De Moor IV:24: Divine Simplicity Defended against the Socinians and Vorstius

That God is thus Simple and without any Composition, we hold, 1. against the Socinians, who depict to us a Composite God, when they assert that it is false that the divine Attributes are God Himself, with Slichtingius:[1] while the Eternity and faculties, by which God does whatever He wills, together with the acts of God, they maintain to be a means, or a third thing between God and His creatures, according to Adam Goslawski:[2] and they say that the Attributes do not destroy the Unity of God, which the Persons would indeed do: since the Attributes are not things substituted or substances subsisting of themselves, but qualities inhering in the divine essence, as Volkelius[3] says: see HOORNBEECK’S Socinianismum confutatum, tome I, book II, chapter IV, section I, pages 368, 369. 2. Against Vorstius, who, although in his Disputatione tertia de Deo, § 23, he had not incorrectly written, the qualities of God are so simple and uniform, that it is necessary to completely remove from Him all contrariety and diversity: For they are the simple and indivisible Essense of God: But the effects of God are various and diverse, etc.: in the Notes upon this Disputation, pages 203-210, denies that the axioms previously received and true in a simply way, “That is, that No Composition falls to God, that there is no accidental property in God: on the other hand, he admits composition in God, accidental properties many and as many as are the Decrees concerning the external bringing to pass of things, real Entities truly diverse according to the number of divine Persons, at least three, if not more, diverse things in God:” compare what things TRIGLAND relates in his Kerckelycke Geschiedenissen, volume 4, page 576a, b, out of Vorstius’ Exegesem Apologeticam, chapters IX, X, and what things the same has in his Kerckelycke Geschiedenissen, volume 4, pages 585b, 586, out of Vorstius’ de Deo, page 208; add TRIGLAND’S Kerckelycke Geschiedenissen, volume 4, page 593, where he disputes against Utenbogardus[4] concerning the error of Vorstius; likewise on pages 603, 605, 609.



Against these we maintain the Simplicity of God, or a certain, altogether perfect identity of whatever predicates are attributed to the divine Essence with the very Essence itself; which implies no real distinction among those things that are Essential to God, in such a way that whatever in this manner is in God is His very Essence; in accordance with which it is whatever it is, without any aggregation of parts truly distinct.


Which we prove, α. From the Unity of the Attributes in God among themselves and with His Essence, asserted above in § 17.


β. From the Independence of God, which is destroyed by compounding Parts: a. For whatever is compounded from multiple things, the product is composed of things of which as parts it is composed, and depends upon the same as prior in nature. b. Also, one part of the compound depends upon the other, as far as the latter is not of itself the perfection of the former, but is obliged to receive that as welcome to the union with this, added to itself, and distinct from itself. But whatever involves dependence in any manner is inconsistent with Deity. c. In composition is also required a superior compounding cause, which conjoins the parts: it falls to us to be wise, aged, etc., but by another, by a supreme Cause, namely, God most wise and having life in Himself. But, if God be compounded of His Essence and Attributes as of a subject and its Accidental Properties, whence were these Accidental Properties set in that Essence? Whence, for example, is God Wise, if indeed He is now supposed not to be such by Essence, from which the Attribute of Wisdom really differs according to this hypothesis? It is necessary that the divine Essence receive that gift of Wisdom from some other superior cause, formally wise and communicating wisdom with others. By which very thing Independence is in turn destroyed. Wherefore either God is not in all respects God, that is, the Independent Being: or He has that which He has and is all that which He is, altogether Independently, that is, by His own Essence, and so with any composition of His Essence from parts.


γ. From God’s Consummate Perfection, to which nothing at all is able to be added. That is, a. An Essence that is altogether perfect of itself is more perfect than that which by the help of superadded qualities possesses the perfections that it possesses; and so also to the Consummately Perfect Being is to be attributed a manner of possessing perfections by Essence, lacking no accidental properties to complete its perfection. b. The divine Essence will contain in itself perfections superadded to itself in the manner of Accidental Properties, or not. If the former, it is not necessary to superadd those to His Essence, possessing the same of itself: if the latter, the divine Essence will not be Infinitely Perfect, and so not Divine. c. If a perfection in God be granted as really distinct from His Essence, that perfection either will be finite, dependent, created; or infinite, independent, and increated. If the former, it is unworthy of God. If the latter obtains, and that infinite, increated, and independent perfection has existence actually distinct from God’s Essence, there will be multiple Gods.


δ. From God’s altogether absolute Immortality and Immutability, which depends upon God’s Simplicity as an immovable foundation. For every compound is able to be dissolved into the same rudiments, of which it was composed: but, because God is altogether Simple, hence is altogether Immortal and Immutable. And in turn, because God’s superexcellent Immortality and Immutability are evident from Sacred Scripture, hence His Simplicity is also inferred.


ε. From the various sorts of Composition reviewed above, none of which is applicable to God, as we saw.


The Consent of the Fathers in this acknowledged Simplicity of God HOORNBEECK cites in Socinianismo confutato, book II, chapter IV, section I, pages 375, 376.

[1] Jonas Schlichting (1592-1661) was a theologian of the Socinian Polish Brethren. He wrote commentaries on most of the books of the New Testament.


[2] Adam Goslawski (1577-1642) was a Polish Socinian.


[3] Johanns Völkel (c. 1565-1616) was a German Socinian. His De vera religione was the first major systematic presentation of Socinian doctrine published at the Racovian Academy.


[4] Johannes Utenbogardus (1557-1644) was a Dutch minister, a follower of Arminius, and a leader of the Remonstrants after Arminius’ death.

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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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