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acts of the divine will, or words of command given concerning their production, which immediately ensued hereupon; and there was, in several instances, an interval between the production of one thing and another, which belonged to the same day's work; particularly, in the sixth day, there was first a word of command given, by which beasts and creeping things were formed, and then another word given forth, by which man was created, when, indeed, there was an approbation of the former part of this day's work, in ver. 26. God says, That it was good, before the general approbation, expressed in ver. 31. in the end of the day,
was given, when God saw every thing that he had made, and behold it was very good.
There is nothing, in this opinion, (the main reason and foundation whereof has been before observed) that can be much disliked, neither is it very material whether it be defended or opposed; and therefore, I think, they speak with the greatest prudence, as well as temper who reckon this among the number of those questions, which are generally called problematical, that is, such as may be either affirmed or denied, without any great danger of departing from the faith ;* and, indeed, I cannot see that the reasons assigned, which induce persons to adhere to either side of the question, with so much warmth, as to be impatient of contradiction, are sufficiently conclusive.
The main objection brought against their opinion, who plead for an instantaneous production of things in each day, is, that for God to bring the work of each day to perfection in a moment, and, after that, not to begin the work of the next day, till the respective day began, infers God's resting each day from his work ; whereas, he is not said to rest till the whole creation was brought to perfection. But I cannot see this to be a just consequence, or sufficient to overthrow this opinion; since God's resting from his work, when the whole was finished, principally intends his not producing any new species of creatures, and not barely his ceasing to produce what he had made; for such a rest as this might as well be applied to his finishing the work of each day, though he took up the whole space of a day therein, as if he had finished it in a moment.
And, on the other hand, when it is objected against the common opinion relating to God's bringing the work of each day to perfection by degrees, so as to take up the space of a day in doing it, that it is not agreeable to the idea of creation. This is no just way of reasoning, nor sufficient to overthrow it ; since we generally conclude, that God's upholding providence which some call, as it were, a continued creation, is no
ess an instance of divine and supernatural power, than his producing them at first : but this is not performed in an instant ; never
* Tid Titsij in Ammbol. Erercita 8. $ 66,
theless, it is said to be done, as the apostle speaks, in Heb. i. 3. By the word of his power. Besides, there are some parts of the creation, which, from the nature of the thing, could hardly be produced in an instant, particularly those works which were performed by motion, which cannot be instantaneous; as the dividing the light from the darkness, the gathering the waters together into one place, so that the dry land should appear; and if this took up more than a moment, why may it not be supposed to take up the space of a day? So that, upon the whole, we may conclude, that though it is certain that spirits, such as angels, or the souls of our first parents, could not be otherwise created, than in an instant, inasmuch as they are immaterial, and so do not consist of parts successively formed ; yet none ought to determine, with too great peremptoriness, that other works, performed in the six days, must each of them be performed in an instant, or else the work could not properly be called a creation; and therefore the commonly received opinion seems as probable as any other, that has hitherto been advanced, as it is equally, if not more agreeable, to the express words of scripture.
Here we shall give a brief account of the work of the six days, as it is contained in the first chapter of Genesis ; in the first day, the first matter out of which all things were produced, was created out of nothing, which is described as being without form, that is, not in that form which God designed to bring it into; whereas, in other respects, matter cannot be without all manner of form, or those dimensions that are essential to it, and, as it was created without form, so without motion; so · that as God is the Creator of all things, he is the first mover.
Nevertheless, I am far from thinking, that all God did, in the creation of things, was by putting every thing in motion, and that this brought all the parts of the creation into their respective form. As an artificer may be said to frame a machine, which, by its motion, will produce other things, which he designed to make by the help thereof, without giving himself any farther trouble ; so they suppose, that, by those laws of motion, which God impressed upon matter at first, one part of the creation brought another into the various forms, which they attained afterwards.* And the first thing that was produced, which was a farther part of the six days work, was light; concerning this, many have advanced their own ill-grounded con
This is the main thing that is advanced by Des Cartes, in his philosophy, which formerly obtained more in the world than it does at present ; though there are several divines in the Netherlands, who still adhere to, and defend that hypothesis. This was thought a suficient expedient to fence against the absurdities of Epicurus, and his followers, who suppose that things attained their respective forms by the furtuitour concourse of atoms ; nevertheless, it is derogatory to the Creator's glory, inasmuch as it sets acids his immediate efficiency in the production of things.
jectures. There are some writers, among the Papists, who have supposed that it was a quality, without a subject,* which is an obscure and indefensible way of speaking. Others have thought, that hereby we are to understand the angels; but this is to strain the sense of words too far, by having recourse to a metaphor, which is inconsistent with what immediately follows, that God divided the light from the darkness. But it seems most probable that nothing else is intended hereby, but those lucid bodies, which, on the fourth day, were collected into the sun and fixed stars.
To this let me add, that it is more than probable that God, on the first day, created the highest heaven, which is sometimes called his throne, together with the angels, the glorious inhabitants thereof. It is true, Moses, in his history of the creation, is silent as to this matter, unless it may be inferred from those words, In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth; though, as has been before observed, something else seems principally to be intended thereby: nevertheless, we have sufficient ground to conclude, that they were created in the beginning of time, and consequently in the first day, from what is said elsewhere, that when God laid the foundations of the earth, the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy, Job xxxviii. 4, 7. where the angels are represented as celebrating and adoring those divine perfections, which were glorified in the beginning of the work of creation; therefore they were, at that time, brought into being.
On the second day, God divided that part of the world, which is above, from that which is below, by an extended space, which is styled the firmament, and otherwise called heaven, though · distinguished from the highest heaven, or the heaven of heavens; and it is farther observed, that hereby the waters that are above, are separated from those which are below, that is, the clouds froin the sea, and other waters, that are in the bowels of the earth.
As for that conjecture of some, taken from hence, and especially from what the Psalmist says, Praise him ye waters that are above the heavens, Psal. cxlviii. 4. that there is a vast collection of super-celestial waters, which have no communication with those that are contained in the clouds; this seems to be an ungrounded opinion, not well agreeing with those principles of natural philosophy, which are received in this present age; though maintained by some of the ancient fathers, as principally founded on the sense in which they understand this text; neither do they give a tolerable account of the de
This absurd opinion the Papists are very fond of, inasmuch as it series their purpose in defending the doctrine of Transubstantiation.
sign of providence in collecting and fixing them there *. Therefore nothing seems to be intended, in that text, but the waters that are contained in the clouds as it is said, He bindeth up the waters in his thick clouds, Job xxvi. 8. and, indeed, the Hebrew words seem not to be justly translated t; for they ought to be rendered, Ye waters that are from above in the firmament, not above the heavens, but the earth, or a considerable distance from it; in the firmament, as the clouds are.
On the third day, the sea and rivers were divided from the earth, and the dry land appeared, and the earth brought forth herbs, grass, trees, and plants, with which it is so richly stored, which in a natural way, it has produced ever since.
On the fourth day, the sun, moon and stars were made, to enlighten, and, by their influence, as it were, to enliven the world, and so render it a beautiful place, which would otherwise have been a dismal and uncomfortable dungeon; and that hereby the four seasons of the year might be continued in their respective courses, and their due measures set to them : thus it is said, these heavenly bodies were appointed for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and for years, Gen. i. 14.
This has occasioned some to enquire, whether any countenance is hereby given to judicial astrology, or whether the heavenly bodies have any influence on the conduct of human life, which some ancient and modern writers have defended, not without advancing many absurdities, derogatory to the glory of providence, as well as contrary to the nature of second causes, and their respective effects; and, when the moral actions of intelligent creatures are said to be pointed at, or directed by the stars, this is contrary to the laws of human nature, or the nature of man, as a free agent ; therefore, whatever be the sense of these words of scripture, it is certain, they give no countedance to this presumptuous and ungrounded practice. But this we shall take occasion to oppose, under a following answer,
• Ambrose, in his flecameron, Lib. II. cap. 3. as well as Basil, and others, suppose, that the use thereof is to qualify the extraordinary heat of the sun, and other ceLestial bodies, to prevent their burning the frame of nature, and especially their destroying this lower world; and others think, that they are reserved in store, to aner some particular ends of providence, rohen God, at any time, designs to destroy the world by a deluge ; and consequently they conclude, that it was by a supply of water from thence, that there was a sufficient quantity poured down, when the world 203 drowned, in the universal deluge: but, though a late ingenious writer, (Vid. Burnet. Tellur. Theor. Lib. I. cap. 2.) supposes, that the clouds could afford but a seall part of that water, which was sufficient to answer that end, rohich he supposes to be eight times as much as the sea contains ; yet he does not think fit to fetch a sup. By thereof from the super-celestial stores, not only as supposing the opinion to be ile grounded, but by being at a loss to determine how these waters should be disposed of cgain, which could not be accounted for any other way, but by annihilation, since they could not be exhaled by the sun, or contained in the clouds, by reason of their distan stuction, as being far above them.
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