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CHAPTER LVIIThat every Intelligence of every grade can be partaker of the vision of God

SINCE it is by supernatural light that a created intelligence is raised to the vision of the divine substance, there is no created intelligence so low in its nature as to be incapable of being raised to this vision. For that light cannot be connatural to any creature (Chap. LIV), but transcends the faculty of every created nature. But what is done by supernatural power is not hindered by diversity of nature, since divine power is infinite.614614There is some limit to the application of this principle. A dumb animal could not be raised to the supernatural order. Short of intellectual soul, there can be no sanctifying grace. Unless the mind’s eye be naturally open to intellectual truth, there is no means of opening it to the vision of God. Hence in the miraculous healing of the sick it makes no difference whether one be very ill or slightly indisposed. Therefore diversity of grade in intelligent nature is no hindrance to the lowest subject of such a nature being raised by that light to that vision.

2. The distance from God of the intelligence highest in order of nature is infinite in respect of perfection and goodness: whereas the distance of that intelligence from the very lowest intelligence is finite, for between finite and finite there cannot be infinite distance. The distance therefore between the lowest created intelligence and the highest is as nothing in comparison with the distance between the highest created intelligence and God. But what is as nothing can make no sensible variation, as the distance between the centre of the earth and our point of vision is as nothing in comparison with the distance between our point of vision and the eighth sphere, compared with which the whole earth counts as a point;615615The eighth sphere of solid crystal carried all the fixed stars, set in it like stones in a ring. Beyond that was a ninth: and the tenth and outermost sphere was the primum mobile, the daily rotation of which from east to west carried round the inferior spheres. This is called the Ptolemaic system, but the eight spheres already figure in Plato, Rep. x, 616d, 617. and therefore no sensible error follows from our astronomers in their calculations taking their point of observation for the centre of the earth.616616Disregarding parallax, — but the reckoning is with the ‘eighth sphere,’ ad quam tota terra comparata obtinet locum puncti. St Thomas had some inkling of the magnitude of the heavens. But what he calls tota terra in this relation is a vaster quantity, the orbit of the earth. Whatever intellect then is raised to the vision of God by the above mentioned light, — be it highest, or lowest, or middlemost, — it makes no difference.

3. Every intelligence naturally desires the vision of the divine substance (Chapp. XXV, L ). But a natural desire cannot be in vain. Any and every created intelligence then can arrive at the vision of the divine substance; and inferiority of nature is no impediment.

Hence the Lord promises to man the glory of the angels: They shall be as the angels of God in Heaven (Matt. xxii, 30); and in the Apocalypse the same measure is said to be of man and angel: the measure of a man, that is, of an angel (Apoc. xxi, 17). Therefore often in Holy Scripture the angels are described in the form of men, either entirely so, as with the angels who appeared to Abraham (Gen. xviii), or partially, as with the living creatures of whom it is said that the hand of a man was under their wings (Ezech. i, 8).

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