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Section 20

20. The difficulty will be raised that God would seem to have existed before thus coming into existence; if He makes Himself, then in regard to the self which He makes He is not yet in being and as maker He exists before this Himself thus made.

The answer is that we utterly must not speak of Him as made but sheerly as maker; the making must be taken as absolved from all else; no new existence is established; the Act here is not directed to an achievement but is God Himself unalloyed: here is no duality but pure unity. Let no one suspect us of asserting that the first Activity is without Essence; on the contrary the Activity is the very reality. To suppose a reality without activity would be to make the Principle of all principles deficient; the supremely complete becomes incomplete. To make the Activity something superadded to the essence is to shatter the unity. If then Activity is a more perfect thing than essence and the First is all perfect, then the Activity is the First.

By having acted, He is what He is and there is no question of "existing before bringing Himself into existence"; when He acted He was not in some state that could be described as "before existing." He was already existent entirely.

Now assuredly an Activity not subjected essence is utterly free; God's selfhood, then, is of his own Act. If his being has to be ensured by something else, He is no longer the self-existent First: if it be true to say that He is his own container, then He inducts Himself; for all that He contains is his own production from the beginning since from the beginning He caused the being of all that by nature He contains.

If there had been a moment from which He began to be, it would be possible assert his self-making in the literal sense; but, since what He is He is from before all time, his self-making is to be understood as simultaneous with Himself; the being is one and the same with the making and eternal "coming into existence."

This is the source also of his self-disposal- strictly applicable if there were a duality, but conveying, in the case of a unity, a disposing without a disposed, an abstract disposing. But how a disposer with nothing to dispose? In that there is here a disposer looking to a prior when there is none: since there is no prior, This is the First- but a First not in order but in sovereignty, in power purely self-controlled. Purely; then nothing can be There that is under any external disposition; all in God is self-willing. What then is there of his content that is not Himself, what that is not in Act, what not his work? Imagine in Him anything not of his Act and at once His existence ceases to be pure; He is not self-disposing, not all-powerful: in that at least of whose doing He is not master He would be impotent.

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