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Article Two

Whether there is Composition of Form and Matter in God

We proceed to the second article thus:

1. It appears that there is composition of form and matter in God. Anything which has a soul is composed of matter and form, since soul is the form of body. Scripture attributes a soul to God, saying in the person of God: “Now the just shall live by faith: but if any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him” (Heb. 10:38). Hence God is composed of matter and form.

2. Again, according to 1 De Anima, texts 12, 14, 15, anger, joy, and the like are passions of the composite. Scripture ascribes such passions to God in Ps. 106:40: “Therefore was the wrath of God kindled against his people.” Hence God is composed of matter and form.

3. Again, matter is the principle of individuation. Now God must be an individual, since he is not predicated of many. Hence God is composed of matter and form.

On the other hand: anything composed of matter and form is a body, since the primary quality of matter is quantitative extention. But it was shown in the preceding article that God is not a body. It follows that God is not composed of matter and form.

I answer: there cannot possibly be matter in God. In the first 60place, matter is characterized by potentiality, and it has been shown that God is pure act, without any potentiality (Q. 2, Art. 3). It is therefore impossible that God should be composed of matter and form. Secondly, anything composed of matter and form owes its goodness to its form. It must therefore be good through participation, its matter participating in its form. But the first and best good, which is God, is not good by participation, since good which belongs essentially is better than good which is participated. It is therefore impossible that God should be composed of matter and form. Thirdly, every agent acts by means of its form, and the manner in which a thing is an agent depends on how it is related to its form. Therefore that which is first, and an agent in its own right, must be a form primarily and by means of itself. Now God is the first agent, since he is the first efficient cause, as was shown in Q. 2, Art. 3. God is therefore his own form through his essence, and not a composition of form and matter.

On the first point: a soul is attributed to God metaphorically, in order to denote action, since it is by the soul that we will. What is pleasing to God’s will is thus said to be pleasing to his soul.

On the second point: such things as anger are attributed to God metaphorically, in order to denote his effects, since an angry man punishes. Anger metaphorically signifies divine punishment.

On the third point: forms which can be received by matter are made individual by the matter of a primary underlying subject, which cannot be in another subject, although the form itself may be in many subjects unless some obstacle intervenes. But a form which cannot be received by matter, and which subsists by itself, is individual for the very reason that it cannot be received by anything else. God is such a form. It does not then follow that there is matter in God.

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