Front Page Titles (by Subject) CHAPTER VII.: GOD IS NOT A BODY, NOR THE FORM OF A BODY, NOR IS HE A COMPLEX SUBSTANCE. - The Triumph of the Cross
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CHAPTER VII.: GOD IS NOT A BODY, NOR THE FORM OF A BODY, NOR IS HE A COMPLEX SUBSTANCE. - Girolamo Savonarola, The Triumph of the Cross 
The Triumph of the Cross, trans. from the Italian, edited, with an Introduction by the Very Rev. Father John Procter, S.T.L. With a frontispiece portrait of the author (London: Sands & Co., 1901).
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GOD IS NOT A BODY, NOR THE FORM OF A BODY, NOR IS HE A COMPLEX SUBSTANCE.
No true philosopher entertains the slightest doubt that God is not a body, nor the form of a body, nor a complex substance. It would be impossible that God should be a body, seeing that He is the immovable Mover of all things; for one body, unless it first move itself, cannot set another in motion. Again, as spirit is more noble than body, God, were He a body, would not be the noblest of all beings, neither would He be the Supreme Ruler, since the body is governed by the spirit.
We must further hold, that God is not the form of a body, as the soul is the form of the human body; because that which exists of itself is far more noble than that which exists in others. Consequently, as God is the most noble of all things, He must exist in Himself, and not in any body. Again, things composed of matter and of form are more perfect than matter alone and form alone; for the simple reason that the whole is always more perfect than its parts. If, then, God were the form of a body, there would be something more perfect than He; for the combination of matter and form would be more perfect than form alone. It would further follow that God could not act by Himself; since, as form has no being without matter, it cannot operate without matter. Hence, as God would need others for His operations, He would not be the First Cause.
It is, likewise, evident that God is not a complex Being, but Pure Act and Simple Substance; for every complex being depends on others, and composite bodies depend on those that are simple. Since, therefore, God is the First Cause, independent of all others, and the one on whom all things depend, He cannot be a complex Being, but must be Simple Act. Again, were He a complex Substance, He could not be the First Supreme Being in the universe; for complex bodies do not precede their parts, but result from them; and the union of these parts could not take place, had not some first cause preceded them. We must conclude, therefore, that God is Simple Substance and Pure Act.1
[1 ] As this expression occurs frequently in the following pages, it may be well, for the uninitiated in scholastic phraseology, to explain its meaning. Savonarola, in the 10th chapter of this 1st Book, defines Pure Act as being “superior to all matter and possibility,” and in the 2nd chapter of the following Book, he writes: “God is not a body, but Pure Act”. The term Pure Act is applied to the Most High by theologians, to exclude all imperfection, and all possibility of change, or of any further acquisition. St. Thomas in his Summa Theologica (Pars prima, Quaest. xxv. art. 1) distinguishes between that which is in actu, and that which is in potentia. To say of anything that it is in potentia (or possibility) implies that it may still receive something, or become something which it has not or is not, something which it lacks; and that, therefore, it is wanting and imperfect (deficiens et imperfectum)—e.g., a child is in potentia to become a man—he may some day be a man; or an ignorant man is in potentia to learning—he may become a learned man; there is a possibility of it—therefore, as yet, he is imperfect. In actu, on the other hand, means that it actually possesses some special gift or perfection. God has everything that He possibly can have, He is everything that He possibly can be in the scale of perfection—nothing is wanting to Him, nothing further is possible to Him. Hence St. Thomas concludes: “God is Pure Act simply and universally perfect; nor is there any imperfection in Him” (ibid.). No creature can be called Pure Act; because every creature is in potentia—he may receive or become something which he has not or is not. The term is applied to God alone.—Editor.