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CHAPTER XXVIIIThat God has not brought things into being in discharge of any Debt of Justice

JUSTICE is to another, rendering him his due. But, antecedently to the universal production of all things, nothing can be presupposed to which anything is due.

2. An act of justice must be preceded by some act, whereby something is made another’s own; and that act, whereby first something is made another’s own, cannot be an act of justice.238238Justice does not provide the first occupation but is Conversant with the maintenance or transference of titles already existent. But by creation a created thing first begins to have anything of its own. Creation then cannot proceed from any debt of justice.

3. No man owes anything to another, except inasmuch as he in some way depends on him, receiving something from him. Thus every man is in his neighbour’s debt on God’s account; from whom we have received all things. But God depends on none, and needs nothing of any.

5. Though nothing created precedes the universal production of all things, something uncreated does precede it: for the divine goodness precedes as the end and prime motive of creation, according to Augustine, who says: “Because God is good, we exist” (De Verb. Apost. Serm. 13). But the divine goodness needs nothing external for its perfection. Nor is it necessary, for all that God wills His own goodness, that He should will the production of things other than Himself. God wills His own goodness necessarily, but He does not necessarily will other things. Therefore the production of creatures is not a debt of necessity to the divine goodness. But, taking justice in the wider sense of the term, there may be said to be justice in the creation of the world, inasmuch as it befits the divine goodness.

7. But if we consider the divine plan, according as God has planned it in His understanding and will to bring things into being, from that point of view the production of things does proceed from the necessity of the divine plan (B. I, Chap. LXXXIII): for it is impossible for God to have planned the doing of anything, and afterwards not to do it. Thus fulfilment is necessarily due to His every plan. But this debt is not sufficient to constitute a claim of justice, properly so called, in the action of God creating the world: for justice, properly so called, is not of self to self.

Hence it is said: Who hath first given to Him, and recompense shall be made him? (Rom. xi, 35.) Who hath first given to me, that I may repay him? (Job xli, 2.)


Hereby is shut out the error of some who have tried to prove that God can do no otherwise than as He does, because He can do no otherwise than as He owes, or ought.

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