The holy scripture, being designed to maintain and improve natural
religion, to repair the decays of it. and supply the defects of it,
since the fall, lays down at first this principle of the unclouded
light of nature: That this world was, in the beginning of time, created
by a Being of infinite wisdom and power, who was himself before all
time, and all worlds. And the first verse of the Bible gives us a surer
and better, a more satisfying and useful knowledge of the origin of the
universe, than all the volumes of the philosophers. We have three
things in this chapter.
A general idea of the work of creation, ver. 1, 2.
A particular account of the several days work, distinctly and
The creation of light, the first day, ver. 3 - 5.
Of the firmament, the second day, ver. 6 - 8.
Of the sea, the earth and its fruits, the third day, ver. 9 - 13.
Of the lights of heaven, the fourth day, ver. 14 - 19.
Of the fish and fowl, the fifth day, ver. 20 - 23.
Of the beasts, ver. 24, 25.
Of man, ver. 26 - 28.
And food for both, the sixth day, ver. 29, 30.
The review and approbation of the whole work, ver. 31.
1: Observe here. 1. The effect produced, The heaven and the
earth - That is, the world, including the whole frame and furniture of the
universe. But 'tis only the visible part of the creation that Moses
designs to give an account of. Yet even in this there are secrets which
cannot be fathomed, nor accounted for. But from what we see of heaven
and earth, we may infer the eternal power and godhead of the great
Creator. And let our make and place, as men, mind us of our duty, as
Christians, which is always to keep heaven in our eye, and the earth
under our feet.
Observe 2. The author and cause of this great work, God. The
Hebrew word is Elohim; which (1.) seems to mean The Covenant
God, being derived from a word that signifies to swear. (2.) The
plurality of persons in the Godhead, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. The
plural name of God in Hebrew, which speaks of him as many, tho' he be
but one, was to the Gentiles perhaps a favour of death unto death,
hardening them in their idolatry; but it is to us a favour of life unto
life, confirming our faith in the doctrine of the Trinity, which, tho'
but darkly intimated in the Old Testament, is clearly revealed
in the New.
Observe 3. The manner how this work was effected; God created, that
is, made it out of nothing. There was not any pre - existent matter out of
which the world was produced. The fish and fowl were indeed produced out
of the waters, and the beasts and man out of the earth; but that earth and
those waters were made out of nothing.
Observe 4. When this work was produced; In the beginning - That is,
in the beginning of time. Time began with the production of those beings
that are measured by time. Before the beginning of time there was none but
that Infinite Being that inhabits eternity. Should we ask why God made
the world no sooner, we should but darken counsel by words without
knowledge; for how could there be sooner or later in eternity?
2: Where we have an account of the first matter, and the first
Mover. 1. A chaos was the first matter. 'Tis here called the
earth, (tho' the earth, properly taken, was not made 'till the third day,(Ge 1:10)) because it did most resemble that which was afterwards called
earth, a heavy unwieldy mass. 'Tis also called the deep, both for
its vastness, and because the waters which were afterwards separated from
the earth were now mixed with it. This mighty bulk of matter was it, out
of which all bodies were afterwards produced. The Creator could have made
his work perfect at first, but by this gradual proceeding he would shew
what is ordinarily the method of his providence, and grace. This chaos, was
without form and void. Tohu and Bohu, confusion and emptiness, so those
words are rendered, (Isa 34:11). 'Twas shapeless, 'twas useless, 'twas
without inhabitants, without ornaments; the shadow or rough draught of
things to come. To those who have their hearts in heaven, this lower world,
in comparison of the upper, still appears to be confusion and
emptiness. And darkness was upon the face of the deep - God did not
create this darkness, (as he is said to create the darkness of
affliction, (Isa 45:7).) for it was only the want of light.
2. The Spirit of God was the first Mover; He moved upon the face of the
waters - He moved upon the face of the deep, as the hen gathereth her
chicken under her wings, and hovers over them, to warm and cherish them,(Mt 23:37) as the eagle stirs up her nest, and fluttereth over her young,
('tis the same word that is here used) (De 32:11).
3,4,5: We have here a farther account of the first day's work.
In which observe, 1. That the first of all visible beings which God
created was light, the great beauty and blessing of the universe: like
the first - born, it doth, of all visible beings, most resemble its great
parent in purity and power, brightness and beneficence. 2. That the
light was made by the word of God's power; He said, Let there be light -
He willed it, and it was done; there was light - Such a copy as exactly
answered the original idea in the eternal mind. 3. That the light which
God willed, he approved of. God saw the light, that it was good - 'Twas
exactly as he designed it; and it was fit to answer the end for which he
designed it. 4. That God divided the light from the darkness - So put
them asunder as they could never be joined together: and yet he divided
time between them, the day for light, and the night for darkness, in a
constant succession. Tho' the darkness was now scattered by the light,
yet it has its place, because it has its use; for as the light of the
morning befriends the business of the day, so the shadows of the evening
befriend the repose of the night. God has thus divided between light
and darkness, because he would daily mind us that this is a world of
mixtures and changes. In heaven there is perpetual light, and no
darkness; in hell utter darkness, and no light: but in this world they
are counter - changed, and we pass daily from one to another; that we may
learn to expect the like vicissitudes in the providence of God. 5. That
God divided them from each other by distinguishing names. He called the
light Day, and the darkness he called night - He gave them names as Lord
of both. He is the Lord of time, and will be so 'till day and night
shall come to an end, and the stream of time be swallowed up in the
ocean of eternity. 6. That this was the first day's work, The evening
and the morning were the first day - The darkness of the evening was
before the light of the morning, that it might set it off, and make it
shine the brighter.
6-8: We have here an account of the second day's work, the
creation of the firmament. In which observe, 1. The command of God;
Let there be a firmament - An expansion; so the Hebrew word
signifies, like a sheet spread, or a curtain drawn out. This includes all
that is visible above the earth, between it and the third heavens, the air,
its higher, middle, and lower region, the celestial globe, and all the orbs
of light above; it reaches as high as the place where the stars are fixed,
for that is called here the firmament of heaven, (Ge 1:14,15), and as
low as the place where the birds fly for that also is called the
firmament of heaven, (Ge 1:20).
2. The creation of it: and God made the firmament. 3. The design of
it; to divide the waters from the waters - That is, to distinguish between
the waters that are wrapt up in the clouds, and those that cover the sea;
the waters in the air, and those in the earth. 4. The naming it; He
called the firmament Heaven - 'Tis the visible heaven, the pavement of the
holy city. The height of the heavens should mind us of God's supremacy,
and the infinite distance that is between us and him; the brightness of
the heavens, and their purity, should mind us of his majesty, and perfect
holiness; the vastness of the heavens, and their encompassing the earth,
and influence upon it, should mind us of his immensity and universal
9-13: The third day's work is related in these verses;
the forming the sea and the dry land, and making the earth fruitful.
Hitherto the power of the Creator had been employed about the upper part
of the visible world; now he descends to this lower world, designed for
the children of men, both for their habitation, and their
maintenance. And here we have an account of the fitting of it for both;
the building of their house, and the spreading of their table.
Observe, 1. How the earth was prepared to be a habitation for man
by the gathering of the waters together, and making the dry land
appear. Thus, instead of that confusion which was, when earth and water
were mixed in one great mass; now there is order, by such a separation
as rendered them both useful. (1.) The waters which covered the earth
were ordered to retire, and to gather into one place, viz. those
hollows which were fitted for their reception. The waters thus lodged
in their proper place, he called Seas; for though they are many, in
distant regions, yet either above ground or under ground, they have
communication with each other, and so they are one, and the common
receptacle of waters, into which all the rivers run. (2.) The dry land
was made to appear, and emerge out of the waters, and was called
Observe, 2. How the earth was furnished for the support of man,(Ge 1:11,12). Present provision was made, by the immediate products of
the earth, which, in obedience to God's command, was no sooner made but
it became fruitful. Provision was likewise made for time to come, by
the perpetuating of the several species of vegetables, every one having
its seed in itself after its kind, that during the continuance of man
upon the earth, food might be fetched out of the earth, for his use and
14-19: This is the history of the fourth day's
work, the creating the sun, moon and stars. Of this we have an account,
In general, verse 14, 15. where we have,
The command given
concerning them. Let there be lights in the firmament of heaven - God had
said, (Ge 1:3) Let there be light, and there was light; but that was, as it were, a
chaos of light, scattered and confused; now it was collected and made into
several luminaries, and so rendered both more glorious and more serviceable.
The use they were intended to be of to this earth.
They must be
for the distinction of times, of day and night, summer and winter.
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
They do also give light upon the earth - That we may walk(Joh 11:9,Joh 9:4) and work
according as the duty of every day requires. The lights of heaven do
not shine for themselves, nor for the world of spirits above, they need
them not; but they shine for us, and for our pleasure and advantage.
Lord, what is man that he should be thus regarded, (Ps 8:3,4).
In particular, (Ge 1:16-18), The lights of heaven are the
sun, moon and stars, and these all are the work of God's hands.
The sun is the greatest light of all, 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.
The moon is a lesser light, and yet is here
reckoned one of the greater lights, because, though in regard of its
magnitude, it is inferior to many of the stars, yet in respect of its
usefulness to the earth, it is more excellent than they.
the stars also - Which are here spoken of only in general; for the
scriptures were written not to gratify our curiosity, but to lead us to
Now, these lights are said to rule, (Ge 1:16,18); not that
they have a supreme dominion as God has, but they are rulers under him.
Here the lesser light, the moon, is said to rule the night; but(Ps 136:9) the stars are mentioned as sharers in that government,
the moon and stars to rule by night. No more is meant, but that
they give light, (Jer 31:35). The best and most honourable way of
ruling is, by giving light, and doing good.
20-23: Each day hitherto hath produced very excellent
beings, but we do not read of the creation of any living creature till
the fifth day. The work of creation not only proceeded gradually from
one thing to another, but advanced gradually from that which was less
excellent, to that which was more so. 'Twas on the fifth day that the
fish and fowl were created, and both out of the waters.
Observe, 1. The making of the fish and fowl at first. (Ge 1:20,21)
God commanded them to be produced, he said, Let the waters bring forth
abundantly - The fish in the waters, and the fowl out of them.
This command he himself executed, God created great whales, &c. - Insects
which are as various 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. Notice is here taken of the various
species 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 in particular of great whales the largest of fishes,
whose bulk and strength, are remarkable proofs of the power and
greatness of the Creator.
Observe, 2, The blessing of them in order to their continuance. Life
is a wasting thing, its strength is not the strength of stones;
therefore the wise Creator not only made the individuals, but provided
for the propagating of the several species, (Ge 1:22).
God blessed them, saying, Be fruitful, and multiply - Fruitfullness 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 here.
24-25: We have here the first part of the sixth day's work. The
sea was the day before replenished with fish, and the air with fowl; and
this day are made the beasts of the earth, 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 - Let these creatures
come into being upon the earth, and out of it, in their respective kinds.
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: In
all which appears the manifold wisdom of the Creator.
26-28: 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. Observe,
That man was made last of all the creatures, which was both an honour
and a favour to him: an honour, for the creation was to advance from
that which was less perfect, to that which was more so and a favour, for
it was not fit he should be lodged in the palace designed for him, till
it was completely fitted 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.
That man's creation was a mere signal act of divine wisdom and power,
than that of the other creatures. The narrative of it is introduced
with solemnity, and a manifest distinction from the rest. Hitherto it
had been said, Let there be light, and Let there be a firmament: 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. 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, 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.
That man was made in God's image, and after his likeness; two
words to express the same thing. God's image upon man, consists,
In his nature, not that of his body, for God has not a body, but that
of his soul. The soul is a spirit, an intelligent, immortal spirit,
an active spirit, herein resembling God, the Father of spirits, and
the soul of the world.
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 on earth. Yet his
government of himself by the freedom of his will, has in it more of
God's image, than his government of the creatures.
And chiefly 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, (Ec 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 there were no errors in his knowledge: his
will complied readily and universally with the will of God; without
reluctancy: his affections were all regular, and he had no inordinate
appetites or passions: his thoughts were easily fixed to the best
subjects, and there was no vanity or ungovernableness in them. And all
the inferior powers were subject to the dictates of the superior. Thus
holy, thus happy, were our first parents, in having the image of God
upon them. 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
That man was made male and female, and blessed with fruitfulness.
He created him male and female, Adam and Eve: Adam first out
of earth, and Eve out of his side. 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,
A large inheritance; replenish the earth, 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 likewise
the collector of his praises in this lower world, and lastly, to be
a probationer for a better state.
A numerous lasting family to enjoy this inheritance; pronouncing a
blessing upon them, in the virtue of which, their posterity should
extend to the utmost corners of the earth, and continue to the utmost
period of time.
That God gave to man a dominion over the inferior creatures, over
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 moveth upon the earth - God designed hereby to put an
honour upon man, that he might find himself the more strongly obliged
to bring honour to his Maker.
29-30: 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). - Here is, 1. Food provided for man, (Ge 1:29).
herbs and fruits must be his meat, including corn, and all the
products of the earth. 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. 2. Food
provided for the beasts, (Ge 1:30). Doth God take care of oxen? Yes,
certainly, he provides food convenient for them; and not for oxen only
that 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.
31: We have here the approbation and conclusion of the whole work of
The review God took of his work, he saw every thing that he had
made - So he doth still; all the works of his hands are under his eye;
he that made all sees all.
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. 1. It was good. Good, for it is
all agreeable to the mind of the creator. Good, for it answers the end of
its creation. 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. 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, the visible image of the Creator's glory, 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.
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: but he
did it in six days, that he might shew 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. And now as God reviewed his work, let us
review our meditations upon it; let us stir up ourselves, and all that
is within us, to worship him that made the, heaven, earth, and sea, and
the fountains of waters. All his works in all places of his dominion
bless him, and therefore bless thou the Lord, O my soul.