Concerning the first Cause.
After this, it is requisite that we should know the first cause,
and the orders of gods posterior to the first,
together with the nature of the world,
likewise that we should speculate providence, fate, and fortune,
virtue and vice,
and the good and evil forms of republics produced from these;
and lastly, that we should consider from whence evil crept into the world.
And though each of these requires many and very extended discourses,
yet there is no reason why we may not discuss these subjects with brevity, lest mankind should be totally destitute of the knowledge they contain.
It is necessary, then, that the first cause should be one;
for the monad presides over all multitude, excelling all things in power and goodness, and on this account it is necessary that all things should participate of its nature;
for nothing can hinder its energies through power, and it will not separate itself from any thing on account of the goodness which it possesses.
But if the first cause were soul, all things would be animated; if intellect, all things would be intellectual; if essence, all things would participate of essence; which last some perceiving to subsist in all things, have taken occasion to denominate him essence.
If then things had nothing besides being, and did not also possess goodness, this assertion would be true; but if beings subsist through goodness, and participate of the good, it is necessary that the first cause should be super-essential, and the good:
but the truth of this is most eminently evinced in souls endued with virtue,
and through good neglecting the care of their being, when they expose themselves to the most imminent dangers for their country or friends,
or in the cause of virtue.
But after this ineffable power the orders of the gods succeed.
(Click on images to be taken to the Wikimedia Commons site for them.)
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