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This I find was the doctrine of the schoolmen: and both Scripture and reason prove it.
ARGUMENTS FROM SCRIPTURE,
ARGUMENT I. Heb. i. 3. Pheron te ta panta, &c. The apostle seems to me to have respect to Job xxvi. 7. “ He hangeth the earth upon nothing," sustaining the same by his creating power. Thus the Son of God holds up all in their being by his power, that they may not fall down into that abyss of nothing, from which the same power raised them up at first. I remark, 1. That the word pheron, whatever else be imported in it, there can be no less than conservation and sustentation, whatever way these be explained. And as the Scripture ordinarily links together creation and conservation, so that it is not wanting in this context either; compare ver. 2. “By whom also he made the worlds.” 2. This sustentation or conservation is a positive act, according to the import of the word. It is an act of power; not a ceasing from acting, or a not destroying of the creature : by the word of his power they are upheld. 3. They are sustained the same way they were created. It is the word of his power does both, Gen. i. 3. “And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.” Ver. 6." And God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters; and let it divide the waters from the waters." Psal. xxxiii. 6. “By the word of the Lord were the heavens made; and all the host of them by the breath of his mouth.” Ver. 9. “For he spake, and it was done; he commanded, and it stood fast." The apostle says, he calleth things that are not, to be; calleth them, viz. by his powerful word; a most positive action. Thus also he sustains them : therefore conservation is a continued creation. 4. This is a continued action, pheron, in the present time; therefore a continued creation. It is not needless ; therefore they would fall down from that in which they are kept, if they were not sustained every moment, if his bearing shoulders should shift them off for a moment, to bear their own weight, Is. xlvi. 4. “I have made, and I will bear,-carry,” &c. as one doth a weight or burden on his back. I will not say but this looks farther; but this sustentation cannot be excluded, but is supposed. However, the Arminians have no ground to quarrel it; seeing they will allow that God made us men, though we make and continue ourselves his people. 5. The apostle useth this to prove Christ to be God, as appears from the whole chapter. Compare chap. ii. 1, 2, 3. Now, if this be po positive act, or any thing less than what argues omnipotency; if all of it be the leaving of the creature to stand, as the mason leaves his house after it is built, it would no more prove Christ to be God than the angels. True, I do not think an angel can annihilate the least creature; yet sure then they do not destroy them, they leave them in their being. But though they cannot destroy or annihilate the soul or the body, yet they can destroy man. The Scriptures prove God to be God, from his positive acting; and idols to be no gods, because they act not.
ARGUMENT II. Rev. iv. 11, “ Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory, and honour, and power : for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are, and were created.” Here again creation and conservation are joined as effects, or rather acts, of the same almighty power; “Thou art worthy to receive power," i. e. to have thy power acknowledged ; "for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are, and were created.” Now, there can be no reason why he should receive glory, honour, and power, because things are for his pleasure, if he did not glorify and honour his power in keeping them up. If it be a mere cessation of his power, and that he does only not throw them down, that may be ground for the glory of his mercy and goodness, but not of his power; for every attribute of God is glorified by the emanation thereof: but in this case there were no emanations of power; but on the contrary, a stopping of the same. But, according to the right side of the plea, things run pleasantly here, and that according to the strain of the Scripture, which magnifies the power of God upon the account of the sustentation, as of the creation of the creatures. I cannot but take notice of the Greek dia to thelema sou eisi which Beza and Piscator render per voluntatem tuam. Compare Rev. xxii. 11. (Gr.) And thus the words speak home to the point, shewing that it is by the will of God that they are even as they were created. So that creation and conservation are set on an equal level.
ARGUMENT III. Col. i. 17, “By him all things consist.” Such is the fluid nature of the creatures, that they cannot consist without conservation from the Lord, more than waters, unless they be held together by something besides themselves. And this giving of them this consistence, is a positive action; or they consist by a positive action of God; for it is by virtue of the very same power, and in the very same way, that they were created, ver. 16, en auto ektisthe: and ver. 17, en auto sunesteke. This is likewise used to prove the divinity of Jesus Christ. Therefore, &c.
ARGUMENT IV. John v. 17, “My Father worketh hitherto." Christ here defends his healing on the Sabbath day the man that lay at the pool, by the example of his Father's working still, and that on the Sabbath day, as well as other days; though the Jews observed, by God's appointment, the Sabbath day, in commemoration of God's resting on that day from the work of creation. Therefore the Father's working here is the work of providence, and particularly of conservation, which is mainly aimed at; for the work which Christ defends by this example, was of that kind, even the preserving of the life of that man. This working of the Father must needs be a positive action, else the Arminians must give us a new Lexicon. Besides, unless it be so, this example could not justify our Lord's practice ; for they condemned him because he did not cease from working, and leave the poor man as he was before the Sabbath. Moreover, this working of the Father is a continued creation : for though he rested the seventh day from all his work which he had made, Gen. ii. 2. yet he hitherto works, how? by continuing it in the conservation of all things, species and individuals: and the very work that our Lord was defending, was a creature-conservation being a miraculous cure. Further, if this work of conservation be nothing else but a not destroying of the work which was made, and left with a power in it to conserve itself, it would no more prove the Father's working on the Sabbath day, which Christ in these words doth assert, than the going of a clock in the Sabbath, which was made and set agoing any other day of the week, will prove the maker of the clock to work on the Sabbath day.
ARGUMENT V. Acts xvii. 28. “For in him we live, and move, and have our being.” If we live, move, and have our being in God, conservation is a positive act, and continued creation; for we should fall from life and being upon the ceasing of that lifegiving power to act in us, as doth the body when the soul is gone. If conservation were not a positive act, but negative, that is, no act at all, but a cessation from action, after he had given us life and being, we might be said to live and be from him, but not in him, but in ourselves. It is like it will be said here, that this is to be understood of the effect of a past action of God, and that en auto is no more than per illum, as Luke xi. 20, en dactulo Theou, " by the finger of God.” Indeed, no doubt, the apostle means, that we live, move, &c. by the Lord; but I think, whoso will allow himself to be encompassed with the light of this context, vers. 27, 28. “He is not far from every one of us: for in him we live,” &c. must needs acknowledge there is something more in the expression, even that the omnipresent God does ever compass us about on every side with his continued influences for life, motion, and being, as the light of the sun doth our bodies, 80 as we see not only by, but in it: which emanations of light from the sun, should they be withdrawn, we should in a moment be left in darkness. But consider, 1st, The text doth not only say we move, but, which is more, kinoumetha, we are moved by him. Here is a passion, and there can be no passion without an action. If we are moved by him, then he moves us; that is, he acts positively, and leaves us not to move ourselves, he ceasing to act on us. Where I apprehend I have insensibly slipt into the very heart of the controversy: hinc illo lachrymæ. But this passion cannot be the effect of an action long since past; for action and passion are so inseparable, that they must peeds be at the same time, live and die together; for what else is action, but the changing of the state wherein a thing is? Now, it is impossible a thing can suffer a change, if there be not something at the same time producing that change, which is called action ; and you shall as soon conceive a mountain without a valley, as a passion without an action. Passion is the suffering of an action, and must needs cease whenever the action ceaseth; as the heat in my hand caused by the particles of fire acting on it, must presently cease when they are gone.
So that we not only move by him, as the clock by the artificer that made itwhich is all I think they will allow-but as the clock by the weights hanging at it, which when they are taken away, the clock is at rest, and can move no more. Even so we live, move, and are (esmen) by him, from whom at first we had our being. But quorsum hæc, seeing the controversy is not about motion ? Answer 1. Seeing the text speaks of all the three alike, if it hold in this, it must hold also in the other. 2. If our motion depend thus on God, much more does our life and being, to which we can contribute less than to our motion. I apprehend the Arminians will not stick here; for if we would yield to them onr moving ourselves without an immediate hand of God, I suppose they would not stand to gratify us with the other point. 2dly, Consider the apostle hereby proves that God is not far from every one of us; but God's giving us life, motion, and being at first, with a power to conserve the same without his continued action, can never prove that, more than a man's making a ship will prove him to be in America, when the ship is there, though he be in Scotland. I should rather think, that the apostle reasoning with philosophers proceeds upon the maxim, Nihil agit in distans; therefore seeing we live, and are moved in and by him, he is not far from us. It seems to me that makran answers to the Heb. MeRaChok, which signifies distance of time as well as place, Psal. cxxxix. 2; Jer. xxxi. 3. So that the sense is, God is still with us, acting in us, and not at the distance of a number of years. This opinion seems to me akin to the Socinians' denial of
God's omnipresence in respect of his essence, allowing it only in re-
way to Socinianism.
ARGUMENTS FROM REASON.
ARGUMENT I. There is no necessary connection betwixt the creatures' moments of duration : Ergo, &c. It follows not, because I am this moment, therefore I shall be the next; for so I should be an eternal necessary being, which is proper to God. If it be said, so many moments of my duration, and no more, are connected by the decree of God; I answer, this decree is either a will to hold me up so long, or a will to leave me to the power of conserving myself, and not to destroy me for so long a time. I know no mids. If the first, it is the very thing we plead, if the second, the thing willed here is a mere cessation from action, which can bave no positive effect, and therefore it can make no connection of these moments. My being last moment is now gone; an evidence it had no connection with my being this moment, which then was not, but is now come forth from a creating power. Now, if there be no connection betwixt the creatures' duration one moment and another, it is plain they are in a continual flux and state of dissolution by their very natures; and therefore there must be a continual positive conservation of them, no less than creating, else they cannot endure.
ARGUMENT II. Our duration must have some immediate cause.