The Works Of James Arminius Vol 2 by James Arminius
DISPUTATION XXIV ON CREATION
We have treated on God, who is the first object of the Christian religion. And we would now treat on Christ, who, next to God, is another object of the same religion; but we must premise some things, without which, Christ would neither be an object of religion, nor would the necessity of the Christian religion be understood. Indeed, the cause must be First explained, on account of which God has a right to require any religion from man; THEN the religion, also, that is prescribed in virtue of this cause and right, and, LASTLY, the event ensuing, from which has arisen the necessity of constituting Christ our saviour, and the Christian religion, employed by God, through his own will, who hath not, by the sin of man, lost His right which he obtains over him by creation, nor has he entirely laid aside his affection for man, though a sinner, and miserable. II. And since God is the object of the Christian religion, not only as the Creator, but likewise as the Creator anew, (in which latter respect, Christ, also, as constituted by God to be the saviour, is the object of the Christian religion,) it is necessary for us first to treat about the primitive creation, and those things which are joined to it according to nature, and, after that, about those which resulted from the conduct of man, before we begin to treat on the new creation, in which the primary consideration is that of Christ as Mediator. III. Creation is an external act of God, by which he produced all things out of nothing, for himself, by his Word and Spirit. IV. The primary efficient cause is God the Father, by his Word and Spirit. The impelling cause, which we have indicated in the definition by the particle |for,| is the goodness of God, according to which he is inclined to communicate his good. The ordainer is the divine wisdom; and the executrix, or performer, is the divine power, which the will of God employs through an inclination of goodness, according to the most equitable prescript of his wisdom. V. The matter from which God created all things, must be considered in three forms: (1.) The first of all is that from which all things in general were produced, into which, also, they may all, on this account, relapse and be reduced; it is nothing itself, that our mind, by the removal of all entity, considers as the first matter; for, that, alone, is capable of the first communication of God ad extra; because, God would neither have the right to introduce his own form into matter coeval [with himself], nor would he be capable of acting, as it would then be eternal matter, and, therefore, obnoxious to no change. (2.) The second matter is that from which all things corporeal are now distinguished, according to their own separate forms; and this is the rude chaos and undigested mass created at the beginning. (3.) The third consists both of these simple and secret elements, and of certain compound bodies, from which all the rest have been produced, as from the waters have proceeded creeping and flying things, and fishes -- from the earth, all other living things, trees, herbs and shrubs -- from the rib of. Adam, the woman, and from seeds, the perpetuation of the species. VI. The form is the production itself of all things out of nothing, which form pre existed ready framed, according to the archetype in the mind of God, without any proper entity, lest any one should feign an ideal world. VII. From an inspection of the matter and form, it is evident, First, that creation is the immediate act of God, alone, both because a creature, who is of a finite power is incapable of operating on nothing, and because such a creature cannot shape matter in substantial forms. Secondly. The creation was freely produced, not necessarily, because God was neither bound to nothing, nor destitute of forms. VIII. The end -- not that which moved God to create, for God is not moved by any thing external, but that which incessantly and immediately results from the very act of creation, and which is, in fact, contained in the essence of this act -- this end is the demonstration of the divine wisdom, goodness and power. For those divine properties which concur to act, shine forth and show themselves in their own nature action -- goodness, in the very communication -- wisdom, in the mode, order and variety -- and power, in this circumstance, that so many and such great things are produced out of nothing. IX. The end, which is called |to what purpose,| is the good of the Creatures themselves, and especially of man, to whom are referred most other creatures, as being useful to him, according to the institution of the divine creation. X. The effect of creation is this universal world, which, in the Scriptures, obtains the names of the heaven and the earth, sometimes, also, of the sea, as being the extremities within which all things are embraced. This world is an entire something, which is perfect and complete, having no defect of any form, that can bear relation to the whole or to its parts; nor is redundant in any form which has no relation to the whole and its parts. It is, also, a single, or a united something, not by an indivisible unity, but according to connection and co-ordination, and the affection of mutual relation, consisting of parts distinguished, not only according to place and situation, but likewise according to nature, essence and peculiar existence. This was necessary, not only to adumbrate, in some measure, the perfection of God in variety and multitude, but also to demonstrate that the Lord omnipotent did not create the world by a natural necessity, but by the freedom of his will. XI. But this entire universe is, according to the Scriptures, distributed in the best manner possible into three classes of objects, (1.) Into creatures purely spiritual and invisible; of this class are the angels. (2.) Into creatures merely corporeal. And (3.) Into natures that are, in one part of them, corporeal and visible, and in another part, spiritual and invisible; men are of this last class. XII. We think this was the order observed in creation: Spiritual creatures, that is, the angels, were first created. Corporeal creatures were next created, according to the series of six days, not together and in a single moment. Lastly, man was created, consisting both of body and spirit; his body was, indeed, first formed; and afterwards his soul was inspired by creating, and created by inspiring; that as God commenced the creation in a spirit, so he might finish it on a spirit, being himself the immeasurable and eternal Spirit. XIII. This creation is the foundation of that right by which God can require religion from man, which is a matter that will be more certainly and fully understood, when we come more specially to treat on the primeval creation of man; for he who is not the creator of all things, and who, therefore, has not all things under his command, cannot be believed, neither can any sure hope and confidence be placed in him, nor can he alone be feared. Yet all these are acts which belong to religion. COROLLARIES I. The world was neither created from all eternity, nor could it be so created; though God was, from eternity, furnished with that capability by which he could create the world, and afterwards did create it; and though no moment of time can be conceived by us, in which the world could not have been created. II. He who forms an accurate conception, in his mind, of creation, must, in addition to the plenitude of divine wisdom, goodness and power, or capability, conceive that there was a two-fold privation or vacuity -- the First, according to essence or form, which will bear some resemblance to an infinite nothing that is capable of infinite forms; the SECOND, according to place, which will be like an infinite vacuum that is capable of being the receptacle of numerous worlds. III. Hence, this, also, follows, that time and place are not Separate Creatures, but are created with things themselves, or, rather, that they exist together at the creation of things, not by an absolute but a relative entity, without which no created thing can be thought upon or conceived. IV. This creation is the first of all the divine external acts, both in the intention of the Creator, and actually or in reality; and it is an act perfect in itself, not serving another more primary one, as its medium; though God has made some creatures, which, in addition to the fact of their having been made by the act of creation, are fitted to be advanced still further, and to be elevated to a condition yet more excellent. V. If any thing be represented as the object of creation, it seems that nothing can be laid down more suitably than those things which, out of all things possible, have, by the act of creation, been produced from non-existence into existence.