By the term change we here understand all that variation which can be
given, the essence of the object remaining the same. In general,
this signifies the disintegration of the object, not absolutely,
but at least incipiently; as when we say that turf is changed into
ashes, or that men are changed into beasts. Philosophers have been
accustomed to use another term for signifying this, viz., transformation.
But we are here speaking of a change which is not a transformation,
as when we say the rock has changed its color, character, etc.
We must ask now whether there is any changeableness in God.
For concerning transformation it is not necessary to say anything
more than that God exists necessarily; that is, God cannot be limited
in any way, or be transformed into another God. For as soon as He
is limited there must be other gods, which proposition we have shown
to be absurd.
In order that we may understand more fully what has just been said,
we should remember that all change arises from some
external cause, the subject being willing or unwilling, or from some
internal cause, viz., from the choice of the subject itself.
For example, men are black, or they grow older and stronger, etc.
In the former case the subject is unwilling, in the latter the subject
himself desires it. To desire to walk, to show oneself angry, etc.,
come from internal causes.
Changes of the former kind, namely, those produced by some external
cause, are not found in God, for He alone is the cause of all things,
and is not changed by anything He has made. Beside, created objects
have in themselves no power of existence, and so much less of
causality over other objects. And although in the Scripture it is
said that God is angry and sad on account of the sins of men, the effect
is here taken for the cause. In the same way we say that the sun is
stronger and higher in summer than in winter, although it has not
changed its position or increased its power. That such things are often
taught in the Sacred Scriptures is seen in Isaiah when he says,
ch. 52:2, accusing the people: "Your iniquities have separated you from
We continue, then, and ask whether there is any self-caused change
in God. This also we at once deny, for all change that arises from
volition is made in order that the subject may pass to a better state,
which is impossible with a perfect being. Such a change only arises as
a means of avoiding something unpleasant or to acquire some good
which is wanting. But neither of these conditions is possible with God.
Therefore we conclude that God is immutable. [N1]
[Note N1]: --It will be evident, also, that God is immutable,
when we have shown that His volition and His understanding are the same.
This might be proven by other arguments also.
It will be noted that I have deliberately omitted the ordinary forms
of change, although to some degree we have also
considered them. For there is no need to show the impossibility of
change in God in respect to every point, since we
have demonstrated in Prop. 16, Part 1., that God is incorporeal and
that these ordinary forms of change apply only to matter.