Of God and His Creatures

That the Happiness of God is most perfect, and exceeds all other happiness

WHERE there is greater love, there is greater delight in the attainment of the object loved. But every being, other things being equal, loves itself more than it loves anything else: a sign of which is that, the nearer anything is to oneself, the more it is naturally loved. God therefore takes greater delight in His happiness, which is Himself, than other blessed ones in their happiness, which is not what they are.

3. What is by essence, ranks above what is by participation. But God is happy by His essence, a prerogative that can belong to no other: for nothing else but God can be the sovereign good; and thus whatever else is happy must be happy by participation from Him. The divine happiness therefore exceeds all other happiness.

4. Perfect happiness consists in an act of the understanding. But no other act of understanding can compare with God's act: as is clear, not only from this that it is a subsistent act,* but also because by this one act God perfectly understands Himself as He is, and all things that are and are not, good and evil; whereas in all other intellectual beings the act of understanding is not itself subsistent, but is the act of a subsistent subject. Nor can any one understand God, the supreme object of understanding, so perfectly as He is perfect, because the being of none is so perfect as the divine being, nor can any act ever be more perfect than the substance of which it is the act.* Nor is there any other understanding that knows even all that God can do: for if it did, it would comprehend the divine power. Lastly, even what another understanding does know, it does not know all with one and the same act. God therefore is incomparably happy above all other beings.

The more a thing is brought to unity, the more perfect is its power and excellence. But an activity that works in succession, is divided by different divisions of time: in no way then can its perfection be compared to the perfection of an activity that is without succession, all present together, especially if it does not pass in an instant but abides to eternity. Now the divine act of understanding is without succession, existing all together for eternity: whereas our act of understanding is in succession by the accidental attachment to it of continuity and time. Therefore the divine happiness infinitely exceeds human happiness, as the duration of eternity exceeds the 'now in flux' of time (nunc temporis fluens).

6. The fatigue and various occupations whereby our contemplation in this life is necessarily interrupted, -- in which contemplation whatever happiness there is for man in this life chiefly consists, -- and the errors and doubts and various mishaps to which the present life is subject, show that human happiness, in this life particularly, can in no way compare with the happiness of God.

7. The perfection of the divine happiness may be gathered from this, that it embraces all happinesses according to the most perfect mode of each. By way of contemplative happiness, it has a perfect and perpetual view of God Himself and of other beings. By way of active life, it has the government, not of one man, or of one house, or of one city, or of one kingdom, but of the whole universe. Truly, the false happiness of earth is but a shadow of that perfect happiness. For it consists, according to Boethius, in five things, in pleasure, riches, power, dignity and fame. God then has a most excellent delight of Himself, and a universal joy of all good things, without admixture of contrary element. For riches, He has absolute self-sufficiency of all good. For power, He has infinite might. For dignity, He has primacy and rule over all beings. For fame, He has the admiration of every understanding that in any sort knows Him. To Him then, who is singularly blessed, be honour and glory for ever and ever, Amen.*

1.101 : That God is His own Happiness
2.1 : Connexion of what follows with what has gone before