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DEUTERONOMY, ch. 24-34.
THE FIRST BOOK OF MOSES, CALLED GENESIS.
The end and object of all revelation.
THE apostle speaks of a vail, that remained, and blinded the minds of the children of Israel, in the reading of the Old Testament; "which vail," he adds, "is done away in Christ." 2 Cor. 3. 14. Let us pray that through Christ it may be done away in us. Let us do all that in us lies towards removing it, by the diligence and attention with which we study this earlier portion of the Holy Bible. And let us give thanks to God for his goodness in Christ Jesus, by whose blood we may have boldness to enter, not only into the many mysteries which this book contains, but also into the perfect knowledge and perfect joys of the life which is to come. See Heb. 10. 19.
Great are indeed the difficulties which lie in the way of our rightly understanding these most antient Scriptures. And some of the chief difficulties arise from their antiquity. Here we have books, of which some were written above three thousand years ago; so many generations backwards from the present time, nay and also from any other writings now existing, that at first sight it would seem impossible to arrive at any certainty, as to the meaning of the language, the times, the countries, the habits of the people, or the connexion of their interests with our own. And yet, so abundant has been the labour bestowed upon the interpretation of the Bible, and so suitable the means devised by God, for handing down to the end of time, all that needed to be known of what happened at the beginning; that there are no antient books in the world, of which the genuineness and authenticity are so certain; none of which the main facts and general bearing are more universally known amongst mankind. God be praised for his providential care of this his own sacred book! God be praised for the labours of his servants, who have watchfully preserved its integrity and faithfully interpreted its meaning! God be praised for the instruction, help, and comfort, which it has given for ages past, and still continues to give, to all who receive it as God's word, and love it for God's sake!
Yes, it is God's word. It has been "given by inspiration of God." And it is profitable, St. Paul tells us in the same place, "for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness." 2 Tim. 3. 16. It was profitable in his time, when in the New Testament he wrote these words, concerning
the Old Testament. And it is profitable in the present hour, for the same edifying purposes; that the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works." 2 Tim. 3. 17. For are not all men in all ages made of the same flesh, prone to the same sins, liable to the same death, and in need of the same Saviour? And might we not continually as we read or hear of God's dealings with his people of old, and their behaviour towards Him, might we not be thinking to ourselves thus: Here is an example which I should do wisely to follow; here is a warning which I should do well to take; here is a temptation by which I am prone to fall; here is a way of safety by which I might be able to stand; here is a proof of how sure God is to visit sin; here is a manifestation of how ready He is to forgive sinners.
And especially, being ourselves Christians, having the New Testament to guide us in the understanding of the Old, we must remember that Moses, and the other writers of the Old Testament wrote of Christ; see John 5. 46; we must read with a view to confirm our faith in Christ, by noting how truly He, and his coming, and dying in the flesh, for the redemption of a fallen world, are the chief subjects of all types and prophecies, the great blessings to which the fathers all looked forward, the great ends to which all their history is directed, and for which all their lives and actions were overruled by God. And how ought it to enlarge our thankfulness, to consider that what they did but hope for we enjoy, that what they wished in vain to see, we have daily before our eyes! And how ought it to quicken our zeal, to observe what holy lives they were enabled in many cases to lead, under all their comparative disadvantages! This, we shall see, is a point constantly insisted on in the Old Testament, holiness of life. God's dealings with his people of old, were all directed to make them holy unto the Lord. And this we know is the design of Christ, in the New Testament, to separate unto Himself a community of saints, out of a world lost in iniquity; or rather, to save all men, if they but would be saved, at once from sin and from perdition.
In "the first book of Moses, called Genesis," we see the foundation of this great design laid down. The creation and fall of man, the promise of a Redeemer, justification by faith, holiness in this present life, and the hope of a life eternal in the heavens, these things are all herein set forth, for the manifestation of our duty, and of God's goodness. Genesis means generating, producing, creating. Whilst we read how God made all things out of nothing, let us not fail to thank Him for his mercy in creating us in Christ Jesus unto good works. See Eph. 2. 10. And when we think of his marvellous power in providing for the succession of generations, let us not fail to bless his name for his having "begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection. of Jesus Christ from the dead." 1 Pet. 1. 3.
The original creation. The first, second, and third day.
1 IN the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.
2 And the earth was without form and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.
3 And God said, Let there be light and there was light.
4 And God saw the light, that it was good and God divided the light from the darkness.
5 And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day. 6 And God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters.
7 And 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.
8 And God called the firma
ment Heaven. And the evening and the morning were the second day.
9 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.
10 And God called the dry land Earth; and the gathering together of the waters called he Seas: and God saw that it was good.
11 And God said, Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb yielding seed, and the fruit tree yielding fruit after his kind, whose seed is in itself, upon the earth: and it was so.
12 And the earth brought forth grass, and herb yielding seed after his kind, and the tree yielding fruit, whose seed was in itself, after his kind: and God saw that it was good. 13 And the evening and the morning were the third day.
The wonders of creation and redemption.
At the time when this book was written, nearly all the children of men had been guilty of forgetting the God that made them. They supposed that instead of one God there were many. they worshipped, as Gods, brute animals, and men, and devils. How appropriate therefore, as well as solemn, and sublime, are these first words of Moses in the book of Genesis, "In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth!" It is as if he would declare to all mankind for ever, God is one, and one only, the Creator of all things else, whether in heaven, or on earth. In the beginning," at the commencement of time, though in the midst of the inconceivable duration of eternity, God who neither slumbers nor sleeps, shewed forth his glory by the creation of the universe. He gave life and breath to all things. He made of one blood all the nations of men, who ought all of them to worship Him, and Him alone. He created all things out of nothing. Let every thing that He has made praise the Lord. But further there was a time when this earth, on which we