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All Quotations which it has been found difficult to verify are classed as Anonymous.

It was at first intended to issue the Work in one Volume, excluding that portion of Scripture to which the Illustrations do not apply; but the size of the Book would have been found very inconvenient, both for use and reference, in comparison of six portable volumes; and, moreover, the insertion of Holy Scripture in its connexion and integrity, gives the Work a completeness and an intrinsic value which it would not otherwise possess.

It is hoped that Sunday School Teachers may glean from the Book' suggestive hints,' which they can amplify at their own discretion for the benefit of their classes.

May the Great Head of the Church vouchsafe His blessing!



December 16th, 1867.




N the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.


The phrase 'In the beginning' is universally expressive in the Scriptures of the commencement of created or finite existence-the beginning of time, when, as Matthew Henry observes, the clock was first set a-going.' 'The heaven and earth' is a Jewish phrase, denoting the universe and all things which it contains.-Dwight.

Philosophers have had great debates about the formation of the world; some asserting its eternity, others forming the most ridiculous notions of its being made by chance, or a concourse of atoms: but this first verse of our Bible clears up all the difficulty. In the first page of this sacred book a child may learn more in an hour, than all the philosophers in the world learned

without it in thousands of years.Orton; A. Fuller.

The being of God is here taken for granted. All arguments to demonstrate it are invalid. The best of them, founded on the dependence of every effect upon its cause, is self-destructive. The most convictive argument, perhaps, on the subject is that of Jonathan Edwards, which has been more fully developed by recent philosophers, viz., that the human mind cannot form a conception of non-existence.-L.

The word here rendered 'God' is plural, and is joined with a singular verb; this grammatical anomaly has, with reason, been thought to intimate the Trinity of Persons in the Godhead. -Scott.

And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.

and affecting emblem of man's fallen and degenerate condition, in which he is destitute of every holy principle, until renewed by the energy of the Holy Spirit.-L.

The earth, viz., that part of it which was designed for the habitation of man, had been brought, by a succession of volcanic and other physical changes, into a condition of 'superficial ruin,' affording, in that state, a just * And God said, Let there be light: The great charm of this passage lies in the vivid impression it gives us of the Divine omnipotence, nothing apparently intervening between the Divine will and its accomplishment. With God 'to will is to effect, to determine


and there was light.

is to perform.' This impression is very greatly enhanced by a consideration of the rapidity with which light travels. In one second of time, in one beat of the pendulum of the clock, a ray of light travels over the space of 192,000


miles, and would therefore perform the tour of the world in about the same time that it requires to wink with our eyelids !-Dwight.

Light is the great spiritual want, both of the world and of the church. Were its diffusion more intense and universal, what benefits it would confer, and what evils it would restrain or banish! What a reformation it would speedily bring about in morals, science, sentiment, and religion! How it would diminish controversy, and thus unite men's intellects and hearts in the bonds of love and peace!-L.

When the knowledge of the Lord shall cover the earth as the waters do the sea, it cannot but make a happy peaceful state. There is nothing terrible in light. A sphere of light, as a heathen speaks, hath nothing in it that can be disquietive. Whenever, then,

men are quarrelling with one another, they are quarrelling in the dark, scuffling and fighting with one another in the dark; though every man thinks he sees, which makes the matter so much the worse. It is a real, but an unimagined darkness that overspreads the world; and in that darkness men are working all the mischiefs and miseries to themselves that can be thought of. There will be an end to this when the Divine light comes to spread itself, as it were, in men's lives.-Howe.

'Let there be light' should be the motto of the church. Omnipotence itself having first spoken the word, she too may achieve marvels by it; and it is her solemn duty to echo it in every seat of darkness, until the torch of truth has shed its benignant rays in every corner of this apostate world.-L.

And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness.

Though the darkness was scattered, it was not condemned to a perpetual banishment, but takes its turn with the light, and has its place, because it has its use. This is a world of mixtures and changes. In heaven there is no darkness; in hell utter

5 And God called the light Day, And the evening and the morning

We learn from this verse that contrary things are to be called by contrary names. (Isa. v. 20.) The even

darkness; but in this world we pass daily from one to the other, that we may learn to expect the like vicissitudes in the providence of God-peace and trouble, joy and sorrow; bidding both welcome, and striving to make the best of both.-M. Henry.

and the darkness he called Night. were the first day.

ing is mentioned first, because the Jews reckon their time from evening to morning.-M. Henry; Orton. 6 And God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters. 7 And God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament: and it was so. 8 And God called the firmament Heaven. And the evening and the morning were the second day.

The firmament, or air, is replete with displays of the power and wisdom of God. 1. It is an immediate means of life to mankind, and to the animal and vegetable kingdoms. Among the wonders that pertain to this subject, this is one: that although the air is a compound substance, made up of very diverse materials, one of them

noxious, and a second by itself perfectly unproductive of life, yet these are so blended with the third, in which alone the power of maintaining life resides, that in their combination they are better fitted to continue life, than even the life-giving principle would be if it existed pure and unmixed. Another is, that this combination is

maintained in such a manner that the proportional quantities of these materials are at all times substantially, if not exactly, the same. When we consider the innumerable revolutions of which the air is the subject, and its perpetual fluctuations, it seems scarcely less than a miracle that this equability, so necessary for the continuance of life, should be always and everywhere preserved. 2. The air is the great instrument of dissolution. If we had never been witnesses of the fact, few things could seem more strange and improbable to us than that the same element should be at once the chief means of preserving life and the chief means of dissolution, and that both these processes should, without any confusion, go on from age to age in perfect harmony, and as indispensable

parts of a complete system. 3. The air is a principal means of heat and cold. 4. It is eminently the source of health and sickness. Noxious vapours and exhalations, but for the air, would be confined to the earth's surface, and fail of their malignant influence on human life. In its purest state, the air seems to promote health only, and often restores such as are languishing and decayed more than all other causes combined. 5. It is also the seat of many magnificent displays of Divine workmanship. Storms, clouds, thunder, lightning, combustion, volcanoes, earthquakes, the magnificent rainbow, and the delightful breeze, are all dependent on air for their existence. 6. The air is an important aid to vision. -Dwight.

And God said, Let the waters under the heaven be gathered together unto one place, and let the dry land appear: and it was so. 10 And God called the dry land Earth; and the gathering together of the waters called he Seas: and God saw that it was good.

What amazing power was that which made the earth to heave, and to emerge from the surrounding waters, and which caused those mighty waters again to subside in their deep, hollow beds!-L.

Waters and seas often, in the Scriptures, signify troubles and afflictions.

God's own people are not exempt from these in this world; but it is their comfort that they are only waters under the heaven-there are none in heavenand that they are all in the place that God hath appointed them, and within the bounds that he hath set them.M. Henry.

11 And God said, Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb yielding seed, and the fruit tree yielding fruit after his kind, whose seed is in itself, upon the earth: and it was so. 12 And the earth brought forth grass, and herb yielding seed after his kind, and the tree yielding fruit, whose seed was in itself, after his kind: and God saw that it was good. 18 And the evening and the morning were the third day.

The chief end of the beautiful appearances which are peculiar to plants and flowers, according to philosophers, is to enfold and cherish the embryo seed, or to swathe the tender body during its infant state. But, whatever is the chief end of nature, 'tis certain she never departs from the design of affording delight to mankind. We find,' says Mr. Addison, that the most important parts in the vegetable world are those which are the most beautiful.

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These are the seeds by which the several races of plants are propagated and continued, and which are always lodged in flowers or blossoms. Nature seems to hide her principal design, and to be industrious in making the earth gay and delightful, while she is carrying on her great work, and intent on her own preservation.' Were her object only to secure a reproductive principle, what need of such elegant complications? Why so much art employed, and so

many decorations added? Why should vestments be prepared richer than brocades, more delicate than lawns, and of a finer glow than the most admired velvets? If the great mother had no other aim than barely to accommodate her little offspring, warm flannel or homely fustian would have served her turn-served it full as well as the most sumptuous tissues, or all the furniture of the mercer's shop.-Hervey.

In the great virtue and efficacy that God has implanted in seeds, He seems to have conferred on plants a kind of immortality.-Rollin.

A philosopher has made it an argument of the wisdom of God, and that justly, that the earth is clothed in green," a colour eminently easy, delightful, and

refreshing to the eyes.-Dwight.

Had it been clothed in white or red, who could have borne the splendour of it? If He had clothed it in darker colours, who would have been charmed by so sombre a spectacle? An agreeable verdure holds the middle place between these two extremes, and bears such a relation to the structure of the eye that it refreshes instead of wearying it. At the same time this colour is marked by an astonishing variety of shades; it is everywhere green, but nowhere the same.-Rollin.

The grass is spread under us as a precious carpet, wove with silken threads of green, and damasked with flowers of every hue.-Hervey.

14 And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years: 15 And let them be for lights in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth: and it was so.

The heavenly luminaries serve as signs of ordinary events, Matt. xvi. 2, 3; and God sometimes puts the sign of an extraordinary event in them, Matt. xxiv. 29; Acts ii. 19, 20. But to prognosticate by them the destinies, fates, and fortunes of men, is an act of high presumption, and lies under a Divine rebuke, Isa. xliv. 24, 25.-Caryl.

It is not solely to adorn the roof of our palace with costly gildings that God commands the celestial luminaries to glitter through the gloom: we also reap considerable benefits from their ministry. They divide our time and fix its solemn periods. The returns of heat and cold alone would have been too precarious a rule. But these radiant bodies, by the variation, and also by the regularity of their motions, afford a method of calculating absolutely

certain and sufficiently obvious. By this the farmer is instructed when to commit his grain to the furrows, and how to conduct the operations of husbandry. By this the sailor knows when to proceed on his voyage with least peril, and how to carry on the business of navigation with most success. Why should not the Christian, the probationer for eternity, learn from the same monitors to number-for nobler purposes to number his days, and duly to transact the grand affairs of his everlasting salvation? Since God has appointed so many bright measures of our time, to determine its larger periods, and to minute down its ordinary stages, sure this most strongly inculcates its value, and should powerfully prompt us to improve it.-Hervey.

16 And God made two great lights; the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night: he made the stars also.

The sacred writer uses here popular language, and does not speak with philosophical accuracy. The solar system, great and wonderful as it is, is a mere speck compared with the real extent of the creation. Satisfactory

evidence exists that every star which twinkles in the firmament is no other than a sun, a world of light, surrounded by its own attendant planets, formed into a system similar to ours. 45,000 such stars have been counted by the

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