De Moor IV:48: God's Absolute Right and Authority over All His Creatures



That God alone is Independent is proven from what has previously been said. Therefore, to the extent that all other things possess perfection, they have dependence upon God; and so the whole of what they are, they are of God. Now, to each and every thing the right over its own affairs, and the power of disposing of them, belongs, to the extent that it is agreeable. Hence this prerogative is not to be denied to the Consummately Perfect Being. Neither does the dependent nature of Creatures allow anything of them to be taken away from His will, by whose mere munificence they are all that they are. And so in that Independent Nature of God is founded the Right that is not able to be denied to Him over all things depending upon Him, and that goes under the name of Power, Dominion, and Majesty. That is, this Power is God’s Supreme Right of disposing of all things as His own according to the most free good pleasure of His own will. It is called Majesty in an especially emphatic sense, because the Independence of His Dominion is free from all Law prescribed by another, and it flashes with the stupendous effulgence of incomprehensible Glory. This Eminence of God over the Creatures depending upon Him, and His Power and Majesty founded in that, is treated in Jeremiah 10:6, 7; 18:6; Psalm 95:3-6. And, that this Right is altogether Supreme, Universal, and Independent, and not liable to any Laws to be laid down by the creature, is taught in Isaiah 45:9; Daniel 4:34, 35; Matthew 20:15; Romans 9:18, 20, 21.



But in this manner, if we regard the matter rightly, the contention ends, which otherwise obtains among learned Men, into what in the final analysis our obligation to Worship and Obey God is resolved, whether into His Natural and Essential Perfections, or into the benefits of Creation and Preservation: while among the divine Perfections His Independence is easily first; but this (with God’s Will to create something outside of Himself posited) of itself implies the Creation and Preservation of all things by God, and in this very thing the dependence of the same upon the Divine. Moreover, the Most Illustrious VAN DE WYNPERSSE, in his Dissertatione de Libertinismo, § IX, in the Notes, pages 29, 30, not inelegantly discourses concerning this matter: “Concerning the foundation of our obligation also err AMYRAUT and others, since they see that in the Deity’s ὑπεροχῇ/pre-eminence alone, whereby the divine Perfections are infinitely fuller than human perfections: although it is altogether certain that the excess of any perfection alone, considered abstractly and without another relation, is not able to grant to anyone authority over the actions of others, much less dominion over their substance, which is certainly applicable to God. Indeed (with the Most Illustrious VRIESIUS himself saying again and again, otherwise following AMYRAUT at this point), all our dependence moral, or in the category of behavior, owes its origin to our dependence real, or in the category of being. And so our moral obligation is principally founded upon Creation and Preservation, through which everything that we have we consider as received from God: although these things are not able to be accomplished without the manifold excellence of divine Perfection, which we readily concede, and also with regard had to God’s Wisdom governing us with a provident eye, His Mercy loading us with continuous and undeserved blessings, His Righteousness inflicting punishments upon the impenitent, and His other most excellent Virtues, our obligation is increased and more tightly bound.” The same VAN DE WYNPERSSE, Dissertatione de Legum Dei Physica et Morali Harmonia, chapter IV, pages 45-57, establishes this opinion at length. The Most Illustrious JOHANNES LULOFS, Theologia Naturali theoretica, § CXXXIII-CXXXVII, best breaks down the quarrel concerning the Foundation of the Legislative Power of God over rational creatures, who also delineates what the Majesty of God is, § CXLII. But Hobbes contends in the worst manner, that God has the right of reigning in His natural Kingdom, and of punishing those that violate His Laws, of His own irresistible Power: hence in turn the Obligation to furnish Obedience to God in God’s natural Kingdom proceeds from human weakness: disputing against Hobbes, see COCQUIUS in his Anatome Hobbesianismi, locus X, chapter XIX, § 3, 5, pages 275-280, 285-287; add locus XI, chapter XX, pages 352-357, in which he discourses concerning the true principles of Right and natural Laws: compare also Examen van het Ontwerp van Tolerantie, Dialogue 9, in which the foundations of the Legislative Power competent to God are positively indicated, pages 248-253; then it is asserted in the best manner against Hobbes and others that the Power of the Legislator to inflict punishments against the transgressors of Law regarded in itself does not furnish God with the right of authority, nor is it the foundation upon which man’s obligation to furnish obedience to the divine Law rests, pages 254-260: moreover, see BUDDEUS’ Theologiæ moralis, part II, chapter I, § 7, pages 367, 368, chapter II, § 8, pages 403, 404, § 10, pages 405, 406. But you may find this argument concerning the Foundation of the Legislative Authority of God treated with superabounding fullness and painstakingly in Dissertationibus novem of diverse Authors, tome 2, Dissertationum ad Christianam Morum Doctrinam spectantium, pro præmio Legati Stolpiani conscriptarum, on the Question, Quodnam est Fundamentum Potestatis Legislatoriæ, qua Deus, in Revelatione præsertim, exigit, ut homines suas Actiones Morales ad Ipsius præscriptum componant?


But, this Right of God over all things is altogether Independent, we acknowledge a twofold Determination in its exercise, one Natural, the other Free and Voluntary.


It is determined, α. by God’s own Perfections, things repugnant to which He is not able to do or to prescribe; compare § 22 and 45 above. By which nothing is lost from the Independent Perfection of this Authority: on the other hand, as it is the greatest imperfection to be opposed to any Perfection, so ultimately that is to be held as Perfect in every respect that by its own nature is not able to be opposite to any Perfection. Hence neither in Predestination, nor in all Providence, do we find anything that is contrary to any natural Perfection of God: see below, Chapter VII, § 8, 31, 32, Chapter X, § 3, 23. β. By the Immutable Counsel of God’s Will: compare Chapter IV, § 22, Chapter VI, § 10.



Now, this Universal Right of God does not remove the Particular, which arises from His Special Blessing, Covenant, Sin, etc., Exodus 20:2 compared with Leviticus 25:55 and Romans 3:19, which sort Christ also has over the Church; which Special and Economic Dominion of Christ, in which manner it differs from the Natural and Essential Dominion of God, TURRETIN shows in his Theologiæ Elencticæ, locus III, question XXII, § 3. But this sort of diverse Particular Right supposes and demonstrates that Universal Right.


What things were treated in this fourth Chapter, you may find more copiously explained by GIROLAMA ZANCHI, Opera, tome 2, in IV books, de Natura Dei seu de Divinis Attributis.

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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