Excerpts from the Angelic Doctor’s answers to the following five questions:
1. Did Things Proceed from God of Natural Necessity or by the Decree of His Will? (by the Decree of His Will) [QDP 3:15]
2. Whether God wills things apart from Himself? (Yes) [ST I, q. 19, art. 2]
3. Whether whatever God wills He wills necessarily? (No) [ST I, q. 19, art. 3]
4. Whether the will of God is the cause of things? (Yes) [ST I, q. 19, art. 4]
5. Are the Generative and Creative Powers the Same? (Yes) [QDP 2:6]
Q. III: ARTICLE XV
Did Things Proceed from God of Natural Necessity or by the Decree of His Will?
6. In God nature and will are the same: and consequently if He produces things willingly it would seem that He produces them naturally.
Reply to the Sixth Objection. Although will and nature are identically the same in God, they differ logically, in so far as they express respect to creatures in different ways: thus nature denotes a respect to some one thing determinately, whereas will does not.
8. God’s operation is His essence: and His essence is natural to Him. Therefore whatever He does he does naturally.
Reply to the Eighth Objection. Although God’s operation belongs to Him naturally seeing that it is His very nature or essence, the created effect follows the operation of His nature which, in our way of understanding, is considered as the principle of His will, even as the effect that is heating follows according to the mode of the heat.
18. The effect proceeds from its cause in action: wherefore a cause is not related to its effect except as related to its action or operation. Now the relation of God’s action or operation to Himself is natural, since God’s action is His essence. Therefore the relation of God to His effect is also natural so that He produces it naturally.
Reply to the Eighteenth Objection. The effect follows from the action according to the mode of the principle of the action: wherefore since the divine will which has no necessary connection with creatures is considered, in our way of thinking, to be the principle of the divine action in regard to creatures, it does not follow that the creature proceeds from God by natural necessity, although the action itself is God’s essence or nature.
20. Since what exists of itself is prior to that which exists by another, it follows that the first agent acts by His essence. Now His essence and His nature are the same. Therefore He acts by His nature: and thus creatures proceed from Him naturally.
Reply to the Twentieth Objection. God’s will is His essence: wherefore His working by His will does not prevent His working by His essence. God’s will is not an intention in addition to His essence, but is His very essence.
ST I, q. 19, art. 2: Whether God wills things apart from Himself? (Yes)
Objection 1. It seems that God does not will things apart from Himself. For the divine will is the divine existence. But God is not other than Himself. Therefore He does not will things other than Himself.
Reply to Objection 1. The divine will is God’s own existence essentially, yet they differ in aspect, according to the different ways of understanding them and expressing them, as is clear from what has already been said (13, 4). For when we say that God exists, no relation to any other object is implied, as we do imply when we say that God wills. Therefore, although He is not anything apart from Himself, yet He does will things apart from Himself.
ST I, q. 19, art. 3: Whether whatever God wills He wills necessarily? (No)
I answer that, There are two ways in which a thing is said to be necessary, namely, absolutely, and by supposition. We judge a thing to be absolutely necessary from the relation of the terms, as when the predicate forms part of the definition of the subject: thus it is absolutely necessary that man is an animal. It is the same when the subject forms part of the notion of the predicate; thus it is absolutely necessary that a number must be odd or even. In this way it is not necessary that Socrates sits: wherefore it is not necessary absolutely, though it may be so by supposition; for, granted that he is sitting, he must necessarily sit, as long as he is sitting. Accordingly as to things willed by God, we must observe that He wills something of absolute necessity: but this is not true of all that He wills. For the divine will has a necessary relation to the divine goodness, since that is its proper object. Hence God wills His own goodness necessarily, even as we will our own happiness necessarily, and as any other faculty has necessary relation to its proper and principal object, for instance the sight to color, since it tends to it by its own nature. But God wills things apart from Himself in so far as they are ordered to His own goodness as their end. Now in willing an end we do not necessarily will things that conduce to it, unless they are such that the end cannot be attained without them; as, we will to take food to preserve life, or to take ship in order to cross the sea. But we do not necessarily will things without which the end is attainable, such as a horse for a journey which we can take on foot, for we can make the journey without one. The same applies to other means. Hence, since the goodness of God is perfect, and can exist without other things inasmuch as no perfection can accrue to Him from them, it follows that His willing things apart from Himself is not absolutely necessary. Yet it can be necessary by supposition, for supposing that He wills a thing, then He is unable not to will it, as His will cannot change.
Objection 4. Further, being that is not necessary, and being that is possible not to be, are one and the same thing. If, therefore, God does not necessarily will a thing that He wills, it is possible for Him not to will it, and therefore possible for Him to will what He does not will. And so the divine will is contingent upon one or the other of two things, and imperfect, since everything contingent is imperfect and mutable.
Reply to Objection 4. Sometimes a necessary cause has a non-necessary relation to an effect; owing to a deficiency in the effect, and not in the cause. Even so, the sun’s power has a non-necessary relation to some contingent events on this earth, owing to a defect not in the solar power, but in the effect that proceeds not necessarily from the cause. In the same way, that God does not necessarily will some of the things that He wills, does not result from defect in the divine will, but from a defect belonging to the nature of the thing willed, namely, that the perfect goodness of God can be without it; and such defect accompanies all created good.
Objection 6. Further, whatever God knows, He knows necessarily. But as the divine knowledge is His essence, so is the divine will. Therefore whatever God wills, He wills necessarily.
Reply to Objection 6. As the divine essence is necessary of itself, so is the divine will and the divine knowledge; but the divine knowledge has a necessary relation to the thing known; not the divine will to the thing willed. The reason for this is that knowledge is of things as they exist in the knower; but the will is directed to things as they exist in themselves. Since then all other things have necessary existence inasmuch as they exist in God; but no absolute necessity so as to be necessary in themselves, in so far as they exist in themselves; it follows that God knows necessarily whatever He wills, but does not will necessarily whatever He wills.
ST I, q. 19, art. 4: Whether the will of God is the cause of things? (Yes)
Objection 2. Further, The first in any order is that which is essentially so, thus in the order of burning things, that comes first which is fire by its essence. But God is the first agent. Therefore He acts by His essence; and that is His nature. He acts then by nature, and not by will. Therefore the divine will is not the cause of things.
Reply to Objection 2. Because the essence of God is His intellect and will, from the fact of His acting by His essence, it follows that He acts after the mode of intellect and will.
Q. II: ARTICLE VI
Are the Generative and Creative Powers the Same? (Yes)
On the contrary in God power and essence are not distinct. But there is only one divine essence. Therefore there is only one divine power. Therefore the powers in question are not distinct.
Again, God does not do by several means what He is able to do by one. Now God is able both to generate and to create by one power, and all the more seeing that the generation of the Son is the prototype of the production of creatures, as Augustine expounds the words, “He spake, and they were made” (Gen. ad lit. ii, 6, 7): “That is to say He begot the Word in Whom they existed as things to be made.” Therefore the generative and creative powers are but one power.
I answer that, as stated above (A. 5), in speaking of the divine power we must take as our guide those things that apply to the divine essence. Now in God though one relation is really distinct from another on account of the mutual opposition between the relations which are real in God, nevertheless the relation and the divine essence are distinct not really, but only logically, since there is no opposition between them. Consequently we cannot grant that there are several absolute things in God, as some have asserted who maintained that there is a twofold being in God, an essential being and a personal being. The reason is that all being in God is essential, and the very persons are constituted by virtue of that essential being. Now when we consider the divine power we find besides the power a certain relation to what is subject to that power. Accordingly if we take power in its relation to an essential act, such as intelligence or creation, and power in its relation to a notional act such as generation, and compare them together as power, we find that they are one and the same power, even as nature and person have but one being. And yet we understand at the same time that each power has its peculiar relationship to its respective act to which it is directed. Therefore the generative and creative powers are one and the same power, if we consider them as powers, but they differ in their respective relationships to different acts.
1. According to Damascene (De Fide Orthod. ii, 27) generation is the operation or work of nature: whereas according to Hilary (De Synod.) creation is a work of the will. Now will and nature are not one and the same principle, but are opposite members of a division, as stated in Phys. ii, 4, 5. Therefore the generative and creative powers are not the same.
Reply to the First Objection. Although in creatures nature and will are distinct, in God they are one and the same.—Or we may reply that the creative power does not denote the purpose or will, but the power as directed by the will: whereas the generative power acts as inclined by nature. But this does not necessitate a distinction of powers, since there is nothing to prevent the same power from being directed to one act by the will and inclined to another by nature. Thus our intellect is urged by the will to believe, and is led by nature to understand first principles.
2. Powers are distinguished by their acts (De Anima ii, 4). Now generation and creation are very different acts. Therefore the generative and creative powers are also distinct.
Reply to the Second Objection. The higher the power the wider its scope: so that a diversity of objects does not require that it should be divided: thus the imagination is one power covering all objects of sense, for the perception of which distinct senses are appropriated. Now the divine power is raised above all others: wherefore a difference of acts requires no distinction therein, if we consider it as power; but God by His one power is able to do all things.
3. There is less unity among things that admit of a same common predication, than among those that have the same being. Now in no respect do the generative and creative powers admit of a same common predication, as neither do the acts of generating and creating, nor the Son and a creature. Therefore the generative and creative powers are not the same in being.
Reply to the Third Objection. The generative and creative powers, considered as to their substance, so to speak, do not merely admit of a same common predication, but they are one and the same thing: the analogy comes in through this relationship to their respective acts.