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De Moor VIII:8: The Efficient Cause of Creation, Part 3

Indeed, the Power of Creation, because Omnipotent, is Incommunicable; for the divine Omnipotence is indivisible and incommunicable. Not only is this the divine Glory, that He alone is preeminent over all Creatures as their Creator, and by His infinite Virtues is distinguished from all finite Creatures, which Glory, being proper to Him, He is unwilling to bestow upon another, Isaiah 42:8: but, in addition, it is Contradictory, that God should give Infinite Power, which sort is required for Creation, as mention above, to a finite Creature, which is not capable of the infinite: or that He should convert a finite Creature into an Infinite one, so that it might be made something fit for the infinite Power of creation: for in this way the whole nature of things would be confounded; and then it implies that it is a Creature and Infinite at the same time.

Indeed, we assert that not only the Principal and Independent Power of Creation, but also the Instrumental, are Incommunicable: because, in accordance with § 7, there is no place for an Instrument in Creation; and an Instrument would no longer be an Instrument, if it be applied in such an action, of which sort is Creation. The whole nature of every Instrument consists in its aptitude for use; of which sort there is none in it, except in order to the subject upon which it acts, or with which it is concerned. But the subject here is either absolute nothingness, or, what comes to the same thing, in no manner apt for the production of the thing that is produced from it by Creation. And so it is confusion to call even the Instrumental Power of Creation Communicable.

Various Scholastics affirm the Power of Creation to be Communicable to the Creature; among these Durandus,[1] on book II Sententiarum theologicarum, Distinction I, question IV, states, that a Creature is able to be produced by God, to whom it agrees to create by its innate power. Others hold, that a Creature is able to be an Instrument of Creation, employed voluntarily by God, which would operate not by its own virtue, but borrowed, which opinion not a few of the Papists defend; evidently for the sake of Transubstantiation, in which the Sacrificing Priests are said to be made Creators of their Creator, as Biel[2] has it in the Canone Missæ. Nevertheless, while the more prudent Scholastics uphold with us, that creative power is able to agree with none other than God; which THOMAS proves at length, contra Gentiles, book II, chapter XXI, and Summæ Theologicæ, part I, question XLV, article V, page 88, whose opinion is embraced by Ockham,[3] Bonaventure,[4] Cajetan,[5] Bannes,[6] and others: see TURRETIN,[7]Theologiæ Elencticæ, locus V, question II, § 1. Upon the same matter the words of Estius[8] are also adduced by BULL, in his Epilogo Defensionis Fidei Nicænæ, page 291.

That some Socinians and Remonstrants have adopted that invention of certain of the Scholastics, is observed by our AUTHOR, and by TURRETIN, Theologiæ Elencticæ, locus V, question II, § 2; and by MARESIUS,[9] in his Systemate Theologico, locus V, § 4. Vorstius[10] in particular, in his Tractatu de Deo, page 225, writes, that by the absolute Power of God it could happen, that one who himself was created at a point in time, by virtue granted to him by God, might form a world out of matter ready and provided beforehand, in which many ages might then flow in succession: and he attempts to defend the same in his Exegese Apologetica, chapter XIV: see Censuram Confessionis Remonstrantium, chapter V, § 6, page 68; TRIGLAND’S[11]Kerckelycke Geschiedenissen, volume 4, pages 577, 584b. Indeed, Philipp van Limborch,[12] in his Epistola ad Burmannum, after FRANS BURMAN’S Burmannorum Pietatem, pages 35, 36, writes that unknown to him were the names of the Remonstrants that were teaching that the Power of Creation was able to be communicated to Creatures; on the contrary, he asserts that the Remonstrants were writing things that argue the Power of Creation to be proper to God in such a way that it is able to be communicated to absolutely no Creature. At the same time he is not able to deny, that in the Apologia Remonstrantium, on the passage cited in the Censura, page 61b, the Remonstrants do not manifestly and candidly distinguish themselves in this matter from Vorstius, which the Censors were desiring. The Scope of the Anti-Trinitarians is to shake and to enervate the argument that we seek for establishing the Deity of Christ from Creation.

Objection 1: He to whom absolute Power belongs is able to grant the Power of Creation to a Creature; and to deny this argues Impotence in God.

I Respond in the Negative, Because the absolute Power of God extends itself to all Possible things through the nature of God and of the matter: but what things are not such are also not the object of divine Power. But to these Impossible things is to be referred the Communication of creative Power, because it involves a Contradiction, both on God’s side, who thus would deny Himself, His Independence and ὑπεροχὴν/pre-eminence, and would given His Glory to another, contrary to 2 Timothy 2:14; Isaiah 42:8; and on the thing’s side, because by this Communication the Creature would be made a Being infinite and omnipotent, that is, a Non-creature: and so God is not able to communicate the Power of Creation to another, not out of a want of Power, but because of His perfection.

Objection 2: He who communicates the power of working Miracles to Creatures is also able to communicate the power of Creation. But God communicates the power of working Miracles to Creatures, as it is evident from the example of the Prophets and Apostles.

Responses: α. With respect to the Major; this distinction is to be observed between the works of Creation and of Providence, to which Miracles have regard; that God in Providence wills to make use of the ministry of intervening Creatures, even in extraordinary and miraculous works, but not so in the works of Creation.

β. But, as far as the Minor is concerned, we deny that the Power of working Miracles in their own strength was communicated to Prophets and Apostles, or that in the working of Miracles they were to be considered as Physical Instruments, that might reach the miraculous effect by some physical and bodily action: in this sense they themselves deny that they wrought Miracles, Acts 3:12, 16. It is to be observed, says the Most Illustrious VRIESIUS, in his Exercitationibus Rationalibus XXI, § 5, that the working of Miracles, strictly so called, is not at all to be referred to the proper virtue of second causes, and the real efficiency of the same; but that all the physical activity that is exerted in the production of a miraculous effect, is of the one God. Indeed, He alone, as the author and supreme Lord of all nature, is not bound by its laws; and so He is able at will to dispense with the same out of the plenitude of His power. That this does not at all belong to the creature, which, as such, is subject to the law of nature, the matter itself declares.

γ. Therefore, in the working of Miracles the Prophets and Apostles are to be considered as Moral Instruments, at whose presence and declaration God works. Which again I will be able best to explain in the words of VRIESIUS, saying in the place cited, Of course, they cooperate concerning the working of a Miracle, at least exercising a certain moral causality, by disposing the subject to the belief of it, by applying divine promise, by entreating God for the fulfillment of them, by sealing the wonders with some symbol, and by similar modes of operation, with which, if we should desire to speak properly, the working of a Miracle is clothed, rather than is caused in very deed. So that nothing here appears, that, as far as it pertains to the creature, is not of finite power.

Whence it follows, that by bare or mere Will the Angels do not work ad extra; which opinion of the more Recent Philosophers our AUTHOR will assail at length below, Chapter IX, § 10. Here he sets forth to the contrary only one argument after the manner of a Corollary, from the assertion of the impossibility of the Communication of the Power of Creation to any Creatures: which, if Angels might work by bare or mere Will, and God at their mere Will should produce the effect; actual Creation would have to be attributed to them, and thus the Instrumental Power of Creation not only would not be Incommunicable, but contrariwise would have been actually communicated: that is, on account of the Approbation of the divine Work, which is not able to be denied to the good Angels, who apparently by their rejoicing in the Creation of the earth testified to their Approbation of this divine Work, Job 38:7. And the Angels are most certainly able by the Will of God to will, that a new thing might exist by the power of God operating, and binding that work with their Will, so that by those willing that effect also might exist.

[1] Durandus of Saint-Pourçain (c. 1275-c. 1332) was a French Dominican philosopher and theologian. He lectured and wrote commentaries on Lombard’s Sentences. In some matters, he differed from the great Dominican theologian, Thomas Aquinas, and became known as the Doctor Resolutissimus for his firm adherence to his novel positions. [2] Gabriel Biel (c. 1420-1495) was a German Scholastic philosopher and theologian, and a member of the Canons Regular. Although Biel is a Nominalist, his thinking is somewhat eclectic, drawing freely from Bonaventure, Aquinas, and Scotus. [3] William of Ockham (c. 1287-1347) was an English Franciscan philosopher and theologian. His Nominalism has had an enduring impact on theology and philosophical thought. [4] Bonaventure (1221-1274) was an Italian Franciscan theologian and philosopher. [5] Thomas Cajetan (1469-1534) was an Italian Dominican. He was a theologian of great repute, and a learned proponent of a modified Thomism (Neo-Thomism). Due to his considerable talents, he was made a cardinal. Cajetan proved to be one of the more able opponents of the Reformation. [6]Domingo Báñez (1528-1604) was a Spanish Dominican and Thomistic theologian. [7] Francis Turretin (1623-1687) was a Genevan Reformed theologian of Italian descent. After studying at Geneva, Leiden, Utrecht, Paris, Saumur, and Montauban, he was appointed as the pastor of the Italian refugee congregation in Geneva (1648), and later Professor of Theology at the academy (1653). His Institutio Theologiæ Elencticæ has been heavily influential in the Reformed tradition, shaping Charles Hodge’s Systematic Theology and Herman Bavinck’s Gereformeerde dogmatiek. [8] William Estius (1542-1613) labored first as a lecturer on Divinity, then as the Chancellor at Doway. Theologically, he bears the imprint of the modified Augustinianism of Michael Baius. In his commentary writing, as exemplified in his Commentarii in Sacram Scripturam and Commentarii in Epistolas Apostolicas, he focuses on the literal meaning of the text; and he is widely regarded for his exegetical skill and judgment. [9] Maresius, or Samuel Desmarets (1599-1673), was a French Huguenot minister and polemicist. He held various ministerial posts, and served as Professor of Theology at Sedan (1625-1636), and at Groningen (1643-1673). [10] Conradus Vorstius (1569-1622) was a Dutch Arminian, condemned by the Synod of Dort and banished. It is reported that he openly embraced Socinianism at the end of his life. [11] Jacobus Trigland the Elder (1583-1654) was a Dutch Reformed pastor and theologian. He was deputed by the Synod of North Holland to the Synod of Dort, and served as a member of the committee appointed to draw up the Canons of Dort. In 1633, Trigland became Professor of Theology at Leiden. [12] Philip van Limborch (1633-1712) was a Dutch Remonstrant pastor and theologian, and Professor of Theology at Amsterdam (1667-1712).

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