De Moor IV:27: God's Immensity and Omnipresence Defended against the Socinians



Finally, the Socinians deny this, who feign that God in Essence is contained in the Heavens; and in the passages cited by HOORNBECK, Socinianismo confutato, book II, chapter II, section I, tome I, pages 288, etc., they everywhere deny the Immensity of the divine Essence or Presence; although they acknowledge the Immensity of His Power: “The substance of God,” says Socinus in his Catechism, found in HOORNBEECK’S Socinianismo confutato, book II, chapter II, section I, tome I, pages 288, etc., “is not present equally everywhere, and thus it is not immense or infinite, although God is Himself present everywhere with respect to His power and providence.” Vorstius also in his Exegese Apologetica, chapter XVII, page 85, writes, “Let us simply believe, therefore, that God in His substance actually dwells in the highest Heaven; but He is present to us everywhere on earth in His virtue and power:” compare what things relative to this controversy out of Vorstius’ Exegese Apologetica, chapters XVI-XIX, with a summary, TRIGLAND relates, Kerckelycke Geschiedenissen, volume 4, pages 577 at the end, 578; and also out of his tractate de Deo, pages 232, 233, 235, 237, in Kerckelycke Geschiedenissen, volume 4, page 583b: compare also in TRIGLAND’S Kerckelycke Geschiedenissen, volume 4, pages 592b, 603, 604, 608, 609. The Remonstrants, in order to please the Socinians, Apologia, chapter II, page 43, contend that the Scripture specifies nothing concerning the Immensity or Omnipresence of the divine Essence; and so they say that they are unwilling to descend into this quarrel: “One may be ignorant, say they, of those things that are believed only with peril, and are disputed with the very greatest subtlety.” In the meantime, they discuss the Omnipresence of the divine Essence in unbecoming ways, writing: “And good God! that atopic and atomic presence of the divine Essence and of the three divine Persons, I say not only in heaven and on earth, in sewers, in most filthy idols, in devils, in hell itself; but also in imaginary spaces beyond heaven and earth, which it is not evident exist anywhere, and which it is necessary to invent, and having feign what they might be, is not possible to understand, who understands thus, that he does not hesitate, is not astounded, does not tremble, does not dread? Who, when he spoke those things, understood them?” And to all these, finally, some Anabaptists ought to be added, according to those things that HOORNBEECK cites, Socinianismo confutato, book II, chapter II, tome I, page 288 at the end; compare SPANHEIM’S Elenchum Controversiarum, opera, tome 3, columns 779, 780. While the very Gentiles had better understanding, among whom ARATUS in his Phænomenis[1] said that all things are full of Jove (see CLEMENT OF ALEXANDRIA’S Stromata, book V, page 597), which also VIRGIL recites out of him, Eclogue III, verse 60, who additionally in his Georgics, book IV, verses 221, 222, has:


…for God runs through all,

Lands, and tracts of sea, and the boundless heaven…


Maimonides

they only becomingly distinguished God and created things from themselves. And the Jews call God Himself מקום, a place, inasmuch as they believe God to be present to all places, filling them, and to sustain all things everywhere; just as MAIMONIDES writes in his More Nevochim, part I, chapter VIII, “Whenever the word מקום/place is used of God, the Degree of His immense and incomparable essence is actually understood.”


But of those that are opposite to us here, especially the Socinians, the πρῶτον ψεῦδος, fundamental error, is as if the Omnipresence of God’s Essence might bring in Atheism. But the Scope/Goal is to overturn the hypostatic Union of the two Natures in Christ, and to forge a comprehensible God, etc.


Hoornbeeck

They Object, 1. Passages, which set God in Heaven, Matthew 6:9; etc. Responses: α. In the very passage in which God is said to be in the Heavens, it is also added that He is at the same time on the Earth, Joshua 2:11; Isaiah 66:1 (on which passage see HOORNBEECK, Socinianismo confutato, book II, chapter II, section II, tome I, pages 294, 295). β. Now, Heaven is more frequently mentioned, especially in Prayers, a. for the reason indicated in Isaiah 66:1, namely, on account of God’s Majesty more clearly revealed there; hence, by the mention of the heavenly dwelling of God, our thoughts ought to be lifted from everything earthly and perishing, so that we might think nothing of God except what is great and glorious, and make our approach to Him all the more reverently, Psalm 113:5, 6. b. On account of the Blessings of God thence descending to us, James 1:17. c. To lift our Hearts and desires so much the more upward, where Christ is our Παράκλητος/Paraclete/Advocate before the Father,[2] by whose Intercession we hope our prayers to be heard;[3] where also we believe a place has been prepared for us,[4] for the possessing of which as an inheritance at length we longingly pant. That in our Prayers we consider Him as present in the Heavens, no more argues that God is shut up in Heaven, than they believed of old that God was shut up in the Tabernacle or Temple, when in their Prayers they turned their faces toward the Ark and Temple:[5] the reason for which was only the gracious and symbolic Manifestation of the divine Presence there as on a royal throne.


They Object: 2. The special Modes of the divine Presence, in Christ, likewise among the pious, and the blessed. Responses: α. Deity dwells in Christ by a Hypostatic Union, Colossians 2:9, on which passage see § 2 above. β. God is near to the pious by His Grace, Psalm 34:18; 145:18, 19; Matthew 28:20. γ. He is near to the Inhabitant of Heaven by His Glory, 1 Thessalonians 4:17; Revelation 22:3, 4. δ. By His Judgments He is present in Hell, Psalm 139:8: and He, pursuing these, went down for the destruction of the Tower of Babel, Genesis 11:7; hence in Genesis 11:5, 7 of Targum Onkelos,[6] in the place of יָרַד, to go down, in the Chaldean it is rightly אִתְגְּלֵא, to be revealed, to appear: for it was not needful for God, being essentially Omnipresent, to go down there, properly speaking; but in a peculiar manner He appeared as Present, and manifested Himself as Present, in that place through this most grievous, extraordinary, and exemplary Judgment. It does not follow that God is to be said not to be present here or there, because He is not present there in this or that mode, since the Modes of divine Presence do vary. At the same time, those diverse Modes of the special, manifest divine Presence do not remove, but rather suppose and confirm, the common Presence of God by His Immense Essence and Providence directing all things. Indeed, if with respect to His Essence God dwells only in the highest Heaven, the Hypostatic Union of the human Nature of Christ dwelling on earth with the Person of the Λόγου/Logos is altogether taken away; as the Counter-Remonstrants warn against Vorstius’ doctrine, see TRIGLAND’S Kerckelycke Geschiedenissen, part 4, pages 583b, 584a.


They Object: 3. Absurdities, α. concerning the pollution and contamination of God in filthy places. I Respond: On account of the Spiritual and Most Pure Nature of God, to which no sense of smell, no commixture with corporeal bodies, pertains, that is less to be feared concerning God, than concerning the Sun, which also sends its rays into the most foul places, which nevertheless from them contracts no filth nor impurity: TERTULLIAN, libro de Spectaculis, chapter XX, “The Sun, and indeed God Himself, look down from heaven, and are not contaminated. Certainly the Sun both sends its rays into the sewer, and yet is not stained.” THEODORET, Oration X de Providentia, opera, tome 4, page 443, Οὐδὲν γὰρ μολύειν δύναται τὴν ἀκήρατον φύσιν. Εἰ γὰρ τὸν ἥλιον σῶμα ὄντα, ὁρατός τε γάρ ἐστι, καὶ λύσιν ἐπιδέχεται, διὰ σωμάτων παριόντα νεκρῶν, καὶ ἰλύος δυσώδους, καὶ πολλῶν ἑτέρων δυσοσμίαν ἀφιέντων, οὐδὲν ἰσχύει μιᾶναι, πολλῷ μᾶλλον τοῦ ἡλίου τὸν ποιητὴν καὶ τὸν τῶν ἁπάντων δημιουγὸν, τὸν ἀσώματον, τὸν ἀόρατον, τὸν ἀναλλοίωτον, τὸν ἀεὶ ὡσαύτως ἔχοντα, οὐδὲν τῶν τοιούτων μολῦναι δύναται, For nothing is able to stain a thing pure in nature: For, if nothing prevails to stain the sun, which is a body, for it is visible, and admits of dissolution, and passes over dead bodies, stinking slime, and many other things discharging an ill smell, then certainly no one is able to stain the maker of the sun and the demiurge of all things, who is incorporeal, invisible, immutable, remaining ever the same. If you desire another similar thing, not even a created Spirit is stained with the filth of a leprous body; how much less will the uncleanness of earthly bodies infect the supereminent Essence with any stain? It is certainly inept, to hold it necessary that the Deity consult a great distance of places, lest there be a threat to His purity from things that He most freely created and preserves.


β. Concerning Things at the same time Equal and Unequal with God, and God at the same time infinitely more and less than the same thing, as Crellius pretends in de Deo et Attributis ejus, chapter XXVII, opera, tome 4, page 43.


I Respond: These consequences are not able to be dreamed from the Essential Presence of God, because that Presence is spiritual, and all Extension is removed from God: while those things, which Crellius considers, have regard to quantity and a corporeal thing. Whence neither with respect to Angels nor to souls, which are also spiritual substances, when these are posited as present to corporeal things, is anything equal or unqual given to that corporeal quantity.



γ. Concerning the Manichean Mixing of God with Things, and the Atheism flowing from this, just as the Remonstrants’ Apologia has it, chapter II, page 43, “From these things one certainly slips into Atheism with ease. For, according to that thesis, this axiom follows: Whatever is is God and divine essence: if anything else that is not God is posited, the atomic presence of God is disturbed.”


Response: a. It was seen in § 24, 25, that God’s Most Simple Essence admits of no Composition, much less Composition with any Creature; while it, undivided in itself, remains divided from all other things. b. It is one thing to be present to some thing, but it is another to be that very thing. God should no longer be said to be Present to things, if the things be changed from this, or God be made the very thing that the things are. c. The human Soul, which is present in the body of man, as a part of the composite, yet remains in its Essence and nature truly distinct from the body: how much more does God, who, not as part of a composite, but only as the preserving cause after the likeness of a pilot on a ship, is present to created things, remain free from all Mixture with the same? d. We no more acknowledge these consequences than our Adversaries admit that from their own opinion concerning God being Present with respect to Essence in Heaven, but with respect to Power also on the Earth, it follows that God is Heaven and whatever is there, or that the Power of God becomes everything in which that, being Present, operates on earth. And, e. while it is quite true that Impiety follows from the denial of the presence of the divine Essence, comparing Ezekiel 8:12; 9:9; on the other hand, the Omnipresent Essence of God believed makes for the implanting in us of a holy fear of the Deity.


Disputing against the Socinians and Remonstrants for the Essential Immensity and Omnipresence of God, besides HOORNBEECK, Socinianismo confutato, book II, chapter II, tome I, pages 285-319, read VOGELSANG, Exercitationibus theologicis XII, § 31-38, pages 308-318, 348; and TRIGLAND, Antapologia, chapter IV, pages 64b-66a, chapter XLIX, pages 635b-637a.

[1] Aratus (c. 315-240 BC) was a Greek didactic poet. His Phænomena is cited by Paul at the Areopagus, Acts 17:28.


[2] See John 14:16; 1 John 2:1.


[3] See Hebrews 7:25.


[4] See John 14:1-4.


[5] See 1 Kings 8:29, 38, 44, 48; Daniel 6:10; Jonah 2:4.


[6] According to Jewish tradition, Onkelos, a first century Roman nobleman, was a convert to Judaism. His translation of the Hebrew Pentateuch into Aramaic is, on the whole, quite literal; however, Onkelos does depart from the literal sense of the text in poetry and in places of theological difficulty.

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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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