Genesis 1:14
Notice -

I. GOD PREPARES HEAVEN AND EARTH FOR MAN. 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.

II. THE LUMINARIES ARE SAID TO RULE THE DAY AND NIGHT. 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. - R.







Let there be lights in the firmament.
I. THESE LIGHTS ARE ALL GOD'S SERVANTS.

II. THE MISTAKES MAN'S EYE MAKES IN JUDGING THE WORKS OF GOD. We "limit the Holy One of Israel." What a small world man's eye would make of God's creation!

III. THE DEEPEST HUMILITY IS THE TRUEST WISDOM. The most difficult discovery for man to make in the world is to find out his own littleness.

IV. UNCONSCIOUS BENEFITS ARE RENDERED BY ONE. PART OF CREATION TO ANOTHER. Here are seen the wisdom, power, and goodness of the great Creator. Little do these distant stars know what benefits they confer on our small world.

V. THE HIGH ESTIMATE WHICH GOD PUTS ON MAN. He ordains such glorious worlds to serve Him.

VI. THE GREAT SIN OF IDOL WORSHIP.

(J. P. Millar.)

I. THE HEAVENLY BODIES WERE CALLED INTO EXISTENCE BY GOD.

1. Their magnitude.

2. Variety.

3. Splendour.

II. THE PURPOSES FOR WHICH THE HEAVENLY BODIES ARE DESIGNED.

1. They were to be for lights. They are unrivalled, should be highly prized, faithfully used, carefully studied, and devotionally received. These lights were regnant.

(1)Their rule is authoritative.

(2)It is extensive.

(3)It is alternate.

(4)It is munificent.

(5)It is benevolent.

(6)It is welcome. A pattern for all monarchs.

2. They were made to divide the day from the night. Thus the heavenly bodies were not only intended to give light, but also to indicate and regulate the time of man, that he might be reminded of the mighty change, and rapid flight of life. But the recurrence of day and night also proclaim the need of exertion and repose; hence they call to work, as well as remind of the grave.

3. To be for signs, and for seasons, and for days and years. The moon by her four quarters, which last each a little more than seven days, measures for us the weeks and months. The sun, by his apparent path in the sky, measures our seasons and our years, whilst by his daily rotation through the heavens he measures the days and the hours; and this he does so correctly that the best watchmakers in Geneva regulate all their watches by his place at noon; and from the most ancient times men have measured from sun dials the regular movement of the shadow. It has been well said that the progress of a people in civilization may be estimated by their regard for time — their care in measuring and valuing it. Our time is a loan. We ought to use it as faithful stewards.

III. A FEW DEDUCTIONS FROM THIS SUBJECT.

1. The greatness and majesty of God. How terrible must be the Creator of the sun. How tranquil must be that Being who has given light to the moon. One glance into the heavens is enough to overawe man with a sense of the Divine majesty.

2. The humility that should characterize the soul of mall. "When I consider the heavens, the work of Thine hand," etc.

(J. S. Exell, M. A.)

In the sun we have the most worthy emblem that the visible universe presents of Him, who, with the word of His power, kindled up its glories, and with the strength of His right hand established it in the heavens. And the analogies between the sun of nature and the Sun of Righteousness are both striking and instructive.

1. In the opening scene of the fourth day we have a fine image of the advent of the Redeemer of men. On that morning the sun burst forth in its unveiled glories, irradiating the new-made earth, and revealing upon its face scenes of loveliness and grandeur which could neither be seen nor known before. So arose the Sun of Righteousness upon the world of mankind, an object as wonderful and as new in His person, and character, and office, as the great orb of day when it first came forth to run the circuit of the heavens — pouring a flood of light from above upon benighted humanity, and opening up to them views of truth, happiness, and immortality, such as the world had never known or heard before; and, like the solar light, while revealing all else, remaining Himself a glorious mystery.

2. As the natural sun is the centre of the system of creation, so the Sun of Righteousness is the vital centre of revealed truth and religion.

3. As the sun shines by his own light, so the Son of God poured the light of truth upon men from the fountain of His own mind. The instructions He imparted were neither derived from tradition nor borrowed from philosophy. He was a self-luminous and Divine Orb, rising upon the darkness of the world, shedding new light, and revealing new truths to bewildered humanity.

4. As in the pure sunbeam we have combined all the colours of the rainbow in their due proportions, so in Christ we find all virtues and graces harmoniously blended in one perfect character. In Him we behold every principle, every affection, every impulse, in perfect equipoise.

5. As the sunlight, on whatever foulness or corruption it may fall, remains uncontaminated, so the Son of Man, amid all the temptations, guilt, and depravity of earth, continued pure and unspotted.

6. As the light of the sun is unlimited and inexhaustible, so also are the healing and saving beams of the Sun of Righteousness.

7. As the sun's law of gravitation extends over the whole solar system, so the law of love, proceeding from the Sun of Righteousness, extends its authority over the whole family of man. Gravitation exercises its dominion alike over the mightiest planet and the minutest asteroid; so the Divine law of love, with equal hand, imposes its obligations upon kings, and peasants, and beggars; its authority is no less binding in courts and cabinets than in churches and families, its voice is to be heeded no less by the diplomatist sent to foreign realms, than by the preacher who remains among his flock at home. To all it speaks alike, in the name and in the words of its Divine original, "Love one another, as I have loved you."

(H. W. Morris, D. D.)

What are the benefits God intends to secure for us, by the arrangements here made? By this means, He —

I. Compels men, as far as they can be compelled, to reckon their time, or number their days aright.

II. Calls us often to a reckoning with ourselves under the most impressive influences.

III. Invites us to new purposes of future life.

IV. Teaches us, in the most impressive manner possible, the value of time.

V. Impresses upon us, as a truth of practical moment, that everything must be done in its time.

VI. Reminds us both of our rapid transit here and immortality hereafter. VII. Teaches us that there is a changeless empire of being, which the established round of seasons and years, and the mechanical order of heaven itself suggests and confirms.

(H. Bushnell, D. D.)

I. ITS SPEED! Have you any idea of it? The mind becomes confused when we try to imagine it. For instance, whence, think you, came the bright rays which this very morning lighted up your room with their dazzling brightness? Ah! they had travelled very far before they reached you, even all the distance between the sun and the earth. If a man could take the same journey, travelling at the rate of ninety-five miles a day, he would take a million of days, or nearly three thousand years to do it. And yet, how long do you think those bright rays have been in travelling this morning from the sun to your window? Only eight minutes and thirteen seconds.

II. But if you wonder at the speed of light, what will you say when you think of its ABUNDANCE? This is, if possible, still more wonderful. Who can even imagine the immense and immeasurable torrents of light which from age to age have gushed forth from the sun in every direction, constantly filling with their ceaseless waves the whole extent of planetary space? I do not speak thoughtlessly when I tell you of the ceaseless flow of these waves of light, for they gush forth from the sun by night as well as by day. Some young people fancy that when it is night with us, it is then night in the universe; but this is a childish fancy, for, on the contrary, there is perpetual day in the wide universe of space.

III. ITS BRILLIANT COLOURS. The rays of light which come to us directly from the sun, are, you know, of a dazzling white. If you shut carefully all the shutters in your room, so as to make it perfectly dark, and if you allow a single ray of light to enter through a small hole, you will see it mark on the opposite wall a beautiful circle of white light. But do you know what would happen to this ray if you were to place before the hole a prism of finely polished glass? When the great Newton tried this experiment for the first time, he tells us that he started with joy. The sight that he saw, and that you would see, would be this: The prism would decompose and divide the beautiful white ray into seven rays, still more beautiful, of bright-coloured light, which would paint themselves each separately on the wall, in the following order: violet, indigo, blue, green, yellow, orange, red. These brilliant-coloured rays, of which each white ray is made up, are reflected in various ways, according to the nature and composition of different bodies, and thus they give their varied and manifold tints to all objects in nature.

(Professor Gaussen.)

It is beautiful to observe how the motions of the stars of heaven in their orbits are represented by the flowers of earth in their opening and closing, in their blossoming and fading. The clock of time has two faces: the one above, on which the hours are marked by the rising and setting of the orbs of heaven; the other below, on which the hours are marked by the blossoming and the fading, the opening and the closing of the flowers. The one exactly corresponds with the other. The movements of the living creatures depend upon the movements of the lifeless stars. The daisy follows with its golden eye the path of the sun through the sky, opens its blossom when he rises, and closes it when he sets. Thus should it be with our souls. There should be a similar harmony between them and the motions of the heavenly bodies which God has set in the firmament for signs to us. Our spiritual life should progress with their revolutions; should keep time with the music of the spheres; our thoughts should be widened with the process of the suns. This is the true astrology. And as the daisy follows the sun all day to the west with its open eye, and acknowledges no other light that falls upon it — lamplight, moonlight, or starlight — remaining closed under them all, except under the light of the sun; so should we follow the Sun of Righteousness whither. soever He goeth, and say with the Psalmist, "Whom have we in the heavens but Thee; and there is none upon the earth whom we desire besides Thee."

(H. Macmillan, D. D.)

It was the will of God that man should be able to measure and reckon time, that he might learn its value and regulate its employment of it. He therefore placed in the heavens a magnificent and perfect clock, which tells the hours, the days, the weeks, the months, the seasons, and the years — a clock which no one ever winds up, but which yet goes constantly, and never goes wrong. The dial plate of this clock is the blue vault of heaven over our heads — a vault spangled with stars at night, brilliant with light by day — a vault whose edges, rounded like the edge of a watch, rest on the horizon of our mountains here at Geneva, while far out at sea the whole great dial plate may be seen, the dome of the sky seeming to rest on the wide circle of the ocean. And what, think you, are the hands of this magnificent dial plate? God has placed on it two, the greater and the lesser. Both are ever shining, both are ever moving. They are never either too early or too late. The greater is the great light which rules the day, and which, while it seems to turn above our heads from east to west across the celestial vault, rising each morning over the Alps, and setting each evening over the Jura, seems to move at the same time on the great dial plate of the heavens in a contrary direction, that is to say, from the west to the east, or from the Jura towards the Alps, advancing every day the length of twice its own breadth. And the lesser hand of the clock is the lesser light which rules the night, which progresses also in the same direction with the sun, but twelve times faster, advancing each day from twenty-four to twenty-rive times its own breadth, and thus turning round the dial plate in a single month. Thus, for example, if you look this evening at the moon as she sets behind the Jura, and if you carefully observe what stars are hidden behind her disk, tomorrow you will see her again set behind the same mountain, but three-quarters of an hour later, because she has in the meantime moved towards the east twenty-four times her own breadth; and then she will cover stars much nearer the Alps, so that twenty-four moons might be placed in the sky between the place that she will occupy tomorrow and the one she occupies today.

(Prof. Gaussen.)

When the famous Baron de Trenck came out of his dark dungeon in Magdeburg, where he could not distinguish night from day, and in which the King of Prussia had kept him imprisoned for ten years, he imagined that he had been in it for a much shorter period, because he had no means of marking how the time had passed, and he had seen no new events, and had had even few thoughts: his astonishment was extreme when he was told how many years had thus passed away like a painful dream.

(Prof. Gaussen.)

The savages of North America, after their fatiguing hunting parties, and warlike expeditions, pass whole weeks and months in amusement and repose, without once thinking that they are wasting or losing anything that is valuable. It has been well said that the progress of a people in civilization may be estimated by their regard for time — their care in measuring and valuing it. If that be true even of a half-savage people, how much more must it be true of a Christian nation! Ah, how much ought a Christian to value his time, if he means to be a faithful steward, since his hours belong not to himself, but to his gracious Master, who has redeemed him at so great a price; and since he knows that he must give an account of it at last.

(Prof. Gaussen.)

1. As the moon, though widely separated from the earth, is attached to it by the invisible bonds of gravitation, and ordained to travel with it in its appointed course round the sun — so the Church militant, though distinct from the world, is connected with it by many ties, and appointed to pursue her pilgrimage along with it to eternity.

2. As the moon receives all her natural light from the sun, so the Church receives all her spiritual light from the Sun of Righteousness.

3. As the moon has been appointed to reflect the light she receives upon the earth to relieve her darkness, to guide the lone mariner on the deep, to lead the belated traveller in his path, and to cheer the shepherd keeping watch over his flock by night — so the Church has been ordained to reflect her heavenly light for the guidance of benighted and bewildered humanity around her. The design of her establishment, like that of the moon, is to give light upon the earth.

4. As the moon remains not stationary in the heavens over some favoured spot, but according to the law of her creation, pursues her career around the globe to cheer and enlighten its every habitable region — so the Church has been organized and commanded to carry the light of the gospel into all the world, and preach the unsearchable riches of Christ to every creature.

5. As the moon, while shining in her usual brightness, moves forward unnoticed, but when under an eclipse has the gaze and remarks of half the earth's population — so the Church while walking in light and love, enlists but little of the world's attention; but let her honour pass under a cloud, or her purity be tarnished by the misconduct of but a member, and the eyes of all are fixed upon her, and her failing repeated by every tongue. Let the Israel of God take heed to their ways.

(H. W. Morris, D. D.)

1. The call was omnipotent. Man could not have kindled the great lights of the universe.

2. The call was wise. The idea of the midnight sky, as now beheld by us, could never have originated in a finite mind. The thought was above the mental life of seraphs. It was the outcome of an infinite intelligence. And nowhere throughout the external universe do we see the wisdom of God as in the complicated arrangement, continual motions, and yet easily working and harmony of the heavenly bodies. There is no confusion. They need no readjustment.

3. The call was benevolent. The sun is one of the most kindly gifts of God to the world; it makes the home of man a thing of beauty. Also the light of the moon is welcome to multitudes who have to wend their way by land or sea, amid the stillness of night, to some far-off destination.

4. The call was typal. The same Being who has placed so many lights in the heavens can also suspend within the firmament of the soul the lights of truth, hope, and immortality.

(J. S. Exell, M. A.)

1. As ornaments of His throne.

2. To show forth His majesty.

3. That they may the more conveniently give their light to all parts of the world.

4. To manifest that light comes from heaven, from the Father of lights.

5. The heavens are most agreeable to the nature of these lights.

6. By their moving above the world at so great a distance, they help to discover the vast circuit of the heavens.

(J. S. Exell, M. A.)

1. Not to honour them as gods.

2. To honour God in and by them (Psalm 8:1; Timothy 6:16; Isaiah 6:2).

(J. S. Exell, M. A.)

God: —

1. That He may manifest His sovereignty.

2. That He may establish a settled order amongst the creatures.

3. Let all men abide in their sphere and calling.

(1)To testify their obedience to the will of God.

(2)As God knows what is best for us.

(3)As assured that God will prosper all who fulfil His purpose concerning them.

(J. S. Exell, M. A.)

Not for secular purposes alone are the divisions of time marked out for us by the heavenly bodies; they have a still higher and more important purpose to serve in connection with our spiritual life.

I. The lights which God hath set in the firmament BREAK UP THE MONOTONY OF LIFE. Life is not a continuous drudgery, a going on wearily in a perpetual straight line; but a constant ending and beginning. We do not see all the road of life before us; the bends of its clays and months and years hide the future from our view, and allure us on with new hopes, until at last we come without fatigue to the end of the journey.

II. The lights which God hath set in the firmament DIVIDE OUR LIFE INTO SEPARATE AND MANAGEABLE PORTIONS. Each day brings its own work, and its own rest.

III. The lights which God hath set in the firmament ENABLE US TO REDEEM THE TIME; to retrieve the misspent past by the right improvement of the present. Each day is a miniature of the whole of life and of all the seasons of the year. Morning answers to spring; midday to summer; afternoon to autumn; evening to winter. We are children in the morning, with fresh feelings and hopes; grown-up men and women, with sober and sad experiences, at noon; aged persons, with whom the possibilities of life are over, in the afternoon and night.

IV. The lights which God hath set in the firmament ENABLE US TO SET OUT ON A NEW COURSE FROM SOME MARKED AND MEMORABLE POINT. God is giving to us, with every new horizon of life, a sense of recovered freedom, separating us from past painful experiences, and enabling us to begin a new course of life on a higher plane. And with this division of time by the orbs of heaven — this arrangement of days and months and years, with their perpetually recurring new opportunities of living no more unto ourselves but unto God, — coincide the nature and design of the blessed gospel, whose unique peculiarity is, that it is the cancelling of debts that could never be paid, the assurance that our relations to God are entirely changed, and that all old things are passed away, and all things become new. It is this association that gives such importance to anniversaries, birthdays, and new year's days-seasons considered peculiarly auspicious for commencing life afresh, and which are generally taken advantage of to form new resolutions.

(H. Macmillan, D. D.)

I. LET US LOOK AT THE SUN, AS AN EMBLEM OF GOD HIMSELF. The king of the hosts of heaven, the centre of revolving orbs, the source of light and heat.

II. THE MOON, SHINNING WITH BORROWED LIGHT, MAY REPRESENT THE CHURCH, which, like a city set on a hill, only reflects the light that falls on it. Out of Zion, the perfection of beauty, God shines.

III. THE STARS MAY REPRESENT CONSPICUOUS CHARACTERS. The brightest star and best is the Star of Bethlehem, which ushered in Christ. The star of the East is the daystar which marks our bright, guiding light, Jesus Christ. He is the centre of attraction to all.

(J. B. Smith, D. D.)

The fourth day's work is "lights set in heaven": mighty work: more glorious far than the "light" upon the first day. Then the light was undefined. Now lights are come; one with warmth; one cold but shining: each defined; the one direct, the other reflex; but both to rule and mightily affect, not the earth only, but even the wide waters: giving another cheek, too, to darkness, not only taking from it day, but invading and conquering it by the moon and stars in its own domain of night. And so after that the seas of lust are bounded, and the fruits of righteousness begin to grow and bud, a sun, a mighty light is kindled in our heaven, — Christ dwells there, God's eternal word and wisdom, — no longer undefined, but with mighty warmth and power, making the whole creation to bud and spring heavenward: while as a handmaid, another light, of faith, grows bright within, — our inward moon, truth received on testimony, the Church's light; for as men say, Christ is the sun, the Church the moon, so is faith our moon within to rule the night. Of these two, the lesser light must have appeared the first; for each day grew and was measured "from the evening to the morning"; just as faith, with borrowed light, in every soul still precedes the direct beams of this light or Word within. Now both shine to pour down light. Oft would darkness fall, if our moon of faith rose not to rule the night. Yet fair as she is, she but reminds us of present night, making us sigh for the day star and the perfect day. These lights are "for signs and for seasons and for years," and "to rule over the day and over the night also." For "signs" — first, of what we are. We have thought this earth is fixed: but sun and moon show that we are but wanderers here. We have supposed ourselves the centre; that it is the sun that moves. The lights will teach us in due time that he is steadfast: it is we who journey on. Again, these lights are "for a sign" how we stand, and where we are; by our relative positions toward them showing us, if we will learn, our real situation. For the moon is new and feeble, when, between us and the sun, it trenches on his place, and sets at eventide. So is our faith: put in Christ's place, it must be weak: dark will be our night: we shall move on unillumined. Not so when in her place, not in His, but over against Him, our moon of faith rises at even, as our Sun withdraws Himself. Now she trenches not upon Him; therefore she is full of light, making the midnight almost as the noon-day. Signs they are, too, to the man, when at length he walks upon the earth, — the image of God, which after fruits and lights is formed in us, — to guide him through the wastes within the creature, as he seeks to know its lengths and breadths that he may subdue it all. The lights are "for seasons" also; to give healthful alternations of cold and heat, and light and darkness. Sharp winters with their frosts, chill and deadness in our affections, and the hours of darkness which recur to dim our understandings, are not unmixed evil. Ceaseless summer would wear us out: therefore the lights are "for seasons," measuring out warmth and light as we can profit by it. So faith wanes and waxes, and Christ is seen and hid, each change making the creature learn its own dependence; forcing it to feel, that, though blessed, it is a creature, all whose springs of life and joy are not its own. These lights, too, are "to rule over the day and over the night." To rule the creature, much more to rule such gifts as the day, wrought by God Himself in it, as yet has been unknown. Even to bound the natural darkness hitherto has seemed high attainment. Now we learn that the precious gifts, which God vouchsafes, need ruling; an earnest this of that which comes more fully on the sixth day. A sun "to rule the day" leads to the man "to have dominion," set to rule, not the day only, but every creature. It is no slight step, when God's aim, hitherto unknown, is learnt; that in His work this gift is for this, that for the other purpose; when it is felt that the best gifts may be misused and wasted; that they need governing, and may and must be ruled.

(A. Jukes.)

It is interesting to notice the many applications made in Scripture of the heavenly bodies as emblems of the spiritual.

1. God is a Sun and Shield (Psalm 84:11).

2. Christ is the Sun of Righteousness (Malachi 4:2); the Light of the world (John 8:12); the Morning Star (Revelation 2:16); the dispeller of the darkness (2 Samuel 23:4).

3. The Church is fair as the moon (Song of Solomon 6:10); clear as the sun (Song of Solomon 6:10): the moon under her feet (Revelation 12:1); crowned with stars; the saints are to shine as the stars (Daniel 12:3); with different glories (1 Corinthians 15:41); as the sun in his might (Judges 5:31); as the sun in the kingdom of their Father (Matthew 13:43).

4. Christ's ministers are likened to stars (Revelation 1:16-20).

5. Apostates are likened to wandering stars (Jude 1:13).

6. It was a star that lighted the wise men (Matthew 2:2).

7. At the coming crisis of earth's history, all these heavenly orbs are to be shaken and darkened for a season (Mark 13:25).

(H. Bonar, D. D.)

I. THE LIGHTS OF ANGELS, OF MEN, AND OF ANIMALS. The angels behold the face of God and watch His plans from age to age. Compared with us, they live in the blaze of day: we have the lesser light of human reason, which relieves, but does not banish, the night. There are around us other conscious creatures, endowed with still feebler powers, who grope in the dim starlight of animal existence. God is the "Father of all lights."

II. THE LIGHTS OF HEATHENISM, JUDAISM, AND CHRISTIANITY. What a glimmering starlight of religious knowledge is that of the heathen millions! How partial and imperfect was the knowledge that even the Jews possessed! At last "the Sun of Righteousness arose with healing in His wings." The world has not exhausted, it has scarcely touched, the wealth of spiritual light and life in Him.

III. THE LIGHTS OF CHILDHOOD, MANHOOD, AND THE HEAVENLY STATE. The faint gleam of light in childhood develops into the stronger light of manhood, but even that does not banish the night. "In Thy light we shall see light."

(T. M. Herbert, M. A.)

I. EXPLANATION OF THE PASSAGE.

1. Twin triads of the creative week. This venerable creation archive evidently divides into two great eras, each era consisting of three days; each day of the first era having a corresponding day in the second era. Thus, to the chemical light of the first day correspond the sidereal lights of the fourth day. To the terrestrial individualization of the second day corresponds the vital individualization of the fifth day. To the genesis of the lands and of the plants on the third day corresponds the genesis of the mammals and of man on the sixth day. Thus, the first era of the triad was an era of prophecy; the second era of the triad an era of fulfilment.

2. The two-fold difficulty.(1) "Was not light already existing?" The answer is easy. Light may exist independently of the sun. There is, e.g., the light of phosphorescence, the light of electricity, the light of incandescence, the light of chemism, atom clashing with atom, and discharging light at every collision.(2) "The earth," you remind me, "is a constituent part of the solar system; as such, it necessitates from the beginning the contemporaneous existence of the sun, to hold the solar system in balance, and to keep earth itself in its orbit; but if the sun was not created till the fourth day, what becomes of the astronomic teaching that earth has been from the beginning an integrant part of the solar system?" Again the answer is easy. Observe, first, that our passage does not assert that God created — that is to say, caused to come into existence for the first time — sun, moon, and stars, on the fourth day. All that our passage asserts in this matter is this: God on the fourth day for the first time caused sun, moon, and stars to become visible. Remember that light is not an essential, constituent part of the sun. For aught we know, the sun itself may be a dark body, as indeed the "solar spots" have led some astronomers to think. Moreover, surveying the sun as the centre of gravitation for the planetary system, the sun can fulfil its gravitating office equally well whether luminous or not.

3. Panorama of the emerging luminaries. There is still light on the newly-verdured mountain and mead. But it is a strange, weird light; perhaps like that of the zodiacal gleam, or the dying photosphere, or perhaps like the iris-hued, lambent shimmer of the northern aurora. Suddenly the goldening gateways of the East open, and, lo, a dazzling orb, henceforth the lord of day, strides forth from his cloud pavilion as a bridegroom from his chamber, and rejoices to run his course as a giant his race; upward and upward he royally mounts; downward and downward he royally bows: as he nears the goal of his resplendent march, lo, the blushing portals of the West open to receive him: and lo, again, his gentle consort, "pale empress of the night," sweeps forth in silver sheen, while around her planet and comet, Arcturus and Mazzaroth, Orion and Pleiades, hold glittering court.

4. Purpose of the luminaries.(1) To bring about alternations of light and darkness. Man, as at present constituted, must have recurrent periods of sleep. And that we may sleep and wake at healthful intervals, how mercifully the Framer of our bodies and Father of our spirits has divided the day from the night; at every sunset dropping the curtains of His evening, and so inviting to repose; at every sunrise lifting the curtains of His morning, and so inviting to labour! Ah, it is one of the perhaps inevitable regresses of civilization that it tends to reverse our Divine Father's method, bidding us close our shutters, that we may sleep during His sunshine, and light our little candles and gas jets, that we may work during His night.(2) To be for signs, seasons, days, years.(3) To give light on the earth.

II. MORAL MEANING OF THE STORY.

1. The luminaries are guides to Jesus Christ. The Creator has expressly bidden us accept His ordinances of the heavenly bodies as the pledge of His covenant of grace in the Divine Son (Jeremiah 31:35; Jeremiah 33:20-26; Psalm 89:35-37).

2. Jesus Christ and His Church and His truths are the true luminaries, shining in the true heavens. Jesus Christ Himself is the true Greater Light, ruling the day as the Sun of Righteousness, coming out of the chamber of His eternity as the King of the worlds, going forth from the ends of the heavens, circling unto the ends thereof, and nothing is hidden from His heat (Psalm 19:5, 6). The Church of Jesus Christ — Immanuel's real, spiritual Church, the aggregate of saintly characters — is the true lesser light: ruling the night as the moon of His grace, shining because He shines upon her, silvering the pathway of this world's benighted travellers. The truths of Jesus Christ — the truths which He came to disclose — are the true stars of heaven, from age to age sparkling on His brow as His many-jewelled diadem. And Jesus Christ and His Church and His truths are the world's true regulators — serving for its signs and its seasons, its days and its years. Let me cite a single instance. Why do not the world's scholars still measure time from the Greek Olympiads? Why do not the world's kings still reckon their annals from the Year of Rome? Why do not the world's scientists date their era from some memorable transit or occultation? Ah, Jesus Christ and His Church and His truth are too much for them. And so they all, even the most infidel, bow in unconscious homage before the Babe of Bethlehem, reckoning their era from that manger birth, dating their correspondence, their legislations, their discoveries, their exploits, with the august words: Anno Domini. Yes, Christianity is humanity's true meridian, dictating its measures of time and space, its calendars and eras, its latitudes and longitudes. All history, if we did but know it, is time's great ecliptic around the eternal Son of God. Happy the hour, brother, when the fourth day dawns on thy soul, and thou takest thy place in the moral heavens, henceforth to shine and rule as one of earth's luminaries!

2. A personal entreaty. Take heed, O friend, lest the day come when the stars, now fighting in their courses for thee, shall fight against thee (Judges 5:20). In that coming day of sack-clothed sun and crimsoned moon and falling stars, one thing shall survive the dissolving heavens and melting elements: It is the blood-bought Church of the living God.

(G. D. Boardman.)

There are few words much oftener in our mouths than that short but most important word, time. In one sense, the thought of it seems to mingle itself with almost everything which we do. It is the long measure of our labour, expectation, and pain; it is the scanty measure of our rest and joy. Its shortness or its length are continually given as our reason for doing, or leaving undone, the various works which concern our station, our calling, our family, our souls. What present time is; which it is most difficult to conceive, if we try it by more exact thought than we commonly bestow on it; for even as we try to catch it, though but in idea, it slips by us. Subdivide ore" measure as we may, we never actually reach it. It was future, it is past; it is the meeting point of these two, and itself, it seems, is not. And so, again, whether there is really any future time; whether it can exist, except in our idea, before it is. Or whether there can be any past time; what that can be which is no more; whose track of light has vanished from us in the darkness; which is as a shadow that swept by us, and is gone. All this is full of wonder, and it may become, in many ways, most useful matter of reflection to those who can bear to look calmly into the depths of their being. It may lead us to remember how much of what is round us here is, after all, seeming and unreal, and so force us from our too ready commerce with visible shadows into communion with invisible realities. It may show us how continually we are mocked in the regions of the senses and the understanding, and so drive us for certainty and truth to the higher gifts of redeemed reason and fellowship with God. It may abate the pride of argument on spiritual things, and teach us to take more humbly what has been revealed. And this should give us higher notions of that eternity towards which we are ever drifting on. We are apt to think of it as being merely prolonged time. But the true idea of eternity is not prolonged time, but time abolished. To enter on eternity is to pass out of the succession of time into this everlasting present. And this suggests to us the two remarkable characters, which together make up the best account we can give of time. The one — how completely, except in its issue, it passes from us: the other — how entirely, in that issue, it ever abides with us. In itself how completely does it pass away. Past time, with all its expectations, pains, and pleasures, how it is gone from us! The pleasures and the pains of childhood, of youth, nay, even of the last year, where are they? Every action has tended more to strengthen the capricious tyranny of our self-will, or to bring us further under the blessed liberty of Christ's law. We are the sum of all this past time. It was the measure of our opportunities, of our growth. We are the result of all these minutes. And if we thus look on past time, how, at this break in our lives, should we look on to the future? Surely with calm trust, and with resolutions of increased earnestness. Let our thanksgivings grow into the one, our humiliation change into the other. If time is the opportunity and measure of this growth, what a work have we to perform in it! How should we strive to store it full with deeds which may indeed abide!

(Bishop S. Wilberforce.)

The sun is almost the heart and brain of the earth. It is the regulator of its motions, from the orbital movement in space, to the flow of its currents in the sea and air, the silent rise of vapours that fly with the winds to become the source of rivers over the land; and the still more profound action in the living growth of the plant and animal. It is no creator of life; but through its outflowing light, heat, and attraction, it keeps the whole world in living activity, doing vastly more than simply turning off days and seasons. Without the direct sunlight there may be growth, as many productions of the sea and shady grounds prove. But were the sun's face perpetually veiled, far the greater part of living beings would dwindle and die. Many chemical actions in the laboratory are suspended by excluding light; and in the exquisite chemistry of living beings this effect is everywhere marked: even the plants that happen to grow beneath the shade of a small tree or hedge in a garden evince, by their dwarfed size and unproductiveness, the power of the sun's rays, and the necessity of this orb to the organic period of the earth's history.

(Bib. Sacra.)

We are told that the late Dr. Livingstone of America, and Louis Bonaparte, ex-king of Holland, happened once to be fellow passengers, with many others, on board one of the North River steamboats. As the doctor was walking the deck in the morning, and gazing at the refulgence of the rising sun, which appeared to him unusually attractive, he passed near the distinguished stranger, and, stopping for a moment, accosted him thus: "How glorious, sir, is that object!" pointing gracefully with his hand to the sun. The ex-king assenting, he immediately added, "And how much more glorious, sir, must be its Maker, the Sun of Righteousness!" A gentleman who overheard this short incidental conversation, being acquainted with both personages, now introduced them to each other, and a few more remarks were interchanged. Shortly after, the doctor again turned to the ex-king, and, With that air of polished complaisance for which he was remarkable, invited him first, and then the rest of the company, to attend a morning prayer. It is scarcely necessary to add that the invitation was promptly complied with.

The use of these bodies is said to be not only for dividing the day from the night, but "for signs and seasons, and days and years." They ordinarily afford signs of weather to the husbandman; and prior to the discovery of the use of the loadstone, were of great importance to the mariner. They appear also on some extraordinary occasions to have been premonitory to the world. Previous to the destruction of Jerusalem, our Lord foretold that there should be "great earthquakes in divers places, and famines, and pestilences, and fearful sights, and great signs from heaven." And it is said by Josephus, that a comet like a flaming sword was seen for a long time over that devoted city, a little before its destruction by the Romans. Heathen astrologers made gods of these creatures, and filled the minds of men with chimerical fears concerning them. Against these God warns His people; saying, "Be ye not dismayed at the signs of heaven." This, however, does not prove but that He may sometimes make use of them. Modern astronomers, by accounting for various phenomena, would deny their being signs of anything: but to avoid the superstitions of heathenism, there is no necessity for our running into atheism. The heavenly bodies are also said to be for seasons, as winter and summer, day and night. We have no other standard for the measuring of time. The grateful vicissitudes also which attend them are expressive of the goodness of God. If it were always day or night, summer or winter, our enjoyments would be unspeakably diminished. Well is it said at every pause, "And God saw that it was good!" David improved this subject to a religious purpose. He considered "day unto day as uttering speech, and night unto night as showing knowledge." Every night we retire we are reminded of death, and every morning we arise of the resurrection. In beholding the sun also, "which as a bridegroom cometh out of his chamber, and rejoiceth as a strong man to run his race," we see every day a glorious example of the steady and progressive "path of the just, which shineth more and more unto the perfect day."

(A. Fuller.)

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