The Divine Trinunity, Francis Cheynell. Chapter 2 -
God is the First, Eternal and Independent Being.
July 13, 2018
God is the First, Eternal and Independent Being, the Fountain of all Being and Well-Being, and therefore cannot but Be, Exist, and persist in Being.
It is a rule generally received in the Schools, that all creatures have more of imperfection and nothingness, then they have of being or perfection. But all being, the whole of being is in God. God is principium totius esse, the fountain of all being, and well-being, the only self-being.
God is the first, eternal and independent being, and therefore can have no cause of his being without himself, or above himself, because he was before, and is above all causes, Isa. 44. 6. God is the first and the last; he is everlasting, and therefore can have no efficient or final cause; and it is utterly impossible that God should have any matter or form, or any thing answerable to either, because it is impossible that any thing should set bounds to his boundless being, and infinite perfection.
God is 〈... 〉 saith the Philosopher, and 〈... 〉 saith the Divine, but we must (as the Schools state the point) understand both sensu negativo, because God has his being not from any other, but from himself; and God is said to have his being from himself, because his very nature and essence are necessary, and therefore we cannot conceive the Divine Essence to be void of existence; it is utterly impossible that God should not exist, because the Divine Nature is a pure act, an absolute, necessary, eternal, infinite, independent, single being. We must not conceive that God was first in a naked power of being, and was afterwards reduced unto actual being by his own effectual power, as if his existence were really distinct from his essence, or did virtually flow from, and consequently depend upon his essence, as its proper cause. For it is manifestly absurd to conceive this pure, infinite and eternal being not to be in act, since it is a pure act. God does declare the incomprehensible purity of his infinite and single being in that amazing and yet edifying text, I am that I am, Exod. 3. 14. as if he had said there is nothing in your God which is not God; my attributes do not differ from myself, my being is absolutely necessary, every way perfect, altogether pure, single and infinite. I do therefore conclude as Jerome, That the very nature of God is being itself, and therefore he ever was and cannot cease to be; he cannot borrow his being from any thing, who gives being and well being to all things. The absolute and independent necessity of the Divine Being does demonstrate its eternity, and therefore all the differences of time are untied by the Talmudists, to connote the eternity of God in that text, Exod. 3. 14, according to that excellent commentary made by the Apostle, Rev. 1. 8. God is the Almighty, which is, and which was, and which is to come. Hence it is that some have thought fit to translate that text, Exod. 3. 14. according to the full scope of the future amongst the Hebrews, I am that I am that I was, and that I will be. For the future amongst the Hebrews, points at all differences of time past, present and to come; but others observing the strict and proper signification of the future, translate it thus, I will be that I will be. The Angel of the waters does unite all differences of time in that grateful acknowledgement, Rev. 16. 5. Thou art righteous O Lord, which art, and wast, and shalt be, because thou hast judged thus. And Jesus Christ, (who is one and the same God with his Father,) is the same yesterday, and today, and forever, Heb. 3. 8. The Rabbins upon Exod. 3. 14. express themselves after this manner, The blessed God said unto Moses, say unto them, I that have been, and I the same now, and I the same for time to come, &c. or as others more agreeable to the Chaldee paraphrase, I, he that is, and was, and hereafter will be, hath sent me unto you. But enough of that; it is now time to conclude that this first and independent being cannot be measured in itself, because it is infinite, nor in its causes, for it has no causes, but is from itself, of itself, by itself and for itself; for as the Apostle saith, All things are of him, and through him, and to him; to him be glory for ever. Amen.