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CHAPTER LXXXIXThat the Motion of the Will is caused by God, and not merely by the Power of the Will

SOME, not understanding how God can cause the movement of the will in us without prejudice to the freedom of the will,671671This is precisely the point upon which the Thomists and Molinists, not understanding it, or at any rate not agreeing in one understanding of it, opened a controversy which has stood open for three centuries have endeavoured to pervert the meaning of these texts, saying that God causes in us to will and to accomplish, inasmuch as He gives us the power of willing, but not as making us will this or that. Hence some have said that providence is not concerned with the subject-matter of free will, that is, with choices, but with extrinsic issues: for he who makes choice of something to gain or something to accomplish, for instance, building or the amassing of wealth, will not always be able to attain his end, and thus the issues of our actions are not subject to free will, but are disposed by providence.672672This reads like an early version of the saying, Man proposes, but God disposes, interpreted to mean that man’s proposing is not of God. We must remember that man is upheld by God in action as he is upheld by God in existence: that esse, posse, agere in man are all of God. Sin is a certain defect of action, a lack of proportion, of order, or opportuneness. But on its physical side sin is not evil, and as a physical thing it is wrought by God and man jointly, like any other action.

1. But this theory runs manifestly counter to texts of Holy Scripture. For it is said: All our works thou hast wrought in us, O Lord (Isai. xxvi, 12): hence we have of God not merely the power of willing, but also the act. And the above quoted saying of Solomon, he shall turn it whithersoever he will, shows that the divine causality extends at once to will-power and to actual volition.

2. Nothing can act in its own strength unless it act also in the power of God (Chap. LXVI): therefore man cannot use the will-power given to him except in so far as he acts in the power of God.

4. God is the cause of all action, and works in every agent (Chap. LXX): therefore He is cause of the motives of the will.

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