Orthodox Doctrine: First Section: Chapter 10

25 August 12

Part the First

OF THE NATURAL KNOWLEDGE OF GOD AS LEADING
US TO EVANGELICAL FAITH

X.

Of Divine Worship

The conclusion of what has been already said is, that man, as a reasonable being1, must worship God, his almighty Creator and kind Preserver, unfeignedly, and from his inmost heart.2

1. All created beings are inevitably bound to worship their Creator. But as such an adoration can not be effected without reason and fervour of heart, and man alone, of the visible creation, is endowed with such privileges, it follows that he only can reasonably worship God; and that fr this very reason he is bound to adore Him incessantly, not only for himself, but for the rest of the creatures, to whom he should behave as the steward and father. When he looks at the sun, he must thank its Creator, who preserves its light and causes it to shine for the good of the creation. When his eyes meet the earth, he must glorify Him who made it and blessed it with production, for the sustenance of created beings. Likewise for all the rest. If he neglects such a duty, man insults, so to say, creation, and seems ungrateful to the Creator. In this sense the Apostle Paul said–“For the creature was made subject to vanity.” (Rom. viii. 20.)

What is Divine Worship.

2. The worship of God consists in our acknowledgement and confession of our submission to His will. Such submission must be of the most profound kind, as it concerns the Supreme Being from whom we have all that we possess. It must be unfeigned, as relative to Him unto whom the most secret thoughts of our heart are known. To such worship we are prompted first, by God himself, He only being worthy of our adoration; secondly, by the innumerable benefits we have received from him in our creation, and especially our redemption, through His Son, and our daily preservation through His kind providence. The Holy Scriptures teach us, that the benefits of God, bestowed daily on us, such and so many, that we are not able to thank Him as we ought. Hence David has said–“What shall I render unto the Lord for all his benefits toward me!” (Ps. cxvi. 12.)

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Orthodox Doctrine: First Section: Chapter 9

15 August 12

Part the First

OF THE NATURAL KNOWLEDGE OF GOD AS LEADING
US TO EVANGELICAL FAITH

IX.

Of the universal providence of God, extending over every created being, man as the noblest of them all, enjoys a special degree of solicitude. 

The special Providence of God with regard to Man.

The special providence of God t an is manifest in the following circumstances:–First, From its pointing out to men different ways and means for becoming virtuous. One is prevented from vice by fear; another is led to what is good by benefits received. We see one person corrected by poverty; another awakened to virtuous actions by his riches. Our preparation also for future happiness we must trace to the same source; that is, when He has vouchsafed us to be born of honest and virtuous parents, to receive a good education, and likewise when he grants us opportunities of becoming virtuous by the force of good examples, and by the reading of and listening to useful books. We may also add in this place the great changes of the powers that be, and the transition of a kingdom from one nation to another; all of which happen under the most evident demonstrations of Divine Providence for the good of man. Secondly the Divine Providence is traced whenever it directs and changes to good all the most perverse counsels and enterprises of men. To these belong the persecutions which the wicked inflict upon the virtuous, when, by the sufferings of the latter, their virtue is proved (which otherwise would remain unknown), and the perverse are shamed, and imperceptibly guided to discover their own wickedness. This wonderful providence has been rendered especially manifest in the redemption of mankind, whose multitude of sins has displayed the infinity of Divine mercy. “But where sin abounded, grace mush more did abound.” (Rom. v. 20.) “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God.” (Rom. viii. 28.)


Orthodox Doctrine: First Section: Chapter 8

15 August 12

Part the First

OF THE NATURAL KNOWLEDGE OF GOD AS LEADING
US TO EVANGELICAL FAITH

VIII.

Of the Providence of God.

God has not abandoned the world after He created it, but ever keeps it under His providence; He preserves all things in their action1 and existence, governs them most wisely, and directs each of them to the best purpose.2

1. The providence of God, with regard to this world, must be understood as preserving both the existence and the power of action to all created beings, since al creatures exist and act, not of their own power, but of the will of God. And as such a will continues to the present hour, (for who can say that the creatures exist and act against the Divine will?) and in full force, without the slightest relaxation, it follows that he existence and the power of al beings is perpetuated by God. This preservation might be appropriately called an uninterrupted creation of beings; for as soon as the volition of God ceases, at the twinkling of an eye, all created beings are converted to nothing. “For in Him we live and move and have our being.” (Acts xvii. 28.) And again–“Behold the fowls of the air; for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather in barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they?” (Matt. vi. 26.)

2. All creatures are mutually entwined in such a manner, that the one is useful to the other, and conducive to the permanence of the universe. And who else but the Omnipotent and all-wise God can so direct the energies of all these innumerable creatures to this sole end! He by this declares His own grandeur and glory. “Nevertheless he left not himself without witnesses, in that he did good, and gave us rain from heaven, and fruitful seasons, filling our hearts with food and gladness.” (Acts xiv. 17; Ps. civ.*)

There is neither blind Chance nor mere Accident in the World.

From what we have already premised, it follows that there is neither necessary destiny, nor blind chance, nor does there happen anything in this world anything by mere accident, that is, without the will of God; * abundance and scarcity, riches and poverty, happiness and misfortune,–all proceed from paternal counsel and wise volition of God. And if there are to be seen in this world some apparent irregularities, they seem so to us only because we are unable to comprehend the whole connection and chain of things, as otherwise we should fall into great amazement at the inscrutable depth of divine wisdom which is evinced by every created being.†

* “Bless the Lord, O my soul; O Lord my God, Thou art very great,” &c.

** This was, however, the doctrine of the Epicureans, of whom Gregory of Nyssa says–“The Epicureans believe that there is no superintendence in the formation and government of beings, but that everything moves on accidentally, without the concern of any providence.”–The Divinity of the Son and the Holy Ghost, vol. iii.

† Damasceenus reasons deeply on the providence of God–“We must approve and praise without examination all the works of Providence, however many may appear unfair, owing to the unsearchable and incomprehensible providence of God.”–Orthodox Faith, book ii., chap. xxix.


Orthodox Doctrine: First Section: Chapter 7

13 August 12

Part the First

OF THE NATURAL KNOWLEDGE OF GOD AS LEADING
US TO EVANGELICAL FAITH

VII.

Of the Creation of Man.

Man having been created in the image of God,1 male and female, consisting of a body and  an immortal soul,2 has been evidently a participator of Divine beneficence.

“What is meant by “the Image of God.”

1. The image of God is here represented in accordance with His perfections. Thus, God having reason, has endowed man with it also. And again, as God naturally chooses what is good, and abhors evil, so He has placed in man an instinctive impulse to wish what is good, and to shun what is evil. As God is the Supreme Ruler and Master of all His creatures, He thus gave to man dominion over all earthly things. The same line of reasoning will h as sold in many similar instances. But as God is incorporeal, it follows that the image of God has not been communicated to our body, as some have erroneously supposed,* but only to our soul. Of this fact we are persuaded by reason, as well as by Scripture itself, when it says–“And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.” (Ephes. iv. 24.) And again–“And have put on the new man which is renewed in knowledge after the image of Him that created him.” (Coloss. iii. 10.) The image of God concerns both sexes, that is, man and woman, as appears in Genesis i. 27–“And God created man in His own image, in the image of God created he him, male and female He created them.” The first man was called Adam, and his wife was called Eve§, and from these two are descended all mankind. And hath made of one blood all nations of men, for to dwell on all the face of the earth.” (Acts xvii. 26.)

*Audius, a Syrian, and his sect, which originated in 338 A.D., by a misinterpretation of the word of God, and who, in 370 A.D. were called, in derision, Anthromorphites.–Theodoret. Eccl. Hist.

† The opinions of the fathers about the word “image” differ. Some consider it as the dominion which man can exercise over creation; Others his wisdom and knowledge, virtue and holiness. Epiphanius leaves it undecided, as only known to God. From what we have seen, however, in the reference of the Apostle, it represents the wisdom and holiness of God, of which man becomes a partaker y regeneration.

Adam, in Hebrew, means earthly. (1 Cor. xv. 47; Gen. ii. 7.) The Latins have likewise called man homo, from humus, which means earth.

§ Adam called his wife Eve after the fall, which the Septuagint translated by the word life. (Gen. iii. 20.)

We have an Immortal Soul.

2. When we attentively examine ourselves, we fin that there is within us a being different than our body, having the power of knowing itself and other things besides. Such a being we call soul, which is doubtless immortal and incorporeal; because, however the connection of the parts of the body may be arranged, it ca not receive intelligence and will such as we feel in our soul. The Scripture saith–“And the Lord god formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.” (Gen. ii. 7.) This inspiration of vivifying breath must not be understood materially, neither must we suppose that our soul consists of air or vapor, but we must believe that it has been created according to the image of God, and that it approaches God more nearly than all other creatures. On the contrary, however, we must not hence conclude that it forms part of the Divine essence;* because the essence of God is indivisible; and were we to suppose that God has parts, they must also be uncreated as He is.

* Such was the opinion of the Manicheans ,and of the Greeks before them, who called the mind partaker of the divine portion, emanation of the Ruler of the world, fragment of Jove, and the like.–Fotius Lib. Cod. 179. Marc. Ant., books ii & v.

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Orthodox Doctrine: First Section: Chapter 6

12 August 12

Part the First

OF THE NATURAL KNOWLEDGE OF GOD AS LEADING
US TO EVANGELICAL FAITH

VI.

Of the Creation

This Great God created the world, and all things therein, 1 out of nothing; not that He had any need of them,2 but simply because His pleasure has been3 to make them partakers of His own goodness.4

1. By creation we understand all creatures in general, and their mutual connection, in which we also are included. Creatures are more commonly divided into visible and invisible. Visible creatures are such as fall under our senses, such as the sun, the stars, the earth, the air, &c. The invisible are only spiritually discerned, such as our souls and the angels, which are hence called immaterial spirits. The existence of spiritual beings we can understand even by unassisted reason. The Scripture, however, fully informs us of them when it says-“For by Him were all things created that are in heaven and that are in earth, visible, and invisible.” (Coloss. 1. 16.)
Here we must remark first, that God having created all things, joined them together by an indissoluble bond, so as to be mutually useful, and so that all might together form the universe, out of which the divine wisdom is peculiarly resplendent; secondly, That there is no where to be found in itself, whose use is in itself vile. For the Scripture saith-“And God saw every thing that He had made, and, behold it was very good.” (Gen. i. 31.) It often happens, however, that good is perverted into evil, such as when anyone uses the knife for killing the innocent, or when he makes use of is intellectual powers in devising various crafty tricks.

2. There are some who think that the world was created out of some matter or other. If they confess that such matter has been previously created out of nothing by divine Omnipotence, their opinion is not so much different from our own; but if they should maintain that it has not been created out of nothing, and that consequently it is eternal, such an opinion would be fatal, as well as inconsistent, since nothing but God can be infinite, and without a beginning. And as, moreover, nothing can create itself, but all before their actual existence were nothing, the natural inference is, that they have been created from nothing. Hence it is plainly shown, that before the creation of the world, God alone existed.
God does not labor in his work; He has created the universe simply by His word, that is, by His will alone. (Gen. ii. 2; Ex. xx. 11; xxxi. 17.) When in the preceding verses the Scripture says that He accomplished the work of creation in six days, it means by it, not that He could not bring everything into existence in one second of time, but that He did not create anything out of necessity, or by an unreasonable  and blind impulse, but manifested His own power in such ways and at such times as He thought proper. What God created in each day, Moses relates in the following order:– In the first day He created the heaven, the earth, and the light. (Gen. i. 1-5.) In the second, He created the firmament, that is, the whole space extant from the earth to the last vault of the universe. (Gen. i. 6-8.) He then divided the waters above the firmament (by which are evidently meant the clouds) from the waters below the firmament, that is, the rivers, the lakes, and the seas.* The third day He divided the water from the surface of the earth, and assembled them in one spot, which assemblage of the waters we call ocean. (Gen. i. 13.) And the earth opened her bosom and brought forth various herbs and trees. In the fourth day He created the luminaries in the firmament of heaven, that is, he sun, the moon, and the stars, probably from the light He created during the first. (Gen. i. 14-16.) In the fifth day He created the fish in the waters and the fowls of the air. (Gen. i. 20-23.) In the sixth day He created the beasts, the cattle, and all the reptiles, and lastly man, male and female. (Gen. i. 24-31.)**

4. God was perfect from all eternity, and consequently He and no need for creatures. He only created them that they might become, as we said above, partakers of His blessedness, that is, by imparting to them perfections which were but the images of His own attributes. Hence the creation of the world might be properly called the counterpart of Divine benevolence.

* The work of the second day, i.e., the division of waters, had been accomplished the third. Hence the verification or approbation is double, one after the division of the waters from the earth (verse 10), and the other after the vegetation of the earth (verse 12). In the Hebrew text there is no approbation to be met with after the partition of the waters above and below the firmament. The Septuagint have added the approbation–“And God saw that it was good,” in verse 8.

** About the creation of the angels, and why Moses makes no allusion to them in Genesis, see Part ii. of this treatise, sec 11.

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Orthodox Doctrine: First Section: Chapter 5

11 August 12

Part the First

OF THE NATURAL KNOWLEDGE OF GOD AS LEADING
US TO EVANGELICAL FAITH

V.

Of the Attributes of God

From the right knowledge of God’s existence follows the knowledge of the divine attributes; for since God is independent, and His non-existence is impossible, it is concluded that He is One1; that He never had a beginning, and will never have an end, which means that He is eternal2. From His eternity we can infer that He has no material or bodily substance, and that He is immortal;3 consequently He is purely a Spirit.4 As a most Spirit, He as intelligence,5 He is omniscient,6 wise,7 free,8 good,9 just,10 holy,11 and almighty.12 From all these we necessarily infer that He is the most perfect and blessed Being,13 and an omnipotent Ruler.14

1. Polytheism is diametrically opposite to the notion we entertain of God as a being possessing every possible perfection. What therefore others attribute to several gos, we do to the Only One God, saying, in the language of Paul- “For though there be that are called gods, whether in heaven or in earth (as there be gods many and lords many), but to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in Him.” (1 Cor. viii, 5, 6.) There is no excuse therefore for those who believe in many gods, nor for idolaters. It is moreover a weak apology of some philosophers, who, in order to palliate the error of the Pagans, have asserted that they worshipped the different manifestations of the One God under different forms and names. “They,” according to the Apostle, “changed the image of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and and to birds, and four-footed beasts, and creeping things.” (Rom. 1. 23.)

2. The Being whose non-existence is impossible, has neither a beginning or an end. By eternity we mean a permanence, without a beginning or an end, and such as the Scripture clearly points out in the following terms:– “They shall perish but thou shall endure; yea all of them shall wax old like a garment; as a vesture shall thou change them, and they shall be changed: but thou art the same and thy years shall have no end.” (Ps. cii. 26, 27.)

3. All material objects have a beginning as soon as their component parts come together. When their union ceases, the object comes to an end. Such an end in the animals is called death. As God, then, is without either a beginning or end, and as we said above, is not composed of different parts, He is consequently incorporeal and immortal. The same Scripture beareth ample testimony:– “Forasmuch, then, as we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Godhead is like unto gold, or silver, or stone, graven by art and man’s device.” (Acts xvii. 29.) When, however, the Scripture makes allusion to the eyes, the ears, and hands of God, we must consider the expressions not literally, but as so many figures, to which the inspired writers had recourse owing to the weakness of our mind, in order to represent the power and the other attributes of God. By the eyes of God we are to understand His immense overseeing knowledge;– by the ears, His gracious listening to our prayers;– by the hands, His omnipotence, and so on as to the like similitudes.

4. Spirit is called a simple being, having intelligence and will. Such a being is God by excellence. “God is a Spirit.” (John iv. 24.)

5. Intelligence we call the faculty of clearly representing anything to our mind. To the Divine mind the clear representation of objects is not limited merely to the beings in activity, but to those in power; for as God is an immense Being, likewise His perfections must be immense and unlimited. The Scripture saith–“Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in His sight: but all tings are naked and opened in the eyes of Him with Whom we have to do.” (Heb. iv. 13.)

6. The omniscience of God is that perfection by which He observes the connection and unity of all the future and possible things. Hence it has been said of Him that He examineth the heart and the reins, and that He is the judge of the sentiments of the heart. The Psalmist saith–“Lord thou hast beset me behind and before.” (Ps. cxxxix.) Such prescience of God, although sure, dos not, however, preclude the liberty of action; neither does it contain any inevitable necessity of our practising either virtue or vice. Since God sees equally the future and the present, it follows that He foresaw from all eternity the human actions as they would take place, according to the laws of a free-will liberty; likewise the prescience of a sure future action does not subvert the freedom of the same.

7. The wisdom of God is that perfection by which he directs all the events of this world unto their ultimate appointed end. Hence David saith– “Lord, how manifold are thy works! in wisdom hast thou made them all.” (Ps. civ. 24.)

8. God is free in whatever He does, and no one can force Him to do anything. The Psalmist again saith–“Our God created both in heaven and earth* all things as he willed.” (Ps. cxiii.)
*The Hebrew does not contain “and earth.”

9. he goodness of God consists in His desire to create all beings as perfect and happy as their natures will admit. I say, as far as consistent with their nature, because He being an All-wise Being, directs everything to the wisest purpose. Thus, for example, He gave light to the sun, and intelligence to man; but He did not give both to each, but to each He gave what was consistent with and appropriate to its nature. The language of Scripture is so sublime with regard to the goodness of God, that it precludes every comparison between it and the goodness of angels or men. “Noe is good, save one, that is God.” (Luke xviii. 19.)

10. God’s justice is His own tempered goodness, and such a union His wisdom hath appointed. His goodness prompts Him to admit all mankind as partakers of His eternal blessedness; but His justice prevents Him; for it is inconsistent with His wisdom to treat alike the just and the unjust, the upright and the most callous sinner. It is therefore the effect of divine justice  if a sinner should forfeit his eternal happiness. In this way we must judge of the rest. The Scriptures speak most strongly on divine justice–“For the righteous Lord loveth righteousness; His countenance doth behold the upright.” (Ps. xi. 7.)

11. God is holy because no sin or blemish can be found in Him. His will minds only what is good and abhorreth vice: and it is from this pure holiness of His will that He cannot join Himself to a polluted sinner, unless he first return to Him by repentance and faith. The Scripture calleth “light” the holiness of God. “God is light and there is no darkness in Him.” (John 1. 5.)

12. Nothing is impossible to God. His omnipotence is so great that, that He is able, by the mere exercise of His will, and without any exertion, to create from nothing. God crates not what He can, but what He willeth; and He willeth such as is consistent with His wisdom. He might, for example, prevent man from vice against his own inclination; but by such forced prevention He would deprive him of his own free will, and consequently he would act contrary to His own wisdom, which requires man t be free; for is man were prevented from vice by an external power, he would have been equally considered a sinner as if he had actually committed sin. God, besides, as a good Being, gave us sufficient power by which we can, if we choose, avoid what is bad, without depriving us of our freedom. The Scripture declareth the omnipotence of God in more than one place. Thus Job says–“I know that thou canst do everything, and that no thought can be withholden from thee.” (Job xlii. 2.)

13. All the attributes of God, so far as herein enumerated, are infinite perfections, in which consist His greatness and glory. They are unlimited in Him, for He neither acquired them in time nor in progressive succession, but were from eternity inseparable from His essence. Accordingly there is no vice in Him, nor can any be found about Him. And since such a state is blessedness, it follows that God is the only perfect and blessed Being. How happy and blessed then, must be they who mat ever be deemed worthy to partake of His blessedness! David thus expresses himself on the subject–“For eith thee is the fountain of life: in thy light shall we see light.” (Ps. xxxvi. 9.)

14 To no one belongs more reasonably the control of all creatures, than to Him that created them: as omnipotent, He can reserve them in order; and as all-wise, He knows how to direct them for the best purpose. David thus exclaims–“Thy kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and thy dominion endureth throughout all generations.” (Ps. cxlv. 13.)

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School Again

11 August 12

The first week, although it was only really 3 days long, is over. This coming week is the first full week of school, consisting of 5 actual days. Things so far look to be going well, although there are a few growing pains to work out I am confident things will be good.

Everything other than that is life as normal. I am tired, so I am going to bed. I have a draft sitting here from late 2011 which looks like the begining of Chapter 5 of the Ortodox Doctrine book I started. Maybe I will continue to work on that. We will see.