Propositions: 16-23, The attributes of God

Proposition 16: From the necessity of the divine nature must follow an infinite number of things in infinite ways.

That is, all things which can fall within the sphere of infinite intellect.

Proof: This proposition will be clear to everyone, who remembers that from the given definition of any thing the intellect infers several properties, which really necessarily follow therefrom (that is, from the actual essence of the thing defined); and

Corollary 1: Hence it follows, that God is the efficient cause of all that can fall within the sphere of an infinite intellect. Corollary 2: It also follows that God is a cause in himself, and not through an accident of his nature. Corollary 3: It follows, thirdly, that God is the absolutely first cause.

Proposition 17: God acts solely by the laws of his own nature, and is not constrained by anyone. Proof: We have just shown (in Prop. 16), that solely from the necessity of the divine nature or the laws of his nature, an infinite number of things absolutely follow in an infinite number of ways.

We proved (in Prop. 15), that without God nothing can be nor be conceived but that all things are in God.

Corollary 1 and 2: It follows:
  1. That there can be no cause which, either extrinsically or intrinsically, besides the perfection of his own nature, moves God to act.
  2. That God is the sole free cause.
    1. For God alone exists by the sole necessity of his nature (by Prop. 11 and Prop. 14, Coroll. 1), and acts by the sole necessity of his own nature.
    2. For that reason, God is (by Def. 7) the sole free cause. Q.E.D.
Note: Others think that God is a free cause, because he can, as they think, bring it about, that those things which we have said follow from his nature. Proposition 18: God is the indwelling and not the transient cause of all things. Proof: All things which are, are in God, and must be conceived through God (by Prop. 15), therefore (by Prop. 16, Coroll. 1) God is the cause of those things which are in him. Proposition 19: God, and all the attributes of God, are eternal. Proof: God (by Def. 6) is substance, which (by Prop. 11) necessarily exists, that is (by Prop. 7) existence appertains to its nature, or (what is the same thing) follows from its definition; therefore, God is eternal (by Def. 8). Note.—This proposition is also obvious from the way in which (in Prop. 11) I demonstrated the existence of God. Proposition 20: God's existence and are one and the same. Proof.—God (by the last Prop.) and all his attributes are eternal, that is (by Def. 8) each of his attributes expresses existence. Coroll. 1 & 2: It follows:
  1. That God's existence, like his essence, is an eternal truth.
  2. That God, and all of God's attributes, are unchangeable.
    • For if they could be changed in respect to existence, they must also be able to be changed in respect to essence—that is, obviously, be changed from true to false, which is absurd.
Proposition 21: All things which follow from the absolute nature of any attribute of God must always exist and be infinite, or, in other words, are eternal and infinite through the said attribute. Proof.—Conceive, if it be possible (supposing the proposition to be denied), that something in some of God's attributes can follow from the absolute nature of the said attribute, and that at the same time it is finite, and has a conditioned existence or duration.

Proposition 22: Whatsoever follows from any attribute of God, in so far as it is modified by a modification, which exists necessarily and as infinite, through the said attribute, must also exist necessarily and as infinite.

Proof.—The proof of this proposition is similar to that of the preceding one.

Proposition 23. Every mode, which exists both necessarily and as infinite, must necessarily follow either from the absolute nature of some attribute of God, or from an attribute modified by a modification which exists necessarily, and as infinite.

Proof.—A mode exists in something else, through which it must be conceived (Def. 5), that is (Prop. 15), it exists solely in God, and solely through God can be conceived.