De Moor IV:16: God as Omnipotent Substance

γ. The Faculty of Power operative externally is added, which independently, and with all Passive Power excluded, is applicable to God. That is, this is the Perfection of the Living God, whereby out of the abundance of His Omnisufficiency it belongs to Him with perfect ease externally to ordain whatever involves no contradiction. From this Perfection God has not only the Name אֵל/El from its more common derivation, see § 5,[1] but also אֲבִ֖יר יִשְׂרָאֵ֑ל, the Mighty One of Israel, Isaiah 1:24: Power of this sort is also expressly ascribed to God in Matthew 6:13, even with an emphatic periphrasis in Ephesians 1:19, while elsewhere it is signified under the emblem of a Hand, Right Hand, Arm, Psalm 89:13. Neither is Power of this sort able in any way to be denied to God: because, 1. without it the Will of God is not able to be conceived as independent and efficacious. 2. This Power is a Perfection befitting God, and following of itself upon His acknowledged Omnisufficiency; since this Power actually coincides with the Omnisufficiency of God, insofar as it extends itself to the production of things diverse from God. 3. This is the cause of every created Power, which in the final analysis ought to be resolved into the first and independent cause of causes. 4. The Gentiles acknowledged this Perfection, when to Jove as the highest God they gave the name of Omnipotent Father, which occurs a number of times even in one VIRGIL:


But the omnipotent father removed to dark caves.

Or let the omnipotent father drive me with lightning to the shadows.

Here, the illustrious omnipotent father thundered three from the highest heaven, etc.


Æneid, book I, verse 60, book IV, verse 25, book VII, verse 141.


Now, this Power is formally to be distinguished from Will in God, just as in the Creatures, against which more recent Wisdom decides, from the conception of Spirit as mere Thought, all which is summed up in understanding and willing, whence God will be Active only in the one or the other way; on account of which by the devotees of the same Philosophy whatever external action of God is said to be nothing other than His efficacious Will. Although in God according to His Simplicity no distinctions of this sort actually obtain; according to our manner of conception, the concept of Power is not to be confounded with our notion of the divine Will. For, 1. already from eternity the Deity willed whatsoever is or shall be, even when they were not, and so every Volitional act is immanent, which of itself creates nothing outside of God; while against an actual exercise of Power it posits an existing thing by the very act. 2. The active Will of God also deals with non-entities; even those things that not ever going to have an existence, which sort are non-future: indeed, they are such, because they were determined to this state by a positive Decree. But it is not able to be said that from eternity God by His active Omnipotence did this, that many of those things that are able to be not going to be. In this way the actual exercise of Omnipotence could terminate upon nothing, unless it be distinguished from the Will. 3. Quite frequently in Sacred Scripture God is said to be able to do those things that, nevertheless, it is evident from experience He has not willed: which is not able to be explained, except by distinguishing Will from Power. 4. Indeed, God also wills Himself in a most perfect manner. And since God had been able, if He had so judged, according to His altogether free decision, to will only Himself, and not anything beyond Himself, certainly His Will had been able to be active without regard to the exercise of His Power. 5. The confusion of Power with Will draws many absurdities after itself, for example, that every possibility is going to happen; and what is not going to happen is not possible, etc.


Objection 1: In this way the Will of God will be ineffectual, positing nothing outside of itself. Responses: a. The consequence is to be denied, since in like manner the Intellect is not Ineffectual, because this alone is not the cause of things. b. The efficacy of Intellect consists in the infallibility of foreknowledge, but the efficacy of Will in the certain futurition of a predetermined thing; both which arise from the independent activity of Power, which the Intellect and Will have as a companion, although formally they be not identified with it. c. In the same manner the divine Will could be said to be said to lack wisdom, as not formally foreknowing a thing; while it suffices that it has Omniscience as a companion.


Objection 2: That God is said to work all things through His Will. Responses: a. That is, not without His Will, and because He wills, He brings those things to pass: these subordinates are not in opposition to each other. b. He is also able to be said to do all things by His Wisdom.


Objection 3: That the Activity of God is not able to be conceived of as distinct from His Will. Responses: a. It thence arises that the divine mode of working is infinitely perfect, but our intellect is finite and imperfect; yet from this things distinct are not to be confounded. b. Our Adversaries do not know how sufficienly to explain His working by mere Volition: see VRIESIUS’ Exercitationem Rationalem XXI, § 2, 3; Disquisitionem de Contradictoriis Deo possibilibus, § 10-14; and Exercitationem de Mente humana sola Cogitatione, § 4.

[1] אֵל/El is here derived from אול, or איל, and denotes strength.

ABOUT US

Dr. Steven Dilday holds a BA in Religion and Philosophy from Campbell University, a Master of Arts in Religion from Westminster Theological Seminary (Philadelphia), and both a Master of Divinity and a  Ph.D. in Puritan History and Literature from Whitefield Theological Seminary.  He is also the translator of Matthew Poole's Synopsis of Biblical Interpreters and Bernardinus De Moor’s Didactico-Elenctic Theology.

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