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CHAPTER XXIXHow in the Production of a Creature there may be found a debt of Justice in respect of the necessary Sequence of something posterior upon something prior

I SPEAK here of what is prior, not in order of time merely, but by nature. The debt is not absolute, but conditional, of the form: ‘If this is to be, this must go before.’ According to this necessity a triple debt is found in the production of creatures. First, when the conditional proceeds from the whole universe of things to some particular part requisite for the perfection of the universe. Thus, if God willed the universe to be such as it is, it was due that He should make the sun and water and the like, without which the universe cannot be.239239True, but how differently one thinks and speaks when one has come to regard the sun as a small star in the Milky Way! The stellar universe would not miss it. Still, counting the sun a cosmically little thing, “these little things are great to little man.” Second, when the conditional proceeds from one creature to another. Thus, if God willed man to be, He was obliged to make plants and animals and such like, which man needs to his perfect being: though God has made both the one and the other out of His mere will. Third, when the conditional proceeds from the existence of the individual creature to its parts and properties and accidents, on which the creature depends for its being or perfection. Thus, supposing that God wished to make man, it was due, on this supposition, that He should unite in him soul and body, senses, and other appurtenances, intrinsic and extrinsic. In all these matters, rightly considered, God is not said to be a debtor to the creature, but a debtor to the fulfilment of His own plan.

On these explanations of the meaning of the term ‘debt’ and ‘due,’ natural justice is found in the universe both in respect of the creation of things and in respect of their propagation; and therefore God is said to have established and to govern all things justly and reasonably. Thus then is shut out a two-fold error: on the one hand of those who would limit the divine power, saying that God can do only as He does, because so He is bound to do; on the other, of those who say that all things follow on His sheer will, and that no other reason is to be sought or assigned in creation than that God wills it so.


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