De Moor V:8: The Eternal Generation of the Son (Proverbs 8)



But this Generation is, 1.Eternal and perpetual, without beginning, end, or succession, which our AUTHOR rightly observes to be set forth in the present on account of the thing itself, in the past on account of our mode of understanding.Of course, the internal Works of the Persons ad intra, which sort are to beget, to be begotten, are eternal, perpetual, always continuing, as the very Deity is always like unto itself, whence it is able rightly to be said in the present, that the Father begets the Son.Yet it is not able to be gathered from this, that the Generation is imperfect:because the act of Generation, which is eternally perfect, is continued without any mutation or succession of time, James 1:17.Ye the Scripture is wont to make more use of verbs in the past tense, so that it might so much the more adapt itself to our manner of understanding:while what is in the doing or present is imperfect to us; what is done, perfect:compare MARESIUS’ Defensionem Fidei Catholicæ, oppositam Quaternioni Stephani Curcellæi, Disseration I, Section X, numbers 170-184, pages 194-197.The Eternity of it is taught in the passages cited, Psalm 2:7; Micah 5:2, and also in Proverbs 8:22, 24, 25, in which place it is certain that the Wisdom of God as an Essential attribute is not treated; which was not able aptly to be said to be brought forth; and the Eternity of which was not considered to be necessary to be proven so painstakingly, seeing that it does not differn from the eternal God Himself; neither was the attribute of strength or power, verse 14, able to be ascribed to another attribute, Wisdom.But the Personal Wisdom of God, the Son of God, speaks, who also elsewhere discourses concerning Himself under this title, Luke 7:35; 11:49:and the whole context declares that this Wisdom is not to be held to be the essential attribute, but as a divine Person; as declare, 1.the Actions of crying out, teaching, building a house, slaughtering sheep, etc.:2.the personal Attributes of understanding, verse 14, will, verse 17, and power to do, verse 14:3.the Propriety of the nativity, even from eternity, and inculcated in so many words.But, just as God is eternal, so among the divine Persons eternal Nativity is applicable to the Son of God alone, who hence most certainly speaks here.Now, He does not discourse here of interchanging a certain improper and economic Generation and Nativity with Mediatorial Anointing.But, so that He might prove that to Himself as the eternal Son of God, and as the Anointed of God, is applicable the right and power, not only of setting forth the preceding monitory and mandatory invitation, but also of urging the same through added promises, exceedingly great and most certainly to be fulfilled:He sets forth His divine Filiation, verse 22.He adds His mediatorial Anointing in verse 23.Then He declares each proposition distinctly and at length.In verses 24-26, He explains what those works of God are, before which Jehovah possessed Him, as He had mentioned in verse 22, so that in this way He clearly teaches us the eternity of His divine Filiation.Then, so that He might confirm that unto the meditorial Office He was Anointed, that is, determined, but perhaps also openly proclaimed as such,מֵ֭עוֹלָם נִסַּ֥כְתִּי מֵרֹ֗אשׁ מִקַּדְמֵי־אָֽרֶץ׃, I was set up from everlasting, from the beginning, or ever the earth was; He declares in verses 27-29, that He by force of His divine Nativity already existed in the beginning of the Creation of the heavens and the earth; and that thence from that first antiquity He was acknowledged as the Anointed of God, in whom the Father was already at that time delighting, verse 30, and that He carried Himself as such, since He was already at that time taking the greatest delight in the salvation of men, verse 31.קָנָה in verse 22, which in general signifies to possess, connotes the diverse modes of possession according to the various manners of acquiring a thing, by purchase, labor, production, creation, generation, Genesis 14:19;[1] Psalm 139:13;[2] Genesis 4:1:[3]that here the term ought to be explained of Generation, the added declaration in verses 24-26 shows, where at the same time are set forth those Works, before which God possessed this Wisdom:which works of the primeval Creation also deserve to be called God’s Way, or means, of which God according to the intention of His own determining Will made use in order to obtain His end, Job 40:19, while the Scripture speaks in the same manner concerning the works of Grace, Psalm 67:2; etc.This Way does not appear to be able to be so commodiously explained of the Decree of God itself, both because the rationale of the metaphor is not aptly suited, which rather supposes a method; and because the Way and Works of God here are able to be considered as interchangeable, and the way of God and His works is set forth as things that have a beginning and before which there was something and something done, which does not square with the internal Works of God, of which sort are His Decrees, except according to our manner of conception.Therefore, one may distinguish the Ways and Works of God from His Thoughts/Intentions, in a manner similar to that in Isaiah 55:8, 9.And, just as the Lord is able verily to be said to have possessed the highest Wisdom by Generation before the Beginning of His Way, and also before His Works; so also, to avoid the framing of an ellipsis, we are able to consider this Wisdom as the active and governing Beginning of the Way of God, through which all things were created, and through which they all consist, whence He enjoys the fullest possible right of governing the same at pleaure, John 1:3; Colossians 1:16, 17; Hebrews 1:3.Thus the Septuagint translators also render it, Κύριοςἔκτισέ, the Lord created (incorrectly for ἐκτήσατο/possessed, or synecdochically He created in the place of He produced, which is declared to have been done in verses 24 and 25 by Generation), μεἀρχὴνὁδῶναὐτοῦεἰςἔργααὐτοῦ, me as the beginning of His ways for His works:which TERTULLIAN follows in adversus Praxeam, chapter 7, “So also the Son in His own person professes the Father in the name of Wisdom, The Lord founded me as the beginning of the ways in His works.But before all the hills He generated me.For, if here Wisdom does indeed appear to say that He was founded by the Lord for His works and ways, elsewhere it is shown that all things were made by the Word, and without Him nothing was made:just as also again, by His Word the heavens were established, and by His Spirit all their strength,[4] indeed, by that Spirit which was in the Word:it appears that one and the same power is both in the name of Wisdom, and in the appellation of Word; which undertook the beginning of the ways for the works of God; and which established the heavens; through whom all things were made, and without which nothing was made.”Hence in the same sense He is called ἡἀρχὴτῆςκτίσεωςτοῦΘεοῦ, the beginning of the creation of God, Revelation 3:14.Compare WESSELIUS’ Nestorianismum et Adoptianismum redivivum confutatum, chapters XVIII, XIX, § 94, pages 216-237, where he vindicates this passage, Proverbs 8:22, 24, 25, for the Unique Generation of the Son of God, natural and absolutely eternal, against Cremer, who ineptly refers verse 22 to Natural Generation, but verses 24 and 25 to some Free and Economic Generation, which he invents with reckless daring; and at the same time he refutes the error of the same, whereby in verse 22 he asserts that a Beginning of Existence and thus a restricted Eternity only is assigned to the Divine Decree:add chapter XX, § 247, page 450-453.Thus the Theological Faculty of Leiden in their Judicio in the year 1692, being about to confute the assertion of Röellius,[5] that the Eternal Generation of the Son is nowhere delivered in the Sacred Books, adduced Psalm 2:7; Proverbs 8:22, 24, 5; Micah 5:2; John 1:14, adding, “which and similar texts have long been alleged in this sense by Theologians and the excellent Authors of our Catechism and Confession to prove this doctrine, which sense no heretic ever able to weaken; which it is not fitting for a Reformed Doctor to attempt, least of all by those flights and distortions that have been taken up by the open enemies of the Trinity, against whom this Writer takes up the sword.”See also ARNOLDI’S refutationem Catecheseos Racovianæ, on chapter I de Cognitione Personæ Christi, questions 16, 21, § CXV-CXXVII, pages 212-216, where he dexterously frees the text of Proverbs 8:22, 24, 25, from the παρερμηνείᾳ/misinterpretation of the Catechist advanced in question 21, pages 59, 60.

[1] Genesis 14:19: “And he blessed him, and said, Blessed be Abram of the most high God, possessor (קֹנֵה) of heaven and earth…” [2] Psalm 139:13: “For thou hast possessed (קָנִיתָ) my reins: thou hast covered me in my mother’s womb.” [3] Genesis 4:1: “And Adam knew Eve his wife; and she conceived, and bare Cain (קַיִן), and said, I have gotten (קָנִיתִי) a man from the Lord.” [4] Psalm 33:6. [5] Hermann Alexander Röell (1653-1718) was a Dutch Reformed philosopher (Cartesian) and theologian. He served as Professor of Philosophy and Theology at Franeker (1685-1704), and as Professor of Natural Theology at Utrecht (1704-1718).

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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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