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GENERAL VIEW

OF THE

THREE FIRST CHAPTERS

OF

GENESIS.

The Mosaic History of the commencement of the world consists of three principal parts, delivered in as many separate chapters. The first part is an account of the creation of the whole world, contained in the first chapter of Genesis. The second is an account of the first state of man, and the origin of civil society; and this is contained in the second chapter of Genesis. The third part is the history of the origin of evil, and the change it made in man's con. dition: and this is the subject of the third chapter.

The creation of the world, as it is described in the first chapter of Genesis, was not a single instantaneous act, but a work performed by gradual stages, in the time of six successive days, or entire revolutions of the globe of the earth upon its axis ; which

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six days begin to be counted from the first emersion of light from the chaos. The interval between the production of the matter of the chaos, out of which the universe was formed, and the formation of light, is undescribed and unknown; because there was no motion to mark and measure it. For the first motion was nothing more than an undulation, excited upon the surface of the chaos by the Spirit of God: and although it is highly probable, that this impression on the surface gave both the spherical figure, and the rotation upon the axis, yet this rotation, while all lay in darkness, as all must have done till light was, produced no sensible change, and afforded no measure of duration. But the moment that the di. vine command gave birth to light, we find day and night succeed in regular vicissitude. It may seem, perhaps, improper to speak of

any change, as sensible or not sensible, when no being was yet in existence to perceive external things by But the sacred historian describes the

progress of the work by the phenomena, such as they would have successively presented themselves to a spectator, had a spectator been in existence. Or, we may say, he describes the work in its different stages, to a supposed spectator. Perhaps in no other

sense.

way could the history have been made intelligible to

men:

The narrative of the beginning and the progress of the work, taken as real history, affords an historical confutation of all systems of Materialism and Idolatry ; as it contradicts, in one point or another, all the principles upon which any such systems can be founded : and in this light, but not in this light only, it is of importance to man, not only as conveying a curious piece of knowledge, but practically as the basis of religion.

1. The world has not been from eternity ; for it had a beginning; and its beginning was, that God made it.

2. The world, such as we now behold it, aróse not out of chaos from any fortuitous concourse of the atoms of the matter thrown together in that chaos. Concourse supposes motion, and there was no motion in the matter of the chaos, till the spirit of God excited a motion on the surface. No fortuitous motion therefore; no fortuitous concourse ; nor, when motion' was once excited, was the formation and distribution of the parts of the universe the effect of any random combinations, which that motion might be supposed to produce.

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