De Moor V:8: The Communication of the Divine Essence by Generation



Therefore, from this interpretation of the divine Generation of the Son, given by the Lord Himself, the same is best described by our AUTHOR as the Eternal and Incomprehensible of the Numerically Same Divine Essence, from the Father to the Son.How familiar among the Orthodox in this matter is the expression of the Communication of the Divine Essence, sought both from the proper concept of Generation, and from this passage of John, the Reverend WILHELMIUS[1] teaches, with a great heap of examples brought, præfatione ante Pauli Hulsii[2] Miscellanea (Mengelstoffen), *͙ *͙ * 1, *͙ *͙ *͙ *͙ *͙ 3, 4, appealing to POLANUS, TRIGLAND, CLOPPENBURG,[3] GOMARUS, the PROFESSORS of LEIDEN in Judicio Ecclesiastico laudato, D’OUTREIN,[4] GERHARD,[5] and GEIER.[6]With these two Theologians of the Augustan Confession join a third, BUDDEUS, Theologiæ Dogmaticæ, tome I, book II, chapter I, § 49, page 369, § 52, pages 393-395.Rightly also did ARMINIUS deny, that Christ does indeed have a common essence with the Father, but not communicated by the Father:contrariwise he asserted, He is the Son, who has the divine essence communicated to Him by the Father:which is the same thing as He is the Son, who is begotten of the Father.For to beget is to communicate essence.All antiquity defended and preserved the Unity of Essence in three distinct Persons by this explanation alone, that the Son has the numerically same Essence communicated to Him by the Father, but the Holy Spirit from the Father and the Son.Very well said:see ARMINIUS’ Responsiones ad XXXI Articulos, pages 138, 139; Declarationem sententiæ suæ ad Ordines Hollandiæ et West-Frisiæ, pages 61 and following.GOMARUS, in his Diatribe de ChristoΑὐτοθεῷ, inserted in part I Disputationum Theologicarum Voetii, page 447, wrote, The Son has His Essence through Communication from the Father by eternal Generation….In this manner Damascenus, Concerning the Orthodox Faith, book I, chapter VIII, speaks, when he without distinction calls Godαὐτοουσίαν, self-existent, ὡςμὴπαρ᾽ἑτέρουτὸεἶναιἔχουσαν, as what does not have being from another, that is, effectively, but not communicatively.And, on page 448, on the words of Bellarmine in book II de Christo, chapter XIX, The objection is admirably refuted, with which he thus argues:If Calvin asserts that the Father communicated essence to the Son, how is he able in truth to say that the Son has Essence of Himself.Likewise, if he says that the Son was produced by the Father, how is he able to deny that the essence and life in the Son is from the Father.For with the utmost ease it is able to be responded to Bellarmine, that essence is indeed communicated to the Son by the Father, but not effected and produced by the Father, as the Jesuit says in what precedes.VOETIUS, in his Notis on that Gomari Diatriben, page, 461, similarly writes:Essence is able to be said to be communicated, to be given, by the Father, and to be received and had by the Son by reason of that communication and giving.In short, the person of the Father begets the person of the Son by communication of the same essence.Again, on page 464, VII, It is one thing to deny that the essence of the Son is begotten, and it is another thingto deny that the Son is begotten through the communication of essence.That well-known saying of Athanasius:Whatever the Son has, He has by generation, but it is not generated.VIII, It is one thing to deny that the essence of the Son was originated and produced by the essence of the Father (that is, essentiatam, given being, according to Valentinus Gentilis):and it is another thing to deny that it is from the person of the Father by communication of the same essence.And also on page 465.In the same place, Trelcatius, with Keckermann[7] in his Systemate theologiæ, appears to deny the communication of essence:whom Maccovius follows in his Metaphysica, chapter VIII, where against Arminius he determines that essence is not communicated from the Father, but personality.But it must be expressedἀκριβῶς/accurately here:that is, the person is begotten by communication of essence:and those authors ought to be excused, because we think that they took the language of communication too physically, and had regard to Valentinus Gentilis.Add ZACHARIAS URSINUS in Explicationum Catecheticarum, Question XXXIII, page 246; DAVID PAREUS in his Adversario ad John 5:26; JOHANN PISCATOR in his Analysi on John 5:26; ANTONIUS WALÆUS in his Synopsi purioris Theologiæ, Disputation VIII, § 7; FREDERIC SPANHEIM the Elder[8] in his Disputationibus theologicis, part I, disputatione de Trinitate, § 12, page 48; JOHANNES HOORNBEECK in his Socinianismo confutato, tome 2, book I, chapter I, section I, page 45; HEINRICH ALTING in his Locis Communibus, part I, locus III, Scriptorum Heidelbergensium, tome I, pages 38, 39, etc.; REINERUS VOGELSANG[9]in his Exercitationibus theologicis XIII, § 13-16, pages 361, 362, 364, in which the use of that expression, Communication of the divine Essence made to the Son, in eternal Generation repeatedly recurs:and in addition to the words of CLOPPENBURG related by Wilhelmius, see this expression of the Communication of the divine Essence made by the Father to the Son, used concerning the divine Generation of the latter on repeated occasions in the same CLOPPENBURG’S Exercitationibus theologicis, locus III, disputation I, section 2, § 11, disputation II, section 1, § 1, 2, 7, 8, section 2, § 1, 4, 6, 7, opera, tome I, pages 761-764.The Theologians of Leiden, SPANHEIM, TRIGLAND, and MARCKIUS, in their Judicio Ordinibus Hollandiæ dato de Röellii Dissertatione de Generatione Filii, etc., in the year 1692, also everywhere commend and urge the use of the expression, the Communication of the divine Essence, in this matter, saying:“Unto the present time, the reformed Confession has included, that the internal and eternal distinction of the three Persons in the One divine Essence especially consists in this, that God the Father from all eternity communicates that one and the same divine Essence, which He possesses of Himself, with the Son, and together these communicate it with the Holy Spirit; which everywhere occurs under expressions of this sort in the writings of God and of Theologians.”They then note Röellius, as one who incorrectly asserts, Dissertation I, § XXVIII, page 28, that “the eternal Communication of the divine Essence is not able to be reconciled with the true Deity of the Son.”They go on to add:“That to the Son and the Holy Spirit, as they are true God, this Deity is communicated by the Father, as far as we know, from the times of the Apostles to the present, not one of the Christians denied, who were professing themselves to believe with us that the Trinity was to be adored; doubtlessly because they were finding in Sacred Scripture certainty of this matter in so many, whether plain or figurative, modes of expression;” to which purpose they then cite John 5:26; 1:14; 6:57 (in which last passage the Son confesses that the Father is no less the author of His divine Life, than He Himself is willing to be the author and cause of our spiritual life); Colossians 1:15; Hebrews 1:3.Moreover:“Röellius, in confessing that the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are one God, teaches a particular, but not all that the Formulas of our Union relate and set forth to be believed concerning this mystery according to the Word of God: Communication of the divine Essence made by the Father to the Son, and in this sense Generation, he not only passes over in silence, but rejects, against the Heidelburg Catechism XXXIII,[10] with the exegesis of Ursinus himself brought in for comparison, according to whom, “Those born of parents are properly called natural sons, to whom the essence of their parents is communicated….Therefore, as we are natural sons of our parents, so Christ according to His divine nature is the natural and sole Son of God of the same essence and nature with the Father, of whose substance in an ineffable manner He was begotten from eternity, John 5:26.Therefore, the Father communicated life to Him, whereby He also lives of Himself, and vivifies all creatures, which life is the one and eternal deity itself.”And how much more truly and properly this agrees with Christ, than with us men, he vigorously expresses in this manner in the same place:“The essence and nature of our parents, of whom we are born, is communicated to us in part.The whole divine essence is communicated to Christ by the Father according to His divinity.”Compare also JAN VAN DEN HONERT’S[11]Præfationem ante Ursinum in Catechesin, part II, in Conclusione, chapter I, pages 110-113; STAPFER’S Theologicæ polemicæ, tome I, chapter III, section XVI, § 1125-1128, when then in § 1129-1131 shows that this Generation by Communication of Essence is both absolutely necessary, and at the same time voluntary, but with an absolutely necessary will to generate, and no less eternal:concerning which latter thesis of Stapfer consult SPANHEIM, DecadumTheologicarum V, § 2, opera, tome 3, columns 1220, 1221.The Synod of South Holland, in the year 1758, in Article III, upon the occasion of the accusation of D. Sibelius, Pastor in the district of Alphen, on account of the ill-timed crisis raised concerning the language of Communication of the divine Essence numerically the same to the Son by Generation from the Father, stated:“D. Sibelius, whom the Brethren were happily acknowledging to be orthodox according to the more distinct declaration of his position more lately made, nevertheless quite imprudently conducted himself, as much in speaking as in writing, by expressions of this sort used concerning the expression Communication of the divine Essence, of which orthodox Theologians in our Church are wont to make use in explaining this momentous doctrine, as if this, understood literally, would open the doors to the Arians; in which manner he offended many, and brought upon himself a just suspicion of heterodoxy:hence the same D. Sibelius is to be admonished earnestly and in a brotherly manner by the Deputies of the Synod in that place, so that he might be more careful in the matter in times to come, and adhere as much to the Church’s manner of speaking as to her doctrine.”

[1] Johannes Wilhelmius (1671-1754) was pastor at Rotterdam. Wilhelmius teaching and support was critical for the preservation of the German and Dutch Reformed churches of Pennsylvania. [2] Paulus Hulsius (1653-1712) was a Dutch pastor and theologian. He served as Professor of Theology at Groningen (1708-1712). [3] Johann Cloppenburg (1592-1652) was a Dutch Reformed theologian and controversialist. He studied at the University of Leiden, and held various ministerial posts until his appointment as professor at the University of Harderwijk (1641), and then at Franeker (1643). He was a lifelong friend of Voetius, and colleague of Cocceius at Franeker. [4] Johannes d’Outrein (1662-1722) was Professor of Theology at Dordrecht and Amsterdam. [5] John Gerhard (1582-1637) was an eminent Lutheran divine. He held the position of Professor of Divinity at Jena (1616), and he was four times the Rector of the same. He wrote copiously in exegetical, polemical, and dogmatic theology. His Loci communes theologici (1610-1622) was the largest Lutheran dogmatic text that had been produced to date. [6] Martin Geier (1614-1680) was a German Lutheran pastor and scholar. He served as Professor of Hebrew (1539-1643) and of Theology (1658-1665) at Leipzig. [7] Bartholomäus Keckermann (c. 1572-1608) was a German Reformed Theologian and educator. He served as Professor of Hebrew at Heidelberg (1600-1602), and as Rector of the Gymnasium of Danzig (1602-1608). [8] [8] Friedrich Spanheim the Elder (1600-1649) studied at Heidelberg and Geneva. He served the academy at Geneva, first as Professor of Philosophy, then as a member of the theological faculty, and finally as rector. In 1642, he was appointed as Professor of Theology at Leiden, and became a prominent defender of Calvinistic orthodoxy against Amyraldianism. [9] Reinerus Vogelsang (1610-1679) was a Reformed divine, and Professor of Theology at Deventer (1676-1679). [10] Heidelburg Catechism 33: “Why is Christ called the only begotten Son of God, since we are also the children of God? Because Christ alone is the eternal and natural Son of God; but we are children adopted of God, by grace, for His sake.” [11] Jan van den Honert (1693-1758) was a Dutch Reformed theologian. He served as Professor of Theology at Utrecht (1727-1734), and later at Leiden (1734-1758).

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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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