In the Beginning God made the Heaven and the Earth. 

    1. IT is right that any one beginning to narrate the formation of the 
world should begin with the good order which reigns in visible things. I am 
about to speak of the creation of heaven and earth, which was not spontaneous, 
as some have imagined, but drew its origin from God. What ear is worthy to 
hear such a tale? How earnestly the soul should prepare itself to receive such 
high lessons! How pure it should be from carnal affections, how unclouded by 
worldly disquietudes, how active and ardent in its researches, how eager to 
find in its surroundings an idea of God which may be worthy of Him! 

    But before weighing the justice of these remarks, before examining all the 
sense contained in these few words, let us see who addresses them to us. 
Because, if the weakness of our intelligence does not allow us to penetrate 
the depth of the thoughts of the writer, yet we shall be involuntarily drawn 
to give faith to his words by the force of his authority. Now it is Moses who 
has composed this history; Moses, who, when still at the breast, is described 
as exceeding fair;  Moses, whom the daughter of Pharaoh adopted; who 
received from her a royal education, and who had for his teachers the wise men 
of Egypt;  Moses, who disdained the pomp of royalty, and, to share the 
humble condition of his compatriots, preferred to be persecuted with the 
people of God rather than to enjoy the fleeting delights of sin; Moses, who 
received from nature such a love of justice that, even before the leadership 
of the people of God was committed to him, be was impelled, by a natural 
horror of evil, to pursue malefactors even to the point of punishing them by 
death; Moses, who, banished by those whose benefactor he had been, hastened to 
escape from the tumults of Egypt and took refuge in Ethiopia, living there far 
from former pursuits, and passing forty years in the contemplation of nature; 
Moses, finally, who, at the age of eighty, saw God, as far as it is possible 
for man to see Him; or rather as it had not previously been granted to man to 
see Him, according to the testimony of God Himself, "If there be a prophet 
among you, I the Lord will make myself known unto him in a vision, and will 
speak unto him in a dream. My servant Moses is not so, who is faithful in all 
mine house, with him will I speak mouth to mouth, even apparently and not in 
dark speeches."  It is this man, whom God judged worthy to behold Him, face 
to face, like the angels, who imparts to us what he has learnt from God. Let 
us listen then to these words of truth written without the help of the 
"enticing words of man's wisdom"  by the dictation of the Holy Spirit; words 
destined to produce not the applause of those who hear them, but the salvation 
of those who are instructed by them. 

2. "In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth."  I stop 
struck with admiration at this thought. What shall I first say? Where shall I 
begin my story? Shall I show forth the vanity of the Gentiles? Shall I exalt 
the truth of our faith? The philosophers of Greece have made much ado to 
explain nature, and not one of their systems has remained firm anti unshaken, 
each being overturned by its successor. It is vain to refute them; they are 
sufficient in themselves to destroy one another. Those who were too ignorant 
to rise to a knowledge of a God, could not allow that an intelligent cause 
presided at the birth of the Universe; a primary error that involved them in 
sad consequences. Some had recourse to material principles and attributed the 
origin of the Universe  to the elements of the world. Others imagined that 
atoms,  and indivisible bodies, molecules and ducts, form, by their union, 
the nature of the visible world. Atoms reuniting or separating, produce births 
and deaths and the most durable bodies only owe their consistency to the 
strength of their mutual adhesion: a true spider's web woven by these writers 
who give to heaven, to earth, and to sea so weak an origin and so little 
consistency! It is because they knew not how to say "In the beginning God 
created the heaven and the earth." Deceived by their inherent atheism it 
appeared to them that nothing governed or ruled the universe, and that was all 
was given up to chance.  To guard us against this error the writer on the 
creation, from the very first words, enlightens our understanding with the 
name of God; "In the beginning God created." What a glorious order! He first 
establishes a beginning, so that it might not be supposed that the world never 
had a beginning. Then be adds "Created" to show that which was made was a very 
small part of the power of the Creator. In the same way that the potter, after 
having made with equal pains a great number of vessels, has not exhausted 
either his art or his talent; thus the Maker of the Universe, whose creative 
power, far from being bounded by one world, could extend to the infinite, 
needed only the impulse of His will to bring the immensities of the visible 
world into being. If then the world has a beginning, and if it has been 
created, enquire who gave it this beginning, and who was the Creator: or 
rather, in the fear that human reasonings may make you wander from the truth, 
Moses has anticipated enquiry by engraving in our hearts, as a seal and a 
safeguard, the awful name of God: "In the beginning God created"--It is He, 
beneficent Nature, Goodness without measure, a worthy object of love for all 
beings endowed with reason, the beauty the most to be desired, the origin of 
all that exists, the source of life, intellectual light, impenetrable wisdom, 
it is He who "in the beginning created heaven and earth." 

    3. Do not then imagine, O man!  that the visible world is without a 
beginning; and because the celestial bodies move in a circular course, and it 
is difficult for our senses to define the point where the circle begins, do 
not believe that bodies impelled by a circular movement are, from their 
nature, without a beginning. Without doubt the circle (I mean the plane figure 
described by a single line) is beyond our perception, and it is impossible for 
us to find out where it begins or where it ends; but we ought not on this 
account to believe it to be without a beginning. Although we are not sensible 
of it, it really begins at some point where the draughtsman has begun to draw 
it at a certain radius from the centre.  Thus seeing that figures which move 
in a circle always return upon themselves, without for a single instant 
interrupting the regularity of their course, do not vainly imagine to 
yourselves that the world has neither beginning nor end. "For the fashion of 
this world passeth away"  and "Heaven and earth shall pass away."  The 
dogmas of the end, and of the renewing of the world, are announced beforehand 
in these short words put at the head of the inspired history. "In the 
beginning God made." That which was begun in time is condemned to come to an 
end in time. If there has been a beginning do not doubt of the end.  Of what 
use men are geometry--the calculations of arithmetic--the study of solids and 
far-famed astronomy, this laborious vanity, if those who pursue them imagine 
that this visible world is co-eternal with the Creator of all things, with God 
Himself; if they attribute to this limited world, which has a material body, 
the same glory as to the incomprehensible and invisible nature; if they cannot 
conceive that a whole, of which the parts are subject to corruption and 
change, must of necessity end by itself submitting to the fate of its parts? 
But they have become "vain in their imaginations and their foolish heart was 
darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools."  Some have 
affirmed that heaven co-exists with God from all eternity;  others that it 
is God Himself without beginning or end, and the cause of the particular 
arrangement of all things.  

    4. One day, doubtless, their terrible condemnation will be the greater for 
all this worldly wisdom, since, seeing so clearly into yam sciences, they have 
wilfully shut their eyes to the knowledge of the truth. These men who measure 
the distances of the stare and describe them, both those of the North, always 
shining brilliantly in our view, and those of the southern pole visible to the 
inhabitants of the South, but unknown to us; who divide the Northern zone and 
the circle of the Zodiac into an infinity of parts, who observe with 
exactitude the course of the stars, their fixed places, their declensions, 
their return and the time that each takes to make its revolution; these men, I 
say, have discovered all except one tiring: the fact that God is the Creator 
of the universe, and the just Judge who rewards all the actions of life 
according to their merit. They have not known how to raise themselves to the 
idea of the consummation of all things, the consequence of the doctrine of 
judgment, and to see that the world must change if souls pass from this life 
to a new life. In reality, as the nature of the present life presents an 
affinity to this world, so in the future life our souls will enjoy a lot 
conformable to their new condition. But they are so far from applying these 
truths, that they do but laugh when we announce to them the end of all things 
and the regeneration of the age. Since the beginning naturally precedes that 
which is derived from it, the writer, of necessity, when speaking to us of 
things which had their origin in time, puts at the head of his narrative these 
words--"In the beginning God created." 

    5. It appears, indeed, that even before this world an order of things  
existed of which our mind can form an idea, but of which we can say nothing, 
because it is too lofty a subject for men who are but beginners and are still 
babes in knowledge. The birth of the world was preceded by a condition of 
things suitable for the exercise of supernatural powers, outstripping the 
limits of time, eternal and infinite. The Creator and Demiurge of the universe 
perfected His works in it, spiritual light for the happiness of all who love 
the Lord, intellectual and invisible natures, all the orderly arrangement  
of pure intelligences who are beyond the reach of our mind and of whom we 
cannot even discover the names. They fill the essence of this invisible world, 
as Paul teaches us. "For 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"  or virtues or hosts of angels or the 
dignities of archangels. To this world at last it was necessary to add a new 
world, both a school and training place where the souls of men should be 
taught and a home for beings destined to be born and to die. Thus was created, 
of a nature analogous to that of this world and the animals and plants which 
live thereon, the succession of time, for ever pressing on and passing away 
and never stopping in its course. Is not this the nature of time, where the 
past is no more, the future does not exist, and the present escapes before 
being recognised? And such also is the nature of the creature which lives in 
time,--condemned to grow or to perish without rest and without certain 
stability. It is therefore fit that the bodies of animals and plants, obliged 
to follow a sort of current, and carried away by the motion which leads them 
to birth or to death, should live in the midst of surroundings whose nature is 
in accord with beings subject to change.  
Thus the writer who wisely tells us of the birth of the Universe does not fail 
to put these words at the head of the narrative. "In the beginning God 
created;" that is to say, in the beginning of time. Therefore, if he makes the 
world appear in the beginning, it is not a proof that its birth has preceded 
that of all other things that were made. He only wishes to tell us that, after 
the invisible and intellectual world, the visible world, the world of the 
senses, began to exist. 

    The first movement is called beginning. "To do right is the beginning of 
the good way."  Just actions are truly the first steps towards a happy life. 
Again, we call "beginning" the essential and first part from which a thing 
proceeds, such as the foundation of a house, the keel of a vessel; it is in 
this sense that it is said, "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of 
wisdom,"  that is to say that piety is, as it were, the groundwork and 
foundation of perfection. Art is also tile beginning of the works of artists, 
the skill of Bezaleel began the adornment of the tabernacle.  Often even the 
good which is the final cause is the beginning of actions. Thus the 
approbation of God is the beginning of almsgiving, and the end laid up for us 
in the promises the beginning of all virtuous efforts. 

    6. Such being the different senses of the word beginning, see if we have 
not all the meanings here. You may know the epoch when the formation of this 
world began, it, ascending into the past, you endeavour to discover the first 
day. You will thus find what was the first movement of time; then that the 
creation of the heavens and of the earth were like the foundation and the 
groundwork, and afterwards that an intelligent reason, as the word beginning 
indicates, presided in the order of visible things.  You will finally 
discover that the world was not conceived by chance and without reason, but 
for an useful end and for the great advantage of all beings, since it is 
really the school where reasonable souls exercise themselves, the training 
ground where they learn to know God; since by the sight of visible and 
sensible things the mind is led, as by a hand, to the contemplation of 
invisible things. "For," as the Apostle says, "the invisible things of him 
from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the 
things that are made."  Perhaps these words "In the beginning God created" 
signify the rapid and imperceptible moment of creation. The beginning, in 
effect, is indivisible and instantaneous. The beginning of the road is not yet 
the road, and that of the house is not yet the house; so the beginning of time 
is not yet time and not even the least par-title of it. If some objector tell 
us that the beginning is a time, he ought then, as he knows well, to submit it 
to the division of time--a beginning, a middle and an end. Now it is 
ridiculous to imagine a beginning of a beginning. Further, if we divide the 
beginning into two, we make two instead of one, or rather make several, we 
really make an infinity, for all that which is divided is divisible to the 
infinite.  Thus then, if it is said, "In the beginning God created," it is 
to teach us that at the will of God the world arose in less than an instant, 
and it is to convey this meaning more clearly that other interpreters have 
said: "God made summarily" that is to say all at once and in a moment.  But 
enough concerning the beginning, if only to put a few points out of many. 

    7. Among arts, some have in view production, some practice, others 
theory.  The object of the last is the exercise of thought, that of the 
second, the motion of the body. Should it cease, all stops; nothing more is to 
be seen. Thus dancing and music have nothing behind; they have no object but 
themselves. In creative arts on the contrary the work lasts after the 
operation. Such is architecture--such are the arts which work in wood and 
brass and weaving, all those indeed which, even when the artisan has 
disappeared, serve to show an industrious intelligence and to cause the 
architect, the worker in brass or the weaver, to be admired on account of his 
work. Thus, then, to show that the world is a work of art displayed for the 
beholding of all people; to make them know Him who 
created it, Moses does not use another word. "In the beginning," he says "God 
created." He does not say "God worked," "God formed," but" God created." Among 
those who have imagined that the world co-existed with God from all eternity, 
many have denied that it was created by God, but say that it exists 
spontaneously, as the shadow of this power. God, they say, is the cause of it, 
but an involuntary cause, as the body is the cause of the shadow and the flame 
is the cause of the brightness.  It is to correct this error that the 
prophet states, with so much precision, "In the beginning God created." He did 
not make the thing itself the cause of its existence.  Being good, He made 
it an useful work. Being wise, He made it everything that was most beautiful. 
Being powerful He made it very great.  Moses almost shows us the finger of 
the supreme artisan taking possession of the substance of the universe, 
forming the different parts in one perfect accord, and making a harmonious 
symphony result from the whole.  

    "In the beginning God made heaven and earth." By naming the two extremes, 
he suggests the substance of the whole world, according to heaven the 
privilege of seniority, and putting earth in the second rank. All intermediate 
beings were created at the same time as the extremities. Thus, although there 
is no mention of the elements, fire, water and air,  imagine that they were 
all compounded together, and you will find water, air and fire, in the earth. 
For fire leaps out from stones; iron which is dug from the earth produces 
under friction fire in plentiful measure. A marvellous fact! Fire shut up in 
bodies lurks there hidden without harming them, but no sooner is it released 
than it consumes that which has hitherto preserved it. The earth contains 
water, as diggers of wells teach us. It contains air too, as is shown by the 
vapours that it exhales under the sun's warmth  when it is damp. Now, as 
according to their nature, heaven occupies the higher and earth the lower 
position in space, (one sees, in fact, that all which is light ascends towards 
heaven, and heavy substances fall to the ground); as therefore height and 
depth are the points the most opposed to each other it is enough to mention 
the most distant parts to signify the inclusion of all which fills up 
intervening Space. Do not ask, then, for an enumeration of all the elements; 
guess, from what Holy Scripture indicates, all that is passed over in silence. 

    8. "In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth." If we were to 
wish to discover the essence of each of the beings which are offered for our 
contemplation, or come under our senses, we should be drawn away into long 
digressions, and the solution of the problem would require more words than I 
possess, to examine fully the matter. To spend time on such points would not 
prove to be to the edification of the Church. Upon the essence of the heavens 
we are contented with what Isaiah says, for, in simple language, he gives us 
sufficient idea of their nature, "The heaven was made like smoke,"  that is 
to say, He created a subtle substance, without solidity or density, from which 
to form the heavens. As to the form of them we also content ourselves with the 
language of the same prophet, when praising God "that stretcheth out the 
heavens as a curtain and spreadeth them out as a tent to dwell in."  In the 
same way, as concerns the earth, let us resolve not to torment ourselves by 
trying to find out its essence, not to tire our reason by seeking for the 
substance which it conceals. Do not let us seek for any nature devoid of 
qualities by the conditions of its existence, but let us know that all the 
phenomena with which we see it clothed regard the conditions of its existence 
and complete its essence. Try to take away by reason each of the qualities it 
possesses, and you will arrive at nothing. Take away black, cold, weight, 
density, the qualities which concern taste, in one word all these which we see 
in it, and the substance vanishes.  

    If I ask you to leave these vain questions, I will not expect you to try 
and find out the earth's point of support. The mind would reel on beholding 
its reasonings losing themselves without end. Do you say that the earth 
reposes on a bed of air?  How, then, can this soft substance, without 
consistency, resist the enormous weight which presses upon it? How is it that 
it does not slip away in all directions, to avoid the sinking weight, and to 
spread itself over the mass which overwhelms it? Do you suppose that water is 
the foundation of the earth?  You will then always have to ask yourself how 
it is that so heavy and opaque a body does not pass through the water; how a 
mass of such a weight is held up by a nature weaker than itself. Then you must 
seek a base for the waters, and you will be in much difficulty to say upon 
what the water itself rests. 

    9. Do you suppose that a heavier body prevents the earth from failing into 
the abyss? Then you must consider that this support needs itself a support to 
prevent it from failing. Can we imagine one? Our reason again demands vet 
another support, and thus we shall fall into the infinite, always imagining a 
base for the base which we have already found.  And the further we advance 
in this reasoning the greater force we are obliged to give to this base, so 
that it may be able to support all the mass weighing upon it. Put then a limit 
to your thought, so that your curiosity in investigating the incomprehensible 
may not incur the reproaches of Job, and you be not asked by him, "Whereupon 
are the foundations thereof fastened?"  If ever you hear in the Psalms, "I 
bear up the pillars of it;"  see in these pillars the power which sustains 
it. Because what means this other passage, "He hath founded it upon the 
sea,"  if not that the water is spread all around the earth? How then can 
water, the fluid element which flows down every declivity, remain suspended 
without ever flowing? You do not reflect that the idea of the earth suspended 
by itself throws your reason into a like but even greater difficulty, since 
from its nature it is 

heavier. But let us admit that the earth rests upon itself, or let us say that 
it rides the waters, we must still remain faithful to thought of true religion 
and recognise that all is sustained by the Creator's power. Let us then reply 
to ourselves, and let us reply to those who ask us upon what support this 
enormous mass rests, "In His hands are the ends of the earth."  It is a 
doctrine as infallible for our own information as profitable for our hearers. 

    10. There are inquirers into nature  who with a great display of words 
give reasons for the immobility of the earth. Placed, they say, in the middle 
of the universe and not being able to incline more to one side than the other 
because its centre is everywhere the same distance from the surface, it 
necessarily rests upon itself; since a weight which is everywhere equal cannot 
lean to either side. It is not, they go on, without reason or by chance that 
the earth occupies the centre of the universe. It is its natural and necessary 
position. As the celestial body occupies the higher extremity of space all 
heavy bodies, they argue, that we may suppose to have fallen from these high 
regions, will be carried from all directions to the centre, and the point 
towards which the parts are tending will evidently be the one to which the 
whole mass will be thrust together. If stones, wood, all terrestrial bodies, 
fall from above downwards, this must be the proper and natural place of the 
whole earth. If, on the contrary, a light body is separated from the centre, 
it is evident that it will ascend towards the higher regions. Thus heavy 
bodies move from the top to the bottom, and following this reasoning, the 
bottom is none other than the centre of the world. Do not then be surprised 
that the world never falls: it occupies the centre of the universe, its 
natural place. By necessity it is obliged to remain in its place, unless a 
movement contrary to nature should displace it.  If there is anything in 
this system which might appear probable to you, keep your admiration for the 
source of such perfect order, for the wisdom of God. Grand phenomena do not 
strike us the less when we have discovered something of their wonderful 
mechanism. Is it otherwise here? At all events let us prefer the simplicity of 
faith to the demonstrations of reason. 

      11. We might say the same thing of the 
heavens. With what a noise of words the sages of this world have discussed 
their nature! Some have said that heaven is composed of four elements as being 
tangible and visible, and is made up of earth on account of its power of 
resistance, with fire because it is striking to the eye, with air and water on 
account of the mixture.  Others have rejected this system as improbable, and 
introduced into the world, to form the heavens, a fifth element after their 
own fashioning. There exists. they say, an aethereal body which is neither 
fire, air, earth, nor water, nor in one word any simple body. These simple 
bodies have their own natural motion in a straight line, light bodies upwards 
and heavy bodies downwards; now this motion upwards and downwards is not the 
same as circular motion; there is the greatest possible difference between 
straight and circular motion. It therefore follows that bodies whose motion is 
so various must vary also in their essence. But, it is not even possible to 
suppose that the heavens should be formed of primitive bodies which we call 
elements, because the reunion of contrary forces could not produce an even and 
spontaneous motion, when each of the simple bodies is receiving a different 
impulse from nature. Thus it is a labour to maintain composite bodies in 
continual movement, because it is impossible to put even a single one of their 
movements in accord and harmony with all those that are in discord; since what 
is proper to the light particle, is in warfare with that of a heavier one. If 
we attempt to rise we are stopped by the weight of the terrestrial element; if 
we throw ourselves down we violate the igneous part of our being in dragging 
it down contrary to its nature. Now this struggle of the elements effects 
their dissolution. A body to which violence is done and which is placed in 
opposition to nature, after a short but energetic resistance, is soon 
dissolved into as many parts as it had elements, each of the constituent parts 
returning to its natural place. It is the force of these reasons, say the 
inventors of the fifth kind of body for the genesis of heaven and the stars, 
which constrained them to reject the system of their predecessors and to have 
recourse to their own hypothesis.  But yet another fine speaker arises and 
disperses and destroys this theory to give predominance to an idea of his own 

    Do not let us undertake to follow them for fear of falling into like 
frivolities; let them refute each other, and, without disquieting ourselves 
about essence, let us say with Moses "God created the heavens and the earth." 
Let us glorify the supreme Artificer for all that was wisely and skillfully 
made; by the beauty of visible things let us raise ourselves to Him who is 
above all beauty; by the grandeur of bodies, sensible and limited in their 
nature, let us conceive of the infinite Being whose immensity and omnipotence 
surpass all the efforts of the imagination. Because, although we ignore the 
nature of created things, the objects which on all sides attract our notice 
are so marvellous, that the most penetrating mind cannot attain to the 
knowledge of the least of the phenomena of the world, either to give a 
suitable explanation of it or to render due praise to the Creator, to Whom 
belong all glory, all honour and all power world without end. Amen.