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CHAPTER LXXXIIIThat God wills anything else than Himself with an Hypothetical Necessity161161Otherwise called a consequent, as distinguished from an antecedent, or absolute, necessity.

IN every unchangeable being, whatever once is, cannot afterwards cease to be. Since then God’s will is unchangeable, supposing Him to will anything, He cannot on that supposition not will it.

2. Everything eternal is necessary. But God’s will for the causation of any effect is eternal: for, as His being, so His willing is measured by eternity. That will therefore is necessary, yet not absolutely so, since the will of God has no necessary connexion with this objection willed. It is therefore necessary hypothetically, on a supposition.

3. Whatever God once could do, He can still. His power does not grow less, as neither does His essence. But He cannot now not-will what He is already supposed to have willed, because His will cannot change: therefore He never could not-will whatever He once willed (nunquam potuit non velle quidquid voluit).162162Once God wills absolutely, even though freely, He wills irrevocably. He never has to change His mind upon any unforeseen obstacle or intercession. He threatened the Ninivites, whose repentance He foresaw, and whose pardon upon repentance He had decreed. It is therefore hypothetically necessary for Him to have willed whatever He has willed, as it is for Him to will whatever He does will: but in neither case is the necessity absolute.

4. Whoever wills anything, necessarily wills all that is necessarily requisite to that purpose, unless there be some defect on his part, either by ignorance, or because his will sometimes is drawn away by some passion from a right choice of means to the end: nothing of which can be said of God. If God then in willing Himself wills anything else besides Himself, He needs must will all that is necessarily required to the effecting of the thing willed, as it is necessary that God should will the being of a rational soul, if He wills the being of a man.163163   And, possibly, the human shape, if He wishes the being of a rational animal. Or is a rational animal possible in the shape of a pig? Who shall reckon or particularise the essential connexions and repugnances of things? How much, that we might wish to cast out, cleaves to nature and must be, if natural things are to be at all! How thoughtlessly may we murmur at God for not severing two elements essentially inseparable, or not conjoining two others mutually repugnant! Is it possible under any circumstances, or under what circumstances, for man’s final happiness to be secured without toil and trial, a crown without a cross?
   This is not a difficult chapter, but it suggests a great difficulty: how God, willing from eternity this present creation, is perfectly the same God as He might have been from eternity willing no such thing; of how, there being not the slightest entitative difference between God willing to create and God having no such will, creation, which was nothing to begin with, ever came to be rather than not to be. The difficulty has its foundation in this, that, within our experience, every new effect involves some antecedent change either in the agent or in the matter acted upon. The more powerful the agent, the less change is required, as when a strong man with little or no effort lifts a weight, which a weaker one would have to strain himself to raise from the ground. Hence we may faintly surmise how ‘in the limit’ an Almighty agent would act without being in the least altered by his action from the being that he would have been, had he remained at rest. Not that I take this suggestion to remove the whole difficulty.

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