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De Moor VIII:10: The Formal Cause of Creation, Part 1

Moreover, the Creation considered Actively indicates; α. Not natural Generation, whereby through communication of Essence is produced something homogeneous, and participating in the same Essence with the one generating; which sort of natural Generation in divine things is proper to the Only Begotten Son, according to those things that were related in Chapter V, § 8, 9: while with respect to Creatures Metaphysicians also distinguish Procreating Causes into Creators and Generators; and, while a Creator produces something either out of complete nothingness or out of unsuitable matter, to this they oppose a Generating Cause, which produces something out of a suitable subject, which by its own nature and according to the laws of its nature is apt to receive such a form; and to this they reduce every sort of natural mutation. Thus through the mode of Generation wine is made from grapes; a statue is formed from wood; a seal is formed from wax by the impression of a signet; ideas of diverse sorts are formed by a mind furnished with intellect. And so Creation is distinct and diverse from Generation, although metaphorically created things are called begotten, Genesis 2:4;[1] Psalm 90:2,[2] and we the offspring of God, Acts 17:28; 1. on account of the bringing forth of things, which in genus Creation has in common with Generation, and, 2. the power of God expressed in creatures, indeed, even the image of God communicated to rational creatures, just as in Generation, properly so called, the begotten bears the image of the one begetting.

β. Not some Transfusion of divine Perfections; concerning which delirium of various Philosophers, Manicheans, and Fanatics, as altogether repugnant to the divine Simplicity we have already spoken on Chapter IV, § 25, since unto a sense injurious to God they draw the expression of Paul, wherein he says that all things are of God, Romans 11:36,[3] as if the ἐξ/of/from there were indicating the material Cause, while the Apostle rather sets forth in a few words in that place God as the procreating, preserving, and final Cause of all things, of whom, through whom, and to whom are all things; just as ἐξ often elsewhere also indicates the Efficient Cause, Acts 5:39;[4] 2 Corinthians 3:5:[5] PASOR,[6] in his Grammatica Græca sacra Novi Testamenti, book II, chapter XVIII, pages 450, 451, will supply many other examples.

γ. Not laborious and wearying Labor: For this, 1. is repugnant to the independent efficacy of infinite activity, which nothing is apt to resist, and the eminence of which is especially commended by the ready existence of the created thing at the mere nod of the Creator. 2. The absolute opposition of Nothing and Being is added; as it does not allow the mixture of extremes, so it rejects a successive transition from nothing to something, and with that an act of creation languid and protracting delay. Hence a Labor of this sort, laborious and wearying, Scripture also removes far from God, Isaiah 40:28.

Theodore Beza

δ. But a superlatively powerful Command of Will, reaching to the actual existence of things. In which manner it is distinguished from the Decree of God, which is an Immanent Act of God, positing the certain futurition of the creation of a thing; while Creation is a Transient Act of God, through itself constituting something outside of God, and causing the actual existence of the thing created. If we should wish to represent this Act, just as it is with respect to the thing, to the mind, the eternal Sufficiency of God comes to be contemplated, to the extent that by its power a thing other than God begins to coexist with God in time, and that with omnimodal dependence upon Him, as upon its principium. Our AUTHOR, with the Creation considered actively, rightly calls it a superlatively powerful Command of Will, reaching to the existence of things. In which he follows the lead of Scripture, which here calls it, α. the Will of God, which then comes to be explained of God’s resolution committed to execution through His Omnipotence: to this is referred Revelation 4:11, where it is διὰ with the accusative, διὰ τὸ θέλημά σου εἰσὶ, καὶ ἐκτίσθησαν, through thy Will they are, and were created, as the DUTCH INTERPRETERS have it, and BEZA, comparing that of ARISTOTLE, Nicomachean Ethics, book I, chapter X, διὰ τύχην εὐδαιμονεῖν, to be happy through fortune or by chance. PASOR, in his Grammatica Græca sacra Novi Testamenti, book II, chapter XVIII, page 488, draws into the comparison Ephesians 4:18, in which διὰ with the accusative occurs twice in the same verse, but which in the former place he translates because of, and in the latter through, ὄντες ἀπηλλοτριωμένοι τῆς ζωῆς τοῦ Θεοῦ διὰ τὴν ἄγνοιαν τὴν οὖσαν ἐν αὐτοῖς, διὰ τὴν πώρωσιν τῆς καρδίας αὐτῶν, being alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, through the blindness of their heart. In a similar manner he draws in Revelation 12:11, in which likewise διὰ with the accusative occurs twice, which in both places he translates through, and considers it as the efficient cause, and instrumental: they overcame him διὰ τὸ αἷμα τοῦ ἀρνίου, καὶ διὰ τὸν λόγον τῆς μαρτυρίας αὐτῶν, through the blood of the Lamb, and through the word of their testimony. Add also John 6:57, κἀγὼ ζῶ διὰ τὸν Πατέρα, and I live by the Father. JOHANN GEORG ALTMANN,[7] in his Meletematis philologico-criticis in Novum Testamentum, tome 3, the prior Exercise on 1 Corinthians 11:10, § 2, pages 99, 100, has more things concerning this use of the preposition διὰ with the accusative as through; indeed, with consummate fullness GERHARD DE HAAS illustrates this use of the preposition διὰ with the accusative as through from sacred and profane authors, in his Dissertation on the same passage in 1 Corinthians 11:10, pages 24-26. Just as if also in this passage in Revelation 4:11, διὰ τὸ θέλημά σου should be rendered by thy Will, the manner of Creation through the mere decree and command of God shall be declared, as perfectly sufficient without any other instrument. At the same time, if, which is also best able to be done according to the genuine analogy of the tongue and of faith, you should render this expression in Latin, propter Voluntatem tuam, because of thy Will, and should explain the same as because thus it seemed good to thee; then the rationale of the Creation is more immediately indicated, namely, the altogether free good pleasure of God, than its manner.

Johannes a Marck

β. Sacred Scripture expresses the same thing by the appellation of Word, Command, Calling: to this has regard that וַיֹּ֥אמֶר אֱלֹהִ֖ים, and God said, which Moses delivers in Genesis 1:3, and which he repeats with the individual works of the six days of Creation, verses 6, 9, 11, 14, 20, 24, 26. Some do indeed explain this of the substantial and ὑποστατικῷ/ hypostatic Word, the Son of God; who, 1. for the interpretation of this passage allege things said, both in the Old Testament, Psalm 33:6; Proverbs 8:22; and in the New Testament, John 1:1-3; Colossians 1:15, 16. 2. They add an argument from the absurdity, that, unless in that וַיֹּאמֶר, and He said, there be a consideration of the Son of God, Λόγῳ ὑποστατικῷ, the hypostatic Word, in the history of the Creation there would indeed be distinct mention of the Father and the Holy Spirit, Genesis 1:1, 2, but not of the Son: the consequent appears absurd, since the Son is no less the Creator than the other divine Persons; therefore also the antecedent. Yet others, with whom our AUTHOR, and we with him, agree, explain that וַיֹּאמֶר, and He said, of the omnipotent Command of the divine Will, fulfilled immediately in the event, by a metaphorical synecdoche of the genus in the place of the species; since, a. the Genus to say is taken in the place of to command, to order, which is a species of speaking; b. it is also a metaphor taken from the commands of great Kings, which are immediately fulfilled. Who then, a. for the interpretation of this saying allege other passages, some of which our AUTHOR also immediately alleges, Psalm 33:9; 104:7; 2 Corinthians 4:6; Hebrews 11:3; 1:3. They add, b. that what is contained in the name אֱלֹהִים/Elohim/God is not to be referred to the word וַיֹּאמֶר, and He said; for they are distinguished as subject and predicate, as agent and action: but the Son, no less than the Father or the Holy Spirit, is contained in the name אֱלֹהִים/Elohim: which they prove out of verse 1 and several following, and from other passages of Scripture, in which this Work is ascribed to the Son as God; although the same name, אֱלֹהִים/ Elohim, is also taken synecdochically in Genesis 1:2, 26. They observe, c. that at least in Genesis 1:26 that וַיֹּאמֶר, and He said, is not able to be taken of the Son, since the Father there, as if super-abounding in counsel, addresses the Son and the Holy Spirit: hence they conclude that the same does not obtain in the remaining verses.

It is believed that certainly the וַיֹּאמֶר, and He said, employed so many times by Moses in Genesis 1, is not incorrectly explained in Psalm 33:9, so that we might be taught the manner of divine Operation, not only in Providence, but especially in Creation, of which mention was made in what precedes. Similarly in Romans 4:17, where the Resurrection of the Dead and the Calling of things that are not as though they were by Creation are joined, as two especially eminent examples of divine Power, suitable to establish faith in the greatest divine promises, and at first glance faith in all the others. Especially also the text of Hebrews 11:3 makes for the explaining of that manner of divine Creation through the word of God alone. Reason teaches clearly enough, that this World was not from eternity, but must take the beginning of its existence at some point: but, in what manner this whole World might pass from Nothing to Being, Reason hardly know how to establish demonstratively: but at this point the Faith to be had in the divine narration of Moses and the other Sacred Scriptures rushes to our aid, and thus πίστει νοοῦμεν, κατηρτίσθαι τοὺς αἰῶνας ῥήματι Θεοῦ, through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God: where indeed by sound analogy of faith by the ῥῆμα Θεοῦ, word of God, could be understood the Son of God, the ὑποστατικὸν/hypostatic Word, quite frequently elsewhere called דבר and Λόγος/Logos/Word, even when the Creation is ascribed to Him: yet with most Interpreters we rather think it to be understood, not even of a voice heard externally, but of the Command of the divine Will, which Paul would show to have sufficed for the immediate production of all things, without a combination of any other events cooperating in any manner, since nothing was yet existing but God; even without laborious effort on the part of God. To this we are urged: 1. By the specific Scope that the Apostle is thought to have proposed to himself in this verse, namely, that he might set forth the Manner of the divine Creation. 2. By the word ῥῆμα/word employed, and indeed simply, without the article, which elsewhere is not wont to be used of the substantial Word; but He is everywhere called ὁ Λόγος, the Word. 3. By the use of this same word, ῥῆμα/word, in this same Epistle, where the Manner of Providence is explained, namely, in Hebrews 1:3, where it is not able to be understood of the substantial Word, since there it is predicated of God the Son Himself, inasmuch as He is φέρων τε τὰ πάντα τῷ ῥήματι τῆς δυνάμεως αὐτοῦ, upholding all things by the word of His power. So also thus the Triune God in the beginning also created the World τῷ ῥήματι τῆς δυνάμεως αὐτοῦ, by the word of His power: see our AUTHOR’S Exercitationes Textuales XLVIII, Part VI, Exercitation, § 7.

If there are other such expressions, those are to be understood as Antropopathic θεοπρεπῶς, in a manner suitable for God; namely, with us God is set forth after the likeness of a careful Artisan, who was forming Adam from the dust, Genesis 2:7; was constructing Eve from the rib of Adam, verse 22; who laid the foundation of the Earth, gave bounds to it, stretch the line upon it, laid the corner stone thereof, etc., Job 38:4-6, and similar things: these things make for the representation to us of the consummate elegance of the work of Creation, and the divine Wisdom manifested in it, so that we might well recall these things to mind.

[1] Genesis 2:4: “These are the generations (תוֹלְדוֹת) of the heavens and of the earth when they were created, in the day that the Lord God made the earth and the heavens…” [2] Psalm 90:2: “Before the mountains were brought forth (יֻלָּדוּ, were begotten), or ever thou hadst formed (וַתְּחוֹלֵל, and thou hadst brought forth) the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, thou art God.” [3] Romans 11:36: “For of him (ἐξ αὐτοῦ), and through him, and to him, are all things: to whom be glory for ever. Amen.” [4] Acts 5:39: “But if it be of God (ἐκ Θεοῦ), ye cannot overthrow it; lest haply ye be found even to fight against God.” [5] 2 Corinthians 3:5: “Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think any thing as of ourselves (ἐξ ἑαυτῶν); but our sufficiency is of God (ἐκ τοῦ Θεοῦ)…” [6] Georgius Pasor (1570-1637) was a Reformed theologian and learned philologist; he served as Professor of Theology at Herborn (1607-1626) and Professor of Greek at Franeker (1626-1637). [7] Johann Georg Altmann (1697-1758), a Swiss theologian, philologist, and historian, served as Professor of Philosophy at Bern (1734-1757).

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