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CHAPTER CXI: THAT RATIONAL CREATURES ARE SUBJECT TO DIVINE PROVIDENCE IN A SPECIAL MANNER
FROM what has been proved up to now, it is evident that divine providence extends to all things. And yet there must be some special kind of providence bestowed on intellectual and rational creatures, in preference to others. For they surpass other creatures both in the perfections of their nature, and in the excellence of their end. In the perfection of their nature, – because alone the rational creature has dominion over its action, since it moves itself freely to act: whereas other creatures are moved to their proper actions rather than act themselves; as was proved above. In the excellence of their end,–because alone the intellectual creature by its operation attains to the last end of the universe, namely by knowing and loving God: whereas other creatures cannot attain to the last end except by a certain participation of His likeness. Now, actions vary in kind according to the diversity of end and of their subject matter: thus in art the operations vary according to the difference of end and matter: for a physician acts differently to expel sickness, and to confirm health; and differently, again in bodies of different temperament. In like manner in the government of a state, a different kind of order must be observed according to the different status of the subjects, and according to the different ends to which they are directed: for there must be a different rule for soldiers to make them ready to fight, and for craftsmen to make them able to work. Accordingly there is one kind of order whereby rational creatures are subject to divine providence; and another whereby other creatures are subject thereto.
|Source: St. Thomas Aquinas, The Summa Contra Gentiles, trans. by The English Dominican Fathers from the latest Leonine Edition, Benzinger Brothers: New York, 1924.|