De Moor V:8: The Communication of the Divine Essence by Generation, Part 2

Neither is it to be set in opposition, that the Giving of Life to be had in Himself is not able to be explained of the divine Generation of the Son, since from the divine Life given it would follow that the Son does not have it in the same mode as the Father; 1. Because the Giving of Life implies the dependence of the one that receives life from the one that gave it. 2. Life was given, either to the Son already existing; but thus it was not necessary for him to receive life: or to the Son not yet existing; but one not existing is not able to receive anything, and so the Son would not have been eternal, nor would He in turn possess life in such a way as the Father. 3. The Father had given, either Life in its entirety to the Son, when He Himself had parted with the same; or a part of the divine Essence only, when neither the Father nor the Son were possessing it entire. But,

Responses: 1. The Son Himself relates that Life was given to Him by the Father, and notwithstanding He affirms that He has Life in Himself, no less than the Father; which in its most sense we saw to be explained of divine Generation.

2. We have already said that from this Hyperphysical Generation to be removed every imperfection that physical generation carries with it: no more then that which is constitutive of Generation, or the Communication of Essence here is to be denied; as the truth of Essence and Subsistence comesto be denied to the divine Persons, because the same in the divine Persons is attended by no imperfections that obtain in human Essence and Subsistence. We say, therefore, that this Communication of the divine Essence is Incomprehensible, and we acknowledge a Mystery in it, surpassing our capacity, Matthew 16:17; Colossians 2:2. Neither is it strange, that, since the divine Essence is Incomprehensible to us, even the Mode of the Subsistence of the divine Persons excels our understanding.

3. Therefore, not from this Life given, α. follows the Dependence of the Son upon the Father. Since, a. the concept of Dependence destroys the concept of true Deity. b. It does not follow from this Life given, since the Father communicated with the Son Life, the same, not in species, but in number, and He also possesses the same, to be had ἐν ἑαυτῷ, in Himself, no less perfectly than the Father has the same, ὥσπερ/as, hence independent and consummately perfect. β. We have proved above that this Generation is absolutely eternal; and so it is not consistent thus to cavil that the Father has given Life to the Son, either already existing and possessing Life, or not yet existing, both of which are then urged with a disagreeable consequence. Indeed, in absolute Eternity there is no moment to conceive, which preceded this Givine of Life, and in which the Son either did or did not possess Life; and so this reasoning supposes something contradictory and absurd. In a similar manner, on the other hand, one could cavil at the received use of this expression among men, in which, nevertheless, no one charges the same with absurdity. Here, it is simply to be believed that the Father from eternity gave Life to the Son, and that the Son had in Himself the same Life from eternity, and not without, but through, this Giving: as a father in human affairs give life, so that his offspring might be, which exists through this Giving of life. γ. Finally, as the Infinity of the divine Essence makes the same communicable to multiple Persons, so the Father gives to the Son the entire, numerically same Essence, in such a way that at the same time He retains the whole Himself, and so no Division or Multiplication obtains any place here: indeed, the Father gives to the Son the entire Essence, not by alienation, but by Communication: compare Judicium Ecclesiasticum laudatum contra Röellius, chapter III, § 9, compared with § 3-5; LEYDEKKER’S Præfationem ante Ludovici de Dieu Aphorismos theologicos, section II, B7-C1, and what things are related there from GREGORY NAZIANZEN’S Orationes XXXV upon this matter as most worthy of reading. Consult ARNOLDI’S refutationem Catecheseos Racovianæ on chapter I de Cognitione Personæ Christi, question 17, page 56, § XCI-XCIII, pages 203, 204.

Hermann Alexander Roellius

And so let the Theologian prudently distinguish τὸ ὅτι, the that,[1] of Generation from τοῦ πῶς, the how.[2]That the Son with respect to the divine Nature is eternally generated and begotten by the Father, and hence is the Proper Son of the Father, Scripture clearly reveals; the Scripture no less clearly explains the formal of this Generation and in which τὸὅτι, the that, of this matter is situated, namely, in the Communication of Essence.But τοῦ πῶς, the how, how this is able to obtain in the divine Essence, with all those imperfections removed that the Generation of finite Essence draws after it; this does indeed surpass finite capacity, but it is able to be that to involve no contradiction.But if we were clearly to perceive with the thing the mode of the thing, there would be nothing μυστηριῶδες/ mysterious here. In this a Mystery lurks, of which we are ignorant, how a Communication of Essence of this sort is able to obtain in God.But it is not seemly that the Theologian therefore deny the matter itself, the proper and Essential concept of Generation, since thus he would appear to indicate that he is unwilling to receive in faith anything that he has not perceived clearly and distinctly in his understanding:but thus the very Trinity of Persons, the Incarnation of the Son of God, even all the Mysteries, are to be denied with the Socinians.And it is not enough to say, I believe the Mystery of the divine Generation of the Son, but I do not know what is really signified by these words, or how that Generation is to be described:for God has not taught us to believe bare Words apart from the things signified:see our AUTHOR’S Exspectationem Gloriæ Futuræ Jesu Christi, book III, chapter VIII, § 4; JOHANNES WILHELMIUS’ Voorreden voor Paulus Hulsius Mengelstoffen, ̽ ͓ ̽ ͓ 4, versa toward the end, ͓͓͓͓͓̽̽̽̽̽ 4, versa and the following page, where you may read among other things:“Those that reject this Communication of Essence, reject and spurn the verity of the Proper Nativity and Filiation of the Lord, since they deny the only rationale and foundation of this Nativity and Filiation.Neither is it enough to believe and confess the words of Holy Scripture, seeing that all the enemies of the truth also confess and retain them:but, if our faith will have been approved, it is necessary to know what these words signify, and to express the same in clear terms.The faith that saves us does not consist in the faith of those words, that Christ is the Proper Son of God, begotten of the Father; but in the faith of the matter expressed by those words.”In addition, a frightful injury is inflicted upon our most illustrious Theologians by LAMPE (although he himself professes to believe One only, Eternal, Natural, pertaining to the very divine Nature of Him, absolutely Necessary Generation of the Son by the Father):when he, following Roëllius, says that this Generation is not able to consist in Communication of Essence, because this is not able to obtain without multiplying the Essence, and thus implies Arianism and Tritheism; and that the distinction between the Father and the Son is not to be sought only in the Mode of Subsistence, unless we wish to be like the Sabellians.Contrariwise, the common opinion of the Orthodox is that this Generation consists in Communication of Essence, but that from this a multiplication of divine Essence is not to be inferred, because the Numerically Same Essence is communicated:and hence they believe that the personal distinction between the Father and the Son is situated, not in the Essence itself, but verily in the Mode of Subsistence.But Arianism does not follow from this, according to which the same Essence, not in species, nor in number, belongs to the Son with the Father; neither does Tritheism follow from this, which posits multiple φύσεις/natures in God:and we recede far from the Sabellians on the other side, who acknowledge only one ὑπόστασιν/hypostasis in God, which goes by the diverse names of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, not from a distinct Mode of Subsistence; but only according to a diverse manner of operating and manifesting Himself:see the little book, the title of which is Redenen waarom op een naamroovend Geschrift van enen onverstandigen Rotterdamsen Yveraar, niet breedvoerig geantwoord word, opgegevan van FREDERIC ADOLPHUS LAMPE, compared with LAMPE’S Præfationem to tome 3 of Commentarii in Johannes; and compare WILHELMIUS’ Præfationem just now cited,͓͓͓͓͓̽̽̽̽̽ 2, 3.

[1] That is, the fact. [2] That is, the explanation.


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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