In working the Creature passes from Idleness to Labor, from Potency to Act, and then returns again from labor to rest, because the Creature works through action diverse from its Essence; but in acting God is free from all Mutation of this sort, which acting is whatever God is on account of Simplicity: now, to be God means to be a Being free from all Mutation, actual and possible. Hence the Act of Creation regarded actively does not differ from the Creating God Himself, who is Immutable. It is not a Creature; Creatures was passively produced by this act. It is not a contingency; contingencies do not happen to God. It is not a third something, neither God nor creature, which is absurd even to contemplate. But His nature is active already from eternity, insofar as by His power things began to exist in time.
The immutable Will is, and was, and ever will be the same in God, through which He wills the Existence of things at time’s Beginning, fixed by Himself, which, when He produces a work in act, is called Creation. For this is required No Mutation of Will or new determination: for already from eternity He will things to exist at time’s Beginning. By the same Creation Nothing is added to, or taken from, the divine Power; since unto all eternity it remains immutably and altogether perfect; but it only began to be demonstrated gloriously outside of God by Creation.
But if by the work of Creation God suffered Mutation, He would be liable daily to unlimited mutations, through thousands of works, which He daily produces in Nature and Grace.
But, if the act of Will be one, eternal, and perfectly simple in God, whereby, as He decreed from eternity the futurition of things, so also from eternity He willed to produce them by His own Power, no Mutation would then come upon the divine Will and Power: why then might not things be produced by Creation already from eternity? I Respond, That to be eternal and from eternity, and to be produced by Creation, are contradictories: see below in § 19.
But why were they not at least produced earlier? I Respond, Because the same Will that most freely determined to produce things through Creation, at the same time determined the moment in which He would produce them; neither prior to His actuosity did He, as Independent Being, will the World to exist.
If You Insist: Yet it appears that to that eternal actuosity of the divine Nature, to which hitherto the World had not existed, a certain new actuosity has been added, through which then at the Beginning of time all things passed from non-being to being. I Respond, Not at all: new actuosity is able to obtain, when all things are finite; but in the case of infinite Being it is not able even to be thought without contradiction. Divine and eternal actuosity, since it is infinite, is only able to be one, and in no respect is a new actuosity able to be surrogated or superadded.
If You should yet Object: One that is not able to be conceived without Mutation previously as not determining, and then as determining; he is also not able to be conceived without Mutation previously as not creating, then as creating. I Respond with a denial of the consequence; because the Immanent Act is prior, the transient Act posterior. The Immanent Act posits something in God; the external and transient Act posits only something from God. In the Decree obtains the determination of the divine Will concerning the futurition of things: in the Creation, by the power of the eternal and divine Will and Omnisufficiency, began other things only to coexist with God, from God, and outside of God.
And so only in Creation have things passed from non-being to being by the Will of God: in which manner all things outside of God, since they owe their being to Creation, have received a new and manifest perfection: but no new perfection, as it is evident from the things said, was able to be added in this manner to the altogether perfect God. Internal acts perfect the one working; external acts perfect the work: but Creation pertains to the latter class. Only a new external Relation to the Creature produced by Him, and hence depending upon Him, has been added to God: since the Creator and the Creature are related, the foundation of which Relation is the Creation. Certainly, since no such thing produced ex nihilo by that very fact could coexist with God from eternity, neither existed from eternity the foundation of the denomination whereby God is called Creator: but then less accurately might God be said to have been Creator from eternity: yet by this new Relation no new perfection is added to God, since He possessed from eternity whatever of absolute perfection is involved in the act of creating. Nevertheless, this external Relation is also truly said to be Real, both because it is within the real extremes/limits, and because it obtains on both sides, on the part of the thing even with no one considering: for, with the Creature posited, God always has the σχέσιν/relation of Creator to it, and it in turn is referred to Him and depends as a Creature upon Him, even if no one considers this.
But at this point it is able to be Asked, That new Relation, whereby God is referred as Creator to Creatures, does not also add a new Perfection to Him, does it? Inasmuch as, as Dependence is an imperfection, so to have another depending upon oneself is a great Perfection; since it is an argument of a certain super-abundance, whereby one suffices, not only for oneself, but also for the other diverse from oneself. But God now appears to have had nothing depending upon Him from eternity, but after Creation the whole created mass depends upon Him. I Respond, 1. No new Perfection is able to be added to the infinitely perfect God to perfect Him further. 2. If God should acquire things depending upon Him, which things He requires for the completion of His felicity, in this manner a new Perfection could be said to be added to Him: but now the altogether blessed God is alone sufficient for Himself, and needs nothing; and all things that hang upon Him depend upon Him, because they owe their Existence, and whatever they have of Goodness or Perfection, to God the giver: but what from Creatures of this sort could God expect to augment His perfection? 3. In addition, from eternity the whole possible World depended on God: for all things possible, whether they were or not, and future in actuality, were depending on the Will of God; and by the mere choice of God it stood, that the World was not created sooner. 4. But, as Dependence is an Imperfection, so Independence is a Perfection, which already obtained in God from eternity, because He is sufficient not only for Himself, but from eternity He possesses a Sufficiency to produce all possible things, and to supply all the wants of all those things produced. But in the actual production of Creatures, and the Dependence of these things produced by God, an actual demonstration of divine Independence is able to be recognized, whereby this Perfection exerts itself outside itself, not from some need, but from the abundance of divine Goodness; but there is no new increase of it.
Whence, finally, it follows in the Compendio, those question that are moved by the curious concerning the Eternal Occupation of God spontaneously collapse. Since in the Eternal Nature of God there is no prior and posterior, nor in Him obtains any, even the least, intrinsic Mutation; but from eternity to eternity His spiritual nature is actuose in understanding and willing, both Himself and His Perfections of nature, and things other than Himself; neither are external Actions able, as we have seen, to introduce into His most actuose Nature any Mutation, not even the slightest. Now, our AUTHOR most likely has regard in these words to that which is found in AUGUSTINE, book XI Confessionum, chapter XII, opera, tome I, column 150, where Augustine, considering what response is to be given to the one asking, What was God doing before He made heaven and earth? makes mention of one that is reported to have answered facetiously, avoiding the press of the question: He was preparing hell for those who pry into mysteries. But Augustine himself responds: If by the term heaven and earth every creature is understood, I boldly assert, that before God made heaven and earth, He was not making anything; for, if He was making, what was He making if not a creature? But also, as the same teaches in book XI of The City of God, chapter V, that inanely do men contemplate past time of God’s inactivity, since there is no time before the world. Let us leave that Question, together with the responses, to his authors.