and he never complained of it. Though afterwards he coveted forbidden fruit, for the sake of the wisdom and knowledge he promised himself from it, yet we never read that he coveted forbidden flesh. If God give us food for our lives, let us not, with murmuring Israel, ask food for our lusts, Ps. 78:18; see Dan. 1:15.

II. Food provided for the beasts, Gen. 1:30. Doth God take care for oxen? Yes, certainly, he provides food convenient for them, and not for oxen only, which were used in his sacrifices and man’s service, but even the young lions and the young ravens are the care of his providence; they ask and have their meat from God. Let us give to God the glory of his bounty to the inferior creatures, that all are fed, as it were, at his table, every day. He is a great housekeeper, a very rich and bountiful one, that satisfies the desire of every living thing. Let this encourage God’s people to cast their care upon him, and not to be solicitous respecting what they shall eat and what they shall drink. He that provided for Adam without his care, and still provides for all the creatures without their care, will not let those that trust him want any good thing, Matt. 6:26. He that feeds his birds will not starve his babes.

From: Genesis 1

We have here the second part of the sixth day’s work, the creation of man, which we are, in a special manner, concerned to take notice of, that we may know ourselves.

I. That man was made last of all the creatures, that it might not be suspected that he had been, any way, a helper to God in the creation of the world: that question must be forever humbling and mortifying to him, Where wast thou, or any of thy kind, when I laid the foundations of the earth? Job 38:4. Yet it was both an honor and a favor to him that he was made last: an honor, for the method of the creation was to advance from that which was less perfect to that which was more so; and a favor, for it was not fit he should be lodged in the palace designed for him till it was completely fitted up and furnished for his reception. Man, as soon as he was made, had the whole visible creation before him, both to contemplate and to take the comfort of. Man was made the same day that the beasts were, because his body was made of the same earth with theirs; and, while he is in the body, he inhabits the same earth with them. God forbid that by indulging the body and the desires of it we should make ourselves like the beasts that perish!

II. That man’s creation was a more signal and immediate act of divine wisdom and power than that of the other creatures. The narrative of it is introduced with something of solemnity, and a manifest distinction from the rest. Hereto, it had been said, “Let there be light,” and “Let there be a firmament,” and “Let the earth, or waters, bring forth” such a thing; but now the word of command is turned into a word of consultation, “Let us make man, for whose sake the rest of the creatures were made: this is a work we must take into our own hands.” In the former he speaks as one having authority, in this as one having affection; for his delights were with the sons of men, Prov. 8:31. It should seem as if this were the work which he longed to be at; as if he had said, “Having at last settled the preliminaries, let us now apply ourselves to the business, Let us make man.” Man was to be a creature different from all that had been hitherto made. Flesh and spirit, heaven and earth, must be put together in him, and he must be allied to both worlds. And therefore God himself not only undertakes to make him, but is pleased so to express himself as if he called a council to consider of the making of him: Let us make man. The three persons of the Trinity, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, consult about it and concur in it, because man, when he was made, was to be dedicated and devoted to Father, Son and Holy Ghost. Into that great name we are, with good reason, baptized, for to that great name we owe our being. Let him rule man who said, Let us make man.

III. That man was made in God’s image and after his likeness, two words to express the same thing and making each other the more expressive; image and likeness denote the most like image, the nearest resemblance of any of the visible creatures. Man was not made in the likeness of any creature that went before him, but in the likeness of his Creator; yet still between God and man there is an infinite distance. Christ only is the express image of God’s person, as the Son of his Father, having the same nature. It is only some of God’s honour that is put upon man, who is God’s image only as the shadow in the glass, or the king’s impress upon the coin. God’s image upon man consists in these three things:

     -1. In his nature and constitution, not those of his body (for God has not a body), but those of his soul. This honour indeed God has put upon the body of man, that the Word was made flesh, the Son of God was clothed with a body like ours and will shortly clothe ours with a glory like that of his. And this we may safely say, That he by whom God made the worlds, not only the great world, but man the little world, formed the human body, at the first, according to the platform he designed for himself in the fulness of time. But it is the soul, the great soul, of man, that does especially bear God’s image. The soul is a spirit, an intelligent immortal spirit, an influencing active spirit, herein resembling God, the Father of Spirits, and the soul of the world. The spirit of man is the candle of the Lord. The soul of man, considered in its three noble faculties, understanding, will, and active power, is perhaps the brightest clearest looking-glass in nature, wherein to see God.

    -2. In his place and authority: Let us make man in our image, and let him have dominion. As he has the government of the inferior creatures, he is, as it were, God’s representative, or viceroy, upon earth; they are not capable of fearing and serving God, therefore God has appointed them to fear and serve man. Yet, his government of himself by the freedom of his will have in it more of God’s image than his government of the creatures.

    -3. In his purity and rectitude. God’s image upon man consists in knowledge, righteousness, and true holiness, Eph. 4:24; Col. 3:10. He was upright, Eccl. 7:29. He had an habitual conformity of all his natural powers to the whole will of God. His understanding saw divine things clearly and truly, and there were no errors nor mistakes in his knowledge. His will complied readily and universally with the will of God, without reluctance or resistance. His affections were all regular, and he had no inordinate appetites or passions. His thoughts were easily brought and fixed to the best subjects, and there was no vanity nor ungovernableness in them. All the inferior powers were subject to the dictates and directions of the superior, without any mutiny or rebellion. Thus holy, thus happy, were our first parents, in having the image of God upon them. And this honour, put upon man at first, is a good reason why we should not speak ill one of another (Jas. 3:9), nor do ill one to another (Gen. 9:6), and a good reason why we should not debase ourselves to the service of sin, and why we should devote ourselves to God’s service. But how art thou fallen, O son of the morning! How is this image of God upon man defaced! How small are the remains of it, and how great the ruins of it! The Lord renew it upon our souls by his sanctifying grace!

IV. That man was made male and female, and blessed with the blessing of fruitfulness and increase. God said, Let us make man, and immediately it follows, So God created man; he performed what he resolved. With us saying and doing are two things; but they are not so with God. He created him male and female, Adam and Eve—Adam first, out of earth, and Eve out of his side, Gen. 2:21-23. It should seem that of the rest of the creatures God made many couples, but of man did not he make one? (Mal. 2:15), though he had the residue of the Spirit, whence Christ gathers an argument against divorce, Matt. 19:4, 5. Our first father, Adam, was confined to one wife; and, if he had put her away, there was no other for him to marry, which plainly intimated that the bond of marriage was not to be dissolved at pleasure. Angels were not made male and female, for they were not to propagate their kind (Luke 20:34-36); but man was made so, that the nature might be propagated and the race continued. Fires and candles, the luminaries of this lower world, because they waste, and go out, have a power to light more; but it is not so with the lights of heaven: stars do not kindle stars. God made but one male and one female, that all the nations of men might know themselves to be made of one blood, descendants from one common stock, and might thereby be induced to love one another. God, having made them capable of transmitting the nature they had received, said to them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth. Here he gave them

     -1. A large inheritance: Replenish the earth; it is this that is bestowed upon the children of men. They were made to dwell upon the face of all the earth, Acts 17:26. This is the place in which God has set man to be the servant of his providence in the government of the inferior creatures, and, as it were, the intelligence of this orb; to be the receiver of God’s bounty, which other creatures live upon, but do not know it; to be likewise the collector of his praises in this lower world, and to pay them into the exchequer above (Ps. 145:10); and, lastly, to be a probationer for a better state.

     -2. A numerous lasting family, to enjoy this inheritance, pronouncing a blessing upon them, in virtue of which their posterity should extend to the utmost corners of the earth and continue to the utmost period of time. Fruitfulness and increase depend upon the blessing of God: Obed-edom had eight sons, for God blessed him, 1 Chron. 26:5. It is owing to this blessing, which God commanded at first, that the race of mankind is still in being, and that as one generation passed away another cometh.

V. That God gave to man, when he had made him, a dominion over the inferior creatures, over the fish of the sea and over the fowl of the air. Though man provides for neither, he has power over both, much more over every living thing that moves upon the earth, which are more under his care and within his reach. God designed hereby to put an honour upon man, that he might find himself the more strongly obliged to bring honour to his Maker. This dominion is very much diminished and lost by the fall; yet God’s providence continues so much of it to the children of men as is necessary to the safety and support of their lives, and God’s grace has given to the saints a new and better title to the creature than that which was forfeited by sin; for all is ours if we are Christ’s, 1 Cor. 3:22.

From: Genesis 1

We have here the first part of the sixth day’s work. The sea was, the day before, replenished with its fish, and the air with its fowl; and this day were made the beasts of the earth, the cattle, and the creeping things that pertain to the earth. Here, as before,

1. The Lord gave the word; he said, Let the earth bring forth, not as if the earth had any such prolific virtue as to produce these animals, or as if God resigned his creating power to it; but, “Let these creatures now come into being upon the earth, and out of it, in their respective kinds, conformable to the ideas of them in the divine counsels concerning their creation.”

2. He also did the work; he made them all after their kind, not only of divers shapes, but of divers natures, manners, food, and fashions—some to be tame about the house, others to be wild in the fields—some living upon grass and herbs, others upon flesh—some harmless, and others ravenous—some bold, and others timorous—some for man’s service, and not his sustenance, as the horse—others for his sustenance, and not his service, as the sheep—others for both, as the ox—and some for neither, as the wild beasts. In all this appears the manifold wisdom of the Creator.

From: Genesis 1

Each day has produced very noble and excellent beings, which we can never sufficiently admire; but we do not read of the creation of any living creature till the fifth day, of which these verses give us an account. The work of creation not only proceeded gradually from one thing to another, but rose and advanced gradually from that which was less excellent to that which was more so, teaching us to press towards perfection and endeavour that our last works may be our best works. It was on the fifth day that the fish and fowl were created, and both out of the waters. Though there is one kind of flesh of fishes, and another of birds, yet they were made together, and both out of the waters; for the power of the first Cause can produce very different effects from the same second causes.

Observe;

1. The making of the fish and fowl, at first, Gen. 1:20, 21. God commanded them to be produced. He said, Let the waters bring forth abundantly; not as if the waters had any productive power of their own, but, “Let them be brought into being, the fish in the waters and the fowl out of them.” This command he himself executed: God created great whales, etc. Insects, which perhaps are as various and as numerous as any species of animals, and their structure as curious, were part of this day’s work, some of them being allied to the fish and others to the fowl. Mr. Boyle (I remember) says he admires the Creator’s wisdom and power as much in an ant as in an elephant. Notice is here taken of the various sorts of fish and fowl, each after their kind, and of the great numbers of both that were produced, for the waters brought forth abundantly; and particular mention if made of great whales, the largest of fishes, whose bulk and strength, exceeding that of any other animal, are remarkable proofs of the power and greatness of the Creator. The express notice here taken of the whale, above all the rest, seems sufficient to determine what animal is meant by the Leviathan, Job 41:1. The curious formation of the bodies of animals, their different sizes, shapes, and natures, with the admirable powers of the sensitive life with which they are endued, when duly considered, serve, not only to silence and shame the objections of atheists and infidels, but to raise high thoughts and high praises of God in pious and devout souls, Ps. 104:25

2. The blessing of them, in order to their continuance. Life is a wasting thing. Its strength is not the strength of stones. It is a candle that will burn out, if it be not first blown out; and therefore the wise Creator not only made the individuals, but provided for the propagation of the several kinds; God blessed them, saying, Be fruitful and multiply, Gen. 1:22. God will bless his own works, and not forsake them; and what he does shall be for a perpetuity, Eccl. 3:14. The power of God’s providence preserves all things, as at first his creating power produced them. Fruitfulness is the effect of God’s blessing and must be ascribed to it; the multiplying of the fish and fowl, from year to year, is still the fruit of this blessing. Well, let us give to God the glory of the continuance of these creatures to this day for the benefit of man. See Job 12:7, 9.

It is a pity that fishing and fowling, recreations innocent in themselves, should ever be abused to divert any from God and their duty, while they are capable of being improved to lead us to the contemplation of the wisdom, power, and goodness, of him that made all these things, and to engage us to stand in awe of him, as the fish and fowl do of us.

 

From: Genesis 1

This is the history of the fourth day’s work, the creating of the sun, moon, and stars, which are here accounted for, not as they are in themselves and in their own nature, to satisfy the curious, but as they are in relation to this earth, to which they serve as lights; and this is enough to furnish us with matter for praise and thanksgiving. Holy Job mentions this as an instance of the glorious power of God, that by the Spirit he hath garnished the heavens (Job 26:13); and here we have an account of that garniture which is not only so much the beauty of the upper world, but so much the blessing of this lower; for though heaven is high, yet has it respect to this earth, and therefore should have respect from it. Of the creation of the lights of heaven we have an account,

I. In general, Gen. 1:14, 15, where we have

      -1. The command given concerning them: Let there be lights in the firmament of heaven. God had said, Let there be light (Gen. 1:3), and there was light; but this was, as it were, a chaos of light, scattered and confused: now it was collected and modelled, and made into several luminaries, and so rendered both more glorious and more serviceable. God is the God of order, and not of confusion; and, as he is light, so he is the Father and former of lights. Those lights were to be in the firmament of heaven, that vast expanse which encloses the earth, and is conspicuous to all; for no man, when he has lighted a candle, puts it under a bushel, but on a candlestick (Luke 8:16), and a stately golden candlestick the firmament of heaven is, from which these candles give light to all that are in the house. The firmament itself is spoken of as having a brightness of its own (Dan. 12:3), but this was not sufficient to give light to the earth; and perhaps for this reason it is not expressly said of the second day’s work, in which the firmament was made, that it was good, because, till it was adorned with these lights on the fourth day, it had not become serviceable to man.

     -2. The use they were intended to be of to this earth.

          (1.) They must be for the distinction of times, of day and night, summer and winter, which are interchanged by the motion of the sun, whose rising makes day, his setting night, his approach towards our tropic summer, his recess to the other winter: and thus, under the sun, there is a season to every purpose, Eccl. 3:11.

          (2.) They must be for the direction of actions. They are for signs of the change of weather, that the husbandman may order his affairs with discretion, foreseeing, by the face of the sky, when second causes have begun to work, whether it will be fair or foul, Matt. 16:2, 3. They do also give light upon the earth, that we may walk (John 11:9), and work (John 9:4). according as the duty of every day requires. The lights of heaven do not shine for themselves, nor for the world of spirits above, who need them not; but they shine for us, for our pleasure and advantage. Lord, what is man, that he should be thus regarded! Ps. 8:3, 4. How ungrateful and inexcusable are we, if, when God has set up these lights for us to work by, we sleep, or play, or trifle away the time of business, and neglect the great work we were sent into the world about! The lights of heaven are made to serve us, and they do it faithfully, and shine in their season, without fail: but we are set as lights in this world to serve God; and do we in like manner answer the end of our creation? No, we do not, our light does not shine before God as his lights shine before us, Matt. 5:14. We burn our Master’s candles, but do not mind our Master’s work.

II. In particular, Gen. 1:16-18.

     1. Observe, The lights of heaven are the sun, moon, and stars; and all these are the work of God’s hands.

          (1.) The sun is the greatest light of all, more than a million times greater than the earth, and the most glorious and useful of all the lamps of heaven, a noble instance of the Creator’s wisdom, power, and goodness, and an invaluable blessing to the creatures of this lower world. Let us learn from Ps. 19:1-6 how to give unto God the glory due unto his name, as the Maker of the sun.

          (2.) The moon is a less light, and yet is here reckoned one of the greater lights, because though, in regard to its magnitude and borrowed light, it is inferior to many of the stars, yet, by virtue of its office, as ruler of the night, and in respect of its usefulness to the earth, it is more excellent than they. Those are most valuable that are most serviceable; and those are the greater lights, not that have the best gifts, but that humbly and faithfully do the most good with them. Whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister, Matt. 20:26.

          (3.) He made the stars also, which are here spoken of as they appear to vulgar eyes, without distinguishing between the planets and the fixed stars, or accounting for their number, nature, place, magnitude, motions, or influences; for the scriptures were written, not to gratify our curiosity and make us astronomers, but to lead us to God, and make us saints. Now these lights are said to rule (Gen. 1:16, 18); not that they have a supreme dominion, as God has, but they are deputy-governors, rulers under him. Here the less light, the moon, is said to rule the night; but in Ps. 136:9 the stars are mentioned as sharers in that government; The moon and stars to rule by night. No more is meant than that they give light, Jer. 31:35. The best and most honourable way of ruling is by giving light and doing good: those command respect that live a useful life, and so shine as lights.

      2. Learn from all this,

           (1.) The sin and folly of that ancient idolatry, the worshipping of the sun, moon, and stars, which, some think, took rise, or countenance at least, from some broken traditions in the patriarchal age concerning the rule and dominion of the lights of heaven. But the account here given of them plainly shows that they are both God’s creatures and man’s servants; and therefore it is both a great affront to God and a great reproach to ourselves to make deities of them and give them divine honours. See Deut. 4:19.

          (2.) The duty and wisdom of daily worshipping that God who made all these things, and made them to be that to us which they are. The revolutions of the day and night oblige us to offer the solemn sacrifice of prayer and praise every morning and evening.