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6. Although there are in nature causalities, which are such not merely in appearance, still the perfect idea of secondary causality is not reached except in a state of freedom, in “free causes.” For the several beings belonging to the kingdom of nature, which are to be called causes,e.g.animal beings, are merely peculiar combinations of forces into a unity, and the manner in which the forces are combined along with their tendency determines of itself the movements of such beings. The unity itself is no new causality which is master of itself. Only in a state of freedom, within the domain of nature, is a being independent of physical forces constituted by God, a being who, while he ever has his basis in the fact of his constitution by God's creative and conserving will, has also power over his own reproduction, nay self-forming power, power not simply determined from without. It is a mistake to suppose a lower degree of activity on the part of God, a comparative repose or self-limitation of His power, in the case of free agents. On the contrary, creative causality is far more productive in establishing the free than the unfree, whose causal power remains partially inherent as it were in the divine. Creative causality is perpetually at work in conserving even the free, and that as the determining force ; for at no moment can freedom be the author of its own existence, but simply make a good use of itself as constituted, or the opposite. Its power relates not to the fact, but to the character of its existence. In nature is causal force, but determined, and indeed not determined by itself. Even there the determining force is again a cause behind a cause. When, on the other hand, freedom is given to man, he is a self-determining cause, on him is conferred causality in its second power.
He can be a cause not merely as he is determined by God, but the cause of his own causal action, cause of himself, i.e. as a good or evil causal power. Nevertheless, since he is not the author of the existence of his own freedom, and does not possess it apart from God, even then self-existence is not his, but, metaphysically or ontologically considered, God is the abiding cause of man's being a cause able to determine the character of his existence, i.e. to determine whether he will be a good or evil causal power.
THIRD POINT : DIVINE PROVIDENCE.
Creation and Conservation have to be defined in a teleological
respect, and thus lead to the conception of Providence. But Providence is partly regulative of what exists, partly creative.
1. ECCLESIASTICAL AND BIBLICAL DOCTRINE.
-What we possess, we are compelled to refer to God's wise and good Providence, by which all absolute chance (e.g. in origin, birth and death, in the course of the world) is precluded, as well as the blind, aimless necessity of fate, which in its ultimate ground would be chance. We are thus able to believe in the possibility of the hearing of prayer. The Reformed Confessions
? give more prominence to this point.
As concerns Biblical teaching, mpóvoia occurs only in the apocryphal Book of Wisdom; but God's Providence is taught in a variety of ways.* Physical and spiritual are alike embraced by it, but in a teleological respect, in view of the eternal world-plan and absolute purpose—the supreme good of God's kingdom in Christ, God does not repent. God's world-plan is certain of fulfilment, despite every hindrance. Whoever will not serve it of good-will, must serve it as a passive instrument and against his will. But this accomplishment of the world-plan is effected not by sheer might, but gradually, in harmony with the laws of wisdom," and in such a way as to employ the agency of second causes. 1 Cat. Maj. 492, 23. 408, 24 ; Apol. 85, 14 ; Form. Conc. 580, 677.
Apol. 91, 46. 3 Cat. Pal. : Dei Providentia est omnipotens et ubique præsens Dei vis quæ cælum et terram tamquam manu sustinet et gubernat. Hence Providence is the union of conservation and government. Cf. Helv. I. cap. 6, Belg. 13. Gall. 8: Pro sua voluntate ordinat et disponit, quidquid in mundo evenit. But He is not autor peccati. His conduct is just, He turns evil into good.
* Wisd. xiv. 3, xvii. 2 ff. Cf. Acts xiv. 17, xvii. 25-28; Matt. vi. 25-32 ; Rom. viii. 28 ; Luke xii. 24; Phil. i. 6, ii. 13.
5 Rom. viii. 28, xi. 29, 36 ; Col. i. 13 f. ; Phil. ii. 10; Rev. v. 13.
Providence also extends to the most minute and to individuals, of which the most significant instances are the baptismal injunction and the justification of individuals. Each elect one receives a new name. But it relates to individuals in the sense that in them is willed the living realization of God's kingdom, or each one is willed as a member of that kingdom.
2. DOGMATIC INVESTIGATION.-RELATION OF PROVIDENCE TO THE FORMER IDEAS.-Creation and Conservation, as such, are exhibitions of power. But power is the minister of God's love
. and wisdom. It works with a teleological reference. And in this way, creation and conservation being contemplated under the idea of purpose, that which is created and conserved is brought under divine Providence. Government, likewise teleological in nature, is not a distinct department alongside Providence, but an aspect of the same. Government presupposes what is governed, and therefore includes nothing creative. But Providence in its governing capacity is that divine activity, which keeps both the spontaneous activity of the established system, and the new combinations entering it, in harmony with the aim of the divine world-idea. But this idea, which forms the contents of Providence, is not realized at one stroke, by one creative act; but spontaneous activity and maturity of receptiveness on the part of the established system of things must precede the elements of the worldidea, which cannot be established immediately, although they belong none the less to the entire plan of world-reality ( 34). Now this divine activity which, when the fulness of time is come, causes the new to issue forth, while at the same time of set purpose making sure of the coherence of the new with the old, is likewise a department of Providence, not merely in its rectoral, but its creative capacity. Through this reference to purpose the world is a whole pregnant with meaning. The contents of Providence or the aim of the world are the glorification of God, but in the last resort of God in His
* Matt. x. 30, xviii. 10, xxviii. 19 ff. ; Mark xvi.
Otherwise Rothe, ut supra, p. 219, who assigns even creative acts to government.
5 See above, $ 32, 2.
character of love, so that the glorification of the world, which is destined to be made happy in love and wisdom, is included as well. The aim of the world is not simply external, and does not merely hover above it, but includes the idea of its proper nature, such as is eternally conceived by God, and is native to the world, inasmuch as that aim only becomes reality through the productive or at least receptive vitality of its nature. The world is destined to be an image of the triune God. Accordingly, the triune form of life is already incorporated therein, in so far as it is life and organism, and still more in a spiritual and moral respect, although only in such a manner that it realizes its conception in a gradual process of development through a series of creative, firmly-concatenated acts of God ($ 36, 5). On the other hand, the process of development is not the only possible form in vhich life can exist. Where development is, defect still is; but life is not dependent on defect of life. Therefore we need not fear that life may possibly become extinct or its pulse of movement fail, when all the elements belonging to the ultimate aim are brought into simultaneous existence. So little is this the case, that, on the contrary, true, godlike life in its entire range and compass only begins when every moment is the destined goal and consummated presence of the supreme good.
3. MODE OF OPERATION OF DIVINE PROVIDENCE.—Generally speaking, it operates as the All-ruling divine will conducting the world, with its conceptions which ever transcend the reality, to its destined goal.
It embraces everything, even free causes, each in its own way. It includes the agency of secondary causes in harmony with their nature in such a way as to keep secure, along with the absolute aim, the distinction between the necessary and free causes, by whose means the aim is to be worked out. Where this is denied, religion shrivels into passive resignation and abandonment of all effort. There finite and divine causality, when not identified, are treated as mutually exclusive. Where one acts, the other does not. Absolute Determinism, and to some extent the Mystics, would have everything referred directly to God's Providence, to the exclusion of the spontaneous activity of the world. The Mohammedan refuses medicine, because everything happens as God predestinated. But if everything outside God is impersonal and without causality, then has Providence no real object, and government nothing to govern. And, especially, to wish to exclude human freedom in the interest of God's all-comprehending Providence, would be to look on God as a monarch able only to effect His purposes by ineans of unfree, impersonal forces. But it is a higher order of government, nay true government, to be able to control free forces, and bend them to one's own purpose.
On the other hand, wide as is the field that God's Providence leaves to the action of free causes, it nevertheless utterly excludes absolute chance, as well as blind might or caprice not standing at the beck and control of God's wise love. As respects chance especially, divine Providence, clothed with Almighty power, so comprehends everything of this kind in its range, that nothing exists without both final and efficient cause. Absolute chance there cannot be ; for, God's vision including all possibilities, nothing can occur unobserved and unexpected by Him, but God is great and wonderful in counsel. Nothing within the compass of the possible can actually take place without God's permissive, not to say against His absolutely disposing, will; and He permits nothing actually to take place that would interfere with His world-plan. We may, indeed, speak of a comparative chance. When in a particular department an effect follows, whose sufficient cause is to be found not in that department but in an external cause, relatively, i.e. with reference to the department in question, this effect may be said to be by chance; but absolute chance even here there is none, both departments being held in relation to each other by a higher hand or unity, else they would be unable to influence each other. The idea of absolute chance is therefore a matter of imperfect observation,
But we must linger awhile on the subject of human freedom in relation to Providence. Freedom is the possibility of arbitrariness, and so far there is in it the principle of chance, and that real, though still not absolute. For in its existence and aim freedom is conditioned by God. Regarded neither in an efficient nor final relation is its existence
1 Job xv. 8; Ps. xxxiii.; Isa. xxviii. 29, xl. 13; Jer. xxxii. 18 ff. ; Prov. viii. 14; Rom. xi. 33; 1 Cor. ii.7.