Of God and His Creatures

How Absolute Necessity may have place in Creation

ALTHOUGH all things depend on the will of God as their first cause, and this first cause is not necessitated in its operation except on the supposition of its own purpose, not for that however is absolute necessity excluded from creation, need we aver that all things are contingent.

1. There are things in creation which simply and absolutely must be. Those things simply and absolutely must be, in which there is no possibility of their not being. Some things are so brought into being by God that there is in their nature a potentiality of not being: which happens from this, that the matter in them is in potentiality to receive another form. Those things then in which either there is no matter, or, if there is any, it is not open to receive another form, have no potentiality of not being: such things then simply and absolutely must be. If it be said that things which are of nothing, of themselves tend to nothingness, and thus there is in all creatures a potentiality of not being, -- it is manifest that such a conclusion does not follow. For things created by God are said to tend to nothingness only in the way in which they are from nothing; and that is only in respect of the power of the agent who has created them. Thus then creatures have no potentiality of not being: but there is in the Creator a power of giving them being or of stopping the influx of being to them.*

4. The further a thing is distant from the self-existent, that is, from God, the nigher it is to not being; and the nigher it is to God, the further it is withdrawn from not being. Those things therefore which are nighest to God, and therefore furthest removed from not being, -- in order that the hierarchy of being (ordo rerum) may be complete, -- must be such as to have in themselves no potentiality of not being, or in other words, their being must be absolutely necessary. We observe therefore that, considering the universe of creatures as they depend on the first principles of all things, we find that they depend on the will (of God), -- not as necessarily arising therefrom, except by an hypothetical, or consequent necessity, as has been explained (Chap. XXVIII). But, compared with proximate and created principles,* we find some things having an absolute necessity. There is no absurdity in causes being originally brought into being without any necessity, and yet, once they are posited in being, having such and such an effect necessarily following from them. That such natures were produced by God, was voluntary on His part: but that, once established, a certain effect proceeds from them, is a matter of absolute necessity.* What belongs to a thing by reason of its essential principles, must obtain by absolute necessity in all things.*

2.29 : How in the production of a creature there may be found a Debt of justice in respect of the Necessary Sequence of something Posterior upon something Prior
2.31 : That it is not necessary for Creatures to have existed from Eternity