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inquire of such who love reason above Plato and Py- CHAP. thagoras, whether, if the eternity of the world were put into the argument instead of the preexistence of souls, this argument would not hold as strongly for that as it doth for preexistence ? and if I am bound to believe preexistence on this ground, I be not likewise bound to believe at least the souls of men eternal, if not the universe ? But how reconcilable the eternity of the world is to the Pythagoric cabala of the creation, I am yet to understand. But if this argument doth not at all infer the eternity of the world, as we have shewed it doth not, much less doth it preexistence of souls.
We have thus far considered the first hypothesis, VIII. which is repugnant to Moses, concerning the origin of the universe, which is that which asserts the eternity of the world as it is; we come now to the second, which attributes the formation of the world, as it is, to God, as the efficient cause ; but attributes eternity to the matter out of which the world was framed. I am not ignorant that some, who would be taken for the masters of reason, are so far from conceiving this hypothesis to be repugnant to the text of Moses, that Volkelius
de Vera they conceive it to be the genuine sense of it, viz. that Rel. 1. ii. there was a preexistent matter, out of which God C. 4. formed the world. But I would willingly understand how Moses would have expressed that matter itself was created, supposing it had been his intention to have spoken it: for although the word x2 may not of itself imply necessarily the production of things out of nothing, i. e. out of no preexistent matter, yet it is acknowledged by all, that no word used by the Jews is more proper to that than 72 is; and P. Fagius cites it from R. Nachmani, that the Hebrew language hath no other word to signify such a production out
BOOK of nothing, but 87). It is therefore a very weak man
ner of arguing, that, because 872 is sometimes used for no more than yuy, therefore the world was created out of preexistent matter; all that can rationally be inferred is, that from the mere force and importance of that word the contrary cannot be collected : but if other places of Scripture compared, and the evidence of reason, do make it clear that there could be no preexistent matter which was uncreated, then it will necessarily follow that creation must be taken in its proper sense. And in this sense it is evident, that not only
Jews and Christians, but even the heathens themselves, Galen. de understood Moses, as is plain by Galen, where he comUsu Part. 1. xi.
pares the opinion of Moses with that of Epicurus, and ingenuously confesseth that of Moses, which attributed the production of things to God, to be far more rational and probable than that of Epicurus, which assigned the origin of things to a mere casual concourse of atoms : but withal adds, that he must dissent from both; and sides with Moses as to the origin of such things as depend on generation, but asserts the preexistence of matter, and withal, that God's power could not extend itself beyond the capacity of the matter which it wrought upon. Atque id est, saith he, in quo opinio nostra ac Platonis, tum aliorum qui apud Græcos de rerum natura recte conscripserunt, a Mose dissidet. How true these words are, will appear afterwards. Chalcidius, in his Commentaries on Plato's Timæus, where he speaks of the origin of ýan, which in him is still translated sylva, and inquires into the different opinions of all philosophers about it, takes it
for granted, that, according to Moses, this úan had its Chalcid. production from God. Hebræi sylvam generatam
esse confitentur ; quorum sapientissimus Moyses non p. 372.
humana facundia, sed divina, ut ferunt, inspiratione
vegetatus, in eo libro, qui “ De genitura mundi" cense- CHAP. tur, ab exordio sic est profatus, juxta interpretationem – LXX, prudentium ; "Initio Deus fecit coelum et ter“ ram. Terra autem erat invisibilis et incompta.” Ut vero ait Aquila; “ Caput rerum condidit Deus “ cælum et terram; terra porro inanis erat et nihil.” Vel ut Symmachus ; “Ab exordio condidit Deus coe“ lum et terram. Terra porro fuit otiosum quid, “ confusumque et inordinatum.” Sed Origines asseverat ita sibi ab Hebræis esse persuasum, quod in aliquantum sit a vera proprietate derivata interpretatio. Fuisse enim in exemplari, “ terra autem stupida qua“ dam erat admiratione.” Omnia tamen hæc in unum aiunt concurrere, ut et generata sit ea, quæ subjecta est universo corpori, sylva, sermonesque ipsos sic interpretantur. Where we find, by the testimony of Chalcidius, an universal consent as to the production of the universal corporeal matter by God; for that is all which is understood by his term of generata est. But this same author afterwards tells us, that by heavens and earth, in the first verse of Genesis, we are not to understand the visible heavens and earth; for, saith he, the heavens, which are called the firmament, were created after; and on the third day, when the waters were separated, the dry land appeared, which was called earth. Qui tumultuario contenti sunt in-Ibid. p.374. tellectu, cælum hoc quod videmus, et terram qua subvehimur, dici putant; porro qui altius indagant, negant hoc cælum ab initio factum, sed secundo die. And therefore by the heavens he understands incorpoream naturam, and by earth, can, or the primogenial matter. And this, saith he, appears by the following words, The earth was invisible, and without form; i. e. this corporeal matter, before it was brought into order by the power and wisdom of God, remained a
BOOK rude and indigested lump; and that which is so, might III.
_ well be called invisible and without form : and there
fore it is called inanis and nihil, because of its capacity of receiving all forms, and having none of its own. Symmachus calls it otiosa et indigesta; the former, because of its inability to produce any thing of itself ; the latter, because it wanted a Divine power to bring it into due order. The stupidity and admiration which Origen attributes to it, he conceives to relate to the majesty of God, who was the orderer and contriver of it, siquidem opificis et auctoris sui majestate capta stupuerit. Thus we see, that, according to Moses,
the first matter of the world was produced by God, Origen. which is largely manifested by Origen against the c. 24. Marcionists, a fragment of which is extant in his PhiTertull. ad localia ; and by Tertullian against Hermogenes, and Hermog.
others, who, from the opinion of the preexistence of
matter, are called Materiarii. IX. Having thus cleared the sense of Moses, it is far
more difficult to find out the true opinions of the ancient philosophers concerning the production or eternity of corporeal matter, there having been so great dissensions, not only about the thing itself, but about
the opinions of some about it; for it is plain by PluPlutarch. tarch's Yuxoyovia, as well as the discourses of the later de Animæ Procreat. Platonists, how eager some have been to interpret
Plato's Timæus in favour of the eternity, at least of matter, if not of the world. But although Plato doth assert therein a preexistence of rude matter before the formation of the world, yet I see no reason why he should be otherwise understood, than in the same sense that we believe a chaos to have gone before the bringing the world into the order it is now in. And in that sense may those places in Plutarch be interpreted, où γαρ εκ του μη όντος η γένεσις, άλλ' εκ του μη καλώς μηδ' ικανώς
exovtose and so likewise those following words, é yèp CHAP. θεός ούτε σώμα το ασώματος, ούτε ψυχήν το άψυχον εποίησεν: for the meaning may be no more than that Plato conceived that all the productions of the kinds of things which are in the world was out of a preexistent hyle: the one spiritual and intelligible, out of which he supposed souls to be formed; the other sensible and corporeal, out of which other beings, which were more gross and material, were produced. So Chalcidius Chalcid. in
Tim. p. tells us, that both Pythagoras and Plato looked upon 3797 constitutionem sylvæ to be opus providentiæ ; which I suppose relates not only to the bringing of matter into form, but to the production of matter itself. But after this he takes a great deal of pains to search out Pag. 401. the true meaning of Plato concerning the origin of hyle, and mentions the great dissensions among the Platonists about it, and the obscurity of the Timæus in it. To him therefore I refer the reader; who likewise brings in Numenius, largely discoursing concerning the opinion of Pythagoras about it, who condemns all those, as not understanding Pythagoras, who attribute to him the production of the indeterminate hyle. These are his words, Numenius ex Pythagoræ magi- Pag. 393. sterio Stoicorum hoc de initiis dogma refellens, Pythagore dogmate, cui concinere dicit dogma Platonicum, ait Pythagoram Deum quidem singularitatis nominasse, (nomine appellasse,) sylvam vero duitatis. Quam duitatem, indeterminatam quidem, minime genitam, limitatam vero, generatam esse dicere. Hoc est, antequam exornaretur quidem, formamque et ordinem nancisceretur, sine ortu et generatione ; exornatam vero atque illustratam, a digestore Deo esse generatam. Atque ita, quia generationis sit fortuna posterior, inornatum illud minime generatum, æquævum Deo, a quo est ordinatum, intelligi debeat. Sed non