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CHAPTER LXXXIIArguments against the aforesaid Doctrine and Solutions of the same

THESE awkward consequences seem to follow, if any things that God wills He does not will of necessity.

1. If the will of God in respect of certain objects of will is not determined by any of them, it seems to be indifferent. But every faculty that indifferent is in a manner in potentiality.

2. Since potential being, as such, is naturally changeable, — for what can be can also not be, — it follows that the divine will is variable.159159The difficulty is, that if the created object of God’s will is a thing that may be or may not be, God’s will also of creating it may be or may not be.

4. Since what hangs loose, indifferent between two alternatives, does not tend to one rather than to the other, unless it be determined by one or other, either God wills none of the things to which He is indifferent, or He is determined by one or other of them, in which case there must be something antecedent to God to determine Him.

But none of the above objections can stand.

1. The indifference, or indeterminateness, of a faculty may be attributable either to the faculty itself or to its object. To the faculty itself, when its indeterminateness comes from its not having yet attained to its perfection. This argues imperfection in the faculty, and an unfulfilled potentiality, as we see in the mind of a doubter, who has not yet attained to premises sufficient to determine him to take either of two sides. To the object of the faculty, when the perfect working of the faculty does not depend on its adoption of either alternative, and yet either alternative may be adopted, as when art may employ different instruments to do the same work equally well. This argues no imperfection in the faculty, but rather its pre-eminent excellence, inasmuch as it rises superior to both opposing alternatives, and therefore is indifferent to both and determined by neither. Such is the position of the divine will with respect to things other than itself. Its perfection depends on none of them; being as it is intimately conjoined with its own last end and final perfection.160160God in willing His own goodness is not thereby necessitated to will the existence of, let us say, St Augustine, as though, if there were no Augustine, the goodness of God would be incomplete. This argument of God’s absolute self-sufficiency, His supreme independence of creation, and consequent perfect liberty to create or not, is, I am informed, the tenet of some at least of the wisest Brahmins of India.

2. In the divine will there is no potentiality. Unnecessitated, it prefers one alternative to another respecting the creatures which it causes to be. It is not to be looked upon as being in a potential attitude to both alternatives, so as first to be potentially willing both, and then to be actually willing one. It is for ever actually willing whatever it wills, as well its own self as the creatures which are the objects of its causation. But whatever creature God wills to exist, that creature stands in no necessary relation to the divine goodness, which is the proper object of the divine will.


4. We cannot admit that either the divine will wills none of the effects of its causation, or that its volition is determined by some exterior object. The proper object of the will is good apprehended as such by the understanding. Now the divine understanding apprehends, not only the divine being, or divine goodness, but other good things likewise (Chap. XLIX); and it apprehends them as likenesses of the divine goodness and essence, not as constituent elements of the same. Thus the divine will tends to them as things becoming its goodness, not as things necessary to its goodness. So it happens also in our will: which, when it inclines to a thing as absolutely necessary to its end, tends to it with a certain necessity; but when it tends to a thing solely on account of its comeliness and appropriateness, does not tend to it necessarily.

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