Biblical Doctrine, Plainly Stated

By William S. Plumer, 1875


I. "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. 11:3. This passage of Scripture settles these points:

1. The universe was made—the worlds were framed.

2. This was done by the fiat of the Almighty—the word of God. Compare Psalm 33:6.

3. The world was not made out of pre-existent materials—the things which are seen were not made of things which do appear.

4. We know all these things by faith. A fair inference from all this is that we are bound to own and to worship God as the Author of creation—the Maker of all things.

II. The progress of science, either truly or falsely so called, has given us no better insight into the origin of the universe than that afforded by the first chapter in the Bible. On the first day of creation God said, "Let there be light, and there was light." The same day God divided the light from the darkness. On the second day of creation God spread out the skies, dividing the waters that flow on the earth from the waters which are held in the clouds and the atmosphere. On the third day he separated the waters of the earth from the dry land and produced all kinds of grass, herbs, and trees having seed and fruit. On the fourth day he arranged the lights in the heavens and appointed them for signs and seasons, for days and years. On the fifth day God created all manner of fish, and living creatures in the sea, and all creatures that fly in the open air and all fowls. On the sixth day God created creeping or prowling animals, beasts, and cattle. On the same day also he created man, male and female. One of the most remarkable statements respecting creation is that so often repeated, that when God reviewed his work, he declares that it was good—very good.

III. Many idle and unprofitable questions can easily be raised respecting the creation, as well as some learned questions, which, if not wholly idle, are yet too deep for those for whom this work is written.

IV. If any ask, How is it possible that something could have been created out of nothing? the answer is that it could not but by the almighty power of God. There our faith must rest. Farther we cannot go. Farther we need not go. Omnipotence can effect anything that is not absurd.

V. We have no reason to suppose that there has been any change in the laws of nature since the creation was finished. Heavy objects have always fallen to the ground, water has always sought its own level, ascent has always been more difficult than descent, fire has always burned, and water has always put out fire ever since the world began, except when the laws of nature have been miraculously suspended.

VI. The historic account of the creation is given in the first chapter of Genesis. We have a poetic account of the same wonderful event in the one hundred and fourth Psalm. In other parts of Scripture are found many short statements respecting the same work. All of these take for granted the correctness of the historic account given by Moses.

VII. The illustration of the divine perfections found in the work of creation is very instructive. The power, wisdom and goodness thus brought to view are truly admirable. In studying the divine attributes several of these passages have been already considered. Others can easily be found. The dispositions of men, as to piety or impiety, are often discovered by their sentiments respecting creation. David was wonderfully stirred up by his thoughts concerning the heavens. A poet has said: "An undevout astronomer is mad."

Yet so brutish are some men in their knowledge, that even astronomy and anatomy make them prate like fools. In the height of his bodily sufferings the pious Halyburton said, "I bless God that ever I was born." On the other hand the vain and giddy Voltaire, in the midst of the flatteries of kings and courtiers, said, "I wish I had never been born." Vile indeed is the heart, and dark indeed are the prospects of him who cannot give thanks for his own creation.

VIII. In the whole work of creation God was both sovereign and free. He might have made more worlds, and more orders of beings, he might have created the world sooner or later, if he had so chosen. He acted according to the counsel of his own will. Whatever he has done has been the dictate of his own will and wisdom.

IX. All creation was for the divine glory, and to the divine praise. "Of him, and through him, and to him, are all things." Romans 11:36. "You have created all things, and for your pleasure they are and were created." Rev. 4:11.

X. The Scriptures use creation as a proof and illustration of the divinity of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Thus spoke the devout son of Hachaliah: "You, even you, are Lord alone; you have made heaven, the heaven of heavens, with all their host, the earth, and all things that are therein, the seas, and all that is therein, and you preserve them all; and the host of heaven worshippeth you." Neh. 9:6. Compare Is. 45:7. Many parallel texts are easily found proving the divinity of the Father. John and Paul both establish the divinity of the Son of God by the work of creation. "All things were made by him; and without him was not anything made that was made;" "By him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him and for him;" "By him God made the worlds." John 1:3; Col. 1:16; Heb. 1:2. The Scriptures as clearly ascribe creation to the Spirit. Thus spoke Moses: "The Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters;" "By his Spirit he has garnished the heavens." Gen. 1:2; Job 26:13. Thus in the creative power and skill of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, we find a blessed foundation for all the worship and adoration which we offer to the triune God.

XI. Inspired writers and devout men alike unite in giving great prominence to the goodness of God manifested in creation. Not a creature nor organ of life has yet been found containing proofs of malignity in its Author. Surely this world was made by a benevolent Being, and should furnish songs of praises to its Creator.

XII. The unity of design found in creation well illustrates the unity of God. Surely he who made the eye, made the light. Surely he who made the ear, made the air by whose vibrations sound is carried. Surely he who made the water made the tribes of creatures that live in it. There is one God. There is no need of more than one God. There is but one God. He is Lord of all.

XIII. So far as we know, God has at no time made but two races of rational and accountable beings—angels and men. Angels were made before men, for they sang when this world was made. All the sons of God shouted for joy. Job 38:7. Both angels and men are immortal. Man is lower than the angels. Psalm 8:5. Both races were made to glorify God. Some angels are greater than others. Eph. 1:21; 3:10. Some angels and all mere men become sinners. The lost angels are lost forever. Matt. 25:41; 2 Pet. 2:4.