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CHAPTER XCIXGod can work beyond the Order laid down for Creatures, and produce Effects without Proximate Causes

SINCE accidents follow upon the substantial principles of the thing, he who immediately produces the substance of a thing must be able immediately to work in the thing whatever effects follow upon substantial existence. But God by creation has brought all things immediately into being. He can therefore immediately move anything to any effect without intermediate causes.697697He who created matter, can move it. He who created the human soul, can speak to that soul, without need of creatures to be His intermediaries and messengers.

But if any one says that, once God has fixed an orderly course of events, He cannot change it without changing Himself; and that He would change Himself, if ever He worked in the world to the production of effects apart from their own proper causes, such a saying may be refuted by a study of nature. For the orderly course of events fixed by God, if we look at it as it obtains in creation, will be found to hold for the most part, but not everywhere or always:698698That is to say, the subordinate laws of nature operate under such a complication of conditions, that it is difficult to state them as universal principles. So Suarez, De Legibus, II, xiii-xv, speaking of the application of general moral principles to exceptional cases. for sometimes, although in a minority of cases, the thing 263turns out otherwise, either for lack of power in the agent, or for indisposition of the matter, or from some vis major supervening. Yet not on that account does the law of providence699699No, nor the law of physical nature either. There is no law of physical nature that every harvest shall ripen. Corn ‘tends’ to ripeness, and positis ponendis, in the absence of all counteracting causes, must actually ripen. Mill in his Logic has the remark, that the laws of nature are best expressed as ‘tendencies’ only. fail or suffer change: for it comes under providence that the natural course of things, instituted to hold usually,700700Or by us formulated and anticipated in view of what usually occurs. should sometimes fail. If therefore by the action of some created power the natural course of events may be altered from the usual to the unusual, and that without any alteration of divine providence, much more may the divine power sometimes do a thing, without prejudice to its own providence, beyond the course assigned to natural events by God. This God does at times to manifest His power: for there is no better way of manifesting the subjection of all nature to the divine will than by something being done at times beyond the course of nature: for thereby it appears that the course of events proceeds from Him, and is not of necessity of nature, but through free will.701701It is of the free will of God, — (a) that creatures exist at all: (b) that these creatures exist rather than those: (c) that these existent creatures were arranged, to begin with, in this rather than in that primitive collocation. Nor should this be accounted a frivolous reason to allege, that God works some effects in nature to the end of manifesting Himself to human minds, since it has been shown that all the material creation is subordinated to serve the end of intellectual nature, while the end of intellectual nature itself is the knowledge of God. No wonder then if some change is wrought in corporeal substance to afford intelligent nature a knowledge of God.


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