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CHAPTER LXIV: THAT GOD GOVERNS THINGS BY HIS PROVIDENCE
FROM what has been laid down in the preceding chapters, it has been sufficiently proved that God is the end of all: whence we may further conclude that by His providence He governs or rules all.
For whenever certain things are ordered to a certain end, they are all subject to the disposal of the one to whom chiefly that end belongs. This may be seen in an army: since all the parts of the army, and their actions, are directed to the good of the general, victory to wit, as their ultimate end: for which reason the government of the whole army belongs to the general. In the same way, that art which is concerned with the end dictates and gives laws to the art which is concerned with things directed to the end: as civics controls the military art, and this directs the art of horsemanship; and the art of sailing, the art of ship-building. Since then all things are directed to the divine goodness as their last end, as we have shown above, it follows that God to whom that goodness belongs chiefly as essentially possessed, understood and loved, must be the Governor of all.
Again. Whoever makes a thing for the sake of an end makes use of it for that end. Now it has been shown above that whatsoever has being in any way is an effect of God: and that God makes all things for an end which is Himself. Therefore He uses everything by directing it to its end. But this is to govern. Therefore God, by His providence, is the Governor of all.
Besides. It has been shown that God is the first unmoved mover. Now the first mover moves no less than second movers; more so indeed, because without Him they do not move other things. But all things that are moved, are moved for an end, as was shown above. Therefore God moves each thing to its end. Moreover He moves them by his intellect: for it has been proved above that He moves not by natural necessity, but by intellect and will. Now to rule and govern by providence is nothing else but to move certain things to their end by one's intellect. Therefore God by His providence governs and rules all things that are moved to their end; whether they be moved corporally, or spiritually, as the seeker is said to be moved by the object desired.
Moreover. It was proved that natural bodies are moved and work towards an end, although they have no knowledge of an end, from the fact that always or nearly always that which is best happens to them: nor would they be made otherwise if they were made by art. Now it is impossible that things without knowledge of an end should act for an end, and attain to that end in an orderly manner, unless they be moved to that end by one who has knowledge of the end: as the arrow is directed to the mark by the archer. Therefore the whole operation of nature must be directed by some knowledge. This must be traced back to God mediately or immediately: because every subordinate art and knowledge must take its principles from a higher one, as may be seen in speculative and practical sciences. Therefore God governs the world by His providence.
Further. Things in nature distinct do not converge into one order, unless they be brought together by one controller. Now the universe is composed of things distinct from one another and of contrary natures; and yet they all converge into one order, some things acting on others, some helping or directing others. Therefore there must be one ordainer and governor of the universe.
Moreover. Natural necessity cannot be alleged as the reason for the various phenomena to be observed in the movements of the heavenly bodies: since the movements of some are more numerous than, and wholly different from the movements of others. Therefore the ordering of their movements must come from some providence: and consequently so must the ordering of all those movements and operations here below, that are controlled by the former movements.
Besides. The nearer a thing is to its cause the greater share it has in the effect. Wherefore if we observe that a thing is the more perfectly shared by certain individuals, according as these are nearer to a certain thing, this is a sign that this thing is the cause of that which is shared in various degrees, thus, if certain things are hotter according as they are nearer fire, this shows that fire is the cause of their heat. Now we see that things are all the more perfectly ordered according as they are nearer to God: for in the lower bodies, which are farthest removed from God by unlikeness of nature, we sometimes find defects from the ordinary course of nature, as in monstrosities, and other casual happenings: whereas this never happens in the heavenly bodies, although they are changeable in a certain degree: nor in the separate intellectual substances. Therefore God is the cause of the entire order of things: and consequently He is the governor of the whole universe by His providence.
Further. As we proved above, God brought all things into being, not by natural necessity but by His intellect and will. Now His intellect and will can have no other ultimate end but his goodness, namely the bestowal of His goodness on things, as was shown above. And things partake of the divine goodness by way of likeness, in being good themselves. And the greatest good in things made by Him, is the good consisting in the order of the universe, which is most perfect as the Philosopher says (11 Metaph. x.) and divine Scripture in like manner (Gen. i. 31): God saw all the things He had made, and they were very good, whereas of each single work it was said simply that they were good. Consequently that which is chiefly willed and caused by God is the good consisting in the order of things of which He is the cause. But to govern things is nothing else but to impose order on them. Therefore God by His intellect and will governs all things.
Moreover. Whoever has an end in view, cares more for what is nearest to the last end: because the other ends are directed to this. Now the last end of God's will is His goodness, the nearest thing to which among created things is the good consisting in the order of the universe: because every particular good of this or that thing is ordained thereto as its end, just as the less perfect is ordained to that which is more perfect: even as each part is for the sake of its whole. Consequently that which God cares for most in created things, is the order of the universe: and therefore He governs it.
Again. Every created thing attains its ultimate perfection by its proper operation, because a thing's ultimate end and perfection must be either an operation or the term or effect of an operation: and the form whereby a thing is, is its first perfection, as stated in 2 De Anima i. Now the order among effects in respect of different natures and the degrees thereof, issues from divine wisdom as we showed in the Second Book. Therefore the order also among the operations, whereby things approach nearer to their ultimate end, does so in like manner. But to direct the actions of things to their end is to govern them. Therefore God by the providence of His wisdom governs and rules things.
Hence Holy Writ acclaims God as Lord and King, according to Psalm xcix. 2: The Lord, He is God, and Psalm xlvi. 8: God is the King of all the earth: because the king and lord is he whose office it is to rule and govern subjects. Wherefore Holy Writ ascribes the course of events to the divine control (Job ix. 7): Who commandeth the sun, and it riseth not, and shutteth up the stars, as it were under a seal: and (Ps. cxlviii. 6): He hath made a decree and it shall not pass away. Hereby is refuted the error of some physicists of old, who held that everything happens from natural necessity; whence it followed that all things happen by chance, and not by the ordinance of Providence.
- ↑ Ch. xvii.
- ↑ Bk. II., ch. xv.
- ↑ Bk. I., ch. lxxv.
- ↑ Ch. ii.
- ↑ Bk. I., ch. lxxxi; Bk. II., ch. xxiii. seqq.
- ↑ Ch. iii.
- ↑ See above, Besides. It has been shown. . . ..
- ↑ Bk. I., ch. lxxv. seq.
- ↑ Ch. xlv.
|Source: St. Thomas Aquinas, The Summa Contra Gentiles, trans. by The English Dominican Fathers from the latest Leonine Edition, Benzinger Brothers: New York, 1924.|