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CHAPTER XCIIIn what sense Virtues can be posited in God

AS the divine goodness comprehends within itself in a certain way all goodnesses, and virtue is a sort of goodness, the divine goodness must contain all virtues after a manner proper to itself. But no virtue is predicated as an attribute of God after the manner of a habit, as virtues are in us. For it does not befit God to be good by anything superadded to Him, but only by His essence, since He is absolutely simple. Nor again does He act by anything superadded to His essence, as His essence is His being (Chap. XLV). Virtue therefore in God is not any habit, but His own essence.

2. A habit is an imperfect actuality, half-way between potentiality and 69actuality: hence the subjects of habits are compared to persons asleep. But in God actuality is most perfect. Virtue therefore in Him is not like a habit or a science, but is as a present act of consciousness, which is the extremest perfection of actuality.

Since human virtues are for the guidance of human life, and human life is twofold, contemplative and active, the virtues of the active life, inasmuch as they perfect this present life, cannot be attributed to God: for the active life of man consists in the use of material goods, which are not assignable to God. Again, these virtues perfect human conduct in political society: hence they do not seem much to concern those who keep aloof from political society: much less can they befit God, whose conversation and life is far removed from the manner and custom of human life.180180But is not God the head of all political society? Yes, that is allowed for in the next chapter. Some again of the virtues of the active life direct us how to govern the passions: but in God there are no passions.181181On these passion-controlling virtues (temperance and fortitude) see Ethics and Natural Law pp. 74-76, n. 3: pp. 85, 86, nn. 2, 3.


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