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De Moor VIII:4: The Truth of Creation

The Truth of Creation is taught generally, 1. not only by Scripture, in many Passages to be cited in this Chapter, especially in Genesis 1; 2, where not only is the Second Creation mentioned as perfected within the first hexameron; but in Genesis 1:1 is also related the First Creation of the supreme Heaven and the Unformed Terraqueous Mass, from which the remaining bodies were then formed. Now, that this History of the Creation delivered by Moses is certainly to be held as worthy of confidence, JOHANNES MEYER shows in his Oratione de Origine Universi, pages 5-14, where you will find among other things: “Certainly the Creation of the World is part of History, which is known only through witnesses, who are acquainted with its novelty, and began to exist with its beginning. Now, no other proof of the deed, which was conducted before the certain number of ages, is able to be desired, than its nature admits. For, although in the time of Moses, the author of that history, eyewitnesses were not able to have survived; yet by him the genealogy and list of the Fathers is exhibited, from the rise of the first men, with which the fabrication of the World is connected, and the computation of the years is recorded for memory. It is added that this sacred Historian was not so far removed from the beginning of things, that the indications of this narration, even if they were not immediately revealed to him by God, were yet remaining: whether we believe that he was taught and educated by his ancestors, to whom the doctrine of matters of this sort, comprehensible by no human reason, by the altogether trustworthy tradition of posterity, as if transmitted by hand, was brought down all the way from Adam to Moses; or we affirm that the more aged Patriarchs preserved the memory of these and other things, contained in Genesis, in sacred Tables, still remaining in the time of Moses, which he, at eighty year old, by a divine impulse, digested in that first book: Since on account of the longevity of those first men, from the beginning of the world, between the first man Adam and Moses, only six Men, Methuselah, Shem, Jacob, Levi, Kohath, and Amram, intervened, who, being present to see one another in this life, and to hear one another speaking, were able to deliver to Moses matters from the founding of the World, by a continuous relation, preserved in certain monuments, in such a way that from the mouth of the seventh witness, Amram…he had the ability to draw and write whatever had happened from the beginning of things, among which was the chief doctrine concerning the fabrication of things; etc. Therefore, who would not set before all Philosophers, following the guidance of reason alone, and the Historians of a latter age, Moses, a divine writer, in whom are discovered all the signs of a true, sincere, and faithful historian, that were ever required. He not only opened the first beginnings of the World, but also related the way and manner of asking and discovering how much time extended from the rise of the World to today, how great was the retroactive age of mankind, and by his narration of the matters conducted filled up the whole space that was extending from the origins of the World to his time: In which matter it is hardly able to be stated, just how wandering, inconstant, erring, and altogether blind was heathenism in all time, boasting of an antiquity that surpasses all trustworthiness, and laboring under an ignorance of the matters conducted, which is the stamp and brand of vanity. Who will call into doubt the veracity and evidence of reason of the Mosaic history, in which the Decalogue, in which is inserted the history of the Creation, with the whole people of Israel publicly looking on and hearing clearly, which had aware of, and was a witness to, this matter, was promulgated; and Moses appealed time and again to the seeing and hearing of the stiff-necked people, and of all those things that were done in in his time?” At which point he follows yet another argument for the veracity of the Mosaic history, sought from the certain fulfillment of the Prophecies, which are found in the Mosaic writings. But also, 2. Nature itself teaches the Verity of Creation, α. Through the Dependence and Contingency of all Created things. Obviously the World is not God, because it is destitute of the perfections previously demonstrated of God. Neither are all its part endowed with spirit, nor incorruptible, nor eternal; but daily they arise, are generated, come into being, and perish: but how would such a Being be God?

Now, if the World is not God, certainly, 1. neither is it Independent, because Independence is predicated of the one God, and by its nature it is not able to be attributed to any other. But, that Independence is the special claim of God alone, is evident, both from the nature of Independence, as we saw it to obtain in God, Chapter IV, § 20, 21; and from the Infinity of Perfection, we also observed, when we were explaining the Attributes of God, Chapter IV, § 18, 20, both to be proper to God alone, and to be connected with Independence by an unbreakable chain. But if Infinite Perfection is inseparable from Independence, as it is; certainly the multifarious Imperfection of the World and of its individual parts most manifestly argues, that the World is not Independent. 2. But, if the World is not Independent, it does not necessarily exist either; since Independence and the Necessity of Existence go together. Therefore, the World is a Contingent Being, which of itself no more exists, than does not exist; and so, by this very thing, that it exists, it argues some cause of it outside of itself, which causes it to exists, rather than not to exist. For, should it contain in itself the cause of its own existence, by that very fact it would not be dependent, nor contingent. Therefore, this Universe exists by virtue of some cause, which at some point caused it to pass from non-being into being, that is, He produced it by Creation. DITTON,[1] in his Dissertatione de Materia non cogitante, chapter XVIII, pages 618, 619, etc., observes, that the Contingent existence of Matter is clearly demonstrated from the specifically differing Weight of Bodies. More specifically, the parts of Matter, although they have the same size on the surface, are nevertheless unequal in weight. Therefore, under the same dimensions does not lie the same quanity of Mater. And so Empty Spaces are granted, which are not filled with Matter. Therefore, Matter does not everywhere subsist. Therefore, Matter does not necessarily exist. For what subsists necessarily ought to subsist everywhere, indeed, ought to subsist everywhere in the same way. And so, finally, Matter does not subsist of itself, neither does it subsist from eternity: and thus it is not an attribute or part of the divine Essence. MEYER, Oratione de Origine Universi, pages 54-58, urges for the Creation of the World the argument John the Grammarian,[2] that the World is a Body, hence furnished with finite powers, and accordingly also itself finite.

β. Through the constant Rise and Change of individual Creatures. For, if, 1. individual Creatures obtain their Rise in time, it is fitting for us to believe that the whole World at some point also received a beginning of existence. Let mankind stand as an example. That we have our origin from another and, willing or not, die at some point, is evident: if I, and my father and grandfather, then no less all, however far one wants to ascend, had their Rise. Nor were they arising from themselves, any more than we now arise from ourselves; therefore, they arose from others. Now, it is necessary that at some point a Beginning was granted to them by one, who of himself, both was able to give life to them, and to remove it, namely, God. For an infinite regress is not possible in generation, and it is impossible, no matter how far back one goes, not to find some that were born of others; but they were not more able to begin that series of generation than we, but only to receive it; but if they received it, there was at length some giver and beginner of it. And, if mankind at some point had its origin, even from God, its first beginner and creator; then also the rest of the World, being much inferior to man: and, if some part, and indeed the chief part, was made by another, then the whole World was not without beginning: and, if one part, then a second and a third, and thus the Universe, which consists of its parts, and the whole is as its individual parts are: compare BENTLEY,[3]The Folly and Unreasonableness of Atheism, third Reason, pages 79-82. 2. Also, what things are involved in continuous successive Motion, what things enjoy duration moving from the past through the present to the future, and so have the components of duration and succession of the same, and finally what things are liable to a thousand other Mutations; these are not infinite, nor eternal, nor consummately perfect, nor independent: but it is necessary that they at some point receive the beginning of their existence from another Independent cause, namely, God. But one may observe such Motion, successive duration, and liability to Mutation, in all bodies, both heavenly and sublunary. To the arguments in 2α and β compare BUDDEUS, de Atheismo et Superstitione, chapter V, § 3; and LULOFS,[4]Annotationibus upon the same, pages 242-249, § 8, pages 296-304; and especially LODEWIJK MEYER,[5]Dissertatione, qua, ex Attributis Rerum hoc Universum constituentium Communibus, demonstratur, Res hasce non necessario existere, sed ab Ente Necessario Creatas esse; which carried the prize from the Stolpian Institute.[6]

γ. Through the Novelty of Histories and Arts: see BENTLEY in the Dissertation just now cited, pages 82-86; BUDDEUS, de Atheismo et Superstitione, and LULOFS, Annotationibus upon the same, § 9, pages 304-309: compelled by this argument, LUCRETIUS the Epicurean[7] is forced to acknowledge that the World had a beginning, book V de Rerum Natura, page m. 614:

Moreover, if there were no creative origin

Of the earth and heaven, and they were ever eternal;

Why, before the Theban War and the burial of Troy,

Have not other Poets sung of other things also?

Why have so many deeds of man so often sunk? and never

Blossom, embossed on everlasting monuments of fame?

But (as I think), the whole has a newness, and recent

Is the nature of the world, and it took its beginning not that long ago.

For which reason also certain arts are now refined;

Even now develop, etc.

Now, just as hence the Novelty of today’s form of the World is rightly acknowledged by Lucretius, so the preceding arguments also evince the Creation of the Matter of the World, which Lucretius did not admit.

And, since thus the Creation of the World is able to be gathered with sufficient evidence from a diligent contemplation of the things of Nature itself, it is not strange that, according to our AUTHOR, the Gentiles also commonly acknowledge the truth of the Creation: GERHARD JOHANN VOSSIUS also makes mention of that from a great many of the Philosophers of the Gentiles, disputation I de Creatione, second part, § 13, opera, tome 6, page 354, appealing to the testimony of ARISTOTLE, book I de Cœlo, chapter X, text CII, although he himself with certain others is thought to hold a different opinion. And, when the excellent VOSSIUS in the passage cited pursues at length the arguments for the Creation, both that concerning the Novelty of histories and arts, and also others, he at last subjoins: “To whom these things are not sufficient, let him take up PLESSÆUS[8] discoursing concerning this argument, de Veritate religionis Christianæ, chapter VIII, and especially AUGUSTINUS STEUCHUS[9] in the entire seventh book of perennis Philosophiæ: wherein he both presents many proofs for Creation, and clearly shows it was very well-known in ancient times, and solidly responds to the arguments of Aristotle, Proclus,[10] Simplicius,[11] and others.” Also available for inspection are HEIDEGGER, Corpore Theologiæ Christianæ, locus VI, § 6; REIMARUS,[12]over de voornaamste Waarheden van den natuurlichen Godtsdienst, Essay 1, § 10-16, pages 24-71; SMITS GORDON,[13]Disputatione philosophica inaugural de Origine Universi, chapter I; GODFRIED ARNOLD MAAS, Candidate for Holy Ministry, Betoog, dat daar uyt, dat ’er nu werkelijk Jet bestaat, het Aanwezen volge van een noodzakelijk, eenwig en onveranderlijk Wezen, ’t welk van deze Waereid onderscheiden is. I will not repeat those things that from the consideration both of the whole World, and especially of Human Nature, I set forth as arguments for the Existence of God, Chapter IV, § 10; and which you will see cited there out of SPANHEIM’S Atheo convicto and NIEUWENTYT’S[14]Contemplationibus Mundi: to which now add RICHARD BENTLEY, The Folly and Unreasonableness of Atheism, who no less solidly disputes for the divine Creation of these things in one Dissertation from the nature of the rational Soul, three from the fabric of the human Body, and three from the nature and fabric of the whole World. PLUTARCH,[15]περὶ τῆς ἐν Τιμαίῳ ψυχογονίας, opera, tome 2, page 1014: Κόσμον τόνδε (φησὶν Ἡράκλειτος) οὔτέ τις θεῶν οὔτ᾽ ἀνθρώπων ἐποίησεν, ὥσπερ φοβηθεὶς μὴ Θεοῦ ἀπογνόντες, ἄνθρωπόν τινα γεγονέναι τοῦ κόσμου δημιουργὸν ὑπονοήσωμεν. βέλτιον οὖν Πλάτωνι πειθομένους, τὸν μὲν κόσμον ὑπὸ Θεοῦ γεγονέναι λέγειν καὶ ᾄδειν, ὁ μὲν γὰρ κάλλιστος τῶν γεγονότων, ὁ δὲ ἄριστος τῶν αἰτιῶν. τὴν δὲ οὐσίαν καὶ ὕλην ἐξ ἧς γέγονεν, οὐ γενομένην, ἀλλὰ ὑποκειμένην ἀεὶ τῷ δημιουργῷ, εἰς διάθεσιν καὶ τάξιν αὐτῆς, καὶ πρὸς αὐτὸν ἐξομοίωσιν ὡς δυνατὸν ἦν παρασχεῖν, The world, says Heraclitus,[16] was not created by any one of the gods or men, as if he were fearing that we, despairing of a God, should suppose some man to have been the demiurge of the universe. It is better then, in submission to Plato’s judgment, to say and to sing, that universe came into being by God, for it is the most beautiful of the things coming into being, and God the most illustrious of all causes: but that the being and matter from which it came into being did not come into being, but were always ready for the demiurge, to give it form and figure, as near as might be, approaching to his own resemblance: compare MEYER, Oratione de Origine Universi, pages 61-63.

No obstacle is presented, 1. Either by the Dissent of certain Philosophers, asserting a World Unbegotten and Eternal: of which sort were the Chaldeans, according to Diodorus Siculus[17] and Philo; see HEINECCIUS,[18]Historia Philosophiæ, chapter II, § 22: the Megarians;[19] see in the same place, chapter III, § 63: the Epicureans; in the same place, § 88: Aristotle; see VOSSIUS’ Disputation I de Creatione, part II, § 13, opera, tome 6, page 354, who gave the opinion of ARISTOTLE thoroughly explained; BUDDEUS, de Atheismo et Superstitione, chapter I, to § 15, and Institutionibus Theologiæ dogmaticæ, tome I, book III, chapter II, § 35, pages 869, 870; likewise, de Algemeene Historie uyt het Engelsch vertaalt, part 1, section 1, Introduction, pages 8, 9, in which, pages 6-24, are treated at length those that affirmed an eternal World both with respect to matter and with respect to form.

α. Treating them more specifically, their true opinion is yet controverted; or they disagreed among themselves, asserting an Eternal World, and yet acknowledging that the corporeal World derived its origin from another spiritual Being: see what things concerning the opinion of Aristotle and others are had by VOSSIUS, and the Authors of the Historiæ Universalis, in the passages just now cited; likewise, CALOVIUS,[20]Bibliis Illustratis, on Genesis 1:1, page 215; and also MEYER, Oratione de Origine Universi, pages 53, 54, 59-63; and LULOFS on Bentley’s treatise contra Atheismum, Dissertation II, note 4, page 41: add what things we advise below, § 19; and what things we relate from Cicero as the words of Aristotle, § 6. β. Or they thus gave evidence of their natural blindness in the midst of their wisdom.

2. Or by the continual Permanence of Things: with out AUTHOR rightly responding, which, since it is not Independent, implies only a Continued Creation; in accordance with which he wrote somewhat more fully in Exercitationibus Textualibus XLVIII, Part VI, § 10: If in addition, against Belief in the Creation, the Constancy of Existing things for so many ages in the same manner be joined to Rational Argumentation; to this shall be rightly opposed, for the clearing of it, the Appearance of the continued Variation of individual things in the World, and of the Contingency and necessary Dependence of all things, which demonstrates the continued duration of things to flow from the divine Will, in such a way that from the same is to be derived the First Existence of those. And it shall be permitted to oppose to those thus babbling, what Peter set against the impious mockers of the Coming of the Lord, 2 Peter 3:5, λανθάνει γὰρ αὐτοὺς τοῦτο θέλοντας, ὅτι οὐρανοὶ ἦσαν ἔκπαλαι, καὶ γῆ ἐξ ὕδατος καὶ δι᾽ ὕδατος συνεστῶσα, τῷ τοῦ Θεοῦ λόγῳ, for this they willingly are ignorant of, that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water.

Johannes a Marck

3. Or by Paul’s testimony, who wrote that by Faith we understand the production of the World, Hebrews 11:3. To which Objection, as our AUTHOR vigorously responds in his Compendio; so he somewhat enlarges the same response in the Exercitation just now cited upon this text, or XLVIII, Part VI, § 11, writing: “α. That by Faith we understand a great many things from Divine Revelation, which are also known through Nature; insofar as God is not altogether and always silence concerning them in His Word. So that this might be evident in one example out of hundreds, we appeal to the conjunction of a Rational Mind with a most elegantly formed Body in Man, to be severed by death with the Dissolution of the Body; which things we certainly understand by Faith, insofar as they are not able to be denied without an impious Rejection of the Divine Word; and all which we are nevertheless taught be Nature itself. Neither is the excellence of Faith to be sought in this alone, that a great Mystery, inaccessible to common Reason, is embraced; but also in this, that it removes all uncertainty of those things that Reason does indeed urge, but does not always prove, in such a way that from the apparent difficulty of the matters, the iniquitous opposition of other men, and the perverse motions of one’s own mind, great doubt might not sometimes arise in us concerning these things, which for us leaves behind conjecture rather than knowledge. β. While the Understanding of things often has various degrees, with respect both to the things themselves and their every aspect, a far clearer and fuller Understanding is able to be attributed to Faith, which nevertheless is conceded to be obscurer and much more imperfect by Nature. Which brings it to pass, that in this manner also the Understanding of Faith much deserves to be commended above Natural Understanding. γ. We observe, that at this point thus the matter stands, that by Faith we understand the First Creation of the World out of Nothing by the infinitely powerful Word of God, even with more certainty, clarity, and fullness, with respect to the matter and its every aspect, hence also far more commonly, while the smallest part of a Christian People are sufficiently equipped to contrive natural arguments for the truth, and to defend them against the artifices of an unbelieving World; but that the same is not able to be said to be altogether unknown and inaccessible by common Reason, if this be exercised rightly.” And so a contemplation of the Creatures themselves obliges our mind to ascend to acknowledge the Creator God and His Virtues, Romans 1:20: but the mind naturally hesitates in this, how the World is able to be produced out of Nothing; for this appears to be impossible to the natural understanding. But Revelation removes from us this scruple, manifestly teaching that this entire thing was brought to pass by the divine Command alone without any pre-existing Matter: in which the pious mind readily acquiesces, believes the revealing God, and by Faith overcomes all doubt and uncertainty.

[1] Humphry Ditton (1675-1715) was an English Minister, Theologian, and Mathematician. [2] John Philoponus (c. 490-c. 570) was an Alexandrian philologist, philosopher, and Christian theologian. He argued against the eternity of the world. [3] Richard Bentley (1662-1742) was an English classical scholar and theologian. He served as Master of Trinity College, Cambridge. [4] Johannes Lulofs (1711-1768) was a Dutch astronomer, mathematician, and physicist. [5] Lodewijk Meyer (1629-1681) was a Dutch Enlightenment scholar and Rationalist philosopher [6] The Stolpian Legacy was a fund left by the Dutch merchant Jan Stolp (1698-1753) to Leiden University, a portion of which was to be awarded every second year to the best essay on natural religion or revealed ethics. [7] Titus Lucretius Carus (c. 99-c. 55 BC) was a Roman poet and Epicurean philosopher. He was a proponent of a materialistic atomism, and thus a critic of religion. [8] Philippe du Plessis Mornay (1549-1623), a Frenchman, was a politically active apologist for Protestantism. [9] Augustinus Steuchus (1496-1549) was an Italian Roman Catholic scholar, who served as a prior of the Canons Regular of the Lateran, the bishop of Kisamos in Crete, and prefect of the Vatican Library. He brings his varied talents to bear upon Biblical exegesis and philosophy. [10] Proclus Lycius (412-485) was a Greek philosopher. His system of Neoplatonism is highly developed, and exerted an influence on Byzantine, Islamic, and Scholastic philosophy. [11] Simplicius was a sixth century, Byzantine Neoplatonist. He wrote commentaries on several of Aristotle’s works. [12] Hermann Samuel Reimarus (1694-1768) was a German Enlightenment philosopher and Deist. He was an advocate for a pure, natural religion, as opposed to revealed religion; and he stimulated some of the investigation into the historical Jesus. [13] Adam Bernard Smits Gordon (born c. 1736) was a Scottish major general in the Dutch Service. He studied philosophy at Zutphen, and theology at Leiden. [14] Bernard Nieuwentyt (1654-1718) was a Dutch Reformed theologian and Cartesian philosopher. [15] Mestrius Plutarchus (c. 46-127) was a Greek historian and Platonic philosopher. [16] Heraclitus (flourished c. 500 BC) was a pre-Socratic Greek philosopher. He asserted that the fundamental nature of reality is not being (contra Parmenides), but becoming. [17] Diodorus Siculus (c. 90-c. 30 BC), a Greek historian, wrote the massive Bibliothecam Historiam in forty books. Unhappily, only fifteen books have survived. [18] Johann Gottlieb Heineccius (1681-1741) was a German Lutheran and philosophical Jurist. He served as Professor of Philosophy (1713), and then as Professor of Jurisprudence (1718), at Halle. [19] The Megarians (flourished in the fourth century BC) were followers of Euclides of Megara, a disciple of Socrates. They appear to have been metaphysical and ethical Monists. [20] Abraham Calovius (1612-1686) was a champion of Lutheran orthodoxy. He served the University of Wittenberg as Professor of Theology, and later as General Superintendent. He opposed Socinians, Roman Catholics, and Calvinists, denying the possibility of the salvation of any of these. His Systema locorum theologicorum stands at the apex of Lutheran scholastic orthodoxy.

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