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De Moor VIII:6: The Efficient Cause of Creation, Part 1

Thus before all things we attribute this Work to God as Author; who, 1. Himself testifies or causes to testify to this concerning Himself, Isaiah 40:26, 28; etc.: and concerning whom, 2. all the saints, both under the Old Testament and under the New, both those that abide on the earth, and those inhabiting heaven, testify to this, Nehemiah 9:6; Revelation 4:11; etc.

A twofold argument sought from Reason is added, α. both à Priori, from the infinite Power that is here required; β. and à Posteriori, from the consummate Elegance of the Work itself; which together with the divine Power, Wisdom, and Goodness manifested in it, the Saints often celebrant magnificently, Psalm 19:1; 104:24; Isaiah 40:12-14; Jeremiah 10:12. Therefore, as in § 4 from the Imperfection of created Things, or the Insufficiency of the same with respect to themselves, and hence their Contingency in themselves, etc., we evince that the things are not from themselves, and so were not always, without all beginning: thus we now also conclude that the altogether perfect God is by Creation the Author of all things outside of Himself, from the Perfection, that is, the magnitude and consummate elegance, of the same things, both the individuals, the greatest and the least, and the many, even all, most wisely conjoined together, and most regularly moved, unto their individual and common uses, with the truly continuous mutual counteractivities of qualities and actions not withstanding: see the Authors cited in § 4.

But, that, to produce a thing out of Nothing, is required Infinite Power and Sufficiency, everyone readily perceives; the rationale of the same is wont to be set forth, that from Nothing to Something there is an Infinite Distance, and so deep an abyss, that it belongs to Omnipotence alone to overcome it. Now, that Distance between Something and Nothing is not the Distance of Perfection, which is privative, of one perfect thing compared with another imperfect thing, and so supposes two real subjects, one of which is more perfect than the other: in this sense God differs infinitely from Creatures; if this sort of Distance of Perfection here comes into the reckoning, an angel would differ from nothing more than a man, or a philosopher more than a farmer, or an ox than a fly, because more perfections belong to the former than the latter. But the Distance between something and nothing is of Contradiction and is absolutely negative, not of some greater perfection, but of all reality; in which manner Something and Nothing are in immediate opposition and completely contradictory. And, even if perhaps one should conceive of this Distance between Being and Nothing as merely finite on the side of the Terminus ad quem, yet the Distance is truly Infinite on the side of the Terminus à quo, that is, Nothing, and according to the distance of the positions standing between the Termini. VAN MASTRICHT calls it the Distance of difficulty, which Distance between Nothing and Being to be produced out of Nothing he observes to be such, that a greater is not able to be nor to be thought, which hence is deservedly called Infinite; whence arises the infinite difficulty of the production of Being out of Nothing, which also requires Infinite Power in the one producing: see VAN MASTRICHT’S Gangrænam Novitatum Cartesianarum, posterior Section, chapter XIX, § 17-21, pages 350-355.

But, since we claim Creation for the Omnipotent God in this manner, He is deservedly called the proximate Cause of Creation: for that is the proximate Cause, which immediately, that is, not any other nearer cause of the same order with it intervening, produces the thing Caused. Yet God is not able to be called the absolutely proximate Cause of Creation: since that is called the absolutely proximate Cause, with which posited the thing Caused is posited, and with which removed it is removed, which pertains to Causes that by the force and instinct of nature cause or act, just as with the sun posited light is posited. But, with God posited the world is not posited, because the world does not flow from the Nature of God. Similarly, when man speaks, he is the proximate cause of that speech, but not the absolutely proximate case; because man does not necessarily speak, but only because it so pleases him, and he is able not to speak.

And here we set in opposition God; α. with all False gods, verily existing, equally also fabricated, Psalm 96:4-7; Jeremiah 10:11, 12. [On this part, LELAND[1] relates the erroneous opinions of the Gentile Philosophers, de Utilitate et Necessitate Revelationis Christi, part I, section II, chapters XII, XIII, pages 336 and following.] Yet, when to those that the Heathen were worshipping as Deities they attribute the production of the World; they show in this very thing that they judge this work and fabric to be nobler, than that it might be able to be attributed to some inferior power. Worthy of note upon this matter is the expression of ARISTOTLE cited by CICERO, book II de Natura Deorum, chapter XXXVII, “Well then did Aristotle observe: If there be those that had always dwelt under the earth, in domiciles good and commodius, which were adorned with statues and pictures, and furnished with all those things with which those regarded as blessed abound, yet had they never come forth upon the earth; but they had received by report and rumor, that there is some Deity and power of the Gods; and then, at a certain time, with the passages of the earth opened, they had been able from those hidden seats to come forth and to escape into these places inhabited by us; when they had suddenly seen the earth, sea, and heavens, and had experienced the vast extent of the clouds and the force of the winds, and had gazed upon the Sun, and experienced both its magnitude and beauty and also its powerful influence, that it brings the day, with light diffused throughout the heavens; when night had darkened the earth, and they were contemplating the whole heaven divided and adorned by the stars, and the variety of the lights of the Moon waxing and waning, and the rising and setting of all these and their fixed and immutable courses in all eternity: when they should see these things, surely they would judge both that there are Gods, and such things as these are the works of the Gods.” While others among the very Gentiles also more prudently speak of one Deity in the singular, to whom they attribute the Creation of the World: thus SOPHOCLES,[2] out of the historian HECATÆUS,[3] is cited by JUSTIN MARTYR in his Cohortatione ad Græcos, pages 17, 18, and in de Monarchia Dei, page 104; ATHENAGORAS[4] in his Legatione pro Christianis, page 6, in part; likewise, although with some variation, CLEMENT OF ALEXANDRIA in his Protreptico, page 48, and Stromata, book V, page 603; out of Clement’sStromata, book V, by EUSEBIUS, displaying these and other things, book XIII Præparationis Evangelicæ, page 680; and also THEODORET, book VII Therapeuticorum Græcarum, opera, tome 4, page 590: Sophocles, I say, is cited, singing in these words:

Εἷς ταῖς ἀληθείαισιν, εἷς ἐστιν Θεὸς,

Ὃς οὐρανὸν τέτευχε, καὶ γαῖαν μακρὰν,

Πόντου τε χαροπὸν οἶδμα, κᾀνέμων βίας.

Θνητοὶ δὲ πολλοὶ καρδίᾳ πλανώμενοι

Ἱδρυσάμεσθα πημάτων παρὰ ψυχὴν

Θεῶν ἀγάλματ᾽ ἐκ λίθων τε καὶ ξύλων,

Ἢ χρυσοτεύκτων ἢ ἐλεφαντίνων τύπους·

Θυσίας τε τούτοις καὶ καλὰς πανηγύρεις

Τεύχοντες, οὕτως εὐσεβεῖν νομίζομεν.

One in truth, one is God,

Who made the heavens and the broad earth,

And the grey-blue wave of the sea, and the power of the winds.

But many mortals, erring in heart,

We, for comfort against calamities, set up

Images of gods of stone and wood,

Or gold-made, or ivory statues.

For these, appointing sacrifices and festive assemblies,

We believe ourselves thus to act piously.

On which verses compare Leland,de Utilitate et Necessitate Revelationis Christi, part I, section II, chapter XVIII, pages 517, 518, chapter XIX, page 552.

Among these is certainly to be reckoned the evil God of the Marcionites[5] and all their followers. TERTULLIAN, de Præscriptione Hæreticorum, chapter XXXIV, page 214: “These are…the classes of adulterated doctrines, which we learn from the Apostles to have been under the Apostles: and yet we find no school, among so many diversities of perversities, that moved controversy concerning God as the Creator of all things. No one dared to suppose another God…until Marcion introduced another God of goodness only in addition to the Creator.” But, that Marcion learned this error from his teacher, Cerdon,[6] THEODORET observes, Hæreticarum fabularum, book I, chapter XXIV, opera, tome 4, page 209, where concerning Cerdon, whom he calls the Μαρκίώνος διδάσκαλον, teacher of Marcion, writes: ὁ Κέρδων—ἔφη, ἄλλον εἶναι Θεὸν τὸν πατέρα τοῦ κυρίου ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ, ἄγνωστον τοῖς προφήταις, ἄλλον δὲ τοῦ παντὸς ποιητὴν, καὶ τοῦ νόμου τοῦ Μωσαϊκοῦ νομοθέτην, Cerdon…says, that one is the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, unknown to the prophets; but another is the maker of all, giver of the Mosaic law. Which ἀσέβειαν/impiety, says THEODORET, Hæreticarum fabularum, book I, chapter XXIV, opera, tome 4, page 215, Marcion not only followed, but also augmented; by placing at the disposal of the Creator God, δημιουργῷ δικαίῳ, the righteous demiurge, ὃν καὶ πονηρὸν ὠνόμαζε, whom he also calls the evil one, Matter, innate, not made, and on this account eternal, as it is in TERTULLIAN’S adversus Marcionem, book I, chapter XV, page 373, from which he made the World: see also DANÆUS,[7]ad Augustinum de Hæresibus, chapter XXII, Opuscula, page 941, errors 1, 3; and SPANHEIM’S Historiam Ecclesiasticam, Century II, chapter VI, columns 643, 644. These things fall of themselves from those that were observed against a Plurality of Gods in Chapter IV, § 23, and are going to follow in favor of Creation ex Nihilo without previously existing Matter, Chapter VIII, § 13: neither is a Θεὸς πονηρὸς, evil God, in any way able to be reconciled with the Infinite Perfection and Goodness of God asserted in Chapter IV, § 18, 41; nor is Righteousness in any way able to be separated from Goodness in the true God, comparing Chapter IV, § 45-47.

β. But also with the Fortuitous Concourse of Atoms, which was the delirium of Democritus[8] and his followers; just as on those verses in LUCRETIUS, book I de Rerum Natura, page 45,

Come now, since I have taught that things are not able to be created

Out of nothing, nor are things generated able to be recalled to nothing:

LAMBINUS shows in his notes,[9] pages 46, 47, both in the words of PLUTARCH, writing in his libris de placitis Philosophorum, book I, opera, tome 2, page 877, Ἐπίκουρος Νεοκλέους Ἀθηναῖος κατὰ Δημόκριτον φιλοσοφήσας, ἔφη τὰς ἀρχὰς τῶν ὄντων σώματα λόγῳ θεωρητὰ, ἀμέτοχα κενοῦ, ἀγέννητα, ἀΐδια, ἄφθαρτα, etc., Epicurus the Athenian, son of Neocles, following Democritus in philosophy, said that the beginnings of things were certain bodies, which are discerned by reason, free of emptiness, not produced, eternal, incorruptible, etc.: and also in the words of DIOGENES LÆRTIUS on Democritus, book IX, segment XLIV, Δοκεῖ αὐτῷ τάδε· Ἀρχὰς εἶναι τῶν ὅλων ἀτόμους καὶ κενὸν· τὰ δ᾽ ἄλλα πάντα νενομίσθαι δοξάζεσθαι. —μηδέν τε ἐκ τοῦ μὴ ὄντος γίνεσθαι, μηδὲ εἰς τὸ μὴ ὃν φθείρεσθαι. καὶ τὰς ἀτόμους δὲ ἀπείρους εἶναι κατὰ μέγεθος καὶ πλῆθος· φέρεσθαι δ᾽ ἐν τῷ ὅλῳ δινουμένας. καὶ οὕτω πάντα τὰ συγκρίματα γεννᾷν, πῦρ, ὕδωρ, ἀέρα, γῆν, etc., that is, These things seemed good to Democritus, that the beginnings things were atoms and emptiness; but that all the rest rests upon the uncertainty of supposition…that nothing comes from that which is not, neither is anyting undone unto that which has not being: And also that atoms both in magnitude and number are infinite, and are carried in all and rotated, and thus beget all concretions, fire, water, air, earth, etc. Concerning the Philosophers that attributed the origin of the World to the fortuitous concourse of Atoms, see Algemeene Historie uyt het Engelsch vertaalt, part 1, section 1, Introduction, pages 54-61. LACTANTIUS, after he had set forth this opinion, makes this grave pronouncement, book III de falsa Sapientia, chapter XVII: “Thus, because he had accepted a falsehood in the beginning, the necessity of the things consequent led him to delusions. For, where are, or whence are, those corpuscles? Why did no one dream those things, except one, even Leucippus;[10] Democritus, student of Leucippus, left this heritage of foolishness to Epicurus, etc.” Among the very Gentiles, CICERO cries down this opinion of the Epicureans, in the passage just now cited, book II de Natura Deorum, chapter XXXVII: “At this point, should I not marvel that there is any that might persuade himself that certain bodies, solid and individual, are produced by force and gravity; and that the world, richly adorned and altogether lovely, is brought about by the fortuitous concourse of those bodies? Whoever esteems it possible to have been done, I do not understand why he would not also think, that, if innumerable forms of the twenty-one letters, whether in gold or any other material, were to be thrown together some place, it would be possible, with these cast upon the ground, for the annals of Ennius to result, so as to be able to be read consecutively: I do not think that fortune could so prevail in the case of even one verse. But, as the Epicureans contend, was it from corpuscles possessing neither color, nor any quality, which the Greeks call ποιότητα/ qualities,[11] nor sense, but coming together by chance and accident, that the world was produced? or rather that innumerable worlds in each instant of time were arising, others were perishing? But if the concourse of atoms is able to form the universe, why not a portico, or temple, or house, or city? things which are less elaborate, and indeed far easier. Certainly in this manner they babble and prate concerning the world, so that to me they appear to have never regarded this admirable adornment of heaven, which is the next topic.” And what things more are found both in the same chapter, and in a number of following chapters, what things are discussed, are certainly most worthy; you will not want anything more for the refutation of this delirium of the Epicureans. Certainly the most elegant Fabric of the World argues τέχνην/art, not τύχην/ accident. Apart from the fact that those things that in § 4 we observed in general against the Independence, necessary Existence, and Eternity of the World, also pertain to prime Matter itself, and thus by like reasoning are said concerning Atoms of this sort. The Most Distinguished NIEUWENTYT,[12] from those things that in Contemplation XXVI of his Cosmotheoriæ, § 38, page 751, he observed concerning the ineffable multitude and unimaginable minuteness of particles, of which the Universe consists, confounds the Atomists, the wretched followers of Epicurus. Also, that the Beginning of the fine dust of the world was at some point produced by God, consummate Wisdom teaches, Proverbs 8:26. I would be ridiculous in the extreme, to demand from Atoms of this sort the origin of Spiritual Beings also, being without any matter, Angels and human Minds. The opinion of Epicurus concerning the Origin of this World is knowledgeably explicated and dexterously refuted by SMITS GORDON in his Disputatione philosophica inaugural de Origine Universi, chapter I, section I. BENTLEY does the same at length in his treatise already cited above, The Folly and Unreasonableness of Atheism, even indeed with respect to the whole World in General, Dissertations VII, VIII, and with respect to human Nature in particular, Dissertations II, V: compare also REIMARUS, over de voornaamste Waarheden van den natuurlichen Godtsdienst, Essay 2, § 10-16, pages 73-121; BUDDEUS, de Atheismo et Superstitione, chapter I, § 19, pages 36, 39, 42, LULOFS’ edition, chapter II, § 9, pages 135-137, BUDDEUS and LULOFS on the same place, chapter VI, § 5, pages 340-351.

γ. And I do not know to what Nature of things. That is, unless by playing with expression by Nature we should wish to understand God Himself, who might be called Natura Naturans, Nature giving Nature, that is, appointing the natures of all things, the author of nature, who created nature. For, otherwise, if by Nature you understand the Principium of Operations, operations to be established according to a certain law, by which principium a thing is said to come to pass according to Nature; this did not exist before it was instilled in the creatures by God through Creation. But if the very Essence of Things is established by Nature, certainly all this also flows from the creating God, and is not able to be the first cause of itself, unless all things be established at the same time as independent, and the work is confounded with the Workman, the World with God; which was the impious opinion of the Atheists, not just now, but already of old. PLINY, in his Natural History,[13] book II, chapter I, thus writes: The world, and whatever that be which by another name it is agreeable to call the heavens, by the vault of which all things are covered, it is suitable to be believed to be deity, eternal, immense, not begotten, nor ever to perish. To inquire what is beyond, it is of no concern to man, neither does the conjecture of the human mind capture it. It is sacred, eternal, immense, all in all, indeed the very whole; finite, yet like what is infinite; the most certain of all things, yet like what is uncertain; externally and internally embracing all things in itself: it is the work of nature, and the very Nature of things. Hence, after he had been at leisure with the description of this World and Nature through several chapters, then in chapter VII he expresses a lingering doubt, whether there is another God besides the World: compare BUDDEUS, de Atheismo et Superstitione, chapter I, § 22, pages 57, 62, LULOFS’ edition. You will find similar things in SENECA,[14] book II Naturalium Quæstionum, chapter XLV: To Jupiter, the lord and maker of this universal work, every title agrees…. Do you wish to call him Nature? you shall not sin. For, Jupiter is he, from whom all things arose, by whose spirit we live. Do you wish to call him the World? you shall not err. For, Jupiter himself is the whole that you see, the whole infused in his parts, and sustaining himself by his own power. More prudently did AUGUSTINE understand to distinguish betwee Naturam naturantem, Nature giving nature, and Naturam naturatam, Nature receiving a nature, book II de Anima et ejus Origine, chapter III, opera, tome 10, column 239: For every nature, says he, either is God, who has no author; or is out of God, because it has Him as author. But what has God as its author, out of whom it comes, is either not made, or made. Moreover, what is not made, and yet is of Him, is either begotten by Him, or proceeds from Him: that which is begotten is His only Son; that which proceeds is the Holy Ghost: and this Trinity is of one and of the self-same nature…. But that nature, which is made, is called a creature; but God, that is, that Trinity, is the Creator. The creature, therefore, is said to be from God in such a way that it is not made out of His nature. For, it is said to be out of Him for this reason, that it has Him as author of its being; not in such a way that it was born of Him, or proceeded from Him; but was created, founded, and made by Him, partly out of no other nature, that is, out of nothing at all, like the heaven and the earth, or rather all the matter, concreated with the world, of the whole mass of the world: but partly out of another nature already created and existing, like man out of the dust, woman out of the man, and man out of his parents: nevertheless, every creature is out of God, but as creating either out of nothing or out of something, not, however, as begetting or producing from His very own self. Now, that threefold signification of the term Nature, of which our AUTHOR here makes mention, is also surveyed among several others by the Vetero Vocabulario, cited in MARTINIUS’ Lexico Philologico on the term Natura, were we read: Nature is the same thing as nativity. And God is called nature, because He created all things and caused all things to be born: and each creature is called nature: and the combination: and whatever power naturally instilled in things, procreating similars from similar, etc. Moreover, the distinction between Naturæ Naturantis, Nature giving Nature, and Naturæ Naturatæ, Nature receiving a Nature, in the sense in which Spinoza[15] applied it, concerning Essence and the Modifications of Substance, has been exploded by FRANS BURMAN[16] in his Burmannorum Pietate, § LXXVIII, pages 437-443. The sophisms of the Atheists concerning the necessity of operations and motions, which are said to happen by Nature or according to Nature, are met by REIMARUS, over de voornaamste Waarheden van den natuurlichen Godtsdienst, Essay 3, § 15-17, pages 183-195.

[1] John Leland (1691-1766) was an English Presbyterian minister. The focus of his authorship is the opposition of Deism. [2] Sophocles (c. 495-406) was a Greek playwright. Of his one hundred and twenty-three plays, only seven tragedies survive. [3] Hecatæus of Aberda (fourth century BC) was a Greek historian and philosopher. [4] Little is known about Athenagoras (c. 133-c. 190), other than that he was an Athenian philosopher, convert to Christianity, and apologist. [5] Marcion (c. 85-160) was a Gnostic heretic from Sinope, Turkey. He was very influential in the early Church, in spite of being excommunicated. Marcion asserted that the God of the Old Testament was a lesser demiurge, a God of law, strict justice, and wrath. The God of the New Testament is a God of love and grace, revealed in Jesus Christ, and purely preached by Paul. It is not surprising that Marcion rejected all of the Old Testament, and also the New Testament books that speak favorably of the God of the Old Testament. Marcion’s canon consisted of an expurgated edition of Luke and ten of Paul’s epistles. [6] Cerdon was an early second century Docetic Gnostic of Syria. He taught that there were two Gods: the vengeful and demanding creator God of the Old Testament, and the loving and merciful God of the New Testament revealed in Jesus Christ. [7] Lambert Danæus (c. 1530-1596) was a French minister and theologian. He labored as a pastor and Professor of Divinity at Geneva, and then at Leiden. [8] Democritus (c. 460-c. 370) was a Pre-Socratic Greek philosopher, regarded by many as the Father of Atomism. [9] Denis Lambin (1520-1572) was a French classicist. He produced an annotated edition of Lucretius, as well as Horace, Cicero, and Demosthenes. [10] Leucippus (fifth century BC) was a pre-Socratic Greek philosopher. He is thought to have been the first to develop a theory of Atomism, but his fame as such has been eclipsed by that of his student, Democritus. [11] Ποιόω signifies to make of a certain quality. [12] Bernard Nieuwentyt (1654-1718) was a Dutch Reformed theologian and Cartesian philosopher. [13] Gaius Plinius Secundus, or Pliny the Elder (23-79), distinguished himself as a learned author, a celebrated Roman Procurator, and a courageous soldier. In his Natural History, Pliny in encyclopedic fashion attempts to cover the entire field of human knowledge as it stood in his day. It remains an invaluable resource in the fields of history, geography, literature, and Biblical studies. [14] Lucius Annæus Seneca (c. 4 BC-65 AD) was a Roman Stoic philosopher and dramatist. [15] Baruch Spinoza (1632-1677) was a Jewish-Dutch philosopher, and one of the great Rationalists in the tradition of Descartes. [16] Frans Burman the Younger (1671-1719) was a Dutch Minister and Professor of Theology at Utrecht (1714-1719). He was the son of Frans Burman (1628-1679), a Dutch Reformed and Cartesian Theologian, serving as Professor of Theology (1662-1671) and of Church History (1671-1679) at Utrecht.

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