Obrázky na stránke
PDF
ePub

by its very idea only comes to exist through a state of nonexistence, and the concrete world-idea only through the conception of its non-existence as a second to God ($ 33, 3).

Nevertheless it must not be overlooked that so far the bearing of the controversy has only been investigated under one aspect. For although the world is not eternal like God, God alone possessing self-existence, still a question may be raised as to its duration, its age, a parte ante, and here again an antinomy presents itself.

No one denies that the world-idea in God is eternal, not first projected in time. Ought not, then, this idea, which is no mere idle play of the divine fancy, but destined to real existence, to have begun to be realized forth with? The reason of any delay could only lie either in an act of arbitrary caprice unworthy of God, nay, impossible, the world being a good thing and the desire for it an exercise of eternal love, or in a restriction which must have lain in God, there being nothing external to Him. Accordingly, the idea of God naturally suggests that no postponement, no inaction of creative love, can be presupposed to the commencement of its operation. Nor can it be requisite for the keenest discrimination between God and the world, that the world-idea conceived by God should not proceed forth with to the realization which it craves, but only that God's eternal selfconsciousness be clearly discriminated from the decree to create the world, or from the idea of the world as one destined to realization through the operation of His love ($ 33, 5).

But while from the standpoint of the idea of God in the abstract an endless duration of the world a parte ante commends itself to us, of course on the understanding that it always has its metaphysical beginning in God, a difficulty again presents itself on the teleological side. The absolutely limitless is the imperfect. Excessive or diffusive infinity is incompatible with a teleological conception, which requires a rounded completeness and permits no progressus in infinitum forwards or backwards, nor an infinite multitude of timedivisions. Or, more concretely: If the temporal world has existed for endless ages, then, since the world is still one and exists for a single end, we must suppose its parts and the stages of its growth to be infinite in number in order to fill up this time both forwards and backwards. Keeping here only to the latter part of the proposition, we should arrive at an endless series of media, or germs of no media at all. But this would do away with a teleological disposition and limitation almost as effectually as we saw above would be done by an excessive multiplicity (par. 3). We must therefore undoubtedly hold of this temporal visible disposition of things known to us and usually called the world, that its age is not unlimited, but limited, measured in extent. But this can only be made to agree with the former view, not indeed by assuming an endless series of worlds like the one we know, coming into existence and again vanishing away ; but, the unity of the world remaining intact, by supposing a multiplicity of creative cycles, relatively world - ages, which, as concerns time and temporal relations, need by no means be all constituted alike, and therefore, as concerns their relation to becoming and passing away, need not be homogeneous with our world. The world known to us is subject to temporal relations through the succession of its moments, whereby some belong to the past, while others, which is necessary to the existence of this temporal world, are still future. In our world teleology appears in the form of temporal succession, of the separate existence of means and ends. But this cannot be essential and necessary for the world in the abstract. On the contrary, only when perfection is arrived at does true life begin in the simultaneous presence of its elements, which, as they logically condition each other, exist perpetually in combination. Then will time no longer be distinguished by the separate existence of its parts, then will life flow direct from the depths and fulness of eternity. Then the world becomes an organism of love, in which the end and its means of accomplishment are realized not in succession, but simultaneously. Time will merge in eternity, in the celestial life, as even already it is permitted to speculative anticipation to begin to contemplate things sub specie æternitatis, and to faith to take its stand above time in the consciousness of eternity, in qon aióvios, and to participate internally in God's freedom from temporal existence. Just, therefore, as we have no right to say that this law of succession and this progress from imperfect to perfect must continue for ever, because on the contrary a state is conceivable, nay, is the object of Christian hope, where time in the old sense will exist no longer," and because the spirit craves to drink the water of eternal life, so have we also no right to say that this world, tangible to sense and subject to temporality, cannot have been preceded by a world standing in the light of eternity, a world of pure spirits (although spirits not yet subject to laws of historical progress) which are withdrawn in the first instance from all relation of succession, and exist in the simultaneity of all their constituent elements, and in this character surround the throne of God, a kingdom of which it cannot be said that a time was when it was not, not merely because no time was ere it was, but also because for it there was no time, no succession or becoming. This world can only be brought under the standpoint of time by reference to the succeeding world.

As Buddhism does to the destruction of all teleology; but even Origen attempts the same in his own way.

2 Eccles. iii. 11.

1

From this point of view it appears a preceding one, already belonging to the past. Thus, midway between the eternal world of the end, in which temporal existence merges, and the world of the beginning standing in the light of eternity, may lie, like an island in a broad ocean, the present world bound to temporal existence. Several Scripture passages seem to allude to such a celestial world pertaining to God's throne. Here come in the côa (living beings) around God's throne in Ezekiel and Revelation, the representatives of creaturely life, the seven spirits of God, the Cherubim and Seraphim. This celestial world seems to be contemplated in Scripture as a kingdom of beings serving God in perfect unselfishness, absolutely devoted to His will, in whom God's glory is mirrored and revealed. Certainly this eternal world,

-prior to our historical period, of which the world of succession and historical development is merely an appendage, when compared morally with the present one, is a lower stage of being, because the potentiality of freedom does not yet emerge independently in it. But still in this 1 Rev. Χ. 6, xx. 11: χρόνος ουκίτι έσται.

? Rev. iv. 6 ff., v. 8, xi. 14, vi. 1-7, vii. 11, xiv. 3, xv. 7, 19 ff. ; cf. Ezek. i.

DORNER.- CHRIST. Doct. II.

world of celestial spirits, in virtue of sympathy for our world, there may be a reflection of historical development and succession, so that by means of successive creations it acquires a relation to time and historical development." Even a definitive moral decision may arise for it through its relation to the temporal world, which it summons in turn to co-operation and decision in behoof of God's newly emerging purposes; and previously this world of radiant spirits may sustain such relations after the manner of a pure, lofty nature. There is just as little any religious interest involved in supposing, on the one hand, God's intelligence, which conceives the world-idea to be eternally active, and the purpose of creation ever - existent, while His creative volition is still idle, as on the other in representing His intelligence which conceives the world as first at rest and then active. On the contrary, in this way arbitrary caprice or mutation would be imported into God's inner Essence, or even an obstruction, hostile to God, assumed in God. On the other hand, the interest of religion requires the firm discrimination of God from His creation, of His eternity from theirs, the latter being derived, not original. And this is secured by the dogmatic formula, perfectly in unison with church doctrine to the effect, that the world is that form of being which, although destined to wear God's likeness, still only comes into actual existence, both as a whole and as regards its several cycles or parts, through the divine conception of its non-existence, nay, through its non-existence. In this formula the truth, meant to be indicated in the theory of a creation in time, is preserved in adequate expression. Herewith is connected the antithesis of rest or non-activity and cctivity. It is inapplicable to God, not merely because His love is to be conceived as eternally operative, but also because God does not pass, after creative action, into inactive repose. The Sabbath of God is not to be contemplated in the light of idle reposing, but of a desisting from work which is withal full of activity. It might seem, indeed, that for conservation, in distinction from creation, a less expenditure of energy may suffice, and therefore a comparative repose. But

11 Pet. i. 12. 2 Gen. ii. 1, cf. with John v. 17; see above, $ 32, conclusion.

Just so,

we shall see presently why this cannot be held. But certain as it is that God is eternally active, cns actuosissimum, we still know that He need not on this account be ever doing the same thing. Commencement of existence is only possible in the world through the fact that what He willed eternally indeed in His world-idea, but did not will as eternally in respect of real effect, He now wills in time. Above time in Himself, He places Himself, after the appearance of a temporal world, in a positive relation to it and to time. passing out of existence is only possible in the world through the fact that God endowed the perishable with but a limited energy of existence, or that what He willed to effect in the fulness of time He ceases to effect, so that no doubt a comparative repose ensues.

5. CREATION OUT OF NOTHING, AND THE RELATION OF FORM AND MATTER IN CREATION. — The maxim, Out of nothing nothing comes, is not in contradiction with the doctrine of creation out of nothing. For the meaning of this doctrine is not that the world, whether regarded in relation to its matter or form, is without adequate originating cause, and that here the law of causality must be given up, but that in God alone is to be found the adequate, although miraculous and creative, cause of the world's existence, and that, therefore, the law of causality applies to the world in the fullest degree. Our position is, that it belongs to God's creative power, in harmony with the absolute Fulness of His Essence, to create both form and substance. To His miraculous power alone is the latter function reserved. It is the divine element in the strict sense in the work of creation ; for the moulding of given substances, material and spiritual, lies within the power of the creature also. If we may not ascribe absoluteness to the world, thus identifying it with God, the origination even of matter must be acknowledged to take place by means of the divine causality; for a third existence, an eternal matter, whether apart from God or side by side with God, is out of the question. Rigid Materialism, denying spirit and God, must perforce regard the construction of the world as a purely mechanical process, but comes into collision, as regards matter, with the law of causality, by which still it must of necessity be absolutely governed in everything, being compelled to

« PredošláPokračovať »