Respondeo. Dicendum, quod hoc dubium primo tollit imperfectio intellectus nostri: nam si homo posset perfecte per se cognoscere omnia visibilia et invisibilia, stultum esset credere quae non videmus; sed cognitio nostra est adeo debilis quod nullus philosophus potuit unquam perfecte investigare naturam unius muscae: unde legitur, quod unus philosophus fuit triginta annis in solitudine, ut cognosceret naturam apis. Si ergo intellectus noster est ita debilis, nonne stultum est nolle credere de Deo, nisi illa tantum quae homo potest cognoscere per se? Et ideo contra hoc dicitur Iob XXXVI, 26: ecce Deus magnus, vincens scientiam nostram.
I answer by saying that the imperfect nature of our intellect takes away the basis of this difficulty. For if man of himself could in a perfect manner know all things visible and invisible, it would indeed be foolish to believe what he does not see. But our manner of knowing is so weak that no philosopher could perfectly investigate the nature of even one little fly. We even read that a certain philosopher spent thirty years in solitude in order to know the nature of the bee. If, therefore, our intellect is so weak, it is foolish to be willing to believe concerning God only that which man can know by himself alone. And against this it is said: behold, God is great, exceeding our knowledge (Job 36:26).
Secundo potest responderi, quia dato quod aliquis magister aliquid diceret in sua scientia, et aliquis rusticus diceret non esse sicut magister doceret, eo quod ipse non intelligeret, multum reputaretur stultus ille rusticus. Constat autem quod intellectus Angeli excedit magis intellectum optimi philosophi, quam intellectus optimi philosophi intellectum rustici. Et ideo stultus est philosophus si nolit credere ea quae Angeli dicunt; et multo magis si nolit credere ea quae Deus dicit. Et contra hoc dicitur Eccli. III, 25: plurima supra sensum hominum ostensa sunt tibi.
Second, one can also answer this question by supposing that a certain master had said something concerning his own special branch of knowledge, and some uneducated person would contradict him for no other reason than that he could not understand what the master said! Such a person would be considered very foolish. So, the intellect of the angels as greatly exceeds the intellect of the greatest philosopher as much as that of the greatest philosopher exceeds the intellect of the uneducated man. Therefore, the philosopher is foolish if he refuses to believe what an angel says, and a far greater fool to refuse to believe what God says. Against such are these words: for many things are shown to you above the understanding of men (Sir 3:25).
Tertio responderi potest, quia si homo nollet credere nisi ea quae cognosceret, certe non posset vivere in hoc mundo. Quomodo enim aliquis vivere posset nisi crederet alicui? Quomodo etiam crederet quod talis esset pater suus? Et ideo est necesse quod homo credat alicui de iis quae perfecte non potest scire per se. Sed nulli est credendum sicut Deo: et ideo illi qui non credunt dictis fidei, non sunt sapientes, sed stulti et superbi, sicut dicit Apostolus I ad Tim. VI, 4: superbus est, nihil sciens. Propterea dicebat II Tim. I, 12: scio cui credidi et certus sum. Eccli. II, 8: qui timetis Deum, credite illi.
Third, if one were willing to believe only those things which one knows with certitude, one could not live in this world. How could one live unless one believed others? How could one know that this man is one’s own father? Therefore, it is necessary that one believe others in matters which one cannot know perfectly for oneself. But no one is so worthy of belief as is God, and hence they who do not believe the words of faith are not wise, but foolish and proud. As the Apostle says: he is proud, knowing nothing (1 Tim 6:4). And also: I know whom I have believed; and I am certain (2 Tim 1:12). You who fear the Lord, believe him and your reward shall not be made void (Sir 2:8).
Quare potest etiam responderi, quia Deus probat quod ea quae docet fides, sunt vera. Si enim rex mitteret litteras cum sigillo suo sigillatas, nullus auderet dicere quod illae litterae non processissent de regis voluntate. Constat autem quod omnia quae sancti crediderunt et tradiderunt nobis de fide Christi, signata sunt sigillo Dei: quod sigillum ostendunt illa opera quae nulla pura creatura facere potest: et haec sunt miracula, quibus Christus confirmavit dicta apostolorum et sanctorum.
Finally, one can say also that God proves the truth of the things which faith teaches. Thus, if a king sends letters signed with his seal, no one would dare to say that those letters did not represent the will of the king. In like manner, everything that the saints believed and handed down to us concerning the faith of Christ is signed with the seal of God. This seal consists of those works which no mere creature could accomplish; they are the miracles by which Christ confirmed the sayings of the apostles and of the saints.
Si dicas, quod miracula nullus vidit fieri: respondeo ad hoc. Constat enim quod totus mundus colebat idola, et fidem Christi persequebatur, sicut Paganorum etiam historiae tradunt; sed modo omnes conversi sunt ad Christum, et sapientes et nobiles et divites et potentes et magni ad praedicationem simplicium et pauperum et paucorum praedicantium Christum. Aut ergo hoc est miraculose factum, aut non. Si miraculose, habes propositum. Si non, dico quod non potuit esse maius miraculum quam quod mundus totus sine miraculis converteretur. Non ergo quaerimus aliud. Sic ergo nullus debet dubitare de fide, sed credere ea quae fidei sunt magis quam ea quae videt: quia visus hominis potest decipi, sed Dei scientia nunquam fallitur.
If, however, you would say that no one has witnessed these miracles, I would reply in this manner. It is a fact that the entire world worshipped idols and that the faith of Christ was persecuted, as the histories of the pagans also testify. But now all are turned to Christ, wise men and noble and rich, converted by the words of the poor and simple preachers of Christ. Now, this fact was either miracle or it was not. If it is miraculous, you have what you asked for, a visible fact; if it is not, then there could not be a greater miracle than that the whole world should have been converted without miracles. And we need go no further. We are more certain, therefore, in believing the things of faith than those things which can be seen, because God’s knowledge never deceives us, but the visible sense of man is often in error.
Credo in unum Deum Patrem omnipotentem, creatorem caeli et terrae
I Believe in One God, the Father the Almighty, Maker of Heaven and Earth
I believe in one God
Inter omnia quae debent credere fideles, hoc est primum quod debent credere, scilicet quod sit unus Deus. Considerandum autem, quid significet hoc nomen Deus: quod quidem nihil est aliud quam gubernator et provisor rerum omnium. Ille igitur credit Deum esse qui credit omnes res mundi huius gubernari et provideri ab illo. Qui autem credit quod omnia proveniant a casu, hic non credit Deum esse. Nullus autem invenitur adeo stultus qui non credat quod res naturales gubernentur, provideantur, et disponantur; cum in quodam ordine et certis temporibus procedant. Videmus enim solem et lunam et stellas, et alias res naturales omnes servare determinatum cursum; quod non contingeret, si a casu essent: unde si aliquis esset qui non crederet Deum esse, stultus esset. Psal. XIII, 1: dixit insipiens in corde suo: non est Deus.
Among all the truths which the faithful must believe, this is the first, that there is one God. We must see that the name "God" means the ruler and provider of all things. He, therefore, believes in God who believes that everything in this world is governed and provided for by him. He who would believe that all things come into being by chance does not believe that there is a God. No one is so foolish as to deny that all nature, which operates with a certain definite time and order, is subject to the rule and foresight and an orderly arrangement of someone. We see how the sun, the moon, and the stars, and all natural things follow a determined course, which would be impossible if they were merely products of chance. Hence, as is spoken of in the Psalm, he is indeed foolish who does not believe in God: the fool said in his heart: there is no God (Ps 13:1).
Sunt autem aliqui qui licet credant Deum gubernare et disponere res naturales, non tamen credunt Deum esse humanorum actuum provisorem; qui scilicet credunt actus humanos non disponi a Deo. Cuius ratio est, quia vident in mundo isto bonos affligi, et malos prosperari: quod videtur tollere providentiam divinam circa homines: unde in persona eorum dicitur Iob XXII, 14: circa cardines caeli perambulat, nec nostra considerat.
There are those, however, who believe that God rules and sustains all things of nature, and nevertheless do not believe God is the overseer of the acts of man; hence they believe that human acts do not come under God’s providence. They reason thus because they see in this world how the good are afflicted and how the evil enjoy good things, so that divine providence seems to disregard human affairs. Hence the words of Job are offered to apply to this view: he does not consider our things; and he walks about the poles of heaven (Job 22:14).
Hoc autem est valde stultum. Nam istis accidit, sicut si aliquis nesciens medicinam, videret medicum propinantem uni infirmo aquam, alteri vinum, secundum scilicet quod ars medicinae dictat: crederet quod hoc fiat a casu, cum nesciat artem medicinae, quae ex iusta causa hoc facit, scilicet quod isti dat vinum, illi vero aquam. Sic est de Deo. Deus enim ex iusta causa et sua providentia disponit ea quae sunt hominibus necessaria; et sic quosdam bonos affligit, et quosdam malos in prosperitate dimittit. Unde qui credit hoc provenire a casu, est et reputatur insipiens: quia non contingit hoc, nisi quia nescit artem et causam dispositionis divinae. Iob XI, 6: ut ostenderet tibi secreta sapientiae, et quod multiplex esset lex eius.
But this is indeed absurd. It is just as though a person who is ignorant of medicine should see a doctor give water to one patient and wine to another. He would believe that this is mere chance, since he does not understand the science of medicine which for good reasons prescribes for one wine and for another water. So is it with God. For God in his just and wise providence knows what is good and necessary for men; and hence he afflicts some who are good and allows certain wicked men to prosper. But he is foolish indeed who believes this is due to chance, because he does not know the causes and method of God’s dealing with men. I wish that God might speak with you, and would open his lips to you, that he might show you the secrets of wisdom, and that his law is manifold (Job 11:5–6).
Et ideo firmiter credendum est, quod Deus gubernat et disponit non solum res naturales, sed etiam actus humanos. Psal. XCIII, 7, 8 et 9: et dixerunt, non videbit Dominus, nec intelliget Deus Iacob. Intelligite insipientes in populo, et stulti aliquando sapite. Qui plantavit aurem, non audiet; aut qui finxit oculum, non considerat? (...) V. 10. Dominus scit cogitationes hominum.
We must, therefore, firmly believe that God governs and regulates not only all nature, but also the actions of men. And they said: the Lord shall not see; neither shall the God of Jacob understand. Understand, ye senseless among the people, and, you fools, be wise at last. He who planted the ear, shall he not hear? He who formed the eye, does he not consider? . . . The Lord knows the thoughts of men (Ps 93:7–10).
Omnia ergo videt, et cogitationes, et occulta voluntatis. Unde et hominibus specialiter imponitur necessitas bene faciendi, quia omnia quae cogitant et faciunt, divino conspectui sunt manifesta, Apostolus Hebr. IV, 13: omnia nuda sunt et aperta oculis eius.
God sees all things, both our thoughts and the hidden desires of our will. Thus, the necessity of doing good is especially imposed on man since all his thoughts, words and actions are known in the sight of God: all things are naked and open to his eyes (Heb 4:13).
Est autem credendum, quod hic Deus qui omnia disponit et regit, sit unus Deus tantum. Cuius ratio est, quia illa dispositio rerum humanarum est bene disposita, in qua multitudo invenitur disponi et gubernari per unum. Nam multitudo praesidentium inducit saepe dissensionem in subditis: unde cum divinum regimen praeeminet regimini humano, manifestum est quod regnum mundi non est per multos deos, sed per unum tantum.
We believe that God who rules and regulates all things is but one God. This is seen in that wherever the regulation of human affairs is well arranged, there the group is found to be ruled and provided for by one, not many. For a number of heads often brings dissension in their subjects. But since divine government exceeds in every way that which is merely human, it is evident that the government of the world is not by many gods, but by one only.
Sunt autem quatuor, ex quibus homines inducti sunt ad ponendum plures deos.
There are four motives which have led men to believe in a number of gods.
Primum est imbecillitas intellectus humani. Nam homines imbecillis intellectus non valentes corporalia transcendere, non crediderunt aliquid esse ultra naturam corporum sensibilium; et ideo inter corpora illa posuerunt praeeminere et disponere mundum, quae pulchriora et digniora inter ea videbantur, et eis attribuebant et impendebant divinum cultum: et huiusmodi sunt corpora caelestia, scilicet sol et luna et stellae. Sed istis accidit sicut alicui eunti ad curiam regis, qui volens videre regem, credit quemcumque bene indutum vel in officio constitutum, regem esse: de quibus dicitur Sap. XIII, 2: solem et lunam, aut gyrum stellarum rectores orbis terrarum deos putaverunt; Isai. LI, 6: levate in excelsum oculos vestros, et videte sub terra deorsum: quia caeli sicut fumus liquescent, et terra sicut vestimentum atteretur, et habitatores eius sicut haec interibunt; salus autem mea in sempiternum erit, et iustitia mea non deficiet.
For dull men, not capable of going beyond sensible things, did not believe anything existed except physical bodies. Hence, they held that the world is disposed and ruled by those bodies which to them seemed most beautiful and most valuable in this world. And, accordingly, to things such as the sun, the moon and the stars, they attributed and gave a divine worship. Such men are like to one who, going to a royal court to see the king, believes that whoever is sumptuously dressed or of official position is the king. They have imagined either the sun and moon or the circle of the stars to be the gods that rule the world (Wis 7:2). Lift up your eyes to heaven, and look down to the earth beneath: for the heavens shall vanish like smoke, and the earth shall be worn away like a garment, and the inhabitants thereof shall perish in like manner: but my salvation shall be forever, and my justice shall not fail (Isa 51:6).
Secundo provenit ex adulatione hominum. Nam aliqui volentes adulari dominis et regibus, honorem Deo debitum eis exhibuerunt, obediendo eis, et subiiciendo se eis: unde et aliquos post mortem fecerunt deos, alios etiam in vita dixerunt deos. Iudith V, 29: sciat omnis gens, quomodo Nabuchodonosor Deus terrae est, et praeter ipsum alius non est.
The second motive came from human adulation. Some men, wishing to fawn upon kings and rulers, obey and subject themselves to them and show them honor which is due to God alone. After the death of these rulers, sometimes men make them gods, and sometimes this is done even whilst they are living. That every nation may know that Nebuchadnezzar is god of the earth, and besides him there is no other (Jdt 5:29).
Tertio provenit ex carnali affectu ad filios et consanguineos: nam aliqui propter nimium amorem quem ad suos habebant, faciebant statuas post eorum mortem, et sic ex hoc processum est quod illis statuis divinum cultum impendebant: de quibus dicitur Sap. XIV, 21: quoniam aut effectui aut regibus deservientes homines, incommunicabile nomen lapidibus et lignis imposuerunt.
The third motive came from human affection for sons and relatives. Some, because of the excessive love which they had for their family, caused statues of them to be erected after their death, and gradually a divine honor was attached to these statues: for men, serving either their affections or their kings, gave the incommunicable name to stones and wood (Wis 14:21).
Quarto ex malitia diaboli. Ipse enim ab initio voluit aequiparari Deo: unde ipse ait, Isai. XIV, 13-14: ponam sedem meam ab Aquilone, in caelum conscendam, et ero similis altissimo.
The fourth motive is from the malice of the devil. The devil wished from the beginning to be equal to God, and thus he said: I will ascend above the height of the clouds. I will be like the Most High (Isa 14:14).
Et hanc voluntatem nondum deposuit; et ideo totus conatus suus in hoc existit ut faciat se ab hominibus adorari, et sacrificia sibi offerri: non quod delectetur in uno cane vel Cato qui ei offertur, sed delectatur in hoc quod ei impendatur reverentia sicut Deo: unde et Christo dixit, Matth. IV, 9: haec omnia tibi dabo, si cadens adoraveris me.
The devil still entertains this desire. His entire purpose is to bring about that man adore him and offer sacrifices to him; not that he takes delight in a dog or cat that is offered to him, but he delights in the fact that thereby irreverence is shown to God. Thus, he spoke to Christ: all these will I give you, if you fall down and adore me (Matt 4:9).
Inde est etiam quod intrantes idola, dabant responsa, ut scilicet venerarentur ut dii. Psalm. XCV, 5: omnes dii gentium daemonia; Apostolus, I Cor. X, 20: sed quae immolant gentes, daemoniis immolant, et non Deo.
For this reason those demons who entered into idols said that they would be venerated as gods. All the gods of the gentiles are demons (Ps 105:5). The things which the heathens sacrifice, they sacrifice to devils, and not to God (1 Cor 10:20).
Licet autem haec sint horribilia, sunt tamen aliquando et multi qui frequenter incidunt in istas quatuor causas. Et licet non ore aut corde, tamen factis ostendunt se credere plures deos. Nam qui credunt quod corpora caelestia possunt in voluntatem hominis imprimere, et qui in factis suis certa accipiunt tempora, ii ponunt corpora caelestia esse deos, et aliis dominari, facientes astrolabia. Ierem. X, 2: a signis caeli nolite metuere quae timent gentes, quia leges populorum vanae sunt.
Although all this is terrible to contemplate, yet at times there are any who fall into these above-mentioned four causes. Not by their words and hearts, but by their actions, they show that they believe in many gods. Thus, those who believe that the celestial bodies influence the will of man and regulate their affairs by astrology, really make the heavenly bodies gods, and subject themselves to them. Be not afraid of the signs of heaven which the heathens fear. For the laws of the people are vain (Jer 10:2–3).
Item omnes illi qui obediunt regibus plusquam Deo, vel in illis in quibus non debent, constituunt eos deos suos. Act. V, 29: obedire oportet Deo magis quam hominibus.
In the same category are all those who obey temporal rulers more than God, in that which they ought not; such actually set these up as gods. We ought to obey God rather than men (Acts 5:29).
Item illi qui diligunt filios aut consanguineos plusquam Deum, ostendunt factis suis plures esse deos. Vel etiam illi qui diligunt escam plusquam Deum: de quibus Apostolus Phil. III, 19: quorum Deus venter est.
So also those who love their sons and kinsfolk more than God show by their actions that they believe in many gods; as likewise do those who love food more than God: whose god is their belly (Phil 3:19).
Item omnes illi qui insistunt veneficiis et incantationibus, credunt daemones esse deos: cuius ratio est, quia petunt a daemonibus id quod solus Deus dare potest, scilicet revelationem alicuius rei occultae, et veritatem futurorum. Est ergo primo credendum quod Deus est unus tantum.
Moreover, all who take part in magic or in incantations believe that the demons are gods, because they seek from the devil that which God alone can give, such as revealing the future or discovering hidden things. We must, therefore, believe that there is but one God.
Sicut dictum est, primum quod credere debemus, est quod sit unus solus Deus;
It has been shown that we must first of all believe there is but one God.
secundum est quod iste Deus sit creator et factor caeli et terrae, visibilium et invisibilium.
Now, the second is that this God is the Creator and maker of heaven and earth, of all things visible and invisible.
Et ut rationes subtiles dimittantur ad praesens; quodam rudi exemplo manifestatur propositum, quod scilicet omnia sunt a Deo creata et facta. Constat enim quod si aliquis intraret domum aliquam, et in ipsius domus introitu sentiret calorem, postmodum vadens interius sentiret maiorem calorem, et sic deinceps, crederet ignem esse interius, etiam si ipsum ignem non videret qui causaret dictos calores: sic quoque contingit consideranti res huius mundi. Nam ipse invenit res omnes secundum diversos gradus pulchritudinis et nobilitatis esse dispositas; et quanto magis appropinquant Deo, tanto pulchriora et meliora invenit. Unde corpora caelestia pulchriora et nobiliora sunt quam corpora inferiora, et invisibilia visibilibus. Et ideo credendum est quod omnia haec sunt ab uno Deo, qui dat suum esse singulis rebus, et nobilitatem. Sap. XIII, 1: vani sunt autem omnes homines in quibus non subest scientia Dei, et de his quae videntur bona, non potuerunt intelligere eum qui est, neque operibus attendentes, agnoverunt quis esset artifex; et infra, 5: a magnitudine enim speciei et creaturae cognoscibiliter poterit creator horum videri.
Let us leave more subtle reasons for the present and show by a simple example that all things are created and made by God. If a person, upon entering a certain house, should feel a warmth at the door of the house, and going within should feel a greater warmth, and so on the more he went into its interior, he would believe that somewhere within was a fire, even if he did not see the fire itself which caused this heat which he felt. So also is it when we consider the things of this world. For one finds all things arranged in different degrees of beauty and worth, and the closer things approach to God, the more beautiful and better they are found to be. Thus, the heavenly bodies are more beautiful and nobler than those which are below them; and, likewise, the invisible things in relation to the visible. Therefore, it must be seen that all these things proceed from one God who gives his being and beauty to each and everything. All men are vain, in whom there is not the knowledge of God: and who by these good things that are seen could not understand him that is. Neither by attending to the works have acknowledged who was the workman (Wis 13:1); for by the greatness of the beauty, and of the creature, the Creator of them may be seen, so as to be known thereby (Wis 13:5).
Sic ergo pro certo debet nobis constare quod omnia quae sunt in mundo, a Deo sunt. Circa hoc autem debemus vitare tres errores.
Thus, therefore, it is certain for us that all things in the world are from God. There are three errors concerning this truth which we must avoid.
Primus est error Manichaeorum, qui dicunt quod omnia visibilia creata sunt a diabolo; et ideo Deo solum attribuunt creationem invisibilium. Et causa huius erroris est, quia ipsi Deum asserunt summum bonum, sicut et verum est, et omnia quae a bono sunt, bona esse: unde nescientes discernere quid sit malum et quid bonum, crediderunt quod omnia illa quae sunt aliqualiter mala, simpliciter essent mala; sicut ignis, quia urit, dicitur ab eis simpliciter malus; et aqua, quia suffocat; et sic de aliis. Unde, quia nihil istorum sensibilium est simpliciter bonum, sed aliqualiter malum et deficiens, dixerunt, quod visibilia omnia non sunt facta a Deo bono, sed a malo. Contra hos ponit Augustinus tale exemplum. Si aliquis intraret domum fabri, et inveniret instrumenta ad quae impingeret, et laederent eum, et ex hoc reputaret illum fabrum malum, quia tenet talia instrumenta, stultus esset, cum faber ea teneat ad opus suum. Ita stultum est dicere, quod per hoc creaturae sint malae, quia sunt in aliquo nocivae; nam quod uni est nocivum, alteri est utile. Hic autem error est contra fidem Ecclesiae; et ideo ad hunc removendum, dicitur: visibilium omnium et invisibilium. Gen. I, 1: in principio creavit Deus caelum et terram. Ioan. I, 3: omnia per ipsum facta sunt.
First, the error of the Manicheans, who say that all visible created things are from the devil, and only the invisible creation is to be attributed to God. The cause of this error is that they hold that God is the highest good, which is true; but they also assert that whatsoever comes from good is itself good. Thus, not distinguishing what is evil and what is good, they believed that whatever is partly evil is essentially evil—as, for instance, fire because it burns is essentially evil, and so is water because it causes suffocation, and so with other things. Because no sensible thing is essentially good, but mixed with evil and defective, they believed that all visible things are not made by God who is good, but by the evil one. Against them St. Augustine gives this illustration. A certain man entered the shop of a carpenter and found tools which, if he should fall against them, would seriously wound him. Now, if he would consider the carpenter a bad workman because he made and used such tools, it would be stupid of him indeed. In the same way it is absurd to say that created things are evil because they may be harmful; for what is harmful to one may be useful to another. This error is contrary to the faith of the Church, and therefore it is said: of all things visible and invisible. In the beginning God created heaven and earth (Gen 1:1). All things were made by him (John 1:3).
Secundus est error ponentium mundum ab aeterno: secundum quem modum loquitur Petrus dicens (II Petr. III, 4): ex quo patres dormierunt, omnia sic perseverant ab initio creaturae. Et isti ducti sunt ad hanc positionem, quia nescierunt considerare principium mundi. Unde, sicut Rabbi Moyses dicit, istis contingit sicut puero, qui si statim cum nascitur, poneretur in insula, et nunquam videret mulierem praegnantem, nec puerum nasci; et diceretur isti puero, quando magnus esset, qualiter homo concipitur, portatur in utero, et nascitur; nulli crederet sibi dicenti, quia impossibile sibi videretur quod homo posset esse in utero matris. Sic isti considerantes statum mundi praesentem, non credunt quod inceperit. Est etiam hoc contra fidem Ecclesiae: et ideo ad hoc removendum dicitur: factorem caeli et terrae. Si enim fuerunt facta, constat quod non semper fuerunt; et ideo dicitur in Psal. CXLVIII, 5: dixit et facta sunt.
The second error is of those who hold the world has existed from eternity: since the time that the fathers slept, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation (2 Pet 3:4). They are led to this view because they do not know how to imagine the beginning of the world. They are, says Rabbi Moses, in like case to a boy who immediately upon his birth was placed upon an island, and remained ignorant of the manner of child-bearing and of infants’ birth; thus, when he grew up, if one should explain all these things to him, he would not believe how a man could once have been in his mother’s womb. So also those who consider the world as it is now, do not believe that it had a beginning. This is also contrary to the faith of the Church, and hence we say: the maker of heaven and earth. For if they were made, they did not exist forever; and therefore it says: he spoke and they were made (Ps 148:5).
Tertius est error ponentium Deum fecisse mundum ex praeiacenti materia. Et ad hoc ducti sunt, quia voluerunt metiri potentiam Dei secundum potentiam nostram: et ideo, quia homo nihil potest facere nisi ex praeiacenti materia, crediderunt quod eodem modo et Deus: unde dixerunt, quod in productione rerum habuit materiam praeiacentem. Sed hoc non est verum. Nam homo ideo nihil potest facere sine praeiacenti materia, quia est factor particularis, et non potest inducere nisi hanc formam in determinata materia ab aliquo alio praesupposita. Cuius ratio est, quia virtus sua est determinata ad formam tantum; et ideo non potest esse causa nisi huius. Deus autem est universalis causa omnium rerum, et non solum creat formam, sed etiam materiam; unde et de nihilo omnia fecit. Et ideo ad removendum hunc errorem dicitur: creatorem caeli et terrae. In hoc enim differunt creare et facere, quia creare est de nihilo aliquid facere: facere autem est de aliquo aliquid facere. Si ergo ex nihilo fecit, credendum est quod iterum posset omnia facere, si destruerentur: unde potest caecum illuminare, mortuum suscitare, et cetera opera miraculosa facere. Sap. XII, 18: subest enim tibi, cum volueris, posse.
The third is the error which holds that God made the world from pre-existing matter. They are led to this view because they wish to measure divine power according to human power; and since man cannot make anything except from material which already lies at hand, so also it must be with God. But this is false. Man needs matter to make anything, because he is a builder of particular things and must bring form out of definite material. He merely determines the form of his work, and can be only the cause of the form that he builds. God, however, is the universal cause of all things, and he not only creates the form but also the matter. Hence, he makes out of nothing, and thus it is said in the Creed: the Creator of heaven and earth. We must see in this the difference between making and creating. To create is to make something out of nothing; and if everything were destroyed, he could again make all things. He, thus, makes the blind to see, raises up the dead, and works other similar miracles. Your power is at hand when you will (Wis 12:18).
Ex huiusmodi autem consideratione homo dirigitur ad quinque.
From a consideration of all this, one is led to a fivefold benefit.
Primo ad cognitionem divinae maiestatis. Nam factor praeeminet factis: unde quia Deus est factor omnium rerum, constat eum eminentiorem omnibus rebus. Sap. XIII, 3: quorum si specie delectati deos putaverunt, sciant quanto his dominator eorum speciosior est (...) ib. 4: aut si virtutem et opera eorum mirati sunt, intelligant ab illis quomodo qui haec fecit, fortior est illis. Et inde est quod quidquid potest intelligi vel cogitari, minus est ipso Deo. Iob XXXVI, 26: ecce Deus magnus, vincens scientiam nostram.
First, we are led to a knowledge of the divine majesty. Now, if a maker is greater than the things he makes, then God is greater than all things which he has made. With whose beauty, if they being delighted, took them to be gods, let them know how much the Lord of them is more beautiful than they (Wis 13:3); or if they admired their power and their effects, let them understand by them that he that made them, is mightier than they (Wis 13:4). Hence, whatsoever can even be affirmed or thought of is less than God. Behold: God is great, exceeding our knowledge (Job 36:26).
Secundo ex hoc dirigitur ad gratiarum actionem: quia enim Deus est creator omnium rerum, certum est quod quidquid sumus et quidquid habemus, a Deo est. Apostolus, I Cor. IV, 7: quid habes quod non accepisti? Psal. XXIII, 1: Domini est terra et plenitudo eius, orbis terrarum, et universi qui habitant in eo. Et ideo debemus ei reddere gratiarum actiones: Psal. CXV, 12: quid retribuam Domino pro omnibus quae retribuit mihi?
Second, we are led to give thanks to God. Because God is the Creator of all things, it is certain that what we are and what we have is from God: what do you have that you did not receive? (1 Cor 4:7). The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof; the world and all who dwell on it (Ps 23:1). We, therefore, must give thanks to God: what shall I render to the Lord for all the things that he has done for me? (Ps 115:12).
Tertio inducitur ad patientiam in adversis. Nam licet omnis creatura sit a Deo, et ex hoc sit bona secundum suam naturam; tamen si in aliquo noceat, et inferat nobis poenam, debemus credere quod illa poena sit a Deo; non tamen culpa: quia nullum malum est a Deo, nisi quod ordinatur ad bonum. Et ideo si omnis poena quam homo suffert est a Deo, debet patienter sustinere. Nam poenae purgant peccata, humiliant reos, provocant bonos ad amorem Dei. Iob II, 10: si bona suscepimus de manu Domini, mala autem quare non sustineamus?
Third, we are led to bear our troubles in patience. Although every created thing is from God and is good according to its nature, yet, if something harms us or brings us pain, we believe that such comes from God, not as a fault in him, but because God permits no evil that is not for good. Affliction purifies from sin, brings low the guilty, and urges on the good to a love of God: if we have received good things from the hand of God, why should we not receive evil? (Job 2:10).