Louis Gaussen.

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" In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth."
GEN. i. i.







The Children who heard them Four Months ago in the
Chapel of the Oratoire.

WHEN I dedicate to you these explanations of the
first chapter of Genesis, which you heard some time
ago from my lips, I am only paying a debt of grati-
tude which I owe to you, and returning the kind visit
which I received from you eleven Sundays ago. I
can never forget it.

I had scarcely recovered from the severe attack of
illness which had so long kept me a prisoner in bed
I was bruised both in mind and body, and was
scarcely able to support myself on my crutches when
I was requested to receive a visit. " It is impossible ;
I cannot," replied I. Still I was entreated to appear
for a moment on the balcony of my room. I did so,
and saw you all assembled, my friends, my dear young
frieuds !

2091 25G


You were all standing in a circle on the grass. I
felt deeply at seeing you. I heard your voices and
your hymns; I received your beautiful bunches ol
flowers, and I spoke a few words to you from the bal-
cony. But what pleased me more than all the rest,
was the packet of cards presented to me by three of
you in the name of all On each card there was
written one of your names, along with a few verses
of comfort and exhortation, chosen for me by each
from the word of God.

This bunch of more than a hundred flowers, gathered
for me by your hands in the garden of Scripture, and
for the most part very well chosen, brought to me a
precious fragrance. I frequently read them. They
revived and strengthened my soul, and I felt myself
comforted by God. I was then unable for the slight-
est exertion ; but I resolved that I would send you in
return a passage from Scripture, as soon as my health
permitted me to get the notes of these lessons cor-
rected and copied.

I now dedicate to you the lessons on the first
chapter of Genesis, which we had been consider-
ing together when I was separated from you by the
hand of God. I had also explained to you the first
seven verses of the second chapter; but you will not
find them in this book : I have thought it better not
to begin a new chapter. I present to you the first
chapter only : and may these thirty-one verses whicb


[ hope you will read often, with care and attention
do you as much good as yours have done to me !

I hope that, in future, the glorious scenes of the
work of creation, here related, will come more fre-
quently into your thoughts as you look at the mag-
nificent works of God, in the midst of which his
goodness has placed you, on the shores of our
beautiful lake, on our hills, on our meadows, and at
the foot of our glorious mountains. I hope that they
will teach you daily to know more of the power and
wisdom of God, and that they will encourage you
to pray to Him who is all good as well as all power-

Lastly, I hope that this account of the visible
Creation may ever remind you that there is a new
creation, more wonderful still, of which the Bible con-
stantly speaks, and which is absolutely necessary for
each of us. It is wrought in our souls by God, when
he converts them ; for " if any man be in Christ,"
says St. Paul, " he is a new creature."

Therefore, my friends, I entreat you to seek this
living and true God, our creator, in the holy word in
which he has revealed himself to us. There he is to
be found ; there will he meet the child who is longing
for him, praying to him, waiting for him. He will
" create in him a new heart, and renew within him a
right spirit." He will take him in his arms, as the
father in the parable his prodigal son, and will say.


w Bring forth the best robe, and put it on him," the
robe of our Redeemer's righteousness ! (Luke xv. 22.)

It is by laying to heart the truths revealed in
Scripture that a soul is converted to God, and escapes
from the wrath to come. Hear the words of the
parable spoken by our Lord Jesus: "They have

Moses and the prophets; let them hear them

If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will
they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead"
(Luke XVL 29, 31).

But let us ever search the Scriptures with a sincere
and humble heart ; for the Lord has said, " The heaven
is my throne, and the earth is my footstool. ....
all those things hath mine hand made, and all those
things have been, saith the Lord : but to this man
will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite
epirit, and trembleth at my word" (Isa. bcvi 1, 2).

I. "In the Beginning," ... 9

II. Three Great Words: " God " " Heaven "- ' Earth," ... 80

III. The Heavens, ... ... ... ... ... 47

IV. The Work of the First Day, ... ... ... 72

V The Work of the Second Day, ... ... ... 91

VI. The Three Great Wonders of the Third Day, .. 115

VII. Plants and their Seeds, ... ... ... 149

mi. The Great Lights and the Clock of the World. ... V 170

IX Wonders of the Animal Creation, ... ... 197

X. The Creation of Man In the Image of God. . ... 296

XL The Perfection of the Work o' God. ... 350

Crmtslate's |totc,

IN presenting this book to English readers, the translator feels
that a benefit is conferred not only on children, but on all parents
and teacheiB ; for it is a model of what Bible lessons ought to be.

It ought not to detract from the merit of these lessons, as models
of teaching, that all cannot fully agree in Professor Gaussen'a
views about geology, as he does not teach anything dogmatically,
or that is still uncertain. He says, " There are still many diffi-
culties in the details of this subject, which we do not perfectly
understand, but which will yet be cleared up, as former difficulties
have been." Geology is a science still in its infancy ; and the
wisest philosophers, when attempting to read the records of the
rocks, are but as children learning to read, stumbling and making
mistakes very often. He is the wisest who is the most willing
to confess how little he knows, and who ever feels that if there
sometimes seem to be contradictions between Nature and the
Bible, the fault is in the reader, and not in the books, whose
perfect agreement and harmony will be more and more clearly
seen the better they are understood.

The translator has not attempted to make this translation
perfectly literal : to do so would be to destroy the spirit of the
book in order to preserve the letter. Long words have been
avoided when possible, even by adding, when it appeared neces-
sary, a few words or sentences, to make the author's meaning
more clear in English. Quotations from English books are given
in the words of the English authors, sometimes at greater length
than in the French work ; and the quotations from Scripture
have in some cases been given more fully, and verses have been
added, where it made the passage more complete.





" Ir. the beginning God created the heaven and the earth." GEN. I I.

THE Book of Genesis is the most ancient and
the most venerable, the most instructive and
the most indispensable of all books. It is
the foundation, the beginning, and the antici-
pated explanation of all others.

How necessary it is, then, before beginning
the study of this book, that we should pray to
God that his Spirit may give us understand-
ing and a teachable spirit a spirit of medi-
tation and prayer.

You already know, doubtless, what is meant
by the Greek name " Genesis," which we are
accustomed to give to this book. The ancient


Jews called it Bereschith that is to say, " In
the beginning" because they were accus-
tomed to name each book of Moses after the
two or three first words of it. Thus, for
example, they named Exodus Veelehschemoth
("Now these are the names"); Leviticus was
named Vajikra ("And he called"); and Num-
bers, Bemidbar (" In the wilderness").

The name " Genesis" means the birth. IE
the time of our Lord this book was so named
by the Jews who spoke Greek, because it was
by this word Genesis that they translated ohe
word " generations" in the fourth verse of the
second chapter. The expression used in our
translation is, "These are the generations [or
births] of the heavens and of the earth." They
had translated it thus: "This is the book of
the genesis of the heavens and of the earth."
It must be acknowledged that this title is a
most suitable one to be given to the first book
of the Bible, for it makes known to us the
birth of all things, the birth of the world;
the birth of the earth and of the heavens ; the
birth of the light; the birth of the atmosphere;
the birth of the great lights of heaven; the
birth of continents and seas; the birth of rnoun-


tains and valleys; the birth of plants, birds,
fishes, and quadrupeds ; then, last of all, the birth
of the first man and woman; and then, soon
after, alas ! the birth of sin, and death by sin ;
but also the birth of the gospel, or of the good
news of the promise of grace in Jesus Christ ;
then the birth of the Church of God in the
world ; then again the new birth of the earth
after the flood, and the birth of the nations
who repeopled it ; and lastly, the birth of
the nation of Israel, by whom the Saviour of
the world was to be waited and looked for,
and among whom the Saviour of the world
was to be born.

So much for the title of the book. Now
let us speak of its Author.

You all know that it was dictated to Moses
from on high, that he was inspired by God
to write it while he was miraculously leading
across the desert the millions of Israel ; and
you also know that at his death Moses left it
to be studied by them from age to age ; and
after them, also, by all Christian churches in
every tribe, and tongue, and people, and na-
tion. " These words, which I command thee
this day," said Moses to the people of Israel,


" shall be in thine heart ; and thou shalt teach
them diligently unto thy children, and shalt
talk of them when thou sittest in thine house,
and when thou walkest by the way, and when
thou liest down, and when thou risest up"
" Only take heed to thyself, and keep thy soul
diligently, lest thou forget the things which
thine eyes have seen, and lest they depart from
fchy heart all the days of thy life ; but teach
them thy sons, and thy sons' sons" (Deut. vi.
6, 7 ; iv. 9).

You see, then, my friends, that it is in obe-
dience to this holy command that I am now
trying to explain these words to the children
of this school.

I told you that Genesis is the oldest of
books ; but you may judge better how old it
is when I tell you that it was written 1491
years before the time of our Lord Jesus Christ ;
or, in other words, about 738 years before the
old city of Rome was founded, or about 869
years before the fall of Nineveh, that is to
say, 869 years before the time at which the
books of profane history generally begin their

Genesis surpasses all other books in an-


tiquity, and it is one of the most instructive
and indispensable of all books. You may judge
of this also when you consider that if we had
not the Book of Genesis, we should be igno-
rant of nearly half of the history of mankind
on the earth. From Adam to Jesus Christ
was a period of 4004 years, and from the
time of our Lord Jesus Christ to our time
1859 years; which, added together, gives a
period of 5863 years for the whole time that
man has been in the world from his creation
to our day. Now, Genesis alone gives us
the history of the world for 2368 years; that
is to say, during the 1656 years from Adam
to the Flood, and the 712 years from the flood
to the death of Joseph. You see, then, that
the entire history of mankind, from the first
man to the present time, is not so much as
twice and a half the period the history of
which is related in the Book of Genesis alone.
Think how indispensable this sublime book
is also from the things which it makes known
to us. Without this, the first book of the
holy Scriptures, what should we know of all
that is necessary to be known before we can
understand any of the other books ? nothing


of the creation of the heavens and the earth,
nothing of the wonderful six days' work,
nothing of the birth of the first man and
woman, nothing of their abode in Eden, or
of their first state of innocence, nothing of
the first covenant in paradise, or of the trial
of their obedience, or of their fearful rebellion,
fall, and condemnation, nothing of the first
promise of a Saviour even at the very gate of
Eden, nothing of the institution of bloody
sacrifices, or of the history of Abel the right-
eous, nothing of the Church of God during
the first 1656 years of the history of man, no-
thing of the prophet Noah, your ancestor and
mine, the preacher of the righteousness which
is by faith, nothing of the great flood which
destroyed the old world and renewed man-
kind, nothing of the re-birth of the world,
or of the history of man during the first four
centuries which followed the Deluge, nothing
of the calling of Abraham, of the calling of
Isaac, of the calling of Jacob, nothing of the
promises which were made to them of the
Saviour, nothing of the history of the patri-
archs nothing of the going down of the chil-
dren of Israel into Egypt, or of the story of the


lite and death of Joseph. And yet, dear chil-
dren, what can be more necessary for us to
know than these very things? What should
we be, what would become of mankind, where
would the Church be, if the Book of Genesis
had not been given to us, and so many neces-
sary questions answered in it? Is there any
knowledge more indispensable to reasonable
beings who are passing through this world and
going to another, than the answers to these
three important questions Who am I ?
Whence came I ? Where am I going ?

Who am I in this world? Why am I here,
and who placed me here ? Whence came I,
and what have I to do ? Where am I going,
and what would become of me to-morrow if
I were to die to-night?

Again : why is there so much misery in this
world? Why is there so much sin in my
heart ? Why so much suffering in my life ?
And, more than all, why am I subject to this
dreadful death, which must come to all ? And
if death must come, why are there along with
it so many sufferings, such anguish, sickness,
torture, agony, and all the horrors of the dark
grave ?


All ! these questions must be answered, and
God has answered them all in the Bible, in
this Book of Genesis ; and you cannot find
the answer anywhere else except in books
which have been copied from it.

Let us thank God that he has given us
this blessed light, and think how we should
value it. Think with what reverence you
should receive it. Ought you not to come
to your lessons with attentive minds ? Ought
you not to prepare them carefully through
the week, learning your allotted verses per-
fectly, with deep thought and prayer? On
the way here you should pray for a quiet
spirit, trying to avoid any of your young
companions who have no proper respect for
divine things, and who might try to distract
your thoughts. And when you are seated in
the school, your hearts ought to be raised to
God in secret, inward prayer, that he would
himself speak to you, and that, opening youi
hearts to receive his word, he would make it
effectual in you by his life-giving Spirit.

" In the legi/nning God created the Jieavew
and the earth,."


Here are five words to be explained be-
fore we go further. What is meant here by
"the beginning 1" What is meant by "create?"
What is the meaning of the name " God," or
Elohim, here given to the Creator? Lastly,
What are these "heavens" and this "earth"
which were created by God?

These are important questions. We can
only attempt to answer them very shortly in
this lesson. We must return to them again
at another time.

" The beginning." These words, " In the be-
ginning," teach us a truth of the most solemn
importance. It is, that the world has not
always existed ; that there was once a time
when nothing that is now in the heavens
or on the earth was yet made, neither you
nor me, nor any man, nor any woman, nor
any angel ; when there was neither sky, nor
earth, nor sea, nor things visible, nor things
invisible. What was there then ? What
existed then ? God alone !

" In the beginning !" Have you sufficiently
understood, dear children, the great importance
of this word to all the families of men ? It
is like a sun rising on the dark world.


When God proclaimed it to Israel by Moses
about thirty-three centuries ago, the whole of
the rest of the earth was plunged into the deep-
oat night, as far as regarded this great truth,
the story of the beginning of all things ; and
for centuries more, men who knew it not vainly
tormented themselves in conjectures and un-
certainties about it. All men, except the
people of Israel, were going to eternity like
one walking in his sleep. They had forgotten
the knowledge of God which their first father
had. They knew nothing either of whence they
came, of their creation, or of whither they
were going. They were blind to the glory of
God as shown in his works. Their state is
thus described by the apostle Paul : " Pro-
fessing themselves to be wise, they became
fools." " That which may be known of God
is manifest in them : for God hath shewed it
unto them. For the invisible things of him
from the creation of the world are clearly seen,
being understood by the things that are made,
even his eternal power and Godhead ; so that
they are without excuse : because that, when
they knew God, they glorified him not as God,
neither were thankful; but became vain iu


their imaginations, and their foolish heart was
darkened" (Rom. i 19-22).

Such is man without the light of the Bible,
and such were they for centuries. There were
many wise among them, wise according to
this world, of whom you will read in the
course of your studies, but foolish as to this.
Plato, Aristotle, Pliny, and Plutarch, believed
that the world had always been. The great
Plato, the wisest among them, who lived about
1100 years after Moses, even believed that
the stars were gods ; and Pliny, who lived in
the time of the apostle John, fancied that the
world itself was a god. These poor men, the
wise men of a dark world, were in the most
melancholy and distracting state of doubt on
all the great questions of which we have
been speaking. They got confused and be-
wildered when they thought about them ;
they often declared themselves that they knew
not what to think. Thus spoke all the dis-
ciples of Socrates and Plato. Those of you
who learn Latin may possibly read some day a
well-known dialogue on the " Nature of the
Gods," which was written fifty years before
the time of our Lord Jesus Christ, by the


greatest of Roman orators, the celebrated
Cicero. In this you will see how very little
they knew of the truth, and in what deplor-
able doubt and uncertainty they were. It is
a conversation, and each of the wise speakers
tells in his turn some of the foolish thoughts
and fancies of the time. Oh, what thick
darkness ! what sad confusion in ah 1 their
thoughts ! When all had finished, poor Cicero
declares that he is still in doubt what to be-
lieve after he has heard them all Well, my
children, suppose that while all these wise
men were thus assembled in Cotta's house in
Rome, a little boy of the tribe of Judah had
come among them with his Book of Genesis in
his hand, what might he have said to all these
wise Romans ?

" Much honoured sirs, you know not what
you say, you are in doubt, and you cannot
tell what to believe, and you are all deceived ;
but we, in our children's school, know the
truth with perfect certainty, we know it be-
cause God himself has told us in his book,
that ' in the beginning God created the.
heaven and the earth.' "

A little child with the Bible is wiser than


all the so-called wise men of the earth without
it. These great truths have been often " hid
from the wise and prudent, and revealed to
babes" (Matt. xi. 25).

You see then, my friends, that it is by the
Bible that we have the knowledge of the
truth ; and it is by faith that we have the
happiness to know it with certainty. So the
apostle Paul told the Hebrews : " Through
faith we understand that the worlds were
framed by the word of God, so that things
which are seen were not made of things which
do appear" (Heb. xi. 3).

" In the beginning God created the heaven
and the earth." But when was this begin-
ning? Kemark that Moses says nothing of
the time before " the beginning." This is a
time which we cannot understand ; it is a
depth too great for man to look into, it is too
long for man even to conceive, words cannot
express it, and it is better not even to think
of it, it does not concern us. Again, Moses
does not tell us how long a time has passed
since " the beginning." This time is longer,
perhaps, than we can either understand or ex-
press. But this does not concern us either


One thing is certain, that the heavens and the
earth had " a beginning," however long ago it
may have been.

All things have had a beginning except
God. He alone, the Holy Trinity, has had no
beginning, because he has been from eternity.
" From everlasting to everlasting he is God"
(Ps. xc. 2). That is why he is called Jehovah,
" I AM." " He is, and was, and is to come."
He is " the high and lofty One that inhabiteth
eternity" (Rev. i. 8 ; Isa. Ivii. 15). The
Father is called " Jehovah," the Son is called
" Jehovah," the Holy Spirit is called " Jeho-
vah." That is why the apostle Paul writing
to the Hebrews speaks to them of the " eter-
nal Spirit" (Heb. ix. 14) ; and the apostle
John speaking of the eternal Son, begins his
Gospel as Moses begins his Genesis, with the
same important and mysterious word, "In
the beginning : " " In the beginning was the
Word, and the Word was with God, and the
Word was God. The same was in the be-
ginning with God. All things were made by
him ; and without him was not any thing
made that was made" (John i. 1-3).

Thus Moses says, " In the beginning God


created the heaven and the earth;" and John
says that "in the beginning was the Word," and
" all things were made by him." Then, was
there anything before this "beginning?"

There was God, and the " Word who waa
with God, and is God."

Read what the Father says to the Son in
the 102d Psalm, as it is quoted in the Epistle
to the Hebrews: " Unto the Son he saith, . . .
Thou, Lord, in the beginning hast laid the
foundation of the earth; and the heavens are
the works of thine hands: they shall perish,
but thou remainest ; and they all shall wax
old as doth a garment ; and as a vesture shalt
thou fold them up, and they shall be changed :
but thou art the same, and thy years shall
not fail."

These words are in tlie 102d Psalm, and in
the Epistle to the Hebrews the apostle Paul
tells us that the Father says these words to
the Son (Heb. i. 8-12).

In our Lord's last prayer while he was on
earth when he knew that the hour was near
when he was to leave the world and return
to the Father he speaks of the time before
the beginning of the world, when he was with


the Father. He says, " And now, Father,
glorify thou me with thine own self with the
glory which I had with thee before the world
was. . . . Thou lovedst me before the founda-
tion of the world" (John xvii. 5, 24).

But I must go on to the second word of
our verse the word " created." I call it the
second, because though it comes third in our
translation, it is the second word of the verse
in the original Hebrew, and I follow the same

" Created," means made of nothing. These
things were not ; but God spoke, and they were.

It is through faith, St. Paul tells us, " that
we understand that the worlds were framed
by the word of God ; so that things which

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