De Moor IV:21: God's Absolute Power and Possible Things never Actualized

That God, antecedently to every Decree, by His Absolute Power is able to do those things that are never done, our AUTHOR expressly adds in his Medulla Theologiæ; so that he might signify that the Possibility of a thing does not depend upon any Decree of Possibility; but that the altogether Sufficient Independence of God, brought together with the Ideas of things, is the true Root of Possibility, as our AUTHOR says in his Compendio Theologiæ; which VAN MASTRICHT also painstakingly defends against Wittich, Gangræna Novitatum Cartesianarum, posterior Section, chapter X, pages 253-257. That is, a thing is said to be Possible in two ways, either intrinsically, or extrinsically. Extrinsically, whatever is able to be produced by the power of some cause is Possible: intrinsically, whatever is able to be conceived without contradiction, or in the idea of which no conflict of essential predicates occurs, is Possible. Neither says anything real on the part of the Possible; but the intrinsically Possible designates only the denomination taken from the idea of a thing in the mind: but the extrinsically Possible only signifies the denomination founded in the power of some agent, by which what has not hitherto existed is able to be produced. Extrinsic Possibility varies according to the various sufficiency of causes: but intrinsic Possibility is always one and the same, although not everything is intrinsically impossible that does indeed appear so to us on account of the dullness of our minds, on account of an apparent conflict of predicates. With these things considered, if we should wish to ascend to the primary Root of Possibility, it is immediately evident that this is not the determination of the determining Will alone; but that, although we do not hence completely close off the Will of complacency, the consideration of the divine Intellect and power, antecedently to every Decree, is here sufficient: so that the Possibilities immediately cohere with that Perfection of the first Cause, understood of Himself as expressible in some way outside of Himself. Now, the Idea in the divine mind is the directing principium of producible things; Power, the executing principium. But as, at least according to our manner of conception, in the case of a rational cause, in the order of nature the conception of a thing precedes the production of a thing, so also the ability to conceive a thing precedes the ability to produce a thing: and so the divine Intellect is to be held as the ultimate foundation of Possibility, insofar as it is representative of these or those predicates. Such that a thing is said to be Possible, because God is able to produce it; but God is able to produce it, because in the idea of it no contradiction is involved in the divine mind. And thus intrinsic Possibility ought also to be said to be prior to that which they call extrinsic: see VRIESIUS’ Exercitationem Rationalem XXI, § 8; and his Disquisitionem de Contradictoriis Deo Possibilibus, § 15.

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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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