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De Moor IV:37: Defense of God's Knowledge of Vision, and of Simple Intelligence

Frans Burman

Which last thing some wrongly deny, BURMAN, for example, whom see in his Synopsi Theologiæ, book I, chapter XXI, § 20, tome I, page 118, and likewise in book I, chapter XXV, § 9, tome I, page 145, under the pretext that All Goodness and Truth flow from the Divine Will; on account of the negated distinction between Power and Will in the divine Essence, on the hypothesis of Spirit being mere Cogitation, and hence only operating by Intellect and Will. This opinion of all Goodness and Truth flowing from the Divine Will, as VAN MASTRICHT refutes it, Gangræna Novitatum Cartesianarum, posterior Part, chapter IX, pages 246-252, so our AUTHOR sets himself in opposition to the same: That this Rule, posited in such a general manner, is not able to be admitted; whether

α. We have regard to God’s Nature and Attributes, to which that very act of Willing, as such, has regard; then also His Sufficiency, with all the Possibilities depending upon them: concerning all these things certain no Indifference of the consummately Perfect Being is able to obtain, but only rational Complacency.

β. In the same manner the situation stands with the Goodness of the various Precepts, since the Moral Law in great degree flows from the Holiness of God. For, although it is not able to be demonstrated, that God has prescribed or was able to prescribe through the Moral Law to man, no other duties than those that either His own nature, or the nature of creatures depending upon Him, necessarily requires, so that it is not possible to dispense with them, or to mandate the contrary in anything: nevertheless, much cruder is the assertion, and quite abhorrent to the Most Holy Nature of God, that the whole basis of Natural and Moral Law is referred to the positive Law of God, in such a way that whatever is contained in it depends completely upon the pure determination of the altogether free divine Will. For thus the Deity is introduced as indifferent in and of Himself to that, that He might will either to be worshipped by His creatures, or to be denied; or it might likewise belong to Him either to obligate, if He wills, His subjects to a denial of Him, that is, Atheism, or to the acknowledge of Him as such an one that exists. Certain God by virtue of His Perfection is not able not to prescribe to His rational creature those duties at least that follow from His own nature and their own indivisible connection; of which sort at least is the Precept concerning the acknowledging of God, what sort He is, and the pursuing of the same in perfect love and honor: compare below, Chapter XI, § 28, 29; TURRETIN’S Theologiæ Elencticæ, locus III, question XVIII; JOHANNES LULOFS’ Theologiam naturalem theoreticam, § CXXVI, page 196; WILHELMUS WILHELMIUS’[1] Dissertationem de Origine Mali Moralis, § 33, 35, 36, 46, 47. VAN MASTRICHT presents Christoph Wittich as breaking in on himself on this point, Gangræna Novitatum Cartesianarum, posterior Part, chapter XXXVI, § 11, pages 553, 554.

γ. Add the Essences of Things, to all which productions Metaphysical Truth is attributed, that is, conformity with its Essential and immutable concept found in the divine mind: so that the Ideas of things held in the divine Intellect is the first and supreme rule and norm of all Metaphysical Truth in all things proceeding from God. But these Ideas obtain in the divine Intellect antecedently, not with respect to duration, but with respect to order, according to our manner of conception, for every determining Act of Will, since hitherto all future things are in the class of Possible Things, which God understands to be conceived without contradiction and to be able to be produced by His Power, if only His Will of Complacency be added.

Moreover, consider all Eternal Truths, which are called Immutable, to such a degree that they are not even by divine Power able to be otherwise in any respect, and are de facto. Since, 1. axioms of this sort, It is impossible to be and not to be at the same time, A Non-Entity has no properties, Twice two is four, etc., are the very light of Reason; to which it is of the very Essence of Reason not to furnish anything contrary and thus to abjure rationality itself. Which, since, 2. He performs nothing except rationally, and after the likeness of the Ideas in His own mind, He is not able to bring to pass the contrary of these propositions also, that that contrary might exist: while the opposite of those Ideas is so subversive of itself that it is absolute not able even to be conceived. But in § 22 it was already seen that God’s Power does not extend itself to Contradictories: compare LEYDEKKER’S Facem Veritatis, locus V, controversy V, pages 247-253.

Melchior Leydekker

To which, δ. is added Possibility or Non-Repugnance to existence; which does not posit any eternal reality outside of God, but it is a mere denomination taken from the potency of a casue, by the efficiency of which the thing Possible, hitherto a Non-Entity, is apt to pass from non-being to being. And indeed, that God’s Omnipotence or altogether sufficient Independence, together with the Ideas of things, is the true Root of Possibility; and so a thing is able to be said to be Possible antecedently to every Decree, was already seen at the end of § 21: since the Possibility of things, no more than God’s Power itself, is not able to be suspended upon the free determination of the divine Will: compare LEYDEKKER’S Facem Veritatis, locus V, controversy IV, pages 242-246; VITRINGA the Younger’s Disserationem Inauguralem, chapter IV, § 16, in his Disserationibus Sacris, page 516.

Our AUTHOR acknowledges that it is nevertheless certain that all Goods and Truths outside of God depend upon God Himself, and that nothing is actually done without His Will: compare LEYDEKKER’S Facem Veritatis, locus V, controversy IV, pages 246, 247, who also upholds the distinction of God’s Knowledge into the Knowledge of Simple Intelligence and the Knowledge of Vision, in controversy I, pages 229-233.

[1] Wilhelmus Wilhelmius (1631-1677) was a Dutch philosopher.

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