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of creation, if examined, will be found to relate not to the production of the materials of the globe, but to the arranging of certain great portions of it, and subjecting it to the laws by which it should ever afterwards be governed, and to the creating of inhabitants, and endowing them with life. In this work, all that pertains to the order, beauty, and life of the material world, the Spirit of God is distinctly and formally announced by the historian, to have been the great agent. Having given an account în general of the creation of the body or mineral mass of the globe, he proceeds to a detailed account of the creation of the different tribes of animated being that inhabit it, and prefaces it with a distinct view of the agency of that great Being who presides in this especial department. “The SPIRIT OF GOD,” says he, “moved upon the face of the waters.
It was not a great and mighty wind, as some allege the expression, Spirit of God, according to an Hebrew idiom of speech denotes; because, upon the supposition of a chaos, in which "earth and air and water were in one," there could have been no such thing. Nor is the cause at all adequate to account for the crystalline phenomena of the earth. Nor can it be reconciled with the mineral geology that infers from these phenomena a confused mass of elementary principles, suspended in a vast solution-a chaotic ocean, which, after an undefinable series of ages, settled themselves. The agents which the mineral geologist here introduces, are precipitation and crystallization, according to certain laws of matter--the chemical laws of affinity, of composition, and aggregation. Wind is not an apt agent in this vast chemical laboratory, nor can it at all be supposed to have prevailed, during the many thousand years, which the mineral geologist finds necessary for making a world.
Wind possesses no creative power, nor power to dispose, and bring order out of confusion, which the Spirit of God, of which Moses speaks, certainly did. Besides, the motion attributed to the Spirit of God, does not, at all, accord with that of wind. It is selforiginated—a spontaneous motion of the agent itself. And the Hebrew word denotes, as has already been noticed, that peculiar kind of motion—a gentle rising up and again declining, which may be seen in the fowl that receives its young under its wings to cherish and impart heat to them. “The Spirit of God brooded upon the face of the waters”-a very apt and beautiful figure employed by the historian, to denote the agency of the divine Spirit in the production, and communication of life, to the numerous tribes of animated creatures then brought into existence.
1 Gen. i. 2.
What is thus, in the very commencement of the sacred scriptures referred, in general, to the immediate agency of the Spirit, is attributed to the same, specifically, in different kinds of life, distinctly enumerated. Thus Job, speaking of his own animal life, recognizes his dependence for its support, on the Spirit of God. He defines its period to be “while his breath is in him, and the Spirit of God is in his nostrils." Its origination, as well as that of his rational soul-of his whole compound being, he attributes to the same great cause: “The Spirit of God hath made me, and the breath (the Spirit) of the Almighty hath given me life.?" The Psalmist, too, refers his origin, and that species of life, which he possessed before he breathed the air of Heaven, to the same Almighty Agent. It is the Spirit of God to whom he makes his appeal, when he says, “Thou hast possessed my reins, thou hast covered me in my mother's womb; thine eyes did see my substance, yet being unperfect; and in thy book all my members were written, which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them."4 The production of the body 1 See page 14. 2 Job, xxvi. 3.
3 Job, xxxii. 4. 4. Psalm cxxxix. 13, 16, compared with v. 7.
of our Lord Jesus Christ, is particularly ascribed to the Spirit of God, which, although miraculously effected, ertheless devolved on Him, as the great agent who forms and imparts life to, the animal nature of man. “The Holy Ghost," said the angel to Mary, "shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee; therefore, that holy thing which shall be born of thee, shall be called the Son of God."1
These facts throw some light on the account which Moses has given us of man's creation. After that God had formed him of the dust of the ground, He breathed into his nostrils the breath of life (the spirit of lives) and he became a living soul.” The breath of life, or spirit of lives, here spoken of, is the Spirit of God, the author of those different kinds of life, then commenced in the first
And the distinctive appellation of spirit of lives, is very appropriately given to the Spirit of God, because he is the author of life in all its modifications. It is, certainly a very inapt metaphor to denote the mere inflation of the lungs, by the introduction of atmospheric air. The agency of God, in the production of what we denominate life, is here, undoubtedly, in the most formal and accurate manner, recognized by the historian. That agency is by the person of the Holy Spirit.
This explanation of the passage is corroborated by the conduct and language of our blessed Saviour when introducing the wonders of his new creation, and they mutually illustrate each other. The gift of the Spirit of God-some extraordinary degree of His influence had been long predicted, as the principal characteristic of the evangelical dispensation: and of the communication of this Spirit, shortly before his ascension, the Redeemer gave a symbolical annunciation. It was after His resurrection, on the occasion of one of His visits to His disciples, that "He 1 Like, ;. 95.
2 Gen. Ü. 7
breathed on them, and said, Receive ye the Holy Ghost."?! Not that in His breath, or in the breath of the Almighty, did literally consist the Spirit of God; nor, that at that time, any miraculous or extraordinary power was bestowed on them; but simply, that by this symbolical act He intended, as God had done when He created man in the first instance, to announce to His followers, distinctly, the source of that new vivifying influence, which under the gospel dispensation was as certainly, and as efficiently to be exerted, as was the influence of the spirit of life when man became a living soul.
We are aware, that the phrase breath of life is understood, by some commentators, to denote the different kinds of life which man possesses, animal, intellectual, and spiritual, and not to designate the Spirit of God. With them however we are constrained to disagree. That it is a distinctive appellation conferred on the Spirit, we think must be apparent, from the consideration, that however true it is that man is a compound being, possessed of different kinds of life, yet the inspired writer seems only to regard the life of Adam's animal cature, for he adds "man became a living soul," that is, according to the import of the original term, a living frame. The expression shews plainly, that regard was principally had to the animation of Adam's boily, and if so, the phrase the breath or spirit of life becomes appellative, and designates the Spirit of God, who is the great author of our animal life, as well as of every other species of life, and is, on this account, sometimes explicitly called the spirit of life, or, literally rendered, the spirit of lives.
1 John, xx. 22.
2 Gen. . 7, Nepurse has various signification. In Lev. xi. 10; it evidently denotes a mere corporal existence-significat proprie id quo animal vivit et velut primario instrumento agit, quod cuique in suo genere agere convenit--Roberts. Thes. p. 607.
But we have still more satisfactory proof of this. From the testimony of Job, of David, and of Moses, we have shewn, that the life of man's animal nature is produced by the Spirit of God. He is also distinctly recognized, and asserted to be the author of life in all its numerous varieties. On this subject, we think the scriptures afford proof sufficient to satisfy every reasonable inquirer. No one certainly can demand, or expect, that, inasmuch as they are not intended to furnish us with a system of zoology, they should enter into minute details, and assert of this and that particular mode of existence, that its life is originated and supported by the Spirit of God. If we can discover that it is true in relation to several different classes of animated being, we may with certainty, infer it to be true in relation to all. But when we explore the scriptures, we shall be surprised to find such a vast mass of information in natural history, that very interesting department of human science, in a book by no means designed to serve the purpose of mere scientific dissertations. The natural history involved in the bible has given birth to numerous and valuable scientific works.
What a mass of facts, and what glowing descriptions do we meet with in the book of Job. We shall not cite them, but refer the reader to that beautiful ode the 104th Psalm, which gives as rich a sketch, as it opens an extensive range in natural history. It commences with a view of the formation of the heavens, and of the foundations of the earth, as ordered by that illustrious Being whose glory in impassioned strains it extols. It introduces to us the highest order of living creatures, the ministering angels of God. It unveils the whole of that stupendous system of veins and arteries, if we may so call them, by which the waters circulate through the body of the earth, and preserve it from putrescence and decay. Aerial, terrestrial and marine animals, with the whole kingdom of vegetable life, crowd in