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Westminster Shorter Catechism Project

A Commentary
on the
Shorter Catechism

by
Alexander Whyte


Q. 8. How doth God execute his decrees?
A. God executeth his decrees in the works of creation and providence.

Q. 9. What is the work of creation?
A. The Work of Creation is God's making all things of nothing, by the Word of his power, in the space of six days, and all very good.


creatlon—The act of creating: especially the divine act of bringing all things beyond the Divine Nature into existence. "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth."

"Chaos heard His voice: him all his train
Followed in bright succession to behold
Creation, and the wonders of His might."—Milton

"In brief, all things are artificial; for Nature is the art of God" (Religio Medici).

out of nothing—"The clause ‘out of nothing' is vital in defining a creative act "(Shedd). This is directed against those ancient heathen speculations which taught that matter was eternal: that there were two necessary and eternal beings, God and matter. But it is the teaching of the Bible and of the Catechism that there is only one necessary and eternal Being, and that He is the absolute Creator of everything beyond Himself. On Romans 11:36, Goodwin remarks: "Not so much as a first matter was existing to His hands." And in his extraordinarily able and suggestive treatise, Of the Creatures, he says: "All things were once nothing, and all afflictions and miseries are smaller vacillations or reelings of the creatures toward their first nothing. . . . The whole creation is built upon a quagmire of nothing, and is continually ready to sink into it, and to be swallowed up by it, which maketh the whole or any part of it to quake and quiver when God is angry, as Jeremiah then did (10:24)."

"The Divine Father, by the strange fecundity of His omnipotent power, first made the clay out of nothing, and then made man out of that" (Pearson). For a refutation of the Aristotelian maxim, that out of nothing nothing can be produced, see Pearson, Art. i.

in the space of six days—See Cruden's analysis under day.

"According to the commonly received chronology, our globe has existed only a few thousand years. According to geologists, it must have existed for countless ages. And again, according to the generally received interpretation of the first chapter of Genesis, the process of creation was completed in six days; whereas geology teaches that it must have been in progress through periods of time that cannot be computed. . . . It is of course admitted that, taking this account by itself, it would be most natural to understand the word day in its ordinary sense; but if that sense brings the Mosaic account into conflict with facts, and another sense avoids such conflict, then it is obligatory on us to adopt that other. Now it is urged that if the word ‘day' be taken in the sense of ‘an indefinite period of time,' a sense which it undoubtedly has in other parts of Scripture, there is not only no discrepancy between the Mosaic account of the creation and the assumed facts of geology, but there is a marvellous coincidence between them" (Hodge).

Immediate are the acts of God, more swift
Than time or motion: but to human ears
Cannot without process of speech be told;
So told as earthy notion can receive."—Milton

all very good. Manes (whence Manichaism), a Persian philosopher, taught the dualistic doctrine of creation. He held that there are two eternal principles or powers, the one good and the other evil; and that all creation, visible and invisible, material and spiritual, has sprung from those two sources. Those two sources, so ran the dualistic doctrine, were eternally and essentially contrary the one to the other, wherefore they were named light and darkness, good and evil, God and matter. This doctrine worked much mischief in patristic times: Augustine's early life was devoted to its promulgation, and the doctrines he preached were only too well illustrated in his life. The Bible doctrine of creation overturns all such speculation. "The being of God is a kind of law to His working: for that perfection which God is giveth perfection to that He doth" (Hooker).


Use.
Butler says that the Scriptures begin with an account of God's creation of the world and man in order to acquaint man with his origin, and to enable him to trace his life and preservation to his Creator, and to connect all men with Him of whom the whole book treats, and of whose laws and revelations the whole book is full. The history of creation has not been written to make scientific research superfluous, but to guide learned and simple to religious contemplation and thought on nature and their own creation and preservation.


QUESTIONS.

1. Derive Manichaism, end explain the doctrine.

2. Give a catena of passages to prove that it was the Son who mediated the creation.

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