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CHAPTER LXXXIXThat there are no Passions in God

PASSION is not in the intellectual appetite, but only in the sensitive. But in God there is no sensitive appetite, as there is no sensible knowedge.

2. Every passion involves some bodily alteration,170170What Alexander Bain calls “the diffusive wave of emotion.” Bodily expression is of the essence of a passion. A passion is as much corporeal as a sensation. a thing impossible in the incorporeal Deity.

3. In every passion the subject is more or less drawn out of his essential condition or connatural disposition: which is not possible in the unchangeable God.171171Passion is a disturbance of physical equilibrium. Hence it comes to be forbidden by physicians; and may, as St Thomas says, accelerate dissolution.

4. Every passion fixes determinedly on some one object, according to the mode and measure of the passion. Passion, like physical nature, rushes blindly at some one thing: that is why passion needs repressing and regulating by reason. But the divine will is not determined of itself to any one object in creation: but proceeds according to the order of its wisdom (Chap. LXXXII).

5. Every passion is the passion of a subject that is in potentiality. But God is altogether free from potentiality, being pure actuality.

Thus every passion, generically as such, is removed from God. But certain passions are removed from God, not only generically, but also specifically. For every passion takes its species from its object: if then an object is altogether unbefitting for God, the passion specified by that object is removed from God also on specific grounds. Such a passion is Sadness and Grief, the object of which is evil already attaching to the sufferer. Hope, again, though it has good for its object, is not of good obtained, but to be obtained, a relation to good which is unbefitting for God by reason of His so great perfection, to which addition is impossible. Much more does that perfection exclude any potentiality in the way of evil. But Fear regards an evil that may be imminent. In two ways then Fear, specifically as such, is removed from God, both because it supposes a subject that is in potentiality, and because it has for its object some evil that may come to be in the subject. Regret again, or Repentance, is repugnant to God, as well because it is a species of sadness, as also because it involves a change of will.


Moreover, without an error of the intellectual faculty, it is impossible for good to be mistaken for evil. And only in respect of private advantages is it possible for the loss of one being to be the gain of another. But to the general good nothing is lost by the good of any private member; but every private good goes to fill in the public good.172172As the flood-tide is ‘filled in’ (repraesentatur) by every advancing wave. The axiom should go down in the pocket-book of the economist. But God is the universal good, by partaking in whose likeness all other things are called good. No other being’s evil then can possibly be good for God. Nor again, seeing that God’s knowledge makes no mistakes, can He apprehend as evil that which is simply good, and no evil to Him. Envy therefore is impossible to God, specifically as Envy, not only because it is a species of sadness, but also because it is sadness at the good of another, and thus takes the good of another as evil to itself.173173The Greek dread is well known of the envy, or evil eye, of Heaven lighting upon any exuberance of human prosperity. See the story of Polycrates and his ring in Herodotus, III, 41. Julius Caesar and Augustus felt this dread, nor is it yet extinct. Aeschylus philosophises upon it (Agam. 750-762). Cf. Daniel iv, 29-34; St Luke xii, 16-21.

It is part of the same procedure to be sad at good and to desire evil. Such sadness arises from good being accounted evil: such desire, from evil being accounted good. Now Anger is desire of the evil of another for vengeance’ sake. Anger then is far from God by reason of its species, not only because it is a species of sadness, but also because it is a desire of vengeance, conceived for sadness at an injury done one.

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