THE WORK AND REST OF GOD
Chapters 1, 2
"If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold all things are become new" (2 Cor. 5:17).
"God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ" (2 Cor. 4:6).
GENESIS, like all the other books of Scripture, has its own special end. Its object is to shew us the outcome or development of Adam or human nature -- to trace all the different forms of life, which, either by grace or nature, can grow out of the root of old Adam. In the letter we are shewn here how old Adam acted, and what races and peoples sprung out of him. In spirit we see how the "old man" acts in us, and all the immense variety which can and does grow out of him. Thus some forms of life are presented to us which spring out of Adam or human nature, simply by nature, according to the course of nature; and some forms of life there are which spring out of Adam by grace, which are the result of a divine seed sown in that poor soil, contrary to nature and to the course of nature. It is a wondrous tale throughout, but all its secrets are here, told out by Him from whom no secrets are hid.
As a divine preface to this book, which shews us what man is, and the fruit which his earthy nature can produce under the creative word and will of God, we are shewn what this earth was, and the gradual steps of its adorning, from the time when it was "without form and void," with "darkness upon the face of the great deep," until after light and life and fruit, "the image of God," the man created in righteousness, is seen to rule it all. A fit preface; for in a man or world the work is one; and, indeed, man is himself a world, with realms within him vast and affluent. (Note: Ambros. Hex. l. i. c. 5.) Darkness and light, and a great deep, and earth and heaven, are in him. Passions move him as the storms: volcanic fires rage or smoulder in him. Thoughts too, as the work of God proceeds, stir in him, and the realms within are peopled by them, as the air with birds, the sea with fish, and the earth with living creatures. Lest, therefore, our blindness should be unable to trace God's work in the inner world of man, God writes it in creation on the broad platform of an outer universe. Lest we should be perplexed by the long detail of the gradual development of Adam and his seed, God gives the outline of it in the work of seven days. In each there is a work of God upon an earthly creature. In each we are shewn what in successive stages can be brought by grace out of the creature. Thus the seven days of creation are a type of all God's work. Nothing is afterwards revealed, but the seed of it is to be found in the days of labour or in the day of rest. For in Genesis is hid all Scripture, as the tree is in the seed; and in the days of creation is the seed of all Genesis. We shall see how exactly the special work of the six days and the seventh day's rest answer in their order to the stages of development which are depicted in the seven great lives of Genesis. The tale is one, like Ezekiel's vision, "a wheel within a wheel," with "rings high and dreadful and full of eyes on every side."
To this tale of creation I would now turn. Each part will amply repay us. We may consider first the outline, then some of the details, as illustrating the new creation or regeneration.
I. -- THE WORK OF GOD
FIRST then there is a creation of God announced -- then a partial ruin -- then a restoration. "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth" (Gen. 1:1). Of these first "heavens" nothing further is here revealed to us; (Note: Aug. de Gen. ad lit. lib. imperf. c. 3, § 9. We find the same interpretation, Conf. l. xii. 13, 17.) but of the "earth" we read that it was "without form and void," language used by the prophets to describe a state of judgment and utter ruin (Jer. 4:23). (Note: The same original words occur in Isa. 34:11, there translated "confusion and emptiness." Cf. Isa. 45:18.) In some way not revealed God's work had been destroyed. God then, in the six days, restores that earth, not made dark by Him, yet now in darkness; and on this ruined earth His work proceeds, till His image is seen, and He can rest there. Thus a creation utterly wrecked is the ground for the six days' work. On this dark and ruined mass appears what God can do.
The nature and state of the mass here worked on -- the means of its change -- the steps of the work -- all speak a lesson not to be forgotten.
For its nature, it is "earth;" its state, "without form and void," with "darkness on the face of the great deep." Nevertheless, it is not uncared for. God's Spirit broods over it: -- "the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters" (Gen 1:2). (Note: Hieron. Q. Heb. So too Ambros. Hex. l. i. c. 8, § 29.)
This is yet true of the creature before God's work begins. Why it is what we see it to be, is another deeper question -- one here left unsolved -- but its state remains a fact. Before God's word is heard, the creature, which is earthy, is void and formless, with an unknown deep within. Upon this deep all is darkness; yet God's Spirit is brooding there. The creature is helpless, but God is very near. (Note: See Aug. Conf. l. xiii. c. 12.)
This creature begins nothing, continues nothing, perfects nothing. Of its change the agent is throughout the Word of God. Life and power is in the Word. "God said:" -- this is the means, as in the first, so in the new, creation. In both the first move is on God's part. When nothing else moved, "the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters." In both each new transformation is the work of the Word, and its extent in exact proportion to the measure in which the creature hears it.
All this is the A B C of Christian experience. Those, in whom the work goes on, know that each succeeding step is simply by the Word. From everlasting all the work had been hid in Christ, the Eternal Word. Then, in time, that which was in the wisdom of God is wrought actually in the creature. Whether light, or a heaven, or fruits, or heavenly lights, or the living creatures, or the man in God's image, -- each form of light and life, once hid in Christ, is reproduced, manifested in the creature to the Creator's praise. What was in Christ is step by step accomplished in the earth by the transforming power of the same Word of God. (Note: Aug. de Gen. ad lit. l. i. c. 4.) Without this no change is or can be wrought. No saint can grow or live without the Word. What was in the Word from everlasting, by the Word is wrought in us, just in proportion as we are subject to it. Observe two men, both Christians; one neglects the Word, and can pass day after day, buried in earthly things, without God's Word or meditation. Compare with him the man whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates therein day and night. The one is barren; there is no aptness to receive, and nothing is received. The other grows like a tree planted by the rivers.
As to the steps of the work, its details must be traced, if we would have anything like a just view of the wonderful stages of regeneration. It may be well, however, to premise a few remarks as to the general character of this amazing work.
I observe then first, that the work was progressive. Not at once, but through six successive days, was the creation perfected. In nature we have first the blade, then the ear, then the full corn: the babe, the child, and then the perfect man. So is it in grace. Days of labour, stage on stage, must intervene, after which those in whom God works may surely look for rest. Further, in spirit as in letter, the work proceeds in all its stages from evening to morning, from growing darkness to growing light, with alternations of either, but ever from night to day, and not from day to night. (Note: "The evening and the morning were the first day." Gen. 1:5. And so of the other days.) The evening and the morning make the day. Though the light has come, darkness still at times seems to threaten to resume its ancient reign. The shades of temptation and the light of faith alternate for awhile, till the day of rest comes, without an evening: the one to remind us again and again of what the creature is in itself; the other, what it is in Christ, the Word of God. (Note: Greg. M. Moral. in Job l. viii. c. 10, § 21. Augustine's mystic explanation here, that the evening describes what the creature is in itself, the morning what it is in the Word of God, is only another view of the same thing; De Gen. ad lit. l. iv. c. 23, § 40.) Thus from all things wrong does the work advance step by step, till all is "very good." Let none forget this; for some there are who seeing God's end, to shew His glorious image in the creature, forgetting the steps to this end, bitterly judge themselves, because as yet the image of God is not revealed in them. Let such wait in patience. He who hath begun the good work will perform it unto the day of Jesus Christ.
Further, each stage, though imperfect, was "good" in God's eyes. At each step it is repeated, "And God saw that it was good." (Note: In our version, and in the Hebrew, this is omitted in the work of the second day; but it is to be found here in the LXX. There may, however, be a reason for this omission on the second day.) To the awakened soul, feeling its imperfections, this is blessed, that from the first God can find something which He pronounces "good." Not till the sixth day is God's image seen. Then "behold, it is very good" (Gen. 1:31). But from the first, at every step, "God saw that it was good." At first nothing was changed: waters still reigned everywhere: but the light had broken in. Darkness at least now had a name: its character was perceived; and God saw this, that "it was good."
It is thus with God. When He looks upon us, He ever sees what is of Christ, while a carnal brother perhaps is only seeing the sin and failure in us. It is God-like to see Christ in each other in the first stage of His work. One can scarce fail to see Him when the image of God is come. The thing is to see Him, as God sees Him, in the creature's change from the first. St. Paul in his Epistles always does this. If he reproves the darkness and calls it by its name, he sees the light also. Every Epistle begins with a recognition of what was good in each Church. The same may be seen in the Epistles to the Apocalyptic Churches. So Barnabas, who "was a good man, and full of the Holy Ghost," when he went to Antioch, "saw the grace of God" in the disciples (Acts 11:23, 24). Pilate would have seen only their weakness. For a devil can mark our faults, but it needs the grace of God to mark the dawn of grace. And even if the fruit is not mature, if the juice be sour, grace yet will say, "The vine with the tender grape gives a good smell" (Cant. 2:13). (Note: Ambros. Hex. l. ii. c. 5.)
One thing more I notice here. The work of creation has two great parts; the work of the first three days answering to, and yet remarkably differing from, the work of the last three. In each half the order is alike, and the part of creation touched is the same. The difference is, that in the first three days the work is bounding and dividing; in the last three, furnishing and adorning. (Note: Lira, Postill. in loco.) In the first three days a separation takes place between, or is caused by, that which is created of the Lord, and that which is proper to the creature; by which what is natural to the creature is restrained and bound: then the character of each is marked by a name bestowed on each, the creature being thus made to know the thoughts of God. On the first day light shines out, and is divided from the darkness. Thus darkness at once receives a bound. Then the light and darkness have each a name bestowed: -- "God called the light, Day, and the darkness, Night" (Gen. 1:5). On the second, the expanse comes in to bound and divide the waters: then comes its name: -- "God called it, Heaven" (Gen. 1:8). On the third, the earth appears, and is divided from the seas, both at once receiving a name from God in like manner (Gen. 1:10). Thus far the work is dividing and bounding. In the next three days the order is the same, but the work is furnishing. In these days we do not find "God called," but "God made" (Gen. 1:16, 21, 25); this latter half being throughout perfecting.
All this is yet fulfilled in regeneration, and will be apprehended by those who press on to "the perfect man" (Eph. 4:13). Half the process is bounding; a dividing in the creature between that which is of self and that which is of God. At this stage we are submitting to have what is natural to us restrained, and thus learning to distinguish His work from what is ours in us. At the same time we are taught to call things as God calls them. After this, after the third day, when resurrection power is known, (for on the "third day" here as elsewhere resurrection comes out clearly,) the work is to adorn or perfect rather than to divide and bound. Light, and heaven, and earth now are not only distinguished from their opposites; but each gets furnished with the life or light suited to it. At this stage we perceive "God made," for, as the work proceeds, it is more and more seen that all is done by God. (Note: Ambros. Hexaem. l. i. c. 7.) From the first God had said, "Let there be," and "It was so:" but now it is seen, not only that "He spake and it was done," but further that "He did it." So true is it that advance in grace shews that all things are of God, and that only of His own do we give Him. We shall see this better as we come to each successive step; best of all, if we experimentally know the work within.
I now turn to the special work of each of the days in order, to trace the progressive steps of the new creation; for though the work has two great parts, first bounding, then adorning, yet each of these has steps, answering to the successive days. In these steps we shall be shewn how all the mind of God, that which was in the Son from everlasting, -- whether light, or a heaven, or fruits, or heavenly lights, or the living creatures, or the man in God's image, -- each form of light and life, once hid in Christ, is by the Word reproduced and manifested in the creature. The depths here are unfathomed; what is upon the surface will suffice to shew lengths and breadths more than enough for us.
II. -- THE FIRST DAY
THE work begins with light. God said, "Let there be light" (Gen 1:3), and at once light shone where all before was dark. God says, "Repent ye -- the kingdom of heaven is at hand:" then our darkness displeases us, and we are turned to light. (Note: Aug. Conf. l. xiii. c. 12.) Thus of all those blessings hid in Christ from everlasting, and which are predestinated to be accomplished in the creature, light is the first that is bestowed: "God shines in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ" (2 Cor. 4:6). But the "heaven" announced "at hand" is yet unformed. No sun yet shines, no fruits adorn the creature. Many steps remain before the image of God will come, the man created in righteousness, to rule all things. But the light is come, and it is good: "truly the light is sweet," though as yet we cannot add, "and a pleasant thing it is to see the sun" (Eccl. 11:7). It is, however, yet "light" rather than "lights;" (Note: The word here translated "light," is different from that used on the fourth day, and which is rendered "lights." The Vulgate translates the first by lux, the latter by luminaria, thus marking the difference. The LXX also translate with two different words, using phos [G5457] in the third verse, and phosteres [G5458] in the fourteenth.) not defined as it shall be; for as the voice differs from the word, so this light differs from that sun which appears in due season. Whether it is the reflected light of faith resting on the Church's witness, or the direct light of truth from Christ Himself within us, or whether it be something more undefined, is not yet perceived: it is at least "light," and "it is good." "God saw the light that it was good." After awhile the day-star too shall rise within (2 Pet. 1:19).
Then at once comes a division between what is of God and what is not; between the natural darkness in the creature and the light which God has made (Gen. 1:4). The darkness is yet unchanged, but it is bounded by the light; each by its nature more clearly shewing what the other is: and these not mingled together, for "what fellowship hath light with darkness?" but separate, as it is written, -- "God divided the light from the darkness." This is a well-known stage. The light shines in darkness, but the darkness comprehends it not. Two conflicting powers are striving each to gain the day, making the old domain of darkness a continually shifting but ceaseless battle field.
Then a name is given by God both to light and darkness (Gen. 1:5); that is, the character of each is learnt according to the mind of God. It is not yet seen indeed how the creature's darkness, like death, will bring to view still greater wonders of God's work in worlds of light innumerable. This is seen at a later stage, when in our night and darkness, yea even by it, the countless forms of God's light in heavenly places, which the day hides from sight, are made manifest. But now the darkness has at least a name. What God calls it, we call it. His thoughts are not altogether strange to us. Natural as the darkness may seem to the creature, God calls it "night," or deviation. It is a turning from the right or straight line. (Note: The word layelah [H3915], night, means deviation, from a root [H3883] signifying to wind or turn. See Parkhurst's note on the word.) The light is "day," or movement: there is a disturbance of the darkness. Death rules no longer; life with light is come. (Note: The day, yohm [H3117], "from y-m, motion, from the agitation of the celestial fluid, under the influence of the light." "A good telescope (on a hot day, the naked eye) will shew us what a tumult arises in the air from the agitation of the rays of light at noonday," &c. -- William Jones's Principles of Natural Philosophy, p. 241, quoted by Parkhurst, sub voce.) Besides in this name there is a form given to both. Until now light and darkness were unformed, but "day" and "night" intimate order and distribution. Night is darkness put within limits. So with light; it is not "day," till it is arranged and put in form and order. (Note: Aug. de Gen. ad lit. lib. imperf. c. 26.) When thus arranged, we can say, not of night only, but of darkness, "The day is thine, the night is thine also" (Psalm 74:16). And though as yet on the face of the creature little is wrought, though as yet salt and barren waters may extend everywhere, a change has been effected by the light, the importance of which none can fully estimate but those who from being once darkness are now light in the Lord, and which shall advance step by step till God's will is done in the earth as it is in heaven.
Of this day I only add, that on it the creature's state is very slightly, if at all, realised. Whether waters cover it, -- whether there is or is not a heaven, -- (there is, I need not say, no heaven upon the first day,) -- whether firm ground exists or not, this is not yet noticed. The second day must come before the tossing waves, which are uppermost everywhere, begin to be perceived. So with us. There is at first a general sense of sin; but what is the exact state of things is not perceived. There is light and darkness; but that no heaven is formed within, no firm earth, this as yet is overlooked. And great mercy is it that we learn what we are and lack by degrees; else surely we should at first despair.
III. -- THE SECOND DAY
THE second day's work is the forming of an expanse or heaven in the creature, by which the hitherto unbounded waters are divided from the waters. God then names the expanse (Gen. 1:6-8). At this stage the state of the creature, that it is drowned in waters, begins to be perceived.
Such is the second state or stage in the new creation. In the midst of the waters a heaven is formed in the once benighted creature. That unstable element, so quickly moved by storms, is the well-known type of the restless desires of the heart of fallen man; for "the wicked are like the troubled sea, which cannot rest, whose waters cast up mire and dirt" (Isa. 57:20). (Note: Gregory the Great, Moral. in Job l. xxviii. c. 19, § 43.) Before regeneration, unquiet lusts everywhere prevail: the whole man or creature is drowned and buried in them. In the progress of the new creation, these waters are not at once removed: indeed, they are never wholly removed till that other creation comes, when there is "no more sea" (Rev. 21:1). They are first divided by a heaven; then bounded on the third day, when the dry land rises up out of them. This heaven represents the understanding opened, as the rising earth upon the third day shews us the will liberated. For till now, "the understanding has been darkened" (Eph. 4:18); nay, it is written of the natural man that he has "no understanding" (Rom. 3:11). But now the heaven is stretched. Christ "opens the understanding" of those who before this had been His disciples (Luke 24:45, and compare Col. 1:9; 2:2, and 1 John 5:20). And thus another precious gift, once hid with Christ in God, now by Christ is wrought in us also. A heaven is formed within the creature; a heaven into which darkness may return, and through which clouds shall pour as well as bright sunshine; a heaven which for sin may be shut up and become like brass (Lev. 26:19; 1 Kings 8:35), but which was made to be the home and treasure-house of sweet and dewy showers; a heaven, like Israel's path through the sea of old, sorely threatened by dark and thick waters, but, like that same path, a step to resurrection power, and worthy to be called "heaven," even by God Himself; influencing the earth in untold ways, here attracting, there repelling; the great means after light of arranging and disposing all things. (Note: Aug. de Gen. ad lit. lib. imperf. c. 14, § 45.) By it the waters are bounded. Until now, they have flowed hither and thither without a bound, and without a rest also. But the heaven is formed; then a bound is set, where hitherto the restless waters have prevailed.
Then again comes division. A heaven in the creature at once "divides the waters from the waters" (Gen. 1:7). Some remain below; some are above or in the heaven. The waters henceforth are rent in twain. Some rise, purged of their saltness, and become the fruitful clouds, in which the bow of the covenant shall be set in due season. Some are yet the barren sea. And so within. Of our desires and affections, some are raised and purified, not without sore rendings; and some are as before, unquiet and unbounded, save by the heaven over them. (Note: Ambros. Hexaem. l. ii. c. 4, § 17.)
After this the expanse receives a name from God. It is called "heaven," that is the arranger: (Note: Heb, shamayim [H8064], the placers or arrangers, from soom [H7760], to set or place; because the heavens are the agents in arranging things on earth. "This appellation was first given by God to the celestial fluid or air, when it began to act in disposing or arranging the earth and waters. And since that time the shamayim have been the great agents in disposing all material things in their places and orders, and thereby producing all those wonderful effects which are attributed to them in Scripture, and which it has been of late years the fashion to ascribe to attraction, gravitation, &c." -- Parkhurst's Heb. Lex. sub voce. It is worthy of notice that the ancient Greeks derived theous from thesis; for the same reasons. -- Herodot. l. ii. c. 52.) so called, because this heaven, in ways above our thoughts, is the great agent in arranging everything. Little do men now think of the heavens, or perceive what forces around us are at work everywhere. We speak in our wisdom of the "three kingdoms," -- the animal, vegetable, and mineral, -- as if these three were all. Genesis will shew us yet another, on which all these depend. For as the animal depends upon the vegetable, and that upon the mineral, so the mineral itself depends upon another kingdom, which was yet earlier. Some have called it the meteoric. On this the mineral world depends, as the very names of some of the metals, come down to us from days when there was greater insight, yet testify. Now this "heaven," or meteoric kingdom, -- formed of old over the earth, before the mineral, as that before the vegetable and animal, -- was called by God the arranger, to effect great marvels, by what we now call attraction, repulsion, electricity, or evaporation. And so the "heaven," which is formed within by the Word, is the arranger, and in that inward world must precede the gold and fruits and living creatures. Some have tried without this "heaven" to have gold and fruits and life. What have they got? Not God's work, but Satan's imitation. The heaven must be first within, if we would have true fruits, even as true fruits must precede the living creatures.
Further, I observe, on this second day, that the creature's state begins to be discerned. The waters now are not overlooked, as upon the first day. It is now noticed that below the heaven all is buried in them; and this discovery, though painful, is a step to better things. Still, as yet there is no earth, nothing "stablished, strengthened, settled" (1 Pet. 5:10); but this, too, comes in due season.
IV. -- THE THIRD DAY
FOR on the third day the earth emerges from the waters (Gen. 1:9). Up to this point the unquiet element, which is naturally uppermost in the creature, has prevailed everywhere. Light has come, and shewn the waste; a heaven is formed within it; but nothing fixed or firm has yet appeared. Just as in the saint there is first light, and a heaven too within, while as yet he is all instability, with nothing firm or settled. But now the firm earth rises. The state desired by Paul, -- "that we be no more tossed to and fro with every wind of doctrine, but may grow up in all things into Him who is the Head, even Christ" (Eph. 4:14-15), -- here begins to be accomplished. Now the will, long buried and overwhelmed with tossing lusts, rises above them to become very fruitful; and the soul, once lost in passions, emerges from the deep, like "the earth which He hath founded for ever."
This earth rises out of the waters. Above their storms and waves something fixed appears, setting a limit to them. Seas yet may remain; at times they roar against the land; but from this time they cannot overflow it. "He hath set a bound that they may not pass over, that they turn not again to cover the earth" (Psalm 104:9). "He hath placed the sand for the bound of the sea, by a perpetual decree that it cannot pass it; and though the waves thereof toss themselves, yet can they not prevail; though they roar, yet can they not pass over it" (Jer. 5:22). And when we think what a bound it is -- the shifting sand; when we think how, as the wise man says, "all the rivers, -- all the torrents of passion, -- run into the sea, yet it overflows not" (Eccl. 1:7); when we think how oft it rages under the gales of lust, and yet the dry land fails not, nor sinks before it; we must confess God's hand in its preservation, as in its first appearing, and that it is His word and will that keep the bound. For "He shut up the sea with bars and doors, when it broke forth, as if it had issued out of the womb: He said, Hitherto shalt thou come, and no further, and here shall thy waves of pride be stayed" (Job 38:8, 11). Nay, more. Here, as in all things, "out of the eater comes forth meat, and out of the strong comes forth sweetness" (Judges 14:14). Not only do the waves not destroy the earth, but the rough gales borne from their vexed bosom are full of health and bracing. We could not afford to lose them. Trying as they are for a while, and most hurtful if we have not some protection, the gales of lust and temptation will strengthen while they move us: by them noxious exhalations are carried far away. In the world to come we shall want no storms; therefore "no sea" is there. Here we need it; therefore it is left in love to try us. Yea, these seas and their roaring may praise the Lord, for He sitteth King above the water-floods; and all their tempests within, like the wrath of man without, in ways above our present thoughts, yet praise Him (Psalm 76:10). But the work here, the rising earth, is to restrain these waves. Good may come out of their roarings; the greater good, the special work of this day, is to bound them, to form a fixed and quiet habitation. So the earth is freed. Need I repeat the lesson here, that it is by checking our desires -- by bounding the unstable element in us -- that the man is made free? (Note: Greg. M. Moral. in Job, l. xxviii. c. 19, § 43. The whole passage to the end of the book is very striking, and will amply repay any reader the trouble of turning to it.)
There is yet more for us to mark in this emerging earth. Not only does it escape the floods: it comes up also into the expanse of heaven. That creature, so long buried, now mounts up to meet the skies, as though aspiring to touch and become a part of heaven; while on its swelling bosom rest the sweet waters, the clouds, which embrace and kiss the hills. When the man by resurrection is freed from restless lusts; when he comes up from under the dominion of passions into a state of rest and peace; not only is he delivered from a load, but he also meets a purer world, an atmosphere of clear and high blessing; where even his hard rocks may be furrowed into channels for the rain; heaven almost touching earth, and earth heaven.
Not without awful convulsions can such a change be wrought. The earth must heave before the waters are gathered into one place. The Psalmist marks this, when he says, "The waters stood above the hills:" then -- "at thy rebuke they fled; at the noise of thy thunder they hasted away: they go up by the mountains, they go down by the valleys, unto the place which Thou hast founded for them" (Psalm 104:7-8). Some have felt all this within: the earth clean dissolved -- the earth broken down and moved exceedingly -- the earth reeling like a drunkard, and removed like a cottage -- preparatory to binding the host of lusts which have held sway over it, till they are gathered together as prisoners in a pit, and shut up in their prison. Many a soul shews rents and chasms like the steep mountains. Nevertheless, "the mountains bring peace, and the little hills righteousness."
And this is effected on the third or resurrection day; for in creation, as elsewhere, the "third day" always speaks of resurrection. (Note: The "third day" is resurrection in one aspect, as deliverance from the grave; for there are other aspects of resurrection, as the "first" and "eighth" day. The book of Leviticus will be unintelligible till we see this. Compare Hosea 6:2; Luke 13:32; 1 Cor. 15:4.) We shall see in the development of Adam or man that the third great life, I mean Noah's, is regeneration; for in man, as in the earth, much is wrought ere the flood is passed. The earth rises not before the third day. Just so in the world within: much is done before this day, before we know anything of "the power of resurrection" (Phil. 3:10). But "after two days He will revive us; in the third day He will raise us up, and we shall live in His sight. Then shall we know, if we follow on to know the Lord" (Hosea 6:2, 3).
Then the earth being raised, and so separated from the waters, a name is bestowed on both by God. "The dry land He called Earth; and the gathering together of the waters, Seas" (Gen. 1:10). Here, as elsewhere, the name is characteristic; and, in this instance, it seems easy to trace the thought intended to be conveyed by these titles. The word "seas," in the Hebrew, means tumults or agitations. (Note: Heb. yawmim [H3220], from y-m, tumult.) The word "earth," like our word "ground," describes a substance which will suffer itself to be reduced to powder, and so is fitted to take any form as God pleases; ready to be framed by the will and wisdom of the Great Potter, to be animal or vegetable, as He will. (Note: Heb. ehrets [H776]. "Various etymologies have been by learned men proposed of this word; the most probable seems to be that which derives it from r-ts, breaking in pieces, crumbling. 'The matter of earth,' says the great Boerhaave, 'appears friable or crumbling, so long as it continues under the observation of our senses, as it always readily suffers itself to be reduced to a finer powder.' And it is manifest, that on this remarkable property of Earth, its answering the end of its creation, or its usefulness in continually supplying the waste of vegetable and animal bodies, must depend. It is not improbable that the Greek word chthon, from the Hebrew k-th, to pound to pieces, the Latin terra, from tero, to tear away, and the English ground, from grind, all aimed at the same etymological reasons." -- Parkhurst, Heb. Lex. sub voc.) For, indeed, tree or beast, of earth they are, to earth they return. Earth is the pliant clay from which their forms come. It is "earth;" therefore a creature meet to be used, ready to be transformed into fruits or bodies, according to the will of God. Need I apply this within? Surely till we are such "earth" or "ground," broken and ready to take what form He pleases, though the light is come, fruits will be wanting; for to this day it is "out of the ground that the Lord God makes every tree to grow" (Gen. 2:9).
Then the earth brings forth fruit (Gen. 1:11). Fruitfulness, hitherto delayed, at once follows the bounding of the waters. For, "being made free from sin, we have fruit unto righteousness, and the end everlasting life" (Rom. 6:22). (Note: Origen. in Gen. Hom. i. fol. 1.) The order of the produce is instructive; first the grass, then the herb, then the fruit-tree yielding fruit after his kind (Gen. 1:11): as ever, the blade before the ear, the small before the great, from imperfection onwards to perfection. The first thing borne is "grass," the common emblem of the flesh (1 Pet. 1:24). Is it asked how the risen creature can bring forth fruits, which are, like the goodliness of the grass, of the flesh and carnal? Because for long the regenerate man is yet "carnal," and his fruits are in the flesh, though with sincere desires for God's glory. The development of Adam, as exhibited in the Word, not to say experience, gives proofs on proofs of this. The Corinthians, too, were "carnal," though with many spiritual gifts (Compare 1 Cor. 1:4, 7 with 1 Cor. 3:1, 4). But after "grass" comes "herb and tree," with "seed and fruit;" some to feed the hungry, some to cure the serpent's bite; some hid in a veil of leaves, or bound in shapeless husks; some exposing their treasures, as the lovely vine and olive; the one to cheer man's heart, the other to give the oil to sustain the light for God's candlestick. Such is the faithful soul, with many-coloured fruits, "as the smell of a field which the Lord blesses" (Gen. 27:27). The form of the fruit may vary; its increase may be less or more -- some thirty, some sixty, some an hundredfold; for "the fruit of the Spirit may be love, or peace, or faith, or truth, or gentleness" (Gal. 5:22): but all to the praise of His grace, who bringeth forth fruit out of the earth, "fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ" (Phil 1:11). (Note: Aug. Confess. l. xiii. c. 17, § 21. So too, Gregory the Great, Moral. in Job. l. vi. c. 35, § 54. So also Origen, Hom. i. in Gen., and Ambros. Hex. l. iii. c. 7, § 31.)
Nor let us forget, -- "whose seed is in itself, after his kind" (Gen. 1:11). God's fruits all multiply themselves: this is their constitution. The tree propagates itself; every fruit produces more: so every act of charity has in it the seed of other acts. As one lie breeds another, so one truth produces more. Love bears love, anger, anger, and kindness, kindness. There is another and higher fruitfulness, which we get on the last two days; yet this of the third day is lovely in its season. The law of creation cannot change. God has said, "Let the tree yield fruit after his kind, whose seed is in itself." Every act, therefore, will yield its fruits; "the seed is in itself," to propagate itself in increasing measure from age to age, even for ever.
It only remains to notice that at this important stage the state of the creature is no longer unperceived. What it shall be, is not known; but what it is, seems realised on this third or resurrection day. Not till this stage is the creature known. And so throughout the last dispensation, because the creature was not known, resurrection was not apprehended. But after resurrection it is seen what the creature is in itself, and the change which God has wrought in it. On this day the light is seen, the seas are seen, the heaven is seen, and, last in order, the earth is seen with herb and tree. On this day the separating process ends; for things are known. What is now wanted is perfecting; and this is next accomplished. (Note: Augustine briefly sums up the inward fulfilment of the work of the first three days, De Gen. contra Manich. l. i. c. 25, § 43.)
Such is the work of the first three days, deepening at every step; first light upon the deep; then a heaven in the midst of the waters, which lie uppermost; then a lifting up and working upon that which was lower still, the earth, which until now had been buried and concealed. Some have learnt this deepening process. I observe, too, that the work was comparatively slow until the third day. Upon this day God speaks twice (Gen. 1:9, 11); and the amount of work is equal to or exceeding that of the two preceding days. Surely it is a mighty change. Twice on the third day is it repeated, "And God saw that it was good" (Gen. 1:10, 12). If we have reached the third day, we shall know how good it is. If we have not reached it, let us pray and wait for it.
V. -- THE FOURTH DAY
HITHERTO we have traced but one half of the work which God accomplishes upon the creature which is subject to His word. Now, having reached "the third day," we pass from the stages in which the work for the most part is bounding and restraining, to those where the work is adorning and perfecting; when, the distinction being clearly made between what is of God and what is natural to the creature, He proceeds to furnish all the various parts with the forms of light and life suited to each. At this stage, when the earth is raised into heavenly places, many seem to think the work is done. But now begins the perfecting and adorning process, which does not cease until "the image of God" appears. So St. Paul, writing to the Colossians, exhorts to growth in grace in language exactly answering to the stages of creation which we are now to enter on; starting from, "If ye be risen," and leading on the Church to "put on the new man, which is renewed in the image of Him that created him" (Col. 3:1, 10). So he says, "If ye be risen, seek things above:" look for things in heaven, to comfort and enlighten you. Lights to guide, hitherto unknown, will shine upon you, making alternate seasons rich with blessing. Then again advance: -- "Put on, as the elect of God, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, longsuffering." Put on the graces which are prefigured in the dove and lamb and ox, which appear in season upon the fifth and sixth days. And then "put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of Him that created him." So writes Paul, "without a veil;" so writes Moses, "with a veil," "which veil is done away in Christ" (2 Cor. 3:14).
We are then to trace the stages after resurrection-life is known, through resurrection-lights, till we reach "the moving creature," first creeping, then walking, but with face earthwards; and then "the man," with open face, erect, and looking upward.
The fourth day's work is "lights set in heaven" (Gen. 1:14-15): a mighty work: more glorious far than the "light" upon the first day. Then the light was undefined. Now lights are come; the one with warmth; the other cold but shining: each defined; one direct, the other reflex; but both to rule and mightily affect, not the earth only, but even the wide waters: giving another check, too, to darkness, not only taking from it Day, but invading and conquering it by the moon and stars in its own domain of Night.
And so after that the seas of lust are bounded, and the fruits of righteousness begin to grow and bud, a sun, a mighty light, is kindled in our heaven, -- Christ dwells there, God's eternal word and wisdom, -- no longer undefined, but with mighty warmth and power, making the whole creation to bud and spring heavenward; while as a handmaid, another light, of faith, grows bright, within, -- our inward moon, the Church's light, or truth received on testimony; for as men say, Christ is the sun, the Church the moon, so is faith our moon within to rule the night. (Note: Those instructed in the Word will not only find no difficulty in seeing how the moon, which outwardly is the Church, is faith inwardly, but further know that there must be this double application, as in the well-known case of Hagar and Sarah. Outwardly, Hagar is the Jewish dispensation, which stood on law, and Sarah is the Christian Church, which stands on faith. But these dispensations of God have their course in individual souls, and in this inward application Hagar is law, and Sarah the promise, or the gospel. See Gal. 4:22, 31.) Of these two, the lesser light must have appeared the first; for each day grew and was measured "from the evening to the morning;" just as faith, with borrowed light, in every soul still precedes the direct beams of the greater light of the Word of Wisdom in us. Now both shine to pour down light. Oft should we err, if, when darkness fell, our moon of faith rose not to rule the night. Yet fair as she is, she but reminds us of present night, making us sigh for the day-star and the perfect day. Thus are "the two great lights" now given by Him who began His work by giving "light." Now He gives the word of wisdom, that is the greater light; and again the word of knowledge or faith, that is the lesser light; then tongues, or discerning of spirits, or healings, like the stars, lesser manifestations of the same one Spirit. (Note: This is Augustine's exposition, speaking of the fourth day, Confess. l. xiii. c. 18, § 23. The place here given to sacraments is worthy of notice. Augustine makes them only parts of the lesser light. They are no part of the sun, which rules the day, but only of the moon, that is, the word of faith or knowledge. See also Aug. de Gen. c. Man. l. i. c. 25, § 43. Origen's comment is the same in substance, Hom. i. in Gen.)
That such lights, so different and so defined, may be within, is never known by some who yet have been enlightened. The first day's light has reached them: perhaps the heaven has come: but the waters are not bounded; the earth as yet is not fruitful. To such the difference of lights and their distinct powers must be unknown. Let it not therefore be unlooked for by them. Not till the earth has brought forth fruit are these bright lights set in heaven. The lower fruitfulness of action must precede the higher delights of heavenly contemplation. Not till some fruits appear shall we be adorned with heavenly lights. Then not only is the earth blessed with dews and showers, "the precious things of heaven;" but "precious things are now brought forth by the sun, and precious things put forth by the moon also" (Deut. 33:13-14). (Note: See Isidor. in Gloss. Ordinar. Augustine notices the same, Confess. l. xiii. c. 18, § 22 and 24. He goes on to instance the young man in the Gospel (Matt. 19:16), as one who, because he bore not fruit, could not advance to see the heavenly lights.) Now we perceive wherein the borrowed light of faith, resting on witness, differs from the direct light of truth, from Christ Himself within. Henceforward even the night is bright with stars: darkness is conquered even within its own borders. Faith invades the gloom, turning it at times almost to day, an approach to the glory, when "no night is there" (Rev. 21:25); now waxing, now waning, but never to fall or fail, until "our sun shall no more go down, neither our moon withdraw itself" (Isa. 60:19-20). Now we see, too, how the creature's darkness, like death, only brings into view the greater wonders of God's work in heavenly places. Darkness shews us that the earth has a celestial suite, bright companions in heaven night and day waiting on it; moving it with celestial influences, its air, its earth, its tides; giving colour, warmth, motion, life, everywhere. Who can count all that is given from on high, when we can see that our wondrous path is not indeed a lone one, -- that a heavenly sun attracts, -- that a heavenly moon follows, -- that, though darkness may visit us, henceforth it does not rule us, but is ruled, and that even in the night which still remains in us, we have the presence of Jesus the mediator of the better covenant, and the Church of the First-born, and the spirits of just men made perfect, and an innumerable company of holy angels, who, like the morning stars, are singing all around? In bright days their quiet song, wherein they tell God's glory, may not be heard; yet they watch and sing and go with us. The gloomy night will bring them into view, still ready to teach us if we have a heart to learn.
These lights are "for signs and for seasons and for years," and "to rule over the day and over the night also" (Gen. 1:14, 18). For "signs" -- first, of what we are. We have thought this earth is fixed: but sun and moon shew that we are but wanderers here. We have supposed ourselves the centre; that it is the sun that moves. The lights will teach us in due time that he is steadfast: it is we who journey on. Again, these lights are "for a sign" how we stand, and where we are; by our relative positions toward them shewing us, if we will learn, our real situation. For the moon is new and feeble, when, between us and the sun, it trenches on his place, and sets at eventide. So is our faith: put in Christ's place, it must be weak: dark will be our night: we shall move on unillumined. Not so when in her place, not in His, but over against Him, our moon of faith rises at even, as our Sun withdraws Himself. Now she trenches not upon Him; therefore she is full of light, making the midnight almost as the noon-day. So it is said, "Blow up the trumpet in the new moon" (Psalm 81:3, 5); and when the moon is full "eat ye the Paschal Lamb" (Exod. 12:6, &c.); that is, let the trumpet of the gospel sound, when faith is weak: when faith is strong, rejoice together in communion. Thus are the lights "for signs" of what and where we are. Dimmed by mists, they tell also of what remains in us. Turned to darkness and to blood, they forewarn of awful fire, when the earth and the works therein shall be burned up (Luke 21:25, and 2 Pet. 3:10). Signs they are, too, to the man, when at length he walks upon the earth, -- the image of God, which after fruits and lights is formed in us, -- to guide him through the wastes within the creature, as he seeks to know its lengths and breadths that he may subdue it all.
Thus are the lights "for signs:" but they are "for seasons" also (Gen. 1:14); to give healthful alternations of cold and heat, and light and darkness. Sharp winters with their frosts, chill and deadness in our affections, and the hours of darkness which recur to dim our understandings, are not unmixed evil. In the coming rest such alternations will not be needed: therefore no summer or winter or shades of night are there. Here, like the gales from the ocean, they remind us of our state, and in that state work in the creature what is really best for it. We could not bear, while as we are, unbroken day. It would, though we know it not, destroy the creature. Ceaseless summer would wear us out: therefore the lights are "for seasons," measuring out warmth and light as we can profit by it. So faith wanes and waxes, and Christ is seen and hid, each change making the creature learn its own dependence; forcing it to feel, that, though blessed, it is a creature, all whose springs of life and joy are not its own.
These lights, too, are "to rule over the day and over the night." To rule the creature, much more to rule such gifts as the day, wrought by God Himself in it, as yet has been unknown. Even to bound the natural darkness hitherto has seemed high attainment. Now we learn that the precious gifts, which God vouchsafes, need ruling; an earnest this of that which comes more fully on the sixth day. A sun "to rule the day" leads to the man "to have dominion," set to rule, not the day only, but every creature. It is no slight step, when God's aim, hitherto unknown, is learnt; that in His work this gift is for this, that for the other purpose; when it is felt that the best gifts may be misused and wasted; that they need governing, and may and must be ruled. No young Christian feels this; but as he grows up into Christ, his day not only shines, but is divinely governed. The sun now marks the hours, setting to each their bound: morning is discerned from noon, and noon from evening. O blessed day, when the creature comes to bask in sunshine; gift on gift poured on it in due order from the God of all grace!
VI. -- THE FIFTH DAY
THE fifth day's work is the peopling of the sea and air (Gen. 1:20-21). Animate life now is added to inanimate. The waters swarm with life, and the air with winged tribes, which wake the woods and vales with melody. Thus, too, is it within, when on us the fifth day dawns. Now higher forms of life appear everywhere; each new form yet more revealing in the creature that which hitherto had only been treasured up in the mind of God for it. For we must never forget, that all this wondrous work, which step by step is thus produced in us, is only the developing in the creature of that which had been in Christ, the wisdom of God, from everlasting. For God will stamp Himself upon us. His will is that His fulness should be revealed in us; that as we have borne the image of the earthy, we now may bear the image of the heavenly. We have seen how several glories, -- light, a heaven, fruits, and lights, -- once hid in Him, by Him are wrought in us. Each of these was a precious gift, and worthy of the Lord, transforming the creature from its natural state of ruin to light and fair order. But now come higher blessings, forms of life unknown before, multiplying first in the air and waters, then upon the dry land.
We have seen what the waters and the heaven are within, -- the former the desires, the latter the understanding. With the waters until now little has been done save to bound them. Desires are checked in us, but this is all. Now new life moves in them, the varied fish and fowl, all figuring some of the countless forms of Christ's spirit. For such is Christ's fulness, that no one type can express it; and His will is that of this fulness we should be filled also; "to know the love of Christ which passeth knowledge, that we might be filled with all the fulness of God" (Eph. 3:19). The light, or a heaven, or the seed, or sun and moon, each was but some manifestation in the creature of what had been in Him. So the turtle and the eagle, now created, are but types of some fresh gift or grace of Christ's spirit; "diversities of gifts, but the same spirit; differences of administration, but the same Lord" (1 Cor. 12:4, 5). For just as in nature matter is one in all its forms, so in the new creation is the spirit one in all its transformations. The revelation only widens as the work proceeds. In due time the lion and ox and man are seen also; each a yet further expression of something in God's mind, which by His Word through grace is wrought in us.
But the forms and natures of the creatures made this day, like the light and fruits, will best explain themselves. The dove is the well-known figure of meek innocence. So at Christ's baptism the Spirit "like a dove" came and abode on Him (Matt. 3:16). The eagle's lofty flight and keen vision represent but another form of the same Divine Spirit. He who says, "I bare you upon eagles' wings" (Exod. 19:4), gives us also to "mount up with wings as eagles" (Isa. 40:31); for "of His fulness we all receive, and grace answering to His grace" (John 1:16). The other fowls of heaven, as the law shews us, both the clean and the unclean, each taught their own lesson; expressing in the difference of their lives and natures those faculties and emotions which give a form to life (Lev. 11:9-23). Since the fall these emotions are mostly evil. Hence, in Scripture, birds are generally a type of evil spirits (Matt. 13:4; Rev. 18:2). The dragon and the whale too are used as evil (Ezek. 29:3; 32:2). But they are only evil because fallen. In themselves they simply represent certain forms of life, good if dependent, evil if independent. Just as Satan, once an angel, is now a devil, and all his light and knowledge are accursed; so the powers of the understanding, figured by the birds, are good, and through self-will only become evil. (Note: This explains how the same type may be either good or bad. Christ is a "lion." Rev. 5:5. But Satan also is a "lion." 1 Pet. 5:8. The same is true also in countless other instances.) I know the eagle-eye which loves to gaze on light, and the soaring thought which delights to mount upward, and the searching spirit which finds a pleasure in fathoming great deeps, -- "for the spirit searcheth all things, yea the deep things of God," -- may all be misused through self, and so be spoilt; for I know no good gift of God which may not become a curse to us. But the faculty as given by the Lord is good, and the thoughts or emotions which are formed to soar upward, or to dive into that depth which yet remains in us, may all tell forth the Lord's glory. Therefore "the dragons, and the beasts, and creeping things, and flying fowl," as much as "sun and moon, and heaven, and fruitful trees," are called to praise Him (Psalm 148:1-14). As formed upon the fifth day they speak His praise, "saying, Glory to Him that sitteth upon the throne, and to the Lamb for ever" (Rev. 5:13, 14). (Note: Augustine explains the "moving creatures" to be emotions. De Gen. c. Manich. l. i. c. 20. See also c. 25 of same book and Confession. l. v. c. 3, § 4, and Origen, Hom. i in Gen.)
The details here would open an endless field; for the natures of these creatures vary, yet cannot be misunderstood. We have seen the dove and eagle, but others preach also, exhorting us to look for like powers to be created in us; some to sing by day, as the thrush; and some, like the nightingale, to wake the dark hours; some with clarion, like the cock, to foretell the morning, and bid the sleepers arise to greet the day; some, like vultures, far-seeing, to seek their meat from far; some, like the swallow, to live as pilgrims here; some, like cranes, to fly in ranks, and know the seasons, and watch while others sleep around; some to care for the aged, as the stork; or, like the turtle, once widowed never so to pair again. Each tells its own story of what God can work, and the rich profusion of form in which the same life may shew itself. And these increase. Some heavenly gifts, as the lights of the fourth day, can never multiply. They may rise and set, and bring round springs and winters; but they do not increase by generation. But when the fifth day comes, the forms of heavenly life then given may increase greatly. For God has said, "Be fruitful and multiply" (Gen. 1:22). And just as the fruits formed upon the third day, "whose seed is in themselves," reproduce themselves and grow rapidly, so do the graces of the fifth day spread wondrously. And when this has come, the image of God is near, when the work shall cease, for all is "very good."
VII. -- THE SIXTH DAY
TO this last stage of the work we now proceed, when the earth also having brought forth its living creatures, man, the image of God, His last and crowning gift, is set to rule as lord of all. This is the sixth day's work. Now the life of the Lamb and Man is added to the likeness of the Dove in the redeemed creature.
These forms speak for themselves. They are but the continuation, in greater perfection, of the work of the fifth day. Then the work was in the seas and heaven: now the earth, that is the will, brings forth in like manner. I need not here repeat what I have said, upon the fifth day, as to the principle on which these living creatures are to be interpreted; how they represent emotions good in themselves, only evil when fallen and independent; the living creatures of the earth representing the emotions connected with the will; the birds of heaven those connected with the understanding. (Note: Respecting the heaven and the earth, as figuring the understanding and will respectively, see above on the second and third days. Both have their own emotions.) The instinct of mankind has always read these forms aright, nor has the difference of age or country made any difference in their interpretation. To this day, wherever the primitive language of symbol yet remains, the passions are still characterised by the names of different beasts. And those to whom heaven is opened see "the living creatures" there, in the midst of the throne of God, and round about it (Rev. 4:6, 8), proving that powers like to these creatures, if not in God, may yet be most holy and very near to Him. It was but the perversion of this very truth, seeing in these creatures some trace or glimpse of the Divine, which ended in the worship of the creature, as in Egypt, where the ox and other beasts were deified; just as, to this day, in mystic Egypt, those gifts which are given as witnesses for God are made to take His place; the creature, in whom some trace of God is seen, being worshipped instead of the Creator. Still the gifts are good, each added form expressing but some further fulness which was in Christ Jesus: the ox, the spirit of unselfish toil (1 Cor. 9:9); the lion, that holy wrath in which we may judge and be angry, and yet sin not (Eph. 4:26); the lamb, that meekness which beareth all things, which is oppressed and afflicted, and yet openeth not its mouth (Isa. 53:6). (Note: It is well known that the early church applied these figures, the lion, the ox, the man, and the eagle, to the four Gospels, conceiving that these "living creatures" were apt representations of those peculiar relations of Christ, which are respectively set forth in the four Gospels. See Ambros. Prol. in Lucam, § 8.) These and like gifts now appear, till at length the man is seen, the "image of God," to crown and perfect all.
What is this image? It is the mind of God; for Christ is that Mind or Word to rule in us. The man is Christ, the perfect mind of God. The light, and heaven, and herb, and moving creature, were all but partial glimpses of Him, preludings of that perfect revelation which should be seen in God's image. That image now is come, to rule all things, itself containing all within itself. O the depth that opens here! Who shall take the measure of that which is the likeness of the immeasurable God? For He made the heaven, and yet He rested not, -- the earth and its fruits, and yet He rested not, -- the sun, and the moon, and the creatures of the sea, and sky, and of the earth, and yet He rested not. But He made man, His image in the earth, and then He rested; for it was "very good."
This image is the mind of God in us. When this is come, the "man" is formed, erect in walk, and looking upward, able to recognise the mind and will of One above him, with an understanding to know, and a will to love, God. This it is which marks man: a mind able to understand and bow to a superior. Lose this, and we at once become as beasts, incapable of recognising, save by force, the will of One above us; "like the horse or mule which have no understanding, whose mouth must be held in with bit and bridle" (Psalm 32:9); or like Nebuchadnezzar, in vain self-exaltation, losing his reason, and with a beast's heart, becoming as a beast (See Dan. 4). The "man" is not strength, or grace, or piercing sight; but a mind thinking God's thoughts, and in communion with Him. Strength, and grace, and sight, and light, and warmth, are in him; for the inward as the outward man is in himself a little world. But a mind to recognise and hold communion with One above him, is that which, above all, marks and makes the man. And this is the secret of his rule over others; as it is said, "Subdue, and have dominion" (Gen. 1:28). For no one can rule who is not ruled. And just as Adam, while subject to God, had power over every living creature, a power he lost as soon as he rebelled, and instead of being subject became independent; so in us the "man" has power over beasts, that is the emotions within, only while it remains subject. Let the reason take God's place, then the beasts will be unruled until God again is recognised. This, I may add, is true on every platform. It is only the recognition of One above which gives power. It is the lack of this that now makes the rulers of this world helpless. Beasts are rebelling against them, because they have rebelled.
And here let none forget the weighty fact, that the best powers in the new creation need ruling. Good as the ox is to labour, he needs a lord; man, therefore, is given to subdue and guide him; as God said, "to have dominion over all fish and fowl, and every living thing that moveth on the earth" (Gen. 1:28). Proofs abound on every hand that God's gifts need rule. How often is the "ox," -- the spirit of true service, -- unless subdued by the "man," found wasting its strength, or even grossly misusing it! Have fences never been broken down by strong oxen? Have weak children never been sorely injured? Have sweet vines never been crushed or trodden under feet, which were set as plants to cheer both God and man? These things have I beheld, where the "man" is not yet seen. And so of every blessing; whether lion, lamb, or eagle, all require rule. Without it, the very abundance of gifts will only cause confusion. The Church of Corinth is a proof, enriched with knowledge, but carnal, for the "man" had not yet come. The gifts indeed were there, but the mind of God was wanting. They need one like Paul, in whom the "man" is come, to set them right. Some yet have to learn this, who have reached the fifth day stage, and to whom the eagle's eye and soaring wing are not wanting. They will find the "man" to rule must come at length, God's Mind directing God's Spirit. In a word, that as in nature the powers God gives, strength, speech, or desire, if unruled by reason, become curses; so in grace the higher powers of God's Spirit must be subject to His Mind, or Word, or Reason, that is, Christ, in us.
This man was created "male and female," that so he might be a perfect image of God. God is infinite Wisdom and Love. No image of Him would be complete which did not express both. Man, as His image, is, therefore, male and female, that he may be a figure both of the wisdom and love of God; the man representing the understanding, the woman the will or love-part of the mind, which united make up that inward man or mind, by which we can both know and love, and so commune with, God. The seventh day will shew us more of this, when the taking of the woman out of the man is clearly set forth. But, seen or not, a work is now wrought in us, the type of which is the man and the woman. Saints in bygone days have thought and spoken much of this, though few now care for such matters. (Note: See Augustine's interpretation of this in his Confessions, book xiii. chaps. 24 and 32. Also in his First Book against the Manichees, chap. 25, and book ii. chaps. 11-15. Also De Opere Monach. c. 32, § 40. So too De Civitat. Dei, l. xv. c. 7, ad finem. Origen gives the same explanation, Hom. in Gen. i. fol. 4. The following passage, from a modern writer, speaks the same language: "Man, that he might be capable of being an image of God, was endowed with two faculties, designed for the reception of love and wisdom from his Maker. These are known by the names of the will and the understanding, the will being designed for the reception of the divine love, the understanding of the divine wisdom. I am aware that, although the ancient metaphysicians universally adopted this general division, some of the moderns have doubted its correctness. ... Respecting the understanding, there can be little dispute; nor, I should think, respecting the will. ... As to the will, a man assuredly wills whatever he loves. Thus every species of love that can have an abode in his mind, may be considered as belonging to a certain general faculty, which is most correctly denominated the will. The mistake seems to have arisen from confounding this general faculty, by which we are only inclined to certain actions, with the determination to action, which is the result of the operation of the will and understanding together." -- Noble on Inspiration, p. 79.) As to the food of this man, too, much is taught here (Gen. 1:29). The fruits of the third day sustain the "man" in vigour. Just as faith, which is the mother of all the virtues, is often when weak supported and nourished by her children; so the "man," the highest form of the life of Christ in us, is sustained by the lower acts and fruits of righteousness. But all this, and much more, will meet the prayerful reader, who looks for teaching from above.
At this stage the work ends, and then the seventh day comes, the day of rest, without an evening; the day on which the creature is shewn in another form; when a garden is seen, with trees of life and knowledge; and God Himself walking in the midst of it, conversing with the man; and when for unquiet seas there are only sweet rivers. Who shall attempt to count the blessings here? When this comes, can anything be asked or added? A heart to praise only then is needed; nor is this wanting; for every faculty in the rest of the new creation praises God. (Note: Bernard has a very beautiful passage, on the inward application of the work of the Six Days. De Amore Dei, l. iii. c. 14, § 52.)
VIII. -- THE SEVENTH DAY
TO this day of rest I now would pass, a stage attained by few, for few pursue it. For it is now, as of old: the Lord may work in many a house: He can find a rest in very few. So He works in many souls, and comes to give of His fulness; but few so entirely yield to Him, as to let Him indeed rest there. Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests in us, but few hearts give Christ a true resting-place. Yet this is the stage here drawn, the state of "full age," or "perfection" (Phil. 3:15; Heb. 5:14), when, instead of growth and change, and the varying life of faith, and the struggle between the old state and the work of God within us, we reach the life of vision and of rest, where the man through grace is drawn to live in a life of love above such strivings, not converted only, or even gifted, but at rest and full of peace, and, because at rest, reflecting God and heaven, like the deep still stream, which can give back each hue and cloud of heaven, while the restless soul flows on, a brawling river, reflecting nothing, though the light has come, upon its troubled bosom. Such is this day of rest, when heaven is seen in the creature, and the "powers of the world to come" are already more than tasted (Heb. 6:1-5).
Its cause is first described. The rest is come, because through the Word of God His will is done perfectly (Gen. 2:2). No rest can come until His will is done. When it is so accomplished, whether for us or in us, for us or in us there may be rest. For us there is a rest, when we see the work perfect for us in Christ Jesus. In us there is the selfsame rest, when that work is perfected in us by the same Christ Jesus. He gives Himself for us, and thus by faith His rest is ours, so soon as our faith apprehends Him now in rest for us. But He also gives Himself to us, to work in us that which once through grace He wrought for us. Our faith, from the first day when it takes Christ for us, can rest in Him, for His work is perfect. But in us, as well as for us, in experience as in faith, the rest will come, when in us, as for us, His work and will is done. Thus the rest is in His, not in our own, will done. Our will can never give us rest. If His will rules, there will be a rest. Two wills struggling may prove life or growth, but no Sabbath. God will not, cannot rest, save where His will is done. Hence, at first, there cannot be this rest, for the flesh and the spirit strive together, and the man, who as yet is double, and lives in both, though "at peace with God by faith" (Rom. 5:1), cannot know "the peace of God which passeth all understanding" (Phil. 4:7); the law in his members warring against the law of his mind, even though God's true work is growing there. But in time the flesh is nailed to the cross, and now the man is no longer double, but single and simple. One life now rules him, and this is God's; and so the day of rest begins to dawn. For this is rest, to yield ourselves to God, to turn away the foot from doing our own pleasure; not doing our own ways, nor speaking our own words, nor seeking to find our own pleasure: then shall we delight ourselves in the Lord, and the creature find joy in God, and God joy in the creature (Isa. 58:13, 14). (Note: See also the connection of the well-known words in Matt. 11:25-30. John, his witness, in bonds, seems to doubt, and asks, "Art thou He that should come, or look we for another?" Then that generation, whether mourned or piped to, mock; and the cities which have beheld His works reject Him. "At that time Jesus answered and said, I thank Thee, Father, for thus it pleaseth Thee." And then at once turning to those around, having shewn how He could find a rest in God's will, He says, "Come unto me, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke, and learn of me, and ye shall find rest.")
But to speak of the rest itself. Much is said descriptive of the nature of this true Sabbath.
And, first, it is "God's rest." It is not said, "the creature rested," but "God rested" (Gen. 2:3); not as though He could be weary, but to shew His satisfaction, and to teach that as the work was His and not the creature's, so the rest was His also. For God Himself has joy in seeing His work perfect. And if in the days of labour it is seen that all progress is because He works in us, much more is this felt when the day of rest is come, as it is written, "God rested from all His work which He created and made." For He works that He may rest in us. Let us not forget the complacency with which He surveys His own workmanship, and that each fresh act of submission to His Word leads to His, even as to our, rest.
Further, this rest is "blessed." We read, "God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it." He blessed the day. In the six days of labour God had blessed certain gifts as the "living creatures," that is, certain powers or faculties divinely given. Now a day is blessed, that is, the creature's state, as well as some of its peculiar powers, obtains the Lord's blessing. And "God sanctified," that is, took it for Himself. In the days of labour God does not get His own. But the day or state of rest is wholly His. By it, in holy contemplation, far more than in action, is the creature perfected. God may get something from our works: He gets much more when we rest, and so pass out of self and its variableness wholly into His will.
On this day there is "no evening" seen. (Note: This is observed by nearly all the Fathers: by Augustine, Serm. ix. (vol. v. p. 53, ed. 1679,) and De Gen. ad lit. l. iv. c. 18, &c.: by Jerome, Epist. xxi. De Celebratione Paschae: by Bernard, De Amore Dei, l. iii. c. 13, &c.) In the days of labour, though the night is never once mentioned, from first to last the evening reappears. The evening and the morning make the day. But on the seventh day we read of no evening. And this omission, like those noticed of Melchisedek by St. Paul, is significant and full of deep teaching. (Note: In his Epistle to the Hebrews (chap. 7) the Apostle points out how much is to be learnt from the simple fact that in the history of Melchisedek nothing is mentioned either of his birth or death: he is presented to us "without father or mother, having neither beginning of days nor end of life;" an omission very unusual in Scripture with persons of note, but here with purpose, as the Apostle teaches. Other omissions in Scripture are as instructive. Those in St. Mark's Gospel, as compared with St. Matthew, are within the reach of most readers. The contrast between the books of Kings and Chronicles is as marked; the omissions of the latter being, like the additions, full of meaning.) Evening is the state preceding and tending to night or darkness. Morning is the state succeeding it. Hence the evening suggests decline of light; a relapse or tendency, however brief, to the creature's own darkness. All the days of labour have this evening, for they need it; though even then each stage proceeds "from evening to morning;" with mornings which steadily grow into the day, unlike that fitful light from the cold north, that Northern Morning (Aurora borealis), which without warmth at times shoots up at night, to go out and fade at midnight suddenly. Such northern lights are not the morning. But now the day of days has come without an evening. Now no darkness or shades return. And good as are the days when the work goes on from evening to morning, -- yea, good as are the nights, while yet we need them, -- far more blessed is the day of rest without an evening. For then is the dawn of heaven itself, when "at even time it shall be light," for the days "shall be as one day" (Zech. 14:7); when the soul is fit to bear unbroken day, and its very "darkness can be even as the noon day" (Isa. 58:10). Then comes this day of days, when "the sun shall no more go down, neither shall the moon withdraw itself, for the Lord shall be our everlasting light, and the days and nights of mourning shall be ended" (Isa. 60:20); a day "as the days of heaven," whose "light is sevenfold, as the light of seven days" (Isa. 30:26); when "no night is there" (Rev. 21:25), nor toil, nor change, but God's rest, and our rest in Him for ever; as Enoch's life, who "walked with God, and was not, for God took him," whose life, the "seventh from Adam" (Jude 14), being a true sabbath of rest, could know no evening. Such is this seventh day, a walk with God, uniting earth to heaven in blessedness. If we know it not, let us wait: to those who wait, it will surely come, it will not tarry.
And as to God Himself, the rest reveals Him to us in another character; for names denote character, and God is known by another name upon the seventh day. Throughout the days of labour, He is "God" (Gen. 1. passim). Now on the Sabbath, He is the "Lord God" (Gen. 2:4). The title "God" tells what He does. Elohim is One whose power and oath we may rely on. It speaks rather of His works than of Himself. "Lord" or Jehovah tells what He is, in His own perfections. (Note: "God," Heb. elohim [H430], from ahlah [H422, 423], to swear, speaks of One who is pledged by oath and covenant; while the plural form of the name points us to the Three Persons in the Godhead, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, by whose agency the covenant is fulfilled. "Lord" is Jehovah, yhwh [H3068], the Self-existing, who is what He is, above our highest thoughts.) At first what God has done or will do, is far more to us than what He is; for we need His work; the names therefore which recall it will be those by which we best know Him. When the rest is come all this remains: His name as connected with His work cannot be forgotten: it is and ever will be precious; but we learn to add what He is to what He does for us. We all have felt how much Christ's work in the newly awakened soul takes the place of Christ's person; and how the questions which then arise are of the nature and extent of His work, more than of Himself. Then prayer and praise both speak His work. The earlier part of the Book of Psalms is full of such utterances. But we close the course by praising Him, not only "for his mighty acts," but "for His excellent greatness" (Psalm 150:2); on earth, with Paul, while God works in us, blessing Him as "the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ," for all that blessed work in Him, in that "He hath loved and raised us up in Him" (Eph. 1:3; 2:4-6); in heaven to hear a higher strain, "resting not day nor night, saying, Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God Almighty, which wast, and art, and art to come; for Thou art worthy; for Thou, O Lord, hast created all things, and for Thy pleasure they are and were created" (Rev. 4:8, 11): a song praising Him for what He is, yet not forgetting what He has done; in His presence and His rest seeing Him above His works, Himself far more glorious. Work indeed reveals the worker; but if somewhat of God is known in and by His work, how much more of Him is learnt in and by His rest, when His will can shine out perfectly! Oh, to know that rest yet more, to know Him more; and to know Him more, to know yet more of rest.
Nor is it God alone who shines out more fully upon the seventh day: the creature itself on that day is changed, presented to us in another higher form. For instead of "herb and tree," we have now "a garden drest," whose position is "eastward" and "in Eden" (Gen. 2:8, 15); words full of meaning, and suggesting rising light, and pleasures at God's right hand for evermore. For the "East" speaks plainly of advancing light and warmth; while "Eden" means pleasure, and is so translated in not a few versions. (Note: Heb. eden [H5731], i.e. delight. The LXX. and Vulgate both translate the word thus: the former rendering it truphes, the latter, voluptatis. See Augustine, De Gen. c. Manich. l. ii. c. 9, § 12. See also Ambros. de Parad. c. 3. See more respecting "the East," below, on chap. 11:2.) The "garden" too speaks far more than we can bear of that Paradise into which some like Paul have been caught up (2 Cor. 12:4; Rev. 2:7); a state not of faith but of vision, where the things within the veil, which "it is not lawful to utter" without the veil, are made manifest. Such is this "garden," reached on the seventh day, far more glorious than the herbs and fruits upon the third day. Now instead of "seas," we have only sweet "rivers" (Gen 2:10-14). (Note: It is to be observed, too, that whereas in the six days we only get ehrets, earth, on the seventh day we have the additional word adamah [H127], ground, which seems to indicate more care and cultivation. Earth might be uncultivated.) The man, too, instead of subduing every beast, is seen exercising toward them something like divine power. For before this day, in the first three days, names were bestowed on parts of the creation by the Creator: -- "God called the dry land, Earth, and the waters, Seas, and the expanse He called, Heaven." But on the seventh day man is permitted to shew his likeness to his Maker by giving names to the living creatures, thus shewing his insight into God's work; -- "the Lord God brought them unto Adam, to see what he would call them: and whatsoever Adam called every living creature, that was the name thereof" (Gen. 2:19). Further, much is now shewn of the "woman," his help-mate, whose relation to the "man," as made out of him, is now discerned (Gen. 2:20-25). The apprehension, too, of the "trees of life and knowledge" is something quite peculiar to this seventh day (Gen. 2:9, 16, 17). All these things shew the creature in a form far higher and more removed from carnal conception than any hitherto presented to us. Whether we are fit even to look at such blessings, is a question for each to lay to heart. For surely not in vain was disobedient man shut out from that Paradise, the figure of which is here presented to us, -- shut out in love, for all God does is love; -- shut out lest he should have a worse judgment. The disobedient cannot enter here. Such contemplations do not suit, and would not help them. But humble souls, at peace in Christ, may look and perhaps see some of those things which belong to the seventh day, and learn thence what may be enjoyed when we rest in God's rest, because His will is done.
What, then, are these "rivers" of which we read, not here only, but in all the prophets; which are known on the day of rest and not before, and which now take the place once occupied by salt and tossing waters? In Eden the stream is one, but "from thence it is parted," and becomes four distinct rivers (Gen. 2:10). What is this, but that stream of living waters, which one and undivided for those who enter Paradise, -- and without a name while it is there, for in its undivided flow the one stream is beyond all human description, -- without the garden is parted into four streams, giving its waters to the world as Pison, Gihon, Euphrates, and Hiddekel? For divine truth, which is the living water, to those who can see it as it is within the veil, is one full stream, in undivided flow; but to us on earth it ever comes by four distinct channels. It may be said in general that there are four sources of truth, and but four, which are accessible to men, which are like rivers, in the fertility they produce upon their banks, and in the glorious power they all possess of reflecting heaven; first, intuition, by which we get an acquaintance with moral or spiritual things, which are not objects of sense; second, perception, through the senses, by which we only get an acquaintance with material things and their properties; third, testimony, by which we learn what others have found out through perception or intuition; fourth, reasoning or reflection, a process of the understanding, by which we unfold what is contained or implied or suggested by the perceptions, intuitions, or testimony. If I err not, the first of these is Pison; the second is Gihon, or Nile, -- since the fall the stream of Egypt; (Note: In Jeremiah 2:18, the LXX. translate Gihon for Nile. Augustine, Ambrose, Jerome, Josephus, Isidore, and I know not how many more, tell us the same. They all agree also in saying that Pison is the Ganges.) the third is Hiddekel, that is the Tigris; (Note: The LXX. here translate Hiddekel by Tigris. So, too, in Dan. 10:4. It is easy to see how the one name might change into the other, Hiddekel, Digalto, Tigral, Tigris.) and the fourth river or channel of truth is Euphrates. Of the first of these we know little after the fall, but "it compasseth the land of Havilah, where there is gold" (Gen. 2:11, 12); (Note: Havilah means "to bring forth.") the land that is of much increase, where the waters produce much fruit while they also roll down rich treasures. As seen on the day of rest these are all good, like the birds and beasts of the fifth and sixth days; yet like those same creatures all capable of perversion, as the best things may be perverted, by the fall. We know that the fall has affected all gifts, -- that some of the best powers are become most devilish. So of these rivers some are now the streams of Egypt and Babel, instead of making glad the city and garden of the Lord. Euphrates, the great head or stream of reasoning, has become the channel of the strength and wealth of great Babylon; while Gihon, or the Nile, the channel of knowledge through the senses, is the river of Egypt, from which we are redeemed. But here they are seen pouring out their streams according to God's purpose and to God's glory. And if we can but reach the seventh day of rest, then again not only Pison and Hiddekel, but Gihon and Euphrates also, reasoning and sense as well as faith and intuition, all give their waters to the creature's joy and to God's glory. Then, to use the prophet's words of a like day, "Israel shall be the third with Egypt and Assyria, whom the Lord of Hosts shall bless, saying, Blessed be Egypt my people, and Assyria the work of my hands, and Israel mine inheritance" (Isa. 19:24, 25). (Note: The Fathers, while holding the inward application of these four rivers, as representing certain powers or faculties of the soul, when it has reached the seventh day, (see Aug. de Gen. c. Manich, l. ii. c. 10, § 13; Ambros. de Par. c. 3, &c.) and connecting these with the fourfold sense of Scripture, i.e. its literal, inward, outward, and dispensational applications, which are apprehended by these faculties, (see Gloss. Ordin. in loco,) in a more outward application referred these four streams to the four Gospels, regarding each as one of the channels by which the living waters of Divine truth flowed forth into the world. (Aug. de Civit. l. xiii. c. 21.) In this application, if I err not, St. John is plainly Pison, "where there is gold, and the gold of that land is good." St. Luke, I think, is Gihon; St. Mark, Hiddekel; and St. Matthew, Euphrates. In the Epistles, also, we can trace these four rivers; in Paul's arguments, Euphrates; in James's moralising, Gihon; in Peter, Hiddekel; in John, Pison.)
On this day we learn much of the "woman." Till the sixth day we saw no man or woman. Fruits may bud on the third or resurrection day, and yet nothing be seen of the "man" in God's image; for he is not seen till the "dove" and "lamb" appear, that is, until the sixth day. Then we learn that the man is "male and female." Now on the day of rest we see her "taken out of him;" not from his thinking head or nervous arm, but from that region of the heart, where man is least man; where the heart's throbs are felt, and the fount of life wells up, the conceded dwelling place of love and the affections. Thence came forth woman, the type in her very nature, as in her birthplace, of those affections; formed to yield to the man or understanding, as he to rule: the two, the understanding and will, making up the man created male and female. Now it is seen that there are two distinct lives in man, one of the intellect, the other of the affections, which, though now separate in the human mind, unite as far as may be, and by their union produce all those forms of life which grow in and out of man. By these do we commune with God; the understanding, as it is the image of God's wisdom, being the vessel to receive His truth and wisdom; the will, as it reflects His love, to receive His goodness and love; the two together formed to bring forth spiritual fruit to God, and be the means of making known and working His mind and will in the lowest and outmost part of the creature. But the mysteries here cannot be spoken. This, however, is sure, that the divided life of the man and of the woman, full of blessing as it is, shall turn one day to a united life, which is "neither male nor female, but all one in Christ Jesus." These things are indeed unspeakable, but they are seen in measure when we reach the rest. (Note: On this subject the Fathers have written much. Ambrose, De Parad. c. 2, § 11, and c. 11, § 51. Augustine gives the same interpretation, only more fully, De Gen. c. Manichaeos, l. ii. c. 11, § 15. See also c. 13 of the same book regarding the woman. Gregory the Great gives the same interpretation, Moral. in Job, l. xxx. c. 16, § 54. As to the final union of these in Christ, see the following very remarkable passage from Clement of Rome, or rather from the epistle which goes under his name, Clem. Rom. 2 Ep. ad Corinth. ad fin. The same tradition Clement of Alexandria repeats, Strom. l. iii. c. 13.)
The "trees," too, as seen upon this day, are wondrous. Trees were formed and seen upon the third day. But the clear perception of their varied ends, and of God's will respecting them, is not discovered till this day. These trees, like all else wrought by God in the creature, represent some form or manifestation of the Divine Word or Wisdom, by the Word reproduced in us; their perishable nature, -- for both grass and wood are perishable, -- setting forth some gift or grace which is least enduring, as we know that both faith and knowledge shall vanish away (1 Cor. 13:8). Here, when through grace we reach the seventh day, we learn to distinguish between the tree of life and knowledge, and to understand how the last, through misuse and disobedience, may become a means of death to us. Knowledge is not evil. The tree itself was good, and only evil through man's weakness; like the law, (and indeed law is but knowledge,) which is "holy, just, and good," and yet "works condemnation" (Rom. 7:7-13). But good as it is, let us take heed how we use it. Wisdom is the tree of life; -- "She is a tree of life to them that lay hold upon her" (Prov. 3:18); and he that eats of her shall live by her (John 6:57); but knowledge, even of divine things, may but reveal our nakedness. The day of rest will shew, not only that good gifts of God need ruling, but that some may only judge us more, if by them we think to be as gods in independence. (Note: Irenaeus, Contr. Hoer. l. v. c. 20, makes a very striking use of this against the Gnostics, whom he charges with preferring the tree of knowledge to the tree of life.) For higher gifts involve a deeper judgment, if they are not used aright.
I say no more, therefore, on this day, though each word here involves a mystery. He who sees the "rivers," and the "trees of Eden," and the "East," and the "keeping of the garden," and the "naming of the creatures," and the "woman for the man," will see yet more to fill him with adoring praise and wonder. For truth is throughout so closely connected, that one truth cannot be opened without opening with it many others. Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, the things which God hath prepared for them that love Him; but God hath revealed them to us by His Spirit; for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God.
Such is the Work and Rest of God, in a soul or world the same story. It is the self-same work which is only set forth more fully in the seven great lives recorded in Genesis; the order of which accords with the steps of the work and rest of God in creation. Thus, the first day revealed the creature's state, when light shone in, and shewed the earth's voidness. So Adam is the first great life in Genesis, discovering what the creature is, out of which and in which God purposes to work such great marvels. What he lacks is not yet known, nor is there yet any understanding of what by grace can be brought forth out of him; but the darkness which his fall has wrought is seen under the light of the promise, which, while it lessens the darkness, reveals its gross unsightliness. The second day then gives a heaven to earth, an expanse into which the breath of heaven may come, and which it may fill as its own proper dwelling place, dividing the waters from the waters, shewing that some are salt and earthy, and some heavenly. So Cain and Abel are something more than the "old man." Two lives, of the flesh and spirit, as unlike each other as heaven and earth, are shewn by nature or by grace growing out of the root of old Adam. Then, the third day revealed a rising earth, with herb and fruit-tree yielding fruit after his kind. And so the third great life, namely Noah's, sets forth regeneration, in which the creature is brought to know something of the power of resurrection; delivered out of that which hitherto had precluded fruit, into a state of purer and higher blessing, where, the flood of waters being already passed, vines may be planted, and become very fruitful. After this, the fourth day's work is lights; the sun and moon appear to rule the day, and still more to conquer darkness; as Abraham's life, which is the fourth great stage, shines out, not with mere light, but with the lights of faith and charity, emitting rays like sun and moon, by which the light, which we have already received, is governed, and the remaining darkness overcome. Till on the fifth day comes life in the air and sea, the eagle-eye and gentle dove are now visible; answering to which is Isaac's heavenly life, the fifth great form of life divinely given, in whose spirit of meekness and understanding the very grace itself is shewn which the dove and eagle of the fifth day are formed to represent, -- grace peculiar to the spirit of the Son, who is known as such when the Spirit "like a dove" descends and rests upon Him (Luke 3:22); and whose portrait, as drawn by the beloved Apostle John, has ever been distinguished from other manifestations of the same Life by the form and "face of an eagle." (Note: The fourth cherubic face, "as of an eagle," by the consent of all ages has been applied to St. John's Gospel, as revealing Christ in the relationship of Son of God.) After which we reach the sixth day's stage, with beasts from the earth, the sheep and oxen strong to labour; a hint of Jacob and all his long service, toiling for others, sighing to rule, yet not ruling; till at the close of this stage the man appears, the image of God, the first who is called to rule all things, like to Joseph, the last great life, the crowning work, the one who after many struggles knows both rest and glory. I do not attempt to explain all this. But light shews many a link, where the darkness of a less instructed eye only beholds discord. And the tale which to some is but an endless and entangled skein, to those who possess the clue, is full of unity as well as deepest wisdom.
And I may add that as this work is fulfilled within, so is there also an accomplishment in the dispensations. In this application "one day is as a thousand years" (2 Pet. 3:8). Six thousand years of labour precede the world's Sabbath. The parallel here has been often traced. Thus the first day gave light to the dark and fallen world. So the light of the promise of the woman's Seed is the great object which attracts us amid the deep gloom of the first thousand years. At this stage the waters (and in this view "the waters are peoples," Rev. 17:15,) are not only unquiet, but undivided. But the second day divides the waters, as we know the sons of God and the sons of men became distinct and divided during the second thousand years. After this, on the third day, the earth appears; something, firm and fruitful now is seen above the waters; just as Abraham and his seed were called out of the world to be as the fruitful earth amid the restless and fruitless nations. In this day we see the righteous grow like the palm-tree, and fruits of divers forms are borne to God's glory. Then come lights upon the fourth day, the sun and moon and stars, divine gifts of government and prophecy, to be a light to all nations; a sun indeed one day to be turned to darkness, and the moon into blood. After which, on the fifth and sixth days, higher life appears, beasts, first in the seas, then upon the dry land; as in the fifth and sixth thousand years a form of life appeared on earth, unlike all that went before it; first, the beast from the sea, which St. John saw in his Revelation; and then, on the sixth day, the beast from the earth (Rev. 13:1, 11); and then the man to rule, the image of God on earth, to spend the blessed seventh day, the seventh thousand years, of rest in joy and heavenly blessedness. (Note: Augustine, in his First Book against the Manichees, goes very fully into this dispensational application, in chaps. xxii. and xxiii. § 33-41. Any reader who wishes to see how general this interpretation was in the early Church, will find a mass of quotations in Cotelerius' Annotations on the General Epistle of Barnabas § 15, and in the Commentary of Corn. a Lapide, On the Pentateuch, on Gen. 2:1, p. 62.)
Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! Lo, these are a part of His ways; but how little a portion is heard of Him (Job 26:6-14).
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