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4. The Perfections of God

1. The first being must be self-existent, for it is first; there is nothing prior to it from which existence could be received. Now, self-existent being, or pure actuality, exists by its unbounded excellence or perfection. Pure actuality means absolute perfection. Therefore, God is absolute perfection. Consider the point in another way. There are perfections in creatures - being, life, knowledge, etc. All these perfections have been conferred on creatures and, in the first instance, these perfections were conferred by one who had them to confer; that is, the First Cause. These perfections must be in the First Cause in a manner suited to its pure actuality; that is, the perfections must exist in God absolutely, as identified with his divine essence. Therefore, God is pure or absolute perfection.

2. For the perfections of creatures cannot be in God as accidentals; as we have seen, God has no accidentals. They cannot be in God as parts, for God is pure simplicity and has no parts. These perfections can be in God only as identified with his essence. This is what theologians mean when they say that creatural perfections are in God eminently.

3. Creatures are like to God by analogy, in as much as creatures have perfections in a limited way, while these perfections are in God unlimitedly and eminently as identified with his very essence, being, and substance.

"To think of oneself as nothing, and always to think well and highly of others is the best and most perfect wisdom. Wherefore, if you see another sin openly or commit a serious crime, do not consider yourself better, for you do not know how long you can remain in good estate. All men are frail, but you must admit that none is more frail than yourself. "
Thomas á Kempis

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"The more you know and the better you understand, the more severely will you be judged, unless your life is also the more holy. Do not be proud, therefore, because of your learning or skill. Rather, fear because of the talent given you."
Thomas á Kempis

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"He who wishes to be perfectly obeyed, should give but few orders."
St Philip Neri

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