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darkness was upon the face of the deep." Now let it be distinctly noted that this condition of the earth as stated above was its condition before and at the time that the work of creation began; that is, the earth was there, but completely submerged under water, and darkness covered the face of the deep. That the earth was completely submerged is evident from what is said in the ninth verse, as it is written, And God said, Let the waters under the heaven be gathered together unto one place, and let the dry land appear, and it was so. And God called the dry land Earth, and the gathering together of the waters, called he Seas.” Not only therefore was the earth entirely submerged under the waters, but the waters also around the earth were enshrouded in darkness.
THE FIRST ACT OF CREATION
The first act of creation is couched in the following words, saying, “ An the spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters, and God said, Let there be light, and there was light.” Thus the waters were there, and the earth was there when the work of creation first began, and it is added concerning the first day's work, “And God saw the light, that it was good, and God divided the light from the darkness, and God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night, and the evening and the morning were the first day.” Thus the light was produced by the spirit of God moving upon the face of the waters, so that whatever elements or masses of clouds and mists lay upon the surface of the waters surrounding the earth, so thick and dense as to be impenetrable by the light of the heavenly bodies, were so wrought upon by the spirit of God as to admit light, as we see it in a dark and cloudy day, and yet not so as to reveal the heavenly luminaries themselves, which furnish the light. And it was not until the fourth day that the elements were so wrought upon and clarified as to permit the light of the sun, moon, and stars to shine through upon the earth as we now see it in a clear day. If therefore on the first day, when God commanded the light to shine out of darkness, that light came from the sun, then it is clearly to be seen that then one revolution of the earth would produce the day and night, even as it does now, and as it always has done since the first day of creation.
An erring and an unreasonable person may say that in the beginning God created all things out of nothing, because to create a thing implies that it had no former existence, or it could not be properly called a creation. Now suppose that we test this rule and see if it will stand trial or not. It is written that God said, “ Let us make man in our image and after our likeness." Again it is said in carrying out that purpose, “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him, male and female, created he them." Therefore Adam and Eve were both of them new creations, and judged in the light, or rather darkness, of the above rule, they were each of them created ex nihil — out of nothing, and if that were so, then they sustained no relation whatever to each other. Consequently the basis upon which the Lord founded the law of marriage is annihilated by this rule of interpretation, and Paul erred greatly when he said at Athens that God had made of one blood all nations of men to dwell on all the face of the earth.
But Adam was not created out of nothing, but was created out of the
dust of the earth, and Eve was created from a portion of Adam's own body. So also with the earth, it was not created as the clergy say ex nihil nothing, but it was there at the beginning, even in the condition that Moses says it was. And God by his spirit arranged and fashioned it as it now is. How long the earth had continued in the form in which it was when the creative work of God began, the Creator has not been pleased to tell us; but, as we have elsewhere shown, the earth itself at the present day, by the formation of its rocks and mountains, and by what man himself has exhumed from beneath its surface, furnishes indisputable evidence that the very earth that we now inhabit has long before the days of the present race of men been the abode of human beings, made, no doubt, in the image of God like ourselves.
And the condition in which the earth was at the beginning — that is, without form and void, when darkness covered the face of the deep indicates very clearly how that former world came to an end, that is by a flood. And it also indicates with a good deal of certainty how the present world will terminate after the works of God are finished in the earth, that is by a flood, and by reducing the earth again to the condition in which it was at the beginning. Of this, the human family have already had a most forcible intimation in the waters of Noah when the highest mountains were buried to the depth of over fifteen cubits by the mighty waters which were precipitated upon the earth, when the windows of heaven were opened and the fountains of the great deep were broken up.
CREATION OF THE FIRMAMENT
The work of the second day consisted in creating a firmament in the midst of the waters, and dividing the waters from the waters, So God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament, from the waters which were above the firmament, and it was so." The firmament is therefore that open space above us which is situated between the clouds and the earth, for if there were no firmament, the clouds would float along upon the face of the earth and the waters; but God has so weighted the atmosphere that the base of the ocean of waters above us remains at that elevation where the clouds float, and from whence they shed their rains upon the earth.
LIGHTS IN THE FIRMAMENT
The work of the fourth day is contained in these words, “And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night, and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years; and let them be for lights in the firmament of heaven, to give light upon the earth ; and it was so.
And God made two great lights, the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night: he made the stars also, and God set them in the firmament of the heaven, to give light upon the earth, and to rule over the day and over the night, and to divide the light from the darkness; and God saw that it was good, and the evening and the morning were the fourth day.”
Now in this account of the creation of the sun, moon and stars, we must not forget the fact that this is not an astronomical treatise upon these things, nor an astronomical view of the luminaries of the heavens as they stand related to the earth. These things, on the contrary, are presented before us as they appear to a beholder standing upon the face of the earth. This is clearly apparent from this fact, that while the sun is continually spoken of throughout the Scriptures as rising and setting, as it is said, “The sun ariseth, and the sun goeth down, and hasteth to the place where he arose," yet astronomically the very reverse is the case; the sun stands comparatively still, and the day and night is produced by the revolution of the earth upon its own axis. Therefore we conclude that the creation of the sun, moon, and stars at the time that our earth was remodeled was only apparent, not real, that in reality these luminaries of the heavens had shone from time immemorial, just the same before the creation of our world as they have done ever since and will no doubt continue to do after the earth has fulfilled her course and been reduced to chaos as at the first, and darkness again covers the face of the deep; that their apparent creation was done by the Spirit of God so operating upon the dense masses of clouds that lay upon the face of the waters which covered the earth that light enough was admitted on the first day to produce day and night, and on the second day there was a firmament made in the midst of the waters, and the waters beneath the firmament were separated from the waters which were above the firmament, and on the fourth day the great ocean of clouds and vapors above the firmament by the spirit of God were made transparent so that the light of the sun, moon, and stars shone through without obstruction, as they do now when the heavens are clear. Thus they would appear to a spectator standing upon earth as though they had just been brought into existence, and as though they then came fresh from the hand of their creator.
When the creation is thus considered and viewed, it is in harmony with what we see and know to exist. For instance, by the aid of astronomical research we know that the sun is the centre of a planetary system composed of a group of globes, of which our earth is one of the number. These are all similar in form and governed by similar laws of gravity; they revolve around the sun at very unequal distances from it, and are all illuminated by the same sun. They revolve also upon their own axes in the light of the sun, which causes their day and night, as ours is caused. They are also opaque bodies and cast their shadows on their sides opposite the sun, which is proved by eclipses, when one of these bodies falls behind, and into the shadow of another. Some of them are smaller than the earth and revolve around the sun at shorter distances from it; others are larger (some notably so, Jupiter exceeding the earth by at least three hundred times), and they revolve around the sun at immensely greater distances from it, requiring many of our years to perform a single circuit. The sun itself, the great centre of these orbs, is much greater than them all put together, the diameter of the earth being about eight thousand miles, while that of the sun is about 860,000 miles. Besides all this, the fixed stars are each of them believed to be suns to other systems of worlds similar to our own, and they appear smaller to us because of their immense distances from us. Moreover, by the aid of telescopes, millions
upon millions of stars are discerned that were never seen, and that never would be seen by the naked eye.
Now to suppose that this vast celestial machinery, these innumerable ponderous bodies that roll in the deep blue and fathomless heavens above, below, and all around us, compared with which our earth is but a speck, - I say to suppose that all these things had no existence until our earth was remodeled and fitted up for the abode of man, and that they were all brought into existence exclusively for the benefit of this earth, insomuch that when it comes to an end, all these things are to be blotted out of existence again, does not appear reasonable or probable; and, astronomically considered, such a theory is too absurd to be entertained for a moment. Therefore scientists, as they are called, would manifest less ignorance and more true science in religious and Scripture matters if they would diligently search the Scriptures so as to find out the true and scientific meaning thereof for themselves, instead of drawing their conclusions from the extravagant and erroneous views that sectarian teachers have in their blindness set forth as being the doctrines taught in the Scriptures; for these teachers belong to that class which Jesus encountered in the days of his ministry, and of whom he says, “ They strain at a gnat, and swallow a camel,” for men who can believe and teach the things which they profess to believe, can believe any thing no matter how unnatural nor how ridiculous.
THE “END OF THE WORLD”
Those authors who tell us that in the beginning God created all things out of nothing, err as widely in interpreting the words of Peter touching the end of the world as they do in the attempt to interpret the words of Moses concerning the beginning. Peter's words are construed by them to mean that the natural heavens and earth, and all their hosts, which were created at the beginning, are to be consumed with fire, and the whole machinery of creation, including the sun, moon, and fixed stars, is to be melted down together like lead in a furnace. Now we propose briefly to show that Peter's words have no reference whatever to the destruction of the natural heavens and earth, but that these people wrest Peter's words, as they do also the other Scriptures, to their own destruction.
First we will point out a very significant fact concerning these erring teachers. It will be observed that after Peter had dwelt quite at length in his second epistle upon the destruction of the heavens and earth by fire, afterwards in the same connection he particularly calls the attention of his readers to the fact that Paul also, "according to the wisdom given unto him, in all his epistles ” had spoken of these same things; and while he does not say directly that what he himself had just written was hard to understand, yet indirectly he does say so when he says that what Paul had written upon these same matters contained things hard to be understood, and which unlearned and unstable people were in danger of wresting, as they do also the other Scriptures, unto their own destruction.
Now what we wish to point out is this, that these wise men of the sects, when they wish to show how the world is to be destroyed, immediately cite
Peter's words to prove their doctrine. Now as Peter himself says that his beloved brother Paul also had written about these things in all his epistles, how does it come that they always refer to Peter's writings and never attempt to prove the same things from the letters of Paul? For instance, what is there in Paul's letters to the Corinthians that is hard to understand, and that proves their theory? Paul also wrote a long letter to the Romans; what does he say in that that can be quoted to prove their doctrine? In his letter to the Hebrews, he does say something that looks a little more like it, but Peter says that he speaks of these things in all his epistles. Take his letter to the Galatians; — who ever heard a sectarian clergyman quote from that letter to show that the natural world is to be burned up at the last day with literal fire? And yet Peter's words, when understood, correspond exactly with Paul's, for the same elements that Peter mentions twice in his letter saying, “the elements shall melt with fervent heat," Paul also speaks of twice in his letter to the Galatians, saying (4:3), “When we were children, we were in bondage, under the elements of the world ”; again (4:9), “ How turn ye again to the weak and beggarly elements, whereunto ye desire again to be in bondage ?" The original word rendered elements in all these four instances is the same and refers to the same things. Again in Paul's letter to the Colossians the same word is employed, and is translated rudiments, saying (2:8), “Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments (elements) of the world, and not after Christ”; and again (2:20), “Wherefore if ye be dead with Christ from the rudiments (elements) of the world, are ye subject to ordinances?”
Now who are so blinded by the errors of the wicked as not to be able to see that the elements of the world and the ordinances referred to, are none other than the elements and ordinances of the Mosaic or Hebrew world, the elements of the law of Moses. Peter was speaking of the same things, and not of the natural heavens and earth at all. Therefore it turns out that what Peter said about these things is indeed hard to understand and explain; and the meaning which appears to be upon the surface of his words, and which the erring teachers catch at, is not the meaning at all, and therefore they wrest Peter's words to their own destruction.
If, therefore, any person of common sense would first reflect upon what Peter says about the old world, it should put him in the way to understand what he says about the Mosaic heavens and earth. For he says of the scoffers who say all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation, “ for this they willingly are ignorant of, that by the word of God, the heavens were of old and the earth standing out of the water and in the water, whereby the world that then was, being overflowed with water perished, but the heavens and earth which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men.”
Now consider this: the creation of the natural world, consisting of the heavens and earth with all their hosts, was completed and finished in six days, and God rested on the seventh day from all his works. Then God began to create another world upon the earth and under the natural heavens of a very different nature from the world that he made in six days. The