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CHAPTER LXXXIThat God does not of necessity love other things than Himself

A WILL does not of necessity tend to the means to an end, if the end can be had without those means. Since then the divine Goodness can be without other beings, — nay, other beings make no addition to it, — God is under no necessity of willing other things from the fact of His willing His own goodness.

2. Since good, understood to be such, is the proper object of the will, the will may fasten on any object conceived by the intellect in which the notion of good is fulfilled. Hence though the being of anything, as such, is good, and its not-being, as such, is evil; still the very not- being of a thing may become an object to the will, though not of necessity, by reason of some notion of good fulfilled: for it is good for a thing to be, even though some other thing is not.156156How can mere not-being, as such, be an object of the will at all? St Thomas perhaps is speaking of two existences incompatible with one another. But it is well to remark, there is a difference between not-willing, which is a mere vacuity of will, and willing-not, which is a positive act of will. The question may be raised, whether for things possible, but eternally non existent, any divine decree is requisite to keep them out of existence. Is it not enough that there is no decree to call them into existence? Or is such a decree of exclusion rendered requisite by the conjuntion of a perfect will with a perfect actual knowledge? Anyhow God is under no antecedent necessity of decreeing the existence of any creature, because He is well enough without creatures, supremely self-sufficient and independent of all creation: which independence and self-sufficiency is the root of the divine free-will ad extra: which free-will again alone bars pantheism, disconcerts idealism (by taking away the determinism to which it leads), saves the notion of a Personal God, and with it prayer, miracles, Christianity. The only good then which the will by the terms of its constitution cannot wish not to be, is the good whose non-existence would destroy the notion of good altogether. Such a good is no other than God. The will then by its constitution can will the non-existence of anything else except of God.157157A perverse will can will the non-existence of God Himself. St Thomas is speaking of the normal will, which takes a right view of God, as the perverse will does not. But in God there is will according to the fulness of the power of willing. God then can will the non-existence of any other being besides Himself.

3. God in willing His own goodness wills also other things than Himself as sharing His goodness. But since the divine goodness is infinite, and partakable in infinite ways, if by the willing of His own goodness He of necessity willed the beings that partake of it, the absurdity would follow that He must will the existence of infinite creatures sharing His goodness in infinite ways: because, if He willed them, those creatures would exist, since His will is the principle of being to creatures.

We must consider therefore why God of necessity knows other beings than Himself, and yet does not of necessity will them to exist, notwithstanding that His understanding and willing of Himself involves His understanding and willing other beings. The reason of it is this: an intelligent agent’s understanding anything arises from a certain condition of the understanding, — for by a thing being actually understood its likeness is in the mind: but a volitional agent’s willing anything arises from a certain condition of the object willed, — for we will a thing either because it is an end, or because it is a means to an end. Now the divine perfection necessarily requires that all things should so be in God as to be understood in Him. But the divine goodness does not of necessity require that other things should exist to be referred to Him as means to an end; and therefore it is necessary 61that God should know other things, but not that He should will other things.158158It is necessary that He should know other things as intelligible and possible, not that He should will other things to come to actual existence. Once more the ideal order is necessary, but not the actual order of creation. The one necessary actuality is God. Though creatures are means to God’s end, they are not necessary means to any necessary end of His: therefore their existence is not necessarily willed by Him, albeit their possibility is necessarily discerned. Hence neither does He will all things that are referable to His goodness: but He knows all things which are in any way referable to His essence, whereby He understands.


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