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tivum, and, according to it, a creatio prima, and secunda. On the first day God produced of the mere nothing, or of the negatio omnis entitatis, the shapeless matter, out of wbich, as a primitive notbipg, in the following days be made the world. The old pbilosophical objection against this theory, 'ex nibilo nihil fit,' was removed, it is true, by limiting it to the domain of the final causalitas. However, from all ages, the creation from nothing was a weightless definition for speculative thinkers. Scotus Erigena understood under the nothing out of which all things are produced the sublime depth of the Divine Being above all final something. J. Böbme considered the real nature of God as the matter out of which he bas made all things, and afterwards the wbole root of this supposition was destroyed by Spinozism; the new dogma, as far it could proceed, bas either sent away the terminus, or so explained it that the nothing ought only to indicate the side of the non-existence, wbich is always joined to the world in reproduction. In the Chaldee history of creation the positive to the nothing is not the divine essence, but the divine will; of which we shall treat in the following chapter.”—vol. i. p. 46.
In the above reasoning we throw out of the question at once all Platonic notions, and shall simply take up the Mosaic and Christian. Now, first of all, Moses in his cosmogony is quite clear from Ovid's errors; he describes God positively as making the matter of the heavens and earth, as the immaterial generator of substance. Jehovah did not find things in confusion as Ovid describes God, he made matter. Ovid describes God and nature as co-equal and co-eternal. It is not so in the writings of Moses. Unbelievers may give this generation of matter the name of a weightless definition, but it is absurd to assert that any thing of perishable and fragile form can be God. We are aware that we shall be pressed with the Atomic Theory, with the individuality of every molecule, with its rigid character, with its indestructibility in space. We have nothing to do with this. A character impressed on a palpable thing must be exterior to the thing. If the character be coeval with the thing, then must whatever gave that character have preceded the impressed object. Now the indestructibility of matter is the result of exterior action, and therefore the inferiority of matter in duration to its Maker is evident. Now nothing can be more absurd than that reasoning that ex pects of the derived all the properties in the underived. Can God make gods? No. Does this proceed from the incapacity of God? No. Incapacity consists in not doing what is capable of being done. But whoever heard of an incapacity to effect an impossibility ? Who, but the school of Hegel and his pupil Strauss ever dreamt of treating the Son as produced, when the divinity of the Son is co-eternal with the Father, only different in mode? Moses asserts amply that matter was not with God
from everlasting, but all matter, stellar, universal, earthly, generated by him. As for the stuff repeatedly uttered, “ex nihilo nihil fit," why should any sensible being trouble himself with that equivo. cation, for it is nothing more? A thing is not made of nothing when the product of an Almighty will. As for that absurd distinction of a nihil negativum and a nihil privativum, Hegel and Strauss are welcome to what they can make out of it. They are valueless terms. The negatio omnis entitatis we take as a fair statement of primordial condition, and fully concede that Moses speaks of such a state as a creatio prima, and of the generation of matter as a creatio secunda, which consists in forming from it in. dividualities. But we have nothing in this view to do with matter as God or part of God. It must be held as aloof and wholly distinct from God, the positive matter, once the negative, and positive to sense only by the power of God. That this view stands any test, the vain battering of ages around the scheme of Berkeley, which has the basis of the Bible for it, leaving that scheme like a rock in ocean unmoved by the changing surge, will abundantly demonstrate. Infinite volition said, “Let there be light and there was light." The same volition has produced from an equally unpromising subject with darkness—the universe. We pass to chap. 47– The Reason and Aim of the Creation.”
In this chapter an effort is made to negative all views usually entertained of this subject, without substituting any that can be available to solve the problems which the author raises. We are first told that Moses drew from the Platonist system a baseless assertion, but though it has been said, τι γαρ εστι Πλατων η Μωσης ATTIXICWw; we never heard the reverse. We are next informed that the aim of an absolute Being must be absolute. A dogma that cannot be true, unless we suppose all creatures equal to the author of them. A vegetable, on this principle, ought to be a man, but unluckily remains a vegetable; man, the creator, but still he remains the creature. We are next informed that God required the world to realize unto him his own essence; so that, on this principle, a man could not be convinced he was a living being unless he had children. The next point mooted is, that God was not self-content until he had made the world; and, therefore, according to the sense attempted to be fastened on creation by Spinoza, it was a work of chance. As if creation were not as much a faculty of God, as man's operation is of himself; as if accident could befal one, whose very absoluteness precludes it. Here Leibnitz is quoted, who vents the fol lowing unintelligible stuff: “When God will create something, a combat of infinitely many possibilities rises almost, as it were,
asserelling is next isibility out of time and chooses.rtist, who
in strife to approach realization; among which, that which unites in itself the most reality and perfection conquers and become realized by God.” Si sic omnia dixisset, the contest between him and Newton had never been even debatable. Herder justly remarks on this, that dubitable reflecting and choosing canuot consist with God, that he is not as a meditative artist, who breaks his head projects, compares, rejects, and chooses. There can be no realm of possibility out of the power and will of God. Schelling is next introduced to strengthen the arguments with the assertion, that the most complete Being has already existed in the most complete manner, because in the real possession of the highest perfection he would not have had any reason to create and produce so many things by which he becomes less complete. So that, trying Schelling on a matter of fact, we come to this: the king that makes an edict, (a Russian ukase is an excellent illustration,) which is partially obeyed, demonstrates by it, not bis power, but his weakness, supposing all his people had disobeyed him on the subject of the edict previously. The edict is no evidence of power, but of privation of power. An emperor then, with bis armies and state apparatus, is weaker than without them. Supposing him by their aid to conquer kingdoms, he is only demonstrating his weakness if he be not the conqueror of the world. And the originating God, in the multiplicities of his contrivances in the relative perfections of his creatures, is not glorified unless he make them such that they be enabled to obscure his glory. J. Böhme next favours us with the following; this writer is highly in favour with Dr. Strauss, because the mystics give him vantage-ground in disputation: “As now God has corporized together eternal natures (angels) out of himself, they ought not in the heavenly rank to be looked upon in the same character as God. No; they were not formed to this end as the figures (ideas), which by the qualifying (viz. evepysic) the spirits of God in the (eternal) nature disappeared again by the moving of the spirits, but the body of the angels was corporized together harder and more compact than God was in himself, and remained so that their light ought to shine brighter in their hardness.” If our readers can understand this, they must be gifted with uncommon perspicuity; to us it appears impiety, united with unintelligibility. Again : “ The Eternal Divinity would not be manifest to itself if God had not created creatures as angels and men, who understand the eternal inextricable chain, and how the birth of the light was in God.” After the quotation of J. Böhme, modern theology receives from Dr. Strauss the compliment of affinity to this unsettled mystic, or madman. · Hear that, shades of Michaelis,
Marsh, Waterland, Bull, and Barrow! After this the inquiry is carried on to the relations of the Trinity. God is next represented, after Hegel, as nothing but an abstract idea if not conceived of as Creator : “ Without the world God is not God.” If by Welt, in this passage, he means world, or even universe, and would represent God as an abstract idea if either of these be removed, the idea is as impious as it is untrue. After having thus attempted, as he says, to get rid of such a reproach, as to teach an incomplete Divinity, who developed bimself with time, he proceeds to Chapter 48, to examine, in illustration of his position, " Whether the Creation be Temporal or Eternal.”
The arguments of this chapter are extremely ingenious, but nothing more; we shall however enter into an abstract of the important matter urged in it. The Mosaic narration, it is first assumed, simply places the creation of all things in the beginning, but does not state what was before this beginning, which does not satisfy a German neologist. As God was before the world, be wants to be informed what took place in that unrevealed period.
The theory of immense periods of time, Æons, Jeron's wild imagination here comes in for notice as well as animadversion. “ We must suppose," says this Father, “ an infinite series of centuries before the creation of the world, during which God the Father was alone with the Son and the Holy Ghost, and perhaps also the angels. Six thousand years of our world are not yet accomplished, he exclaims! How many eternities! What periods ! What centuries coming forth one from another must have pre. ceded!”
“ This shallow admiration,” says our author, " was soon succeeded by the notion why, if the creation of the world was something good, did God defer it so long. Why did your God, suddenly asked the Manicbæan, conceive an idea of doing what he had not done through the whole eteruity before? What did God do, demanded others, before he made beaven and earth? Did he repose and do nothing? Why then did be not continue his repose? Why did he introduce into his essence a change which destroys bis eternity? The divine bonnty, observed the philosophers, could never have been inactive any more than his power; but as he is now Creator and Lord, he must bave been so from eternity, consequently be must have created and governed the world from eternity. As the co-existence (Nebeneinandersein) of infinite worlds in space was an Epicurean doctrine, so was the succession of infinitely many worlds in time an infinite change of expansion and contraction of the Divine Being, according to the Stoic doctrine of difference (Unterscheidungslehre)."
The Church has never been without her philosophising and dreamy-minded men, more Pagan-minded than Christian, and ac
cordingly a capital use is made by our author of Origen, who asserts that God had made series after series of worlds, basing this assertion upon the creative and governing activity in the first instance, and secondly, that the transition from creation to non-creation must bring a change into the divine nature. Were this the fact, every child that is born might be pleaded as a change in the Godhead, as God becomes the God of another soul by reason of its birth. Origen is only right in the probable basis of his idea, which is clearly that creation is not accidental, but essential to the Godhead; though it is not apparent, even on that supposition, that its incessant exercise must follow. Practically we see it does not, since no new worlds rise visibly to sight, that is, to our limited experience; but theoretically Origen's position is not clear.
We have next another speculative Father, Augustin, and he takes as an illustration money and its uses to clear up the matter, but unsuccessfully. Scotus follows, and, with his usual rash assertions, states that God was one thing before he created, and a different thing after. But here Augustin draws a distinction between wish and will, much to the fancy of the schoolmen, but satisfactory to few others. Philo here intervenes with a definition of time, widely different from Locke, and falsely states that time could not exist before creation. Augustin works upon this, and makes out that the world was created, not in the time, but with the time. The following assertion is then made :-
“ It is a mere deceit to imagine that we can fix a point in the divine eternity, from which the world begins, wbilst on the other side lays the pure eternity. Such a point makes that which is before or behind temporal; for in eternity there is no fixed point from which a beginning could depart."
How completely all this fails when we consider, first, that time enters into eternity. How does this affect angelic existence ? Would not that be from a point? Man, again, we can conceive becoming immortal; yet this is something before a man. To talk of fixed points in eternity involves only a contradiction of terins. We might as well speak of the eternity of time. Great praise is next given to Augustin for the elimination of a timeless causality. This Father represents the creature as one by God eternally, but governed, only differing in one point from the eternity of God, the governing principle, but in its intinite temporality approaching that eternity. God, though thus never without creatures, yet is always before them in priority, not through a preceding time, but by virtue of his eternity. Scotus Erigena draws the distinction that God preceded the world, not according to time, but according to causality. Spinoza distinguished be