A Manual Of Catholic Theology, Based On Scheeben's Dogmatik
Joseph Wilhelm, D.D., PHD. And Thomas B. Scannell, D.D.
With A Preface By Cardinal Manning
Vol. 1. The Sources Of Theological Knowledge, God, Creation And The Supernatural Order
Third Edition, Revised, London, Kegan Paul, Trench, Trubner & Co., Lt.
New York, Cincinnati, Chicago, Benziger Bros.
THE DIVINE LIFE.
SECT. 78.The Divine Life in generalIts Absolute Perfection.
I. FAITH and reason alike teach us that God is a living God, that His life is spiritual, personal, and purenot mixed with other forms of life as the life of man is. But the attribute of life applies to God only analogically. Life, as we conceive it, is a mixed and not a simple perfection; it involves a transition from potentiality to actuality; the immanent activity proceeds from the substance, and remains in it to perfect it. Still it is not essential to immanent activity to commence in the substance and to subsist in it as in its subject; the immanence is greatest when the action is identical with the substance. Hence life is attributed to God analogically, but possessed by Him in the most proper and eminent manner.
II. Unlike creatures which possess life, God is Life. It is not imparted to Him from without, but He imparts it to all things, and is the fundamental life, the life of all that lives. In this respect He is eminently the supreme Spirit (the God of the spirits of all flesh, Num. xvi. 22), inasmuch as we conceive spirits as having independent life and as infusing life. Created pure spirits bear to God a relation somewhat similar to the relations of the body to the soul, their life-activity being caused, preserved, and moved by the Divine Life. Hence the dictum: God is the life of the soul, as the soul is the life of the body (Deus vita animae sicut anima corporis).
The Old Testament speaks of the Living God, whereas the New Testament calls Him the Life. Cf. John xiv. 6; I John v. 20; John i. 4, and v. 26; Acts xvii. 22 sqq.; etc.
III. A proper and adequate expression of the specific character of the Divine Life as the highest form of spiritual life, is Wisdom. Holy Scripture very frequently thus designates the life of God, and uses the name of Wisdom as a proper name of God, even oftener than that of Being ([Greek words omitted]) and Living. The appellation of Wisdom is most appropriate, because Wisdom designates the perfection of spiritual life as manifested in the acts of the intellect and of the will, and in external actions. Hence Wisdom implies the most perfect knowledge of the highest truth, and the most perfect love of the highest good, as also a just appreciation of all other things in reference to the Supreme Truth and Goodness, and, consequently, the capability of ordering and disposing all things in accordance with their highest ideal and last end. When speaking of creatures, we give the name of Wisdom, not to the sum-total of their living activities, but only to the highest of them; in God, on the Contrary, in Whom there is no multiplicity or division, Wisdom expresses the full perfection of Life.
SECT. 79.The Divine Knowledge in general.
I. That God possesses most perfect intellectual knowledge is contained in the very idea of the Divinity. The First Principle of the order of the universe, the Source and Ideal of all knowledge, must necessarily be possessed of wisdom. O Lord, Who hast the knowledge of all things (Esth. xiv. 14) ; The Lord knoweth all knowledge (Ecclus. xlii. 19 ; I Kings ii. 3; Rom. xi. 33; Col. ii. 3; Ecclus. i. I, 5, etc.).
II. God is His knowledge: in Him there is no real distinction between the faculty and the act of knowing, nor between these two and their object. Even when His knowledge extends to things outside Him, the adequate reason for such extension of the Divine knowledge is in God Himself; nothing external affects, moves, determines or influences it in any way. This is of faith, because it is evidently contained in the simplicity and independence of God, and because it is formally expressed in the propositions: God is Wisdom, God is Light. As God is the Light of all other spirits (the light which enlighteneth every man, John i.), so also is He Himself the sun, in the light of which He sees all things (Ecclus. xlii. 16).
III. The mode of action of the Divine knowledge is essentially different from that of the knowledge of creatures. The created mind knows itself as it knows other things; the knowledge of its own being is only the starting-point, and a condition of the rest of its knowledge, not its source and root. God, on the contrary, possesses in His Essence an object which itself determines and produces His knowledge from within, and is sufficient to fill the Divine Intellect and to extend the Divine knowledge to all things knowable. The Divine Essence can act this part in the process of the Divine knowledge, because it is intimately and essentially present to the Divine Intellectnay, is identical with it; because, again, it presents to the infinite faculty of knowing an adequate object, an object of infinite perfection; and, lastly, because, inasmuch as it is the essential principle of all that exists outside God, the perfect knowledge of it implies the perfect knowledge of all that is or can be. The knowledge which God has of things outside Him, does not presuppose in these things an existence independent of the Divine knowledge; on the contrary, God knows them as caused and produced by His knowledge. In fact, things exist because God, seeing their possibility in His own Essence, decrees that they shall exist either by an immediate act of His Omnipotence or through the agency of created causes. In the language of the Schoolmen this doctrine is briefly expressed by saying that the Divine Essence is the formal object of the Divine knowledge, and that all other things knowable are its material object. This point of doctrine (viz, that the Divine Essence is the formal and primary object of God's knowledge, and that other things knowable are its material and secondary object) is a development of defined dogmas, and is commonly taught by theologians. St. Thomas (I., q. 14, a. 8), puts it as follows: The things of nature stand midway between God's knowledge and ours. We receive our knowledge from natural things, of which God, through His knowledge, is the cause: wherefore, as natural things precede our knowledge of them and are its measure, so God's knowledge precedes them, and is their measure ; just as a house stands midway between the knowledge of the architect who designed it and the knowledge of him who knows it only after seeing it built.
IV. By reason of its identity with the Divine Essence, the Divine knowledge possesses the highest possible perfection. It is in a unique manner an intellectual knowledge, because it attains its object from within, from its Essence and Nature, unlike human knowledge which penetrates to the essence and nature of things only by observing their external phenomena. It is in a unique manner an intuitive knowledge, because it adequately comprehends its object in a single act, free from abstractions, conjectures, or ratiocinations; it comprehends all possible beings in the very foundation of their possibility; things are Present to the Divine intention before they are present to themselves. Moreover, the Divine knowledge is comprehensive and adequate, inasmuch as it grasps the inmost essence of things in the most exhaustive manner. Lastly, it is an eminently certain and unerring knowledge: uncertainty and error being incompatible with intuition and comprehensiveness of knowledge. All these attributes are of faith, because implied in the infinite perfection of the Divine intellect, and are clearly set forth in many texts of Holy Scripture, The eyes of the Lord are far brighter than the sun, beholding round about all the ways of men and the bottom of the deep, and looking into the hearts of men, into the most hidden parts (Ecclus. xxiii. 28; cf. Job xxviii. 24; Heb. iv. 13, etc.).
V. The negative attributes of the Divine perfection shine with an especial splendour in the Divine knowledge. Thus God's knowledge is intrinsically necessary that is, it necessarily embraces whatever is knowable. Although, as regards contingent objects, this necessity is only hypothetical, still it cannot be said that God's knowledge of things contingent is itself contingent, because such an expression might imply an indetermination on the part of the Divine knowledge. It is absolutely simple: God knows Himself and all things outside Him in one indivisible act. It is infinite in intensity as well as in extensionthat is, it is the deepest and the richest knowledge; nothing is hidden from it; it embraces an infinite object in the Divine Essence, and an infinite number of things in the domain of possibility. It is immutable: nothing can be added to or withdrawn from it. It is eternal, having neither beginning nor end nor succession, not only as regards truths of an eternal character, but also as to things temporary which are eternally visible to the eternal eye of God. The Divine Immensity and Omnipresence add another perfection to the science of God, inasmuch as they bring all things knowable into immediate contact with the Divine Intellect. Lastly, the Divine knowledge is in a special manner incomprehensible and inscrutable to the created mind, notably to the mind in its natural state. We are unable to comprehend not only its depth and breadth, but also the manner in which the Divine Intellect lays hold of things external and renders them present to itself without being in the least dependent on them or waiting for them to come into existence; and, further, we are unable to understand how He sees, in one and the same act, cause and effect, and how the intuition of a free agent involves the intuition of its free acts. A cognition of this kind is utterly beyond and above the methods of finite cognition, and indeed is partly in direct opposition to the laws which regulate created knowledge. This ought to be kept well in view in order to meet the difficulties connected with this question. Cf. Ecclus. xlii. 16 sqq.; St. Aug., De Trin., I. xv., c. 7; St. Peter Damian, Ep., iv., c. 7, 8.
VI. The absolute perfection of the Divine knowledge is expressed by the term Omniscience: God knows all that is knowable, and as far as it is knowable. The domain of the Divine Science comprises, therefore, (1) God Himself; (2) the metaphysically possible; (3) the things created by God; (4) the motions and modes of being of creatures as caused either by God or by creatures themselves; (5) especially the free activity of creatures, the knowledge of which constitutes the exalted and incomprehensible privilege of the Divine Omniscience.
As to (4) we should bear in mind that the activity of creatures, with all its actual and possible modifications, is as much dependent on God as their substance is. God knows this activity from within, from its very cause; whereas the created mind only knows it from its external manifestations or effects. We shall treat of (5) in the following section.
SECT. 80. God's Knowledge of the Free Actions of His Creatures.
The difficulties which the Divine knowledge of free actions presents to our mind, arise from our inability to understand the peculiar process of God's cognition, which is indeed more peculiar in this than in other matters. A complete solution of the difficulties is impossible. All that we can hope to do is to remove apparent contradictions by clearly pointing out the difference between the way in which God knows, and the way in which the created mind acquires its knowledge. It is not without a purpose that Revelation so often insists upon the knowledge of the free actions of man as the exclusive and wonderful privilege of God, a knowledge in which the Divine Light illumines the most secret and dark recesses.
The knowledge which God possesses of the free actions of His creatures is distinguished by the three following characteristics : (1) God knows these actions in themselves, as they are in the mind and heart of their author, from within and so far a priori; (2) God has this knowledge from all eternity that is, before the actions take place; (3) in the Divine Intellect the knowledge of free actions is logically preceded by the knowledge that, under certain conditions and circumstances dependent on the Divine decree, such actions would take place. The above three characteristics are termed respectively (1) searching of hearts, ([Greek word omitted]); (2) knowledge of future free acts; (3) knowledge of conditional acts (scientia conditionatorurn or futuribilium). At each of these three degrees of Divine knowledge our difficulties increase; as far, however, as they are soluble, they find a solution in a correct exposition of the first point, especially of the relation of causality between God and created spirits.
I. It is of faith (1) that God knows the free actions of His creatures from within, before they are manifested without, exactly as they exist in the consciousness of the free agent, and even more adequately than the free agent himself knows them ; (2) that God alone possesses this knowledge; (3) that, as God knows external free actions from within that is, from the inner disposition of the agent, so also does He know the inner free act from and in its principle, which is the free will of the creature ; and this free will is entirely the work of God, and can have no tendency, no motive, no act independently of its Creator.
1. As Scripture proofs of 1, we select the following texts: The eyes of the Lord are far brighter than the sun, beholding round about all the ways of men, and the bottom of the deep, and looking into the hearts of men, into the most hidden parts (Ecclus. xxiii. 28). The Lord searcheth all hearts, and understandeth all the thoughts of minds (I Paral. xxviii. 9). For Thou only knowest the hearts of the children of men (2 Paral. vi. 30). The heart is perverse above all things, and unsearchable, who can know it? I, the Lord, Who search the heart and prove the reins: Who give to every one according to his way, and according to the fruit of his devices (Jer. xvii. 9, 10). Cf. Acts i. 24; and xv. 8). The Lord hath looked from heaven; He hath beheld all the sons of men
. He Who has made the hearts of every one of them, Who understandeth all their works (Ps. xxxii. 1315).
2. As to the exclusiveness of this knowledge, Holy Scripture indeed speaks mostly of the hearts of men as being hidden from other men. The emphatic expressions used must, however, according to the unanimous teaching of the Fathers, be also applied to the angels, to whom the thoughts of men and of other angels are also imperviable. Cf. Suarez, De Angelis, I. ii., c. 21. This doctrine involves the important consequence, that the devil can no more know whether the tempted consent to temptation than he can force them to consent.
3. Creatures and their activity, including their free activity, are intrinsically dependent on God; that is, they cannot act unless God moves and co-operates with them. Hence free actions appear to the Eye of God as the course of a motion originated and supported by Him: good actions run the course which He intended; bad actions deflect from it. Consequently, God sees the free actions of His creatures, like their other actions, not as independent external manifestations, but in their origin and root that is, in the free will and its activity of which He is the Creator and Conservator. Thus the action of the creature does not enlighten the Divine Intellect; but, on the contrary, on account of its dependence on God, the action is itself enlightened by the Divine Mind. Now, it must be remembered that God knows all effects by His knowledge of their causes, a knowledge which penetrates to their uttermost capabilities. He therefore knows the actual determinations of free will as they are elicited by the free will dependent on, and moved by, Him. This knowledge, therefore, is not inferred from the previous state of the will, or from the motives communicated to it by God; for if such a conclusion could be drawn, there would be a necessary connection between the previous disposition of the will and the subsequent determination, and consequently no freedom. The formal objective reason (ratio formalis objectiva) why God sees the free determination is the dependence of the free will on God.
All schools of Theology agree in this explanation of the manner in which God knows the free actions of creatures. Some, however, lay too much stress on the point that God knows the free actions in and through His action on the will; while others give too much prominence to the idea that the free actions are known by God in themselves, as they proceed from the created will. But both parties agree that the first description can be applied without restriction only to the knowledge of good actions and that the second description applies, without reserve, only to bad actions, which, in as far as they are bad, do not proceed from God at all, but from the created will.
This explanation enables us to see how the knowledge which God has of free actions does not interfere with their freedom. The free will of the creature indeed determines and causes an object of the Divine knowledge, but not the knowledge itself. On the contrary, God is determined by His own Essence to the knowledge of the free acts in question. His knowledge proceeds from Himself; as Creator and Conservator He contemplates in the same act the substance of the creature, its energies and faculties, the impulse by which He enables it to act, and all the actions that actually result, or may result, from this impulse. Hence the reason why God knows the free actions of His creatures is the relation of causality and dependence between Creator and creature. God, however, does not determine free actions in the same manner as He determines other actions of creatures. Just as the self-determination of the will is consequent upon the causal influence of God, so also is it known to God by reason of the same influence. God, therefore, knows the free actions of His creatures in His own Essence, the adequate knowledge of which includes the perfect knowledge of all things dependent on it.
If this be rightly understood, the following proposition will also be clear: God's certain knowledge of the free determination of the will is not the cause of this determination; nor is the determination of the will the reason why God knows it. The fact that a free determination takes place is merely a condition of God's knowledge of it; nevertheless, it is a necessary conditionnecessary in order that God, by means of His causal influence, may extend His knowledge to that particular determination of the will.
This doctrine is thus expressed by St. John Damascene, Contra Manich., c. 79: The foreknowing power of God has not its cause in us; but it is because of us that He foresees what we are about to do: for if we were not about to do the things, God could not have foreseen them, because they were not going to be. The foreknowledge of God is true and infallible indeed ; but it is not the cause why we do certain things: on the contrary, because we are about to do certain things, God foreknows them.
II. Like all other Divine knowledge, the knowledge of the free actions of creatures is eternal. Hence God knows the free actions of His creatures before they are performed, and knows them even better than the creatures themselves do. He further contemplates them as perpetually present with the reality they acquire when accomplished in the course of time. The Vatican Council (sess. iii. c. I) says: All things are bare and open to His eyes, even the things which will take place by the free action of creatures. Prescience of this kind is exclusively proper to God, a touchstone of Divinity. Cf. Ps. cxxxviii. i sqq.; Ecclus. xxxix. 24, 25; and xxiii. 28, 29. Show the things that are to come hereafter, and we shall know that ye are gods (Isai. xli. 22, 23). Every one of the many prophecies contained in Holy Writ is a proof of the Divine Foreknowledge. Every prophet is a proof of the Divine Foreknowledge Praecientia Dei tot habet testes quot habet prophetas (Tertull., C. Marcion). St. Augustine (Ad Simplicium, 1. ii., q. ii., n. 2) gives a classical description of the way in which God sees future things as present.
God's Foreknowledge must be eternal because all that is in God is necessarily eternal. Besides, if God knew the free actions of His creatures only in time, the decrees of His Providence ought to be made in time also. The possibility of an eternal Foreknowledge is evident from the a priori nature of the knowledge, for God knows future things in their eternal cause. Further, He contemplates the future as actually present, because to Him there is no time; things temporal stand before His undivided eternity with their temporal character and are seen always as they are when they actually exist.
The Divine Foreknowledge is an eternal contemplation and therefore does not interfere with the liberty of the created will. The fact that God sees what we do, no more alters the nature of our acts than the fact that they are seen or remembered by ourselves or by others. The knowledge which God has of free actions is the same before, during, and after their performance. Besides, the Divine Knowledge, being a priori, apprehends free actions formally as such, that is, as proceeding from the will by free determination. If it only grasped the action as a material fact, the knowledge would be false or incomplete. Foreknowledge would only interfere with liberty of action if it supposed a necessary influence of God on the human will, or if it had the character of a conclusion necessarily following from given premisses.
III. The knowledge of the actions which would be performed by free agents if certain conditions were fulfilled, cannot be denied to God. It is in itself an unmixed perfection, and, moreover, it is necessary for the perfect ruling of the world by Divine Providence. In fact, without such knowledge, God could not frame His decrees concerning the government of rational creatures, or, if He did, He would deprive them of their liberty (cf. Hurter, De Deo, No. 87).
1. Holy Scripture fully supports this doctrine. God being asked by David if the men of Ceila would deliver him into the hands of Saul, answered positively, They will deliver thee. But David having fled, he was not delivered into the hands of his enemy (I Kings xxiii. 113.). See other instances of the Divine knowledge of future actions dependent on unfulfilled conditions (Jer. xxxviii. 15 sqq.); Woe to thee, Corozain, woe to thee, Bethsaida: for if in Tyre and Sidon had been vrouglit the miracles that have been wrought in you, they had long ago done penance in sackcloth and ashes (Matt. xi. 2023). Cf. Franzelin, De Deo . p. 449 sqq.
2. The Fathers often deal expressly with the present questions in connection with Providence. In the controversies with the Manicheans and Gnostics, they all admit without hesitation that God foreknew the sins which Adam and Eve, Saul, Judas, and others would commit under given conditions. Not one of these Fathers tries to justify God for creating these men, or for conferring dignities upon them, on the plea of ignorance of what would happen under the circumstances. Cf. the commentaries on Wisd. iv. 11: He was taken away lest wickedness should alter his understanding, or deceit beguile his soul; esp. St. Gregory of Nyssa, in the sermon on this text (Opp., tom. ii., pp. 764770), and St. Augustine (De Corr. et Gratia, c. viii.). (See infra, p. 372, and Vol. II. p. 242.)
SECT. 81.The Divine Wisdom in relation to its External ActivityThe Divine Ideas.
I. Idea, [Greek word omitted] commonly signifies the mental representation which the artist has of his work (ratio rei faciendae). The ideal is the highest conception of a thing. In the language of the Church, the expressions idea, exemplar, forma, species, [Greek word omitted], are often used synonymously.
1. All the works of God are produced with perfect knowledge of what they ought to be, and all are intended to represent and manifest the Supreme Being, Beauty, and Goodness. Hence all the works of God are works of wisdom, or rather works of His wise art. Thou hast made all things in wisdom (Ps. ciii. 24). Wisdom is the worker of all things (Wisd. vii. 21). Philosophically and theologically this doctrine is expressed as follows: God operates ad extra by artistic ideas, and all that is outside God is essentially a product and an expression of a Divine Idea.
2. The Ideas of the Divine Wisdom are, however, very different from the ideas which guide the human artist. The former are truly creative ideas, modelling not only the external appearance of things, but setting up and informing their very essence; and, being identical with God, they have in themselves the power of actuating themselves. They are absolutely original ideas, drawn from, and identical with, the Divine Substance, essentially proper to God and eternal ([Greek word omitted]). The ideas of the created artist, on the other hand, are only relatively original ; even his noblest inspirations are mostly determined by external circumstances.
3. The foundation of the Divine ideas is the infinitely perfect Divine Essence, containing in itself the perfections of all things, imitable ad extra in finite things, and comprehended as so imitable by the infinite Intellect of God. All beings outside God are, by their essence, a participation, i.e. an imperfect copy or imitation, of the Divine Being: hence their types or ideas must exist in the Divine Essence, and must be the object of the contemplation of the Divine Mind. Moreover, because of the simplicity of the Divine Substance, the ideas, their foundation and the mind contemplating them, are all one ; and therefore created things are contained in God, not only as in an abstract mental representation, but as in their real model and type.
4. How many ideas are there in God? Materially there is only one idea in Him, as there is only one ideal for all things together as well as for each in particular. In His absolutely simple and infinitely rich Essence, God contemplates in one idea the type of all possible imitations ad extra. Formally speaking, however, He has as many ideas as He knows to be possible representations of His Essence.
5. Although God knows evil, still there is no ideal of evil in the Divine Mind. For evil is not a positive formation but a difformity or deformation of things; it is not a work of the Divine Wisdom nor a work of God at all.
6. The creative power of the Divine ideas enters into action only when God decrees so by an act of His Will.
II. 1. It is essentially a work of the Divine Wisdom to give order, harmony, and organization to the things representing the Divine ideas; to unite them in one harmonic whole, in which each holds its proper place, and each and all tend to the end proposed by the Creator. Holy Scripture calls this ordaining operation a measuring, numbering, and weighing: Thou hast ordered all things in measure, and number, and weight (Wisd. xi. 21).
2. A further attribute of the Divine Wisdom is to determine the ideal perfection to which creatures should tend as to their ultimate object, and to establish the laws by which this object is to be aimed at and attained. The laws that regulate the movements of creatures are implanted in their nature, and are, as it were, identified with their substance, thus offering an image of the eternal law in God. To rational creatures especially, the Divine Wisdom prescribes laws for the right direction of their actions towards their end. These laws are written in the heart (Rom. ii. 14, 15), and read there by means of the light of reason. The Divine Wisdom appears here as doctrix disciplinae Dei, as a guide and educator, leading man on to the participation of the All-Wise life in God.
On the relation between the eternal law in God and the natural law, see St. Thomas, Ia 2ae, q. 91, a. 2.
III The infinite perfection of the Divine Wisdom involves the knowledge of all the ways and means of realizing the ultimate object of creation. God knows which acts and operations should be produced or prevented, and He knows how to direct every action and operation to its end, so that nothing upsets His plans, but everything is made subservient to them. In this sense the spirit of eternal wisdom is called [Greek word omitted] and [Greek word omitted], overseeing all things, unimpeded (Wisd. vii. 23), and of Wisdom itself it is said: She reacheth from end to end mightily, and ordereth all things sweetly (Wisd. viii. 1). The perfection of the Divine Providence is best seen in its dealings with the free will of man. Freedom of action, including freedom to commit sin, would undermine the stability of any but an infinite Providence. God, however, Who foreknows the future and its contingencies, Who has the power to bring about or to prevent even the free actions of his creatures, and to Whose Will all things are subservient God is able to direct evil actions to good ends, and thus to attain His own wise objects.
SECT. 82.The Nature and Attributes of the Divine Will considered generally.
I. That God has a Will, and a most perfect Will, is evident to faith and reason alike. The will is an essential of a living spirit; without it there could be in God no power, no beatitude, no sanctity, or justice.
II. The fundamental property of the Divine as opposed to the created will, is its real identity with the Divine Substance. Will, says St. Bonaventure (in I. Sent., dist. 45, a. 1), is in God in a more proper and complete manner than in us. For in us it is a faculty distinct from our substance and actually distant from its object; whereas in the Divine Will there is no difference whatsoever between substance, power, act and object. Hence in God there can be no successive acts of will, no desires, or tendencies. The essential act of the Divine Will consists in the delight with which God embraces and contains Himself as the Highest Good. This delight extends to things outside Him, only, however, in order to bring them into existence; not to derive from them any increment of perfection or happiness. In itself the act of the Divine Will is possession and fruition; in its relation to external goods it can but freely distribute its own abundance.
III. An immediate consequence of the identity of God's Will with His Substance, is that with Him there can be no question of a cause moving the will, or of anything influencing it from without: the uncreated act, by which all things are created, cannot be subject to such influences. It is indeed essential to the Divine Will, even more than to the will of creatures, to act for an object, and consequently to determine Itself to the choice and disposition of appropriate means to attain the intended object. The object, however, is not a cause moving the Divine Will, but the reason why the Divine Will moves Itself. In God, the first motive and the ultimate object of his Will are really identical with his Will; they are His Essence considered as the supreme objective Good. All subordinate motives and objects are dependent on the primary one; they are only motives and objects because God wills them to be such. Thence subordinate motives and ends do not act on the Divine Will in itself; they are but the reason why It directs Itself upon some particular object, and orders or disposes it in some particular manner. The free actions of creatures are but circumstances in creation, brought about or permitted by God Hirnself and of which He takes notice for His own sake; they are by no means external causes moving the Divine Will to action.
The supreme goodness of the Divine Will is the reason and the rule determining the direction of the Divine volition to definite objects. God loves His own goodness and therefore He wills its glorification and communication ad extra, and determines by what means these objects are to be attained. Thus the love of God for Himself causes Him to will things outside Him, just as the desires and inclinations of our will cause us to act; with this difference, however, that in God the satisfaction of such desires is neither a want nor a cause of new volitions.
The doctrine here stated is common among the theologians, although they differ in the way of expressing it. See Ruiz, De Voluntate Dei, disp. xv.
IV Another consequence of the identity of Will and Substance in God is the peculiar relation between the Divine Will and its objects, and between the objects themselves. The love of self is, with creatures, a condition and the starting-point of all their volitions. As, however, the objects of their desires exist outside and independently of them, and as their perfection and felicity are themselves dependent on the possession of external goods, the love of self is not a sufficient object for all their volitions; it is itself but part of higher aims and objects. But God is Himself the proximate and principal object of His volition. All other things the Divine Will attains without being in any way determined or perfected by them; they are either not intended for themselves at all, or at most as subordinate ends. The Lord hath made all things for Himself (Prov. xvi. 4). God has created the world of His own goodness, not to increase his happiness or to acquire but to manifest His goodness by means of the good things which He bestows on creatures (Vatican Council, sess. iii., ch. 1).
The manner in which God's Love of Self determines His love of creatures is as follows:-
1. As the Infinite Good is most communicable, fruitful, and powerful, the love of it implies love of communicating it.
2. Again, as it is the Supreme Beauty, and is capable of being copied and multiplied, the love of it excites a love of reproducing it.
3. The supreme dignity and majesty of the highest Good is worthy of honour and glory; hence God is induced to create beings able to give Him honour and glory.
Thus all things find the motive of their existence in the Divine Self-Love; and in it, too, they find their ultimate object. They are made in order to participate in the goodness of God, and to cling to Him with love; to reproduce His beauty, to know and to praise it; to submit to His majesty by honouring and serving Him.
From this genesis and order of God's volitions we infer another difference between the manner in which the Divine Will and the created will bear upon their objects. The created will, when willing things as means and instruments to other ends, does not value them in themselves, but only inasmuch as they are means. God, on the contrary, although His creatures are only means to His glory, intends really and truly that they should possess the perfections communicated to them, and He takes pleasure in the goodness, beauty, and dignity, which make them copies of the Divine ideal; nay, He offers Himself as the object of their possession and fruition. Hence we perceive the benevolence, esteem, and appreciation with which God honours the goodness and dignity of His creatures. There is no selfishness on His side and no degradation on the side of creatures, although they are but means for the glory of God.
V. Another consequence of the identity of Will and Substance in God is that all the positive and negative attributes of the Divine Substance must be applied to the Divine Will. It is absolutely independent, simple, infinite, immutable, eternal, omnipresent, etc.
SECT. 83. The Absolute Freedom of God's Will.
I. First of all it is certain that liberty of choice cannot be attributed to all the volitions of the Divine Will. God's absolute perfection necessarily includes the absolutely perfect action of His Will, necessarily directed to the Divine Essence as the highest good. The necessity of this act is even greater than the necessity which proceeds from the nature of creatures and compels them to act; because it is founded in, and identical with, the Divine Essence. For this very same reason, however, the act of the Divine Will includes the perfection essential to acts of the will, viz, the acting for an end with consciousness and pleasure; for God knowingly and willingly loves His own lovableness.
II. Liberty of choice is attributable to the Divine Will only in respect to external things; and, as these are dependent for their existence on a Divine volition, this creative volition itself is in the free choice of God. This is defined by the Vatican Council, God created the world of freest design (sess. iii., chap. 1), If any one shall say that God did not create with a will free from all necessity, but did so as necessarily as He loves Himself; let him be anathema (can. v.).
1. Holy Scripture fittingly describes the liberty of choice in God: Who worketh all things according to the counsel of His will (Eph. i. 11); and again, Who has predestinated us
according to the purpose of His Will (i. 5). See also Rom. ix. 18 ; I Cor. xii. 11; John iii. 8.
2. The following considerations contain the proofs from reason and the solution of difficulties.
(a.) God is perfectly free to create or not to create beings outside of Himself. Such beings are neither necessary in themselves nor necessary to the beatitude or perfection of God; they can only serve to his external glory, which, however, is not necessary to Him because His essential glory is all-sufficient. If, indeed, God creates, He must do so for his own glory, and it is the love of His own glory that moves Him to create. But if He wills not to create, He is not bound to intend His external glory. The Love of Himself moves him to create, in as far as it appears to him fitting that He should be glorified by creatures and should be enabled to find delight in external glory. But there is no necessity here, because God might assert his Self-Love in another way, viz, by abstaining from producing other beings, and thus proving Himself the sole necessary and absolutely self-sufficient Being. This consideration gains additional force from the dogma that the Trinity is an infinite communication, ad intra, of the Divine perfections.
(b.) Again, God is free to create the world with any degree of perfection He chooses; He is not bound to create a world of the greatest possible perfection. If He is free to create or not to create, He is likewise free to create any of the many worlds alike possible and unnecessary to Him. Moreover, however perfect a created world be conceived, it would always be finite. And therefore a still more perfect one could be conceived. Hence if God was bound to create the most perfect world possible, He would be unable to create at all, because a world at once finite and incapable of higher perfection involves a contradiction. All that can be said is this: once God has determined upon creating a world, His own moral perfection requires that He should realize the idea in a fitting manner, and ordain everything to His own glory. Thus God is bound by his wisdom and goodness to ordain particular things to the ends of the whole world of His choice, and the whole world to His own glory.
(c.) God is free in His choice of the particular beings through which the general object of creation is to be attained; and also in the determination of the position which each particular being is to occupy in the universe, and in the degree of perfection to be granted to them. This principle applies especially to the creation of beings of the same kind. No man has a better claim than any other to be called into existence or to be distinguished by particular gifts. Holy Scripture often mentions this point in order to set forth God's absolute dominion over His creatures, and over His gifts to them, and to excite the gratitude of men for the gifts so freely bestowed upon them by the Divine bounty. It ought, however, to be borne in mind that, if God favours some creatures with extraordinary gifts, He refuses to none the perfections required by their nature. And I went down into the potter's house, and behold he was doing a work on the wheel. And the vessel was broken which he was making of clay with his hands: and turning he made another vessel, as it seemed good in his eyes to make it. Then the word of the Lord came to me, saying: Cannot I do with you as this potter, O house of Israel? saith the Lord. Behold as clay is in the hand of the potter, so are you in My hand, O house of Israel. I will suddenly speak against a nation, and against a kingdom, to root out, and to pull down, and to destroy it (Jer. xviii. 3-7). Cf. Ecclus. xxxiii. 10 sqq.; Rom. ix. 20 sqq.
III. Although the Divine volition of finite things is free from antecedent necessity, it is subject to the necessity consequent upon the Divine wisdom, sanctity, and immutability. Once God has freely decreed certain objects, He is bound, by consequent necessity, to decree likewise all that is necessarily connected as means or otherwise with these objects. The older Theologians give to this Willing of God, regulated by His wisdom, sanctity and immutability, the name of voluntas ordinata, in contradistinction to the voluntas simplex, a willing which has its only foundation in the Divine liberty.
The willing of an end does not always entail the necessary willing of particular means. The same end may often be attained by various means; and besides the necessary means, others merely useful or ornamental may be chosen. Hence the Divine Will, even when acting in consequence of a previous decree, has scope left for freedom. There is, then, in God a twofold simple volition, viz. the willing of ultimate ends and the willing of certain means thereto. Yet, this simple willing is not arbitrary that is, entirely without reason, and therefore unwise and unholy. The wisdom and sanctity of a choice do not always require a special reason for the preference given; it is sufficient that there be (1) a general reason for making a choice, (2) the consciousness that the choice is really free, and (3) the intention to direct the object of the preference to a wise and holy end; and all these conditions are all fulfilled in the Divine simple Volition. These notions are important on account of their bearing on the difficult question of predestination.
SECT. 84. The Affections (Affectus) of the Divine Will, especially Love.*
*Affections, affectus, [Greek word omitted], are the same as the emotions, but are treated by the Schoolmen as belonging either to the sensitive appetite or to the will.
I. The Divine perfection excludes all affections which imply bodily activity, excitement of the mind, passivity, and a fortiori, passions which dim the mind and upset the will. When speaking of the affections of the Divine Will, we consider its acts in as far as they bear on their objects in an eminent manner, a relation analogous to that which our will bears to its objects when moved by our various feelings. Affections not essentially connected with imperfection, such as love and delight, exist formally in God; other affections, which imply imperfection, or a certain unrest, such as fear and sadness, are only improperly or metaphorically attributed to Him. In other words, God contains formally only such affections as are determined by his own Essence. The Divine Will cannot be affected by anything external; hence, if by analogy with ourselves we distinguish many affections in God, they ought not to be conceived as really distinct or conflicting, but as virtually contained in the one act of the Divine Substance. Between the affections which have God Himself for their immediate object, such as complacency in His goodness, love, benevolence, and joy, it is almost impossible to find even a virtual distinction. The other Divine affections, which have creatures for their object, spring from the former, and are ramifications of the Divine Self-Love.
II. With the aid of these principles, it will be possible to determine in detail which affections can be attributed to the Divine Will.
1. The affection most properly attributable to the Divine Will is delight in what is good and beautiful. The primary object of this Divine complacency is the infinite Goodness and Beauty of the Divine Essence; the secondary objects are its created representations. From the complacency in what is good, the hatred or abomination of what is wicked is inseparable. This affection is connected, in created wills, with a feeling of disgust and displeasure, increasing with the degree of appreciation of the evil attained. This painful sensation, however, is not essential to the abomination of evil. It does not exist in God, Who knows that by his power and wisdom evil itself is made subservient to the ultimate end of creation.
2. A benevolent inclination towards himself, the highest Good, and towards the beings which participate in His Goodness, is another formal and proper attribute of the Divine Will. The contrary affection, viz. hatred or malevolence, is impossible in God. Hatred consists in wishing some one evil precisely as evil; it takes pleasure in the evil of the person hated, and strives, to a greater or lesser extent, to destroy the hateful object. Such an affection is not only unworthy of God and incompatible with His absolute repose and beatitude, but is also contrary to the nature of the Divine Will, inasmuch as the latter operates on creatures only to communicate the Divine Goodness to them. God continues His benevolence to sinners, even when they are damned in hell, for He wills their natural good even in hell, and does not begrudge them happiness; He wills their punishment only inasmuch as by it the order of the whole of creation, of which the sinners are members, is maintained; and the sinners themselves receive the sole good available to them, viz. the forced submission to the order of God's universe. 'When Scripture speaks of God's hatred of sin, or uses similar expressions, the hatred of what is wicked ought always to be understood, and not mere malevolence.
3. Other affections formally attributable to the Divine Will are joy and delight in God's infinite Beauty and Goodness, as enjoyed by Himself or shared by His creatures. Pain and sadness, on the contrary, are affections entirely incompatible with the repose and happiness of the Divine Will, and are only metaphorically applicable to God. The same is true of pity, the noblest kind of sadness. God acts, indeed, as if He felt pity; but, although the effect is there, the affection is wanting. The desire for things not yet possessed is likewise impossible in God.
4. If hatred and sadness can find no room in the Divine Will on account of the imperfections they imply, much more must affections like hope and fear, respect and admiration, anger and repentance be excluded. Holy Scripture hardly ever attributes hope or fear to God, but often anger and repentance. This way of speaking is adopted in order to make the actions of God intelligible to the reader. God acts as we conceive an angry man would do under the same circumstances.
Ill. Love is foremost among the Divine affections; it is the type upon which all His other affections are modelled. God is Love, all Love, and Love pure and simple; whatever is against love is against the Nature of God, and is essentially excluded from Him; whatever is according to love, is according to the inclination and disposition of the Divine Nature. Hence the meaning of the expressions: God, Whose nature is goodness (St. Leo), and God is charity ([Greek word omitted]), I John iv. 8. Love, caritas, [Greek word omitted], and bonitas here must be taken as expressing benevolent love, by which we wish well to other beings just as we do to ourselves. Love, as here described, is indeed foremost among, and characteristic of, all Divine affections; but it is not their living root and their real principle. This is Love only in as far as by love we understand the complacency which God finds in the infinite Goodness of His Essence, and which takes the form of the noblest kind of love, charity.
IV. God's benevolent love of His creatures is characterized by the following properties:-
1. God's benevolent love of creatures actually existing is, in substance, His love of Himself freely directed towards determinate beings which receive their existence in virtue of His Love.
2. It is a gratuitous love, freely bestowed without any claim on the part of the creature, and without any profit on the part of God.
3. By reason of its origin in the Divine Wisdom and Self-Love, God's love of creatures is essentially wise and holy, directed towards their salvation, and necessarily subordinating them to the highest good. It is, therefore, infinitely different from a blind and weak tenderness, which would sacrifice to the capricious desires of creatures their own salvation and the honour of God. Such tenderness is unworthy of God; it would be impure love, not deserving the name of charity. Holiness is an essential element in pure love, and if we distinguish pure love from holy love it is only in order to point out the absolute gratuity of the former.
4. The Divine Love of creatures is eminently intimate. It is identical with God's Love of Himself, and embraces creatures in their innermost being, and tends to unite them with Him in the fruition of His own perfection. Hence arises the unitive force proper to Divine Love. The love of creatures for each other brings them together, but the Love of God for creatures unites the creature to the Creator.
5. The Divine Love is eminently an ecstatic love that is, God causes His Love, and with His Love His goodness, to expand and to overflow ad extra, and to pervade and replenish His creatures. Humanly speaking, it may even be said that, in the Incarnation, God, out of love for His creatures, empties Himself (Phil. ii. 7), inasmuch as, without sacrificing His internal glory and absolute honour, He renounces, in His adopted humanity, all external glory. The ecstasis of the Divine Love aims at bringing the beloved creatures into the closest union with God; whence that famous circle of the Divine Love described by Dionysius the Areopagite, De Div. Nom., c. iv.
6. The Divine Love is eminently universal and all-embracing. On the part of God the love is the same for each and all its objects, because in the Divine act itself there are no degrees. But it manifests itself in various degrees, so that, on the part of the beloved objects, more love is shown to the better ones than to the less perfect. In this respect God loves one object more than another, because He has willed the one to be better than the other, and has adorned the one with choicer gifts than the other.
7. The Divine Love is eminently fertile and inexhaustible.
8. Lastly, the negative attributes of infinity, immutability, and eternity belong also to the act of Divine Love, although its external manifestations are subject to the limitation, mutability, and temporality of their objects.
All the distinguishing properties of the Divine Love shine forth most brilliantly in the supernatural love of friendship which God has for His rational creatures. By this supernatural love, He loves them as He loves Himself, elevating them to the participation in his own beatitude, and giving Himself to them in many ways. It is that charity or love of God which the New Testament chiefly and almost exclusively recommends.
SECT. 85.Moral Perfection of the Divine Will.
I. In God there can be no moral imperfection, no sin or anything approaching thereto. With Him, the impossibility of sinning or participating in sin is absolute and metaphysical, not only because the possibility of sinning would destroy His infinite perfection, but especially because of the nature of sin. Sin consists in preferring one's self to God; in other words, in opposing personal interests to the Supreme Good and giving them preference. But such opposition is impossible with God, because His own Self and His interests are identical with the Supreme Good. This immaculate purity and absolute freedom from all sin is termed Sanctity or Holiness, in the sense of the classical definition given by the Areopagite: Holiness is purity free from all fault, altogether perfect and spotless in every respect. (Sanctitas est, ut nostro more loquar, ab omni scelere libera et omnino perfecta et omni ex parte immaculata puritas (De Div. Nom., c. 12).) In order to complete the concept of sanctity, it is necessary to add that God is inaccessible to sin or to contact with sin, because He positively abominates it with an abomination proportionate to the esteem He has for the Supreme Good which sin despises that is, with an infinite abomination. Hence the Divine purity is infinite, and implies an infinite distance between God and sin. Holy Scripture frequently insists upon the Divine sanctity as here described. God is faithful and without iniquity, He is just and right (Deut. xxxii. 4); Is God unjust ([Greek word omitted])? God forbid (Rom. iii. 5, 6). See, also, Rom. ix. 14; John iii. 9; Hab. i. 13; Ps. v. 5, and xliv. 8.
God's infinite detestation of sin entails the impossibility not only of willing sin as an end, but also of intending it positively as a means to other ends; He can only have the will to permit sin, and to make use of such permission as an occasion to bring about good. To permit sin, when able to prevent it, would, indeed, be against moral perfection in a created being, because the creature is bound to further the honour of God as much as lies in its power, and also because it is unable to repair the disorder inherent in sin. God, on the other hand, may dispose of His honour as He chooses, not, indeed, by sacrificing it, but by furthering it in any way He pleases, either by preventing sin or by converting or punishing the sinner. Both of these ways manifest God's abomination of sin, and are, therefore, independently of other reasons, eligible means for the manifestation of His glory. Consequently, although sin is always an evil, the permission of sin is, on the part of God, a positive good. It may even be said that the permission of sin is better than its entire prevention.
When Holy Scripture uses expressions which seem to imply that God positively intends evil, they must be understood in the above sense. Unlike man, who permits evil only when he cannot prevent it, God, in His Wisdom and power, predetermines the permission of evil and ordains it to His ultimate ends. Cf. St. Thom., 1a 2ae, q. 79: Utrum Deus sit causa peccati.
II. Positively speaking, the moral perfection of God consists in the essential and immutable direction of His Will on Himself as the supreme object of all volition, and in the infinite love and esteem of Himself included in this act, the perfection of which is enhanced by the fact that the highest Good, the ultimate object of all volition, is, for the Divine Will, the immediate and only formal object, and that all other goods are objects of the Divine Will only because and in as far as they are subordinated to the highest good. A more pure, exalted, and constant volition of what is good cannot be conceived.
In its positive aspect also the moral perfection of God is called Holiness. This name is applied to the moral goodness of creatures when considered as a direction of the will towards the highest moral object, viz. the absolute dignity and majesty of God; and the designation is the more appropriate the more the creature disposes its whole life according to the exaltedness of such an object, and develops greater purity, energy, and constancy in morals. It is, therefore, evident that sanctity is the most, and indeed the only, convenient name for the moral perfection of God.
III. God's absolute moral perfection necessarily implies the possession of all the virtues of creatures. It is, however, evident that many of these cannot exist actually in the Creator. Thus, for instance, religion and obedience, which imply submission to a higher being; faith and hope, which presuppose a state of imperfection; and temperance, which requires a subject composed of mind and matter, are all alike impossible in God. They are only virtually contained in the Divine perfection, viz. inasmuch as they express esteem for the highest good and for the good order of things. Some moral virtues, such as fortitude and meekness, are metaphorically attributed to God, only to bring out the absence of the opposite vices of pusillanimity and anger. Those virtues alone belong formally to the moral perfection of God which manifest and bring into operation the excellence of their subject; and they belong to Him in an eminent manner, so that all the Divine virtues are purely active and regal virtues.
The royal character of the Divine virtues appears in their exercise, in their diversity, and in their organic relations, which, in the moral life of God, are widely different from what they are in creatures. In creatures, all virtues, even those which have an external object, tend to increase the inner perfection of the virtuous subject. Not so with God; His perfection would be the same if He abstained from the exercise of any external virtue; and as the only virtue essential to His perfection (viz. self-love and self-esteem) is pure act identical with the Divine Essence, it cannot be spoken of as exercised that is, as passing from potentiality to actuality. The virtues of creatures are manifold because they bear upon many objects and admit of various degrees of perfection. In God only one object, absolutely simple and perfect, is attained by the Divine Will, and consequently a diversity of virtues can only be based upon the remote and secondary objects of the Divine volitions. The organic unity of the virtues of creatures consists in the subordination of all others under the Love of God, which, like a bond of perfection, embraces and contains them all. But in God all virtues are one, because He can will nothing but Himself and things that are subordinated to Him as their supreme good. His infinite Love is the root from which all His other virtues spring, as it is also the root and essence of his Sanctity. The ramifications of the Divine Charity can, however, be considered as special moral virtues, because they represent special forms, or a special exercise of the Divine Goodness, The moral virtues in God are united more closely than in man, so much so that even the two most opposed of them, mercy and justice, are never exercised separately.
The Divine virtues which are directed to external objects that is, the moral virtues can be reduced to goodness, justice and truth, the last being taken in the sense of moral wisdom and veracity. These three are the fundamental types of all the other moral virtues in God: they are manifested in all His moral actions, and represent the principal directions into which the more special moral virtues branch off. We have already dealt with the nature of the Divine Goodness in the chapter on Divine Love; it remains, therefore, to determine the absolute character of the Divine Justice, so far as it differs from created justice and is exercised in union with Divine goodness and truth. It is precisely its inseparability from Goodness and Truth which frees the Divine Justice from the restrictions and the dependence of created justice.
SECT. 86. The Justice of God.
I. Taken in its widest sense, justice may be defined as the rectitude of the will; that is, the disposition of the will of and its acts in accordance with truth. In this sense, justice expresses the moral character of all the Divine virtues, including goodness. It differs from justice in creatures in that it is not a conformity with a higher rule, but a conformity or agreement with the Essence and Wisdom of God Himself, or, as the Theologians express it: condecentia divinae bonitatis et sapientiae. Taken in a narrower sense, as distinct from goodness, justice designates in God and creatures a virtue which observes or introduces a certain order in external actions, and especially adapts the actions to the exigencies of the beings to which they refer. Created justice supposes an existing order, and the beings to which it adapts its actions are always more or less independent of the agent; whereas Divine Justice deals with an order established by God, and with beings entirely dependent on Him. Hence Divine justice can have no other object than to dispose the works of God in a manner befitting His excellence and leading to His glory. This character is best expressed by the term Architectonic Justice, which implies that it is not ruled or bound by any claim existing in its object, but that it consists in the conformity of determinate Divine actions with the archetypes of the Divine works existing in the Divine Mind. Thus the human artist works out his plans, not in order to satisfy the exigencies of the work of art, but to reproduce and realize his own conceptions. If the Divine Artist, unlike the human, deals with personal beings, this does not destroy the architectonic character of His Justice, for personal dignity has a claim on the Divine Justice only in as far as the Divine Wisdom effects the beauty and perfection of his works by treating each being according to its own nature, and by giving each of them exactly that place in the general order of things which its intrinsic value demands. The only real right which stands in the presence of the Divine Will, and determines the whole order of its action, is the right of Divine Majesty: to the Divine Majesty all external works of God must be subjected, to it all the beings coming within the sphere of the Divine Justice must be directed.
II. Human justice and goodness differ in this, that justice is prompted to act by a duty towards another being, whereas goodness acts freely on its own impulse. The Architectonic Justice of God, on the contrary, involves no moral necessity of satisfying the claims of any other being ; whatever moral necessity it involves originates in God Himself; Who is bound to act in accordance with his Wisdom, His Will, and His Excellence. In this sense Holy Scripture often calls the Divine Justice truth, viz. God is just, because He is true to Himself. His Wisdom requires Him to make all things good and beautiful, and consequently to give each being what its nature demands, and to assign to each that position in the universal order which corresponds with the ultimate object of creation and with the dignity of the Divine Wisdom; His sovereign Will requires that the ends intended should be always attained in one way or another, and consequently that the means necessary to these ends be forthcoming; His excellence and dignity require Him to dispose all His works in a manner tending to the manifestation and glorification of His own goodness; above all, His truthfulness and fidelity demand that He should not deny Himself in those acts by which He invites His creatures to expect with confidence a communication of His truth and of His possessions, for if creatures were deceived in their confidence, God would appear contemptible to them. God can bind himself to actions which in every respect are free and remain free even after they are promised. Such obligation, however, is not in opposition to perfect freedom and independence, because it is always founded upon an act of the Divine goodness. Nor does this latter circumstance interfere with the strictness of the obligation, because the respect which God owes to Himself is infinitely more inviolable than any title arising from anything outside Him. Hence, although creatures have no formal claims on God, they have a greater certainty that justice will be done to them than if they really possessed such claims. For My name's sake I will remove My wrath afar off, and for My praise I will bridle thee, lest thou shouldst perish
.For My own sake, for My own sake, I will do it, that I may not be blasphemed (Isai. xlviii. 9, 11; cf. Deut. vii. 9 and xxxii. 4; I John i. 9).
III. Another consequence of the architectonic character of the Divine Justice is its very intimate connection with the Divine goodness. God's Justice crowns and perfects His goodness, which would be essentially imperfect if the beings called into existence by it were not disposed and maintained in the order upheld by the Divine Justice. Sometimes certain acts of the Justice of God are attributed to His Justice alone, as distinguished from His goodness; for instance, the punishment of sinners and the permission of sin. But these acts are also acts of goodness, not so much towards the individual as towards the universe as a whole, the beauty and perfection of which require that at least incorrigible sinners should be reduced to order by punishment. As to the permission of sin, it is quite compatible with the perfection of the universe that free scope should be given to the failings of creatures and to their liberty of choice between good and evil; it is in harmony with the nature of reasonable creatures, and affords the Creator manifold opportunities for manifesting his power, wisdom, and goodness.
IV. If we compare the Divine Justice, as extended to mankind, with the several forms and functions of human justice, it evidently appears as a royal, that is a governing and Providential, Justice. It embraces all the functions necessary for the establishment, enforcement, and maintenance of order in a community, viz. legislative, distributive, administrative, and judicial. Commutative justice, however has no place in God, because it can only be exercised between beings more or less independent of each other. Who hath first given Him and recompense shall be made him? (Rom. xi. 33). Nevertheless, certain functions of the Divine Justice, notably those which belong to justice as distinguished from goodness, bear an analogy with commutative justice, and are spoken of in this sense by Holy Scripture. The analogy consists in the fact that God and every rational creature stand to each other as personal beings, and that, on the ground of this mutual relation, a certain interchange of gifts and services, and a certain recognition of mine and thine are conceivable. There are three functions of the Divine Justice which are better understood if considered from this point of view than from that of providential Justice alone.
1. In rewarding good actions, God treats them as services done to Himself, and gives the reward as a corresponding remuneration on His side. If He has promised it in a determinate form, creatures possess a sort of title to it, and He cannot withhold it without depriving them of what is their due. But this right and property are themselves free gifts of God, because He makes the promise freely and He freely co-operates with the creature performing the good action, which, moreover, He can claim as His own in virtue of His sovereign dominion over all things. As St. Leo beautifully observes, God rewards us for what He Himself has given us (Sua in nobis Deus dona coronat). Thus He is in no way a debtor to creatures, because He is in no way dependent upon them.
2. The punishment of evil is, likewise, more than a reaction of Providential Justice against the disturbance of order. God treats sin as an offence against His dignity, an injustice by which the sinner incurs the duty of satisfaction, a debt which he is bound to pay even when he repents of his sin. Hence the Vindictive Justice of God is more than the guardian of the moral order in general; it is particularly an Exacting Justice by which God guards his own rights. This distinction is important, because the vindictive action of God against incorrigible sinners is a necessary consequence of his wisdom, whereas the exaction of satisfaction is a free exercise of His right, and, as such, is subject to the most varied modifications.
3. Lastly the permission of sin might be brought under the head of analogical commutative justice, inasmuch as it is a leaving to each one what is his own. Evil and sin have their origin in the fact that creatures are nothing by themselves, and possess nothing but what is freely given them by God ; whence the permission of evil and sin is, on the part of God, a leaving the creature to what is its own, and may therefore be considered as an act of Permissive Justice. When God allows the nothingness and the defectibility of the creature to come, so to speak, into play, He manifests His own primary right as much as when He punishes sin; for He manifests Himself as alone essentially good, owing no man anything and needing nothing from any man.
V. From these explanations it follows that the Divine Justice in all its functions, but especially in the three last-named, presupposes, and is based upon, the exercise of the Divine goodness. The Divine goodness, therefore, pervades and influences the whole working of the Divine Justice. God always gives greater rewards than justice requires; He always exacts less and punishes less than He justly could exact and punish; and He permits fewer evils than He could justly permit. Theologians commonly ascribe this influence of God's goodness on His justice more to His Mercy or merciful bounty, not only because it manifests itself even in favour of those who make themselves unworthy of it, but also because it is chiefly determined by God's pity on the natural misery of the creatures. In fact, God rewards beyond merit, and punishes or exacts satisfaction below what is due, on account of the limited capabilities of creatures; He softens His vindictive justice in view of the frailty of the sinner, and He restricts the permission of evil in view of the misery which evil entails upon creatures.
The intimate union of Justice and goodness in God prevents His permitting sin as a means of manifesting His vindictive Justice, just as He wills good in order to manifest his retributive justice. The manifestation of vindictive justice is the object of the punishment of sin; it is only the object of the permission of sin in as far as the permission of continuation or increase of sin is the punishment of a first fault. The first fault or sin can only be permitted by the Justice of God in as far as He thereby intends the maintenance of the order of the universe and of Divine and human liberty on the one hand, and on the other the manifestation of the nothingness of creatures and of the power of God, Who is able to make sin itself subservient to His glorification. With equal reason it might be said that God permits first sins in order to manifest his mercy, not only to those whom He preserves from sin, but especially that kind of mercy which can be shown to sinners only.
SECT. 87. God's Mercy and Veracity.
I. The Divine goodness towards creatures assumes different names according to the different aspects under which it is considered. It is called Magnificence, Loving-kindness (pietas, gratia), Liberality, and Mercy. Of all these, the last named is the most beautiful and the most comprehensive, including, as it does, the meaning of all the others. The Divine Liberality in particular must be viewed in connection with the Divine Mercy in order to be seen in its full grandeur. In the service of Mercy, the liberality of God appears as constantly relieving some want on the part of creatures; as undisturbed by the worthlessness or even the positive unworthiness of the receiver of its gifts, nay, as taking occasion therefrom to increase its activity; as preventing the abuse or the loss of its free gifts through the frailty of the receivers. Whence we see that the supernatural graces bestowed upon creatures before they committed any sin, as well as afterwards, are attributable to the Divine Mercy. But the preservation from and the forgiveness of sin, are especially described as acts of God's Mercy, because they imply a preservation or relief from an evil incurred through the creature's own fault. In this respect, the Divine Mercy appears as Forgiving-kindness, Indulgence, Clemency, Meekness, Patience, and Longanimity. Holy Scripture often accumulates these various names in order to excite our hope and kindle our love of God. The Lord is compassionate and merciful: long-suffering and plenteous in mercy. He will not always be angry, nor will He threaten for ever. He hath not dealt with us according to our sins: nor rewarded us according to our iniquities. For according to the height of the heaven above the earth: He hath strengthened His mercy towards them that fear Him (Ps. cii. 8 sqq.; see also Ps. cxliv. 8; Wisd. xi. 24 sqq.; xii. 1 sqq.).
The mercy of God is infinite in its essential act; but its operations ad extra have limits assigned to them by the wise decrees of the Divine freedom. In this sense we should understand the text, He hath mercy on whom He will, and whom He will He hardeneth (Rom. ix. 18).
II. Veracity and truth stand midway between the goodness and justice of God, inasmuch as, on the one hand, their object is the dispensing of a free gift to man, and inasmuch as, on the other hand, they imply the moral and hypothetical necessity to act in a certain manner.
1. The Divine Veracity, in general, consists in this, that God cannot directly and positively cause error in creatures, any more than He can directly cause sin. When God formally addresses His creatures and exacts their faith in His words, He cannot lead them into error. This Veracity is eminently a Divine virtue, not only because mendacity is incompatible with His sanctity, but also and especially because it is infinitely more opposed to the nature and dignity of God than it is to human nature and dignity; for a lie on God's part would be an abuse, not of a confidence founded on ordinary motives, but of a confidence founded on sovereign authority.
2. The same must be said of the Divine fidelity in the fulfilment of promises. A promise once made by God, is irrevocable because of the Divine immutability. God is also faithful in a wider sense, viz. the Divine Will is consequent in its decrees, carrying out whatever it intends. He who hath begun a good work in you will perfect it (Phil. i. 6). Both forms of fidelity usually act together, especially in the administration of the supernatural order of grace; so that in this order the simple prayers of man have, to a certain extent, as infallible a claim on the Divine goodness and mercy as the good works of the just have on the Divine Justice. He that sent Me is true (John viii. 26); God is not as a man that He should lie, nor as the son of man that He should be changed. Hath He said then, and will He not do? hath He spoken, and will He not fulfil? (Numb. xxiii. 19. Cf. John iii. 33; Rom. iii. 4; Ps. cxliv. 13; Heb. x. 23; 2 Tim. ii. 13; Matt. xxiv. 35). Although every word of God is equal to an oath an oath being the invocation of God as a witness of the truth still God, condescending to human frailty, has given to his chief promises the form of an oath, swearing however by himself as there is no higher being. God, making promise to Abraham, because He had no one greater by whom He might swear, swore by himself (Heb. vi. 13).
SECT. 88. Efficacy of the Divine Will Its Dominion over Created Wills.
I. In all rational beings, the will is the determining principle of their external activity, the perfection of which is proportioned to the perfection of the will and of the person willing. The Divine Will, being in itself absolutely perfect and identical with the Divine Wisdom, Power, and Dignity, possesses the highest possible efficacy in its external operations: all being and all activity proceed from it, and are supported by it, so that nothing is done without its influence or permission. Sovereign control over every other will is exercised by the Divine Will, and is the brightest manifestation of its internal perfection. We are about to study this particular aspect of the Divine Will in its bearing upon the created will: its general efficacy has been dealt with in the section on Omnipotence.
II. The Divine Will exhibits to the created will the ideal of moral perfection and sanctity to be aimed at; and, in virtue of the absolute excellence and dominion of God, the decrees of His Will impose upon the created will a law which creatures are in duty bound to fulfil. The power of God is the only power which can impose a duty in virtue of its own excellence; wherefore also every duty ought to be founded upon the power of God as upon its binding principle. The created will is essentially dependent on no other will than the Divine, and no other will than the Will of God is absolutely worshipful. On the other hand, our notion of duty implies that we are bound to do, not only what we apprehend as most in harmony with the exigencies of our nature, but also what a superior Will, to which we are essentially subjected, and which we apprehend as absolutely worshipful, commands us to do. Other lawgivers can only impose obligations inasmuch as they represent God and act in His name; the exigencies of our nature are binding upon us only inasmuch as they express the Will of the Creator. Even the eternal rule of the Divine Wisdom, whereby God knows what is fitting for his creatures, only becomes law through the Divine Will commanding creatures to conform to it.
III. Again, the Divine Will acts on the created will in such a way as to move it intrinsically; that is, it influences the genesis and the direction of the acts of the human will. The created will owes its very existence and energy to the Will of God. Hence its active liberty or self-determination is the fruit of the activity of the Divine Will. The exercise of created liberty cannot be conceived independently of a Divine motive influence, so much so, that the good actions of the creature are in the first place actions of God. For the same reason, the Divine Will can move the human will, not merely from without by presenting to it motives or inducements to act, but also physically from within, so as to incline or even to impel the will to certain acts. Hence, again, the Divine Will has the power to prevent, by direct influence, all the acts of the human will which God will not permit, and to bring about all the acts which He desires to be performed, even so as to cause a complete reversion of the inclinations existing in the created will. All this God does without interfering with created freedom. He aims at and obtains the free performance of the acts in question. It is God Who worketh in you, both to will and to accomplish, according to This good will (Phil. ii. 13; cf. Isai. xxvi. 12; Prov. xxi. 1; Rom. xi. 23). This doctrine should inspire us with great confidence when praying for the conversion of obstinate sinners, or for our own conversion from inveterate evil habits: Ad Te nostras etiam rebelles compelle propitius voluntates! (Secret. Dom. iv. post Pent.). Cf. St. Thom., I. q. III, a. 2.
IV. Although, absolutely speaking, the decrees of the Divine Will are always efficacious and can never be frustrated through the interference of any other will, it is nevertheless true that, in more than one respect, not all that God wills is actually accomplished. The created will sometimes opposes the Will of the Creator, resisting it and rendering His intentions vain. We cannot, however, say that the created will overcomes the Divine Will, or that the latter is powerless. In order completely to understand this point the decrees of the Divine Will should be considered separately in their principal features.
1. The decrees relating to the moral order of the world are not always fulfilled in their first and original form that is, as expressing the moral law which God commands His creatures to follow: for creatures are physically free to refuse submission to the moral law of God. But by so doing they neither overcome the Divine Will nor do they prove it powerless. The Divine 'Will is not overcome, because from the beginning its decree is directed upon the alternative that either the creature shall voluntarily submit to the law, or shall be forced into submission to it by the Divine Justice. Nor is the Divine Will made powerless, because the power proper to the Divine decree is the imposition of an obligation, an obligation which binds the sinner even when he despises it. The ruling or governing decrees of the Divine Will are still less impaired by sin, because the permission of sin is included in these same decrees. Thus God always is the conqueror of sin and sinners.
2. The Divine decrees relating to the last end of rational creatures, in as far as they express the first and original intention of the Divine Will (which is that all men should be saved, I Tim. ii. 4), are likewise liable to be frustrated through the refusal of co-operation on the part of creatures. But here also the Divine Will asserts its power. The salvation of all mankind is subordinate to a higher object, viz. the glorification of God through rational creatures. But this higher object is always attained, either by the salvation or the just punishment of man. Furthermore, the will to save all mankind is not proved powerless by the refusal of co-operation on the part of man, because its essential efficacy only consists in making salvation possible to all men; nor does its sincerity require that God should procure unconditionally the co-operation of man. Besides, it is not want of power that prevents God from enforcing co-operation, but His free Will.
3. Lastly, the Divine decrees relating to the performance of acts dependent on human co-operation may also be frustrated in as far as they only conditionally intend the performance of these acts. The decrees do not always include the will to enforce co-operation, but only to assist it and to render it possible. Whenever the will to enforce co-operation is included, co-operation is infallibly secured, for, in this supposition, God makes such use of His power as to incline the will of man freely to co-operate in the desired action.
V. Are all good actions which actually take place the effect of a Divine decree enforcing free to co-operation? This is a question of detail, which cannot be solved off-hand by invoking the infallible efficacy of the Divine Will, and which it would be rash to answer at once in the affirmative. Some would hold that, besides the Divine decrees which God intends to be infallibly efficacious, there may be others likewise efficacious, although not intended to be so infallibly. Considering the way in which God wills, assists, and renders possible the good deeds of man, it is not easy to admit that only those good deeds should really be performed which God unconditionally desires to be performed. If this were the case, it would seem as if God were not in earnest when He renders possible a good deed without at the same time securing its actual accomplishment. To avoid this semblance it is best not to admit a Divine decree unconditional at the outset, but rather a general decree (or intention) conditional at the outset and made absolute by the prevision of the actual fulfilment of the condition. There still remains room for the display of a special mercy in the infallible prevention of abuses of freedom; whereas, on the other hand, the frustration of the conditional decree is exclusively attributable to the misuse of freedom. More on this subject will be found in the treatise on Grace.
In theological language the above doctrine is shortly formulated as follows : The Divine Will is not always fulfilled as Voluntas Antecedens, i.e. considered in its original designs, as they are before God takes into account the actual behaviour of created wills; it is always fulfilled as Voluntas Consequens, i.e. considered in its designs as they are after taking into account the actual behaviour of free creatures. The Voluntas Antecedens is a velle secundum quid (= conditional); the Voluntas Consequens is a velle simpliciter (= absolute). It should be noted that the terms Voluntas Antecedens and Consequens are not always used in the same sense by all theologians, because they do not all consider the same object as their term of comparison. See St. Bonaventure (in I. Sent., dist. 47, a. 1) for a beautiful exposition of the doctrine here in question.
SECT. 89.The Divine Will as Living Goodness and HolinessGod the Substantial Holiness.
I. As Holy Scripture expresses the whole perfection of the intellectual life of God by calling Him the Truth, so it describes the whole perfection of the life of His Will by calling Him Holy, pure and simple, or the Holy of Holies. I the Lord your God am holy (Lev. xix. 2; cf. 1 Pet. i. 16). The Holiness of God, however, is more than a direction of His Will upon, and conformity with, the good and the beautiful: it is the most intimate effective union with the most perfect objective goodness and beauty. God is the Holiness as He is the Truth.
The proposition, God is the Holiness, implies the three following constituents:
1. The life of the Divine Will is Holiness pure and simple and pre-eminently, because it is directed entirely, immediately, and exclusively on the infinite Goodness and Beauty of the Divine Essence, and is united with the Divine Beauty and Goodness in every conceivable manner, as complacency, love, and fruition ; hence the same attributes such as simplicity, infinity, and immutability are applicable to both the life of the Divine Will and the goodness and beauty of the Divine Substance.
2. The life of the Divine Will is essential Holiness, because it is essentially identical with the objective Goodness and Beauty of God, and not merely united to them.
3. It is Holiness by nature; that is, the Divine Nature contains Holiness as its proper energy. Holiness is a constituent element of the Divine Nature, whereas created nature possesses only a capacity for holiness. Thus, the Divine Holiness is a substantial Holiness, and God is Holiness just as He is Truth and Life.
It is evident that the eminent sanctity of God, as above described, is an attribute proper to Him alone.
II. As God is the substantial Holiness and, a fortiori the substantial Goodness, He is the Ideal and the source of all pleasure and love, of all joy and delight, of all the tendencies and appetites of creatures, which only acquire their goodness by adhering to goods outside and above them, and, in the last resort, by adhering to the Creator. Hence God's Goodness and Holiness, immovable in themselves, are the principle of all motion and of all rest in created life; and the life of creatures is but an exhalation from and a participation of the Substantial Goodness of God. This applies more particularly to the life of spiritual creatures, whose goodness consists in conformity with the life of God, and is the work of the life-giving influence of the Divine Goodness. God's bounty manifests its power and fecundity most in the supernatural order, by leading his spiritual creatures to a participation of His own life partakers of the Divine Nature (2 Pet. i. 4). That participation, however, by which the blessed spirits see God face to face and are filled with His own beatitude, is but accidental to them; it makes them godlike, but not gods. (This doctrine will be further developed in the treatises on the Trinity and on the Supernatural Order.)
SECT. 90. The Beatitude and Glory of the Divine Life.
I. God possesses, or rather is, infinite Beatitude and Glory. The life of God essentially consists in the most perfect knowledge and love of the most perfect goodness and beauty; a knowledge and love which confer the highest possible satisfaction, fruition and repose that is, the greatest beatitude. On the other hand, the activity of the Divine Life is resplendent with all the beauty of the Divine Intellect and the Divine Substance, and is there for the highest Glory. In a word, God is Beatitude and Glory, because He is Truth and Holiness. For this reason Scripture calls Him the Blessed God ([Greek word omitted], 1 Tim. i. 11, vi. 15); and often points out that He alone possesses glory pure and simple, because He alone is deserving of praise pure and simple. A created spirit neither possesses nor is entitled to a felicity and glory like the Divine. Even the felicity to which it is naturally or supernaturally destined is not intrinsically connected with its nature, but is acquired from without, under the helping and sustaining influence of God. The supernatural glory given by God to His creatures by admitting them to a participation of His own Beatitude, is a splendid manifestation of the Divine Glory, which again gives God the greatest external glory, and confers upon the creature the highest conceivable honour.
II. A deeper insight into the Divine Beatitude and glory will be gained from the following considerations.
1. The reason why the Divine Felicity is absolute is because God is Himself, and possesses in Himself, whatever can be the object of beatifying possession and fruition. He is the highest good; His Knowledge and Love of Himself adequately embrace Himself as the highest good, and thus constitute infinite honour, glory, and praise. Created beings can but imitate the glory which God draws from Himself. The possession of external goods adds nothing to the Divine Beatitude: they contribute to it only in so far as God knows and loves His power and dominion, of which external goods are manifestations; consequently they may not even be called accidental beatitude, because they are only an external revelation of the internal beatitude. The beatitude of created spirits is essentially relative. It is proportioned to their capacities and merits, and consists in the possession and fruition of external goods, in the last instance, of God, on which they are dependent for their felicity. To be loved and honoured by God is an element essential to the beatitude of creatures; nay, the highest delight of the beatified spirits is not caused by the fact that they possess the highest good, but by the fact that God possesses the highest Beatitude and Glory; they rejoice in their own felicity because they know that it contributes to the Glory of God.
2. The Divine Glory is also absolute, not only because it is the highest Glory, but because it finds in God himself an object of infinite beauty and splendour. Outside of God, there is nothing to which He owes any honour or glory; the glory which creatures deserve is a free gift of His Goodness, and is, in the last resort, the Glory of God Himself. Hence the glory of created spirits is purely relative.
Since the Beatitude and Glory of God are absolutely perfect in themselves, no Divine operation can tend to complete or to increase them. When God operates, He can only communicate out of His own perfection. But this communication takes place in two directions without and within. The necessary operation within, by which the fulness of God's Beatitude and Glory is communicated and revealed, forms the fundamental idea of the mystery of the Blessed Trinity.