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from spirit. I reply, much less then can body emanate from nothing. For spirit being the more excellent substance, virtually and essentially contains within itself the inferior one; as the spiritual and rational faculty contains the corporeal, that is, the sentient and vegetative faculty. For not even divine virtue and efficiency could produce bodies out of nothing, according to the commonly received opinion, unless there had been some bodily power in the substance of God; since no one can give to another what he does not himself possess. Nor did St. Paul hesitate to attribute to God something corporeal; Col. ii. 9. "in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily." Neither is it more incredible that a bodily power should issue from a spiritual substance, than that what is spiritual should arise from body; which nevertheless we believe will be the case with our own bodies at the resurrection. Nor, lastly, can it be understood in what sense God can properly be called infinite, if he be capable of receiving any accession whatever; which would be the case if anything could exist in the nature of things, which had not first been of God and in God.
Since therefore it has (as I conceive) been satisfactorily proved, under the guidance of Scripture, that God did not produce everything out of nothing, but of himself, I proceed to consider the necessary consequence of this doctrine, namely, that if all things are not only from God, but of God, no created thing can be finally annihilated. And, not to mention that not a word is said of this annihilation in the sacred writings, there are other reasons, besides that which has been just alleged, and which is the strongest of all, why this doctrine should be altogether exploded. First, because God is neither willing, nor, properly speaking, able to annihilate anything altogether. He is not willing, because he does everything
Know that in the soul
Are many lesser faculties, that serve
Paradise Lost, V. 100.
And food alike those pure
Of sense, whereby they hear, see, smell, touch, taste,
Tasting concoct, digest, assimilate,
with a view to some end,—but nothing can be the end neither of God, nor of anything whatever. . Not of God, because he is himself the end of himself; not of anything whatever, because good of some kind is the end of everything. Now nothing is neither good, nor in fact anything. Entity is good, non-entity consequently is not good; wherefore it is neither consistent with the goodness or wisdom of God to make out of entity, which is good, that which is not good, or nothing. Again, God is not able to annihilate anything altogether, because by creating nothing he would create and not create at the same time, which involves a contradiction. If it be said that the creative power of God continues to operate, inasmuch as he makes that not to exist which did exist; I answer, that there are two things necessary to constitute a perfect action, motion and the effect of motion: in the present instance the motion is the act of annihilation; the effect of motion is none, that is, nothing, no effect. Where then there is no effect there is no efficient.
Creation is either of things invisible or visible.
The things invisible, or which are at least such to us, are, the highest heaven, which is the throne and habitation of God, and the heavenly powers, or angels.
Such is the division of the apostle, Col. i. 16. The first place is due to things invisible, if not in respect of origin, at least of dignity. For the highest heaven is as it were the supreme citadel and habitation of God. See Deut. xxvi. 15. 1 Kings viii. 27, 30. "heaven of heavens." Neh. ix. 6. Isai. lxiii. 15. "far above all heavens," Eph. iv. 10. where God "dwelleth in the light which no man can approach unto," 1 Tim. vi. 16. Out of this light it appears that pleasures and glories, and a kind of perpetual heaven, have emanated and subsist. Psal. xvi. 11. "at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore." Isai. lvii. 15. "the high and lofty one that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place."
It is improbable that God should have formed to himself such an abode for his majesty only at so recent a period as at the beginning of the world. For if there be any one habitation
God is light,
Paradise Lost, III. 3.
of God, where he diffuses in an eminent manner the glory and brightness of his majesty, why should it be thought that its foundations are only coeval with the fabric of this world, and not of much more ancient origin? At the same time it does not follow that heaven should be eternal, nor, if eternal, that it should be God; for it was always in the power of God to produce any effect he pleased at whatever time and in whatever manner seemed good to him. We cannot form any conception of light independent of a luminary; but we do not therefore infer that a luminary is the same as light, or equal in dignity. In the same manner we do not think that what are called the back parts of God, Exod. xxxiii. are, properly speaking, God; though we nevertheless consider them to be eternal. It seems more reasonable to conceive in the same manner of the heaven of heavens, the throne and habitation of God, than to imagine that God should have been without a heaven till the first of the six days of creation.' At the same time I give this opinion, not as venturing to determine anything certain on such a subject, but rather with a view of showing that others have been too bold in affirming that the invisible and highest heaven was made on the first day, contemporaneously with that heaven which is within our sight. For since it was of the latter heaven alone, and of the visible world, that Moses undertook to write, it would have been foreign to his purpose to have said anything of what was above the world.
In this highest heaven seems to be situated the heaven of the blessed; which is sometimes called Paradise, Luke xxiii. 43. 2 Cor. xii. 2, 4. and Abraham's bosom, Luke xvi. 22. compared with Matt. viii. 11. where also God permits himself
1 The same opinion has been held by the Fathers, as well as by most of the moderns. In libro de Trinitate, sive Novatiani sive Tertulliani sit, tam mundus angelicus quam superfirmamentarius conditus dicitur ante mundum Mosaicum his verbis. Quum etiam superioribus, id est, super ipsum quoque solidamentum partibus, angelos prius instituerit Deus, spirituales virtutes digesserit, thronos potestatesque præfecerit, et alia multa cœlorum immensa spatia condiderit, &c. ut hic mundus novissimum magis Dei opus esse appareat, quam solum et unicum. Denique Catholicorum communem hanc fuisse sententiam notat Cassianus suo tempore, nempe sæculo quinto ineunte; ante illud Geneseos temporale principium, omnes illas potestates cœlestes Deum creasse, non dubium est.' T. Burnet. Archæol. Philos. c. 8,
to be seen by the angels and saints (as far as they are capable of enduring his glory), and will unfold himself still more fully to their view at the end of the world, 1 Cor. xiii. 12. John xiv. 2, 3. "in my Father's house are many mansions." Heb. xi. 10, 16. "he looked for a city which hath foundations.... they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly.... for he hath prepared for them a city."
It is generally supposed that the angels were created at the same time with the visible universe, and that they are considered as comprehended under the general name of heavens. That the angels were created at some particular period, we have the testimony of Numb. xvi. 22. and xxvii. 16. "God of the spirits," Heb. i. 7. Col. i. 16. "by him were all things created.... visible and invisible, whether they be thrones," &c. But that they were created on the first, or on any one of the six days, seems to be asserted (like most received opinions) with more confidence than reason, chiefly on the authority of the repetition in Gen. ii. 1. "thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them,"less we are to suppose that more was meant to be implied in the concluding summary than in the previous narration itself, and that the angels are to be considered as the host who in
2 The opinion that angels were not created, but self-existent, according to the Manichæan system, is with great propriety attributed to Satan in Paradise Lost.
That we were form'd then say'st thou ? and the work
From Father to his Son? strange point and new!
Doctrine which we would know whence learn'd? who saw
Thy making, while the Maker gave thee being?
See Jortin's observations on this passage, Remarks on Ecclesiastical History, I. 411.
In another place Satan proposes the question as doubtful;
Are his created-.
3 So Jenkins, quoting Job xxxviii. 7. On the Reasonableness of the Christian Religion, B. II. Ch. 9.
habit the visible heavens. For when it is said Job xxxviii. 7. that they shouted for joy before God at the creation, it proves rather that they were then already in existence, than that they were then first created. Many at least of the Greek, and some of the Latin Fathers, are of opinion that angels, as being spirits, must have existed long before the material world;* and it seems even probable, that the apostasy which caused the expulsion of so many thousands from heaven, took place before the foundations of this world were laid. Certainly there is no sufficient foundation for the common opinion, that motion and time (which is the measure of motion) could not, according to the ratio of priority and subsequence, have existed before this world was made; since Aristotle, who teaches that no ideas of motion and time can be formed except in reference to this world, nevertheless pronounces the world itself to be eternal.5
Angels are spirits, Matt. viii. 16. and xii. 45. inasmuch as a legion of devils is represented as having taken possession of one man, Luke viii. 30. Heb. i. 14. "ministering spirits." They are of ethereal nature, 1 Kings xxii. 21. Psal. civ. 4.
4 Plures e patribus Christianis angelos extitisse ante terram, vel ante mundum Mosaicum, per ignota nobis sæcula, statuerunt; aliqui etiam cœlos supremos, vel cœlum empyreum. Sed de angelis constantior est et a pluribus celebrata sententia. Ut mittam Origenem, hoc Sanctus Basilius in Hexaëmero, Chrysostomus πρὸς τοὺς σκανδαλισθέντας, c. 7. πολλῷ ταύτης τῆς κτίσεως πρεσβύτεροι, &c. Gregorius Nazianzemus Orat. 38. et alibi, Johannes Damascenus 1. ii. Orth. Fid. c. 3. Joh. Philoponus De Creatione Mundi, 1. i. c. 10. Olympiodorus in Job xxxviii. aliique e Græcis docuere. E Latinis etiam non pauci eidem sententiæ adhæserunt. Hilarius, 1. xii. De Trinitate; Hieronymus, Ambrosius in Hexaëmero, l. i. c. 5. Isidorus Hispalensis, Beda, aliique.' T. Burnet. Archaol. Philos. 1. ii. c. 8. It is observable that Milton had indirectly declared himself to have believed in the pre-existence of angels in the Paradise Lost, where he represents Uriel to have been present at the creation of the visible world, and puts into his mouth the beautiful description quoted in a preceding page, I saw when at his word the formless mass,' &c.
5 See Aristot. Natural Auscult. lib. viii. cap. 1. In reference to this, Milton says elsewhere:
Time, though in eternity, applied
Paradise Lost, V. 580.
6 Your bodies may at last turn all to spirit,