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Homilies on Creation


On this page we will different excerpts from the Pulpit Commentary (Ages Software Electronic Edition) which address Genesis 1 & 2. There is no real order to these homilies placed here and we place them here for education and edification purposes only. While we may not agree 100% with each homily represented, we find them an excellent source for information and spiritual growth.


Ver. 1. — “Beginning” is a word familiarly on our lips; but, for the most

part, we mean only rearrangement, or the commencement of one link in the

chain of events. But who can conceive the beginning of creation? Who can

travel back in thought to the first moment of its existence, and look into

the eternity beyond? The Bible carries us back to that beginning, the first

moment when the universe existed. How far back was the starting-point of

time we know not, nor in what form the universe came into being, whether

completed, or in germs to be developed in the course of ages. Only we are

taught that before that “beginning” the universe was not, and that “the

worlds were framed by the word of God” (<581103>Hebrews 11:3) — their

substance, and the laws by which they are governed. With this the

conclusions of science agree. They point out that the forces of nature tend

to extinction, and hence must have had a beginning. To the question what

was that beginning, the Bible gives the answer.

1. What was before the “beginning”? God was; he created all (<199002>Psalm

90:2); and if it surpass our power to conceive an eternal self-existent

Being, still less can we realize life, power, law coming into existence

without a cause. And’” in the beginning was the Word;” and the Holy

Ghost, through whom Christ offered himself (<580914>Hebrews 9:14). But

further, before the beginning the Lamb was slain, (<661308>Revelation 13:8) —

i.e. the necessity for redemption was foreseen and the plan provided — and

we were chosen (<490104>Ephesians 1:4), and a kingdom prepared for us

(<402534>Matthew 25:34). Thus, redemption was no afterthought, no repairing

of failure; but God’s purpose from eternity, and therefore that which is


2. What was the “beginning”? The creation of a field on which God’s plans

were to be carried out and his perfections manifested. And in the course of

his work the creation of beings to whom and in whom he might make

himself known, who might glorify him here and enjoy him forever.

3. We mark then — At the beginning God brought forth what had been

ordained in eternity — his plan complete to the end — our salvation —

redemption as well as creation. “Very good” (<010131>Genesis 1:31) went far

beyond the things then existing on the earth. And if it be urged, How is

“very good” consistent with sin? An enemy has sown tares and marred the

Creator’s work — the world is a ruin. Oh, faithless! why fearful? If God

could give life to dry bones (<263706>Ezekiel 37:6), if he could of stones raise

up children to Abraham, can he not out of seeming ruin raise up a more

glorious temple? But thou sayest, How can this be? Canst thou solve one

of the least mysteries of creation? And is it strange thou canst not solve

that mystery into which angels desire to look? Enough to know “where sin

abounded,” &c. (<450520>Romans 5:20); to remember, “we see not yet,” &c.

(<580208>Hebrews 2:8); and humbly to wait our Father’s time and way.

4. For personal encouragement. Our state fore seen and provided for from

the beginning. Thus our right to trust God’s promises depends not on

anything in us, but is part of his original plan. Our Lord’s call to sinners is

in closest agreement., with what was ordained “in the beginning.”

“Whosoever will (<662217>Revelation 22:17) but echoes the word which called

the universe into being. — M.


Vers. 1-5. — A true and firm foundation of revelation and faith must be

laid in a Divine doctrine of “Genesis,” the beginnings out of which have

come both the world of nature and the world of grace. In this book we are

taught what is the order by which all things must be tried. Coming forth

from Elohim, from the Infinite Personality; flowing in his appointed course.

The genesis of heaven and earth becomes the genesis of the human family.

Out of the natural chaos is brought forth the Eden of rest and beauty. Out

of the moral waste of a fallen humanity is formed, by the gracious work of

a Divine Spirit, through a covenant of infinite wisdom and loves a seed of

redeemed and sanctified human beings, a family of God. The genesis of the

material creation leads on to the genesis of the invisible creation. The

lower is the type and symbol of the higher. The first day is the true

beginning of days. See what is placed by the sacred writer between that

evening and morning.




“God created.” The word employed denotes more

than the bare summoning of existence out of nothingness. The analogy of

human workmanship (“cutting,” “carving,” “framing”) suggests the relation

between creation and the God of creation. The heaven and the earth reflect

their Maker. Works embody the mind, the spirit, the will, the nature of the

workman. Although the name Elohim, in the plural form, cannot be taken

as an equivalent of the Trinity, it points to the great fundamental fact of all

revelation, the Divine Unity coming forth out of the infinite solitude of

eternity, and declaring, in the manifold revelations of the visible and

invisible worlds, all that the creature can know of his fathomless mystery.


 “In the beginning,” the immeasurable fullness of creative power and goodness.

Formless void, darkness on the face of the deeps apparent confusion and

emptiness, within a limited sphere, the earth; at a certain epoch, in

preparation for an appointed future. Chaos is not the first beginning of

things; it is a stage in their history. The evening of the first day preceded

the morning in the recorded annals of the earth. That evening was itself a

veiling of the light. Science itself leads back the thoughts from all chaotic

periods to previous developments of power. Order precedes disorder.

Disorder is itself permitted only as a temporary state. It is itself part of the

genesis of that which shall be ultimately “very good.”





The moving of the Spirit upon the face of the waters represents

the brooding, cherishing, vitalizing presence of God in his creatures, over

them, around them, at once the source and protection of their life.

“Breath;” “wind,” the word literally means, perhaps as a symbol at once of

life, or living energy, and freedom, and with an immediate reference to the

creative word, which is henceforth the breath of God in the world. Surely

no candid mind can fail to feel the force of such a witness in the opening

sentences of revelation to the triune God.


The word of God “commands the light to shine out of darkness.” “God said, Let

there be light,” or, Let light be. The going forth of God’s word upon the

universe very well represents the twofold fact,

(1) that it is the outcome of his will and nature; and

(2) that it is his language — the expression of himself.

Hence all through this Mosaic cosmogony God is represented as speaking

to creation, that we may understand that he speaks in creation, as he is also

said to look at that which comes forth from himself to behold it, to approve

it, to name it, to appoint its order and use. Such intimate blending of the

personal with the impersonal is the teaching of Scripture as distinguished

from all mere human wisdom. God is in creation and yet above it.

Man is thus invited to seek the personal presence as that which is higher than

nature, which his own personal life requires, that it may not be oppressed

with nature s greatness, that it may be light, and not darkness. There is

darkness in creation, darkness in the deep waters of the world’s history,

darkness in the human soul itself, until God speaks and man hears. Light is

not, physically, the first thing created; but it is the first fact of the Divine

days — that is, the beginning of the new order. For what we have to do

with, is not the. infinite, secret of creation, but the “manifestation of the

visible world” God manifest. The first day m the history of the earth, as

man can read it, must be the day when God removes the covering of

darkness and says, “Let there be light.”

The veil uplifted is itself a commencement. God said that it was good. His own

appointment confirmed the abiding distinction between light and darkness,

between day and night; in other words, the unfolding, progressive interchange of work

and rest, of revelation and concealment, the true beginning of the world s

week of labor, which leads on to the everlasting sabbath. How

appropriately this first day of the week of creation stands at the threshold

of God’s word of grace! The light which he makes to shine in our hearts,

which divides our existence into the true order, the good and the evil

separated from one another, which commences our life; and the Spirit is

the light of, his own word, the light which shines from the face of him who

was “the Word,’ “in the beginning with God,” “without whom nothing was

made that was made.” — R.


Vers. 14-19. —

The fourth day.

Notice —


Light needed

for the vegetable world. But when the higher life is introduced, then there

is an order which implies intelligence and active rational existence. The

signs are for those that can observe the signs. The seasons, days, and years

for the being who consciously divides his life.


The concentration of light is the appointed method of its diffusion, and

adaptation to the purposes of man’s existence. So in the moral world and

in the spiritual world. There must be rule, system, diversities of gifts,

diversities of operations. Distinctions of glory — of the sun, moon, stars.

As the light, so is the rule. Those possessed of much power to enlighten

others ought to be rulers by their Divinely-appointed place and work. But

all the light which flows from heavenly bodies has first been communicated

to them. We give out to others what we receive.

III. This setting out of time reminds us that THE EARTHLY

EXISTENCE IS NOT SUPREME, but ruled over until it is itself lifted up

into the higher state where day and night and diurnal changes are no more.

The life of man is governed here largely by the order of the material

universe. But as he grows into the true child of God he rises to a dominion

over sun, moon, and stars.

1. Intellectual. By becoming master of many of the secrets of nature.

2. Moral. The consciousness of fellowship with God is a sense of moral

superiority to material things. The sanctified will and affections have a

sphere of rule wider than the physical universe, outlasting the perishable

earth and sky.

3. Spiritual. Man is earthly first, and then heavenly. Human nature is

developed under the rule of sun, moon, and stars. In the world where there

shall be no more night the consciousness of man will be that of a spirit, not

unwitting of the material, but ruling it with angelic freedom and power. —



Vers. 20-23. —

The fifth day.


1. Abundance. Swarming waters, swarming air? preparing for the

swarming earth. “Be fruitful, and multiply.” The absence of all restraint

because as yet the absence of sin. God’s law is liberty. The law of life is the

primary law. If there be in man’s world a contradiction between the

multiplication of life and the happiness of life, it is a sign of departure from

the original order.

2. Growth, improvement, advancement towards perfection. The fish, fowl,

beast, man exist in a scheme of things; the type of animal life is carried up

higher. The multiplication is not for its own sake, but for the future.

Generations pass away, yet there is an abiding blessing. Death is not real,

though seeming, destruction. There is a higher nature which is being


3. Service of the lower for the higher. God blesses the animal races for the

sake of man, the interpreter of creation, the voice of its praise. He blesses

the lower part of human life for the sake of the soul.


The immense

productiveness of nature would become a curse, not a blessing, unless

restrained by its own laws. The swarming seas and air represent at once

unbounded activity and universal control by mutual dependence and

interaction. So in the moral world. It is not life, existence, alone that

betokens the blessing of God, but the disposition of life to fulfill its highest

end. We should not desire abundance without the grace which orders its

use and controls its enjoyment. — R.


Vers. 24-31. —

The sixth day.

We pass from the sea and air to the earth. We are being led to man. Notice

I. THE PREPARATION IS COMPLETE. Before the earth receives the

human being, it brings forth all the other creatures, and God sees that they

are good — good in his sight, good for man.


Cattle, creeping

thing, beast of the earth. So man would see them distinguished — the wild

from the domestic, the creeping from the roaming, the clean from the

unclean. The division itself suggests the immense variety of the Divine

provision for man’s wants.

III. The incompleteness of the earth when filled with the lower creatures is



for in comparison with the animal races he is in many respects

inferior — in strength, swiftness, and generally in the powers which we call

instinct. Yet his appearance is the climax of the earth’s creation. “Man is

one world, and hath another to attend him.” Vegetable, marine, animal life

generally, the whole earth filled with what God “saw to be good,” waits for

the rational and spiritual creature who shall be able to recognize their order

and wield dominion over them. Steps and stages in creation lead up to the

climax, the “paragon of animals,” the god-like creature, made to be king on

the earth. — R.

Ver. 27. —

The greatness of man.


The latest of God s works, he

was produced towards the close of the era that witnessed the introduction

upon our globe of the higher animals. Taking either view of the length of

the creative day, it may be supposed that in the evening the animals went

forth “to roar after their prey, and seek their meat from God,” and that in

the morning man arose upon the variegated scene, “going forth to his work

and to his labor until the evening” (<19A420>Psalm 104:20-23).

In thin there was

a special fitness, each being created at the time most appropriate to its

nature. Man’s works are often mistimed; God’s never. Likewise in man’s

being ushered last upon the scene there was peculiar significance; it was a

virtual proclamation of his greatness.


which was preceded by a

Divine consultation: “Let us make man,” &c. The language of —

1. Resolution. As if, in the production of the other creatures, the all-wise

Artificer had been scarcely conscious of an effort, but must now bestir

himself to the performance of his last and greatest work.

2. Forethought. As if his previous makings had been, in comparison with

this, of so subordinate importance that they might be executed

instantaneously and, as it were, without premeditation, whereas this

required intelligent arrangement and wise consideration beforehand.

3. Solicitude. As if the insignificance of these other labors made no special

call upon his personal, care and attention, whereas the vastness of the

present undertaking demanded the utmost possible watchfulness and


4. Delight. As if the fashioning and beautifying of the globe and its

replenishing with sentient beings, unspeakably glorious as these

achievements were afforded him no satisfaction in comparison with this

which he contemplated, the creating of man in his own image (cf.

<200831>Proverbs 8:31).


“Created after God’s image and

likeness,” suggesting ideas of —

1. Affinity, or kinship. The resplendent universe, with its suns and systems,

its aerial canopy and green-mantled ground, its Alps and Himalayas, its

oceans, rivers, streams, was only as plastic clay in the hands of a skilful

potter. Even the innumerable tribes of living creatures that had been let

loose to swarm the deep, to cleave the sky, to roam the earth, were

animated by a principle of being that had no closer connection with the

Deity than that which effect has with cause; but the life which inspired man

was a veritable outcome from the personality of God (<010207>Genesis 2:7).

Hence man was something higher than a creature. As imago Dei he was

God’s son (<390210>Malachi 2:10; <441728>Acts 17:28).

2. Resemblance. A distinct advance upon the previous thought, although

implied in it. This likeness or similitude consisted in —

(1) Personality. Light, air, land, sea, sun, moon, stars were “things.” Plants,

fishes, fowls, animals were “lives,” although the first are never so

characterized in Scripture. Man was a “person.”

(2) Purity. The image of absolute holiness must itself be immaculate. In this

sense Christ was “the express image of God’s person” (<580103>Hebrews 1:3);

and though man is not now a complete likeness of his Maker in the moral

purity of his nature, when he came from the Creator’s hand he was. It is

the object of Christ’s work to renew in man the image of his Maker

(<490424>Ephesians 4:24).

(3) Power. That man’s Creator was a God of power was implied in his

name, ELOHIM, and demonstrated by his works. Even fallen man we can

perceive to be possessed of many elements of power that are the shadows

of that which resided in Elohim — the power of self-government, and of

lordship over the creatures, of language and of thought, of volition and of

action, of originating, at least in a secondary sense, and of combining and

arranging. In the first man they resided in perfection.

3. Representation. Man was created in God’s image that he might be a

visible embodiment of the Supreme to surrounding creatures. “The material

world, with its objects sublimely great or meanly little, as we judge them;

its atoms of dust, its orbs of fire; the rock that stands by the seashore, the

water that wears it away; the worm, a birth of yesterday, which we trample

underfoot; the sheets of the constellations that gleam perennial overhead;

the aspiring palm tree fixed to one spot, and the lions that are sent out free

— these incarnate and make visible all of God their natures will admit.”

Man in his nature was intended as the highest representation of God that

was possible short of the incarnation of the Word himself.

IV. THE GRANDEUR OF HIS DOMINION. Man was designed to be

God’s image in respect of royalty and lordship; and as no one can play the

monarch without a kingdom and without subjects, God gave him both an

empire and a people.

1. An empire.

(1) Of wide extent. In the regal charter reaching to the utmost bounds of

this terrestrial sphere (ver. 26).

(2) Of available character. Not a region that was practically unconquerable,

but every square inch of it capable of subjugation and occupation.

(3) Of vast resources. Everything in heaven, earthy and sea was placed at

his command.

(4) Of incalculable value. Nothing was absolutely useless, and many things

were precious beyond compare.

(5) Of perfect security. God had given’ it to him. The. . grant, was,

absolute, the gift was sure.

2. A people.

(1) Numerous. “Every living thing was subjected to his sway.

(2) Varied. The fishes, fowls, and beasts were his servants

(3) Submissive. As yet they had not broken loose against their master.

(4) Given. They were not acquired by the sword, but donated by their


Ver. 31. —


The first chapter closes with a review of the whole work of the six days.

God saw it. Behold, it was very good!

I. The SATISFACTION was in the completion of the earthly order in man,

the highest earthly being. For God s good is not, like man s good” a

compromise, too often, between the really good and the really evil, but the

attainment of the highest — the fulfillment of his Divine idea, the top-stone

placed upon the temple with shoutings: “Grace, grace unto it.”

II. “The evening and the morning were the sixth day.” OUT OF THE



 And when God saw

that, then he said, It is very good. So let us let our faces towards that light

of heaven on earth, the day of Divine revelation, Divine intercourse with

man, the pure and perfect bliss of an everlasting paradise, in which God

and man shall find unbroken rest and joy in one another. — R.

Genesis 2

Ver. 3.

The two sabbaths: the Divine and the human.

I. THE SABBATH OF GOD. A period of —

1. Cessation from toil, or discontinuance of those world-making operations

which had occupied the six preceding days (<580404>Hebrews 4:4). Never since

the close of the creative week has God interfered to fundamentally

rearrange the material structure of the globe. The Deluge produced no

alteration on the constitution of nature. Nor is there evidence that any new

species have been added to its living creatures.

2. Holy delight. On the seventh day Elohim rested and was” refreshed”

(<023117>Exodus 31:17); which refreshment consisted partly in the satisfaction

he experienced in beholding the cosmos — a satisfaction prefigured and

anticipated by the solemn pauses intervening at the end of each creative

day, accompanied by the “good,” “lo! very good,” of Divine approbation;

and partly in the pleasure with which he contemplated the peculiar work of

blessing his creation which lay before him, a work which also had its

foreshadowings in the benedictions pronounced on the living creatures of

the fifth day, and on man on the sixth.

3. Beneficent activity. Even man, unless where his intellectual and moral

faculties are dormant, finds it difficult to rest in indolence and inactivity.

Absence of motion, with complete negation of effort, may constitute the

refreshment of the physical system. The mind seeks its rest in change of

occupation. Still less can the supreme Intelligence, who is pure Spirit, rest

in absolute inaction; only the Divine energy is now directed towards the

happiness of his creatures (<19E509>Psalm 145:9). Having finished his creative

labors, what else could Elohim do but outpour his own blessedness upon

his creatures, in proportion to their capacities to receive it? His nature as

God necessitated such communication of good to his creatures (<193408>Psalm

34:8; <590105>James 1:5, 17). The capacities of his creatures for such blessing

required it. Hence God’s rest may be said to have been man’s birthright.

He was created in that rest, as the sphere of his existence.

4. Continuous duration. That which secures its perpetuity is the Divine

resolution to bless it, i.e. constitute it an era of blessing for man, and in

particular to sanctify it, or devote it to the interests of holiness. And in this

Divine determination lies the pledge of man’s salvation. Without it God’s

rest might have been broken into by man s sin, and the era of blessing

ended. But, because of it, man’s sin could not change the character of

God’s seventh day, so as to prevent it from dropping down gifts and

exercising holy influences on the creature for whose sake it was appointed.

The security of the world as a cosmos may also be said to be involved in

the permanence of God’s sabbath. So long as it continues nothing shall

occur to resolve the present goodly framework of this globe into another

lightless, formless, lifeless chaos, at least until the Divine purpose with the

human race has been fulfilled.


1. Of Divine institution (<022008>Exodus 20:8; <031930>Leviticus 19:30; <19B824>Psalm

118:24). That God had a right to enact a weekly sabbath for man is implied

in his relation to man as Creator and Lawgiver. For man, therefore, to

withhold the seventh portion of his time is to be guilty of disobedience

against God as a moral Governor, ingratitude towards God as Creator and

Preserver, robbery of God as the original Proprietor of both man’s powers

and time’s days. As an institution of God’s appointing, the sabbath

deserves our honor and esteem. To neglect to render this God counts a sin

(<235813>Isaiah 58:13).

2. Of sacred character. Among the Israelites its sanctity was to be

recognized by abstinence from bodily labor (<022010>Exodus 20:10; 34:21, &c.)

and holy convocations (<032303>Leviticus 23:3). That this was the manner of its

observance prior to the giving of the law may be judged from the

regulations concerning the manna (<021622>Exodus 16:22). That from the

beginning it was a day of rest and religious worship may be reasonably

inferred. That it was so used by Christ and his apostles the Gospels attest

(<420416>Luke 4:16).

That the same character was held to attach to the first day

of the week after Christ’s resurrection may be deduced from the practice of

the apostolic Church (<442007>Acts 20:7). The sanctity of the sabbath may be

profaned, positively, by prosecuting one’s ordinary labors in its hours

(<235813>Isaiah 58:13; <241724>Jeremiah 17:24); negatively, by neglecting to devote

them to Divine worship and spiritual improvement (<264424>Ezekiel 44:24).

Christianity has not obliterated the distinction between the sabbath and the

other days of the week; not even by elevating them to the position of holy

days. An attempt to equalize the seven days always results in the

degradation of the seventh, never in the elevation of the other six.

3. Of beneficent design (<410227>Mark 2:27). The sabbath is adapted to the

wants of man physically, intellectually, socially, politically. Innumerable

facts and testimonies establish the beneficial influence of a seventh day’s

rest from toil upon the manual laborer, the professional thinker, the social

fabric, the body politic, in respect of health, wealth, strength, happiness. It

is, however, chiefly man’s elevation as a religious being at which it aims. In

the paradisiacal state it was designed to hedge him round and, if possible,

prevent his fall; since the tragedy in Eden it has been seeking his

reinstatement in that purity from which he fell.

4. Of permanent obligation. Implied in the terms of its institution, its

permanence would not be affected by the abolition of the Decalogue. The

Decalogue presupposed its previous appointment. Christianity takes it up,

just as Judaism took it up, as one of God’s existing ordinances for the

good of man, and seeks through it to bring its higher influences to bear on

man, just as Judaism sought, through it, to operate with its inferior agency.

Till it merges in the rest of which it is a shadow by the accomplishment of

its grand design, it must abide.


1. The reason of man’s sabbath. The Almighty could have no higher reason

for enjoining a seventh day’s rest upon his creature than that by so resting

that creature would be like himself.

2. The pattern of man’s sabbath. As God worked through six of his days

and rested on the seventh, so should man toil through six of his days and

rest on the seventh. As God did all his work in the six creative days, so

should all man’s labor be performed in the six days of the week. As God

employs his rest in contemplation of his finished work and in blessing his

creature man, so should man devote his sabbath to pious meditation on his

past life and to a believing reception of God’s gifts of grace and salvation.

3. The life of man’s sabbath. Whatever blessing comes to man on his

weekly day of rest has its primal fountain in the rest of God. As man

himself is God’s image, so is man’s sabbath the image of God’s rest; and as

man lives and moves and has his being in God, so does man’s sabbath live

and move and have its being in God’s rest.

4. The end of man’s sabbath. The reinstatement of man in God’s rest is the

purpose at which man’s sabbath aims, the goal towards which it is tending.

God’s rest remains on high (<580409>Hebrews 4:9), drawing men towards it. Man’s weekly sabbath will ultimately lose itself m God s eternal rest.


Vers. 1-3. —

Rest and Light.

The finished heavens and earth and their host prepare the day of rest. God

ended his work as an interchange of darkness and light.




The idea of the first proclamation seems to be that creation was

perfectly adjusted through the six days into a settled harmony which puts

heaven and earth in their abiding relation to one another.


The seventh day is only light. God’s rest is complacency in his works. The

blessing on the seventh day which hallowed it is the blessing on that which

the day represents — perfect peace between heaven and earth, God

satisfied in his creation, and inviting his intelligent creatures to “enter into

his rest” by communion with him. It seems quite unnecessary to vindicate

such a sanctification of the seventh day from the insinuations of critics that

it was a late addition made by the Jewish legislator to support the fourth

commandment. In that case the whole cosmogony must be renounced.

Such an observance of a day of rest seems a natural antecedent to the

patriarchal as well as the Mosaic economy. We have already intimated that

the whole account of creation is placed at the commencement of revelation

because it has a bearing upon the positive ordinances of religion. It is not

either a scientific or poetic sketch of the universe; it is the broad,

fundamental outline of a System of religious truth connected with a body

of Divine commandments. The sabbath is thus described in its original

breadth. The sanctification of it is —

1. Negative. It is separation from the lower conditions of work, which in

the case of man are the characteristics of days which are sinful days —

days of toil and conflict, of darkness and light mingled.

2. Positive. It is the restful enjoyment of a higher life, a life which is not

laboring after emancipation from bondage, but perfect with a glorious

liberty; the true day, “sacred, high, eternal noon,” God and man rejoicing

m one another, the creature reflecting the glory of the Creator. — R.


Vers. 4-7. —

Man the living soul.

1. Life is a Divine bestowment.

2. Dust which is Divinely inspired is no longer mere dust; the true life is

neither groveling on the earth, nor so much away from the earth as to be

no longer the life of a living soul.

3. The creature who is last formed, and for whom all other things wait and

are prepared, is made to be the interpreter of all, and the glory of God in

them. — R.

Ver. 8. —

The garden of Eden.

I. A SCENE OF BEAUTY. Whether situated in Armenia or Babylonia

(see Exposition), it was a fair spot in a sunny region of delights (Eden).

This beauty was —

1. Luxuriant. Milton has lavished all the wealth of his creative genius in an

attempt to depict “the happy rural seat of the first pair” (‘Par. Lost,’ bk.

4.). Yet it is questionable if even he has succeeded in reproducing the

gorgeous spectacle, the endlessly diversified assortment of lovely forms

and radiant colors that seemed to compress “in narrow room nature’s

whole wealth,” entitling Eden to be characterized as “a heaven on earth.”

2. Divinely prepared. Jehovah Elohim caused it to spring up and bloom

before the wondering eye of man. All the world’s beauty is of God. The

flowers and the herbs and the trees have all their symmetry and loveliness

from him. God clothes the lilies of the field; the raiment, outshining the

glory of royal Solomon, in which they are decked is of his making. If

nature be the loom in which it is woven, he is the all-wise uJfa>nthv or

Weaver by whom its wondrous mechanism is guided and energized. Let us

rejoice in the earth’s beauty, and thank God for it.

3. Exceptional. We are scarcely warranted, even by <010317>Genesis 3:17, to

suppose that, prior to the fall, the whole world was a paradise. Rather,

geologic revelations give us reason to believe that from the first the earth

was prepared for the reception of a sinful race, death and deformity having

been in the world anterior to man’s arrival upon the scene (cf. Bushnell,

‘Nat. and Super.,’ Genesis 7.), and that the Edenic home was what the

Bible says it was — a fair spot, specially planted and fenced about, for the

temporary residence of the innocent pair, who were ultimately, as

transgressors, to be driven forth to dwell upon a soil which was cursed

because of sin. Let it humble us to think that the earth is not a paradise

solely because of human sin.

4. Prophetic. Besides being a picture of what the world would have been,

had it been prepared for a sinless race, it was also a foreshadowing of the

renovated earth when sin shall be no more, when “this land that was

desolate shall have become like the garden of Eden.” Let it stimulate our

hope and assist our faith to anticipate the palingenesia of the future, when

this sterile and disordered world shall be refitted with bloom and beauty.

II. A SPHERE OF WORK. Adam’s work was —

1. God-assigned. So in a very real sense is every man’s life occupation

appointed by God. “To every man his work” is the law of God’s world as

well as of Christ’s kingdom. This thought should dignify “the trivial round,

the common task,” and enable us, “whether we eat or drink, or whatsoever

we do, to do all to the glory of God.”

2. Pleasant. And so should all work be, whether arduous or easy,

especially to a Christian. To be sure, Adam’s work was light and easy in

comparison with that which afterwards became his lot, and that which now

constitutes ours. But even these would be joyous and exhilarating if

performed by the free spirit of love, instead of, as they often are, by the

unwilling hands of bondmen.

3. Necessary. Even in a state of innocence it was impossible that man could

he suffered to live in indolence; his endowments and capacities were fitted

for activity. His happiness and safety (against temptation) required him to

be employed. And if God who made him was ever working, why should he

be idle? The same arguments forbid idleness today. Christianity with

emphasis condemns it. “If a man will not work, neither shall he eat.”

III. AN ABODE OF INNOCENCE. This abode was —

1. Suitable. It was not suitable for sinners, just as the world outside would

not have been adapted for a pair who were sinless; but it was peculiarly

appropriate for their innocence. He who appointeth to all men the bounds

of their habitation always locates men in spheres that are exactly suited to

their natures and needs.

2. Provisional. Their possession of it was contingent on their remaining

sinless. If their souls continued pure, their homes would continue fair. It is

man’s own sin that defaces the beauty and mars the happiness of man’s

home. When men find themselves in positions that are not compatible with

their happiness and usefulness, it is sin that has placed them there.

3. Quickly lost. How long they continued innocent is useless to conjecture,

though probably it was not long. More important is it to observe that not

much was required to deprive them of their lovely home — one act of

disobedience! See the danger of even one sin.

4. Ultimately recoverable. This truth was taught by the stationing of the

cherubim at its gate (q.v.). <662201>Revelation 22:1 tells us it has been regained

for us by Christ, and will in the end be bestowed on us.


1. Everything was absent that might mar man’s felicity. No sin, no error,

no sorrow.

2. Everything was present that could minister to his enjoyment. There was

ample gratification for all the different parts of his complex nature.

(1) For his bodily senses, the fair scenes, melodious sounds, crystal

streams, and luscious fruits of the garden.

(2) For his mental powers, the study of the works of God.

(3) For his social affections, a loving and lovely partner.

(4) For his spiritual nature, God. To reproduce the happiness of Eden, so

far as that is possible in a sinful world, there is needed

(a) communion with a gracious God;

(b) the felicity of a loving and a pious home;

(c) the joy of life — physical, intellectual, moral.

V. A PLACE OF PROBATION. This probation was —

1. Necessary. Virtue that stands only because it has never been assaulted is,

to say the least of it, not of the highest kind. Unless man had been

subjected to trial it might have remained dubious whether he obeyed of free

choice or from mechanical necessity.

2. Easy. The specific commandment which Adam was required to observe

was not severe in its terms. The limitations it prescribed were of the

smallest possible description — abstinence from only one tree.

3. Gracious. Instead of periling the immortality of Adam and his posterity

upon every single act of their lives, he suspended it upon the observance,

doubtless for only a short space of time, of one easily-obeyed precept,

which he had the strongest possible inducement to obey. If he maintained

his integrity, not only would his own holiness and happiness be confirmed,

but those of his descendants would be secured; while if he failed, he would

involve not himself alone, but all succeeding generations in the sweep of a

terrific penalty. The clearness with which that penalty was made known,

the certainty of its execution, and the severity of its inflictions, were proofs

of the grace of God towards his creature man.


Vers. 8-17. —

Man’s first dwelling-place.

The description of Eden commences an entirely new stage in the record.

We are now entering upon the history of humanity as such.

I. The first fact in that history is a state of “PLEASANTNESS.” The

garden is planted by God. The trees are adapted to human life, to support

it, to gratify it; and in the midst of the garden the two trees which represent

the two most important facts with which revelation is about to deal, viz.,

immortality and sin.


The RIVER breaks into four fountains,

whose description carries us over enormous regions of the world. It is the

river which went out of Eden to water the garden; so that the conception

before us is that of an abode of man specially prepared of God, not

identical with Eden in extent, but in character; and the picture is carried

out, as it were, by the channels of the outflowing streams, which bear the

Eden life with them over the surface of the earth, so that the general effect

of the whole is a prophecy of blessing. Eden-like beauty, and pleasantness,

over the whole extent of the world.


“And the Lord God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden”

(literally, made him to rest in the garden) “to dress it and to keep it.”

Perhaps the simplest view of these words is the most significant. Man is led

into a life of pleasantness, with only such demands upon him as it will be

no burden to meet; and in that life of pure happiness and free activity he is

made conscious, not of mere dependence upon his Creator for existence,

not of laws hanging over him like threatening swords, but of a Divine

commandment which at once gave liberty and restrained it, which

surrounded the one tree of knowledge of good and evil with its circle of

prohibition, not as an arbitrary test of obedience, bat as a Divine

proclamation of eternal righteousness. “Evil is death.” “Thou shalt not eat

of it,” for this reason, that “in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt

surely die.” It is not a subjection of a new-made creature to a test. It would

be a harsh demand to make of Adam, unless he understood that it was

founded on the nature of things.



in the midst of the garden. They hold the same position still

in every sphere of human existence. But the book of Divine grace, as it

teaches us how the sin-stricken, dying world is restored to a paradise of

Divine blessedness, reveals at the last, in the vision of the Christian seer,

only the tree of life beside the water of life; the evil cast out, and the death

which it brought with it, and the new-made inhabitants “taking freely” of

“the pleasures which are forevermore.” — R.


Vers. 9, 10. —

The tree of life and the water of life.

These two features of Eden claim special attention.


They link the paradise of

unfallen man to that of redeemed man. Actual channels of life and blessing,

they were also figures of that salvation which the history of the world was

gradually to unfold. But sin came, and death; present possession was lost.

What remained was the promise of a Savior. We pass over much of

preparation for his coming: the selection of a people; the care of God for

his vineyard; the ordinances and services foreshadowing the gospel. Then a

time of trouble: Jerusalem a desolation; the people in captivity; the temple

destroyed; the ark gone; sacrifices at an end. “Where is now thy God?”

Where thy hope? Such the state of the world when a vision given to

Ezekiel (<264701>Ezekiel 47:1-12), reproducing the imagery of Eden, but

adapted to the need of fallen man. Again we have the stream; now specially

to heal. Its source the mercy-seat (comp. <264301>Ezekiel 43:1-7; 47:1;

<662201>Revelation 22:1). And the trees; not different from the tree of life

(<264712>Ezekiel 47:12: “It shall bring forth new fruit”); varied manifestations

of grace; for food and for medicine. But observe, the vision is of a coming

dispensation. Again a space. Our Savior’s earthly ministry over.


Church is struggling on. The work committed to weak hands; the treasure

in earthen vessels. But before the volume of revelation closed, the same

symbols are shown in vision to St. John (<662201>Revelation 22:1, 2). The

“river of water of life” (cf. “living water,” <430410>John 4:10), and the tree

whose fruit and leaves are for food and healing. Meanwhile our Lord had

said, “Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness.” A

link to connect this with Genesis 2. is <660207>Revelation 2:7 (cf. also

<661211>Revelation 12:11). And again, the word used for “tree” in all these

passages is that used for the cross in <480313>Galatians 3:13 and <600224>1 Peter



The tree with its fruit and

leaves are the manifestation of Christ to the soul — to sinners pardon, to

the weak support and guidance, to saints communion. And the stream is

the gospel (the four-parted river in Eden has been likened to the four

Gospels), spreading throughout the world, bringing healing, light, and life;

enabling men to rejoice in hope. But mark, the drops of which that stream

is composed are living men. The gospel spreads from heart to heart, and

from lip to lip (cf. <430738>John 7:38). Forming part of that healing flood are

preachers of the gospel in every place and way; and thinkers contending for

the faith; and men mighty in prayer; and those whose loving, useful lives

set forth Christ; and the sick silently preaching patience; and the child in his

little ministry. There is helping work for all. The Lord hath need of all.


each one the question comes, Art thou part of that stream? Hast thou

realized the stream of mercy, the gift of salvation for thine own need? And

cans, thou look at the many still unhealed and be content to do nothing?

Thou couldst not cause the stream to flow; but it is thine to press the

“living water” upon others, to help to save others Art thou doing this?


there not within the circle of thy daily life some one in grief whom

Christian sympathy may help, some anxious one whom a word of faith may

strengthen, some undecided one who may be influenced? There is thy

work. Let the reality of Christ’s gift and his charge to thee so fill thy heart

that real longing may lead to earnest prayer; then a way will be opened. —


Ver. 22. —

The first marriage.


1. Nobly born. Sprung from the soil, yet descended from above. Fashioned

of the dust, yet inspired by a celestial breath. Allied to the beasts, yet the

offspring of God.

2. Comfortably placed. His native country a sunny region of delights

(Eden, <010208>Genesis 2:8); his home a beautiful and fertile garden

(<010305>Genesis 3:5); his supplies of the amplest possible description

(<010130>Genesis 1:30; 2:16); his occupation light and pleasant (<010215>Genesis

2:15); his restrictions slight and trivial (<010217>Genesis 2:17); his privileges

large (<010216>Genesis 2:16).

3. Richly endowed. With immortality (<010217>Genesis 2:17), intelligence

(<010219>Genesis 2:19), social capacities and instincts (<010218>Genesis 2:18), the

faculty of speech (<010220>Genesis 2:20).

4. Highly exalted. As God’s offspring, he was invested with worlddominion

(<010128>Genesis 1:28; <190806>Psalm 8:6), symbolized in his naming of

the creatures (<010220>Genesis 2:20).

Yet — 5. Essentially alone. Not as entirely bereft of companionship,

having on the one hand the society of Jehovah Elohim, and on the other the

presence of the animals; but in neither the Creator nor the creatures could

he find his other self — his counterpart and complement, his consort and

companion. On the one hand Jehovah Elohim was too high, while on the

other the creatures were too low, for such partnership as Adam’s nature

craved. And so Adam dwelt in solitude apart from both. “But for Adam

there was not found an help meet for him.”


1. Divinely fashioned (ver. 22).

(1) Woman was the last of God’s creative works; presumably, therefore,

she was the best. “Eve’s being made after Adam puts an honor upon that

sex as the glory of the man (<461107>1 Corinthians 11:7). If man is the head, she

is the crown — a crown to her husband, the crown of the visible creation”

(M. Henry).

(2) Woman was not made till everything was in the highest state of

readiness for her reception. Before her creation, not only must there be a

home for her reception, provision for her maintenance, and servants to

attend upon her bidding; there must likewise be a husband that feels the

need of her sweet society, that longs for her coming, and that can

appreciate her worth. Hence he who seeks a partner should first find a

house in which to lodge her, the means to support her, but specially the

love wherewith to cherish her.

(3) Woman was formed out of finer and more precious material than man,

being constructed of a rib taken from his side. “The man was dust refined,

but the woman was dust double refined, one remove further from the

earth” (M. Henry). This was not because of any supposed excellence

residing in the matter of a human body. It was designed to indicate

woman’s unity with man as part of himself, and woman’s claim upon man

for affection and protection. She was made of a rib taken from his side —

“not made out of his head, to rule over him; nor out of his feet, to be

trampled on by him; but out of his side, to be equal with him; under his

arm, to be protected; and near his heart, to be beloved” (Henry).

(4) Woman was constructed with the greatest possible care. The entire

operation was carried through, not only under God’s immediate

superintendence, but exclusively by God’s own hand. Adam neither saw,

knew, nor took part in the work. God cast him into a deep sleep, “that no

room might be left to imagine that he had herein directed the Spirit of the

Lord, or been his counselor” (Henry). Then by God’s own hand Adam’s

side was opened, a rib extracted, the flesh closed in its stead, and finally,

the rib thus removed from Adam’s side —

“Under his forming hands a creature grew,

Man like, but different sex; so lovely fair,

That what seemed fair in all the world, seemed now

Mean, or in her summed up, in her contained,

And in her looks;....

Grace was in all her steps, heaven in her eye,

In every gesture dignity and love”

(Milton, ‘Par. Lost,’ Bin 8:469).

2. Divinely presented (ver. 22). “The Lord brought her unto the man.”

“Wherein we have exemplified the three great causes of marriage.

(1) The father’s consent, in God’s giving.

(2) The woman’s consent, in Eve’s coming. This was no forced marriage;

the woman comes freely.

(3) The man’s consent, in Adam’s receiving. ‘And Adam said, This is at

last bone of my bone (Hughes). And without these human marriages are

sinfully contracted. Love for the bride is one of the signs which God

vouchsafes of his approval of a marriage; the bride’s affection for the

bridegroom is another; while a third is the approbation and the blessing of

the parents of both.


1. Married by God. “God is the best maker of marriages” (Shakespeare).

Nay, unless God unites there is no real marriage, but only an unhallowed

connection, legitimized by man’s laws, it may be, but not sanctioned by

God’s. As this wedding was of God’s arranging, so likewise was it of his

celebrating. What celestial benedictions were outbreathed upon the young

and innocent pair, as they stood there before their Maker, radiant in beauty,

tremulous with joy, full of adoration, we are left to imagine. Happy they

whose nuptials are first sanctioned and then celebrated by the living God!

2. United in love. This first marriage was certainly something more than a

social or a civil contract; something other than a union of convenience or a

diplomatic alliance; something vastly different from a legalized coenobium.

It was the realization of what our Laureate pictures as the ideal marriage:

“Each fulfils

Defect in each, and always thought in thought,

Purpose in purpose, will in will, they grow,

The single, pure, and perfect animal;

The two-cell d heart beating, with one full stroke,

Life” (‘Princess,’ 7.).

3. Clothed in innocence. Never had bridal pair so beautiful and radiant

apparel. The unclothed bodies of our first parents we can imagine were

enswathed in ethereal and transfiguring light; in their case the outshining of

their holy souls, which, as yet, were the undimmed and unmarred image of

their Maker, capable of receiving and reflecting his glory. Alas, never bridal

pair has stood in robes so fair! The beauty of holiness, the luster of

innocence, the radiance of purity have departed from the souls of men.

Never till we stand in the celestial Eden, where they neither marry nor are

given in marriage, will garments of such incomparable splendor be ours.

Meantime, let us thank God there is a spotless raiment in which our guilty

souls may be arrayed, and in which it were well that every bridal pair were

decked. Happy they who, when they enter into married life, can say, “I will

greatly rejoice in the Lord, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for he hath

clothed me with the garments of salvation, he hath covered me with the

robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decketh himself with ornaments,

and as a bride adorneth herself with jewels.”

4. Housed in paradise. United by the hand of God, they began their

married life in Eden.

“And there these twain upon the skirts of time

Sat side by side, full summ’d in all their powers,

Dispensing harvest, sowing the to-be.

Self-reverent each, and reverencing each;

Distinct in individualities,

But like each other, ev’n as those who love”

(Tennyson’s ‘Princess,’ 7.).

And so may any wedded pair be housed in Eden who, putting on the Lord

Jesus Christ, fill their home, however humble, with the light of love.


Vers. 18-25. —

The true life of man.

The commencement of human society. First we see man surrounded by

cattle, fowl, and beast of the field, which were brought to him by God as to

their lord and ruler, that he might name them as from himself. “What he

called every living creature was the name thereof.” Nothing could better

represent the organization of the earthly life upon the basis of man’s

supremacy. But there is no helpmeet for man (“as before him,” the

reflection of himself) in all the lower creation.




The deep sleep, the Divine manipulation of maws fleshly

frame, the formation of the new creature, not out of the ground, but out of

man, the exclamation of Adam, This is another self, my bone and my flesh,

therefore she shall be called woman, because so closely akin to man — all

this, whatever physical interpretation we give to it, represents the fact that

companionship, family life, mail’s intercourse with his fellow, all the

relations which spring from the fleshly unity of the race, are of the most

sacred character. As they are from God, and specially of God’s

appointment, so they should be for God.

II. There, in home life, torn off, as it were, from the larger sphere, that it


be the special recognition of God, the family altar, the house of man a

house of God.

III. The Divine beginning of human life is the foundation on which we


AND NOBLEST the more the heart of man unfolds itself in the element of

the heavenly love. — R.