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§ 20. Creation a Divine Work.

THE doctrine of the Divine works follows next in order to that of the existence, essence, and attributes of the triune God. The first outward work of God (opus ad extra) is the creation of the world. [1] Concerning this creation the Holy Scriptures teach us:

(1) That it is a work of God, which He accomplished without the cooperation or assistance of any creature, [2] of His own free will, [3] and solely by means of His omnipotent creative Word; [4] a work of the one true God, and, therefore, of the Triune God. [5]

(2) As God is, in the true sense of the word, Creator of the world, this fact excludes every conception of a material existing from eternity out of which God only made, prepared, or fashioned the world; on the contrary, the material itself, of which the world consists, was created by God. This is expressed in the proposition, that the world was created from nothing, which is intended to mean that there was nothing in 160existence which God made use of in forming the world, but that everything that exists was first called into being by Him. (2 Macc. 7:28; Rom. 4:17; Heb. 11:3; Is. 41:24; Prov. 8:22.)[6]

(3) As a specific beginning of creation is taught in the first chapter of Genesis, this at once excludes the conception of a world existing from eternity. [7]

(4) The world, if we mean by this term its entire construction and arrangement as existing at the end of the six days of creation, came into being, according to the narrative in Genesis, not at once, but gradually (“during a period of six days God made all things which He created and made, observing an admirable order”). The manner of their production (ordo creationis) is described in the first chapter of Genesis, and from this account we can distinguish: (a) The creation of matter; (b) The separation of the different kinds of materials created from nothing; (c) The arrangement of the rude masses and their construction into the form in which they appeared at the end of the days of creation. [8] We can thus also distinguish between immediate and mediate creation; the former being the creation from nothing, and the latter the arrangement of the previously created materials. [9]

(5) The first and highest aim of creation is the glory of God, for God wishes to be recognized and revered as the great God that He is. (Ps. 19:1; Prov. 16:4.) But, among all the creatures that have been called into being, man holds the highest place, and for his sake everything else in the world has been created; therefore, as the intermediate aim of creation, we are to regard the use and benefit of man. (Gen. 1:28.) [10]

(6) If the world is thus entirely the creature of God, it follows, finally, as is indeed expressly stated, Gen. 1:31, that everything in the world was very good, and that, therefore, everything evil that is now in it must be regarded as having entered subsequently. [11]

This is all comprehended in the definition: “Creation is an act of God, who is one and alone, and an undivided work of the three persons of the Godhead, by which the Father, through the co-eternal Son, in the co-eternal Holy Spirit, of his own free will, in six distinct days, formed all things, visible 161and invisible, not out of some materials co-existing with Himself from eternity, but from nothing, for the glory of His own name and the benefit of man; and all things that God made are very good.” (GRH. IV, 51.) [12]

[1] The distinction between works ad intra and ad extra, which we discussed in connection with the doctrine of the Trinity, is not introduced by some of the Dogmaticians until they treat of the present topic.

QUEN. (I, 415) divides divine actions ad extra into: “actions of power, as the creation and preservation of the world;” “actions of mercy, as the redemption, calling, regeneration, conversion, and salvation of the human race;” and “actions of justice, as the resurrection of the dead, the final judgment, and the damnation of devils and the wicked.”

Concerning the connection of the doctrine of the creation with that of the Trinity, CHMN. (Loc. Th., I, 112): “Thus far, in the article of the Trinity, God has been described as He is in His secret nature, and mention has, indeed, been also made of the works of God, but, especially, of those which divinity works within itself, apart from every creature. But God, who has made darkness His hiding-place, and who dwells in inaccessible light, coming forth from His secret abode, has manifested Himself, also, in works ad extra, . . . and, because the first manifestation ad extra was made in the work of creation, the article concerning the creation immediately follows.”

[2] CHMN. (Loc. Th., I, 115): “Creation is an action of the one God. This is said, because of those who have proposed a number of sources; It is, likewise, an action of God alone, which neither ought to be, nor can be, ascribed to any creature (Mal. 2:10; Job 31:15; 1 Cor. 8:6; Is. 45:6, 7; Job 9:8.)” This statement, at the same time, excludes the opinion of those “who add to God, in the work of creation, the co-operation of nature, in accordance with what occurs in things already framed and set in order” (CHMN. (I, 116)), as well as the view of those, also, “who have divided the work of creation between God and the angels” (GRH. IV, 7).

CALOV. (III, 897): “In the primeval creation there was no instrumental cause or means, because God created all things by the Word.”

[3] QUEN. (I, 417): “Neither was there any antecedent cause, except the purpose of God alone, communicating Himself, not from the necessity of nature, but from the freedom of His will.”


CALOV. (III, 896): “The impelling cause of creation is the immense goodness of God, prompted by which, as He wished to communicate the highest good, He most freely communicated Himself.”

HOLL. (357): “Creation is a free, divine action, because God framed the universe, not induced thereto by necessity, as though He needed the service of creatures (since He is absolutely independent, αυταρκεστατος), but freely, as He was able to create or not to create and to frame sooner or later, in this or in another manner.”

[4] Hence creation is also described as “not successive, but, with respect to every individual being created, instantaneous, for God framed everything, not by any movement or laborious exertion, but when He said, ‘Let there be light,’ immediately there was light.” — HOLL. (ib.).

CALOV. (III, 900): “The action is not properly successive, but instantaneous, for the individuals, which God created, He created in as instant, without movement or succession, although, if these be regarded collectively, the creation was completed in six days (νυχθημερα); not that He devoted those entire days to creation, but that He created something in the moments of each day.”

[5] CALOV. (III, 889): “The efficient cause of creation is God, one and alone.”

GRH. (IV, 4): “But that one true God is Father, Son, and Holy Ghost; therefore, in Scripture, the work of creation is ascribed to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Ghost. Of the Father it is affirmed, 1 Cor. 8:6. Of the Son, John 1:3; Col. 1:16. Of the Holy Ghost, Job. 26:13; 33:4; Ps. 104:30. We conclude, therefore, that creation is an undivided action of the one and true God alone, viz., of Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.” If nevertheless creation, in a special sense, is called the work ad extra of God the Father (compare the section on the Trinity, note 29), this is done only by way of appropriation (same section, note 23).

HOLL. (352): “In Holy Scripture and the Apostles’ Creed the work of creation is ascribed, in a peculiar manner, to God the Father: (a) Because of the order of working; for this reason, that what the Father has of Himself to do and to create, the Son of God and the Holy Ghost have of the Father. (b) Because, in the works of creation, God the Father, by His most efficacious word of command, manifested His own omnipotence, Gen. 1:3. (c) Creation is the first divine work ad extra, and therefore, by appropriation, is affirmed of the First Person of the Godhead.”

CHMN. (Loc. Th., I, 115): “We must not dispute too curiously concerning the distinction of persons in the work of creation, but let us be content with the revelation, that all things were created 163by the eternal Father, through the Son, while the Holy Ghost hovered over them, Rom. 11:36. But these things are not to be construed into an inequality of persons, as the Arians blasphemously assert that the Son was God’s instrument in creation, just as the workman uses an axe. For the prepositions (απο, δια, εν) do not divide the nature, but express the properties of a nature that is one and unconfused.” See also HOLL. (353): “The three persons of the Godhead are not three associated causes, not three authors of creation, but one cause, one author of creation, one Creator. Although they are three distinct persons, yet they influence the work of creation with one power. If they were to influence it with a diverse power of working, they would be associated causes.”

[6] QUEN. (I, 417): “There was no material of creation out of which (materia ex qua), with respect to things created on the first day. For they were created on the first day, not from any pre-existing material, whether eternal or created before, but were made from purely negative nothing. When it is said that the works of the first day were created ‘from noting,’ the particle from does not designate the material out of which, but excludes it. For, by ‘from nothing,’ there is nothing else denoted than the starting-point (terminus a quo); i.e., the nothing, from which all things are said to have been made, has respect not to the material, but only to the starting-point, and ought to be understood of the order of creation; and the particle ‘from’ can be correctly translated by ‘after,’ so that the sense may be: After nothing, as the starting-point, something was made.”

CHEMN. (Loc. Th., I, 115): “That the ‘material from which’ was not from eternity, but all things were created from nothing; i.e., although things did not exist, they began to be when God spake . . . Moreover, it is said that they were created from nothing, not as we commonly say, ‘they contend about nothing,’ i.e., about a trifling matter; but as when something is made, springs up, and comes into being, and there is not anything out of which it may be made.”

GRH. (IV, 7): “They occasion the madness of the Stoics, who devised two eternal principles, νους και υλη, mind, or God, and matter, which they imagined was, during the ages of eternity, a confused chaos, and, at a certain time, was at length brought into form by mind.”

In connection with this doctrine, the Dogmaticians call attention also to the difference in the meaning of the words create, beget, and make. See above, § 19, note 31. From the distinction between create and beget, arises the proposition (HOLL. (356)): “God did not create this visible world from His own essence, nor did He, as it 164were, diffuse this into parts, so that every creature may be said to be a particle of God.”

CALOV. (III, 899): “Creation does not consist in emanation from the essence of God, nor in generation, nor in motion, or natural change, . . . but in outward action, by which, by means of infinite power, things are produced from nothing.”

[7] QUEN. (I, 421): “The world neither has been from eternity nor could it have been created from eternity.” Proof (ibid. 422): “(a) From the history of creation; (b) from the end and destruction of the world; (c) from the eternity peculiar to God alone; (d) from the manner of its production, viz.: because all things were created from nothing, it follows that the material from which (materia ex qua) was not from eternity.” While it is thus asserted that the world could not have been created from eternity, we still dare not express ourselves in such a manner as though the world had been created at a particular time, since we cannot conceive of a time as having existed before the world.

Concerning this point, the Dogmaticians usually express themselves as follows: HFRFFR. (67): “Moses (Gen. 1) replies, saying: That this mechanism of the world was not always, or from eternity; but that, in its coming forth, it depended upon a certain beginning of time; so that, since, in the infinite ages of past eternity, there was no world, God caused the world to come forth in that definite beginning of time.” CALOV. (III, 901): “The creation of things did not occur from eternity, but in that beginning in which all time began to flow. Hence, creation began, not properly in time, but in the first instant and beginning of time. This is called the beginning of the way of the Lord, Prov. 8:22, before which, as there was no way, no outward action, no work, so also there was no time, no period, no age; for as the ages began to be framed by the Word, Heb. 11:3, so also the creation of all ages began, 1:2.”

The question, “Why God did not create the world sooner, and what He did whilst alone and unemployed in that eternity,” is repulsed as “a question of madmen curiously inquiring into such things as have no profit.” (HFRFFR. (69.)

[8] HFRFFR. (72): “From Gen. 1:1, sq., it appears that, in the creation of the world, there was a three-fold operation of the Creator: (1) First, indeed, He created; i.e., although there was no matter before, He produced from nothing that crude and confused corporeal mass which Moses has designated by the names, heaven, earth, and water; (2) Then, during the three days, He divided these three bodies; (3) At length, during the second period of three days, He completed everything with its garniture.”


QUEN. (I, 417): “The action of creation comprises three steps: (1) The production, on the first day, of the crude material, which was the germinal source, as it were, of the entire universe; (2) The distinction and disposition of simple creatures during the first three days: for, on the first day, He separated light form darkness; on the second, by interposing the firmament, the waters beneath from those above; and, on the third, the earth from the waters; (3) The furnishing and completion of the world, which was brought to perfection in the second period of three days; for, on the fourth day, He furnished the heavens with luminaries; on the fifth, the water with fishes, and the atmosphere with winged creatures; and, finally, on the sixth, the earth with animals, and, at last, with the chief of all animate beings, viz., with man.”

The later Dogmaticians usually treat of man, as the last of created beings, in a separate section, which they place before that of Providence. But we think we can appropriately here insert the essential features of the topic in the following propositions:

(a) As to his position in the world, the remark of QUEN. (I, 511): “God, to give, as it were, the last touch to the work of creation, framed the most noble of creatures, for whose sake he had produced all the rest, viz., man.”

(b) Definition, HOLL. (406): “Man is an animal, consisting of a rational soul and an organic body, framed by God, and endowed at the first creation with God’s own image, in order that he might sincerely worship the Creator, live a godly life, and attain eternal happiness.”

(c) The first man was Adam. QUEN. (I, 543): “Adam, framed by God on the sixth day of the first hexahemeron, is the first of all men, and the parent of the entire human race, throughout the whole globe, 1 Cor. 15:45, 47; Gen. 2:5. (The antithesis of Is. Peyrere, the founder of the Pre-adamites (1655), who says that: ‘The Gentiles are diverse from the Jews in race and origin; the Jews were formed by God in Adam, the Gentiles were created before, on the same day as other animate beings. The origin of the latter is described in Gen. 1, that of the former in Gen. 2 . . . The Gentiles are many ages before the Jewish nation, and, by race and nature, diverse from the same, and survivors of the Noachian flood of the Jews.’ Likewise, that ‘the epoch of the creation of the world should not be dated from that beginning which is commonly imagined in Adam, but must be sought for still further back, and from ages very remote in the past.’)” BR. (239): “Moreover, in the beginning, God framed only one individual, namely a male; woman He afterwards produced from the rib of her sleeping husband, Gen. 2:22.”


(d) Of the mode of production, QUEN. (I, 512): “It consists in this, that God made man (α) with singular deliberation, taken concerning this work, Gen. 1:26; (β) immediately, with His own hands, so to say; (γ) ornately and elegantly; (δ) successively (Gen. 2:7, 21:22), first (with respect to Adam) forming the body, and then breathing into it a soul.”

(e) Of the internal, constitutive principles of man. QUEN. (I, 513): “They are the material and the physical form. The material is an animate organic body, before the Fall impassible, and not mortal. Gen. 1:26; Wis. 2:23. The physical form is the soul before the Fall illumined with great light of concreated wisdom and knowledge, Col. 3:10. Therefore, it is pure, and entirely destitute of any sinful stain, Eph. 4:24.” The spirit is thus not enumerated as the third essential part of man. In reference to the passages cited as favoring that view, it is remarked by QUEN. (I, 518): “(1) In such passages Holy Scripture does not understand by spirit, a spirit differing substantially from the human soul, but a superior part of the soul. (2) It distinguishes between, on the one hand, spirit taken for an essential part of man, which thus used is the same as soul, and is not distinguished from it; and, on the other, as employed for spiritual gifts and those of sanctification, which are conferred by the Holy Ghost upon believers, or for the grace of the Holy Ghost and His operation, viz., the qualities and gifts of the Holy Ghost in regenerate man.” [GRH. XVII, 80. “That there are but two parts of man, is proved by (1) Man’s creation, Gen. 2:7. (2) His redemption. For Christ’s redemption had to do with man in his entire being, consisting only of soul and body, Gal. 3:13; 4:5; Luke 19:10. (3) His renewal and sanctification. (4) The Incarnation of the Son; for He assumed soul and body. (5) The death of man, Ecc. 12:7; Acts 7:59. (6) The resurrection of the dead, 1 Kings 17:21. Opponents of our view urge passages of Scripture in which the spirit is distinguished from the soul, Luke 1:46; 1 Thess. 5:23; Heb. 4:12. We reply that the term spirit is sometimes put exegetically for the soul itself, since the soul is a spirit, Gen. 2:7; 46:27. Some understand by spirit, 1 Thess. 5:23, the mind or intellect, by soul, the will and affections.]

(f) The question, “Whether human souls are created daily by God, or are propagated per traducem,” is answered thus by QUEN. (I, 519): “The soul of the first man was immediately created by God; but the soul of Eve was produced by propagation, and the souls of the rest of men are created, not daily, nor begotten of their parents as the body or souls of brutes, but, by virtue of the 167divine blessing, are propagated, per traducem, by their parents.” QUEN. (I, 520, sq.) adduces the proof: “(1) from the primeval blessing of God; Gen. 1:28, cf. 8:17; 9:1. (2) From God’s rest and cessation on the seventh day from all work, Gen. 2:2. (3) From the production of the soul of Eve, Gen. 2:21,22. (4) From the description of generation, Gen. 5:3. Just as after the Fall Adam begat a son in his own likeness, after his image, not only with respect to body, but also with respect to soul, so also the rest of men. (5) From Gen. 46:26. (6) From the following absurdities, (a) if it be affirmed that souls are created immediately by God, either original sin would be altogether denied or God could not be vindicated from injustice, both of which are absurd; (b) it follows that man does not beget an entire man, or an entire composite being, but only that part of it which does not give form77[The word “form” in this connection is used in the scholastic sense of the term, viz.: “Form is the essence of the thing, from which result not only its figure and shape, but all its other qualities.” (Fleming’s Vocabulary.) See also Glossary at the end of this volume.] to man; that He does not beget man, for man without form, i.e., soul, is not man. . . . (7) From Ps. 51:7.” Cf. also the following observations of QUEN. (I, 519): “(1) We distinguish between the simultaneous creation of all souls, at the origin of the world, and the daily creation which occurs now, as often as men are begotten. (2) As human reason, not enlightened by Holy Scripture, knows little that is certain concerning the departure of the human soul from the body, and its condition after its departure, so also it can define nothing certain concerning the origin of the human soul in or with the body. (3) We distinguish between traduction, or the propagation itself of the soul, and the mode of traduction or propagation. That the soul is propagated by parents procreating children, and that souls are not immediately created or infused by God, is sufficiently manifest from the Holy Scriptures; but the mode has not been defined, and, therefore, we refrain from its determination and definition.” GRH. IV. 278: “1. Since the image of God, which was the righteousness, holiness and perfection of the concreated human soul, was propagated by generation, the soul itself must be thus propagated. 2. Original sin. . . . 3. The force of the words. Gen. 1:28. That this was not destroyed by the Fall is proved by Gen. 5:3. ‘Adam begat a son,’ etc., i.e., ‘flesh of flesh,’ John 3:6, by which term not only the body is meant, Ga. 5:20. The corrupt image of Adam, therefore, is to be sought not in the body alone of his sons, but in the entire man. . . . 5. God did not create a soul for Eve, but transferred it from 168Adam to Eve, and thus Eve derived her soul from Adam. For as the entire soul is in the entire body, and is entire in every part thereof, the rib of which Eve was formed was animated, and therefore she received a soul, not by inspiration or new creation, but by propagation from Adam. Eve’s posterity, as animated, are begotten of animated parents,” etc. . . . The explanation of the mode of propagation is most difficult. 1. Some say that the souls of children are enkindled from those of parents as a torch from a torch, flame from flame. 2. Some, that the soul of the child is propagated from that of the parent, not separately, but that the whole is begotten of the whole; the seed being animated, but not that of either parent separately, but only in the union ordained of God for this purpose. 3. Some, that besides its form, prepared for an organic body, it has a divinely implanted force whereby it can produce a soul. 4. Some, that the soul of the mother can produce the soul of her offspring by growth, in the same way in which she produces new matter for nourishment. 5. Others attempt to reduce the contrary opinions of creation and propagation to harmony in this way; There is a two-fold production: one with respect to the power of nature, called generation; another, with respect to the absolute power of God, called creation. Creation, thus taken, is divided into that which proceeds from nothing, and is creation, properly so-called, and that which proceeds from a substance, yet neither necessarily nor with natural power, but in obedience to command. This presupposed, they maintain that God creates a new soul not of the souls of the parents, which, since it thus derives its material from Adam, participates in his guilt. . . . We leave the mode to be investigated by philosophers; but, meanwhile, the propagation itself must not be denied, because the mode of the propagation is not manifest.

Of the body, HOLL. says further (411): “(a) The body is a true part of man, without which he is not a true and entire man.” (412): “(b) The human soul has not been cast by God into the body as into a foul prison, by which it is hindered from being able to elevate itself and fly upward to the knowledge, love, and worship of God.” (The antithesis of the Mystics.) Of the soul, HOLL. (409): “The soul is said to have been breathed into man by God, but not from God. For God did not, from His own substance, breathe into man a soul.” (417): “The human soul neither emanated from the divine essence, nor by spiritual regeneration and mystic union with the triune God does it return or flow back to the divine essence.” Hence, BR. (237): “God created man, producing his body from the earth, but his soul from nothing, and joining it to the body.”


[9] QUEN. (I, 417): “All things were created from nothing, nevertheless some immediately, viz., the works of the first day, and others mediately, viz., by means of the material which God had before created from absolutely negative nothing, viz., the works of the succeeding five days.” (Ibid. 418): “The former is of the highest order, and is creation, primarily or properly so-called, through which God, without the intervention of another, acted immediately upon nothing, by calling forth from it that which has a real and positive essence; but the latter is creation of the second order, secondarily and less principally, yet properly so-called, by which God produced something from a material pre-existing, but crude and altogether confused.”

[10] QUEN. (I, 418): “The ultimate end of creation is the glory of God. For in and through creation God manifested (a) the glory of His goodness by sharing His goodness with creatures; (b) the glory of His power, by creating all things from nothing; by His will and Word alone; (c) the glory of wisdom, which shines forth from the multitude, variety, order, and harmony of things created, Ps. 19:1.”

GRH. (IV, 4): “In order that God, who is invisible by nature, might be known also from things visible, a work was wrought by Him, to manifest the workman by its visibility.”

QUEN. (I, 418): “The intermediate end of creation is the advantage of men. For God made all things for the sake of man, but man He made for His own sake, Ps. 115:16.”

[11] CHEMN. (Loch. Th., I, 116): “To the definition of creation this also belongs: that all things which God made are very good, Gen. 1:31; Wis. 1:13,14.

QUEN. (I, 418): “From this statement we exclude the defects of nature, which began only after man’s fall.”

CALOV. (III, 902): “Well-pleasing to God are the consequences of creation, the rest from the work of creation, as well as the power and dominion exercised over creatures.”

[12] QUEN. (I, 415): “Creation is an external action of the triune God, whereby, to the praise of His name and the advantage of men, in the space of six days, by the command alone of His most free will, He omnipotently and wisely produced from nothing all things visible and invisible.”

BR. (248): “Creation is defined as an action ad extra of the triune God, whereby God, impelled by His goodness, produced this world and all things that are therein, first, indeed, as simple bodies, from no pre-existing material; then out of simple bodies, as a crude and confused material, He produced mixed bodies; nay, 170even independently of all material, He produced immaterial substances, so as, by the direction alone of His will, to frame with power each of these, according to the idea of His mind, and in the space of six days to complete the entire work, to the glory of His wisdom, power, and goodness, and to the advantage of men.”

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