The third attribute, we say, is divine predestination.
1.We proved before that God cannot omit to do what he does;
that he has, namely, made everything so perfect that it
cannot be more perfect.
2. And, at the same time, that without him no thing
can be, or be conceived.
It remains to be seen now whether there are in Nature
any accidental things, that is to say, whether there are any
things which may happen and may also not happen.
Secondly, whether there is any thing concerning which we
cannot ask why it is.
Now that there are no accidental things we prove thus:
That which has no cause to exist cannot possibly exist; that
which is accidental has no cause: therefore...
The first is beyond all dispute; the second we prove thus:
If any thing that is accidental has a definite and certain
cause why it should exist, then it must necessarily exist;
but that it should be both accidental and necessary at the
same time, is self-contradictory; Therefore...
Perhaps some one will say, that an accidental thing
has indeed no definite and certain cause, but an accidental
one. If this should be so, it must be so either in sensu
diviso or in sensu composito, that is to say, either the
existence of the cause is accidental, and not its being a
cause; or it is accidental that a certain thing (which indeed
must necessarily exist in Nature) should be the cause of the
occurrence of that accidental thing. However, both the one
and the other are false.
For, as regards the first, if the accidental something is
accidental because [the existence of] its cause is
accidental, then that cause must also be accidental,
because the cause which has produced it is also accidental,
et sic in infinitum.
And since it has already been proved, that all
things depend on one single cause, this cause
would therefore also have to be accidental: which is
As regards the second: if the cause were no more
compelled to produce one thing than another, that is, [if the
cause were no more compelled] to produce this something
than not to produce it, then it would be impossible at once
both that it should produce it and that it should not
produce it, which is quite contradictory.
Concerning the second [question raised] above, whether
there is no thing in Nature about which one
cannot ask why it is, this remark of ours shows that
we have to inquire through what cause a thing is real; for if
this [cause] did not exist it were impossible that the thing
should exist. Now, we must look for this cause either in the
thing or outside the thing. If, however, any one should ask
for a rule whereby to conduct this inquiry, we say that none
whatever seems necessary. For if existence pertains to the
nature of a thing, then it is certain that we must not look
outside it for its cause; but if such is not the case, then we
must always look outside the thing for its cause. Since,
however, the first pertains to God alone, it is thereby proved
(as we have already also proved before) that God alone is the
first cause of all things. From this it is also evident that
this or that will of man (since the existence of the will does
not pertain to its
essence) must also have an external cause,
by which it is necessarily caused; that this is so is also
evident from all that we have said in this chapter; and it
will be still more evident when,
in the second part, we come to consider and discuss the
freedom of man.
Against all this others object: how is it possible that God,
who is said to be supremely perfect, and the sole cause,
disposer, and provider of all, nevertheless permits such
confusion to be seen everywhere in Nature? Also, why
has he not made man so as not to be able to
Now, in the first place, it cannot be rightly said that
there is confusion in Nature, since nobody knows
all the causes of things so as to be able to judge accordingly.
This objection, however, originates in this kind of
ignorance, namely, that they have set up general Ideas,
with which, they think, particular things must agree if
they are to be perfect. These Ideas, they state, are in
the understanding of God, as many of Plato's followers
have said, namely, that these general Ideas (such as
Rational, Animal,[N1] and the like) have been created
by God; and although those who follow Aristotle
say, indeed, that these things are not real things, only
things of Reason, they
nevertheless regard them frequently
as [real] things, since they have clearly said that his
providence does not extend to particular things, but only to
kinds; for example, God has never exercised his providence
over Bucephalus, &c., but only over the whole genus Horse.
They say also that God has no knowledge of particular and
transient things, but only of the general, which, in their
opinion, are imperishable. We have, however, rightly
considered [N2] this to be due to their ignorance. For it is
precisely the particular things, and they alone, that have a
cause, and not the general, because they are nothing.
[Note N1]: B: Rational-Animal.
[Note N1]: B: to consider.
God then is the cause of, and providence over, particular
things only. If particular things had to conform to some
other Nature, then they could not conform to their
own, and consequently could not be what they truly are.
For example, if God had made all human beings like Adam
before the fall, then indeed he would only have created
Adam, and no Paul nor Peter; but no, it is just perfection
in God, that he gives to all things, from the greatest to the
least, their essence,
or, to express it better, that he has all things perfectly in himself.
As regards the other [objection], why God has not
made mankind that they should not sin,
to this it may serve [as an answer], that whatever is said
about sin is only said with reference to us, that is, as when
we compare two things with each other, or [consider one
thing] from different points of view. For instance, if some
one has made a clock precisely in order to strike and to
show the hours, and the mechanism quite fulfils the aims
of its maker, then we say that it is good, but if it does not
do so, then we say that it is bad, notwithstanding that even
then it might still be good if only it had been his intention
to make it irregular and to strike at wrong times.
We say then, in conclusion, that Peter must, as is
necessary, conform to the Idea of Peter, and not to the Idea
of Man; good and evil, or sin, these are only modes of
thought, and by no means things, or any thing that has
reality, as we shall very likely show yet more fully in what
follows. For all things and works which are in Nature are