Before calling attention to the writings of Hodge and Calvin on the Scriptural doctrine of creation, we wish to quote briefly from two or three others.
First, we would quote from St. Hilary of Poitiers. He is declared to have been of the greatest, yet least studied, of the Fathers of the Western Church. This disciple of Origin was born about the year 300 A.D., and he died in the year 367. He became bishop of Poitiers about the year 350, but later went into exile and was replaced by an Arian, one who denied the eternal Godhead of the Son.
Of the doctrine of creation, Hilary writes, “Since, therefore, the words of the Apostle, One God the Father, from Whom are all things, and one Jesus Christ, our Lord through Whom are all things, form an accurate and complete confession concerning God, let us see what Moses has to say of the beginning of the world. His words are, And God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the water, and let it divide the water from the water. And it was so, and God made the firmament, and God divided the water through the midst. Here, then, you have the God from Whom, and the God through Whom. If you deny it, you must tell us through whom it was that God’s work in creation was done, or else point for your explanation to an obedience in things yet untreated, which, when God said Let there be a firmament, impelled the firmament to establish itself. Such suggestions are inconsistent with the clear sense of Scripture. For all things, as the Prophet says, were made out of nothing; it was no transformation of existing things, but the creation into a perfect form of non-existent. Through Whom? Hear the Evangelist: All things were made through Him. If you ask: Who this is, the same Evangelist will tell you: In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him.” In this quotation Hilary clearly states that creation is a work of God and that all things were made out of nothing.
Emphasizing that the Wisdom, whereof we read in the Book of Proverbs, is none other than the Christ, the Son of God, Hilary writes as follows: “And furthermore, to make all self-deception unlawful, that Wisdom, which you have yourself confessed to be Christ, shall confront you with the words, When He was establishing the fountains under the heaven, when He was making strong the foundations of the. earth, I was with Him, setting them in order. It was I, over Whom He rejoiced. Moreover, I was daily rejoicing in His sight, all the while that He was rejoicing in the world that He had made, and in the sons of men. Every difficulty is removed; error itself must recognize the truth. There is with God Wisdom, begotten before the worlds, and not only present with Him, but setting in order, for She was with Him, setting them in order. Mark this work of setting in order, or arranging. The Father, by His commands, is the Cause; the Son, by His execution of the things commanded, sets in order. The distinction between the Persons is marked by the work assigned to Each. When it says Let us make, creation is identified with the word of command; but when it is written, I was with Him, setting them in order, God reveals that He did not do the work in isolation. For He was rejoicing before Him, Who, He tells us, rejoiced in return; Moreover, I was daily rejoicing in His sight, all the while that He was rejoicing in the world that He had made, and in the sons of men.Wisdom has taught us the reason of Her joy. She rejoiced because of the joy of the Father, Who rejoices over the completion of the world and over the sons of men. For it is written, And God saw that they were good. She rejoices that God is well pleased with His work, which has been made through Her, at His command. She avows that Her joy results from the Father’s gladness over the finished world and over the sons of men; over the sons of men, because in the one man Adam the whole human race had begun its course. Thus in the creation of the world there is no mere soliloquy of an isolated Father; His Wisdom is His partner in the work, and rejoices with Him when their conjoint labour ends.” Here St. Hilary sets forth the truth that the work of creation is the work of the living God and that God did not work in isolation, but that the Divine Persons were active in the creation of the heavens and the earth.
And speaking of Christ, in refutation of the Arian heresy which makes of the Son of God a creature, Hilary writes: “For we -recognize the Lord Christ as no creature, for indeed He is none such; nor as something that has been made, since He is Himself the Lord of all things that are made; but we know Him to be God, God the true veneration of God the Father. All we indeed, as His goodness has thought fit, have been named and adopted as sons of God: but He is to God the Father the one, true Son, and the true and perfect birth, which abides only in the knowledge of the Father and the Son.” And, then, continuing to speak of this Christ in his treatise on the Trinity, the author writes: “Does Christ, Who is God, speaking in Paul, fail to refute this impiety of falsehood? Does He fail to condemn this lying perversion of truth? For through the Lord Christ all things were created; and therefore it is His proper name that He should be the Creator. Does not both the reality and the title of His creative power belong to Him? Melchisedec is our witness, thus declaring God to be Creator of heaven and earth:Blessed by Abraham of God most high, Who created heaven and earth. The prophet Hosea also is witness, saying, I am the Lord thy God, that establish the heavens and create the earth, Whose hands have created all the hosts of heaven.”
We also wish to call attention to John of Damascus. He was called Chrysorrhoas, “streaming with gold,” i.e., the golden speaker). He was the last of the Greek Fathers and the most authoritative theologian for the whole Eastern Church. He was born presumably in Damascus and before 700, and he died in all probability shortly before 754. Our quotations from his writings, as they appear in Vol. IX of the Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, will be brief. Writing on “Concerning the creation,” he writes: “Since, then, God, Who is good and more than good, did not find satisfaction in self contemplation, but in His exceeding goodness wished certain things to come into existence which would enjoy His benefits and share in His goodness, He brought all things out of nothing into being and created them, both what is invisible and what is visible. Yea, even man, who is a compound of the visible and the invisible. And it is by thought that He creates, and thought is the basis of the work, the Word filling it and the Spirit perfecting it.” Also John of Damascus writes, therefore, that the Lord created all things out of nothing, the things that are visible and the things that are invisible. And then he proceeds to write on the Divine creation of the world of angels. Later, in a brief paragraph, entitled, “Concerning the visible creation,” he writes in the same vein, and we again quote: “Our God Himself, Whom we glorify as Three in One, created the heaven and the earth and all that they contain, and brought all things out of nothing into being: some He made out of no pre-existing basis of matter, such as heaven, earth, air, fire, water: and the rest out of these elements that He had created, such as living creatures, plants, seeds. For these are made up of earth, and water, and air, and fire, at the bidding of the Creator.”
We also wish to present some excerpts from the writings of Augustine. We do not have access to the works of Augustine. We quote from the Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Vol. IV. Distinguishing between creating and forming, Augustine writes: “To create is to form and arrange. So in some copies it is written, ‘I make good things and form evil things.’ To make is used of things previously not in existence; but to form is to arrange what had some kind of existence, so as to improve and enlarge it.” Also Augustine speaks of creation as a making of things not previously in existence, and therefore of a making out of nothing. And in Chapter 26, “That Creatures are made of nothing,” he writes: “Because therefore God made all things which He did not beget of-Himself, not of those things that already existed, but of those things that did not exist at all, that is, of nothing,” the Apostle Paul says: “Who calls the things that are not as if they are.” But still more plainly it is written in the book of Maccabees: “I pray thee, son, look at the heaven and the earth and all the things that are in them; see and know that it was not these of which the Lord God made us.” And from this that is written in the Psalm: “He spake, and they were made.” It is manifest, that not of Himself He begat these things, but that He made them by word and command. But what is not of Himself is assuredly of nothing. For there was not anything of which he should make them, concerning which the apostle says most openly: “For from Him, and through Him, and in Him are all things.”
Calvin, as we may surely expect, writes extensively on the subject of creation in his Institutes of the Christian Religion. Chapter XIV of Book I is entitled: “The true God distinguished in the Scripture from all fictitious ones, by the creation of the world.” In the rest of this article we would quote the following from Calvin, Book I, Chapter XIV, II: “To the same purpose is the narration of Moses, that the work of God was completed, not in one moment, but in six days. For by this circumstance also we are called away from all false deities to the only true God, who distributed his work into six days, that it might not be tedious to us to occupy the whole of life in the consideration of it. For though, whithersoever we turn our eyes, they are constrained to behold the works of God, yet we see how transient our attention is, and, if we are touched with any pious reflections, how soon they leave us again. Here, also, human reason murmurs, as though such progressive works were inconsistent with the power of Deity; till, subdued to the obedience of faith, it learns to observe that rest, to which the sanctification of the seventh day invites us. Now, in the order of those things, we must diligently consider the paternal love of God towards the human race, in not creating Adam before he had enriched the earth with an abundant supply of every thing conducive to his happiness. For had he placed him in the earth while it remained barren and vacant, had he given him life before there was any light, he would have appeared not very attentive to his benefit. Now, when he has regulated the motions of the sun and the stars for the service of man, replenished the earth, the air, and the waters, with living creatures, and caused the earth to produce an abundance of all kinds of fruits sufficient for sustenance, he acts the part of a provident and sedulous father of a family, and displays his wonderful goodness towards us. If the reader will more attentively consider with himself these things, which I only hint at as I proceed, he will be convinced that Moses was an authentic witness and herald of the one God, the Creator of the world.” The Lord willing, we will continue with the writings of Calvin in our following article. Following upon this quotation, Calvin devotes several paragraphs to the creation of the world of angels, and then returns to Scripture’s account of the creation of the world. But it is already obvious from the above quotation that Calvin certainly maintains the Scriptural truth that the Divine Creator made the heavens and the earth in six days.