BLTC Press Titles


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Letters on the Aesthetical Education of Man

Friedrich Schiller


The Pictorial Key to the Tarot

Arthur Edward Waite


Leaves of Grass

Walt Whitman


The Revolt of the Netherlands

Friedrich Schiller


Dogmatic Theology: Creation and man

by Francis Joseph Hall

Excerpt:

I. Its Relation to the Finite

§ i. Every finite being owes its coming into existence, its continuance, and its development, to the will of God, whose purpose and immanent operations constitute the ultimate explanation and philosophy of the universe, whether we consider its origin and previous development, its present order, or its future progress. In order, therefore, to investigate intelligently the subject-matter of this volume it is important that we should first consider the will of God itself, and define our mental attitude towards certain initial problems which are raised by the production of finite, temporal, and contingent effects by an infinite and eternal will.

In a previous volume we considered the will of God,1 but were compelled by lack of space in that connection to deal very briefly with the subject. It seems necessary now to recapitulate what was there said, and to face with more detail the problems involved.

1 Being and Attrib. of God, ch. xii. esp. § 2. Cf. St. Thomas, Summa Thiol., I. xix; A. P. Forbes, Nicene Creed, pp. 47, 56-61; H. P. Liddon, Some Elements of Religion, pp. 56, 57, 184-190; Wilhelm and Scannell, Cath. Theol., Vol. I. pp. 227-233; Petavius, de Deo, V. i-iv; Franzelin, de Deo Uno, Thes. xliv-xlvi; Hastings, Dic. of the Bible, s. v. "Will," iii.

We say that in its own nature the will of an infinite God is necessarily absolute, unconditioned, and eternal. God possesses and exercises power absolutely to determine His operations and their effects; and His will in se cannot be conditioned or limited by any conditions or causes external to Himself. To be infinite means to be subject to no external or extraneous limitations, and this precludes any such limitation in relation to the will and operations of God. His will, therefore, is immutable; and the operations which are determined thereby cannot be thwarted in their eternal purpose. The truth of these propositions is established not only by necessities of thought concerning an infinite being, but also by the plain teaching of Scripture.1

Yet both supernatural revelation and natural experience teach us that the external effects of God's will are. finite, temporal, and contingent, and that among the factors which determine the course of events in this universe are numerous creaturely wills. These wills seem, within their limits, to be capable of a certain amount of self-determined control of the effects which we believe should ultimately be explained by the will of God. The limitations of our own wills are too apparent to be denied; but that they are truly wills, capable within certain limits of modifying physical effects, and of imparting an element of contingency to the course of things, is a fact which is too abundantly verified by every-day experience to be banished from human belief by any sceptical philosophy. Moreover, the teaching of Scripture concerning the contingency of events, the moral probation of men, and their capacity to determine their own conduct and the course of events with a certain amount of freedom, is not open to serious dispute among Christians.1

1 Cf. Psa. cii. 26, 27; Heb. i. 12; Eccles. iii. 14; Mai. iii. 6; Rom. xi. 29; St. James i. 17. See Being and Attrib. of God, ch. xi. §3; ch. xii. § 2 (a).

§ 2. The truths which we have recapitulated, when brought into juxtaposition, appear in certain ways to be mutually opposed and raise problems which we cannot solve. The antitheses which emerge are inevitable products of any effort to combine and describe together the divine and the creaturely aspects of the operations of God — the creation of the world and its subsequent development and divine government. But the impossibility of explaining the mutual harmony of these aspects has persuaded many that each given antithesis represents a real contradiction, a form of opposition which demands a surrender of one branch of the antithesis in the interest of the other. Naturally that doctrine is selected for abandonment which is least congenial to the mental temperament of the baffled inquirer.


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