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CHAPTER XVIIIHow God is the End of all Things

GOD is at once the last end of all things, and is nevertheless before all things in being. There is an end which, while holding the first place in causation according as it is in intention, is nevertheless posterior in being; and this is the case with every end that an agent establishes by his action, as the physician establishes health by his action in the sick man, which health nevertheless is his end. There is again an end which is prior in causation, and also is prior in being: such an end one aims at winning by one’s actions or movement, as a king hopes to win a city by fighting. God then is the end of things, as being something which everything has to gain in its own way.

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2. God is the last end of things and the prime agent of all (Chap. XVII). But an end established by the action of an agent cannot be the prime agent: rather it is the effect produced by the agent. God therefore cannot be the end of things as though He were anything established in being thereby, but only as some pre-existent object for them to attain.

4. An effect tends to an end in the same way that the producer of the effect acts for that end. But God, the first producer of all things, does not act in view of acquiring anything by His action, but in view of bestowing something by His action: for He is not in potentiality to acquire anything, but only in perfect actuality, whereby He can give and bestow. Things then are not directed to God as though God were an end unto which any accretion or acquisition were to be made: they are directed to Him so that in their own way they may gain from God God Himself, since He Himself is their end.

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