Getting back to Bossuet’s Elevations on the Mysteries, III, 3:
Weak and imbecile that I am, who only sees mortal artisans whose works are subject to time, and who choose certain moments to be the start and end of their work, and who also need to be in a certain place to act and to find a location to fashion and set up their work! I want to imagine the same thing where something similar in this all-powerful worker who made the heavens and the earth; without dreaming that, if he had made all, he made the time and the place, and that these two things, which any other worker ought to find set up, were themselves part of his work.
Afterwards I want to imagine, there are six or seven thousand years, and before the world was made, as an infinite succession of revolutions and moments one after another, of which the creator had chosen one to fix the beginning of the world; and I do not want to understand that God, who made all, did not find anything that God who made all did not find anything done in his work before he acted. Thus before the beginning of the world, there was nothing but God alone; and in the nothing, there was no succession, no duration, nothing that is, nothing that exists, and nothing outside of God which God has made.
Lift up my thought above all image of sense and custom, to make me hear in your eternal truth, that you who are him who is, is always the same without succession or change; and that you make change and succession everywhere where it is. Consequently you make all the movements and all the circulations of which time is the measure. You see in your eternal intelligence all the different circulations which you can make; and, naming them to call them all by their name, you have chosen those which pleased you to make them so one after the other. Thus the first revolution which you have made was the course of the sun, was the first year; and the first movement which you have made in material, was the first day. Time began according to your pleasure and you made the beginning as it suited you, as you made what and when came after, that you do not stop to develop the changeless centre of your eternity.
You made place in the same idea that you made time. For you, of God of glory and majesty, you have no need for any place. You live in yourself entirely, without another extent except those which you know, you know all; either that of your power, you can do all; or that of your being, from all eternity you are all. You are all is necessarily so; and that which cannot be and which is not eternally with you, adds nothing to the perfection and fulness of the being which you alone have. Who added to your knowledge, to your power, to your grandeur, what type of local space is there? Nothing at all. You are in your works by your strength which forms and sustains; and your strength, it is yourself, it is your substance. When you stop acting, you are no less than what you are, having no need to extend yourself, neither to be in your creatures, neither in some location or space which might be. Because the place where space is extended, and a space and an extension, proportions, distances, equalities are nothing; and if one wants that you might find all these distances done, these extensions, these proportions that you did not make yourself, one falls back into the error of those who place something outside of you, which would be necessarily co-eternal and not your workmanship. O God! Dissipate these false ideas from the spirit of your servants. Make them hear that without having need to be any part, or to make yourself a dwelling place, you are all to yourself; and that, when it pleased you without any need to make the world, you made with the world time and place, all extension, all succession, all distance; and to the end that from all eternity and before the beginning, there was nothing but you alone: you alone then one time, you alone not needing anything but yourself. All the rest is not; there was neither time nor place, since time and place were something; there was only pure possibility of the creature you wanted to make, and that possibility existed only in your omnipotence.
You are thus eternally, and because you are perfect, you can do all you want; and because you can do all you want, all is possible for you; and it is only possible radically and originally because you can.
I adore you, o you who can do all! And I submit to your all-powerfulness so that I eternally want only what you want of me, and only reserve the power to carry it out.
One Reply to “On the Creation of the Universe: God Had No Need Either to Find a Location to Place the World or to Fix the Beginning of All Things”