In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.
In Scripture, as well as in ordinary language, the word "earth" is used in two different meanings: sometimes it means the whole globe on which we live; and sometimes only the solid dust with which the globe is covered, which is supposed not to be much more than from nine to twelve miles in thickness.
1. The word "earth" is used to express the whole globe in the 1st verse of Genesis — "In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth"; and it is so used also in the 40th chapter of Isaiah, verse 22; and again in the 26th chapter of Job, verse 7, where we are told that the Lord "hangeth the earth upon nothing."
2. The word "earth" is also used to express the solid and rocky crust with which our globe is everywhere covered, and on which rest the vast waters of the ocean. It is used in this sense in the 10th verse of the 1st chapter of Genesis: "God called the dry land earth." Earth is the dry land as distinguished from the sea; it means the continents and islands which appear above the waters.
(1) You know that it is round.
(2) We know that our earth goes round the sun once every year in an immense oval course, turning round upon itself at the same time as a ball does when it rolls along.
(3) The earth has been measured. It is 25,000 miles all round, or in circumference, and nearly 8,000 miles straight through, or in diameter. You may imagine its size when I tell you that it has been reckoned that Mont Blanc, the highest mountain of Europe, is no larger when compared with the earth than the thickness of one of your hairs is to your head, or like a small grain of sand placed on a house twenty feet in height.
(4) This earth, although covered all round with a solid crust, is all on fire within. Its interior is supposed to be a burning mass of melted, glowing metals, fiery gas, and boiling lava. This was mentioned in the Bible long before learned men had found it out for themselves by observation. It is spoken of in the Book of Job, about three thousand years ago (Job 28:5). We often read also in Scripture of the mountains being "melted like wax," rising and leaping like Iambs, and raised from the depths of the earth by the force of the inward fire (Psalm 97:5). We read in the Psalms of a time "before the mountains were brought forth" (Psalm 90:2); and we read also in Proverbs of a time "before the mountains were settled" (Proverbs 8:25), while they were yet being tossed and thrown up by the mighty power of fire. So great is the heat within the earth, that in Switzerland and other countries where the springs of water are very deep, they bring to the surface the warm mineral waters so much used for baths and medicine for the sick; and it is said that if you were to dig very deep down into the earth, the temperature would increase at the rate of a degree of the thermometer for every hundred feet, so that at the depth of seven thousand feet, or a mile and a half, all the water that you found would be boiling, and at the depth of about ten miles all the rocks would be melted.
Parallel VersesKJV: In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.