Summary Against Modern Thought: God Makes Things Makers

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This chapter is mop up from the previous; dotted ‘i’s and the like. Review!

THAT NOTHING GIVES BEING EXCEPT IN SO FAR AS IT ACTS BY DIVINE POWER

1 From this it is manifest that no lower agents give being except in so far as they act by divine power.

2 Indeed, a thing does not give being except in so far as it is an actual being. But God preserves things in being by His providence, as we showed. Therefore, it is as a result of divine power that a thing gives being.

3 Again, when several different agents are subordinated to one agent, the effect that is produced by their common action must be attributed to them as they are united in their participation in the motion and power of this agent. For several agents do not produce one result unless they are as one. It is clear, for example, that all the men in an army work to bring about victory, and they do this by virtue of being subordinated to the leader, whose proper product is victory. Now, we showed in Book One [13] that the first agent is God. So, since being is the common product of all agents, because every agent produces actual being, they must produce this effect because they are subordinated to the first agent and act through His power.

Notes Armies are not, of course, the same as they once were.

4 Besides, in the case of all agent causes that are ordered, that which is last in the process of generation and first in intention is the proper product of the primary agent. For instance, the form of a house, which is the proper product of the builder, appears later than the preparation of the cement, stones, and timbers, which are made by the lower workmen who come under the builder. Now, in every action, actual being is primarily intended, but is last in the process of generation. In fact, as soon as it is achieved, the agent’s action and the patient’s motion come to rest. Therefore, being is the proper product of the primary agent, that is, of God; and all things that give being do so because they act by God’s power.

5 Moreover, the ultimate in goodness and perfection among the things to which the power of a secondary agent extends is that which it can do by the power of the primary agent, for the perfection of the power of the secondary agent is due to the primary agent. Now, that which is most perfect of all effects is the act of being, for every nature or form is perfected by the fact that it is actual, and it is related to actual being as potency is to act. Therefore, the act of being is what secondary agents produce through the power of the primary agent.

6 Besides, the order of the effects follows the order of the causes. But the first among all effects is the act of being, since all other things are certain determinations of it. Therefore, being is the proper effect of the primary agent, and all other things produce being because they act through the power of the primary agent. Now, secondary agents, which are like particularizers and determinants of the primary agent’s action, produce as their proper effects other perfections which determine being.

7 Furthermore, that which is of a certain kind through its essence is the proper cause of what is of such a kind by participation. Thus, fire is the cause of all things that are afire. Now, God alone is actual being through His own essence, while other beings are actual beings through participation, since in God alone is actual being identical with His essence. Therefore, the being of every existing thing is His proper effect. And so, everything that brings something into actual being does so because it acts through God’s power.

8 Hence it is said: “God created, that all things might be” (Wis. 1:14). And in several texts of Scripture it is stated that God makes all things. Moreover, it is said in the Book on Causes that not even an intelligence gives being “unless in so far as it is divine,” that is; in so far as it acts through divine power.

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