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Prov. xvi. 4. “Jehovah hath made all things for himself." Acts xiv. 15. "that ye should turn from these vanities unto the living God which made heaven and earth and the sea, and all things that are therein." xvii. 24. "God that made the world and all things therein." Rom. i. 20. " for his eternal power and Godhead are clearly seen."

Thus far it has appeared that God the Father is the primary and efficient cause of all things. With regard to the original matter of the universe, however, there has been much difference of opinion. Most of the moderns contend that it was formed from nothing, a basis as unsubstantial as that of their own theory. In the first place, it is certain that neither the Hebrew verb 72, nor the Greek xríge, nor the Latin creare, can signify to create out of nothing.1 On the contrary, these words uniformly signify to create out of matter. Gen. i. 21, 27. "God created.... every living creature which the waters


3 The object of the next pages is to prove that the world was not created out of nothing. An intimation of this opinion occurs incidentally in

Paradise Lost.

Fool, not to think how vain
Against th' Omnipotent to rise in arms :

Who out of smallest things could without end
Have rais'd incessant armies to defeat

Thy folly.

VI. 135.

where Newton rightly observes, that Milton did not favour the opinion that the creation was out of nothing. Richardson has also a remark to the same effect on Par. Lost, I. 9. See his Explanatory Notes and Remarks on Paradise Lost, p. 4. edit. 1734. London.


9 So Drusius, Paulus Fagius, Estius, &c. and nearly all the English commentators. Tillotson takes occasion to reply to the objections raised against the doctrine, in his sermon On the Power of God, from Psal. lxii. 11. With regard to the opinion of the Fathers, Lactantius says, (De Orig. Error. lib. ii.) Nemo quærat ex quibus ista materiis tam magna, tam mirifica opera Deus fecerit; omnia enim fecit ex nihilo.' Tertullian, (Advers. Hermog. cap. xlv.) 'Igitur in quantum constitit materiam nullam fuisse, ex hoc etiam quod nec talem competat fuisse qualis inducitur, in tantum probatur omnia a Deo ex nihilo facta.' Justin. (Aristotel. Dogm. evers.) εἰ οὕτως ἐστὶν ἡ ὕλη ἀγέννητος, ὡς ὁ Θεὸς, καὶ δύναται ὁ θεὸς ἐκ τοῦ ἀγεννήτου ποιῆσαί τι, δῆλον ὣς δύναται ὁ θεὸς καὶ ἐκ τοῦ ἁπλῶς μὴ ὄντος ποιῆσαί τι. The Valentinians first affirmed matter to have been co-eternal with God, and the Gnostics followed them in a still more senseless modification of this heresy. See King on the Creed, p. 81. edit. 1719. Stillingfleet's Origines Sacræ. B. III. Ch. 2.

1 See this argument answered by Beveridge, Exposition of the First Article, Works, Vol. IX. p. 50.

brought forth abundantly.... male and female created he them." Isa. liv. 16. "behold, I have created the smith.... I have created the waster to destroy." To allege, therefore, that creation signifies production out of nothing, is, as logicians say, to lay down premises without a proof; for the passages of Scripture commonly quoted for this purpose, are so far from confirming the received opinion, that they rather imply the contrary, namely, that all things were not made out of nothing. 2 Cor. iv. 6. "God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness." That this darkness was far from being a mere negation, is clear from Isai. xlv. 7. "I am Jehovah; I form the light, and create darkness." If the darkness be nothing, God in creating darkness created nothing, or in other words, he created and did not create, which is a contradiction. Again, what we are required to understand through faith respecting the worlds, is merely this, that "the things which were seen were not made of things which do appear," Heb. xi. 3. Now the things which do not appear are not to be considered as synonymous with nothing, (for nothing does not admit of a plural, nor can a thing be made and compacted together out of nothing, as out of a number of things)," but the meaning is, that they do not appear as they now are. The apocryphal writers, whose authority may be considered as next to that of the Scriptures, speak to the same effect. Wisd. xi. 17. "thy almighty hand that made the world of matter without form." 2 Macc. vii. 28. "God made the earth and all that is therein of things that were not." The expression in Matt. ii. 18. may be quoted, "the children of Rachel are not." This, however, does not mean properly that they are nothing, but that (according to a common Hebraism) they are no longer among the living.

It is clear then that the world was framed out of matter of some kind or other. For since action and passion are relative terms, and since, consequently, no agent can act externally, unless there be some patient, such as matter, it appears impossible that God could have created this world out of nothing;

2 There seems to be an error in the Latin MS. in this passage. It stands thus-neque compingi ex multis tanquam ex nihilo quicquam potest. It is probable that a confusion has arisen in the arrangement of the words, and that the sentence ought to have been-neque compingi ex nihilo tunquam ex multis quicquam potest.



not from any defect of power on his part, but because it was necessary that something should have previously existed capable of receiving passively the exertion of the divine efficacy. Since, therefore, both Scripture and reason concur in pronouncing that all these things were made, not out of nothing, but out of matter, it necessarily follows, that matter must either have always existed independently of God, or have originated from God at some particular point of time. That matter should have been always independent of God, (seeing that it is only a passive principle, dependent on the Deity, and subservient to him; and seeing, moreover, that, as in number, considered abstractedly, so also in time or eternity there is no inherent force or efficacy) that matter, I say, should have existed of itself from all eternity, is inconceivable. If on the contrary it did not exist from all eternity, it is difficult to understand from whence it derives its origin. There remains, therefore, but one solution of the difficulty, for which moreover we have the authority of Scripture, namely, that all things are of God. Rom. xi. 36. "for of him, and through him, and to him are all things." 1 Cor. viii. 6. "there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things:" where the same Greek preposition is used in both cases. Heb. ii. 11. "for both he that sanctifieth, and they who are sanctified, are all of one."


In the first place, there are, as is well known to all, four kinds of causes,-efficient, material, formal, and final.


3 I am by no means confident that I have succeeded in conveying the meaning intended to have been expressed by Milton in the preceding sentences. In the original the passage is evidently corrupt, and it is not very easy to propose satisfactory emendations. I have ventured to translate it on the supposition that it was originally written and pointed thus :-Ut extra Deum semper fuerit materia (quamvis principium tantummodo passivum sit, a Deo pendeat, eique subserviat; quamvis ut numeri, ita et ævi, vel sempiterni, nulla vis, nulla apud se efficacia sit) tamen ut ab æterno, inquam, per se materia extiterit intelligi non potest; nec si ab æterno non fuit, unde tandem fuerit intellectu est facilius; restat igitur hoc solum, præeunte præsertim scriptura, fuisse omnia ex Deo.

4 Quot autem modis alicujus vi res est, tot esse species causæ statuendum est: Modis autem quatuor alicujus vi res est; ut recte Aristot. Phys. II. 7. et nos supra diximus; vel enim a quo, vel ex quo, vel per quod, vel propter quod res una quæque est, ejus vi esse recte dicitur. His modis nec plures inveniuntur, nec pauciores esse possunt; recte igitur causa distribuitur in causam a qua, ex qua, per quam, et propter quam, id est, effici

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much then as God is the primary, and absolute, and sole cause of all things, there can be no doubt but that he comprehends and embraces within himself all the causes abovementioned. Therefore the material cause must be either God, or nothing. Now nothing is no cause at all; and yet it is contended that forms, and above all, that human forms, were created out of nothing. But matter and form, considered as internal causes, constitute the thing itself; so that either all things must have had two causes only, and those external, or God will not have been the perfect and absolute cause of every thing. Secondly, it is an argument of supreme power and goodness, that such diversified, multiform, and inexhaustible virtue should exist and be substantially inherent in God (for that virtue cannot be accidental which admits of degrees, and of augmentation or remission, according to his pleasure) and that this diversified and substantial virtue should not remain dormant within the Deity, but should be diffused and propagated and extended as far and in such manner as he himself may will. For the original matter of which we speak, is not to be looked upon as an evil or trivial thing, but as intrinsically good, and the chief productive stock of every subsequent good. It was a substance, and derivable from no other source than from the fountain of every substance, though at first confused and formless, being afterwards adorned and digested into order by the hand of God."

entem, et materiam, aut formam, et finem.' Artis Logicæ plenior Institutio. Prose Works, VI. 205.

5. Producendi seminarium.' The same word is used in the Doctrine and Discipline of Divorce. Seeing then there is a two-fold seminary or stock in nature, from whence are derived the issues of love and hatred,' &c. Prose Works, III. 207.


.the wide womb of uncreated night, Devoid of sense and notion. Paradise Lost, II. 151. That is, devoid of all external and internal sense. This is the excellent correction of Mr. Upton, (Critical Observations on Shakespear, Book II. sect. x. p. 225.) for the old reading motion. He remarks that notion is used both by Shakespear and Milton in the same sense as Cicero intends by the word idea.

Won from the void and formless infinite.

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Paradise Lost, III. 12.

I saw when at his word the formless mass,
This world's material mould, came to a heap:

Those who are dissatisfied because, according to this view, substance was imperfect, must also be dissatisfied with God for having originally produced it out of nothing in an imperfect state, and without form. For what difference does it make, whether God produced it in this imperfect state out of nothing, or cut of himself? By this reasoning, they only transfer that imperfection to the divine efficiency, which they are unwilling to admit can properly be attributed to substance considered as an efflux of the Deity. For why did not God create all things out of nothing in an absolutely perfect state at first? It is not true, however, that matter was in its own nature originally imperfect; it merely received embellishment from the accession of forms, which are themselves material.' And if it be asked how what is corruptible can proceed from incorruption, it may be asked in return how the virtue and efficacy of God can proceed out of nothing. Matter, like the form and nature of the angels itself, proceeded incorruptible from God; and even since the fall it remains incorruptible as far as concerns its essence.

But the same, or even a greater difficulty still remains-how that which is in its nature peccable can have proceeded (if I may so speak) from God? I ask in reply, how anything peccable can have originated from the virtue and efficacy which proceeded from God? Strictly speaking, indeed it is neither matter nor form that sins; and yet having proceeded from God, and become in the power of another party, what is there to prevent them, inasmuch as they have now become mutable, from contracting taint and contamination through the enticements of the devil, or those which originate in man himself? It is objected, however, that body cannot emanate

Confusion heard his voice, and wild uproar
Stood rul'd stood vast infinitude confin'd;
Till at his second bidding Darkness fled,
Light shone, and order from disorder sprung;
Swift to their sev'ral quarters hasted then
The cumbrous elements, earth, flood, air, fire;
And this ethereal quintessence of Heav'n
Flew upward, spirited with various forms.
Paradise Lost, III. 708.

Compare also the more detailed account in Book VII. 192-275.

7 first matter all,


Endued with various forms, various degrees

Of substance, and in things that live, of life. V. 472.

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