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CHAPTER LXXVIThat the Providence of God watches immediately over all Individual Things

IN matters of human administration, the higher administrator confines his care to the arrangement of general main issues, and leaves details to his subordinates, and that on account of his personal limitations, because, as for the state and condition of lesser things, he is either ignorant of them, or he cannot afford the labour and length of time that would be necessary to arrange for them. But such limitations are far from God: it is no labour for Him to understand, and it takes Him no time, since in understanding Himself He understands all things else (B. I, Chap. XLIX).

4. In human administrations, the industry and care of the lower officials arranges matters left to their charge by their chief. Their chief does not bestow upon them their faculty of industry and care, but merely allows it free play. If the industry and care came from their superior, the arrangement would be the superior’s arrangement; and they would not be authors of the arrangement, but carriers of it into execution. But we have seen (B. I, Chap. LI: B. III, Chap. LXVII) that all wisdom and intelligence comes from God above; nor can any intellect understand anything except in the power of God, nor any agent do anything except in the same power. God Himself therefore by His providence immediately disposes all things; and whoever are called providers under Him, are executors of His providence.663663How this stands with the permission of evil government and evil contrivance generally, see Chap. LXXXI.


7. If God does not by Himself take immediate care of lower individualities, that must be either because He despises them, or because He fears to sully His dignity, as some say.664664St Thomas refers to Averroes’s Comments on what was then counted the twelfth book of Aristotle’s Metaphysics. Against the same Commentator are directed B. I, Chapp. LXIV, LXV, LXX. But that is irrational, for there is greater dignity in devising an arrangement than in working one out. If then God works in all things, as has been shown (Chap. LXVII), and that is not derogatory to His dignity, nay rather befits His universal and sovereign power, an immediate providence over individual things is no contemptible occupation for Him either, and throws no slur upon His dignity.

Hence it is said: Thou hast done the things of old and hast devised one thing after another (Judith ix, 4).

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