Question Twenty-Three: God’s Will
Does it belong to God to have a will?
Can the divine will be distinguished into antecedent and consequent?
Is God’s will suitably divided into His embracing will and His indicative will?
Does God of necessity will whatever He wills?
Does the divine will impose necessity upon the things willed?
Does justice as found among created things depend simply upon the divine will?
Are we obliged to conform our will to the divine will?
Are we obliged to conform our will to the divine will as regards its object so as to be bound to will what we know God wills?
The question is about God’s will,
and in the first article we ask:
Does it belong to God to have a will?
[Parallel readings: I Sent., 45, a. 1; C.G., I, 72 & 73; IV, 19; S.T., I, 19, 1; Comp. theol., I, 32-34.]
It seems that it does not, for
1. It belongs to everyone who has a will to act according to the choice of his will.,But God does not act according to the choice of His will; for, as Dionysius says, just as our visible sun enlightens all things, not by reasoning or choosing, but by its very being, so too does the divine goodness. It therefore does not belong to God to have a will.
2. Necessary effects cannot come from a contingent cause. But the will is a contingent cause, since it is open to alternatives. It cannot, then, be the cause of necessary things. But God is the cause of all things, necessary as well as contingent. He therefore does not act through a will, and so the conclusion is the same as before.
3. Nothing which implies a reference to a cause belongs to that which has no cause. But since God is the first cause of all things, He has no cause. Now a will implies a relationship to a final cause, because the will is referred to an end, as the Philosopher says. It therefore seems that will does not pertain to God.
4. According to the Philosopher, what is voluntary deserves praise or blame; what is involuntary deserves pardon and mercy. Voluntariness therefore does not belong to anything to which praiseworthiness does not belong. But praiseworthiness does not belong to God because, as is said in the Ethics, praise is not for the best, but for those things which are directed to the best. Honor is for the best. It therefore does not belong to God to have a will.
5. Opposites have reference to the same thing. But two species of the involuntary are opposed to the voluntary, as is said in the Ethics: the involuntary “from violence” and the involuntary “from ignorance.” Now nothing involuntary from violence is attributable to God because force cannot be applied to Him; nor is anything involuntary from ignorance, because He knows everything. Then neither is anything voluntary attributable to God.
6. As is said in The Rules of Faith, there are two kinds of will: affective, regarding internal acts, and effective, regarding external acts. Affective will works for merit, as is said there; effective will achieves merit. But it does not belong to God to merit. Then neither does it belong to Him in any way to have a will.
7. God is an unmoved mover because, in the words of Boethius, “while remaining immobile He communicates motion to all things.” But a will is a moved mover, as is said in The Soul. Hence the Philosopher likewise argues from the principle that God is an unmoved mover to show that He moves only by being desired and known. It therefore does not belong to God to have a will.
8. Will is a sort of appetite, for it is included in the appetitive part of the soul. But appetite is an imperfection, since it is directed to what is not had, as Augustine points out. Since no imperfection is found in God, it therefore seems that it does not belong to Him to have a will.
9. Nothing that has reference to opposites seems to belong to God, since things having such reference are subject to generation and corruption. But God is far removed from these. Now the will has reference to opposites, since it is numbered among the rational powers, and these are open to opposite determinations according to the Philosopher.” Will is therefore not attributable to God.
10. Augustine says that God is not disposed in one way to things when they are and in another when they are not. But when they are not, God does not want things to be; for, if He willed them to be, they would be. Therefore even when they are, God does not will them to be.
11. It is compatible with God to perfect but not to be perfected. It belongs to the will, however, to be perfected by good, as to the intellect to be perfected by truth. Will is therefore not compatible with God.
To the Contrary
1. In one of the Psalms (113:3) it is said that the Lord “hath done all things whatsoever he would.” From this it appears that He has a will and that created things exist by His will.
2. Happiness is found most perfectly in God. But happiness demands will, because according to Augustine a happy person is one “who has whatever he wishes and wishes no evil.” Will therefore belongs to God.
3. Wherever more perfect conditions for willing are found, will exists in a more perfect way. But in God the conditions for willing are found most perfectly. In Him there is no separation of the will from its subject, because His essence is His will. There is no separation of the will from its act, because His action also is His essence. There is no separation of the will from the end, its object, because His will is His goodness. Therefore will is found most perfectly in God.
4. Will is the root of freedom. But freedom belongs especially to God. In the words of the Philosopher, “a free person is one who is for his own sake,” and this is most true of God. Will is therefore found in God.
Will is most properly found in God. In support of this it should be noted that knowledge and will in a spiritual substance are founded upon its different relations to things. There is one relation of a spiritual substance to things according as the things are in some sense within the spiritual substance itself, not indeed in their own existence, as the ancients held, saying that by earth we know earth and by water, water, etc., but in their distinctive intelligible design. “For a stone is not in the soul, but its species is” (that is, its intelligible design), as the Philosopher taught. Because the intelligible design of a being cannot be found by itself without a subject except in an immaterial substance, knowledge is not attributed to all things but only to immaterial beings. And the degree of knowledge parallels the degree of immateriality so that the things which are most immaterial are most capable of knowledge. Because their essence is immaterial, it serves them as a medium for knowing. Through His essence God knows Himself and all other things. Will, however, and any appetite is based upon the relation by which a spiritual substance is oriented to things as existing in themselves.
Inasmuch as it is characteristic of any being, whether material or immaterial, to have some reference to something else, it accordingly follows that it pertains to everything whatever to have an appetite, natural or animal or rational (that is, intellectual); but in different beings it is found in different ways. Since a thing has its reference to another being through something which it has within itself, its different ways of being referred to another correspond to the different ways in which it has something within itself.
Whatever is in material things is in them as bound up and compounded with matter. The reference of material beings to other things is accordingly not free but dependent upon the necessity of a natural disposition. Material beings are therefore not the cause of their own reference as if they directed themselves to the end to which they are in fact directed. They receive that direction from elsewhere, namely, the source from which they get their natural disposition. They are consequently able to have only a natural appetite.
In immaterial and knowing substances, on the other hand, there is found something in the pure state and not compounded or tied up with matter. This is proportioned to the degree of their immateriality. By this very fact, too, they are referred to things by a free reference of which they are the cause, directing themselves to that to which they are referred. It is accordingly their lot to do or seek something voluntarily and of their own accord. If the house” in the mind of the builder were a material form having a determinate act of being, it would incline him only in accordance with its own determinate mode of existence. Hence the builder would not remain free to make the house or not, or to make it in this way or in some other. But because the form of the house in the mind of the builder is the plan of the house taken absolutely, of itself not disposed any more to existence than to non-existence or to existence in one particular way rather than in another as far as the accidental features of the house go, the builder’s inclination in regard to making the house or not remains free.
In the case of a sentient spiritual substance, however, the forms, though received without matter, are nevertheless, as a consequence of their being received in a bodily organ, not received altogether immaterially and without the conditions of matter. Their inclination is for this reason not altogether free, though they have a certain imitation or semblance of freedom. They incline appetitively to something by themselves inasmuch as they desire something as a result of their apprehension; but it does not lie within their competence to incline or not to incline to that which they desire. But in an intellectual nature, in which something is received altogether immaterially, the essence of a free inclination is found perfectly verified. And this free inclination is what constitutes the essential character of will.
Will is accordingly not attributed to material things, though natural appetite is. To a sensitive soul there is attributed not will but animal appetite. Only to an intellectual substance is will attributed; and the more immaterial this substance is, the more the essence of will belongs to it. Consequently, since God is at the extreme of immateriality, the essential character of will supremely and most properly belongs to Him.
Answers to Difficulties
1. By the words cited Dionysius does not mean to exclude will and choice from God but to show His universal influence upon things, God does not communicate His goodness to things in such a way that He chooses certain ones to receive a share in His goodness and excludes others completely from a share in it; but He “giveth to all... abundantly,” as is said in the Epistle of St. James (1:5). He is, however, said to choose in this respect, that in the order of His wisdom he gives more to some than to others.
2. The will of God is not a contingent cause, inasmuch as what He wills He wills immutably. By reason of its very immutability necessary things can be caused. This is of particular importance since of itself no created thing is necessary but is possible in itself and necessary through something else.
3. The will is directed to something in two ways: (1) principally, and(2) secondarily. Principally the will is directed to the end, which is the reason for willing everything else. Secondarily it is directed to the means, which we want for the sake of the end. Now the will does not stand in a relationship of an effect to a cause in regard to its secondary object, but only in regard to its principal object, the end. It should be noticed, however, that the will and its object are sometimes really distinct, and in that case the object is related to the will as its real final cause. But if the will and its object arc only conceptually distinct, the object will then not be the final cause of the will except according to our way of expressing it.
The divine will is accordingly referred to God’s goodness as to an end, whereas the two are really identical. They are distinguished only in our manner of speaking. There accordingly remains only the conclusion that nothing is really the cause of the divine will, but it is a cause only in our manner of designating it. Nor is it out of place for something to be designated after the manner of a cause in regard to God. It is in this way for instance, that deity is spoken of as if it were related to God as His formal cause.
The created things which God wills, however, are not related to the divine will as ends but as directed to an end. God wills creatures to exist in order that His goodness may be manifested in them, and that His goodness, which in its essence cannot be multiplied, may be poured out upon many at least by a participation through likeness.
4. If praise is taken strictly, as the Philosopher takes it, it is not due to the will in every one of its acts but only in that in which the will regards the means to an end. It is clear that an act of the will is found not only in virtuous deeds, which are praiseworthy, but also in the act of happiness, which is concerned with honorable things; for happiness obviously involves pleasure. And yet praise is attributed to God too, since we are invited in many places in Holy Scripture to praise God. But in this case praise is taken more broadly than the Philosopher takes it.—Or it can be said that praise, even in its proper sense, is attri6utable to God in so far as by His will He directs creatures to Himself as their end.
5. [This answer is lacking.]
6. There is in God both affective and effective will, for He wills to will and He wills to do what He does. But it is not necessary that, wherever there is either one of these types of will, merit be found, but only in an imperfect nature which is tending to perfection.
7. When the object of the will is distinct from the will itself, the object really moves the will. But when it is identical with the will, then it moves it only in our way of speaking. And in regard to this way of speaking, in the opinion of the Commentator there is verified the saying of Plato that the first mover moves itself inasmuch as it understands and wills itself. Nor does it follow from the fact that God wills creatures to be that He is moved by creatures, because He does not will the creatures except by reason of His own goodness, as has been said.
8. It is by one and the same nature that a thing both moves toward a term which it does not yet possess and reposes in a term which it has already come to possess. It is accordingly the function of one and the same power to tend to a good when it is not yet had, and to love it and take pleasure in it after it is had. Both belong to the appetitive power, though it gets its name rather from that act by which it tends to what it does not have. That is why appetite is said to belong to what is imperfect. But will is equally applicable to both. Hence will in its proper meaning is attributable to God, but not appetite.
9. It is not compatible with God to have reference to opposites as regards the things that are in His essence; but He can have opposite dispositions as regards His effects in creatures, which He can produce or not.
10. Even when God is not producing things, He wants things to be; but He does not want them to be at that time. The argument accordingly proceeds from a false supposition.
11. God cannot really be perfected by anything; yet in our manner of expressing it He is sometimes referred to as being perfected by something; for example, when I say that God understands something. The intelligible object is the perfection of the intellect just as the willed object is the perfection of the will. In God, however, the first intelligible object and the intellect are identical, and also the first object willed and the will.
Q. 23: God’s Will
In the second article we ask:
Can the divine will be distinguished into antecedent and consequent?
[Parallel readings: I Sent., 46, a. 1; 47, 22. 2 & 3; In I Timoth., c. 2, lect. 1 (P 13: 593b); S.T., I, 19, 6 ad 1.]
It seems that it cannot, for
1. Order presupposes distinction. But in the divine will there is no distinction, since in one simple act it wills everything which it wills. Therefore antecedent and consequent, whch imply order, are not found in the divine will.
2. The answer was given that, although there is no distinction in the divine will on the part of the one Willing, there is no the part of the things willed.—On the contrary, order can be held to be in the will on the part of the things willed in only two ways: either in regard to different things willed or in regard to one and the same thing willed. If this order is taken in regard to different things willed, it follows that the will will be said to be antecedent concerning the first creatures and consequent concerning those which follow. But this is false. If, however, this order is taken in regard to one and the same thing willed, this can only be according to different circumstances considered in that thing. But this cannot put any distinction or order in the will, since the will is referred to the thing as existing in its own nature whereas the thing in its own nature is enmeshed in all its conditions. In no sense, therefore, should antecedent and consequent be affirmed of the divine will.
3. Knowledge and power are referred to creatures in just the same way as will. But we do not distinguish God’s knowledge and power into antecedent and consequent on the basis of the order of creatures. Then neither should His will be so distinguished.
4. Whatever is not subject to change or hindrance by another is not judged according to that other but only in itself. Now the divine will cannot be changed or hindered by anything. It should not, therefore, be judged according to anything else but only in itself. But according to Damascene “antecedent will” is spoken of in God “as arising from Him; consequent will, as arising because of us.” Consequent will should therefore not be distinguished in God from antecedent will.
5. In the affective power there does not seem to be any order except that derived from the cognitive, because order pertains to reason. But we do not attribute to God ordered cognition, which is reasoning, but rather simple cognition, which is understanding. Then neither should we affirm the order of antecedent and consequent of His will.
6. Boethius says that God “beholds all things in a single look of His mind.” In like fashion, then, with one simple act of His will He reaches out to everything which He wills; and so antecedent and consequent should not be affirmed of His will.
7. God knows things in Himself and in their own nature; and although they are in their own nature only after being in the Word, even so the distinction of antecedent and consequent is not affirmed of God’s knowledge. Then neither should it be affirmed of His will.
8. The divine will, like the divine existence, is measured by eternity. But the duration of the divine existence, because measured by eternity, is all simultaneous, having no before and after. Then neither should antecedent and consequent be placed in the divine will.
To the Contrary
l. Damascene says that it should be noted that “God wills all to be saved by His antecedent will,” and not by His consequent will, as he adds just afterwards. The distinction of antecedent and consequent therefore applies to the divine will.
2. There is in God an eternal habitual will inasmuch as He is God, and an actual will inasmuch as He is the Creator, willing things actually to be. But this latter will is compared to the former as consequent to antecedent. Antecedent and consequent are therefore found in the divine will.
The divine will is fittingly distinguished into antecedent and consequent. An understanding of this distinction is to be got from thee words of Damascene, who introduced it. He says: “Antecedent will is God’s acceptance of something on His own account,” whereas consequent will is a concession on our account.
For the clarification of this point it should be noted that in any action there is something to be considered on the part of the agent and something on the part of the recipient. The agent is prior to the product and more important. Thus what pertains to the maker is naturally prior to what pertains to the thing made. It is evident in the operation of nature, for instance, that the production of a perfect animal depends upon the formative power, which is found in the semen; but it occasionally happens because of the matter receiving it, which is sometimes indisposed, that a perfect animal is not produced. This happens, for example, in the births of monsters. We accordingly say that it is by the primary intention of nature that a perfect animal is produced, but that the production of an imperfect animal is by the secondary intention of nature, which gives to the matter what it is capable of receiving, since it is unable because of the indisposition of the matter to give it the form of the perfect state.
In God’s operation in regard to creatures similar factors must be taken into account. Though in His operation He requires no matter, and created things originally without any pre-existing, matter, nevertheless He now works in the things which He first created, governing them in accordance with the nature which He previously gave them. And although He could remove from His creatures every obstacle by which they are made incapable of perfection, yet in the order of His wisdom He disposes of things conformably to their state, giving to each one in accordance with its own capacity.
That to which God has destined the creature as far as He is concerned is said to be willed by Him in a primary intention or antecedent will. But when the creature is held back from this end because of its own failure, God nonetheless fulfills in it that amount of goodness of which it is capable. This pertains to His secondary intention and is called His consequent will. Because, then, God has made all men for happiness, He is said to will the salvation of all by His antecedent will. But because some work against their own salvation, and the order of His wisdom does not admit of their attaining salvation in view of their failure, He fulfills in them in another way the demands of His goodness, damning them out of justice. As a result, falling short of the first order of His will, they thus slip into the second. And although they do not do God’s will, His will is still fulfilled in them. But the failure constituting sin, by which a person is made deserving of punishment here and now or in the future, is not itself willed by God with either an antecedent or a consequent will; it is merely permitted by Him.
It should not, however, be concluded from what has just been said that God’s intention can be frustrated, because from all eternity God has foreseen that the one who is not saved would not be saved. Nor did He’ordain that particular one for salvation in the order of predestination, which is the order of His absolute will. But as far as He was concerned, He gave that creature a nature intended for happiness.
Answers to Difficulties
1. In the divine will neither the order nor the distinction is in the act of the will but only in the things willed.
2. The order of the divine will is not based upon the different objects of the will but upon the different factors found in one and the same object. For example, by His antecedent will God wants a certain man to be saved by reason of his human nature, which He made for salvation; but by His consequent will He wishes him to be damned because of the sins which are found in him. Now although the thing to which the act of the will is directed exists with all its conditions, it is not necessary that every one of those conditions which are found in the object should be the reason which moves the will. Wine, for instance, does not move the appetite of the drinker by reason of its power of inebriating but by reason of its sweetness, although both factors are found together in it.
3. The divine will is the immediate principle of creatures, ordering the divine attributes (as we must conceive the matter) in so far as they are applied to operation; for no power passes into operation unless it is regulated by knowledge and determined by the will to do something. The order of things is accordingly referred to God’s will rather than to His power or knowledge.—Or the answer may be given that the essence of willing consists in a reference of the one willing to things themselves, as has been said. But things are said to be known or possible for a given agent in so far as they are within its knowledge or its power. Things do not have any order as they are in God but as they are in themselves. Thus the order of things is not attributed to His knowledge or to His power but only to His will.
4. Although the divine will is not hindered or changed by anything else, yet in the order of wisdom it is directed to a thing in accordance with its state. In this way something is attributed to the divine will because of us.
5. That difficulty argues from the order of the will on the part of its act. But the order of antecedent and consequent is not found in it from that point of view.
6. The same is to be said here.
7. Although a thing has existence in its own nature after it has it in God, it is not, however, known by God in its own nature after it is known in Him, because by the very fact of knowing His own essence God beholds things both as they are in Himself and as they are in their own nature.
8. Antecedent and consequent are not affirmed of God’s will for the purpose of implying any succession (for that is repugnant to eternity), but to denote a diversity in its reference to the things willed.
Q. 23: God’s Will
In the third article we ask:
Is God’s will suitably divided into his embracing will and his indicative will?
[Parallel readings: I Sent., 45, a. 4; S.T., I, 19, 11 & 12.]
It seems that it is not, for
1. What is done in creatures is a sign or indication not only of the divine will but also of the divine knowledge and power. But knowledge and power are not distinguished into power and knowledge which are God’s essence and those which are indications of it. Then neither should God’s will be thus distinguished into His embracing will (voluntas beneplaciti), which is the divine essence, and His indicative will (voluntas signi).
2. By the fact that God wishes something by His embracing will it is shown that the act of the divine will is brought to bear upon it with the result that it is pleasing to God. Then that upon which His indicative will is brought to bear is either pleasing to God or not. If it is pleasing to God, then He wills it with His embracing will; and in that case His indicative will should not be distinguished from His embracing will. If, however, it is not something pleasing to God, it is nevertheless designated as pleasing to Him by His indicative will; and consequently the indication of the divine will is false. And so in the true doctrine such indications of the divine will should not be affirmed.
3. Every will is in the one willing. But whatever is in God is the divine essence. Consequently, if indicative will is attributed to God, it will be the same as the divine essence. In this way it will not be distinguished from His embracing will; for that will is said to be embracing which is the very divine essence, as the Master says.
4 Whatever God wills is good. But the indication of His will ought to correspond to the divine will. There should therefore not be an indication of His will concerning evil. Since permission concerns evil, and likewise prohibition, it therefore seems that indications of the divine will should not be affirmed.
5. Not only are good and better found but also bad and worse. But on the basis of good and better two sorts of indicative will are distinguished: precept, which concerns good, and counsel, which concerns a better good. Then two signs or indications of will should be affirmed in regard to bad and worse.
6. God’s will is more inclined to good than to evil. But the indication of will which regards evil, permission, can never be frustrated. Then precept and counsel, too, which are referred to good, should not be subject to frustration. Yet this is evidently false.
7. Things that stand in a sequence of dependence should not be opposed. But God’s embracing will and His operation stand in a sequence of dependence; for God does not do anything which He does not will with His embracing will, and He wills nothing in creatures with His embracing will which He does not do, according to the words of the Psalm (113: 3): “[The Lord] hath done all things whatsoever he would.” God’s operation should therefore not be listed under His indicative will, which is opposed to His embracing will.
In matters dealing with God there are two different ways of speaking: (1) In proper language. This is found when we attribute to God what pertains to Him in His own nature, although it always pertains to Him in a way that goes beyond what we conceive in our minds or express in speech. For this reason none of our language about God can be proper in the full sense. (2) In figurative, transferred, or symbolic language. Because God, as He is in Himself, exceeds the grasp of our mind, we must speak of Him by means of the things that are found in our world. Thus we apply the names of sensible things to God, calling Him light or a lion or something of the sort. The truth of such expressions is founded on the fact that no creature “is deprived altogether of participation in good,” as Dionysius says. In every creature there are to be found certain properties representing the divine goodness in some respect. Thus the name is transferred to God inasmuch as the thing signified by the name is a sign of the divine goodness. Any sign, then, that is used instead of what is signified in speaking of God is a figurative expression.
Both of these two ways of speaking are used in regard to the divine will. There is found in God in a proper sense the formal character of will, as was said above; and so will is properly predicated of God. This is His embracing will (voluntas beneplaciti), which is distinguishcd into antecedent and consequent, as has been said . Because, however, will in us has some passion of the soul consequent upon it, the name of the will is predicated of God metaphorically like the names of the other passions. The name of anger is applied to God because there is found in Him an effect which is commonly that of an angry person among us, namely, punishment. As a consequence the punishment itself which Gdd inflicts is called God’s anger. In like manner whatever is commonly a sign or indication of will among us is called the will of God. For this reason we speak of His indicative will (voluntas signi) because the sign itself which is usually the sign or indication of the will is called will.
Now since the will can be considered both as prescribing a course of action and as setting the work in motion, in either sense certain signs are attributed to the will. From the viewpoint of its proposing a course of action regarding flight from evil, its sign is a prohibition. Regarding the pursuit of good there are two signs of the will. If the good is necessary and the will cannot attain its end without it, the sign of the will is a command. If the good is useful and by it the end can be acquired in an easier and more suitable fashion, the sign of the will is a counsel. From the viewpoint of setting the work in motion two signs are attributed to the will. One is express, and this is an operation; for the fact that a person does something indicates that he expressly wills it. The other is an interpretative sign, permission; for anyone, who does not forbid what he can prevent, when interpreted seems to consent to it. This is what the name permission implies.
Answers to Difficulties
1. Although God is capable of doing all things and knows all things, yet He does not will all things. Consequently, besides the signs found in creatures, by which it is shown that He is knowing, powerful, and willing, certain signs are ascribed to His will to show what God wills and not only the fact that He is willing.—Or it may be said that knowledge and power are not accompanied by a passion, as the will is in our case. Thus the will comes closer to the things which are said metaphorically of God than do either power or knowledge. And so the signs of will we call will, metaphorically speaking, more than we call the signs of knowledge and power knowledge and power.
2. Although God does not will everything that He commands or permits, yet He does will something concerning it. He wills that we be obliged to what He commands and that there be in our power what He permits. It is this divine will which the command or permission signifies.
Or the answer can be given that His indicative will is not so called because it incans that God wills the matter itself, but because what is ordinarily the indication of a will in our case is called will. It is not necessary that what is usually the sign of a certain thing be false when its usual term of reference does not correspond to it, but only when it is used in that signification. Although among us to command something is the sign of our willing it, yet is not necessary, whenever either God or man commands something, for him to signify that he wishes it to be. It consequently does not follow that it is a false sign.
That is why there is not always a falsehood in our actions whenever an action which usually signifies something is performed and that signification is not there. But in our words, if what they signify does not underlie them, there is necessarily falsity, because words have been instituted for the very purpose of being signs. Hence, if what is signified does not correspond to them, there is falsity there. Actions, on the other hand, have not been instituted to serve as signs but to get something done. That they signify anything is quite accidental to them. There is consequently not always falsity in them if what is usually signified does not correspond. There can be falsity only when they are made use of by the agent in order to signify something.
3. Indicative will is not in God but is from God; for it is an effect of God such as we usually term, when the effect of a man, that man’s will.
4. Although the will of God does not concern evil with a view to its being done, it nevertheless does concern evil with a view to preventing it by forbidding it, or with a view to putting it within our power by permitting it.
5. Since everything to which the will tends has a relation to the end which is the reason for willing, but all evils lack a relation to that end, all evils are on the same footing not only in regard to the end but also in regard to the divine will. But to goods, which are referred to the end, the will stands in different relations according to the different relation which they have to the end. For this reason there are different indications for the good and the better, but not for the bad and the worse.
6. God’s indicative will is not opposed to His embracing will on the basis of fulfillment and non-fulfillment. Although His embracing will is always fulfilled, something which is fulfilled can also belong to His indicative will. Hence, even the matters which God commands or counsels He sometimes wills with an embracing will. But His indicative will is distinguished from His embracing will because the one is God Himself, the other is an effect of His, as has already been explained.
It should, be noted that God’s indicative will is related to His embracing will in three ways: (1) there is an indicative will which never coincides with an embracing will, as the permission by which God permits evil to be done, since He never wills evil to be done; (2) there is another which always coincides, as an operation; (3) there is another which sometimes coincides, sometimes not, as a precept, a prohibition, or a counsel.
7. This answer is clear from the above.
Q. 23: God’s Will
In the fourth article we ask:
Does God of necessity will whatever he wills?
[Parallel readings: C.G.., I, 80-83; II, 28; III, 97; De pot., 1, 5; 10, 2 ad 6; S.T., I, 19, 3 & 10; Comp. theol., I, 96.]
It seems that He does, for
1. Everything that is eternal is necessary. But from eternity God wills whatever He wills. Therefore of necessity He wills whatever He wills.
2. The answer was given that God’s willing is necessary and eternal on the part of the One willing both from the viewpoint of the act of will, which is the divine essence, and from that of the reason for willing, which is the divine goodness; but not under the aspect of the relation of the will to the thing willed.—On the contrary, the very fact of God’s willing anything implies a relationship of the will to the thing willed. But the fact of God’s willing something is eternal. Then the relationship of the will to the thing willed is itself eternal and necessary.
3. The answer was given that the relationship to the thing willed is eternal and necessary inasmuch as the thing willed exists in its exemplary idea, not inasmuch as it exists in itself or in its own nature.—On the contrary, a thing is willed by the fact of having the will of God referred to it. Consequently, if the will of God were not referred from all eternity to the thing willed as it exists in itself but merely as it exists in its exemplary idea, then a temporal fact, such as the salvation of Peter, would not be willed by God from all eternity as it exists in its own nature; but it would merely be the object of God’s will from all eternity as it exists in God’s eternal ideas. But this is obviously false.
4. Whatever God has willed or wills, after He wills or has willed it, He is unable not to will or not to have willed it. But whatever God wills He never has not willed, because He always and from all eternity has willed whatever He wills. God is therefore unable not to will whatever He wills. Whatever He wills He therefore wills from necessity.
5. The answer was given that the above argument is based upon God’s willino, taken from the viewpoint of the One willing or of the act or of the reason for willing, not from that of its relationship to the thing willed.—On the contrary, to create is an act which always implies a relation to its effect, for it connotes a temporal effect. But the above reasoning would be verified concerning creation if it were supposed that God had always been creating, because what He has created He is unable not to have created. It therefore follows with necessity also from the viewpoint of the relation to the thing willed.
6. To be and to will are one and the same for God. But God must necessarily be everything that He is, because “in everlasting beings there is no difference between being and being able to be” in the words of the Philosopher. God must therefore also necessarily will everything that He wills.
7. The answer was given that, although to will and to be are in this case really identical, they nevertheless differ in the manner in which they are expressed, because to will is expressed after the manner of an act that passes, over into something else.—On the contrary, even God’s act of being, though really identical with His essence, nevertheless differs in the manner of its expression, because to be is expressed after the manner of an act. There is therefore no difference in this respect between being and willing.
8. Eternity does not admit of succession. But divine willing is measured by eternity. Hence there cannot be any succession in it. But there would be succession in it if God did not will what He has willed from eternity, or if He willed what He has not willed. It is consequently impossible for Him to will what He has not willed or not to will what He has willed. Hence whatever He wills He wills from necessity, and whatever He does not will He necessarily does not will.
9. It is impossible for anyone who has willed anything not to have willed it, because what has been done is unable not to have been done. But in God to will and to have willed are identical because the act of His will is not new but is eternal. God is therefore unable not to will what He wills; and so He necessarily wills what He wills.
10. The answer was given that He necessarily wills from the point of view of His reason for willing, but not from that of the thing willed.—On the contrary, God’s reason for willing is Himself, because He wills for Himself whatever He wills. Then, if He necessarily wills Himself, He will also necessarily will all other things.
11. The reason for willing is the end. But according to the Philosopher2 in matters of appetite and operation the end occupies the same place as the principle in matters of demonstration. Now in matters of demonstration, if the principles are necessary, a necessary conclusion follows. Hence also in matters of appetite, if a person wills the end, he necessarily wills the means to the end; and so, if the divine act of willing is necessary from the standpoint of the reason for willing, it will also be necessary with reference to the things willed.
12. Whoever can will and not will something can begin to will it. But God cannot begin to will something. Hence He cannot will and not will something; and so He necessarily wills whatever He wills.
13. God’s power and knowledge, like His will, imply a relation to creatures. But it is necessary for God to be able to do anything that He is able to do, and it is necessary for Him to know whatever He knows. It is therefore necessary for Him to will whatever He wills.
14. Whatever is always the same is necessary. But the relation of the divine will to the things willed is always the same. It is therefore necessary; and so the divine act of willing is also necessary from the standpoint of its relationship to the substance of the thing willed.
15. If God wills that there shall be an Antichrist, it follows with necessity that there will be an Antichrist even though it is not necessary that there should be an Antichrist. Now this would not be the case if there were not a necessary relation or reference of the divine will to the thing willed. The divine act of willing inasmuch as it implies a relation of the will to the thing willed is therefore itself necessary.
16. The relation of the divine will to the reason for willing is the cause of the relation of the divine will to the thing willed, for the will is directed to some object because of the reason for willing. Between the two relations, moreover, there does not fall any contingent intermediary. When a necessary cause is placed, a necessary effect follows unless there happens to be a contingent cause between them. Consequently, since the divine act of will is necessary in its relation to the reason for willing, it will also be necessary in its relation to the thing willed; and so God wills necessarily whatever He wills.
To the Contrary
1. God’s will is more fully free than our will. But our will does not necessarily will whatever it wills. Then neither does God’s.
2. Necessity is opposed to gratuitous willing. But God wills the salvation of men with a gratuitous will. He therefore does not will from necessity.
3. Since nothing extrinsic to God can impose necessity upon Him, if He willed anything from necessity, He would will it only from the necessity of His own nature. The same consequence would therefore follow from positing that God acts by His will and from positing that He acts by the necessity of nature. Now since it follows for those who hold that God acts by the necessity of nature that all things have been made by Him from all eternity, the same conclusion would follow for us, who hold that He makes all things by His will.
It is undoubtedly true that the divine act of willing has necessity from the point of view of the One willing and of the act; for God’s action is His essence, which is clearly eternal. That is accordingly not the question, but rather whether God’s willing has any necessity with respect to the thing willed. It is this respect which is understood when we say that God wills this or that. And this is what we ask about when we ask whether God wills anything from necessity.
It should theref4we be noted that the object of any will is twofold: one which. is principal and another which is, in a sense, secondary. The principal object is that to which the will is directed of its own nature, since the will is a nature and has a natural ordination to something. This is what the will naturally wills, as the human will naturally desires happiness. In regard to this object the will is under necessity, since it tends to it in the manner of a nature. A man, for instance, cannot will to be miserable or not to be happy. Secondary objects of the will are the things which are directed to this principal object as to an end. Now upon these two different sorts of objects the will has a different bearing, just as the intellect has upon the principles which are naturally known and the conclusions which it draws out of these.
The divine will has as its principal object that which it naturally wills and which is a sort of end of its willing, God’s own goodness, on account of which He wills whatever else He wills distinct from Himself. For He makes things on account of His own goodness, as Augustine says;3that is to say, He does it in order that His goodness, which cannot be multiplied in its essence, may at least by a certain participation through likeness be poured out upon many recipients. Hence the things which He wills concerning creatures are, as it were, the secondary objects of His will. He wills them on account of His goodness. Thus the divine goodness serves His will as the reason for willing all things, just as His essence is the reason for His knowing all things.
In regard to that principal object, God’s goodness, the divine will is under a necessity, not of force but of natural ordination, which is not incompatible with freedom, according to Augustine. God cannot will Himself not to be good, nor, consequently, not to be intelligent or powerful or anything else which the nature of His goodness includes.
It is not, however, under any necessity in regard to any other object. Since the reason for willing the means is the end, the means stands to the will in the same relation as it stands to the end. Hence if the means is proportioned to the end so that it embraces the end perfectly and without it the end cannot be obtained, the means, like the end, is desired of necessity, and especially by a will which cannot depart from the rule of wisdom. It seems to be all of a piece, for instance, to desire the continuance of life and the taking of food by which life is sustained and without which it cannot be preserved.
But just as no effect of God is equal to the power of the cause, so nothing which is directed to God as its end is equal to the end. No creature is made perfectly like God. That is the exclusive property of the uncreated Word. From this it comes about that, no matter how much more nobly any pure creature is related to God, being assimilated to Him in some way, it is still possible for some other creature to be related to God and to represent the divine goodness in a manner equally noble.
It is accordingly clear that from the love which God has for His own goodness there is no necessity in the divine will for willing this or that concerning a creature. Nor is there any necessity in it as regards the whole of creation, since the divine goodness is perfect in itself, and would be so even though no creature existed, because God has no need of our goods, as is said in the Psalm (15:2).rl For the divine goodness is not an end of the kind which is produced by the means to the end, but rather one by which the things which are directed to it are produced and perfected. For this reason Avicenna says that only God’s action is purely liberal, because nothing accrues to Him from what He wills or does regarding any creature.
It is therefore clear from what has been said that whatever God wills to be in His own regard He wills from necessity, but whatever He wills to be concerning creatures He does not will from necessity.
Answers to Difficulties
1. Something is said to be necessary in two ways: (1) absolutely, and (2) conditionally. Something is said to be necessary absolutely because of a necessary relation which the terms used in a proposition have to each other; e.g., “Man is an animal” or “Every whole is greater than its part” and the like. But something is necessary conditionally which is not necessary of itself but only if something else is given; e.g., “Socrates has run.” In himself Socrates is no more disposed to this than to its opposite; but on the condition that he has run it is impossible for him not to have run.
I say, therefore, that God’s willing something in creatures, as that Peter be saved, is not necessary absolutely, since the divine will does not have a necessary relation to this, as is evident from what has been said. But on the condition that God wills or has willed it, then it is impossible for Him not to have willed or not to will it, since His will is unchangeable. Among the theologians such necessity is accordingly called the necessity of unchangeability. Now the fact that God’s act of willing is not absolutely necessary comes from the thing willed, which falls short of a perfect proportion to the end, as has been said. In this respect the answer given above7.is verified. And eternity is to be distinguished4n the same way as necessity.
2. The relationship implied is necessary and eternal conditionally, not absolutely; and this is from the standpoint of its termination in the object, not only as it has its exemplar in the reason for willing but also as in its own nature it exists in time.
3. This we concede.
4. After God wills or has willed something, that He wills or has willed it is necessary conditionally, not absolutely; as it is that Socrates has run, after he has run. This is the case with creation or any act of the divine will which terminates in something external.
5. We concede this.
6. Although the divine existence is necessary in itself, yet creatures do not proceed from God through necessity but through a free act of will. Whatever implies a reference of God to the origin of creatures, as to will, to create, etc., is not necessary absolutely, like the predicates which refer to God in Himself, such as to be good, living, wise, etc.
7. To be does not express the kind of act which is an operation passing over into something external to be produced in time, but rather the act that is primary. To will, however, expresses a secondary act, which is an operation. Thus it is from the different manner of expression that something is attributed to the divine act of being which is not attributed to the divine act of willing.
8. We do not imply succession if we say that God can will or not will something unless this is understood in the sense that, on the condition that He wills something, it is asserted that He afterward does not will it. But this is excluded by our affirmation that God’s willing something is necessary conditionally.
9. God’s having willed what He has willed is necessary conditionally, not absolutely. The same is true of God’s willing what He wills.
10. Although God necessarily wills that He be, it nevertheless does not follow that He wills other things necessarily. Nothing is said to be necessary by reason of the end except when it is such that without it the end cannot be had, as is evident in the Metaphysics. But that is not the case in the point at issue.
11. If the principle is necessary in syllogisms, it does not follow that the conclusion is necessary unless the relationship of the principle to the conclusion is also necessary. In the same way, no matter how necessary the end is, unless the means has a necessary relationship to the end so that without it the end cannot exist, there will be no necessity arising from the end in the means; just as, even though the principles may be true, if the conclusion is false because of the lack of a necessary relationship, no necessity on the part of the conclusion follows from the necessity of the principles.
12. If anyone who can will and not will can will after he has been unwilling and can be unwilling after he has willed, he can begin to will. If he wills, he can cease to will and again begin to will. If he does not will, he can immediately begin to will. God cannot will and not will in this way because of the unchangeableness of the divine will. But He can will and not will inasmuch as His will is not bound on its part to will or not to will. It remains, then, that God’s willing something is necessary conditionally, not absolutely.
13. Although knowledge and power imply a relation to creatures, they nevertheless pertain to the very perfection of the divine essence, in which there can be nothing except what is necessary of itself. A diing is said to have knowledge because the thing known is in the knower. Soincthing is said to have power to do something inasmuch as it is in complete act with respect to that which is to be done. Whatever is in God, however, must necessarily be in Him; and whatever God actually is, He must necessarily be actually. But when it is said that God wills something, that something is not designated as being in God, but there is merely implied the relationship of God Himself to the production of that thing in its own nature. From this point of view the condition of absolute necessity is accordingly lacking, as was said above.
14. That relationship is always the same because of the immutability of the divine will. The argument is accordingly conclusive only in regard to the necessary which is conditional.
15. The will has a twofold relation to its object: (1) inasmuch as the latter is the object, and (2) inasmuch as it is to be brought into act by the will. The second relation presupposes the first. We first understand that the will wills something. Then, from the fact that it wills it, we understand that it is bringing it forth into reality, if the will is efficacious. The first relation of the divine will to its object is not necessary in an absolute sense because of the lack of proportion of the object to the end, which is the reason for willing, as has been said. Hence it is not necessary absolutely that God will it. But the second relation is necessary because of the efficacy of the divine will; and for this reason it follows of necessity that if God wills anything with His embracing will, it comes about.
16. Although between the two relations mentioned in the difficulty there intervenes no contingent cause, yet because of the lack of proportion the necessity of the first relation does not introduce necessity into the second, as is clear from what has been said.
Answers to Contrary Difficulties
1-2. These we concede.
3. The difficulty about the freedom of the will has already been solved inasmuch as the necessity of the order of nature is not incompatible with freedom, but only the necessity of force.
Q. 23: God’s Will
In the fifth article we ask:
Does the divine will impose necessity upon the things willed?
[Parallel readings: C.G., I, 85; II, 29 & 30; Quodl. XI, (3), 3; XII, (3), 3 ad 1; S.T., I, 19, 8; De malo, 16, 7 ad 15; In I Perih., 14; In VI Met., 3.]
It seems that it does, for
1. When a sufficient cause is placed, it is necessary that the effect be placed. Avicenna proves this’ as follows. If, when the cause is placed, the effect is not necessarily placed, then even after the placing of the cause the effect remains open to the alternatives of either existence or non-existence. But whatever has the potentiality of alternatives is not determined to either one of them unless there is something to determine it. Consequently, after the placing of the cause it is still necessary to posit something which will make the effect exist. The cause was accordingly not sufficient. But if the cause is sufficient, when it is placed, the placing of the effect must be necessary. Now the divine will is a sufficient cause, and not a contingent but a necessary cause. The things willed by God are therefore necessary.
2. The answer was given that from a necessary cause there sometimes follows a contingent effect because of the contingency of an intervening cause; e.g., from a major premise expressing what is necessary a contingent conclusion follows because of a subsumption expressing what is contingent.—On the contrary, whenever a contingent effect follows from a necessary cause because of the contingency of an intermediate cause, this comes from the deficiency of the second cause. The blossoming of a tree, for example, is contingent and not necessary because of the possible failure of the germinative power, which is the intermediate cause, although the motion of the sun, the first cause, is a necessary cause. But the divine will can remove all deficiency from the second cause, and likewise every hindrance. The contingency of a second cause, therefore, does not keep the effect from being necessary because of the necessity of the divine will.
3. When the effect is contingent because of the contingency of the second cause, given a necessary first cause, the non-existence of the effect is compatible with the existence of the first cause. Thus the non-blossoming of a tree in spring is compatible with the motion of the sun. But the non-existence of what is willed by God is not compatible with the divine will. For these two things, God’s willing something to be and its not being, are irreconcilable. Consequently the contingency of second causes does not prevent the things willed by God from being necessary because of the necessity of the divine will.
4. The answer was given that, although the non-existence of a divine effect is not compatible with the divine will, even so, because the second cause can fail, the effect itself is contingent.—On the contrary, the effect does not fail to occur except by the failure of the second cause. But it is impossible that the second cause should fail, given the divine will; for in that case there would simultaneously be verified the existence of the divine will and the non-existence of what is willed by God. But this is manifestly false. Hence the contingency of second causes does not prevent the effect of the divine will from being necessary.
To the Contrary
All goods come about because God wills them. Now if the divine will imposes necessity upon things, all the goods that there are in the world will therefore exist from necessity; and so free choice and other contingent causes will be eliminated.
The divine will does not impose necessity upon all things. The reason for this is ascribed by some tothe fact that, since this will is the first cause of all things, it produces certain effects through the mediation of secondary causes which are contingent and can fail. Thus the effcct follows the, contingency of the proximate cause, not the necessity of the first cause. But this seems to be in agreement with those who held that all things proceed from God with natural necessity, just as they held that from the simple One there proceeds immediately a single being having some multiplicity, and through its mediation the whole multitude of things proceeds. In like fashion they say that from a single wholly immobile principle there proceeds something which is immobile in its substance but mobile and undetermined as to position, and through the mediation of this being generation and corruption occur in the things here below. In this line of argument it could not be held that multiplicity and corruptible and contingent things are caused immediately by God. But that position is contrary to the doctrine of the faith, which holds that a multitude even of corruptible things was immediately created by God; for example, the first individuals of trees and brute animals.
It is accordingly necessary to assign a different principal reason for the contingency in things, to which the previously assigned cause will be subordinated. For the patient must be assimilated to the agent; and, if the agent is most powerful, the likeness of the effect to the agent cause will be perfect; but if the agent is weak, the likeness will be imperfect. Thus because of the strength of the formative power in the semen a son is made like his father not only in the nature of the species but also in many accidents. On the other hand, because of the weakness of the power mentioned the aforesaid assimilation is done away with, as is said in Animals. Now the divine will is a most powerful agent. Hence its effect must be made like it in all respects, so that there not only comes about what God wants to come about (a sort of likening in species), but it comes about in the manner in which God wants it to come about—necessarily or contingently, quickly or slowly (and this is a sort of likening in its accidents).
The divine will determines this manner for things beforehand in the order of God’s wisdom. According as it arranges for certain things to come into being in this way or in that, it adapts their causes to the manner fixed upon. It could, however, introduce this manner into things even without the mediation of those causes. We accordingly say that some of the divine effects are contingent not merely because of the contingency of secondary causes but rather because of the appointment of the divine will, which saw to such an order for things.
Answers to Difficulties
1. That argument is applicable in the case of causes acting from the necessity of nature and in regard to their immediate effects; but it is beside the point in the case of voluntary causes, because a thing follows from the will in the way in which the will disposes and not in the way in which the will has existence, as occurs among natural causes. In the latter we look to an assimilation as regards the condition of the cause and the thing caused, which is the same in both, whereas in voluntary causes we look to an assimilation as regards the fulfillment of the will of the agent in the effect, as has been said. And even in regard to natural causes the argument does not apply in the case of their mediate effects.
2. Even though God can remove every hindrance from a secondary cause when He so wills, yet He does not always will to remove it. Thus there remains contingency in the secondary cause and, consequently, in the effect.
3. Although the non-existence of an effect of the divine will is incompatible with the divine will, the possibility that the effect should be lacking is given simultaneously with the divine will. God’s willing someone to be saved and the possibility that that person be damned are not incompatible; but God’s willing him to be saved and his actually being damned are incompatible.
4. The same is to be said about the deficiency of the intervening cause.
Q. 23: God’s Will
In the sixth article we ask:
Does justice as found among created things depend simply upon the divine will?
[Parallel readings: No direct parallels; but cf. S.T., II, 24; S.T., I, 21, 2; I-II, 68, 4 ad 1.]
It seems that it does, for
1. Anselm says: “That only is just which You wish.” justice therefore depends only upon God’s will.
2. Something is just by reason of its agreement with a law. But a law seems to be nothing but the expression of the will of a sovereign, because “what has pleased the prince has the force of law,” as the Legislator says. Since the sovereign of all things is the divine will, it therefore seeing that the whole character of justice depends upon it alone.
3 Political justice, which is found in human affairs, has its model in natural justice, which consists in the fulfillment of its own nature by anything whatever. But each thing participates in the order of its nature because of the divine will; for Hilary says: “The will of God has conferred upon all creatures their essence.” All justice therefore depends merely upon the will of God.
4 Since justice is a certain correctness, it depends upon the imitation of some rule. But the rule of the effect is its due cause. Since the first cause of all things is the divine will, it therefore seems to be the first rule from which everything just is judged.
5. God’s will cannot be anything but just. If the character of justice depended upon anything else besides the divine will, that would restrict and, in a sense, bind the divine will. But that is impossible.
6. Every will which is just by a principle other than itself is such that its principle should be sought. But “the cause of God’s will is not to be sought,” as Augustine says.The principle of justice therefore depends upon no other than the divine will.
To the Contrary
1. The works of justice are distinguished from the works of mercy. But the works of divine mercy depend upon God’s will. Hence something else besides the mere will of God is demanded for the character of justice.
2. According to Anselm justice is “correctness of will.” But correctness of will is distinct from the will. In us it is really distinct, since our will can be correct or not. In God it is distinct at least conceptually or according to our manner of understanding it. Therefore the character of justice does not depend upon the divine will alone.
Since justice is a certain “correctness,” as Anselm says or “equation,” as the Philosopher teaches, the essential character of justice must depend first of all upon that in which there is first found the character of a rule according to which the equality and correctness of justice is established in things. Now the will does not have the character of the first rule; it is rather a rule which has a rule, for it is directed by reason and the intellect. This is true not only in us but also in God, although in us the will is really distinct from the intellect. For this reason the will and its correctness are not the same thing. In God, however, the will is really identical with the intellect, and for this reason the correctness of His will is really the same as His will itself. Consequently the first thing upon which the essential character of all justice depends is the wisdom of the divine intellect, which constitutes things in their due proportion both to one another and to their cause. In this proportion the essential character of created justice consists. But to say that justice depends simply upon the will is to say that the divine will does not proceed according to the order of wisdom, and that is blasphemous.
Answers to Difficulties
1. Nothing can be just unless it is willed by God. Yet what is willed by God has the first cause of its justice from the order of divine wisdom.
2. Although the will of the prince, by the fact of its being a will, has the coercive force of law, yet it does not have the character of justice except from being led by reason.
3. God works in natural things in two ways: (1) by establishing the natures themselves, and (2) by providing each thing with whatever belongs to its nature. The essence of justice demands something due. Now, since it is no way due that creatures be brought into being, but purely voluntary, the first operation does not have the note of justice, but it depends simply upon the divine will. It might, however, conceivably be said to have the note of justice because of the ordination of the thing made to the will. For it is of obligation from the very fact that God wills it that everything which God wills be done. But in the fulfillment of this ordination it is wisdom which does the directing as the first rule. In the second sort of operation, however, there is found the character of something due, not on the part of the agent, since God is indebted to no one, but rather on the part of the recipient. It is due to every natural being that it have the things which its nature calls for both in essentials and in accidentals. But what is due depends upon the divine wisdom inasmuch as the natural being should be such as to imitate the idea of it which is in the divine mind. In this way the divine wisdom is found to be the first rule of justice. In all the divine operations, however, by which God bestows upon the creature anything beyond the debt of nature, as in the gifts of grace, the same sort of justice is found as is assigned in the first sort of operation, by which God establishes natures.
4. According to our manner of understanding, the divine will presupposes wisdom, “Which first has the character of a rule.
5. Since. intellect and will do not really differ in God, by the fact of being directed and determined to something definite the will is not restricted by anything other than itself; but it is moved according to its own nature, since it is natural for that will always to act according to the order of wisdom.
6. On the part of the One willing there cannot be any cause of the divine will other than the will itself as its reason for willing. For in God will, wisdom, and goodness are really identical. But on the part of the thing willed the divine will has a principle, which is that of the thing willed, not that of the One willing, according to which the thing willed is ordained to something else either by desert or by fitness. This ordination belongs tio the divine wisdom. Hence this is the first root of justice.
Q. 23: God’s Will
In the seventh article we ask:
Are we obliged to conform our will to the divine will?
[Parallel readings: I Sent., 48, aa. 1 & 3; S.T., I-II, 19, 9.]
It seems that we are not, for
1. No one is held to the impossible. But it is impossible for us to conform our will to the divine will, since the divine will is unknown to us. Therefore we are not held to the conformity mentioned.
2. Whoever does not do that to which he is obliged sins. If, then, we are obliged to conform our will to the divine will, we sin in not conforming it. But whoever sins mortally does not conform his will to the divine in the matter in which he sins. By that very fact, therefore, he sins. He sins, however, by some other specific sin, such as stealing or fornicating. Hence whoever sins commits two sins. But this seems to be absurd.
3. The answer was given that the commandment about the conformity. of our will to the divine, being affirmative, does not bind to constant compliance though it constantly binds. Thus it is not necessary that whenever conformity is lacking there is sin.—On the contrary, although a person not observing an affirmative commandment does not sin at every moment in which he is not observing it, yet he does sin whenever he acts contrary to it. Thus a person sins whenever he dishonors his parents, although he does not always sin when he is not actually honoring them. But he who sins mortally acts contrary to the conformity in question. It is therefore by this fact that he sins.
4. Whoever does not observe that to which he is obliged is a transgressor. But one who sins venially does not conform his will to the divine will. If he is obliged to conform to it, he will be a transgressor and so will sin mortally.
5. The answer was given that he is not obliged at that moment in which he is sinning venially, because affirmative commandments do not oblige us to comply always.—On the contrary, whoever does not comply with an affirmative commandment at the place and time at which it binds, is adjudged a transgressor. But it seems that no other time for conforming our will to the divine will can be determined upon than that at which the will passes into act. Hence, whenever the will passes into act, unless it is conformed to the divine will, there seems to be a sin; and so when a person sins venially, the sin seems to be mortal.
6. No one is held to the impossible. But the obstinate cannot conform their will to the divine. They are therefore not held to this conformity. And so neither are others; otherwise the obstinate would draw an advantage from their obstinacy.
7. Since God wills from charity whatever He wills, being charity Himself, if we are obliged to conform our will to God’s, we are obliged to have charity. But a person who does not have charity cannot obtain it unless he carefully prepares himself for it. One not having charity is therefore obliged to prepare himself continuously to have it. Thus at every instant at which he does not have charity he sins, since his not having it comes from a lack of preparation.
8. Since the form of an act consists especially in the manner of acting, if we are held to conformity with the divine will, we must will a thing in the same manner in which God wills it. Now a person can imitate the manner of the divine will after a fashion both by natural love and by gratuitous love. The conformity of which we speak, however, cannot be taken with reference to natural love, because even infidels and sinners conform their will to God’s in this manner as long as the natural love of good is alive within them. Similarly it cannot be taken with reference to gratuitous love, that is, charity. In that case we should be obliged to will from charity whatever we will. But this is contrary to the opinion of many, who say that the manner does not fall within the scope of the commandment. It therefore seems that we are not obhged to conform our will to the divine will.
9. Commenting on the words of the Psalm (32:1): “Praise becometh the upright,” the Gloss says: “The distance between God’s will and man’s is just as great as that between God and man.” But God is so distant from man that man cannot be conformed to Him. Since man is infinitely distant from God, there cannot be any proportion between him and God. Then neither can man’s will be conformed to God’s.
10. Those things are said to be conformed which agree in some one form. Consequently, if our will can be conformed to the divine, there must be some one form in which the two wills agree. Then there would be something simpler than the divine will. But that is impossible.
11. Conformity is a reciprocal relation. In such relations each one of the extremes is referred to the other by the same relation. Thus a friend is said to be a friend to his friend, and a brother, a brother to his brother. If, then, our will can conform to the divine will, and as a result we are held to the conformity in question, the divine will can conform to ours. But that seems unacceptable.
12. Things that we are able to do or not do fall within the scope of commandments, and we are held to them. But we cannot help but conform our will to God’s, because, as Anselm says, whoever departs from God’s will in some particular fulfills the divine will in another, just as the more distant something that is within a spherical body gets from one part of the circumference, the more it draws near to some other part. We are therefore not bound to the conformity in question as we arc bound to the matters which fall under a commandment.
To the Contrary
1. Regarding the words of the Psalm (32:1): “Praise becometh the upright,” the Gloss says: “The upright are those who direct their hearts according to the will of God.” But everyone is obliged to be upright. Hence everyone is obliged to the above-mentioned conformity.
2. Every being should conform to its rule. But the divine will is the rule of ours, since correctness of will is found first in God. Our will should therefore conform to the divine will.
Everyone is obliged to conform his will to God’s. The reason for this can be taken from the fact that in every genus there is some one thing which is primary and is the measure of all the other things which are in that genus, for in it the nature of the genus is most perfectly found. This is verified of the nature of color, for example, in whiteness, which is called the measure of all colors because the extent to which each color shares in the nature of the genus is known from its nearness to whiteness or its remoteness from it, as is said in the Metaphysics. In this way God Himself is the measure of all beings, as can be gathered from the words of the Commentator.
Every being has the act of existing in the proportion in which it approaches God by likeness. But according as it is found to be unlike Him, it approximates non-existence. And the same must be said of all the attributes which are found both in God and in creatures. Hence His intellect is the measure of all knowledge; His goodness, of all goodness; and, to speak more to the point, His good will, of every good will. Every good will is therefore good by reason of its being conformed to the divine good will. Accordingly, since everyone is obliged to have a good will, he is likewise obliged to have a will conformed to the divine will.
But it should be noted that this conformity can be taken in many senses. We are speaking here of will in the sense of the volitional act. Our conformity to God on the part of the will as a faculty is natural, belonging to the image. It accordingly does not fall under any commandment. But the act of the divine will has not only this characteristic, that it is an act of will, but at the same time this also, that it is the cause of all things that are acts. The act of our will can therefore conform to the divine will either as an effect to its cause or as a will to a will.
Now the conformity of an effect to its cause is found in a different way among natural and among voluntary causes. In the case of natural causes the conformity is to be found according to a likeness in nature. For example, man begets a man, and fire begets fire. But in the case of voluntary causes the effect is said to conform to the cause by reason of the fact that the cause is fulfilled in the effect. Thus a product of art is likened to its cause, not because it is of the same nature as the art which is in the mind of the artist, but because the form of the art is fulfilled in the product. It is in this way that an effect of the will is conformed to the will when what the will disposes comes about. And so an act of our will conforms to the divine will by reason of the fact that we will what God wants us to will.
The conformity of one will to another in its act, however, can be taken in two ways: (1) according to the form of a species, as man is like man, and (2) according to an added form, as a wise man is like a wise man.
One will is like another in species, I say, when the two have in common the same object; for from the object the act draws its species. But in the object of the will two aspects are to be taken into account: one which is, as it were, material—the thing willed; another which is, as it were, formal—the reason for willing, which is the end. It is like the case of the object of sight, in which color is in effect material, and light is formal, because by light the color is made actually visible. Thus on the part of the object two sorts of conformity can be found. One derives from the thing willed. A man, for instance, wills something that God wills. This conformity is, in a sense, based upon the material causc; for the object is, as it were, the matter of the act. It is according1v the least among the types of conformity. The other sort of conformity derives from the reason for willing or the end. This is had when someone wills something for the same reason for which God wills it. Conformity of this kind is based upon the final cause.
A form added to an act, however, is the mode which it gets from the habit which elicits it. It is in this way that our will is said to be conformed to the divine when a person wills something from charity just as God does. This is, in a sense, based upon the formal cause.
Answers to Difficulties
1. The will of God cannot be fully known to us. Hence, neither can we fully conform our will to His. But we can conform it in proportion to the knowledge which we have, and we are held to this.
2. A man does not commit two sins in one act, since the essence of sin is an act. There can, however, be two deformities of sin in one act. This is the case when there is joined to the act of some particular sin a circumstance which transmits to it the deformity of another sin. When a man steals the goods of another in order to spend them upon harlots, for instance, the act of theft takes on the deformity of lust from the circumstance of the reason why.
When, however, there is found in the act of some sin, over and above the specific deformity of that sin, some element of deformity which is common to every sin, by that fact neither the sin nor the deformity of the sin is doubled. For such things as are to be found in all sins in common are, as it were, the essential principles of sin as such; and they are included in the deformity of any specific sin just as the principles of a genus are included in the formal character of the species. Not being distinct from the specific deformity of the sin, they do not add to it numerically. Such things are turning away from God, not obeying the divine law, and others, among which must be accounted the lack of conformity of which we are speaking. Hence it is not necessary that such a defect should double the sin or the dcformity of the sin.
3. Although one who acts contrary to conformity sins by this very fact, yet by reason of what is generic he does not add anything numerically to what is specific.
4. Although one who sins venially does not in this act conform his will to the divine, yet he does conform it habitually. Nor is he obliged always to go into act, but only according to the place and time. He is, however, obliged never to do anything contrary. But one who sins venially does not act contrary to the conformity in question but rather beyond its scope. Hence it does not follow that he sins mortally.
5.The commandment about the conformity of will does not bind every time our will passes into act but just when we are obliged to think about the state of our salvation, as when we are obliged to confess or receive the sacraments or do something of the sort.
6. A person is said to be obstinate in two senses: (1) This is said absolutely, when he has a will irreversibly adhering to evil. In this sense those who are in hell are obstinate, but not anyone in this life. Those who are in hell are still held to the conformity of which we are treating. Although they cannot attain it, nevertheless they were themselves the cause of their own impotence. They accordingly sin in not conforming their wills, although it happens that they do not incur demerit because they are not wayfarers. (2) A person is said to be obstinate in a certain respect, when, namely, he has a will adhering to evil which is not altogether irreversible but reversible only with great difficulty. It is in this sense that some are said to be obstinate in this life. These are able to conform their will to God’s. Hence in not conforming they not only sin but also incur demerit.
7. Everyone is obliged, as far as depends upon him, to have charity; and whoever does not sins by a sin of omission. Still he does not necessarily sin at every moment in which he does not have it, but at the time at which he was bound to have it, as when it was incumbent upon him to do something which cannot be done without charity, such as to receive the sacraments.
8. We are said to be obliged to something in two ways: (1) We are obliged in such a way that, if we do not do it, we incur a penalty. And this is the proper sense of being obliged. According to the more common opinion we are not obliged in this way to do anything from charity; but we are so obliged to do something from natural love, and without at least this whatever is done is badly done. By natural love I mean not only that which is implanted in us by nature and is common to all, as all desire happiness, but also that to which a person can attain by natural principles. It is found in actions that are good by reason of their genus, and also in the political virtues. (z) We are said to be obliged to something because without it we are unable to attain our end, beatitude. In this way we are obliged to do something from charity, without which nothing that merits eternal life can be done. It is accordingly clear how the mode of charity in one way falls within the scope of commandment and in another does not.
9. Man is conformed to God since he is made to God’s image and likeness. It is true that, because man is infinitely distant from God, there cannot be a proportion between him and God in the proper sense of proportion as found among quantities, consisting of a Certain measure of two quantities compared to each other. Nevertheless, in the sense in which the term proportion is transferred to signify any relationship of one thing to another (as we say that there is a likeness of proportions in this instance: the pilot is to his ship as the ruler to the commonwealth), nothing prevents our saying that there is a proportion of man to God, since man stands in a certain relationship to Him inasmuch as he is made by God and subject to Him.
Or the answer could be given that, although there cannot be between the finite and the infinite a proportion properly so called, yet there can be a proportionality or the likeness of two proportions. We say that four is proportioned to two because it is the double; but we say that four is proportionable to six because four is to two as six is to three. In the same way, although the finite and the infinite cannot be proportioned, they can be proportionable, because the finite is equal to the finite just as the infinite is to the infinite. In this way there is a likeness of the creature to God, because the creature stands to the things which are its own as God does to those which belong to Him.
10. The creature is not said to be conformed to God as to one who shares in the same form in which it shares, but because God is substantially the very form in which the creature participates by a sort of imitation. It is as if fire were likened to a separate subsistent heat.
11. Although likeness and conformity are reciprocal relations, these terms do not always designate indifferently the reference of either one of the related members to the other. It is only when the form on which the likeness or conformity is based is in each of the extremes in the same way, as whiteness is in two men. In that case either one can aptly be said to have the form of the other; and this is what is meant when something is said to be like another. But when the form is in one principally and in the other in a secondary way, reciprocity of the likeness is not had. Thus we say that the statue of Hercules is like Hercules, but not the other way about; for it cannot be said that Hercules has the form of the statue, but only that the statue has the form of Hercules. In this way creatures are said to be similar and conformed to God but not God to creatures. But since conformation is a motion toward conformity, it does not imply a reciprocal relation but presupposes one of the related members and denotes that something else is moving toward conformity with it. Succeeding things are conformed to preceding, but not conversely.
12. The statement of Anselm is to be understood as meaning, not that man always does the will of God as far as he can, but that the divine will is always fulfilled in his regard whether he wills it or not.
Q. 23: God’s Will
In the eighth article we ask:
Are we obliged to conform our will to the divine will as regards its object so as to be bound to will what we know God wills?
[Parallel readings: I Sent., 48, aa. 2 & 4; S.T., I-II, 10, 10.]
It seems that we are not, for
1. Paul desired “to be dissolved and to be with Christ,” as is said in the Epistle to the Philippians (1: 23). But God did not want this, Hence Paul adds: “I know that I shall abide”(1: 25) for your sake. If, then, we are obliged to will what God wills, in desiring to be dissolved and to be with Christ, Paul sinned. But that is absurd.
2.What God knows can be revealed to someone else. Now God knows that a certain person is reprobated. He can therefore reveal to someone his reprobation. On the supposition that He reveals this to someone, it therefore follows that this person is bound to will his own damnation if we are bound to will what we know God wills. To will one’s own damnation, however, is contrary to charity, by which each one loves himself even to eternal life. A person would therefore be bound to will something against charity. But that is not befitting.
3 We are obliged to obey a superior as God Himself since we obey him in God’s stead. But a subject is not obliged to do and to will whatever he knows his superior wishes, even if he knows that the superior wishes him to do it, unless the superior expressly commands it. We are therefore not obliged to will whatever God wills or whatever He wishes us to will.
4 Whatever is praiseworthy and honorable is found in Christ most perfectly and without the admixture of anything contrary. But with some will Christ willed the contrary of what He knew God wished; for with some kind of will he willed not to suffer, as the prayer He prayed shows: “My Father, if it be possible, let this chalice pass from me” (Matthew 26:39), even though God wished Him to suffer. To will whatever God wills is therefore not praiseworthy, nor are we held to it.
5. According to Augustine’ sadness is had regarding the things which have happened to us against our will. But the Blessed Virgin felt sorrow at the death of her son, as is indicated in the words of Simeon: “Thy own soul a sword shall pierce” (Luke 2:35). The Blessed Virgin therefore did not wish Christ to suffer, but God wished it. Now if we are obliged to will what God wills, the Blessed Virgin sinned in this instance. But that cannot be granted. Thus it is seen that we are not obliged to conform our will to God’s as to the object.
To the Contrary
1. Concerning the words of the Psalm (100:4): “The perverse heart did not cleave to me,” the Gloss says: “He who does not will whatever God wills has a twisted heart.” But everyone is obliged to avoid having a twisted heart. Therefore everyone is obliged to will what God wills.
2. According to Tully, friendship is willing and not willing the same thing. But everyone is obliged to have friendship for God. Hence everyone is obliged to will what God wills and not to will what He does not will.
3. We should conform our will to God’s for the reason that the will of God is the rule of our will, as the Gloss says commenting on the words of the Psalm (32:1): “Praise becometh the upright.” But the object of the divine will, too, is the rule of every other object, since it is the first thing willed, and the first in each genus is the measure of the things that come after, as is said in the Metaphysics. We are therefore obliged to conform the objects of our will to the object of the divine will.
4. Sin consists principally in perversity of choice. But there is perversity of choice when the lesser good is preferred to the greater. Now whoever does not will what God wills does this, since it is evident that what God wills is best. Hence, whoever does not will what God wills sins.
5. According to the Philosopher, the virtuous man is “the rule and measure” for all human acts. But Christ is most virtuous. We should therefore most of all conform ourselves to Christ as our rule and measure. Now Christ conformed his will to the divine will even as regards its objects; and all the blessed do the same. Therefore we too are obliged to conform our will to the divine even as regards its objects.
in regard to the object of our will we arc in a sense obliged to conform our will to God’s and in a sense we are not. We are obliged to conform our will to God’s in this respect (as has been said), that the divine goodness is the rule and measure of every good will. But since good depends upon the end, a will is called good on the basis of its relation to the reason for willing, which is the end. The reference of the will to the object, however, does not in itself make the act of will good, since the object stands materially, as it were, to the reason for willing, which is an upright end. One and the same object can be desired either rightly or wrongly according as it is referred to different ends; and on the other hand different and even contrary objects can both be willed rightly by being referred to an upright end. Therefore, although the will of God cannot be anything but good, and whatever He wills He wills rightly, nevertheless the goodness in the very act of the divine will is viewed from the standpoint of the reason for willing, that is, the end to which God refers whatever He wills, His own goodness.
Thus we are obliged to conform absolutely to the divine will in regard to the end, but in regard to the object only in so far as it is viewed under the aspect of its relation to the end. This relation must always please us too, though the same object of will can justly displease us under some other aspect, such as its being referable to some contrary end. Hence it is that the human will is found to conform to the divine will in its object inasmuch as it stands related to the divine will.
The will of the blessed, who are in continuous contemplation of the divine goodness and regulate by it all their affections, knowing fully the relationship to it of each object of their desires, is conformed to the divine will in every one of its objects. For everything that they know God wills, they will absolutely and without any motion to the contrary.
Sinners, however, who are turned away from willing the divine goodness, are at variance in many respects from what God wills, disapproving of it and in no way assenting to it.
Righteous wayfarers, on the other hand, whose will adheres to the divine goodness but who yet do not so perfectly contemplate it that they clearly perceive every relation to it of the things to be willed, conform to the divine will as regards those objects for which they perceive the reason, though there is in them some affection for the contrary. It is praiseworthy in them, however, because of the other relation considered in their case. They do not follow this affection obstinately but subject it to the divine will, because it pleases them that the order of the divine will be fulfilled in all things. A man, for instance, who wishes his father to live because of his filial affection while God wishes him to die, if he is saintly, subjects his own will to God’s so as not to bear it impatiently if the will of God contrary to his own will is fulfilled.
Answers to Difficulties
1. Paul desired to be dissolved and to be with Christ as something good in itself. Nonetheless the contrary was pleasing to’him with reference to the fruit that God willed to draw from his living. For this reason he said: “But to abide still in the flesh is needful for you” (Philippians 1: 24).
2. Although in His absolute power God could reveal to someone his damnation, this can nevertheless not be done in His ordered power, because such a revelation would drive the man to despair. And if such a revelation were made to anyone, it would have to be understood, not as a prophecy of predestination or foreknowledge, but as one of warning, which is based upon the supposition that merits are taken into account. But granted that it were to be understood in the sense of a prophecy of foreknowledge, the one to whom such a revelation were made would still not be obliged to will his own damnation absolutely but only according to the order of justice, in which God wills to damn those who persist in sin. For God does not on His own part wish to damn anyone, but only in accordance with what depends upon us, as is clear from what has been said above. To will one’s own damnation absolutely, then, would not be to conform one’s will to God’s but to conform it to the will of sin.
3. The will of the superior is not, like the divine will, the rule of our will; rather his command is. Thus the case is not the same.
4. The passion of Christ could be considered in two ways: (1) in itself, inasmuch as it was an affliction of an innocent person, and (2) in its relation to the fruit to which God ordained it. In this latter sense it was willed by God, not in the former. The will of Christ which could consider that relation, namely, His rational will, therefore willed this passion as God did; but the will of sensuality, which is not capable of comparing but is brought to bear upon something absolutely, did not will this passion. In this respect also it was conformed to the divine will, in a sense, even as regards the object, because even God Himself did not will the passion of Christ taken in itself.
5. The will of the Blessed Virgin was averse to the passion of Christ considered in itself; yet it willed the fruit of salvation which was coming from the passion of Christ. Thus it was conformed to the divine will both as regards what it was willing and as regards what it was not willing.
Answers to Contrary Difficulties
1. The words of the Gloss are to be understood of the objects of the divine will as they stand under the reference to the end and not absolutely.
2. Friendship consists in harmony of wills rather as regards the end than as regards the direct objects themselves. A fever patient whose craving for wine was denied by his physician because of their common desire for the patient’s health would find in that physician a truer friend than if the latter were willing to satisfy the patient’s desire for a drink of wine at the peril of his health.
3. As was said above, the first object of God’s will and the measure and rule of all its other objects is the end which His will has, His own goodness. All other things He wills only for this end. Thus, as long as our will is conformed to the divine will in regard to the end, all the objects of our will are regulated by the first object of will.
4. Choice includes both the judgment of reason and appetitive tendency. If, then, anyone should in a judgment prefer what is less good to what is more good, there will be perversity of choice, but not if he should prefer it in tending appetitively; for a man is not obliged always to carry out in his action what is better unless it is something that he is bound to by a commandment. Otherwise everyone would be obliged to follow the counsels of perfection, which clearly are better.
5. There are certain respects in which we can admire Christ but not imitate Him. Examples would be whatever pertains to His divinity and to the beatitude which He had while still in this life. An instancc of this is the conformity of Christ’s rational will to the divine will cvcn as rcgards its objects.