Nature as a source of action


All actions, insofar as they are created things, are being caused by the divine mind; but not all actions proceed in the same way.


The root of all action is some tendency. Consider that we tend in different ways to the ground, or to eat, or to write a poem, or to lift one’s mind and heart to God (prayer). The first arises from a nature we share with all bodies, the second from nature we share with all plants, the third from a nature we share with all human beings. The last, however, arises from the divine nature.


Nature is the first source and cause from which action arises. Any action according to faith, hope, or charity does not arise from human nature, but from the divine nature. This teaching is de fide.


The use of anything according to human nature-whether thought or desire or emotion- conforms us to human nature; the use of anything according to faith- again, regardless of what it is- conforms to the divine nature.


Any effect of a created is attributed wholly both to the divine nature, and to the created nature that acts, although it is attributed in different ways. Does this not imply an unnecessary multiplication of causes? No, because a substance with true causal power is created to fill out the order of the universe. Those things that cause themselves are the living; those caused by others, the non-living. This marks the principle distinction in nature, and within this distinction there are multiple orders and hierarchies of self-motion and being-moved.

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