De Sacramentis 1.2.22

1.2.22. God is omnipotent, which refers to both his power for doing all things but also his inability to suffer anything (i.e., power involves a kind of “inability”). For example, God cannot destroy himself, for this “would not be power, but non-power…. And so He is truly omnipotent, because He can not be impotent.” Some say that, because of God’s foreknowledge, he cannot make anything other or better than what he does make, limiting God’s power to what he in fact does do. Hugh doesn’t so much argue as assert the contrary: “God can make anything other than He makes, yet in such a way that in making anything He Himself is not different.” (The error that God can’t do or make other than he does, in other words, assumes that God is dependent upon creation, such that any change in creation would imply a corresponding change in God. But God independence of creation is such that, had he done or made things differently, there would be no corresponding change in God. Creation would be different, but God would be the same.)

As for the claim that neither can God make the world better than he has made it, this can either mean that there is no perfection lacking which could be added to it, or else that there is some perfection lacking, but that the world simply cannot receive it. The former, however, makes creation equal to God, and the latter attributes a deficiency or imperfection to the world such that it could be made better, contrary to the hypothesis. So, God can make things better than they are, not by correcting things which he made badly, but by making already good things even better.

The chapter concludes with a review of the “primordial causes” and their proper effects:

Primordial cause

Created effect

Eternity

Time

Immensity

Place

Wisdom

Intellect

Goodness

Virtue

Power

Work

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