Wednesday, May 31st, 2023
the Week of Proper 3 / Ordinary 8
the Week of Proper 3 / Ordinary 8
Coke's Commentary on the Holy Bible Coke's Commentary
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on Genesis 1". Coke's Commentary on the Holy Bible. https://studylight.org/
commentaries/ eng/ tcc/ genesis-1.html. 1801-1803.
Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on Genesis 1". Coke's Commentary on the Holy Bible. https://studylight.org/
- Henry's Complete
- Clarke Commentary
- Bridgeway Bible Commentary
- Coffman's Commentaries
- Carroll's Biblical Interpretation
- Barnes' Notes
- Bullinger's Companion Notes
- Calvin's Commentary
- College Press
- Church Pulpit Commentary
- Smith's Commentary
- Constable's Expository Notes
- Darby's Synopsis
- Ellicott's Commentary
- Expositor's Dictionary
- Hole's Commentary
- Meyer's Commentary
- Gaebelein's Annotated
- Gann on the Bible
- Morgan's Exposition
- Gill's Exposition
- Everett's Study Notes
- Geneva Study Bible
- Haydock's Catholic Commentary
- Commentary Critical
- Commentary Critical Unabridged
- Gray's Concise Commentary
- Parker's The People's Bible
- Sutcliffe's Commentary
- Trapp's Commentary
- Kretzmann's Commentary
- Lange's Commentary
- Grant's Commentary
- Wells of Living Water
- Henry's Complete
- Henry's Concise
- Poole's Annotations
- Pett's Commentary
- Peake's Commentary
- Preacher's Homiletical
- Poor Man's Commentary
- Benson's Commentary
- Sermon Bible Commentary
- The Biblical Illustrator
- Coke's Commentary
- The Expositor's Bible Commentary
- The Pulpit Commentaries
- Treasury of Scripture Knowledge
- Wesley's Notes
- Whedon's Commentary
- Henry's Complete
- Keil & Delitzsch
- Hampton's Commentary
- Mackintosh's Notes
- Utley Commentary
- Kelly Commentary
The First Book of MOSES, called GENESIS.
God created the heaven and the earth: divided the light from the darkness: separated the superior from the inferior waters: supplied the earth with vegetables: furnished the heavens with light: created the brute animals: and, lastly, man.
Genesis 1:1. This verse may be understood as a general introduction to the account of the creation, which Moses is about to give; asserting, in confutation of all who held the eternity or fortuitous formation of the world, that the Almighty God gave a beginning to it, by creating the heaven and the earth. It may also be understood as a part of the following account, expressing, that God, in the first place, created that substance in a chaotic form, out of which the regular and beautiful system of the heaven and earth arose, according to the process described in the subsequent verses.
In the beginning— i.e.. The beginning of time.
God— The Hebrew word is אלהים Elohim, which speaks, (1.) The power of God, Creator. El signifies the strong God. (2.) The plurality of persons in the Godhead, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. This plural name of God in Hebrew, which speaks of him as many though he be one, is to us a savour of life unto life, confirming our faith in the doctrine of the Trinity; whatever it might have been to the Gentile world.
Learn hence the object of our worship, the Creator, the Elohim, three persons, but only one and true God. His right to us is undoubted; all we have, and are, is of his bounty. Most justly, therefore, should we yield up ourselves to him, in love and adoration, by whom, and for whom are all things. Happy that heart which is thus led to answer the end of its creation!
Created the heaven— Some commentators, who could no sooner read the word heaven, than their ideas were carried into the superior realms, and peculiar residence of God, have strangely asserted, that the creation of the angels and the beatific heavens, is expressed here: whereas there is nothing plainer, from Gen 1:8 than that the heaven here meant is that firmament, with its furniture of sun, moon, stars, &c. which is the object of our immediate sight and attention.
Genesis 1:2. And the earth was without form, and void— In its first state the earth, or the whole of the terraqueous globe, was a mere confused chaos, without any regular form, or without any of its present furniture, plants, trees, animals, &c.
Darkness on the face of the deep— Every thing was yet in a stagnant, black, and unformed state; and the whole face of the deep, or vast abyss of primordial matter, was inveloped in total darkness: there was an absolute privation of all light.
And the Spirit of God— רוח ruach, i.e.. The Holy Spirit, the third person in the Trinity; or, as some of the ancient Jews called him, the Spirit of the Messiah, who was the first mover in this creative operation: which explains the Evangelist St. John, who, in the beginning of his Gospel, says, that all things were made by the eternal ΛΟΓΟΣ, or Word of God, (the same with the νους , or mind of the ancient philosophers,) whose Almighty Spirit agitated the vast confused mass of matter, and put it into form.
Moved— The word ףּרח rechep, whence מרחפת mera-chepeth, seems properly to signify to make a tremulous or fluttering motion, such as that of an eagle fluttering over her nest; in which sense it is used, Deuteronomy 32:11 fluttereth over her young.
Face of the waters— The same with the face of the deep, the abyss just mentioned, the terraqueous unformed mass: which perhaps may the rather be called waters, as the earthy particles, being the heaviest, would naturally sink to the center; and the watery, in consequence, would occupy the superficies of the mass. It may be worth while to observe here, how much the heathens have borrowed of their theogony from the account given by Moses: Chaos and darkness, according to them, were in the beginning:
Love, or a plastic spirit, brooded over this chaos, as over an egg: and from water, many of their greatest philosophers derived the beginning of all things.
REFLECTIONS.—Such as appeared the material world before the Spirit of God quickened the lifeless lump; such is now the spiritual world, till the same Divine Power interposes. 1. The soul of man by sin, is become a heap of confusion: as dead to God, and incapable of producing any fruits of holiness, as the unformed chaos to produce trees or flowers. 2. Darkness covers it: we have neither the faculty of vision to descry, nor light to illuminate spiritual objects. We know nothing of ourselves, our God, our Saviour, our proper work, our happiness, as we ought to know. 3. The whole world, which now lieth in wickedness, presents to the enlightened mind a lively image of this original confusion and emptiness. Darkness surrounds it, no beauty appears, God is forgotten; the jarring elements of corrupt nature breed wild uproar; and universal desolation seems diffused around. The heart that hath been taught its true rest, daily cries after that new heaven and new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness. 4. As incapable as this chaos was, of forming itself into order; as impossible as it was for this darkness to produce the light, or kindle up the sun; so impossible is it for man, by any powers or ability of his own, to restore his fallen soul to the image of God, or to produce one beam of heavenly light, or spark of spiritual life. 5. It is the office of the Spirit of God alone to produce light and order in the dark and chaotic soul. 6. Be our mortal bodies however dissolved in earth, fire, water, air, He who first moved upon the face of the waters, can by the same energy recall the scattered particles of our dust, and from the dissipated and disjointed atoms raise up a glorious body, bright as the sun when it shineth in its strength.
Genesis 1:3. And God said— To speak and to will, with the Almighty, is to command. His word is with power. Struck with the grandeur of this passage, the celebrated Grecian critic Longinus produces it as an instance of the true sublime. "So likewise," says he, "the Jewish legislator, no ordinary person, (ουχ ο τυχων ανηρ, ) having conceived a just idea of the power of God, has nobly expressed it in the beginning of his law. And God said—What? Let there be light: and there was light." We may here truly say with Boileau, "Whatever noble and majestic expression, elevation of thought, and importance of sentiment, can contribute to sublimity, may be found in this passage."
Said— By אמר amar, the Hebrews often express internal volition, as well as outward speaking, as both Mr. Locke and M. Le Clerc observe. So Exo 2:14 it is translated, intendest thou to kill me? 2 Samuel 21:16. He thought, designed (διενοειτο LXX) to have slain David. The Greeks also often use the word φημι, to speak, in this sense. This observation will be of frequent and general use. Moses means here, that God having purposed to create the light, no sooner willed it to shine forth, than it shone.
Let there be light: and there was light— Many have been the questions, and great the triumph of unbelievers, upon this declaration in the Mosaic account, "that there was light three days before there was any sun." But the objection is founded on a gross misconception, that light is nothing more than an emanation from the sun, or other luminaries: according to which there can be no light, where there is no sun, &c. But is it not easy to conceive, that God, the light of the world, might either sustain this light, in the first act of creation, by his own immediate power; or that, in consequence of that original motion, impressed on the chaotic mass, those particles of matter which we call fire, (whose known properties are light and heat,) being the lightest, strongest, and most active of the elements, disuniting themselves from the grosser parts, ascended, and constituted that light, which, in the fourth day, was compressed and consolidated, if we may so speak, into the body of the sun? It seems probable, that after the first vivifying motion impressed by the Spirit of God, the material atoms or elements were left, in some measure, to their natural and regular operation, under the direction of the Supreme Creator. For you observe the light first appears, as consisting of the subtlest matter; next the air or firmament; next the waters; and so the earth, the most gross of all. But after all, I may say with Le Clerc, "that it is unnecessary to philosophize too subtilly concerning the cause and nature of this light; since the solutions of the most learned are attended with difficulties; and we cannot but expect to be ignorant of various things respecting the origin of the world."
REFLECTIONS.—1. Light is the great beauty and blessing of the universe: like the first-born, it doth, of all visible beings, most resemble its great Parent in purity and power, brightness and beneficence. By beholding it therefore let us be led to, and assisted in, the believing contemplation of him who is light, infinite and eternal light, and the Father of Lights, and who dwells in inaccessible light. 2. What a striking emblem is this natural light of Christ, in whom was light, and who is the true Light, the Light of the world? Darkness had been perpetually upon the face of fallen man, if the Son of God had not come, and given us an understanding, that we might know him that is true.
Genesis 1:4. That it was good— The word טוב tob, signifies not only what is goodly and pleasant in itself, but what is useful and fit for the end to which it is designed. And surely it could not be more properly applied than at the first, to that light, which, as Cowley calls it, is,
"Active Nature's watchful life and health, Her joy, her ornament, and wealth."
The world, which now is a palace, would have been a dungeon without it. Truly light is sweet, says Solomon: it rejoiceth the heart. And if the light be so good, how good must he be who is the fountain of it, from whom we receive it, and to whom we owe all praise for it, and all the services we do by it.
Genesis 1:5. God called the light day, and the darkness he called night— He gave them names as Lord of both, for the day is his, the night also is his. He is the Lord of time, and will be so till day and night shall come to an end, and the stream of time be swallowed up in the ocean of eternity. Let us then acknowledge him in the constant succession of day and night, and consecrate both to his honour, by working for him every day, and resting in him every night, and meditating in his law day and night.
Some have observed that the names here given to the two grand divisions of the day, are proofs of the expressiveness of the Hebrew language; יום jom, the day, expressing the tumult and business which attends it: and לילה lilah, the night, being derived from a word signifying the howling and yelling of the wild beasts, which then appear.
The evening and the morning— It is acknowledged by all, that each of these is put by a synecdoche for one half of the natural day. The darkness of the evening, or night, was before the light of the morning: it served as a foil to it, to set it off, and make it shine the brighter. It was on the ground of this and similar passages, that the Jews began both their common and sacred days with the evening. But this was not only the first day of the world, but the first day of the week. I observe it to the honour of that day, because the new world began likewise on the first day of the week in the Resurrection of Christ, as the Light of the world, early in the morning. In him the day-spring from on high hath visited the world; and happy are we if that day-star arise in our hearts.
Genesis 1:6. Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters— After having given an account of the generation of light, the sacred writer goes on to inform us of the generation of the air, or of that expansive element which fills the space between the earth and the highest regions, and which goes under the general name of the heavens. This air, in its first created state, was intermixed with the other elements in the chaotic mass; upon which a motion having been impressed by the divine energy, and the light having emerged, the Almighty next directs the air, according to its nature, to operate amidst the waters; and by its expansive and compressing power, to carry some of these waters aloft with it, and to keep the rest in their due station below on the earth. This I take to be the meaning of the present verse; to which not only the words, but the nature of things, correspond. For rekiang (רקיע), as our translators observe in the margin, (though, after the Vulgate and LXX, they have rendered it firmament,) signifies expansion; or rather the air or heaven in a state of expansion; for expansion necessarily implies an agent to expand, and here an agent is expressed, which was to divide or separate the waters; which agent is called, Gen 1:8 heaven. As the light, which makes the day, is called day; and the darkness, night: so, that which makes the heaven, i.e.. the air, is called heaven. Those who understand the properties of the air, which is peculiarly elastic, and therefore expansive and compressing, will see the great propriety of the original, rechio, which is derived from the verb recho, to stretch forth, extend, distend, expand every way. And nothing but our being accustomed immediately to annex the idea of the regions of supernal bliss to the word heaven, when we hear or read it, could make it appear strange to us, that this agent is called heaven or heavens; since the whole space we see, and commonly call heaven, is nothing more than the air. How far this air or heaven may rise and extend, I cannot determine. But it seems to me most probable (and I have Sir Isaac Newton's authority, or at least supposition on my side) that the whole planetary space is filled with a fine and subtle ether; which, it is probable, grows finer and finer as it approaches the central fire, the sun, and becomes grosser, and grosser the nearer it approaches the center of our planet. By the firmament, therefore, I would understand all that immense space which every way surrounds our earth, and extends to the limits of our system, and which I conceive to be filled with ether, denser or finer, in proportion to its proximity to, or distance from, the sun.
Genesis 1:7. And God called, &c.— And this expanse God called heaven, shemmim, (because waters were there placed,) from שׁם sham, there, and מים maim, waters: a derivation the rather to be approved, because, as we shall see throughout the scriptures, the Hebrew names were generally given from the actions immediately at hand.
REFLECTIONS.—1. God having made the light, a proper medium is now provided through which its rays may pass. But though this firmament is stretched over us, the way is open to the throne of God, and faith can even here enter within the vail, and prayer hath wings which mount beyond the skies. Observe, 2. the design of this firmament, to divide the waters from the waters. There are waters beneath the firmament that cover the great deep, and rivers which run among the vallies; and there are waters above the firmament, in clouds which drop down fatness, and in treasure-houses reserved for purposes of judgment.
Genesis 1:9. And God said, Let the waters be gathered together— After the elements of light and air were appointed to their proper places, the next in density, the water, i.e.. the lower water, or that under the air, is separated, by the divine direction; and thus, at length, the earth, or dry land, emerges and appears. It is to be observed, that Moses introduces every mutation with the words God said; intimating, that the power and energy of the Divinity over-ruled and conducted each operation; and, however natural causes might work, was the primum mobile, or the first great Mover throughout the whole formation.
Unto one place— All the waters of the world have one general communication. The rivers and the fountains all return themselves into the sea; and all seas have either a visible or secret communication with each other. I have no doubt but the Caspian sea disgorges itself, by subterraneous passages, into the Euxine, or the Ocean, which may be considered as the grand reservoir (the ONE PLACE) of all the waters of the earth. This observation is confirmed by the name given Gen 1:10 to this one place, this conflux, or great receptacle, of all the congregated waters, seas, or ocean. All the waters make, in this sense, but one ocean, as all the dry land makes but one earth. How all this was brought about, how the channels were hollowed, the rocks and mountains formed, &c. it is impossible for us to determine! Only this we know, that the Divine Power continued his interposition, and by his omnipotent energy, to which all things are easy, directed the whole!
Genesis 1:11. And God said, Let the earth bring forth grass, &c.— The elements being formed, the sea collected to its proper place, and the surface of the earth appearing, the next act of Divine Power was to clothe that surface with the beautiful furniture which we now behold upon it. Accordingly he gave his almighty fiat; and the grass, that which springs up annually without sowing; the herbs, all plants, corn, &c. which are sown; and the trees, in their lovely verdure, and amazing variety, were produced.
The seeds, or first principles of all the vegetables, were very probably formed with the first chaotic atoms or principles of all things; and we must believe that they arose to absolute maturity and perfection, by the immediate interposition of the Divine Power: nor can it fail to inspire us with the highest idea of the Supreme Mind, when we reflect on the infinite variety, beauty, and regularity of this part of the creation, every individual herb and flower of which must necessarily have been planned and formed by his wisdom, before it was brought to being and perfection.
Whose seed is in itself— The learned Michaelis observes, that the Syriac version has it, whose plant is in itself; which is strictly philosophical; as the best naturalists have incontestibly proved that the seeds of plants contain the perfect draught, in miniature—all the parts and members of the mature and complete plant. And thus it is also in the animal creation. And as no plants can be produced without seed, we here see, by God's wisdom, the origin of all the plants, &c. upon the earth; which from the first have been continued, by means of this original provision of seed. But, as Abarbanel observes, the production of plants, in the beginning, differed from their production ever since, in these two things: 1st, That they have sprung ever since, out of their seed, either sown by us, or falling from them: whereas, in the beginning, they were brought out of the earth, with their seed in them, to propagate them ever after. 2nd, That they need now, as they have ever done since the first creation, the influence of the sun to make them germinate. But then they sprung forth, in perfection, by the immediate power of God, before there was any sun.
Hence we may observe, that God must have the glory of all the benefit we receive, as indeed from every thing, so particularly from the products of the earth. And if we have through grace an interest in him who is the Fountain, we may rejoice in him, when the streams are dried up, and the fig-tree doth not blossom.
Genesis 1:14. And God said, Let there be lights— The Almighty now proceeds to furnish the heaven, or expanse of air, after having furnished the earth; and so to complete his inanimate creation. The light, by whatever means till now sustained, was to be collected; or, at least, two great bodies were to be formed, as instruments of the diffusal of it; as lamps, if I may so speak, hung up in the firmament, to enlighten the earth by day and night. For the word translated lights, מארת meoroth, signifies luminaries, or instruments of conveying and diffusing light: and consequently, on this interpretation, no objection can arise from the moon's being an opaque body; since Moses says not, that it is a luminous one; any more than a lamp or chandelier is luminous in itself, though it is the instrument of holding or diffusing light.
Genesis 1:16. The stars also— The abrupt manner in which this passage seems to be introduced, has caused some writers to imagine it an interpolation: whereas the abruptness of the manner is owing principally to the parenthesis; remove which, and the passage runs thus: And God made two great lights, and also the stars: which Moses only mentions briefly, to shew that they were the workmanship of the same Divine Creator. Grotius has produced several passages, to prove that the ancients considered the stars as signs of the times. And very probably Claudian drew his observation from the present passage, where, describing the Deity, he says,
Ille Pater rerum, qui tempora dividit astris:
"He is the Father of things, who divides the times by the stars." The moon is termed "a Light," because it reflects light to the earth in the sun's absence; and it is reckoned one of the greater lights, because to man it appears larger than any other of the celestial bodies, the sun excepted; and in respect to its usefulness to the earth, it is more excellent than they. So it is with men. Those are most valuable who are most serviceable; and they are the greater lights, not who have the best gifts, but who humbly and faithfully do the most good.
REFLECTIONS.—l. How glorious is that visible luminary the sun! But how much more glorious He, who placed him in his sphere, and before whom the angels veil their faces! 2. The moon is dark in herself, and borrows all her light from the sun. Do we shine? Let us never forget the fountain whence our orb is filled. 3. Let us remember, that the scripture indulges no vain curiosity. The design of it is, not to teach us a system of astronomy, but to instruct us in the wisdom which maketh wise unto salvation. 4. The rising and setting sun now first began to measure the day. My soul, let never morning rise, which does not find thee on thy bended knees; let never evening come, without the duteous tribute of prayer and praise to him, who maketh the outgoings of the morning and evening to rejoice.
Genesis 1:20. And God said, Let the waters, &c.— The formation of things inanimate being completed, the all-wise Creator proceeds, from the most noble of these, the heavenly bodies, to those which are next in degree, the least noble of the animate creation, namely, the inhabitants of the waters. Houbigant justly prefers the English translation here to all those which render the original by the word reptilia, reptiles, or creeping things, under which denomination, certainly, neither the fish, nor the birds, do come; and therefore, after the English, he translates it, animam motabilem; as we, the moving creature. The Hebrew verb and noun here are of the same derivation; ישׁרצו ishretzu, שׁרצ sheretz: and the lexicographers tell us, that שׁרצ sheretz, is derived from that verb which signifies to produce or increase abundantly, on account of the abundant production, or increase of these creatures. This being the case, the passage may be rendered with the strictest propriety, 'Let the waters produce abundantly their productions, which have life:' in which general expressions the whole increase of the watery world is included.
And fowl that may fly, &c.— It should seem by our translation as if the fowl, as well as the fish, were the production of the waters: but you see, from the margin of the Bible, that the Hebrew is, and let fowl fly above the earth, in the open firmament of heaven; i.e.. in the air; which is not only more agreeable to the original, but more consistent with what is said in chap. Genesis 2:19. that God formed the fowl out of the ground. Some birds being of an amphibious nature, living partly by land, and partly by water, and all birds having many things similar to the fishy kind, may be the reason why they are thus united. For naturalists have observed, that the eyes of both are formed similar; as is the conformation of the brain: their bodies are poised alike to swim, the one in the air, and the other in the water: they are each oviparous, and in many other particulars correspond. This may afford some ground for the conjecture of Dr. Gill, that they were created out of earth and water mixed together, or out of the earth or clay that lay at the bottom of the waters.—Note; the Samaritan and Syriac versions agree with our marginal translation.
Genesis 1:21. Created great whales— The word התנינם hathaninim, which we render great whales, signifies "any kind of large aquatic or amphibious animals;" under which, whales, crocodiles, and the like, may properly be classed. The sacred writer intends only to inform us by that expression of the creation of that class of aquatic or amphibious creatures which are of the more enormous size.
REFLECTIONS.—The greatest, as well as the least, owe to God their breath and being; and the whale, which unwieldly rolls along the ocean, costs him no more than the worm which twinkles in the drop before the microscope: each endued with powers so exactly suited to his state, and so exquisitely fashioned, that he who looks without wonder and adoration must be blind indeed.
Genesis 1:22. And God blessed them, &c.— Not only their being, but the continuance of it is provided for. Life is a fleeting thing; succession is needful. God hath commanded it shall be, and, in virtue of his blessing, the heavens are stocked with fowl, and the fish replenish the waters; and all for the use of man. O that he were wise, that he knew the bountiful Giver!
Genesis 1:24. Let the earth bring forth, &c.— From the fish and the fowl the great Creator proceeds to the superior order of terrestrial animals; which are classed under the three ranks of: 1st, cattle, all tame and domestic animals; 2nd, creeping things, all of the reptile kind; and 3rdly, beasts of the earth, all of the savage kind.
Genesis 1:25. And God made, &c.— As a sufficient proof that the earth did not generate the animals of itself, by any prolific power in it, the formation of them is here appropriated to God. For the sacred writer, by these words, would give us to understand, that the Creator, as the absolute Master of nature, gave both to the earth and to animals all their fecundity and energy: all is the effect of God's omnipotence.
Genesis 1:26. Let us make man in our image— Behold the finishing stroke of the Divine Creator, Man, the last and greatest work of God. Animal life was produced: but now at last the crown of creation is brought forth in a rational soul. The earth, like a stately palace furnished for his reception, seems to call for the great inhabitant; one who can be the tongue of this lower world, and render to the great Author of all, the praise of his glorious works.
The plurals us and our, afford an evident proof of a plurality of Persons in the Godhead: nor can the seeming contradiction of one and more being in the Godhead, be otherwise reconciled, than by acknowledging a plurality of Persons in the Unity of Essence. It is pretended, that God here speaks in the plural number after the manner of princes, who are used to say, We will and require; or, It is our pleasure. But this is only the invention and practice of latter times, and no way agreeable to the simplicity, either of the first ages of the world, or of the Hebrew style. The Kings of Israel used to speak of themselves in the singular number; and so did the Eastern Monarchs: I (Darius) makes decree. Ezra 7:21. I, even I Artaxerxes the King, do make a decree. Nor is there one example in scripture to the contrary. It is, therefore, a rash and presumptuous attempt, without any warrant, to thrust the usages of modern style into the sacred scripture. Besides, the Lord doth generally speak of himself in the singular number, some few places excepted, wherein the plural number is used for the signification of this mystery.
Man— In Hebrew Adam, so called from אדמה adamah, i.e.. red mould or earth. It was the name of the woman also. See chap. Genesis 5:2. Male and female created he them, and called their name Adam. Calmet observes, that the same word signifies beautiful in the AEthiopian language; and Michaelis renders it, pulcherrimam creaturam, a most beautiful creature.
In our image, after our likeness— Behold the pattern after which he was formed: no less than God himself. This likeness to God chiefly appeared, (1.) In his possessing a rational and immortal soul. His body, however beautiful and glorious, was of the earth, earthy; his spirit from the Father of spirits, a ray from the uncreated Sun of light and life. (2.) In the rectitude and purity of his nature. His understanding capacious, distinct, and clear; his will turning to God's will, as clay to the seal; self-inclined, and ever ready to hear and to obey: his affections, without wandering or distraction, supremely fixed on one great object, and finding all their enjoyment in his love and service. To live for God was as natural as to breathe; and all his conversation was holy, as God is holy. Ah happy state! But how fallen now is man! How defaced this image! How is the gold become dim! How is the most fine gold changed! O Lord, raise up these desolations of many generations! (3.) He represented God on earth. All things were put under his feet; they paid their homage to man, as he to God. But sin hath broken the tie: and since man played the rebel first, no wonder the creatures have revolted from him, and scarce can now be reduced to serve him. The whole creation groaneth. Lord, hasten the day of restitution, when this disordered world once more shall rise from the furnace, and righteousness again shall dwell in it!
Genesis 1:27. Male and female created he them— Man is but half himself without his partner woman. From this original pair descend the numerous generations of men that have overspread the earth. How foolish and vain then is the pride of pedigree, when the beggar on the dunghill can claim the most ancient and ennobled extraction, as the son of Adam, who was the son of God! Luke 3:38. We have, in the literal sense, one Father; we are brethren of one family, the same blood runs in our veins, and therefore brotherly affection should be in our hearts one to another. O when shall it be, that we shall practise this great duty, to love one another out of a pure heart fervently!
Genesis 1:28. God blessed them, &c.— He pronounced his blessing upon them: he gave them the earth as their possession, and commanded them to multiply and replenish it with inhabitants. Children and the fruit of the womb are an heritage and gift that cometh of the Lord.
And subdue it— Man by his superior wisdom is furnished with methods to make the fiercest animals yield, and the strongest to serve him; and he hath dominion over all, by grant from God himself. We have forfeited it by sin, but God in mercy hath not wholly resumed it: though much is lost, and all had been, were it not for the Repairer of the breach, who is come to be the Saviour of all men; but especially of those who believe; to them all is restored, for all is ours, in the sanctified use of them, when we are Christ's.
Genesis 1:29. It shall be for meat— It is evident from this grant of food to man, in the present verse, and from that to the brute animals in the next, that the use of flesh in the beginning was allowed to neither: and, consequently, that the now carnivorous animals then fed upon grass, &c. as the tame ones amongst us do at present. The ancients mention this as one characteristic of the golden age:
"Not so the golden age, who fed on fruit, Nor durst with bloody meals their hands pollute."
Genesis 1:31. Behold, it was very good— The separate productions are pronounced good: but when the whole is perfected, and, as it were, surveyed by the Almighty Master, or Creator, the superlative particle is added, and the whole is pronounced very good, perfectly adapted to answer the end for which it was designed, as well as consummately excellent and beautiful in itself: agreeable to the mind of the Great Designer, without evil or imperfection, or any thing which might impugn his wisdom, goodness, and purity. Mr. Locke observes, that "When Moses tells us of God's pronouncing of every thing that he had made, that it was very good, we are to understand the meaning to be, that it was the best; the Hebrews having no other way to express the superlative." I cannot better conclude this note than with the words of Plato in his Timaeus: "The Architect of the world had a model, by which he produced every thing, and this model is himself. As he is good, and what is good has not the least tincture of envy, he made all things, as far as was possible, like himself. He made the world perfect in the whole of its constitution; perfect too in all the various parts which compose it; which were subject neither to diseases nor decay of age. The Father of all things beholding this beautiful image, took a complacency in his work."