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EXPOSITORY REMARKS ON GENESIS.
VERSE 28.--" And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful and multiply, and replenish the earth and subdue it ; and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.” And God having now created man, proceeded to bless him, as he had before blessed the inferior creatores; and truly without this divine blessing all bad been incomplete; but for this the seal had not been set to the divine parpose, and amidst all the apparent bounty of his God, man had felt himself insecure. In vain would the whole face of nature testify that he was the object of the divine complacency, in vain would external things proclaim the loving-kindness of the Lord. Not that the witness that they bore was to be questioned, but still the human soul created in God's likeness, the rational mind, the loving heart, could not repose, save in some communication made directly to that soul, that heart, that mind. But now confirmed by the utterance of the heavenly blessing, man stood as a king upon the earth, surveying his newly-acquired sovereignty with feelings of entire confidence in God his Maker. He looks around him and beholds the visible tokens of the love of God and throughout his whole soul, he hears the voice of his Creator, thus addressing him : “By these external manifestations of my loving-kindness, judge of my dispositions towards thyself. All things have been created for thy use ; receive all as tokens of my unquestionable love.”
In our comment upon verses 20-25, no especial notice was taken of the blessing pronounced upon all the inferior orders of living creatures; and it may now be objected to the remarks that have just been made, that the blessing pronounced upon man, could not have signified all that has been assigned to it, as a blessing apparently of like kind was appropriated to the inferior creatures, to whom an appeal, as to reasonable souls, must have been without significance. It may fairly be replied, however, to any such objection, that the divine blessing, whatever that blessing might be, would naturally suit itself to the order of creatures it addressed: and also, that it would betray a great ignorance of the nature of the inferior living creatures, to suppose them unsusceptible of confidence and joy, upon the occasion of their Creator's benediction. What creature so insensible as not to recognize the friendly tones of the human voice? And shall the voice of God be less effective than the voice of man? Shall man's blessing be full of power upon the brute beast, and God's blessing incapable of imparting to him a consciousness of happiness? The supposition is altogether inadmissible, and we must believe that the divine blessing made every living creature glad according to its capabilities of joy.
The subject which our text next presents to us, is the divine command given to man upon the day of his creation, that he should“ be fruitful, and multi
ply, and replenish the earth : " an expression of the will of God, which we may perceive to be in exact accordance with that desire and love of offspring which is proper to the whole human race. Fantastic notions, and presumptuous theories of men, have, however, opposed themselves to this declaration of the divine will, and teachers have from time to time arisen, who have insisted on the desirableness of the single life, some on the ground of its superior sanctity, and others on the supposition, that the earth will not supply food enough for the consumption of human beings should they be indefinitely multiplied. And it is in the church that the ascetic error has seduced its adherents to oppose the declared will of the Author of nature : in the world, that philosophy and science, falsely so called, have led men to arraign the wisdom and goodness of the Creator, and have suggested to them, that under their philosophical and scientific auspices, man would certainly live with more comfort on the eartb. But fortunately for those who are persuaded that the word of God is more holy than the word of spiritual men, and wiser than the word of philosophic men, all these theories have fairly proved the ignorance of those who devised them. As for the working of the ascetic principle, the pages of Church history bear sufficient proof that the spiritual man cannot attain the purity be covets by theories which oppose themselves to the will of God ; and in regard to the power of philosophy when it takes in hand matters altogether beyond its control, the failure must be alike complete. In the church, under the spiritual veil, impurity will lie concealed; in the world, under the pbilosopbic cloak, tbe basest lusts will riot unrestrained. The decree of God will yet remain in force : outraged nature will fearfully assert and avenge her rights; and spiritual and philosophic men, if brought to their right minds, will confess their incompetence either to promote the sanctity of the church or the general happiness of the world, by their antiscriptural devices. In regard to the notion (now happily beginning to be exploded by philosophic men themselves) that the birth of human beings ought to be prevented, lest the earth should be found unable to produce the sustenance necessary for the support of increased multitudes : how evidently does this idea repudiate the knowledge of God, as the God of nature and of providence ? and how clearly does it contravene the truth, that the deficiencies that exist in the produce of the earth, are caused“ by the wickedness of those that dwell tberein?” It has been said, that the multitudes of men have already a bare pittance, scarce enough for the support of animal life; and shall we not then avoid the extension of so much misery, by doing all in our power to prevent the increase of population ? But from whence the scantiness of the supply, and why are not the multitudes more abundantly provided with bread? For this reason only, that man does not execute his trust of kingsbip over the earth in a righteous manner. On account of his sin, the ground is cursed. Did he use aright the bigb trust given him of God, all would be well; but this he does not do ; rather like the slothful servant in the parable, he bides his talent in the earth, and then complains that he has a hard and niggard master.
In regard to the subjugation of the earth, spoken of in our text, had man retained his allegiance to God, this certainly would have taken place, not to his own bat to his Creator's praise. Now alas, it has been far otherwise! In proportion as man's faculties have become developed, in proportion as he has been able to subdue the earthly elements to his own ase; in that same degre has he for the most part glorified himself, defiled the material world, and renounced dependance npon God, the gracious Author of bis increasing knowledge and of his increasing powers.
The last clause of our text still remains for copsideration, and we ask what was the nature of the dominion assigned to man at the first? And it would seem as though the answer were a very simple one, as it is already provided for us in the text, where we find the Creator saying to his creature, “ Have domipion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.” But simple as these words are, and readily as they supply the answer to our question : how many deep and important thoughts do tbey bring along with them? How many considerations fraught with the highest interest ? For what a new view of the world, what a novel aspect of human affairs do these words suggest! Man was to have dominion, but over whom? Over his fellow-men? No; but over the fishes of the sea, the birds of the air; the other orders of inferior living creatures moving upon the face of the earth! And to what extent did his dominion over the inferior creatures reach ? Had he the power of life and death over them as he has now ? He had not ;--for there is no mention of any such power assigned to man, till after the deluge. Then it was that God first said to