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CHAPTER LXXIXThat God wills things even that as yet are not

SOME one might perhaps think that God wills only the things that are: for correlatives go together; and if one perishes, the other perishes; if then willing supposes a relation of the willing subject to the object willed, none can will any but things that are. Besides, the will and its objects are to one another as Creator and creature: now God cannot be called Creator, or Lord, or Father, except of things that are: neither then can He be said to will any but things that are. And it may be further argued, that if the divine will is invariable, as is the divine being, and wills only actual existences, it wills nothing but what always is.

Let us say then in answer to these objections, that as good apprehended by the intellect moves the will, the act of the will must follow the condition of the mental apprehension. Now the mind apprehends the thing, not only as it is in the mind, but also as it is in its own nature: for we not only know that the thing is understood by us (for that is the meaning of its being ‘in the mind’), but also that the thing exists, or has existed, or is to exist in its own nature. Though then at the time the thing has no being other than in the mind, still the mind stands related to it, not as it is in the mind, but as it is in its own nature, which the mind apprehends. Therefore the relation of the divine will to a non-existent thing is to the thing according as it is in its own nature, attached to some certain time, and not merely to the thing as it is in the knowledge of God. For God wills the thing, that is not now, to be in some certain time: He does not merely will it inasmuch as He Himself understands it.154154God wills the thing, not merely, to be in His eternal understanding of it; but to be in rerum natura at some fixed time; and (contrary to what idealists generally hold) its existence in rerum natura is other than its existence in the divine understanding.

Nor is the relation of the will to its object similar to the relation of Creator to creature, of Maker to made, of Lord to subject. For will, being an immanent act, does not involve the actual external existence of the thing willed:155155And yet, “If He willed them, those creatures would exist” (Chap. LXXXI, n. 3), — Of course, for such time as God’s will determined for them to exist in. This touches the difficult point of the distinction, if any is to be drawn, between the will and the power of the Almighty. whereas making and creating and governing do signify an action terminated to an external effect, such that without its existence such action is unintelligible.


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