Genesis 1:16

Verse 16. And God made two great lights] Moses speaks of the sun

and moon here, not according to their bulk or solid contents, but

according to the proportion of light they shed on the earth. The

expression has been cavilled at by some who are as devoid of

mental capacity as of candour. "The moon," say they, "is not a

great body; on the contrary, it is the very smallest in our

system." Well, and has Moses said the contrary? He has said it

is a great LIGHT; had he said otherwise he had not spoken the

truth. It is, in reference to the earth, next to the sun himself,

the greatest light in the solar system; and so true is it that the

moon is a great light, that it affords more light to the earth

than all the planets in the solar system, and all the innumerable

stars in the vault of heaven, put together. It is worthy of

remark that on the fourth day of the creation the sun was formed,

and then "first tried his beams athwart the gloom profound;" and

that at the conclusion of the fourth millenary from the creation,

according to the Hebrew, the Sun of righteousness shone upon the

world, as deeply sunk in that mental darkness produced by sin as

the ancient world was, while teeming darkness held the dominion,

till the sun was created as the dispenser of light. What would

the natural world be without the sun? A howling waste, in which

neither animal nor vegetable life could possibly be sustained. And

what would the moral world be without Jesus Christ, and the light

of his word and Spirit? Just what those parts of it now are where

his light has not yet shone: "dark places of the earth, filled

with the habitations of cruelty," where error prevails without

end, and superstition, engendering false hopes and false fears,

degrades and debases the mind of man.

Many have supposed that the days of the creation answer to so

many thousands of years; and that as God created all in six days,

and rested the seventh, so the world shall last six thousand

years, and the seventh shall be the eternal rest that remains for

the people of God. To this conclusion they have been led by these

words of the apostle, 2Pe 3:8:

One day is with the Lord as a thousand years; and a thousand

years as one day. Secret things belong to God; those that are

revealed to us and our children.

He made the stars also.] Or rather, He made the lesser light,

with the stars, to rule the night. See Claudlan de Raptu PROSER.,

lib. ii., v. 44.

Hic Hyperionis solem de semine nasci

Fecerat, et pariter lunam, sed dispare forma,

Aurorae noctisque duces.

From famed Hyperion did he cause to rise

The sun, and placed the moon amid the skies,

With splendour robed, but far unequal light,

The radiant leaders of the day and night.


On the nature of the sun there have been various conjectures.

It was long thought that he was a vast globe of fire 1,384,462

times larger than the earth, and that he was continually emitting

from his body innumerable millions of fiery particles, which,

being extremely divided, answered for the purpose of light and

heat without occasioning any ignition or burning, except when

collected in the focus of a convex lens or burning glass. Against

this opinion, however, many serious and weighty objections have

been made; and it has been so pressed with difficulties that

philosophers have been obliged to look for a theory less repugnant

to nature and probability. Dr. Herschel's discoveries by means of

his immensely magnifying telescopes, have, by the general consent

of philosophers, added a new habitable world to our system, which

is the SUN. Without stopping to enter into detail, which would be

improper here, it is sufficient to say that these discoveries tend

to prove that what we call the sun is only the atmosphere of that

luminary; "that this atmosphere consists of various elastic fluids

that are more or less lucid and transparent; that as the clouds

belonging to our earth are probably decompositions of some of the

elastic fluids belonging to the atmosphere itself, so we may

suppose that in the vast atmosphere of the sun, similar

decompositions may take place, but with this difference, that the

decompositions of the elastic fluids of the sun are of a

phosphoric nature, and are attended by lucid appearances, by

giving out light." The body of the sun he considers as hidden

generally from us by means of this luminous atmosphere, but what

are called the maculae or spots on the sun are real openings in

this atmosphere, through which the opaque body of the sun becomes

visible; that this atmosphere itself is not fiery nor hot, but is

the instrument which God designed to act on the caloric or latent

heat; and that heat is only produced by the solar light acting

upon and combining with the caloric or matter of fire contained in

the air, and other substances which are heated by it. This

ingenious theory is supported by many plausible reasons and

illustrations, which may be seen in the paper he read before the

Royal Society. On this subject See Clarke on Ge 1:3.


There is scarcely any doubt now remaining in the philosophical

world that the moon is a habitable globe. The most accurate

observations that have been made with the most powerful telescopes

have confirmed the opinion. The moon seems, in almost every

respect, to be a body similar to our earth; to have its surface

diversified by hill and dale, mountains and valleys, rivers,

lakes, and seas. And there is the fullest evidence that our earth

serves as a moon to the moon herself, differing only in this, that

as the earth's surface is thirteen times larger than the moon's,

so the moon receives from the earth a light thirteen times greater

in splendour than that which she imparts to us; and by a very

correct analogy we are led to infer that all the planets and their

satellites, or attendant moons, are inhabited, for matter seems

only to exist for the sake of intelligent beings.


The STARS in general are considered to be suns, similar to that

in our system, each having an appropriate number of planets moving

round it; and, as these stars are innumerable, consequently there

are innumerable worlds, all dependent on the power, protection,

and providence of God. Where the stars are in great abundance,

Dr. Herschel supposes they form primaries and secondaries, i.e.,

suns revolving about suns, as planets revolve about the sun in our

system. He considers that this must be the case in what is called

the milky way, the stars being there in prodigious quantity. Of

this he gives the following proof: On August 22, 1792, he found

that in forty-one minutes of time not less than 258,000 stars had

passed through the field of view in his telescope. What must God

be, who has made, governs, and supports so many worlds! For the

magnitudes, distances, revolutions, &c., of the sun, moon,

planets, and their satellites, see the preceding TABLES.

See Clarke on Ge 1:1.

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