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us, to every phase and faculty of our being, and the wonder of it is that these revelations never fail. They never contradict our reason; they awake responsive voices in our conscience; they evoke our admiration, and elevate our hopes and aspiration. Verily, their inspiring source, The Holy Spirit, "knew what is in man."
"The earth is the Lord's, and the fulness thereof
N the beginning God created the heavens and the earth." This is the whole story of the origin of the visible universe; the present constitution of the world dates from this beginning.
What was before that date we know not. How long ago it was, or how long after any other event we cannot tell; nor why God, at that time, brought the heavens and the earth into being.
But two facts are here revealed; first, that God is the sole source and author of all things; by the word of his power they came and continue to be: second, the present order, the heavens and earth, came into being at a definite time, a time, very long ago, before which they did not exist, and after which they did.
But the act of creation involved much more than the bringing of matter into being. We may not think of the material world as ever having been an inert mass. From the beginning, in its very nature, every atom was endowed with marvelous and varied energies. All the properties of matter, such as weight and size or taste or color are the manifestations of some energy or power; and all these energies act according to some definite and changeless order. These modes and limits of activity we call the laws of nature. The force of gravity, of chemical affinity, of motion, light and heat and every other
quality or attribute of matter is due to energies which are from the beginning.
All science and philosophy is but the discovery of what has been since the day when God made the heavens and the earth.
All human skill cannot give to matter or to spirit a single property, or change by one hair's breadth the laws by which their various activities are ordered.
In the beginning the world was made, equipped, endowed and constituted, and that constitution has never been revised. Each atom is by no means the simple, passive, inert bit of matter that we used to think it, but an active agent capable of great variety of energies, more complex in its structure, and more varied in its powers than any machine that man has yet devised.
Then life with its mysterious power to appropriate and use the material substances, to build up the complicated organisms in which it dwells, and by which it performs its functions, and brings forth fruit after its kind, and so perpetuates itself, gives to the earth its beauty and its joy.
So comprehensive is the work of God's creation, which he did in the beginning.
From the beginning the heavens and the earth was a going concern, full of intense activity and ceaseless energy, regulated by immutable decrees and ordered by the most exact and comprehensive laws, which remain to this day as absolute and universal as at first.
To every atom and to every star, to every force and quality God said, as he said to the sea, "Hitherto shalt thou come and no further, and here shall thy proud waves be stayed."
But this world so completely constituted and well ordered was yet undeveloped. It is described as "waste and void." Modern science pictured it as a "fire-mist, tempestuous, lifeless and unorganized."
The process of development, as well as the initial act of
creation is ascribed to God. "The Spirit of God brooded over the face of the waters." As a bird incubates the eggs in the nest, so the spirit of God presides over the evolutions of the universe.
The order of development is briefly noted under six great periods, or "days", and the order of events is given as they would appear from the point of view of the earth.
First; light appears, and the distinction of day and night. Second, the firmament, or open space between the clouds above and the waters below. Third, the land appears in places and the ocean gathers in the lower portions of the globe. Third, life appears, and species of plants spring from the ground. Fourth, the sun and heavenly bodies appear, and the seasons are marked. Fifth, animal life in sea and land, "great sea monsters, and every winged fowl after its kind." Sixth, the higher forms of animal life appear, and last of all, man is formed as the crowning work of this long series, and to him is given "dominion over the fish of the sea and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth."
This outline has been elaborated and filled out in greater detail by the discoveries of science, but not a line has been changed or found in error.
It is a marvelous revelation of the order of the world's development, which, though written many centuries before the same truths were discovered by the light of science, could not be better told today.
"The footprints of the Creator" enable us to read in the rocks the self-same story that we find upon the page of Scripture, so far as the order of creation is concerned, and thus fortify our faith in the assurance that the scripture is to be believed when it adds the testimony, which the rocks cannot so clearly give, that all this is the work of a personal and loving God. It is not the work of blind and insensate forces, working under laws that chanced to be, but the orderly evolution of
a cosmic universe directed by intelligence and inspired by affection. "And God saw everything that he had made and behold it was very good." This is the act of a personal God. Physical forces, impersonal energy or "a creative impetus" has no power to recognize the beauty or excellence of its work. To call creation good implies a different and higher quality than any that the physical world possesses. It also implies more than intelligence; it implies what we call feeling, emotion or affection.
Still more clearly is the love of God revealed in the declaration that when sentient creatures-creatures that are capable of pain and pleasure-arrive, God blessed them—, gave them happiness, according to their nature and capacity. Rocks and seas and sky cannot be blessed-cannot experience joy or satisfaction, but living creatures of the higher orders can; and we read with interest that when this stage of evolution is reached God blessed them. So the animate world is full of happiness, of singing birds and playing youngsters, of contented flocks in green pastures and lizards basking in the sun.
When man arrives we read again, "God blessed them," and, furthermore, that he gave man the special blessing of "dominion over all the earth." Thus man was, in a manner, taken into partnership with God, made a creator, within the limits of his place a power, and given opportunity for growth in wisdom and nobility of soul by the exercise of reason and the bearing of responsibility.
Man is the crown of creation. This brief story is important chiefly in this that it reveals to us our place and our relations.
The greatest revelation given here is that man was made in the image of God. Indeed this is the greatest revelation ever made, the most important truth in all the world. It is the basis of our hope of immortality. It is the pledge of God's unfailing care, and the reasonable ground of every spiritual aspiration.