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De Moor VIII:15: The Aptness of Creation

The production of all things was perfectly Apt, with respect to the Things themselves, concerning which § 15; with respect to the Order, concerning which § 16; and with respect to the End, concerning which § 17.


The Aptness of the Production of all things with respect to the Things themselves is indicated by the Approbation following repeatedly upon the Work of the individual days, whereby it is declared concerning the Things, all and each, produced by God, that they were Good, Metaphysically Good, that is, conformed with the divine Will approving, whereby the First Cause with consummate reason takes pleasure in the things that are called Good, and completely acquiesces in them:  hence the individual things according to their natures also possessed as much of Physical and Ethical Goodness  as it was applicable to the same according to the divine Understanding, so that they might be apt for those uses to which they were destined, be sufficient for the commending of the beauty of the Universe, and be a work worthy of God and truly irreprehensible.



On the Second Day alone is such an Approbation of the Work not found, while, on the other hand, a twofold Approbation occurs on the Third Day.  The reason for this thing is not to be sought, either, 1.  in the Creation of Hell and Demon, or evil Spirits, or in the Fall of good Angels, on the Second Day, according to the tradition of the Jews; while the Jews elsewhere contradict that tradition concerning the creation of Gehenna on the Second Day, making mention of Gehenna among the seven things founded before the creation of the World; and every creature of God, and so also Gehenna, is good in itself and worthy of His Approbation, when it is agreeable to His will and glory.  Now, the Evil Angels were not created, neither did the Fall, on the Second Day; since, with the six days expiring, all things were yet very good.  Or, 2.  in a Malediction on the Binary Number, because in it is the primary root of discord and a secession from unity, as JEROME pronounced this number infamous unto the odium of Marriage, writing, book I adversus Jovinianum, opera, tome 2, page 29, But this also is to be considered, at least according to the Hebrew verity, that, while Scripture on the first, third, fourth, fifth, and six days, with the works completed, said of each:  And God saw that it was good, it altogether omitted it on the second day:  leaving behind for us the understanding, that the binary number is not good, which divides from union and prefigures the covenant of marriage.  Thus he openly contradicts God Himself, Genesis 2:18, and also Solomon, who commended two above one, Ecclesiastes 4:9, 10.  3.  A πρωθύστερον/dischronologization is not even to be imagined here, that those things that are found in Genesis 1:9, 10, happened before that which is related in verse 8 concerning the evening and morning of the Second Day; that the Separation of the lower Waters from the dry ground with the following Blessing pertains to the work of the Second Day, not of the Third; that the וַיֹּאמֶר, and He said, in the beginning of verse 9 is to be translated in the pluperfect, and He had said.  Thus does JOANNES MERCERUS,[1] in his Prælectionibus in Genesin, pages 19, 20, determine the issue, appealing to the agreement of Ibn Ezra, who explains his position in this way: יהי וירא אלהים כי טוב דבק עם בריאת יום שני ותדשא הארץ תחלת יום שלישי, and that, God saw it was good, is connected to the act of creation on the second day; and, let the earth sprout sprouts, on the third day.  A fellow pupil of Mercerus under Francis Vatablus,[2] PETRUS PICHERELLUS,[3] Doctor of the Sorbonne, is of the same opinion, who, both in his Paraphrasi in Cosmopœiam, and in his Annotationibus literalibus on it, interprets and παραφράζει/paraphrases those words of Genesis 1:9, 10, and God said, Let the waters be gathered together, etc., But yet after God had said, let the waters that are under the firmament gather themselves into one place, and let dry land appear, and it had been so, and God had called that dry land earth, and the gatherings of the waters seas (now, God had foreseen that it was going to be good):  thereafter on the third day God said, Let the earth bring forth plants, etc.  Similar things are found in the Notis on Genesis 1, which are circulated under the name of VATABLUS himself.  GERHARD JOHANN VOSSIUS approves these things, commending Picherellus by name, de Idololatria, book II, chapter LXVII, opera, tome 5, page 244, after he had specifically rejected the trifles of the Jews and of Jerome mentioned above.  But other More Recent Men follow these, among whom our AUTHOR commends above others JOHANNES COCCEIUS, Summa Theologiæ, chapter XV, § 57, 58, opera, tome 7, page 191; and GULIELMUS SALDENUS,[4] Otiis Theologicis, book II, Exercitation IV, pages 303-309:  see our AUTHOR, Exercitationibus Textualibus I, Part I.

Johann a Marck

But sufficient for the refutation of this are the εὕρημα/findings of the Most Illustrious AUTHOR:  α.  That such a πρωθύστερον/ dischronologization is imagined without any necessity, since we will soon give a solid reason for not mentioning the Benediction before the end of the Second Day.  β.  That the translation of the וַיֹּאמֶר in the pluperfect, and He had said, or but He had also said, is repugnant to the use of that term, so often repeated in this chapter, verses 3, 6, 11, 14, 20, 24, 26, in which the same formula, וַיֹּאמֶר אֱלֹהִים, is constantly translated, and God said, or was saying.  Similarly with this formula, וַיַּרְא אֱלֹהִים כִּי־טוֹב, in verses 4, 12, 18, 21, 25, is consistently rendered, and God saw that it was good; it is incongruous to place that clause in parentheses in verse 10, and to translate it, Now, God had foreseen that it was good.  γ.  That this opinion is in conflict with verse 8, in which the Second Day is said to have been finished before the matter mentioned in verse 9:  now, if what follows in verses 9, 10, yet pertains to the work of the Second Day, what reason would there have been for Moses to have written verse 8 in just the same way as in the end of each Day of the hexameron:  and there was evening, and there was morning.  δ.  That thus nothing certain would remain in all the remain Mosaic Distinctions of the Days.  For, similarly one could judge the Work of the Sixth Day to be excessive, compared with the Work of the Fifth Day, and so refer the Creation of the Animals, with the special Approbation following, related in verses 24, 25, to the Fifth Day in the pluperfect; so that in this way the Sixth Day might be left for Man alone, the principal of all the visible Works of God:  which is also the opinion of PICHERELLUS, tractatu laudato, Opuscula Picherellis, pages 245, 274-275; as thereafter his opinion is cited also by CALOVIUS on Genesis 1:9, adding in addition to the excellence of Man this reason of Picherellus, that thus one whole and separate day would be given to the Plants, and likewise one to Sensitive creatures, and finally one to Rational creatures living in this lower world.


Now, although we are unwilling summarily to deny all πρωθύστερα/dischronologizations in the Sacred Books, they are not to be forged according to our will without necessity, where all things are plain:  neither does another twofold πρωθύστερον/dischronologization in Genesis 2, namely, in verses 7, 8, compared with verse 9, and in verse 17, compared with verses 18, 19, also gratuitously sought, help MERCERUS to demonstrate a πρωθύστερον/dischronologization in our text of Genesis 1.


Therefore, the true reason for the absence of the special Benediction after the narration of the Work of the Second Day, is the Separation of the Waters from the Earth, begun indeed on the Second Day, but not yet finished, which at length happened on the Third Day, whence the Work Begun was not able to be approved by God as if Perfected.  At least a more solid reason has not hitherto been given, than this one, which was furnished for our Theologians by JARCHI,[5] who responds to this Question: לפי שלא היה נגמר מלאכת המים עד יום שלישי והרי התחיל בה בשני ודבר שלא נגמר אינו במלואו וטובו ובשלישי שנגמר מלאכת המים, etc., that the work of the waters was not finished before the third day, although begun on the second day; but the incomplete work was neither whole nor good:  but on the third day, whereon the work of waters was completed, and another begun and perfected, it is twice repeated, And God saw that it was good.


Nor is the twofold Benediction peculiar to the Third Day alone, since the same also occurs in the narration of the works of the Sixth Day.


Neither ought it to be said, that the Work of the Second Day is now altogether without Benediction, which could appear incongruous.  Since the Benediction prior, found in the history of the works of the Third Day, pertains to the whole Separation of Waters from each other and from the dry land, begun on the Second Day, continued and perfected on the Third Day, and so also to the work of the Second Day:  so that we do not consider it necessary to admit the patch of the Septuagint sewn to the Hebrew text in the midst of verse 8, καὶ εἶδεν ὁ θεὸς ὅτι καλόν, and God saw that it was good, as if these words had been imprudently omitted by the Holy Spirit in the Hebrew Codex.


But the question, whether God was able to make all Things Better, or concerning the Possible Greater Perfection of the World, according to the opinion of our AUTHOR, is vain and curious:  which, nevertheless, our AUTHOR thinks is to be denied, if you have regard, 1.  not to individual things compared to each other, but to the entire complex of the World; and, 2.  to the Most Wise Will of God.  Since, as we have seen, the Goodness of things consists in their Conformity with God’s Approving Will, with which they were not able to be conformed any further; and the various degrees of perfection in the diverse creatures brings it to pass, that God’s πολυποίκιλος σοφία, manifold wisdom, might shine all the more, the glory of which is actually most illuminated in the least things; as that painter, as MARESIUS observes, Systemate Theologico, locus V, § 10, note c, had especially demonstrated his industry in painting that fly, which the viewer of the painting was wanting to drive away, fearing that he might spoil the picture.  AUGUSTINE, in his Enchiridio ad Laurentium, chapter X, opera, tome 6, column 146:  By this consummately, equally, and immutably good Trinity, all things were created; and they were not consummately, equally, and immutably good, but nevertheless good individually; verily all together were very good, because the admirable beauty of the universe consists of all.


Therefore, if anyone should curiously Ask, Whether it was agreeable to divine Wisdom to make all things equally Perfect?  Responses:  1.  To each thing the perfections agreeable to its nature have been communicated by Creation.  2.  But for good reason God willed that the various Creatures differ from each other in degree of perfection:  so that His consummate and ἀνυπεύθυνος, not accountable to any other, Liberty might be apparent in acting according to His own Good Pleasure; so that His Wisdom, which disposed all things in such an elegant order and mutual relation to each other, might be evident; so that His Goodness might be revealed, which willed that things of lesser perfection, although of greater mass, as are the great Bodies, serve things of greater perfection, as are Spirit, both for manifold use, and for increasing understanding, and for celebrating the glory of the divine Perfections, because of the perceived use of them, and also for the rising veneration of the Divine Being from the knowledge of them.


If anyone should proceed to Ask, Whether it had been appropriate for God, to give to human minds the highest perfection that they are able to have?  I Respond, that the same question could always return, even if human minds should have much more excellent perfects; because they are finite, and so they are never able to obtain infinite and consummate perfection.  Therefore, it is enough, that God had given to them by Creation perfections suitably agreeable to their nature; if men were to make right use of them, they would have been fit to obtain that end for the pursuing of which they were bound by Creation:  while by sin they have degenerated far from their primeval perfection.

And, in general, concerning the Question concerning the Possible or fitting Greater Perfection of the World, it ought to be observed; that concerning it, 1.  it ought not to be judged from individual things regarded in themselves, but from the complex and mutual relation of all things, which they have to one another by the divine Will.  2.  Rashly do we make any pronouncement on this point, since our understanding of Created things and their particular ends or uses, which God has set before Himself in the individual things, is yet incomplete and defective, Isaiah 55:8, 9.  3.  Since Creation is not a necessary act, but rather indifferently Free, it is to be judged according to the divine Good Pleasure, and that this World is the Best, which best answers to the Idea of the World that God has most freely pre-formed for Himself.  But it would be altogether impious for little man to carp at, or to reprehend, anything in God’s Decree or its execution with respect to Creation.  Moreover, because the World is Finite, it is also of Finite Perfection; and so its Perfection, considered in itself, without relation to the divine Decree, is always able to be augmented; but God has judged this World sufficient for the End that He has proposed to Himself, that is, of illustrating His own Glory.  And that ט֖וֹב מְאֹ֑ד, very good, in Genesis 1:31, indicates no other thing, than that the individual things best answer to the divine Will, since the perfections agreeing with the nature of them were present in the individual things, and were apt for the obtaining of the End that God had proposed to Himself, namely, the illustration of His own Glory.  And, moreover, it is to be observed, that that is affirmed in Genesis 1 concerning all things in the state of Integrity, and so this saying is not to be extended to the World in just any state according to the scope of Moses, much less to Sin, which does not pertain to everything that God made:  compare VOETIUS’[6] Disputationum theologicarum, part I, page 564; VRIEMOET’S Adnotationes ad Dicta classica Veteris Testamenti, tome III, chapter XVI, pages 258-260, and in the Addendis, in which places he learnedly discourses concerning the sense of the little word מְאֹד/very in Genesis 1:31.  In the Centuriis Positionum Theologicarum X, our AUTHOR, in theses CXCIX, CC:  “At the Command of God things stood forth, in such a way that God most wisely judged them to suffice for the demonstration of His own glory, and for obtaining His subordinate ends.  Whence what Perfection God acknowledged in His Works, all and each, Genesis 1:31, it is fitting that we also acknowledge it, and not cherish vain questions concerning a greater Possible perfection.”


But care is to be taken, lest, by determining that God by and because of His Wisdom was necessarily obliged to chose the Best World, and so this World, which God has now founded, is the best of all that were able to be made by God, we fall into the error concerning the necessity of all things, both those that have been created, and those that happen in this World, which do not so much depend upon the Altogether Free Good Pleasure of God, as flow spontaneously from the nature of the World itself as the Best.  In which manner also all Evils, both natural and moral, are necessarily obliged to happen, namely, because God was not able from eternity to choose, and in time to produce, another World, which might be without these evils.



But, by denying that God was obliged necessarily to choose, out of all Systems of the World, that which was Best, and so the World was created such, that it was not able to be produced differently; we do not introduce into God plenary Moral Indifference.  We firmly hold, that God is never able to do anything that involves Moral Vice, or recedes from Moral Virtue; God is not able to lie,[7] is not able to act unjustly.[8]  But, as to create or not to create the World neither adds to nor detracts from God’s Essence and Essential Perfections; so it hardly concerns God’s Infinite Wisdom, Goodness, or Power, to create one hair more or less on the body of Adam, to create one species more or less of insects or trees, to such an extent that it would not be indifferent to God to create nine hundred and ninety-nine species of insects or trees, or a thousand.  Since nothing of perfection is added or detracted from God creating or not creating, but He is only manifesting in a marvelous manner His Perfections through the Creation of all things:  it is to be considered, that God’s ἀνυπεύθυνον, not accountable to any other, Independence is one of the primary Perfections of God; which He especially demonstrates, by determining according to His mere Good Pleasure to found the World, and to adorn the same with these sorts of Creatures and not others, just so many, and neither fewer or more.  Only, so that God in the Creation of the Universe might purse His own Scope/Goal, it was required, that He also produce rational Creatures, which might be suitable to discern the Virtues of the Divine Being manifested in the Creation:  and the Holiness of God was requiring, that He produce nothing that might be defiled with moral Vice by the mere force of its production.


Whoever, on the other hand, from this, that Moral Indifference does not obtain in God, conclude that God was obliged necessarily to choose out of all possible Worlds this one as the Best; by the same method of reasoning they will be obliged to conclude, that God was obliged necessarily to create, to choose certain men for salvation, to elect Peter, to reprobate Judas, etc.:  compare my Orationem de eo quod Nimium est in Theologia, pages 59-62.

 

What things ZANCHI[9] gives in response to the Question, Whether what good things God made and makes, He was able and is able to produce better? book III, de Natura Dei, chapter I, question 10, opera, tome 2, columns 184-187, where for the illustration of the Thesis, Even if the things created by God, as far as their nature is concerned, were not able to be, or to happen, better; nevertheless, nothing was made by God, or happens, so good, that it was not able, or is not able, to be made better by God:  among other things you will read:  First, a distinction is to be observed:  namely, that the Goodness of any particular thing is twofold:  one essential, that is, which concerns the essence of the thing, or which is present in the thing by essence, in such a way that without it such a thing or nature could not be.  A this essential Goodness is present in man, namely, that he is furnished with reason:  so, if this Goodness should cease, he could not be a man.  The other is accidental to the thing, that is, what comes to the thing outside of its essence:  whereby the thing to which it comes is indeed made better; but not with respect to essence, as man, ability, whereby he is made literate, or skillful in medical matters, and similar virtues.

Therefore, as far as the first Goodness is concerned, we say, that, with the nature and essence of any particular thing regarded, as it was created by God, each thing in its own nature was created good and perfect, in such a way that it could not be better:  that is, insofar as it is of such a nature, nothing is able to be wanting in it.  The sacred books teach this in Genesis.  And God saw every thing that He had made; and, behold it was very good, Genesis 1:31.  When it says, very good, it teaches that no good, namely, natural was able further to be desired in it.  This is confirmed even by natural reason.  Aristotle left in writing, in his book τῶν μετὰ τὰ φυσικὰ, in octavo:  just as the addition of unity in numbers is, so also is the addition of substantial difference in definitions.  Therefore, just as nothing is able to be added to the quaternary number, so that it might be more perfectly quaternary (for, if you should add, it will not longer by quaternary, but quinary, or senary):  so neither is anything able to be added to man, as far as man’s essence and nature are concerned, whereby man might be made more perfect than he was created by God.  For, if anything essential be added, he would not now be man, but a different nature:  which we would not deny to have been able, and to be able, to be created by God.  But the question is concerning things founded by God:  whether any essential Goodness is able to be wanting in them, because of the privation of which it might come to pass that each thing is not perfect in its own nature.  Therefore, we say with Scripture, that all created things were so very good, that nothing further was able to be added to their natures:  insofar as all creatures, of whatever sort they be, were founded, each in its own nature, degree, and dignity, so perfect, that they were not able to be better and more perfect in species and nature.  For the solid sentence of Moses stands, All things were very good:  as if he should speak in such a way that nothing is able to be wanting in them, as far as essence is concerned.  Likewise David says, All things thou hast made in wisdom.[10]  Therefore, God saw, and gave, whatever things were necessary for their perfect natures.  Wherefore nothing was able to be more perfect in its kind, than it was created by God.  And these things speak we concerning natural and essential Goodness.

But, as far as the second Goodness is concerned, which is posited outside the essence of things, and comes upon things from another source:  We confess, that Things were able to be made better by God, than they were made; and even now are made better, than they are made.  For, who is going to deny, that God is able to create such a men, who would not have willed, and could not have willed, to sin:  which sort of blessed spirits are now in heaven?  But who would deny, that, if He had created such a men, he was going to be better than he was created?  And to this has regard that saying in Ephesians 3, God is able to do all things more abundantly than that we ask or think.  This is true and certain, in such a way that nothing is able to be truer and more certain.  Moreover, as mare as human essence and nature is concerning:  just as those that are not able to sin in heaven are not more human than us:  so neither, if we had been create such as we are going to be in heaven, would we be more hum than we now are, because we are able to sin.  Neither is an unlearned man less human than a learned man:  a foolish man than a wise man:  and an impious man than a pious man.  For these virtues, and these goods, are added to man; but they do not pertain to his essence.  But why did He not make better and more perfect natures:  that is, why did He not adorned them with more virtues, gifts, and perfections?  This is dependent upon the will and wisdom of God.  For, He willed to show that He is a free agent, and the most free Lord of all.  Then, He has before Himself His secret reasons, concerning which the Apostle says:  O the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God:  how unsearchable are His judgments, and His ways past finding out? Romans 11:33.

I believe that the Thesis has been made clear in the things that have been said:  in what manner nothing is so perfect that it was not able to be made more perfect by God:  yet, that all things are perfect in such a way that, as far as their nature is concerned, nothing is able to be wanting in them, or even to be added, without changing their nature.

 

The opinion concerning the many possible Worlds appearing before God, out of which He chose and was obliged to choose this one as the Best, was exploded by the most learned DIDERICUS JOHANNES METSKE;[11] and he set the danger that also hence arises concerning the necessity of sin in the open, Dissertatione de Ratione objective Deum moraliter impellente in Prædestinatione, chapter II; see in the beginning § 1, 11-16.


[1] Joannes Mercerus (c. 1510-1572) was a French Catholic Hebraist, successor to Francis Vatablus as Professor of Hebrew and Chaldean at the Hebrew College, Paris (1549), a scholar and lecturer of great reputation in his day.  He was suspected of having Calvinistic sympathies.  He wrote In Genesin, primum Mosis librum, sic a Graecis appellatum, commentarium, and Commentarios in Iobum, et Salomonis Proverbia, Ecclesiasten, Canticum Canticorum.

[2] Francis Vatablus (c. 1485-1547) was a prominent Hebrew scholar, doing much to stimulate Hebraic studies in France.  He was appointed to the chair of Hebrew in Paris (1531).  Because of some consonance with Lutheran doctrine, his annotations (Annotationes in Vetus et Novum Testamentum), compiled by his auditors, were regarded with the utmost esteem among Protestants, but with a measure of suspicion and concern by Roman Catholics.  Consequently, the theologians of Salamanca produced their own edition of Vatablus’ annotations for their revision of the Latin Bible (1584).

[3] Peter Picherel (c. 1510-1590) was a learned French monk.  He took part in the Colloquy of Poissy in 1561, designed to bring about reconciliation between French Catholics and Huguenots.

[4] Guilielmus Saldenus (1627-1694) was a Dutch Reformed pastor and theologian, and supporter of the Nadere Reformatie.

[5] The details of the life of Rabbi Salomon Jarchi (Solomon Jarchi ben Isaac) have been obscured by the mists of time.  It is relatively safe to associate him with the eleventh century.  He commented on the whole of the Hebrew Bible, and the principal value of his commentary is its preservation of traditional Jewish interpretation.  He also authored the first comprehensive commentary on the Talmud.

[6] Gisbertus Voetius (1589-1676) was a Dutch Reformed minister and theologian.  In 1619, he attended the Synod of Dort as its youngest member.  Some years later he was appointed as Professor of Theology at Utrecht (1636-1676).

[7] See, for example, Numbers 23:19; 1 Samuel 15:29; Titus 1:2.

[8] See, for example, Genesis 18:25; Job 8:3; 34:10; Romans 3:5, 6; 9:14.

[9] Girolamo Zanchi (1516-1590) was an Italian Reformed theologian.  At the age of fifteen, he entered the monastery of the Augustinian Order of Regular Canons.  He came under the personal influence of Peter Martyr Vermigli; and the writings of the Reformers, especially Calvin, had a profound impact upon his thinking.  Zanchi served as Professor of Old Testament at Strassburg (1553-1563), and Professor of Theology at Heidelberg (1568-1577).

[10] Psalm 104:24.

[11] Didericus Johannes Metske (1733-1795) was a Dutch Reformed minister, heavily involved in the politics of his day, vigorously supporting the House of Orange.

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