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CHAPTER XCIIIThat in God there are the Virtues which regulate Action

THERE are virtues directing the active life of man, which are not concerned with passions, but with actions, as truth, justice, liberality, magnificence, prudence, art. Since virtue is specified by its object, and the actions which are the objects of these virtues are not inconsistent with the divine perfection, neither is there in such virtues, specifically considered, anything to exclude them from the perfection of God.

3. Of things that come to have being from God, the proper plan of them all is in the divine understanding (Chap. LXVI). But the plan of a thing to be made in the mind of the maker is Art: hence the Philosopher says that Art is “the right notion of things to be made.” There is therefore properly Art in God, and therefore it is said: Wisdom, artificer of all, taught me (Wisd. vii, 21).

4. Again, the divine will, in things outside God, is determined by His knowledge (Chap. LXXXII). But knowledge directing the will to act is Prudence: because, according to the Philosopher, Prudence is “the right notion of things to be done.” There is therefore Prudence in God; and hence it is said: With him is prudence (Job xii, 13).

5. From the fact of God wishing anything, He wishes the requisites of that thing. But the points requisite to the perfection of each several thing are due to that thing: there is therefore in God Justice, the function of which is to distribute to each his own. Hence it is said: The Lord is just, and hath loved justice (Ps. x, 8).

6. As shown above (Chapp. LXXIV, LXXV), the last end, for the sake of which God wills all things, in no way depends on the means to that end, neither in point of being nor in point of well-being. Hence God does not wish to communicate His goodness for any gain that may accrue to Himself thereby, but simply because the mere communication befits Him as the fountain of goodness. But to give, not from any advantage expected from the gift, but out of sheer goodness and the fitness of giving, is an act of Liberality. God therefore is in the highest degree liberal;182182Deus igitur est maxime liberalis. ‘Liberal,’ as an adjective, may connote either liberalism or (as here) liberality. and, as Avicenna 70says, He alone can properly be called liberal: for every other agent but Him is in the way of gaining something by his action and intends so to gain. This His liberality the Scripture declares, saying: As thou openest thy hand, all things shall be filled with goodness (Ps. ciii, 28) ; and, Who giveth to all abundantly, and reproacheth not (James i, 5).

7. All things that receive being from God, necessarily bear His likeness, in so far as they are, and are good, and have their proper archetypes in the divine understanding (Chap. LIV). But this belongs to the virtue of Truth, that every one should manifest himself in his deeds and words for such as he really is. There is therefore in God the virtue of Truth.183183See my Ethics and Natural Law, pp.228, 229. Hence, God is true (Rom. iii, 4); and, All thy ways are truth (Ps. cxviii, 151).

In point of exchange, the proper act of commutative justice, justice does not befit God, since He receives no advantage from any one; hence, Who hath first given to him, and recompense shall be made him? (Rom. xi, 35;) and, Who bath given to me beforehand, that I may repay him? (Job xli, 2.) Still, in a metaphorical sense, we are said to give things to God, inasmuch as He takes kindly what we have to offer Him. Commutative justice therefore does not befit God, but only distributive justice.184184Ethics and Natural Law, pp. 104-106. A corollary follows, that the creature has no rights against the Creator.

To judge of things to be done, or to give a thing, or make a distribution, is not proper to man alone, but belongs to any and every intellectual being. Inasmuch therefore as the aforesaid actions are considered in their generality, they have their apt place even in divinity: for as man is the distributer of human goods, as of money or honour, so is God of all the goods of the universe. The aforesaid virtues therefore are of wider extension in God than in man: for as the justice of man is to a city or family, so is the justice of God to the entire universe: hence the divine virtues are said to be archetypes of ours. But other virtues, which do not properly become God, have no archetype in the divine nature, but only, as is the case with corporeal things generally, in the divine wisdom, which contains the proper notions of all things.185185‘The divine nature’ is here spoken of as nature’ is technically defined ‘the principle of action.’ Such a virtue as temperance has no place in the principle of divine action. Bodily appetites not being proper to His being, God never acts the temperate man. He does act the just judge.


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